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Water Pollution – The Result of Civilization’s Progress
Polluted water is not safe to drink, cannot be used for industry and is harmful to fish and wildlife. Water is polluted due to human waste and industrial activities. Water in its natural state, for example, sea water, may be unsuitable for human consumption. But the term “polluted” is generally applied only to water rendered unfit for consumption by the wastes of civilization.
Since water pollution is a result of the progress of civilization, the problem of impure water becomes more serious as the population grows and industries increase. The solution to this problem lies in the continuous advancement of water-pollution control.
Water used in homes and industries comes from rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and wells. Each of these sources can cause pollution. It is mostly solid and liquid wastes from houses and factories that cause pollution. But pollution also occurs from the waste that mixes with the air. This happens when some of the fumes and chemical fumes from factories are carried through the air and washed down to earth by rain. Chemicals sprayed on crops and trees to kill weeds and insects also cause pollution. These chemicals, washed from the soil by rain, often run into water bodies and pollute them.
Apart from body waste, both solid and liquid, there are other household wastes: soap, detergent, grease and dirt, bathing, dish washing, laundry and house cleaning. This waste water is known as sewage. Waste consists of organic matter, which is living or formerly living material. Organic matter will break down, or break down, into simpler substances. Waste also contains bacteria, some of which can cause disease.
Industrial waste comes from the manufacturing process. Depending on the specific process, the waste may contain organic matter, grit, acid, alkali, dye, metal, or some type of chemical compound. Since many industrial wastes end up in city sewers, the term “waste-water” is used instead of “sewage” for municipal waste.
Generally liquid waste from houses and factories is collected through sewers. If sewage is not to be treated, sewers carry it into water bodies. Otherwise sewers carry wastewater to treatment plants, where most of the impurities are recycled.
In communities without sewers, household waste goes into septic tanks, where bacteria turn some of the solids into liquids. The liquid then flows to an underground tile field. These liquids can contaminate shallow wells if they are adjacent to tiles. In some cases industrial wastes released into the ground contaminate underground water supplies, such as leaking sewers.
In rural areas, pollution can pose a threat not only to people but also to livestock. Waste sometimes flows into streams where drinking water accumulates, and sewage spills can affect even deep wells. In most parts of the United States, local health officials will test rural water supplies upon request.
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