Difference between Air Pollution and Water Pollution

The Difference between Air Pollution and Water Pollution is easy to understand:

  • Air Pollution is defined as the presence of substances in the atmosphere that have a harmful effect on human health as well as the health of other living organisms. Air pollution also has a detrimental effect of the climate of the planet, often exacerbating natural calamities such as drought and flood.
  • Water Pollution is defined as the contamination of bodies of water usually as a result of human activities. Affected water bodies can include lakes, rivers, oceans as well as groundwater and aquifers. It can negatively impact aquatic ecosystems, which can then impact humans and other organisms that rely on the water body.

From the above definitions, we can infer that both types of pollution are detrimental to our health and the environment. In this article, we shall explore more differences between the two:

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 the water.
Anthropogenic Sources (Man-made)
Anthropogenic sources of air pollution includes fossil fuel-based power stations, factories, furnaces, 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 to be polluted Anthropogenic sources range from industrial effluents and storm drain (from construction sites and such). Other sources of water pollution includes agricultural run off as well as 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. Wild fires and volcanoes also pump out significant particulates and smoke into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution. Natural sources of water pollution includes oxygen-depleting substances such as plant matter (grasses and leaves). Eutrophication is another process that can also induce detrimental effects on an aquatic ecosystem.
Methods of Measurements
Air quality is usually measured with the Air Quality Index (AQI). Alternatively, the quality of air can also be measured using Particulate Matter (PM). PM2.5 is a microscopic particle which is 2.5 microns wide. When significant levels of PM2.5 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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Frequently Asked Questions on Air Pollution and Water Pollution

What is the Difference between Air Pollution and Water Pollution?

Air Pollution is defined as the presence of substances in the atmosphere that have a harmful effect on human health as well as the health of other living organisms. Water Pollution is defined as the contamination of bodies of water usually as a result of human activities

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