Types of Pollution includes air pollution, light pollution, littering, noise pollution, soil contamination, radioactive contamination, thermal pollution, visual pollution, and water pollution. There are also many other types of pollution which are less known or relate to specific fields of endeavor such as pollution affecting certain scientific experiments.
What is Pollution?
Pollution refers to the contamination of the Earth’s natural environment with materials that are not naturally present or not naturally present in those quantities and may harm the function of ecosystem, human health and quality of life. Some environmental types of pollution are followed by natural disasters but most is a result of human activities.
Air pollution causes damage through acid rain, global warming, smog, and ozone depletion. Pollution in the air that we breathe can negatively affect our body. Air pollution is the contamination of the Earth’s atmosphere. One of the greatest challenges caused by air pollution is global warming, where Earth’s temperature rises because heat is trapped by the buildup of certain atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). Increase of CO2 in the atmosphere has existed since humans began to use fire for agriculture, heating and cooking and today, factories, transportation and agriculture are major contributors especially in the urban zones.
Sources of Air Pollution
- Cars, trucks, jet airplanes and other combustion engine vehicles cause air pollution. The exhaust from these contains carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and gaseous oxide.
- Factories, office buildings, homes and power-generating stations burn fossil fuels which create smog that destroys plants, damages buildings and creates oxidation on iron.
- Petroleum refineries release hydrocarbons and various particulates that pollute the air.
- Power lines that are not insulated and are high voltage.
- Pesticides used to kill indoor and outdoor pests, insecticides used to kill insects and herbicides use to kill weeds all cause air pollution.
- Radioactive fallout causes air pollution from the nuclear energy dispersed, which is a dust.
- Dust from fertilizers used to help plants grow causes air pollution
- Toxic fumes from new carpet, paint and/or cleaning chemicals that are used indoors.
- Mining causes air pollution by releasing a variety of particles.
Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor air pollution is often an unrecognized form of polution that is inside the homes and buildings where people spend most of their time.
Sources of indoor pollutants
- Tobacco smoke
- Chemicals released from synthetic carpets and furniture, pesticides, and household cleaners
- Materials used in the building such as asbestos, formaldehyde and lead
- Construction materials
- Heating, air-conditioning devices, and cooking apparatuses etc.
- Coatings (wall paint, varnish, floors etc.)
- Maintenance and cleaning products (detergents, pesticides etc.)
- Biological contaminants like mold and pollen
- Gases such as radon (an invisible radioactive gas that enters homes from the ground in some regions) and carbon monoxide
The effects of indoor air pollution can be more harmful than outside air pollution because people spend as much as 90 percent of their time living, working, and playing indoors. Indoor air quality problems can result to respiratory problems and dermal and mucus irritation. It is advisable to make sure that the houses and buildings are well-ventilated to minimize air pollutants and also focus on building materials used to ensure indoor air pollution is kept to a minimum.
Outdoor Air Pollution
Outdoor Air pollution is commonly known as ambient air pollution. Smog, a thick dirty fog which is a mixture of fog and smoke or other airborne pollutants, is an example or large scale outdoor pollution. As the smog ages and reacts with oxygen, organic and sulfuric acids condense as droplets, increasing the haze. Another type of smog is calls photochemical smog. This type of smog is caused by combustion in car, truck and airplane engines which produce nitrogen oxides and release hydrocarbons from unburned fuels. The sunlight combined nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons turns oxygen into ozone, an agent that attacks rubber, injures plants, and irritates lungs.
Sources of Outdoor Air Pollution
- Combustion of fossil fuels such as domestic heating, power generation anfd motor vehicles
- Industrial processes
- Agricultural processes
- Waste incineration
- Natural process like thunderstorms and volcanoes
- Emission of the solid waste disposal
- Treatment of industrial effluent and domestic residues
- Chemical incidents and spills
When air pollutants reach the atmosphere, sulfur and nitrogen oxides are converted into acids that mix with rain. This acid rain can have a serious effect on the environment. If acid rain falls in the lakes and on forests, it damages plants by destroying their leaves, it poisons soil and it changes the chemistry of lakes and streams. In effect it can lead to the death of fish and plants, and damage entire ecosystems. Eventually the contaminated lakes and forests may become lifeless.
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies that occur when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds. Water contamination can affect all the plants and species in the water as well as human. Sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides are the main causes of water pollution.
Common Water Pollutants
- Sewage and waste water
- Marine dumping
- Industrial waste
- Radioactive waste
- Oil pollution
- Underground storage leakage
- Atmospheric deposition
- Eutrophication – the process by which a body of water becomes rich in dissolved nutrients from fertilizers or sewage, thereby encouraging the growth and decomposition of oxygen-depleting plant life and resulting in harm to other organisms was not found in the English Dictionary
Marine pollution is the result of the entry of the pollutants into the ocean. The sources of these pollutants are land-based such as chemicals, particles, wastes, noise that came from the residence, large scale productions and agriculture. Marine pollutants inlcude
- Land-based sources
- Oil spills
- Untreated sewage
- Ballast water discharge
- Heavy siltation
- Eutrophication (nutrient enrichment)
- Invasive species
- Persistent organic pollutants (POP’s)
- Heavy metals from mine tailings and other sources
- Deep sea mining
- Radioactive substances
- Marine litter
- Destruction of coastal
- Marine habitats
Waterway pollution refers to the contamination that enters a waterway (eg river or stream) from an identifiable source such as pipe or ditch.
At home all the water that goes down your sinks, toilets and showers ends up in the sewage system. These waters are called sewage waters and when this water is drained of into rivers without treatment it can lead into spreading diseases. Aside from improper handling of waste water, sewage pollutant gets into our local creeks or rivers when it escapes the sewage system. This can happen when private or public sewer lines are cracked, pipes are blocked by tree roots or other material, sewage pumping stations fail and sewage overflows cause discharges from designed overflows. These pipeline problems can contaminate the water is harmful to humans. It can cause diarrhea and skin problems. When large quantity of sewage water is drained off into the rivers, it will slow down the process of dilution of water constituents and will stagnates rivers.
Ground Water Pollution
Ground water pollution is the interaction between groundwater and surface water. Groundwater aquifers, a layer of permeable rock, sand, or gravel through which ground water flows, containing enough water to supply wells and springs, are susceptible to contamination from sources, such as toxic plumes and radionuclide, that may not directly affect surface water bodies.
Thermal pollution is the changes of the water quality by some process that changes the water temperature. The change in temperature of a body of water are often caused by human intervention such as the use of water as a coolant by power plant and industrial manufacturers or the release of very cold water from the reservoirs into warmer rivers. It results in a change in the physical properties of water which can kill fish and affects ecosystem composition underwater.
Light pollution includes where over-illumination of city streets and other lighting result in a reduced ability to observe the night sky. Light pollution is of primary concern to astronomers but also affects people living close to brightly lit stadiums, etc.
Noise pollution is an extreme noise that causes imbalance of human and animal life. Noise pollution may be created by a machine (such airplanes) animals or even by individuals.
Soil pollution is soil contamination through chemicals. It usually occurs through the buildup of toxic chemical compounds, salts, pathogens (disease-causing organisms), or radioactive materials that can affect plant and animal life. The contaminated soil may directly affect human health through direct contact with soil, via inhaling of the contaminated soil which has become air-born or through ingestion of the pollutant which has found its way into the food chain through growing vegetables in the contaminated soil or allowing animals to graze on the contaminated land.
Sources of soil pollution
- Acid Rain
- Industrial wastes
- Radioactive substance
- Human excreta
- Mining gas and petroleum
- Overcrowded landfills
- Construction debris
- Oil and antifreeze leaking
Radioactive pollution is the presence of radioactive substances in the environment. It includes the pollution of air, water and soils. The environmental radiation can be from different sources and can be natural or manmade.
There are two primary sources of radioactivity. These are the background radiation, also known as the natural radiation and the manmade radiation. When cosmic rays reach the surface of the earth from space, it includes radioactive elements which are considered as radioactive pollutants such as radium, uranium, thorium, radon, potassium and carbon that occurs in the rock, soil and water. On the other hand, the natural radiations are also known as background radiation. Man made radiation include the mining and refining of uranium, plutonium and thorium for the use in weapons and nuclear power plants.
Visual pollution refers to any unattractive things to look at. Commonly known as an ‘eye-sore’, visual pollution can affect the well-being of communities.
Electromagnetic Magnetic pollutants (also termed electro-smog) is caused by power lines, power tools, electric stoves, heaters, boilers, freezers and television sets when in use and may extend quite a distance around the line or appliance. Long-term exposure may aggravate existing health problems or diseases and may lead to lack of energy or fatigue, irritability, aggression, hyperactivity, sleep disorders and emotional instability. Chronic exposure to high level of electromagnetic radiation may lead to disabling symptoms such as convulsions, memory problems and depression. In order to reduce vitality drainage effect when working with electric equipment, it has been suggested to hold hands under running water from time to time and to have shower in the evening.
Coal is the biggest source of mercury contamination in our air, and it is one of the worst offenders for producing the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The coal-fired power plants are the largest sources of mercury pollution. Airborne mercury emitted by these plants can be deposited anywhere from the smokestack sources. These substances are a potent neurotoxin that humans and other organisms readily absorb. Methyl-mercury easily travels up the aquatic food chain, accumulating at higher concentrations at each level. Larger predator species contain the most mercury, which is then passed on to those who eat them. Humans are exposed to mercury primarily by eating contaminated fish. Fetuses, infants, and young children are most at risk for mercury damage to their nervous systems. Mercury exposure damages cardiovascular, immune, and reproductive systems. Chronic low-level exposure pre-natally, or in the early years of life, can delay development and hamper performance in tests of attention, fine motor skills, language, visual spatial skills, and verbal memory. At high concentrations, mercury can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, and even death.