Pollution If you don't kill it, it will kill you

Pollution is the process of making land, water, air or other parts of the environment dirty and unsafe or unsuitable to use. This can be done through the introduction of a contaminant into a natural environment, but the contaminant doesn't need to be tangible. Things as simple as light, sound, and temperature can be considered pollutants when introduced artificially into an environment.

Toxic pollution affects more than 200 million people worldwide, according to Pure Earth, a non-profit environmental organization. In some of the world’s worst polluted places, babies are born with birth defects, children have lost 30 to 40 IQ points, and life expectancy may be as low as 45 years because of cancers and other diseases. Pollution divided into 5 different type:

  • Air Pollution
  • Land Pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Noise Pollution
  • Light Pollution
Air Pollution

The air we breathe has a very exact chemical composition; 99 percent of it is made up of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and inert gases. Air pollution occurs when things that aren’t normally there are added to the air. A common type of air pollution happens when people release particles into the air from burning fuels. This pollution looks like soot, containing millions of tiny particles, floating in the air.

Another common type of air pollution is dangerous gases, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and chemical vapors. These can take part in further chemical reactions once they are in the atmosphere, creating acid rain and smog. Other sources of air pollution can come from within buildings, such as secondhand smoke.

Air pollution can take the form of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide, which are warming the planet through the greenhouse effect.

Water Pollution

Water pollution happens when chemicals or dangerous foreign substances are introduced to water, including chemicals, sewage, pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural runoff, or metals like lead or mercury.

According to the United Nations, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and around 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Adequate sanitation helps to keep sewage and other contaminants from entering the water supply. Through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 80 percent of the pollution in marine environments comes from the land through sources such as runoff.

Land Pollution

Land can become polluted by household garbage and by industrial waste. In 2010, Americans produced about 250 million tons (226.8 million kilograms) of garbage, consisting of product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint and batteries. That's about 4.3 pounds (1.95 kg) of waste per person per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A little over half of the waste — 54 percent — is gathered in landfills. Only about 34 percent is recycled, which is about double the amount recycled in 1980, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Food is a big contributor to landfill waste. Up to 40 percent of food produced in the United States is trashed each year
Noise Pollution

Even though humans can’t see or smell noise pollution, it still affects the environment. Noise pollution happens when the sound coming from planes, industry or other sources reaches harmful levels. Research has shown direct links between noise and health, including stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference and hearing loss.

Effects of Noise Pollution from Ships on Marine Life

Underwater noise pollution coming from ships has been shown to upset whales’ navigation systems and kill other species that depend on the natural underwater world. Noise also makes wild species communicate louder, which can shorten their lifespan.

Light Pollution

For the natural world, lights have changed the way that days and nights work. Some consequences of light pollution are:

  • Some birds sing at unnatural hours in the presence of artificial light.
  • Streetlights can confuse newly hatched sea turtles that rely on starlight reflecting off the waves to guide them from the beach to the ocean. They often head in the wrong direction.
  • Light pollution, called sky glow, also makes it difficult for astronomers to properly see the stars.
  • Light pollution could also be making smog worse by destroying nitrate radicals that helps the dispersion of smog.

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Created by: Kevin Nguyen

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