Get to know pollution

We explain what pollution is and what types of pollution exist. In addition, causes, consequences and solutions to reduce it.

What is contamination?

Pollution introduces a contaminating agent, which can be liquid, solid or gaseous, in a natural environment. Due to their chemical characteristics, these agents or elements produce instability and damage the functioning of the ecosystem.

The types of pollutants are varied and affect different media such as water, air or soil. Generally, pollution is the product of a human activity that intervenes in nature. However, natural processes also expel elements into the environment that generate an imbalance in the background.

The main types of soil contaminants are:

  • Not degradable. Generally, elements that do not degrade over time, their degree of constant contamination generates excellent environmental damage. For example, glass.
  • Slow degradation. Elements produce a high degree of concentrated pollution for an extended period and then decay. For example, DDT (dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane).
  • Biodegradable. Elements that are capable of decomposing naturally by the action of plant or animal biological agents. For example, cardboard.

Types of pollution

Depending on the area it affects, pollution can be:

  • Air pollution. This is environmental pollution produced by various causes, such as burning fossil fuels in the industrial sector.
  • Water contamination. These are those polluting agents that affect rivers, seas and lakes. Generally, it is produced by dumping elements such as fertilizers, waste, garbage and fossil fuels. It can also be made by natural processes such as the decomposition of organic and mineral matter.
  • Soil contamination. Polluting chemical substances affect the Earth’s crust and prevent its natural development.
  • Noise pollution. The presence of sound frequency levels alters the conditions in which living beings develop in a natural area.
  • Radioactive contamination. This is contamination from accidents or nuclear or mining activities. These elements can affect the soil, the air or the watercourses.
  • Thermal pollution. The influence generated by residual substances leads to an increase in the temperature of a natural area.
    Visual contamination. It is about the irruption of visual elements in a landscape, which hurts the human eye.

Causes of pollution

When discussing pollution, a distinction must be made between waste produced in natural processes and human waste.

Natural contamination is usually caused by: debris from volcanic eruptions, the toxic materials in rocks and soil, and forest fires, among others.

The term “pollution” is used more frequently to refer to those polluting processes generated by man. The causes of this type of contamination vary according to the environment affected. They may be:

Environmental pollution. Burning fossil fuels in industry and transportation, use of chemicals in the soil that rise into the atmosphere, and mining that produces harmful gases.
Soil contamination. Indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides, urban garbage, soil compaction, and nuclear accidents.
Water contamination. Discharge urban or industrial waste, maritime traffic, deforestation, and global warming.
Noise pollution. The intrusion of vehicles, large industries, trains and mass transport.
Visual contamination. Air traffic, wiring, antennas, garbage, and advertising on public roads.

Consequences of contamination

Among the main effects of pollution are:

  • Damage to the health of living beings. Because they are exposed to more diseases and stressful situations.
  • Increase in global warming. The polluting gases expelled into the atmosphere produce the weakening of the ozone layer.
  • Loss or imbalance in ecosystems. Due to the extinction or migration of species that see the ecosystem in which they live deteriorates.
  • Loss or decrease of natural resources. Due to the wear of natural resources essential for life on Earth.
  • Water poisoning. Because water pollution poses a significant risk to all living beings that cannot do without it.
  • Soil erosion. Due to industries and mining and their excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Degradation of natural landscapes. Due to noise and visual pollution.

Solutions to reduce pollution

Reducing pollution levels is a commitment that must be assumed by all citizens, together with projects and regulations from institutions and governments.

Certain habits can be incorporated to reduce pollution levels in soil, air, water and landscapes. Some are:

  • Recycle packaging.
  • Opt for reusable products or packaging.
  • Do not throw garbage on public roads or in river courses.
  • Reduce the use of polluting means of transport.
  • Reduce plastic consumption.
  • Reduce water consumption.
  • Reforest.
  • Use renewable energies.
  • Reduce the use of aerosols.
  • Avoid making annoying noises.
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