45 Interesting Facts About Water Pollution

Our Earth is composed of nearly 70% water, but only 2.5% of the total water composition is freshwater. Even out of this 2.5%, a vast majority is composed of ice and glaciers. This means that our above-ground water supply is really only 1.2% of the total supply!

Can you believe that we still dare to contaminate this limited water supply?

Well, believe it! We have curated 45 shocking and interesting facts about water pollution for you. These facts cover not just pollution but also water contamination, diseases, and around the world facts for your easy viewing.

Let’s get right to it!

45 Interesting Facts About Water Pollution


  1. Over 6 billion pounds of garbage, mostly of plastic, ends up in our oceans annually.
  2. Nearly 80% of the total water pollution can be attributed to domestic sewage.
  3. Urban sewage makes up nearly 30 billion tons of the pollution that ends up in our water sources.
  4. On a daily basis, about two million tons of human waste is exposed to water.
  5. Fourteen billion pounds of the total garbage dumped into the oceans is plastic.
  6. Approximately 70% of the industrial waste is dumped untreated into water sources.
  7. 80% of the total pollutants in the ocean are oil, pesticides, untreated sewage, septic tanks, dirt, discharge of nutrients, and so on.
  8. Two of the major contributors to water pollution are the leather and chemical industries.
  9. Cruise ships produce more than 200,000 gallons of sewage that goes untreated into our oceans. They also leave a considerable amount of oil spilling.
  10. After plastic, the most common pollutants are fishing gear, nets, and cigarette butts.
  11. Currently, approximately 40,000 tons of plastics are floating on our ocean’s surface.
  12. Over 100,000 deaths of marine life, including sea mammals, birds, and fishes, are attributed to plastic wastes.

Oil Pollution

  1. Oil is the most harmful pollutant to ocean life over other wastes.
  2. Out of every one million tons of oil shipped, one ton is spilled into the ocean.
  3. Nearly 1.3 million gallons of oil is spilled into the ocean annually.
  4. However, only 12% of the total oil pollution in the ocean is due to spills. The rest is due to the garbage from the land.

Water-borne Diseases

  1. Water pollution is the leading cause of diseases like cholera and typhoid.
  2. Over 10,000 people die every day due to water pollution. This makes up about 3.6 million deaths every year.
  3. Nearly 15 million children under the age of 5 lose their lives every year due to diseases associated with drinking contaminated water.
  4. According to WHO, approximately 250 million people around the world die every year due to the diseases caused by water pollution.
  5. In India alone, at least 1000 children die due to the consumption of contaminated water every day.
  6. The number of people that die from drinking unsafe water is far higher than deaths due to violence, and this is including war!
  7. Consumption of contaminated shellfish is responsible for anywhere between 50,000 to 100,000 deaths every year.

Water Contamination

  1. Bangladeshi groundwater is contaminated with arsenic. Arsenic is highly poisonous and carcinogenic.
  2. The groundwater in China is used as drinking water but contains carcinogens.
  3. The nuclear crisis due to the 2011 tsunami in Japan was responsible for adding nearly 11 million liters (2 million gallons) of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
  4. The debris from this tsunami created islands that were 70 kilometers in length.
  5. Around 700 people globally are drinking contaminated water.
  6. There are an estimated 20,000 known and abandoned hazardous waste sites in the United States. If these wastes leak into the groundwater, there is a high risk of contamination.

Around the World

  1. Asia has the highest concentration of contaminated rivers over the other continents.
  2. The rivers in Asia contain nearly three times the bacteria than the rivers in the rest of the world. This is due to the high concentration of human wastes in these rivers.
  3. The most polluted river in the world is the Ganges in India. This river contains not just dirt and garbage but also dead animals and humans.
  4. Ten of the most polluted rivers in the world are located in Canada.
  5. The most polluted lake in the world is Lake Karachay in Russia.
  6. The third-largest river in the world, Yangtze River, China, is polluted with approximately 25 billion tons of sewage and industrial waste.
  7. The amount of microplastics in our oceans is larger than the total number of stars in the Milky Way.
  8. In the United States, 40% of the rivers and 46% of the lakes are too contaminated for swimming, fishing, or other activities.
  9. Nearly 320 million of the population in China do not have any access to clean drinking water.
  10. There are now nearly 500 “dead zones” around the world due to water pollution.
  11. There exists a plastic continent called “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” It is made entirely of plastic trash and takes up an area bigger than Texas (386,000 square miles).
  12. Los Angeles alone is responsible for dumping 22,000 pounds of soda bottles, plastic straws, and bags into the Pacific Ocean daily.
  13. The survey by Food & Water Watch reports that due to water pollution, nearly 3.5 billion people globally will be facing water shortage.
  14. 1 in 3 people located in rural areas is known to defecate in the open. This compromises the safety of open water bodies nearby.
  15. Aquatic animals go extinct nearly five times more than terrestrial animals.
  16. It is estimated that at least 50% of the sea turtles, 44% of all seabirds, 22% of cetaceans, and a variety of fishes have already consumed plastics.
    The BP oil spill of 2010 was responsible for the death of over 1000 animals, including birds, turtles, and mammals. A significant number of these animals were on the endangered species list.