Bread made of air – the saying is still true today, more than a hundred years after the German scientists Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch discovered the possibility of extracting nitrogen from the atmosphere. In 1918 they received the Nobel Prize for this – and rightly so. The huge leaps in
production in agriculture would not have been possible without “artificial fertilizers”, and famines could hardly have been avoided.
But the food blessing has a dark downside: water pollution. Their effects would only gradually become recognizable in their full significance, according to a new study by the World Bank entitled “Quality unknown – The invisible water crisis”. “The consequences of nitrogen pollution are considered to be one of the most important environmental issues of the 21st century,” state author Richard Damania and his co-authors.
The analysis goes further and takes into account the salt content and the need for biological oxygen in the water as additional indicators – and comes to a devastating result: In large parts of the world there are “high risks” for water quality, including practically all of Western and Central Europe, the Middle East, much of the US and China, as well as Australia and Africa. Existential questions would be touched everywhere: health, environment, economy.
According to the researchers, the report shows that the threat to the water is wider and deeper than previously known. “Understanding the full extent of the problem, identifying the severity of the effects and formulating ways to combat it will be critical to improving human health, protecting ecosystems and generating sustainable economic growth in the 21st century,” he says the study made its global claim.
The scientists are dispelling the idea that rich countries have a better grip on the water problem than poor ones. “Income status does not make you immune to problems with water quality,” it continues. So pollution does not disappear with economic growth, rather the number of problematic substances even increases.
In the United States alone, more than 1,000 new chemicals are released into the environment each year. Keeping pace with this rate of risk escalation is difficult even for countries that are making great efforts.
High-income countries also have problems with water quality
“Even countries with high incomes and well-equipped institutions do not see themselves in a position to meet the challenges,” the study notes. One of these countries is Germany, in which the nitrate limit values are exceeded at almost a third of the measuring stations.
But Greece and France have already been sanctioned by the European Court of Justice for exceeding the limit values. In Brittany, with its intensive livestock farming, the limit values would be exceeded “sky high”. In the UK, only 14 percent of rivers are in good condition.
In the US state of Michigan, more than 100,000 people are exposed to high levels of lead in the water more than four decades after a law to ensure water quality was passed. The German government is under pressure after the EU Commission set a final deadline of two months at the end of July to
improve the excessive nitrate levels in the groundwater. Otherwise there is a daily fine of up to 850,000 dollars.
Now, once and for all, prevent the unnecessary water consumption. Think about your children and grandchildren. We at Sinaqua Waterless Technologies have dedicated ourselves to precisely this task.