TYPES of WATER POLLUTION - summary, examples and solutions

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The contamination of the water or hydric contamination, supposes the alteration and the loss of those natural sources of water in which the alive beings inhabit and which, in many occasions, serves to supply the human consumption of drinking water. Currently, various anthropogenic activities, as well as natural phenomena, cause water pollution in different corners of the world. The consequences and effects of such water pollution endanger the survival of many living beings, both our species and all those animals, plants and microorganisms that need water to exist.

If you want to know more characteristics as well as possible solutions to the harmful water pollution suffered by the planet's ecosystems, continue reading this article by Green Ecologist about the types of water pollution.

Types of water pollution - summary

Water pollution is the physical and chemical alteration of the structure of water and its components, changing its properties and causing damage to the living beings that depend on it to survive. Depending on the origin of said natural or artificial pollution (anthropogenic or by human action), we can distinguish two types of water pollution: organic pollution and man-made chemical pollution, respectively.

Organic contamination of water of natural origin

  • Eutrophication.

Chemical water pollution of man-made origin

  • Toxic spills that come from industrial activities.
  • Use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture and factory farming.
  • Emerging pollutants, that is to say that have appeared recently, and garbage in aquatic ecosystems.
  • Wastewater, industrial and domestic discharges.

Some examples of types of water pollution sAccording to the pollutant that harms it or its origin are:

  • Oil spill or oil slicks.
  • Fecal waters
  • Cleaning waters.
  • Industrial wastewater.
  • Agricultural wastewater.
  • Livestock wastewater.

Therefore, water pollution can be produced by nutrients, microorganisms, chemicals and even by temperature, among others. In the next few lines we will see in more detail what are the main characteristics of each of these types of water pollution.

Organic pollution of natural origin - eutrophication

If you were wondering how water is polluted, keep in mind, to begin with, that water pollution in some occasions occurs due to excess inorganic nutrients and the excessive proliferation of aquatic organisms, which together, alter the composition and properties of water.

This phenomenon that entails organic and natural water pollution it is commonly called eutrophication. Both algae and decomposing microorganisms and various inorganic nutrients are responsible for producing eutrophication of waters, by having an excessive abundance and unbalancing the natural stability of the structure and properties of water resources.

Although the consequences of this type of natural water pollution are not as serious or persistent as those derived from artificial chemical pollution, they must also be valued and controlled, since they involve the loss of many ecosystems.

Here we leave you a video about what is the eutrophication of the waters so that you learn more about this problem.

Chemical contamination from human activities

The chemical contamination of water It has its origin in various anthropogenic activities that, irresponsibly, discharge toxic chemical substances that cause the alteration of the composition, structure and properties of natural sources of water. Next we will see some of the most common cases in which a artificial chemical contamination of water as a consequence of anthropogenic actions:

Toxic spills from industrial activities

The polluting industries of mining, deforestation, refineries and all those industrial activities that generate toxic products that can end up in nature, are responsible for the contamination of rivers, lakes, seas and groundwater, among other aquatic ecosystems.

We will tell you more about Industrial Waste: what they are, examples, types, classification and handling in this post and, in addition, here you can learn more information related to What are industrial discharges in water.

Use of toxic fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and factory farming

The massive use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and industrial livestock release large amounts of nitrates, phosphates, and other chemical compounds that are seriously harmful to other living beings, many of which find their natural habitat in the aquatic ecosystems in which these chemicals are dumped.

Wastewater discharges

Wastewater must be properly managed in wastewater treatment plants for subsequent purification and preparation for use. However, on many occasions there are leaks and mismanagement that facilitate the arrival of these highly polluted waters to natural water sources, causing their contamination.

We recommend you read this other article on What is wastewater and how is it classified to expand this information.

Garbage in aquatic ecosystems and emerging pollutants

Each and every one of the household waste that humans generate must be properly treated and not dumped into ecosystems in an irresponsible way, as it endangers the life and ecological balance of other species. Many drugs, hygiene and cleaning products, as well as microplastics and single-use plastic utensils end up in surface and groundwater, causing their contamination. Some of these pollutants are those considered emerging, since they have existed for a relatively short time, and these, along with others that have existed for much longer, generate what is becoming known as garbage or garbage in nature.

Here you can learn more about What is garbage: definition, projects and how to avoid it and in this other link discover more about Emerging Pollutants: definition, examples and how they affect us.

Possible Solutions to Water Pollution

The solutions that we can adopt both at global, national and local scales to avoid and prevent water pollution are innumerable and very varied. The set of all these solutions would serve as a strategy that allows access to drinking water to all people, while protecting the natural ecosystems of every corner of the planet. In this list we talk about some of the main solutions to water pollution:

  • Cleaning and maintenance of the infrastructures for the supply of drinking water.
  • Bet on efficient management of the plants for the treatment of wastewater.
  • Avoid the discharge of toxic substances that come from the different activities of the industries in surface and underground waters.
  • Regulate the use of fertilizers and pesticides so that they do not end up contaminating natural water sources.
  • Do not deposit any waste from domestic use that could contaminate the water.
  • Encourage the development and participation in environmental education outreach activities focused on the conservation of water ecosystems and their responsible use.

To learn much more about the possible solutions, you can take a look at this other article that details the Solutions for Water Pollution, as well as these others to better know How to avoid water pollution and discover the techniques for Water Decontamination.

If you want to read more articles similar to Types of water pollution, we recommend that you enter our Pollution category.

  • Innovation and Qualification, S.L. & Target Asesores, S.L. (2016) Expert in environmental management (2nd Edition). Editorial ic, pp: 109-171.
  • Well, J.L; Sastre, H. & Lavin, A.G. (1997) Pollution and environmental engineering: water pollution. Par foundationto the Promotion of Applied Scientific Research and Technology in Asturias (FICYT), pp: 196-469.
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