Pollution as defined by the dictionary is the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects. Easily put, environmental pollution causes harm to the environment and which in return brings harm to people and animals in the area.
Occurrence of Environmental Pollution
The occurrence of environmental pollution is when the surrounding is contaminated by pollutants; this brings about some changes that adversely affect our regular lifestyles. The key components or elements of pollution are pollutants and they are majorly waste materials of very different forms. Pollution brings about a disturbance in the balance of the environment and the ecosystem. Development and modernisation have brought with them a sharp increase in pollution and this has given rise to various human illnesses and most importantly global warming.
Forms of Environmental Pollution
There are many various forms of environmental pollution including water, air, radioactive, soil, heat, noise and light. For every form of pollution, there are two sources of pollution; the non point and the point sources. It is very easy to monitor, indentify and control the point sources of pollution while the non-point pollution sources are quite difficult and hard to control.
Causes and Sources of Environmental Pollution
The sources and causes of environmental pollution consist of the following:
Industries from all around the world even though they have brought affluence and prosperity have continually disturbed ecological balances and have probed the biosphere. The fall-outs of experiments, pall of smoke, industrial effluents and the swirling gases are a constant hazard to health, contaminating and polluting both water and air. The inappropriate disposal of industrial wastes has become a source of both water and soil pollution. The chemical wastes from the various industries can cause pollution to rivers, lakes, seas and also soil and air through the release of fumes.
Solid Waste Dumping
Commercial and household wastes are sources of environmental pollution when the wastes are not disposed of properly.
Vehicles that use diesel and petrol emit smoke and also the smoke that is emitted by cooking coal pollutes our environment. The exponential growth in the number of vehicles on the roads has only aided the emission of smoke that when released spreads and eventually mixes with the air that we breathe. The smoke of these various vehicles is quite harmful and is the primary cause of air pollution. There is also the risk of sounds from these vehicles producing noise pollution.
Rapid Industrialisation and Urbanisation
The rapid rate of urbanisation and also industrialisation are major causes of environmental pollution because of the harm and death they bring to plant which causes harm to animals, humans and the ecosystem.
The rapid population increase especially in developing nations, the demand for occupation, basic food and shelter has been on the rise. Due to the high demand, deforestation has become rampant to help meet the growing demand of the population.
Fossil Fuel Combustion
The continual combustion of fuels of fossils is as source of pollution to the soil, the air and water through toxic gases like Carbon monoxide.
Pesticides and fertilizers that are used during agriculture are major sources of environmental pollution.
Types of Environmental Pollution
Air pollution occurs when harmful and excessive amounts of substances are introduced into the Earth’s atmosphere. The result can cause diseases, allergies and even premature death to humans, it may also cause harm to other living organisms such as animals and food crops. Both human activity and natural processes can generate air pollution, that being for example cars, factories and volcanoes etc.
- Air Quality Index
To understand how polluted the air is, the government agencies use something called AQI (Air Quality Index) and it is used to communicate to the public how polluted the air is and how it will be in the coming days.
Smog is a type of severe air pollution. The word “smog” came around in the early 20th century as a blend of the words smoke and fog to refer to smoky fog, its opacity, and odour. The causes of smog can be made from coal combustion emissions, vehicular emissions, industrial emissions, forest and agricultural fires. Having smog in the air can cause/aggravate health problems such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory problems as well as eye irritation and reduce the resistance to colds and lung infections.
Water is essential for life; every living creature or being depends on water for survival. About 60% of all species live in water; this means that the pollution of water is a very important pollution type that has to be controlled. There are a lot of factors that contribute to water pollution, one very major contributing factor is industrial effluent disposed into rivers and seas and causing a large imbalance in the properties of water and this makes the bodies of water unfit for live. There are also a lot of diseases that are caused by water pollution and these diseases affect both non-aquatic and aquatic species.
Pesticides and insecticides that are sprayed on different plants is a source of pollution to the groundwater and also, oil spills in oceans have led to severe irreversible damage to the bodies of water. Another source of water pollution is eutrophication and it happens due to activities like the washing of utensils, clothes near rivers, ponds or lakes; the washing detergent moves into the water and inadvertently blocks the penetration of sunlight and this reduces the oxygen content of the water and makes it inhabitable.
The pollution of water can have devastating effect on marine life. If the level of dissolved oxygen is low, the water is considered to be polluted; dissolved oxygen is from the decomposition carried out on organic materials like sewage that are added to the water.
By harming aquatic creatures, water pollution contaminates the whole food chain by seriously causing harm to the humans that are dependent on the aquatic creatures. There has been a sharp increase in the number of diarrhoea and cholera cases everywhere.
- Plastic Waste In The Oceans
“We are turning our beautiful Ocean into a plastic soup. About 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the sea every year, and at this rate we face a future with more plastic in the Ocean than fish by 2050.” – (OceanUnite) 1 in 3 species of marine mammals have been found entangled in marine litter and over 90% of all seabirds have plastic in their stomachs. Recently news was going round the media about a young sperm wale found dead off the coast of Spain with 30 kilograms (64 pounds) of garbage in its digestive system.
Plastic pollution is caused due to the accumulation of the waste plastic material in the environment. Plastic is a non bio-degradable substance. It doesn’t get disposed off in the soil or water and its effect is worse when burnt. This brings a challenge to dispose it off. It remains in the environment for hundreds of years and causes air, water and land pollution. It is hazardous for the humans, animals as well as the plants. Several animals, birds and marine creatures die due to plastic pollution each year.
Plastic waste is entering the water bodies such as rivers, seas and even oceans and is polluting our water drastically. This water is then supplied at our places. No matter how much we filter this water it can never get back to its pure form and therefore has negative repercussions on our health.Large amounts of plastic waste is dumped in landfills. Wind carries plastic bags and other small plastic particles from one place to another thereby effecting major area. Plastic particles release harmful chemicals that deposit in the soil and ruin its quality. It impacts the growth of the plants. Besides, waste lying on the land breeds mosquitoes and other insects that are carriers of various serious illnesses.Plastic bags and other plastic litter that goes into rivers and seas are mistaken as food by the marine creatures that will then be eaten causes harmful effects and even death. Marine life can also get tangled and trapped in the waste that is in our oceans. Plastic plates, bags, spoons, glasses and other material are readily available in the market. These are economical and easy to use, people would prefer to these during gatherings and parties as it eliminates the hassle of cleaning
Soil is the natural resource on the earth which directly supports the life of plants and indirectly of animals since the origin of life on the earth. It is very important complex substance available everywhere on the earth. Productive soil is a soil useful to grow crops. As a human being, we need to keep our land safe and secure and away from all the impurities. However, it is not possible because of the technological advancement.
Soil is getting polluted through the toxic substances released by the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides, industrial wastes, etc which are badly affecting the fertility of land. Soil pollution depletes the soil nutrients because of the availability of heavy concentration of undesirable foreign elements into soil through chemicalisation.
There are various types of pollution in the environment, soil pollution is one of them and have become more dangerous to the health. It has become so dangerous that it can be compared to the other most dangerous problems like cancer, etc in which slow death is sure. Noise pollution is the dangerous gift of modern living style and increasing level of industrialisation and urbanisation. If regular and effective actions are not taken to control, it can be very serious to the future generations. Noise pollution is the pollution caused by the noise due to the increased level of unwanted sound in the environment. It is a big potential hazard to the health and causes huge level of communication problems.
High level of noise brings irritation in the behaviour of many people especially diseased, old people and pregnant women. Unwanted sound causes deafness problem and other chronic disorders to the ear like damage to the ear drum, ear pain, etc. Sometimes high sound music pleases the listeners however irritates other people. Any undesired sound in the environment is harming to the health. Some of the sources participating highly in the noise pollution are industries, factories, transportation, traffic, aeroplane engines, train sounds, home appliances, construction, etc. The noise level of 60 db is considered as the normal noise however, noise level of 80 db or above become physically painful and harmful to the health. Cities having high noise levels are Delhi (80 db), Kolkata (87 db), Bombay (85 db), Chennai (89 db), etc. Limiting the amount of noise to a safe level has become very necessary for the life on the earth as undesired noise affects the health of human beings, plants and animals too.
This is believed to be one of the highly dangerous types of pollution because the effects are permanent. Nuclear waste disposed carelessly, accidents in nuclear plants, etc are all examples of radioactive pollution. Radioactive pollution can cause infertility as a result of exposure, cancer (blood and skin), blindness and various birth defects. It can also permanently alter the air, soil and water – which are the major life sources. It has been found to cause serious mutation in some species that can then breed carrying on the mutation.