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Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into an environment that causes
instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the physical systems or living
organisms they are in.[1] Pollution can take the form of chemical substances, or
energy, such as noise, heat, or light energy. Pollutants, the elements of pollution,
can be foreign substances or energies, or naturally occurring; when naturally
occurring, they are considered contaminants when they exceed natural levels.
Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution.

Sometimes the term pollution is extended to include any substance when it

occurs at such unnaturally high concentration within a system that it endangers
the stability of that system. For example, water is innocuous and essential for
life, and yet at very high concentration, it could be considered a pollutant: if a
person were to drink an excessive quantity of water, the physical system could
be so overburdened that breakdown and even death could result. Another
example is the potential of excessive noise to induce imbalance in a person's
mental state, resulting in malfunction and psychosis.

Humankind has had some effect upon the environment since the Paleolithic era
during which the ability to generate fire was acquired. In the Iron Age, the use of
tooling led to the practice of metal grinding on a small scale and resulted in
minor accumulations of discarded material probably easily dispersed without too
much impact. Human wastes would have polluted rivers or water sources to
some degree. However, these effects could be expected predominantly to be
dwarfed by the natural world.

Ancient cultures
The first advanced civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Persia,
Greece and Rome increased the use of water for their manufacture of goods,
increasingly forged metal and created fires of wood and peat for more elaborate
purposes (for example, bathing, heating). Still, at this time the scale of higher
activity did not disrupt ecosystems or greatly alter air or water quality.

Middle Ages
The European Dark Ages during the early Middle Ages were a great boon for the
environment, in that industrial activity fell, and population levels did not grow
rapidly. Toward the end of the Middle Ages populations grew and concentrated
more within cities, creating pockets of readily evident contamination. In certain
places air pollution levels were recognizable as health issues, and water pollution

in population centers was a serious medium for disease transmission from

untreated human waste.

Since travel and widespread information were less common, there did not exist a
more general context than that of local consequences in which to consider
pollution. Foul air would have been considered a nuissance and wood, or
eventually, coal burning produced smoke, which in sufficient concentrations
could be a health hazard in proximity to living quarters. Septic contamination or
poisoning of a clean drinking water source was very easily fatal to those who
depended on it, especially if such a resource was rare. Superstitions
predominated and the extent of such concerns would probably have been little
more than a sense of moderation and an avoidance of obvious extremes.

Official acknowledgement
But gradually increasing populations and the proliferation of basic industrial
processes saw the emergence of a civilization that began to have a much greater
collective impact on its surroundings. It was to be expected that the beginnings
of environmental awareness would occur in the more developed cultures,
particularly in the densest urban centers. The first medium warranting official
policy measures in the emerging western world would be the most basic: the air
we breathe.

The earliest known writings concerned with pollution were Arabic medical
treatises written between the 9th and 13th centuries, by physicians such as al-
Kindi (Alkindus), Qusta ibn Luqa (Costa ben Luca), Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi
(Rhazes), Ibn Al-Jazzar, al-Tamimi, al-Masihi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ali ibn Ridwan,
Ibn Jumay, Isaac Israeli ben Solomon, Abd-el-latif, Ibn al-Quff, and Ibn al-Nafis.
Their works covered a number of subjects related to pollution such as air
contamination, water contamination, soil contamination, solid waste
mishandling, and environmental assessments of certain localities.[2]

King Edward I of England banned the burning of sea-coal by proclamation in

London in 1272, after its smoke had become a problem.[3][4] But the fuel was so
common in England that this earliest of names for it was acquired because it
could be carted away from some shores by the wheelbarrow. Air pollution would
continue to be a problem there, especially later during the industrial revolution,
and extending into the recent past with the Great Smog of 1952. This same city
also recorded one of the earlier extreme cases of water quality problems with the
Great Stink on the Thames of 1858, which led to construction of the London
sewerage system soon afterward.

It was the industrial revolution that gave birth to environmental pollution as we

know it today. The emergence of great factories and consumption of immense

quantities of coal and other fossil fuels gave rise to unprecedented air pollution
and the large volume of industrial chemical discharges added to the growing load
of untreated human waste. Chicago and Cincinnati were the first two American
cities to enact laws ensuring cleaner air in 1881. Other cities followed around the
country until early in the 20th century, when the short lived Office of Air Pollution
was created under the Department of the Interior. Extreme smog events were
experienced by the cities of Los Angeles and Donora, Pennsylvania in the late
1940s, serving as another public reminder.[5]

Modern awareness

Early Soviet poster, before the modern awareness: "The smoke of chimneys is
the breath of Soviet Russia"Pollution began to draw major public attention in the
United States between the mid-1950s and early 1970s, when Congress passed
the Noise Control Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the National
Environmental Policy Act.

Bad bouts of local pollution helped increase consciousness. PCB dumping in the
Hudson River resulted in a ban by the EPA on consumption of its fish in 1974.
Long-term dioxin contamination at Love Canal starting in 1947 became a
national news story in 1978 and led to the Superfund legislation of 1980. Legal
proceedings in the 1990s helped bring to light Chromium-6 releases in
California--the champions of whose victims became famous. The pollution of
industrial land gave rise to the name brownfield, a term now common in city
planning. DDT was banned in most of the developed world after the publication
of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

The development of nuclear science introduced radioactive contamination, which

can remain lethally radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Lake
Karachay, named by the Worldwatch Institute as the "most polluted spot" on
earth, served as a disposal site for the Soviet Union thoroughout the 1950s and
1960s. Second place may go to the to the area of Chelyabinsk U.S.S.R. (see
reference below) as the "Most polluted place on the planet".

Nuclear weapons continued to be tested in the Cold War, sometimes near

inhabited areas, especially in the earlier stages of their development. The toll on
the worst-affected populations and the growth since then in understanding about
the critical threat to human health posed by radioactivity has also been a
prohibitive complication associated with nuclear power. Though extreme care is
practiced in that industry, the potential for disaster suggested by incidents such
as those at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl pose a lingering specter of public
mistrust. One legacy of nuclear testing before most forms were banned has been
significantly raised levels of background radiation.

International catastrophes such as the wreck of the Amoco Cadiz oil tanker off
the coast of Brittany in 1978 and the Bhopal disaster in 1984 have demonstrated
the universality of such events and the scale on which efforts to address them
needed to engage. The borderless nature of atmosphere and oceans inevitably
resulted in the implication of pollution on a planetary level with the issue of
global warming. Most recently the term persistent organic pollutant (POP) has
come to describe a group of chemicals such as PBDEs and PFCs among others.
Though their effects remain somewhat less well understood owing to a lack of
experimental data, they have been detected in various ecological habitats far
removed from industrial activity such as the Arctic, demonstrating diffusion and
bioaccumulation after only a relatively brief period of widespread use.

Growing evidence of local and global pollution and an increasingly informed

public over time have given rise to environmentalism and the environmental
movement, which generally seek to limit human impact on the environment.

Pollution control
Pollution control is a term used in environmental management. It means the
control of emissions and effluents into air, water or soil. Without pollution control,
the waste products from consumption, heating, agriculture, mining,
manufacturing, transportation and other human activities, whether they
accumulate or disperse, will degrade the environment. In the hierarchy of
controls, pollution prevention and waste minimization are more desirable than
pollution control.

Pollution control devices

Dust collection systems
Electrostatic precipitators
Baffle spray scrubber
Cyclonic spray scrubber
Ejector venturi scrubber
Mechanically aided scrubber
Spray tower
Wet scrubber
Sewage treatment and Wastewater treatment
API oil-water separators[6][7]
Sedimentation (water treatment)
Dissolved air flotation (DAF)

Activated sludge biotreaters

Powdered activated carbon treatment
Vapor recovery systems

Major forms of pollution and major polluted areas

The major forms of pollution are listed below along with the particular pollutants
relevant to each of them:

Air pollution, the release of chemicals and particulates into the atmosphere.
Common gaseous air pollutants include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide,
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrogen oxides produced by industry and motor
vehicles. Photochemical ozone and smog are created as nitrogen oxides and
hydrocarbons react to sunlight. Particulate matter, characterized by size PM10 to
PM2.5, is produced from natural sources such as volcanoes or as residual oil fly
ash from power plants. Diesel particles are another class of airborne particulate

Water pollution, by the release of waste products and contaminants into surface
runoff into river drainage systems, leaching into groundwater, liquid spills,
wastewater discharges, eutrophication and littering.
Soil contamination occurs when chemicals are released by spill or underground
leakage. Among the most significant soil contaminants are hydrocarbons, heavy
metals, MTBE[8], herbicides, pesticides and chlorinated hydrocarbons.
Radioactive contamination, resulting from 20th century activities in atomic
physics, such as nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons research,
manufacture and deployment. (See alpha emitters and actinides in the
Noise pollution, which encompasses roadway noise, aircraft noise, industrial
noise as well as high-intensity sonar.
Light pollution, includes light trespass, over-illumination and astronomical
Visual pollution, which can refer to the presence of overhead power lines,
motorway billboards, scarred landforms (as from strip mining), open storage of
trash or municipal solid waste.
Thermal pollution, is a temperature change in natural water bodies caused by
human influence, such as use of water as coolant in a power plant.
The Blacksmith Institute issues annually a list of the world's worst polluted
places. In the 2007 issues the ten top nominees are located in Azerbaijan, China,
India, Peru, Russia, Ukraine and Zambia.

Sources and causes


Motor vehicle emissions are one of the leading causes of air pollution.[9][10][11]
China, United States, Russia, Mexico, and Japan are the world leaders in air
pollution emissions; however, Canada is the number two country, ranked per
capita. Principal stationary pollution sources include chemical plants, coal-fired
power plants, oil refineries,[7] petrochemical plants, nuclear waste disposal
activity, incinerators, large livestock farms (dairy cows, pigs, poultry, etc.), PVC
factories, metals production factories, plastics factories, and other heavy

Some of the more common soil contaminants are chlorinated hydrocarbons

(CFH), heavy metals (such as chromium, cadmium--found in rechargeable
batteries, and lead--found in lead paint, aviation fuel and still in some countries,
gasoline), MTBE, zinc, arsenic and benzene. In 2001 a series of press reports
culminating in a book called Fateful Harvest unveiled a widespread practice of
recycling industrial byproducts into fertilizer, resulting in the contamination of
the soil with various metals. Ordinary municipal landfills are the source of many
chemical substances entering the soil environment (and often groundwater),
emanating from the wide variety of refuse accepted, especially substances
illegally discarded there, or from pre-1970 landfills that may have been subject
to little control in the U.S. or EU. There have also been some unusual releases of
polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, commonly called dioxins for simplicity, such as

Pollution can also be the consequence of a natural disaster. For example,

hurricanes often involve water contamination from sewage, and petrochemical
spills from ruptured boats or automobiles. Larger scale and environmental
damage is not uncommon when coastal oil rigs or refineries are involved. Some
sources of pollution, such as nuclear power plants or oil tankers, can produce
widespread and potentially hazardous releases when accidents occur.

In the case of noise pollution the dominant source class is the motor vehicle,
producing about ninety percent of all unwanted noise worldwide.


Human health
Adverse air quality can kill many organisms including humans. Ozone pollution
can cause respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, throat inflammation, chest
pain, and congestion. Water pollution causes approximately 14,000 deaths per
day, mostly due to contamination of drinking water by untreated sewage in
developing countries. Oil spills can cause skin irritations and rashes. Noise
pollution induces hearing loss, high blood pressure, stress, and sleep
disturbance. Mercury has been linked to developmental deficits in children and

neurologic symptoms. Lead and other heavy metals have been shown to cause
neurological problems. Chemical and radioactive substances can cause cancer
and as well as birth defects.

Sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen can cause acid rain which reduces the pH
value of soil.
Soil can become infertile and unsuitable for plants. This will affect other
organisms in the food web.
Smog and haze can reduce the amount of sunlight received by plants to carry
out photosynthesis.
Invasive species can out compete native species and reduce biodiversity.
Invasive plants can contribute debris and biomolecules (allelopathy) that can
alter soil and chemical compositions of an environment, often reducing native
species competitiveness.
Biomagnification describes a situation where toxins may pass through trophic
levels, becoming exponentially more concentrated in the process.
Ocean acidification, the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans.
Global warming.

Regulation and monitoring

To protect the environment from the adverse effects of pollution, many nations
worldwide have enacted legislation to regulate various types of pollution as well
as to mitigate the adverse effects of pollution.

Main article: Regulation and monitoring of pollution

Philosophical recognition
Throughout history from Ancient Greece to Andalusia, Ancient China, central
Europe during the Renaissance until today, philosophers ranging from Aristotle,
Al-Farabi, Al-Ghazali, Averroes, Buddha, Confucius, Dante, Hegel, Avicenna, Lao
Tse, Maimonedes, Montesquieu, Nussbaum, Plato, Socrates and Sun Tzu wrote
about the pollution of the body as well as the mind and soul.

The earliest precursor of pollution generated by life forms would have been a
natural function of their existence. The attendant consequences on viability and
population levels fell within the sphere of natural selection. These would have
included the demise of a population locally or ultimately, species extinction.
Processes that were untenable would have resulted in a new balance brought
about by changes and adaptations. At the extremes, for any form of life,
consideration of pollution is superseded by that of survival.

For mankind, the factor of technology is a distinguishing and critical

consideration, both as an enabler and an additional source of byproducts. Short
of survival, human concerns include the range from quality of life to health
hazards. Since science holds experimental demonstration to be definitive,
modern treatment of toxicity or environmental harm involves defining a level at
which an effect is observable. Common examples of fields where practical
measurement is crucial include automobile emissions control, industrial exposure
(eg Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) PELs), toxicology (eg
LD50), and medicine (eg medication and radiation doses).

"The solution to pollution is dilution", is a dictum which summarizes a traditional

approach to pollution management whereby sufficiently diluted pollution is not
harmful.[13][14] It is well-suited to some other modern, locally-scoped
applications such as laboratory safety procedure and hazardous material release
emergency management. But it assumes that the dilutant is in virtually unlimited
supply for the application or that resulting dilutions are acceptable in all cases.

Such simple treatment for environmental pollution on a wider scale might have
had greater merit in earlier centuries when physical survival was often the
highest imperative, human population and densities were lower, technologies
were simpler and their byproducts more benign. But these are often no longer
the case. Furthermore, advances have enabled measurement of concentrations
not possible before. The use of statistical methods in evaluating outcomes has
given currency to the principle of probable harm in cases where assessment is
warranted but resorting to deterministic models is impractical or unfeasible. In
addition, consideration of the environment beyond direct impact on human
beings has gained prominence.

Yet in the absence of a superseding principle, this older approach predominates

practices throughout the world. It is the basis by which to gauge concentrations
of effluent for legal release, exceeding which penalties are assessed or
restrictions applied. The regressive cases are those where a controlled level of
release is too high or, if enforceable, is neglected. Migration from pollution
dilution to elimination in many cases is confronted by challenging economical
and technological barriers.

Greenhouse gases and global warming

Main article: Global warming

Historical and projected CO2 emissions by country.

Source: Energy Information Administration.[15][16]Carbon dioxide, while vital for
photosynthesis, is sometimes referred to as pollution, because raised levels of
the gas in the atmosphere are affecting the Earth's climate. Disruption of the
environment can also highlight the connection between areas of pollution that
would normally be classified separately, such as those of water and air. Recent
studies have investigated the potential for long-term rising levels of atmospheric
carbon dioxide to cause slight but critical increases in the acidity of ocean
waters, and the possible effects of this on marine ecosystems.




over 70% of
the Earth�s
water is
the most
resource that
exists on our
Without the
comprised of
hydrogen and oxygen, life on Earth would be non-existent: it is essential for
everything on our planet to grow and prosper. Although we as humans recognize
this fact, we disregard it by polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Subsequently,
we are slowly but surely harming our planet to the point where organisms
are dying at a very alarming rate. In addition to innocent organisms dying off,
our drinking water has become greatly affected as is our ability to use water for
recreational purposes. In order to combat water pollution, we must understand
the problems and become part of the solution.


According to the American College Dictionary, pollution is defined as: �to

make foul or unclean; dirty.� Water pollution occurs when a body of water is
adversely affected due to the addition of large amounts of materials to the
water. When it is unfit for its intended use, water is considered polluted. Two
types of water pollutants exist; point source and nonpoint source. Point sources
of pollution occur when harmful substances are emitted directly into a body of
water. The Exxon Valdez oil spill best illustrates a point source water pollution. A
nonpoint source delivers pollutants indirectly through environmental changes.
An example of this type of water pollution is when fertilizer from a field is carried
into a stream by rain, in the form of run-off
which in turn effects aquatic life. The technology exists for point sources of

pollution to be monitored and regulated, although political factors may

complicate matters. Nonpoint sources are much more difficult to control.
Pollution arising from nonpoint
sources accounts for a majority of the contaminants in streams and lakes.


Many causes of pollution including sewage and fertilizers contain nutrients

such as nitrates and phosphates. In excess levels, nutrients over stimulate the
growth of aquatic plants and algae. Excessive growth of these types of
organisms consequently clogs our waterways, use up dissolved oxygen as they
decompose, and block light to deeper waters.
This, in turn, proves very harmful to aquatic organisms as it affects the
respiration ability or fish and other invertebrates that reside in water.
Pollution is also caused when silt and other suspended solids, such as soil,
washoff plowed fields, construction and logging sites, urban areas, and eroded
river banks when it rains. Under natural conditions, lakes, rivers, and other
water bodies undergo Eutrophication, an aging process that slowly fills in the
water body with sediment and organic matter. When these sediments enter
various bodies of water, fish respirationbecomes impaired, plant productivity and
water depth become reduced, and aquatic organisms and their environments
become suffocated. Pollution in the form of organic
material enters waterways in many different forms as sewage, as leaves and
grass clippings, or as runoff from livestock feedlots and pastures. When natural
bacteria and protozoan in the water break down this organic material, they begin
to use up the oxygen dissolved in the water. Many types of fish and bottom-
dwelling animals cannot survive when levels of dissolved oxygen drop below two
to five parts per million. When this occurs, it kills aquatic organisms in large
numbers which leads to disruptions in the food chain.

River in the United Kingdom
The pollution of rivers and streams with chemical contaminants has become one
of the most crutial environmental problems within the 20th century. Waterborne
chemical pollution entering rivers and streams cause tramendous amounts of

Pathogens are another type of pollution that prove very harmful. They can
cause many illnesses that range from typhoid and dysentery to minor respiratory
and skin diseases. Pathogens include such organisms as bacteria, viruses, and
protozoan. These pollutants enter waterways through untreated sewage, storm
drains, septic tanks, runoff from farms, and particularly boats that dump
sewage. Though microscopic, these pollutants have a tremendous effect
evidenced by their ability to cause sickness.


Three last forms of water pollution exist in the forms of petroleum, radioactive
substances, and heat. Petroleum often pollutes waterbodies in the form of oil,
resulting from oil spills. The previously mentioned Exxon Valdez is an example of
this type of water pollution. These large-scale accidental discharges of
petroleum are an important cause of pollution along shore lines. Besides the
supertankers, off-shore drilling operations contribute a large share of pollution.
One estimate is that one ton of oil is spilled for every million tons of oil
transported. This is equal to about 0.0001 percent. Radioactive substances are
produced in the form of waste from nuclear power plants, and from the
industrial, medical, and scientific use of radioactive materials. Specific forms of
waste are uranium and thorium mining and refining. The last form of water
pollution is heat. Heat is a pollutant because increased temperatures result in
the deaths of many aquatic organisms. These decreases in temperatures are
caused when a discharge of cooling water by factories and power plants occurs.

Protest Drilling
Oil pollution is a growing problem, particularly devestating to coastal wildlife.
Small quantities of oil spread rapidly across long distances to form deadly oil
slicks. In this picture, demonstrators with "oil-covered" plastic animals protest a
potential drilling project in Key Largo, Florida. Whether or not accidental spills
occur during the project, its impact on the delicate marine ecosystem of the
coral reefs could be devastating.

Oil Spill Clean-up

Workers use special nets to clean up a California beach after an oil tanker spill.
Tanker spills are an increasing environmental problem because once oil has
spilled, it is virtually impossible to completely remove or contain it. Even small
amounts spread rapidly across large areas of water. Because oil and water do not
mix, the oil floats on the water and then washes up on broad expanses of
shoreline. Attempts to chemically treat or sink the oil may further disrupt marine
and beach ecosystems.


The major sources of water pollution can be classified as municipal, industrial,

and agricultural. Municipal water pollution consists of waste water from homes
and commercial establishments. For many years, the main goal of treating
wastewater was simply to reduce its content of suspended solids, oxygen-
demanding materials, dissolved inorganic compounds, and harmful bacteria. In
recent years, however, more stress has been placed on improving means of
disposal of the solid residues from the municipal treatment processes. The basic
methods of treating municipal wastewater fall into three stages: primary

treatment, including grit removal, screening, grinding, and sedimentation;

secondary treatment, which entails oxidation of dissolved organic matter by
means of using biologically active sludge, which is then filtered off; and tertiary
treatment, in which advanced biological methods of nitrogen removal and
chemical and physical methods such as granular filtration and activated carbon
absorption are employed. The handling and disposal of solid residues can
account for 25 to 50 percent of the capital and operational costs of a treatment
plant. The characteristics of industrial waste waters can differ considerably both
within and among industries. The impact of industrial discharges depends not
only on their
collective characteristics, such as biochemical oxygen demand and the amount
of suspended solids, but also on their content of specific inorganic and organic
substances. Three options are available in controlling industrial wastewater.
Control can take place at the point of generation in the plant; wastewater can be
pretreated for discharge to municipal treatment sources; or wastewater can be
treated completely at the plant and either reused or discharged directly into
receiving waters.

Wastewater Treatment
Raw sewage includes waste from sinks, toilets, and industrial processes.
Treatment of the sewage is required before it can be safely buried, used, or
released back into local water systems. In a treatment plant, the waste is passed
through a series of screens, chambers, and chemical processes to reduce its bulk
and toxicity. The three general phases of treatment are primary, secondary, and
tertiary. During primary treatment, a large percentage of the suspended solids
and inorganic material is removed from the sewage. The focus of secondary

treatment is reducing organic material by accelerating natural biological

processes. Tertiary treatment is necessary when the water will be reused; 99
percent of solids are removed and various chemical processes are used to ensure
the water is as free from impurity as possible.

Agriculture, including commercial livestock and poultry farming, is the source of

many organic and inorganic pollutants in surface waters and groundwater. These
contaminants include both sediment from erosion cropland and compounds of
phosphorus and nitrogen that partly originate in animal wastes and commercial
fertilizers. Animal wastes are high in oxygen demanding material, nitrogen and
phosphorus, and they often harbor pathogenic organisms. Wastes from
feeders are contained and disposed of on land; their main threat to natural
waters, therefore, is from runoff and leaching. Control may involve settling
basins for liquids, limited biological treatment in aerobic or anaerobic lagoons,
and a variety of other methods.


Ninety-five percent of all fresh water on earth is ground water. Ground water
is found in natural rock formations. These formations, called aquifers, are a vital
natural resource with many uses. Nationally, 53% of the population relies on
ground water as a source of drinking water. In rural areas this figure is even
higher. Eighty one percent of community water is dependent on ground water.
Although the 1992 Section 305(b) State Water Quality Reports indicate that,
overall, the Nation�s ground water quality is good to excellent, many local areas
have experienced significant ground water contamination.
Some examples are leaking underground storage tanks and municipal landfills.


Several forms of legislation have

been passed in recent decades to try to control water pollution. In 1970, the

Clean Water Act provided 50 billion dollars to cities and states to build
wastewater facilities. This has helped control surface water pollution from
industrial and municipal sources throughout the United States. When congress
passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, states were given primary authority to set
their own standards for their water. In addition to these standards, the act
required that all state beneficial uses and their criteria must comply with the
�fishable and swimmable� goals of the act. This essentially means that state
beneficial uses must be able to support aquatic life and recreational use.
Because it is impossible to test water for every type of disease-causing
organism, states usually look to identify indicator bacteria. One for a example is
a bacteria known as fecal coliforms.(Figure 1 shows the quality of water for each
every state in the United States, click on the US link). These indicator bacteria
suggest that a certain selection of water may be contaminated with untreated
sewage and that other, more dangerous, organisms are present. These
legislations are an important part in the fight against water pollution. They are
useful in preventing Envioronmental catastrophes. The graph shows reported
pollution incidents since 1989-1994. If stronger legislations existed, perhaps
these events would never have occurred.

figure 1


Estimates suggest that nearly 1.5 billion people lack safe drinking water and
that at least 5 million deaths per year can be attributed to waterborne diseases.
With over 70 percent of the planet covered by oceans, people have long acted as
if these very bodies of water could serve as a limitless dumping ground for
wastes. Raw sewage, garbage, and oil spills have begun to overwhelm the
diluting capabilities of the oceans, and most coastal waters are now polluted.
Beaches around the world are closed regularly, often because of high amounts of
bacteria from sewage disposal, and marine wildlife is beginning to suffer.

Perhaps the biggest reason for developing a worldwide effort to monitor and
restrict global pollution is the fact that most forms of pollution do not respect
national boundaries. The first major international conference on environmental
issues was held
in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972 and was sponsored by the United Nations (UN).
This meeting, at which the United States took a leading role, was controversial
because many developing countries were fearful that a focus on environmental
protection was a means for the developed world to keep the undeveloped world
in an economically subservient position. The most important outcome of the
conference was the creation of the United Nations Environmental Program

UNEP was designed to be �the environmental conscience of the United

Nations,� and, in an attempt to allay fears of the developing world, it became
the first UN agency to be headquartered in a developing country, with offices in
Nairobi, Kenya. In addition to attempting to achieve scientific consensus about
major environmental issues, a major focus for UNEP has been the study of ways
to encourage sustainable development increasing standards of living without
destroying the environment. At the time of UNEP's creation in 1972, only 11
countries had environmental agencies. Ten years later that number had grown to
106, of which 70 were in developing countries.


Water quality is
closely linked to
water use and to the
state of economic
development. In
industrialized countries, bacterial contamination of surface water caused serious
health problems in major cities throughout the mid 1800�s. By the turn of the
century, cities in Europe and North America began building sewer networks to
route domestic wastes downstream of water intakes. Development of these
sewage networks and waste treatment facilities in urban areas has expanded
tremendously in the past two decades. However, the rapid growth of the urban
population (especially in Latin America and Asia) has outpaced the ability of
governments to expand sewage and water infrastructure. While waterborne
diseases have been eliminated in the developed world, outbreaks of cholera and
other similar diseases still occur with alarming frequency in the developing
countries. Since World War II and the birth of the �chemical age�, water quality
has been heavily impacted worldwide by industrial and agricultural chemicals.
Eutrophication of surface waters from human and agricultural wastes and
nitrification of groundwater from agricultural practices has greatly affected large
parts of the world. Acidification of surface waters by air pollution is a recent
phenomenon and threatens aquatic life in many area of the world. In developed
countries, these general types of pollution have occurred sequentially with the
result that most developed countries have successfully dealt with major surface
water pollution. In contrast, however, newly industrialized countries such as

China, India, Thailand, Brazil,

and Mexico are now facing
all these issues


Clearly, the problems

associated with water
pollution have the
capabilities to disrupt life on
our planet to a great extent.
Congress has passed laws to
try to combat water pollution
thus acknowledging the fact
that water pollution is,
indeed, a seriousissue. But
the government alone
cannot solve the entire
problem. It is ultimately up
to us, to be informed,
responsible and involved when it comes to the problems we face with our water.
We must become familiar with our local water resources and learn about ways for
disposing harmful household wastes so they don�t end up in sewage treatment
plants that can�t handle them or landfills not designed to receive hazardous
materials. In our yards, we must determine whether additional nutrients are
needed before fertilizers are applied, and look for alternatives where fertilizers
might run off into surface waters. We have to preserve existing trees and plant
new trees and shrubs to help prevent soil erosion and promote infiltration of
water into the soil. Around our houses, we must keep litter, pet waste, leaves,
and grass clippings out of gutters and storm drains. These are
just a few of the many ways in which we, as humans, have the ability to combat
water pollution. As we head into the 21st century, awareness and education will
most assuredly continue to be the two most important ways to prevent water
pollution. If these measures are not taken and water pollution continues, life on
earth will suffer severely.
Global environmental collapse is not inevitable. But the developed world must
work with the developing world to ensure that new industrialized economies do
not add to the world's environmental problems. Politicians must think of
sustainable development rather than economic expansion. Conservation

strategies have to become more widely accepted, and people must learn that
energy use can be dramatically diminished without sacrificing comfort. In short,
with the technology that currently
exists, the years of global environmental mistreatment can begin to be reversed.

Soil Pollution
Soil contamination is caused by the presence of man-made chemicals or other alteration in the natural soil environment.
This type of contamination typically arises from the rupture of underground storage tanks, application of pesticides,
percolation of contaminated surface water to subsurface strata, oil and fuel dumping, leaching of wastes from landfills or
direct discharge of industrial wastes to the soil. The most common chemicals involved are petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents,
pesticides, lead and other heavy metals. This occurrence of this phenomenon is correlated with the degree of industrialization
and intensity of chemical usage.The concern over soil contamination stems primarily from health risks, both of direct contact
and from secondary contamination of water supplies[1]. Mapping of contaminated soil sites and the resulting cleanup are time
consuming and expensive tasks, requiring extensive amounts of geology, hydrology, chemistry and computer modeling
skills.It is in North America and Western Europe that the extent of contaminated land is most well known, with many of
countries in these areas having a legal framework to identify and deal with this environmental problem; this however may
well be just the tip of the iceberg with developing countries very likely to be the next generation of new soil contamination
The immense and sustained growth of the People's Republic of China since the 1970s has exacted a price from the land in
increased soil pollution. The State Environmental Protection Administration believes it to be a threat to the environment, to
food safety and to sustainable agriculture. According to a scientific sampling, 150 million mi (100,000 square kilometres) of
China’s cultivated land have been polluted, with contaminated water being used to irrigate a further 32.5 million mi (21,670
square kilometres) and another 2 million mi (1,300 square kilometres) covered or destroyed by solid waste. In total, the area
accounts for one-tenth of China’s cultivatable land, and is mostly in economically developed areas. An estimated 12 million
tonnes of grain are contaminated by heavy metals every year, causing direct losses of 20 billion yuan (US$2.57 billion). [2].
The United States, while having some of the most widespread soil contamination, has actually been a leader in defining and
implementing standards for cleanup[3]. Other industrialized countries have a large number of contaminated sites, but lag the
U.S. in executing remediation. Developing countries may be leading in the next generation of new soil contamination cases.
Each year in the U.S., thousands of sites complete soil contamination cleanup, some by using microbes that “eat up” toxic
chemicals in soil[4], many others by simple excavation and others by more expensive high-tech soil vapor extraction or air
stripping. At the same time, efforts proceed worldwide in creating and identifying new sites of soil contamination,
particularly in industrial countries other than the U.S., and in developing countries which lack the money and the technology
to adequately protect soil resources.As well as increased concentration via the food chain, it is known to enter via permeable
membranes, so fish get it through their gills. As it has low water solubility, it tends to stay at the water surface, so organisms
that live there are most affected. DDT found in fish that formed part of the human food chain caused concern, but the levels
found in the liver, kidney and brain tissues was less than 1ppm and in fat was 10 ppm which was below the level likely to
cause harm. However, DDT was banned in Britain and America to stop the further build up of it in the food chain. The USA
exploited this ban and sold DDT to developing countries, who could not afford the expensive replacement chemicals and
who did not have such stringent regulations governing the use of pesticides.
Some insects have developed a resistance to insecticides - e.g. the which carries malaria.
OrganophosphatesOrganophosphates, e.g. parathion, methyl parathion and about 40 other insecticides are available
nationally. Parathion is highly toxic, methyl-parathion is less so and Malathion is generally considered safe as it has low
toxicity and is rapidly broken down in the mammalian liver. This group works by preventing normal nerve transmission as
cholinesterase is prevented from breaking down the transmitter substance acetylcholine, resulting in uncontrolled muscle
movements.Entry of a variety of pesticides into our water supplies causes concern to environmental groups, as in many cases
the long term effects of these specific chemicals is not known.Restrictions came into force in July 1985 and were so
frequently broken that in 1987, formal proceedings were taken against the British government. Britain is still the only
European state to use Aldrin and organochlorines, although it was supposed to stop in 1993. East Anglia has the worst record
for pesticide contamination of drinking water. Of the 350 pesticides used in Britain, only 50 can be analyzed, which is
worrying for the global community.
[edit] Burial
Burial is the technique used by Jews, Muslims, Christians and other religions with Abrahamic influence, to dispose off the
corpse of dead humans and animals. This process leads to regular soil erosion due to loosening of soil. Also, the
decomposing fluids act as poisonous herbicides, pesticides and may even lead to epidemics in surrounding areas. It leads to
soil pollution, soil erosion and even water pollution. [2]
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