Pollution has become a global menace with statistics indicating that water pollution causes over 1.8 million deaths, while air pollution causes a staggering 5 million deaths. As one of the leading risk factors for disease burden, pollution has become a significant challenge. In 2017, for instance, air pollution ranked number 4 on the death risk factor, after high blood pressure, smoking and high blood sugar. The causes of pollution vary across the five major types of pollution categorized as air, water, soil, light, and noise pollution. Fossil fuel is a significant cause of air, water and soil pollution. On the other hand, fumes, effluents, and sound from industries cause air, water and noise pollution. In general, human activities in farms, towns, and factories are all responsible for the rising pollution levels. The primary concern about pollution, however, are the effects on human, animal and plant life as well as upsetting the ecosystem. Understanding the causes and consequences of pollution provide the basis of stemming pollution.
The major causative factors can be categorized depending on whether they primarily affect the ambient air or household air. For ambient air pollution, the causes included the burning of fossil fuels, including petroleum and coal (Haberzettl, O'Toole, Bhatnagar, & Conklin, 2016). Besides, other types of exhausts from factories and industries, mining operations, and agricultural activities are part of the causative factors. Household air pollution mostly arises from the fuel used for cooking and lighting, primarily and developing countries (World Health Organization, 2016).
Water pollution is mainly caused by the discharging of chemicals and effluents into bodies of water. Chemicals from agricultural activities are often washed downstream by rain. Besides, some factories and industries directly discharge their effluent into rivers and lakes (Denchak, 2018). On the other hand, drilling for petroleum and marine transport at times causes massive oil spillage. Soil erosion is also a significant contributor to water pollution as the sediments get washed into streams and rivers.
Soil pollution arises mostly from industrial waste and the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural activity. Besides, the pollution resulting from garbage dumping is a primary concern in cities and urban centres (Mishra, Mohammad, & Roychoudhury, 2015). Soil pollution equally occurs through deforestation, which leads to soil exposure and permits soil erosion.
Lastly, noise and light pollution affects a lesser percentage of the global population. It is notably higher in urban civilizations due to the factories and industries that operate on machines and equipment (McMahon, Rohr, & Bernal, 2017). Besides, the roar of motor vehicles' of engines and loud music from entertainment equipment causes noise pollution. Explosions from mines, guns and rockets also contribute to noise pollution. For light pollution, blinking neon lights and blaring lights from motor vehicles are some of the major causes of light pollution.
Effects on the Environment
Effects of air pollution include the environmental impact as well as affecting the plant and animal life (Lelieveld, Evans, Fnais, Giannadaki & Pozzer, 2015). Smog, for instance, reduces the visibility level for motorists and aviators. Additionally, pollution causes low air quality which increases the risk of respiratory diseases such as asthma (World Health Organization, 2016). Air pollution also leads to the depletion of the ozone layer and the formation of acid rain which has effects on both plants, aquatic life and even corrodes buildings.
Effets on Water ReservorsEffects of water pollution include the entry of heavy metals such as mercury and lead into the food chain through fish and other aquatic animals. Some of the minerals and chemicals detected in polluted water samples have been known to be carcinogenic. Moreover, oil spillage impairs the flight and swimming ability of aquatic wildlife (Denchak, 2018). In some cases, the oil creates an airtight seal, thus denying the marine animals oxygen and leading to suffocation (Denchak, 2018). When washed ashore, water pollutants are both an eyesore such as on beaches and a threat to the land ecosystem.
Effects on Soil
One of the significant effects of soil pollution is the loss of soil fertility hence resulting to lower agricultural productivity. Besides, it poses a hazard to microorganisms that depend on the delicate ecosystem. Soil pollution has also played an impact on climate change, including the rising global temperatures. Finally, it has an effect on human health since the chemicals retained in the soil profile at times get into the food chain leading to carcinogenic effects. Although soil pollution may not be as rampant and deadly as water and air pollution, it nevertheless harms the entire ecosystem.
Effect on the Sound Transmission
The impact of noise pollution includes hearing impairment or deafness in extreme cases (McMahon et al., 2017). Noise pollution also disturbs the tranquil nature of the ecosystem. Light pollution, on the other hand, can cause visual impairment and blindness in extreme cases. Just like air pollution, light pollution is mostly concentrated on urban settlements.
Overall, all factors considered, the causes and effects of pollution vary greatly. However, the results across the pollution are undesirable and often harmful to animal and plant life. While some of the pollution effects are temporary and reversible, most of them are adverse and hard to reverse. Furthermore, despite the variation of the origin of pollution, the results, especially for water and air, are global and dire. However, the concentration of the impact of pollution is likely to be higher in regions of their incidence, as is the case for ambient air pollution. The shared dependency on a healthy ecosystem, thus calls for the need to conserve the environment.
Denchak, M. (2018). Water pollution: Everything you need to know. Retrieved from https://www.nrdc.org/stories/water-pollution-everything-you-need-know
Haberzettl, P., O'Toole, T. E., Bhatnagar, A., & Conklin, D. J. (2016). Exposure to fine particulate air pollution causes vascular insulin resistance by inducing pulmonary oxidative stress. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(12), 1830-1839.
Lelieveld, J., Evans, J. S., Fnais, M., Giannadaki, D., & Pozzer, A. (2015). The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale. Nature, 525(7569), 367-371.
McMahon, T. A., Rohr, J. R., & Bernal, X. E. (2017). Light and noise pollution interact to disrupt interspecific interactions. Ecology, 98(5), 1290-1299.
Mishra, R. K., Mohammad, N., & Roychoudhury, N. (2015). Soil pollution: Causes, effects, and control. Tropical Forest Research Institute, 3(1), 20-30.
World Health Organization. (2016). Ambient air pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/250141/9789241511353-eng.pdf?sequen
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