How does industrial water pollution get into my glass?
Industrial waste is a huge source of water pollution in the developed world, it produces pollutants that are extremely harmful to people and the environment. Many industrial facilities use freshwater to carry away waste from the plant and into rivers, lakes and oceans, which both pollutes our fresh water that we drink and pollutes the fish that we eat
Pollutants from industrial sources include:
Asbestos – This pollutant is a serious health hazard and carcinogenic. Asbestos fibres can be inhaled and cause illnesses such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, intestinal cancer and liver cancer.
Lead – This is a metallic element and can cause health and environmental problems. It is a non-biodegradable substance so is hard to clean up once the environment is contaminated. Lead is harmful to the health of many animals, including humans, as it can inhibit the action of bodily enzymes.
Mercury – This is a metallic element and can cause health and environmental problems. It is a non-biodegradable substance so is hard to clean up once the environment is contaminated. Mercury is also harmful to animal health as it can cause illness through mercury poisoning.
Nitrate – The increased use of fertilizers means that nitrates are more often being washed from the soil and into rivers and lakes. This can cause eutrophication, which can be very problematic to marine environments. See our page on Nitrate.
Phosphates – The increased use of fertilizers means that phosphates are more often being washed from the soil and into rivers and lakes. This can cause eutrophication, which can be very problematic to marine environments.
Sulfur – This is a non-metallic substance that is harmful for marine life.
Oils – Oil does not dissolve in water, instead it forms a thick layer on the water surface. This can stop marine plants receiving enough light for photosynthesis. It is also harmful for fish and marine birds.
Petrochemicals – This is formed from gas or petrol and can be toxic to marine life.
Xylenes - are chemical solvents used in industrial and consumer products, such as cleaning agents and paint thinners. Xylenes are known to cause nervous system damage and may harm developing fetuses. See our page on Xylenes.
Causes of Industrial Pollution
1. Lack of Policies to Control Pollution: Lack of effective policies and poor enforcement drive allowed many industries to bypass laws made by pollution control board which resulted in mass scale pollution that affected lives of many people.
2. Unplanned Industrial Growth: In most industrial townships, unplanned growth took place wherein those companies flouted rules and norms and polluted the environment with both air and water pollution.
3. Use of Outdated Technologies: Most industries still rely on old technologies to produce products that generate large amount of waste. To avoid high cost and expenditure, many companies still make use of traditional technologies to produce high end products.
4. Presence of Large Number of Small Scale Industries: Many small scale industries and factories that don’t have enough capital and rely on government grants to run their day-to-day businesses often escape environment regulations and release large amount of toxic gases in the atmosphere.
5. Inefficient Waste Disposal: Water pollution and soil pollution are often caused directly due to inefficiency in disposal of waste. Long term exposure to polluted air and water causes chronic health problems, making the issue of industrial pollution into a severe one. It also lowers the air quality in surrounding areas which causes many respiratory disorders.
6. Leaching of Resources From Our Natural World: Industries do require large amount of raw material to make them into finished products. This requires extraction of minerals from beneath the earth. The extracted minerals can cause soil pollution when spilled on the earth. Leaks from vessels can cause oil spills that may prove harmful for marine life.