Pollutants from industrial sources often emerge from the outfall pipes of factories, and may leak from pipelines and underground storage tanks. Polluted water flows from mines where the water has leached through mineral-rich rocks or has been contaminated by the chemicals used in processing the ores. Cities and other residential communities contribute mostly sewage, with traces of household chemicals mixed in. Sometimes industries discharge pollutants into city sewers, increasing the variety of pollutants in municipal areas.

The oceans, vast as they are, are not invulnerable to pollution. Pollutants reach the sea from adjacent shorelines, ships, and offshore oil platforms.


Major water pollutants are chemical, biological, and physical materials that degrade water quality resulting in an increased concern over the safety of drinking water. This has led to an explosive worldwide growth in the sale of bottled water and filtering devices attached to faucets, meant to further treat filtered drinking water. However, of over 2,000 filters sold to the public, only a handful actually remove all of the parasites, viruses, bacteria, pesticides and heavy metals resident in tap water.

Recently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other environmental groups commented on the shocking and dangerous state of public water supplies.

Drinking ordinary tap water can be potentially fatal to people with a weakened immune system. LINK Children, expectant mothers and the elderly are in the greatest amount of risk. Most water systems are not designed to remove protozoa or volatile organic chemicals (VOC) such as fluoride. One of the protozoa most water systems are incapable of removing is cryptosporidium parvum. This is the same parasite that killed 104 people and made 400,000 ill in Milwaukee.

The consensus of most medical experts is that the water supply is the most critical factor to human health. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that in the US alone more than 900,000 become ill each year from water borne disease and as many as 900 will die. International Controllers estimated that in the near future, more than 120 million US households regularly purchase bottled water at an average cost of $500 to $1,000 a year. This number is currently on the rise. In addition, there is also an increasing awareness that bottled water itself may be no safer than municipally treated water.

Although some feel protected by filters and/or water vending machines, in a recent study LINK highlighted the hazards of relying on these products. As bad as the situation is in the United States, it is worse in many other developed countries and to an even greater degree in second and third world countries.

Related Links
Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control
United Nations Environment Programme
Environment Canada's Green Lane