How to Explain Water Pollution & How it Originated to Children

The water that exists on the Earth needs protection. Humans cannot create water, so it’s imperative to learn how to preserve and conserve what remains, according to the Kids Ecology Corps website 15. Help children learn about water pollution and the origins of this ecological issue 1. Once children have this understanding, they will be in a position to make a difference in the future.

Define water pollution for your children to begin teaching about these issues 1. Water pollution includes the various negative effects that human activities have on bodies of water such as oceans, lakes, rivers and groundwater, according to the University of Illinois – Engineering website 1. Pollution can include chemicals, impurities and pathogens, many of them toxic and dangerous.

Explain to your children that pollution can come from industrial wastes, untreated sewage, agricultural waste, oil spills, and runoff that occurs from chemical use such as detergents and fertilizers. Define runoff for kids as well -- when the ground doesn’t absorb rainfall, it will run downhill and eventually flow into a body of water, according to the Shodor website 2. It’s common for runoff to carry toxins, both from pollutants in the air and on the ground.

Differentiate between point and nonpoint water pollution sources for your child 1. Point sources of water pollution expel pollutants into the water at specific points via pipelines or sewers 1. Nonpoint sources of pollution do not have a specific point of discharge and include runoff from underground mines, agriculture, oil wells, oil tankers and traffic.

Discuss acid rain with your children. As rain falls through air pollution, the pollutants contaminate the rain. Once in the soil, the acid rain pollutes water supplies that lie beneath the surface of the Earth, according to the Kids Ecology Corps website 15.

Explore the earliest issues that humans experienced with water pollution to explain the origins 1. Human waste and its disposal was one of the first issues that confronted people, especially in large cities, according to the Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University 4. The Industrial Revolution, with its toxins, oil-burning pollution and mining wastes, in addition to agricultural wastes, soon began presenting a problem because people did not understand how to dispose of those pollutants. Often pollutants were discharged directly into the water.

Help kids understand ways they can help fight water pollution 1. Kids can raise awareness about using nontoxic cleaning products and not pouring chemicals down the drain or into storm sewers. Kids can also help conserve water at home by not wasting water and by collecting rainwater for use in the home and garden.