Environmental Pollution: Meaning, Types, Effects, Causes, and Measures to Prevent

An undesirable change in any component of the environment, which adversely affects the living world, is called pollution. The human development process, industrialization and urbanization, etc. have an important contribution in environmental pollution. On the basis of environmental factors, environmental pollution is also divided into noise, water, air and soil pollution, etc.

All organisms depend on a balanced environment for their growth and development and for running their life cycle. A balanced environment refers to an environment in which each component is present in a certain quantity and proportion. But sometimes due to human or other reasons, the amount of one or many components in the environment either exceeds the requirement or harmful components enter the environment. In this situation the environment gets polluted and the organism proves to be harmful in some way or the other to the community. This unwanted change in the environment is called ‘Environmental Pollution.


On the basis of environmental factors, environmental pollution is also divided into soil, air, water and noise pollution etc.

Soil Pollution

Soil pollution is an undesirable change in the physical, chemical or biological properties of soil that affects human nutrition and crop production and productivity, and thereby destroys the quality and usefulness of the soil. Cadmium, chromium, copper, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, toxic gases etc. are the major soil pollutants.

Effects of Soil Pollution

Following are the effects of soil pollution-

  • Soil pollution affects the physical and chemical properties of the soil and affects the productivity of the soil.
  • Sometimes people irrigate the fields with sewage water. Due to this the number of pores present in the soil decreases day by day and later a situation comes such that the natural sewage treatment capacity of the land is completely destroyed.
  • When the amount of polluted substances in the soil increases, they reach the water sources and increase the concentration of salts and other harmful elements in them, as a result the water of such water sources is not potable.

Major causes of soil pollution

Following are the major causes of soil pollution-  

Discrete Farming Activities

  • Industrial waste
  • Landfill leak
  • Household waste
  • Throwing garbage in open space
  • Polythene bags, plastic boxes
  • Uncontrolled pastoralism

Measures to prevent soil pollution

Following measures can be taken to prevent soil pollution-

  • Arrangement for collection, removal and disposal of garbage
  • To treat sewage water from factories before reaching the soil
  • Proper disposal of waste by the municipality and municipal bodies
  • Chemical fertilizers should not be used excessively.
  • Use of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides should be minimized
  • The general public should be made aware about the ill effects of soil pollution.

Air Pollution

Air is a mixture of gases and they are found in a certain quantity in the air . When the air quality deteriorates due to the addition of external elements produced by man-made sources and it becomes harmful to animals and plants , then it is called air pollution and the factors that pollute the air are called are called air pollutants. Carbon dioxide , carbon monoxide, oxides of sulfur, oxides of nitrogen , chlorine, lead , ammonia , cadmium , dust, etc. are the major human-borne air pollutants .

Effects Of Air Pollution

Following are the effects of air pollution-

  • Due to polluted air, the amount of sunlight decreases, which affects the photosynthesis of plants.
  • Air pollution affects the human respiratory system and can cause diseases like asthma , bronchitis , headache , lung cancer , cough , burning eyes , sore throat , pneumonia , heart disease , vomiting and cold.
  • When it rains in air-polluted areas, various types of gases and toxic substances dissolve in the rain and come to the earth, which is called ‘ acid rain ‘ .

Major Causes Of Air Pollution

Following are the major causes of air pollution-

  • Combustion of fossil fuels in vehicles
  • Factory smoke
  • Exhaust gases
  • Use of insecticidal and bactericidal drugs in agriculture
  • The solvent used for making polishes and spray paints on the furniture
  • Rotting of garbage and non-cleaning of drains

Measures to control air pollution

Following are the measures to control air pollution-

  • The height of chimneys of industries should be high
  • Reduce the use of coal or diesel engines
  • Carbon monoxide emissions can be reduced by cleaning the carburetors of motor vehicles.
  • Use lead-free petrol as fuel
  • Use of old vehicles should be banned
  • More use of solar energy in homes
  • Strict adherence to Euro standards
  • The production and use of chlorofluorocarbons (Freon-11 and Freon-12) that damage the ozone layer should be cut.
  • Bag filters should be used in factory chimneys

Water Pollution

When foreign substances contained in water change the natural properties of water in such a way that it becomes harmful to human health or its usefulness is reduced, then it is called water pollution. The things and substances which destroy the purity and properties of water are called air pollutants.

Effects Of Water Pollution

Following are the effects of water pollution-

  • In polluted water, algae begin to bloom rapidly and except for a few special types of plants, the rest are destroyed.
  • Due to the abundance of moss in polluted water, sunlight does not reach the depth, which affects the photosynthesis and growth of aquatic plants.
  • Animals and birds get various diseases by drinking contaminated water.
  • Polio, cholera, dysentery, jaundice, intermittent fever, viral fever etc. diseases spread in humans due to polluted water.

Sources Of Water Pollution

Following are the sources or causes of water pollution-

  • dumping or dumping of household waste
  • sewage
  • Soil erosion due to faulty farming practices
  • Continuous increase in the use of fertilizers
  • Large amount of waste material is dumped in water sources like rivers and reservoirs by industries etc.
  • Oil pollution caused by leakage in an oil well located on the seashore
  • Immersion of dead, burnt, half-burnt dead bodies in water, immersion of bones, bathing with soap and washing clothes etc.

Measures to prevent water pollution

Following are the measures to prevent water pollution-

  • There should be a ban on spreading dirt near water sources, bathing with soap and washing clothes.
  • Prohibition on bathing of animals in rivers, ponds etc.
  • Prohibition on discharge of all types of wastes and effluents containing effluents into rivers, ponds and other water bodies.
  • Proper treatment of industrial effluents or effluents
  • Prohibition on the shedding of dead bodies, half-burnt dead bodies, ashes and half-burnt wood in rivers
  • Use of fertilizers and pesticides as per requirement
  • To purify polluted water by growing some species of algae and hyacinth plants in it before dumping it into natural water sources.
  • Such fish should be released into the water bodies, which destroy mosquito eggs, larvae and aquatic weeds.
  • release of turtles into rivers and reservoirs
  • promote public awareness
  • noise pollution
  • Undesirable or high-intensity sound is called noise. The presence or noise of undesirable sound in the atmosphere is called ‘noise pollution. Noise causes unrest and restlessness in humans. The common measurement unit of sound is called the decibel.

Effects Of Noise Pollution

Following are the effects of noise pollution-

  • Workers who have to work in high noise, suffer from many diseases like heart disease, physical dysfunction, blood pressure etc.
  • Sudden high sound of explosions and sonic bombs can also cause miscarriage in pregnant women
  • Malformations develop in newborn babies of women who are constantly exposed to noise
  • Major causes of noise pollution

Following are the major causes of noise pollution-       

  • motor vehicle noise
  • noise from aircraft , motor vehicles and trains and their whistles
  • noise from loudspeakers and music systems
  • machine noise in factories
  • Measures to stop noise pollution

Following are the measures to prevent noise pollution-

  • Prohibition on high noise generating vehicles.
  • Improvements in the structure of motor engines and other noise-generating machines
  • Setting up industries outside urban and residential settlements
  • Providing earplugs or ear-locks to the workers of industries
  • Periodic check of silencers of vehicles
  • Reasonable ban on bandwagons, loudspeakers and sloganeering

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