Pollution is the act of introducing harmful substances to the environment that results in harming the natural surroundings. Substances that cause pollution are referred to as pollutants. These polluting substances are so diverse and they include chemical products, waste material, light, heat, and noise among others. Due to the diverse nature of pollutants in the world, there are various types of pollution such as water pollution, noise pollution, air pollution, soil contamination, radioactive pollution, and plastic pollution. While some pollution occurs through natural events such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires, most of the pollution in the world is caused by human activities.
History of Pollution
The issue of pollution is as old as human civilization. In medieval times, air pollution was caused by open fires in caves. The ancient humans also lacked proper waste disposal systems and rubble heaps from ancient times shows evidence of pollution. In the early days when the human population was still quite low, pollution did not pose a significant threat to the environment, however, as human civilization progressed and the human population rose, environmental pollution became a serious problem. Currently, pollution is a monumental problem in the world mainly caused by rapid industrialization and a sharp population increase. Conservationists and environmental campaigners began pushing for environmental protection in the mid-20th century.
Causes of Pollution
There are numerous causes of pollution all over the world. For example, air pollution may occur from burning waste material, mining, car emissions, agriculture, and warfare. Vehicle emissions are ranked as the leading cause of air pollution in the world. Vehicles also lead to causing noise pollution in the world. Other significant environmental pollutants are chemical factories, oil refineries, big livestock farms, plastic products, pesticides, and heavy metals. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, and droughts also lead to environmental pollution. In rare instances, pollution leads to considerable environmental damage and fatal consequences like in case of nuclear plant accidents and significant oil spills.
Effects of Pollution
Environmental pollution results in diverse harmful effects on living creatures and the surroundings. Air pollution often leads to health problems in humans such as respiratory diseases, heart diseases, and other ailments. Additionally, polluted air results in acidic rain which is harmful in the soil. Water pollution is a significant cause of death in most developing countries. Noise pollution often results in hearing loss, stress, sleeping problems, and even high blood pressure. Environmental pollution caused by chemicals like lead and mercury mostly lead to developmental problems in children and health complications in adults. On the global scale, pollution often results in an imbalance in the ecosystem and elimination of some endangered species. Research has shown that pollution leads to reduced productivity for workers around the world.
Most countries have adopted measures to control pollution or reduce pollution and therefore lessen the harmful effects. The steps are critical to ensuring the environment is not destroyed through unchecked human activity. Some of the measures taken to control pollution are recycling of reusable materials, treating waste before releasing it into the environment, making compost from waste material, and reducing waste products from industrial activities. Additionally, the use of technology in controlling pollution is picking up in most developed nations.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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