Pollution

Pollution, also called environmental pollution, the addition of any substance (solidliquid, or gas) or any form of energy (such as heat, sound, or radioactivity) to the environment at a rate faster than it can be dispersed, diluted, decomposed, recycled, or stored in some harmless form. The major kinds of pollution, usually classified by environment, are air pollutionwater pollution, and land pollution. Modern society is also concerned about specific types of pollutants, such as noise pollutionlight pollution, and plastic pollution. Pollution of all kinds can have negative effects on the environment and wildlife and often impacts human health and well-being.

I Am Being Polluted, Save Me

History of Pollution

Although environmental pollution can be caused by natural events such as forest fires and active volcanoes, use of the word pollution generally implies that the contaminants have an anthropogenic source—that is, a source created by human activities. It has accompanied humankind ever since groups of people first congregated and remained for a long time in any one place. Indeed, ancient human settlements are frequently recognized by their wastes—shell mounds and rubble heaps, for instance. Pollution was not a serious problem as long as there was enough space available for each individual or group. However, with the establishment of permanent settlements by great numbers of people, it became a problem, and it has remained one ever since.

history of pollution
history

Pollution Control

The presence of environmental pollution raises the issue of pollution control. Great efforts are made to limit the release of harmful substances into the environment through wastewater treatmentsolid-waste managementhazardous-waste management, and recycling. Unfortunately, attempts at pollution control are often surpassed by the scale of the problem, especially in less-developed countries. Noxious levels of air pollution are common in many large cities, where particulates and gases from transportation, heating, and manufacturing accumulate and linger. The problem of plastic pollution on land and in the oceans has only grown as the use of single-use plastics has burgeoned worldwide. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane and carbon dioxide, continue to drive global warming and pose a great threat to biodiversity and public health.

Impacts On Human Health

health effect of pollution

The complex composition and improper handling of e-waste adversely affect human health. A growing body of epidemiological and clinical evidence has led to increased concern about the potential threat of e-waste to human health, especially in developing countries such as India and China. The primitive methods used by unregulated backyard operators (e.g., the informal sector) to reclaim, reprocess, and recycle e-waste materials expose the workers to a number of toxic substances. Processes such as dismantling components, wet chemical processing, and incineration are used and result in direct exposure and inhalation of harmful chemicals. Safety equipment such as gloves, face masks, and ventilation fans are virtually unknown, and workers often have little idea of what they are handling.

Environmental Impacts

Environmental Effect

Although electronics constitute an indispensable part of everyday life, their hazardous effects on the environment cannot be overlooked or underestimated. The interface between electrical and electronic equipment and the environment takes place during the manufacturing, reprocessing, and disposal of these products. The emission of fumes, gases, and particulate matter into the air, the discharge of liquid waste into water and drainage systems, and the disposal of hazardous wastes contribute to environmental degradation. In addition to tighter regulation of e-waste recycling and disposal, there is a need for policies that extend the responsibility of all stakeholders, particularly the producers, beyond the point of sale and up to the end of product life.

Classification

classification of pollution

E-waste can be classified on the basis of its composition and components. Ferrous and nonferrous metals, glass, plastics, pollutants, and other are the six categories of materials reported for e-waste composition. Iron and steel constitute the major fraction in waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) materials, with plastics being the second largest. Nonferrous materials, including metals such as copper and aluminum, and precious metals such as silver, gold, and platinum are third in abundance and have significant commercial value. Toxic materials include lead and cadmium in circuit boards, lead oxide and cadmium in cathode ray tubes, mercury in switches and flat-screen monitors, brominated flame retardants on printed circuit boards, and plastic and insulated cables; when these exceed the threshold quantities, they are regarded as pollutants and can damage the environment if disposed of improperly.

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