There are several types of pollution, and while they may come from different sources and have different consequences, understanding the basics about pollution can help environmentally conscious individuals minimize their contribution to these dangers. In total, there are nine recognized sources of pollution in the modern world. These sources of pollution don't simply have a negative impact on the natural world, but they can have a measurable effect on the health of human beings as well.
Air pollution is defined as any contamination of the atmosphere that disturbs the natural composition and chemistry of the air. This can be in the form of particulate matter such as dust or excessive gases like carbon dioxide or other vapors that cannot be effectively removed through natural cycles, such as the carbon cycle or the nitrogen cycle.
Air pollution comes from a wide variety of sources. Some of the most excessive sources include:
- Vehicle or manufacturing exhaust
- Forest fires, volcanic eruptions, dry soil erosion, and other natural sources
- Building construction or demolition
Depending on the concentration of air pollutants, several effects can be noticed. Smog increases, higher rain acidity, crop depletion from inadequate oxygen, and higher rates of asthma. Many scientists believe that global warming is also related to increased air pollution.
Water pollution involves any contaminated water, whether from chemical, particulate, or bacterial matter that degrades the water's quality and purity. Water pollution can occur in oceans, rivers, lakes, and underground reservoirs, and as different water sources flow together through the water cycle the pollution can spread.
Causes of water pollution include:
- Increased sediment from soil erosion
- Improper waste disposal and littering
- Leaching of soil pollution into water supplies
- Organic material decay in water supplies
The effects of water pollution include decreasing the quantity of drinkable water available, lowering water supplies for crop irrigation, and impacting fish and wildlife populations that require water of a certain purity for survival.
Soil, or land pollution, is contamination of the soil that prevents natural growth and balance in the land whether it is used for cultivation, habitation, or a wildlife preserve. Some soil pollution, such as the creation of landfills, is deliberate, while much more is accidental and can have widespread effects.
Soil pollution sources include:
- Hazardous waste and sewage spills
- Non-sustainable farming practices, such as the heavy use of inorganic pesticides
- Strip mining, deforestation, and other destructive practices
- Household dumping and littering
Soil contamination can lead to poor growth and reduced crop yields, loss of wildlife habitat, water and visual pollution, soil erosion, and desertification.
Noise pollution refers to undesirable levels of noises caused by human activity that disrupt the standard of living in the affected area. Noise pollution can come from:
- Manufacturing plants
- Construction or demolition
Some noise pollution may be temporary while other sources are more permanent. Effects may include hearing loss, wildlife disturbances, and a general degradation of lifestyle.
Radioactive pollution is rare but extremely detrimental, and even deadly, when it occurs. Because of its intensity and the difficulty of reversing damage, there are strict government regulations to control radioactive pollution.
Sources of radioactive contamination include:
- Nuclear power plant accidents or leakage
- Improper nuclear waste disposal
- Uranium mining operations
Radiation pollution can cause birth defects, cancer, sterilization, and other health problems for human and wildlife populations. It can also sterilize the soil and contribute to water and air pollution.
Thermal pollution is excess heat that creates undesirable effects over long periods of time. The earth has a natural thermal cycle, but excessive temperature increases can be considered a rare type of pollution with long term effects. Many types of thermal pollution are confined to areas near their source, but multiple sources can have wider impacts over a greater geographic area.
Thermal pollution may be caused by:
- Power plants
- Urban sprawl
- Air pollution particulates that trap heat
- Loss of temperature moderating water supplies
As temperatures increase, mild climatic changes may be observed, and wildlife populations may be unable to recover from swift changes.
Light pollution is the over illumination of an area that is considered obtrusive. Sources include:
- Large cities
- Billboards and advertising
- Nighttime sporting events and other nighttime entertainment
Light pollution makes it impossible to see stars, therefore interfering with astronomical observation and personal enjoyment. If it is near residential areas, light pollution can also degrade the quality of life for residents.
Visual pollution - eyesores - can be caused by other pollution or just by undesirable, unattractive views. It may lower the quality of life in certain areas, or could impact property values and personal enjoyment.
Sources of visual pollution include:
- Power lines
- Construction areas
- Billboards and advertising
- Neglected areas or objects such as polluted vacant fields or abandoned buildings
While visual pollution has few immediate health or environmental effects, what's causing the eyesore can have detrimental affects.
Personal pollution is the contamination of one's body and lifestyle with detrimental actions. This may include:
- Excessive smoking, drinking or drug abuse
- Emotional or physical abuse
- Poor living conditions and habits
- Poor personal attitudes
In some cases, personal pollution may be inflicted by caregivers, while in other cases it is caused by voluntary actions. Taking positive steps in your life can help eliminate this and other sources of pollution so you can lead a more productive, satisfying life.
Pollution Types Are Connected
All types of pollution are interconnected. For example, light pollution requires energy to be made, which means the electric plant needs to burn more fossil fuels to supply the electricity. Those fossil fuels contribute to air pollution, which returns to the earth as acid rain and increases water pollution. The cycle of pollution can go on indefinitely, but once you understand the different pollution types, how they are created, and the effects they can have, you can make personal lifestyle changes to combat poor conditions for yourself and others around you.
Pollution definition: It is an unconcerned and uncontrolled contamination of limited natural resources available for safe survival of living beings including humans.
Its untoward effects are detrimental for the healthy survival and also the contamination in most cases is not completely reversible.
In short it is defined as contamination of natural environment with pollutants hazardous to human and animal health.
In the recent times we hear many a concerns from social activists and groups regarding pollution crisis.
In fact there is an immediate requirement to contain it and minimize for better health and prevent endanger to valuable species on the earth.
Pollution is drastically rising in all the countries due to rise in human activity associated with modern technology and population growth. Even the daily normal livelihood requirements are high contributing factors to never ending pollution of all sorts. Pollution poses health hazards, endangers wild life and makes the planet unsafe for future human survival. The present technology and desire for development adds more to pollution but the steps taken to control or decrease it are very meager.
Types of pollution:
The natural resources which are freely available a gift of nature are polluted and they can be broadly divided into following types like
Air pollution: This is a contamination of natural air with dangerous gases. This is a major contributor to environmental pollution. Presence of lot of green trees and plants is one of the option to minimize this pollution.
Many gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, methane and other harmful gases are emitted from automobiles (powered by petroleum), industries and sometimes by natural calamities like volcanoes.
Read: Causes of air pollution
Another type is particulate air pollution, seems many of us are quite unaware about it. But if one stays near any industry, then it can be noticed. There is always some sort of particulate dust from the chimneys of the factory. This is harmful especially to the respiratory system are it is directly exposed.
This air pollution can be minimized by filtration of effluents, decrease in use of petroleum related automobiles and also sufficient growth of trees.
Water pollution: After air, water is resource which is highly contaminated.
Both drinking water from rivers, ponds and also sea water are contaminated by discharge of large amounts of human, industrial wastes leading to water pollution.
This makes the water harmful to drink and also endanger lives of sea and marine animals.
Land pollution: Land pollution is one which occurs due there is excess dumping of toxic waste. This can be a chemical or other waste material.
Polluting the land by harmful chemicals can lead to entry of pollutants into food chain. This is commonly caused by excess use of fertilizers in agriculture, irresponsible disposable of industrial wastes etc. Even defecating in the open spaces also causes pollution. This leads to health issues like malnutrition as pollutants pass through plants to humans and animals.
Sound pollution: Also called as noise pollution is a disturbance of silent environment with harsh loud noises. This is mostly due to automobile sounds, the audio systems used for fun or public speeches, temples, mosques, churches etc. This pollution has severe impact especially on the old people, small children. Even sound from industrial sirens, vehicle movements also contribute to this noise pollution.
Dust pollution: This is a pollution where in the contamination is due to dust particles in air. This can be from soil, roads, farming, and even due to mining etc. From farms this dust pollution occurs due to pollen grains as a part of pollination. While on the roads it is due to unclean road over run by vehicles. This air contamination by dust creates trouble for proper breathing leading to infections, congestion of breath etc.
Radiation pollution: This is the pollution due to abnormal radiation in the environment. This occurs due to use of radioactive elements from atomic energy stations. From cell and mobile towers, by use of wireless Internet access modems etc. This is one of the serious types of pollution and also neglected one with the interest of business. Even it is said that birds like sparrows and insects like honey bees seem to be getting extinct from human areas due to these radiations.
Thermal pollution: This pollution arises due to release of excess heat from thermal power plants, industries involved in metals molding etc. The heat is released into the surrounding air rising the temperature of the locality drastically. This can be especially troublesome during summers for the people staying in the same city or locality.
Light pollution: This type of pollution might seem quite strange but it is one of the common pollution. Have you ever tried to see the sky for stars or for lunar eclipse when there is a cricket or football match going on in a nearby stadium? It is quite impossible. Even heavy light of opposite vehicles on the same road can lead to distractions for drivers. Light pollution effects especially at night as it disturbs the sleep of humans, birds and other animals. This might some times affect the natural body rhythm or circadian clock. It is believed that light pollution is one of the causes of obesity, insomnia and other health issues.
Plastic pollution: This is not a type but it deserves to be said one. The plastic and polythene due to their ability to withstand decomposition for years together add up to pollution. Plastic pollution can contribute to air, water and soil pollution. Even animals which graze this plastic die due to problems in the intestine.