Pollution is the contamination of water and air by substances harmful to life. It can occur naturally such as gases from volcanic eruptions that pollute the air. Types of water pollution include man-made such as oil and chemicals that spill on oceans and the industrial waste that seeps into the soil and both are equally destructive to the environment.
The biggest threats the planet and its inhabitants face are air and water pollution. These are the very elements that give life to all life forms. Plants need air and water but absorb toxins, oceans that are home to marine life become acidic, life-giving air is heavy with noxious gases – all are threats to humans and all forms of living organisms.
According to World Bank statistics on air pollution, an estimated 800,000 people die prematurely from lung cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases caused by outdoor pollution…other adverse health effects include increased cases of chronic bronchitis and acute respiratory disorders, asthma complications and diminished lung function.
Ocean and Water Pollution
The oceans and all sources of water have not been spared. Drilling for natural gas also contributed to water pollution.
Again, according to the World Bank, water quality degradation can pose serious threats to public health, agricultural and industrial production, ecological functions, and biodiversity.
In their introduction to water pollution, Water Pollution and Society, David Krantz and Brad Kifferstein of the University of Michigan presented estimates that at least 5 million people die of water borne diseases while 1.5 billion people do not have adequate safe drinking water. This is how far gone the planet where the effects of water pollution are concerned.
Ocean pollution is another type of contamination the planet faces. The vast oceans have become the biggest garbage pit. According to Greenpeace, 45000 man-made chemicals have found their way to the oceans and there is a floating trash the size of Texas. Plastic wastes, old tires, bottles, sludge from sewage and every imaginable waste are out there swirling along with the vortex that is the North Pacific Gyre.
Global Pollution Challenges
The top 10 most polluted country are Linfen – China, Haina – Dominican Republic, Ranipet – India, Mailuu-Suu – Kyrgyzstan, La Oroya – Peru, Dzerzinsk – Russia, Rudnaya Pristan – Russia, Chernobyl – Ukraine, Kabwe – Zambia.
Here people and children are dying or getting seriously ill from drinking chemically contaminated water and breathing in coal and sulfuric air. The contaminated water can get around and contaminate more water sources, spreading the danger of water pollution.
Governments are hurrying up to save the planet by enacting laws to control or eliminate air and water pollution. Researchers are developing risk assessment tools, monitoring technologies, and remediation techniques of water pollution prevention to minimize or avoid pollution problems.
Governments and science are working together with industries to combat the problem at the root by understanding the effects of contaminants as these diffuse through water, land, and air.
In the US the first federal environmental legislation to control air pollution was the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955. This established research on monitoring and containing air pollution caused by interstate air transport. There were several changes in the said law and the last was the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.
Sharing concerns over how to stop water pollution, specifically ocean pollution the US Congress also enacted the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. On a global scale, awareness of environment issues has given rise to global environmental law.
This will change the way world tackles environmental pollution. But governments need the political will to carry out these laws because these laws will affect big industries.
How Can We Stop Pollution?
There are a lot of things we can do to stop pollution but pollution won’t go overnight. It is a long term process to make it stop and we have to look at hundreds of factors before doing so. But we can do our share by eliminating the use chemical based cleaners, repairing your car leaks, reporting dumping of toxic waste, and disposing hazardous waste at hazardous waste collection centers. Setting up green power in our home to minimize the use of electricity which is one of the biggest pollutant of the environment.