Environmental Pollution a Matter of Great Concern

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Introduction to Environmental Pollution a Matter of Great Concern

One of the biggest issues around the world today is environmental pollution. All of us are aware of this problem, yet, we fail to realize that it is a matter of utmost urgency. To solve the problem of environmental pollution, gathering knowledge regarding the meaning of environmental pollution is important.

Let's start with the word 'environment.' The word is used quite commonly by everyone, yet many find it difficult to define Environment.

Environment refers to the surroundings of a living system that present inter-relationships and display interactions by the exchange of energy. In simpler words, the environment means the surroundings we live in. It will include both living as well as the non-living components of our surroundings.

The other component of environmental pollution is the word 'pollution.' Pollution can be defined as the occurrence of any substance that may pose a threat to the normal functioning or cause toxic effects. Now that we know the meaning of environment and pollution let us define environmental pollution separately.

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Environmental Pollution

Environmental pollution can be defined as any untoward change caused in the environment due to the introduction of a toxic or harmful element known as a pollutant. It poses a threat to the natural environment and its ecosystems.

Understanding Environmental Pollution

Environmental pollution is one of the biggest concerns for the future of our planet today. This problem hinders the development of a sustainable future. Several pollutants trigger environmental pollution, and all of them are associated with the actions of human beings.

Anything that causes a deleterious change to the environment is termed as an environmental pollutant. Environmental science deals with identifying, studying and classifying such pollutants and provides measures of their control.

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As the environment is composed of water, air and land as its major components, there are five types of environmental pollution prevalent in the present world. These include:

  1. Air pollution.

  2. Water pollution.

  3. Soil pollution.

  4. Noise pollution.

  5. Light pollution.

Did you know? Environmental pollution has caused the death of an estimated 3 million children that were under the age of five years worldwide.

Reasons for Environmental Pollution:

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So, what has led to such widespread environmental pollution present in the world today?

The reason for environmental pollution manifests as the various human activities which are, in reality, putting our environment in grave danger.

The major causes attributable to environmental pollution are:

  1. Air Pollution: The problem of air pollution arises as a result of:

  • Excessive use of fossil fuels for vehicles.

  • Gaseous fumes produced through car exhausts.

  • Mass use of agricultural fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides.

  1. Water Pollution: Reasons behind water pollution are:

  • Improper drainage or sewage systems in urban and rural areas.

  • Biomagnification of toxic substances.

  • Runoff waters.

  • Improper disposal of industrial wastes.

  1. Land and Soil Pollution: The major causes of land and soil pollution are:

  • Increased deforestation and habitat destruction.

  • Use of herbicides, pesticides, insecticides in agricultural farms.

  • Inefficient underground sewage systems.

  • Acid rain is caused due to air pollution.

  • Over-grazing or the practice of slash and burn agriculture.

  • Leaching of toxic chemicals from landfills into the soil nearby.

  1. Noise Pollution: The phenomenon of noise pollution is entirely a consequence of human activities such as:

  • Excessive production of sound over loudspeakers.

  • Loud sound at social events.

  • Noise production from vehicles.

  1. Light Pollution: Light pollution comes due to the industrialization and urbanization that has developed an array of huge advertisements such as billboards, lighting in car parks, streetlights and office lights, etc.

India sees an increased incidence of heart-related and respiratory conditions whose prime cause is cited filled with air pollution. The damage caused by air pollution in Delhi every year is not unheard of by anyone. To remove the problem of environmental pollution, we will have to remove the source first.

Sources of Environmental Pollution

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There are several types of classification used to define the various types of pollutants that contribute to environmental pollution. One of these is the classification based on the sources of environmental pollution. According to this classification, environmental pollutants can be classified as:

  • Non-Point Sources:

Under such types of sources of pollution, it is difficult to recognize the reason for environmental pollution occurred in an area. This type of pollution is also known as diffuse pollution.

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  • Point Sources: As the name suggests, for such types of pollution, it is easier to pinpoint the reason or the factor that results in the damage to the environment.

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Naturally, it is easier to control pollution caused by point sources as we can simply remove the cause. However, things become a bit hazy when an actual cause of pollution is unknown. The common sources of environmental pollution are:

  1. Agriculture: There is a rise in agricultural activities due to the demand for a high population. This leads to an increase in the use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides that result in land pollution.

  2. Natural Sources: Pollution can be classified as natural and man-made. The natural sources of environmental pollution are the metabolic products from plants such as organic compounds and ammonia while the natural phenomenon such as volcanic eruptions or forest fires also pose as a natural source of air pollution. Methane produced by ruminant animals is also a rising source of air pollution. 

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  1. Industries: Large-scale industries operating all over the world produce huge wastes as a by-product. When not disposed of correctly, these waste products become a hazard to the aquatic organisms present in water bodies. There have also been a few instances of oil spills that contribute to the problem.

  2. Domestic Waste: The proper disposal of domestic waste is equally important because it can cause land pollution as a major portion of such waste comprises non-biodegradable products.

  3. Other Man-Made Sources: The other aggregators of pollution are the vehicles used for transportation that emit harmful poisonous gases such as lead and nitric oxide that may cause air pollution.

The cumulative effect of all these activities results in environmental pollution. It is clear from the above that humans are the enemy of the environment. Our careless and irresponsible activities are damaging to the environment. What we fail to realize is that the damage we inflict upon our environment will, in turn, damage us and our health.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What is Environmental Pollution?

Ans. Environmental pollution refers to the undesirable or toxic effect in the environment or any of its elements such as air, water, soil/land caused due to the introduction of a harmful substance or entity. The substance that causes danger to the environment that results in environmental pollution is known as a pollutant. Depending on the part of the environment that is polluted, environmental pollution can be classified as air pollution, water pollution, land/soil pollution and noise pollution. The problem of environmental pollution is a major cause of concern throughout the world as it puts the survival of mankind in danger.

Q2. How is the Environment Polluted?

Ans. There can be several causes that lead to environmental pollution. The pollutants that damage the normal healthy environment can be classified using different criteria such as primary and secondary pollutants, solid, liquid, gaseous pollutants, and man-made or natural pollutants. Environmental pollution can result from both man-made and natural sources. The natural sources of environmental pollution are plant products such as organic compounds or gases like ammonia or greenhouse gases, methane production from animals, etc. The man-made sources include smoke emitted from vehicles or industries, industrial wastes, agricultural wastes, deforestation, or domestic sources that serve as environmental pollutants.