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Pollution, we hear it every other day at school, college and read about it in
newspapers. So what is it? Pollution occurs when pollutants contaminate the
natural surroundings; which brings 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. With
modernization and development in our lives pollution has reached its peak;
giving rise to global warming and human illness.
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 and the non-point sources. The point sources are easy to identify,
monitor and control, whereas the non-point sources are hard to control. Let
us discuss the different types of pollutions, their causes and effects on
mankind and the environment as a whole.
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment
that cause adverse change. Pollution can take the form of chemical
substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light. Pollutants, the
components of pollution, can be either foreign substances/energies or
naturally occurring contaminants. Pollution is the addition to the ecosystem
of something which has a detrimental effect on it. One of the most important
causes of pollution is the high rate of energy usage by modern, growing
The atmosphere lead to various types of pollution, including smog and acid
rain. The two main sources of pollution are transportation and the production
of electricity. The combustion of fuel in vehicles produces CO, CO 2, NO, and
NO2, along with unburned fragments of the petroleum used as fuel. The
combustion of coal and petroleum in power plants produces NO 2 and SO2 in
the exhaust gases. These mixtures of chemicals can be activated by
absorbing light to produce the photochemical smog that afflicts most large
cities. The SO2 in the air reacts with oxygen to produce SO 3 gas, which
combines with water in the air to produce droplets of sulfuric acid (H 2SO4), a
major component of acid rain.
There are several types of pollution, and while they may come from different
sources and have different consequences, understanding the basics about
pollution can help environmentally conscious individuals minimize their
contribution to these dangers. In total, there are nine recognized sources of
pollution in the modern world. These sources of pollution don't simply have a
negative impact on the natural world, but they can have a measurable effect
on the health of human beings as well.
1. Air Pollution
Air pollution is defined as any contamination of the atmosphere that disturbs
the natural composition and chemistry of the air. This can be in the form of
particulate matter such as dust or excessive gases like carbon dioxide or
other vapors that cannot be effectively removed through natural cycles, such
as the carbon cycle or the nitrogen cycle.
Air pollution comes from a wide variety of sources. Some of the most
excessive sources include:

Vehicle or manufacturing exhaust

Forest fires, volcanic eruptions, dry soil erosion, and other natural
Building construction or demolition
Depending on the concentration of air pollutants, several effects can be
noticed. Smog increases, higher rain acidity, crop depletion from inadequate
oxygen, and higher rates of asthma. Many scientists believe that global
warming is also related to increased air pollution.
2. Water Pollution
Water pollution involves any contaminated water, whether from chemical,
particulate, or bacterial matter that degrades the water's quality and purity.
Water pollution can occur in oceans, rivers, lakes, and underground
reservoirs, and as different water sources flow together the pollution can
Causes of water pollution include:
Increased sediment from soil erosion
Improper waste disposal and littering
Leaching of soil pollution into water supplies
Organic material decay in water supplies
The effects of water pollution include decreasing the quantity of drinkable
water available, lowering water supplies for crop irrigation, and impacting
fish and wildlife populations that require water of a certain purity for survival.
3. Soil Pollution
Soil, or land pollution, is contamination of the soil that prevents natural
growth and balance in the land whether it is used for cultivation, habitation,
or a wildlife preserve. Some soil pollution, such as the creation of landfills, is
deliberate, while much more is accidental and can have widespread effects.
Soil pollution sources include:
Hazardous waste and sewage spills
Non-sustainable farming practices, such as the heavy use of inorganic
Strip mining, deforestation, and other destructive practices
Household dumping and littering
Soil contamination can lead to poor growth and reduced crop yields, loss of
wildlife habitat, water and visual pollution, soil erosion, and desertification.
4. Noise Pollution
Noise pollution refers to undesirable levels of noises caused by human
activity that disrupt the standard of living in the affected area. Noise
pollution can come from:
Manufacturing plants
Construction or demolition
Some noise pollution may be temporary while other sources are more
permanent. Effects may include hearing loss, wildlife disturbances, and a
general degradation of lifestyle.
5. Radioactive Pollution
Radioactive pollution is rare but extremely detrimental, and even deadly,
when it occurs. Because of its intensity and the difficulty of reversing
damage, there are strict government regulations to control radioactive

Sources of radioactive contamination include:

Nuclear power plant accidents or leakage
Improper nuclear waste disposal
Uranium mining operations
Radiation pollution can cause birth defects, cancer, sterilization, and other
health problems for human and wildlife populations. It can also sterilize the
soil and contribute to water and air pollution.
6. Thermal Pollution
Thermal pollution is excess heat that creates undesirable effects over long
periods of time. The earth has a natural thermal cycle, but excessive
temperature increases can be considered a rare type of pollution with long
term effects. Many types of thermal pollution are confined to areas near their
source, but multiple sources can have wider impacts over a greater
geographic area.
Thermal pollution may be caused by:
Power plants
Urban sprawl
Air pollution particulates that trap heat
Loss of temperature moderating water supplies
As temperatures increase, mild climatic changes may be observed, and
wildlife populations may be unable to recover from swift changes.
7. Personal Pollution
Smoking is personal pollution.
Personal pollution is the contamination of one's body and lifestyle with
detrimental actions. This may include:

Excessive smoking, drinking or drug abuse

Emotional or physical abuse
Poor living conditions and habits
Poor personal attitudes
In some cases, personal pollution may be inflicted by caregivers, while in
other cases it is caused by voluntary actions. Taking positive steps in your
life can help eliminate this and other sources of pollution so you can lead a
more productive, satisfying life.
Acid rain
Acid rain is the term for pollution caused when sulfur and nitrogen dioxides
combine with atmospheric moisture to produce highly acidic rain, snow, hail,
or fog. The acid eats into the stone, brick and metal articles and pollutes
water sources. Coal in South Africa is rich in sculpture and the power stations
in the Mpumalanga Province could be responsible for acid rain over other
areas of our country.
Light pollution occurs due to prominent excess illumination of an area. It is
largely visible in big cities, on advertising boards and billboards, in sports or
entertainment events at the night. In residential areas the lives of the
inhabitants is greatly affected by this. It also affects the astronomical
observations and activities by making the stars almost invisible.
1. Environment Degradation:
Environment is the first casualty for increase in pollution weather 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. Thus, preventing plants
in the process of photosynthesis. Gases like Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide
can cause acid rain. Water pollution in terms of Oil spill may lead to death of
several wildlife species.
2. Human Health:
The decrease in quality of air leads to several respiratory problems including
asthma or lung cancer. Chest pain, congestion, throat inflammation,
cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease are some of diseases that can be
causes by air pollution. Water pollution occurs due to contamination of water
and may pose skin related problems including skin irritations and rashes.
Similarly, Noise pollution leads to hearing loss, stress and sleep disturbance.
3. Global Warming:
The emission of greenhouse gases particularly CO2 is leading to 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
direct or indirect way lead to increase in CO2 in the environment. The
increase in CO2 leads to melting of polar ice caps which increases the sea
level and pose danger for the people living near coastal areas.
4. Ozone Layer Depletion: Ozone layer is the thin shield high up in the sky
that stops ultra violet rays from reaching the earth. As a result of human
activities, chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), were released in to
the atmosphere which contributed to the depletion of ozone layer.
5. Infertile Land:
Due to 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 is released into the flowing water which also
affects the quality of soil.
Pollution not only affect humans by destroying their respiratory,
cardiovascular and neurological systems; it also affects the nature, plants,
fruits, vegetables, rivers, ponds, forests, animals, etc., on which they are
highly dependent for survival. It is crucial to control pollution as the nature,
wildlife and human life are precious gifts to the mankind.