Monday, February 13, 2012

What are the major water pollutants?

There are several classes of water pollutants. The first are disease-causing agents. These are bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasitic worms that enter sewage systems and untreated waste.

A second category of water pollutants is oxygen-demanding wastes; wastes that can be decomposed by oxygen-requiring bacteria. When large populations of decomposing bacteria are converting these wastes it can deplete oxygen levels in the water. This causes other organisms in the water, such as fish, to die.

A third class of water pollutants is water-soluble inorganic pollutants, such as acids, salts and toxic metals. Large quantities of these compounds will make water unfit to drink and will cause the death of aquatic life.
Another class of water pollutants are nutrients; they are water-soluble nitrates and phosphates that cause excessive growth of algae and other water plants, which deplete the water's oxygen supply. This kills fish and, when found in drinking water, can kill young children.

Water can also be polluted by a number of organic compounds such as oil, plastics and pesticides, which are harmful to humans and all plants and animals in the water.

A very dangerous category is suspended sediment, because it causes depletion in the water's light absorption and the particles spread dangerous compounds such as pesticides through the water.

Finally, water-soluble radioactive compounds can cause cancer, birth defects and genetic damage and are thus very dangerous water pollutants.