Difference Between Air Pollution and Water Pollution

What is the Difference Between Air Pollution and Water Pollution?

The word ‘Pollution’ has been heard commonly in our day-to-day life. In that, the most severe ones are air and water pollution as it has adverse effects on human health. Let us discuss some details about the terms air and water pollution before we get into our topic - what is the difference between air pollution and water pollution? 

What is Air Pollution?

The presence of harmful substances or particles and certain kinds of gases in the atmosphere which leads to health disorders for living beings is called air pollution. The particles and gases are from the vehicles, industries, dust, wood fires.

What is Water Pollution?

Water pollution can be defined as the contamination of water bodies like rivers, lakes and oceans due to human activities. The sources of water pollution are sewage, industrial waste, chemicals, and fertilizers.


Differentiate Between Air Pollution and Water Pollution:

Now we will see what is the difference between air pollution and water pollution? based on some characters.


Air Pollution 

Water Pollution


Due to the presence of harmful particles in the air.

Dues to the presence of harmful particles in the water

Man-made causes

Burning of fossil fuels, power plants, factories and vehicles.

Industrial waste, agricultural waste like pesticides and fertilizers. 

Natural causes

Catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires.

Plants which depletes the oxygen level, eutrophication(gradual increase in minerals and nutrients).

Methods of measurement

Chromatography, Air Quality Index(AQI).

Can be measured by 3 types: 

  1. Physical: Temperature and solid concentrations

  2. Chemical: pH and KH testing

  3. Biological: BOD(Biochemical Oxygen Demand), 

The air pollution not only spoils human health, but it can also affect the monuments as well, one of the examples is Taj Mahal. The industries which are present around the Agra are responsible for releasing the pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. These pollutants react with water vapour in the atmosphere in forms of Nitric acid and Sulphuric acid. This acid drops on the monument along with rain, which is called acid rain. The marble of the monument is corroded due to this acid rain and this phenomenon is called “Marble cancer”.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Which is Worse: Water or Air Pollution?

Answer: Air pollution can directly affect the surface of water and soil. It can cause long term effects on human health which includes: heart diseases, respiratory disorders and cause birth effects as well. Some scientists conclude that air pollution can shorten the lifespan of the human by an average of three years.

According to the new report, urban air pollution can cause premature deaths in the future by overtaking other types of pollution. Hence we can conclude that air pollution can cause worse effects than other pollution.

2. What are the Various Sources of Water Pollution?


  • Groundwater pollution: Groundwater gets polluted due to pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and wastewater leaching from septic tanks.

  • Surface water: According to the Environmental Protection Agency of the US, almost 50% of our rivers and streams and lakes are polluted.

  • Ocean water: The oceans absorb a quarter of the carbon emissions made by humans, it is polluted by oil spills and dumping of waste.

  • Point source: If the contamination occurs by a single source it is called point source. Wastewater is considered as the point source.

3. How Do You Find the Difference Between Air and Water Pollution in Points?


Air pollution: 

  • Air pollution is caused due to the release of unwanted particles into the atmosphere which causes adverse effects to the health of living beings.

  • The main pollutant which causes air pollution is harmful gases released into the atmosphere.

Water pollution:

  • Water pollution is caused due to the release of waste matter into the water bodies.

  • The main pollutant which causes water pollution is wastewater.