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Category: Waste & Pollution     Views: 47,393
Polluted River Kathmandu, Nepal Polluted River Kathmandu, Nepal
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To reduce pollution which harms us by contaminating Air, Water and Soil

Introduction

Air, water and soil pollution all have a negative effect on the health of humans as well as our environment.  Pollution is caused when waste products are released that cannot be effectively reused by natural processes.  You may not notice small amounts of pollution, but as waste builds up in our natural environment, the impacts increase as the ability of our natural environment to manage that pollution is challenged, and as we become more sensitive and aware of it.

The Problem:  The Breakdown of Waste into Food

In a natural ecosystem, every organism's 'waste' is 'food' for another organism within that same ecosystem.  At one point during humanity's history, our wastes were easily broken down by the natural world as food for other organisms around us.

Pollution has entered our food supply

But with rapid industrialization and population growth, the normal natural processes of the earth are unable to break down all the waste humans produce quickly enough.  And in many cases, our wastes have become toxic to ecosystems as well as to human life.  We are literally living in our own waste, whether you can see if or not!  From increased rates of childhood asthma to toxic plastics and chemicals that have made their way into our food supply, wastes that we create have a negative effect on our own health.

The impact of pollution on our health

Pollution of the precious three – air, water and soil, impacts your health. 

Air Pollution

Air pollution is especially visible and relevant to many living in cities world wide.  Air pollution is the introduction of particulate mater, chemicals, and other matter into the atmosphere, often from major stationary sources such as power plants and industrial facilities, but the majority comes from mobile sources such as automobiles.  Air pollution can cause respiratory disease and even death!  Urban smog results when particulate mater combines with ground level ozone from volatile organic compounds and sulphur dioxide.  A study in Britain of 5000 adults showed that the risk of an early death from respiratory disease rose by almost 4% for every by 13% for every 10 parts per billion increase in sulphur dioxide during 1982-98!

Water Pollution

Water pollution can also impact your health.  Pollution of our water with chemicals and physical pollution makes water undrinkable, and even if the water is drinkable, can have adverse impacts on your health. Water pollution can generally be divided up into point sources and non-point sources.  Point-source pollution refers to contaminants that enter a waterway through a specific point, such as discharges from a wastewater treatment plant or from a factory.  Non-point sources do not originate from a specific point, but rather is the accumulation of small amounts of contaminants gathered from a large area.  Examples are runoff from an agricultural field, or from households. In developed countries, generally the point sources have been effectively regulated, so it is often the non-point source pollution that need of action, and the major cause of pollution.  Going green means taking care of your contribution to the non-point source pollution of our water.  Declare yourself a point source and regulate your pollution!

Soil Pollution

Pollution of the soil is through soil contamination from such sources as underground storage tanks, pesticides, oil and fuel dumping, leaching of wastes from landfills or direct discharge of industrial wastes to the soil.  The most common chemicals are petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents, pesticides, lead and other heavy metals.  When these chemicals are in soil, they can have health impacts, both indirectly and through direct contact.  For example, chromium, a heavy metal, and some pesticides are carcinogenic.  Lead is harmful for kidneys, and is especially hazardous to young children in which there is a high risk of developmental damage to the brain.  The major concern occurs if sensitive land uses such as residences, parks, schools and playgrounds are on contaminated soils. One of the most famous examples of contaminated soils occurred in Niagara Falls, New York, US at the Love Canal development.  In that incident, a school and housing development were built on a former chemical waste dump, leading to birth defects, neurological damage, and precursors to leukemia.  While some people may use that example as a reason to write off contaminated sites, it is better to clean up contaminated sites than to leave them alone, as the contamination can leach through the ground from the source so the soil pollution and contaminated more soil! 

Brownfield development

Brownfield redevelopment is the development of contaminated urban land into productive uses.  Brownfield development is supported by private companies and governments alike, with thousands of sites being redeveloped in the United States alone, at great cost and much effort. However, wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t need to clean up the mess?

The Solution:  Reduce Pollution

It may surprise people to think that reducing pollution isn't just about stopping your car from idling or recycling our packaging instead of throwing it on a sidewalk.  Reducing pollution starts with understanding how the things that we choose to consume are produced, what happens to them when they're being used and what happens to them when they're disposed of.  It is much easier to reduce pollution up front, and prevent the chemicals and wastes getting into our air, water and soil, than to clean up afterwards and deal with the health and ecological impacts of all the pollution around us!  Going green is about reducing pollution in the first place.  You don’t want to live with pollution, so don’t pollute.  Instead, go green and preserve that that is precious to us all: the air, the water and the soil.

Submitted by Super on Aug 24, 2008