Clean and abundant water supplies are important for sustaining healthy communities (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2014). Indeed, as human beings, we depend on our water resources to sustain life. However, within the past few years, our human activities have greatly depleted our natural resources. Moreover, climate change has similarly had the same effect on our lakes, oceans, and rivers.
These factors have contributed to worrying statistics about human health outcomes because experts affirm a direct correlation between clean water resources and positive health outcomes (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2014). This paper discusses this issue as a public health concern by explaining the causes of water pollution, how it affects human communities, and the possible strategies that we could use to mitigate the concern. However, before doing so, it is important to understand my motivation for preparing this presentation.
My Interest in this Subject
My interest in studying water pollution, as a global health concern, stems from my career focus on public health. Indeed, since the discipline focuses on preventive health measures for improving community health outcomes (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014), making sure that our water systems are safe is a critical part of the science. Moreover, preventing water pollution is part of the World Health Organization (2013) vision, which perceives the process as part of community capacity building in disease prevention.
Causes of Water Pollution
There are many causes of environmental water pollution. However, we could summarize them based on the main contaminants – pathogens and chemicals. Although some of these substances are naturally present in large water masses, such as oceans and lakes, human activity has increased their concentration to undesirable levels (contamination). This way, our economic and social activities indirectly affect public health because they introduce disease-causing microorganisms (pathogens and chemicals) to our sources of water.
Impact on Human Communities
Waterborne diseases have created a serious disease burden on human populations. Moreover, this problem has strained national health resources around the world (World Health Organization, 2013). Particularly, many developing countries grapple with this challenge (Gambhir, Kapoor, Nirola, Sohi, and Bansal, 2012). Relative to this fact, the World Health Organization (2013) says that 40% of infant deaths stem from waterborne diseases (mainly diarrhea).
To show the depth of this phenomenon, the World Health Organization (2013) says, in 1995, health institutions reported about 1,500,000,000 incidences of diarrhea in developing countries. About 4,000,000 of these cases resulted in infant death. Based on the incidences and the impacts of these waterborne diseases, it is important to prevent their occurrences.
Improving Sanitation and Health Outcomes
Improving water quality depends on several factors, including wastewater management (industrial and domestic), imposing legal restrictions on water contamination, public health awareness, and water treatment. These multiple factors create a multifaceted approach that could curb the health problem. However, this approach requires the joint efforts of all stakeholders. For example, we need personal, community, and public sector efforts to improve health outcomes through improved sanitation. Therefore, having a multifaceted and inclusive approach to discuss this issue is a positive step towards improving public health outcomes.
Although the correlation between water pollution and human health is contentious, there is little evidence to dispute that we could improve human health through improved water quality. Based on the need to prevent water pollution, it is pertinent for people to make sure they drink safe water because they need to minimize their vulnerability to waterborne diseases.
Governments also play a significant role in this regard because they need to make sure they introduce effective policy frameworks for preventing water pollution. Based on the need to have safe water sources, all stakeholders must forge a united front in managing this health issue that threatens our existence.