Top 4 Consequences of Water Pollution: Can We Eliminate the Causes?

Water pollution indicates that one or several toxic chemicals or substances reached water sources and the buildup they form can trigger problems for people and animals. Therefore, the consequences of water pollution may be harsh, affecting all the creatures, from the microscopic level to plants, animals, and humans. Water pollution affects the quality of that water source while also affecting the creatures living in it.

The development of many industries after the Industrial Revolution led to water pollution. This happened due to the fact that many power plants spilled toxic substances in water sources like rivers, seas, and oceans. Many of them, besides disposing of their sewage in the water, also used nearby water sources to cool the engines. Hence, displacing water to use it in a cooling system and then returning it to the river is still water pollution.

Even if that water does not contain dangerous chemicals, it still has a higher temperature than it has initially had due to the cooling system. Power plants spill the water back into the river, lake or sea while it has a different temperature from the rest of the water source.

What causes water pollution?

Water pollution can be classified in many ways. The sources of water pollution can be considered to be Non-Point and Point. Point indicates the existence of pollutants coming from one source. For instance, in this category fall emissions coming from a factory. Non-Point indicate pollutants that come from several different sources.

Generally, industries generate a massive amount of waste, featuring pollutants and toxic chemicals that affect the quality of water sources. The waste products of power plants may contain nitrates, asbestos, Sulphur, mercury, and lead. Unfortunately, there are several industries which do not have secure waste management systems. Hence, they drain the waste directly in the fresh water which reaches lakes, rivers, canals and the sea.

These toxic chemicals can change the color, temperature and the amount of minerals in the water. Hence, this could pose a great threat to many marine species living in them and for people who consume it.

Sources of water pollution

Every household produces a certain amount of wastewater which is chemically treated and then released back into the water source. The water contaminated with sewage features harmful bacteria, causing severe health problems. Furthermore, besides industrial waste and sewage, there are also other methods and activities that cause water pollution like marine dumping, mining activities, oil leakage, pesticides, fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels.

The process of burning fossil fuels like oil and coal can trigger a massive amount of ash that float into the atmosphere. These dangerous particles that feature toxic chemicals can mix with water vapor. Hence, they become very dangerous because they turn into acid rain.

On the other hand, farmers use fertilizers and pesticides to protect their crops against bacteria and insects. Even if they prove to be very useful when it comes to plant growth, they can affect the environment. When they get mixed with water, they can cause damages to plants. Furthermore, when it rains, the rainwater that flows down the plants contains pesticides, and it slowly reaches lakes and rivers. Hence, they represent a great threat to animals and aquatic plants.

All these processes and methods disrupt many marine ecosystems and affect several sources of water that can trigger numerous health issues and diseases. Aquatic animals suffer changes, and some of the species are unable to adapt. Therefore, water pollution can lead to the extinction of some species. The environmental disruptions are extremely severe, also posing a major threat to humans too.

Two pipes and dirty water flowing through them

We need to stop water pollution until the number of endangered marine species rises.

The consequences of water pollution

Learning what are some of the consequences of water pollution can help us understand what we have to do to stop it. However, the consequences of water pollution depend on the quantity and type of chemicals that reach water sources. Several water sources located near urban areas are polluted. This happens either due to individuals dumping garbage there or industries dumping their sewage.

Animals’ death

When dangerous chemicals reach the water source, it contaminates the whole body of water affecting all the plants and animals living there. All the organisms living in the water may suffer due to ecosystem disruptions or modifications in their development. Other species can die, and their carcasses may reach beaches. Not only marine animals could die because of water pollution.

If industries dump chemicals into the water in a wild area, many animals, like bears, deer, etc. may drink the water. In this way, they may contract different diseases, or they could die, decreasing in population. Hence, this also affects their whole ecosystem.

Food chain disruption

Water pollution can disrupt food chains. Tiny animals in the water can eat pollutants like cadmium and lead. Then, predators can catch these tiny animals and eat them. They will also get contaminated. In this way, the food chains reach to be disrupted at all higher levels.


The disruption of food chains can advance that much in such a way that humans will suffer, too if they eat contaminated fish will. Hence, if we eat fish or seafood from polluted waters, the risks of contracting hepatitis is very high. Numerous developing nations encounter this problem since many people consume fish and seafood from contaminated sources of water.

In this way, they experience outbreaks of cholera or other diseases due to poor water treatment or inefficient sewage management.

Ecosystems’ disruption

Ecosystems establish relationships between numerous species which strictly depend on each other to evolve. Water pollution can severely damage or change ecosystems. Careless human pollution can now affect numerous water sources. Nevertheless, nature has its pay to us back, and when ecosystems suffer, then humans will do, too.

Summing up

The consequences of water pollution can severely affect the environment while also affecting ecosystems, animals’ habitats and numerous species of plants. The waste and sewage reaching water sources can be extremely harmful, disrupting food chains and causing the outbreak of several diseases. What is more, many marine species die out or decrease in number due to chemicals that leak into the water.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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