6.  ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION.
Environmental Pollution

6. ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION.

ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

The environment is a very broad term. Pollution in the Environment is reality. Pollution includes everything around us.

Nowadays one of the greatest problems facing the modem civilization is that of pollution, which literally means fouling the natural habitat and environment.

Natural calamities like earthquakes, cyclones, famines, epidemics, etc., because of great suffering to human beings.

But man’s most effective enemy is the man himself because he pollutes the environment in which he lives.

In this way, he creates the wherewithal of his own extermination.

Environmental pollution may be discussed in terms of its effects on land, air, and water as these are the major constituents of our environment.

Land pollution is something difficult to measure and its control is more difficult.

The land is used for the disposal of domestic and industrial waste. Industrial waste from the sewage is deposited on the land surface and on the river.

Although it contains useful nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, it is full of toxic metals and poisonous chemicals that affect the fertility of the soil.

Pollution is harmful to human beings, animals, and the vegetation kingdom alike.

Water pollution is eminent in all thickly densely populated areas and urban conglomerates.

Water does possess a self-cleaning property, but there is a limit to it.

The problem intensifies with the addition of pollutants in our waterways from many sources; radioactive wastes from the reactor- laboratories and hospitals; fallout from nuclear explosions; domestic wastes from the towns and cities, hazardous chemical wastes from factories and industrial units, etc.

On account of such discharge of untreated sewage from the cities and towns situated on its banks, the holy water of Ganga is today unfit for human consumption.

A study on water pollution has shown that 90% of this pollution is due to human waste, which gives rise to such diseases as intestinal infection, hookworms, cholera, typhoid, infectious, hepatitis, etc.

To an ever-increasing degree, chemicals, viz., DDT, Parathion, Lindane, and HeptaChlorothane (used for insect and pest control), contribute a great deal to water pollution.

Most of them have carcinogenic and mutagenic effects. DDT spray on the plant and animal systems gets deposited in the human fatty tissues.

Persons with higher DDT content in their fatty tissue are afflicted with brain tumors, higher blood pressure, malfunctioning of the liver. The Bhopal gas leak tragedy of Dec. 2nd

1984 was a result of the release of deadly and lethal gas – Methyl isocyanate from the Union Carbide plant, a plant producing pesticides and insecticides.

The air we breathe daily gets polluted in many ways.

The rural folk use cow dung, wood, and farm waste for cooking their food, giving rise to such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, etc.

Urban areas, particularly large cities like Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras, account for the worst level of pollution. vehicles, power units, and petroleum refineries also eject carbon dioxide, they emit carbon monoxide, along with some they poisonous gas like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, etc., as well as dust particles.

These dust particles get into our lungs. Fine dust often contains poisonous and heavy metal oxides, which lead to cancer of the digestive tract and many pulmonary diseases.

The presence of sulfur dioxide and nitrogenous oxides in the atmosphere causes acid rain that affects flora and fauna and soil fertility. Acid rain is harmful to aquatic plants and animals also.

It affects our monuments and statues made of marble. It is apprehended that the famous Taj Mahal would be irretrievably affected by the winds carrying sulfur dioxide from the Mathura oil refineries.

Again, air pollutants like oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and the accumulation of man-made chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere cause depletion of the ozone layer.

The ozone layer absorbs the harmful ultra-violet radiation coming from the Sun.

Any disturbance in the ozone layer will be harmful to the very existence of this planet of ours.

It leads to an increase in the incidence of skin cancer, eye ailments, damage to the immune system, etc.

As the lift population records a spiraling growth, man is busy cutting down trees and clearing forests for locating new towns and industries. Consequently, the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases.

This has already resulted in the warming of the earth and the loss of rain.

A well-known fact that misbalances the equilibrium of nature and adversary human existence is noise.

In order to function efficiently-physically as well as psychologically-man needs peace and quiet. But the growing levels of noise in our ever-expanding mechanized society have become a public health hazard.

The WHO has recommended a tolerance limit of 45 decibels of noise level at night and 55 decibels during the day. Beyond this limit, noise causes widespread damage to the human mind and body.

Environmental noise creates headaches, medical problems, blood pressure, fatigue, inefficiency, and abnormal heart rhythms. High noise levels can also seriously affect the fetus in a woman’s womb.

This is how the environment is polluted by human activity. If environmental pollution remains at the current pace, mankind is bound to vanish one day or another.

Now its imperative to act on taking steps for protecting and deflecting if not totally eliminating, pollution of the environment.

To prevent water pollution, discharge of effluents from industries as well as the use of DDT should be banned forthwith.

The only way to prevent acid rain is by reducing the emission of carbon dioxides, oxides of sulfur and nitrogen from power plants, fertilizer plants, etc.

This can be achieved in two ways. First, by filtering the emission through lime in order to remove traces of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Secondly, by using lime along with coal in coal-fired thermal power stations.

The sulfur in coal reacts with the calcium in lime to form calcium sulfate, which is solid.

In order to control air pollution to some extent, people should be encouraged to use smokeless challahs in their homes for cooking. Factories using coal as fuel should be asked to erect tall chimneys so that smoke and gas mix with the air and get carried away to far-off places. As a result, the surrounding areas at least remain free from air pollution.

Electrostatic precipitators must be used by industries to remove particulate matter such as dust particles from the smoke. Certain harmful gases can be removed from smoke by passing them through a water spray, called a scrubber.

The exhaust pipes of automobiles must be fitted with anti-pollution devices for eliminating water pollutants. Tree plantation drives must be undertaken on a massive scale and further deforestation checked.

Large-scale forestation would minimize air pollution by reducing the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere.

Trees also reduce noise transmission. Several studies prove that trees like neem, banyan, and tamarind actually absorb noise.

So at least a 50-meter wide green belt between the residential and the industrial areas would help solve the problem of noise pollution.

Researches are underway for devising new methods to control environmental pollution and protect the environment.

In India, the Department of Environment and Prevention and Control of Pollution Boards, working at national as well as state levels, have enacted several laws to protect the environment and stop its further degradation. Creating laws to control this global menace is not sufficient.

Unless the people realize the hazards of pollution and join in the governmental efforts in protecting their environment, all legislation would be futile and meaningless. In this context.

The Chipko Movement started in 1973 in the Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh has received worldwide acclaim as an exemplary instance of environmental action by the people themselves.

The need of the time is to organize a mass movement to protect the environment, else we shall all perish.

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