Every year, more than 3 million people die from diseases related to water quality. This means one death every 10 seconds. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries. We could easily prevent them with minimal investment. More than 2,2 billion people do not have access to safely managed drinking water services. In addition, 4,2 billion people also do not have access to safe sanitation services.
Contaminated water: Drink water and/or die
Millions of women and children must walk more than 10 kilometers a day to reach a water source. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 85% of the causes of illness and death in the world come from contaminated water. Lack of access to safe water is also causing these deaths. Many people find themselves in the dilemma of drinking poor quality water to survive. But this contaminated water may cause them some diseases that could lead to death. The consumption of contaminated water can cause many disorders. Some of them are diarrhea, malnutrition, intestinal nematode infections or schistosomiasis, among others.
Improving access to drinking water and sanitation services has the potential to prevent 9% of diseases worldwide. This would mean a radical improvement in the quality of life of millions of children in developing countries. They suffer the most from the consequences of a precarious water system.
The WHO defines contaminated water as water whose “composition has been modified so that it does not meet the conditions for its intended use in its natural state.” The presence of substances such as microbes, heavy metals or certain compounds degrade the quality of water. Water pollution means a drastic reduction in the amount of an already scarce resource as water.
The main causes of water contamination and deterioration are:
- Untreated discharges: Approximately 86% of the wastewater is discharged without any treatment. This is a huge risk to the health of the surrounding populations.
- Increase in temperature: At higher temperatures, the water has a lower capacity to retain dissolved oxygen. This causes the death of many organisms. But also the reduction of the capacity to self-purify certain substances.
- Irrigation returns: Most agricultural activities use large amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. They have a strong impact on water quality.
- Deforestation: The reduction of the forest mass favors the erosion of the soil. It increases the amount of substances contained in the water.
- Mining: For the extraction of certain metals it is necessary to use a lot of water. If it is not treated, this water is a serious problem for the ecosystem.
- Oil spills: Oil extraction practices involve the contamination of large amounts of water.
Nature has a certain capacity to purify certain substances. To avoid exceeding this capacity, the use of purification stations is essential. They help to prevent the uncontrolled discharge of contaminated water into the natural environment.
Many people find themselves in the dilemma of drinking poor quality water to survive. But it may cause them diseases that lead to death.Qatium
African women walking with water containers on their heads in a village near the city of Tanzania
In general, a discharge of organic materials in a river has the following effects:
Degradation zone: it occurs just after spillage. There the amount of dissolved oxygen begins to drop drastically. The most delicate forms of life disappear and the microbial flora degradation begins.
Active decomposition zone: oxygen concentrations are so low that anaerobic decomposition takes place. This causes the release of gases and bad odors.
Recovery zone: oxygen concentration begins to recover. More complex forms of life reappear and water clarifies.
Clean water area: healthy balance of physical-chemical and biological characteristics of water.
Water is life
Millions of people deal everyday with the negative effects of living with contaminated water. To prevent this, it is necessary to ensure access to a quality service of drinking water and sanitation. While you were reading this article, 25 people died from causes related to water quality. It is time to act now!