Water is the other name of life. One cannot imagine what would happen to civilization and mankind without its existence. For centuries we have seen the effect of source of water in dictating where human settlement would be. Even to this day we can infer it from the fact that most of the major cities of the world are located either on the riverside or on the sea shores. Apart from supporting civilization by providing means of transport, one of the major uses of water is in drinking. An average person can spend weeks without food but he or she can never spend more than a couple of days without drinking water. Not only that, it plays a vital role in quenching thirst and aids in the metabolism of the body by helping in digestion and excretion. Without pure water or what is known as potable water, mankind will head towards doom and several diseases will take over the health of the people. Therefore attention must be paid to the impurities that may be present in water and the ways they can be eliminated so that clean potable water is available for use. Water also plays a vital role in supporting livestock and fauna. As we all know how trees are essential for our survival, we must be able to provide clean and usable water for the plants and trees. There are several methods that exist now-a-days to clean the available water to the required standard. These methods include filtering, osmosis, distillation, chlorination etc.but some of the cruder methods can also be used to render the available water fit for use for basic necessities. The purification techniques aim to remove the impurities that are present in water. Some of the techniques are targeted in the sense that they generally tend to remove some particular type of impurity from the available water. On the other hand some are common which take out multiple impurities.
This article enlists the Top 10 impurities bad water can have and the deadly damage that they potentially have that can rake havoc. Some of these impurities are the intrinsic property of the source itself and are present in the water since its origin from that particular source; on the other hand some of the following enlisted impurities are introduced in the water after its origin. Among these impurities, some are introduced by us humans as a result of our day to day activity from factories and industries and some are introduces in the water source by cattle, livestock and other animals. Some of the impurities are also introduced by dead and rotten fauna. So the following list considers impurities that originate from all these sources and enlists the appearing impurities in the decreasing order of their severity.
10. Human Waste
We as humans are very much aware about the damage that we can cause to nature and all the natural resources available to us. But history is the witness that we are programmed to be careless and we by our own actions sometimes cause our downfall. Human wastes that tend to pollute the water include wastes from defecation, wastes from unused food and materials, plastic wastes and other suspended matter. In fact most of the impurities that are present in the water listed below (even some of the major ones) are present as a result of the human activities. Most of the suspended human wastes can be removed by crude filtering, however, only removing the human wastes does not render the water fit for use either by humans themselves or by cattle and livestock. For that we have to consider other and more deadly impurities that are or may be present in the water source. Some of them are enlisted below.
9. Suspended Impurities
Suspended impurities can originate from humans, animals and plants etc. But some of the suspended impurities can be inherent to the water and can originate from the source as well as it can get into the water body anywhere in its course. Suspended impurities can make the water hazy and impure. Some of the suspended impurities like sand, mud and clay tend to pollute the water. Most of these settle down over time but some may remain suspended and can only be removed after they have been filtered. However filtering, by itself does not result in usable water and for that purpose one has to use other methods of purification.
8. Animal Waste
Animal waste is similar to human waste but they contain a bigger plethora of impurities. Animal waste can get into water naturally or by civilization. In rural areas, people tend to wash their livestock in the water body and that tends to pollute the water in deadly ways.
7. Heavy Metals
In the United States of America alone, heavy metal poisoning accounts for a big proportion of the deaths in a year. Some of the heavy metals that can get into the water are Iron, Lead, Cadmium, and Arsenic etc. Heavy metal poisoning is not only harmful by itself, but also it can pair up with other health problems and can lead to deadly consequences if not treated properly. Heavy metals can be present in the surface of the earth and get into the flowing stream of a water body. Essential steps should be taken to treat the water that contains heavy metals to render it safe for use.
6. Hard Metals
Hard metals like Calcium and Magnesium lead to the hardness of the water and cause what we know as hard water. When dissolved in water these metals split into Ca++ and Mg++ ions that account for the hardness of the water. For washing purposes, the harness can be treated by Na2CO3 or washing soda or it can be passed through ion exchange softener.
Colloids are distinct from true solutions in the sense that colloidal solutions show various properties like scattering of light and particles show Brownian movement. The particles of the colloidal solutions have the property of selectively absorbing ions and result in pollution of the water. As a result of this it is very important to remove these impurities to make the water potable.
4. Dissolved Gases
Several dissolved gasses in potable water can cause a lot of problems and health issues. Excess oxygen and nitrogen dissolved in water not only may cause water pollution but also it can cause soil pollution when it seeps into the ground. As a result it results in damaging the plants and trees. One can therefore firmly say that getting rid of the dissolved gasses is an essential part of the process of purification of water.
3. Radioactive Wastes
Radioactive impurities and wastes like Radon can get into water from naturally occurring sources. It is always advised to check the water source for radioactive wastes. These, if present can lead to a variety of problems. Activated Carbon filter can be used to get rid of most of the radioactive wastes. Radon can be most effectively removed by RO water filters.
2. Chemical Impurities
Salts of Chromium, Barium and Selenium and their presence in ppm (parts per million) more than a fixed amount can lead to deadly consequences. Hexavalent chromium, fluorides and mercury can get into water from various resources. Fluorides are often applied to tread water, but they can also be present in some of the toothpastes and other such sources. Chemical impurities, apart from the microorganisms are the biggest pollutants of water.
Microorganisms are perhaps the most important and deadly impurities present in water. Living organisms like algae, bacteria, protozoa and several kinds of virus like rhino-virus, echo-virus etc. can present a variety of diseases that can even be transmitted by water and are therefore called water borne diseases. Some of the water borne diseases are cholera, diarrhea, giardia etc. The most common bacterium found in water is Escherichia Coli or e-coli and is considered to be one of the first microorganisms ever to infect water. Some of the pathogens can cause gastroenteritis and dysentery that can cause destruction on a large scale. Several methods have been prescribed by doctors and specialists to counter this problem of microorganisms in water and make the water potable. One of the methods is ultrafiltration which consists of filtering the impure water through a filter that has microscopic pores, typically in the range of 0.1 micron. Chlorine and other halogens are used to disinfect the water from microorganisms in many applications. Treatment with chlorine has proved to be very worthwhile and has shown very good results.