“I durst not laugh for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air.” —William Shakespeare
How true these words sound in the present context. There is so much pollution all around us today that normal breathing in itself is the greatest risk to our lives. Pollution has affected our lives so adversely that because of this, millions of people die annually.
The worst form of pollution that affects us the most is air pollution. The way the environment is being polluted today stands testimony to the fact that we are irresponsible occupants of this Earth and by polluting the air; we are meticulously working towards our own destruction. According to the World Health Organization, about 2.8 million people each year due to indoor pollution (over 500,000 occur in China alone). And about 200,000 deaths are due to outdoor air pollution. These data should act as an eye-opener for all of us. There are so many ways in which we contribute to air pollution, the largest being smoke. Smoke emitting from industries/ factories/ vehicles and even cigarettes is a major source of air pollution. It is due to air pollution mat a number of diseases have surfaced. There are several respiratory diseases, which affect us adversely.
It is said that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. But it is not injurious to the health of only those who smoke cigarettes but also to those who come in contact with the smoke emitted from the cigarettes. People who take in the smoke of cigarettes while breathing normally do not realize that they are passive smokers and smoking cigarette or not are no different when the result is the same. Therefore, air pollution through smoking is the worst form of pollution to have hit us due to our own negligence.
Even burning garbage, heaps, dry leave, wood for cooking and pollute air even by firecrackers. What is worse is that most of us understand the ill-effects of pollution, yet we are so indifferent towards our own health that we do not avoid the avoidable. Garbage heaps can be recycled instead of being burnt; similarly, dry leaves can be buried in the soil inside pits. This will not only avoid pollution but also benefit the soil by fertilizing it. Stoves, LPG and other non-conventional sources of energy should be used for cooking and the bursting of firecrackers should be made minimal to reduce air pollution. Air pollution not only affects our health but also historical monuments. For instance, the Taj Mahal is under threat due to the rising levels of air pollution. Therefore, if we prevent air pollution, we not only keep ourselves healthy but also our historical monuments. One of the most common types of outdoor air pollution is smog. Smog is a brown, hazy mixture of gases and particulates. It develops when certain gases released by the combustion of petrol and other petroleum products react with sunlight in the atmosphere. This reaction creates harmful chemicals that make up smog; Smog is a toxic form of chemicals that make up smog, smog is a toxic form of oxygen called ozone. Exposure to high concentrations of ozone causes headaches, burning eyes, and irritation in the respiratory tract in many individuals. In some cases, ozone in the lower atmosphere can cause death. Ozone can also damage plant life and even kill trees.
Another major source of pollution today is water pollution. Water pollution is the contamination of water by sewage, toxic chemicals, metals, oils, or other substances. Diseases like diarrhea and dysentery are the ill-effects of polluted water. The wastes that are thrown in the rivers and lakes by us mainly pollute water. It is due to this that the water supplied to us in our homes is impure and consumption of which leads to many dreaded diseases. The biomedical waste from hospitals is not processed properly and is thrown in nearby rivers. The waste materials from factories and industries are also disposed of in the same manner. Therefore, it leads to high levels of water pollution. Not only this, people throw dry flower used for pooja and other religious functions in rivers due to which water gets badly contaminated and unfit for use. In fact, due to high levels of water pollution, marine animals die an untimely death. It is owing to water pollution that certain species of marine animals are on the verge of extinction today. In a healthy water system, a cycle of natural processes turns wastes into useful or harmless substances. The cycle begins when organisms called aerobic bacteria use the oxygen dissolved in water to digest wastes. This digestion process releases nitrates, phosphates and other nutrients. Algae and aquatic green plants absorb these nutrients. Microscopic animals called zooplankton eat the algae, and fish eat the zooplankton. The fish, in turn, may be eaten by larger fish, birds, or other animals. These larger animals come in contact with other animals and in turn the process of biological contamination cycle continues.
Another form of pollution that threatens our peace today is sound pollution. It is so irksome when music is played at high volumes in parties and vehicles. It might be fun for those in the party or those in the vehicle, but it is rather a disturbance to those who have to bear it unnecessarily. Today, the levels of sound pollution are so high that the Supreme Court had to intervene and pass orders recently to impose a restriction on the playing of bands and loud music between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. The vehemence of music disturbs students, patients, old and other people who want some rest after a long day’s work.
The effects of sound pollution are clearly visible on the roads. The sound of the bawling horns is a headache in itself. Everybody is in a hurry and therefore, the use of horns is made without much thought. Horns disrupt peace to the extent that these can be heard even in the ‘no-horn’ zones. Therefore, loud music and bawling horns create a lot of sound pollution, which affects us adversely. Although noise does not pollute the air, water, or land, but it can cause discomfort and hearing loss in human beings and other animals.
Soil pollution is also an important mode of pollution. When the earth’s thin layer of healthy, productive soil is destroyed where food is grown, it is called soil erosion. Healthy soil depends on bacteria, fungi, and small animals to break down wastes in the soil and release nutrients. These nutrients help plants grow. Fertilizers and pesticides can limit the ability of soil organisms to process wastes. As a result, farmers who overuse fertilizers and pesticides can destroy their soil’s productivity. Besides, food grains, fruits and vegetables grown by using chemicals and pesticides are causing many diseases to the people. Not only this, even irrigation in dry areas without proper drainage system can lead to water logging in the fields. When this standing water evaporates, it leaves salt deposits behind, making the soil too salty for growing crops. Therefore, although soil pollution may not seem to be a very dangerous form of pollution, it can lead to famines because soil pollution will lead to a poor quality of soil, which in turn will lead to poor crops. Therefore, soil pollution is extremely dangerous.
It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to control the rising
levels of any form of pollution. We must get our vehicles checked regularly and if the smoke emitting from them is higher than the normal level, it should be repaired. Use of firecrackers should be minimized and cigarette smoking should be given up. We must take a vow never to throw any waste materials in the rivers or lakes because mat water comes back to us as drinking water. We must take an initiative to prevent others also from doing so. Hospitals must collect their biomedical wastes and dispose of them in a proper manner. Some should be done with the waste materials from factories and industries. Recycling should be made a practice and children should be taught how to recycle simple things in school. This practice will make them to recycle things rather than throw them like garbage. The volume of our music systems should be kept low so that others are not disturbed. Even in parties these should be stopped after some time to avoid noise pollution and inconvenience to others. Thus, only when we decide to do our duty to keep our dear planet clean, we can succeed in controlling pollution. Only then we can make this world’s better place to live for you and for me.