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26 June, 2018 11:29:51 AM


All about pollution

The practice of environmental sustainability helps to ensure that the needs of today's population are met without jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet their needs
Mohammed Abul Kalam
All about pollution

One of the biggest problems that we are facing today is that of environmental pollution. Environmental pollution is an undesirable change in the physical, chemical or biological characteristics of air, water and soil that may harmfully affect the life or create potential health hazard of any living organism.

It’s increasing with every passing year and causing grave and irreparable damage to the earth. Environmental pollution consists of five basic types of pollution, namely, air, water, soil, noise and light. Pollution is thus direct or indirect change in any component of the biosphere that is harmful to the living components.
Pollution refers to the very bad condition of environment in terms of quantity and quality. 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 overconsumption, 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 sources and effects: The sources and causes of environmental pollution include the following: (1) Industrial activities: The industries all over the world that brought prosperity and affluence, made inroads in the biosphere and disturbed the ecological balances. The improper disposals of industrial wastes are the sources of soil and water pollution.

Chemical waste resulting from industry can pollute lakes, rivers and seas and soil too as well as releasing fumes; (2) Fuel emissions: The smoke emitted by vehicles using petrol and diesel and the cooking coal also pollutes the environment. The multiplication of vehicles, emitting black smoke that, being free and unfettered, spreads out and mixes with the air we breathe; (3) Rapid urbanization and industrialization: The urbanization and the rapid growth of industrialization are causing through environmental pollution the greatest harm to the plant life, which in turn causing harm to the animal kingdom and the human lives; (4) Population overgrowth: Due to the increase in population, particularly in developing countries, there has been surge in demand for basic food, occupation and shelter; (5) Environmental pollution has negatively affected both human beings and animals. Almost all of our success in the fields of industrial progress, science and technology had so far been realized at the cost of our health. Even our flora and fauna were found to be threatened with extinction.

Global warming: Global warming is defined as gradual rise in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere due to change in the climate. The increased volumes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released by the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing, agriculture, and other human activities, are believed to be the primary sources of global warming.

Changes resulting from global warming may include rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps, increase in occurrence and severity of storms and other severe weather events leading to natural calamities and disasters.

Ocean and climate change: Climate change is an adjustment in the factual conveyance of climate, Climate change may allude to an adjustment in normal climate conditions, or in the time variety of climate around longer-term normal conditions. Certain human exercises have additionally been recognized as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as global warming.

A Sea level rise is a rise in the water volume, leading to an increase in world Sea level. Sea level rise is typically attributed to Global Climate change by thermal expansion of the water within the oceans and by melting of Ice sheets and glaciers ashore. Sea surface temperature has been systematically higher throughout the past three decades. Sea level rise is primarily measured by tide stations and satellite laser altimeters.  Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors associated with Global warming, the thermal expansion of ocean water and from melting ice sheets and glaciers because it warms. Global Warming affects weather patterns as they pertain to cyclones.

Pollution Analysis: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment discusses technical developments and data arising from environmental monitoring and assessment, principles in the design of monitoring systems, and the use of monitoring data in assessing the consequences of natural resource management

Environmental Protection:In recent decades, many environmental problems have increased as the result of human activities and unplanned management of the technological development those interference ecosystems.

The term "environmental protection" can be defined as the prevention to conserve and preserve the standard healthy level of environmental media by reducing the production of pollutants or polluting substances in environmental media. Various human activities have induce many undesirable effects to the environment which can be threatening human health, economic, natural resources and gene pool of ecosystems such as pollutions, greenhouse effect, global warming and soil erosion. Therefore, the environment should be protected for a better life in future.

Pollution Ecology & Toxicology:Pollution is the effect of undesirable changes in our environment that have harmful effects on all living Organisms. During the last few decades we have polluted our environment on which life itself depends with a variety of waste products.

From an Ecological point of view, pollutants can be classified as Degradable or Non-persistent pollutants which can be rapidly broken down by natural process. e.g. domestic sewage, discarded vegetables etc., Slowly-degradable or Persistent pollutants are pollutants that remain in the environment for many years in an unchanged condition and take decades or longer to degrade. e.g. DDT(pesticides) and most plastics. Non-degradable pollutants cannot be degraded by natural processes. Once they are released into the environment they are difficult to eradicate and continue to toxic elements like lead or mercury and nuclear wastes.

Human Impact on the Environment:Human impact on environment in several ways, some common effects include water quality, environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of natural resources and contribution to climate change. Some of these are the direct result of human activities, whereas others are secondary effects that are part of a series of actions and reactions. Though, technology is making lives of humans easier and comfortable. It poses a great threat to the environment. The threat is due to pollution, radiation hazards, exploitation of natural resources etc. Greenhouse gases and aerosols affect climate by altering incoming solar radiation and out-going infrared (thermal) radiation that are part of Earth’s energy balance. Changing the atmospheric abundance or properties of these gases and particles can lead to a warming or cooling of the climate system.

Environmental Sustainability and Development: Environmental sustainability is defined as responsible interaction with the environment to avoid depletion or Environment degradation of natural resources and allow for long-term environmental quality. The practice of environmental sustainability helps to ensure that the needs of today's population are met without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The three pillars of sustainability are Economic development, Social development and Environmental protection. Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is one of the most widely used measures of well-being. The weak point of this index is that it does not take into account the concept of sustainability and, more precisely, it is lacking in the environmental component specification. On the other side of the spectrum, some indicators provide useful information about the environmental health of countries but not about Human development, such as the Environmental Performance Index (EPI).

Pollution Solutions:The control of the emission of various contaminants into the environment which brings down the level of the pollution is done by various updated methods. The various technologies which control the pollution are Bioremediation laser methods, chemical methods, nanotechnology etc. Phytoremediation is a way to mitigate environment pollutions, such as in air, water and soil pollution in virtue of plants, more often than not, combined with their associated microorganisms. This concept has been widely applied to treat pollutants in soil and water. Vapour recovery is the process of recovering the vapours of gasoline or other fuels, so that they do not escape into the atmosphere.

Recycling and Waste Manage-ment:The increasing trend in Recycling and waste management has increased. Recycling is a way of life. Once we have made that choice to implement all the steps of recycling in our daily lives, and stick to that choice every single day, recycling becomes second nature to us. Sure there will be lapses; it’s not easy for us creatures of habit. But no matter, we press on. Every small contribution to the recycling movement and the initiative to protect our environment adds up to how our present society eventually shapes our nation’s and the Earth’s future. Waste management or Waste disposal is all the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. Very one of us has an important role to play in reducing the quantity of waste buried in landfills. Sorting waste in order to recycle or compost it are efficient means to reduce garbage.

Bioenergy and Biofuels:Bioenergy is the single largest Renewable energy source today, providing 10% of world primary energy supply. It plays a crucial role in many developing countries, where it provides basic energy for cooking and space heating, but often at the price of severe health and environmental impacts. The deployment of advanced biomass cook stoves, clean fuels and additional off-grid biomass electricity supply in developing countries are key measures to improve the current situation and achieve universal access to clean energy facilities by 2030. Risk assessment:Risk assessment is the determination of quantitative or qualitative estimate of risk related to a well-defined situation and a recognized threat (also called hazard). Quantitative risk assessment requires calculations of two components of risk (R): the magnitude of the potential loss (L), and the probability (p) that the loss will occur. An acceptable risk is a risk that is understood and tolerated usually because the cost or difficulty of implementing an effective countermeasure for the associated vulnerability exceeds the expectation of loss. "Health risk assessment" includes variations, such as risk as the type and severity of response, with or without a probabilistic context. In all types of engineering of complex systems sophisticated risk assessments are often made within safety engineering and reliability engineering when it concerns threats to life, environment or machine functioning. The nuclear, aerospace, oil, rail and military industries have a long history of dealing with risk assessment.  Also, medical, hospital, social service and food industries control risks and perform risk assessments on a continual basis. Methods for assessment of risk may differ between industries and whether it pertains to general financial decisions or environmental, ecological, or public health risk assessment.

The writer is former Head, Department of Medical Sociology,

Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control & Research (IEDCR)

Dhaka, Bangladesh E-mail:


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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