Pesticides and Water Pollution
Pesticides are chemicals that contain oxygen, sulfur, chlorine, nitrogen, phosphorus, and bromine as well as heavy metals such as copper, arsenic, sulfates, lead, and mercury – they are simply chemicals. They are used in the agriculture sector to control and/or eliminate pests. Pests such as insects, diseases, rodents and weeds can be harmful to crops if they are left uncontrolled and/or eliminated. And would otherwise damage them if they were allowed to thrive in agricultural land areas. As a result, pesticides are used to control and/or eliminate pests from agricultural land areas, thereby improving crop productivity and yields.
In spite of the fact that the use of pesticides helps to improve crop productivity and yields, it is imperative to note when pesticides are used indiscriminately; they come with negative consequences – in the sense that they can cause environmental pollution.
Water pollution is one form of pollution that is caused by the improper use of pesticides. It simply means the presence of unsuitable substances in waters, which changes its properties, thereby making it contaminated and unsuitable for use. This can occur when pesticides are used on land areas that are used to grow crops and are flushed away by wind and rainfall into water bodies. As a result, they alter the state of such water bodies by changing to its physical, chemical or biological conditions, thereby making it toxic, contaminated and unsuitable for use.
When pesticides contaminate waters, such waters become harmful to living organisms that consume or come in contact with them.
Water pollution is very bad for the environment. It creates negative impacts. And a few of them are described below.
Groundwater contamination: Pesticides, when sprayed on crop plants, are able to flow below the surface of the ground, reaching water-bearing aquifers, thereby contaminating groundwater, making it unsuitable for both human and agricultural uses.
Marine Life: Pesticides being chemicals are harmful to live. When pesticides get into water bodies, water animals are not spare as it can kill animals such as fish.
Food Chain Disruption: When pesticides come in contacts with water bodies, they can interfere with the food chain and cause disease in hidden ways. For example, if chemicals from pesticides such as lead or copper get into water bodies, fishes sometimes take them up. And when humans eat such fishes (with contaminated waters), they can damage multiple systems in the human body. Kidney damage is one disease that can be caused by the consumption of contaminated water.
Costs: There are also financial impacts associated with water pollution. When fresh water has been contaminated, they are deemed to be unsafe to drink, thus requiring treatment. Contaminated waters will be unsafe and not suitable for drinking if left untreated. Treating contaminated waters can be expensive. Considering the global economic downturn, spending money on treating contaminated waters that should not have occurred in the first place is economically unsustainable.
Having mentioned that the indiscriminate use of pesticides can cause water pollution issues, it is noteworthy to acknowledge that there are a lot of ways that can be used to address these issues. Sustainable management and application of pesticides can be used to address these issues. Also, there are many organic pesticides that can be used in place of harmful synthetic pesticides.