The sad truth is every person in the world has to face some form of pollution on a daily basis. We are living in a world where convenience is considered quintessential to a person’s survival; the use of industrial machinery, transport and people’s ambition to own the most technological advanced equipment is the catalyst behind pollution. This in turn has caused a number of negative effects, specifically on our environment and health.
Air pollution can potentially happen anywhere but the areas that are most noted are cities with high urban development especially where local climatic conditions and topography combine to hold pollutants in the area. Air pollution occurs if the air contains gases, dust, fumes or odour in harmful amounts to the health of human organisms or damage materials. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.6 million people die each year from causes directly attributable to air pollution. This is mainly because of respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It can cause asthma, emphysema, lung and heart diseases and respiratory allergies.
There are two ways that water pollution effects developed and developing countries. Water pollution is categorized as being a point source or a non-source point of pollution. For example a point source would be a corporation dumping industrial waste into a water source, hence contaminating the water. A non-point source would be when insecticides or pesticides running into the ground or a stream and funnelling back into the main water supply of a region. In third world countries, simple chores like laundry on a riverbank can be the root of the problem. Water pollution is extremely harmful to humans, animals and water life. Pollutants kill aquatic life, disrupt food chains, and cause diseases and effects entire eco systems. Hepatitis and Cholera are just two diseases when contaminating water.
Land pollution can be grouped into four different categories; Solid waste, pesticides and fertilizers, chemicals and deforestation. This is caused from a variety of different sources, from poor sewage treatment to the felling of trees resulting in land erosion, desertification and land degradation damage. There are horrifying consequences as a result of land pollution. It is even worse if garbage isn’t separated into organic, reusable or recyclable waste. Land pollution can cause a number of health issues including respiratory disease, skin problems and cancers. It can have a harmful effect our environmental; bad odour from landfills, burning rubbish causes increased air pollution and effecting crop growth.
It’s important to note that sound is not noise. Sound becomes noise when it interferes in our everyday lives. Before I confuse you any further there is a scale to measure the effects of noise or sound to differentiate between them both, it’s measured in decibels. The industrial limit is 75 dB according to the World Health Organisation. While noise pollution isn’t as harmful or serious as other types of pollution it’s still considered seriously harmful. The sources of noise pollution are; household sources, social events, commercial and industrial events and transportation. The two main problems caused by noise pollution are hearing and general health. Over a long period of time noise pollution can seriously affect the hearing of a person. General health issues are mainly mental including stress and anxiety, feelings of fatigue and decreases in work efficiency. These effects are gradual and in time can be extremely harmful. It can also lead to heart problems due to an increase in blood pressure resulting from stress.
Radioactive pollution is the emission of high energy particles or radioactive substances into air, water or land. This happens because of a reaction know as nuclear fission. Fission is used in the creation of nuclear devices such as nuclear reactors, weapons and nuclear fuel cycles.
Radioactive pollution comes from “fallout”, the best example of this is when a – bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during World War 2. Over 2 million people had died within 5 years because of the long term effects of radioactivity. However, on a daily basis the main source of radioactive pollution comes from nuclear fuel cycles. Think of the power plant in the Simpsons – contaminants are left behind after the refinement and extraction processes has extracted the useful material - isotope. Cancer is the main killer when it comes to radioactive pollution, but birth defects are also a prominent factor of those exposed to excessive amounts of radiation.
There are three different types of radioactive pollution;
- Continuous – Uranium mines, test labs and nuclear power stations where humans are under constant exposure.
- Accidental - because of radiation failure by virtue of radiation leaks or equipment failure.
- Occasional – when testing nuclear substances.
The world we live in today makes it almost impossible to become a non-pollutant party, but try to do the right thing and control the things that are controllable. So avoid using certain materials if possible or littering, and think before you act. Over the last 20 years there have been a number of organisations who haven’t listened to this advice, resulting in multibillion dollar law suits. So if not for humanitarian reasons, just think of the BP oil spill, you don’t want to open yourself up to a claim or fine now do you!