Water is the most precious resource on earth. It covers 71% of our planet and provides life for more than half of all animal species. Yet we are polluting it at an alarming rate.
Some people argue that there's no such thing as "water pollution," while others say that any contamination in groundwater or rivers is actually caused by some other factor like pollution from industrial activities or agricultural runoff—and those arguments are valid depending on your viewpoint.
Regardless of how you define water pollution, one thing is clear: we need to do something about it!
What is Water Pollution?
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies. It can be caused by human activities, such as sewage discharge, industrial waste, and agricultural runoff. The most common sources of water pollution are urban areas that lack adequate treatment systems for their wastes (such as factories).
Water pollution is also often caused by natural events like forest fires and floods that release large amounts of refuse into rivers or lakes.
Causes of Water Pollution
Water pollution can be caused by human actions or natural processes. But it’s not always easy to pinpoint the exact source. For that reason there are two categories by which we classify water pollution:
1. Point Source:
Point-source water pollution is typically the result of human activity, such as factory discharge or sewage treatment plant effluent. In groundwater there are usually high traces of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which come from paint, oils and fuel.
These sources of pollution can be controlled through regulation and engineering solutions. However, point-source water pollution can also occur naturally, such as when a volcano erupts or an earthquake causes a landslide.
Point-source pollution can have serious consequences for the environment and human health. It can contaminate drinking water supplies, damage ecosystems, and cause illness in people who come into contact with the polluted water.
2. Non-Point Source:
Nonpoint-source water pollution comes from various sources that are harder to identify and control, rather than one single source, such as a pipe.
These sources can include things like runoff from farms or ranches and urban developments, air emissions from factories and power plants, and even household chemicals that are dumped down the drain.
Nonpoint-source water pollution can have a number of negative effects on the environment. It can contaminate drinking water supplies, make waterways unsafe for swimming and fishing, and damage natural habitats.
Water pollution also occurs when oil spills or chemical spills occur in bodies of water near populated areas where people live or work, from boats that travel regularly through these waters (such as rivers). Pollutants can build up over time if they are not cleaned up quickly enough because they don't dissipate easily through evaporation alone; instead they settle out onto bottom sediments where they remain until they break down further under the influence of sunlight.
A large majority of these pollution sources are man-made, and were once exciting scientific discoveries, but we are now starting to see the ramifications of these chemicals.
VOC’s and PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are particularly worrisome in that they are almost everywhere.
This is why, as Survivor Filter, we have chosen to use soy based biodegradable ink on our packaging.
According to the Environmental Working Group, PFAS, or ‘forever chemicals’, are a group of man-made compounds that are used in a variety of industries and products. These chemicals are known to be persistent in the environment and can accumulate in the bodies of humans and animals.
There is growing evidence that exposure to PFAS can have adverse health effects, including developmental toxicity, immune system suppression, endocrine disruption, and cancer. PFAS have been shown to contaminate drinking water supplies in several communities across the United States, as well as in rainwater samples taken from rivers around the globe, which means we’re all exposed to them every day!
These toxins can leach into the ground or into surface waters when products are used, and they do not break down in the environment.
The presence of PFAS in water sources is a cause for concern because these chemicals can potentially enter the food chain and expose people to harmful levels of exposure. The EPA is currently investigating the extent of contamination and working to develop guidance on how to reduce exposure to these chemicals.
Effects of Water Pollution
Water pollution has a negative impact on many different areas of society, such as the economy, human health, and even animal health.
The economy: Water pollution can cause a loss of revenue for businesses that rely on clean water, such as fishing and agriculture. This can be costly to the government as well—if farmers lose crops due to water pollution they may not be able to sell them at market price, which could lead to a loss of tax revenue.
Health: Water pollution can lead to sickness in humans, as well as increased risk of disease transmission between people or animals. In addition, prolonged exposure to pollutants like mercury or chlorine gas can cause permanent damage to the human body if not treated quickly.
Animals: Water pollution kills fish, birds, and other wildlife that live near polluted waterways, by changing the pH level of lakes and rivers. These species then become food for larger predators who may not have access to other forms of food.
Fish, especially, are extremely sensitive when it comes to stressors such as pollution; they will often expel any eggs they have laid if they feel threatened during breeding season or when there are high levels of toxins present in their habitat (such as mercury). This poses a serious threat not only because we need all kinds of animals living on this planet but also because people rely heavily upon fish as an important source of protein!
Preventing Water Pollution
One of the simplest ways to prevent water pollution is to reduce, reuse, recycle.
This means that we should try to avoid using chemicals or detergents in our water and choose ‘clean’ products rather. Alternatively, you can make your own products, it’s easier than you think!
Consider using reusable water bottles, shopping bags and straws in your day-to-day life.
Split your household waste into recyclable piles.
These steps are obviously not going to immediately change the water around you, but it is a step in the right direction. Educate yourself on the types of products you are bringing into your home and how they could affect you and your household in the long term.
For your household taps there are many ways to filter water and make it safe to drink, but it’s important to know what you are trying to filter. Read our blog “Can One Water Filter Solve All Your Problems?” to find out how our water filters work and what to look for when you’re buying one. And if you’re not sure whether the water is safe to drink, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and use a filter.
Our home filtration systems are an easy addition to any home, and they are incredibly simple to install- you don’t even need to call a plumber!
Written by Caryn Mackenzie on behalf of Survivor Filter