6 Major Types of Pollution

There are different types of pollution, that are caused by natural events (like forest fires) as well as man-made activities (like Vehicles, factories, nuclear wastes, etc.). Major 6 types of Pollution have been discussed below.

Types of Pollution #1

Air Pollution

Excessive concentration of foreign particles or substances into the air which adversely affects the atmosphere is known as air pollution. Three types of air pollutants are

  • Natural pollutants such as pollen grains and bacteria.
  • Suspended particles in air (aerosols) such as fog, fumes, haze, dust and mist.
  • Various gases such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide are released in the atmosphere by various industries, vehicles and burning of fossil fuels.

Smog is formed as a result of air pollution. Smog is an air pollutant that is a mixture of fog, smoke, and dust particles. It is formed in areas that have a large concentration of industries. Heavy automobile traffic also results in the formation of smog.

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Types of Pollution #2

Water Pollution

According to the World Health Organization, any foreign matter either natural or other sources which contaminate and pollute the water or the water supply making it harmful for human and aquatic life is termed water pollution. Various types of water pollutants are

  • Biological pollutants: Viruses, protozoa, fungus, bacteria, algae
  • Organic chemical agents: Gasoline, pesticides, insecticides, oil
  • Inorganic chemical agents: Acids, nitrates, phosphates, salts
  • Physical pollutants: Suspended solid particles, heat

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Types of Pollution #3

Soil Pollution

A change or alteration in the natural physical, chemical and biological properties and conditions of soil because of human activities which result in the degradation of the quality and productivity of the soil is known as soil pollution.
Various kinds of soil pollutants are

  • Organic pollutants: These include human and animal excretion, waste food items, poultry wastes and wastes from food processing industries.
  • Inorganic pollutants: Metallic wastes, chemical fertilisers, detergents, oil and heavy metals are some inorganic wastes which pollute the soil. As these wastes do not degrade quickly, they decrease the quality and the productivity of the soil.
  • Radioactive substances: These are extremely toxic. They have long-lasting effects on the properties of soil.

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Types of Pollution #4

Noise Pollution

Any unwanted loud sound which causes stress and irritation can be termed noise pollution. The main sources of noise pollution are

  • Means of transport
  • Use of loudspeakers
  • Industrial sector
  • Celebration of festivals and wedding ceremonies

Noise pollution can have serious effects on human health.

  • It may cause impairment of hearing and can cause sleep disruption.
  • People who are frequently subjected to a high level of noise pollution may suffer from hypertension, depression and panic attacks.
  • It may lead to the abnormal increase of heartbeat and heart palpitation.
  • It can also cause migraine headaches, nausea and dizziness.

Types of Pollution #5

Radioactive Pollution

The release of radioactive substances into the atmosphere, water, and soil mainly because of human activities is known as radioactive pollution. Radioactive waste is the most dangerous pollutant on the Earth as it is not easy to safely dispose of. These wastes remain in the environment for a long period. Any leakage in a nuclear plant may threaten the survival of humans living in nearby areas. It also has disastrous effects on plants, animals, and soil. Environmental radiation can be divided into two types—natural and man-made.

Sources of natural radiation:
Cosmic radiations from outer space reaching the surface of the Earth and terrestrial radiation emanating from natural isotopes from the Earth’s surface.

Sources of man-made radiation:
It originates during the process of making nuclear weapons and nuclear electrical power.
Unsafe disposal of radioactive wastes results in pollution. Radioactive pollution not only results in environmental pollution but also has an adverse impact on human health, plant and animal life. The leakage of gas from the Chernobyl atomic reactor in Russia on 26 April 1986 led to the death of many people. It also affected the plant and animal life in the region.

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Types of Pollution #6

Thermal Pollution

  • Thermal pollution is the rise in the temperature of water bodies largely because of human activities. Thermal power plants use water as a cooling agent in their plants. Most of the power plants are located near rivers. When these plants release recycled hot water into the rivers, the temperature of the river water rises resulting in thermal pollution.
  • Thermal pollution can have disastrous effects on organisms living in water as hot water does not have the same oxygen-holding capacity as cold water.
  • Some water organisms which require a higher concentration of oxygen in water either die or migrate to some other water bodies. Blue algae thrive well in warm water; they produce toxins that endanger the lives of aquatic organisms.

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