Sewage Contamination of Water and Its Health Impacts.

August 26, 2016

Sewage Contamination of Water and Its Health Impacts.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are discharged into the world’s water
  • Lack of adequate sanitation contaminates water courses worldwide and is one of the most significant forms of water pollution. Worldwide, 2.5 billion people live without improved sanitation.
  • Over 70% of these people who lack sanitation, or 1.8 billion people, live in Asia.
  • Research shows that over 80% of surface water in India is contaminated (WaterAid)
  • WHO estimates that 1.5 million preventable deaths per year result from unsafe water and inadequate sanitation
  • Life-threatening human pathogens carried by sewage include cholera, typhoid and dysentery apart from schistosomiasis, hepatitis A, intestinal nematode infections, and numerous others.

Contamination of drinking water sources by sewage can occur from raw sewage overflow, septic tanks, leaking sewer lines, land application of sludge and partially treated waste water. Sewage itself is a complex mixture and can contain many types of contaminants. The greatest threats posed to water resources arise from contamination by bacteria (E-Coli, Coliform), nitrates, metals, trace quantities of toxic materials, and salts.

EXPOSURE

Sewage can be intentionally discharged to waterways through pipes or open defecation, or unintentionally during rainfall events. When humans use these waterways for drinking, bathing or washing, they are exposed to the associated pathogens, many of which can live for extended periods of time in aquatic environments. Humans then become ill by ingesting contaminated water, by getting it on/in skin, eyes or ears, or even from preparing foods with contaminated water. Sometimes humans can even become ill from inhaling contaminated water droplets.

HEALTH EFFECTS:

Life-threatening human pathogens carried by sewage include cholera, typhoid and dysentery. Other diseases resulting from sewage contamination of water include schistosomiasis, hepatitis A, intestinal nematode infections, and numerous others. WHO estimates that 1.5 million preventable deaths per year result from unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or hygiene.

 





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