Pollution! We probably hear of this term every other day at school, college, and offices. We also come across the term in newspapers, online journals, and media in general. So what is it, and why is it deemed harmful?
Pollution occurs when pollutants contaminate the natural surroundings, bringing about changes that affect our normal lifestyles adversely.
Pollutants are the key elements or components of pollution, which are generally waste materials of different forms.
Pollution disturbs our ecosystem and the balance in the environment. And owing to modernization and development in our lives, pollution has reached its peak, giving rise to global warming and human illness.
Different Forms of Pollution
Pollution occurs in different forms; air, water, soil, radioactive, noise, heat/ thermal, and light.
Every form of pollution has two sources of occurrence;
- The point sources
- The non-point sources
The point sources are easy to identify, monitor, and control, whereas the non-point sources are hard to control.
To understand this occurrence better, let us now discuss the different types of pollution and their effects on mankind and the environment in general.
Major Types of Pollution Affecting Our Planet
Following is a list of the different types of Pollution that evidently destroy us and our earth.
1. Air Pollution
While there are many types of pollution, Air Pollution is probably the most prominent and dangerous form. It may occur due to many reasons, but here’s a brief list.
Burning of Fuel
Excessive burning of fuel in our daily lives when cooking, driving, and other industrial activities releases a huge amount of chemical substances in the air every day. Over time, these substances pollute the air.
Another common cause of air pollution may be attributed to the smoke from chimneys, factories, vehicles, or the burning of wood. These activities, individually and collectively, release sulfur dioxide into the air, making it toxic.
The effects of air pollution are evident, too. The release of sulfur dioxide and other hazardous gases into the air causes global warming and acid rain, leading to increased temperatures, erratic rains, and droughts worldwide.
These effects don’t just debilitate the lives of humans, but they also make it tough for the animals to survive.
As humans, we breathe in every polluted particle from the air, resulting in the potential chances of asthma and lung cancer. Either way, unless we address this issue, it may take a bigger and worse shape.
2. Water Pollution
Water Pollution has taken a toll on all the surviving species of the earth. Almost 60% of the species live in water bodies, so when the water is polluted, it severely impacts their lives and general health.
But then here comes the question: what are the specific causes of water pollution?
Let’s take a closer look.
Water pollution may occur due to multiple factors. One of the biggest instances may be industrial water pollution, where industrial wastes are dumped into rivers and other water bodies, causing an imbalance in the water.
Over time, it leads to severe contamination, thereby resulting in the death of aquatic species.
If you suspect that a corporation has contaminated nearby water sources, then it might be a good idea to hire an expert to see your options.
Water pollution may also be caused when insecticides and pesticides like DDT are sprayed on plants. While this may not seem much, over time, this simple activity pollutes the groundwater system that most of us use. If left unchecked for long, the same groundwater will turn out to be hazardous, leading to a range of health issues in the long run.
In addition to spraying pesticides, groundwater may be polluted by the toxic chemical spills from industrial operations.
Oil spills in the oceans, too, have caused irreparable damage to the water bodies. Oil spills are usually caused due to accidents from large ships, tankers, or any other form of an oil pipeline.
Eutrophication is another big source of water pollution. It occurs due to daily activities like washing clothes and utensils near lakes, ponds, or rivers. These activities forces detergents into the water, blocking sunlight from penetrating, thus reducing oxygen and making it inhabitable.
Water pollution not only harms aquatic beings, but it also contaminates the entire food chain by severely affecting humans dependent on these. Water-borne diseases like cholera and diarrhea have also increased in all places.
3. Soil Pollution
Soil pollution occurs due to the incorporation of unwanted chemicals in the soil due to human activities. Using insecticides and pesticides absorbs the nitrogen compounds from the soil, making it unfit for plants to derive nutrition from.
4. Noise Pollution
Noise pollution is caused when noise, an unpleasant sound, affects our ears and leads to psychological problems like stress, hypertension, hearing impairment, etc. It is caused by machines in industries, loud music, traffic noise, construction equipment, etc.
As with the other forms of pollution, noise pollution is extremely dangerous and can lead to multiple fatalities in humans and animals.
In humans, it affects our overall well-being, sleep, and total hours of rest. It may also adversely impact the development of kids and create an imbalance in the blood pressure and heart rate of elderly individuals.
5. Radioactive Pollution
Radioactive pollution is highly dangerous when it occurs. It can occur due to nuclear plant malfunctions, improper nuclear waste disposal, accidents, etc. It causes cancer, infertility, blindness, and defects at the time of birth. Plus, it can sterilize soil and affect air and water.
6. Thermal/Heat Pollution
Thermal/heat pollution is when the excess heat in the environment creates unwanted changes over long periods due to the huge number of industrial plants, deforestation, urban sprawl, and air pollution. This type of pollution increases the earth’s temperature, causing drastic climatic changes and wildlife extinction.
Thermal pollution can increase temperature and be disastrous for humans and wildlife. Even more, the increase in temperature can make wildlife populations vulnerable, and they may never be able to recover.
7. Light Pollution
Light pollution occurs due to prominent excess illumination of an area. It is largely visible in big cities, on advertising boards and billboards, and in sports or entertainment events at night.
In residential areas, the lives of the inhabitants are greatly affected by this. This type of pollution also affects astronomical observations and activities by making the stars almost invisible.
Serious Effects of Pollution on Our Humans and Environment
Some of the notable effects of pollution on humans and environment include:
1. Environment Degradation
The environment is the first pollution casualty, whether in air or water. The increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere leads to smog, which can restrict sunlight from reaching the Earth.
This very scenario affects the process of photosynthesis in plants, thereby hindering their growth. Gases like Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide can also cause acid rain. Again, water pollution in terms of the oil spill may lead to the death of several wildlife species.
2. Human Health
The decrease in the quality of air leads to several respiratory problems, including asthma and lung cancer. Chest pain, congestion, throat inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease are some of the diseases that can be caused by air pollution.
Water pollution, on the other hand, may pose skin-related problems, including irritations and rashes. Similarly, noise pollution leads to hearing loss, stress, and sleep disturbance.
It is worth noting that while the results of pollution tend to vary, it has one specific impact: degrading the quality of human life. Pollution has an adverse impact on humans in general, and regardless of its extent, all of us have encountered its ill effects at some point in time or another.
3. Global Warming
The emission of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, is slowly fueling global warming. Every other day, new industries are being set up, new vehicles come on roads, and trees are cut to make way for new homes.
All of them, in a direct or indirect way, lead to an increase in CO2 in the environment. The increase in CO2 leads to the melting of polar ice caps, increasing the sea level and posing danger to the people living near coastal areas.
It is worth noting that humans almost entirely cause Global Warming, and unless we check our pollution levels, it can completely destroy the world as we know it.
While Global Warming is already a reality, we may encounter the worst when it becomes even more pronounced over the next few years. There’ll be fluctuations in temperature, a significant and persistent temperature rise, forest fires, and so much more.
4. Ozone Layer Depletion
The ozone layer is the thin shield high up in the sky that stops ultraviolet rays from reaching the Earth. As a result of human activities, chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), are released into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer.
5. Infertile Land
Due to the constant use of insecticides and pesticides, the soil may become infertile. Plants may not be able to grow properly. Various forms of chemicals produced from industrial waste are released into the flowing water, which also affects the quality of the soil.
Pollution not only affects humans by destroying their respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological systems; it also affects nature, plants, fruits, vegetables, rivers, ponds, forests, animals, etc., on which they depend highly for survival. It is crucial to control pollution as nature, wildlife, and human life are precious gifts to mankind.
Remember, unless we embrace sustainable living, go green, and take tangible steps to live with less, our world will likely witness dramatic transformations due to pollution. So, follow the right guidelines and take the right steps to make way for a better world.