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POLLUTION-AIR, WATER-CONSEQUENCE AND REMEDIAL MEASURES  

INTRODUCTION

Nature is our mother. She offers us all facilities to lead a comfortable and peaceful life. She brings us rain. She feeds the human beings who are her children. The plants, trees, bushes and the grains we grow all belong to nature. Yet man is not grateful to nature. He pollutes the surroundings and brings destruction on himself.

Man's ability to manipulate the environment has today resulted in Several Serious problems. The most Serious of these problems, is the environmental pollution. The atmosphere, the hydrosphere and to some extent the lithosphere are the parts of the earth from which all the members of the biosphere obtain their essential requirements. Since, living organisms are in constant interaction with these constituents, any Slight Change in the composition of the atmosphere or the hydrosphere or the lithosphere, will have marked influence on the biosphere.

Environment al pollution can be defined as an undesirable change in the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the environment such changes are caused by Substances that are introduced into the environment, by human activities. If such substances have a recognizable adverse effect on the living organisms, they are described as pollutants or contaminants.

TYPES OF POLLUTION

Pollution is normally classified on an environmental basis, into the following 3 types.

  1. Air pollution.
  2. Water pollution.
  3. Soil pollution.

Apart from these, we can recognize other forms of pollution such as noise pollution, thermal pollution, radio-active pollution and so on.

AIR POLLUTION

To-day we drink, breathe, smell and see pollution. In simple words, the air we breather is made impure. Once earth looked like a sparkling blue and white jewel when seen from a spacecraft. Now earth looks dull and dirty on account of air pollution.

Pollution of air is the cause of damage to healthy environment. The air we breath is filled with dark, Swirling clouds of Carbon dioxides of carbon and Sulphur .

According to W.H.O, an increase in any of the constituents of the atmosphere which is harmful to the living beings and their environment, is known as air pollution. We burn fire wood in our houses and coal in factories, petrol in vehicles. In all these cases carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other gases are released into the atmosphere. If these gases reach a concentration which becomes harmful to us or to the environment, then we can consider the air to be polluted.

Industries, automobiles and moder agricultural operations release a large number of chemicals, Smoke, dust and poisonous gases into the atmosphere. Some of the toxic gases undergo photochemical reactions with the oxides of nitrogen in the atmosphere to generate Photochemical Smog . Smog is a combination of Smoke and fog. Smog formation is common in many industrial cities like Mumbai, Kolkotta, Delhi and Bangalore . These gases (So 2 and So 3 ) when released into atmosphere react with rain water to form acids, which come down as acid rain. It contains about 70% of Sulphuric acid and 30% of nitric acid.

Effects of Air Pollution

  1. Effect on human health

•  Polluted air causes respiratory disorders such as bronchitis and allergies.

•  Smog is a killer precipitation. It can cause bronchial affictions that may lead to death.

•  Carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin and impedes oxygen transport in the blood.

  1. Effects on vegetation.

•  It increases the acidity of Soils.

•  Acid rain can damage or destroy forest trees.

•  Air pollutants inhibit the growth of lichens on trees.

  1. Effects on building and monuments.
•  Acid rains and Smog can damage historical monuments.

•  One of the air pollutants chlorofluro carbons (CFCS) can oxidize rubber goods.

•  World famous architecture of St. Paul Cathedrell is getting spoiled for about one inch for every 100 years. The famous stone sculptures of Greece and Italy and the world famous liberty statue are losing their luster.

Be Aware: The ozone layer is becoming thin due to the gases called CFCS. The use of these gases started in 1930s in refrigerators, air conditioners, and for cleaning of computers. These gases do not burn and are not poisonous. However, CFCS are known to spoil the ozone layer of the atmosphere in a systematic way. Modern research shows that one molecule of CFCs can destroy one lakh molecules of ozone.

4. Effects on Climate  

The climatic factors are very complex to understand. In the recent years, level of air pollution has increased due to the excessive use of fossil fuels and large scale destruction of forests. This has led to a rise in the global temperature. This phenomenon is similar to the one taking place inside a glass house, where plants are grown. Hence, this phenomenon is called the “Green house effect”.

If this rise in temperature is more than 2 or 3 degrees, it may lead to the melting of polar ice caps and glaciers causing a rise in the level of water in the oceans.

It ozone layer acts as a natural filter and prevents excessive radiation from the sun, reaching the earth. Air pollutants such as CFCs can damage the ozone layer and are believed to cause skin cancer an mutations.

Measures: The threat to man and animal comes from the destruction of the earth's environment. The nations big and small have now realized the danger to humanity. The need of environmental protection brought together Heads of 150 nations for a historic summit at Rio de Janeiro from June 30 to July 14, 1992 .

All the nations are called upon to reduce their excessive consumption of combustible fuels. Peace loving nations like India reiterate that there should be total ban on nuclear tests and nuclear weapons.

Control of Air Pollution.

  Air pollution can be controlled by a thorough understanding of its causes.

•  Establishment of industries away from the towns and cities.

•  Increasing the length of the chyeysmn in industries.

•  Growing more plants and trees.

•  Use of efficient engines in automobiles.

•  Use of smokeless choola.

•  Use of petrol without lead (Unleaded petrol).

•  Enforcement of regulatory rules of air pollution and vigorous punishment to the defaulters.

•  Legislature alone would not meet the problem. Education could be the best agency to reduce pollution.

•  People need to take special interest in planting trees near their houses for the supply of pure air.

•  Vanamohotsava should be organized in the right spirit

•  Indiscrimate distruction of forests must be prevented.

•  The UNO must stop nuclear tests.

•  Stringent action must be taken against mills and factories that cause air pollution and water pollution.

•  Environmental degradation must be checked at any cost.

•  Measures should be taken to protect ozone layer.

WATER POLLUTION

Effluent from various industries, Sewage containing domestic waster and pesticides from agricultural lands are finding their way into water bodies leading to water pollution.

Causes of Water Pollution: Water pollution is mainly due to the following causes.

  1. Industrial wastes: Various kinds of industries like paper mills, sugar factories, iron and steel industries, food processing industries, fertilizer factories, textile mills, electroplanting industries and chemical plants release waste waters into the neighbouring water bodies like rivers and lakes. These waste waters often contain toxic materials like cadmium, lead, chromium, mercury, fluorine, acids and alkalies.
  2. Sewage water: Sewage contains human and animal excreta in addition to food residues, detergents and other waster. It is rich in disease causing bacterial and organic substances. Addition of sewage water into natural water bodies seriously affects the quality of water. Rivers like Ganga , Narmada , Kaveri, Godavari , Tungabadhra, Brahmaputra , Krishna and Mahanadi are now known to be highly polluted.
  3. Agricultural wastes: These wastes contain residuces of fertilizers and pesticides which get very easily carried into the nearly water bodies.
  4. Release of Superheated water: Release of superheated water from some industries and nuclear power plants results in thermal pollution in natural water bodies.
  5. Addition of waste and oil from refineries: Waster from refineries and oil released into seas and oceans, cause marine pollution which is detrimental to marine life.
Effects of Water Pollution

•  Industrial pollutants like mercury, chromium, cadmium and lead are poisnous. They are also capable of entering the food chains and cause diseases in man, Mercury is known to cause a disease called Minimata.

•  Organochlorine pesticides like D.D.T. in the agricultural wastes are non-degradable and move along the food chains. It may lead to biomagnification.

•  Some industrial effluents can cause changes in colour, odour and taste of water in the natural water bodies. Contamination of water also leads to spread of water borne diseases such as cholera, amoebiasis and other diseases.

Control of Water Pollution:- The following steps are being taken up to control water pollution.

  1. Sewage treatment:- It is done in three steps. In the first step Suspended materials are removed. In the second step, the waste water is aerated. This promotes bacterial decomposition of organic compounds. This is followed by chlorination. In the third step, nitrates and phosphates are removed and the water is purified.
  2. Effluent Treatment:- Industrial effluents are suitably treated to eliminate the pollutants. The steps involve removal of toxic chemicals, neutralization of acids and alkalies, precipitation of metallic compounds and reducing the temp of waste waters from power plants.
  3. The Ganga water Management has been set up in utterpradesh to control water pollution.
  4. Stringent action must be taken against mills and factories that cause water pollution.

SOIL POLLUTION

Various kinds of domestic wastes, residues of pesticides and fertilizers have been the major sources of soil pollution. There is also the rise of some of these residues entering into food chains in the neighboring water bodies. Pesticides like B.H.C, D.D.T etc. contain non-degradable poisonous constituents which enter the human body through food chain.

Cause of Soil Pollution

•  Excavation of earth, especially in towers and cities for construction of new buildings.

•  Residences from the factories.

•  Indiscriminate use of pesticides.

•  Addition of non degradable domestic waste like plastic.

Control of Soil Pollution

•  Minimising the usage of pesticides.

•  Periodic change of crops to increase the soil fertility.

•  Disposal of unwanted garbage created by clinics and hospitals properly either by burning or by burying into the soil.

•  Following the rules and regulations laid down by pollution control board.

•  Minimising the usage of plastics.

NOISE POLLUTION

Improvement in human civilization has resulted in the use of various kinds of vehicles for transport purposes. Such vehicles have today become a major source of noise pollution. In addition the use of microphones and other audio equipments in public places have added to the intensity of noise pollution which has a direct effect on human health.

Effects of Noise Pollution

•  It affects human nervous system leading to deafness, headache, blood pressure, brain disorders etc.

•  Harsh noise leads to uneasy feelings, short temper, heart disease and other related problems.

Measure to Check the Noise Pollution.

•  Replacing very old machines by new ones.

•  Providing labourers in industries with ear plugs and improved sound proof instruments.

•  Parking for high sounding vehicles should be only outside the city limits.

•  Regulation of loud speakers used in functions.

•  Growing broad-leafed plants which can absorb sound.

•  The sound volume beyond certain limit is prohibited by law.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IS THE NEED OF THE HOUS.

Earth is able to sustain life because of water. But we are over using water and misusing drinking water. Students must be taught how water should be preserved and recycled. The excessive use of plastic bags is causing damage. The plastic bags don't decompose. They clog the arteries of water and choke mother earth. In England , they have invented biodegradable plastics. It is time for us to implement such technique in our country. If we can't we should ban the use of plastics to sustain life. Cutting of trees goes unchecked. The indiscriminate felling of trees has resulted in irregular rainfall. Cauvery also ran dry for a few year continuously. This is a dangerous signal to us by nature. If we do not plant and promote afforestation on a large scales we will have to buy food grains also from foreign countries. Students must spread awareness among the people on “environmental issues such as over use of petrol vehicles, over use of coal, oil and ground water. Besides, people must be taught not to pollute water bodies too. If we do not protect our environment, it will stop supporting organisms. That would be the end of human life”.

Man cuts and fells trees without any limit. This causes imbalance of the surface of the earth. The result is lack of rain and soil erosion. We must protect trees. Let us keep our surroundings clean and lead a healthy and happy life.

Kavana. K, 10th , Vikasa High School , Alkola, Shimoga – 577 204.