What is Pollution?

Pollution is the presence of waste, often containing hazardous chemicals, which is released into our environment. Pollution is typically created by people; particularly it is brought about by things such as transportation, factories, power plants, farmland, and even artificial light.

The Different Types of Pollution

Air Pollution
Air pollution caused from industrial plants.
Image by Agustín Ruiz
  • Air pollution is characterized as contamination of the climate that alters the composition of the air. These can be caused by exhaust fumes from factories and cars. Typically, the air is altered in such a manner than the regular ecological cycles will not adequately filter out the contamination.
  • Water pollution includes any contaminated water, whether from compound, particulate, or bacterial matter that negatively impacts the water’s quality. The impacts of water contamination diminish the amount of drinkable water accessible, and affect wildlife populations such as fish that require clean water for survival.
  • Land pollution is contamination of the soil which prevents healthy crop cultivation practices and ruins wildlife habitat. Soil pollution can prompt poor development and lessened harvest yields. It also leads to water pollution and desertification.
  • Noise pollution refers to undesirable levels of noise created by human action that upset the standards for everyday comfort in the influenced region. Noise pollution results in lowered standard of living and may cause adverse affects to wildlife and humans alike.
  • Radioactive pollution is caused by nuclear waste and can be very destructive. Although it is generally not as prevalent as other types of pollution, this type of pollution is very difficult to reverse. Radioactive pollution causes serious health concerns for all humans and wildlife and is under very strict government regulation.
  • Thermal pollution refers to lowered water quality by any process that
    Light pollution in Salt Lake City. Image by makelessnoise
    Light pollution in Salt Lake City.
    Image by makelessnoise

    changes its temperature. The use of water as a coolant by power plants and factories will alter the temperature of water over longer periods of time, causing adverse affects to wildlife and the environment.

  • Light pollution is when too much artificial light is used in cities and it disturbs natural light sources such as the sun and stars. Light pollution wastes energy and disrupts wildlife. It has also been suggested that human mental health could be affected by too much light pollution.

Impacts of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution, beginning in the late 1700′s, has been a major factor contributing to environmental pollution. The rise of extraordinary manufacturing plants and utilization of enormous amounts of coal and other fossil fuels caused exceptional air pollution and a substantial volume of chemical releases which added to the developing heap of waste. Pollution turned into a prevalent issue after World War II, because of radioactive aftermath from the advances in nuclear technology.

industrial revolution
Image by christina rutz

How to Combat Pollution

The different types of pollution are all connected to each other. The air pollution caused by power plants creates energy which comes out in the form of light pollution and noise pollution. Commonly, water pollution is caused by the acid rain from the air pollution which goes into the clouds. Furthermore, land pollution such as the overfilling of landfills, often includes dumping into lakes and streams. Combating pollution requires governments, corporations, and individuals to make major changes which results in lowering their impact on the earth.