What are Pollutants?

The presence or introduction of any harmful or poisonous substances into the environment is known as pollution. It refers to any unfavourable alteration of our surroundings. Pollutants are the unwanted chemicals and other materials present in the environment which have harmful or poisonous effects on environmental surroundings. They also have harmful effects on plants, animals, and human health.

Types of Pollutants

Types of Pollutants On the basis of degradation

  • Biodegradable pollutants: They get decomposed by biological or microbial actions. Examples: Sewage, paper
  • Non-biodegradable pollutants: These cannot be degraded/decomposed or degrade at an extremely slow pace. Examples: Plastic, glass

On the basis of origin in the environment

  • Primary Pollutants: They are directly introduced into the environment such as sulphur dioxide and methane.
  • Secondary Pollutants: They are formed when primary pollutants come into contact with the environment. Example: When hydrocarbons come into contact with sunlight, they form peroxyacetyl nitrate.

On the basis of existence in nature

  • Quantitative Pollutants: They, although present in nature, may become harmful when their quantity increases. Examples: Carbon dioxide, nitrogen
  • Qualitative Pollutants: They do not exist in the environment but are introduced into the surroundings as a result of human activities. Examples: Pesticides, chemical fertilizers

Differences between biodegradable and non-biodegradable pollutants

They decompose into the soil.They never or take a fairly long time to decompose into the soil.
They do not pose a very serious challenge to the environment.They pose a serious challenge to the environment because they do not decompose into the soil.
Examples: Paper, eggshellsExamples: Metal cans, plastic products

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What is Eutrophication?

Eutrophication is a process in which oxygen begins to deplete from water bodies either naturally or because of human activities. Nutrients and chemicals are discharged into water bodies through sewage and effluents.

What is Biomagnification?

When the quantities of harmful substances such as pesticides and insecticides increase in the food chain of marine and aquatic organisms and are in turn consumed by other living beings, it is known as biomagnification.

Top 5 Sources of soil pollution

The Main Sources of Soil Pollution are 1. Discharges from industries such as used chemicals and fly ash are dumped into the ground polluting the soil.

Top 5 Sources of Radioactive Pollution

The main sources of radioactive pollution are 1. X-rays are used for detecting skeletal disorders. X-rays are harmful to human health because these rays can pass through genetic cells which affect chromosomes.

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