21 Disturbing Truths About Asia’s Water Pollution Problem
Have you ever thought much about the problem of water pollution?
Have you ever considered that there are other parts of the world where water pollution is even more significant than it is in the United States?
Have you ever wanted to know more about the situation in terms of contaminated water around the world?
If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about water pollution beyond just your own neck of the woods, you’re in the right place. It’s always a good idea to expand your worldview and focus on others instead of just yourself, and if you’re already doing everything you can to help prevent water pollution in your area, you might be interested in learning more about other parts of the world instead.
In this article, you’ll be introduced to the very real problem of water pollution in Asia. You’ll be able to learn about the topic in general, and you’ll be provided with a basic but informative understanding of the sources of this problem and the ways in which various countries are working to combat it. You’ll also be given a list of 21 facts to help you better understand water pollution in China as well as other Asian countries.
By the time you’ve finished reading here, you should be armed with all the information you need to help make a difference. You’ll be able to get involved in some way, and you’ll be able to better educate others about the problem of water pollution in India and the rest of Asia. Read on to find out more.
Water Pollution in Asia
There is nothing more important than water for anyone in the world. No matter where you’re located, you need clean water in order to survive, thrive, and stay healthy. Unfortunately, throughout Asia, water pollution is a huge problem that affects millions. This is the driest continent on the planet, and the water that does exist in the different countries that make up the Asian continent is often very polluted and contaminated. The population in this part of the world continues to grow, but the water sources continue to dwindle, and this leads to a significant clean water scarcity that’s making a huge impact on the people of Asia.
It’s true that freshwater availability across Asia has improved in the past couple of decades, but this still hasn’t been enough of a change to bring clean drinking water to much of the population. A recent study by the National Water Security Index analyzed the overall quality of several different Asian countries and determined that none of them have model clean water. While a few have water that was rated as capable—such as Japan and Singapore—several of these countries ranked at dangerous or lower. Water pollution in Mumbai brought India’s ranking down to hazardous, for example.
If you’ve never thought much about water pollution in Asia, you should understand that this discussion encompasses many different countries and major cities too. This isn’t only about China or only about water pollution in Malaysia, for example. Countries such as Singapore, Japan, and the Philippines are affected, as are Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan and many others. When discussing the problem of water pollution in Asia, this includes a lot of places that are packed with many people. Read on to find out more about what the sources of water pollution are in these parts of the world, as well as what these places are doing to try to solve the problem.
Main Sources of Water Pollution in Asia
With so many different Asian countries ranking their water as hazardous or dangerous—and none of them coming in at anything higher than “capable”—you might be wondering just what has led to this problem of water pollution throughout Asia. There are many different problems that contribute to the contamination and eventual pollution of so many water sources across Asia. The following list will introduce you to several of the biggest areas of concern.
- A growing population. This is perhaps the biggest contributing factor to the problem of water pollution in Asia. The population across the continent continues to grow, and as it does, the demand for clean water grows along with it. Unfortunately, the sources of fresh water are being used up faster than they can be cleaned up, which leaves many people, especially in parts of the continent that are not as well-developed as others, without access to any options in terms of clean water.
- Air pollution. In Asian countries with big cities, air pollution from those populated cities contributes significantly to the pollution of water sources. As air pollution is carried through clouds to other parts of the country, it brings polluted particles along with it. It then rains and brings pollution to the groundwater in these new areas , thus spreading the pollution to drinking water across the country.
- Fuel usage. Much like air pollution, fuel usage in bigger Asian cities contributes to water pollution as well. It causes toxic runoff that reaches groundwater quickly and spreads to surface freshwater sources as well. Many times, the fumes let off by overuse of fuel in these cities adds to air pollution, which causes the cycle of water pollution to grow even larger.
- Expanding industry. As Asian countries develop and move forward in terms of technologies, industry expands as well. With the expansion of industries comes more factories, which of course bring more potential for pollution. Regulations on these factories may not be very strict in many parts of Asia, and so spills, leaks, and runoff are frequent. This contaminates groundwater supplies and eventually reaches surface and drinking water.
- Developing countries. Developing countries are just starting to build up their cleaner living practices. These countries may have been drinking contaminated water for a long time without ever realizing it, and they may even be contributing to the problem without meaning to as well. If an illness is very prevalent in these countries, that illness spreads throughout water that is infected with bacteria, parasites, and other contaminants.
- Domestic waste. Once again, in developing countries, there may not be a good way for individuals to get rid of their domestic waste. This includes garbage as well as human waste. In the absence of landfills, sewers, and septic systems, both become a big problem very quickly, and they may cause serious water pollution. This type of pollution can cause illness, disease, and even death when not kept under control.
- Climate change. While climate change is a controversial topic, it is contributing to water pollution issues as well as water scarcity. There simply isn’t as much water available now as there once was, and drought is very common. Since Asia is such a dry continent already, this problem dramatically affects water sources there.
- Natural disasters. Many natural disasters have occurred throughout Asia in recent years, including earthquakes and tsunamis that seriously affect the water quality. When these events take place, water is quickly contaminated by debris, decaying matter, and chemicals from storage and treatment plants that may have been damaged by the disaster. It can take years to clean up this kind of pollution.
Measures Taken to Remedy Water Pollution in Asia
Although the problem of water pollution in Asia is very significant, there are some measures being taken to remedy it. This is a big job and it’s going to take a lot of effort over many years to make a difference in the water quality problem across the continent, but every step is a helpful one toward fresh, clean drinking water for the people of these affected countries. Below are just a few of the ways in which different Asian countries are trying to improve the quality of their water sources.
- Construction of wastewater treatment facilities. This is perhaps one of the most effective methods being used to combat water pollution in Asia right now, although it is a slow-moving one. These treatment facilities are intended to improve the quality of wastewater and filter dangerous and harmful contaminants out of polluted freshwater sources. China, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and Thailand are some of the countries that have successfully begun to introduce these types of facilities, but they still have a long way to go in order to have enough in operation to treat the water throughout the country.
- Protection of river water. Many countries have begun passing laws to help protect river water and cut back on pollution problems. However, it’s proven to be difficult for these countries to enforce these laws, especially since there is such a large population in most of these places. Nevertheless, these acts and laws continue to be enacted and encouraged in the hopes of improving water across Asia.
- Taxation of industries. Some countries have begun taxing industries that may contribute to pollution. They may even be fined when they participate in practices that may cause harm to the environment, and especially to the water in the area.
- Data analysis. This is one of the most successful measures being taken to treat water across Asia at this time. Many countries have been monitoring their water sources and gathering data to help figure out how to more effectively treat and clean up the water.
- Funding for environmental services. Last but not least, a few countries have begun offering funding and payment for environmentally-friendly practices in the industrial and agricultural sector. However, many Asian countries can’t afford to keep up this type of incentive, so it may not always work.
21 Facts about Water Pollution in Asia
Now that you understand a little bit more about the problem of water pollution in Asia and what actions are being taken to combat it, you’re ready to learn some facts about the situation. Below are 21 truths about water pollution in Asia that you probably weren’t even aware of.
1. People require 20 to 50 liters of water a day for cooking, cleaning, and drinking.
However, several places throughout Asia report individuals only having access to 1 liter of water per day for the same purposes. Unfortunately, many times this small amount of water is already polluted or contaminated with something before it ever reaches a human being, and these parts of the continent are unable to filter or treat it before it is used.
2. 500 million people in China are without clean drinking water.
This may sound like a huge number, and it absolutely is. Of course, the population of China is huge as well, but this is still a big part of the population left without access to clean, fresh water. This problem is prevalent throughout Asia, but it is easy to see just what an impact water pollution really has when you take a look at China and how it is struggling to find clean water for its residents.
3. 1.7 billion people throughout Asia have gotten clean drinking water in the past twenty years, but it’s hardly made a difference.
At first, it may sound like a good thing that so many people have been granted access to cleaner water. Of course, it’s not bad, but it also isn’t making a dent in the problem, either. With so many people in China alone still in need of clean drinking water, it’s easy to see how widespread this problem really is, and how little has been done to change it.
4. Over 60% of the population of Asia does not have access to secure water piped directly into their homes.
In the United States, we take city and county water supplies for granted, and even in areas where these are not present, most individual homes have their own wells dedicated to that home only. However, this is not true in many places throughout Asia. Several countries, and especially rural parts of those countries have only one water source devoted to the whole town, village, or city. This leads to widespread illness and disease related to pollution of a shared water source.
5. Singapore has excellent piped water sources to its entire population, and Japan and Malaysia are not far behind.
However, in countries like Bangladesh, the numbers are much lower. Only 6% of the population of Bangladesh has access to piped water directly to their homes. While these countries may be slowly working toward improving these numbers, many of them simply don’t have the funding necessary to bring clean water piped directly into individual homes.
6. Malaysia has the best economic water security, and Cambodia has the worst.
This refers to the security of water associated with specific economic areas, such as factories, agriculture, and energy sources. When the water used for and by these industries is kept clean, the water available to the general population becomes cleaner as well. Economic water security often relies on practices and regulations put into place on these different areas of industry, and unfortunately, many Asian countries aren’t very strict about this.
7. Higher populations around rivers put more pressure on these rivers and, in turn, cause more pollution issues.
Rivers are the most heavily affected sources of freshwater across Asia, mostly because populations have been built up in the areas surrounding them. Many factories that don’t have any regulations on their environmental practices are allowed to dump wastewater directly into these rivers, which causes serious chemical pollution as well as the spread of disease. This also affect the fish and wildlife that once lived in these rivers, making it next to impossible for them to survive.
8. The larger the river, the more likely it is to be polluted.
This is mostly because bigger rivers support larger populations, and even some larger cities rely on those rivers almost exclusively for their water supply. Illness is very prevalent in places where large, polluted rivers provide water to much of the population. Unfortunately, when these large rivers become affected by pollution and contamination, this means that the smaller streams and other sources of water that branch off of them become affected as well, and the pollution problem spreads even further into more rural communities in neighboring areas.
9. Domestic waste is the largest contributor to pollution in Asia.
Part of this is because of the weak regulations on wastewater dumping, which allows waste to be emptied into rivers across the continent. However, this also has something to do with smaller, developing communities that are unable to afford construction of sewage or septic systems. In these areas, waste has nowhere safe to go, and so it ends up in the water, where it spreads illness and disease quickly.
10. Agricultural production across Asia has increased 62% in the course of just over ten years.
This contributes to dangerously high levels of nutrients in the water supply, as well as a very high algae content. Agricultural practices cause these problems in the United States as well, but regulations are being enforced across the country to ensure that the problem doesn’t become any more widespread than it already is. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in many Asian countries, and so agricultural practices go on the same way they have for decades, seriously affecting the surrounding environment. When nutrient levels rise too much in the water surrounding agricultural areas, algae grow so prominently that it chokes out fish and animal life in the area. It basically takes over, and only proper water treatment can encourage the water to get back to normal. This also leads to increased chances of illness and disease in humans and animals both in the surrounding areas.
11. Over the past century, the use of pesticides across the continent has risen by 750%.
Pesticide runoff is a major contributing factor in chemical water pollution of groundwater and surface water both across Asia. Although some cities are trying to regulate the use of pesticides through bans and other laws, many aren’t doing anything about it at all, and so runoff continues to be a huge problem. The more pesticides are used in agriculture, the more seriously human and animal health both may be affected. This can cause chemical poisoning in humans who drink water polluted by excessive pesticide use.
12. Illnesses eradicated in the United States are still present in many Asian countries, largely due to contaminated water.
You might not hear of people getting sick with serious illnesses like dysentery or tuberculosis much in the United States these days, but it still happens a lot in Asian countries, especially those that are still developing. This is because human waste pollutes the water sources in and around these areas, which causes bacteria to spread rapidly throughout the population. Without proper treatment and filtration, there is no way of cleaning up this water, and so it continues to reach more and more people and contaminate them with the same illnesses. They then continue to produce waste, and the problem becomes a cycle that can almost never be broken.
13. There are very few effective drainage systems throughout Asia, which contribute to salinity in the water sources.
Without the proper amount of drainage, fresh and saltwater both seep into the groundwater and cause too much salinity in water sources. This is especially true in places where water stands for a long time instead of flowing. Without the right amount of drainage, especially from agricultural and industrial locations, there’s no way to remove the high levels of salinity from water other than to filter or treat it. Unfortunately, this is impossible in many places due to a lack of funding to build a water treatment facility.
14. In some countries, industrial factories aren’t required to keep to any environmentally-friendly plans.
For example, Pakistan has almost no regulations on its factories, and as such, only 5% of them assess their environmental practices. Regulations simply aren’t present in many countries throughout Asia, and although some of these countries are slowly turning toward safer and more environmentally-friendly practices, the change is a slow one. It’s going to be a long time before it makes a big difference, but as more countries get on board with regulating these factories, the situation is starting to change for the better.
15. Rural villages near factories and power plants have seen marked increases in residents diagnosed with cancer.
These small villages and towns are often plagued with water that has been seriously polluted by large factories and energy plants. The people in these towns are forced to drink this badly contaminated water, and then they are left to deal with the consequences on their own. This usually leads to significant illness and especially cancer in places where radioactive waste is present. Although the residents of these towns are well aware of what’s causing so many of them to get sick, they are simply unable to do anything about it in most instances.
16. Many United States industries that outsource to Asian countries do not participate in environmentally safe practices either.
It’s a very sad truth that even these factories which are well aware of industrial effects on the environment don’t try to make a difference in the quality of water surrounding their outsourced locations. They do not often regulate their own practices, and they also don’t often try to make any changes to other local factories either. This is one of the ways in which United States residents can try to make a difference, by speaking to companies that have factories located in Asian countries and trying to encourage them to practice more environmentally-safe operations.
17. Many households are not aware of practices they can participate in to improve the quality of the water in their areas.
A big problem in some parts of Asia, especially in developing countries, is a lack of education on the proper way to clean up water and keep from causing further pollution. This is yet another way that people in the United States are trying to get involved in helping clean up the water supply across Asia. Many non-profit organizations are working to educate smaller, more rural communities on what they can do to keep their water safer and cleaner. These groups are also starting to help supply these communities with filtration systems to help improve their water quality.
18. Many Asian countries show marked differences in water quality between their larger cities and their smaller, more rural communities.
This may lead to incorrect or misleading data, especially when looking at the entire country’s water quality reports instead of at a specific part of that country. While some cities may show better water quality overall due to the presence of water treatment facilities, rural parts of the country may rely on a single water source to supply a whole village, and the quality of that water may be very poor. On the other hand, however, some rural communities see better water quality overall than big cities where other types of pollution are rampant. Individual areas must be examined on their own in order to truly determine the quality of water in different places across the continent.
19. In 2008, water pollution and related issues contributed significantly to deaths in children under the age of 5.
In Cambodia, for example, 600 deaths in 100,000 children under the age of 5 could be attributed to water pollution or hygiene related problems. Sadly, children are often seriously affected by illness and disease spread by dirty, polluted water. They are unable to fight off the infections spread by this water as well as adults, and they fall victim to pollution-related problems much more quickly than adults as well. Polluted water can sometimes contribute to the possibility of birth defects in babies as well.
20. 42% of all deaths related to water pollution happen in Asian countries.
This means that almost half of the deaths in the whole world related to water pollution and contamination every year happen in the countries that make up Asia. This is a very disturbing statistic that could be changed if water treatment practices could be more widely regulated and filtration systems could become more readily available throughout the continent.
21. Marine life is seriously threatened by water pollution in Asia.
Up until now, we’ve mostly discussed the effects of water pollution on humans, but marine life also suffers in places where pollution is so prevalent. Many species of fish and marine mammals native to Asian countries are becoming endangered or disappearing altogether because of this pollution problem.
Now that you’ve read through this article, you should be much better informed about the problem of water pollution in Pakistan as well as in other parts of Asia. You should understand the problem in general, and you should be more educated on several facts about this situation. You should also know more about the water pollution solutions in India and other parts of Asia as well, and you should be able to get more involved from here if you so choose.
Remember that it’s always very important to think about other parts of the world aside from the area where you live. Water pollution is a problem that is faced by people around the entire world, and it’s not specific to the United States any more than it is specific to developing countries. The more you learn about how this problem affects the whole world, the better you’ll be able to contribute to water cleanup efforts across the globe. While it’s always an excellent idea to do whatever you can do in your own part of the world to clean up water and keep from contributing to pollution and contamination in your neighborhood, there are people around the world who can use your help as well.
Now that you are more educated about water pollution in Asia, you can get out there and let others know about the problem too. You might be able to find others to help get involved with your cause, but even if you can’t, you can find ways to make a difference even from the other side of the world.