Environmental and Health Impacts of Air Pollution A causes of environmental pollution articles Review

Diseases associated with air pollution have not only an important economic impact but also a societal impact due to absences from productive work and school.
Technological innovation can only be successful if it is able to meet the needs of society. In this sense, technology must reflect the decision-making practices and procedures of those involved in risk assessment and evaluation and act as a facilitator in providing information and assessments to enable decision makers to make the best decisions possible. Summarizing the aforementioned in order to design an effective air quality control strategy, several aspects must be considered: environmental factors and ambient air quality conditions, engineering factors and air pollutant characteristics, and finally, economic operating costs for technological improvement and administrative and legal costs. Considering the economic factor, competitiveness through neoliberal concepts is offering a solution to environmental problems .
Indoor pollution is the pollution generated by household combustion of fuels.
In this vein, climatic changes will affect the incidence and prevalence of both residual and imported infections in Europe. Climate and weather affect the duration, timing, and intensity of outbreaks strongly and change the map of infectious diseases in the globe . Mosquito-transmitted parasitic or viral diseases are extremely climate-sensitive, as warming firstly shortens the pathogen incubation period and secondly shifts the geographic map of the vector. Similarly, water-warming following climate changes leads to a high incidence of waterborne infections. Recently, in Europe, eradicated diseases seem to be emerging due to the migration of population, for example, cholera, poliomyelitis, tick-borne encephalitis, and malaria .
Finally, another fact is that the half-lives of PM 10 and PM 2.5 particles in the atmosphere is extended due to their tiny dimensions; this permits their long-lasting suspension in the atmosphere and even their transfer and spread to distant destinations where people and the environment may be exposed to the same magnitude of pollution . They are able to change the nutrient balance in watery ecosystems, damage forests and crops, and acidify water bodies.
Particulate Matter , dust, benzene, and O 3 cause serious damage to the respiratory system . Moreover, there is a supplementary risk in case of existing respiratory disease such as asthma . Long-term effects are more frequent in people with a predisposing disease state. When the trachea is contaminated by pollutants, voice alterations may be remarked after acute exposure. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may be induced following air pollution, increasing morbidity and mortality . Long-term effects from traffic, industrial air pollution, and combustion of fuels are the major factors for COPD risk .
Noise pollution is produced by machines, vehicles, traffic noises, and musical installations that are harmful to our hearing.
Acid rain is wet or dry precipitation containing toxic amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. They are able to acidify the water and soil environments, damage trees and plantations, and even damage buildings and outdoor sculptures, constructions, and statues.
As extensively stated previously, according to a recent epidemiological study from Harvard School of Public Health, the relative magnitudes of the short- and long-term effects have not been completely clarified due to the different epidemiological methodologies and to the exposure errors. New models are proposed for assessing short- and long-term human exposure data more successfully . Thus, in the present section, we report the more common short- and long-term health effects but also general concerns for both types of effects, as these effects are often dependent on environmental conditions, dose, and individual susceptibility.
Global climate change is an important issue that concerns mankind. As is known, the “greenhouse effect” keeps the Earth’s temperature stable. Unhappily, anthropogenic activities have destroyed this protecting temperature effect by producing large amounts of greenhouse gases, and global warming is mounting, with harmful effects on human health, animals, forests, wildlife, agriculture, and the water environment. A report states that global warming is adding to the health risks of poor people .
Eutrophication is occurring when elevated concentrations of nutrients stimulate the blooming of aquatic algae, which can cause a disequilibration in the diversity of fish and their deaths.
Based on the magnitude of the public health impact, it is certain that different kinds of interventions should be taken into account. Success and effectiveness in controlling air pollution, specifically at the local level, have been reported. Adequate technological means are applied considering the source and the nature of the emission as well as its impact on health and the environment. The importance of point sources and non-point sources of air pollution control is reported by Schwela and Köth-Jahr . Without a doubt, a detailed emission inventory must record all sources in a given area. Beyond considering the above sources and their nature, topography and meteorology should also be considered, as stated previously. Assessment of the control policies and methods is often extrapolated from the local to the regional and then to the global scale. Air pollution may be dispersed and transported from one region to another area located far away. Air pollution management means the reduction to acceptable levels or possible elimination of air pollutants whose presence in the air affects our health or the environmental ecosystem. Private and governmental entities and authorities implement actions to ensure the air quality . Air quality standards and guidelines were adopted for the different pollutants by the WHO and EPA as a tool for the management of air quality . These standards have to be compared to the emissions inventory standards by causal analysis and dispersion modeling in order to reveal the problematic areas . Inventories are generally based on a combination of direct measurements and emissions modeling .
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Air pollution is determined as the presence of pollutants in the air in large quantities for long periods. Air pollutants are dispersed particles, hydrocarbons, CO, CO 2 , NO, NO 2 , SO 3 , etc.
Sulfur and nitrogen oxides are involved in the formation of acid rain and are harmful to plants and marine organisms.
Ground-level ozone is generated through a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen and VOCs emitted from natural sources and/or following anthropogenic activities.
Moreover, respiratory diseases and affection of the immune system are registered as long-term chronic effects . It is worth noting that people with asthma, pneumonia, diabetes, and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are especially susceptible and vulnerable to the effects of PM. PM 2.5 , followed by PM 10 , are strongly associated with diverse respiratory system diseases , as their size permits them to pierce interior spaces . The particles produce toxic effects according to their chemical and physical properties. The components of PM 10 and PM 2.5 can be organic or inorganic in nature .
Particulate matter contains tiny liquid or solid droplets that can be inhaled and cause serious health effects . Particles 2.5 , pose a greater risk to health .
Biological Contaminants are microorganisms , cat allergens, house dust and allergens, and pollen.
High levels of nitrogen dioxide are deleterious to crops and vegetation, as they have been observed to reduce crop yield and plant growth efficiency. Moreover, NO 2 can reduce visibility and discolor fabrics .
Short-period exhibition to high dioxin concentrations may result in dark spots and lesions on the skin . Long-term exposure to dioxins can cause developmental problems, impairment of the immune, endocrine and nervous systems, reproductive infertility, and cancer .
Higher morbidity is reported to fetuses and children when exposed to the above dangers. Impairment in fetal growth, low birth weight, and autism have been reported .
Short-term effects are temporary and range from simple discomfort, such as irritation of the eyes, nose, skin, throat, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness, and breathing difficulties, to more serious states, such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, and lung and heart problems. Short-term exposure to air pollution can also cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
Despite the difficulty of eradicating the problem of anthropogenic environmental pollution, a successful solution could be envisaged as a tight collaboration of authorities, bodies, and doctors to regularize the situation. Governments should spread sufficient information and educate people and should involve professionals in these issues so as to control the emergence of the problem successfully.
Environmental adverse effects, such as acidification of soil and acid rain, seem to be associated with sulfur dioxide emissions .
As stated already, respiratory disorders are closely associated with the inhalation of air pollutants. These pollutants will invade through the airways and will accumulate at the cells. Damage to target cells should be related to the pollutant component involved and its source and dose. Health effects are also closely dependent on country, area, season, and time. An extended exposure duration to the pollutant should incline to long-term health effects in relation also to the above factors.
Radioactive materials can contaminate surface water bodies and, being noxious to the environment, plants, animals, and humans. It is known that several radioactive substances such as radium and uranium concentrate in the bones and can cause cancers .
The spread of epidemics is associated with natural climate disasters and storms, which seem to occur more frequently nowadays . Malnutrition and disequilibration of the immune system are also associated with the emerging infections affecting public health .
Brain inflammation was observed in dogs living in a highly polluted area in Mexico for a long period . In human adults, markers of systemic inflammation were found to be increased as an immediate response to PNC on the IL-6 level, possibly leading to the production of acute-phase proteins . The progression of atherosclerosis and oxidative stress seem to be the mechanisms involved in the neurological disturbances caused by long-term air pollution. Inflammation comes secondary to the oxidative stress and seems to be involved in the impairment of developmental maturation, affecting multiple organs . Similarly, other factors seem to be involved in the developmental maturation, which define the vulnerability to long-term air pollution. These include birthweight, maternal smoking, genetic background and socioeconomic environment, as well as education level.
Another exterior organ that may be affected is the eye. Contamination usually comes from suspended pollutants and may result in asymptomatic eye outcomes, irritation , retinopathy, or dry eye syndrome .
Haze is produced when fine particles are dispersed in the air and reduce the transparency of the atmosphere. It is caused by gas emissions in the air coming from industrial facilities, power plants, automobiles, and trucks.
In this vein, funds have been financing, directly or indirectly, projects related to air quality along with the technical infrastructure to maintain good air quality. These plans focus on an inventory of databases from air quality environmental planning awareness campaigns. Moreover, pollution measures of air emissions may be taken for vehicles, machines, and industries in urban areas.
In Europe, air quality limit values AQLVs are issued for setting off planning claims . In the USA, the NAAQS establish the national air quality limit values . While both standards and directives are based on different mechanisms, significant success has been achieved in the reduction of overall emissions and associated health and environmental effects . The European Directive identifies geographical areas of risk exposure as monitoring/assessment zones to record the emission sources and levels of air pollution , whereas the USA establishes global geographical air quality criteria according to the severity of their air quality problem and records all sources of the pollutants and their precursors .
Dioxins originate from industrial processes but also come from natural processes, such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions. They accumulate in foods such as meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish, and especially in the fatty tissue of animals .
Technologies to reduce air pollution at the source must be established and should be used in all industries and power plants. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 set as a major target the reduction of GHG emissions to below 5% by 2012 . This was followed by the Copenhagen summit, 2009 , and then the Durban summit of 2011 , where it was decided to keep to the same line of action. The Kyoto protocol and the subsequent ones were ratified by many countries. Among the pioneers who adopted this important protocol for the world’s environmental and climate “health” was China . As is known, China is a fast-developing economy and its GDP is expected to be very high by 2050, which is defined as the year of dissolution of the protocol for the decrease in gas emissions.
Concerning industrial emissions, collectors and closed systems can keep the air pollution to the minimal standards imposed by legislation .
However, many classification systems have been proposed. Another type of classification is a grouping according to the recipient of the pollution, as follows:
Particulate Matter is divided into four main categories according to type and size .
Outdoor pollution is the ambient air pollution.
National reports have mentioned the increased risk of morbidity and mortality . These studies were conducted in many places around the world and show a correlation between daily ranges of particulate matter concentration and daily mortality. Climate shifts and global planetary warming could aggravate the situation. Besides, increased hospitalization has been registered among the elderly and susceptible individuals for specific reasons. Fine and ultrafine particulate matter seems to be associated with more serious illnesses , as it can invade the deepest parts of the airways and more easily reach the bloodstream.
Moreover, major sources of lead pollution in the air are metals, ore, and piston-engine aircraft. Lead poisoning is a threat to public health due to its deleterious effects upon humans, animals, and the environment, especially in the developing countries.
As an example, we state here the control measures at the source through the use of catalytic converters in cars. These are devices that turn the pollutants and toxic gases produced from combustion engines into less-toxic pollutants by catalysis through redox reactions . In Greece, the use of private cars was restricted by tracking their license plates in order to reduce traffic congestion during rush hour .
The most common air pollutants are ground-level ozone and Particulates Matter . Air pollution is distinguished into two main types:
3 Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois , Service de Médicine Interne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Major sources include the emission of pollutants from power stations, refineries, and petrochemicals, the chemical and fertilizer industries, metallurgical and other industrial plants, and, finally, municipal incineration.
However, diet, starting from breast-feeding, is another determinant factor. Diet is the main source of antioxidants, which play a key role in our protection against air pollutants . Antioxidants are free radical scavengers and limit the interaction of free radicals in the brain . Similarly, genetic background may result in a differential susceptibility toward the oxidative stress pathway . For example, antioxidant supplementation with vitamins C and E appears to modulate the effect of ozone in asthmatic children homozygous for the GSTM1 null allele . Inflammatory cytokines released in the periphery upregulate the innate immune Toll-like receptor 2. Such activation and the subsequent events leading to neurodegeneration have recently been observed in lung lavage in mice exposed to ambient Los Angeles particulate matter . In children, neurodevelopmental morbidities were observed after lead exposure. These children developed aggressive and delinquent behavior, reduced intelligence, learning difficulties, and hyperactivity . No level of lead exposure seems to be “safe,” and the scientific community has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the current screening guideline of 10 μg/dl .
Last but not least, as mentioned above, the toxicity associated with lead and other metals is the main threat to our ecosystems and living creatures .
Air pollution and climate change are closely related. Climate is the other side of the same coin that reduces the quality of our Earth . Pollutants such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and aerosols affect the amount of incoming sunlight. As a result, the temperature of the Earth is increasing, resulting in the melting of ice, icebergs, and glaciers.
One of our era’s greatest scourges is air pollution, on account not only of its impact on climate change but also its impact on public and individual health due to increasing morbidity and mortality. There are many pollutants that are major factors in disease in humans. Among them, Particulate Matter , particles of variable but very small diameter, penetrate the respiratory system via inhalation, causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, reproductive and central nervous system dysfunctions, and cancer. Despite the fact that ozone in the stratosphere plays a protective role against ultraviolet irradiation, it is harmful when in high concentration at ground level, also affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular system. Furthermore, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, Volatile Organic Compounds , dioxins, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are all considered air pollutants that are harmful to humans. Carbon monoxide can even provoke direct poisoning when breathed in at high levels. Heavy metals such as lead, when absorbed into the human body, can lead to direct poisoning or chronic intoxication, depending on exposure. Diseases occurring from the aforementioned substances include principally respiratory problems such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease , asthma, bronchiolitis, and also lung cancer, cardiovascular events, central nervous system dysfunctions, and cutaneous diseases. Last but not least, climate change resulting from environmental pollution affects the geographical distribution of many infectious diseases, as do natural disasters. The only way to tackle this problem is through public awareness coupled with a multidisciplinary approach by scientific experts; national and international organizations must address the emergence of this threat and propose sustainable solutions.
Carbon monoxide affects the greenhouses gases that are tightly connected to global warming and climate. This should lead to an increase in soil and water temperatures, and extreme weather conditions or storms may occur .
Particulate matter is usually formed in the atmosphere as a result of chemical reactions between the different pollutants. The penetration of particles is closely dependent on their size . Particulate Matter was defined as a term for particles by the United States Environmental Protection Agency . Particulate matter pollution includes particles with diameters of 10 micrometers or smaller, called PM 10 , and extremely fine particles with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller.
Volatile organic compounds , such as toluene, benzene, ethylbenzene, and xylene , have been found to be associated with cancer in humans . The use of new products and materials has actually resulted in increased concentrations of VOCs. VOCs pollute indoor air and may have adverse effects on human health . Short-term and long-term adverse effects on human health are observed. VOCs are responsible for indoor air smells. Short-term exposure is found to cause irritation of eyes, nose, throat, and mucosal membranes, while those of long duration exposure include toxic reactions . Predictable assessment of the toxic effects of complex VOC mixtures is difficult to estimate, as these pollutants can have synergic, antagonistic, or indifferent effects .
The World Health Organization reports on six major air pollutants, namely particle pollution, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and lead. Air pollution can have a disastrous effect on all components of the environment, including groundwater, soil, and air. Additionally, it poses a serious threat to living organisms. In this vein, our interest is mainly to focus on these pollutants, as they are related to more extensive and severe problems in human health and environmental impact. Acid rain, global warming, the greenhouse effect, and climate changes have an important ecological impact on air pollution .
Soil pollution occurs through the release of chemicals or the disposal of wastes, such as heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and pesticides.
A more recent international agreement of crucial importance for climate change is the Paris Agreement of 2015, issued by the UNFCCC . This latest agreement was ratified by a plethora of UN countries as well as the countries of the European Union . In this vein, parties should promote actions and measures to enhance numerous aspects around the subject. Boosting education, training, public awareness, and public participation are some of the relevant actions for maximizing the opportunities to achieve the targets and goals on the crucial matter of climate change and environmental pollution . Without any doubt, technological improvements makes our world easier and it seems difficult to reduce the harmful impact caused by gas emissions, we could limit its use by seeking reliable approaches.
Air pollution mainly affects those living in large urban areas, where road emissions contribute the most to the degradation of air quality. There is also a danger of industrial accidents, where the spread of a toxic fog can be fatal to the populations of the surrounding areas. The dispersion of pollutants is determined by many parameters, most notably atmospheric stability and wind .
Gas contaminants include PM in aerial masses.
Multiple cardiovascular effects have been observed after exposure to air pollutants . Changes occurred in blood cells after long-term exposure may affect cardiac functionality. Coronary arteriosclerosis was reported following long-term exposure to traffic emissions , while short-term exposure is related to hypertension, stroke, myocardial infracts, and heart insufficiency. Ventricle hypertrophy is reported to occur in humans after long-time exposure to nitrogen oxide .
People exposed to high concentrations of air pollutants experience disease symptoms and states of greater and lesser seriousness. These effects are grouped into short- and long-term effects affecting health.
The distribution of PAHs is ubiquitous in the environment, as the atmosphere is the most important means of their dispersal. They are found in coal and in tar sediments. Moreover, they are generated through incomplete combustion of organic matter as in the cases of forest fires, incineration, and engines . PAH compounds, such as benzopyrene, acenaphthylene, anthracene, and fluoranthene are recognized as toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic substances. They are an important risk factor for lung cancer .
Penetrability according to particle size.
Synopsizing, a global prevention policy should be designed in order to combat anthropogenic air pollution as a complement to the correct handling of the adverse health effects associated with air pollution. Sustainable development practices should be applied, together with information coming from research in order to handle the problem effectively.
2 Laboratory of Hygiene and Environmental Protection, Faculty of Medicine, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece
Hence, air pollution has deleterious effects on both soil and water . Concerning PM as an air pollutant, its impact on crop yield and food productivity has been reported. Its impact on watery bodies is associated with the survival of living organisms and fishes and their productivity potential .
2 Laboratory of Hygiene and Environmental Protection, Faculty of Medicine, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece
Exposure to lead can occur through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption. Trans- placental transport of lead was also reported, as lead passes through the placenta unencumbered . The younger the fetus is, the more harmful the toxic effects. Lead toxicity affects the fetal nervous system; edema or swelling of the brain is observed . Lead, when inhaled, accumulates in the blood, soft tissue, liver, lung, bones, and cardiovascular, nervous, and reproductive systems. Moreover, loss of concentration and memory, as well as muscle and joint pain, were observed in adults .
At this point, international cooperation in terms of research, causes of environmental pollution articles development, administration policy, monitoring, and politics is vital for effective pollution control. Legislation concerning air pollution must be aligned and updated, and policy makers should propose the design of a powerful tool of environmental and health protection. As a result, the main proposal of this essay is that we should focus on fostering local structures to promote experience and practice and extrapolate these to the international level through developing effective policies for sustainable management of ecosystems.
Lastly, pollution is classified following type of origin:
The World Health Organization introduced the term DALYs. The DALYs for a disease or health condition is defined as the sum of the Years of Life Lost due to premature mortality in the population and the Years Lost due to Disability for people living with the health condition or its consequences . In Europe, air pollution is the main cause of disability-adjusted life years lost , followed by noise pollution. The potential relationships of noise and air pollution with health have been studied . The study found that DALYs related to noise were more important than those related to air pollution, as the effects of environmental noise on cardiovascular disease were independent of air pollution . Environmental noise should be counted as an independent public health risk .
Without any doubt, fossil fuel consumption is responsible for a sizeable part of air contamination. This contamination may be anthropogenic, as in agricultural and industrial processes or transportation, while contamination from natural sources is also possible. Interestingly, it is of note that the air quality standards established through the European Air Quality Directive are somewhat looser than the WHO guidelines, which are stricter .
Mobile sources include automobiles, cars, railways, airways, and other types of vehicles.
IM is employed by the company Delphis S.A. The remaining authors declare that the present review paper was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Sulfur dioxide is a harmful gas that is emitted mainly from fossil fuel consumption or industrial activities. The annual standard for SO 2 is 0.03 ppm . It affects human, animal, and plant life. Susceptible people as those with lung disease, old people, and children, who present a higher risk of damage. The major health problems associated with sulfur dioxide emissions in industrialized areas are respiratory irritation, bronchitis, mucus production, and bronchospasm, as it is a sensory irritant and penetrates deep into the lung converted into bisulfite and interacting with sensory receptors, causing bronchoconstriction. Moreover, skin redness, damage to the eyes and mucous membranes, and worsening of pre-existing cardiovascular disease have been observed .
Pollutants harm our environment either by increasing levels above normal or by introducing harmful toxic substances. Primary pollutants are directly produced from the above sources, and secondary pollutants are emitted as by-products of the primary ones. Pollutants can be biodegradable or non-biodegradable and of natural origin or anthropogenic, as stated previously. Moreover, their origin can be a unique source or dispersed sources.
In 2018, during the first WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, the WHO’s General Director, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called air pollution a “silent public health emergency” and “the new tobacco” .

Ozone is a gas formed from oxygen under high voltage electric discharge . It is a strong oxidant, 52% stronger than chlorine. It arises in the stratosphere, but it could also arise following chain reactions of photochemical smog in the troposphere .
The long-term effects associated with air pollution are chronic asthma, pulmonary insufficiency, cardiovascular diseases, and cardiovascular mortality. According to a Swedish cohort study, diabetes seems to be induced after long-term air pollution exposure . Moreover, air pollution seems to have various malign health effects in early human life, such as respiratory, cardiovascular, mental, and perinatal disorders , leading to infant mortality or chronic disease in adult age .
Children and newborns are extremely susceptible even to minimal doses of lead, as it is a neurotoxicant and causes learning disabilities, impairment of memory, hyperactivity, and even mental retardation.
Elevated amounts of lead in the environment are harmful to plants and crop growth. Neurological effects are observed in vertebrates and animals in association with high lead levels .
As is known, skin is our shield against ultraviolet radiation and other pollutants, as it is the most exterior layer of our body. Traffic-related pollutants, such as PAHs, VOCs, oxides, and PM, may cause pigmented spots on our skin . On the one hand, as already stated, when pollutants penetrate through the skin or are inhaled, damage to the organs is observed, as some of these pollutants are mutagenic and carcinogenic, and, specifically, they affect the liver and lung. On the other hand, air pollutants reduce the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation UVR in polluted urban areas . Air pollutants absorbed by the human skin may contribute to skin aging, psoriasis, acne, urticaria, eczema, and atopic dermatitis , usually caused by exposure to oxides and photochemical smoke . Exposure to PM and cigarette smoking act as skin-aging agents, causing spots, dyschromia, and wrinkles. Lastly, pollutants have been associated with skin cancer .
Ozone , as discussed previously, occurs both at ground level and in the upper level of the Earth’s atmosphere. Stratospheric ozone is protecting us from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. In contrast, ground-level ozone is harmful to human health and is a pollutant. Unfortunately, stratospheric ozone is gradually damaged by ozone-depleting substances . If this protecting stratospheric ozone layer is thinned, then UV radiation can reach our Earth, with harmful effects for human life and crops . In plants, ozone penetrates through the stomata, inducing them to close, which blocks CO 2 transfer and induces a reduction in photosynthesis .
All authors listed have made a substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.
Air pollution can influence the quality of soil and water bodies by polluting precipitation, falling into water and soil environments . Notably, the chemistry of the soil can be amended due to acid precipitation by affecting plants, cultures, and water quality . Moreover, movement of heavy metals is favored by soil acidity, and metals are so then moving into the watery environment. It is known that heavy metals such as aluminum are noxious to wildlife and fishes. Soil quality seems to be of importance, as soils with low calcium carbonate levels are at increased jeopardy from acid rain. Over and above rain, snow and particulate matter drip into watery ‘ bodies .
The development of environmental governance, along with technological progress, has initiated the deployment of a dialogue. Environmental politics has created objections and points of opposition between different political parties, scientists, media, and governmental and non-governmental organizations . Radical environmental activism actions and movements have been created . The rise of the new information and communication technologies are many times examined as to whether and in which way they have influenced means of communication and social movements such as activism . Since the 1990s, the term “digital activism” has been used increasingly and in many different disciplines . Nowadays, multiple digital technologies can be used to produce a digital activism outcome on environmental issues. More specifically, devices with online capabilities such as computers or mobile phones are being used as a way to pursue change in political and social affairs .
As stated previously, aerosols compounds are tiny in size and considerably affect the climate. They are able to dissipate sunlight by dispersing a quarter of the sun’s rays back to space and have cooled the global temperature over the last 30 years .
Accumulation of air pollution, especially sulfur dioxide and smoke, reaching 1,500 mg/m3, resulted in an increase in the number of deaths in December 1952 in London and in 1963 in New York City . An association of pollution with mortality was reported on the basis of monitoring of outdoor pollution in six US metropolitan cities . In every case, it seems that mortality was closely related to the levels of fine, inhalable, and sulfate particles more than with the levels of total particulate pollution, aerosol acidity, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen dioxide .
The long-term effects are chronic, lasting for years or the whole life and can even lead to death. Furthermore, the toxicity of several air pollutants may also induce a variety of cancers in the long term .
Environmental and Health Impacts of Air Pollution A causes of environmental pollution articles Review
Environmental and Health Impacts of Air Pollution A causes of environmental pollution articles Review
Wildlife is burdened by toxic pollutants coming from the air, soil, or the water ecosystem and, in this way, animals can develop health problems when exposed to high levels of pollutants. Reproductive failure and birth effects have been reported.
Susceptible populations that need to be aware of health protection measures include old people, children, and people with diabetes and predisposing heart or lung disease, especially asthma.
Neurological effects have been observed in adults and children after extended-term exposure to air pollutants.
However, in laboratory and field experiments, it has been seen to produce increased plant growth .
Those studies depend on PM 2.5 monitors and are restricted in terms of study area or city area due to a lack of spatially resolved daily PM 2.5 concentration data and, in this way, are not representative of the entire population. Following a recent epidemiological study by the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health , it was reported that, as PM 2.5 concentrations vary spatially, an exposure error seems to be produced, and the relative magnitudes of the short- and long-term effects are not yet completely elucidated. The team developed a PM 2.5 exposure model based on remote sensing data for assessing short- and long-term human exposures . This model permits spatial resolution in short-term effects plus the assessment of long-term effects in the whole population.
Nitrogen oxide is a traffic-related pollutant, as it is emitted from automobile motor engines . It is an irritant of the respiratory system as it penetrates deep in the lung, inducing respiratory diseases, coughing, wheezing, dyspnea, bronchospasm, and even pulmonary edema when inhaled at high levels. It seems that concentrations over 0.2 ppm produce these adverse effects in humans, while concentrations higher than 2.0 ppm affect T-lymphocytes, particularly the CD8 cells and NK cells that produce our immune response .It is reported that long-term exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide can be responsible for chronic lung disease. Long-term exposure to NO 2 can impair the sense of smell .
4 School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Carbon monoxide is produced by fossil fuel when combustion is incomplete. The symptoms of poisoning due to inhaling carbon monoxide include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and, finally, loss of consciousness.
The affinity of carbon monoxide to hemoglobin is much greater than that of oxygen. In this vein, serious poisoning may occur in people exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide for a long period of time. Due to the loss of oxygen as a result of the competitive binding of carbon monoxide, hypoxia, ischemia, and cardiovascular disease are observed.
Air pollution has various health effects. The health of susceptible and sensitive individuals can be impacted even on low air pollution days. Short-term exposure to air pollutants is closely related to COPD , cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, asthma, respiratory disease, and high rates of hospitalization .
It is important to state that impact on the immune system, causing dysfunction and neuroinflammation , is related to poor air quality. Yet, increases in serum levels of immunoglobulins and the complement component C3 are observed . Another issue is that antigen presentation is affected by air pollutants, as there is an upregulation of costimulatory molecules such as CD80 and CD86 on macrophages .
The interactions between humans and their physical surroundings have been extensively studied, as multiple human activities influence the environment. The environment is a coupling of the biotic and the abiotic .
Particulate contaminants include contaminants such as smog, soot, tobacco smoke, oil smoke, fly ash, and cement dust.
Air pollution is harming not only human health but also the environment in which we live. The most important environmental effects are as follows.
Ozone can travel to distant areas from its initial source, moving with air masses . It is surprising that ozone levels over cities are low in contrast to the increased amounts occuring in urban areas, which could become harmful for cultures, forests, and vegetation as it is reducing carbon assimilation . Ozone reduces growth and yield and affects the plant microflora due to its antimicrobial capacity . In this regard, ozone acts upon other natural ecosystems, with microflora and animal species changing their species composition . Ozone increases DNA damage in epidermal keratinocytes and leads to impaired cellular function .
Human activities have an adverse effect on the environment by polluting the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the soil in which plants grow. Although the industrial revolution was a great success in terms of technology, society, and the provision of multiple services, it also introduced the production of huge quantities of pollutants emitted into the air that are harmful to human health. Without any doubt, the global environmental pollution is considered an international public health issue with multiple facets. Social, economic, and legislative concerns and lifestyle habits are related to this major problem. Clearly, urbanization and industrialization are reaching unprecedented and upsetting proportions worldwide in our era. Anthropogenic air pollution is one of the biggest public health hazards worldwide, given that it accounts for about 9 million deaths per year .
Water pollution is organic and inorganic charge and biological charge at high levels that affect the water quality .
Environmental pollution occurs when changes in the physical, chemical, or biological constituents of the environment are produced.
An increase in cryptosporidiosis in the United Kingdom and in the Czech Republic seems to have occurred following flooding .
Pollution is defined as the introduction into the environment of substances harmful to humans and other living organisms. Pollutants are harmful solids, liquids, or gases produced in higher than usual concentrations that reduce the quality of our environment.
In developing countries , the problem is more serious due to overpopulation and uncontrolled urbanization along with the development of industrialization. This leads to poor air quality, especially in countries with social disparities and a lack of information on sustainable management of the environment. The use of fuels such as wood fuel or solid fuel for domestic needs due to low incomes exposes people to bad-quality, polluted air at home. It is of note that three billion people around the world are using the above sources of energy for their daily heating and cooking needs . In developing countries, the women of the household seem to carry the highest risk for disease development due to their longer duration exposure to the indoor air pollution . Due to its fast industrial development and overpopulation, China is one of the Asian countries confronting serious air pollution problems . The lung cancer mortality observed in China is associated with fine particles . As stated already, long-term exposure is associated with deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system . However, it is interesting to note that cardiovascular diseases have mostly been observed in developed and high-income countries rather than in the developing low-income countries exposed highly to air pollution . Extreme air pollution is recorded in India, where the air quality reaches hazardous levels. New Delhi is one of the more polluted cities in India. Flights in and out of New Delhi International Airport are often canceled due to the reduced visibility associated with air pollution. Pollution is occurring both in urban and rural areas in India due to the fast industrialization, urbanization, and rise in use of motorcycle transportation. Nevertheless, biomass combustion associated with heating and cooking needs and practices is a major source of household air pollution in India and in Nepal . There is spatial heterogeneity in India, as areas with diverse climatological conditions and population and education levels generate different indoor air qualities, with higher PM 2.5 observed in North Indian states compared to the Southern States . The cold climate of the North Indian areas may be the main reason for this, as longer periods at home and more heating are necessary compared to in the tropical climate of Southern India. Household air pollution in India is associated with major health effects, especially in women and young children, who stay indoors for longer periods. Chronic obstructive respiratory disease and lung cancer are mostly observed in women, while acute lower respiratory disease is seen in young children under 5 years of age .
Pollutants have differences in physical and chemical properties, explaining the discrepancy in their capacity for producing toxic effects. As an example, we state here that aerosol compounds have a greater toxicity than gaseous compounds due to their tiny size in the atmosphere; they have a greater penetration capacity. Gaseous compounds are eliminated more easily by our respiratory system . These particles are able to damage lungs and can even enter the bloodstream , leading to the premature deaths of millions of people yearly. Moreover, the aerosol acidity seems to considerably enhance the production of secondary organic aerosols , but this last aspect is not supported by other scientific teams .
Multiple epidemiological studies have been performed on the health effects of PM. A positive relation was shown between both short-term and long-term exposures of PM 2.5 and acute nasopharyngitis . In addition, long-term exposure to PM for years was found to be related to cardiovascular diseases and infant mortality.
Without a doubt, all of the aforementioned are closely associated with climate change, and in the event of danger, the consequences can be severe for mankind . Climate changes and the effects of global planetary warming seriously affect multiple ecosystems, causing problems such as food safety issues, ice and iceberg melting, animal extinction, and damage to plants .
These problems can be aggravated by extended long-term exposure to the pollutants, which is harmful to the neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems and causes cancer and even, rarely, deaths.
Furthermore, extremely high levels of pollution are reported in Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro, followed by Milan, Ankara, Melbourne, Tokyo, and Moscow .
An impairment in photosynthetic rhythm and metabolism is observed in plants exposed to the effects of ozone .
People living in poorly constructed buildings in warm-climate countries are at high risk for heat-related health problems as temperatures mount .
Types of Dust include suspended atmospheric dust, settling dust, and heavy dust.
Toxic effects induced by ozone are registered in urban areas all over the world, causing biochemical, morphologic, functional, and immunological disorders .
Psychological complications, autism, retinopathy, fetal growth, and low birth weight seem to be related to long-term air pollution . The etiologic agent of the neurodegenerative diseases is not yet known, although it is believed that extended exposure to air pollution seems to be a factor. Specifically, pesticides and metals are cited as etiological factors, together with diet. The mechanisms in the development of neurodegenerative disease include oxidative stress, protein aggregation, inflammation, and mitochondrial impairment in neurons .
Studies have shown a relationship between particulate matter and adverse health effects, focusing on either short-term or long-term PM exposure.
Without a doubt, there is a critical concentration of pollution that an ecosystem can tolerate without being destroyed, which is associated with the ecosystem’s capacity to neutralize acidity. The Canada Acid Rain Program established this load at 20 kg/ha/yr .
Undoubtedly, children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution, especially during their development. Air pollution has adverse effects on our lives in many different respects.
Current strategies to improve air quality require an estimation of the economic value of the benefits gained from proposed programs. These proposed programs by public authorities, and directives are issued with guidelines to be respected.
As stated, PM 2.5 , due to their tiny size, are causing more serious health effects. These aforementioned fine particles are the main cause of the “haze” formation in different metropolitan areas .
The Chikungunya virus “took the airplane” from the Indian Ocean to Europe, as outbreaks of the disease were registered in Italy as well as autochthonous cases in France .
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The European project focuses on the acute effects of ambient ozone concentrations on mortality . Daily ozone concentrations compared to the daily number of deaths were reported from different European cities for a 3-year period. During the warm period of the year, an observed increase in ozone concentration was associated with an increase in the daily number of deaths , in the number of respiratory deaths , and in the number of cardiovascular deaths . No effect was observed during wintertime.
The classification of air pollutants is based mainly on the sources producing pollution. Therefore, it is worth mentioning the four main sources, following the classification system: Major sources, Area sources, Mobile sources, and Natural sources.
Due to the low water-solubility of ozone, inhaled ozone has the capacity to penetrate deeply into the lungs .
Ozone uptake usually occurs by inhalation. Ozone affects the upper layers of the skin and the tear ducts . A study of short-term exposure of mice to high levels of ozone showed malondialdehyde formation in the upper skin but also depletion in vitamins C and E. It is likely that ozone levels are not interfering with the skin barrier function and integrity to predispose to skin disease .
It is known that the majority of environmental pollutants are emitted through large-scale human activities such as the use of industrial machinery, power-producing stations, combustion engines, and cars. Because these activities are performed at such a large scale, they are by far the major contributors to air pollution, with cars estimated to be responsible for approximately 80% of today’s pollution . Some other human activities are also influencing our environment to a lesser extent, such as field cultivation techniques, gas stations, fuel tanks heaters, and cleaning procedures , as well as several natural sources, such as volcanic and soil eruptions and forest fires.
Finally, natural sources include, as stated previously, physical disasters such as forest fire, volcanic erosion, dust storms, and agricultural burning.
Indoor area sources include domestic cleaning activities, dry cleaners, printing shops, and petrol stations.
However, systems other than respiratory ones can be involved, as symptoms such as eye, throat, and nose irritation have been registered .
In the present paper, we focus on the sources of environmental pollution in relation to public health and propose some solutions and interventions that may be of interest to environmental legislators and decision makers.
Lead is a heavy metal used in different industrial plants and emitted from some petrol motor engines, batteries, radiators, waste incinerators, and waste waters .
Radioactive and nuclear pollution , releasing radioactive and nuclear pollutants into water, air, and soil during nuclear explosions and accidents, environmental pollution articles

environmental pollution environmental pollution articles for students

Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor occur in the environment naturally. These so-called greenhouse gases absorb radiation emitted from Earth’s surface and direct it back to Earth, preventing radiant heat loss. This process is known as the greenhouse effect . However, since the Industrial Revolution began to prosper in the 19th century, people have aggressively added more of these gases into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, the widespread decimation of forests , the raising of large herds of cattle, and other methods. The increase of these gases means that more heat is trapped within Earth’s atmosphere, leading to rising global temperatures .
Even the testing of nuclear weapons directly affects the environment. Such tests are rarely conducted above ground or in the ocean. International concern over the effects of these tests led the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union to sign the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in 1963, which prohibited all nuclear testing except for that conducted underground. In 1977 negotiations began on a Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, which would extend the ban to underground tests. To enter into force, this treaty has to be ratified by all the nuclear powers and by 44 members of the Conference on Disarmament that possess nuclear reactors. By 2007 all but three countries had signed; in addition, 10 of those that had signed the treaty had not ratified it.
In many places smoke from factories and cars combines with naturally occurring fog to form smog. For centuries, London, England, has been subjected to the danger of smog, long recognized as a potential cause of death, especially for elderly persons and those with severe respiratory ailments. Air pollution in London originally resulted from large-scale use of heating fuels.
Factories sometimes turn waterways into open sewers by dumping oils, toxic chemicals, and other harmful industrial wastes into them. In mining and oil-drilling operations, corrosive acid wastes are poured into the water. In recent years, municipal waste treatment plants have been built to contend with water contamination. Some towns, however, still foul streams by pouring raw sewage into them. Septic tanks, used where sewers are not available, and large farm lagoons filled with animal waste may also pollute the groundwater and adjacent streams, sometimes with disease-causing organisms. Even the purified effluent from sewage plants can cause water pollution if it contains high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus. Farm fertilizers in some regions fill groundwater with nitrates, making the water unfit to drink. Agricultural runoff containing dangerous pesticides and the oil, grime, and chemicals used to melt ice from city streets also pollute waterways.
One answer to the garbage problem is recycling . Most towns in the United States encourage or require residents to separate glass and aluminum cans and bottles from other refuse so that these substances can be melted down and reused. According to the Environmental Protection Agency , the United States recycles more than 30 percent of its garbage. This rate has about doubled over the last 15 years.
Every environmental system has a carrying capacity for an optimum, or most desirable, population of any particular species within it. Sudden changes in the relative population of a particular species can begin a kind of chain reaction among other elements of the ecosystem. For example, eliminating a species of insect by using massive quantities of a chemical pesticide also may eliminate a bird species that depends upon the insect as a source of food.
The booming human population is concentrated more and more in large urban areas. Many cities now have millions of inhabitants. In less developed countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, many of these cities are overpopulated because of an influx of people who have left rural homes in search of food, shelter, and employment. Some farmers have been forced off their land by drought and famine .

Another immediate environmental problem is the disposal of nuclear wastes. Some radioactive substances have a half-life of more than 10,000 years, which means they remain radioactive and highly dangerous for many thousands of years. In nuclear physics, a half-life is the period of time required for the disintegration of half of the atoms in a sample of a radioactive substance. Science has not yet found a safe method of permanent disposal of high level radioactive wastes. Even temporary storage of these wastes is a dangerous and expensive problem.
While the concept of heat as a pollutant may seem improbable on a cold winter day, at any time of year an increase in water temperature has an effect on water life. Heat can be unnaturally added to streams and lakes in a number of ways. One is to cut down a forest completely. The brooks and streams that flowed through it are then exposed to the Sun. Their temperatures begin to rise. As they flow into larger bodies of water, these in turn are warmed. This can kill fish and other water animals incapable of tolerating the higher temperatures.
Another troubling form of air pollution comes from a variety of human-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons , also known as CFCs. These chemicals are used for many industrial purposes, ranging from solvents used to clean computer chips to the refrigerant gases found in air conditioners and refrigerators. CFCs combine with other molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere and then, by attaching themselves to molecules of ozone , transform and destroy the protective ozone layer. The result has been a sharp decline in the amount of ozone in the stratosphere. At ground level, ozone is a threat to our lungs, but in the upper atmosphere ozone works as a shield to protect against ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. If the ozone shield gets too thin or disappears, exposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause crop failures and the spread of epidemic diseases, skin cancer, and other disasters. In late 1987, more than 20 nations signed the Montreal Protocol to limit the production of CFCs and to work toward their eventual elimination; by 2007 more than 190 countries had joined the agreement. The production of CFCs in developed countries ended in 1996, and now amendments to the pact call for reducing and eliminating the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which replaced CFCs.
Pesticides are often designed to withstand rain, which means they are not always water-soluble, and therefore they may persist in the environment for long periods of time. Some pests have developed a genetic resistance to these chemicals, forcing farmers to increase the amounts or types of pesticide.
Although DDT has been banned in the United States and most other countries, it is still manufactured and used in some parts of the world. Many other pesticides also have been banned. Thousands of pesticides remain in use and, in some cases, their agricultural value may balance out their risks.
Increased global temperatures have resulted in the steady melting of glaciers and ice caps in the Arctic. Scientific evidence suggests that if polar ice and glaciers continue melting at the current rate of 8 percent per decade, they may disappear completely by 2060. In addition, the melting ice contributes to higher sea levels, currently rising at about 0.08 inch per year. If this trend continues, low-lying islands will be completely flooded.
In the United States laws have been passed to regulate the discharge of pollutants into the environment. The EPA, formed in 1970, oversees most federal antipollution activity. The National Environmental Policy Act also mandated the use of environmental impact statements, which require that businesses or governments examine alternatives and acknowledge the possible harmful effects of such activities as opening new factories, building dams, and developing new oil wells. With the advent of massive oil spills from supertankers, the washing up of medical wastes on shores in New York and New Jersey, and an increased buildup of toxic wastes , such international organizations as Greenpeace have become ever more dedicated to preventing environmental abuses and heightening public awareness of environmental issues.
On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union malfunctioned creating the worst peacetime nuclear disaster. Many details of the Chernobyl accident remain undisclosed, but it is known that the radioactive core of the power plant became exposed, and there was a partial meltdown, releasing large amounts of radioactive materials. Because the medical effects of exposure to nuclear radiation can take years to become apparent, it is not yet known how many additional cases of cancer, birth defects, and skin disease will have been caused by the Chernobyl accident; however, it is estimated that thousands of premature deaths will occur as a direct consequence of nuclear radiation poisoning from Chernobyl.
Introduction ©V. ZHURAVLEV/Fotolia Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Efforts to improve the standard of living for humans—through the control of nature and the development of new products—have also resulted in the pollution, or contamination, of the environment. Much of the world’s air, water, and land is now partially poisoned by chemical wastes. Some places have become uninhabitable. This pollution exposes people all around the globe to new risks from disease. Many species of plants and animals have become endangered or are now extinct . As a result of these developments, governments have passed laws to limit or reverse the threat of environmental pollution.
Environmental pollution has existed since people began to congregate in towns and cities. Ancient Athenians removed their refuse to dumps outside the main part of the city. The Romans dug trenches outside the city to hold garbage and wastes , a practice which may have contributed to outbreaks of viral diseases.
Scientists believe that all cities with populations exceeding 50,000 have some degree of air pollution. Burning garbage in open dumps, which still takes place in some countries, causes air pollution. Other sources include emissions of sulfur dioxide and other noxious gases by electric power plants that burn high-sulfur coal or oil. Industrial boilers at factories also send large quantities of smoke into the air. The process of making steel and plastic generates large amounts of smoke containing metal dust or microscopic particles of complex and sometimes even deadly chemicals.
Scientists have confirmed that the five warmest years worldwide since the late 1880s have all taken place in the 21st century. Scientific data suggest that this trend is likely to continue.
Factories and transportation depend on huge amounts of fuel —billions of tons of coal and oil are consumed around the world every year. When these fuels burn they introduce smoke and other, less visible, by-products into the atmosphere . Although wind and rain occasionally wash away the smoke given off by power plants and automobiles, the cumulative effect of air pollution poses a grave threat to humans and the environment.
The pesticide DDT provides a well-known example of the dangers of introducing synthetic chemical compounds into the environment. Chemically a chlorinated hydrocarbon, DDT was widely used for many years after World War II. At first it was highly regarded because it killed mosquitoes, which in turn reduced the incidence of malaria throughout the world. Then, evidence began to show that DDT might be doing more harm than good. DDT, like other chemically stable pesticides, is not readily biodegradable. In addition, many species of insects rapidly develop populations resistant to DDT. The chemical accumulates in insects that then become the diet of other animals, with toxic effects on them, especially certain birds and fishes. While the accumulation of DDT may not kill a bird immediately, it can lead to metabolic disturbances. In some cases, as with the peregrine falcon in the eastern United States, the chemical interfered with the calcium in the eggshells, causing the shells to be abnormally thin and prone to breakage.
Such human activities have caused the extinction of a number of plant and animal species. For example, overhunting caused the extinction of the passenger pigeon . The last known survivor of the species died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. Less than a century earlier, the passenger pigeon population had totaled at least 3 billion. Excessive hunting or infringement upon natural habitats is endangering many other species. The great whales, the California condor, the black-footed ferret, and the Atlantic salmon are among the endangered animals. Endangered plants include snakeroot, the western lily, and the green pitcher plant.
The hearing apparatus of living things is sensitive to certain frequency ranges and sound intensities. Sound intensities are measured in decibels. For example, a clap of thunder has an intensity of about 100 decibels. A sound at or above the 120-decibel level is painful and can injure the ear. Likewise, a steady noise at just 75 decibels over numerous hours has the potential to harm hearing. Noise pollution is becoming an unpleasant fact of life in cities, where the combination of sounds from traffic and building construction reverberates among high-rise buildings, creating a constant din.
In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution placed greater pressures on the environment, and pollution changed and increased dramatically. Although industrial development improved the standard of living, there was a great environmental cost.
A common kind of water pollution is the effect caused by heavy concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus , which are used by plants for growth. The widespread use of agricultural fertilizers and household detergents containing these elements has added large amounts of plant nutrients to many bodies of water. In large quantities, nitrogen and phosphorus cause tiny water algae to bloom, or grow rapidly. When the algae die, oxygen is needed to decompose them. This creates an oxygen deficiency in the water, which causes the death of many aquatic animals. Plant life soon reduces the amount of open water. These events speed up the process of eutrophication, the aging and eventual drying up of a lake.
In the mid-1970s, people became aware of the phenomenon called acid rain . When fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline, and fuel oils are burned, they emit sulfur, carbon, and nitrogen oxides into the air. These oxides combine with particles of water in the atmosphere and reach Earth as acid rain, snow, hail, sleet, or fog. A special scale, called the pH scale, measures whether a liquid is acidic or basic . The pH scale is used to describe the concentration of electrically charged hydrogen atoms in a water solution. The scale rates a substance from 0 to 14. A pH of 7, as in distilled water, means that the solution is neutral. A pH above 7 means the solution is basic; below 7 means the solution is acidic. Normal rainwater has a pH around 5.6.
The single major cause of air pollution is the internal-combustion engine of automobiles . Gasoline is never completely burned in the engine of a car, environmental pollution articles for students just as coal is never completely burned in the furnace of a steel mill. Once they are released into the air, the products of incomplete combustion—particulate matter , unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, various nitrogen oxides, ozone, and lead—undergo a series of chemical reactions in the presence of sunlight. The result is the dense haze characteristic of smog. Smog may appear brownish in color when it contains high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, or it may look blue-grey when it contains large amounts of ozone. In either case, prolonged exposure will damage lung tissue.
The 1970s were a time of great public awareness of the environment. The Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 are among the laws that set standards for healthy air and water and the safe disposal of toxic chemicals. In 1990 President George Bush signed the Clean Air Act of 1990, the second amending legislation since the original Clean Air Act of 1970. The new law called for reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by half, carbon monoxide from vehicles by 70 percent, and other emissions by 20 percent. The number of toxic chemicals monitored by the EPA would increase from 7 to about 250, and industry would be required to control their waste release by means of the best technology available. By 2007 the EPA had moved to reduce mercury emissions from power plants and were installing new regulations for exhaust from buses, trucks, and other diesel-powered vehicles.
In addition, the intense volume at which some popular music, especially heavy metal rock and hip-hop music, is played has resulted in the loss of some or all of the hearing of a few musicians and members of their audiences. There is some evidence that extreme levels of noise can cause stress and produce other deleterious effects on human health and on work performance.
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The rate of growth of the world’s population has finally begun to slow to slightly more than 1 percent, after reaching an all-time high of more than 2 percent in the early 1960s. In 2007 there were more than 6.6 billion people on the planet. The United Nations predicts that by the year 2050 almost 9.2 billion people will be living on Earth—almost four times the number of people living on Earth in 1950.
Radioactivity has always been part of the natural environment. An example of natural radioactivity is the cosmic radiation that constantly strikes Earth. This so-called background radiation has little effect on most people. Some scientists are concerned, however, that humans have introduced a considerable amount of additional radiation into the environment.
Some urban areas are beginning to experience a serious problem regarding the disposal of garbage and hazardous wastes, such as solvents and industrial dyes and inks. In many areas landfill sites are approaching their full capacity and many municipalities are turning to incineration as a solution. Giant high-temperature incinerators have become another source of air pollution, however, because incineration ashes sometimes contain very high concentrations of metals as well as dioxins, a dangerous family of chemical poisons.
Heat pollution is a consequence of the rising energy needs of humans. As electric power plants burn fossil fuels or nuclear fuel to provide this energy, they release considerable amounts of heat. Power plants are usually located near bodies of water, which the plants use for heat-dissipation purposes. Some stretches of the Hudson River in New York no longer freeze in winter because of the flow of hot water into the river from adjacent power plants. Living things—especially such cold-blooded animals as fish—are very sensitive to even small changes in the average temperature. Because of the added heat in waters affected by power plants, many aquatic habitats may be undergoing drastic change. In some instances, the warmer water may cause fish eggs to hatch before their natural food supply is available. In other instances, it may prevent fish eggs from hatching at all.
Although the release of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere is against the law in most countries, accidents can happen, often with tragic results. In 1984, in Bhopal, India, a pesticide manufacturing plant released a toxic gas into the air that within a few hours caused the deaths of more than 2,000 people.
Bowden, Rob. Transportation: Our Impact on the Planet . Calhoun, Yael, ed. Water Pollution . Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring , 40th anniversary ed. . De Rothschild, David. The Global Warming Survival Handbook . Hill, M.K. Understanding Environmental Pollution , 2nd ed. . Kidd, J.S. Air Pollution . Morgan, Sally. Acid Rain .
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The adverse effects of pollution became more noticeable as cities grew during the Middle Ages . In Europe, medieval cities passed ordinances against throwing garbage into the streets and canals, but those laws were largely ignored. In 16th-century England, efforts were made to curb the use of coal in order to reduce the amount of smoke in the air—again with little effect.
Although the National Center for Atmospheric Research has recorded storms in the northeastern United States with a pH of 2.1, which is the acidity of lemon juice or vinegar, by the early 21st century the most acidic precipitation in the United States had an average pH of 4.3. In Canada, Scandinavia, and the northeastern United States, acid rain is blamed for the deaths of thousands of lakes and streams. These lakes have absorbed so much acid rain that they can no longer support the algae, plankton, and other aquatic life that provide food and nutrients for fish. Acid rain also damages buildings and monuments, including centuries-old relics such as Rome’s Colosseum . Scientists are concerned that the deaths of thousands of trees in the forests of Europe, Canada, and the United States may be the result of acid rain. Although many industrialized nations have sought to make changes that will help reduce sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants, less developed countries do not always have the funds to implement such technologically advanced solutions.
The branch of science that deals with how living things, including humans, are related to their surroundings is called ecology . Earth supports some 5 million species of plants, animals, and microorganisms. These interact and influence their surroundings, forming a vast network of interrelated environmental systems called ecosystems . The arctic tundra is an ecosystem and so is a Brazilian rainforest. The islands of Hawaii are a relatively isolated ecosystem. If left undisturbed, natural environmental systems tend to achieve balance or stability among the various species of plants and animals. Complex ecosystems are able to compensate for changes caused by weather or intrusions from migrating animals and are therefore usually said to be more stable than simple ecosystems. A field of corn has only one dominant species, the corn plant, and is a very simple ecosystem. It is easily destroyed by drought, insects, disease, or overuse. A forest may remain relatively unchanged by weather that would destroy a nearby field of corn, because the forest is characterized by greater diversity of plants and animals. Its complexity gives it stability.
Air pollution has enormous consequences for the health and well-being of people worldwide. Contaminants in the air have been implicated in the rising incidence of asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, a serious and debilitating disease of the lung’s air sacs. In addition, current studies suggest that air pollution may be linked to heart disease.
In order to sustain the continually growing human population, current agricultural methods are designed to maximize yields from croplands. In many areas, the overuse of land results in the erosion of topsoil. This soil erosion , in turn, causes the over-silting or sedimentation of rivers and streams.
Air pollution has been the target of some of the most complicated and far-reaching legislation ever enacted in the United States . In 1970, Congress passed legislation aimed at curbing sources of air pollution and setting standards for air quality. A few years later, Congress passed laws designed to phase out the use of lead as an additive in gasoline. By 1990 the Clean Air Act had been amended to regulate automobile emissions and to promote alternative fuels . Further action to reduce acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions is continually debated in North America and throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
The European Union, composed of 28 countries, sets recycling requirements that are met with varying degrees of success. Studies from 2004 show that Greece recycled only 10 percent of its waste while putting 90 percent in landfills. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Denmark recycled about 30 percent, incinerated about 60 percent, and sent a mere 10 percent to landfills.
Since the beginning of civilization, water has been used to carry away unwanted refuse. Rivers, streams, canals, lakes, and oceans are currently used as receptacles for every imaginable kind of pollution. Water has the capacity to break down or dissolve many materials, especially organic compounds, which decompose during prolonged contact with bacteria and enzymes. Waste materials that can eventually decompose in this way are called biodegradable. They are less of a long-term threat to the environment than are more persistent pollutants such as metals, plastics, and some chlorinated hydrocarbons. These substances remain in the water and can make it poisonous for most forms of life. Even biodegradable pollutants can damage a water supply for long periods of time. As any form of contamination accumulates, life within the water starts to suffer. Lakes are especially vulnerable to pollution because they cannot cleanse themselves as rapidly as rivers or oceans.
Since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, there has been an increased awareness of the environmental threat posed by nuclear weapons and radioactive fallout. Many scientists are concerned about the long-term environmental impacts of full-scale nuclear war. Some suggest that the large amounts of smoke and dust thrown into the atmosphere during a nuclear explosion would block out the Sun’s light and heat, causing global temperatures to drop.
The solution of some pollution problems requires cooperation at regional, national, and international levels. For example, some of the acid rain that falls in Canada is caused by smokestacks of coal-burning power plants in the United States. Thus, rejuvenating the lakes of eastern Canada requires the cooperation of electric utilities in Indiana and Ohio.
A widespread awareness of air pollution dates from about 1950. It was initially associated with the Los Angeles area. The Los Angeles Basin is ringed for the most part by high mountains. As air sinks from these mountains it is heated until it accumulates as a warm layer that rises above the cooler air from the Pacific Ocean. This results in a temperature inversion, with the heavier cool air confined to the surface. Pollutants also become trapped at surface levels. Because of air-circulation patterns in the Los Angeles Basin, polluted air merely moves from one part of the basin to another part.
One of the most hazardous forms of pollution comes from agricultural pesticides . These chemicals are designed to deter or kill insects, weeds, fungi, or rodents that pose a threat to crops. When airborne pesticides drift with the wind or become absorbed into the fruits and vegetables they are meant to protect, they can become a source of many illnesses, including cancer and birth defects.
All living things exert some pressure on the environment. Predatory animals, for example, reduce the population of their prey, and animal herds may trample vast stretches of prairie or tundra. The weather could be said to cause pollution when a hurricane deposits tons of silt from flooded rivers into an estuary or bay. These are temporary dislocations that nature balances and accommodates to. Modern economic development, however, sometimes disrupts nature’s delicate balance. The extent of environmental pollution caused by humans is already so great that some scientists question whether Earth can continue to support life unless immediate corrective action is taken.
Internationally, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 2005, a treaty that committed its signatories to develop national programs to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. Although the treaty was mired in political debates and most participating countries were not able to meet their goals, the protocol was heralded as a step in the right direction toward an international agreement on environmental policy.
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environmental pollution environmental pollution articles for students
environmental pollution environmental pollution articles for students
The reduction of Earth’s resources has been closely linked to the rise in human population . For many thousands of years people lived in relative harmony with their surroundings. Population sizes were small, and life-supporting tools were simple. Most of the energy needed for work was provided by the worker and animals. Since about 1650, however, the human population has increased dramatically. The problems of overcrowding multiply as an ever-increasing number of people are added to the world’s population each year.
The largest marine oil spill in history was caused by an April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig—located in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana—and its subsequent sinking on April 22.
Sedimentation also pollutes water. It is the result of poor soil conservation practices. Sediment fills water-supply reservoirs and fouls power turbines and irrigation pumps. It also diminishes the amount of sunlight that can penetrate the water. In the absence of sufficient sunlight, the aquatic plants that normally furnish the water with oxygen fail to grow. environmental pollution articles