The sea is an essential part of our lives. On the one hand, it provides us with food and shelter, and allows us to live, travel and work. On the other hand the sea can also have harmful effects on our health when polluted, so it can cause a range of problems for human beings including cancers, lung disease and so many other problems.
Water pollution occurs in three ways:
- From land-based sources such as household waste
- From inland waterways
- From rainwater runoff carrying animal droppings, agricultural fertiliser and other pollutants into the sea.
Pollution affects both marine and terrestrial life, the most exposed being marine fish and other wildlife. Pollution also impacts on our health. We can be exposed to harmful pollutants through foods we eat, our drinking water, or from polluted air.
Sea pollution is not a new problem. In fact, it may have been occurring since the first man-made items were released into the sea thousands of years ago. Today, waste disposal to the sea is a common practice around the world and this has led to significant levels of marine pollution. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has estimated that there are 290,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of ocean, “the same amount as if five grocery bags filled with plastic were floating on every square mile”.
The effects of water pollution are particularly worrying to wildlife and in turn human health, as toxic metals and chemicals can be transported through food chains and accumulate in fatty tissues or organs such as humans.
Toxic water is becoming a significant concern due to the many risks it poses to our health, as well as the implications that these risks may have for the whole society. If we don’t address this issue soon, we may all be in trouble. In order for us to begin tackling toxic water problems, we need to understand what causes them and how they might be solved.
Here are 5 things you should know about water pollution:
1) The history of our planet isn’t actually very ancient; in terms of geological time it’s quite short when compared with Earth’s 4-billion-year history. It’s only over the past few thousand years that our planet has become a healthy, vibrant place for life.
2) Before humans began to alter Earth, the oceans were a pristine place, with no oil slicks or plastic bags floating around them. The Earth had a clean atmosphere, and it was not filled with pollutants. Even until the 1900s, our planet was still relatively clean but then, things started to change.
3) Over time and with increased industrialization of society came increased pollution of our water supply and environment. Pollutants increasingly poured into rivers and lakes as well as into the ocean causing water to turn toxic or polluted in many regions around the globe..
4) Industrial water pollution has been a major problem for recent years. Factories, farms, and even households often dump waste into ponds and rivers or on the floors or streets. According to National Geographic magazine, the middle of a large city may be far more polluted than the surrounding countryside due to all of the factories, cars, and other pollutants being poured out into the waterways.
5) Water pollution can also have effects on our air supply as well as our water supply. For instance; when we burn coal in power plants we often cause coal ash to get dumped into streams which makes our water very toxic due to the mercury that is found in this ash.
Marine Life is in danger
It doesn’t seem like a big deal when you wash your shirt, drive a car, or turn on the lights. But the truth is that our daily actions have a negative impact on life in the water. Pollution and plastic waste are destroying ocean habitats and killing off marine life at an alarming rate.
The world is polluted with plastic. It’s an epidemic that humans can’t seem to stop, and it’s only going to get worse. One of the most popular products on the planet is a disposable water bottle, which makes up 60% of the world’s litter by weight. Bottled water production is expected to double by 2025 and create 5 trillion pounds of new plastic pollution per year. In 2006, researchers found 1 microplastic particle for every 4 cubic meters in sea water- evidence that we are consuming or absorbing small particles over time through our skin or food. Research published in the journal, Environmental Pollution, has found that bottled water is now as much as 100 times more contaminated than tap water. There’s no easy way to clean up all this plastic pollution, but one thing we can do is stop using plastic bottles entirely.
What should we do ?
We talk about taking care of our earth because we love it. But this isn’t just a distant idea to be discussed. It’s something that involves every single one of us, no matter how small we think we are! It will take all of us to work together to prevent making our earth go from bad to worse.
Let’s work to make our earth again a beautiful place to live.