Since I was a 10 year old, pollution is a word I have been hearing almost on a daily basis. But until I was a young adult I was never really able to grasp the severity of it. These days, from the air we breathe to the food we eat and the water we drink, one has to take extreme precautions.
But among all of them, it is water that everyone warns you to be very careful about. The most precious drink in this world can also be the most lethal, thanks to the effluents and pollutants that we have been dumping in water sources for generations.
Every person, or at least those who are reading this are, I’m sure, aware of the reasons for water pollution. So instead of looking at the source, we are going to see its affects (to all life forms) and the steps and precautions required to make oneself safe.
Estimates in 2014 showed that water-borne diseases accounted for more than 3.5 million deaths per year. These diseases are a direct result of chemicals in the form of pesticides, industry effluents and so on. The most common water pollutants are chlorides, nitrates, lead, arsenic and flourides. While chlorides can cause reproductive disorders, nitrates affect oxygen flow to the brain and causes what is commonly referred to as ‘blue baby syndrome’. Lead affects the central nervous system while flourides damage the entire spinal cord. Arsenic, which is as lethal as its counterparts, causes liver damage and skin cancer.
Addition of chemicals to water bodies consequently increases nutrients in the water, giving rise to algal bloom. Since the chemicals are mostly toxic, the algal bloom is usually dangerous and is referred to as harmful algal bloom (HAB). HAB can cause serious ailments like rashes, respiratory problems and other neurological effects.
Now many people would have often come across the terms that have been discussed here and even the issues that are persistent but the seriousness of it can only be grasped when experienced first-hand. While many of us can claim to have been affected just because of a case of diarrhoea, there are more pressing issues out there. A few years back I, along with a few friends, visited a local slum. It was a social visit. We were there to help them in any way we could. The plight of many people there affected me greatly. There were people suffering from lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), skin cancer and constant stomach pain and they weren’t even aware that water was the major cause of all these issues. Since then I have personally taken it up as my duty to educate as many people as possible about these issues and how to lead a hygienic life.
Although as individuals we can only make so many changes, together, we can make a real difference. Instead of striving and rallying for unnecessary causes, it is for issues like these that people should try to force governments. At the end of the day, the government is there only because of the people and for the people. It is high time that we took a stand and made a difference. Also make it a point to talk to peers. Help them give up their bad habits and lead a sustainable life.