What is Pollution? | Types of Pollution

What is Pollution?

Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These harmful materials are called pollutants. Pollutants can be natural, such as volcanic ash. They can also be created by human activity, such as trash or runoff produced by factories. Pollutants damage the quality of air, water, and land.

Many things that are useful to people produce pollution. Cars spew pollutants from their exhaust pipes. Burning coal to generate electricity pollutes the air. Industries and homes generate garbage and sewage that can pollute land and water. Pesticides, chemical poisons used to kill weeds and insects, seep into waterways and harm wildlife.

All living things, from unicellular microbes to blue whales, depend on the earth’s air and water supplies. When these resources are polluted, all life forms are threatened.

Pollution is a global problem. Although urban areas are usually more polluted than the countryside, pollution can spread to remote places where no people live. For example, pesticides and other chemicals have been found in the Antarctic ice sheet. In the middle of the northern Pacific, a huge collection of microscopic plastic particles forms the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Air and water currents are polluted. Ocean currents and migrating fish carry marine pollutants far and wide. Winds can pick up radioactive material accidentally released from a nuclear reactor and distribute it around the world. Smoke from a factory in one country drifts to another.

In the past, visitors to Big Bend National Park in the US state of Texas could see 290 kilometers through the vast landscape. Now, coal-fired power plants in Texas and the neighboring state of Chihuahua, Mexico, have spewed so much air pollution into the air that visitors to Big Bend can sometimes only see 50 kilometers.

The three main types of pollution are air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution.

Define Pollution:

Pollution, also called environmental pollution, the addition of any substance (solid, liquid, or gas) or any form of energy (such as heat, sound, or radioactivity) to the environment at a rate faster than it can be dispersed, diluted, decomposed, recycled, or stored in some harmless form.

Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These harmful materials are called pollutants.

What are The Causes of Pollution?

1. The Burning of Fossil Fuels

Sulfur dioxide, which is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, petroleum for power generation in power plants, and other combustibles in the plant, is a major cause of pollution.

Billions of vehicles on the road are powered by gasoline and diesel engines that burn petroleum to release energy. Petroleum is made up of hydrocarbons and engines don’t burn them cleanly.

As a result, pollutants such as PM, nitrogen oxide and NO2 (collectively referred to as NOx), carbon monoxide, organic compounds, and lead are emitted from vehicles such as trucks, jeeps, cars, trains, and airplanes, causing high levels of pollution. These modes of transport are part of our basic daily needs, so we rely heavily on them.

But overuse of them kills our environment as dangerous gases pollute the atmosphere. Carbon monoxide, caused by improper or incomplete combustion and generally emitted by vehicles, is another major pollutant besides nitrogen oxides, produced from both natural and man-made processes.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to outdoor air pollution accounts for 0.6 to 1.4 percent of the disease burden and 4.2 million deaths annually.

2. Agricultural Activities

Ammonia is a very common by-product of agricultural activities and one of the most dangerous gases in the atmosphere. The use of insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers in agricultural activities has increased significantly. They release harmful chemicals into the air and can also cause water pollution.

Farmers also set fire to the field and old crops to keep them clean for the next sowing. Burning in clean fields is said to cause pollution by releasing harmful gases into the air.

3. Waste in Landfills

Landfills are areas of land where waste is deposited or buried. This deposited or buried waste produces methane. Methane is an important greenhouse gas that is highly flammable and very dangerous.

E-waste is another serious problem that involves many unscientific dismantling such as chemical washout, burning of wires, and others.

4. Exhaust from Factories and Industries

The manufacturing industry releases a large amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds and chemicals into the air, which affects air quality.

Manufacturing can be found in every corner of the world and there is no area that is not affected by it. Petroleum refineries also release hydrocarbons and various other chemicals that pollute the air and cause land pollution.

5. Mining Operations

Mining is a process of extracting minerals underground using large equipment. During the process, dust and chemicals are released into the air, resulting in massive air pollution.

This is one of the reasons responsible for the deteriorating health conditions of workers and residents in the area.

6. Indoor Air Pollution

Household cleaning supplies and painting supplies emit toxic chemicals into the air and cause air pollution. Have you ever noticed that painting the walls of your house creates an odor that literally makes it impossible for you to breathe?

Particulate matter, known by the acronym SPM, is another cause of pollution. Regarding the particulate matter floating in the air, SPM is usually caused by dust, combustion, etc.

According to the WHO, around seven million premature deaths are caused each year by the combined effects of air pollution in the environment (outdoors) and in the home.

7. Natural Events

There are certain natural events such as volcanoes, forest fires, and dust storms that originate from nature and cause pollution.

Types of Pollution

The three major types of pollution are air pollutionwater pollution, and land pollution.

1. Air pollution

Sometimes air pollution is visible. For example, a person may see dark smoke pouring out of the exhaust pipes of large trucks or factories. In most cases, however, air pollution is invisible. Polluted air can be dangerous even if the pollutants are invisible. It can cause people’s eyes to sting and have difficulty breathing. It can also increase your risk of lung cancer.

The air we breathe has a very precise chemical composition; 99% of it consists of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and inert gases. Air pollution occurs when things are added to the air that normally aren’t there. A common type of air pollution occurs when people release particles from burning fuels into the air. This pollution looks like soot, which contains millions of tiny particles and is floating in the air.

Another common type of air pollution is dangerous gases such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and chemical fumes. These can participate in further chemical reactions once they are in the atmosphere and generate acid rain and smog. Other sources of air pollution can come from buildings, such as Second-hand smoke.

Finally, air pollution can come in the form of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide, which warm the planet through the greenhouse effect. According to the EPA, the greenhouse effect is when gases absorb the infrared radiation released by the earth, preventing the heat from escaping.

This is a natural process that keeps our atmosphere warm. However, if too much gases are released into the atmosphere, more heat is trapped, which can artificially warm the planet, according to Columbia University.

Air pollution kills more than 2 million people each year, according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Research Letters. Other air pollutants like carbon dioxide have an indirect impact on human health through climate change, “Sealy told Live Science.

Check out our article: What is Air pollution?

2. Water Pollution

Humans need water to survive. That is a fact. However, trash and chemicals can get thrown into the ocean and lakes. This is called water pollution. Not only can they affect fish and other marine life, when pollutants get into the water, but they also have a devastating effect on the water cycle. Natural causes of water pollution include algae blooms and volcanos. However, humans also cause water pollution through trash and wastewater from factories.

Check out our article: What is Water Pollution?

3. Land Pollution

Land pollution is another one of the big three pollution types affecting the human population. Land pollution happens when the soil gets contaminated by fertilizers or chemicals being dumped. The pollution in the land can seep into the ground water or run into lakes and streams creating a vicious pollution cycle.

Check out our article: What is Land Pollution?

4. Radioactive Pollution

When you think of radioactive pollution, you might think of Chernobyl or Fukushima. Both of these nuclear power plants used fission of radioactive materials, uranium and plutonium, to create electricity, and both failed. Their failure led to toxic chemicals and radiation being leaked out into the environment, which is radioactive pollution.

Check out our article: What is Radioactive Pollution?

5. Noise Pollution

Have you ever needed to wear earphones for loud noises? If so, you were experiencing noise pollution. Noise pollution is caused by loud noises that can hurt the human ears. Types of noise pollution can include explosions, jet engines, and even concerts (if you are close to the speakers). Noise pollution is dangerous because it can cause hearing loss.

Check out our article: What is Noise Pollution?

6. Light Pollution

Have you ever noticed that in a big city with a lot of lights, it is impossible to see the stars and galaxies? Light pollution, using electric lights to light up the sky, is the cause. While lights are great for helping us to see at night, too many lights cause light pollution blocking out the night sky. Light pollution can also be harmful to animals. For example, the lights of big cities can confuse migrating birds.

Check out our article: What is Light Pollution?

7. Thermal Pollution

While most pollution types are straightforward, thermal pollution is a bit tricky. Many times, nuclear power plants and factories use water to cool things. However, if they put that warmed-up water back into the environment, it wreaks havoc on the fish and wildlife because it has less oxygen. This is called thermal pollution. Thermal pollution can be caused by natural forces too like soil erosion giving water more sunlight.

Check out our article: What is Thermal Pollution?

How to prevent and control pollution?

Pollution prevention (P2) is any practice that reduces, eliminates, or prevents pollution at its source. P2, also known as “source reduction,” is the ounce-of-prevention approach to waste management. Reducing the amount of pollution produced means less waste to control, treat, or dispose of.

Follow these Tips Every Day to Reduce Pollution:

  • Conserve energy – at home, at work, everywhere.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying a home or office equipment.
  • Carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible.

Follow gasoline refueling instructions for efficient vapor recovery, being careful not to spill fuel and always tightening your gas cap securely.

  • Consider purchasing portable gasoline containers labeled “spill-proof,” where available.
  • Keep car, boat, and other engines properly tuned.
  • Be sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.
  • Mulch or compost leaves and yard waste.
  • Consider using gas logs instead of wood.

On Days when High Ozone Levels are Expected, take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Choose a cleaner commute – share a ride to work or use public transportation.
  • Combine errands and reduce trips. Walk to errands when possible.
  • Avoid excessive idling of your automobile.
  • Refuel your car in the evening when its cooler.
  • Conserve electricity and set air conditioners no lower than 78 degrees.
  • Defer lawn and gardening chores that use gasoline-powered equipment, or wait until evening.

On Days when High Particle Levels are Expected, take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Reduce the number of trips you take in your car.
  • Reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.
  • Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

FAQs.

What is Pollution?

Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These harmful materials are called pollutants. Pollutants can be natural, such as volcanic ash. They can also be created by human activity, such as trash or runoff produced by factories. Pollutants damage the quality of air, water, and land.

What are the types of pollution?

The three major types of pollution are air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution. Sometimes, air pollution is visible. A person can see dark smoke pour from the exhaust pipes of large trucks or factories, for example. More often, however, air pollution is invisible.

What are the Causes of Pollution?

Various Causes of Air pollution:
1.The Burning of Fossil Fuels.
2.Agricultural Activities.
3.Waste in Landfills.
4.Exhaust From Factories and Industries.
5.Mining Operations.
6.Indoor Air Pollution.
7.Natural Events.

How can we prevent pollution?

Pollution prevention (P2) is any practice that reduces, eliminates, or prevents pollution at its source. P2, also known as “source reduction,” is the ounce-of-prevention approach to waste management. Reducing the amount of pollution produced means less waste to control, treat, or dispose of.

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