Water is the substance that makes life possible on Earth. We drink it, swim in it, bathe in it, and grow stuff with it. We basically exist just because it exists.
And although the Earth is 70% water, a lot of it is contaminated, polluted, and even deadly. Unfortunately, human activity is mostly to blame. Here we take a look at some of the most contaminated water on the planet that is definitely not safe to swim in and should be avoided like the plague.
Citarum River – Indonesia
The Citarum River is considered the most trash-filled river on the planet. More than 500 factories line the river, dumping waste into it.
Combine that with the area’s lack of trash collection and modern plumbing and you have a river so disgusting it’s barely recognizable as a river. Trash covers the river so densely you can’t even see the water.
Since this is the area’s main water supply, locals have no choice but to use it for drinking water and bathing, putting their health on the line each time.
Onondaga Lake – New York
Onondaga Lake is known as the most polluted lake in America. It’s so polluted the Environmental Protection Agency considers it a hazardous waste site.
Blame it on the area’s history of dumping sewage into the lake, along with longtime industrial activity responsible for chemical and bacterial contaminants which include phosporous, ammonia, mercury, and nitrite. This makes for a nasty combination of liquid sludge.
Lake Karachay – Russia
This lake might be pristine and gorgeous, but it’s deadly.
It’s known as the most radioactive body of water on the planet, thanks to Russians using it as a nuclear waste dumping ground. It’s so radioactive you don’t even have to touch the water for it to kill you.
Just stand on the shore for an hour enjoying the beautiful scenery and that will do the trick.
Cleanup efforts include dumping cement into the lake to absorb the radiation. It’s proven to be somewhat effective, but is also moving the radiation deeper underground and closer to groundwater sources.
Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Pacific Ocean
Discovered in 1999, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an enormous stretch of the Pacific Ocean with floating debris consisting mostly of plastic.
The patch formed gradually as a result of marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents.
The debris can be deadly for sea creatures who get tangled in it, or swallow it.
The patch has influenced plastic bag bans in major cities and states in the Western United States. A similar patch of floating plastic debris is also found in the Atlantic Ocean.
Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico – USA
The Mississippi River is a major pollutant to the Gulf of Mexico, thanks to farming and industrial waste from the Midwest that feeds into the river.
The area surrounding the mouth of the Mississippi River is known as a Dead Zone because pollutants from the river reaching the ocean cause an algae bloom, depriving the water of oxygen and killing off all living organisms in the area.
The Gulf of Mexico is still not oil-free either after the disastrous BP oil spill in 2010 considered the worst oil spill in history.
Tualatin River – Oregon
Think twice before stepping foot into this pretty turquoise river. About a dozen dogs die every year from exposure to toxic blue-green algae found here.
Algae is a deadly form of bacteria that, when swallowed, will cause sickness and diarrhea and possibly even paralysis and death.
Officials are looking at dumping clean water into the lake to break up the algae, but it’s just a temporary solution.
So the next time you feel the urge to jump into a new lake or river you’ve just discovered, make sure it’s safe. And if it is, bring your waterproof iPod along for the ride to make your adventure truly unforgettable.
What Should We Do?
What do you think we should do to help clean up world water contamination?
Leave your opinions in the comment section below.
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