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The environment is polluted with harmful substances or pollutants. Pollutant is any substance that is present in an excessive amount in the environment as a result of human activities. It has damaging effects on living organism. Pollutants may be toxic substances such as pesticides or natural constituents of the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide. They may affect the soil, rivers, seas or the atmosphere. There are four types of pollution:
Types of pollutions
1. AIR POLLUTION
→ Air pollution occurs when pollutants such as smoke, dirt, dust and poisonous gases are released into the air endangering human lives and other living organisms. → Most air pollutants come from burning of fossil fuels from motor vehicles. → Examples of air pollutants are carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxide (NO) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Pollutant Sources Effects
Carbon monoxide (CO) • Odourless, colourless and toxic gas. • Incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. • Combustion sources such as motor vehicle exhaust, smoke from fires, engine fumes. Health • Combines with haemoglobin to form carboxyhaemoglobin which reduces the ability of the blood to transport oxygen. • Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, nausea and fatigue. • Prolonged exposure can lead to brain damage and even death. Health • Causes emphysema. • Affects respiration. Building • Contributes to acid rain which damages buildings. Climate • Contributes to greenhouse effect and global warming. Health Damages lung tissues. May cause bronchitis. Irritates the eyes. Lowers the body’s defence against flu. Agriculture • Contributes to acid rain which reduces the pH of soil, lakes and rivers. Building • Contributes to acid rain which destroys buildings. Climate • Contributes to acid rain. Health • Irritates and damages the lining of the eyes, air
Carbon dioxide (CO2) • Combustion of fossil • Odourless, fuels. colourless gas.
Nitrogen monoxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide(NO2) • NO-odourless, colourless gas. • NO2-browmish gas
• Combustion of fossil fuels. • Motor vehicle exhaust
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) • Colourless, pungent
• Combustion of fossil fuels which contain
and acidic gas. • Dissolves in water.
sulphur. • Industries.
Fine particular • Combustion of fossil matter. (Includes fuels from motor smoke, fumes, dust, ash vehicles, agricultural and pollen) burning and industries. • Tiny and invisible • Forest fire • The composition of • Quarries and asbestos particulate matter factories varies with place, season and whether conditions.
Combustion of fossil fuels
Combustion of fossil fuels from motor vehicles
passages and lungs. • Causes coughing and wheezing. • Combines with rainwater to form acid rain that may cause skin diseases. Agriculture • Reduces the growth of plants. • Damages the leaves and may kill the plants. • Contributes to acid rain which lowers the pH of soil, lakes and rivers. Buildings • Contributes to acid rain which corrodes iron, copper, steel, aluminium and stonework, thereby destroying buildings. Climate • Causes acid rain. Health • Irritates the eyes and respiratory tract. • Contributes to haze which can cause asthma attack, conjunctivitis, sore throat, bronchitis and reduced visibility. Agriculture • Deposits on leaves and darkens vegetation. • Blocks stomata, thus lowering the rate of photosynthesis. The crop yield is reduced. Buildings • Soot can darken building. Climate • Contributes to formation of haze and smog which can reduce light intensity. Health • Reduces the sensitivity of the hands and feet coordination. • Retards mental development in children. • Disrupts body’s ability to produce new cell. Health • Affects growth Causes cancer
Other than that, air pollution also causes acid rains. Acid rain only occurs when the pH of the rain is less than 5.0(natural rain water has a pH of about 5.4)
→ Combustion of fossil fuels releases sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen which contribute to acid rain. → Sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen form acidic solutions when dissolves in water. → Sulphur dioxide combines with water vapour to form sulphuric acid.
2SO2(g) + O2(g) + 2H2O(l) → 2H2SO4(aq)
→ Oxides of nitrogen combine with water vapour to form nitric acid. → Then, these acid will fall back as acid rain. → Carbon dioxide in the air also contributes to acid rain. It dissolves in water to form carbonic acid. → The effect of acid rain is shown below:
Corrodes metals, marble, rubber, plastics, stonework and other materials
Increases the acidity of aquatic ecosystems leading to the killing of planktons and aquatic organism
Destroyed plant tissues and damages plant roots
Effects of acid rain
Leaching of minerals from the soil such as calcium, causing infertile soil
Reduces the pH value of the soil making it unsuitable for farming
Releases ions of heavy metals such as lead which may contaminate the water
The air quality is measure by Air Pollution Index (API) → It is normally includes the major pollutants which could cause potential harm to human health. → In Malaysia, the air pollutants included are ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and suspended particulate matter. → This index is calculate by using the concentrations of major air pollutants, but it is developed in easily understood ranges of values as shown below
→ API 0-50 51-100 101-200 201-300 301-500 Above 500 Status Good Moderate Unhealthy Very unhealthy Hazardous Emergency Level of pollution Low, no ill effects on health Moderate pollution, no ill effects on health Mild aggravation of symptoms among high risk group Significant aggravation of symptoms and decreased exercise tolerance among high risk groups Severe aggravation of symptoms and a danger to health Severe aggravation of symptoms and a danger to health
→ This index helps us to take precautionary measures by drinking more water, staying indoors and wearing masks when the air pollution index exceeds 200.
2. Water pollution.
→ Water pollution occurs when people discharging agriculture wastes, industrial waste, domestic waste and sewage into rivers. → The sources of water pollution and the effects of water pollution are shown below.
Nonbiodegradable rubbish Suspended solids Rubbish Oil
Fertilisers and pesticide from farms Nitrates Phosphates Pesticides Herbicides Sources and pollutants of water pollution
Oil spills Grease Oil
Effluent from factories Heavy metals Chemicals Oil Grease
Sewage effluent Detergent Faeces Nitrates
Effects of water pollution
Animals and plants
Untreated water contains pathogen such as Vibrio bacteria which causes cholera. Pesticides and herbicides passed to humans through the food chain are harmful. Heavy metals such as mercury cause nervous disorders, blindness, paralysis and even death
Excess nitrates and phosphates lead to eutrophication. Rubbish and oil reduce light penetration and diffusion of oxygen into water. Aquatic organisms may die due to lack of light and oxygen. Oil covers the gills of fishes affecting their respiration. Decomposition of decayed materials by saprophytic bacteria reduces the oxygen content in the water
Eutrophication is a natural process whereby an aquatic ecosystem becomes enriched with nutrients causing an excessive growth of aquatic plants
Eutr oph icat
→ Nutrients can come from many sources such as a. Fertiliser(especially nitrates and phosphate) from agriculture fields b. Sewage treatment plant discharges c. Run-off of animal waste → The increased nutrients promote rapid growth of algae when they are deposited in rivers, lakes and streams. → This excessive growth of algae is often
called an algae bloom → Algae blooms endanger the ecosystem in two main ways. • 1.The densely populated algae cover the water surface and block sunglight. Unable to carry out photosynthesis, the aquatic plants die. • When these plants die, aquatic animals lose their food sources and habitats. As a result, the food chains and ecosystem change. • Algae also reduce the level of dissolved oxygen in the water.
• 2. When the algae die, decomposing organisms especially saprophytic bacteria use up oxygen for its activities • This reduces the oxygen content in the water. → A depletion in oxygen results in an increases in biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) → Eutrophication increases the BOD value in the water. → BOD refers to the amount of oxygen utilised by microorganisms to oxidise all organic matter in one litre of water → The higher the BOD value, the more polluted the water as the dissolved oxygen level decreases.
3. Thermal Pollution
Thermal pollution is the degradation of water quality by any process that changes ambient water temperature. A common cause of thermal pollution is the use of water as a coolant by power plants and industrial manufacturers. When water used as a coolant is returned to the natural environment at a higher temperature, the change in temperature (a) decreases oxygen supply, and (b) affects ecosystem composition. Urban runoff--stormwater discharged to surface waters from roads and parking lots--can also be a source of elevated water temperatures. When a power plant first opens or shuts down for repair or other causes, fish and other organisms adapted to particular temperature range can be killed by the abrupt rise in water temperature known as 'thermal shock'. An increase in temperature of water will cause the following: a) It reduces the level of dissolved oxygen in water. This affects the life of aerobic aquatic organisms b) It causes some aquatic organisms to die because they only survive at suitable temperatures. Some organisms also move away. This affects the food chain and also the entire ecosystem. c) It encourages some algae to grow rapidly which can lead to a higher BOD value.
4. Noise Pollution
Noise pollution disturbs our health and behavior in a number of ways including deafness causing lack of sleep, irritability, indigestion, heartburn, high blood pressure, ulcers, and heart disease. Just one noise explosion from a passing truck drastically alters ourendocrinal, neurological, and cardiovascular functions in many individuals. If this is prolonged or frequent, the physiological disturbances become chronic and contribute to mental illness. • Sometimes, even low levels of noise are irritating and can be frustrating, and high volumes can be annoying. Natural sounds are less irritating than those we find uncontrollable but intermittent sounds such as a tap dripping water can be more irritating than the sound of falling rain. • Noise more than 50dB can be very difficult to hear and interpret and cause problems such as partial deafness. • Increased nose levels gives rise to al ack of concentration and accuracy at work, and reduce one’s productivity and performance. Difficult tasks can be impaired, and instructions or warnings difficult to be.
• Noise more than 50dB can be very difficult to hear and interpret and cause problems such as partial deafness.
• Increased noise levels gives rise to a lack of
concentration and accuracy at work, and reduce one’s productivity and performance. Difficult tasks can be heard and interpreted, causing accidents.