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Environmental Pollution Index

Introduction

     It is aptly said that pollution is the price paid by us towards social development through scientific advancement. Pollution is a peril of our society. It is a peril out of scientific achievements applied to improvement of human facilities.

Definition and Meaning

     Presence of dangerous unnatural ingredients causing imbalance in the ecosystem and health hazards to human beings and animals can be called as pollution.

Causes of Pollution

     The ultimate cause of pollution is human activity itself. Pollution is a human contribution to nature. Science has evolved technologies and technologies have helped the human welfare. In the process, the pollution has been a part of technology and therefore a part of human miseries.

Pollutants

     Pollutants are ingredients causing pollution. They may be gases, liquids, solids of different chemical composition or may be high pitched sounds. The pollutants are not deliberately manufactured. But they are the by products of manufacturing processes. At different stage of manufacturing, these pollutants may be generated. As they are not useful to manufacture any useful product of commercial value, they are sent out of the industries.

Agriculture

     Agriculture is a very important human activity in any country. Agriculture is a primary activity - serving as the basis of many other activities. Agriculture supports food production, textile industries, food - based industries, agro - processing industries, oil - industry, sugar industry, etc.

Health Care

     Health care is an important human activity causing pollution to environment in many ways. It is ironical that the activities meant to care for human health are themselves causes of pollution and are detrimental to human health.

Transport

     Transport facility created for the convenience of human beings is a great source of air pollution as all the transport vehicles burn some kind of fuels and emit dangerous gases.

Dwelling

     Human settlements in the form of cluster of housing units have always been a source of pollution. Because, human beings generate large quantity of wastes during the course of their daily activities.

Energy Generation

     Generating energy to meet the demands of human being is one of the greatest interferences of human beings on the nature. Any form of generating energy leads to imbalance in natural eco-systems. Some of such imbalances will cause pollution. Out of important methods of energy generation, large scale pollution is caused by thermal power generation - as it involves large scale burning of coal releasing CO2 and Co into atmosphere.

Basic Concepts of Quantifying Effects of Pollution

     Pollution is caused by almost all activities of human beings, either directly or indirectly. Use of mosquito repellent, use of cooking gas, use of diesel / petrol, use of detergent, passing of urine, throwing away wastes, use of pesticides, establishment of a factory or a hospital or a hostel, generation of power…etc. can bring pollution in one form or other. In broader sense, any form of human interference in natural processes can lead us to pollution.

Air Pollution

     Air is an important natural resource providing the basis of life on earth. Entire biosphere depends on air. Air in the atmosphere provides oxygen to plants and animals, by virtue of which they are able to live.

Causes of Air Pollution

     Burning the petroleum products to run automotive transport vehicles is the main cause of air pollution. The main pollutants like SO2, CO, CO2 are main gases being released into air due to transport vehicles.

Waste Disposal Systems

     Cities and other urban agglomerations generate such a large quantity of wastes that, their safe disposal is a great challenge. Although many technologies have been developed to ensure their safe disposal, in capital deficit countries like India adopting such technologies is either partial or negligible. This has caused number of problems including air pollution.

Effects of Air Pollution

     Air pollution can cause number of health hazards to human beings, animals, birds, in addition to causing number of deleterious effects on earth's atmosphere as well as vegetation and even on some buildings. It is a global malady causing innumerable irreversible changes to our planet. The effects of air pollution have no limitations or country boundaries. They can extend to any adjoining country or even far off country from the country of origin.

Water Pollution

     Water pollution can be point source or non - point source. That is, it can be caused near the source of pollution or where source of pollution is sometimes far away from source.

Causes of Water Pollution

     Unlike air pollution, water pollution has to be studied in the spatial perspective to understand the causes.

Effects of Water Pollution

     Besides inorganic nutrient input, with the inflow of waste water, decomposition of organic wastes, plant nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates takes place. This promotes the growth of oxygen consuming algae (algal bloom), especially the blue-green algae. The growth of oxygen consuming algae, which deoxygenates water killing fish and other animals is referred to as eutrophication.

Soil Pollution

     Soil pollution refers to addition of solid and liquid wastes to soil creating imbalance in its natural composition and functions.

Nature and Causes of Soil Pollution

     Includes disturbance of surface soil in terms of its structure, chemical properties and biological activities due to agricultural activities such as cultivation of crops, irrigation, application of fertilizers and pesticides.

Soil Ecological Imbalance

     Soil ecology is the study of life in soil in harmony with abiotic factors like air, soil particles, carbonaceous materials etc. In its natural condition, soil has its own equilibrium featured by delicate balance between micro and macro organisms in the form of series of food chains and food webs. Such balances are supported by physical and chemical activities of soil. Invasion of soil surface by fertilizers and pesticides has set imbalances in several food chains between micro and macro organisms (parasite - predator relation) as well as chemical reactions.

Soil Pollution by Industrial Effluents and Solid Wastes

     Large quantity of solid wastes like unused and rejected chemicals (like calcium carbonate, magnesium sulphate, ferrous chloride, ferrous oxide, radioactive wastes, fly ashes, sludge, press mud, saw dust, bottles, plastic materials) unwanted industrial wastes generated during manufacturing processes (rejection, broken items of metal, plastic, wooden or chemical solids, powders) are dumped over on the surface of soil by almost all industries with difference in the degree. Larger the production base, larger is the generation of wastes. Traditionally, these materials have been dumped around the factory site or around the entire city. Rarely, they are put to recycling or safe conversion.

Disturbances in Soil Profile

     The chemical effluents released by industries have altered the composition of soil in deeper layers and have caused imbalances in the nature of soil.

Pollution Due to Urbanisation

     Urban activities generate large quantities of city wastes including several Biodegradable materials (like vegetables, animal wastes, papers, wooden pieces, carcasses, plant twigs, leaves, cloth wastes as well as sweepings) and many non-biodegradable materials (such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic wastes, glass bottles, glass pieces, stone / cement pieces). On a rough estimate Indian cities are producing solid city wastes to the tune of 50,000 - 80,000 metric tons every day.

Effects of Soil Pollution

     Ban on use of plastic bags (below 20 microns thickness) - which are major cause of pollution in cities.

Noise Pollution

     Noise is generally regarded as an unwanted sound or sound, which produces unpleasant effects on the ears.

Effects of Noise Pollution

     The immediate and acute effect of noise pollution is impairment of hearing. Damage to the eardrum can be caused by impulsive loud sounds or by prolonged exposure to noise. Long exposure to loud noise may result in hearing loss which may become permanent.

Conclusion

     Presence of dangerous unnatural ingredeints causing imbalance in the ecosystems and health hazards to human beings and animals is called pollution.



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