Environmental Pollution

Pollution is the ejection of toxic and dangerous substance into the environment which harm the life and health of all living things in the environment. In other words, it is the release of harmful or toxic substances like chemicals into the environment by man in such amount as to constitute a danger to either man’s health or his resources.

Pollution is known as any substance or situation that gives rise to pollution. Examples of pollutants include, noise, light, radioactive waste, smoke, heap of refuse, etc.

Types of Pollution: there are four types. They are: water, air, land and noise pollution.

Water Pollution: the ocean is the greatest waste dump of the world. However, other bodies such as rivers, seas, ponds, lakes and streams are common places for waste disposal by cities and factories.

The sources of this water pollution are mainly from, oil spillage from oil industries, sediments from erosion, mining and construction sites, bathing and washing in rivers and streams, synthetic organic chemicals like pesticides, detergents, animal wastes, oil fields, irrigation, inorganic chemicals and minerals from mining, manufacturing industries, irrigation sites, oil fields, exploration activities, sewage and fertilizers applied to crops which find their way into water bodies.

Effects of Water Pollution:

Water pollution affects both man, animals and plants both on the land surface and inside the rivers, oceans, seas etc. some of these effects includes:

  • Water pollution by inorganic chemicals and minerals may become very acidic or alkaline or saline. Such water is toxic to organisms and unsafe for human consumption.
  • Water bodies polluted by fossil fuels disturb the ecological setup, damage the aesthetic nature of coasts and may cause accidents or fire outbreak.
  • Highly polluted water may change colour, emit offensive odour, have taste and may become poisonous, thereby rendering such water unfit and unsafe for humans and even animal use. Polluted water may cause and spread diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery etc.
  • The nitrates and phosphates washed into different water bodies especially stagnant ones, help in the growth of water plants (algae) which depletes or reduces the amount of oxygen in the water. This affects marine life and may lead to either death or migration of such animals. The growth of water plant may also disrupt and cause danger to navigate activities.
  • Some harmful chemicals and elements like leads, mercury etc may accumulate  in the bodies of lower animals organism and if consumed by higher organisms including man, toxic level may be attained and death may result.

Air Pollution: this is one of the most pervasive environmental problems because atmospheric currents can carry contaminated air to every part of the globe. Most air pollution comes from automobile emissions and from power plants that burn coal and oil to produce energy for industrial and consumer use. Carbon dioxide and other harmful gases released into the air from these sources adversely affect weather patterns and the health of people, animals and plants.

Industrialized nations produce most of the world air pollution. For example, although the United States is home to just 5 percent of the world’s population, the country can and does generate 22 percent of human-made carbon dioxide emission and 19 percent of all “greenhouse” gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

Emission harms the environment by causing acid rain and global warming, and by depleting the protective ozone layer that surrounds the earth.

Sources of Air Pollution

  • Smokes emitted from industrial and power generating plants.
  • Lead particles, carbon and phosphorus released by burning fuels and hydrocarbons.
  • Burning of tyres, agricultural wastes and bush burning
  • Industrial gas particles, ash, soot and fumes from exhaust pipes of different vehicles and machines.

Effects of Air Pollution

  • Is harmful to man’s comfort and health as it promotes such disease like bronchitis, lung cancer, asthma etc.
  • Air pollution can damage clothing, crops, building etc.
  • its contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer leading to increase in skin cancer, cataract etc.
  • High level of pollutant in the air can impair visibility thereby becoming serious threat to aircrafts.

Land Pollution: land is the primary and the commonest recipient of many wastes products and chemicals, sources of land pollution include: nuclear and atomic wastes, inorganic pollutants from mining which contains mercury, lead, nickel, copper, fossil, fuel, organic wastes like animal manure, municipal and industrial wastes such as refuse dumps, poisonous pesticides and herbicides mainly used to control pests and weeds, tins, plastics, abandoned and old vehicles, vehicle parts, old tyres, cartons, papers, broken bottles, pure water sachets etc.

Effects of Land Pollution

  • Waste dumping along streets and in gutters of our cities is common. These material produce filthy, smelly and unsightly environments, they also form breeding grounds for diseases carrying agents or organism that pose danger to human health.
  • Oil spillage greatly affects animal and plant life, as they suffocate and indirectly affect animals and man.
  • Agricultural chemicals applied in the soil may affect marine life and man if washed into water body. It may equally increase activity of the soil thereby affecting the survival of other organisms.

Noise Pollution: noise is described as an unwanted sound. It is a serious environmental pollution. Noise coming from vehicles, electronics of all types, music records, and vendors in our street and medicine peddlers are source of noise pollution. Also airport, city, business district or market centres constitute sources of noise pollution.

Effects of Noise Pollution

  • It interferes with speech, communication and sleep
  • It causes psychological disorder, stress and loss of hearing
  • It reduces efficiency of the working population.

Control of Environmental Pollution

  • Public awareness and support for control programmes aimed at protecting the environment is essential for the protection of the environment.
  • The nature of industrial pollutants and how they can be minimized or treated should be examined as a pre-condition for the setting up of such undertakings.
  • Environmental education of the populace is necessary to realize the effects of environmental pollution and the need for the protection of the environment.
  • Environmental legislation and its enforcement locally and internationally are important.
  • Action should be geared towards research and technology in determining the effects of pollution on the environment and the causes so that effective control measures can be affected.
  • Research can be directed towards recycling and use of waste materials. Such research would definitely reduce environmental degradation and pollution.

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