Water is important for the existence of life on earth. All organisms require it and aquatic plants and animals live their life in water. Water pollution occurs when you have toxins and pathogens present in water in dangerous amounts than permissible. One of the worst forms of pollution in the ecosystem is water pollution. When you hold a glass of water it may appear to be clean and clear. But the fact is there are millions of microscopic pollutants suspended in it. Water is a very vibrant system and any change would cause a greater damage to the marine biology at large. The effects of water system are far reaching and affect human beings, plants, and animals directly or indirectly. Water pollution affects lakes, oceans, rivers, bays and drinking water making it a global crisis. This condition also leads to the eruption of various diseases and most of them being transmittable and fatal. Water is known be polluted when there are chemicals, contaminants or pathogens detected that are harmful to living things. Given below are the effects of water pollution that can have detrimental effects to the existence of life on earth.
Harmful Effects of Water Pollution
- One of the major effects of water pollution is the damage to the food chain. When harmful toxins are present in water they are transferred to higher level organisms through the food chain. These toxins are passed on to humans and animals as well. Dangerous pollutants such as lead and cadmium are eaten by tiny animals and these are then consumed by fishes and larger sea animals. This food chain is distributed to the higher levels.
- Heavy metals like lead, mercury, iron, cadmium, aluminum, and magnesium are present in water sources. If these metals are present in the sediment, these reach the food chain through plants and aquatic animals. This causes heavy metal poisoning in the water.
- Polluted water is a hot bed for diseases. Microbial water pollution can spread infectious diseases such as typhoid and cholera from drinking contaminated water. The human heart and kidneys can be badly affected if polluted water is consumed regularly. Many other health problems related to polluted water are poor blood circulation, vomiting, skin lesions and damage to the nervous system. Water pollution is considered to be a major cause of death of the population across the globe.
- Water pollutants alter the overall chemistry of the water, causing changes in acidity, conductivity and temperature. These in turn have an effect on the marine life. Acid rain contains sulfate particles, which can harm fishes, sea organisms, and plant life in lakes and rivers. Marine food sources are contaminated or eliminated by water pollution and disturb the delicate ecological balance of marine life. Dead fish, birds, dolphins, and many other animals often wind up on beaches, killed by pollutants in their habitat.
- Heavy rain carries up dirt and silt and deposit them into the water. If the dirt and silt settle in the water body, then these sediments prevent sunlight from reaching aquatic plants. If the sunlight can’t reach the plants, they perish. These sediments also clog up fish gills and suffocate organisms that live on the bottom of the body of the water.
- If oil is spilled on the water due to accidents, the effects on the ecosystem and the components are harmful. Many animals can get destroyed in case they swallow oil. Oil contaminated prey may be a reason of death for many. If the oil coats the feathers of birds, they may die. Oil and antifreeze makes the water develop sticky film and bad odor on the surface of water that kills animals. Oil is the most damaging pollutant in the water.
- The rain water and irrigation water wear out cultivated land that has been fertilized and treated with pesticides. This contains a larger amount of nitrogen and toxic chemicals that get mixed with it into the water supply. These pesticides are poisonous and pollute the water. Aquatic plants growth is stunted and cause de-oxygenation of water and annihilate flora and fauna in a stream, lakes and rivers. Fertilizers increase the growth of bacteria in water and raise the concentration of bacteria to hazardous levels.