The most common of environmental pollution, air pollution contaminates the indoor and outdoor environment by introducing any biological, chemical, or physical substance that affect or modify the atmosphere's natural character. The common air pollutants are carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other volatile organic compounds. According to reports, Indian cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai, Tokyo, London, and New York are considered the most polluted cities today. Air pollution is the primary environmental health problem faced by both developed and developing countries.
The WHO estimated that nearly 3 billion people use fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum for cooking and heating purposes. This causes high level indoor pollution with health-damaging pollutants affecting men, women, and children alike. Women and children are more prone because of prolonged exposure near domestic hearth. Indoor air pollution has results in 2 million premature deaths every year with 44 percent due to pneumonia, 54 percent from COPD, and 2 percent from lung cancer. Other health impacts include impairing immune system, tuberculosis, and heart diseases.
Outdoor air pollution is primarily caused by motor vehicles and industries such as paper mills, petroleum refineries, fertilizer industries, and metallurgy to name a few. The unlimited and unchecked emission of pollutants has resulted in nearly 1.3 million deaths worldwide every year. The common diseases include acute respiratory infections, and laryngeal conditions. Uncontrolled traffic has led to the drastic rise in carcinogenic air pollutants subsequently increasing the risk of lung cancer.
The contamination of natural water resources such as rivers, lakes, oceans, streams, and ponds is known as water pollution. Population explosion and industrial expansion are considered the primary factors. Major source of water pollutants are from oil drilling wastes, food and brewing industry, rubber wastes, petro chemical plants, and leather refinery. Industrial by-products such as organic and mineral wastes, agricultural pollutants such as phosphate and nitrogen fertilizers, and human activities such as cleaning, washing, and dumping of wastes contribute to significant water pollution. The common water pollutants include chlorine, detergents, pesticides, tree debris, heavy metals, silt, and chemical waste. Water pollution has caused significant decline of marine life.
For example, the severe pollution crisis has led to the virtual extinction seals around the Baltic Sea region and has also affected the economy, since fisheries is the major source of economy of the Baltic nations.
Water pollution causes gastroenteritis, malaria, diarrhea, hepatitis, and typhoid to name a few. Around 15,000 people die every day because of contaminated water. And, around 1 billion people in the world suffer from lack of access to safe drinking water.
Also called land pollution, soil pollution is the contamination of soil. Improper agricultural practices, insanitary habits of humans have resulted in resulted in the deposition of slid and semi-solid wastes in the soil. Accelerated urbanization has resulted in shortage of space for disposing solid wastes. Soil pollution causes kidney disease, nerve damage, cholera, and malaria. Soil pollution has causes about million deaths every year.
The world population is expected to grow in billions in developing countries in the next thirty years. Unsustainable and unplanned urbanization has made developing cities more prone to new environmental health hazards. Since public health is the primary cardinal, world nations today are in a critical situation to address the issues ranging from proper disposal of solid wastes, providing proper sanitation and safe drinking water, injury prevention, to creating a balance between urban environment, health, education, and poverty.
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