A common occurrence that I have noticed in Nigeria and that regularly shows up on the news or on the streets is how unclean some of the bodies of water are in this country.
However, people will still drink from these waters and use them for cooking, cleaning and bathing.
By using water that is most likely polluted, you have opened up your immune system to various diseases (known and unknown) that your body might not be able to fight off.
In order to properly explain the dangers that are hiding in unclean water, it would be best for me to explain what water pollution is.
Water pollution can be defined as the contamination of bodies of water rendering them unusable for drinking, swimming, cooking, cleaning, etc.
Water pollutants include chemicals, trash, bacteria, viruses, and parasites. All forms of pollution and contaminations will one way or another eventually make their way to it.
Water pollution can be caused by a lot of things like fuel spillage, global warming, deforestation fecal waste, trash, and the improper disposal of chemicals.
Polluted water is also the breeding grounds for deadly insects such as mosquitoes which can spread diseases found in the waters.
Several diseases can be found in unclean bodies of water.
Most, if not all of them, are life-threatening.
Despite the fact that many people use the water for various things on a daily basis, there is not much being done to clean and purify the water to prevent further damage
Polluted water is also almost always contaminated with chemicals like copper, insecticides, mercury, and fertilizers which can cause serious damage if ingested.
Some of these chemicals have been nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in nature or in the body.
The chemicals that are in the water pose a greater risk to pregnant women and children than anyone else.
These chemicals cause a lot of health problems which can include cancer, birth defects, hormone-related issues, and a rise in cholesterol levels.
Constant exposure to these chemicals can lead to infertility, preeclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and immune system problems.
Other symptoms include various kinds of cancers, liver damage, increased risk of thyroid disease, and asthma.
Diseases like cholera, elephantiasis, giardia, hepatitis, cholera, and many others can be caused by water pollution.
Unsafe and unclean water actually kills more people than war does.
A study that was published in the Lancet stated that in 2015, 1.8 million deaths were caused by water pollution.
The current global supply of freshwater is not infinite and will soon be depleted if nothing is done about it.
Sooner or later the demand for clean water and the places where it can be sourced will be greater and more expensive.
Creating awareness for the people who drink this water and then suffer its effects will do a lot more good than one would expect.
Aside from clearing away the contaminants in the water and cleaning the chemicals from it, there are other ways to prevent water pollution or at least limit its contribution to it.
· Reduce your plastic consumption (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle)
· Properly dispose of chemicals, oils, and nonbiodegradable items
· Be cautious and take care with what you throw into the gutters because it most likely won’t be cleaned before the rain sweeps it away into rivers and streams
· Dispose of trash and place it properly in trash bags (Items like pampers, wipes and sanitary pads should not be flushed down the toilet)
· Old medications that are expired or unneeded should be properly disposed of as well.
With this, I leave a quote on the necessity and importance of water in human life:
“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry” – Thomas Fuller.
.Aishat M. Abisola is a member of the Society for Health Communication Wuye District, Abuja