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Environmental Pollution: Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Soil Pollution

A pollutant is a substance, such as a chemical substance, or an energy source, such as noise, heat or light.

Environmental Pollution

A pollutant is a substance, such as a chemical substance, or an energy source, such as noise, heat or light, that introduces contaminants into the environment that harm or damage living organisms and the environment. In excess of natural levels, contaminants are substances or energies that are naturally occurring. In the absence of structural or functional damage to the environment, pollution happens when human activity (polluting gas emissions) cannot be processed and neutralized by the natural environment in due course. One reason for pollution is that the natural environment lacks the capacity to decompose the unnatural elements (e.g., anthropogenic pollutants), and on the other hand, humans lack the knowledge they need in order to artificially decompose them. For example, radioactive pollutants may take thousands of years to decompose over years, and it may take thousands of years to decompose over many years if the nature decomposes them slowly.

One of the major sources of ammonia emissions contributing to air pollution is agriculture (livestock farming). Around 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions come from agricultural production. Agriculture produces 32% of the emissions, livestock produces 31%, crops produce 12%, manure management produces 6%, and another emissions amount to 19%. In addition to humans, environmental pollution has adverse effects on animals as well, causing many species of animals to become endangered or even extinct. Environmental pollution is a transboundary problem, which makes it even more challenging to manage. Currently, we are exceeding our current budget of natural resources by a huge margin - if we continue at the current rate of exploitation, the environment will never recover in good time or continue to perform well.

Air Pollution

As a result of the mix of natural and manmade materials that pollute the air, the air is polluted with hazardous materials. Automobile emissions, heating fuel, coal plants, and chemical processing fumes are among the primary sources of human-generated air pollution. Hazardous substances are released into the atmosphere from the environment, such as smoke from wildfires, which are often started by humans, volcanic ash and gas from eruptions, and gases created by the decomposition of organic matter in soils, such as methane.
  • TRAP (Traffic Related Air Pollution) - Most people are aware of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP), which is the result of motor vehicle emissions. This type of air pollution is composed of various components, including ground-level ozone, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and fine particles.
  • Ozone - The gas ozone, when at ground level, is known as smog. It is formed by polluting sources such as automobiles, power plants, gas boilers, refineries, and industrial boilers interacting with sunlight.
  • Motor vehicle emissions and industrial processes contribute to the release of noxious gases, such as CO2, CO, NOx, and SOx.
  • In addition to sulfates, nitrates, carbons, and mineral dusts, PM is composed of chemical compounds. Smoke from cigarettes, diesel and gasoline exhaust, and emissions from burning fossil fuels are all sources of particulate matter.
The term volatile organic compound (VOC) refers to substances that vaporize almost at room temperature. Organic compounds are carbon-containing compounds. Some craft materials, such as glue, also release VOCs, including paint, cleaning supplies, pesticides, and furniture. During combustion, gasoline and natural gas release a lot of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

Hydrocarbons containing carbon and hydrogen are known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Within the Report on Carcinogens, 15 of the more than 100 PAHs that are prevalent in the environment have been identified. Several industrial processes, including production of , steel, iron, and rubber products, and power generation, result in PAHs as by-products as well. Particulate matter is also a source of PAHs.

Water Pollution

A water body becomes polluted when toxic substances enter it and dissolve in the water, float in the water or accumulate on its surface. It is the result of these and other harmful substances that pollute water. These pollutants do not only endanger aquatic ecosystems; they seep through and are absorbed into groundwater, which may end up contaminating our household water we drink.

A number of factors are responsible for water pollution, city sewage and industrial waste being among the most polluting. Pollutants that enter the water supply directly or indirectly through soils or groundwater systems, or rain, are considered indirect sources of water pollution. Agricultural residues as well as industrial wastes improperly disposed of are found in the soils and groundwaters.

Various types of pollutants exist, including radioactive, organic, inorganic, and others. In fact, there are far too many contaminants in water to be able to list them all.

Soil Pollution

A pollutant (pollutant or contaminant) is one that is found in soil at high enough levels to cause harm to humans and/or the environment. When contaminants, which exist naturally in soil, are present in amounts that exceed the levels at which they should be present, soil pollution is still considered to have occurred. Regardless of whether a soil is polluted or not, it contains a variety of naturally occurring compounds (contaminants). Inorganic contaminants (such as metals) as well as organic compounds (such as lipids, proteins, DNA, fatty acids, hydrocarbons, PAHs, alcohols, etc.) are all examples of contaminants.

These substances are primarily produced by soil microbes and organisms (e.g., plants and animals). As well as compounds getting into the soil from the atmosphere, rain water, wind disturbances, and shallow groundwater getting into the soil, various compounds find their way to the soil from the water in surface water bodies. A pollutant is generated when the amounts of soil contaminants exceed the natural levels in the soil (what is normally found in soils). Soil pollution can be caused by either natural or anthropogenic factors.

Soil pollution is caused by contaminants and pollutants. Human activity and biochemical pollutants are the main causes of soil pollution. These pollutants produce a wide range of soil contaminants. Pesticides used in agriculture to contaminate crop plants, urban wastes, and radioactive emissions are some of the ways humans pollute soil.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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