Types of Pollution

What is Pollution?

Pollution is a state when an adverse change takes place in the natural environment due to the introduction of contaminants. It can be caused by a variety of chemical substances or energy like sound, light or heat. Particulates like smoke, foreign particles and dust, and excess noise or heat or sound are called pollutants. Pollutants cause disturbances not only in the environment but also in the living entities. These foreign bodies enter the human body via the food chain and also impact the ecological balance, even in tiny amounts. This paragraph on pollution is an answer to the definition of pollution.

Different Types of Pollution 

There may exist numerous causes of pollution for different types of pollution that include-

  • Air Pollution

  • Water Pollution

  • Soil Pollution

  • Noise Pollution

Besides, other types of pollution are thermal pollution, light pollution, and radioactive pollution.  Radioactive pollution is the deadliest as it is a result of release of the dangerous radioactive substances during nuclear explosions, nuclear weapons production, testing of nuclear weapons, etc.  

Let's discuss all four kinds of pollution in detail:

Air Pollution 

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The release of harmful contaminants including toxic gases, particulates, biological molecules, chemicals, etc. into the environment is called air pollution.  Gaseous pollutants for damaging the atmosphere include carbon monoxide, chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs), sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides that are produced by industry and motor vehicles. Air pollution causes harmful effects that can be detrimental to health. The causes of pollution in the air can be many and some of the common causes are briefly explained-

  • Combustion of fossil fuels that causes the release of Carbon Dioxide and formation of smog

  • Mining activities like underground and surface mining that generate respirable dust due to emissions of particulates and gases including methane and oxides of nitrogen etc.

  • Factories and vehicles that harm the ozone layer due to the generation of smog and industrial air conditioners causing the release of destructive gases

Harmful Effects of Air Pollution

Long-term health effects can be seen because of air pollution and it can cause major diseases such as heart disease, lung problems, and other respiratory diseases. Air pollution can cause long-term damage to people’s kidneys, liver, brain, and other organs. Besides, a risk to human health, certain other risks occur due to air pollution that includes-

  • Global Warming- It is the rise in the average temperature of the earth’s climatic condition; it occurs when CO2 and other pollutants in the air including greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and radiations to cause heating up.

  • Acid Rain- It is the rain or precipitation that is acidic unusually because of increased levels of hydrogen ions. It is as a result of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that react with water molecules to produce acids in the atmosphere. It is harmful to plants, animals and infrastructure.

  • Depletion of Ozone- When disrupting gases like CFC and halons in the air cause chemical reactions to break down ozone molecules, depletion of ozone takes place. Ozone plays an important role in absorbing ultraviolet rays.

  • Hazards to Wildlife- When the air is contaminated, it is obvious to affect lives including wildlife that has to inhale pollutants and risk their lives in danger.

Water Pollution

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Water pollution is one of the types of environmental pollution that has harmful effects widely. It is caused when water bodies like rivers, seas and lakes get polluted with toxic matter. The particulates and unwanted contaminants are generally introduced by humans via activities such as oil spills, disposal of industrial waste into water, and sewage treatment. Other reasons may be natural processes like algae blooms, volcanoes, floods, animal waste, storm, etc. 

Harmful Effects of Water Pollution 

  • Imbalance in the ecosystem

  • Hazard to marine life

  • Water-borne diseases

  • Higher mercury levels in water bodies

  • Hypertrophication, i.e. when a water body becomes overly enriched with nutrients and minerals causing excessive growth of algae

Soil Pollution 

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Soil pollution is also one of the causes of land pollution or both can be interchangeably used. It is land degradation that is caused by chemicals or other changes in the natural soil environment. Certain industrial activities, agricultural chemicals and improper waste disposal are some of the major factors contributing to soil pollution. Other reasons for land pollution include deforestation, garbage accumulation,, low soil fertility, reforestation, climatic changes, etc.

Harmful Effects of Soil Pollution

  • Lesser soil nutrients making it unfit for agricultural practices

  • Bad impact on the flora and fauna living in the soil

  • Enhanced soil salinity results in degraded vegetation

  • Silica dust is highly toxic to cause respiratory problems and lung defects.

  • The neuromuscular blockade may cause nausea, eye irritation, skin rash, and depression.

Noise Pollution

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Different types of pollution also include noise pollution which is the excess amount of noise in surroundings disrupting the natural balance. Generally, it is due to man-made activities but can also be caused due to natural factors like volcanoes. Man-made contributions are from heavy machines, factories, mills, transportation noises from vehicles and airplanes, construction noises like boring and drilling machines, social events noises from firecrackers and loudspeakers, and household noises from mixers, Television and washing machines. It is considered that over 85 decibels is detrimental to health and also the duration affects. For example, a jet taking off contributes around 150 decibels. A simple conversation is usually 60 decibels only. 

Harmful Effects of Noise Pollution

Unwanted noises can also be detrimental to psychological health besides the health issues related typically to extreme noise. Prolonged exposure to excessive noise leads to the following adverse effects:

  • Decreased productivity at the workplace

  • Lack of sleep and fatigue

  • Hearing Loss

  • Tinnitus

  • Hypertension

  • Stress

  • Communication difficulty

  • Cardiovascular diseases

  • Cognitive impairment

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How Many Types of Pollution are there? List them.

The Seven Different Types of Pollution Include:

  • Air pollution

  • Water pollution

  • Soil pollution

  • Noise pollution

  • Radioactive pollution

  • Light pollution

  • Thermal pollution

2. What are the Causes of Land Pollution? 

Soil pollution is also referred to as land pollution. The causes of land pollution can be many; It is caused due to misuse of land, excess waste disposal, industrial contribution, agricultural chemicals, etc. It all results in alteration in the natural composition of soil making it unfit to be used in agriculture without treatment. It also affects wildlife, aquatic life, causes skin disorders and water poisoning.