About Air, Water and Soil Pollution

Air Pollution

What health hazards are associated with living indoors? Indoor air pollution can cause big health problems. People who may be exposed to these indoor air pollutants for long periods of time are most at risk to the effects of air pollution. This includes children, adults, and people with long term chronic illnesses. Most indoor air pollution comes from sources that release gases into the air. Things such as air fresheners, and building materials constantly give off air pollution. Other things such as tobacco smoke, and wood burning fires, ovens, and stoves, can also cause air pollution. Indoor pollution can also be cause by live sources such as mould, mildew, cockroaches, and dust mites.

Carbon monoxide is a common indoor pollutant. It is often released from fuel-burning stoves, heaters and other appliances. CO is a colourless and odourless gas that inhibits the movement of oxygen in the body. Depending on how much is ingested, Carbon monoxide can have many effects, such as causing extreme tiredness, headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Some of the more serious effects include worsening heart conditions, and if enough is breathed in, it may be fatal.

Carbon monoxide is transported through the air, so things like wind can cause it to spread through the environment. The main natural sinks are the oceans, plants, and other organisms that use photosynthesis to remove carbon from the atmosphere by incorporating it into biomass.

Water pollution

Does it matter which detergents people use? Regular laundry detergents are bad for the environment, as detergents don’t completely degrade and they contaminate o9ur water supplies, rivers, and oceans with toxic heavy metals such as arsenic. Arsenic is a greyish white element, that can be extremely dangerous, and can cause arsenic poisoning. Arsenic poisoning can cause major health implications and death if It is not treated. An individual can be exposed to arsenic through contaminated groundwater, infected soil and rock, and arsenic-preserved wood. It has also been shown that phosphates, a common ingredient in detergents can build up in water ways and lead to things like eutrophication.

Eutrophication is the natural aging process of a lake/river, etc. This process results in the plants dying more quickly than they can be decomposed. This dead plant matter builds up and together, with more sediment entering the water, fills in the lake up making it shallower. Normally this process takes thousands of years, however with these large amounts of phosphates entering the water, it is being sped up.

Detergents can have poisonous effects in all types of aquatic life if they are present in sufficient quantities, and this includes the biodegradable detergents. All detergents destroy the external mucus layers that protect the fish from bacteria and parasites; plus they can cause severe damage to the gills. Most fish will die when detergent concentrations approach 15 parts per million. Detergent concentrations as low as 5 ppm will kill fish eggs. Surfactant detergents are implicated in decreasing the breeding ability of aquatic organisms. 

Detergents also add another problem for aquatic life by lowering the surface tension of the water. Organic chemicals such as pesticides and phenols are then much more easily absorbed by the fish. A detergent concentration of only 2 ppm can cause fish to absorb double the amount of chemicals they would normally absorb, although that concentration itself is not high enough to affect fish directly.  Detergents are sold in supermarkets all over the world, and many people use them on an day-to-day basis.

Soil pollution

Should food take-away containers be banned? Single-use containers used for takeaway food represent a significant source of waste and environmental impacts due to their low recyclability. Consequently, it is important to identify the best available alternatives and improvement opportunities to reduce the environmental impacts of fast-food containers. For these purposes, this study estimates and compares for the first time the life cycle impacts of three most widely-used types of takeaway container: aluminium, polypropylene and extruded polystyrene. These are also compared to reusable polypropylene containers. The findings suggest that single-use polypropylene containers are the worst option for seven out of 12 impacts considered, including global warming potential. They are followed by the aluminium alternative with five highest impacts, including depletion of ozone layer and human toxicity. Overall, extruded polystyrene containers have the lowest impacts due to the lower material and electricity requirements in their manufacture.

Food take-away containers contain all sorts of chemicals in their plastic, such as PFAS. PFAS are a class of chemicals used to make materials water and grease-proof. Unfortunately, PFAS break down into a variety of chemicals, some of which are linked to cancer (PFOA) and thyroid hormone disruption (PFOS), according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. PFAS can persist in plants and move through the food chain all the way up to humans. Food take away containers travel through the environment in many ways. They can be carried through the ocean, or even blown through the environment by the wind. There is no pollutant sink for food take-away containers, or PFAS.

Food take-away containers contain all sorts of chemicals in their plastic, such as PFAS. PFAS are a class of chemicals used to make materials water and grease-proof. Unfortunately, PFAS break down into a variety of chemicals, some of which are linked to cancer (PFOA) and thyroid hormone disruption (PFOS), according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. PFAS can persist in plants and move through the food chain all the way up to humans.

Food take away containers travel through the environment in many ways. They can be carried through the ocean, or even blown through the environment by the wind. There is no pollutant sink for food take-away containers, or PFAS.

References

Air pollution

  1. https://www.nap.edu/read/10378/chapter/3 – The national academics press
  2. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=2163 – University of Rochester medical centre

Water pollution

  1. https://sciencing.com/environmental-impacts-of-detergent-5135590.html – Sciencing
  2. https://www.health.belgium.be/en/effect-detergents-environment – Federal public service health, food chain safety, and environment

Soil pollution

  1. https://www.lenntech.com/aquatic/detergents.htm#ixzz5zvxeVkis – Lennetch
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652618336230 – Science direct
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