According to Mehta (2018), the effects of environmental pollution are:
1. Environment Degradation: Environment is the first casualty for any pollution whether in air or water.
The increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere leads to smog which can restrict sunlight from reaching the earth. Thus, preventing plants in the process of photosynthesis.
Gases like Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide can cause acid rain. Water pollution in terms of Oil spill may lead to death of several wildlife species.
2. Human Health: Some of the health dangers of environmental pollution are:
2a. Prenatal Effects
Environmental pollution is believed to cause inflammation and oxidative stress in a mother’s body that subsequently alters the placenta, impairs the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the developing child and may disrupt epigenetic mechanisms important for development.
These effects may cause changes in the child’s birth weight, immune system and lung function. Exposure to air pollution may cause the development of asthma in the child, and impaired lungs development contributes to infant mortality (CHE, 2018).
In 2016, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified both air pollution and particulate matter in polluted air as Class 1 human carcinogens, concluding that there is sufficient evidence that air pollution and particulate matter each cause lung cancer and that outdoor air pollution is associated with cancer of the urinary bladder (CHE, 2018).
2c. Neurocognitive Decline
A 2012 study found that children and young adults with a genetic predisposition to developing Alzheimer’s disease (APOE allele ∊4) who were exposed to significant air pollution developed a greater number of protein markers known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (tau proteins and Aβ plaques).
This finding suggests that genetic factors could make a significant number of children exposed to air pollution more prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. A review published in 2015 found associations of air pollution with global cognitive function, verbal and nonverbal learning and memory, and activities of daily living.
A 2017 review further revealed that both children and older adults exposed to air pollution exhibited signs of cognitive dysfunction, and that air pollution was associated with exacerbations of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases (CHE, 2018).
2d. Mental Health
Some evidence ties air pollution to an increased risk of a variety of mental health conditions. A 2017 review found an association between air pollution, especially particulates, and suicidality (CHE, 2018).
3. Global Warming: The emission of greenhouse gases particularly CO2 is leading to global warming. Every other day new industries are being set up, new vehicles come on roads and trees are cut to make way for new homes.
All of them, in direct or indirect way lead to increase in CO2 in the environment. The increase in CO2 leads to melting of polar ice caps which increases the sea level and pose danger for the people living near coastal areas.
4. Depletion of the Ozone Layer: Ozone layer stops ultra violet rays from reaching the earth. UV exposure in excess can lead to skin cancer.
Due to release of CFCs & aerosols in the atmosphere which contributed to the depletion of ozone layer the sheet that protects from the harmful UV-rays.
5. Infertile Land: Constant use of pesticides, insecticides & other chemicals causes the soil to become infertile. Soil is the major and in some cases the only source of nutrition for plants & vegetables.
Importance of these can never be overstated. But due to infertile soil, plants will not be able to grow properly. Industrial waste also affects the fertility of the soil.
In summary, the effects of environmental pollution are many and divers. It ranges from its effects on the environment to its effect to the lives of plants and animals. It is also evidently clear that environmental pollution cannot be eradicated rather can be managed to reduce it and its effects to the barest minimum.