Mohan Thulasingam

Any contamination of the resources, natural or artificial, can be called as pollution. There were no such issues in the ancient times when the man was content with what he had, and he relied on the natural resources. With the advent of technology and owing to the population growth and civilization, the demand and consumption have increased manifold necessitating the invention of alternatives and substitutes. As a result, the chemicals and synthetics are extensively used in every sphere of daily life. Pollution takes place continuously in different ways, affecting our environment and life.

In order to understand this man-made hazard, the common types of pollution and their consequences are listed hereunder.

Air pollution: The most critical type that directly harms our respiratory system. Air is polluted by the entry of chemicals, dust, heat and noise from various sources. The smoke and gaseous effluents emanating from the factories, vehicles, power plants and other installations like the air-conditioners and refrigerators form the major source of air contamination. The invisible radiations from the nuclear plants and the microwave towers are the hi-tech pollutants silently harming all life forms. The insecticide sprays made in the agricultural farms affect the people living in the vicinity. Smoking of tobacco products also pollutes the air.

Water pollution: This occurs in the water held in the surface and underground structures. The flow of sewerage water and effluents from various sources like buildings, factories, etc. contaminates the water bodies such as rivers, ponds, tanks and dams. The seepage of effluents and wastes from tanneries and chemical industries spoils the water aquifers. Excessive drawl of groundwater results in the sea water intrusion. Oil and chemical spills from marine vessels, and fallen aircraft cause the destruction of the coral reefs and other flora and fauna in the oceans. Pumping of waste and fuels leaks from the nuclear reactors make the seawater unsafe for its inhabitants.

Land: The effluents released by different manufacturing and residential units stagnate and affect the quality of the soil. Use of fertilizers and pesticides renders the soil unfit for farming operations in the long run. Even the construction of dwelling units is impossible when the soil strata get affected by the surface pollution.

Heredity:  The development of genetic engineering and medical techniques has altered the basic nature of many things around us. Plastic surgery, Liposuction, Test-tube baby, Cloning, Stem-cells, GM crops, etc. are examples to quote.

Consequences of Pollution: The effects of pollution are of the immediate and far-reaching nature, and are innumerable. The important issues are listed below.

1) The health concern is the foremost. Genetic mutation, physical deformities and new diseases and disorders are the fallout of the toxins, new pathogens, heat, and radiation.

2) Climatic change causes the glaciers and continental icebergs melt, leading to the inundation of the land areas from the surging sea level.

3) Earth’s heritage is gradually altered and lost. Many species of plants, insects, and animals become extinct. For instance, Sparrow once a common sight in many places has become a rarity.

4) Degradation of soil and water quality leads to reduced land availability for food production and consumption.

5) Life on earth is becoming precarious though its standards said to be high.

Adopting the organic farming and reliance on the Nature for sustenance alone can save from the vagaries of pollution. However, this is possible only if we adopt a change in the mindset to live within our means by controlling the ever-growing aspirations.

(Author is a Ex-Banker and can be contacted on tmohan0311@hotmail.com)

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