Pollution comes in many forms, but specifically, what is water pollution? In simple terms, water pollution is contamination of water that reduces its usefulness to humans and other organisms in nature. Water pollution can affect lakes, rivers, oceans, streams and groundwater.
Polluted water can come from many different sources, including runoff from rain or melted snow. This contaminated runoff can pick up and carry oil, antifreeze, fertilizers, and pesticides, as well as materials such as plastic containers and other trash, eventually depositing them into nearby water sources. Specific household contaminants, such as surfactants, can also find their way into the water system through drain pipes that empty into storm sewers. Surfactants are ingredients found in detergents that help remove dirt and grime from your clothes that, because they are petroleum based, can be a contributor to both air and water pollution from manufacturing and disposal. According to the E.P.A., these ingredients are toxic to aquatic life by reducing fish and plankton populations.
Polluted water sources can be incredibly damaging to local ecosystems. Causing harm to one small part can throw the entire system out of balance, damaging the entire ecosystem. Water pollution is also considered a common cause of disease and death worldwide, especially in countries where sufficient treatment of the water is not available.
Every effort should be taken to use products that are environmentally friendly so damage to the environment as a whole is reduced. Find ways to use eco-friendly detergents and cleaning agents or reduce their use by investing in a detergent free cleaning system that connects to your washing machine. Avoid or reduce the use of plastic water bottles by installing a countertop water purifier. Refrain from dumping hazardous household waste such as paint, oils, solvents and detergents down the drain, in the trash or on the ground – dispose of them properly. The Center for Disease Control recommends checking with the manufacturers’ instructions for disposal, which can sometimes be found on the label; if not, check with their website.
When considering the impact each person can have on our water supply, the answer to the question “What is water pollution?” may simply be that it’s a responsibility we all share.