People and environment interaction
Anthropogenic activities and their impact on the environment.
The environment contains a broad spectrum of pollutants and these are released from the following two sources:
- Natural Sources: Some common natural resources of pollution are volcanoes, forest fires, desert storms, high wind and cyclones, salt sprays from oceans and seas, deposition of organic matter in swamps and emission from animals and plants.
- Anthropogenic Sources: The anthropogenic sources of pollution include industries, modes of transportation, power plants, grinding and cooking operation, household-heating, dumping and burning of wastes, deforestation, mishandling of e-wastes, discharge of wastewater from industries into the river water, open defecation, etc.
Due to rapid urbanization and industrialization in recent past and the overgrowing population has burdened earth and its atmosphere with pollutions. That pollution that once was localized has now become a global challenge and in certain areas, it has created major damage to the environment. Anthropogenic pollution is not new. It has been in practice since men learned to hand the fire and using fire for the processing of food and other basic necessity like ore mining and its metallurgy. Cutting down of forest area to grow food and building has led the loss of the local flora and fauna; thus rendering the environment to carry out its natural balance. Because of such anthropogenic activities for survival and to fetch the over growing greed for luxuries have resulted in the destruction of our environment.
1. Air Pollution: Air pollution is aggravated because of four developments: Increasing traffic, growing cities, rapid economic development and industrialization. Major gases involved in polluting atmosphere includes Carbon Monoxide, Carbon dioxide, Chlorofluorocarbon, Nitrogen Oxides, Sulphur oxides, etc. These gases when interacts with among themselves or humidity in the air or the Ozone they form other chemical compounds and cause many hazards.
- Besides these gases, particulate matter also contributes to air pollution. Particulate matter is solid particles in the air in the form of smoke, dust, and vapour that can remain suspended for an extended period and is also the main source of haze which reduces visibility. The finer particles that we breathe in, gets lodged into our lungs and cause lung damage and another respiratory disease.
- Smog is another form of air pollution, which is a combination of Smoke and Fog. Presence of smog in the atmosphere could always be linked to the heavy traffic. During winters when winds speed is low, this smog stagnates around the earth’s surface and increases the pollution level near the ground surface.
Indoor air pollution: According to Word bank study, the number of premature deaths due to air pollution in India has increased by almost 30%. One of the reasons for this is the Indoor air pollution. Air pollutants released indoor are more likely to be harmful to health because people are close to the place of combustion. In fact, air pollution caused by the combustion of non-commercial sources of fuels such as bio-fuels in homes that are poorly ventilated kills thousands of young children and woman annually.
2. Water Pollution: This pollution is caused by the addition of certain harmful substances to the water like organic, inorganic, biological, radiological and heat, which not only degrades the quality of water but also makes it unfit for its usage. Water pollution is not only confined to surface water, but it has also spread to groundwater, sea and oceans.
- Community wastewater, including discharges from houses, commercial and industrial establishments connected to the public sewerage system. This sewage contains human, animal excreta, food residues, cleaning agents, detergents and other wastes, that decomposes them unwater by the microbes in them and contaminate it.
- When industrial waste is discharged into the rives, which contains harmful metals ions, organic and inorganic toxins, pollutes the river and imposes its threat to a living organism and for those people that consumes and uses that water for daily life activities.
- Agricultural waste, including plants nutrients such as phosphorus, sulphur, nitrogenous compounds, when reaches the groundwater by leaching or mixed with surface water of rivers, lakes, ponds also pollutes the water. These pollutants are mainly toxic chemicals like insecticides, pesticides, herbicides and soil fumigants that are hazardous in nature.
- Thermal pollution from sources like thermal and nuclear plants uses water as coolant and is then released to the nearby rives and other water resources. Such water is often very hot and sudden rise in temperature of water kills fishes and other aquatic lives.
Marine Pollution: The pollutants in the ocean accounts for marine pollution. Rivers discharge their pollutants into the sea. Other sources of oceanic pollution are navigational discharges of oil, grease, detergents, offshore mining, oil spills, etc. Oil spills is one of the most dangerous of all water pollutants. Oil spills from tankers at sea or leaks from underground storage tanks on land are very difficult to control as oil tends to spread very fast. These oil spills being lighter in weight floats on the surface and decreases the oxygen level in the water and cause harm to the organisms.
Such pollutants when discharged into water, reduces the Dissolved Oxygen, thereby eliminates sensitive organisms like plankton, molluscs and fishes. Reduction in Dissolved Oxygen increases the Biological Oxygen demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD).
3. Soil Pollution: Soil is a thin layer of organic & inorganic material that covers the Earths rocky surface. This pollution is defined as the addition of a substance to the soil, which adversely affects the chemical and biological properties of soil and reduces its productivity. Major causes for soil pollution could be attributed towards: Indiscriminate use of fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides, dumping of large quantities of soil wastes, deforestation and soil erosion, pollution due to urbanization, etc.
- E-Waste: E-waste contains the discarded and destroyed electronic products ranging from computers and its components used in Information & Communication Technology, home appliances, video and audio products. These contain harmful metal oxides like mercury, chromium, Barium, toxic Inks, Cadmium, Lead, that ultimately becomes part of the soil and causes its harmful effects. E-waste is not hazardous in nature if it is treated in safe storage or recycled by different scientific methods and needs to be transported from one place to another. However, it can be hazardous if it is not recycled properly and is simply dumped
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