Is Pollution Really Polluting Your Population? By Ali Korn

Environmental pollution is one of the most serious problems facing modern society, and as it continues to worsen, is causing irreparable damage to the earth. Pollution is the contamination of the environment which occurs when the natural environment cannot destroy a foreign substance without creating damage to itself. Pollution has extremely harmful effects and makes land, water, air and the environment dirty and unsafe to use.

Pollution has existed since prehistoric times when men first created fires, but has become more serious since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, and the increased use of fossil fuels. There are many different kinds of pollution, including air pollution, light pollution, littering, noise pollution, soil contamination, radioactive contamination, visual pollution, water pollution, plastic pollution, and much more. The five basic types of pollution are air, land, water, noise, and light.

Air Pollution

Air pollution occurs when foreign substances enter the air, and according to the UCCEE (United Nations Environment Program Collaborating Center on Energy and the Environment) is the most harmful type of pollution. One common type of air pollution occurs when particles such as soot enter the air from burning fuels. Air pollution is also caused by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide, which are warming the planet through the greenhouse effect.

One of the biggest causes of air pollution is the smoke emissions from cars, trucks, trains and buses. These dangerous emissions are the number one source of carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds released into the atmosphere, according to the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). Although the emission of any single vehicle is generally quite low, since there are over one billion cars worldwide, they create a lot of emissions to pollute the environment!

Moreover, evidence of the negative effects caused by air pollution, and it has also been linked to cancer. "According to the WHO, ambient air pollution contributes to 6.7 percent of all deaths worldwide." (Bradford - LiveScience) In addition, they claim that one in eight deaths worldwide are premature deaths linked to air pollution.

Moreover, air pollution can also be dangerous for plants, wildlife and ecological systems. The UCCEE states that air pollution also causes damage to flora and fauna, and interferes with the migratory pattern of some birds. In fact, pollution in China can affect the weather in North America: "It takes just five days for the jet stream to carry heavy air pollution from China to the United States, where it stops clouds from producing rain and snow." (Bradford - LiveScience)

Land Pollution

Land pollution is another very serious form of pollution which affects the current society. There are several ways land can become polluted, including household garbage, and industrial waste in the form of soil contamination. Soil pollution occurs as a result of toxic chemicals which are used as fertilizers and pesticides or are released by spills or underground leakage and allow contaminants to enter the soil.

As a result of this soil pollution, a tremendous amount of land can no longer be used for farming or raising animals. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization claims that 75 billion tons of soil is lost each year because it has become contaminated. They claim that within 40 years there will be another 2 billion people to feed in this world and this soil is desperately needed to grow food for an increasing population.

As previously stated, household waste is a growing problem for the US, as illustrated by the fact that American families produced approximately 250 tons of garbage in 2010. That means that every day, around 4.3 pounds of waste was produced per person, according to the EPA. They claim that 54 percent, just over half of the waste, is collected in landfills and approximately 34 percent currently gets recycled, which is double the amount which was recycled in 1980 per the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Water Pollution

The third type of pollution, water pollution occurs when chemicals or harmful foreign substances are present in water. Water pollution is also caused by household and industrial waste such as sewage, pesticides, fertilizers, runoff, metals, etc. can cause pollution. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated that 80 percent of the water pollution comes from the land through runoff.

Similar to other types of pollution, water pollution also has a negative impact and is extremely dangerous for marine life. In the US, according to the EPA, 64% of lakes and 30% of bay areas are not clean enough for fishing and swimming. Water pollution is an international problem, as 783 million people around the world do not have clean water, and approximately 2.5 billion people do not have safe sanitation.

Noise Pollution

Noise pollution is another form of pollution which is damaging the environment. Noise pollution occurs when sounds from automobiles, airplanes, industry and other places reaches dangerous levels. According to the UCCEE, approximately 90 percent of unwanted noise worldwide is caused by automobiles.

According to many researchers, noise and health are directly linked. Things like stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, and hearing loss have been known to be related to noise. Ships can also create underwater noise pollution which interferes with the navigation systems of whales and can also affect other marine species.

Light Pollution

Finally, light pollution refers to the environmental changes which have taken place as a result of electric, artificial lights. For example, artificial light can adversely affect the environment by washing out the nighttime sky, interfering with astronomical research and disrupting ecosystems. Light pollution can affect birds migration schedules, the time that birds sing, baby sea turtles which rely on starlight, plants flowering patterns, and can have adverse health effects on humans by interfering with their natural body cycles.


Environmental pollution must be viewed as a serious threat, as it is damaging the earth at an alarming rate and must be addressed by the current world leaders. Pollution has an extremely harmful effect on substances which are essential for animal and plant life, such as air, land and water. Environmental pollution is mainly the result of human activities and it is the responsibility of humans to help to stop these damaging activities and to preserve the environment.


Works Cited

"Abandoned Environment, Environmental Pollution and Its Effects." Environmental Pollution and Its Effects. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

Bradford, Alina. "Pollution Facts & Types of Pollution." LiveScience. Purch, 10 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

Bradford, Alina. "Pollution Facts & Types of Pollution." LiveScience. Purch, 10 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

"Causes and Effects of Environmental Pollution." Conserve Energy Future. N.p., 24 Dec. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

"11 Facts About Pollution." | Volunteer for Social Change. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

Michael, Chris, Francesca Perry, Tess Riley, Nate Berg, Nina Lakhani, Peter Moskowitz, Jonathan Watts, Morwenna Ferrier, Hadassah Egbedi, Helen Pidd, Michael Safi, Tom Phillips, Naaman Zhou, and Damian Carrington. "One Day in the Life of a Suffocating Planet – as It Happened." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Feb. 2017. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

"Pollution." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2017. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

Vidal, John. "Soil Erosion Threatens to Leave Earth Hungry." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 14 Dec. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

"What Is Light Pollution?" Globe at Night. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

Americans generate 30 billion foam cups, 220 million tires, and 1.8 billion disposable diapers every year, according to the Green Schools Alliance.

According to the WHO, ambient air pollution contributes to 6.7 percent of all deaths worldwide.

The Mississippi River drains the land of nearly 40 percent of the continental United Sates. It also carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year, resulting in a dead zone each summer about the size of New Jersey.

Pollution in China can change weather patterns in the United States. It takes just five days for the jet stream to carry heavy air pollution from China to the United States, where it stops clouds from producing rain and snow.

About 7 million premature deaths annually are linked to air pollution, according to WHO. That is one in eight deaths worldwide.

About 56 percent of the trash in the United States is put in landfills. Half of landfill space consists of paper. Recycling just 1 ton (907.18 kg) of paper can save 3 cubic feet (0.08 cubic meter) of space, according to the EPA.


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