Pollution: Causes, Harmful Effects And Solutions

Overview of Pollution

Pollution means the contamination of natural resources by natural or unnatural pollutants like garbage, toxic gases, volcanic ash, industrial waste, oil spills, insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers, that are corroding our air, water, soil, and atmosphere. The smog is so intense at times that it becomes difficult to breathe. In India, eg. New Delhi and Mumbai, the air quality has diminished and this is not a good sign at all.

The icebergs are melting, the glaciers are melting, there are flash floods, there are wildfires, there are locust attacks, smog from burning waste products is traveling all over the world, the trees are being felled, animals are venturing into human territory in search of shelter, so much is happening!   Let us examine the cause and effect of the various types of pollution and understand how we can lessen their effects on our lives.

Air Pollution 

Air Pollution is caused by partially combusted exhaust fumes, poisonous gases released by industrial bye-products like sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, carcinogenic gases released by burning plastic, rubber, and wood, release of friable asbestos fibers in the air, volcanic ash from the erupting volcanoes, bursting of fire-crackers. All these lead to a decline in the air quality that we breathe in and this leads to respiratory disorders and health conditions or in some cases, death. Who can forget the unfortunate Bhopal Gas Tragedy, where the poisonous gas claimed many lives?  

 

Solution

We cannot control the natural pollutants but we can ensure that the industrial wastes are minimized or destroyed in such a manner to reduce the air pollution levels.

  • The bursting of firecrackers should also be prohibited as these are the most harmful to humans and animals alike.
  • Garbage should be recycled effectively ensuring that no toxins are released in the atmosphere.

Soil Pollution

Soil Pollution is caused by pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, industrial waste, and radioactive waste. As we know, plants and trees hold the soil together and derive their sustenance from the soil. Areas where there is a dense green cover are less prone to flooding.

 Some pollutants absorb the nitrogenous compounds present in the soil, thereby making it barren and prone to erosion. Chemical pollutants are absorbed by the soil and this harms the metabolism of the micro-organisms and arthropods living in the soil. The crops grown in such soil are also laced with these chemicals and harmful for consumption.

 

Solution

  • The use of chemical fertilizers should be reduced and the use of organic fertilizers should be increased to grow crops.
  • Radioactive waste should not be discarded on vacant lots but recycled effectively.
  • Industries should plant more trees and refrain from dumping their waste products in any vacant places.
  • The farmers should be taught effective means of safeguarding the soil and planting more trees.
  • People in the cities should also plant more trees and increase the green cover, to prevent floods and to increase the air quality.

Noise Pollution

The sounds emanating from vehicles, heavy machinery, domestic appliances, fire-crackers, loud music systems, construction work, and honking horns, raise the decibel levels to such an extent that harms the physical and mental health of humans and animals alike. The loud sounds of the fire-crackers during festivals scare the animals. It is also disturbing for children and senior citizens. These noises cause various health issues like stress, hearing loss, hypertension, depression, disturbed sleep, and coronary artery disease as they disturb our rhythm. Sudden noises scare us and increase our heart rates too.

 

Solution

  • Fire-crackers should not be burst, but if they are, then the same should be done in desolate areas, far from the residential areas of humans and natural habitats of animals.
  • Blaring music from speakers should be lowered so as not to disturb anyone.
  • Use of vehicle horns should be limited too, use the indicators instead! Some noises and sounds that are beyond our control can be reduced by wearing earplugs, closing the windows, putting cotton buds in our ears, meditating, and distracting ourselves from those unstoppable nuisances!
  • But be sure not to use headphones a lot to listen to music, as that also hurts our ears!   

Water Pollution

The contamination of water bodies by industrial waste, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, oil spills, detergents, ineffective treatment of human waste, and mixing of sewerage water in the water pipes, causes Water Pollution. Water is a necessity for all living beings and polluted water causes harmful effects on the lives of humans, flora, and fauna. The polluted or rather poisoned water causes waterborne diseases, kills fish and other organisms that live in this water, contaminates the fish that humans eat and promptly fall ill, and contaminates the water that we consume thereby leading to illnesses and allergic reactions. It reduces the oxygen content of the water aka Eutrophication. It blocks out sunlight thereby affecting the fish and other water-living organisms.

 

Solution

  • The industries should opt for other methods to dispose of the waste products rather than dumping them in the water bodies.
  • Organic pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers should be used in farming so that when the residues flow into the water bodies, there is less scope for contamination.
  • The human excretions should be processed effectively so as not to contaminate the water lines.
  • Drainage pipes should not have openings in water bodies nor contaminate the water pipes that we use for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

Gone are the days when we could drink water directly from our kitchen taps or tube wells without a second thought. Nowadays the water purifier is a necessity!

Water is life, and clean water means health” – said Audrey Hepburn.

Radioactive Pollution

When huge amounts of radioactive waste are not effectively disposed of and reach water bodies or the radioactive elements of a nuclear reactor are released, it releases beta rays that cause numerous mutative diseases in living beings. This makes habitat difficult as the effects are prolonged for ages and ages.

Solution

The nuclear power sector is a  part of our industry, but the effective disposal of these radioactive waste materials is of utmost importance. It should be ensured that there is no contamination at their disposal. Research on new methods of disposal should be undertaken and implemented.

 

Thermal Pollution

The release of heat/thermal energy, a by-product, of manufacturing industries, in air and water, is one of the reasons for Global Warming.  The layer of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere blocks the heat from escaping thereby raising the temperature of the earth. As a result, the Polar ice caps are melting and there is a rise in the sea levels. The climate changes are affected and as a result, we no longer have the seasons (Spring, Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, and Winter) that we were taught in School. It rains in any season, the temperatures are at a maximum level through most of the year, and there are sudden droughts and sudden floods. At times, it rains for ten minutes and is cloudy the rest of the day!

 

Solution

The green cover should be increased as this will cool the atmosphere and bring  fresh air. The more greenery the more the oxygen levels, and the lesser the carbon dioxide levels.            

Light Pollution

The excess light emanating from industries and residences causes the natural light to be altered thereby confusing the flora/fauna and animal kingdom. The use of excess light in forests / national parks confuses the animals and disrupts their life. In addition, pollination and growth of plants are also hampered. Unnecessary extra lights in malls, shops, and institutions emanate heat too. 

 

Solution

  • Refrain from using lights in the daytime, and conserve electricity.
  • Harsh lights should be avoided at all institutions, malls, shops, etc.
  • Avoid harsh lights in animal habitats.
  • Agreed that forest and animal conservation is required, but the use of unnecessary lights must be avoided. When two lights are sufficient, then why use six ?? That makes sense, correct?

We should progress but also understand the inherent responsibility that comes with it. After all, what is the benefit of progress, if some years down the line, there will be no human living to reap its benefits? The animal and marine life/flora and fauna will be extinct. Natural resources will also be depleted.  

Conclusion

The moral of the story is that as man progresses by leaps and bounds, he is not heeding the necessities of the animal kingdom, flora, fauna, and marine life, thereby destroying them in some way or the other in installments. The need of the hour is to conserve our natural resources like air, water, earth, and sunlight, or else our future generations will not be privy to the same.

 

As Al Gore rightly says “Pollution should never be the price of prosperity”.

Rupal Sonpal

Ms. Rupal Sonpal

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