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Who Is Responsible For Our Water Pollution Woes?

Life on our earth consists of a delicate balance. If something gets out of hand, then there will be many possibly unexpected changes. Like, for example, our freshwater ecosystems. When people allow chemicals, pesticides, waste and the like to enter the water, many negative things happen. Aquatic plants and animals may be killed, food supplies may be depleted, and clean water shortages may occur. You’ve probably heard a lot about water pollution, but do you really know what it is and what it can do?

For starters, there are two main types of water pollution:

* point source pollution which means that the pollutants come from a specific location

* non-point pollution when the overall source is something less specific, such as agricultural runoff or highway dirt

Both types of pollution are responsible for environmental and health problems. However, non-point pollution is much more difficult to control than that which can be traced to a single source.

Industrial, livestock and chemical wastes allowed to flow into rivers and streams are a major source of pollution. The waters that receive them become poisonous, oxygen levels decrease and the creatures that live in the water die. Such industries as refineries, car factories, paper mills and power plants are known to discharge waste by pumping it into rivers. For example, when heated water is released from power plants, it reduces the amount of oxygen in the water resulting in the death of aquatic plants and animals.

In addition, organic waste is produced by slaughterhouses, meat processing plants, and other types of livestock operations. Microorganisms decompose organic waste consuming the oxygen in the water. Many times this happens when a body of water starts to have an offensive smell. Inorganic wastes are toxic substances that, if exposed in sufficient quantities, can damage the body’s natural processes. These wastes include heavy metals, acids, mercury and other materials that are by-products of industry.

You might begin to think that all the blame for water pollution can be laid at the door of industry and agriculture, but these things are only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, we as individuals are responsible for the largest percentage of pollution. There are about 7 billion people living in the world today, and if each of them dumped or discharged a pollutant into our water resources today, that would mean 7 billion non-manufacturing and agricultural pollutants.

If, for example, you threw a plastic water bottle into a lake or river today, you could be responsible for the death of countless aquatic creatures. Fish and other animals can become entangled in plastic mesh, string and tin cans, or they can eat tiny pieces of plastic that can kill them. It is estimated that it takes 450 to 1000 years for this one plastic bottle to decompose. Imagine how many animals he could harm in that amount of time and then multiply that by 7 billion.

Other ways in which people contribute to the pollution problem include the disposal of household waste and sewage and the multitude of cleaning and hygiene products we all use every day. Each of these products we’ve come to depend on can contribute to your share of the pollution problem.

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