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Water Pollution and How it Harms the Environment

Global pollution is a problem. Pollution can spread to remote areas where no one lives, despite the fact that urban areas are typically more polluted than the countryside. Air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution are the three main categories of pollution. Some contaminated water has a terrible smell, a muddy appearance, and floating trash. Some contaminated water appears clean, but it contains dangerous substances that you can't see or smell.

Together, developed and developing nations must fight to conserve the environment for present and future generations. Today, we dig deep into the subject of Water Pollution. This article can be an introduction to water pollution for kids as we will read many things such as the causes of water pollution further in the article.

What is Water Pollution?

Water contamination occurs when pollutants pollute water sources and make the water unfit for use in drinking, cooking, cleaning, swimming, and other activities. Chemicals, garbage, bacteria, and parasites are examples of pollutants. Water is eventually damaged by all types of pollution. Lakes and oceans become contaminated by air pollution. Land contamination may contaminate an underground stream, a river, and ultimately the ocean. As a result, trash thrown on an empty lot can eventually contaminate a water source.

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Water Pollution

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The water cycle, called  the hydrological cycle, involves the following steps:

Evaporation- Because of the sun's heat, the water bodies such as oceans, lakes, seas etc., get heated up, and water evaporates in the air, forming water vapours.

Transpiration- Like evaporation, the plants and trees also lose water from them which goes to the atmosphere. This process is called transpiration.

Condensation- As the water evaporates, it starts to become cool because of the cold atmosphere in the air and because of this cooling down of water leads to the formation of clouds.

Precipitation- Because of the high movements of the wings, the clouds start to collide and then fall back to the earth’s surface in the form of rain. Sometimes they also fall back in the form of snow, hail, sleet etc., depending upon the temperature.

Runoff or Infiltration- After precipitation, the water either flows to the water bodies called runoff or is absorbed into the soil, called infiltration.

Causes of Water Pollution

There are many reasons for water pollution. Some of the reasons are directly affected by water pollution and some indirectly. Many factories and industries are dumping contaminated water, chemicals, and heavy metals into major waterways as a result of direct water pollution. 

One more reason for water pollution is the use of modern techniques in farms. Farmers apply nutrients such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium in the form of chemical fertilizers, manure, and sludge. It causes farms to discharge large quantities of agrochemicals, organic matter, and saline drainage into water bodies. It indirectly affects water pollution.

Pollutants can be of various types such as organic, inorganic, radioactive etc. Water pollutants are discharged either from one point from pipes, channels etc., which are called point sources or from various other sources. They can be agricultural areas, industries etc., called dispersed sources. 

Some of the major forms of water pollutants are as follows:

Sewage- Domestic sewage from homes contains various forms of pathogens that threaten the human body. Sewage treatment reduces the risk of pathogens, but this risk is not eliminated. 

Domestic sewage majorly contains nitrates and phosphates, and excess of these substances allows the algae to grow on the surface of water bodies. Due to this, the clean water bodies become nutrient-rich water body and then slowly, the oxygen level of water bodies reduces. This is called eutrophication or cultural eutrophication (if this step rapidly takes place by the activities of humans). This leads to the early death of water bodies.

Toxins- The industrial or factory wastes that are not disposed of properly and contain chemicals such as mercury and lead are disposed of in the water bodies making the bodies toxic, radioactive, explosive and cancerous.

Sediments- Sediments are the result of soil erosion that is formed in the water bodies. These sediments imbalances the water bodies ecologically. They also interfere in the reproductive cycle of various aquatic animals living in the water.

Thermal pollution- Water bodies get polluted because of heat, and excess heat reduces the oxygen level of the water bodies. Some of the species of fish cannot live in such water bodies with very low oxygen levels. The disposal of cold waters from the power plants leads to increased thermal pollution in the water bodies.

Petroleum oil pollution- The runoff of oil into the water bodies, either accidentally as happened in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, or intentionally, leads to an increase in water pollution.

As water is an important element of human health, polluted water directly affects the human body. Water pollution causes various diseases like typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, cancer, etc. Water pollution damages the plants and aquatic animals present in the river by reducing the oxygen content from the water. Polluted water washes the essential nutrients which plants need out of the soil and also leaves large amounts of aluminium in the soil, which can be harmful to plants. 

Wastewater and sewage are a by-product of daily life and thus produced by each household through various activities like using soap, toilets, and detergents. Such sewage contains chemicals and bacteria which are harmful to human life and environmental health. Water pollution also leads to an imbalance in our ecosystem. Lastly, it also affects the food chain as the toxins in the water bodies are consumed by aquatic animals like fish, crabs etc., and then humans consume those animals forming turmoil. 

Sometimes our tradition also becomes a cause for water pollution. Some people throw the statues of deities, flowers, pots, and ashes in rivers.

There are various standards to define water quality standards. Water meant for swimming may not be clean enough for drinking, or water meant for bathing may not be good for cooking. Therefore, there are different water standards for defined:

Stream standards- Standards that define streams, lakes, oceans or seas based on their maximum use.

Effluent standards- Define the specific standards for the level of contaminants or effluents allowed during the final discharge of those into the water bodies.

Drinking water standards- Define the level of contamination allowed in water that will be supplied for drinking or cooking in the domestic areas.

Different countries regulate their water quality standards through different acts and amendments.

While many of the solutions for water pollution need to be applied on a broader macro-level for that individual, companies, and communities can have a significant and responsible impact on the water quality. Companies, factories have to dispose of leftover chemicals and containers properly as per the product instructions. Farmers also have to reduce the use of nitrates and phosphates from fertilizers, pesticides, and contamination of groundwater. 

The Swachh Bharat Mission of the government had led to reduced groundwater contamination. Under the Namami Ganga program, the government has initiated several major projects to clean Ganga. Along with all these steps, conservation of water is the very basic and important step towards water conservation and should be followed globally, treatment of sewage before their disposal in the water bodies and using environment-friendly products that do not form toxins when dissolved in water. These are some small steps that have to be taken into consideration by every human being.

As we all know, “Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” We have to save water. We must keep the water clean. If everyone will follow their responsibility against water to protect it from getting polluted then it will be easy to get clean and healthy drinking water. Clean water is a must for us and our kids' present, future, and healthy environment. 

We cannot just live with contaminated waters filled with toxins and no oxygen. We cannot see our wildlife being destroyed and therefore, immediate steps have to be taken by groups of people to first clean the already contaminated water bodies and then keep a check on all the surrounding water bodies. Small steps by every individual can make a huge difference in controlling water pollution.

Water Pollution Prevention

Conserve Water 

Our first priority should be to conserve water. Water wasting could be a big problem for the entire world, but we are just now becoming aware of it.

Sewage Treatment 

Cleaning up waste materials before disposing of them in waterways reduces pollution on a large scale. By lowering its dangerous elements, this wastewater will be used in other sectors or in agriculture.

Usage of Eco-Friendly Materials

We will reduce the amount of pollution produced by choosing soluble products that do not alter to become pollutants.

Water contamination is the discharge of pollutants into the water body, where they dissolve, are suspended, are deposited on the bottom, and collect to the point where they hinder the aquatic ecosystem's ability to function. Water contamination is brought on by toxic compounds that easily dissolve and combine with it and come from factories, municipalities, and farms.

Healthy ecosystems depend on a complex network of organisms, including animals, plants, bacteria, and fungi, all of which interact with one another either directly or indirectly. In this article, we read about water pollution, its causes and prevention. With this, we have come to the end of our article, in case of any other doubts, feel free to ask in the comments.


FAQs on Water Pollution Essay

1. What are the effects of water pollution?

Water pollution has a great impact on human health. Water pollution kills. It's been recorded that in 2015 nearly 1.8 million people died because of water pollution. People with low income are exposed to contaminated water coming out from the industries. Presence of disease causing pathogens in drinking water are the major cause of illness which includes cholera, giardia, and typhoid. Water pollution not only affects human health but also our environment by causing algal bloom in a lake or marine environment. Water pollution also causes eutrophication which suffocates plants and animals and thus causes dead zones. Chemicals and heavy metals from industrial and municipal wastewater contaminate waterways and harm aquatic life.

2. What are the causes of Water pollution?

Water being a universal solvent is vulnerable to pollution as it dissolves more substances than any other liquid on earth. Therefore, water is easily polluted. Toxic substances from farms, towns, and factories readily dissolve into water and mix with it, resulting in water pollution. Agricultural pollution is one of the major causes of contamination in rivers and streams. The use of excessive fertilizers, pesticides, and animal waste from farms and livestock operations lets the rain wash the nutrients and pathogens—such as bacteria and viruses—into our waterways. The other major cause of water pollution is used water,  termed as wastewater which comes from our sinks, showers, toilets and from commercial, industrial, and agricultural activities. It's been reported that the world's 80% wastewater flows back into the environment without being treated or reused. Oil spills and radioactive waste also cause water pollution to a great extent.

3. How to prevent water pollution?

It is important to keep our water bodies clean so we can take the following preventive measures to prevent from water pollution:

Chemicals like bleach, paint, paint thinner, ammonia, and many chemicals are becoming a serious problem. Dumping toxic chemicals down the drain or flushing them down the toilet can cause water pollution. Thus, proper disposal is important. Also, household chemicals need to be recycled.

Avoid buying products that contain persistent and dangerous chemicals. Buying non-toxic cleaners and biodegradable cleaners and pesticides cut down on water pollution.

Prevent from pouring fats or greasy substances down the drain as it might clog the drain resulting in the dumping of waste into yards or basement which can contaminate the local water bodies.

4. What is the role of medical institutions in polluting the water?

Pharmaceutical pollution affects aquatic life and thus there is a need to take preventive measures. Consumers are responsible for winding up pharmaceutical and personal care products in lakes, rivers, and streams. There's a lot of unused and expired medication that can potentially get into the water if not disposed of properly.

5. What are the major kinds of pollution?

The three main types of pollution are air pollution, water pollution or soil pollution. Some artificial pollution is also there, such as noise pollution. Factors leading to such pollution include:

Air Pollution: Industrial emissions, fires, traffic and transportation, burning of chemical waste, etc.

Water Pollution: No proper sewage disposal, pesticides in farms leaking into water bodies, industrial waste dumped into water bodies, etc.

Soil Pollution:  Oil spills, acid rains, irresponsible disposal of trash, chemical waste, etc.

Noise Pollution: Honking of horns, construction activities, loud parties, etc.

Essay on Water Pollution

Here we have shared the Essay on Water Pollution in detail so you can use it in your exam or assignment of 150, 250, 400, 500, or 1000 words.

You can use this Essay on Water Pollution in any assignment or project whether you are in school (class 10th or 12th), college, or preparing for answer writing in competitive exams. 

Topics covered in this article.

Essay on Water Pollution in 150-250 words

Essay on water pollution in 300-400 words, essay on water pollution in 500-1000 words.

Water pollution is a pressing environmental issue that poses a significant threat to ecosystems and human health. It occurs when harmful substances, such as chemicals, industrial waste, or sewage, contaminate water bodies, including rivers, lakes, oceans, and groundwater sources.

Water pollution has devastating consequences on aquatic life. Toxic pollutants can disrupt the balance of ecosystems, leading to the decline of fish and other marine species. Additionally, contaminated water can spread diseases to animals and humans who depend on these water sources for drinking, irrigation, and recreation.

Industrial activities, improper waste disposal, agricultural runoff, and urbanization contribute to water pollution. Efforts to reduce water pollution include stricter regulations on waste disposal, the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, and the development of advanced wastewater treatment technologies.

Awareness and individual responsibility are crucial in combating water pollution. Simple actions like properly disposing of waste, conserving water, and avoiding the use of harmful chemicals can make a significant difference. Education and advocacy are essential to raising public awareness about the importance of protecting water resources and implementing sustainable practices.

In conclusion, water pollution is a grave environmental issue that threatens aquatic ecosystems and human well-being. It is a global challenge that requires collective action and responsible behavior. By implementing effective regulations, adopting sustainable practices, and promoting awareness, we can safeguard our water resources and ensure a healthier and more sustainable future for all.

Title: Water Pollution – A Growing Threat to Ecosystems and Human Well-being

Introduction :

Water pollution is a grave environmental issue that arises from the contamination of water bodies by harmful substances. It poses a significant threat to aquatic ecosystems and human health. This essay explores the causes and consequences of water pollution, as well as the measures required to address and prevent it.

Causes of Water Pollution

Water pollution can be attributed to various human activities and natural factors. Industrial discharge, improper waste disposal, agricultural runoff, oil spills, sewage, and chemical pollutants are among the leading causes. Rapid urbanization, population growth, and inadequate infrastructure for waste management contribute to the problem. Additionally, natural phenomena like sedimentation and erosion can exacerbate water pollution.

Consequences of Water Pollution

Water pollution has far-reaching ecological and human health implications. Contaminated water disrupts aquatic ecosystems, leading to the decline of fish and other marine species. It affects biodiversity, disrupts food chains, and damages habitats. Moreover, polluted water sources pose significant health risks to humans. Consuming or coming into contact with contaminated water can lead to waterborne diseases, gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, and even long-term health impacts.

Prevention and Remediation

Addressing water pollution requires a multi-faceted approach. Stricter regulations and enforcement regarding industrial discharge and waste management are essential. Promoting sustainable agricultural practices, such as reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and implementing proper irrigation techniques, can minimize agricultural runoff. Developing and implementing advanced wastewater treatment technologies is crucial to ensure that domestic and industrial effluents are properly treated before being discharged into water bodies.

Individual and Collective Responsibility:

Preventing water pollution is a shared responsibility. Individuals can contribute by practicing responsible waste disposal, conserving water, and avoiding the use of harmful chemicals. Public awareness campaigns and education programs play a vital role in promoting responsible behavior and fostering a culture of environmental stewardship.

Conclusion :

Water pollution is a critical environmental issue that jeopardizes the health of ecosystems and humans. It demands collective action and responsible behavior. By addressing the root causes of water pollution, implementing effective regulations, and promoting individual and collective responsibility, we can safeguard water resources and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

Title: Water Pollution – A Looming Crisis Threatening Ecosystems and Human Well-being

Water pollution is a pressing environmental issue that poses a significant threat to ecosystems, biodiversity, and human health. It occurs when harmful substances contaminate water bodies, making them unfit for their intended uses. This essay delves into the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to water pollution, emphasizing the urgent need for collective action to address this global crisis.

Water pollution arises from various sources, both human-induced and natural. Human activities play a significant role in polluting water bodies. Industrial discharge, untreated sewage, agricultural runoff, oil spills, mining activities, and improper waste disposal are among the leading causes. Industrial wastewater often contains heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and organic pollutants, which can have devastating effects on aquatic ecosystems and human health. Agricultural runoff, laden with pesticides, fertilizers, and animal waste, contaminates water bodies and contributes to eutrophication, depleting oxygen levels and harming aquatic life.

The consequences of water pollution are far-reaching and encompass ecological, economic, and health impacts. Aquatic ecosystems bear the brunt of pollution, with devastating consequences for biodiversity and food chains. Pollutants disrupt aquatic habitats, decrease water quality, and lead to the decline of fish and other marine species. This ecological imbalance has ripple effects throughout the ecosystem, affecting the entire food web.

Water pollution also has severe implications for human health. Contaminated water sources pose significant risks, as they can transmit waterborne diseases, including cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and hepatitis. Communities that rely on polluted water for drinking, cooking, and bathing are particularly vulnerable. Prolonged exposure to polluted water can lead to various health issues, such as gastrointestinal problems, skin irritations, respiratory illnesses, and even long-term health effects like cancer.

Furthermore, water pollution has economic ramifications. Polluted water bodies reduce the availability of clean water for agriculture, industry, and domestic use. This leads to increased costs for water treatment, agricultural productivity losses, and economic disruptions in sectors that rely heavily on water resources, such as fisheries and tourism.

Solutions and Mitigation Strategies

Addressing water pollution requires comprehensive strategies and collaborative efforts. Governments, industries, communities, and individuals all have a role to play in mitigating pollution and safeguarding water resources.

a. Regulatory Measures

B. wastewater treatment, c. sustainable agriculture, d. waste management, e. education and awareness.

Effective regulations and enforcement mechanisms are essential to control and prevent water pollution. Governments should establish stringent standards for industrial effluents and enforce penalties for non-compliance. Laws should be enacted to ensure proper waste disposal and treatment practices. Additionally, zoning regulations can help prevent pollution by restricting industrial activities near sensitive water bodies.

Investing in advanced wastewater treatment infrastructure is crucial. Industries should implement appropriate treatment technologies to remove pollutants from their effluents before discharge. Municipalities must prioritize the treatment of domestic sewage to prevent contamination of water bodies. Developing countries, in particular, need support and resources to build and upgrade their wastewater treatment facilities.

Adopting sustainable agricultural practices can significantly reduce pollution from agricultural activities. Encouraging the use of organic farming methods, integrated pest management, and precision irrigation can minimize the reliance on harmful pesticides and fertilizers. Proper manure management and implementing buffer zones along water bodies can also mitigate nutrient runoff and protect water quality.

Improper waste disposal is a major contributor to water pollution. Implementing comprehensive waste management systems that include recycling, proper landfill management, and promotion of waste reduction strategies is crucial. Communities should have access to adequate waste collection services, and educational campaigns can raise awareness about the importance of responsible waste disposal.

Public education and awareness programs play a vital role in addressing water pollution. Promoting water conservation practices, encouraging responsible behavior, and highlighting the link between water pollution and human health can empower individuals to take action. Educational campaigns should target schools, communities, and industries to foster a culture of environmental stewardship.

Water pollution is a critical global issue that poses severe threats to ecosystems, biodiversity, and human well-being. It demands collective action and sustainable practices to safeguard water resources. Through stringent regulations, advanced wastewater treatment, sustainable agriculture, proper waste management, and education, we can mitigate water pollution and preserve this vital resource for future generations. By recognizing the urgency of this crisis and working collaboratively, we can ensure a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable water future.

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Essay on Water Pollution: Samples in 200, 500 Words

essay about water and air pollution

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  • Mar 23, 2024

Essay on water pollution

Essay on Water Pollution: Water pollution occurs when human activities introduce toxic substances into freshwater ecosystems such as lakes, rivers, oceans, and groundwater, leading to the degradation of water quality. The combination of harmful chemicals with water has a negative impact on these ecosystems. 

Various human actions, particularly those affecting land, water, and underwater surfaces, contribute to this pollution, disrupting the natural supply of clean water and posing a significant danger to all forms of life, including humans.

Table of Contents

  • 1 What is Water Pollution?
  • 2.1 Contaminants 
  • 2.2 Solution 
  • 3.1 Reasons for Water Pollution
  • 3.2 Methods of Water Pollution Management
  • 3.3 Real-Life Encounter

Also Read: Types of Water Pollution

What is Water Pollution?

When many pollutants such as garbage, chemicals, bacteria, household waste, industrial waste, etc get mixed in the water resources and make the water unfit for cooking, drinking, cleaning, etc. it is known as water pollution. Water pollution damages the quality of water. lakes, water streams, rivers, etc may become polluted and eventually they will pollute the oceans. All this will directly or indirectly affect the lives of us humans and the animals deteriorating our health.

Essay on Water Pollution in 200 Words

Water is plentiful on Earth, present both above and beneath its surface. A variety of water bodies, such as rivers, ponds, seas, and oceans, can be found on the planet’s surface. Despite Earth’s ability to naturally replenish its water, we are gradually depleting and mishandling this abundant resource. 

Although water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and land constitutes the remaining 29%, the rapid expansion of water pollution is impacting both marine life and humans. 


Water pollution stems significantly from city sewage and industrial waste discharge. Indirect sources of water pollution include contaminants that reach water supplies via soil, groundwater systems, and precipitation. 

Chemical pollutants pose a greater challenge in terms of removal compared to visible impurities, which can be filtered out through physical cleaning. The addition of chemicals alters water’s properties, rendering it unsafe and potentially lethal for consumption.


Prioritizing water infrastructure enhancement is vital for sustainable water management, with a focus on water efficiency and conservation. 

Furthermore, rainwater harvesting and reuse serve as effective strategies to curb water pollution. Reclaimed wastewater and collected rainwater alleviate stress on groundwater and other natural water sources. 

Groundwater recharge, which transfers water from surface sources to groundwater, is a well-known approach to mitigate water scarcity. These measures collectively contribute to safeguarding the planet’s water resources for present and future generations.

Here is a list of Major Landforms of the Earth !

Essay on Water Pollution in 500 Words

The term “water pollution” is employed when human or natural factors lead to contamination of bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and oceans. Responsible management is now imperative to address this significant environmental concern. The primary sources of water contamination are human-related activities like urbanization, industrialization, deforestation, improper waste disposal, and the establishment of landfills.

Reasons for Water Pollution

The availability of freshwater on our planet is limited, and pollution only increases this scarcity. Every year, a substantial amount of fresh water is lost due to industrial and various other types of pollution. Pollutants encompass visible waste items of varying sizes as well as intangible, hazardous, and lethal compounds.

Numerous factories are situated in proximity to water bodies, utilizing freshwater to transport their waste. This industrial waste carries inherent toxicity, jeopardizing the well-being of both plant and animal life. Individuals living close to polluted water sources frequently suffer from skin problems, respiratory ailments, and occasionally even life-threatening health conditions.

Water contamination is also intensified by urban waste and sewage, adding to the problem. Each household generates considerable waste annually, including plastic, chemicals, wood, and other materials. Inadequate waste disposal methods result in this refusal to infiltrate aquatic ecosystems like rivers, lakes, and streams, leading to pollution.

Methods of Water Pollution Management

Raising awareness about the causes and consequences of water pollution is crucial in significantly reducing its prevalence. Encouraging community or organizational clean-up initiatives on a weekly or monthly basis plays a pivotal role. 

To eradicate water contamination completely, stringent legislation needs to be formulated and diligently enforced. Rigorous oversight would promote accountability, potentially deterring individuals and groups from polluting. Each individual should recognize the impact of their daily actions and take steps to contribute to a better world for generations to come.

Real-Life Encounter

My affection for my town has always been heightened by its abundant lakes, rivers, and forests. During one of my walks alongside the river that flowed through my village, I was struck by the unusual hues swirling within the water. The once-familiar crystal-clear blue had been replaced by a murky brown shade, accompanied by a potent, unpleasant odour. Intrigued, I decided to investigate further, descending to the riverbank for a closer look at the source of the peculiar colours and smells. Upon closer inspection, I observed peculiar foam bubbles floating on the water’s surface.

Suddenly, a commotion behind me caught my attention, and I turned to witness a group of people hastening toward the river. Their frantic shouts and vigorous gestures conveyed their panic, prompting me to realize that a grave situation was unfolding. As the group reached the river, they were confronted with the distressing sight of numerous lifeless fish floating on the water’s surface. 

Following a comprehensive investigation, it was revealed that a local factory had been releasing toxic chemicals into the river, resulting in extensive pollution and the devastation of the ecosystem. This investigation left me stunned and disheartened, acknowledging the significant effort required to restore the river to its own form.

Related Reads:-     

A. Water pollution refers to the contamination of water bodies, such as rivers, lakes, oceans, and groundwater, due to the introduction of harmful substances. These substances can include chemicals, industrial waste, sewage, and pollutants that adversely affect the quality of water, making it unsafe for human consumption and harmful to aquatic life.

A. The primary sources of water pollution include city sewage and industrial waste discharge. Chemical contaminants from factories and agricultural runoff, as well as oil spills and plastic waste, contribute significantly to water pollution. Runoff from paved surfaces and improper waste disposal also play a role in introducing pollutants into water bodies.

A. Water pollution has far-reaching consequences. It poses a threat to aquatic ecosystems by harming marine life, disrupting food chains, and damaging habitats. Additionally, contaminated water can lead to the spread of waterborne diseases among humans. Toxic chemicals in polluted water can cause serious health issues, affecting the skin, and respiratory systems, and even leading to long-term illnesses. 

This brings us to the end of our blog on Essay on Water Pollution. Hope you find this information useful. For more information on such informative topics for your school, visit our  essay writing  and follow  Leverage Edu

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A bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communication graduate, I am an enthusiastic writer. I love to write about impactful content which can help others. I love to binge watch and listen to music during my free time.

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Air and Water Pollution in the Modern World

Air and water pollutions are the two major pollutions experienced in our day to day activities. Air pollution entails various contaminants in the atmosphere. Air pollution is well known to affect the human health and environment considerably. Air pollution occurs inform of air gases pollutants or particles that can occur either in limited scales such as indoor air pollutants or can happen in large scales and become an international concern. Some of the gases that have been linked with air pollution include carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen oxide among others (Weather Almanac, 2002). The major sources of air pollutants are exhaust fumes from automotive and industrial combustions. The current increased use of petroleum products has enhanced air pollution greatly. On the other hand, water Pollution occurs when a lot of water pollutants such as chemicals or organic matter are added to the water. Water pollution can result during rainy season when the surface runoff carries agricultural chemicals and herbicides to neighboring water bodies. Consequently water pollution results when industries dispose their waste into water bodies (Green Sowers solutions, n.d). Poor sewerage system is also associated with water pollution and especially in the urban areas. Poor sewerage systems, automotive and industrial wastes are the major causes of water and air pollutions in Bangkok, Bangladeshi and Mexico City.

In many cities worldwide air pollution has been an issue of concern for a very long time. Air pollution has been enhanced by the high increase in population in the 21 st century. The Bangkok City the capital city of Thailand is among the cities that have been greatly affected by air pollution as a result of their amplified pollution.Bangkok air pollution is associated with the many vehicles found there. The number of vehicles in Bangkok increased from 600,000 in 1980 to 5,614,294 vehicles by 2007. Nowadays the number of vehicles in Bangkok has greatly augmented since then. The high number of vehicles in the city has greatly promoted air pollution in the area. Similarly in Bangkok City, water pollution is very widespread. This is because the city does not have appropriate sewerage system. This makes domestic wastes being discharged to public drains without first being treated. The household septic tanks that are found in Bangkok have outlets that drain to public canals or drains. Moreover some of the septic tanks found in Bangkok are designed to permit the liquid waste to percolate into the ground. The soil in Bangkok is usually clay soil which has a low permeability order. Similarly, the groundwater table is generally high which results to constant mix of the ground water and the leaching pit. This makes most of underground waters in Bangkok being contaminated because many people use indoor flush latrines that are linked to septic tanks or leaching pits.

In Bangkok domestic waste is more prevalent than the industrial waste. The reason behind the low industrial water pollution in the region is due to good government intervention measures that have been directed towards Bangkok industries. The government encourages industries to establish their plants outside the Bangkok city. The government does so by offering the industries incentives inform of tax brakes and duty exemption (Bangkok’s strategy to tackle air pollution, n.d).

Air and water pollution in Bangladesh is very prevalent. The households in Bangladesh are noted for their extensive use of bio mass for cooking. The fuel causes a lot of indoor pollution that has greatly enhanced the high prevalence of respiratory illness in the area. Bangladesh is known to have high percentage of water supply that rates at 97%. Most of its water supplied comes from underground water which has nowadays faced a lot of scrutiny as it is linked with high arsenic contamination (World Health Organization, n.d).

The Mexico City is renowned by its history of air quality problem. The poor air quality is as a result of its location which is a plateau that is sandwiched between mountains. Despite the many government interventions in Mexico City such as requiring new automobiles being fitted with pollution control devices such as catalytic converters that reduce the content of sulfur of gasoline, the quality of the air in Mexico City is still below the recommended quality. The Mexico City ecology makes the air in the City being characterized by cool ground air that is trapped by a warmer layer of air.

Despite the high pollution that is linked with the Mexico City, the city is well known for its unpolluted water. The city has good sewerage system and very good water treatment and delivery facilities. The water treatment and sewerage systems in Mexico City resemble those systems found in U.S. The water in the city is first treated in concentrated area before being distributed to every household in the region (Michaels, 2009).

Poor sewerage system, high pollution from industries and automobiles are among the major causes of air and water pollutions in Bangkok, Bangladeshi and Mexico City. Thus, respective governments require installing appropriate mechanism to regulate the problem.

List of References

Bangkok’s strategy to tackle air pollution (n.d). Web.

Green Sowers solutions (n.d) Water Pollution . Web.

Michaels, P. (2009). Air Pollution in Mexico. Web.

Weather Almanac. (2002). Air and Water Pollution. Web.

World Health Organization (n.d). Sustainable Development & Healthy Environment. Web.

  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2023, November 23). Air and Water Pollution in the Modern World.

"Air and Water Pollution in the Modern World." IvyPanda , 23 Nov. 2023,

IvyPanda . (2023) 'Air and Water Pollution in the Modern World'. 23 November.

IvyPanda . 2023. "Air and Water Pollution in the Modern World." November 23, 2023.

1. IvyPanda . "Air and Water Pollution in the Modern World." November 23, 2023.


IvyPanda . "Air and Water Pollution in the Modern World." November 23, 2023.

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  • Air Pollution: The Problem’ Review
  • Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) North Houston Highway Project
  • The Involve of Black People in the Seeking of Climate Change

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Air Pollution: Everything You Need to Know

How smog, soot, greenhouse gases, and other top air pollutants are affecting the planet—and your health.

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What is air pollution?

What causes air pollution, effects of air pollution, air pollution in the united states, air pollution and environmental justice, controlling air pollution, how to help reduce air pollution, how to protect your health.

Air pollution  refers to the release of pollutants into the air—pollutants that are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole. According to the  World Health Organization (WHO) , each year, indoor and outdoor air pollution is responsible for nearly seven million deaths around the globe. Ninety-nine percent of human beings currently breathe air that exceeds the WHO’s guideline limits for pollutants, with those living in low- and middle-income countries suffering the most. In the United States, the  Clean Air Act , established in 1970, authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to safeguard public health by regulating the emissions of these harmful air pollutants.

“Most air pollution comes from energy use and production,” says  John Walke , director of the Clean Air team at NRDC. Driving a car on gasoline, heating a home with oil, running a power plant on  fracked gas : In each case, a fossil fuel is burned and harmful chemicals and gases are released into the air.

“We’ve made progress over the last 50 years in improving air quality in the United States, thanks to the Clean Air Act. But climate change will make it harder in the future to meet pollution standards, which are designed to  protect health ,” says Walke.

Air pollution is now the world’s fourth-largest risk factor for early death. According to the 2020  State of Global Air  report —which summarizes the latest scientific understanding of air pollution around the world—4.5 million deaths were linked to outdoor air pollution exposures in 2019, and another 2.2 million deaths were caused by indoor air pollution. The world’s most populous countries, China and India, continue to bear the highest burdens of disease.

“Despite improvements in reducing global average mortality rates from air pollution, this report also serves as a sobering reminder that the climate crisis threatens to worsen air pollution problems significantly,” explains  Vijay Limaye , senior scientist in NRDC’s Science Office. Smog, for instance, is intensified by increased heat, forming when the weather is warmer and there’s more ultraviolet radiation. In addition, climate change increases the production of allergenic air pollutants, including mold (thanks to damp conditions caused by extreme weather and increased flooding) and pollen (due to a longer pollen season). “Climate change–fueled droughts and dry conditions are also setting the stage for dangerous wildfires,” adds Limaye. “ Wildfire smoke can linger for days and pollute the air with particulate matter hundreds of miles downwind.”

The effects of air pollution on the human body vary, depending on the type of pollutant, the length and level of exposure, and other factors, including a person’s individual health risks and the cumulative impacts of multiple pollutants or stressors.

Smog and soot

These are the two most prevalent types of air pollution. Smog (sometimes referred to as ground-level ozone) occurs when emissions from combusting fossil fuels react with sunlight. Soot—a type of  particulate matter —is made up of tiny particles of chemicals, soil, smoke, dust, or allergens that are carried in the air. The sources of smog and soot are similar. “Both come from cars and trucks, factories, power plants, incinerators, engines, generally anything that combusts fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline, or natural gas,” Walke says.

Smog can irritate the eyes and throat and also damage the lungs, especially those of children, senior citizens, and people who work or exercise outdoors. It’s even worse for people who have asthma or allergies; these extra pollutants can intensify their symptoms and trigger asthma attacks. The tiniest airborne particles in soot are especially dangerous because they can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and worsen bronchitis, lead to heart attacks, and even hasten death. In  2020, a report from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health showed that COVID-19 mortality rates were higher in areas with more particulate matter pollution than in areas with even slightly less, showing a correlation between the virus’s deadliness and long-term exposure to air pollution. 

These findings also illuminate an important  environmental justice issue . Because highways and polluting facilities have historically been sited in or next to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, the negative effects of this pollution have been  disproportionately experienced by the people who live in these communities.

Hazardous air pollutants

A number of air pollutants pose severe health risks and can sometimes be fatal, even in small amounts. Almost 200 of them are regulated by law; some of the most common are mercury,  lead , dioxins, and benzene. “These are also most often emitted during gas or coal combustion, incineration, or—in the case of benzene—found in gasoline,” Walke says. Benzene, classified as a carcinogen by the EPA, can cause eye, skin, and lung irritation in the short term and blood disorders in the long term. Dioxins, more typically found in food but also present in small amounts in the air, is another carcinogen that can affect the liver in the short term and harm the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, as well as reproductive functions.  Mercury  attacks the central nervous system. In large amounts, lead can damage children’s brains and kidneys, and even minimal exposure can affect children’s IQ and ability to learn.

Another category of toxic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are by-products of traffic exhaust and wildfire smoke. In large amounts, they have been linked to eye and lung irritation, blood and liver issues, and even cancer.  In one study , the children of mothers exposed to PAHs during pregnancy showed slower brain-processing speeds and more pronounced symptoms of ADHD.

Greenhouse gases

While these climate pollutants don’t have the direct or immediate impacts on the human body associated with other air pollutants, like smog or hazardous chemicals, they are still harmful to our health. By trapping the earth’s heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases lead to warmer temperatures, which in turn lead to the hallmarks of climate change: rising sea levels, more extreme weather, heat-related deaths, and the increased transmission of infectious diseases. In 2021, carbon dioxide accounted for roughly 79 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and methane made up more than 11 percent. “Carbon dioxide comes from combusting fossil fuels, and methane comes from natural and industrial sources, including large amounts that are released during oil and gas drilling,” Walke says. “We emit far larger amounts of carbon dioxide, but methane is significantly more potent, so it’s also very destructive.” 

Another class of greenhouse gases,  hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) , are thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide in their ability to trap heat. In October 2016, more than 140 countries signed the Kigali Agreement to reduce the use of these chemicals—which are found in air conditioners and refrigerators—and develop greener alternatives over time. (The United States officially signed onto the  Kigali Agreement in 2022.)

Pollen and mold

Mold and allergens from trees, weeds, and grass are also carried in the air, are exacerbated by climate change, and can be hazardous to health. Though they aren’t regulated, they can be considered a form of air pollution. “When homes, schools, or businesses get water damage, mold can grow and produce allergenic airborne pollutants,” says Kim Knowlton, professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University and a former NRDC scientist. “ Mold exposure can precipitate asthma attacks  or an allergic response, and some molds can even produce toxins that would be dangerous for anyone to inhale.”

Pollen allergies are worsening  because of climate change . “Lab and field studies are showing that pollen-producing plants—especially ragweed—grow larger and produce more pollen when you increase the amount of carbon dioxide that they grow in,” Knowlton says. “Climate change also extends the pollen production season, and some studies are beginning to suggest that ragweed pollen itself might be becoming a more potent allergen.” If so, more people will suffer runny noses, fevers, itchy eyes, and other symptoms. “And for people with allergies and asthma, pollen peaks can precipitate asthma attacks, which are far more serious and can be life-threatening.”

essay about water and air pollution

More than one in three U.S. residents—120 million people—live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to the  2023  State of the Air  report by the American Lung Association (ALA). Since the annual report was first published, in 2000, its findings have shown how the Clean Air Act has been able to reduce harmful emissions from transportation, power plants, and manufacturing.

Recent findings, however, reflect how climate change–fueled wildfires and extreme heat are adding to the challenges of protecting public health. The latest report—which focuses on ozone, year-round particle pollution, and short-term particle pollution—also finds that people of color are 61 percent more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade in at least one of those categories, and three times more likely to live in a county that fails in all three.

In rankings for each of the three pollution categories covered by the ALA report, California cities occupy the top three slots (i.e., were highest in pollution), despite progress that the Golden State has made in reducing air pollution emissions in the past half century. At the other end of the spectrum, these cities consistently rank among the country’s best for air quality: Burlington, Vermont; Honolulu; and Wilmington, North Carolina. 

No one wants to live next door to an incinerator, oil refinery, port, toxic waste dump, or other polluting site. Yet millions of people around the world do, and this puts them at a much higher risk for respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, neurological damage, cancer, and death. In the United States, people of color are 1.5 times more likely than whites to live in areas with poor air quality, according to the ALA.

Historically, racist zoning policies and discriminatory lending practices known as  redlining  have combined to keep polluting industries and car-choked highways away from white neighborhoods and have turned communities of color—especially low-income and working-class communities of color—into sacrifice zones, where residents are forced to breathe dirty air and suffer the many health problems associated with it. In addition to the increased health risks that come from living in such places, the polluted air can economically harm residents in the form of missed workdays and higher medical costs.

Environmental racism isn't limited to cities and industrial areas. Outdoor laborers, including the estimated three million migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States, are among the most vulnerable to air pollution—and they’re also among the least equipped, politically, to pressure employers and lawmakers to affirm their right to breathe clean air.

Recently,  cumulative impact mapping , which uses data on environmental conditions and demographics, has been able to show how some communities are overburdened with layers of issues, like high levels of poverty, unemployment, and pollution. Tools like the  Environmental Justice Screening Method  and the EPA’s  EJScreen  provide evidence of what many environmental justice communities have been explaining for decades: that we need land use and public health reforms to ensure that vulnerable areas are not overburdened and that the people who need resources the most are receiving them.

In the United States, the  Clean Air Act  has been a crucial tool for reducing air pollution since its passage in 1970, although fossil fuel interests aided by industry-friendly lawmakers have frequently attempted to  weaken its many protections. Ensuring that this bedrock environmental law remains intact and properly enforced will always be key to maintaining and improving our air quality.

But the best, most effective way to control air pollution is to speed up our transition to cleaner fuels and industrial processes. By switching over to renewable energy sources (such as wind and solar power), maximizing fuel efficiency in our vehicles, and replacing more and more of our gasoline-powered cars and trucks with electric versions, we'll be limiting air pollution at its source while also curbing the global warming that heightens so many of its worst health impacts.

And what about the economic costs of controlling air pollution? According to a report on the Clean Air Act commissioned by NRDC, the annual  benefits of cleaner air  are up to 32 times greater than the cost of clean air regulations. Those benefits include up to 370,000 avoided premature deaths, 189,000 fewer hospital admissions for cardiac and respiratory illnesses, and net economic benefits of up to $3.8 trillion for the U.S. economy every year.

“The less gasoline we burn, the better we’re doing to reduce air pollution and the harmful effects of climate change,” Walke explains. “Make good choices about transportation. When you can, ride a bike, walk, or take public transportation. For driving, choose a car that gets better miles per gallon of gas or  buy an electric car .” You can also investigate your power provider options—you may be able to request that your electricity be supplied by wind or solar. Buying your food locally cuts down on the fossil fuels burned in trucking or flying food in from across the world. And most important: “Support leaders who push for clean air and water and responsible steps on climate change,” Walke says.

  • “When you see in the news or hear on the weather report that pollution levels are high, it may be useful to limit the time when children go outside or you go for a jog,” Walke says. Generally, ozone levels tend to be lower in the morning.
  • If you exercise outside, stay as far as you can from heavily trafficked roads. Then shower and wash your clothes to remove fine particles.
  • The air may look clear, but that doesn’t mean it’s pollution free. Utilize tools like the EPA’s air pollution monitor,  AirNow , to get the latest conditions. If the air quality is bad, stay inside with the windows closed.
  • If you live or work in an area that’s prone to wildfires,  stay away from the harmful smoke  as much as you’re able. Consider keeping a small stock of masks to wear when conditions are poor. The most ideal masks for smoke particles will be labelled “NIOSH” (which stands for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and have either “N95” or “P100” printed on it.
  • If you’re using an air conditioner while outdoor pollution conditions are bad, use the recirculating setting to limit the amount of polluted air that gets inside. 

This story was originally published on November 1, 2016, and has been updated with new information and links.

This story is available for online republication by news media outlets or nonprofits under these conditions: The writer(s) must be credited with a byline; you must note prominently that the story was originally published by and link to the original; the story cannot be edited (beyond simple things such as grammar); you can’t resell the story in any form or grant republishing rights to other outlets; you can’t republish our material wholesale or automatically—you need to select stories individually; you can’t republish the photos or graphics on our site without specific permission; you should drop us a note to let us know when you’ve used one of our stories.

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Air pollution.

Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants. It also damages buildings.

Biology, Ecology, Earth Science, Geography

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Morgan Stanley

Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants. It also damages buildings. Pollutants in the air take many forms. They can be gases , solid particles, or liquid droplets. Sources of Air Pollution Pollution enters the Earth's atmosphere in many different ways. Most air pollution is created by people, taking the form of emissions from factories, cars, planes, or aerosol cans . Second-hand cigarette smoke is also considered air pollution. These man-made sources of pollution are called anthropogenic sources . Some types of air pollution, such as smoke from wildfires or ash from volcanoes , occur naturally. These are called natural sources . Air pollution is most common in large cities where emissions from many different sources are concentrated . Sometimes, mountains or tall buildings prevent air pollution from spreading out. This air pollution often appears as a cloud making the air murky. It is called smog . The word "smog" comes from combining the words "smoke" and " fog ." Large cities in poor and developing nations tend to have more air pollution than cities in developed nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , some of the worlds most polluted cities are Karachi, Pakistan; New Delhi, India; Beijing, China; Lima, Peru; and Cairo, Egypt. However, many developed nations also have air pollution problems. Los Angeles, California, is nicknamed Smog City. Indoor Air Pollution Air pollution is usually thought of as smoke from large factories or exhaust from vehicles. But there are many types of indoor air pollution as well. Heating a house by burning substances such as kerosene , wood, and coal can contaminate the air inside the house. Ash and smoke make breathing difficult, and they can stick to walls, food, and clothing. Naturally-occurring radon gas, a cancer -causing material, can also build up in homes. Radon is released through the surface of the Earth. Inexpensive systems installed by professionals can reduce radon levels. Some construction materials, including insulation , are also dangerous to people's health. In addition, ventilation , or air movement, in homes and rooms can lead to the spread of toxic mold . A single colony of mold may exist in a damp, cool place in a house, such as between walls. The mold's spores enter the air and spread throughout the house. People can become sick from breathing in the spores. Effects On Humans People experience a wide range of health effects from being exposed to air pollution. Effects can be broken down into short-term effects and long-term effects . Short-term effects, which are temporary , include illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis . They also include discomfort such as irritation to the nose, throat, eyes, or skin. Air pollution can also cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea . Bad smells made by factories, garbage , or sewer systems are considered air pollution, too. These odors are less serious but still unpleasant . Long-term effects of air pollution can last for years or for an entire lifetime. They can even lead to a person's death. Long-term health effects from air pollution include heart disease , lung cancer, and respiratory diseases such as emphysema . Air pollution can also cause long-term damage to people's nerves , brain, kidneys , liver , and other organs. Some scientists suspect air pollutants cause birth defects . Nearly 2.5 million people die worldwide each year from the effects of outdoor or indoor air pollution. People react differently to different types of air pollution. Young children and older adults, whose immune systems tend to be weaker, are often more sensitive to pollution. Conditions such as asthma , heart disease, and lung disease can be made worse by exposure to air pollution. The length of exposure and amount and type of pollutants are also factors. Effects On The Environment Like people, animals, and plants, entire ecosystems can suffer effects from air pollution. Haze , like smog, is a visible type of air pollution that obscures shapes and colors. Hazy air pollution can even muffle sounds. Air pollution particles eventually fall back to Earth. Air pollution can directly contaminate the surface of bodies of water and soil . This can kill crops or reduce their yield . It can kill young trees and other plants. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide particles in the air, can create acid rain when they mix with water and oxygen in the atmosphere. These air pollutants come mostly from coal-fired power plants and motor vehicles . When acid rain falls to Earth, it damages plants by changing soil composition ; degrades water quality in rivers, lakes and streams; damages crops; and can cause buildings and monuments to decay . Like humans, animals can suffer health effects from exposure to air pollution. Birth defects, diseases, and lower reproductive rates have all been attributed to air pollution. Global Warming Global warming is an environmental phenomenon caused by natural and anthropogenic air pollution. It refers to rising air and ocean temperatures around the world. This temperature rise is at least partially caused by an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases trap heat energy in the Earths atmosphere. (Usually, more of Earths heat escapes into space.) Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that has had the biggest effect on global warming. Carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels (coal, gasoline , and natural gas ). Humans have come to rely on fossil fuels to power cars and planes, heat homes, and run factories. Doing these things pollutes the air with carbon dioxide. Other greenhouse gases emitted by natural and artificial sources also include methane , nitrous oxide , and fluorinated gases. Methane is a major emission from coal plants and agricultural processes. Nitrous oxide is a common emission from industrial factories, agriculture, and the burning of fossil fuels in cars. Fluorinated gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons , are emitted by industry. Fluorinated gases are often used instead of gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs have been outlawed in many places because they deplete the ozone layer . Worldwide, many countries have taken steps to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. The Kyoto Protocol , first adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, is an agreement between 183 countries that they will work to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. The United States has not signed that treaty . Regulation In addition to the international Kyoto Protocol, most developed nations have adopted laws to regulate emissions and reduce air pollution. In the United States, debate is under way about a system called cap and trade to limit emissions. This system would cap, or place a limit, on the amount of pollution a company is allowed. Companies that exceeded their cap would have to pay. Companies that polluted less than their cap could trade or sell their remaining pollution allowance to other companies. Cap and trade would essentially pay companies to limit pollution. In 2006 the World Health Organization issued new Air Quality Guidelines. The WHOs guidelines are tougher than most individual countries existing guidelines. The WHO guidelines aim to reduce air pollution-related deaths by 15 percent a year. Reduction Anybody can take steps to reduce air pollution. Millions of people every day make simple changes in their lives to do this. Taking public transportation instead of driving a car, or riding a bike instead of traveling in carbon dioxide-emitting vehicles are a couple of ways to reduce air pollution. Avoiding aerosol cans, recycling yard trimmings instead of burning them, and not smoking cigarettes are others.

Downwinders The United States conducted tests of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Test Site in southern Nevada in the 1950s. These tests sent invisible radioactive particles into the atmosphere. These air pollution particles traveled with wind currents, eventually falling to Earth, sometimes hundreds of miles away in states including Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and Washington. These areas were considered to be "downwind" from the Nevada Test Site. Decades later, people living in those downwind areascalled "downwinders"began developing cancer at above-normal rates. In 1990, the U.S. government passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. This law entitles some downwinders to payments of $50,000.

Greenhouse Gases There are five major greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere.

  • water vapor
  • carbon dioxide
  • nitrous oxide

London Smog What has come to be known as the London Smog of 1952, or the Great Smog of 1952, was a four-day incident that sickened 100,000 people and caused as many as 12,000 deaths. Very cold weather in December 1952 led residents of London, England, to burn more coal to keep warm. Smoke and other pollutants became trapped by a thick fog that settled over the city. The polluted fog became so thick that people could only see a few meters in front of them.

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Essay on Air Pollution for Students and Children

500+ words essay on air pollution.

Essay on Air Pollution – Earlier the air we breathe in use to be pure and fresh. But, due to increasing industrialization and concentration of poisonous gases in the environment the air is getting more and more toxic day by day. Also, these gases are the cause of many respiratory and other diseases . Moreover, the rapidly increasing human activities like the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation is the major cause of air pollution.

Essay on Air Pollution

How Air Gets Polluted?

The fossil fuel , firewood, and other things that we burn produce oxides of carbons which got released into the atmosphere. Earlier there happens to be a large number of trees which can easily filter the air we breathe in. But with the increase in demand for land, the people started cutting down of trees which caused deforestation. That ultimately reduced the filtering capacity of the tree.

Moreover, during the last few decades, the numbers of fossil fuel burning vehicle increased rapidly which increased the number of pollutants in the air .

Causes Of Air Pollution

Its causes include burning of fossil fuel and firewood, smoke released from factories , volcanic eruptions, forest fires, bombardment, asteroids, CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons), carbon oxides and many more.

Besides, there are some other air pollutants like industrial waste, agricultural waste, power plants, thermal nuclear plants, etc.

Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is also the cause of air pollution because air pollution produces the gases that greenhouse involves. Besides, it increases the temperature of earth surface so much that the polar caps are melting and most of the UV rays are easily penetrating the surface of the earth.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Effects Of Air Pollution On Health

essay about water and air pollution

Moreover, it increases the rate of aging of lungs, decreases lungs function, damage cells in the respiratory system.

Ways To Reduce Air Pollution

Although the level of air pollution has reached a critical point. But, there are still ways by which we can reduce the number of air pollutants from the air.

Reforestation- The quality of air can be improved by planting more and more trees as they clean and filter the air.

Policy for industries- Strict policy for industries related to the filter of gases should be introduced in the countries. So, we can minimize the toxins released from factories.

Use of eco-friendly fuel-  We have to adopt the usage of Eco-friendly fuels such as LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas), CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), bio-gas, and other eco-friendly fuels. So, we can reduce the amount of harmful toxic gases.

To sum it up, we can say that the air we breathe is getting more and more polluted day by day. The biggest contribution to the increase in air pollution is of fossil fuels which produce nitric and sulphuric oxides. But, humans have taken this problem seriously and are devotedly working to eradicate the problem that they have created.

Above all, many initiatives like plant trees, use of eco-friendly fuel are promoted worldwide.

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NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Jamison DT, Breman JG, Measham AR, et al., editors. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd edition. Washington (DC): The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank; 2006. Co-published by Oxford University Press, New York.

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Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd edition.

Chapter 43 air and water pollution: burden and strategies for control.

Tord Kjellstrom , Madhumita Lodh , Tony McMichael , Geetha Ranmuthugala , Rupendra Shrestha , and Sally Kingsland .

Image ch43fu1.jpg

Environmental pollution has many facets, and the resultant health risks include diseases in almost all organ systems. Thus, a chapter on air and water pollution control links with chapters on, for instance, diarrheal diseases ( chapter 19 ), respiratory diseases in children and adults ( chapters 25 and 35 ), cancers ( chapter 29 ), neurological disorders ( chapter 32 ), and cardiovascular disease ( chapter 33 ), as well as with a number of chapters dealing with health care issues.

  • Nature, Causes, and Burden of Air and Water Pollution

Each pollutant has its own health risk profile, which makes summarizing all relevant information into a short chapter difficult. Nevertheless, public health practitioners and decision makers in developing countries need to be aware of the potential health risks caused by air and water pollution and to know where to find the more detailed information required to handle a specific situation. This chapter will not repeat the discussion about indoor air pollution caused by biomass burning ( chapter 42 ) and water pollution caused by poor sanitation at the household level ( chapter 41 ), but it will focus on the problems caused by air and water pollution at the community, country, and global levels.

Estimates indicate that the proportion of the global burden of disease associated with environmental pollution hazards ranges from 23 percent ( WHO-1997 ) to 30 percent ( Smith, Corvalan, and Kjellstrom 1999 ). These estimates include infectious diseases related to drinking water, sanitation, and food hygiene; respiratory diseases related to severe indoor air pollution from biomass burning; and vectorborne diseases with a major environmental component, such as malaria. These three types of diseases each contribute approximately 6 percent to the updated estimate of the global burden of disease ( WHO 2002 ).

As the World Health Organization (WHO) points out, outdoor air pollution contributes as much as 0.6 to 1.4 percent of the burden of disease in developing regions, and other pollution, such as lead in water, air, and soil, may contribute 0.9 percent ( WHO 2002 ). These numbers may look small, but the contribution from most risk factors other than the "top 10" is within the 0.5 to 1.0 percent range ( WHO 2002 ).

Because of space limitations, this chapter can give only selected examples of air and water pollution health concerns. Other information sources on environmental health include Yassi and others (2001) and the Web sites of or major reference works by WHO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics ( ); the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO; ), and other relevant agencies.

Table 43.1 indicates some of the industrial sectors that can pose significant environmental and occupational health risks to populations in developing countries. Clearly, disease control measures for people working in or living around a smelter may be quite different from those for people living near a tannery or a brewery. For detailed information about industry-specific pollution control methods, see the Web sites of industry sector organizations, relevant international trade union organizations, and the organizations listed above.

Table 43.1. Selected Industrial Sectors and Their Contribution to Air and Water Pollution and to Workplace Hazards.

Selected Industrial Sectors and Their Contribution to Air and Water Pollution and to Workplace Hazards.

Air Pollution

Air pollutants are usually classified into suspended particulate matter (PM) (dusts, fumes, mists, and smokes); gaseous pollutants (gases and vapors); and odors.

Suspended PM can be categorized according to total suspended particles: the finer fraction, PM 10 , which can reach the alveoli, and the most hazardous, PM 2.5 (median aerodynamic diameters of less than 10.0 microns and 2.5 microns, respectively). Much of the secondary pollutants PM 2.5 consists of created by the condensation of gaseous pollutants—for example, sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) and nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ). Types of suspended PM include diesel exhaust particles; coal fly ash; wood smoke; mineral dusts, such as coal, asbestos, limestone, and cement; metal dusts and fumes; acid mists (for example, sulfuric acid); and pesticide mists.

Gaseous pollutants include sulfur compounds such as SO 2 and sulfur trioxide; carbon monoxide; nitrogen compounds such as nitric oxide, NO 2 , and ammonia; organic compounds such as hydrocarbons; volatile organic compounds; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and halogen derivatives such as aldehydes; and odorous substances. Volatile organic compounds are released from burning fuel (gasoline, oil, coal, wood, charcoal, natural gas, and so on); solvents; paints; glues; and other products commonly used at work or at home. Volatile organic compounds include such chemicals as benzene, toluene, methylene chloride, and methyl chloroform. Emissions of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons react with sunlight to eventually form another secondary pollutant, ozone, at ground level. Ozone at this level creates health concerns, unlike ozone in the upper atmosphere, which occurs naturally and protects life by filtering out ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Sources of Outdoor Air Pollution

Outdoor air pollution is caused mainly by the combustion of petroleum products or coal by motor vehicles, industry, and power stations. In some countries, the combustion of wood or agricultural waste is another major source. Pollution can also originate from industrial processes that involve dust formation (for example, from cement factories and metal smelters) or gas releases (for instance, from chemicals production). Indoor sources also contribute to outdoor air pollution, and in heavily populated areas, the contribution from indoor sources can create extremely high levels of outdoor air pollution.

Motor vehicles emit PM, nitric oxide and NO 2 (together referred to as NO x ), carbon monoxide, organic compounds, and lead. Lead is a gasoline additive that has been phased out in industrial countries, but some developing countries still use leaded gasoline. Mandating the use of lead-free gasoline is an important intervention in relation to health. It eliminates vehicle-related lead pollution and permits the use of catalytic converters, which reduce emissions of other pollutants.

Catastrophic emissions of organic chemicals, as occurred in Bhopal, India, in 1984 ( box 43.1 ), can also have major health consequences ( McGranahan and Murray 2003 ; WHO 1999 ).

The Bhopal Catastrophe. The Bhopal plant, owned by the Union Carbide Corporation, produced methyl isocyanate, an intermediate in the production of the insecticide carbaryl. On December 2, 1984, a 150,000-gallon storage tank containing methyl isocyanate (more...)

Another type of air pollution that can have disastrous consequences is radioactive pollution from a malfunctioning nuclear power station, as occurred in Chernobyl in 1986 ( WHO 1996 ). Radioactive isotopes emitted from the burning reactor spread over large areas of what are now the countries of Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine, causing thousands of cases of thyroid cancer in children and threatening to cause many cancer cases in later decades.

Exposure to Air Pollutants

The extent of the health effects of air pollution depends on actual exposure. Total daily exposure is determined by people's time and activity patterns, and it combines indoor and outdoor exposures. Young children and elderly people may travel less during the day than working adults, and their exposure may therefore be closely correlated with air pollution levels in their homes. Children are particularly vulnerable to environmental toxicants because of their possibly greater relative exposure and the effects on their growth and physiological development.

Meteorological factors, such as wind speed and direction, are usually the strongest determinants of variations in air pollution, along with topography and temperature inversions. Therefore, weather reports can be a guide to likely air pollution levels on a specific day.

Workplace air is another important source of air pollution exposure ( chapter 60 ). Resource extraction and processing industries, which are common in developing countries, emit dust or hazardous fumes at the worksite ( table 43.1 ). Such industries include coalmining, mineral mining, quarrying, and cement production. Developed countries have shifted much of their hazardous production to developing countries ( LaDou 1992 ). This shift creates jobs in the developing countries, but at the price of exposure to air pollution resulting from outdated technology. In addition, specific hazardous compounds, such as asbestos, have been banned in developed countries ( Kazan-Allen 2004 ), but their use may still be common in developing countries.

Impacts on Health

Epidemiological analysis is needed to quantify the health impact in an exposed population. The major pollutants emitted by combustion have all been associated with increased respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality ( Brunekreef and Holgate 2002 ). The most famous disease outbreak of this type occurred in London in 1952 (U.K. Ministry of Health 1954 ), when 4,000 people died prematurely in a single week because of severe air pollution, followed by another 8,000 deaths during the next few months ( Bell and Davis 2001 ).

In the 1970s and 1980s, new statistical methods and improved computer technology allowed investigators to study mortality increases at much lower concentrations of pollutants. A key question is the extent to which life has been shortened. Early loss of life in elderly people, who would have died soon regardless of the air pollution, has been labeled mortality displacement, because it contributes little to the overall burden of disease ( McMichael and others 1998 ).

Long-term studies have documented the increased cardiovascular and respiratory mortality associated with exposure to PM ( Dockery and others 1993 ; Pope and others 1995 ). A 16-year follow-up of a cohort of 500,000 Americans living in different cities found that the associations were strongest with PM 2.5 and also established an association with lung cancer mortality ( Pope and others 2002 ). Another approach is ecological studies of small areas based on census data, air pollution information, and health events data ( Scoggins and others 2004 ), with adjustments for potential confounding factors, including socioeconomic status. Such studies indicate that the mortality increase for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter(μg per m 3 ) of PM 2.5 ranges from 4 to 8 percent for cities in developed countries where average annual PM 2.5 levels are 10 to 30 μg/m 3 . Many urban areas of developing countries have similar or greater levels of air pollution.

The major urban air pollutants can also give rise to significant respiratory morbidity ( WHO 2000 ). For instance, Romieu and others (1996) report an exacerbation of asthma among children in Mexico City, and Xu and Wang (1993) note an increased risk of respiratory symptoms in middle-aged non-smokers in Beijing.

In relation to the very young, Wang and others (1997) find that PM exposure, SO 2 exposure, or both increased the risk of low birthweight in Beijing, and Pereira and others (1998) find that air pollution increased intrauterine mortality in São Paulo.

Other effects of ambient air pollution are postneonatal mortality and mortality caused by acute respiratory infections, as well as effects on children's lung function, cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions in the elderly, and markers for functional damage of the heart muscle ( WHO 2000 ). Asthma is another disease that researchers have linked to urban air pollution ( McConnell and others 2002 ; Rios and others 2004 ). Ozone exposure as a trigger of asthma attacks is of particular concern. The mechanism behind an air pollution and asthma link is not fully known, but early childhood NO 2 exposure may be important (see, for example, Ponsonby and others 2000 ).

Leaded gasoline creates high lead exposure conditions in urban areas, with a risk for lead poisoning, primarily in young children. The main concern is effects on the brain from low-level exposure leading to behavioral aberrations and reduced or delayed development of intellectual or motoric ability ( WHO 1995 ). Lead exposure has been implicated in hypertension in adults, and this effect may be the most important for the lead burden of disease at a population level ( WHO 2002 ). Other pollutants of concern are the carcinogenic volatile organic compounds, which may be related to an increase in lung cancer, as reported by two recent epidemiological studies ( Nyberg and others 2000 ; Pope and others 2002 ).

Urban air pollution and lead exposure are two of the environmental hazards that WHO (2002) assessed as part of its burden-of-disease calculations for the World Health Report 2002 . The report estimates that pollution by urban PM causes as much as 5 percent of the global cases of lung cancer, 2 percent of deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, and 1 percent of respiratory infections, adding up to 7.9 million disability-adjusted life years based on mortality only. This burden of disease occurs primarily in developing countries, with China and India contributing the most to the global burden. Eastern Europe also has major air pollution problems, and in some countries, air pollution accounts for 0.6 to 1.4 percent of the total disability-adjusted life years from mortality.

The global burden of disease caused by lead exposure includes subtle changes in learning ability and behavior and other signs of central nervous system damage ( Fewthrell, Kaufmann, and Preuss 2003 ). WHO (2002) concludes that 0.4 percent of deaths and 0.9 percent (12.9 million) of all disability-adjusted life years may be due to lead exposure.

Water Pollution

Chemical pollution of surface water can create health risks, because such waterways are often used directly as drinking water sources or connected with shallow wells used for drinking water. In addition, waterways have important roles for washing and cleaning, for fishing and fish farming, and for recreation.

Another major source of drinking water is groundwater, which often has low concentrations of pathogens because the water is filtered during its transit through underground layers of sand, clay, or rocks. However, toxic chemicals such as arsenic and fluoride can be dissolved from the soil or rock layers into groundwater. Direct contamination can also occur from badly designed hazardous waste sites or from industrial sites. In the United States in the 1980s, the government set in motion the Superfund Program, a major investigation and cleanup program to deal with such sites ( U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2000 ).

Coastal pollution of seawater may give rise to health hazards because of local contamination of fish or shellfish—for instance, the mercury contamination of fish in the infamous Minamata disease outbreak in Japan in 1956 ( WHO 1976 ). Seawater pollution with persistent chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins, can also be a significant health hazard even at extremely low concentrations ( Yassi and others 2001 ).

Sources of Chemical Water Pollution

Chemicals can enter waterways from a point source or a nonpoint source. Point-source pollution is due to discharges from a single source, such as an industrial site. Nonpoint-source pollution involves many small sources that combine to cause significant pollution. For instance, the movement of rain or irrigation water over land picks up pollutants such as fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides and carries them into rivers, lakes, reservoirs, coastal waters, or groundwater. Another nonpoint source is storm-water that collects on roads and eventually reaches rivers or lakes. Table 43.1 shows examples of point-source industrial chemical pollution.

Paper and pulp mills consume large volumes of water and discharge liquid and solid waste products into the environment. The liquid waste is usually high in biological oxygen demand, suspended solids, and chlorinated organic compounds such as dioxins ( World Bank 1999 ). The storage and transport of the resulting solid waste (wastewater treatment sludge, lime sludge, and ash) may also contaminate surface waters. Sugar mills are associated with effluent characterized by biological oxygen demand and suspended solids, and the effluent is high in ammonium content. In addition, the sugarcane rinse liquid may contain pesticide residues. Leather tanneries produce a significant amount of solid waste, including hide, hair, and sludge. The wastewater contains chromium, acids, sulfides, and chlorides. Textile and dye industries emit a liquid effluent that contains toxic residues from the cleaning of equipment. Waste from petrochemical manufacturing plants contains suspended solids, oils and grease, phenols, and benzene. Solid waste generated by petrochemical processes contains spent caustic and other hazardous chemicals implicated in cancer.

Another major source of industrial water pollution is mining. The grinding of ores and the subsequent processing with water lead to discharges of fine silt with toxic metals into waterways unless proper precautions are taken, such as the use of sedimentation ponds. Lead and zinc ores usually contain the much more toxic cadmium as a minor component. If the cadmium is not retrieved, major water pollution can occur. Mining was the source of most of the widespread cadmium poisoning (Itai-Itai disease) in Japan in 1940–50 ( Kjellstrom 1986 ).

Other metals, such as copper, nickel, and chromium, are essential micronutrients, but in high levels these metals can be harmful to health. Wastewater from mines or stainless steel production can be a source of exposure to these metals. The presence of copper in water can also be due to corrosion of drinking water pipes. Soft water or low pH makes corrosion more likely. High levels of copper may make water appear bluish green and give it a metallic taste. Flushing the first water out of the tap can minimize exposure to copper. The use of lead pipes and plumbing fixtures may result in high levels of lead in piped water.

Mercury can enter waterways from mining and industrial premises. Incineration of medical waste containing broken medical equipment is a source of environmental contamination with mercury. Metallic mercury is also easily transported through the atmosphere because of its highly volatile nature. Sulfate-reducing bacteria and certain other micro-organisms in lake, river, or coastal underwater sediments can methylate mercury, increasing its toxicity. Methylmercury accumulates and concentrates in the food chain and can lead to serious neurological disease or more subtle functional damage to the nervous system ( Murata and others 2004 ).

Runoff from farmland, in addition to carrying soil and sediments that contribute to increased turbidity, also carries nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphates, which are often added in the form of animal manure or fertilizers. These chemicals cause eutrophication (excessive nutrient levels in water), which increases the growth of algae and plants in waterways, leading to an increase in cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). The toxics released during their decay are harmful to humans.

The use of nitrogen fertilizers can be a problem in areas where agriculture is becoming increasingly intensified. These fertilizers increase the concentration of nitrates in groundwater, leading to high nitrate levels in underground drinking water sources, which can cause methemoglobinemia, the life-threatening "blue baby" syndrome, in very young children, which is a significant problem in parts of rural Eastern Europe ( Yassi and others 2001 ).

Some pesticides are applied directly on soil to kill pests in the soil or on the ground. This practice can create seepage to groundwater or runoff to surface waters. Some pesticides are applied to plants by spraying from a distance—even from airplanes. This practice can create spray drift when the wind carries the materials to nearby waterways. Efforts to reduce the use of the most toxic and long-lasting pesticides in industrial countries have largely been successful, but the rules for their use in developing countries may be more permissive, and the rules of application may not be known or enforced. Hence, health risks from pesticide water pollution are higher in such countries ( WHO 1990 ).

Naturally occurring toxic chemicals can also contaminate groundwater, such as the high metal concentrations in underground water sources in mining areas. The most extensive problem of this type is the arsenic contamination of groundwater in Argentina, Bangladesh ( box 43.2 ), Chile, China, India, Mexico, Nepal, Taiwan (China), and parts of Eastern Europe and the United States ( WHO 2001 ). Fluoride is another substance that may occur naturally at high concentrations in parts of China, India, Sri Lanka, Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean. Although fluoride helps prevent dental decay, exposure to levels greater than 1.5 milligrams per liter in drinking water can cause pitting of tooth enamel and deposits in bones. Exposure to levels greater than 10 milligrams per liter can cause crippling skeletal fluorosis ( Smith 2003 ).

Arsenic in Bangladesh. The presence of arsenic in tube wells in Bangladesh because of natural contamination from underground geological layers was first confirmed in 1993. Ironically, the United Nations Children's Fund had introduced the wells in the (more...)

Water disinfection using chemicals is another source of chemical contamination of water. Chlorination is currently the most widely practiced and most cost-effective method of disinfecting large community water supplies. This success in disinfecting water supplies has contributed significantly to public health by reducing the transmission of waterborne disease. However, chlorine reacts with naturally occurring organic matter in water to form potentially toxic chemical compounds, known collectively as disinfection by-products ( International Agency for Research on Cancer 2004 ).

Exposure to Chemical Water Pollution

Drinking contaminated water is the most direct route of exposure to pollutants in water. The actual exposure via drinking water depends on the amount of water consumed, usually 2 to 3 liters per day for an adult, with higher amounts for people living in hot areas or people engaged in heavy physical work. Use of contaminated water in food preparation can result in contaminated food, because high cooking temperatures do not affect the toxicity of most chemical contaminants.

Inhalation exposure to volatile compounds during hot showers and skin exposure while bathing or using water for recreation are also potential routes of exposure to water pollutants. Toxic chemicals in water can affect unborn or young children by crossing the placenta or being ingested through breast milk.

Estimating actual exposure via water involves analyzing the level of the contaminant in the water consumed and assessing daily water intake ( WHO 2003 ). Biological monitoring using blood or urine samples can be a precise tool for measuring total exposure from water, food, and air ( Yassi and others 2001 ).

Health Effects

No published estimates are available of the global burden of disease resulting from the overall effects of chemical pollutants in water. The burden in specific local areas may be large, as in the example cited in box 43.2 of arsenic in drinking water in Bangladesh. Other examples of a high local burden of disease are the nervous system diseases of methylmercury poisoning (Minamata disease), the kidney and bone diseases of chronic cadmium poisoning (Itai-Itai disease), and the circulatory system diseases of nitrate exposure (methemoglobinemia) and lead exposure (anemia and hypertension ).

Acute exposure to contaminants in drinking water can cause irritation or inflammation of the eyes and nose, skin, and gastrointestinal system; however, the most important health effects are due to chronic exposure (for example, liver toxicity) to copper, arsenic, or chromium in drinking water. Excretion of chemicals through the kidney targets the kidney for toxic effects, as seen with chemicals such as cadmium, copper, mercury, and chlorobenzene ( WHO 2003 ).

Pesticides and other chemical contaminants that enter waterways through agricultural runoff, stormwater drains, and industrial discharges may persist in the environment for long periods and be transported by water or air over long distances. They may disrupt the function of the endocrine system, resulting in reproductive, developmental, and behavioral problems. The endocrine disruptors can reduce fertility and increase the occurrence of stillbirths, birth defects, and hormonally dependent cancers such as breast, testicular, and prostate cancers. The effects on the developing nervous system can include impaired mental and psychomotor development, as well as cognitive impairment and behavior abnormalities ( WHO and International Programme on Chemical Safety 2002 ). Examples of endocrine disruptors include organochlorines, PCBs, alkylphenols, phytoestrogens (natural estrogens in plants), and pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics and synthetic sex hormones from contraceptives. Chemicals in drinking water can also be carcinogenic. Disinfection by-products and arsenic have been a particular concern ( International Agency for Research on Cancer 2004 ).

  • Interventions

The variety of hazardous pollutants that can occur in air or water also leads to many different interventions. Interventions pertaining to environmental hazards are often more sustainable if they address the driving forces behind the pollution at the community level rather than attempt to deal with specific exposures at the individual level. In addition, effective methods to prevent exposure to chemical hazards in the air or water may not exist at the individual level, and the only feasible individual-level intervention may be treating cases of illness.

Figure 43.1 shows five levels at which actions can be taken to prevent the health effects of environmental hazards. Some would label interventions at the driving force level as policy instruments. These include legal restrictions on the use of a toxic substance, such as banning the use of lead in gasoline, or community-level policies, such as boosting public transportation and reducing individual use of motor vehicles.

Figure 43.1

Framework for Environmental Health Interventions

Interventions to reduce pressures on environmental quality include those that limit hazardous waste disposal by recycling hazardous substances at their site of use or replacing them with less hazardous materials. Interventions at the level of the state of the environment would include air quality monitoring linked to local actions to reduce pollution during especially polluted periods (for example, banning vehicle use when pollution levels reach predetermined thresholds). Interventions at the exposure level include using household water filters to reduce arsenic in drinking water as done in Bangladesh. Finally, interventions at the effect level would include actions by health services to protect or restore the health of people already showing signs of an adverse effect.

Interventions to Reduce Air Pollution

Reducing air pollution exposure is largely a technical issue. Technologies to reduce pollution at its source are plentiful, as are technologies that reduce pollution by filtering it away from the emission source (end-of-pipe solutions; see, for example, Gwilliam, Kojima, and Johnson 2004 ). Getting these technologies applied in practice requires government or corporate policies that guide technical decision making in the right direction. Such policies could involve outright bans (such as requiring lead-free gasoline or asbestos-free vehicle brake linings or building materials); guidance on desirable technologies (for example, providing best-practice manuals); or economic instruments that make using more polluting technologies more expensive than using less polluting technologies (an example of the polluter pays principle).

Examples of technologies to reduce air pollution include the use of lead-free gasoline, which allows the use of catalytic converters on vehicles' exhaust systems. Such technologies significantly reduce the emissions of several air pollutants from vehicles ( box 43.3 ). For trucks, buses, and an increasing number of smaller vehicles that use diesel fuel, improving the quality of the diesel itself by lowering its sulfur content is another way to reduce air pollution at the source. More fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrid gas-electric vehicles, are another way forward. These vehicles can reduce gasoline consumption by about 50 percent during city driving. Policies that reduce "unnecessary" driving, or traffic demand management, can also reduce air pollution in urban areas. A system of congestion fees, in which drivers have to pay before entering central urban areas, was introduced in Singapore, Oslo, and London and has been effective in this respect.

Air Pollution Reduction in Mexico City. Mexico City is one of the world's largest megacities, with nearly 20 million inhabitants. Local authorities have acknowledged its air quality problems since the 1970s. The emissions from several million motor vehicles (more...)

Power plants and industrial plants that burn fossil fuels use a variety of filtering methods to reduce particles and scrubbing methods to reduce gases, although no effective method is currently available for the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. High chimneys dilute pollutants, but the combined input of pollutants from a number of smokestacks can still lead to an overload of pollutants. An important example is acid rain, which is caused by SO 2 and NO x emissions that make water vapor in the atmosphere acidic ( WHO 2000 ). Large combined emissions from industry and power stations in the eastern United States drift north with the winds and cause damage to Canadian ecosystems. In Europe, emissions from the industrial belt across Belgium, Germany, and Poland drift north to Sweden and have damaged many lakes there. The convergence of air pollutants from many sources and the associated health effects have also been documented in relation to the multiple fires in Indonesia's rain forest in 1997 ( Brauer and Hisham-Hashim 1998 ); the brown cloud over large areas of Asia, which is mainly related to coal burning; and a similar brown cloud over central Europe in the summer, which is caused primarily by vehicle emissions.

Managing air pollution interventions involves monitoring air quality, which may focus on exceedances of air quality guidelines in specific hotspots or on attempts to establish a specific population's average exposure to pollution. Sophisticated modeling in combination with monitoring has made it possible to start producing detailed estimates and maps of air pollution levels in key urban areas ( World Bank 2004 ), thus providing a powerful tool for assessing current health impacts and estimated changes in the health impacts brought about by defined air pollution interventions.

Interventions to Reduce Water Pollution

Water pollution control requires action at all levels of the hierarchical framework shown in figure 43.1 . The ideal method to abate diffuse chemical pollution of waterways is to minimize or avoid the use of chemicals for industrial, agricultural, and domestic purposes. Adapting practices such as organic farming and integrated pest management could help protect waterways ( Scheierling 1995 ). Chemical contamination of waterways from industrial emissions could be reduced by cleaner production processes ( UNEP 2002 ). Box 43.4 describes one project aimed at effectively reducing pollution.

Water Pollution Control in India. In 1993, the Demonstration in Small Industries for Reducing Wastes Project was started in India with support from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. International and local experts initiated waste (more...)

Other interventions include proper treatment of hazardous waste and recycling of chemical containers and discarded products containing chemicals to reduce solid waste buildup and leaching of toxic chemicals into waterways. A variety of technical solutions are available to filter out chemical waste from industrial processes or otherwise render them harmless. Changing the pH of wastewater or adding chemicals that flocculate the toxic chemicals so that they settle in sedimentation ponds are common methods. The same principle can be used at the individual household level. One example is the use of iron chips to filter out arsenic from contaminated well water in Bangladeshi households ( Kinniburgh and Smedley 2001 ).

  • Intervention Costs and Cost-Effectiveness

This chapter cannot follow the detailed format for the economic analysis of different preventive interventions devised for the disease-specific chapters, because the exposures, health effects, and interventions are too varied and because of the lack of overarching examples of economic assessments. Nevertheless, it does present a few examples of the types of analyses available.

Comparison of Interventions

A review of more than 1,000 reports on cost per life year saved in the United States for 587 interventions in the environment and other fields ( table 43.2 ) evaluated costs from a societal perspective. The net costs included only direct costs and savings. Indirect costs, such as forgone earnings, were excluded. Future costs and life years saved were discounted at 5 percent per year. Interventions with a cost per life year saved of less than or equal to zero cost less to implement than the value of the lives saved. Each of three categories of interventions (toxin control, fatal injury reduction, and medicine) presented in table 43.2 includes several extremely cost-effective interventions.

Table 43.2. Median Cost per Life Year Saved, Selected Relatively Low-Cost Interventions (1993 U.S. dollars).

Median Cost per Life Year Saved, Selected Relatively Low-Cost Interventions (1993 U.S. dollars).

The cost-effective interventions in the air pollution area could be of value in developing countries as their industrial and transportation pollution situations become similar to the United States in the 1960s. The review by Tengs and others (1995) does not report the extent to which the various interventions were implemented in existing pollution control or public health programs, and many of the most cost-effective interventions are probably already in wide use. The review did create a good deal of controversy in the United States, because professionals and nongovernmental organizations active in the environmental field accused the authors of overestimating the costs and underestimating the benefits of controls over chemicals (see, for example, U.S. Congress 1999 ).

Costs and Savings in Relation to Pollution Control

A number of publications review and discuss the evidence on the costs and benefits of different pollution control interventions in industrial countries (see, for example, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1999 ). For developing countries, specific data on this topic are found primarily in the so-called gray literature: government reports, consultant reports, or reports by the international banks.

Examples of cost-effectiveness analysis for assessing air quality policy include studies carried out in Jakarta, Kathmandu, Manila, and Mumbai under the World Bank's Urban Air Quality Management Strategy in Asia ( Grønskei and others 1996a , 1996b ; Larssen and others 1996a , 1996b ; Shah, Nagpal, and Brandon 1997 ). In each city, an emissions inventory was established, and rudimentary dispersion modeling was carried out. Various mitigation measures for reducing PM 10 and health impacts were examined in terms of reductions in tons of PM 10 emitted, cost of implementation, time frame for implementation, and health benefits and their associated cost savings. Some of the abatement measures that have been implemented include introducing unleaded gasoline, tightening standards, introducing low-smoke lubricants for two-stroke engine vehicles, implementing inspections of vehicle exhaust emissions to address gross polluters, and reducing garbage burning.

Transportation policies and industrial development do not usually have air quality considerations as their primary objective, but the World Bank has developed a method to take these considerations into account. The costs of different air quality improvement policies are explored in relation to a baseline investment and the estimated health effects of air pollution. A comparison will indicate the cost-effectiveness of each policy. The World Bank has worked out this "overlay" approach in some detail for the energy and forestry sectors in the analogous case of greenhouse gas reduction strategies ( World Bank 2004 ).

The costs and benefits associated with interventions to remove chemical contaminants from water need to be assessed on a local or national basis to determine specific needs, available resources, environmental conditions (including climate), and sustainability. A developing country for which substantial economic analysis of interventions has been carried out is China ( Dasgupta, Wang, and Wheeler 1997 ; Zhang and others 1996 ).

Another country with major concerns about chemicals (arsenic) in water is Bangladesh. The arsenic mitigation programs have applied various arsenic removal technologies, but the costs and benefits are not well established. Bangladesh has adopted a drinking water standard of 50 μg/L (micrograms per liter) for arsenic in drinking water. The cost of achieving the lower WHO guideline value of 10 μg/L would be significant. An evaluation of the cost of lowering arsenic levels in drinking water in the United States predicts that a reduction from 50 to 10 μg/L would prevent a limited number of deaths from bladder and lung cancer at a cost of several million dollars per death prevented ( Frost and others 2002 ).

Alternative water supplies need to be considered when the costs of improving existing water sources outweigh the benefits. Harvesting rainwater may provide communities with safe drinking water, free of chemicals and micro-organisms, but contamination from roofs and storage tanks needs to be considered. Rainwater collection is relatively inexpensive.

  • Economic Benefits of Interventions

One of the early examples of cost-benefit analysis for chemical pollution control is the Japan Environment Agency's (1991) study of three Japanese classical pollution diseases: Yokkaichi asthma, Minamata disease, and Itai-Itai disease ( table 43.3 ). This analysis was intended to highlight the economic aspects of pollution control and to encourage governments in developing countries to consider both the costs and the benefits of industrial development. The calculations take into account the 20 or 30 years that have elapsed since the disease outbreaks occurred and annualize the costs and benefits over a 30-year period. The pollution damage costs are the actual payments for victims' compensation and the cost of environmental remediation. The compensation costs are based on court cases or government decisions and can be seen as a valid representation of the economic value of the health damage in each case. As table 43.3 shows, controlling the relevant pollutants would have cost far less than paying for damage caused by the pollution.

Table 43.3. Comparison of Actual Pollution Damage Costs and the Pollution Control Costs That Would Have Prevented the Damage, for Three Pollution-related Disease Outbreaks, Japan (¥ millions, 1989 equivalents).

Comparison of Actual Pollution Damage Costs and the Pollution Control Costs That Would Have Prevented the Damage, for Three Pollution-related Disease Outbreaks, Japan (¥ millions, 1989 equivalents).

A few studies have analyzed cost-benefit aspects of air pollution control in specific cities. Those analyses are based mainly on modeling health impacts from exposure and relationships between doses and responses. Voorhees and others (2001) find that most studies that analyzed the situation in specific urban areas used health impact assessment to estimate impacts avoided by interventions. Investigators have used different methods for valuing the economic benefits of health improvements, including market valuation, stated preference methods, and revealed preference methods. The choice of assumptions and inputs substantially affected the resulting cost and benefit valuations.

One of the few detailed studies of the costs and benefits of air pollution control in a specific urban area ( Voorhees and others 2000 ) used changing nitric oxide and NO 2 emissions in Tokyo during 1973–94 as a basis for the calculations. The study did not use actual health improvement data but calculated likely health improvements from estimated reductions in NO 2 levels and published dose-response curves. The health effects included respiratory morbidity (as determined by hospital admissions and medical expenses), and working days lost for sick adults, and maternal working days lost in the case of a child's illness. The results indicated an average cost-benefit ratio of 1 to 6, with a large range from a lower limit of 3 to 1 to an upper limit of 1 to 44. The estimated economic benefits of reductions in nitric oxide and NO 2 emissions between 1973 and 1994 were considerable: US$6.78 billion for avoided medical costs, US$6.33 billion for avoided lost wages of sick adults, and US$0.83 billion for avoided lost wages of mothers with sick children.

Blackman and others' (2000) cost-benefit analysis of four practical strategies for reducing PM 10 emissions from traditional brick kilns in Ciudad Juárez in Mexico suggests that, given a wide range of modeling assumptions, the benefits of three control strategies would be considerably higher than the costs. Reduced mortality was by far the largest component of benefits, accounting for more than 80 percent of the total.

Pandey and Nathwani (2003) applied cost-benefit analysis to a pollution control program in Canada. Their study proposed using the life quality index as a tool for quantifying the level of public expenditure beyond which the use of resources is not justified. The study estimated total pollution control costs at US$2.5 billion per year against a monetary benefit of US$7.5 billion per year, using 1996 as the base year for all cost and benefit estimates. The benefit estimated in terms of avoided mortality was about 1,800 deaths per year.

El-Fadel and Massoud's (2000) study of urban areas in Lebanon shows that the health benefits and economic benefits of reducing PM concentration in the air can range from US$4.53 million to US$172.50 million per year using a willingness-to-pay approach. In that study, the major monetized benefits resulted from reduced mortality costs.

Aunan and others (1998) assessed the costs and benefits of implementing an energy saving and air pollution control program in Hungary. They based their monetary evaluation of benefits on local monitoring and population data and took exposure-response functions and valuation estimates from Canadian, U.S., and European studies. The authors valued the average total benefits of the interventions at US$1.56 billion per year (with 1994 as the base year), with high and low bounds at US$7.6, billion and US$0.4 billion, respectively. They estimated the cost-benefit ratio at 1 to 3.4, given a total cost of interventions of US$0.46 billion per year. Many of the benefits resulted from reduced mortality in the elderly population and from reduced asthma morbidity costs.

Misra (2002) examined the costs and benefits of water pollution abatement for a cluster of 250 small-scale industries in Gujarat, India. Misra's assessment looked at command-and-control, market-based solutions and at effluent treatment as alternatives. In a cost-benefit analysis, Misra estimated the net present social benefits from water pollution abatement at the Nandesari Industrial Estate at Rs 0.550 billion at 1995–96 market prices using a 12 percent social discount rate. After making corrections for the prices of foreign exchange, unskilled labor, and investment, the figure rose to Rs 0.62 billion. It rose still further to about Rs 3.1 billion when distributional effects were taken into account.

  • Implementation of Control Strategies: Lessons of Experience

The foregoing examples demonstrate that interventions to protect health that use chemical pollution control can have an attractive cost-benefit ratio. The Japan Environment Agency (1991) estimates the national economic impact of pollution control legislation and associated interventions. During the 1960s and early 1970s, when the government made many of the major decisions about intensified pollution control interventions, Japan's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was growing at an annual rate of about 10 percent, similar to that of the rapidly industrializing countries in the early 21st century. At that time, Japan's economic policies aimed at eliminating bottlenecks to high economic growth, and in the mid 1960s, industry was spending less than ¥50 billion per year on pollution control equipment. By 1976, this spending had increased to almost ¥1 trillion per year. The ¥5 trillion invested in pollution control between 1965 and 1975 accounted for about 0.9 percent of the increase in GDP per capita during this period. The Japan Environment Agency concluded that the stricter environmental protection legislation and associated major investment in pollution control had little effect on the overall economy, but that the resulting health benefits are likely cumulative.

The broadest analysis of the implementation of control strategies for air pollution was conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the late 1990s ( Krupnick and Morgenstern 2002 ). The analysis developed a hypothetical scenario for 1970 to 1990, assuming that the real costs for pollution control during this period could be compared with the benefits of reduced mortality and morbidity and avoided damage to agricultural crops brought about by the reduction of major air pollutant levels across the country during this period. The study estimated reduced mortality from dose-response relationships for the major air pollutants, assigning the cost of each death at the value of statistical life and the cost of morbidity in relation to estimated health service utilization. The study used a variety of costing methods to reach the range of likely present values presented in table 43.4 . It assumed that the reduction of air pollution resulted from the implementation of the federal Clean Air Act of 1970 and associated state-level regulations and air pollution limits.

Table 43.4. Present Value of Monetary Benefits and Costs Associated with Implementation of the U.S. Clean Air Act, 1970–90 (1990 US$ billions).

Present Value of Monetary Benefits and Costs Associated with Implementation of the U.S. Clean Air Act, 1970–90 (1990 US$ billions).

The analysis showed a dramatically high cost-benefit ratio and inspired debate about the methodologies used and the results. One major criticism was of the use of the value of statistical life for each death potentially avoided by the reduced air pollution. A recalculation using the life-years-lost method reduced the benefits for deaths caused by PM from US$16,632 billion to US$9,100 billion ( Krupnick and Morgenstern 2002 ). The recalculated figure is still well above the fifth percentile estimate of benefits and does not undermine the positive cost-benefit ratio reported. Thus, if a developing country were to implement an appropriate control strategy for urban air pollution, it might derive significant economic benefits over the subsequent decades. The country's level of economic development, local costs, and local benefit valuations will be important for any cost-benefit assessment. WHO's (2000) air quality guidelines are among the documents that provide advice on analytical approaches.

We were unable to find an analysis for water similar to the broad analysis presented for air, but the examples of water pollution with mercury, cadmium, and arsenic described earlier indicate the economic benefits that can be reaped from effective interventions against chemical water pollution. Since the pollution disease outbreaks of mercury and cadmium poisoning in Japan, serious mercury pollution situations have been identified in Brazil, China, and the Philippines, and serious cadmium pollution has occurred in Cambodia, China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and Thailand. Arsenic in groundwater is an ongoing, serious problem in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal and a less serious problem in a number of other countries.

WHO has analyzed control strategies for biological water pollution and water and sanitation improvements in relation to the Millennium Development Goals ( Hutton and Haller 2004 ). The analysis demonstrated the considerable benefits of water and sanitation improvements: for every US$1 invested, the economic return was in the range of US$5 to US$28 for a number of intervention options. Careful analysis of the same type is required for populations particularly vulnerable to chemical water pollution to assess whether control of chemical pollution can also yield significant benefits.

  • Research and Development Agenda

Even though a good deal of information is available about the health risks of common air and water pollutants, further research is needed to guide regulations and interventions. The pollutants that were most common in developed countries in the past are still major problems in developing countries; however, direct application of the experiences of developed countries may not be appropriate, because exposed populations in developing countries may have a different burden of preexisting diseases, malnutrition, and other factors related to poverty. Research on specific vulnerabilities and on relevant dose-response relationships for different levels of economic development and for various geographic conditions would therefore be valuable for assessing risks and targeting interventions. In addition, global chemical exposure concerns, such as endocrine disruptors in air, water, and food, require urgent research to establish the need for interventions in both industrial and developing countries.

An important research topic is to clearly describe and quantify the long-term health effects of exposure to air pollution. The existing literature indicates that long-term exposure may have more adverse health effects than short-term exposure and, hence, have higher cost implications. Another topic is to assess the health issue pertaining to greenhouse gases and climate change, which are related to the same sources as urban air pollution ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2001 ). Research and policy analysis on how best to develop interventions to reduce health risks related to climate change need to be considered together with the analysis of other air pollutants.

In addition, to improve analysis of the economic costs of health impacts, better estimates are needed of the burden of disease related to chemical air and water pollution at local, national, and global levels. Cost-effectiveness analysis of air and water pollution control measures in developing countries needs to be supported by further research, as cost levels and benefit valuations will vary from country to country, and solutions that are valid in industrial countries may not work as well in developing countries. Strategies for effective air and water resource management should include research on the potential side effects of an intervention, such as in Bangladesh, where tube wells drilled to supply water turned out to be contaminated with arsenic (see box 43.2 ). Research is also needed that would link methodologies for assessing adverse health effects with exposure and epidemiological studies in different settings to permit the development of more precise forecasting of the health and economic benefits of interventions.

The variety of health effects of urban air pollution and the variety of sources create opportunities for ancillary effects that need to be taken into account in economic cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis. These are the beneficial effects of reducing air pollution on other health risks associated with the sources of air pollution. For example, if the air pollution from transportation emissions is reduced by actions that reduce the use of private motor vehicles by, say, providing public transportation, not only are carbon dioxide levels reduced; traffic crash injuries, noise, and physical inactivity related to the widespread use of motor vehicles also decline ( Kjellstrom and others 2003 ).

One of the key challenges for policies and actions is to find ways to avoid a rapid buildup of urban air pollution in countries that do not yet have a major problem. The health sector needs to be involved in assessing urban planning, the location of industries, and the development of transportation systems and needs to encourage those designing public transportation and housing to ensure that new sources of air pollution are not being built into cities.

Decades of economic and industrial growth have resulted in lifestyles that increase the demands on water resources simultaneous with increases in water pollution levels. Conflicts between household, industrial, and agricultural water use are a common public health problem ( UNESCO 2003 ). The developing countries need to avoid the experiences of water pollution and associated disease outbreaks in industrial countries. Strategies to ensure sufficient pollution control must be identified at the same time as strategies to reduce water consumption. High water use depletes supplies and increases salinity in groundwater aquifers, particularly in coastal regions. The impact of climate change must also be taken into consideration ( Vorosmarty and others 2000 ).

  • Conclusion: Promises and Pitfalls

Evidence shows that a number of chemicals that may be released into the air or water can cause adverse health effects. The associated burden of disease can be substantial, and investment in research on health effects and interventions in specific populations and exposure situations is important for the development of control strategies. Pollution control is therefore an important component of disease control, and health professionals and authorities need to develop partnerships with other sectors to identify and implement priority interventions.

Developing countries face major water quantity and quality challenges, compounded by the effects of rapid industrialization. Concerted actions are needed to safely manage the use of toxic chemicals and to develop monitoring and regulatory guidelines. Recycling and the use of biodegradable products must be encouraged. Technologies to reduce air pollution at the source are well established and should be used in all new industrial development. Retrofitting of existing industries and power plants is also worthwhile. The growing number of private motor vehicles in developing countries brings certain benefits, but alternative means of transportation, particularly in rapidly growing urban areas, need to be considered at an early stage, as the negative health and economic impacts of high concentrations of motor vehicles are well established. The principles and practices of sustainable development, coupled with local research, will help contain or eliminate health risks resulting from chemical pollution. International collaboration involving both governmental and nongovernmental organizations can guide this highly interdisciplinary and intersectoral area of disease control.

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Essay on Pollution – Air, Water, Soil, Land and Noise Pollution

February 2, 2021 by Study Mentor Leave a Comment

Students who are looking for a short essay on Pollution in English can refer to this page. On this page, we have provided all the necessary information such as what is pollution, the effects of pollution, types of pollution, and prevention of pollution in detail. Read on to find out more. 

Table of Contents

Pollution Essay In English 100 – 1000 Words

Introduction:  .

Our environment is the most important place which needs to be pollution-free in order to live a healthy life. However, our ecosystem is harmed today due to pollution. One of the main causes of pollution is due to human-made activities. Being a human, we should play a major role in the prevention of pollution to save our mother earth.

What is Pollution?

Pollution is the process of introducing harmful materials into the natural environment that causes an adverse effect on our health and ecosystem. These harmful materials are called pollutants. Pollutants can either take place naturally or by human activities. Now let’s understand how many types of pollution and how they are caused.

What are the types of Pollution?

There are namely 4 types of pollution and they are listed below:

Air Pollution

Water pollution.

  • Soil Pollution

Noise Pollution

Air pollution definition.

The mixture of harmful particles and gases in the air is known as Air Pollution.

Air Pollution Causes:  

This air pollution might be caused due to emission of harmful gases from chemical factories, the burning of fossil fuels, the discharge of gases from vehicles, the burning of plastics, or other materials.  

Effects of Air Pollution: 

The 5 effects of air pollution are 

  • Respiratory health problems  
  • Global Warming
  • Skin Problems
  • Poor Soil Quality

Water Pollution Definition: 

When toxic and harmful materials get dissolved in water bodies such as ponds, lakes, rivers, etc. is known as Water Pollution. 

Water Pollution Causes : 

Water Pollution is caused in several ways viz., Industrial waste discharge in water, sewage water discharge, oil pollution, sedimentation, toxic wastes, etc., 

Effects of Water Pollution:  

The 5 effects of Water Pollution are 

  • Consuming polluted water causes health issues for living organisms
  • Drinking water scarcity
  • Destruction of biodiversity
  • Ecosystem damage
  • Death of Animals

Soil Pollution : 

The presence of corrosive and harmful chemicals in soil is known as Soil Pollution. 

Soil Pollution Causes: Due to biological agents, urban and industrial waste, or radioactive pollutants the soil pollution will occur. Sometimes, soil pollution does occur naturally when soil contaminants exceed natural levels.

Effects of Soil Pollution:  

The 5 effects of Soil Pollution are 

  • Neuromuscular blockade
  • Depression of the central nervous system
  • Skin problems
  • Eye irritation
  • Health problems for humans and animals

Noise Pollution: 

Noise pollution is otherwise called sound pollution which is the dispersion of noise with ranging impacts on human and animal life activities. 

Noise Pollution Causes:  

Noise pollution is caused due to machinery sounds, transports, drilling, construction activities, or household chores.

  Effects of Noise Pollution:  

The 5 effects of Noise pollution are 

  • Hearing problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stress development
  • Heart diseases
  • High Blood Pressure

Prevention of Pollution

Pollution Prevention (P2) or Prevention of Pollution is the process of reducing pollution that affects human life and the ecosystem. Reducing pollution is important in order to live healthy, disease-free, and to save our ecosystem. The 10 ways how we can prevent pollution are listed below:

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  • Essay on Air Pollution
  • Essay on Environmental Pollution

10 Types To Reduce Pollution

  • One should avoid burning harmful chemicals, trash, and other wastes
  • Use public transportation instead of own vehicles
  • Use eco-friendly vehicles such as bicycles
  • Reduce, Recycle, Reuse the materials
  • Avoid plastic bags. Use cloth or paper bags
  • Say no to fireworks
  • Avoid firing the crackers
  • Turn off the electrical appliances when they are not in use
  • Plant more trees
  • Say no to tissues. Use cotton clothes instead of tissues.

Conclusion : 

Pollution does not only cause a negative impact on human lives and animal lives but also on our environment. Being a reliable citizen, it is our duty to protect our environment by preventing the pollution-causing activities in our surroundings.  

Tips For Writing Essay on Pollution

To stand out from the crowd, make use of the following tips while writing a Pollution Essay:

  • While writing the Pollution Essay, try to draw simple illustrations of how our earth is polluted by humans.
  • Highlight all the headings while writing the Essay on Pollution. This will help the reader to directly jump into the topic which they want to know about.
  • Try to use statistics like how pollution has been increased in recent years.
  • Try to use quotes, proverbs, thoughts after a paragraph. 
  • While writing an Essay on Pollution you can use the following quotes to make the essay more engaging to the reader. “Be a solution, not a Pollution”, “Plant Trees and say no to Pollution”, “Pollution is turning our Mother Earth into Grey” etc., 

 Essay On Pollution –  FAQs

The frequently asked questions regarding Pollution are given below:

  • Write 10 lines on Pollution?

The 10 lines on Pollution are given below:

  • Pollution is caused due when harmful materials get mixed with the natural environment causing adverse effects on the ecosystem.
  • The harmful materials which are associated with the environment are known as pollutants.
  • There are 4 types of pollution viz., Air Pollution, Water Pollution, Soil Pollution, and Noise Pollution.
  • Pollution causes the spread of various diseases into the natural environment.
  • Due to the pollution, the distinct species are vanishing.
  • We have to reduce pollution in order to save our ecosystem and live a healthy life.
  • We should always opt for public transport instead of our own vehicles.
  • We should avoid burning fossil fuels or chemical substances.
  • We should always try to reduce, reuse and recycle our day-to-day resources.
  • We should plant more trees to keep our environment pollution-free.
  • What are the 7 types of Pollution?

The 7 major types of Pollutions are given below:

Land Pollution

  • Radioactive Pollution
  • Thermal Pollution
  • What are the 2 sources of pollution?

The 2 sources of pollution are due to industries and transports.

Now that you are provided with an Essay on Pollution and we hope this Pollution Essay is helpful for you. If you have any questions related to Pollution Short Essay, reach us through the comment box below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Essay on Pollution 2

Pollution is the biggest issue that our planet is facing right now. The word pollution means the degradation of any natural resource like the land, water, and the air by contaminating it by various means.

Humans are highly responsible for every kind of pollution that exists today. Earlier only air pollution was known, but today along with air, water, land, and even noise pollution is known. With an increase in human’s greed and ambition, human has indiscriminately increased the level of pollution out the planet earth.

The earth was beautiful and green at the beginning of civilization.

With an increase in population and growth in industrialization, the weather condition also damaged. It is also because of pollution. We see less rainfall in the rainy season, scorching heat in summers, and even unbearable cold in winter. These all are due to the increase in pollutants and pollution in the atmosphere.

Effects of Pollution:-

Pollution affects human life more than it is realized. The effect of pollution is not seen immediately, but it takes time to show its effect. Like, let us say pollution is the virtue by which various diseases born day by day. For example, maximum lung disease is caused by air pollution.

So the human lung may not have damaged in a single day, but with time it becomes small, and the absorption of oxygen level shortens. Hence makes the person ill. Asthma, SARS, etc., all these diseases, the primary source is the increase of gases like carbon, sulfur, etc., in the air.

Our eyes can’t see the presence of these gases, but they exist, and ill-effect can be felt in our bodies. Another dangerous effect of pollution is global warming. With the various poisonous and other gases reacts with other in the air and form the different class of carbon-oxides like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxides, carbon tetra oxides, etc. The increase in the number of carbon dioxide results in global warming.

The presence of carbon monoxide is still hazardous. Many small creatures like insects and little birds die, even inhaling carbon monoxide, as it is a very poisonous carbon compound.

To the next level of ignorance, human polluted water bodies in the name of growth in industrialization. As we know, the primary industry established near the water bodies since the supply of products is accessible from there. Also, the dumping of industrial wastage is easy.

The acidic and liquid wastage is directly transported to the water available. Hence these contaminate the source of water in the location of the industry. Both industrial and home waste is dumped mercilessly in water. It creates a shortage of drinking water availability.

Moreover, the way wastage dumped over the land makes it infertile, and due to soil decomposition, the area becomes toxic. In this way, the infertility rate of land increases day by day. It may result at the end of fertile land, and that day I am afraid, growing crops will become impossible.

These are some of the many ill-effects of pollution over the land, water, and air. If pollution is not checked and brought under control, the lives on the earth become impossible. It may not be an exaggeration that lives on the planet is in an alarming situation, and we have to take some measures to control pollution soon.

Types of Pollution

The contamination of air with hazardous gases like sulfur, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other dangerous gases and dust, etc. is known is air pollution. These gases degrade the quality of air, and breathing them is havoc on health. But we cannot stop to breathe in, so the need of the time is to make our air clean and fit to breathe in.

Due to air pollution, the ozone layer, which protects us from the ultraviolet rays of the Sun, has started depleted. Because of which a significant increase in temperature has been recording, which is commonly known as   global warming .

If we look at history, we will find that most civilizations have their root at the banks of the river. Whether it is Harappa Civilization or Mohenjo-Daro, all started their journey with the blessing of our water bodies. No life can exist without water on the earth’s surface. Even on Moon or Mars, scientists are searching for a trace of water, to examine the hope of life. Our Mother Earth has provided us the source of experience in the face of Waterbodies.

The garbage from houses and societies, the water-soluble chemical from factories, the residuals of detergent and oils, all of it is thrown in the water bodies like pond or river nearby. Hence it contaminates the water, making it unfit for drinking. Due to these reasons, drinking water is no longer safe for humans and animals. It also causes diseases related to digestion.

With the increase in the number of fertilizers and pesticides such as DDT spraying for yielding of crops, protecting them from insects, and using water with a high quantity of salt in it makes the land unusable and unproductive and degrade its fertility. It is called Land Pollution.

Soil erosion has also increased due to the construction of concrete jungles and deforestation. Builders for their gain convert the fertile land into unfertile land and build apartments and malls. Due to this, the agricultural land demonizes and minimizes production in terms of agro-products every year, making the daily chores expensive.

Noise generated by vehicles and factories causes noise pollution. These are unpleasant, which may hurt humans and animals seriously. The unwanted honks of cars, motorcycles, etc. are one of the prominent problems today.    

How to reduce pollution?

With the discussion made above, we may not understand the harmful and dangerous effects and results of pollution can be. Be it is due to industrialization or modernization of society, pollution can never be fruitful in the future.

We must preserve good air quality, water sustainability, and land fertility for our future generation. For this, we must check our habits to stop the spread of pollution in all its form.

First of all, what we can do is the use of public transport or carpool or the use of bicycles to our daily conveyance to office or market place. It will result in less emission of harmful gases and smoke in the air, and air pollution can be controlled along with the noise created due to honks of the vehicles that can also be controlled.

The government must prevent the dumping of industrial wastage in water bodies. It would help in keeping drinking water safe. Further, at the individual level, we must learn to reuse and recycle. The poly bags must be reused to its strength and then recovered with the help of various recycling methods so that It may not contaminate both the water and the land.

There must be a check on the use of fertilizers. The excess use of fertilizers not only depletes the land’s fertility but also make crops unfit for consumption.

With the use of the methods mentioned above, we may succeed in controlling the pollution to a great extent. So, all of us must take a stand and become a voice for the unheard to make this earth pollution-free.

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About Air, Water and Soil Pollution

How it works

  • 1 Air Pollution
  • 2 Water pollution
  • 3 Soil pollution
  • 4.1 Air pollution
  • 4.2 Water pollution
  • 4.3 Soil pollution

Air Pollution

What health hazards are associated with living indoors? Indoor air pollution can cause big health problems. People who may be exposed to these indoor air pollutants for long periods of time are most at risk to the effects of air pollution. This includes children, adults, and people with long term chronic illnesses. Most indoor air pollution comes from sources that release gases into the air. Things such as air fresheners, and building materials constantly give off air pollution. Other things such as tobacco smoke, and wood burning fires, ovens, and stoves, can also cause air pollution.

Indoor pollution can also be cause by live sources such as mould, mildew, cockroaches, and dust mites.

Carbon monoxide is a common indoor pollutant. It is often released from fuel-burning stoves, heaters and other appliances. CO is a colourless and odourless gas that inhibits the movement of oxygen in the body. Depending on how much is ingested, Carbon monoxide can have many effects, such as causing extreme tiredness, headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Some of the more serious effects include worsening heart conditions, and if enough is breathed in, it may be fatal.

Carbon monoxide is transported through the air, so things like wind can cause it to spread through the environment. The main natural sinks are the oceans, plants, and other organisms that use photosynthesis to remove carbon from the atmosphere by incorporating it into biomass.

Water pollution

Does it matter which detergents people use? Regular laundry detergents are bad for the environment, as detergents don’t completely degrade and they contaminate o9ur water supplies, rivers, and oceans with toxic heavy metals such as arsenic. Arsenic is a greyish white element, that can be extremely dangerous, and can cause arsenic poisoning. Arsenic poisoning can cause major health implications and death if It is not treated. An individual can be exposed to arsenic through contaminated groundwater, infected soil and rock, and arsenic-preserved wood. It has also been shown that phosphates, a common ingredient in detergents can build up in water ways and lead to things like eutrophication.

Eutrophication is the natural aging process of a lake/river, etc. This process results in the plants dying more quickly than they can be decomposed. This dead plant matter builds up and together, with more sediment entering the water, fills in the lake up making it shallower. Normally this process takes thousands of years, however with these large amounts of phosphates entering the water, it is being sped up.

Detergents can have poisonous effects in all types of aquatic life if they are present in sufficient quantities, and this includes the biodegradable detergents. All detergents destroy the external mucus layers that protect the fish from bacteria and parasites; plus they can cause severe damage to the gills. Most fish will die when detergent concentrations approach 15 parts per million. Detergent concentrations as low as 5 ppm will kill fish eggs. Surfactant detergents are implicated in decreasing the breeding ability of aquatic organisms. 

Detergents also add another problem for aquatic life by lowering the surface tension of the water. Organic chemicals such as pesticides and phenols are then much more easily absorbed by the fish. A detergent concentration of only 2 ppm can cause fish to absorb double the amount of chemicals they would normally absorb, although that concentration itself is not high enough to affect fish directly.  Detergents are sold in supermarkets all over the world, and many people use them on an day-to-day basis.

Soil pollution

Should food take-away containers be banned? Single-use containers used for takeaway food represent a significant source of waste and environmental impacts due to their low recyclability. Consequently, it is important to identify the best available alternatives and improvement opportunities to reduce the environmental impacts of fast-food containers. For these purposes, this study estimates and compares for the first time the life cycle impacts of three most widely-used types of takeaway container: aluminium, polypropylene and extruded polystyrene. These are also compared to reusable polypropylene containers. The findings suggest that single-use polypropylene containers are the worst option for seven out of 12 impacts considered, including global warming potential. They are followed by the aluminium alternative with five highest impacts, including depletion of ozone layer and human toxicity. Overall, extruded polystyrene containers have the lowest impacts due to the lower material and electricity requirements in their manufacture.

Food take-away containers contain all sorts of chemicals in their plastic, such as PFAS. PFAS are a class of chemicals used to make materials water and grease-proof. Unfortunately, PFAS break down into a variety of chemicals, some of which are linked to cancer (PFOA) and thyroid hormone disruption (PFOS), according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. PFAS can persist in plants and move through the food chain all the way up to humans. Food take away containers travel through the environment in many ways. They can be carried through the ocean, or even blown through the environment by the wind. There is no pollutant sink for food take-away containers, or PFAS.

Food take-away containers contain all sorts of chemicals in their plastic, such as PFAS. PFAS are a class of chemicals used to make materials water and grease-proof. Unfortunately, PFAS break down into a variety of chemicals, some of which are linked to cancer (PFOA) and thyroid hormone disruption (PFOS), according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. PFAS can persist in plants and move through the food chain all the way up to humans.

Food take away containers travel through the environment in many ways. They can be carried through the ocean, or even blown through the environment by the wind. There is no pollutant sink for food take-away containers, or PFAS.

Air pollution

  • – The national academics press
  • – University of Rochester medical centre
  • – Sciencing
  • – Federal public service health, food chain safety, and environment
  • – Lennetch
  • – Science direct


Cite this page

About Air, Water and Soil Pollution. (2021, Feb 16). Retrieved from

"About Air, Water and Soil Pollution." , 16 Feb 2021, (2021). About Air, Water and Soil Pollution . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 13 May. 2024]

"About Air, Water and Soil Pollution.", Feb 16, 2021. Accessed May 13, 2024.

"About Air, Water and Soil Pollution," , 16-Feb-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 13-May-2024] (2021). About Air, Water and Soil Pollution . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 13-May-2024]

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heaps of coal in front of a power plant with three tall smokestacks

New EPA regulations target air, water, land and climate pollution from power plants, especially those that burn coal

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Professor of Law Emeritus, Vermont Law & Graduate School

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Patrick Parenteau does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Electric power generation in the U.S. is shifting rapidly away from fossil fuels toward cleaner and lower-carbon sources. State clean energy targets and dramatic declines in the cost of renewable electricity are the most important reasons.

But fossil fuel plants still generate 60% of the U.S. electricity supply, producing air, water and land pollutants and greenhouse gases in the process. To reduce these impacts, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a suite of rules on April 25, 2024. They focus mainly on coal plants, the nation’s most-polluting electricity source.

As an environmental lawyer who has been in practice since the early 1970s, I believe these curbs on power plant pollution are long overdue. The new rules close loopholes in existing laws that have allowed coal-fired power plants to pollute the nation’s air and water for decades. And they require utilities to drastically slash these plants’ greenhouse gas emissions or close them down.

Opponents, including industry groups and Republican attorneys general, have raised concerns, and some have vowed to sue . They argue that the EPA has overreached its legal authority and is imposing crippling costs on the coal industry. While these arguments may resonate with conservative judges, in my view the EPA’s carefully crafted rules are on firm legal ground and have a strong chance of being upheld.

Mercury, wastewater and coal ash

The first rule updates the Clean Air Act’s 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards . Mercury, which is emitted into the air when coal is burned, is a neurotoxin that causes developmental damage in children and has contaminated fisheries throughout the U.S .

The new rule closes the so-called “ lignite loophole ,” which allows plants burning lignite – the lowest grade of coal – to emit more than three times as much mercury pollution as other coal plants. There are only a handful of lignite plants still operating in the U.S., concentrated in Texas and North Dakota. The new rule lowers the emissions standard for mercury from these plants by 70% .

A second rule tightens standards for wastewater from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Water Act. These plants use a lot of water for cooling, producing steam and industrial processes. The wastewater that they discharge into rivers, lakes and streams contains toxic pollutants such as mercury and arsenic that threaten drinking water supplies and fisheries.

The EPA estimates that the new rule will reduce these pollutants by about 670 million pounds per year . Coal plant owners will have until 2029 to comply, unless they agree to permanently stop burning coal by 2034.

Burning coal also generates millions of tons of ash, which can contain toxic heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and cadmium . The third new rule deals with “ legacy sites ” – inactive coal plants – that collectively hold 500 million tons of coal ash in unlined, unmonitored waste pits and holding ponds.

Coal ash spills have contaminated rivers in Tennessee , North Carolina and elsewhere. Over 160 unlined lagoons remain . Most legacy sites are located in low-income communities and communities of color .

A yellow paddle blade coated with thick grey sediment.

The new rule responds to a 2015 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The EPA had adopted a rule that regulated coal ash storage at active power plants but not at inactive plants – an approach that the court held was unlawful. The new regulation will require safe management of coal ash at previously unregulated legacy sites.

Carbon pollution standards

The most potentially controversial rule in the new package addresses greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal plants and new gas-fired power plants. Section 111 of the Clean Air Act directs the EPA to define the “best system of emission reduction” for air pollutants, including greenhouse emissions, from power plants. States must then submit plans to the EPA to adopt these systems. If a state refuses, the agency takes over implementation.

The EPA has determined that carbon capture and sequestration is the best system of emission reduction for both existing coal plants and new gas plants. The agency initially proposed to regulate emissions from existing gas plants but is deferring that step.

The rule adopts a staggered approach to compliance that encourages early retirement of the country’s aging coal fleet . Plants retiring before 2032 would not be subject to the rule. Those scheduled to close by 2039 would have to reduce emissions by 16% by 2030. Plants slated to operate beyond 2039 must reduce their greenhouse emissions by 90% by 2032.

To give utilities some flexibility, the rule allows sources to use “ green hydrogen ” – produced by splitting water using renewable energy – in their fuel mix, and to participate in emissions trading programs .

Next stop: Court

In my opinion, the regulation that faces the most serious legal challenge is the one addressing greenhouse emissions at coal plants. The mercury and coal ash rules simply plug loopholes in existing regulations, and the wastewater rule is a long overdue update of technology standards to control toxic discharges. All three rules are squarely within EPA’s regulatory wheelhouse and grounded in explicit statutory authority.

The climate rule may face a harder road because of the Supreme Court’s 2022 West Virginia v. EPA ruling, which invalidated the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and applied a new approach to interpreting laws called the “ major question doctrine .” This concept basically says that where a new rule would have “vast economic and political significance,” Congress must explicitly empower the agency with authority over the issue, and the court will not defer to the agency’s interpretation regardless of policy considerations or the agency’s expertise.

The fate of the climate rule may depend on how courts answer these three questions:

– Does the major question doctrine apply?

The EPA has gone to great lengths to distinguish this rule from the ill-fated Clean Power Plan and heed the Supreme Court’s directive to stay in its lane. The new rule takes a traditional, time-tested approach to setting emissions limits based on pollution controls that are available to individual plants.

Indeed, carbon capture and sequestration is analogous to scrubbers – devices that the EPA has required for decades to remove pollutants such as fine particulates, sulfur dioxide and mercury from power plant smokestacks. And the new rule does not require utilities to shift from coal or natural gas to renewable fuels, which was what most troubled the court in the West Virginia case.

– Is carbon capture and sequestration ready for prime time?

The Clean Air Act requires that a best system of emissions reduction must be “ adequately demonstrated .” Courts have interpreted this phrase to include options that are forward-looking and “technology-forcing” – meaning that the standards may not be achievable today, but information available now shows they will be achievable in the future.

The D.C. Circuit Court has repeatedly affirmed that the EPA has the “authority to hold the industry to a standard of improved design and operational advances, so long as there is substantial evidence that such improvements are feasible and will produce the improved performance necessary to meet the standard.”

– Will the rule affect power grid reliability?

Shifting too abruptly to new fuels and technologies could make it hard for utilities to generate enough electricity to meet demand. However, the EPA consulted with state and federal agencies and power companies and conducted a detailed analysis, which concluded that the power plant rule would not have a major impact on reliability .

The rule gives owners until 2032 to incorporate carbon capture and sequestration and allows states to keep plants online for an extra year if they can show that retiring them threatens grid reliability. Other provisions give utilities added flexibility.

As of April 2024, there are about 200 coal-burning power plants still operating across the U.S. Plants representing one-fourth of that capacity are projected to close by 2029 for economic reasons unrelated to regulations.

These new rules will certainly make operating coal plants more expensive. This will make the price of electricity generated from coal reflect its true costs to society more accurately. Given coal energy’s impacts on our nation’s air, waters, land and climate, as well as on public health, I see this action as squarely within the EPA’s mission.

  • Fossil fuels
  • Climate change
  • Environmental law
  • Air pollution
  • Water pollution
  • US Supreme Court
  • Clean Water Act
  • Clean Air Act
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Power plants
  • Electricity generation
  • Coal power plants
  • Biden administration
  • Carbon capture and sequestration

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New 'forever chemical' cleanup strategy discovered

Method deals with pollution from fire suppressant foams.

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cracks down on insidious "forever chemical" pollution in the environment, military and commercial aviation officials are seeking ways to clean up such pollution from decades of use of fire suppressant foams at military air bases and commercial airports.

Fire-suppression foams contain hundreds unhealthful forever chemicals, known by chemists as PFAS or poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances. These compounds have stubbornly strong fluorine-to-carbon bonds, which allow them to persist indefinitely in the environment, hence the moniker "forever chemicals." Also found many other products, PFAS compounds now contaminate groundwater supplies tapped by municipal water suppliers at many locations throughout the nation.

Because they are linked to higher risks for certain cancers and other maladies, the EPA imposed a new rule last month requiring water utilities to reduce contamination if levels exceeded 4 parts per trillion for certain PFAS compounds.

Fortunately, a collaborative discovery by scientists at UC Riverside and Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., provides a new strategy to clean up these pollutants.

The method was detailed this month in the journal Nature Water . It involves treating heavily contaminated water with ultra-violet (UV) light, sulfite, and a process called electrochemical oxidation, explained UCR associate professor Jinyong Liu.

"In this work, we continued our research on the UV-based treatment, but this time, we had a collaboration with an electrochemical oxidation expert at Clarkson University," said Liu, who has published nearly 20 papers on treating PFAS pollutants in contaminated water.. "We put these two steps together and we achieved near-complete destruction of PFAS in various water samples contaminated by the foams."

Liu said the collaboration with a team led by assistant professor Yang Yang at Clarkson solved major technical problems. For instance, the foams contain various other concentrated organic compounds that hinder the breakup of the strong fluorine-to-carbon bonds in the PFAS compounds.

Liu and Yang, however, found that electrochemical oxidation also breaks up these organics. Their process also allows these reactions to occur at room temperature without a need for additional heat or high pressure to stimulate the reaction.

"In the real world, the contaminated water can be very complicated," Liu said. "It contains a lot of things that might potentially slow down the reaction."

PFAS compounds have been used in thousands of products ranging from potato chip bags to non-stick cookware, but fire-suppressing foams are a major source of PFAS pollution in groundwater because have been used for for decades to extinguish aviation fuel fires at hundreds of military sites and commercial airports. These foams were also routinely applied to minor fuel spills as a precautionary measure to prevent fires.

Invented by the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, the foams form an aqueous film around burning gasoline and other flammable liquids, which quickly deprives the fire of oxygen and extinguishes it. Because of widespread use, the Department of Defense ordered assessments of 715 military sites nationally for PFAS releases and, by the end of last year, found that 574 of these sites need further investigations or cleanups as required by federal law.

PFAS cleanups became more urgent last month when the EPA imposed a new rule requiring water utilities to reduce contamination if levels exceeded 4 parts per trillion for certain PFAS compounds.

Liu said the method he developed with Yang is well suited for cleansing heavily contaminated water used to flush out tanks, hoses, and other firefighting equipment. The method also can be used to treat leftover containers of PFAS-containing foams.

Their method can also help water utilities deal with groundwater pollution. Contaminated groundwater is often treated through ion exchange technologies in which the PFAS molecules glob onto resin beads in large treatment tanks. The UV light and electrochemical oxidation method developed by Liu and Yang also can assist the regeneration of beads so they can be recycled, Liu said.

"We want to have sustainable management of the resin," Liu said. "We want to reuse it."

The study's title is "Near-complete destruction of PFAS in aqueous film-forming foam by integrated photo-electrochemical processes." In addition to Liu and Yang, its authors are Yunqiao Guan, Zekun Liu, Nanyang Yang, Shasha Yang, and Luz Estefanny Quispe-Cardenas, who are current or former graduate students at UCR and Clarkson.

This research was supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Defense's Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program.

  • Nature of Water
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Environmental Issues
  • Air Quality
  • Photosynthesis
  • Organic chemistry
  • Water pollution
  • Meteorology
  • Desalination

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of California - Riverside . Original written by David Danelski. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference :

  • Yunqiao Guan, Zekun Liu, Nanyang Yang, Shasha Yang, Luz Estefanny Quispe-Cardenas, Jinyong Liu, Yang Yang. Near-complete destruction of PFAS in aqueous film-forming foam by integrated photo-electrochemical processes . Nature Water , 2024; DOI: 10.1038/s44221-024-00232-7

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Environmental Factor

Your online source for niehs news, papers of the month.

Extramural By Megan Avakian and Julie Leibach

Air pollution may trigger DNA modifications tied to Alzheimer’s disease

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a type of air pollutant, may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease risk by affecting DNA methylation patterns tied to neuroinflammation, according to NIEHS-funded research. Neuroinflammation, which is an immune response in the central nervous system, is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

Growing evidence indicates that PM2.5 is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Results from human and animal studies suggest that changes in DNA methylation, which regulate gene expression, are associated with indicators of Alzheimer’s disease and PM2.5 exposure.

The researchers assessed DNA methylation in human postmortem brain tissues obtained from 159 donors who participated in the Emory Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center brain bank program. They also estimated donors’ residential traffic-related PM2.5 exposure at one, three, and five years before death. Using a combination of analytical approaches, the team looked for differences in methylation patterns that could explain links between PM2.5 exposure and Alzheimer’s disease.

Differences at two methylation sites — cg25433380 and cg10495669 — were consistently associated with PM2.5 across all exposure timeframes. One of those sites, cg10495669, is connected to a gene that regulates inflammation. The team also identified 22 methylation sites that may underpin ties between PM2.5 exposure and indicators of Alzheimer’s disease. Several of those sites are located in genes responsible for neuroinflammation and related cell death. In addition, the researchers found links between PM2.5 exposure at the three-year window and methylation changes along a pathway important to life span.

The study is the first to show an association between PM2.5 exposure and varying methylation patterns in the human brain. Results should be verified with a larger sample size across more diverse stages of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the authors. (JL)

Citation : Li Z, Liang D, Ebelt S, Gearing M, Kobor MS, Konwar C, Maclsaac JL, Dever K, Wingo AP, Levey AI, Lah JJ, Wingo TS, HĂĽls A. 2024. Differential DNA methylation in the brain as potential mediator of the association between traffic-related PM2.5 and neuropathology markers of Alzheimer's disease . Alzheimers Dement; doi: 10.1002/alz.13650 [Online ahead of print 12 Feb. 2024].

Heavy metal exposure linked to earlier menopause

Exposure to heavy metals may be linked to earlier menopause in middle-aged women, NIEHS-researchers reported. The study is the first to assess how metals affect levels of anti-MĂĽllerian hormone (AMH) over time in women approaching menopause.

AMH is a marker of ovarian reserve, or the number of eggs remaining in the ovaries. Ovarian reserve and AMH levels naturally drop in the years leading up to menopause, called the menopausal transition period. A woman reaches menopause once she has gone 12 months without a menstrual period.

The team analyzed data from about 550 middle-aged women enrolled in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, a racially and ethnically diverse investigation of how the menopausal transition affects health. The researchers assessed the relationship between levels of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead in urine and levels of AMH in blood in the 10 years leading up to the women’s last menstrual period.

Higher urinary concentrations of arsenic and mercury were associated with lower AMH at the final menstrual period. The top one-third of arsenic and mercury exposures were associated with 32% and 40% lower AMH levels, respectively, compared to the bottom one-third of exposures. During the menopausal transition period, women in the top one-third of cadmium and mercury exposures experienced faster rates of AMH decline — 9% and 7%, respectively — than women in the bottom one-third.

According to the authors, these results indicate that certain heavy metals may act as ovarian toxicants by depleting ovarian reserve in women approaching menopause. (MA)

Citation : Ding N, Wang X, Harlow SD, Randolph JF Jr, Gold EB, Park SK. 2024. Heavy metals and trajectories of anti-MĂĽllerian hormone during the menopausal transition . J Clin Endocrinol Metab dgad756.

Phthalate exposures associated with high numbers of preterm birth

Nearly 57,000 cases of preterm birth a year may be attributable to phthalate exposures, according to a study funded by NIEHS and others. Associated economic and medical care costs are an estimated $3.8 billion, highlighting a need for robust exposure prevention efforts.

The consequences of preterm birth include infant and childhood mortality; adverse psychological, behavioral, and educational outcomes in young adulthood; and cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life. Phthalates — synthetic chemicals widely used in consumer products, such as vinyl flooring and personal -care items — have been implicated in preterm birth. However, little is understood about the potential effects of newer phthalates, such as diisononyl phthalate (DiNP) and diisodecyl phthalate (DiDP), used to replace di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) in food packaging.

Using data from the NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program for 1998-2022, the researchers studied associations between 20 phthalates and gestational age at birth, birthweight, and birth length for 5,006 mother-child pairs. They also investigated negative birth outcomes and financial costs that could be attributable to phthalate exposure.

Although DEHP exposure was associated with preterm birth, the replacement chemicals DiDP, DiNP, and di-n-octyl phthalate showed stronger associations. The team also estimated that 56,595 cases of preterm birth in 2018 could be attributed to phthalate exposures. For that year, lost economic productivity and additional medical care costs due to phthalate-induced preterm birth could have ranged from $1.6 to $8.1 billion.

The results suggest substantial opportunities for phthalate exposure prevention, according to the authors. They added their findings also show that DEHP replacements are not safer, indicating a need to regulate chemicals with similar properties as a class. (JL)

Citation : Trasande L, Nelson ME, Alshawabkeh A, Barrett ES, Buckley JP, Dabelea D, Dunlop AL, Herbstman JB, Meeker JD, Naidu M, Newschaffer C, Padula AM, Romano ME, Ruden DM, Sathyanarayana S, Schantz SL, Starling AP, Hamra GB; programme collaborators for Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes. 2024. Prenatal phthalate exposure and adverse birth outcomes in the USA: a prospective analysis of births and estimates of attributable burden and costs . Lancet Planet Health 8(2):e74–e85.

Moderate radon exposure associated with increased risk of stroke in women

Exposure to moderate levels of radon was associated with increased risk of stroke in middle-aged and older women, NIEHS-funded researchers reported. The findings add to limited research on how exposure to the radioactive gas affects stroke risk in women, who are more prone to strokes than men.

Rocks and soil naturally release radon, which can accumulate inside buildings by entering through small cracks. Although radon is a leading cause of lung cancer and is implicated in stroke, radon testing and mitigation tend to be less common than recommended in the U.S.

The researchers used data from nearly 160,000 women ages 50-79 when they joined the Women’s Health Initiative, a decades-long study of postmenopausal women in the U.S. They estimated exposure by linking each woman’s home address to federal data on radon levels, which they grouped into low-, middle-, and high-radon exposures. Using medical records and death certificates, they confirmed stroke outcomes in participants during the approximately 13-year follow-up.

Stroke risk was 6% and 14% greater among women living in middle and high exposure areas, respectively, compared to those with the lowest radon exposures. Notably, stroke risk was significantly elevated among women exposed to radon at mid-levels, which are below the recommended threshold for taking mitigation steps, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Overall, the results suggest a relationship between radon exposure and increased risk of stroke among women. According to the authors, confirmation of this trend in a more diverse population could extend the generalizability of these findings and help inform stricter radon action levels to protect public health. (MA)

Citation : Buchheit SF, Collins JM, Anthony KM, Love SM, Stewart JD, Gondalia R, Huang DY, Manson JE, Reiner AP, Schwartz GG, Vitolins MZ, Schumann RR, Smith RL, Whitsel EA. 2024. Radon exposure and incident stroke risk in the Women’s Health Initiative . Neurology 102(4).

(Megan Avakian and Julie Leibach are senior science writers at MDB, Inc., a contractor for the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training.)

Read the current Superfund Research Program Research Brief . New issues are published on the first Wednesday of every month.


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