A recent study by UNICEF finds that less than 50 per cent of the Indian population has access to safely managed drinking water. It is estimated that waterborne diseases have an economic burden of approximately USD 600 million a year in India. Water contamination is a complex issue and both pathogens and chemical contamination are a major challenge.
What leads to water contamination:
Waterborne diseases are transmitted through drinking water contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms such as protozoa, viruses, bacteria, and intestinal parasites. These may cause cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea, Hepatitis A among other diseases. While in some areas supply of clean drinking water may be a challenge, sometimes poor personal hygiene practices also lead to contamination.
Contamination can also occur at the source or while transmitting water through pipes that are located close to sewage lines. This can lead to the mixing of sewage with drinking water, contaminating it with disease-causing microorganisms.
Ways to ensure waterborne diseases can be prevented:
1. Ensuring that water is from a safe source and undertaking water treatment measures in case of doubt such as drinking boiled water. Boiling can be used as a pathogen reduction method that should kill all pathogens.
2. Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating and after defecating is a must to avoid water-borne diseases.
3. Keep water covered at all times to avoid it from getting contaminated. Also, use cups and ladles to fetch water from containers.
4. Maintaining clean surroundings is also essential to avoiding several diseases.
Since, most of our drinking water comes from groundwater forms and rivers, the first step towards ensuring drinking water safety and hygiene is to keep natural water sources clean. Here are some ways that you can be mindful of to not contribute to the growing water pollution challenge:
1. Your toilet is not a trash can
Do not flush non-degradable products like baby wipes or plastic tampon applicators. They can hamper the sewage treatment process and end up littering beaches and water. You should also never dump old pills in the toilet as they can unintentionally expose us to the chemicals in these medications.
2. Be careful of what goes down the sink
Do not let paint, used oil, chemical cleaners, or other questionable household products go down the drain as they contain toxic ingredients like sodium hypochlorite, ammonia, and formaldehyde.
3. Utilize biodegradable cleaning items
Thousands of chemicals from cleaning products are washed into streams and rivers and enter the food chain. When you utilize biodegradable cleaning items, you are ensuring water safety.
4. Avoid lawn fertilizers that contain phosphorus
Phosphorus that is not needed by turf grass is often carried by rain into nearby waterbodies where it can cause serious environmental problems.
In order to raise awareness about water harvesting and conservation of resources, News18, along with Harpic, has started the Mission Paani campaign. The initiative aims at preserving natural resource for everyone.