100 Interesting Water Pollution Facts (2021 Updated)

Here are 100 facts related to water pollution causes and effects. Let’s learn together

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Before unveiling the 100 water pollution facts, let’s have a basic understanding of water pollution. Water as a significant resource of survival is uniquely vulnerable to pollution. Water pollution happens when toxic substances from cities, towns, or factories get dissolved in water bodies.  This mix of toxic substances in water causes water pollution, which then becomes a cause of alarm for all the living beings on Earth. UNESCO defines water pollution as an incident wherein any substance that is not present in water is dissolved in water in an undesirable concentration.

An increase in human population, urbanization, and endless industrialization have contributed most to contaminated water, the natural resource which is essential for all life forms to sustain and survive.

Why is Water Pollution harmful?

The failure to meet basic survival needs by having safe-drinking water is considered as a cost that we paid in the name of development. The UN, signed the Millennium Development Goals in 2020 wherein a pledge was taken by the countries of the world, to lessen by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water. It is significant to focus on achieving this goal because the availability of clean and safe drinking water can solve many health issues and thereby eradicate poverty and inequality.

According to a recent report by NITI Aayog, it was stated that from 2018, India has been suffering the “worst water crisis in history”. A recent survey report estimated that 70% of surface water in India is unsafe for consumption, with an estimation of 40 million liters of waste being added to water bodies every day around the nation. This has resulted in numerous deaths and stress on all living beings.

Water pollution is a threat to life, and honestly speaking: it kills.

Water Pollution Facts and Statistics

Here are 100 water pollution facts for water pollution facts and statistics:

  1. Water being a ‘universal solvent’ makes it very vulnerable to pollution.
  2. Annually, approximately 14 billion pounds of garbage, mostly plastic, is dumped into the world’s water bodies.
  3. The four main causes of water pollution in India are – Agriculture, social-religious beliefs, human activities, and industrial discharge.
  4. Water Pollution can be broadly categorized into three categories – surface water pollution, marine water pollution, and groundwater pollution.
  5. The problem of water pollution makes it important to have programs for testing and treatment of contaminated water.
  6. More than a quarter of the world lacks access to clean water with Uganda being on top of the chart. Approximately 40% of the population of Uganda travels 30 minutes and more to get access to clean water every day. 
  7. 70% of the lakes and rivers of China are polluted, While 80% of India’s water bodies are severely polluted.
  8. Another heartbreaking fact hidden behind the big problem of water pollution is that in India more than 1000 children die due to the lack of access to safe water every day.
  9. Water pollutants include both organic and inorganic factors.
  10. Waste from trees, plants, animals, etc. are organic factors of water pollutants.
  11. Inorganic factors include ammonia, chemical waste from factories, and discarded cosmetics.
  12. A significant fact that we are mostly unaware of is only about 1% of Earth’s water is freshwater, the rest is salty water.
  13. Surface water refers to the top layer of any water body. The problem of surface water pollution occurs because of industrial waste.
  14. Surface water contains certain organisms that can break down pollutants into harmless substances giving it a tendency to clean itself.
  15. Globally, 80% of the population with a lack of access to safe water belongs to rural areas, and 50% of the total population who is having unsafe water sources belongs to Africa.
  16. When waste is washed or blown into the oceans causing immense destruction to marine life it is called marine water pollution.
  17. While groundwater is the most reliable source for irrigation and agriculture, it is also suspected to be polluted when man-made products get into it.
  18. Gravity plays a major role in groundwater pollution.
  19. While some of the deadly water-borne diseases are Typhoid, Paratyphoid fever, Cholera, Diarrhea, Tuberculosis, and Jaundice; about 80% of stomach diseases are caused by water pollution.
  20. Urbanization, capitalization, and industrial development are major causes of water pollution; and poverty, Inequality, and discrimination are the major cause of water scarcity.
  21. Municipal wastewater is as prominent a source of water pollution as industrial waste.
  22. If we fail to lessen the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water then by 2030, 700 million people worldwide will have to be removed from their places causing immense migration because of water scarcity.
  23. It was in 2010 when the Right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation was recognized as a human right.
  24. An exquisite fact is that with a score of 97 on the ocean health index, Russia tops the list of countries with clean water.
  25. We must know that pathogens are disease-causing microorganisms.
  26. We must also know that pathogens are found in faeces, thus all sewage waste is likely to contain pathogens. If waste-water treatment is not followed appropriately, the water is polluted and causes deadly diseases.
  27. One more mesmerizing fact is that heat is also a water pollutant. Heat can reduce the oxygen-retention capacity of water. This is known as Thermal Pollution.
  28. In June 2021, an oil spill incident caused massive destruction in the Bay of Bengal, wherein ten kilo-liters of oil were spilled in the Bay of Bengal due to a crack in a merchant vessel’s fuel tank. Oil (petroleum) pollution harms aquatic life and causes immense loss.
  29. Oil Pollution first came to public attention with the Torrey Canyon disaster in 1967.
  30. The most notorious and destructive oil pollution incident was the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska happened in 1989.
  31. The cleanup expenses by Exxon, after the oil spill incident, were about $2 billion.
  32. Sediment pollution comes from non-point sources, such as construction, agricultural and livestock operations, logging, flooding, and city runoff.  This contaminates water and causes water pollution.
  33. Another cause of water pollution is the occurrence of dead zones. This happens because of the reduction of the level of oxygen in certain coastal areas.
  34. The world now has approximately 700 dead zones where sea animals cannot survive.
  35. One of the sources of water pollutants refers to ‘point sources’ – a pipe source that is used in releasing industrial and domestic sewage waste is called ‘point source’.
  36. When a variety of water pollutants enter water bodies without any confined source or area it is then called a ‘dispersed source’ of water pollutants.
  37. While point sources of water pollution are easy to control, it is a task to control dispersed sources of water pollutants.
  38. Water pollution is measured by analyzing water samples.
  39. Water samples can be analyzed by Physical, Chemical, or Biological testing.
  40. Determining water quality and safety is not based on the clarity of the water. The same water that is suitable for swimming and fishing can be polluted enough to be unsafe for drinking and cooking.
  41. Yamuna, River Salween, River Plate, River Danube, and the Rio Grande are the five most polluted rivers around the globe.
  42. Currently, the world is dealing with a severe situation of water pollution, whereas more people are killed by unsafe water than any other form of violence like war.
  43. As per many survey reports, by 2040 almost the entire population of the Middle East and South Asia will face severe water stress only because of water pollution.
  44. 10% of Beaches in America are not even safe for swimming anymore due to extensive water pollution.
  45. People who belong to poor countries pay around 10 times more than rich country people, for buying water from water vendors.
  46. Water use increased globally every year by 1% causing immense pressure on the limited availability of water, an endangered resource.
  47. Globally, 35% of healthcare facilities lack the availability of water and soap for washing hands. This becomes a major concern in times of COVID crises.
  48. Even if rich people are able to access clean water, water pollution is a problem for everyone because of the growing percentage of water scarcity and water pollution.
  49. Color, odor, taste, and temperature are good physical parameters that indicate contamination of water.
  50. Algae, fungi, viruses, and bacteria are a few biological parameters on which the level of water contamination can be judged.
  51. Plant nutrients, i.e. nitrates and phosphates can enter water bodies. This supports the growth of algae.
  52. Eutrophication is a process when a water body becomes rich in plant nutrients.
  53. As per a 2012 UN report on nutrients in water bodies, the number of lakes with harmful algal bloom will increase by approximately 20% causing more harm to these water bodies.
  54. Humans add as much nitrate into the environment as plants and that is the reason why the growth of the human population also becomes a cause of water pollution.
  55. De-nitrification is an economical approach that converts nitrates present in the water into gas and works as a treatment for polluted water.
  56. Radioactive waste can cause water pollution and is dangerous to the health of all living beings.
  57. Radioactive pollutants include wastewater discharges from factories, hospitals, and uranium mines.
  58. Sedimentation, coagulation, and filtration are the steps of primary treatment of wastewater before dumping it into water bodies.
  59. City Sewage is the main source of river pollution in India.
  60. Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, and climate change, also cause a change in water quality.
  61. To solve this global issue of water pollution, ongoing revision of water resource policy at all levels is required.
  62. One of the first environmental legislation in India is the water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  63. Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Boards were established in India under the water act 1974.
  64. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA) under article 253 of the constitution was enacted in the wake of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
  65. The use of fertilizers is one of the causes of water pollution and India is currently the world’s third-largest producer and user of fertilizers.
  66. The use of compost instead of fertilizer can help in reducing water pollution.
  67. Global warming is an increase in the earth’s temperature due to the greenhouse effect, this adds on to thermal water pollution.
  68. A mesmerizing fact about water pollution is that it is also linked to air pollution which causes acid rain, thereby leading to water pollution.
  69. Septic tank is an innovative water treatment technique that treats sewage water at the same location where it originates instead of taking it far away.
  70. Even in developing countries, more than 80% of sewage is discharged untreated, polluting and contaminating water bodies.
  71. A very disheartening fact about water pollution is that one million seabirds die every year because of it.
  72. The appearance of green roofs has served several purposes for environmental change such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, and creating a habitat for wildlife.
  73. The first appearance of the green roof was in the Ziggurat of Ancient Mesopotamia, from the fourth millennium until 600 BC.
  74. Earth day is an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of water pollution and all other pollution and enlighten people about their roles in reducing any kind of pollution.
  75. Another thought-provoking fact about water pollution is that it is caused when drugs like birth control pills, painkillers, and antibiotics make their way into wastewater. 
  76. Do you know that you can survive several days without food but not without clean water?
  77. Dreading that our rivers have six times more wastewater than water in rivers.
  78. More than 50% of aquatic species are at risk of extinction. Also, 24% of mammals connected to water bodies are in threat.
  79. Approximately 80% of ocean waste is plastic.
  80. The cost of development is such that everything that is a byproduct of human civilization and by human civilization is a threat to the environment.
  81. As per the deaths due to pollution survey, every eight seconds, there is a death of a child under the age of five due to water pollution.
  82. Factually speaking, it is not merely a choice but the need of the hour to act and stop water pollution.
  83. Each organism in an ecosystem has a role to play to maintain the health and safety of the ecosystem.
  84. As per the UN, the current level of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygienic) financing is not sufficient to meet sustainable development goals.
  85. On an optimistic note, as per the UN reports, 70% of countries have determined plans to reach low-income communities with WASH.
  86. Only 44% of the rural population is able to have access to safely managed sanitation.
  87. It is further heartbreaking to know that less than 50 countries globally mention women’s participation in water management. Creating gender barriers amid big crises like water pollution.
  88. In 8 of 10 rural households, women and girls are responsible for providing clean water to the family. 
  89. Almost half of the schools lack access to handwashing facilities which will become an even bigger challenge during the pandemic and in post-covid scenarios.
  90. Another challenging fact faced globally is that 90% of global power generation is water-intensive in nature.
  91. The most cost-effective health intervention is hygiene promotion.
  92. Every year, climate change is increasing the number of water-stressed regions globally.
  93. Changes in water availability also trigger refugee dynamics and political instability.
  94. Draughts account for 5% of all natural disasters.
  95. Recovering from water-related disasters requires heavy funding and investment.
  96. As per one of the UN reports, out of all the natural disasters that occurred between 2001 and 2018, 74% were water-related disasters.
  97. 40% of household wastewater is left untreated causing immense water pollution.
  98. Without proper governance and policies, the water crisis is only going to escalate.
  99. The physical world of water is also bound to its socio-political world.
  100. Water is at the core of sustainable development.
READ MORE:  The Potential of Vertical Farming for Food Sustainability

Editor’s Note

Water pollution is becoming a cause of serious concern for all sections of society across the globe. By embracing a sustainable lifestyle and spreading awareness in our vicinity, we can very well become a part of the change.

If you have any other relevant facts related to water pollution, kindly write them down in the comment section below, we will certainly consider adding them to this compiled water pollution facts list.


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