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Environmental Science

and Engineering-GE 2021

Environmental Pollution

Dr. V.Nagarajan


Definition causes, effects and control measures of:
(a) Air pollution (b) Water pollution (c) Soil pollution
(d) Marine pollution (e) Noise pollution (f) Thermal
pollution (g) Nuclear hazards
Soil waste management: causes, effects and control
measures of municipal solid wastes role of an
individual in prevention of pollution pollution case
studies disaster management: floods,earthquake,
cyclone and landslides.
Field study of local polluted site Urban / Rural /
Industrial / Agricultural.

Water pollution can be defined as alteration in physical,
chemical or biological characteristics of water making it
unsuitable for designated use in its natural state.
1. Physical Characteristics (i.e respond to the senses of sight,
touch, taste or smell )
a. Suspended Solids:

SS consists of Inorganic solids (clay, silt and other soil

constituents) (OR) Organic (plant fibres, bacteria, algae,
cells, etc,.) (OR) immiscible liquids (oil and grease).

Suspended matter has the following impacts on water

o Aesthetically displeasing
o Biological degradation of organic matter may result in
the form of harmful byproducts.
o It provides adsorption for harmful chemical or
biological organisms which may affect adversely the
flora and fauna of the stream.
o Settled matter at the bottom suffocate the organisms
inhibiting the bottom of aquatic habitats.


2. Turbidity ( Desirable = 5 : Permissible = 10 NTU):

It is a measure of the extent to which light is either

absorbed or scattered by suspended matter in water.

Contributed by:

Erosion of colloidal material such as clay, silt, rock fragments

and metal oxides in soil contribute turbidity in surface water

Household and industrial wastewater.

Stable colloids such as soaps, detergents and emulsifying


Turbidity has the following impacts on water quality:

o Causes undesirable taste, odor and harmful to
biological organisms due to colloidal matter presence.
o Impart brown or other color and interfere
o Results in sedimentary deposits affecting flora and
fauna in stream process.

3. Colour ( Desirable = 5 : Permissible = 25 HU): :

Pure water is colourless.

Apparent colour (SS); True colour (DS- remain even after

removal of SS)


It has the following impacts on water quality:

o Not aesthetically acceptable.
o High coloured water unsuitable for industrial use.

4. Taste and Odour (agreeable and unobjectionable):

Many substances (minerals, metals and salts from soil,

products from biological reactions and constituents of
wastewater) with which water comes into contact in
nature or during human use may impart perceptible taste
and odour.

It has the following impacts on water quality:

o Not acceptable by consumers.

5. Temperature:

Most important parameter for natural surface water


It has the following impacts on water quality:

o Affects biological activity(cold-slow; hot-increases).
o Affects DO level in water as T is a function of DO.
o Toxicity of chemical pollutants increases as


1. Chemical characteristics:

Universal solvent and chemical parameters are related to the

solvent capabilities of water.

TDS, alkalinity, hardness, fluorides, metals, organics and

nutrients are main chemical parameters.

TDS as DS ( Desirable = 500 mgl : Permissible = 2000 mgl).

o Constitutes mainly chlorides ( Desirable = 250 :
Permissible = 1000 mgl) and sulphates ( Desirable = 200 :
Permissible = 400 mgl).
o Readily dissoluble salts are sometimes added to reduce its
tendency to dissolve pipes and plumbing.
o Impacts on water quality are:
o Results in aesthetically displeasing color, odor and
o Some chemical salts are toxic.

Alkalinity ( Desirable = 200 mgl : Permissible = 600 mgl).

o Measure of ability of water to neutralize acids.
o Most common constituents are bicarbonates, carbonates
and hydroxides.
o Impacts on water quality are:


Total Hardness (as CaCO - Desirable = 300 mgl : Permissible

= 600 mgl).

Property of water on account of which it consumes soap without

forming lather freely.

Temporary (Carbonate) H due to the presence of carbonates and

bicarbonates of Ca.

Permanent (Non Carbonate) H due to the presence of chlorides,

sulphates and nitrates of Ca and Mg.

Impacts on water quality are:

Scaling problems in Boiler.

Fluoride(Desirable = 1.0 mgl : Permissible = 1.5 mgl).


Geographic regions

Impacts on water quality are:

F in desirable limit help to prevent dental cavities in children.
High F causes Fluorosis.

Beneficial to the human cardiovascular systems.

High F







Metals :

dissolution from natural deposits and discharge of
domestic , industrial or agricultural wastewater.



Impacts on water quality are:

o Undesirable and even toxic in health aspects.
o High conc. of metals affects plants and animals also.
From natural sources or result from human activities.
Biodegradable (fats, starches, proteins, alcohols, acids,
aldehydes and esters) and Non Biodegradable organics
(organic pesticides, hydrocarbons i.e benzene products).
Impacts of Biodegradable organics on water quality are:
o Causes undesirable odour, colour and taste.
o Depletes DO level resulting anaerobic conditions.
Impacts of Non-Biodegradable organics on water quality
o Pesticides ( Desirable = Absent : Permissible =0.001
mgl)are toxic and cause problem in food chain
o Pesticides contaminates surface water streams also.
o Damage caused mostly irreversible.

Nutrients.(Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorous)


Essential element for plant, animal and aquatic


Impacts on water quality are:

o Nitrate (as NO Desirable = 45 mgl : Permissible = 100
mgl) poisoning causes serious health problem to
animal and human beings.
o High conc. of phosphate is threat to water quality.

3. Biological characteristics

Pathogens( capable of infecting or transmitting disease to


Water borne pathogens are: bacteria, viruses, protozoa,

helminths or parasite worms.

High conc. of E-coli indicates faeceal contamination.

The methods to estimate the bacterial quality of water are:

Standard Plate Count Test

Most Probable Number
Membrane Filter Technique

Causes/ Sources of Water Pollution.

Point sources are specific sites (single location) near

water which directly discharge effluents into them. Major
point sources of water pollution are industries, power
plants, underground coal mines, offshore oil wells etc.

The discharge from non-point sources is not at any

particular site, rather, these sources are scattered, which
individually or collectively pollute water.

Surface run-off from agricultural fields, overflowing small

drains, rain water sweeping roads and fields,
atmospheric deposition etc. are the non-point sources of
water pollution.


Ground water pollution:

Ground water forms about 6.2% of the total water available on planet
earth and is about 30 times more than surface water (streams, lakes
and estuaries).

Ground water seems to be less prone to pollution as the soil mantle

through which water passes helps to retain various contaminants due
to its cation exchange capacity.

However, potential sources of ground water pollution are Septic tanks,

industry (textile, chemical, tanneries), deep well injection, mining etc.

Ground water pollution with arsenic, fluoride and nitrate are posing
serious health hazards.

Surface water pollution:

The major sources of surface water pollution are:

1. Sewage: Pouring the drains and sewers in fresh water bodies
causes water pollution. The problem is severe in cities.
2. Industrial effluents: Industrial wastes containing toxic chemicals,
acids, alkalis, metallic salts, phenols, cyanides, ammonia,
radioactive substances, etc. are sources of water pollution. They
also cause thermal (heat) pollution of water.
3. Synthetic detergents: Synthetic detergents used in washing and

4. Agrochemicals: Agrochemicals like fertilizers (containing nitrates
and phosphates) and pesticides (insecticides, fungicides,
herbicides etc.) washed by rain-water and surface run-off pollute
5. Oil: Oil spillage into sea-water during drilling and shipment pollute
6. Waste heat: Waste heat from industrial discharges increases the
temperature of water bodies and affects distribution and survival
of sensitive species.

Effects of Water Pollution.

Toxic Compounds:

Pollutants such as heavy metals, pesticides, cyanides and many

other organic and inorganic compounds are harmful to aquatic

o The demand of DO increases with addition of biodegradable

organic matter which is expressed as biological oxygen demand
o BOD is defined as the amount of DO required to aerobically
decompose biodegradable organic matter of a given volume of
water over a period of 5 days at 20C.


o The non-biodegradable toxic compounds biomagnify in the food

chain and cause toxic effects at various levels of food chain.
o Some of these substances like pesticides, methyl mercury etc.
move into the bodies of organisms from the medium in which these
organisms live.
o Substances like DDT are not water soluble and have affinity for
body lipids. These substances tend to accumulate in the
organisms body. This process is called bioaccumulation.
The concentration of these toxic substances builds up at
successive levels of food chain. This process is called
o Following is the example of biomagnification of DDT in aquatic food


Heavy Metal toxicity:

o Some heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium cause various
types of diseases.
o Mercury dumped into water is transformed into water soluble
methyl mercury by bacterial action.
o Methyl mercury accumulates in fish. In 1953, people in Japan
suffered from numbness of body parts, vision and hearing
problems and abnormal mental behaviour. This disease called
Minamata disease occurred due to consumption of methyl mercury
contaminated fish caught from Minamata bay in Japan. The disease
claimed 50 lives and permanently paralysed over 700 persons.
o Pollution by another heavy metal cadmium had caused the disease
called Itai-itai in the people of Japan. The disease was caused by
cadmium contaminated rice. The rice fields were irrigated with
effluents of zinc smelters and drainage water from mines. In this
disease bones, liver, kidney, lungs, pancreas and thyroid are
o Arsenic pollution of ground water in Bangladesh and West Bengal is
causing various types of abnormalities.
o Nitrate when present in excess in drinking water causes blue baby
syndrome or methaemoglobinemia. The disease develops when a

Control of Pollution

I. Control of Pollution from Point sources.

It is easy to reduce water pollution from point sources by legislation.

For controlling water pollution from point sources, treatment of wastewater is
essential before being discharged.
Parameters which are considered for reduction in such water are Total
solids, biological oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD),
nitrates and phosphates, oil and grease, toxic metals etc.
Wastewater should be properly treated by primary and secondary treatments
to reduce the BOD, COD levels up to the permissible levels for discharge.
Advanced treatment for removal of nitrates and phosphates will prevent
Before the discharge of wastewater, it should be disinfected to kill the
disease-causing organisms like bacteria.
Proper chlorination should be done to prevent the formation of chlorinated
hydrocarbons or disinfection should be done by ozone or ultraviolet

Control of Pollution

II. Control of Pollution from Non-Point sources.

However, due to absence of defined strategies it becomes difficult to prevent water
pollution from non-point sources.
The following methods have to be followed in reducing water pollution from nonpoint sources.
i. Judicious use of agrochemicals like pesticides and fertilizers which will reduce
their surface run-off and leaching. Avoid use of these on sloped lands.
ii. Use of nitrogen fixing plants to supplement the use of fertilizers.
iii. Adopting integrated pest management to reduce reliance on pesticides.
iv. Prevent run-off of manure. Divert such run-off to basin for settlement. The
nutrient rich water can be used as fertilizer in the fields.
v. Separate drainage of sewage and rain water should be provided to prevent
overflow of sewage with rainwater.
vi. Planting trees would reduce pollution by sediments and will also prevent soil

Control of Pollution

II. Treatment of water and wastewater.

Control of Pollution

Treatment of water and wastewater.

Drinking water supplied to the user should conform to the

IS:10500 :1991.
Domestic wastewater /sewage effluent discharged
treatment conform the norms prescribed by the SPCB.




Tolerance Limit




30 mgl


20 mgl

Industrial effluent after treatment shall comply with the discharge

norms prescribed by the CPCB/SPCB.

Control of Pollution

Treatment of water and wastewater.

The types of treatment required for different sources are given in the following table:

Control of Pollution

Treatment of water and wastewater.

Classification of Treatment Methods
The individual treatment methods are usually classified as:
Physical unit operations
Chemical unit processes
Biological unit processes.
Physical Unit Operations: Treatment methods in which the application of physical
forces predominates are known as physical unit operations.
Most of these methods are based on physical forces, e.g. screening, mixing,
flocculation, sedimentation, flotation, and filtration.
Chemical Unit Processes: Treatment methods in which removal or conversion or
contaminant is brought by addition of chemicals or by other chemical reaction
are known as chemical unit processes, for example, pH correction, precipitation,
gas transfer, adsorption, and disinfection.

Control of Pollution
Classification of Treatment Methods
Biological Unit Processes: Treatment methods in which the removal of
contaminants is brought about by biological activity are known as biological unit

This is primarily used to remove biodegradable organic substances from the

wastewater, either in colloidal or dissolved form.
In the biological unit process, organic matter is converted into gases that can
escape to the atmosphere and into bacterial cells, which can be removed by
Biological treatment is also used for nitrogen removal and for phosphorous
and sulphate removal from the wastewater.

The different treatment methods used in wastewater treatment plant are classified in
three different categories as:
Primary Treatment :

Refers to physical unit operations.

Secondary Treatment: Refers to chemical and biological unit processes.

Tertiary Treatment:

Refers to combination of all three i.e., physical unit

operations and chemical or biological unit processes,
used after secondary treatment.

Control of Pollution

Treatment of water and wastewater.

The layout of conventional water treatment plant is as follows:

Control of Pollution

Treatment of water and wastewater.

The typical functions of each unit operations are given in the following table:

Control of Pollution
Treatment Systems.
Primary Treatment:
(I) Screen-

It is the first unit operation in wastewater treatment plant. This is

used to remove larger particles of floating and suspended matter
by coarse screening.

The screen composed of parallel bars or rods is called a rack.

The screens are used to protect pumps, valves, pipelines, and other
appurtenances from damage or clogging by rags and large objects.

Control of Pollution
Treatment Systems.
Primary Treatment:
(ii) Equalization Tank : To facilitate maintenance of uniform flow rate in the
treatment units.

for dampening the fluctuation in pollutant concentration in the

incoming wastewater to avoid shock loading on the treatment

Control of Pollution
Treatment Systems.
Primary Treatment:
(II) Sedimentation Tank / Settling Tank / Clarifier :
Wastewater containing mainly lightweight organic matter is settled in
the primary sedimentation tank.
Rectangular PST:

Control of Pollution
Circular PST/ Clarifier:

Control of Pollution
Treatment Systems.
Secondary Treatment : Aeration system.
Biological Treatment :

Conventional biological treatment of wastewater under aerobic

conditions includes activated sludge process (ASP) and Secondary
settling tank / clarifier.
The ASP is developed in England in 1914.
The activated sludge process consists of an aeration tank, where
organic matter is stabilized by the action of bacteria under aeration
and a secondary sedimentation tank (SST) is used, where the
biological cell mass is separated from the effluent and the settle
sludge is recycled partly to the aeration tank.
Recycling is necessary for activated sludge process.
The aeration conditions are achieved by the use of diffused or
mechanical aeration.

Control of Pollution
Treatment Systems.
Secondary Treatment : Aeration system.
Biological Treatment :

Control of Pollution
Treatment Systems.
Aeration in ASP
Aeration units can be classified as:
1) Diffuser Air Units
2) Mechanical Aeration Units
(Floating and Fixed Type
3) Combined Mechanical and
diffused air units.

Control of Pollution
Treatment Systems.
Aeration in ASP
Aeration units can be classified as:
2) Mechanical Aeration Units

Oxidation Pond

Low cost natural treatment system.

Biochemical oxidation of organic is done by
atmospheric wind and algae present in the
Algae utilize the nutrients and CO2 (provided
by the bacteria) for photosynthesis and
supplements the bacteria with oxygen (a
product of photosynthesis).
This symbiotic relationship between the algae
and bacteria is a major feature of OP.
Depth of the OP must be minimal( < 0.5m) to
keep entire pond area in aerobic condition.
If depth is more, mechanical aerators can be
provided.( Aerated lagoon)

Constructed Wetlands
(FWS and SF)

Advanced Treatment Technologies

Filtration Types: (remove 0.1 micron or larger particle)

Normal / Dead End

Rough screen, sand filters, multimedia filters.


Disposal of media and economy are the concerns.

Cross flow filtration.

Rejected contaminants are continuously carried away

form the membrane surface.

Micro filtration ( 0.1 to 1 micron diameter)

Ultra filtration

- 20 to 500 angstroms dia

- MWCO-5000 to 50,000 excluded as rejects
- removal of larger and colloidal species

Nanofiltration (Loose RO)

- 1 nanometer dia or 1 angstroms dia

- Allows monovalent ions and rejects divalent and trivalent

Advanced Treatment Technologies

Reverse Osmosis

MWCO-up to 200 excluded as rejects

Industrial use

Water purification and wastewater treatment

Advanced Treatment Technologies

Filtration capabilities and application of R.O depends upon several


Chemical composition of the influent

Fluid Temperature

Operating pressure

Level of TDS, hardness (scaling), organics (fouling) in the influent.

Nature of Semipermeable materials.

Cellulose Acetate (CA)

Chlorine tolerant

Non bacteria resistant

Operating pH range : 6.0 8.0

Good water production rate


Chlorine tolerant
Resistant to most bacteria

Operating pH range : 4.0 8.0

Good water production rate

Chlorinated water supply will extend membrane life

Thin Film Composite (TFC)

Chlorine sensitive,

Bacteria resistant

Operating pH range : 3.0 11.0

Highest water production rate and also highest salt rejection


Longest membrane life