Cause and Effect Essay on Pollution

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Water pollution is a sustainability issue that has been present for decades (Schwarzenbach, R. P. et al. 2010). It is important to understand more about this issue as it has both direct and indirect impacts on human health (Vallance, S., Perkins, H. C. and Dixon, J. E. 2011). For example, people drink freshwater, feed on seafood that is caught in the ocean, and industries use large amounts of water for their products which are later consumed by humans (Schwarzenbach, R. P. et al. 2010). In this article, an introduction to water pollution, the causes and effects of water pollution, different ways of polluting water, a few examples of studies of water pollution in different places, and solutions for water pollution will be explained.

Water Pollution

The definition of water pollution is the contamination of water bodies (Owa, F. W. 2015). These water bodies include lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers, and groundwater (Owa, F. W. 2015). It is usually due to anthropogenic activities. Water pollution results when contaminants run into the natural environment, such as releasing wastewater into natural water bodies leading to contamination of water bodies and degradation of aquatic ecosystems in the water bodies (DWS, D. of W. and S. (2013). Moreover, this can lead to public health problems for people living downstream as they may use the polluted river water for conducting daily activities, such as drinking, bathing, or irrigation (Reish, D. J. et al. 2006). Water pollution has a direct negative effect on these people. It is also a leading worldwide cause of death and disease. All plants and organisms living in or being exposed to polluted water bodies can have effects that can negatively affect individual species and negatively impact the food chain and thus the ecosystem, indirectly causing problems to human health (Reish, D. J. et al. 2006).

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Causes of water pollution may be of different varieties of chemicals and pathogens as well as physical parameters (Environmental Pollution Centers 2017). Organic and inorganic substances may be contaminants of water. The rise of temperatures can also increase the intensity of water pollution as this increases the metabolism or movement of these substances (Schweitzer, L. and Noblet, J. 2017). This type of pollution will occur when it acts as a coolant for power plants and industrial manufacturers. An increase in water temperatures also leads to a decrease in oxygen levels in the water which leads to oxygen deprivation in water and alters food chain composition, reducing species biodiversity, and fostering the invasion of new species (Schweitzer, L. and Noblet, J. 2017)

Managing Water Pollution

Water pollution is measured by analyzing water samples using physical, chemical, and biological tests (DWS, D. of W. and S. 2013). Control of water pollution requires appropriate infrastructure and management plans such as wastewater treatment plants (DWS, D. of W. and S. 2013). Sewage treatment plants and industrial wastewater treatment plants are usually required to protect water bodies from untreated wastewater (DWS, D. of W. and S. 2013). Agricultural wastewater treatment for farms and erosion control from construction sites can also help prevent water pollution. Nature-based solutions are another approach to preventing water pollution (Van der Bruggen, B. andVandecasteele, C. 2003). Effective control of urban runoff includes reducing the speed and quantity of flow. In the United States, management practices for water pollution include approaches to reduce the quantity of water and increase water quality (Van der Bruggen, B. andVandecasteele, C. 2003).

Agriculture causing Water Pollution

Agriculture has been identified as the largest contributor of nonpoint source pollution to surface water and groundwater worldwide (Chhabra et al., 2010). It corresponds to about 70 percent of water abstractions worldwide and plays a major role in water pollution. Agricultural sewage contains agrochemicals, organic matter, drug residues, and sediments (UNEP, 2016). The resultant water pollution poses risks to aquatic ecosystems, human health, and other human activities (UNEP, 2016).

Water pollution from agriculture has direct negative impacts on human health, such as blue-baby syndrome (Moss, B. 2008). High levels of nitrates in water can cause methemoglobinemia, which is a potentially fatal illness in infants. Pesticides may also accumulate in water and the food chain which will lead to demonstrated ill effects on humans (Carpenter, S. R. et al. 1998). This had led to the banning of certain broad-spectrum and persistent pesticides, such as DDT and many organophosphates (Moss, B. 2008). However, some of these pesticides are still used in poorer countries which caused acute and likely chronic health effects (Moss, B. 2008).

Sewage and Wastewater causing Water Pollution

Sewage and wastewater also contribute a lot to water pollution (Rajasulochana, P. and Preethy, V. 2016). Sewage disposal is severe in developing countries as many people in these areas do not have access to sanitary conditions and clean water (Rajasulochana, P. and Preethy, V. 2016). Untreated sewage water in such areas can contaminate the environment leading to diseases such as diarrhea (Abdel-Raouf, N., Al-Homaidan, A. A. and Ibraheem, I. B. M. 2012). Sewage is treated in water treatment plants and the waste is often disposed into the sea. Sewage is mainly biodegradable and most of it is broken down in the environment (UN-Water 2015).

In developed countries, sewage often causes problems when chemical and pharmaceutical substances are flushed down the toilet (UN-Water 2015). However, if people are ill, the sewage may carry harmful viruses and bacteria into the environment, leading to problems in the environment and human health (UN-Water 2015).

Radioactive Substances causing Water Pollution

Radioactive pollution refers to the pollution of living organisms and their surroundings due to the release of radioactive substances into the environment (Sharma, S. K., and Sanghi, R. 2012). This happens during nuclear explosions, testing of nuclear weapons, nuclear weapon production and decommissioning mining of radioactive ores, handling and disposal of radioactive waste, and accidents at nuclear power plants (Sharma, S. K., and Sanghi, R. 2012). The proportion of radioactive pollution is 15% of the total energy of the explosion (Sharma, S. K., and Sanghi, R. 2012). Radioactive pollution of water is the result of radioactive fallout from the cloud of a nuclear explosion. Radionuclides are the main sources of pollution as they emit radioactive substances (Sharma, S. K., and Sanghi, R. 2012).

Water Pollution in the United Kingdom

There are recent studies that show about 40% of all rivers in England and Wales are polluted by sewage which is due to outdated sewage treatment plants (The UK Parliament 2003). There are over 18,000 sewer overflows across England and Wales and about 90% of them discharge raw sewage mixed with rainwater directly into rivers (The UK Parliament 2003). The effects of sewage pollution are rapid algae growth which leads to oxygen deprivation (Hampson, D. et al. 2010). This affects animals that prey on aquatic life such as otters and kingfishers (Jarvis, A. P., and Younger, P. L. 2000).

Water Pollution in Japan

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an energy accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan initiated primarily by the tsunami following the Tōhoku earthquake on 11 March 2011 (The National Diet of Japan 2012). This incident has led to the release of large amounts of radioactive substances into the ocean (The National Diet of Japan 2012). People have direct and indirect impacts on this incident (Christodouleas, J. P. et al. 2011). As people may drink contaminated water and breathe contaminated air, this leads to very severe health problems, such as increasing the probability of having cancer and abnormal growth in children (Christodouleas, J. P. et al. 2011). In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that the residents of the area who were evacuated were exposed to low amounts of radiation and that radiation-induced health impacts are likely to be low. In particular, 2013 WHO report predicts that for evacuated infant girls, their 0.75% pre-accident lifetime risk of developing thyroid cancer is calculated to be increased to 1.25% by being exposed to radioiodine, with the increase being slightly less for males. The risks from a number of additional radiation-induced cancers are also expected to increase.

Water Pollution in Indonesia

Another example of water pollution is from Indonesia. In Indonesia, the condition of freshwater is always an issue that threatens its sustainability and becomes a national problem (Kido, M. et al. 2009). For example, in Rawa Pening Lake in Central Java Province in Indonesia, there is the occurrence of eutrophication, sedimentation, water quality degradation, and blooming of water hyacinth (Kido, M. et al. 2009). These problems also occur at other lakes in the country, such as Lakes of Toba, Maninjau, Singkarak, Kerinci, Tondano, Limboto, Poso, Tempe, Matano, Cascade Mahakam Semayang-Melintang Jempang, Sentarum, Sentani, Rawa Danau, Batur, Telaga Warna Dieng and several reservoirs such as Saguling, Cirata, Jatiluhur, Lahor, Karangkates, and Sengguruh (Pargal, S. andWheeler, D. (2002).

The government and local people of Indonesia use water for hydropower generation, drinking water, agricultural irrigation, fish farming, and tourism (Gumilang, H., Mukhopadhyay, K. and Thomassin, P. J. 2011). However, the phenomenon of a growing population and increasing industrial activities in the catchment area of Batujai reservoir always result in the discharge of various pollutants into the aquatic environment (Gumilang, H., Mukhopadhyay, K. and Thomassin, P. J. 2011). The pollutants can come from various sources, such as urbanization, high population growth, disposal of domestic waste, and excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture (Kido, M. et al. 2009).

Water Pollution in China

Large portions of China's aquifers suffer from arsenic contamination of groundwater (Wu, C. et al. 1999). Arsenic poisoning occurs after long-term exposure to contaminated groundwater through drinking. The phenomenon was first detected in China in the 1950s (Wu, C. et al. 1999). As water demand grows, wells are being drilled deeper and now frequently tap into arsenic-rich aquifers. As a consequence, arsenic poisoning is rising. To date, there have been more than 30,000 cases reported with about 25 million people exposed to dangerously high levels in their drinking water (Wu, C. et al. 1999).

According to studies, over 26 million people in China suffer from dental fluorosis (weakening of teeth) due to elevated fluoride in their drinking water (Schwarzenbach, R. P. et al. 2010). In addition, over 1 million cases of skeletal fluorosis (weakening of bones) are thought to be attributable to drinking water (Schwarzenbach, R. P. et al. 2010). High levels of fluoride occur in groundwater and defluoridation is in many cases unaffordable (Schwarzenbach, R. P. et al. 2010).

Solutions to control Water Pollution

Industrial waste treatment and anti-pollution laws are examples of ways to control water pollution (Owa, F. W. 2015) (El-Sadek, A. 2010).

Industrial facilities contribute a great deal to water pollution. This includes dumping oil, hydrocarbons, toxic chemicals, as well as petroleum into the ocean (Afroz, R. et al. 2014). Some power plants even release heated wastewater into the ocean, which worsens water pollution (Afroz, R. et al. 2014). It can be solved if proper protocol regarding quality waste treatment is followed, to eliminate toxic contaminants (Afroz, R. et al. 2014).

Regulation is also a way to control the problem (Strayer, D. L., and Dudgeon, D. 2013). If all countries implemented the proper laws and regulations against water pollution, there would be a solution to protect water from being polluted or continue being polluted in the future (Strayer, D. L., and Dudgeon, D. 2013).


It is important to be aware that water pollution is an important environmental issue and that it needs to be tackled in order to protect our health and general well-being (Edwards, P. 2015). There is still a lot more to be done to solve the problem. Fortunately, Governments and individuals across different places are starting to get more concerned about the issue. Solving the problem may take a long time but we are taking steps to tackle the problem. Surely, there will be new innovations and technology in the future to help with the problem and humans can continue to flourish in their lives (Edwards, P. 2015).


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