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Water Pollution

Water pollution is the contamination of natural water bodies by chemical, physical, radioactive or pathogenic microbial substances. Adverse alteration of water quality presently produces large scale illness and deaths, accounting for approximately 50 million deaths per year worldwide, most of these deaths occurring in Africa and Asia. In China, for example, about 75 percent of the population (or 1.1 billion people) are without access to clean drinking water. Widespread consequences of water pollution upon ecosystems include species mortality, biodiversity reduction and loss of ecosystem services. Some water pollution may occur from natural causes such as sedimentation from severe rainfall events; however, natural causes, including volcanic eruptions and algae blooms from natural causes constitute a minute amount of the instances of worldwide water pollution. The most problematic of water pollutants are microbes that induce disease, since their sources may be construed as natural, but a preponderance of these instances result from human intervention in the environment (such as discharge of raw sewage) or human overpopulation phenomena. One of the chief causes of water pollution is agricultural activity where tillage practices, fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide use create massive amounts of sedimentation and chemical discharge to natural waters. Industrial discharges, by contrast, have been greatly mitigated in Western Countries, but remain a significant issue in developing countries.

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