Pollution refers to an undesirable change in the environment, which makes the survival of living beings difficult. It is not restrained by boundaries, and thus makes life on earth impossible to sustain. It is mostly caused by human actions, but can also be a result of natural disasters. To gain a better understanding of this unfortunate occurrence, we may examine its various kinds.
Most of the Indian cities are currently experiencing rapid urbanization, as a result of which, there has been an increase in the number of motor vehicles. These vehicles emit harmful gases, a major source of air pollution in the country, which is impacting millions of citizens. The situation in India is the worst with regard to air pollution levels in the entire world and this is primarily due to overpopulation, industrialization and urbanization.
A few of the direct causes of air pollution are the use of electricity, and fossil fuels for transportation. A major proportion of the increase in air pollution levels is because of the industrial emissions resulting from the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity. This leads to the discharge of about 40% of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. Vehicles contribute up to 35% of air pollution in large cities of India like Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. In fact, an engine exhaust carries more than 40 dangerous air pollutants, which leads to health issues such as increase in mortality rates, revival of harmful diseases, respiratory disorders, immune system alterations, cardiovascular problems, brain damage, retardation of fetal growth etc. It is thus imperative for active efforts to be made in order to curb the menace of air pollution. The aim must be to cut down vehicle emissions that contribute to smog and air pollution. For this purpose, India launched the National Green Tribunal Act on October 29, 2010 to make polluters pay for the damages caused, thereby promoting the policing of our country’s environmental laws. India was the third country after Australia and New Zealand to set up a court for this purpose.
Air pollution also has harmful consequences. For instance, it leads to acid rain containing high levels of nitric and sulfuric acid, that are created by oxides released into air while burning fossil fuels. Acid rain damages trees, acidifies soils and water bodies. In addition to this, nitrogen oxide released into air is responsible for toxic algae blooms. This also leads to depletion of the ozone layer.
Water pollution is essentially the introduction of chemical, biological and physical matter into large bodies of water, which degrades the quality of life that thrives here. Roughly, over millions of Indians have no access to proper toilets and over a thousand Indian children die of diarrheal sickness, on the consumption of polluted water. A number of changes have been made to tackle this issue and many campaigns have also been held. The other sources of water pollution include agriculture run off and discharge of effluents from small-scale factories along the rivers and lakes of India. Untreated sewage and industrial chemical wastes are dumped into lakes and other water bodies, which produces methane foam, causing the water to catch on fire. Water pollution needs to be prevented by refraining from dumping trash, chemicals and other harmful solvents into the sewer drains. This can lead to the death of aquatic creatures which has the potential to disrupt the entire aquatic food chain.
Noise pollution refers to disturbing or excessive noise in an environment, that may harm the activities, or overall balance of human or animal life. Such noise is usually generated from vehicles, aircraft and trains, and the source can thus be attributed mainly to the transport system. In India, loud music during festival seasons is a key reason for noise pollution outdoors. Noise pollution contributes to coronary artery diseases and can also interfere with reproduction and lead to permanent hearing loss. The Government of India has published norms about the preferred noise levels in rural and urban areas, which need to be adhered to. Noise pollution leads to health issues such as stress, anxiety, headaches, irritability, hearing loss and sleeplessness, which results in decreased productivity.
Land pollution indicates the deterioration and destruction of land as a result of human activities and the misuse of land resources. This occurs due to the usage of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides on the soil, improper methods for the disposal of waste and irresponsible exploitation of minerals through mining. Sometimes, due to the absence of a designated area to dump waste outdoors, people end up throwing it on the pavement itself, which after such repeated activity gets converted into a landfill. Land pollution holds dire consequences for humans, animals as well as aquatic life. It also leads to various skin problems, respiratory problems and even different kinds of cancers.
Pollution needs to be reduced as it destroys the environment we live in and leads to the contamination of our food and water, causing diseases among humans as well as wildlife. It also ruins the quality of the air we breathe and harms the atmosphere, which protects us from the harmful ultra violet rays of the sun. It is thus our responsibility to protect the environment because until and unless we do something about it, the situation will only worsen over time.
Picture Courtesy- CNN