Water Pollution’s Effect on Humans

Water pollution is something that affects our daily lives without us realizing. Every year, water pollution kills over 1.5 million people, and sickens about 1 billion people. Unfortunately, low income communities are at highest risk because they disproportionately live close to the sources. An accumulation of nutrients in runoff to the ocean leads to algal blooms such as red tide. Red tide causes respiratory, skin, and eye irritation.

Impact on Marine Life

Beyond humans, water pollution has huge impacts on marine life. Marine ecosystems are affected by industrial and municipal wastewater. Red tide rates low-oxygen conditions that kill fish and invertebrates. Water pollution contaminants reduce a marine organism’s life span, affect their ability to reproduce, and accumulate through the food chain. Furthermore, ocean acidification that results from carbon pollution kills shellfish, clownfish, and other marine life.

Pollutants of Water

A main pollutant of waterways is runoff fertilizer. Lawns require frequent fertilizer use, but have no way of preventing runoff well. Therefore, stormwater runs off from lawns, picking up the excess fertilizer and loading them into waterways. Fertilizer increases the excess of nutrients which simulate microorganism growth. The growth and reproduction of these microorganisms reduce the dissolved oxygen in the water, causing fish and other aquatic organisms to suffocate. Power plants are also large contributors of water pollution. Coal-fired power plants account for 72% of toxic water pollution in the nation. Additionally, vehicle exhaust also contributes to water pollution by combining with rain, which can lead to acid rain, which ends up in bodies of water. Lastly, oil released from cars can also mix with storm-water and pollute waterways.

How You Can Help

To prevent water pollution, solutions that you can implement include reducing your plastic consumption, properly disposing of chemicals, maintaining your car condition, implementing landscape that reduces runoff, avoiding pesticides and herbicides, and picking up poop from pets.