Effects of water pollution on Environment Upsc

Water Pollution Definition

The introduction (directly or indirectly) of substances or energy into the marine environment (including estuaries) results in deleterious effects to living resources, hazards to human health, a hindrance to marine activities” said United Nations, 1971.

Effects of Water Pollution

Water pollution adversely affects the health and life of man, animals, and plants alike. Polluted water is also harmful to agriculture as it adversely affects crops and soil fertility.

Pollution of seawater damages oceanic life. The effects can be catastrophic, depending on the kind of chemicals, concentrations of the pollutants.

The effects of water pollution are varied and depend on what chemicals are dumped and in which locations. Many water bodies near urban areas are highly polluted.

This is the result of both garbage dumped by individuals and dangerous chemicals legally or illegally dumped by manufacturing industries, health centres, and markets.

Death of aquatic animals

The main problem caused by water pollution is that it kills organisms that depend on these water bodies. Dead fish, crabs, birds and seagulls, dolphins, and many other animals often wind up on beaches, killed by pollutants in their habitat.

Disruption of food chains

Pollution disrupts the natural food chain as well. Pollutants such as lead and cadmium are eaten by tiny animals. Later, these animals are consumed by fish and the food chain continues disrupted at all higher levels.


The discharge of untreated and under-treated effluent contributes to severe ecological degradation.
The indiscriminate human activities such as open defecation, solid waste dumping, discharge of drainage water are responsible for the pathogenic bacteria water-borne diseases like Hepatitis-A, Typhoid, Malaria, Dysentery, Jaundice, Dengue fever, Viral fever, and worm infections.

Destruction of Ecosystems

Ecosystems can be severely destroyed by water pollution. Many areas are now being affected by careless human pollution, and this pollution is coming back to hurt humans in many ways.

Remedial measures to Control Water Pollution

  1. Comprehensive water management plan.
  2. Construction of proper storm drains and settling ponds.
  3. Maintenance of drain line.
  4. Effluent and sewage treatment plant.
  5. Regular monitoring of water and wastewater.
  6. Stringent actions towards illegal dumping of waste into the water bodies.

Types of Water Pollution

a. Surface Water Pollution

The poisonous or Hazardous things come in contact with the surface waters of river, lakes, oceans, etc and it gets mixed with water. This is called Surface water pollution.

b. Groundwater Pollution

Groundwater Pollution occurs if human-made things such as Chemical, Petroleum products, or wastes comes into contact with groundwater.

Also, the untreated waste gets leaked from Septic tanks from Homes, hotels, Industries, underground storage tanks with Chemical or Petroleum products, landfills which may contaminate the groundwater.

c. Microbiological Pollution

This kind of pollution happens when Water bodies get affected naturally by microbes such as viruses, bacteria, etc. When this water is consumed without treating its property it might cause illness in Humans, Animals, and also aquatic species.

d. Oxygen depletion Pollution

This Pollution is caused in the water bodies, when the oxygen levels in the water get reduced, due to the aerobic organisms dying and they are replaced by anaerobic micro-organisms. These anaerobic microbes are harmful to animals, aquatic species, and also to humans as they produce harmful toxins such as Ammonic and Sulfides.

Causes of Water Pollution

Causes of Water Pollution
Causes of Water Pollution By Doreen Mbalo – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/6975426427/in/set-72157629202806662, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36322132

There are several factors that water pollution and they are:

Discharge of sewage and wastewater

Sewage, garbage and liquid waste of households, agricultural runoff, and effluents from factories are discharged into lakes and rivers. These wastes contain harmful chemicals and toxins which make the water poisonous to aquatic animals and plants.

Dumping of solid wastes

The dumping of solid wastes and litter in water bodies causes huge problems.

Discharge of industrial wastes

Industrial waste contains pollutants like asbestos, lead, mercury, grease oil, and petrochemicals, which are extremely harmful to both people and the environment.

Discharge of industrial wastes

Industrial waste contains pollutants like asbestos, lead, mercury, grease oil, and petrochemicals, which are extremely harmful to both people and the environment.

Oil Spill

Seawater gets polluted due to oil spilt from ships and tankers while travelling. The spilt oil does not dissolve in water and forms a thick sludge polluting the water.

Acid rain

Acid rain is the pollution of water caused by air pollution. When the acidic particles caused by air pollution in the atmosphere mix with water vapour, which results in acid rain.

Global warming

Due to global warming, there is an increase in water temperature as a result aquatic plants and animals are affected.


Eutrophication is an increased level of nutrients in water bodies. This results in the bloom of algae in the water. It also depletes the oxygen in the water which negatively affects fish and other aquatic animal populations.

* * All the Notes in this blog, are referred from Tamil Nadu State Board Books and Samacheer Kalvi Books. Kindly check with the original Tamil Nadu state board books and Ncert Books.
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