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Worsening water quality reduces economic growth by a third in some countries, a new World Bank report warns.

The report Quality Unknown: The Invisible Water Crisis was published by the World Bank in August 2019. According to the authors, the world faces an invisible crisis of water quality that is eliminating one-third of potential economic growth in heavily polluted areas and threatening human and environmental well-being. They point out that water quality goes largely unnoticed by the public, while water quantity in terms floods or droughts grabs public attention and the media spotlight.

The publication shows how a combination of bacteria, sewage, chemicals and plastics can suck oxygen from water supplies and transform water into poison for people and ecosystems. The authors call for immediate global, national and local-level attention to these dangers which face both developed and developing countries, since clean water is a key factor for economic growth. 

Nitrogen and salinity threatening water quality

A key contributor to poor water quality is nitrogen, which, applied as fertilizer in agriculture, eventually enters rivers, lakes and oceans where it transforms into nitrates.

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