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Introduction What is the Environment? What is Acid Rain? The Greenhouse Effect Ozone Depletion Renewable Resources The Rain Forest The Human Environment What is Pollution? Local and Global Pollution Pressures on Companies Environmental Management (ISO 14001) The Law What Can I Do? Conclusion Glossary of Terms
MEd (OU). MIL.OSH. Dip2. MCIEH. Cert Ed JACQUI SCULLEY BSc (Hons). Cert Ed . Table of Contents Introduction What is the Environment? What is Acid Rain? The Greenhouse Effect Global Warming Ozone Depletion Renewable Resources The Rain Forest The Human Environment What is Pollution? Local and Global Pollution Pressures on Companies Environmental Management (ISO 14001) The Law What Can I Do? Conclusion Glossary of Terms 2 3 4 4 5 6 6 7 8 9 9 12 13 14 15 16 17 The Course Team The following writers have contributed to this unit: BERYL SINCLAIR BA (Hons). CMIOSH.
This short unit briefly covers some of the key environmental problems people have created and looks at the sort of things we can do to make sure the environment is a cleaner and safer place to live in. What is pollution? Local and global pollution. Increasingly. radio and newspapers are making us aware of global warming. Pressures on companies. you are asked to think about how environmental issues affect you and your workplace. recycling and energy efficiency. If you live or work near a power station or an incinerator and can see chimney emissions. How we feel about such environmental issues depends on how they affect us. you are more likely to be anxious about water quality. air and land pollution on the local and global environment. The main problems due to pollution and global warming. There is no assessment but in each section. The effects of water. The law. • • • • • • • • • • • • • What is the environment? What is acid rain? The greenhouse effect. television. What is covered? This unit is divided into the following short sections and should take you approximately one hour to read. 2 Environmental Awareness Introduction This unit has been written to promote and support environmental awareness in the workplace. The legal. Environmental management (ISO 14001). What can I do? Who should read this? Anyone who needs a brief introduction to the fundamentals of environmental awareness. Ozone depletion. you are more likely to be concerned by the quality of the air. The difference between physical and human environment. and the way we live. At the end of the unit there is a glossary of terms to help you in your understanding of environmental issues. The rain forest. Objectives This short introduction to Environmental Awareness should give you a basic understanding of: • • • • • • What makes up our environment. If you live near a polluted river. . How industrialisation has contributed to global pollution. The human environment. moral and financial responsibilities of individuals and companies with respect to environmental management. Renewable resources. air and water pollution.
flora. Wood. What is the Environment? It depends on how you look at it. rivers and animals. land. However.it is everything that is not us. Think About It An appreciation of the environment can be obtained by reviewing some examples of environmental issues. Some of these you may be aware of from media coverage. . Water for drinking. plants. the environment is broader than that . rivers and animals. plants. The human environment. the environment is broader than that it is everything that is not us. 3 Environmental Awareness What is the Environment? It depends on how you look at it. including: • • • • • • • air. You may think about trees. In ecological terms. working and washing. We rely on our physical environment for: • • • Growing food. The environmental standard ISO 14001 defines the environment as surroundings in which an organisation operates. and their interrelation. the environment can be split up into: • • The physical environment. water. fauna. humans. others may be new. minerals and other resources for keeping warm and healthy. You may think about trees. However.
the chance of flooding in low lying or coastal regions increases. which maintain the Earth’s temperature. fog and snow to become more acidic and corrosive. Global warming can result in major changes in our climate. 4 Environmental Awareness What is Acid Rain? Water in the atmosphere reacts with gases discharged into the air because of human activities and creates acid rain. The Greenhouse Effect The greenhouse effect is natural. refine oil. and produce electricity. is being changed by the discharge of gases and pollution in the air from human activity. the Earth would be too cold to support life as we know it. Think About It What can we do as individuals to reduce the level of acid rain? . Although nature contributes. and without it. Gases such as sulphur dioxide from power stations and nitrogen oxide from car exhausts. discharging carbon dioxide into the air. Using cars and producing energy for industry and homes uses up non-renewable resources and pollutes the atmosphere with environmentally damaging gases. it can even make lakes and rivers too acid for natural life to survive. mist. mix with the water that falls to Earth as rain. such as increased storm activity. Acid rain damages buildings and destroys plant life. Temperature rise can result in drought and increased chances of poor health. to pollution (e. As sea levels rise because of melting ice caps. volcanoes throw up gas and ash). However. people are major polluters in that they burn fossil fuels. to some extent.g. the Earth’s temperature is rising because this natural balance of greenhouse gases.
5 Environmental Awareness Global Warming Think About It When did you last hear reference to the greenhouse effect/global warming in the media? What was it associated with? .
6 Environmental Awareness Man’s activities have caused certain gases to be discharged into the atmosphere and have resulted in the ozone layer being partially destroyed. fire extinguishers. etc. Man’s activities have caused certain gases to be discharged into the atmosphere and have resulted in the ozone layer being partially destroyed. The thinning of the ozone layer was first discovered above Antarctica and may have led to an increase in the incidence of skin cancers in Australia. heat. Certain pesticides also contain dangerous chemicals that stay in the air and do not disperse. Think About It Have you heard reference made in the media to ozone depletion? What was it connected with? . such as sunlight. and power are being used up forever. gas and oil and we need to use energy from sources that are sustainable and do not run out. Refrigerators. There is only a limited supply of fossil fuels such as coal. our skin would be damaged and we would suffer serious illnesses. Renewable Resources Many of the materials we use to manufacture consumer goods. may contain CFCs and halons that damage the ozone layer and increase the number of skin cancers. wind and tidal energy. Think About It Electrical equipment both at home and at work may have a label telling you how much power in watts it needs to work. and the fuels we use to give us light. Ozone Depletion We are protected from the Sun’s ultraviolet rays by gas in the atmosphere called the ozone layer. or that are renewable such as recyclable waste. Without this layer. Add up all these figures (don’t forget the lights) to discover how much electrical power is used to run your home or your business.
helping to protect us from global warming. Rain forests once covered 14% of the Earth’s land surface. The trees in the forests help to remove carbon dioxide. but are now being destroyed so that the wood can be used for manufacture and the land cleared for farming. Rain forests also soak up rainwater cutting down the trees changes the local climate and habitats. but are now being destroyed so that the wood can be used for manufacture and the land cleared for farming. Many rain forests are also rich in valuable minerals clearing the trees to mine these minerals leads to soil erosion and landslides and mining activities pollute the surrounding streams and rivers. from the atmosphere. a greenhouse gas. so that many animal species are disappearing. do you know of any others? . Rain forests once covered 14% of the Earth’s land surface. Think About It What effect does cutting down rain forests thousands of miles away have on our well-being in the UK? The environmental issues described are just examples. 7 Environmental Awareness The Rain Forest Rain forests grow near the Equator where the climate is hot and humid. Destroying the rain forest means that many species of plants used to make medicines and useful chemicals are being lost.
However. Unemployment Problems of poor standards of living are not only found in developing countries. remains one of the most densely populated continents and increasing numbers of young people are unable to find long-term work and have a good standard of living. and medicine. and to a clean and healthy environment free of pollution. refining oil. yet these are the countries supplying many of the luxury goods that we purchase in the UK. refining oil. Many people in developing countries live in poverty. Climate changes are causing more weather-related damage and diseases. for example. making chemicals. 8 Environmental Awareness The Human Environment Quality of Life We are all entitled to adequate food and water. Health Many people. making chemicals. land and water – they do this by driving motor vehicles. and producing electricity. People are the worst polluters of air. Europe. A poor environment leads to a poor quality of life. Extreme weather causes water shortages or flooding. resulting in failed crops and diminished food supplies. As people become more industrialised. people are the worst polluters of air. Think About It What are the signs that poverty and poor health are not just a problem of developing countries? . they increasingly use and abuse the land and the environment. adequate food. Poverty One of the biggest problems is that the poorer developing countries tend to have the biggest populations and yet are the least well equipped to sustain large numbers of people. do not have access to clean water. land and water – they do this by driving motor vehicles. particularly in developing countries. and producing electricity. proper health care.
smoke. Think About It What kind of pollution are you aware of around you? . Industrial and agricultural processes cause by-products that are often harmful to our environment. pesticides and sewage. Some pollutants will have both a local effect and contribute to global pollution. nitrogen oxides and particulates from exhaust pipes and industry will cause local health problems. For example: Using motor cars adds fumes to the atmosphere. such as breathi ng difficulties. chemical and radioactive substances (in the air. The way people work and live impacts on the environment locally and globally. either contributing to pollution that has a global effect or by having an effect at a local level. But remember. Local and Global Pollution Pollution can be due to the activities of people or business. 9 Environmental Awareness What is Pollution? Pollution is damage to the environment resulting from human activities. manufacturing cars is also energyintensive. Air Pollution Gases. Burning fuels to generate this energy releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and results in global warming. such as carbon dioxide. for instance. no company operates in isolation. sea or rivers). People’s activities can therefore have an impact both at a local and a global level. Industrial and agricultural processes can cause harm such as noise. Using pesticides discharges toxic substances into the air and into streams and rivers. exhaust emissions from cars will affect health locally but also contribute globally to acid rain. Equally.
Sources of water pollution are: • • • Domestic. untreated waste can kill fish or contaminate the food chain. On a global level.uk/environment/statistics/ Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO. according to the World Health Organisation (http://www. sanitation and hygiene result in an estimated 1.int/heli/risks/water/water/en/ind ex. affecting local wildlife. Agricultural. 10 Environmental Awareness Water Pollution Water pollution is a global problem because it cannot be restricted to just local areas. A local company may discharge untreated waste into a stream. At a global level. companies use nonrenewable resources mined in developing countries without always considering that resources are limited. Although water keeps us alive. Air or Land Source: Defra e-digest environmental statistics website: http://www.7 million deaths every year. .who. Serious Pollution Incidents Affecting Water. as polluted streams run into rivers and ultimately the sea.gov. Industrial.defra.html) diseases related to unsafe water. Land Pollution A company may get rid of a large amount of waste to a local landfill.
fluorescent tubes and batteries? Consider reducing the amount of electricity you use. • • • • • What kinds of waste do you or your company produce that could be reused or recycled? What substances do you burn that could pollute the air? . certain cleaning products and products used for maintaining equipment such as oil. for example. or printer cartridges? Are you producing any hazardous wastes. paints. 11 Environmental Awareness Think About It What kind of substances do you put down the drain at home or at work that might be toxic? What kinds of waste do you or your company produce that could be recycled or reused? What substances do you burn that could pollute the air? • Consider substances such as bleach. plastics. Consider whether car sharing is an option – it will reduce harmful emissions to the air. • Consider whether you reduce the amount of waste you generate in the first place. to reduce the greenhouse gases produced at the electricity station. Can your waste be reused by someone else? You might already recycle paper but what about metal. glass. Consider storage of any chemicals near to rivers or other water courses.
Businesses often operate in built-up areas or near rural communities and it is important that they consider the effects they have on local residents and other organisations. Environmentalists and the public are increasingly aware of environmental issues and will not tolerate companies with a poor environmental track record and image. 12 Environmental Awareness Pressures on Companies No organisation. . Companies show their response to public concern for environmental issues by having an environmental policy. Think About It As a member of the public. taxes). Investors will not fund businesses whose poor environmental image and policies could lose them money. External factors: the law and government policies (i. Products need to be environmentally responsible in use and often have information displayed on the packaging or labels. companies have to consider people such as customers. you will find that much packaging can be recovered or recycled. or publishing an environmental report. investors and the local community. All businesses need to make money to survive but how this money is generated will be influenced by internal and external factors: • • Internal factors: energy and cost efficiency. investors and customers. profit. and no one person in that organisation. image. how could you check if your company was committed to environmental issues? Note: When shopping.e. When making business decisions. can operate in isolation – everything we do impacts on the people and the environment around us. how would you know if a company was committed to environmental issues? As an employee.
• • Establish how it can improve its environmental performance. a company needs to: • • • Understand how good its current environmental performance is. 13 Environmental Awareness Environmental Management (ISO 14001) Companies who want to be environmentally responsible adopt an environmental policy and many organisations seek certification under an internationally recognised environmental standard such as ISO 14001. Check that everything is done that should be done. Set out its environmental commitment in an environmental policy. What Can I Do?) . To meet the targets set by ISO 14001. Prepare written work instructions and give people responsibility for properly carrying out the requirements of procedures. Understand its legal and other obligations. This means that the company can show others that it is environmentally responsible. • • Think About It At what stage might you be involved in the environmental management process at your workplace? In what ways can you help the company achieve environmental improvements? (We go into this in more detail in the last section. Review how successful the company has been in meeting its targets and policy commitments.
ASK.either the Environment Agency or the Local Authority. etc. You can reuse certain items such as glass bottles or waste paper for drafts. Reusing waste. the Government outlines the different ways waste could be disposed of. Waste can be significantly reduced by using the methods above. 14 Environmental Awareness The Law All of us need to obey the law and there are a number of laws that help ensure businesses do not act in an irresponsible way that can be harmful to the people and environment around them. Are there changes that could be made in work practices to minimise waste and increase amounts sent for recycling? • You can reduce waste by changing the way you work and by not producing it in the first place. If in doubt about disposal of any materials to drain . Records must be maintained of all waste sent for disposal. They must ensure that all waste is disposed of using an authorised carrier and disposal site. For example. Look at the following categories and suggest what company waste you could include under each heading. you could reduce the amount of times you use the car or switch off lights or heating when rooms are not being used. chemical waste. Recovering or recycling waste. contaminated waste packaging. Disposal of hazardous waste as general waste will mean that the company is liable to fines.examples here include chemicals. metal or paper and ink cartridges for printers. ASK before placing the waste in the wrong skip. In Making Waste Work. Legislation also covers disposal to both foul and storm drains. Remember that leaks of water. Trade effluent cannot be disposed of to sewer without the consent of the local water company. You can recycle certain items such as glass. thus limiting the amount that finally needs to be incinerated or disposed of to landfill. Various regulations cover emissions from processes to the environment. • • • . Waste disposal is also covered by regulations. waste reduction is just one. There are many ways that effects on the environment can be minimised. Disposing of waste. chemical raw materials and compressed air are also waste. and companies have a ‘cradle to grave’ responsibility for their waste. These may require the permission of the regulators . You can reduce waste by changing the way you work and by not producing it in the first place. All personnel must be aware of the need to segregate waste and whether the waste they are handling is hazardous. If in any doubt. Companies must also segregate certain types of hazardous waste that is more damaging to the environment . • • • • Reducing waste.
uk/environment/statistics/ Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO. close doors to hold in the heat. Wastes can be processed and turned into new products such as recycled paper and glass. Recycle waste – paper. metal and glass can all be recycled by recycling companies. Segregate waste – and ensure you know the correct disposal area. using environmentally responsible materials and resources.defra.gov. What can we do in our everyday life to make a difference? • Change your working habits – consider how you might work more efficiently. talk to your manager. or bad practice. Think about how you dispose of waste or toxic by-products. Ask questions and report pollution – if you spot accidental spills. leaks. switch off lights and machines if appropriate when not in use. Reduce pollution – is there an opportunity for sharing transport with others in the company? Save energy – avoid running water unnecessarily. 15 Environmental Awareness What Can I Do? What we do as individuals can have a big impact on the environment. Think About It • • • • Source: Waste Strategy for England 2007 Crown copyright • Household Waste Recycling by Material 1997/98 – 2007/08 (England) Source: Defra e-digest environmental statistics website: http://www. Preserving the environment and repairing some of the damage done so far concerns everyone. . Put forward suggestions for recycling which can reduce disposal costs.
We looked at how the law and management standards regulate the way companies work. we have defined some key environmental principles and considered how human activities impact on the state of the environment and the health of individuals. you have a role to play when it comes to environmental performance. whatever your responsibilities in the workplace. remember. . Finally. 16 Environmental Awareness Conclusion In this unit.
Particulates (PM10) Small solids. land and water. Recycling Making new things out of old or discarded materials. Fossil fuels Fuels such as coal. Erosion Wearing away of the soil or rock by wind or water. Habitat Area where certain types of plants and animals live. Developing countries Countries that are poorer and use lower levels of energy and resources. Emission Release of gases polluting the atmosphere. . Climate Pattern of weather that occurs in a particular part of the world. They are thought to be the cause of global warming. Decontaminated Free from pollution. Global warming Increase in Earth’s temperature. Pollution Poisoning of the air. 17 Environmental Awareness Glossary of Terms Acid rain Rain containing acid that comes from gases in the air such as sulphur dioxide. It can cause suffocation where there is limited air and create carbon dioxide. Sustainable development Meeting the needs of people today without damaging the environment for the future. what is a waste to you but is usable to them without changing it. a greenhouse gas. in the air that can cause damage to the lungs when breathed in by humans. Toxin A poisonous material. Contaminated Polluted or poisoned. Ozone layer Delicate layer high above the Earth’s surface that blocks out harmful radiation from the Sun. It is a major cause of acid rain. Greenhouse gases Gases such as carbon dioxide that trap the Sun’s energy on the surface of the Earth. Desertification Process by which soil loses its fertility so that plants can no longer grow there. Pesticides Chemicals used to kill insects and other animals or fungi that would otherwise kill crops. Reuse Passing on to someone else. Deforestation Clearing trees and shrubs from the land. a man-made gas that breaks up the ozone layer. Non-renewable resources Materials such as metals and fossil fuels that cannot be replaced. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) A pollutant gas that is released mainly from coal-fired power stations. Rain forests have a tropical climate. gas and oil derived from fossilised plants and animals. like dust and smoke. Renewable resources Natural materials that can be replaced in a short space of time. typically resulting from the ‘greenhouse effect’. Nitrogen oxides A pollutant gas that is caused mainly by burning fossil fuels and is involved in creating yellow smog and acid rain. CFC Stands for chloro-fluoro-carbon. Food chain Who eats what. Developed countries Industrialised countries where high levels of energy and resources are used. Carbon monoxide A pollutant gas that is mainly produced by burning fossil fuels.
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