Sunday, June 23, 2024
Environmental Management

Sources and Types of Pollution on the Environment

The pollution of the environment has negatively affected the life of both plants and animals. It can be said that almost all of the gains in the fields of industrial progress, science and technology had be achieved at the expense of the health of man, animals and plants found in the environment, even the flora and fauna were found to be threatened with extinction.

This effect is all over the world. Environmental pollution is not caused come through the smoke from the automobiles, other vehicular traffic, insecticides, and nitrogen only by the industries but even individuals up to the home level. These fertilizers and synthetic detergents also cause environmental pollution.

Definition of Pollution

Pollution has been defined by many Authors. Berg (2017) defined pollution in this way; the term “pollution” refers to any substance that negatively impacts the environment or organisms that live within the affected environment.

According to Mehta (2018), the dictionary explains pollution as “the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects.” Wiki explains pollution as “the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that causes adverse change.”

Simply put, Environmental Pollution is something that brings harm to our environment and in turn to the people who exist based on the environment.

So, Pollution can be defined to be any substance that negatively affects the environment and the organisms that can be found in that environment.

It can be seen from the foregoing that pollution is both an “act” and a “thing”. An act in that we can cause pollution by what we are doing, the thing that was dropped or released is itself pollution.

Sources of Pollution

Mehta (2018) outlined the major sources of pollution to include:

Dumping solid wastes: Wastes from households and commercial centers pollute the environment when not properly disposed.

Burning of fossil fuels: The use of fossil fuels by automobiles, vehicles and power generating machines pollute the air, the soil and the water with noxious gases such as CO2 and CO.

Agricultural waste: The use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture are major sources of environmental pollution.

Industrial activities: The activities of industries that produce smoke, gases, industrial effluents and technological wastes cause health hazards, pollute and contaminate both air and water.

The improper disposals of industrial wastes are the sources of soil and water pollution. Chemical waste resulting from industry can pollute lakes, rivers and seas and soil.

Vehicles: The carbon dioxide and carbon monoxides emitted by vehicles using petrol and diesel and the cooking coal also pollutes the environment.


The harmful smoke of these vehicles causes air pollution. Further, the sounds produced by these vehicles cause noise pollution.

Rapid urbanisation: The rapid urbanization throughout the whole world is also another source environmental pollution which affects plants and animals.

Population explosion: Due to the increase in population, particularly in developing countries, there has been surge in demand for basic food, occupation and shelter. The world has witnessed massive deforestation to absorb the growing population and their demands.

Read Also : Causes and Effects of Land Pollution

Point and Non-Point Sources

1. Point Source Pollution

According to Hill (1997), the US Environmental Protection Agency defines Point source pollution as “any single identifiable source of pollution from which pollutants are discharged, such as a pipe, ditch, ship or factory smokestack”

Industries, factories and sewage treatment plants are common types of point sources. The factories, including oil refineries, pulp and paper mills, and chemical, electronics and automobile manufacturers, typically discharge one or more pollutants in their effluents. Some factories discharge their effluents directly into a water body.

Others treat it themselves before it is released, and still others send their wastes to sewage treatment plants for treatment. Sewage treatment plants treat human wastes and send the treated effluent to the stream or river.

2. Non point Source Pollution

Nonpoint source pollution is a combination of pollutants from a large area rather than from specific identifiable sources such as discharge pipes.

According to Wikipedia, most nonpoint source water pollution occurs as a result of surface water runoff When rain or melted snow moves over and through the ground, the water absorbs and assimilates some of the pollutants with which it comes into contact..

Following a heavy rainstorm for example, water will flow across a parking lot and pick up oil left by cars driving and parking on the asphalt when you see a rainbow-colored sheen on water flowing across the surface of a road or parking lot, you are actually looking at non-point source water pollution.

Types of Pollution

Bradford (2018) in Live Science publication listed the types of pollution as follows:

1. Land Pollution

Land can become polluted by household garbage and by industrial waste. In 2014, Americans produced about 258 million tons of solid wastes, according to the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency. A little over half of the waste 136 million tons was gathered in landfills. Only about 34 percent was recycled or composted.

2. Water Pollution

Water pollution happens when chemicals or dangerous foreign substances are introduced to water, including chemicals, sewage, pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural runoff, or metals like lead or mercury.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 44 percent of assessed stream miles, 64 percent of lakes and 30 percent of bay and estuarine areas are not clean enough for fishing and swimming.

The EPA also states that the United States most common contaminants are bacteria, mercury, phosphorus and nitrogen. These come from the most common sources of contaminates, that include agricultural runoff, air deposition, water diversions and channelization of streams.

3. Air Pollution

The air we breathe has a very exact chemical composition; 99 percent of it is made up of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and inert gases. Air pollution occurs when things that aren’t normally there are added to the air.

A common type of air pollution happens when people release particles into the air from burning fuels. This pollution looks like soot, containing millions of tiny particles, floating in the air.

Another common type of air pollution is dangerous gases, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and chemical vapors. These can take part in further chemical reactions once they are in the atmosphere, creating acid rain and smog.

Other sources of air pollution can come from within buildings, such as secondhand smoke. Finally, air pollution can take the form of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide, which are warming the planet through the greenhouse effect.

4. Noise Pollution

Noise may not be seen or smelt by humans yet it still affects the environment. Noise pollution happens when the sound coming from planes, industry or other sources reaches harmful levels.

Researches have shown that there are direct links between noise and health, including stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss.

5. Light Pollution

It has become quite difficult living without the modern convenience of electric lights. For the natural world, though, lights have changed the way that days and nights work. Some consequences of light pollution are:

Some birds sing at unnatural hours in the presence of artificial light.

Scientists have determined that long artificial days can affect migration schedules, as they allow for longer feeding times.

Other types of pollution are:

  • Radioactive material pollution
  • Thermal pollution
  • Visual pollution

Read Also : The Reproductive Rate of Sheep and Goat


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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