Everyone knows the phrase "water is life". You may use it as a hook for water pollution essay. At present, the problem of water contamination is the most pressing. Without water, a human cannot live more than three days. But even realizing the importance of the role of water in people’s life, we still continue to exploit water bodies irrevocably changing their natural regime due to negative impact of wastes.
The tissues of living organisms consist of 70% of water. There is a huge amount of water on the Earth, but 97% of the stock is the salt water of the oceans and seas, and only 3% is fresh water. And even worse than that, three-quarters of fresh water are almost inaccessible to living organisms, since it is conserved in glaciers of mountains and within polar zones. As for the water available to living organisms, most of its bulk is in their tissues.
You can mention in a water pollution cause and effect essay that before the development of civilization, the cycle of water in the biosphere was balanced. The oceans received from rivers as much water as was lost during its evaporation. With the development of civilization, the natural cycle was violated. As a result of irrigation of crops, evaporation from soil increased. The rivers of the southern regions have become shallower. The pollution of oceans and the appearance of an oil film on their surface have reduced the amount of water evaporated from the ocean. All ot these factors worsen the water supply of the biosphere. Droughts become more frequent, and centers of ecological disasters appear. These problems are closely connected to climate change in general. If the climate did not change, rivers would not dry out and water level in lakes would not be lowered.
In addition, fresh water which returns to the ocean and other water bodies from land are often polluted to the extent where they become unsuitable for drinking. Today, in many parts of the world, there is not enough water that can be used for drinking, industrial production, and irrigation. Therefore, the relevance of your water pollution research paper should be substantiated by the fact that the world faces resource exhaustion and this issue requires immediate solution. If you are to give up and buy assignment online, just read this guide and change your mind.
This is the most common and maleficent type of pollution. It can be organic and inorganic as well as toxic and non-toxic.
1.1 Toxic organic compounds
Due to the toxicity and resistance, pesticides have become an effective tool for controlling the populations of pests and weeds. With their help, humans protect crops and improves yield. At the same time, there are many negative aspects that come from the use of these substances, which should be described in a “Pesticide water pollution” essay.
Pesticides cause enormous damage to the environment. Because of their accumulation, natural chains of exchange are disrupted, biological and chemical processes slow down. Due to the impossibility of natural decomposition, various poisons accumulate in the organisms of animals or plants and reach maximum concentrations. When predatory species of animals eat infected prey, they receive a significant dose of toxic substances which continue to increase in their bodies.
Chemicals, dissolved in rainwater and absorbed by soil fall into the groundwaters and then they travel to rivers of farmland, where they are accumulated in fish and smaller aquatic organisms. Although some creatures have adapted to these harmful substances, there have been cases of mass death of certain species, probably due to poisoning with agricultural pesticides. For example, insecticides rotenone and DDT, pesticides 2,4-D, etc. cause harm to ichthyofauna.
Even if the concentration of toxic chemicals is non-lethal, these substances can lead to animal death or other harmful consequences at the next stage of the food chain. It is also worth mentioning in an essay on diseases caused by water pollution that gulls died after eating large amounts of fish containing high concentrations of DDT. Some other fish-eating bird species, including bald eagles and pelicans, were threatened with extinction due to reduced reproduction. Because of the pesticides that got into their bodies, the eggshell became so thin and fragile that the eggs were damaged, and the embryos died at the nestings.
1.2 Toxic Metals
You may also focus your “problems of water pollution” essay on the fact that lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and other toxic metals also can accumulate in water. With prolonged and gradual increase of the dose the same damage is caused as when receiving a single large dose.
High level of mercury is observed in industrial effluents, lakes, and rivers. Passing through the organisms of bacteria, the toxic substances become even more harmful. Getting into the bodies of people and animals, these poisons cause dysfunctions of the nervous system, brain, and even mutational processes.
Today, fish contaminated with methylmercury regularly gets at our dining tables. Even if the fish does not die from poisoning with the absorbed substances, it performs an intermediary role. A human can suffer from poisoning. Even a lethal outcome is possible.
Another poison that accumulates in the water bodies is arsenic. The scientists found it in cleansers and dyes used in the production of toilet paper and napkins.
Lead was also found in industrial waters. It is used in metal industry, in manufacturing of batteries, gasoline, glass, insecticides, and paints. The same applies to cadmium which is used at battery factories.
1.3 Other inorganic pollutants
You may also inform the readers of a water pollution argumentative essay that, in the intake basins, some metals (such as iron and manganese) are oxidized as a result of chemical or biological (under the influence of bacteria) processes. For example, rust is formed on the surface of iron and its compounds. Soluble forms of these metals exist in different types of sewage. They were found in the waters leaked from mines and dumps of scrap metal, and also from natural bogs.
Salts of these metals, oxidized in water, become less soluble and form solid residues from solutions. This way water acquires unnatural muddy color. For example, the drainage water of iron ore mines and scrap metal dumps is colored red or orange-brown due to the presence of iron oxides (rust).
Such inorganic contaminants as sodium chloride and sulfate, calcium chloride, etc. (i.e. salts formed during the neutralization of acidic or alkaline industrial effluents) cannot be processed biologically or chemically. It should become one of the central ideas of your “effects of water pollution” essay that, although these substances themselves are not transformed into poisonous compounds, they affect the quality of the water in effluents. It is highly recommended to avoid using water with high salt content, since it forms a sediment on the walls of pipes and boilers as well as harms the human body.
Such inorganic substances as zinc and copper are absorbed by muddy bottom sediments of wastewaters. Then, together with these fine particles, they are transported by the current. In an acidic environment, their toxic effect is stronger than in a neutral or alkaline ones. In the acid wastewaters of coal mines, zinc, copper, and aluminum reach concentrations that are deadly to aquatic organisms. Some pollutants, even if they are not very toxic, are transformed into harmful compounds as a result of chemical reactions (for example, copper in the presence of cadmium).
2. Biological pollution
2.1. Generation of gases
Use the following biological water pollution facts for an essay. Ammonia is the main product of microbiological decomposition of proteins and animal secretions. Ammonia and its gaseous derivative amines are formed both in the presence and in the absence of oxygen dissolved in water. In the first case, ammonia is oxidized by bacteria with the formation of nitrates and nitrites. In the absence of oxygen, ammonia is not oxidized and its content in water remains stable.
With a decrease of the oxygen content, the nitrites and nitrates are converted into nitrogen gas. This often occurs when water draining from fertilized fields and already containing nitrates gets into standing ponds, where organic remains also accumulate. In the bottom sediments of such reservoirs, anaerobic bacteria develop in an oxygen-free environment. They use oxygen present in sulfates and form hydrogen sulfide.
When there is not enough available oxygen in the compounds, other forms of anaerobic bacteria develop. They contribute to the decay of organic substances. Depending on the type of bacteria, carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4, a combustible gas without color and odor, which is also called a swamp gas) are formed.
It should be mentioned in an essay on water pollution for school students that artificial materials that decompose biologically increase the burden on bacteria, which, in turn, leads to raised consumption of dissolved oxygen. These substances are purposely created in such a way that they can be easily processed by bacteria, i.e. they can decompose. Natural organic resources are usually biodegradable.
In order to endow artificial materials with this property, the chemical composition of many of them (for example, washing and cleaning substances, paper products, etc.) has been changed. The first synthetic detergents were resistant to biodegradation. But when huge masses of soap bubbles began to flow downstream or to accumulate in the municipal sewage treatment plants and disrupt the work of enterprises (because they were saturated with pathogenic microorganisms), this fact attracted public attention.
Manufacturers of detergents solved the problem by making their products biodegradable. But it’s worth noting in an essay on water pollution that such a decision provoked other negative consequences, as it led to an increase in the BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) of watercourses that received wastewater, and, consequently, to accelerating the rate of oxygen consumption.
Eutrophication is the process of enriching reservoirs with nutrients (especially nitrogen and phosphorus), mainly of biogenic origin. The water body gradually turns into a swamp filled with silt, decomposing plant remains. As a result, it completely dries. In natural conditions, this process takes dozens of thousands of years. However, due to anthropogenic pollution, the pace of this process has increased several times. For example, under the influence of human, it ends in just a few decades in small ponds and lakes.
In your water pollution essay for students you should explain that eutrophication increases when plant growth in the reservoir is stimulated by nitrogen and phosphorus which are present in the fertilizer-containing drains from agricultural lands, in cleansers and detergents, and other wastes. For example, water of a lake that receives these effluents represents a fertile environment. There is a rapid growth of aquatic plants which capture the space in which fish usually live.
Dying off, seaweeds and other plants fall to the bottom and decompose due to the influence of oxygen-consuming aerobic bacteria, which worsens the habitat of fish. The fish gradually dies out and the lake becomes filled with seaweeds and small animals that eat them. Blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) make the water look like pea soup, have bad smell first, and then acquire fishy taste. They also cover the stones with a mucous film.
3. Physical contamination
3.1 Thermal pollution
It should be emphasized in an “air and water pollution” essay that the most serious problem of thermal pollution is associated with thermal power plants. Generating electricity with the use of steam is inefficient because in this case, 37-39% of coal and 31% of nuclear energy are used. Nevertheless, despite all the shortcomings, thermal power plants continue to exist.
Most of the energy of the fuel, which cannot be turned into electricity, is lost in the form of heat. The simplest way to get rid of this heat is to release it into the atmosphere. But a more frequently used method is to utilize water as a cooler as it is able to accumulate huge amounts of heat with a slight increase in its own temperature. Afterwards, water gradually releases heat into the air.
The usual way of using water to absorb heat (direct pumping of fresh lake or river water through a cooler and its returning to natural reservoirs without pre-cooling) causes serious environmental problems. A lake with an area of 810 hectares and a depth of about 8.7 m is required for a 1000 MW power plant.
Power plants can raise the temperature of the surrounding water by 5-15 °C. If the temperature of water in the reservoir is 16 °C, the temperature of the water used at the station will be from 22 to 28 °C. In the summer, it can reach 30-36 °C.
In your persuasive essay about water pollution you can argue that the rise of temperature in reservoirs adversely affects the life of aquatic organisms. During a long period of evolution, the cold-blooded underwater inhabitants have adapted to a certain temperature range. For each species, there is a temperature optimum which can vary slightly at some stages of the life cycle.
Within certain limits, underwater organisms are able to adapt to life at higher or lower temperatures. Most of them better adapt to life in warmer than in colder water. However, if a new temperature regime is established suddenly by the hot runoff from industrial enterprises, there is not enough time for acclimatization. As a result, living organisms experience a thermal shock and die.
Thermal shock is the ultimate result of thermal contamination. Release of heated drains into the reservoirs may have other, more insidious consequences. One of them is the influence on metabolic processes. According to Van't Hoff's law, the speed of chemical reaction doubles with the increase in temperature for every 10 degrees Celsius.
Since the body temperature of cold-blooded organisms is regulated by the temperature of the surrounding environment, a rise in water temperature enhances the metabolism of fish and aquatic invertebrates, which increases their need for oxygen. At the same time, as a result of an increase in the water temperature, the percent of oxygen in the basin decreases.
All these changes cause heightened death rate of living organisms. In summer, increasing the water temperature by only a few degrees can cause a 100% mortality rate of fish and invertebrates, especially those that live near the southern boundaries where the temperature interval is the highest.
Artificial warming of water can significantly change the behavior of fish (cause untimely spawning, disrupt migration). If the destructive influence of power plants exceeds the ability of species for self-reproduction, the population declines.
The rise in water temperature can also erode the ecosystem of aquatic plants in the reservoirs. For example, algae adjusted to cold water can be partially replaced by more thermophilic species, and in case the temperatures continue to rise, they will be completely displaced.
If thermal pollution is aggravated by the entry of organic and mineral substances into the reservoir (fertilizers from fields, manure from farms, domestic sewage), the eutrophication process is observed.
It’s worth writing in a water pollution essay conclusion that the consequences of thermal influence cause huge damage to natural ecosystems and lead to adverse changes in the environment. Negative impacts of these processes on human lives can be divided into the following groups:
3.2 Nuclear pollution
Radioactive isotopes or radionuclides (radioactive forms of chemical elements) accumulate within food chains since they have a stable nature. In the process of radioactive decay, the nuclei of atoms of radioisotopes emit elementary particles and electromagnetic radiation. This process begins simultaneously with the formation of the radioactive chemical element and continues until all its atoms are transformed under the influence of radiation into the atoms of other elements.
Each radioisotope is characterized by a certain half-life – the time during which the number of atoms is halved. Since the half-life of many radioactive isotopes is very long (millions of years), the radiation exposure can eventually lead to terrible consequences for living organisms inhabiting water bodies into which liquid radioactive waste is dumped.
Nuclear water pollution research paper topics provide a vast field for discussion, considering the fact that radiation destroys tissues of plants and animals, leads to genetic mutations, infertility, and at sufficiently high doses – to death. The mechanism of the influence of radiation on living organisms has not yet been studied completely, and there are no effective ways to mitigate or prevent its detrimental consequences. But it is known that radiation accumulates in organisms, i.e. repeated irradiation with small doses may eventually act in the same way as a single strong irradiation.
Research-and-analyze water pollution essay topics are the most attention grabbing and relevant due to significance of the problem. In such essay, the author should not only express their attitude towards the problem but also offer ways to overcome it and justify their effectiveness. Several ideas are described below.
When designing, building, reconstructing, commissioning economic and other facilities, as well as implementing new technological processes, their influence on the state of water bodies and the surrounding environment must be taken into account. It is necessary to organize the creation of closed systems of technical water supply. Design and construction of straight-through systems of technical water supply, as a rule, is not allowed.
It is also important to mention in a research paper on sources of water pollution that the following facilities should not be put into operation:
It’s also important to mention in a “Water pollution solutions” essay that the transition to a standardized system of emission control takes place nowadays. The emission standards (ES) are determined for each particular source of contamination in such a way that the aggregate emissions from all sources in the region do not exceed the established standard. The use of ES facilitates the planning and control of environmental activities, increases the responsibility of the enterprises for compliance with environmental requirements, and eliminates conflict situations.
Out of the total amount of sewage, 69% is conditionally clean, 18% is contaminated, and 13% is normally purified. Strict criteria for dividing industrial wastewater into normatively purified, contaminated, and conditionally clean are absent. Contaminated sewage needs to be diluted with clean water multiple times. The enterprises of oil refining, pulp and paper production, and chemical plants are major water pollutants. Normally purified waters are also characterized by a certain level of contamination, and up to 6-12 m3 of fresh water per 1 m3 should be used for their dilution.
When thinking about what should be included in a short research paper about water pollution, do not forget to stress that measures to control the use of water bodies should be taken alongside with the improvement of technological processes, in which the discharge of polluted effluents can be partially or completely eliminated. The use of purified sewage for irrigation in agriculture is quite a perspective method for problem resolution.
There is also a need for an increase in the capacity of treatment plants since the volume of wastewater that should be cleaned is growing. The performance of water protection programs is affected by the volume of state capital funds allocated for these purposes, the quality of construction and operation of special complexes, and the level of the design effectiveness.
Describing the central problem in a water pollution research paper introduction, you may write that nowadays, the governmental contracting organizations do not always ensure the timely commissioning of treatment facilities, allow poor quality of installation works, deviations from design projects, and even violations of construction norms and rules.
The main market method for regulating environmental protection is pollution charges. There are two types of fees: per unit of emissions and for the use of public wastewater treatment plants. In the first case, the payment is determined by the quantity of wastewaters planned for dumping per year. This mechanism automatically ensures the optimal allocation of resources. The payment for the use of treatment facilities includes a basic fee for the discharge of regulatory wastewater, an additional fee for over-standard discharges, water transportation costs, and maintenance fees for the services of water inspectorate.
The size of the fee depends on the age of the treatment facilities, the potential of reservoirs to self-purification, and the composition of the effluents.
It should, however, be indicated in an essay about water pollution that the fee mechanism is most effective in the conditions of pure competition when each firm seeks to minimize the costs per unit of output. In the monopolized industries, this goal may not be pursued by the monopolist, so direct administrative regulation has more advantages.
Studying water pollution essay resources with relevant information on this topic, you will find out that, although many industrial enterprises try to clean their drains or to make the production cycle closed and the use of pesticides as well as other toxic substances is prohibited, the construction of additional and more modern treatment facilities is the most radical and quick way to solve the problem.
Primary (mechanical) cleaning
Typically, grids or screens that capture floating objects and particles are installed in the sewage stream paths. Then, sand and other coarse inorganic particles descend to sand pits with or get into the sieves. Oils and fats are removed from the surface of the water by special devices (oil traps). For some time, the wastewater is transferred to sedimentation tanks to precipitate small particles.
Freely floating particles are precipitated by the addition of chemical coagulants. The obtained sludge, which is 70% organic, is passed through a special ferroconcrete tank, in which it is processed by anaerobic bacteria. As a result, liquid and gaseous methane, carbon dioxide, and mineral solid particles are formed. In the absence of ferroconcrete tank, solid waste is buried, dumped into landfills, burned (which leads to air pollution), or dried and used as humus or fertilizer.
Secondary treatment is carried out mainly by biological methods. Since organic substances are not removed at the first stage, aerobic bacteria are used for decomposition of organic matter on the next level. The main task is to bring the effluents into contact with as many bacteria as possible under conditions of good aeration since the bacteria should be able to consume a sufficient amount of dissolved oxygen.
Sewage is passed through various filters: sand, gravel, expanded clay, or synthetic polymers in the channel flow of several kilometers. The same effect is achieved in the process of natural cleaning. On the surface of the filter material, the bacteria form a film and decompose the organic compounds of the wastewater. They pass through the filter thereby reducing the BOD by more than 90%. These are so-called bacterial filters. BOD reduction by 98% is achieved in aerated ponds, where due to forced aeration of sewage and mixing it with activated sludge, natural oxidation processes are accelerated. Active sludge is formed in sedimentation tanks from particles suspended in the waste fluid, which are not influenced during preliminary purification and adsorbed by colloid substances with microorganisms breeding in them.
Another method of secondary purification which may be included in a water pollution essay outline is the prolonged formation of sludge in special ponds or lagoons (irrigation fields), where algae consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen necessary for the decomposition of organic matter. In this case, the BOD decreases by 40-70%, but certain temperature conditions and solar illumination are required.
After passing primary and secondary purification, sewage still contains dissolved substances which make the water practically unsuitable for any needs other than irrigation. Therefore, more advanced purification methods aimed to remove the remaining contaminants have been developed and tested. Some of these methods are used at facilities that purify drinking water.
Such slow-decomposing organic compounds as pesticides and phosphates are removed by filtering the secondary drainage through activated (powder) charcoal, by adding coagulants that speed up the agglomeration of fine particles and their precipitation, or by treatment with such reagents that provide oxidation.
Dissolved inorganic substances are removed by: ion exchange (dissolved ions of salts and metals are eliminated); chemical precipitation that softens the water (removes calcium and magnesium salts which form a deposit on the internal walls of boilers, cisterns, and pipes); change in osmotic pressure for enhanced filtration of water through the membrane, which detains concentrated solutions of nutrients – nitrates, phosphates, etc.; excretion of nitrogen by the flow of air as the effluents pass through the ammonia-desorption column; and other methods. In the world, there are only a few companies that can carry out a full cycle of wastewater treatment.
If you are going to write an essay or a paragraph on water pollution, it will not be enough just to list the well-known facts. You need to offer an original idea or describe your vision of the problem. This type of papers presupposes complete concentration on the author's worldview. Even if some of your statements diverge from theories of scientists, they deserve to be considered. Nevertheless, you should not abuse unfounded assertions. Each thesis must be supported by arguments. Otherwise, an academic paper will turn into a work of fiction.
As for the structure, you should adhere to the following outline for water pollution research paper:
This is the standard plan which is used regardless of the size of the paper. However, the algorithm for writing an essay differs somewhat from its structure. Experienced authors begin with the main part (formulate the key points and arguments), then proceed to conclusions, and only after that they write the introduction. This is due to the fact that the first sentences are traditionally considered the most important and influential. It depends on them whether the text can arise the reader's interest. Therefore, this part must be worked out to the fullest and only completed when the author has a clear idea of the essence of the whole work.
The same applies to the water pollution essay title. A common mistake here is when students first choose a heading and then try to write the paper according to it. Reaching the conclusion, they notice that the research has somehow deviated from the stated topic.
Moreover, do not forget to carefully check the paper for punctuation, lexical, stylistic, and other errors. You should reread the text several times and proofread it for any kind of mistakes or unfounded assertions. If you find a lot of mistakes, you should rewrite the work for a clean copy.
As you can see, the rules for argumentative essay writing are quite simple. It is a free genre that requires sticking to a minimum of formal rules. So you may use your creativity and express your own thoughts.
Still don't know how to start? In order to better comprehend the features of such works, read the water pollution essay examples written by other authors.
We wish you writing inspiration and hope that your paper will be highly assessed by the professors. Good luck!
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