Pollution refers to the contamination of the natural environment leading to its degradation. Pollution may take several forms such as foreign substances in the form of chemicals or even energy such as light, heat or noise. The problem of pollution and awareness came to the fore with the rise of the Industrial Revolution in England that led to the rise of cities and industries. The cities and industries in turn produced a lot of waste that found its way into the air or water bodies thereby degrading the environment. Pollution may also be naturally occurring contaminants such as oil seepage into water bodies. While the layman’s perspective is mainly to cope with the effect of pollution on humans, pollution goes farther than that. Pollution affects not only humans but also animals and plants. In the fight against pollution it, therefore, becomes necessary to take into account all of the affected suspects in order to increase awareness.
Effect on Humans
Pollution not only results into physical disabilities, but it also has behavioral and psychological effects. Air pollution results into impaired lung function, irritation of the throat, mouth, nose and eyes. It disrupts immune reproductive and endocrine systems, increasing the instance of respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma attacks. Air pollution is responsible for headaches, dizziness and reduced energy levels. Instances of cardiovascular diseases have also been reported to be correlated to air pollution in cities. Water pollution results into waterborne diseases such as amoeba infection, typhoid, and worm infection. Polluted beach water is related to instances of pink eye, rashes, ear ache, respiratory infections, and infections such as hepatitis. Water polluted by chemicals such as heavy metals and hydrocarbons results into illnesses such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and prostate cancer due to disruption of hormonal systems. Exposure to heavy metals may also affect the nervous system processes and may result into illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.
Soil pollution results into illnesses for human beings such as leukemia. Heavy metals such as lead in soils result into brain and nervous system damage, especially for developing children. Metals such as mercury are a risk to vital organs such as the kidney and liver as they are toxic. Contaminated soils result in contamination of food and water supplies which further result in issues of food and water security. Noise pollution, on the other hand, is responsible for reducing human efficiency through a number of ways; it results in a lack of concentration, thereby reducing work quality and leading to fatigue. Noise pollution has been known to cause abortions and increases in blood pressure, since it disrupts peace of mind. Noise pollution is the number one cause of deafness, especially for people working in noisy places such as telephone operators, mechanics and drivers.
Effect on Animals
Pollution affects animals just as much as it affects human beings. Air pollution hugely affects animal life. Air pollution from industries results in acid rain which is harmful to aquatic organisms. Excessive ultraviolet solar radiation, as a result of depletion of ozone through air pollution, increases the risk of developing skin cancer in wild animals. Air pollution which influences ground ozone level is also responsible for respiratory illnesses in animals. Water pollution, on the other hand, results in concentration of certain nutrients in water. For instance, nitrogen and phosphates are responsible for toxic algae growth which poses a health risk to animals that consume them. Chemical pollution by heavy metals and hydrocarbons also results in a decline in frog biodiversity and also negatively impacts the development of marine organisms by making them more susceptible to disease and damaging nervous and reproductive systems. Persistent pollution of water bodies will result into animal deformities and even death if not checked.
Soil and noise pollution also affect animal life as well as humans. Soil pollution may result in the changing of the metabolic processes of microorganism and arthropods living in the soil. Furthermore, this may result in the destruction of food chains, risking the diversity of many species dependent on the food chain. Pollution of the soil usually influences small animals at one end of a food chain that consume toxic chemicals. These chemicals will be further transferred to the predators preying on them and to other larger animals. The accumulation of these toxic chemicals ultimately results into higher mortality and increases the risk of extinction. Noise pollution damages animal nervous systems which results into erratic behavior. Noise pollution makes the animal uncontrollable, and thus very dangerous.
Effect on Plants
Pollution also affects plants and trees in ways that we cannot imagine, and thus it has also a negative effect on life on earth in general. Air pollution from industrial sources results into acid rains which are toxic to plant leaves. Acid rain seeping into the soil also makes the soil unsuitable for crop growing. The depletion of the ozone through air pollution allows excessive ultraviolet solar radiation to reach plants and cause a serious damage. The instance of ground ozone level prevents plant respiration, since it tends to block the stomata responsible for respiration, resulting in poorer rates of photosynthesis. Subsequently, this further results in stunted plant growth or even death. Ground ozone level may also damage plants directly by entering the plant through the stomata. Soil pollution, on the other hand, results into alteration of metabolism rates which has a negative impact on plant growth and subsequent crop yields. Plants also absorb the pollutants from the soil and transfer them to the food chain.
Water pollution has a great negative effect on plants, since they obtain nutrition and some are anchored in it. Contaminants in water may result into disruption of photosynthetic processes which consequently disrupt ecosystems that are dependent on the plants. Since pants attain nutrients from water they will also take up pollutants from the water which will then be transferred to the food chain. The instance of too much sodium chloride in the water may disrupt diversity by making certain habitats inhabitable. At the same time, pollutants such as wood mud and clay, which may be swept into water, may choke plants growing in water. Agricultural herbicides which are carried by rainwater into water bodies are in many instances toxic to plants, thus endangering diversity. Noise pollution has been correlated to the instance of noise pollution even though the mechanisms involved have not been clearly identified.
The numerous effects of pollution have a very negative impact on humans, animals and plants. Undoubtedly high levels of pollution are harmful to the health of human beings, animals, and plants apart from the general environment. The three types of pollution, air, water, and soil, have negative consequences for living organisms in the three categories mentioned above. While the effect of pollutants is varied from mild irritation to risks of extinction, it is important to keep pollution of any kind at a minimum. Humans are affected by pollution in that it results into reduced efficiency of human beings due to the enhanced risk of associated illnesses. Animals as well as human beings are also affected in a similar way by pollution though they are more affected in terms of negative impacts on health. Plants are also affected by virtue of their habitats being contaminated. thus interfering with plant development.