Types of Pollution | Causes of Various Types of Pollution

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

There are different types of pollution that have contaminated the environment and made it intoxicating for people to survive. Pollutants can exist in air, water, and soil. In a broad sense, the sources of pollution are categorized as point or non-point sources. 

The poor quality of air is a growing concern which has already claimed many lives in the past. Discharge of industrial effluents in water bodies is leading to the extinction of marine creatures. In this article, we shall discuss the definition of pollution, the types of pollution, and the causes of pollution in detail. 

What is Pollution?

Pollution is defined as a mixture of harmful external agents and elements present in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil in which we grow crops. Environmental pollution is ever-increasing due to various human activities such as discharge of industrial waste into rivers, open defecation, use of fertilizers, and exhaust from vehicles.  

Types of Pollution

Above we categorized pollution as the point and non-point sources. Point sources are the places from where the pollutants have emerged. Non-point sources, also known as diffused pollutants are difficult to identify. 

Let us now discuss four major types of pollution in the atmosphere which are air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, and soil pollution.  

1. Air Pollution

Air pollutants are a mixture of harmful gases and particles present in the air. There are various causes of air pollution which are as follows:

  • Emission from vehicles such as cars, buses, trains, and trucks.
  • Harmful gases from oil refineries, power plants, and factories. 
  • Natural calamities such as volcanic eruption and wildfires also contribute to an increased level of air pollution.
  • Burning of stubble in agricultural areas over the years has caused many respiratory ailments in human beings. 

2. Water Pollution

Water pollution refers to the contamination of water bodies such as rivers, oceans, ponds or lakes due to the release of harmful substances such as industrials effluents, faecal matter, etc. The major sources of water pollution are as follows:

  • Agricultural runoff which includes fertilizers and other harmful chemicals.
  • Discharge of raw sewage
  • Disposal of trash such as plastic bags, idols, and other materials 

3. Soil Pollution

Soil pollution refers to the increased concentration of toxic chemicals in soil, which can potentially harm human beings or the ecosystem. Soil gets contaminated due to the introduction of natural and man-made (anthropogenic) pollutants. 

  • The causes of man-made pollutants in the soil are spilling of gasoline and diesel, gas leaks, mining activities, agricultural activities, and many more. 
  • The list of natural pollutants include contaminants such as metals, inorganic ions and salts (phosphates, carbonates, etc), and organic compounds (hydrocarbons, alcohols, etc)

4. Noise Pollution

Noise pollution refers to the unpleasant noise that can cause harmful effect to human beings and animals. Few natural calamities such as volcanic eruption, thunderstorm, etc. contribute to noise pollution. Generally, exposure to any sound at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss in humans beings. 

Below are the major causes of noise pollution.

  • Noise due to construction activities
  • The honking of cars, trucks, buses, and trains
  • Noise from social events caused due to loudspeakers, firecrackers, etc.
  • Industrial noises due to heavy machines, tools, etc. 

All such types of pollution collectively have caused adverse effects on the environment that it could take decades for nature to heal itself. Let us pledge to reduce the level of pollution by eliminating the major sources of pollution.  

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