By Hussaini Umar
Environmental pollution is destroying the places that surround us. Gas and smoke in the air, chemicals and other substances in water, and solid waste on the ground, are the causes of pollution.
Environmental pollution refers to all the ways in which human activity causes damage to the natural environment. Most people experience environmental pollution in the form of an open dump or black smoke from a factory.
But the contamination may be invisible, and without smell or taste. Some types of pollution may not actually pollute land, air and water, but they can weaken the fun of life among people and other living organisms. Noise from traffic and machinery, for example, can be considered a form of pollution.
Environmental pollution is one of the most serious problems for humankind, and for the other forms of life currently on our planet. Poorly polluted air can cause damage to crops and carry life-threatening diseases.
Some air pollutants have limited the ability of the atmosphere to filter UV rays, which are harmful. Many scientists believe these radiations, and other air pollutants, are changing the climate of the world.
Water and soil contaminants threaten farmers’ ability to produce the food necessary to feed the world’s population, and marine pollutants threaten many marine organisms.
Many people see air, water and soil pollutants as distinct forms of pollution. However, each part of the environment – air, water and soil – depends on each other, and on plants and animals living within this environment.
Relations between all living and non-living organisms in a given environment constitute a system called the ecosystem. And all are linked to each other environmental regulations.
Thus, a pollutant that appears to affect only one part of the environment may also have affected other parts. Generous smoke emitted from a power plant, for example, may appear to affect only the atmosphere. But rain can expel some harmful chemicals from the smoke and drop them onto the ground or waterways.
Some contaminants, such as a sewage pipe that emits dirty water in a river, are emitted from a limited point or location, known as limited source pollution, while other pollutants are emitted from large areas.
On-farm water can carry pesticides and fertilizers into rivers, and rainwater can flush away fuel, oil, salts from roads and parking lots, and carry them to wells that supply us with drinking water. Pollution from such large areas is called pollution of unlimited source.
Almost everyone wants to reduce pollution, but most of the pollution that threatens our planet’s health today unfortunately comes from products that many people need and want. For example, cars provide comfort by transporting people, but they produce a high percentage of air pollution in the world.
Factories produce products that people use and enjoy, but chemical processes can cause pollution. Pesticides and fertilizers help to grow large amounts of food, but poison the soil and waterways.
People should reduce the use of cars and other modern conveniences in order to put an end to pollution, or reduce it to a large extent, and some factories have to shut down or change their production methods.
But closing these industries will increase unemployment, because most people’s work relies on industries that contribute to environmental pollution. In addition, sudden cessation of farmers’ use of pesticides and fertilizers may limit the food needed to feed people in this world.
In any case, pollution can be reduced, over time, in several ways, without any serious disruption to people’s lives.
For example, governments could enact legislation encouraging enterprises to adopt low-pollution operational methods. Scientists and engineers can develop cleaner, safer products for the environment, and individuals and groups around the world can find ways to reduce environmental pollution.
Types of environmental pollution
Types of environmental pollution include air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, solid waste, hazardous waste and noise pollution.
Air Pollution: Means air mixing with certain substances, such as exhaust fuel and smoke. Air pollution can damage the health of plants and animals, and damage other buildings and structures. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly a fifth of the world’s population is exposed to dangerous levels of air pollutants.
The atmosphere is naturally composed of nitrogen, oxygen, small amounts of carbon dioxide, other gases and aerosols (fine particles of liquid or solid matter). A number of natural processes maintain a balance between the components of the atmosphere. For example, plants consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen, and animals in turn consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide through the breathing cycle. Gases and aerosols are emitted to the atmosphere by forest fires and volcanoes, where they are washed or scattered by rain and wind.
Air pollution occurs when factories and vehicles release large quantities of gases and aerosols into the air, so that natural processes cannot maintain the equilibrium of the atmosphere. There are two main types of pollution: 1. External pollution 2. Internal pollution.
External air pollution: Every year hundreds of millions of tons of gases and aerosols are released into the atmosphere. Most of this pollution occurs as a result of combustion of fuel used in the operation of vehicles and heating of buildings, and some pollution from industrial and commercial operations. For example, ethylene perchlorethylene, a hazardous contaminant in many dry-cleaning plants, is used to remove dirt from clothing. The burning of waste may release heavy smoke and metals such as lead and mercury into the atmosphere. Most of the heavy metals are very toxic.
One of the most common external air pollutants is smog, a misty mix of gases and brown aerosols, formed when certain gases, triggered by combustion of fuel and other petroleum products, interact with sunlight in the atmosphere, resulting in harmful chemicals forming smog .
The chemicals in smog form a form of oxygen called ozone. Exposure to high concentrations of ozone leads to headaches, heartburn and respiratory irritation in many individuals. In some cases, the presence of ozone in the lower layers of the atmosphere may lead to death. Ozone can also destroy plant life and even kill trees.
Acid rain is called rain and other forms of precipitation, which is mainly contaminated with sulfuric acid and nitric acid. These are formed when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides react with water vapor in the air. These gases are produced mainly from combustion of coal, gas and oil in vehicles, factories and power stations.
Acids in acid rain move through the air and water, causing damage to the environment over large areas. Acid rain has killed whole fish populations in a number of lakes. It also damages buildings, bridges and monuments.
Scientists believe that high concentrations of acid rain can cause damage to forests and soil. Areas affected by acid rain include large parts of eastern North America, Scandinavia and Central Europe.
Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) contaminate the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. These compounds are used in refrigerators and air conditioners and in the manufacture of plastic foam coatings.
Ozone, a harmful pollutant in smog, forms a protective layer in the upper atmosphere, protecting the Earth’s surface from more than 95% of ultraviolet radiation. Because chlorofluorocarbons reduce the ozone layer, more ultraviolet radiation will reach Earth. Excessive exposure to these radiations destroys plants and increases the risk of people being exposed to skin cancer.
The effect of the protected house is the heating caused by the atmospheric retention of the sun’s heat.
This phenomenon causes carbon dioxide, methane and other atmospheric gases, which allow the sun to reach the Earth, but prevent heat from the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases are called greenhouse gases.
Fuel combustion and other human activities increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Many scientists believe that this increase intensifies the effect of the house is protected and lead to global warming
This increase in temperature, called global heating, may cause many problems. The impact of a protected house, if strong, can cause glaciers and polar ice caps to melt, leading to coastal flooding. It can also reverse rainfall patterns, leading to increased drought and severe tropical storms.
Indoor air pollution: This pollution occurs from the retention of contaminants within buildings whose ventilation systems are poorly designed. Its main types are cigarette smoke, gas from furnaces and ovens, household chemicals, fiber particles, and hazardous fumes from building materials, such as condoms, paints and glues.
Large quantities of these substances in some offices cause headaches, eye irritation and other health problems for their staff. Such health problems are sometimes called sick building syndrome.
Radon, a radioactive gas emitted from the dissolution of uranium in the earth’s rocks, is contaminated with another danger. It can cause lung cancer if inhaled in ample quantities.
People are exposed to radon if the gas leaks into the lower floors of houses built on soil or radioactive rocks. High-efficiency buildings, which maintain hot or cold air inside, can hold radon indoors and raise its concentration.
Water pollution: Is the mixing of water with sewage, toxic chemicals, metals, oils or other substances. Such pollution can affect surface waters, such as rivers, lakes and oceans, and can affect underground water, known as groundwater.
It can also cause harm to many species of plants and animals. According to the World Health Organization, nearly five million people die each year because of polluted water