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Water pollution can be defined as the contamination of water bodies. Water pollution is caused when water bodies such as rivers, lakes, oceans, groundwater, and aquifers get contaminated with industrial and agricultural effluents.
When water gets polluted, it adversely affects all life forms that directly or indirectly depend on this source. The effects of water contamination can be felt for years to come.
The key causatives of water pollution in India are:
One of the primary causes of water pollution is the contamination of water bodies by toxic chemicals. As seen in the example mentioned above, the dumped plastic bottles, tins, water cans and other wastes pollute the water bodies. These result in water pollution, which harms not just humans, but the whole ecosystem. Toxins drained from these pollutants, travel up to the food chain and eventually affect humans. In most cases, the outcome is destructive to only local population and species, but it can have an impact on a global scale too.
Nearly 6 billion kilograms of garbage is dumped every year in the oceans. Apart from industrial effluents and untreated sewage, other forms of unwanted materials are dumped into various water bodies. These can range from nuclear waste to oil spills – the latter of which can render vast areas uninhabitable.
The effect of water pollution depends upon the type of pollutants and its concentration. Also, the location of water bodies is an important factor to determine the levels of pollution.
• Water bodies in the vicinity of urban areas are extremely polluted. This is the result of dumping garbage and toxic chemicals by industrial and commercial establishments.
• Water pollution drastically affects aquatic life. It affects their metabolism, behaviour, causes illness and eventual death. Dioxin is a chemical that causes a lot of problems from reproduction to uncontrolled cell growth or cancer. This chemical is bioaccumulated in fish, chicken and meat. Chemicals such as this travel up the food chain before entering the human body.
• The effect of water pollution can have a huge impact on the food chain. It disrupts the food-chain. Cadmium and lead are some toxic substances, these pollutants upon entering the food chain through animals (fish when consumed by animals, humans) can continue to disrupt at higher levels.
• Humans are affected by pollution and can contract diseases such as hepatitis through faecal matter in water sources. Poor drinking water treatment and unfit water can always cause an outbreak of infectious diseases such as cholera etc.
• The ecosystem can be critically affected, modified and destructured because of water pollution.
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