Pollution and Pollutants: Causes, Effects and Control Measures
Today, environmental pollution is a major problem which affects humans and other life forms. The earth is a vast ecosystem within it. Green plants are the primary producer in every ecosystem and constitute the functional components. They take carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the process of photosynthesis and maintain equilibrium in the atmosphere. There are also other gases like sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ethylene, etc. in the atmosphere present in traces and are in a balanced proportion. Due to overpopulation and large scale of industrialization, some harmful components are released in the environment which disturbs the balance in nature and pollutes atmosphere and water bodies like ponds, lakes, river, etc. Other types of important environmental pollution are very frequently observed. They are commonly known as noise or sound pollution.
When the physical and biological components of the earth or atmosphere are contaminated by pollutants and adversely affect the normal environment, then it is known as pollution. In this case, naturally occurring substances are contaminated with harmful materials or foreign substances then they are considered as pollutants which cause an adverse change of natural environment.
According to Odum (1971), “pollution is an undesirable change in the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of our air, land and water that may or will harmfully affect human life or that of desirable species, industrial processes, living conditions, and cultural assets or that may or will waste or determinate our raw material resources”.
Addition of accidental materials into the air, water or land in a concentration higher than that of the normal are detrimental to the natural quality of the environment thereby causing pollution is to make it unfit for use by undesirable elements.
Environmental pollution is the disadvantageous alteration of our surroundings, which directly affects the human being and other living organisms of the world.
Major forms of pollution include:
Also read:Ecology and Ecosystem
Causes of Pollution
The major causes of pollution are:
Effects of Pollution
Pollution causes negative effects on the environment, wildlife, human health, and well-being. Substances which pollute the environment are known as pollutants. Odum (1971) divided pollutants into two major categories:
Non Degradable Pollutants: Substances which do not degrade or degrade very slowly in the natural environment are designated as the non-degradable pollutants such as mineral salts, aluminum cans, steel and long chain phenolic compounds, etc.
Degradable Pollutants: Those types of pollutants that break rapidly are known as degradable pollutants. The domestic wastages can be degraded by natural means or by the help of machines. Using proper methods the environment can be kept free from pollution. Some common degradable pollutants are smoke, smog, dust particles, coal tar, stored materials, metals like iron, lead, zinc, etc., nitrogen oxide, H2SO4, HCl, CO2, N2O, NH3, SO2, and other gaseous substances, different insecticides, DDT, Radioactive substances, etc.