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ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION – 10

IMPACT OF GROUNDWATER POLLUTION

HEALTH IMPACT:

Poor drinking water quality results in various diseases. For example, arsenic poisoning can lead to skin diseases, gastro-intestinal diseases and cancer Fluoride contamination leads to damaged joints, bone deformities, fluorosis Prolonged intake of high Iron content water can cause haemochromatosis. Consumption of water containing high levels of Nitrate can be a cause for some types of Cancer. It can also cause the BLUE BABY SYNDROME which affects new born babies Viral and bacterial diseases due to contamination of groundwater by mixing of sewage and infiltration from latrine pits

SOIL AND AGRICULTURE: Contamination of groundwater leads to reduction in soil quality and affects productivity. High salinity has resulted in decrease in agricultural productivity. 

ENVIRONMENT: Groundwater pollution can cause certain types of nutrients that are necessary in small amounts to become far too abundant to sustain normal life in a given ecosystem. When groundwater that supplies Lakes, Rivers, Streams, Ponds, And Swamps becomes contaminated, this slowly leads to more and more contamination of the surface water

Indian scenario 

The predominantly agricultural and rural economy of India results in over-exploitation of groundwater for irrigation and drinking purposes. This has resulted in groundwater depletion and contamination a major issue of concern.  Some parts of various states are contaminated by Salinity, Arsenic, Fluoride, Iron, Nitrate and Heavy metals beyond the permissible limits of BIS. 

Overall, the groundwater is contaminated with the presence of excess nitrate in as many as 386 districts followed by fluoride in 335 districts, iron in 301 districts, salinity in 212, arsenic in 153 districts, lead in 93 districts, chromium in 30 districts and cadmium in 24 districts of different states across India.

According to a recent Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) Report, Punjab was found to be the highest groundwater exploited state in India followed by Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana. According to a 2016 Parliament committee report on water resources, nine states – in south, west and central India- groundwater levels are now described as “Critical”. “Critical” implies a stage where 90 per cent of groundwater has been extracted, with significant decline in recharge capability. 16 states and two Union Territories were categorised as “over-exploited”, which means 100% of groundwater has been drawn, with little chance of recharge.

NUTRIENT POLLUTION – EUTROPHICATION, ALGAL BLOOM

Eutrophication is when the environment becomes enriched with nutrients. This can be a problem in marine habitats such as lakes as it can cause algal blooms. Fertilisers are often used in farming, sometimes these fertilisers run-off into nearby water causing an increase in nutrient levels. This causes phytoplankton to grow and reproduce more rapidly, resulting in algal blooms. This bloom of algae disrupts normal ecosystem functioning and causes many problems. The algae may use up all the oxygen in the water, leaving none for other marine life. This results in the death of many aquatic organisms such as fish, which need the oxygen in the water to live. The bloom of algae may also block sunlight from photosynthetic marine plants under the water surface. Some algae even produce toxins that are harmful to higher forms of life. This can cause problems along the food chain and affect any animal that feeds on them.

MARINE POLLUTION

Oceans are the largest water bodies on the planet Earth. Over the last few decades, surplus human activities have severely affected marine life on the Earth’s oceans. Ocean pollution, also known as marine pollution, is the spreading of harmful substances such as oil, plastic, industrial and agricultural waste and chemical particles into the ocean.

Incidents like New Jersey-size dead zone that forms each summer in the Gulf of Mexico, or the thousand-mile-wide belt of plastic trash in the northern Pacific Ocean, tonnes of plastic found in the dead whales, coral bleaching, destruction of marine ecosystem like kelp etc. are the alarming threats which indicates the severity of this issue and its impact on global warming. 

Ocean water covers more than 70% of the Earth, and only in recent decades have we begun to understand how humans impact this watery habitat. Marine pollution, as distinct from overall water pollution, focuses on human-created products that enter the ocean. Before 1972, humans around the word spewed trash, sewage sludge, and chemical, industrial, and radioactive wastes into the ocean with impunity. Millions of tons of heavy metals and chemical contaminants, along with thousands of containers of radioactive waste, were purposely thrown into the ocean.

THE LONDON CONVENTION, ratified in 1975 by the United States, was the first international agreement to spell out better protection for the marine environment. The agreement implemented regulatory programs and prohibited the disposal of hazardous materials at sea. An updated agreement, the London Protocol, went into effect in 2006, more specifically banning all wastes and materials except for a short list of items, like leftover materials from dredging.

Many of these pollutants sink to the ocean’s depths or float far distances from their original source, where they are consumed by small marine organisms and introduced into the global food chain. Marine pollution encompasses many types of pollution that disrupt the marine ecosystem, including chemical, light, noise, and plastic pollution.

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