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Water In a Changing World

Image via Pixabay

Water: An Introduction

A compound made up of two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen. This compound is so prevalent and yet so overlooked. It makes up 50-75% of our bodies (differs with age). 75% of the surface of Earth’s crust is water. However, it’s something most don’t even consider in their day to day. It is something so mundane, yet so important. Arguably, water is Earth’s most valuable resource.

Now, as such a valuable resource, it should be used sustainably. Did you know that around 80% of our wastewater (chemical runoff, sewerage, etc.) is released into Earth’s natural rivers, lakes, and oceans untreated? This means that loads of harmful contaminants are being released into our rivers, lakes, and oceans everyday.

Common Contaminants

It’s important to understand how we’re polluting our waterways. Here are some common contaminants found in rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans.

Arsenic: Arsenic gets into waterways mainly from coal plants. It can pose serious health threats to the skin, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.

Chloramine: Chloramine gets into waterways mainly from artificial filtration systems. It can cause anemia.

Copper: Copper gets into waterways mainly from industrial runoff and salts used for algae control. It poses serious health risks. Some of these risks include nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal problems, liver problems, and kidney failure.

Fluoride: Fluoride gets into our waterways via sediment deposits and municipally treated water. It can cause damage to the skeletal system.

Lead: Lead gets into waterways via industrial runoff, smelting, and service lines. It poses serious health risks, including damage to the brain, kidneys, and nervous system.

Mercury. Mercury is still found in many commercial consumer items, and so inevitably gets into our waterways. Fish and different sediments also contain high levels of mercury. This element poses serious health risks, including brain and kidney damage.

What can we do?

demanding change
Photo by Rosemary Ketchum on

So, what can we do about it? A lot, it turns out.

The first step we can take is raising awareness of the detrimental effects of polluted water. In addition, we can lobby to local and federal governments to demand better enforcement of keeping our environment clean. This precious resource needs to be protected.

Remember, change starts with YOU!


“Common Hidden Contaminants.” Water Quality Association,,, Keishamaza, and Nina Kajander. “World Water Quality Alliance Launched to Tackle Global

Water Crisis.” UN Environment Programme, United Nations, 19 Sept. 2019,


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