Pollution has been defined as the addition of any substance or form of energy to the environment at a rate faster than the environment can accommodate dispersion, breakdown, recycling or storage in some harmless form. In simpler terms, pollution means the poisoning of the environment by Man.
Pollution has accompanied mankind ever since groups of people settled down in one place for a long time. It was not a serious problem during primitive times when there was more than ample space available for each individual or group. As the human population boomed, pollution became a major problem and has remained one ever since. Cities of ancient times were often unhealthy places, fouled by human wastes and debris. Such unsanitary conditions favoured the outbreak of diseases that killed or maimed many people living in those times.
The rapid advancement of technology and industrialization today is something that Man can be proud of. However, it has brought along with it many undesirable results, one of which is the pollution of our environment. Humanity today is threatened by the dangers of air, water, land and noise pollution.
The air that we breathe is heavily polluted with toxic gases, chemicals and dusts. These consists of the discharge from industrial factories and motor vehicles. The emission of tetraethyl lead and carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes is a major cause for concern too. Outdoor burning of trash and forest fires have also contributed to air pollution They cause the smarting of the eyes , bouts of coughing and respiratory problems. Owing to the burning of fossil fuels, the level of carbon dioxide will cause the Earth's temperature to rise. The heat will melt the polar caps, thus raising the sea level and causing massive flood around the world The burning of fuels also produces gases which form acid rain. Acid rain has a damaging effect on water, forest and soil, and is harmful to our health.
Man has reached the moon and invented supersonic crafts that can travel faster than the speed of sound. However, these inventions emit pollutants which contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. This depletion of ozone, which absorbs the harmful rays of the sun and prevents them from reading the Earth , will have drastic effects on all living things. It will lead to a rise in the number of people suffering from skin cancer.
Water pollution has become widespread too. Toxic waste has found its way into our lakes, streams ,rivers and oceans. This waste is released by factories and sea-going vessels. Spillage of oil by tankers and during the recent Gulf War has caused irreparable damage to marine life. Thousands of sea animals have died or were poisoned by the pollutants in their natural habitat. As such, it is dangerous for humans to consume sea food caught in polluted waters.
Dumping of used cars, cans, bottles, plastic items and all other kinds of waste material is an eyesore. Much of the refuse is not biodegradable and this interferes with the natural breakdown process of converting substances from a harmful form to a non-harmful one. As such, it becomes a hazard to one's health.
We are often faced with noises from construction sites, jet planes ad traffic jam. We may be unaware of it but noise pollution has been attributed to causing a loss of hearing, mental disturbances and poor performance at work.
To control environmental pollution, substances which are hazardous and can destroy life must not be allowed to escape into the environment. This calls dangers of pollution.