ENVIRONMENT & LIFE!
Our planet is changing. We need to help it change for the better and we’re asking for your help to do that! There are a lot of things that affect our planet in a bad way but the good news is that everyone can help to reduce them and do their bit for the environment.
The term environment has been derived from the French word “Environia” which means to surround. It refers to both abiotic (physical or non-living) and biotic (living) environments. The word environment means surroundings, in which organisms live. Environment and organisms are two dynamic and complex components of nature. Environment regulates the life of organisms including human beings. Human beings interact with the environment more vigorously than other living beings. Ordinarily, environment refers to the materials and forces that surround the living organism. The environment is the sum total of conditions that surrounds us at a given point in time and space. It is comprised of the interacting systems of physical, biological and cultural elements which are interlinked both individually and collectively. The environment is the sum total of conditions in which an organism has to survive or maintain its life process. It consists of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. Its chief components are soil, water, air, organisms and solar energy. The environment by which man is surrounded and affected by factors which may be natural, artificial, social, biological and psychological.
Components of Environment:
Environment mainly consists of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. But it can be roughly divided into two types such as (a) Microenvironment and (b) Macro environment. It can also be divided into two other types such as (c) Physical and (d) biotic environment.
Environmental pollution is reaching worrying proportions worldwide. Urbanization and industrialization along with economic development have led to an increase in energy consumption and waste discharges. Global environmental pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions and acid deposition, as well as water pollution and waste management is considered an international public health problem, which should be investigated from multiple perspectives including social, economic, legislative, and environmental engineering systems, as well as lifestyle habits helping health promotion and strengthening environmental systems to resist contamination.
Environmental pollutants have various adverse health effects from early life some of the most important harmful effects are perinatal disorders, infant mortality, respiratory disorders, allergy, malignancies, cardiovascular disorders and various other harmful effects. It also increases the risk of morbidity and mortality from many diseases, organ disturbances, cancers, and other chronic diseases.
Causes of Air & Water Pollution:
Air & Water pollution:
Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air—pollutants which are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year air pollution is responsible for nearly seven million deaths around the globe.
Water pollution is the release of substances into bodies of water that makes water unsafe for human use and disrupts aquatic ecosystems. Water pollution can be caused by a plethora of different contaminants, including toxic waste, petroleum, and disease-causing microorganisms.
What Causes Air Pollution?
Air pollution is caused by solid and liquid particles and certain gases that are suspended in the air. These particles and gases can come from car and truck exhaust, factories, dust, pollen, mould spores, volcanoes and wildfires.
Whereas some causes of pollution are entirely natural – being the result of sudden changes in temperature, seasonal changes, or regular cycles – others are the result of human impact (i.e. anthropogenic, or man-made).
What Causes Water Pollution?
1. Industrial Waste
Many industries, not having a proper waste management system, drain the waste in the freshwater, which goes into canals, rivers, and later into the sea. The toxic chemicals may change the colour of water, increase the number of minerals, called eutrophication, change the temperature of the water, and pose a severe hazard to water organisms.
2. Sewage and Wastewater
The sewage and wastewater that is produced in each household are treated chemically and released into the sea along with fresh water. The sewage water carries pathogens, a typical water pollutant, other harmful bacteria, and chemicals that can cause serious health problems and thereby diseases.
3. Marine Dumping
The garbage produced by households in the form of paper, plastic, food, aluminium, rubber, and glass, is collected and dumped into the sea in some countries. These items take 2 weeks to 200 years to decompose. When such things enter the sea, they not only cause water pollution but also harm animals in the sea.
4. Accidental Oil Leakage
Oil spill poses a huge threat to marine life when a large amount of oil spills into the sea and does not dissolve in water. It causes problems for local marine wildlife, including fish, birds, and sea otters.
5. The burning of fossil fuels
Fossil fuels like coal and oil, when burnt, produce a substantial amount of ash in the atmosphere. The particles which contain toxic chemicals when mixed with water vapour result in acid rain. Also, carbon dioxide is released from the burning of fossil fuels, which results in global warming.
6. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides
Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used by farmers to protect crops from insects and bacteria. They are useful for the plant’s growth. However, when these chemicals are mixed up with water, they produce harmful pollutants for plants and animals. Also, when it rains, the chemicals mix up with rainwater and flow down into rivers and canals, which pose serious damage to aquatic animals.
7. Leakage from Sewer Lines
A small leakage from the sewer lines can contaminate the underground water and make it unfit for people to drink. Also, when not repaired on time, the leaking water can come onto the surface and become a breeding ground for insects and mosquitoes.
8. Radioactive Waste
Nuclear energy is produced using nuclear fission or fusion. The element that is used in the production of nuclear energy is Uranium, which is a highly toxic chemical.
9. Urban Development
As the population has grown exponentially, so has the demand for housing, food, and cloth. As more cities and towns are developed, they have resulted in increasing use of fertilizers to produce more food, soil erosion due to deforestation, a rise in construction activities, inadequate sewer collection and treatment, landfills as more garbage is produced, an increase in chemicals from industries to produce more materials.
10. Leakage from the Landfills
Landfills are nothing but massive pile of garbage that produces an awful smell and can be seen across the city. When it rains, the landfills may leak, and the leaking landfills can pollute the underground water with a large variety of contaminants.
11. Animal Waste
The waste produced by animals washes away into the rivers when it rains. It then gets mixed up with other harmful chemicals and causes various water-borne diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, jaundice, and typhoid.
12. Underground Storage Leakage
Transportation of coal and other petroleum products through underground pipes is well known. Accidental leakage may happen anytime and may cause damage to the environment and result in soil erosion.
Environmental & Health Impacts of Air Pollution:
Environmental Effects Along with harming human health, air pollution can cause a variety of environmental effects:
Eutrophication is a condition in a water body where high concentrations of nutrients (such as nitrogen) stimulate blooms of algae, which in turn can cause fish kills and loss of plant and animal diversity. Although eutrophication is a natural process in the ageing of lakes and some estuaries, human activities can greatly accelerate eutrophication by increasing the rate at which nutrients enter aquatic ecosystems. Air emissions of nitrogen oxides from power plants, cars, trucks, and other sources contribute to the amount of nitrogen entering aquatic ecosystems.
Acid rain is precipitation containing harmful amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. These acids are formed primarily by nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned. These acids fall to the Earth either as wet precipitation (rain, snow, or fog) or dry precipitation (gas and particulates). Some are carried by the wind, sometimes hundreds of miles. In the environment, acid rain damages trees and causes soils and water bodies to acidify, making the water unsuitable for some fish and other wildlife. It also speeds the decay of buildings, statues, and sculptures that are part of our national heritage. Haze is caused when sunlight encounters tiny pollution particles in the air.
Haze obscures the clarity, colour, texture, and form of what we see. Some haze-causing pollutants (mostly fine particles) are directly emitted to the atmosphere by sources such as power plants, industrial facilities, trucks and automobiles, and construction activities. Others are formed when gases emitted to the air (such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) form particles as they are carried downwind.
Effects on wildlife. Toxic pollutants in the air, or deposited on soils or surface waters, can impact wildlife in a number of ways. Like humans, animals can experience health problems if they are exposed to sufficient concentrations of air toxics over time. Studies show that air toxins are contributing to birth defects, reproductive failure, and disease in animals. Persistent toxic air pollutants (those that break down slowly in the environment) are of particular concern in aquatic ecosystems. These pollutants accumulate in sediments and may biomagnify in tissues of animals at the top of the food chain to concentrations many times higher than in the water or air.
Ozone depletion. Ozone is a gas that occurs both at ground level and in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, known as the stratosphere. At ground level, ozone is a pollutant that can harm human health. In the stratosphere, however, ozone forms a layer that protects life on earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. But this “good” ozone is gradually being destroyed by man-made chemicals referred to as ozone-depleting substances, including chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, and halons. These substances were formerly used and sometimes still are used in coolants, foaming agents, fire extinguishers, solvents, pesticides, and aerosol propellants. Thinning of the protective ozone layer can cause increased amounts of UV radiation to reach the Earth, which can lead to more cases of skin cancer, cataracts, and impaired immune systems. UV can also damage sensitive crops, such as soybeans, and reduce crop yields.
Crop and forest damage. Air pollution can damage crops and trees in a variety of ways. Ground-level ozone can lead to reductions in agricultural crop and commercial forest yields, reduced growth and survivability of tree seedlings, and increased plant susceptibility to disease, pests and other environmental stresses (such as harsh weather). As described above, crop and forest damage can also result from acid rain and from increased UV radiation caused by ozone depletion.
Global warming. The Earth’s atmosphere contains a delicate balance of naturally occurring gases that trap some of the sun’s heat near the Earth’s surface. This “greenhouse effect” keeps the Earth’s temperature stable. Unfortunately, evidence is mounting that humans have disturbed this natural balance by producing large amounts of some of these greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane. As a result, the Earth’s atmosphere appears to be trapping more of the sun’s heat, causing the Earth’s average temperature to rise – a phenomenon known as global warming. Many scientists believe that global warming could have significant impacts on human health, agriculture, water resources, forests, wildlife, and coastal areas.
Environmental & Health Impacts of Water Pollution:
Here are some of the consequences of Water Pollution:
• Destruction of biodiversity. Water pollution depletes aquatic ecosystems and triggers unbridled proliferation of phytoplankton in lakes — eutrophication —.
• Contamination of the food chain. Fishing in polluted waters and the use of wastewater for livestock farming and agriculture can introduce toxins into foods that are harmful to our health when eaten.
• Lack of potable water. The UN says that billions of people around the world have no access to clean water to drink or sanitation, particularly in rural areas.
• Disease. The WHO estimates that about 2 billion people have no option but to drink water contaminated by excrement, exposing them to diseases such as cholera, hepatitis A and dysentery.
• Infant mortality. According to the UN, diarrheal diseases linked to lack of hygiene caused the death of about 1,000 children a day worldwide.
Combating Air Pollution:
There are ways to prevent, control and eventually reduce air pollution:
• The most basic solution for air pollution is to move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative energies like solar, wind and geothermal.
• Producing clean energy is crucial. But equally important is to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits and using more efficient devices.
• Shifting to electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, and promoting shared mobility (i.e., carpooling, and public transport) could reduce air pollution.
• From planning to demolition, the green building aims to create environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures to reduce their carbon footprint.
Combating Water Pollution:
There are ways to prevent, control and eventually reduce water pollution:
• Reduce CO2 emissions to prevent global warming and acidification of the oceans.
• Reduce the use of chemical pesticides and nutrients on crops.
• Reduce and safely treat wastewater so that, as well as not polluting, it can be reused for irrigation and energy production.
• Restrict the use of single-use plastics that end up floating in rivers, lakes and oceans, many as microplastics.
• Encourage sustainable fishing to ensure the survival of species and avoid depletion of the seas.
- Water Pollution: Everything You Need to Know
- Water, Air, & Soil Pollution
- Air and Water Pollution
- Interrelationship of Air Pollution and Water Pollution
- Air Pollution and Climate Change
- Unmask my city and improve our health
- Zero pollution action plan
- Impact of Air and Water Pollution on the Environment and Public Health
- Forest Disturbance Processes
- A Global response to Pollution
- Air and water pollution: An important nexus of transportation and health
- Fight air, water & noise pollution
- Air and Water Pollution: Burden and Strategies for Control