Water Pollution

Sewage pipe spewing pollution from a factory directly into a river near Mumbai (Bombay). India. rel=
Sewage pipe spewing pollution from a factory directly into a river near Mumbai (Bombay). India.
© WWF / Mauri Rautkari
Water is essential to life. It need not be spelt out exactly how important it is. Yet water pollution is one of the most serious ecological threats we face today.
The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Natural Resources Defence Council has more information about this.

What is water pollution?
Water pollution happens when toxic substances enter water bodies such as lakes, rivers, oceans and so on, getting dissolved in them, lying suspended in the water or depositing on the bed. This degrades the quality of water.

Not only does this spell disaster for aquatic ecosystems, the pollutants also seep through and reach the groundwater, which might end up in our households as contaminated water we use in our daily activities, including drinking. Some important definitions and causes of water pollution can be found at this web site.

Sources and effects of water pollution
Water pollution can be caused in a number of ways, one of the most polluting being city sewage and industrial waste discharge. Indirect sources of water pollution include contaminants that enter the water supply from soils or groundwater systems and from the atmosphere via rain.

Soils and groundwaters contain the residue of human agricultural practices and also improperly disposed of industrial wastes. For more information, check out the University of Hawaii's Ask-a-Scientist page on water pollution.

Types of water pollutants
Pollutants can be of varying kinds: organic, inorganic, radioactive and so on. In fact, the list of possible water contaminants is just too vast to be listed here. However, the Lenntech site has more information on the subject.

More resources
For quick read on water pollution types and how to prevent it - visit this page. For interested students, the UK Rivers Network has a list of informative sources on the subject.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.