Pollution has become one of the biggest challenge from every part of the globe. Scientist believe that if there is no control of the pollution then it will demolish every living being on earth.
Pollution is defined as “Presence of matter of any form (water, liquid or gas) or energy (radiation, heat, noise) whose nature, location, or quantity directly or indirectly alters characteristics or processes of any part of the environment, and causes (or has the potential to cause) damage to the condition, health, safety, or welfare of animals, humans, plants, or property.” There are basically different types of pollution which are defined according to the medium through which causes damage which are termed as air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, noise pollution, radioactive pollution, thermal pollution and light pollution.
Effects of Pollution
- Degradation of environment - The environment becomes difficult for the living being to survive. The increase of carbon dioxide leads to formation of smog making the sunlight difficult reaching to the surface of the earth. Toxic gases like sulphur dioxide mixes with the water in the atmosphere resulting in acid rains. Some parts of Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, New Jersey, Beijing, and New Delhi are some of the places which receives acid rains every year.
- Human Health - Asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, skin problems, hearing loss and stress are some of the problems caused by the population. There is gradual increase in the number of deaths in the world.
- Land infertility - Increased use of chemicals leads to reduced productivity of land for cultivation, drought and flood.
- Ozone layer reduction - Ozone layer which is responsible for ultraviolet rays from the sun leads to the skin cancer to the living beings.
- Global warming - One of the prime factor is increasing in the temperature of the climate. This has led to the change in the ecological system. Deforestation is adding more pressure in the environment. This has led to the increase in the sea level in the groundwater drinking leading to the contamination of water.
The above diagram shows the number of deaths in Asia due to air pollution.
China is the leading country for the number of deaths followed by India. All the cities in the continent is developing which is one of the driving reason for air pollution while Sri Lanka, Nepal and Cambodia.
Effects of Pollution in Different Regions
Pollution in North America
The continent produces 6% of the world’s greenhouse gasses mainly from the power plants. Electric power plants are driving the toxic emissions in the air. This utilities emit arsenic, mercury, selenium and hydrochloric acid which is harmful to the living beings residing in the surrounding.
These are responsible for acid rain, smog, asthma and global climate change. The main source of water pollution is the chemical industries, oil spills and power plants. However the water pollution in the continent is controlled by the government by strict policies for water treatment in the industries and waste water management in the countries.
Factories, coal mines in USA and Canada generates roughly 3.4 million metric tonnes of toxic materials contaminating the soil. Environment Protection Agency of America estimates that 850 billion gallons of waste and untreated materials enter into the water bodies causing 7 million illnesses annually. In United States 75- 80% of thermal pollution is caused by the power plants. Other sources of thermal pollution is the petroleum refineries, chemical factories and steel mills.
Pollution in South America
Peru is the country which has worst air pollution followed by Colombia and Venezuela. The main reason for the air pollution in the continent is the rapid increase in the vehicles, poor fuel quality, energy intensive and lack of air pollution standards kept by the government. 77 million people lack access of water which is safe. Groundwater are over exploited for industrial purposes.
23% of the population does not have access to proper sanitation facilities. Urbanization is the driving force for water pollution in the continent. A lack of sewage treatment leads to the industrial waste water entering the river contaminating the water. Deforestation is the major reason for degradation of soil in the continent. Intensive use of agrochemicals are added burden to the soil pollution.
Pollution in Europe
Vehicles, industry, agriculture and homes are the biggest contributor in the pollution in Europe. The two important source of pollution is particulate matter and ground level ozone causing cardiovascular disease and breathing. Eutrophication which consists of excess nitrogen damages ecosystem.
However Nitrogen oxides has fallen by 27% and ammonia by 7% in the continent. The water is contaminated with pesticides, hydrocarbons, burning petroleum and tributylin.
The above diagram displays the presence of chemicals in the water across Europe.
Chemical levels are more than 50% in most parts of Europe. There are about 2.5 million contaminated across the Europe. This lands costs 6.5 billion Euros which is mostly paid by the companies. Radioactive contamination in found in many countries in Europe which is caused by Chernobyl.
Pollution in Africa
West African countries are reaching at the highest level of having air pollution in the continent. The main resource of emissions is caused by anthropogenic. 94% of the population in Nigeria are living with the air pollution which is considered as danger by the standards defined by WHO. The cost of air pollution is 2.7% of the GDP.
Chemical waste from the factories are destroying the trees in the continent. The soil near the mining sites are the most contaminated because the waste is not treated properly and consists of heavy metals. There is shortage of clean water to the locals in the continent. The ground water gets contaminated due to the chemical waste, fertilizers and animal waste entering the ground water source. Skyscrapers and excess air pollution are increasing the temperature in South Africa.
Pollution in Asia
Air pollution in China had reached the peak of hazardous level. Asia is the continent of 20 most polluted cities in the world. The air pollution is impacting the Northern Hemisphere which are strengthening storms. The main reason of air pollution is gradual urbanization and industrialisation. People of about 1.6 billion in South Asia faces the problem of water shortage and the main factor for the problem is the contaminated water.
Rapid industrialization is the primary factor for water and soil pollution in the continent. This resulted in the contamination of farmland which is nearly 19.4 %. Asia is the continent with large number of slums which adds to the soil contamination. The nuclear waste from the power plants are the main source of nuclear waste. The Disaster of Fukushima has led to the radioactive pollution in the water and the environment.
Thermal pollution is another threat to the people and the ecosystem. The companies in the South Asia dumps the waste heat in the rivers causing deaths of the aquatic animals. Hong Kong is the world’s first country suffering from light pollution.
Pollution in South Pacific
Air pollution is increasing in the region. Carbon dioxide and Methane are the two main pollutants causing air pollution. Salinity is one of the prime factor of soil pollution. About 5.7 million hectare are affected by salinity, causing a damage of $270 million every year. Plastics are one of the prime factor of water pollution.
Almost 90% of plastic wastages are found on the coastal areas which includes bottles and straws. Nuclear waste is also one of the pollution factor. Oil spilling is causing deaths of the aquatic animals. Toxic chemicals by illegal dumping are done creating damage to the ecosystem.
Initiatives for Pollution Control
- Planting more trees will lead to increase in oxygen, reduction of soil erosion and maintaining the ecological balance. Different government initiatives and private organisation are working to plant more trees in the environment.
- Reduction in the use of fertilizers and pesticides- Educating the farmers for the use of natural products for cultivation of crops.
- New technology for power generation- Solar energy is one of the important source of clean energy.
- Clean energy for automobiles- Hydrogen driven energy, electric cars are bringing new dimension of clean energy.
- Reduce the number of plastics- Government initiatives are taken for reusable plastics in different applications. Different plastics alternatives are being taken.
- Save energy- Proper use of energy like electricity for optimise use of power. Different use of devices are being developed to save energy.
- Disposal of nuclear waste- Proper disposal waste has to be taken by the government for the optimization of the waste materials.
- Save oil drilling- Safety oil drilling techniques has to be used for reduction in the oil spillage in the sea.
- Reduction in the exploitation of natural resources- Over exploitation of natural resources has to be done. It will help reduce the pollution in the environment.
- Stricter policy rules- Different pollution boards should increase the standards of the pollution parameters for the industries.
- Educating people- The most important aspect of the pollution reduction is communicating with the people about the ill effects of different source of pollution.
- Reduce carbon emission devices- Different devices are being built where carbon emission will reduce at faster rate leading to reduction of CO2 in the air.