DISEASES caused by POLLUTED WATER - A Great Danger!

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Water is one of our most precious assets and constitutes an essential contribution to people's lives and health. However, the water must be in good condition to be consumed, because in those cases in which the water is contaminated, it can give rise to very diverse diseases that, in general, are of a serious nature, and that occur through various routes of transmission (not just by drinking contaminated water).

Thus, taking care of our water heritage is a fundamental task for our health and our ecosystems. We invite you to continue reading this article by Ecologist Verde to know the diseases caused by polluted waters, what other associated problems are there and some of the ways to reduce this situation.

Water pollution and health

Although in many areas of the world we have a good network of sanitation and water channeling, this is not a reality for many people. According to data handled by the UN in 2022, up to 4.5 billion people did not have access to safely managed sanitation services and, also according to UN data, up to 340,000 children under the age of 5 die from diarrheal diseases[1].

Water is a vital element for our health: one dies before of thirst than of starvation. Most of our body is water and we lose it when developing our vital functions (when breathing, through urine and excretion, when we sweat, etc.), so we must necessarily replace it.

However, water is also the main habitat for a multitude of pathogens, especially those stagnant waters. Therefore, the study of water and the development and maintenance of infrastructures of water processing It is, therefore, of vital importance for people's health.

Diseases caused by water pollution

Between the main diseases caused by polluted waters the following stand out:


Diarrhea can be a symptom or a disease itself, which occurs when a pathogen settles in the intestine. To eliminate pathogens, the wall of the intestine releases water; in short, it is a "wash" on the inside, which aims to drag pathogenic organisms to the outside. Thus, feces have a high water content. With diarrhea a large amount of water is lost, so there is risk of dehydration. Especially if clean water is not available, when we try to hydrate we will be increasing the pathogenic load, so we can enter a circle that is really harmful to health. In the most severe cases, diarrhea can lead to dehydration, accompanied by fever, and cause bleeding.


Dysentery is a serious illness characterized by an inflammation of the intestine, which produces severe mucous and bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms are abdominal pain and vomiting. It can be caused by Enterobacteriaceae of the genus Shigella or by an amoeba, Entamoeba histolytica, and in this case it is also known as hepatic amebiasis, since it mainly affects the intestines and liver. For more information about this disease, we recommend reading this article on hepatic amebiasis: symptoms, causes and treatment.


Dengue is a disease caused by a virus and transmitted by a mosquito (Aedes aegypti). In other words, dengue is not caused by drinking contaminated water. However, mosquitoes tend to live in places with water and, especially, in stagnant waters, since part of their life cycle takes place there. Therefore, being near stagnant and polluted waters greatly increases the risk of being infected with dengue by the carrier mosquito. Dengue symptoms include diarrhea, high fever, and bleeding.


Cholera is a disease caused by the bacillus Vibrio cholerae, found in contaminated food or water. It causes severe watery diarrhea and can be fatal within hours if not treated properly. It is estimated that annually there are between 3 and 5 million cases of cholera a year in the world. Here you can expand the information on Cholera: contagion, symptoms and treatment.

Typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is an infection caused by bacteria Salmonella typhi, which can be fatal and is spread by contaminated food or water. The main symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, and constipation or diarrhea. The greatest risk, as with other diseases, occurs in populations with high rates of poverty, and especially in vulnerable populations, such as children.


The most common form of transmission of the bacteria that causes legionellosis (Legionella pneumonia) is the inhalation of contaminated aerosols, produced with nebulizers or water sprays. After infection, aggressive pneumonia (lung infection) occurs, which in severe cases can lead to death.

Other diseases caused by water pollution

  • Malaria
  • Typhus
  • Trachoma
  • Malaria
  • Ascariosis
  • Arsenicosis
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Hookworm
  • Botulism
  • Giardiasis
  • Hepatitis
  • Campylobacteriosis
  • Cryptosporiodiosis
  • Cyanobacterial toxins
  • Fluorosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Polio
  • Lymphatic filariasis
  • Malnutrition
  • Onchocerciasis
  • Scabies

How to prevent diseases caused by polluted water

The best way to avoid diseases caused by contaminated water is to have a water sanitation network appropriate. It is necessary both to have water treatment plants that guarantee the water supply, as well as treatment plants that are capable of filtering and cleaning wastewater, as well as appropriate canalization networks. The development of these infrastructures must be accompanied by a re-education of the population in the matter of water. In this other Green Ecologist article you can learn the different types of wastewater treatment.

In addition, a good sanitary system It can also help prevent many water-related illnesses, which occur more frequently or are exacerbated when you already have some other physical condition, such as malnutrition.

Lastly, and for specific cases, there are various portable water treatment mechanisms, such as water treatment tablets, which can be used occasionally in isolated regions (for example, in mountainous and sparsely populated areas).

If you want to read more articles similar to Diseases caused by polluted waters, we recommend that you enter our Pollution category.

  1. Facts about water. United Nations (UN): https://www.un.org/es/sections/issues-depth/water/index.html
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