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Causes of Water Pollution

Water pollution is a serious problem that affects everyone.  Over 40% of the rivers and 46% of the lakes in America are too polluted to fish in, swim in, or maintain marine life.  There are many causes of water pollution.  Water pollution come from two different types of sources. A “point source” is a result of pollutants being emitted directly into a water body, such as a pipe from an industrial facility leaking toxics directly into the water.  There is also a “nonpoint source” type of polluting that is a result of pollutants being indirectly transported to the water such as run off from fertilizers flowing in to a larger body of water by rain.

One of the most common causes of water pollution is from pesticides.  Pesticides run off from farms and individual home owners into streams and rivers and are also absorbed into the ground water polluting the water that people drink and causing trouble with the fish in the rivers where the pesticides run off.  Another one of the causes of water pollution are fertilizers and nutrient pollution. Nitrates and phosphates that are prevalent in the manure, sewage and chemical fertilizers that run into the streams and rivers causes excessive growth in aquatic plants and algae leading to clogged waterways and dead zones.

Oil, gasoline and additives spills such as what happens when a major oil tanker has a leak is one of the causes of water pollution that gets a lot of coverage and press due to it’s effects o marine animals, local fisherman and coastal businesses. Oils can also seep into the waterways through the groundwater as a result of a leak or small spill.  Another one of the causes of water pollution as a result of an industry is mining which exposes heavy metals ad sulfur compounds that get leached and absorbed into the ground water and make their way into the nearby water sources.  Mines can continue to drain toxic elements into the water supply long after the mining has come to a close.

A few additional causes of water pollution are:

• Sediment build up as a result of clear cutting
• Chemical and industrial processes that produce waste that is injected into deep groundwater sources
• Personal care products and household cleaning products such as bleach, fabric softener, lotion, perfume and hair dye
• Pharmaceuticals such as growth hormones used in farming
• Sewage
• Air pollution due to power plants and emissions from vehicles
• Carbon Dioxide which causes acidification in oceans
• Heat from power plants that causes water pollution by killing fish and marine organisms.

There are many other causes of water pollution in addition to these that will need to be dealt with and addressed in order to reduce the strain on the water supply.



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