Water Pollution Tips

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Is there anything I can do to help prevent water pollution?

How to Help Prevent Water Pollution

Everyone can make an important difference in preventing water pollution. Keeping contaminants out of the water supply is much easier than removing them once they are already there. Since everyone needs water to survive, it's certainly correct to state that each person has a responsibility to play an active role in water pollution prevention in his or her community.

Tips for Water Pollution Prevention

  • Avoid dumping any type of waste in storm drains, or in their vicinity.
  • Do not pour any chemicals or hazardous materials down the drain.
  • Immediately report illegal dumping practices you observe to the proper authorities.
  • Keep your car in good working order and regularly inspect for leaks.
  • Make sure to pick up your pets' waste.
  • Minimize the use of chemical lawn and plant fertilizers.
  • Properly maintain your home's septic tank system.
  • Recycle antifreeze, motor oil, and other automotive fluids.
  • Reduce your usage of insecticides and pesticides in your home and yard.
  • Take steps to minimize soil erosion around your home.
  • Use a drinking water filtration system to keep your family from consuming harmful chemicals.
  • Utilize organic plant food in your vegetable gardens and flower beds.
  • Additional environmentally responsible activities.

   
Is there really a widespread problem with water pollution?

Startling Water Pollution Statistics

Not sure if water pollution is a serious problem that impacts you? These startling water pollution statistics will help you understand just how significantly the issue can impact your life and the lives of future generations.

On an annual basis:

  • 14 billion pounds of garbage, sludge, and sewage are dumped into the oceans.
  • 19 trillion gallons of various types of waste finds its way into the bodies of water around the globe.
  • More than 70 percent of the rivers and lakes in China are polluted.
  • Oil rigs and tankers spill or flush 900,000 metric tons of oil into the earth's water supply.
  • Some countries still allow chemicals to be dumped directly into the oceans.

   
What is the Clean Water Act?

Understanding the Clean Water Act

In the United States, the Clean Water Act is the primary legislation governing water safety issues. To really understand the relevant facts about water pollution and how this issue can impact your life, it's important to understand some of the basic tenets of this important piece of legislation.

Passed in the 1970s, the Clean Water Act has been amended over the years as circumstances dictate. This legislation has had a major impact on reducing water pollution and setting the stage for improved environmental conditions in the waterways under the jurisdiction of the United States. For example, this law provided the Environmental Protection agency with the authorization to set and enforce industrial wastewater standards.

The main purpose of the Clean Water Act is to prevent the direct discharge of pollutants into the waterways, to manage contaminated runoff, and to provide much needed funding to wastewater treatment cities located in municipalities around the country. While the law doesn't deal directly with issues of water quality or groundwater pollution, it's initiatives have given municipal treatment facilities the capability to strengthen and improve their efforts.

   
Are there any serious health effects of water pollution?

Health Effects of Water Pollution

Since the human body is made up primarily of water, humans must consume water in order to survive. Our food supply is also dependent on water. In the absence of water, human beings would dehydrate and starve. Simply put, human beings need water to survive. Even though there is a large amount of water on the planet, the widespread problem of water pollution poses a serious threat to the health and survival of mankind.

The effects of water pollution are serious, far reaching, and life threatening. One of the most dangerous problems posed by water pollution is that of infectious diseases. When water cannot be adequately treated, infectious diseases can spread very quickly through the water supply. Bacteria, parasites, and viruses can live in polluted water, allowing for the spread of dangerous illnesses such as typhoid, intestinal parasites, and many other diseases.

Many people associate problems with waterborne disease as being isolated to developing nations, but this is not always the case. The images you saw on television following Hurricane Katrina of people and animals trudging through streets flooded with canal water mixed with sewage, oil, and all types of substances prove that the devastating effects of water pollution can strike in even the most developed parts of the world. Each year, millions of Americans are made sick as a result of swimming in or drinking polluted water.

   
Can medicine cause water pollution?

Cosmetics, Drugs and Water Pollution

Need another reason to finish off your prescription? Medication released into the environment can effect animals and plants even in small amounts. This less-publicized cause of water pollution is also less-regulated. However, unused drugs are a huge water pollution problem, as enzymes and chemicals in the drugs are often carcinogenic. Unused cosmetics, perfumeds and even sunscreens have been shown to cause harm to wildlife as well. Because medicines and cosmetics can't be recycled, be sure to only purchase what you know you will need and always complete your recommended dosage.

   
What are the effects of water pollution?

Effects of Water Pollution

Fight water pollution to keep our planet safe. The effects of water pollution differ from region to region, depending on the pollutants in the water and environmental factors. Common effects of water pollution include unhealthy or poisonous water, sick animals that pass their sickness on to humans, ecosystems that are unable to support a normal diverse animal and plant habitat and more.

   
Is it safe to throw trash in storm drains and sewers?

Pollutants In Storm Drains & Sewers

Many people use storm drains and ditches as places to dispose of all kinds of pollutants, thinking that the water in them will end up in treatment plants. Street litter, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, pet and yard waste, motor oil, anti-freeze, household hazardous wastes, and paint are just a few of the pollutants that find their way into storm drains. This water travels from storm drains into local streams, ponds, and lakes into local streams and rivers. An important water pollution solution is to keep polluting materials out of storm drains and sewers.

   
Will filtered water improve my air quality at home?

The Clean Water/Clean Air Correlation

Do you think your water quality doesn't affect the quality of the air you breathe? Think again! When you filter the water that enters your home, you also dramatically improve your indoor air quality. Because many homes have an elevated level of chloroform gas that results from unfiltered tap and shower water's vaporization of chlorine, filtered water prevents this gas from contaminating the air you breathe at home.

   
What is water pollution?

The Basics Of Water Pollution

Water is undoubtedly the most precious natural resource that exists on our planet. It makes up 70% of the earth's surface. Although we recognize this fact, we disregard it by polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans. As a result, our planet is being irreparably harmed. Plant and animal species are dying off. Our drinking water has become greatly affected as well as our ability to use water for recreational purposes. Water pollution can be combated once we understand its causes and can then develop ways to reduce them.

   
How might I be contributing to water pollution?

Are You Causing Water Pollution?

One of the facts about water pollution you may not know is that you could be causing it! Driveways and walkways can be sources of water pollution. Oil, antifreeze, and other pollutants can collect on your driveway. If you hose down the driveway, the water carries all these pollutants to the streams. Sweep your driveway and walkways instead of hosing down. Use apple vinegar to kill moss on driveways and walkways. It's also important not to wash your car in the driveway. Soap and chemicals from your car seep into storm drains and ditches, ending up in our streams untreated.

   
How can I reduce water pollution in my daily life?

Clear Air for Clean Water

Water pollution and air pollution are linked to each other. One way to promote clean water is to promote clean air. Reduce pollutants from your car by riding your bike or walking more often. Carpool as often as you can, and consolidate errands so that you need to use your car less often.

   
Does pure water occur in nature?

What is Water Pollution?

Don't panic that your tap water isn't pure water. Every water source contains at least a few minerals. Some people even prefer the taste of drinking water that contains some minerals. Common pollutants and contaminants that we'd like to avoid such as mercury, aluminum and chlorine, are present in tap water in varying amounts depending on where you live and even what time of year it is. Even poisons such as arsenic and cyanide are permitted in small amounts.

Water is designated as polluted when it contains levels of chemicals or other contaminants that make it unsafe to use. You can find a list of contaminants that are considered safe by visiting the EPA Web site.

   
What are the effects of water pollution?

The Effects Of Water Pollution

The effects of water pollution are far-reaching. And it's not only humans who are affected. All plants and animals must endure poisonous drinking water, river and lake ecosystems that have become unbalanced and can no longer support biodiversity. Deforestation from acid rain can occur as well. On the whole, water pollution has long-term effects on our health and economic productivity.

   
Can my humidifier be contaminating the air?

Humidifier Safety

Do you use humidifiers in your home? If you don't maintain them properly, you may be contaminating the very air you're trying to enrich. Humidifiers can become breeding grounds for biological contaminants. They have the potential for causing diseases such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever. Evaporation trays in air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators should also be cleaned frequently. Always replace water levels with fresh, clean water!

   
How can my landscaping affect water pollution?

Landscaping and Water Pollution Prevention

Your next landscaping project can be an opportunity to encorporate some water pollution prevention strategies into your life. Use grass, wood, gravel and trees to decorate your yard instead of cement and rocks. Pavement in sidewalks, driveways and other landscaped areas increases the speed of runoff by limiting water's access to the ground. Faster flowing runoff is warmer than runoff that has been allowed to percolate. The warm water is dangerous to fish and can also erode streambanks.

Also, use plants in your yard that are native to your area. Non-native plants will need more fertilizer and water that can lead to water pollution.

   
Do livestock contribute to water pollution?

Livestock And Water Pollution

Waste from livestock pollutes our water. When it rains, water runs over fields and pastures and can carry harmful bacteria from livestock waste to streams and provides unwanted fertilizer in streams. One way to combat this pollution is to compost livestock waste. Also, it is helpful to fence livestock from stream access.

   
What happens when water is polluted?

Pollution Affects The Food Chain

Pollution in the form of organic material enters waterways in many different forms as sewage, as leaves and grass clippings, or as runoff from livestock feedlots and pastures. When natural bacteria and protozoan in the water break down this organic material, they begin to use up the oxygen dissolved in the water. Many types of fish and bottom-dwelling animals cannot survive when levels of dissolved oxygen drop below two to five parts per million. When this occurs, it kills aquatic organisms in large numbers which leads to disruptions in the food chain.

   
Where does water pollution come from?

Primary Sources of Water Pollution

What causes water pollution? That question can be quite difficult to answer, because so many different factors contribute to water supply contamination. The three primary sources of water pollution are: (1) municipal, (2) industrial, and (3) agricultural.

Municipal: Waste water from residential and commercial facilities is sent to municipal wastewater facilities for treatment. The process of treating water for reuse is a very complex and costly undertaking, and the stresses placed on treatment facilities increases as populations grow and industrial waste products become more complex and dangerous.

Industrial: Wastewater resulting from industrial activities contributes directly to both the increased stress placed on municipal wastewater treatment facilities and to direct pollution of the water supply itself. Pollution types vary by industry, based on the types of organic and synthetic substances used during the manufacturing process and the byproducts present in the resulting wastewater.

Agricultural: Both surface and groundwater are subject to pollution from agricultural waste. Agriculturally based water supply contamination can result from animal waste, the use of chemical fertilizers, and sedimentation that occurs due to the erosion of farmland.

   
What is a cause of water pollution?

Water Pollution's Chain Reaction

One of the many causes of water pollution is sewage and fertilizers that contain nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates. When these enter our water system in excess levels, the growth of aquatic plants and algae is over-stimulated. As a result of the excessive growth of these aquatic plants, our waterways are clogged. They use up dissolved oxygen as they decompose, and block light to deeper waters. Subsequently, the respiration ability or fish and other invertebrates that reside in water are also damaged.

   
What are the most common causes of water pollution?

Common Causes of Water Pollution

When you consider the many different causes of water pollution, it's not difficult to understand why drinking water contamination is such a widespread problem. Water pollution occurs both when harmful substances directly enter the water supply, as well as through changes that occur in the environment as a result of pollution causing activities. When you realize how many different types of water pollution there are, it's easy to see why water filtration systems are a necessity for every home.

Common Causes of Water Pollution Include:

  • Air Pollution
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Fuel Additives
  • Increased Water Temperature
  • Industrial Development
  • Landfills
  • Mining Activities
  • Fertilizers
  • Gasoline
  • Household Cleaning Products
  • Oil
  • Personal Care Products
  • Pesticides
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Plastics
  • Sediment
  • Sewage
  • Many Additional Causes

   
How can I reduce airborne contaminants in my home?

Water Filtration Systems & Reducing Airborne Contaminants

There are many ways to reduce your risk of airborne contaminants. Be sure to maintain and clean all appliances that come in contact with water. Have a professional inspect and clean appliances, such as filtration systems, furnaces, heat pumps, central and wall air-conditioning units, and furnace-attached humidifiers. Change the filters on all water as well as heating and cooling systems, according to the manufacturer's directions.

   
How can I support recycling while shopping?

Reduce Water Pollution While You Shop

You can fight water pollution by avoiding products that are heavily packaged or that are made with dyes. Look for packaging that indicates it can be recycled and try to stick to those items as much as possible. Many counties provide recycling pickup and even offer separate cans for homeowners to deposit their paper, glass and aluminum recyclables. If your county hasn't jumped on the recycling bandwagon yet, look for a local store that offers recycling recepticles. Make a habit of bringing your recycling to the store before you buy new products.

   
How can I keep my septic system from polluting the water?

Septic Systems Can Contribute To Water Pollution

In order to assure you do your part to keep water safe and clean, inspect your septic system every 3-5 years. Failing septic systems pollute. Untreated wastewater from old septic systems can contaminate nearby streams, drinking water sources, and bays. Be sure to pump septic systems as needed.

   
How can I get more in-depth information about water pollution?

Get Information About Water Pollution

Get more in-depth information about water pollution at the Water Quality Association Web site. The Water Quality Association is one of the groups that certifies water filters for effectiveness against contaminants. They provide an online water information library with access to several magazines that specialize in water quality. Access to the articles is free.

   
Where are the most polluted rivers in the world?

International Facts About Water Pollution

The US is relatively safe when it comes to water pollution. Check out these facts about water pollution around the globe to get a greater appreciation for the water pollution problem.

1. The most polluted rivers wordlwide are in Asia with 20 times more lead and 3 times more bacteria than the average for othe countries.

2. Ten percent of Europe's rivers and lakes are unsafe for swimming.

3. Every year, 5 to 10 million people die from diseases related to water pollution.

   
What is an organic water pollutant?

Hydrocarbons And Water Pollution

Hydrocarbons are a form of organic water pollutant. Hydrocarbons are carbon-hydrogen bonds, which can be divided up into two classes. The first is single-bonded alkanes, double bonded alkenes and triple bonded alkynes (gasses or liquids). The second is aromatic hydrocarbons, which contain ring structures (liquids or solids). Aromatic hydrocarbons such as PAHs are much more reactive than any of the first class kinds of hydrocarbons.

   
How can I find out about water safety at my travel destination?

Traveling and Water Safety

Check out the water pollution statistics for the country you plan on visiting before you depart. You can find information about water pollution by visiting the country's home page or by looking up travel advisories at the home page of the U.S. state department. If you are unable to find any information about your destination, assume that all water is contaminated. Drink filtered water or insist that all water is boiled before you drink it.

   
Will garden and lawn chemicals harm the water supply?

Gardening Safely For Our Water Systems

Did you know that commonly used garden and lawn chemicals can be causes of water pollution? Many pesticides and fertilizers have been found in neighborhood streams across the country. Whenever possible, pull weeds by hand. Avoid the use of chemicals to kill them. If you find it's necessary to use pesticides, try to use them sparingly and as directed. Search for organic alternatives to weed and bug killers.

   
How clean are US rivers, lakes and beaches?

Facts About Water Pollution in the United States

Think the U.S. has cleaned up it's water pollution problem? Unfortunately this is far from the truth. Learn a few facts about water pollution to see how much still needs to be done.

1. Forty percent of all US rivers are too polluted for safe fishing or swimming.

2. Forty-six percent of all US lakes are too polluted for safe fishing or swimming.

3. Each year, 25% of US beaches are either closed or under advisory at least once.

   
What should I know about using chemicals cleaners in my home?

Household Chemicals and Water Pollution Prevention

Water pollution prevention isn't just the responsibility of big corporations. Learn how to properly dispose of your own household chemicals to do your part in preventing water pollution.

Because chemicals can break down septic system pipes, never flush cleaners, grease or oil down any drains. Check containers whenever you use these chemicals to make sure there aren't any cracks that could cause leaking. Only use the recommended about of cleaner on any surface. More product doesn't make it more clean. Contact your city to find out about any proper disposal sites for your household chemicals.

   
What is the top cause of water pollution?

The Top Causes of Water Pollution

The top causes of water pollution are all types of nonpoint source pollution (NPS). NPS pollution is any polluted runoff that contaminates water, generally from urban stromwater runoff or mining, forestry or agricultural activites.

Follow these steps to limit the amout of NPS pollution in your area:
1. Keep debris out of street gutters.
2. Be conservative in applying lawn an garden chemicals and other pesticides.
3. Find out about community collection points for used oil, antifreeze and other chemicals.
4. Maintain your septic system every 3-5 years.
5. Only use detergents that are low in phosphorous.

   
How can I teach my kids about water pollution?

Teach Kids About Water Pollution

Teach your children about water pollution by visiting the United States Environmental Protection Agency Web site. You'll find plenty of age-appropriate activities, games and projects to give your children a respect for the environment and a desire to contribute to healthy water. From coloring pages for three-year-olds to instructions for building a watershet for high-schoolers, there's something for everyone at this site. Teachers and parents can also benefit from a special section designated especially for them.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Barbara Gibson