Pollution is an austere reality that every person living on this planet has to wake up to every day. In modern society, people have created industries that aim to make life more convenient but often have adverse impacts on the environment. Things like dark smoke and haze are just some of the inconveniences we have to face on a daily basis because of pollution.
Knowing various pollution facts specifically the types of pollution and how each one affects us is very important to help people prepare and anticipate the harmful effects that it may bring.
Air pollution is mostly caused by industries that emit gases such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. Dark smoke from engines and vehicles also exacerbate our atmosphere’s already worsening condition. If the air around us gets contaminated, the effects can be devastating. In the short run, it can result to upper respiratory ailments in humans like bronchitis and pneumonia.
It also aggravates the condition of those who are already suffering from asthma and emphysema. In worst cases, it can lead to more detrimental health hazards like lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to vital organs like the brain, liver, kidneys, and nerves.
Water pollution is caused by industrial wastes being dumped in different water bodies like rivers and lakes. Insecticides and pesticides also cause water pollution if these run into the ground or streams nearby. Even doing the laundry on riverbanks and lakes can contribute to the contamination of the water. Such is a common scenario in third world countries.
Because aquatic life depends on these water forms, pollution can seriously hurt or even kill the flora and fauna in them. An episode of fish kill can affect the supply of seafood in the affected area . Also, if pollutants like lead and cadmium get eaten by marine animals, humans will consequently get poisoned when they eat fish and other sea creatures that have been exposed to these chemicals. Hepatitis and cholera are just two of the diseases that are a result of consuming contaminated water.
Land or soil pollution happens when the soil is stripped of its natural fertility through the excessive use of insecticides, pesticides, and ripening agents. Because plants rely on the nitrogenous compounds in the soil for their nourishment, damaging the soil through chemicals makes it difficult for plants to grow and bear nutritional content.
Land contamination likewise happens when dumpsites and landfills are not properly managed. Contaminated lands can result to problems in the human respiratory system and skin, and can even cause cancers. The toxins in the soil can also pose health threats when these come in direct contact with humans.
Radioactive PollutionThis type of pollution happens when radioactive materials break up and release dangerous cancer- and mutation-causing beta rays into the environment. This is caused by dumping radioactive waste from nuclear power plants to bodies of water. Nuclear reactors that were damaged give way to contamination whose effects last for many years.
Such was the case of Chernobyl, history’s worst nuclear power plant accident. The effects have endured through decades and have brought about serious illnesses like acute radiation syndrome and cancer. Before the Chernobyl accident happened, the atomic bombs that were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki also left radioactive materials that led to mutative diseases in people. There may had been some people who have survived the bombings, but they later died of either mutative diseases or cancer.
Thermal pollutionoccurs when there is a rise in temperature due to the release of excessive heat (energy) by various man-made activities or natural calamities. Factories and vehicles emit a lot of heat energy. Carbon dioxide allows heat to get trapped inside the atmosphere, thus warming it and giving rise to greenhouse effect.
Thermal pollution causes the melting of the polar ice caps leading to a rise in the sea level which, in turn, causes or aggravates flooding in coastal areas. Also, high temperature tends to increase bacteria levels in water and reduce oxygen. At such condition, many aquatic animals fail to reproduce and die. This can adversely affect biodiversity and the supply of seafood for human consumption.
Noise pollution is simply excessive outdoor noise brought about by honking cars going around, heavy machinery operating in the midst of crowds, barking dogs, extremely loud audio entertainment systems, and electric megaphones. Regular exposure to this type of pollution makes a person susceptible to annoyance, sleep disturbance, aggression, and mental stress.
Noise pollution can also cause tinnitus or the perception of sound within the ear but without corresponding external sound. It can lead to severe depression and sometimes, panic attacks. In extreme cases, like those who live very near runways and factories, very loud noise can damage a person’s ear drum, which can lead to hearing impairment. These effects are more of psychological than physical.
Noise pollution can also become a culprit behind heart problems. A very noisy environment can cause high blood pressure and increased heartbeat rate. Such can also have impact on one’s cognition and can even result in short-term memory gaps.
Artificial lighting systems that are too bright can cause “light” pollution. The luminous orange lights haloing cities is an example. With excessively bright lights, the retina can be strained which can result in headaches or migraines. Research also shows that among the adverse effects of over-illumination are worker fatigue, decreased sexual function, stress, and anxiety. Moreover, it has been reported that light pollution threatens wildlife as it interferes with the behavior and rhythm of nocturnal animals. Many animals use the darkness of night to safely hunt, reproduce, and migrate.
Because wildlife is an essential piece in keeping balance to this planet’s ecosystem, anything that adversely affects this balance will have an indirect impact on humans. Furthermore, excessive use of artificial lighting can consume large amounts of electric energy, thereby causing energy wastage. If this goes on, it adds to the immense challenges that humans are already facing in terms of producing sustainable energy resources.