Current Issues in Environmental Chemistry

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

One of the issues faced in environmental chemistry is the genetic modification of crops. Genetic modification of crops involves the alteration or insertion of genetic material that is DNA which somehow in a manner does not happen naturally. A few technologies that are involved is usually called “contemporary biotechnology” or “recombinant DNA technology”. The technologies involved enables transfer of selected genes from an organism to another one, including among non-related species. Issues involving genetic modification of crops that relate to environmental chemistry is the enhanced use of chemicals in agriculture, gene stabilization and decrease in variety of other crops which leads to loss of biodiversity.

Sustainable agriculture has the most benefit from use of a wide variety of crops that is from the point of view of excellent crop protection practices. These organizations fear that range of varieties used by farmers can be limited primarily to genetic modified crops due to interest of chemical industry in seed markets. Using herbicide-tolerant genetic modified crops exclusively would also render farmer dependent on those chemicals. They are afraid of the chemical industry’s dominant role in agricultural growth, a trend that is not quite sustainable.

Another issue that has caused quite an epidemic in society is water pollution. Water pollution occur due to the fact that damaging substances such as chemicals or microorganisms contaminate water sources. Few examples of water sources are lake, sea, river and many more. Contamination degrades the quality of water and thus makes it poisonous to humans or the environment. Pollution from water kills. Based on the latest research by The Lancet, in 2015, it has caused 1.8 million fatalities. Unsafe water sickens approximately 1 billion individuals every year.

Communities that has low income are at utmost risk due to the fact that their homes are often nearest to most polluting sectors. Harmful pathogens lead to waterways even in rich countries, as well as runoff from farms and metropolitan regions. The spread of freshly introduced nutrients stimulates plant and algae development when water pollution causes an algal bloom in a lake or marine environment, which decreases oxygen concentrations in water. Lack of oxygen (eutrophication) suffocates plants and animals, which give rise to “dead areas”, where water is largely devoid of life. Chemicals and heavy metals also contaminate waterways from industrial wastewater. These contaminants are poisonous to aquatic life.

Other than the issues mentioned above, another issue that relates to environmental chemistry is acid rain. Acid rain defines any type of precipitation containing elevated nitric and sulfuric acid concentrations. Normal rain is mildly acidic which has a pH of 5.6 however, acid rain normally has a pH of 4.2 to 4.4. Few factors that causes acid rain are usually connected to rotting vegetation and erupting volcanoes because it releases chemicals involved. However, most acid rain occurrence is related to product of human activities. Major sources involved are power plants, factories, and automobiles that burn coal. When fossil fuels are burned, they release sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere.

The air pollutants respond to formation of sulphuric and nitric acid with water, oxygen, and other substances. Chemicals involved in the formation of acid rain are not primary greenhouse gasses that influence global warming, which is one of major impacts of climate change. Sulphur dioxide actually has an atmospheric cooling impact. However, nitrogen oxides lead to ground-level ozone formation, that is a significant pollutant that can be detrimental to humans. Both trigger environmental and health issues because acid rain can readily spread the gasses included.

Ocean acidification also is another environmental chemistry issue. Ocean acidification is a direct result of enhanced atmospheric levels of human-induced carbon dioxide. Each year, ocean absorbs more than 25 percent of all atmospheric anthropogenic emissions. Ocean acidification is due to the formation of carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is formed as carbon dioxide dissolves in sea water. It diminishes the pH of ocean. Associated chemical reactions may complicate formation of shells and skeletons for marine calcifying organisms and current shells in the ocean may become susceptible to dissolution.

Speed at which acidification happens is a variable to what extent it is possible to adapt calcifying organisms. Ocean acidification is a worldwide issue that is expanding. Those involved such as the ocean science community has focused a lot on studying the prospective effects of ocean acidification over the past century. Exactly how ocean acidification effects will cascade across marine food chain and affect the general marine ecosystem composition is presently difficult to predict. Changes in development and reproduction, not to mention structural and functional changes in ecosystems, will later threaten food safety, damage fishing industries and reduce protection of natural shorelines.

Nitrogen cycle has also impacted the environment. Nitrogen compounds cycle through the air, water systems, and soil like the water of Earth. However, unlike water, in ever-increasing amounts these compounds are being injected into the atmosphere. By doing so, the nitrogen cycle is changed, causing potential serious effects in developing countries on global warming, water quality and also human health. A lot of human actions affect nitrogen cycle significantly. The quantity of nitrogen in an ecosystem that is biologically accessible is dramatically increased due to burning of fossil fuels, applying nitrogen-based fertilizers and other operations.

Due to the fact that supply of nitrogen often limits many ecosystems’ primary productivity, big changes in nitrogen supply can lead to serious nitrogen cycle modifications in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Adding nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems can contribute to nutrient imbalance thus leads to decrease in biodiversity. Almost all of the nitrogen used in agricultural and industrial regions eventually flows into waterways and coastal nearshore systems. Increase in nitrogen could sometimes lead to anoxia (no oxygen) or hypoxia (low oxygen) reef aquatic structures, modified biodiversity, alterations in composition of food web and overall habitat destruction.


Cite this paper

Current Issues in Environmental Chemistry. (2021, Jan 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/current-issues-in-environmental-chemistry/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out