Introduction to Water Pollution
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Water is one of the necessities of all the living organisms. Life cannot exist without water. Two third of the human body comprises of water.
About three fourth part of our earth is made up of water. Although there is water everywhere, very little water is in a usable form.
Less than 1% is available for human use in the form of surface waters as 97% is contained in oceans and sea and 2% is locked up in ice caps and glaciers.
Again in search of better quality of life, man has introduced lots of toxic materials into the water, making it unsafe for many purposes including drinking.
It now becomes the responsibility of every citizen to think about the problem and solve it.
Water pollution can be defined as the alteration in physical, chemical or biological characteristics of water through natural or human activities making it unsuitable for its designated use.
Any physical, chemical or biological change in water quality that adversely affects living organisms or makes the water unsuitable for specific uses referred to as water pollution.
Freshwater present on the earth surface is put to many uses. Moreover, It is used for drinking, domestic and municipal uses, agriculture, irrigation, industries, recreation etc.
The used water becomes contaminated and is called wastewater which contains residues of the activities taking place in each of them.
Thus passing through these industries, agricultural lands and the urban settlement the water gets soiled up or polluted and is loaded with organic and inorganic chemicals, pathogenic and non-pathogenic organisms and becomes unfit for human consumption.
Signs of Polluted Water
The bad taste of drinking water.
Offensive odours from rivers, lakes, and oceans.
A decrease in the number of fishes in freshwater and seawater.
Oil and grease floating on the surface.
Unchecked growth of aquatic weeds in water bodies.
Presence of color due to organic matter.
The water which suitable for drinking known as Potable water or Wholesome water.
It is free from impurities but principally consists of some minerals to give some taste.
The potable water should have the following qualities:
- It should be odourless and colourless.
- Also, It should be free from suspended solids and turbidity.
- It should be free from toxic substances.
- Moreover, It should be free from pathogenic organisms. It should have good taste.
- It should be aesthetically pleasing, i.e. cold and fresh.
Types of Water
A pure form of water: In the way of H2O, also known as distilled water.
Mineral water: Water with acceptable limits of minerals specified by potable water
Tap water: Water supplied by the concerned authority available at homes.
Polluted water: Water containing impurities not suitable for drinking.
Contaminated water: Water containing harmful impurities, not suitable for any purpose nor even can thrown in water bodies.
Water Quality Standards
The definition of water quality depends on the intended use of the water which may be either human consumption, or it may work for industries, irrigation, power generation, recreation etc.
Depending upon the purposed use of water, specific quality criteria established and based on these criteria, quality standards specified by health and other regulating agencies to ensure that the water quality is as per the proposed use.
Moreover, Different types of water use require different levels of water purity.
Also, Drinking water requires the highest standards of purity whereas water of relatively lower quality is acceptable for other purposes like agriculture, industry, hydroelectric power generation, recreation etc.
Water Quality Parameter
Main parameters which required to test for determining the quality of water can divide into:
(1) Physical (2) Chemical (3) Biological/Microbiological
Solids (suspended, dissolved, volatile)
Dissolved gases like Oxygen-Carbon Dioxide, Hydrogen Sulphide
Nitrogen compounds like Nitrites, Nitrates, Ammonical Nitrogen, Albuminoid Nitrogen
Moreover, Metals and other inorganic substances like Fluoride, Iron & Manganese, Lead, Arsenic, Iodides, Boron Cadmium
Biological parameters include various microorganisms like bacteria, virus, protozoa, worms present in water it may be pathogenic or non-pathogenic. Moreover, The agencies playing an essential role in specifying the norms for various effluents to discharge in the water bodies as well as for drinking water are:
- Indian Standards Institution (ISI)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- The United States Public Health Services (USPHS)
- Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
Sources of Water Pollution
Sources of water pollution can classify as
- Those sources which can identify as a single location called point sources.
- Moreover, Examples of point sources are industrial effluent, power plants, sewage discharge etc.
- So, it is possible to minimise the water pollution from the point sources if the wastewater is collect and given some treatment before it discharged into a water body.
- Non-point sources which also called an area or diffused sources.
- Those sources whose location cannot easily identify called non-point sources.
- Moreover, The discharge from this sources is not at any particular site, rather these scattered, which individually or collectively pollute the water.
- Also, Example of nonpoint sources is surface runoff from agricultural fields, overflowing small drains, rainwater sweeping roads, and fields etc.
Significant sources of surface water pollution are
- Sewage: discharge of sewers and drains.
- Industrial effluents from different industries.
- Synthetic detergents used for washing and cleaning.
- Agrochemicals like fertilisers containing nitrates and phosphates and pesticides used in agricultural fields which come in runoff from the agriculture land resources.
- Moreover, Also, Oil spillage during drilling and shipment.
- Waste heat from industrial discharge increases the temperature of the water bodies.
- Major sources of groundwater pollution are septic tanks, deep well injection of industrial effluents, mines etc.