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Water pollution is a serious problem both here in the U.S. and around the world. Here are some statistics on water pollution that summarize the scope of the problem.

See also: Drinking water facts & statistics

Statistic #1: More than a billion people worldwide still lack access to clean drinking water, resulting in around 4 billion illnesses and nearly 3 million deaths each year, mostly among children under five. “This is the equivalent of 20 loaded jumbo jets plunging to Earth each day – an unprecedented human tragedy,” says Stuart Hart (2007, p. 52).

Statistic #2: A mere 3% of all water on earth is fresh, and of that, all but 3/1,000 is locked up in glaciers or icecaps or buried too deep in the earth to retrieve. (Hawkins, Lovins & Hunter-Lovins, 1999) Which means that the pollution we are dumping into the limited amount of freshwater we have is likely to have profound consequences.

Statistic #3: 80% of urban streams in the U.S. and 50% of rural streams contain pesticides. (Denworth, 2013)

Statistic #4: 79% of coastal waters in the U.S. are under a water contamination advisory at any given time.

Statistic #5: Since the start of the industrial revolution, human pollution has tripled the amount of mercury in the ocean’s top layer. (Sumner, 3-4-2017)

Statistic #6: When scientists Scott Jasechko and his colleges analyzed water from 6,455 wells around the world, they found that around ½ of the deepest fossil ground water had elevated levels of tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope that traces to nuclear bomb testing, even though the team wasn’t actually looking for pollutants. The findings suggest that pollution can spread to even the deepest and oldest water on earth, since they were analyzing 12,000 year old fossil water. Once pollution reaches underground aquifers, it seems to spread relatively quickly. “We can’t just drill deep and expect to run away from contaminates,” says Jasechko. (Sumner, 5-27-2017)

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