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INTRODUCTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL

POLLUTION

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the


environment that cause harm or discomfort to humans
or other living organisms, or that damage the
environment, which can come in the form of chemical
substances, or energy such as noise, heat or
light. Pollutants can be naturally occurring substances
or energies, but are considered contaminants when in
excess of natural levels.
Environmental pollution takes place when the
environment cannot process and neutralize harmful by-
products of human activities (poisonous gas
emissions) in due course without any structural or
functional damage to its system.
Pollution occurs, on the one hand, because the natural
environment does not know how to decompose
the unnaturally generated elements (i.e., anthropogenic
pollutants), and, on the other, there is a lack of
knowledge on the part of humans on how to decompose
these pollutants artificially. It may last many
years during which the nature will attempt to
decompose the pollutants; in one of the worst cases –
that of radioactive pollutants – it may take as long as
thousands of years for the decomposition of such
pollutants to be completed.
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MEANING OF ENVIRONMENTAL
POLLUTION
Ecosystem is a natural unit of living community (plants
and animals) and non-living environment. The biotic
and abiotic community are constantly interacting and
exchanging materials and energy between
themselves.
The life in an ecosystem depends upon the
environment which provides energy in the form of
sunlight and nutrients for the living components of the
ecosystem. Waste matter and energy produced by
human beings through, their irresponsible and wanting
activities cause disturbance in the natural environment
or is the ecosystem is called environment pollution.
Environmental pollution is the result of increased
production of waste products by the industries, rapid
urbanization, wanting and irresponsible. Harnessing of
the natural resources as well as unplanned sewage
and waste disposal from industries and cities etc. Thus
presence of any environment pollutant called
environment pollution.
Nature has provided the basic ingredients for living in
abundance and whatever is used up during normal
course of living is recaptured through natural cycle.
Any effort to disturb this process is termed as
Environment pollution.

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FACTOR AFFECTING ENVIRONMENTAL
POLLUTION
 Burning of Fossil fuels
Wood, Coal, petroleum and natural gas are burned in
large quantities to produce energy for electricity,
mobilization, transport and as basic fuel for house hold
needs. The end products of this process are released into
the air, water and land. This is by far the most important
factor causing pollution. This alone has led many to
search for more environmentally friendly sources of
energy
 Industrialization
The increased need for goods, the growth of economy,
job creation, easier production, use of machinery to do a
lot in less time were all said to be the guiding factors of
industrial revolution. We have all heard of the reasons
why the Industrial Revolution from the 18th -19th
centuries was such a big thing. Was it possible to look
into the future and see the effects of this on our planet?

Industries that are into manufacturing, steel and iron


industries, oil refineries, and plastic and textiles
factories, dyeing plants are few industries that budded
during the industrial revolution. The numbers just go on.
These deal with so much chemicals and fossil fuels that
their waste products and end products are released into
the surrounding air, water, and land causing large scale
contamination.

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 Mining
Mining industries strip the ground of its strong structure,
cause contamination of surrounding water bodies,
release huge amounts of particulate matter in to the air
that it end up choking the living beings including humans
 Infrastructure of towns and cities
In towns and cities where a large number of people stay
there is always scope for contaminating the
environment.
Waste water treatment plants, correct forms of garbage
disposal, sewage treatment plants- these are essential
to maintain a good equilibrium in city life. If these are not
running properly, are ill maintained or not even
available, there will always be disease and death.
 Agricultural practices
Most chemicals like insecticides, ripening agents,
pesticides weedicides and fertilizers are often sprayed
on the farms to increase yield. All these chemicals are
not used up but most are carried away by the wind and
run off water to adjacent areas polluting the air, land and
surrounding water bodies
 Plastic waste disposal
A mind boggling puzzle! What do you do with all the
plastic waste that is generated each day? This is non-
biodegradable, which means it will not rot, melt or
disappear. In cities and towns garbage dumps are an
eyesore, above all a breeding ground for disease
causing organisms.

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If you thought burning all this plastic waste would be a
solution, this leads to more trouble as by-products settle
in the ground literally eliminating the fertility of the soil
and poisonous fumes are released into the air.
 Deforestation
Though not directly causing pollution, By cutting down
trees the basic anchorage of the soil is removed and it
facilitates soil erosion.
Removing green cover also facilitates pollution because
trees help to clean up the atmosphere to a good extent.
Planning cities with green spaces will help to keep the
air relatively cleaner.
 Natural causes of pollution

These are far less frequent and do not contribute


immensely to pollution. Nevertheless it is important to
mention these. Volcanic eruptions, forest fires, methane
from swamps and marshes are some of the natural
occurrences where toxic substances are released into
the environment.

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TYPES OF ENVIRONMENTAL
POLLUTION
 ATMOSPHERIC OR AIR POLLUTION
- It is an atmospheric condition in which certain substances
(including the normal constituents in excess) are present in
concentrations which can cause undesirable effects on man
and his environment. These substances include gases,
particulate matter, radioactive substances etc.
Gaseous pollutants include oxides of sulphur (mostly SO2,
SO3) oxides of nitrogen (mostly NO and NO2 or NOx),
carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (mostly
hydrocarbons) etc. Particulate pollutants include smoke,
dust, soot, fumes, aerosols, liquid droplets, pollen grains etc.
Radioactive pollutants include radon-222, iodine-131,
strontium 90, plutonium-239 etc.

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 WATER POLLUTION

Water is one of the most important bio-logical


components that sustain life. Its great solvent power
makes the creation of absolute pure water a theoretical
rather than a practical goal. Human population has the
habit of dumping their wastes into water. This has the
effect of diluting the waste and getting it dispersed if it is
a running water system. The term “water quality” is
infinitely related to water pollution. The water is said to
be polluted when it has more “negative” qualities than
“positive” ones. Water quality refers to the physical,
chemical and biological characteristics of water. Thus, in
simple words, we can say that polluted water is that
water which has been abused, defiled in some way, so
that it is no longer fit for use. Water pollution can be
defined as “the presence of too much of undesirable
substances in water which tend to degrade the quality of
water’s physical, chemical and biological characteristics,
making it unsuitable for beneficial use”.
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NOISE POLLUTION

We hear various types of sounds every day. Sound is


mechanical energy from a vibrating source. A type of
sound may be pleasant to someone and at the same
time unpleasant to others. The unpleasant and
unwanted sound is called noise. Sound can propagate
through a medium like air, liquid or solid. Sound wave is
a pressure perturbation in the medium through which
sound travels. Sound pressure alternately causes
compression and rarefaction. The number of
compressions and rarefactions of the molecules of the
medium (for example air) in a unit time is described as
frequency. It is expressed in Hertz (Hz) and is equal to
the number of cycles per second. There is a wide range
of sound pressures, which encounter human ear.
Increase in sound pressure does not invoke linear
response of human ear. A meaningful logarithmic scale
has been devised. The noise measurements are
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expressed as Sound Pressure Level (SPL) which is
logarithmic ratio of the sound pressure to a reference
pressure.

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SOURCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL
POLLUTION
 NATURAL SOURCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL
POLLUTION
 Volcanic eruptions release gases and volcanic ash.
 Forest fires produce smoke and trace gases.
 Dust storms increase the wind – blown dust into the
environment
 Bacteria, spores, cysts and pollens are all natural
pollutants.
 Decay of organic matter in marshy places releases
marsh gas which is a light, colourless, inflammable
hydrocarbon.

MAN – MADE OR ANTHROPOGENIC SOURCE


OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION
Anthropogenic source cover a wide spectrum of
types as man has aggravated the problem of
pollution by his innumerable activities like,
 Domestic source
 Industries.
 Agriculture activities.
 Radioactive waste.
 Thermal power stations.

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EFFECT OF POLLUTION ON
ENVIRONMENT
The term “environment” refers to the immediate
surroundings in which man lives. It comprises of living and
non-living constituents that support life and sustain various
human activities. Pollution affects both the living as well as
the non-living components of the environment.
It brings about drastic changes in the physical environment
causing community wide problems by polluting the air, water
and land; adversely affecting the health of humans and
animals, and damaging plants and property. Besides there
are effects of noise pollution and the hazards associated with
radiation pollution.
As environmental stress on the human body increases, many
medical scientists fear a terminal increase in infectious
disorders not only because of lower body resistance but
because viruses and other disease organisms will
increasingly slip through water treatment and food
processing plants as the quality of water and food at the
intake deteriorates.
Effect on plants, the adverse effects range from reduction in
growth rate to death of the plant. The damage caused to
plants by pollution includes necrosis (dead areas on a leaf
structure), chlorosis (loss or reduction of chlorophyll leading
to yellowing of leaf), epinasty (downward curvature of the
leaf due to higher rate of growth on the upper surface) and
abscission of leaves (premature fall). Pollution also causes
deterioration of structural materials such as marble and lime
stone.
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Pollution has been changed the atmospheric conditions. An
average temperature has been increased due to increase in
pollution. Effects of pollution at international level are
depletion of ozone layer, global warming acid rain, rising sea
level etc.

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