Water Pollution Facts
Some water pollution facts are alarming like “more than one in
six people worldwide (894 million) don’t have access to improved water sources”
(WHO, UNICEF and JMP).
Some of those significant facts, statistics and number based on
the findings of United Nations UNWATER, UNEP and UNHABITAT
are listed below:
Water Pollution facts on Human Health
- Worldwide, infectious diseases such as
waterborne diseases are the number one killer of children under five years old.
More people die from unsafe water annually than from all forms of violence,
including war. Source: WHO (2002).
- Unsafe water causes 4 billion cases of diarrhea
each year, and results in 2.2 million deaths, mostly of children under five.
This means that 15% of child deaths each year are attributable to diarrhea – a
child dying every 15 seconds. In India alone, the single largest cause of ill
health and death among children is diarrhea, which kills nearly half a million
children each year. Source: WHO and UNICEF (2000).
- More than one in six people worldwide - 894
million - don't have access to improved water sources. Source: World Health
Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring
Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP).
- 18% of the world’s population, or 1.2 billion
people (1 out of 3 in rural areas), defecate in the open. Open defecation
significantly compromises quality in nearby water bodies and poses an extreme
human health risk. Source: UNICEF WHO (2008).
- Globally, diarrhea is the leading cause of
illness and death, and 88 per cent of diarrheal deaths are due to a lack of
access to sanitation facilities, together with inadequate availability of water
for hygiene and unsafe drinking water. Source: JMP
- Nearly 70 million people living in Bangladesh
are exposed to groundwater with arsenic above WHO recommended limits of 10
ug/L. Source: UN WWAP (2009).
- Sanitation and drinking water investments have
high rates of return: for every $1 invested, there is a projected $3-$34
economic development return. Source: UN WWAP (2009).
Water Pollution Facts on Ecosystem
- Half of the world's wetlands have been lost since
1900. Source: WWAP.
- There has been a widespread decline in
biological health in inland (non-coastal) waters. Globally, 24% of mammals and
12% of birds connected to inland waters are considered threatened. Source: UN
- In some regions, like the Mediterranean and
Madagascar and other island groups in the western Indian Ocean, more than 50%
of native freshwater fish species are at risk of extinction, and nearly
one-third of the world’s amphibians are at risk of extinction. Source: Vié et
- Freshwater species have faced an estimated
extinction rate five times greater than that of terrestrial species. Source:
Ricciardi and Rasmussen (1999).
Water Pollution facts on Pollution Discharge
- Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and industrial
and agricultural waste are discharged into the world’s water. Source: UN WWAP (2003).
- 70% of untreated industrial wastes in developing
countries are disposed into water where they contaminate existing water
supplies. Source: UN-Water (2009).
- 60 % of the world’s 227 biggest rivers have
interrupted stream flows due to dams and other Infrastructure. Interruptions in
stream-flow dramatically decrease sediment and nutrient transport to downstream
stretches, reducing water quality and impairing ecosystem health. Source: UN
- Chlorinated solvents were found in 30 % of
groundwater supplies in 15 Japanese cities, sometimes ending up as much as 10
km from the source of pollution. Source: UNEP (1996).
- In a comparison of domestic, industrial, and agricultural
sources of pollution from the coastal zone of Mediterranean countries,
agriculture was the leading source of phosphorus compounds and sediment (UNEP,
1996). Nutrient enrichment, most often associated with nitrogen and phosphorus
from agricultural runoff, can deplete oxygen level and eliminate species with
higher oxygen requirements, affecting the structure and diversity of
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