Water Pollution Facts

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What Causes Water Pollution?

The main causes of water pollution are varying volumes of pathogenic, chemical, radioactive and physical waste dumped in bodies of water. Some of these sources are known and easily identifiable such as wastewater and sewerage. Other sources may be animal fecal matter in local water supply streams.

Water pollution is a major cause of ecological and environmental damage. When heavy volumes of pollutants enter a body of water, the amount of natural light and oxygen in that water is reduced which can cause severe problems for plant and fish life.

The pollututants may also be toxic and affect the quality of the water directly. The ripple effect extends the impact of pollution to plant and animal life indirectly dependent on the water, such as birds who would normally feed on the fish.

Water Pollution Facts

  • 46 per cent of the lakes and 40 per cent of the rivers in the United States are too polluted for fishing, swimming and aquatic life.
  • Two-thirds of the bays and estuaries in the US are either severely or moderately degraded from phosphorus and nitrogen pollution.
  • 25 per cent of the beaches in the US are closed or under advisories because of water pollution in any given year.
  • 50 per cent of the 1200 species that are listed as endangered or threatened depend on rivers and streams.
  • More than 123 freshwater species became extinct in the 20th century.
  • 1.2 trillion gallons of polluted storm run-off, industrial waste and untreated sewage flow into US waters every year.
  • There are around 250 million cases each year of water-related diseases from polluted drinking water.
  • About five to 10 million people die each year from polluted drinking water
  • One million sea birds are killed from plastic waste in coastal area water.
  • One hundred thousand marine mammals are killed each year from plastic waste in coastal area water.
  • 80 per cent of the pollution in the ocean is land-based generated.
  • The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the size of New Jersey and is created by the 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution carried by the Mississippi River.
  • More than 73 different pesticides have been discovered in groundwater that is used for drinking water.
  • DDT and PCBs are widespread throughout the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
  • Rainwater distributes oil and antifreeze from cars to the groundwater.
  • 22 per cent of bottle water tested contained unhealthy contaminant levels.
  • It takes over 50 million barrels annually of oil to pump, process, refrigerate and transport bottle water.
  • Tap water is often safer to drink than bottled water.
  • It takes 17 million barrels of oil annually to make the plastic bottles used by people in the US for drinking water.
  • Water pollution is the top cause of deaths worldwide with 15,000 per day.
  • The two main causes of water pollution are sewage waste and waste water.
  • 400 billion tons of industrial waste is created annually and dumped into a river, lake, stream or ocean.
  • High miscarriage rates have been attributed to water pollution.
  • Water pollution induced diarrhea causes 1.5 million children’s deaths annually.
  • Water pollution is the main reason freshwater resources are in decline even though waster is a renewable resource.
  • Three per cent of the water in the world is fresh water.

Check out our other pollution facts posts: Air Pollution Facts | Land Pollution Facts | Noise Pollution Facts


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