Difference between Air Pollution and Water Pollution

  • Air pollution is defined as the presence of substances in the atmosphere that have a negative effect on human health and other living things. Air pollution also worsens the Earth’s climate, often exacerbating natural disasters such as drought and flooding.
  • Water pollution is defined as the contamination of water, usually caused by human misuse. Affected bodies of water may include lakes, rivers and ponds, as well as groundwater and aquifers. It can negatively affect aquatic ecosystems, which in turn can affect humans and other water-dependent organisms.

Based on the above definitions, we can conclude that both types of pollution are harmful to our health and environment.

Difference between Air Pollution and Water Pollution

Air Pollution

Water Pollution

General Overview

Air pollution is caused by harmful particulates. Water pollution is usually caused by effluents.

Effects on Health

Usually, air pollution, affects the respiratory system, causing difficulty in breathing, COPD, respiratory infections, asthma and even lung cancer. It can also affect existing cardiac conditions. Water usually affects the digestive system, but can also affect other body systems depending upon the type of pollutant or pathogen present in water.

Anthropogenic Sources

Anthropogenic sources of air pollution include fossil fuel-based power stations, factories, furnaces, and burning biomass such as wood, dung or crop waste. Vehicles running on fossil fuels also contribute to air pollution. Moreover, products such as paints, varnish as well as chemical aerosols cause air pollution. Anthropogenic sources include industrial effluents and storm drain (from construction sites). Other water pollution sources include agricultural runoff and industrial accidents such as oil spills.

Natural Sources

Natural sources of air pollution include dust from areas with little to no vegetation. Cattle are also a surprising source of air pollution as they emit large quantities of methane. Wildfires and volcanoes also pump significant particulates and smoke into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution. Natural sources of water pollution include oxygen-depleting substances such as plant matter (grasses and leaves). Eutrophication is another process that can induce detrimental effects on an aquatic ecosystem.
Methods of Measurements
Air quality is usually measured with the Air Quality Index (AQI). Alternatively, air quality can also be measured using Particulate Matter (PM). PM2.5 is a microscopic particle which is 2.5 microns wide. When significant levels of PM

2.5 particles are present in the atmosphere, it can cause haze, an indicator of bad air quality.

Water quality can be measured using a variety of methods. Some of the most common are Coloured, or Chromophoric Dissolved Organic matter (CDOM), Conductivity, Salinity and TDS Monitoring, measuring Dissolved Oxygen Levels, pH and KH Testing (carbonate hardness).

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