Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Billions of people live without clean drinking water and toilets

More than two billion people worldwide have no access to safely managed clean drinking water, while more than four billion people do not have adequate sanitation services, according to a report announced in Geneva by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The organisations define ‘safely managed drinking water and sanitation services’ as drinking water from sources located on premises, free from contamination and available when needed, and the use of hygienic toilets from which wastes are treated and disposed of safely. They distinguish that from ‘basic services’, which are defined as having a protected water source that takes less than thirty minutes to collect water, but where the purity of the water is not assured, and the use of toilets or latrines that are not shared with other households, but without waste removal.

“If countries fail to step up efforts on sanitation, safe water and hygiene, we will continue to live with diseases that should have been long ago consigned
to the history books,”

warned Maria Neira, an official of WHO. Such diseases include typhoid, hepatitis A, cholera and other diseases that cause diarrhoea, as well as intestinal worms and bacterial eye infections.

According to the UN, each day almost a thousand children under the age of five die of diseases caused by polluted drinking water, or insufficient sanitation or hygiene.

One of the UN’s goals is achieving universal access to clean and affordable drinking water and appropriate sanitation for all people on earth by 2030.

Since the turn of the millennium, there has been progress in basic services: the UNICEF study shows that today, the number of people with access to water within 30 minutes is 1.8 billion greater than it was 20 years ago. It is horrifying, however, that 785 million people still don’t even have a basic drinking water service, and two million do not have basic sanitation services.

Every day, almost a thousand children under the age of five die from diseases caused by polluted water or insufficient sanitation and hygiene services
Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: UNICEF

Hungarian water treatment plant in Vietnam

It was announced in 2010 that the Vietnamese government would like to build a water treatment plant in Central Vietnam. Hungary is famous for its water treatment technology so they decided on a Hungarian partner.

The Biopolus BioMakery in the Netherlands

The Trappist monks of Koningshoeven Abbey have been brewing beer since 1881, and in recent years, they have also been baking bread and making chocolate, honey and cheese. The water to be treated is the wastewater from these brewing and manufacturing activities, together with the municipal wastewater from the Abbey and the visiting centre.

Over two tonnes of golf balls collected from Monterey Bay

Specialists believe almost 30 kilograms of microplastics has eroded from such a quantity of golf balls into the water.

Algal blooms grow more severe in the great lakes of the world

Over the last three decades, summer algal blooms in all large fresh-water lakes around the world have grown more severe – this is the conclusion of a global study, the longest ever of its kind, conducted by researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science and NASA. 

The Pacific cleanup may succeed

The system created by a Dutch inventor called System 101, whose first trial run, conducted a year ago, had failed, has started collecting plastic waste on the Pacific again.

Hungarian innovation to filter pharmaceutical residues

Many studies worldwide have shown that the active compounds of medications are released into the environment with wastewater and can easily be reintroduced into the human food chain from there. Filtering these residues out is an increasingly acute concern, but, thankfully, the world of science has already responded to the problem.

Garbage from Asia has inundated an island in the middle of the Atlantic

Researchers from Canada and Africa have found a massive amount of plastic bottles, originating form Asia, mainly from China, on Inaccessible Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean. The bottles were probably discarded into the water and then washed up on the island from cargo ships passing the region.

Pharmaceutical residues in Hungarian waters

In Hungary, too, the active ingredients of various medications are discharged continuously into the environment with wastewater, so they can now be detected in surface and underground waters as well as in soils.

What can we do against pharmaceutical residues in our waters?

After being introduced into human and animal organisms, some pharmaceutical compounds are secreted via urine unchanged, and then, through wastewater, those compounds may reach surface waters that serve as drinking water supplies, representing a risk for both aquatic ecosystems and for the purity of drinking water.

Microplastics from an unexpected source

We’ve known for a long time that plastic food packaging, wearing car tyres and clothing made of synthetic fibres are all sources of microplastic pollution. However, a new study has identified a new source of pollution in our kitchens, or more precisely in our teacups.