17.2.4  Chemical pollutants

Heavy metals

Arsenic, copper, lead, mercury and cadmium are chemical pollutants that may be found in lakes, rivers and groundwater. Fortunately these are not common problems in rural Ethiopia. These heavy metals can harm aquatic organisms and humans. Farmers who use river water polluted by urban wastes for irrigation of fruits and vegetables may find their crops affected by the accumulation of these chemicals.


Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. There are several thousand different types in use and almost all of them are possible causes of water pollution. For example, DDT, malathion, parathion, delthametrine and others have been sprayed in the environment for long periods of time for the control of disease vectors such as mosquitoes, and to control the growth of weeds and other pests.

17.2.3  Biological pollutants

17.2.5  Types of pollutant defined by their source