Haritima : The Environmental Society Of Hansraj College


Air Pollution

Causes of Air Pollution

Pollutants released directly from identified sources are caused by both natural (for example, dust storms and volcanic eruptions) and manmade phenomena (emission from vehicles, industries, etc.) These are referred to as primary pollutants.”

There are five major contaminants that account for about 90% of worldwide air pollution. Secondary pollutants are pollutants that are generated in the atmosphere as a result of chemical interactions between primary pollutants. Eg: sulfuric acid, nitric acid, carbonic acid, etc. Various air pollutants are listed below :

Effects of Air Pollution

On Living Organisms : Lung cancer, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema are all illnesses that are caused or contributed to by prolonged smoking or exposure to air pollution, which can overwhelm or breakdown these natural defences.

On Plants : When gaseous contaminants penetrate leaf pores, they harm agricultural plants’ leaves. Chronic exposure to air pollution damages the waxy layer on the leaves, which helps to avoid excessive water loss and protects them against diseases, pests, dehydration, and cold.

Ozone Layer Depletion : Ozone is a kind of oxygen that has three atoms rather than two. Photodissociation of oxygen gas molecules in the atmosphere produces it naturally. The ozone created in this way is continually broken down by natural mechanisms that keep the ozone layer balanced. But the presence of some pollutants can hasten the decomposition of ozone. Increased ultra-violet radiation causes sunburn, cataracts, skin ageing, and skin cancer. It lowers the immune system by lowering the entire body’s resistance to illnesses like measles, chicken pox, and other viral diseases that cause a rash, as well as parasite diseases like malaria that are transmitted via the skin.

Green House Effect : Pollution-induced changes in the atmosphere, lead to global warming, which is produced by a rise in the concentration of specific gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, methane, and CFCs in the atmosphere. Water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, and Chloro Fluro Carbons are among the atmospheric components that trap heat in the form of infrared radiation near the earth’s surface, according to observations. The ‘Greenhouse Effect’ is the name given to this phenomenon.

Water Pollution

Causes of Water Pollution

Common water contaminants fall into several categories. Pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasitic worms, enter water from household sewage and untreated human and animal waste. Oxygen-depleting wastes are a different type of water contaminant. These are organic wastes that aerobic (oxygen-loving) microorganisms can degrade. To breakdown these pollutants, large colonies of bacteria consume oxygen from the water. 

Industrial Waste : Water contamination is caused by industries and industrial sites all over the world. Many industrial sites generate waste in the form of harmful chemicals and pollutants, and while some are controlled, others lack adequate waste management systems. Industrial waste is occasionally discharged into neighbouring freshwater systems. When industrial waste is not properly handled (or worse, not treated at all), it has a high risk of polluting the freshwater systems with which it comes into touch.

Agriculture : Farmers frequently employ chemicals and pesticides to protect their crops from bacteria and insects. These chemicals can damage animals, plants, and humans when they seep into groundwater. Furthermore, when it rains, the chemicals combine with the rainfall, which then runs into rivers and streams, which eventually filter into the ocean, polluting the water even more.

Sewage and Wastewater : Even after treatment, harmful chemicals, germs, and pathogens can be detected in sewage and wastewater. Each household’s sewage and wastewater is dumped into the sea along with fresh water. The germs and bacteria discovered in that wastewater cause sickness in humans and animals alike, and so are a source of health problems.

Effects of Water Pollution

Deteriorating water quality has a negative impact on the environment, human health, and the global economy. The World Bank’s president, David Malpass, warns of the economic consequences: In many countries, deteriorating water quality is slowing economic progress and increasing poverty.” The reason for this is because when biological oxygen demand — an indication of organic pollution in water — surpasses a particular level, the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the areas within the linked water basins is cut in half. In addition, the following are some of the other effects :

Water pollution depletes aquatic habitats and causes uncontrolled phytoplankton development in lakes, resulting in biodiversity loss, also called eutrophication.

Contamination of the food chain : Fishing in dirty waterways and using waste water for animal husbandry and crops can introduce toxins into foods, which can be hazardous to our health if consumed.

Lack of potable water : According to the United Nations, billions of people throughout the globe, particularly in rural areas, lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Disease : According to the WHO, nearly 2 billion people have little choice but to drink excrement-contaminated water, putting them at risk of illnesses including cholera, hepatitis A, and dysentery.

Infant mortality : According to the UN, diarrhoeal diseases linked to lack of hygiene cause the death of about 1,000 children a day worldwide.

Soil Pollution

Causes of Soil Pollution

Soil contamination is a complicated phenomenon that may be produced by a number of items and actions, ranging from cigarette butts littering to the overuse of chemical fertilizers. Every cause is intertwined with the others. It’s tough to pinpoint one single factor. The most common reasons, however, are mentioned below:

Industrial Activity : In the last century, industrial activity has been the most significant contribution to the problem, especially as the quantity of mining and manufacturing has risen. The majority of enterprises rely on mineral extraction from the ground. The by-products are polluted, whether they be iron ore or coal, and they are not disposed of in a manner that can be called safe. As a result, industrial waste remains on the soil surface for a long period, rendering it unfit for human consumption.

Agricultural Activities : Since the invention of modern insecticides and fertilizers, the use of chemicals has increased dramatically. They’re chock-full of compounds that don’t occur naturally and can’t be broken down by it. As a result, when they mix with water, they seep into the ground and gradually deplete the soil’s fertility.

Accidental Oil Spills : During the storage and transportation of chemicals, oil spills might occur. This may be found at nearly every gas station. The toxins in the gasoline degrade the quality of the soil and render it unfit for agriculture. These pollutants can infiltrate groundwater through the land and render it unfit for human consumption.

Acid Rain : When contaminants in the air combine with rain and fall back to the earth, acid rain occurs. Polluted water has the potential to dissolve some of the soil’s vital nutrients and alter its structure.

Effects of Soil Pollution

Soil has an impact on nearly every area of our life. We don’t always comprehend it. As a result, we are sometimes oblivious to the impact of soil contamination on our daily life. Polluted soil leads to stunted crops and, in certain cases, a poisonous subterranean water table. The following are some of the most significant consequences of soil contamination.

Health of Humans : Given that soil is the source of our ability to survive, its pollution has far-reaching implications for our health. Plants and crops growing in contaminated soil absorb much of the pollution and then pass it on to humans. This may account for the rapid increase in minor and fatal diseases. Long-term contact to such soil can alter the body’s genetic make-up, resulting in congenital diseases and chronic health problems that are difficult to treat. In fact, it has the potential to sicken cattle to a significant degree and cause food poisoning over time. If plants are unable to grow in polluted soil, it might result in widespread starvation.

Growth of Plants : The extensive pollution of the soil has an impact on the ecological equilibrium of any system. When the chemistry of the soil changes dramatically in a short period of time, most plants are unable to adapt. The fungi and bacteria in the soil that hold it together start to deteriorate, causing soil erosion as a result. The soil’s fertility gradually declines, rendering the land unfit for cultivation and preventing any local vegetation from surviving. Large swaths of land have become contaminated, posing a health risk. Unlike deserts, where native flora thrives, such terrain is unsuitable for most types of life.

Decreased Soil Fertility : Toxic substances in the soil can reduce soil fertility, resulting in a reduction in soil production. The polluted soil is then utilised to grow fruits and vegetables that are deficient in nutrients and may contain a toxic chemical that can cause significant health issues in those who consume them.

Marine Pollution

Causes of Marine Pollution

Pollution and contamination of the maritime environment occurs from a variety of sources and forms. Chemicals, solid waste, radioactive element discharge, industrial and agricultural effluents, man-made sedimentation, oil spills, and other variables are all major contributors of marine pollution. The bulk of marine pollution comes from land, accounting for 80% of total pollution; however, air pollution also transports chemicals from farms and dust into the ocean.

  • The most apparent waste inputs are waste pipelines that discharge waste straight into the sea. Municipal garbage and sewage from coastal town houses and hotels are frequently dumped directly into the sea.
  • Agriculture-related pesticides and fertilizers are carried off the land by rain, entering waterways and finally reaching the sea.
  • Normally, oil and gasoline rinsed off the roadways enter the sewer system, but stormwater overflows transport these pollutants into rivers and, eventually, the oceans.

Effects of Marine Pollution

Nutrient pollution, a kind of water pollution that impacts aquatic life, is the contamination of water by excessive nutrients. Eutrophication of surface waterways occurs when surplus nutrients such as nitrates or phosphates dissolve in water and encourage the development of algae. The majority of Benthic organisms and plankton are filter feeders or deposit feeders, meaning they eat the small particles that stick to potentially harmful substances. 

Toxins like this are concentrated upward in ocean food systems. Because numerous particles mix chemically depleted of oxygen, estuaries become anoxic. When pesticides are absorbed by the marine ecosystem, they are integrated into the food webs of the ecosystem.

Noise Pollution

Causes of Noise Pollution

Multiple causes may attribute to noise pollution. Some of the most popular causes are listed below.

Industrialization : The majority of sectors rely on huge machinery that can generate a lot of noise. Apart from it, different equipment such as compressors, generators, exhaust fans, and grinding mills contribute to the large amount of noise produced.

Poor Urban Planning : In most developing nations, inadequate urban planning is also a major factor. Noise pollution is caused by crowded dwellings, big families sharing limited spaces, conflicts over parking, and frequent fights over basic services, all of which can disturb society’s environment. When residential and industrial buildings are close together in an urban context, noise pollution can occur. The noise from the neighbouring industrial property may obstruct the fundamental well-being of people living in residential homes in instances like these.

Transportation : A high number of automobiles on the road, aeroplanes flying over residences, and subway trains all generate a lot of noise, which many find difficult to adjust to. As a result of the excessive noise, a typical person’s capacity to hear is impaired.

Effects of Noise Pollution

Hearing Problems : Any undesirable sound that our ears are not designed to filter might cause health issues. Our ears can only take in a certain amount of sound before they get damaged. Noises generated by humans, such as jackhammers, horns, machines, aeroplanes , and even automobiles, can be too loud for us to hear. Constant exposure to loud noise may easily damage our eardrums and cause hearing loss, resulting in tinnitus or deafness. It also lowers our sensitivity to noises that our ears pick up instinctively in order to keep our bodies in sync.

Psychological Issues : Excessive noise pollution in places like businesses, construction sites, pubs, and even our homes may have a negative impact on our mental health. Excessive noise levels have been related to aggressive behaviour, sleep disturbances, continual stress, tiredness, melancholy, anxiety, hysteria, and hypertension in people and animals, according to studies. The amount of annoyance rises as the volume of noise rises, and individuals become less and less tolerant. These, in turn, can lead to more serious and long-term health problems later in life.

Cognitive Issues : Noise has an effect on people’s brain reactions and capacity to focus, which can lead to poor performance over time. When too much noise reaches the brain, it causes decreased response rates and dulls the mind, just as it does with other sound waves. It also affects memory, making studying difficult. According to research, schoolchildren who live near train stations or airports have difficulty studying.

Thermal Pollution

Causes of Thermal Pollution

Industrial processes : Cooling operations for industrial machinery and power plants are the leading source of thermal pollution in water. Because water is free, companies use it to cool their machines and then return the warm water to the sea.

Geothermal Hot Springs, Deforestation and Retention Ponds : Nature, in addition to human activities, adds to the problem of thermal pollution. Hot springs are formed by geothermal energy, which also heats the water. Thermal pollution occurs naturally as a result of this. When trees are cut down, leaving no cover for the water, it is exposed to the sun. The surface water warms up and mixes with neighbouring bodies of water, raising the total water temperature. Soil erosion and runoff from paved areas are two more sources of hot water. Retention ponds can also be a source of thermal shock since they collect a lot of heat from the sun and pump the water directly into rivers, lakes, or bay areas, raising their temperatures.

Effects of Thermal Pollution

Thermal pollution has a wide range of impacts, but in general, it harms the marine ecology and lowers the number of aquatic creatures. All species, including plants, algae, and bacteria, react to temperature fluctuations in different ways.

Migration and Loss of Biodiversity : Many animals respond to changes in the ecosystem in different ways. Birds, for example, may be driven to seek food elsewhere and abandon the contaminated area (devoid of fish). Fish may migrate out from the warm waters to a more appropriate environment, upsetting the ecology for other creatures. Plants and other creatures, on the other hand, would become trapped, resulting in significant losses.

Decreased Dissolved Oxygen : Warm waters have less oxygen dissolved in them than cold seas, as we all know. When oxygen levels drop, animals must move, but plants and animals that are unable to migrate may perish. Warm water injections prevent oxygen from diffusing into deep water, which is beneficial for bacteria management but harmful for aquatic creatures. Algal blooms would result from the lower oxygen levels, posing a threat to plants and animals. The most prevalent and well-known adverse effect of thermal pollution is this issue.

Ecological Impacts : When warm waters are poured into a cold pond, thermal pollution can harm the local aquatic ecology. Many insects, fish, and amphibians are susceptible to heat shock. It also has an adverse effect on the ecology. Key food sources would be insufficient. The local population might be wiped out, putting them under even more strain.

Radioactive Pollution

Causes of Radioactive Pollution

Nuclear Accidents From Nuclear Energy Generation Plants : Various kinds of energy are being found in the postmodern era. Nuclear energy is one of them, with its tremendous latent potential making it the most powerful form of energy. According to reports, the large latent power is related to the high radiation level. As a result, its use is restricted, although study is undertaken to establish its environmental safety and to develop the best precautionary measures for its usage.

Use of Radioisotopes : Radioisotopes are utilised in the production of detectors and other industrial processes. Radiation levels in isotopes like uranium are quite high. Common isotopes, such as carbon-containing radioactive substances, are, on the other hand, easily discovered in rivers via sewage systems. Because most raw sewage is not cleaned before being discharged, the isotope reacts with other chemicals and elements in the water after it is released. This is the same water that people drink in their homes. Furthermore, fishes must share the same water in order to exist. Consumption of these fish, as well as drinking water from polluted sources, can result in radiation exposure.

Nuclear Waste Handling and Disposal : There are three types of radioactive waste: high level, low level, and transuranic. They mostly consist of nuclear weapons disposal, nuclear plant cleaning materials, military facilities, plutonium processing emissions, and other radioisotopes from hospitals and labs. Over a long period of time, the management and disposal of nuclear waste may produce low to medium levels of radiation. Their consequences are not only difficult to forecast, but they may also be difficult to detect since radioactivity may contaminate and spread through air, water, and soil. Furthermore, pinpointing the location of certain nuclear waste is difficult.

Effects of Radioactive Pollution

Genetic Mutations : When it comes to genetics, radiation has negative consequences. It damages DNA strands, causing genetic disintegration over time. The degree of genetic mutation leading to changes in DNA composition varies depending on the amount and kind of radiation one has been exposed to.

Diseases : The most common radiation-related illness is cancer. It has evolved over time and now presents a significant threat to world health. Others include leukaemia, anaemia, bleeding, a reduction in life expectancy leading to premature ageing and mortality, and cardiovascular problems, among others. Radiation in the bone marrow, for example, causes leukaemia.

Soil Infertility : Radiation is prevalent in soils due to its exposure to the atmosphere. Radioactive compounds in the soil react with various nutrients, causing the nutrients to be destroyed and the soil to become infertile and very poisonous. Plants that grow in this type of soil are genetically modified as well. Herbivores eat them and maintain the radiation levels since they are at the bottom of the food chain. Carnivores such as lions and vultures consume them, raising their radiation levels — as described by the idea of Biomagnification.

Cell Destruction : Radioactive contamination has a variety of consequences, including cell mutation. The bodies of living beings are one-of-a-kind because they include millions of cells, each with its particular function to perform. Radiation causes the cells in the body to become distorted, resulting in irreversible damage to the organs and organ systems. Permanent diseases and death are unavoidable in the face of excessive radiation.

Effects on Plants : Plants are also subjected to radiation, with increased Ultraviolet rays causing the most of the harm. Plants are impacted in different ways. As the amount of radiation increases, the stomata stop evaporating. When chromosomes are damaged by radiation, reproduction is hindered. Plants’ forms, sizes, and health are all affected. When plants are exposed to excessive levels of radiation, they die. We absorb nuclides when we eat these plants.

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