Environmental Pollution

                                            Environmental pollution
   Environmental pollution
   Environmental pollution is  “the contamination of the physical and biological components of the earth/atmosphere system to such an extent that normalenvironmental processes are adversely affected”. 
   “Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the environment that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or that damage the environment” which can come “in the form of chemical substances, or energy such as noise, heat or light”. “Pollutants can be naturally occurring substances or energies, but are considered contaminants when in excess of natural levels.” 
  Pollution is “the addition of any substance or form of energy (e.g., heat, sound, radioactivity) to the environment at a rate faster than the environment can accommodate it by dispersion, breakdown, recycling, or storage in some harmless form”. 
“Pollution is a special case of habitat destruction; it is chemical destructionrather than the more obvious physical destruction. Pollution occurs in all habitats—land, sea, and fresh water—and in the atmosphere.” 
“Much of what we have come to call pollution is in reality the nonrecoverable matter resources and waste heat.” 
“Any use of natural resources at a rate higher than nature's capacity to restore itself can result in pollution of air, water, and land.” 
“Pollution is habitat contamination”.
Perhaps the overriding theme of these definitions is the ability of theenvironment to absorb and adapt to changes brought about by human activities. In one word, environmental pollution takes place when the environment cannot process and neutralize harmful by-products of human activities (for example, poisonous gas emissions) in due course without any structural or functional damage to its system. In fact, “the due course” itself may last many years during which the nature will attempt to decompose the pollutants; in one of the worst cases – that of radioactive pollutants – it may take as long as thousands of years for the decomposition of such pollutants to be completed. Pollution occurs, on the one hand, because the natural environment does not know how to decompose the unnaturally generated elements (i.e., anthropogenic pollutants), and, on the other, there is a lack of knowledge on the part of humans on how to decompose these pollutants artificially.
Why does pollution matter?
It matters first and foremost because it has negative impacts on crucial environmental servicessuch as provision of clean air and clean water (and many others) without which life on Earth as we know it would not exist.

Types of Environmental Pollution

Generally speaking, there are many types of environmental pollution but the most important ones are:
  • Air pollution
  • Water pollution
  • Soil pollution (contamination)
Some of the most notable air pollutants are sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and airborne particles, with radioactive pollutants probably among the most destructive ones (specifically when produced by nuclear explosions).
Our Air Pollutants article provides a clear overview of sources and effects of these air pollutants.
Water pollutants include insecticides and herbicides, food processing waste, pollutants from livestock operations, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, chemical waste and others.
Some soil pollutants are: hydrocarbons, solvents and heavy metals.
So where does environmental pollution come from?

Sources of Environmental Pollution

Fossil Fuel Sources of Environmental Pollution

In modern industrialized societies, fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) transcended virtually all imaginable barriers and firmly established themselves in our everyday lives.
Not only do we use fossil fuels for our obvious everyday needs (such as filling a car), as well as in the power-generating industry, they (specifically oil) are also present in such products as all sorts of plastics, solvents, detergents, asphalt, lubricating oils, a wide range of chemicals for industrial use, etc. 
Combustion of fossil fuels produces extremely high levels of air pollution and is widely recognized as one of the most important “target” areas for reduction and control of environmental pollution.
Fossil fuels also contribute to soil contamination and water pollution. For example, when oil is transported from the point of its production to further destinations by pipelines, an oil leak from the pipeline may occur and pollute soil and subsequently groundwater. When oil is transported by tankers by ocean, an oil spill may occur and pollute ocean water.
Of course, there are other natural resources whose exploitation is a cause of serious pollution; for example, the use of uranium for nuclear power generation produces extremely dangerous waste that would take thousands of years to neutralize.
But there is no reasonable doubt that fossil fuels are among the most serious sources of environmental pollution.
Power-generating plants and transport are probably the biggest sources of fossil fuel pollution.
Common sources of fossil fuel pollution are: 
  • Power-generating plants
  • Petroleum refineries
  • Petrochemical plants
  • Production and distribution of fossil fuels
  • Other manufacturing facilities
  • Road transport (motor vehicles)
  • Shipping industry
  • Aircraft
Fossil fuel combustion is also a major source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and perhaps the most important cause of global warming. Learn more about the causes and effects of global warming here.

Other (Non-Fossil Fuel) Sources of Environmental Pollution

agricultural pollution

Among other pollution sources, agriculture (livestock farming) is worth mentioning as the largest generator of ammonia emissions resulting in air pollution.
Chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers are also widely used in agriculture, which may lead water pollution and soil contamination as well.
Trading activities may be another source of environmental pollution.
For example, it’s been recently noted that packaging of products sold in supermarkets and other retail outlets is far too excessive and generates large quantities of solid waste that ends up either in landfills or municipal incinerators leading to soil contamination and air pollution.
Residential sector is another significant source of pollution generating solid municipal waste that may end up in landfills or incinerators leading to soil contamination and air pollution.

Environmental Pollutants:
What Are They & How Do They Decompose?

Environmental pollutants are constituent parts of the pollution process. They are the actual “executing agents” of environmental pollution.
They come in gaseoussolid or liquid form.
It is interesting to note that, as of 1990, there were around 65,000 different chemicals in the marketplace, i.e. potential environmental pollutants that were to be released into air, water and land on a regular basis. We assume that, as of 2011 - 2012, this number may be significantly higher.
Renowned author Miguel A. Santos identifies at least three general characteristics of environmental pollutants:
    beach pollution, malaysia
    Beach pollution in Malaysia
    which travels from China
  • Pollutants don't recognize boundaries, i.e. they are transboundary;
  • Many of them can't be degraded by living organisms and therefore stay in the ecosphere for many years; and
  • They destroy biota and habitat.
These points emphasize that pollutants present a serious long-termglobal problem that affects more or less every country and, therefore, can only be solved by a coordinated set of actions and unwavering commitment of nations to international environmental agreements.
In order to develop and implement an effective international policy for pollutants’ management, it is important, among other factors, to understand their decomposition mechanisms.
We know that decomposition of pollutants can occur either biologically or physicochemically.


Комментариев нет:

Отправить комментарий