Pollution is the introduction of materials, which have harmful effects, into an environment and has been a significant problem in the world. Chemical substances and energy are primary agents of pollution. Energy pollution may come in various forms like heat, light, and noise. There are different types of pollution which include air, noise, plastic, and water, with all of them combined causing the death of more than 9 million people in 2015. Environmental management is necessary for ensuring the world remains stable, and in turn, there is a need for pollution control. There are various ways of controlling this significant threat.
Pollution Control Practices
Controlling pollution imply controlling effluent and emissions into water, air or soil, and without the control of pollution human activities such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing, heating, transport, overconsumption and waste product among other activities would adversely affect the environment. In environment management waste minimization and pollution prevention is more advantageous than pollution control. However, some practices help to control pollution, and they include recycling, reusing, and waste minimization.
Recycling and Reusing
Recycling involves the conversion of waste materials into new substances. This process helps reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, as it works as an alternative to regular waste disposal procedures. Another practice that helps control pollution is reusing. This process involves using a material again for the same purpose or a different one. Reusing helps to save energy, resources, time, and money.
Waste Minimization and Pollution Prevention
Waste minimization is a practice of pollution control that reduces the amount of product waste in the society. This process seeks to change patterns in the community concerning production and consumption, as well as the generation of waste in a bid to prevent waste creation. This practice concentrates mainly on recycling and reusing of substances considered as waste products. Pollution prevention, on the other hand, seeks to reduce pollution from consumers, industries, and agriculture. The Environmental Protection Agency in the US helps to manage and minimize waste through the creation of programs to prevent contamination.
Pollution Control Devices
In control of various forms of pollution, some devices come in handy. Usage of most of these appliances is at the source of the pollutants.
A thermal oxidizer controls air pollution. This unit uses high temperature to decompose hazardous gases before releasing them from industries. Most of the gases released are hydrocarbons, and combustion breaks them down through oxidation into water and carbon dioxide. Temperatures between 1,094 °F and 1,202 °F are enough to ignite majority of organic compounds, although most oxidizers operate at temperatures higher than that.
Dust Collection Systems
These systems collect impurities and dust from gases and air released by industries and commercial institutions to improve quality of air. An effective dust collector comprises of a blower, filters, and their cleaners, as well as, a dust receptacle. These systems come in different types including fabric filters and wet scrubbers. Cyclonic separation uses a hydrocyclone to remove particulates in water, and a gas cyclone for air. A device called electrostatic precipitator also helps control pollution through the removal of fine particles in flowing gases.
Industrial Wastewater Treatment
Industrial wastewater needs treating before releasing into the environment. Various strategies are required to eliminate contamination. Devices used in this process include oil-water separators and biofilters. Dissolved air flotation helps remove suspended matter by a skimming device after dissolving and releasing air under pressure in wastewater. Another pollution control device in this category is the American Petroleum Institute oil-water separator, which separates suspended solids and oil from industrial wastewater. A bioreactor, which contains living substances, may be used to degrade pollutants biologically in a process known as biofiltration. Other methods of controlling this type of pollution include powdered activated carbon treatment and ultrafiltration.
Household sewage undergoes physical, biological and chemical processes to remove contaminants. Sewage treatment comprises a series of steps. The first stage is sedimentation, which serves as primary treatment. An inert basin holds the sewage to allow heavy solids to settle at the bottom. The remaining liquid moves on to the secondary treatment, which comprises activated sludge biotreaters. The last step is a tertiary treatment which may involve chemical and physical disinfection before releasing the treated water. Under sewage treatment pollution control, the wastewater may be kept in aerated lagoons which promote biological oxidation.
Scrubber systems are devices used in the control of air pollution. These scrubbers eliminate particulates from exhaust streams of industries. These devices come in different types such as baffle spray, cyclonic spray, ejector venturi, wet, and mechanically aided, as well as, spray towers. Cyclonic spray scrubbers use a combination of the spray chamber and dry cyclone to remove pollutants. Spray towers and baffle spray scrubbers have similar designs, although the latter has baffles which allow atomization of liquid by gases and aids in the collection of contaminants. Mechanically aided scrubbers work in the same way as others but use motors to provide energy.
Vapor Recovery Systems
These systems recover vapors from fuels stopping them from escaping into the atmosphere. By law, filling stations use this process in controlling pollution and reducing explosive fumes. Industries use vapor recovery in storage tanks. Vapor recovery is mandatory in Australia, which has seen the installation of two categories of these systems. Fuel stations pumping below 500,000 liters annually use VR1, while VR2 is for quantities exceeding 500,000 liters.
This pollution control method uses living plants to remove pollutants from soil, water, and air. Phytoremediation uses plants that can bioaccumulate and degrade contaminants, rendering them harmless. The primary targets of this method are organic pollutants and heavy metals. Some of the plants utilized include pigweed, alpine pennycress, and mustard plants. Phytoremediation uses various processes such as phytodegradation, rhizofiltration, phytostabilization, and biological hydraulic containment.
Effects of Pollution
Pollution has an adverse impact on human health and the environment. Low air quality results in respiratory diseases, such as lung cancer, throat inflammation, and cardiovascular diseases. Water pollution caused illnesses to about ten million Indians and killing more than 1,500 people in 2013. Other health effects include skin rashes, loss of hearing, stress, and high blood pressure. The environment suffers the most from pollution. Some plants fail to photosynthesize due to restricted sunlight caused by too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Many of wildlife species have died as a result of oil spillage. Global warming, as a result of greenhouse gases emissions, has led to melting of ice caps in the polar regions of the planet, which in turn, has caused an increase in sea level. Chlorofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer, and the consistent use of pesticides has led to land infertility.