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Effects of Environmental Pollution

Last updated date: 25th Feb 2024
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What is Pollution?

Pollution introduces us to the world of hazardous products. These hazardous materials are called Pollutants. Pollutants, such as volcanic ash, may be normal. Human activity such as garbage or runoff created by factories may also generate them. The quality of air, water and land are impaired by contaminants.

Environmental Pollution

Environmental pollution occurs when in due course of time, the environment is unable to absorb and neutralize toxic byproducts of human activities (poisonous gas emissions).

Types of Environmental Pollution

There are different kinds of environmental pollution. The most important environmental pollution is described below:

Air Pollution

Air pollution is a blend of airborne solid particles and gases. Car pollutants, factory chemicals, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended in the form of particles. In cities, ozone, a gas, is a big part of air pollution. It's also called smog as ozone creates air pollution. Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds and airborne particles are some of the most notable air pollutants. Radioactive emissions are among the most harmful air pollutants, specifically when produced by nuclear explosions.

Effects of Air Pollution

Breathing in harmful gases is bad for our health. Every year, more than a billion tons of these pollutants are released into the air because of human activities. These pollutants can lead to health problems like bronchitis, chest congestion, and wheezing. To minimize these effects, it's essential to reduce exposure to these pollutants.

Let's talk about specific gases. Sulphur dioxide is a major cause of lung diseases, causing irritation in the nose and mucus lining, shortness of breath, fluid accumulation in tissues, and bronchospasm. Nitrogen oxides, released from vehicles like buses and trucks, irritate eyes and lungs and can even lead to serious issues like gum inflammation, internal bleeding, pneumonia, and cancer. Carbon monoxide, a highly toxic gas, hinders the blood's ability to carry oxygen, posing risks like heart disease, respiratory problems, and skin irritation.

High levels of air pollution can result in various health issues, including heart attacks, asthma, and respiratory complications. Animals are also affected, experiencing health problems like birth defects and reproductive failure. Air pollution doesn't just harm living things; it also has environmental consequences. Acid rain, formed by burning fossil fuels, kills trees and affects water bodies, making it tough for marine life. Nitrogen oxides contribute to toxic algae blooms, and man-made chemicals like hydrochlorofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer, affecting our planet's health.

Effects of Radioactive Pollution

Radiation can affect your health in different ways, and the impact depends on factors like the type, amount, and energy of the radiation, as well as the age of the person and the body part exposed. Ionizing radiation, in particular, can lead to various biological effects in humans.

One significant effect is an increased risk of cancer which is known as Carcinogenic effects. Here Ionizing radiation raises the likelihood of developing different types of cancer. 

Another impact is on the genetic material, causing changes that can be passed on to offspring. This is known as Mutagenic effects.

In addition, radiation can affect the development of embryos, leading to birth defects. It's important to note that cells undergoing rapid division, like those in a fetus, are more sensitive to radiation. This sensitivity is also higher in children. This is known as Teratogenic effects.

While studies on radiation have mostly been conducted on animals, the findings provide some insights into the potential damage caused. However, it's crucial to recognize that these results cannot be directly applied to humans.

Water Pollution

Water pollution includes insecticides and herbicides, waste from food production, animal wastes, organic volatile compounds, heavy metals, chemical waste, etc. Water contamination happens when a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer, etc. is polluted by harmful substances, often chemicals or microorganisms, degrading the quality of water and making it poisonous to humans or the ecosystem.

Effects of Water Pollution

The consequences of water pollution depend on where contaminants are dumped. Water pollution is a significant danger to humans, animals and marine life. Water sources near urbanized areas tend to be highly contaminated by the legal and illegal dumping of waste and chemicals by industrial facilities, health centres and individuals.

The death of marine animals, which can destroy the whole food chain, is by far the greatest consequence of water contamination. In drinking water supplies, fertilizer contamination can cause toxic algae blooms that destroy fish and other aquatic animals. Direct exposure to this poisonous algae causes significant human health issues, including neurological symptoms, breathing problems and stomach and liver diseases.

When disinfectants used to treat drinking water enter water contaminated with toxic algae and respond to the production of dioxins, a consequential problem is developed.

Land and Soil Pollution

Fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) have transcended virtually all conceivable barriers in modern industrialized societies and established themselves in our daily lives. We use fossil fuels for our obvious daily needs (such as fueling a vehicle). These are also used in the power generation industry (specifical oil) in goods such as all kinds of plastics, solvents, detergents, asphalt, lubricating oils and a wide range of industrial chemicals.

Effects of Land and Soil Pollution

For humans, plants, microorganisms and marine life, land and soil contamination have significant implications. Different skin problems, respiratory problems and even various types of cancers may result from polluted land and soil.

These poisonous substances come into direct contact with the human body by eating fruits and vegetables grown in polluted soils, direct contact with the skin and breathing in air polluted by particles and dust.

When it comes to land loss and soil erosion, deforestation is the greatest problem. Cutting of trees and tree cover produces harsh conditions that destroy forests and ecosystems. In atmospheric situations, deforestation often produces an imbalance, decreasing the amount of pollution is naturally taken out of the atmosphere. This is a significant problem given that the majority of people's emissions are focused on biomass.


Environmental Pollution is a real problem in our everyday lives, not something far away. But instead of feeling hopeless, we should see it as a reason to do something. We, the young people of this planet, can make a difference. If we learn about the chemicals we use and adopt eco-friendly habits, we can fix the damage to our environment. Let's create a future where people and nature live together peacefully.

FAQs on Effects of Environmental Pollution

1. What is Pollution Prevention and Why is it Important?

Pollution Prevention (P2), also known as "source reduction," is any practise that reduces, eliminates or prevents pollution at its source. By reducing the total amount of pollution that is produced, there is less waste to control, treat or dispose of. Also, there are fewer hazards posed to public health and the environment. Pollution avoidance provides major advantages as pollution that has never been generated eliminates the need for costly waste treatment and clean-up investments. Pollution Mitigation avoids both financial costs (waste disposal and cleanup) and actual environmental costs by forecasting the future (health problems and environmental damage). As a result, pollution reduction has the exciting potential to protect the environment and improve economic development by more productive manufacturing and the use of natural resources.

2. Where Does Air Pollution Come From?

Air pollution comes from a large variety of natural and human-driven sources (anthropogenic). Volcanic eruptions, sea spray, soil dust, natural forest burns and lightning are natural causes. Power generation, transportation, industry, domestic heating and cooking, agriculture, solvent use, processing of oil and gas, waste burning and construction are some of the most common human-driven sources. Some causes are naturally occurring, such as forest and savanna fires and windblown mineral dust, but are intensified by human activities.

3. What is environmental pollution?

It's the introduction of harmful substances (chemicals, gases, noise, etc.) into the environment, disrupting its natural balance and harming living organisms.

4. What are the main types of environmental pollution?

Air, water, soil, noise, and light pollution. Each type has specific consequences for the environment and human health.

5. How does environmental pollution affect human health?

It can cause a variety of respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases, skin irritations, neurological disorders, and even cancer. Exposure can be acute (immediate) or chronic (long-term).

6. How do chemical pollutants react in the environment?

Chemical reactions between pollutants and atmospheric components can create harmful secondary pollutants like ozone or acid rain. Understanding these reactions is crucial for pollution control.

7. What role do persistent organic pollutants (POPs) play?

These are organic chemicals that resist degradation and bioaccumulate in food chains, causing harm to animals and eventually humans.

8. How can we analyse and measure environmental pollution?

Chemists use various analytical techniques to detect and quantify pollutants in air, water, and soil samples. This data is crucial for monitoring pollution levels and evaluating environmental risks.