Clean water and fresh air are two resources we take for granted in the developed world, but must try ever harder to preserve.
Poor air quality and pollution can be dangerous to human health, resulting in respiratory diseases and lung problems; similarly there are many life-threatening diseases, especially in developing countries, which are directly linked to poor water quality and a lack of basic sanitation.
Drinking water quality
Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right; in the UK it is assumed that water clean enough to drink can be accessed directly from a tap in your kitchen. In developing countries, however, dirty water spreads diseases like cholera and typhoid. It is estimated that safe water could prevent 1.4 million children dying from diarrhoea each year.
Treating water to make it suitable to drink requires a lot of energy, and can therefore be expensive and demand a lot of resources. This is why some nations are forced to make use of poor quality water to meet their needs.
The simplest way to improve water quality is to remove any solid particles found in the water; this can be done by pouring the water through a filter. Another straightforward way to purify water is to boil it – this kills most harmful germs in water.
Scientists have recently found ways to use energy from the sun to heat water and make it safe enough to drink. By designing new ways to purify water, and to reuse waste water, scientists will ensure that clean water is available to everyone.