Green Student U

 
 
 

Encyclopedia

Pollution

Every year in the U.S. factories release over 3 million tons of toxic chemicals into the land, air and water. This hazardous waste causes us to lose over 15 million acres of land every year, it leads to respiratory complications and other health problems and it makes our rivers and lakes too polluted for us to swim in and drink.

But factories are only part of the problem of pollution. Pollution is caused by industrial and commercial waste, agriculture practices, everyday human activities and most notably, modes of transportation. No matter where you go and what you do, there are remnants of pollution.

What is pollution?

Pollution is the introduction of a contaminant into the environment. It is created mostly by human actions, but can also be a result of natural disasters. Pollution has a detrimental effect on any living organism in an environment, making it virtually impossible to sustain life.

Why are the different types of pollution?

Pollution harms the Earth’s environment and its inhabitants in many ways. The three main types of pollution are:

Land Pollution

Land pollution is pollution of the Earth’s natural land surface by industrial, commercial, domestic and agricultural activities.

What are the sources of land pollution?

Some of the main contributors to land pollution are:

  • Chemical and nuclear plants
  • Industrial factories
  • Oil refineries
  • Human sewage
  • Oil and antifreeze leaking from cars
  • Mining
  • Littering
  • Overcrowded landfills
  • Deforestation
  • Construction debris

Facts about Land Pollution

Here are a few facts about land pollution:

  • Every year one American produces over 3285 pounds of hazardous waste
  • Land pollution causes us to lose 24 billion tons of top soil every year
  • Americans generate 30 billion foam cups, 220 million tires and 1.8 billion disposable diapers every year
  • We throw away enough trash every day to fill 63,000 garbage trucks
  • Every day Americans throw away 1 million bushels of litter out their car window
  • Over 80% of items in landfills can be recycled, but they’re not

How to Prevent Land Pollution

The best way to prevent land pollution is to recycle. Here are a few other ways you can reduce land pollution:

  • Reuse any items that you can
  • Buy biodegradable products
  • Store all liquid chemicals and waste in spill-proof containers
  • Eat organic foods that are grown without pesticides
  • Don’t use pesticides
  • Use a drip tray to collect engine oil
  • Buy products that have little packaging
  • Don’t dump motor oil on the ground

Air Pollution

Air pollution is the accumulation of hazardous substances into the atmosphere that danger human life and other living matter.

What are the sources of air pollution?

Some of the main contributors to air pollution are:

  • Automobile emissions
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Combustion of coal
  • Acid rain
  • Noise pollution from cars and construction
  • Power plants
  • Manufacturing buildings
  • Large ships
  • Paint fumes
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Wildfires
  • Nuclear weapons

Facts about Air Pollution

Here are a few facts about air pollution:

  • Almost 232 million different types of vehicles are driven by U.S. citizens every day, adding greenhouse gases into the air
  • U.S. vehicle emissions contribute 45% to global warming
  • The average adult consumes 3,000 gallons of polluted air every day
  • Vehicle exhaust contributes to 60% of carbon monoxide emissions in the U.S. and up to 95% in large cities
  • Every year 335,000 Americans die of lung cancer, which is a direct result of air pollution

How to Prevent Air Pollution

The number one way to prevent air pollution is to walk or bike more and drive less. This will prevent fossil fuels from polluting the air. Here are some other ways to prevent air pollution:

  • Carpool or join a ride share with friends and coworkers
  • Don’t smoke
  • Keep your car maintenance up-to-date
  • If you have to drive, do your errands at one time
  • Don’t buy products that come in aerosol spray cans
  • Avoid using lighter fluid when barbecuing outside
  • When you drive accelerate slowly and use cruise control
  • Always replace your car’s air filter
  • Use a push or electric lawnmower rather than a gas-powered one
  • Don’t use harsh chemical cleaners that can emit fumes
  • Inspect your gas appliances and heaters regularly

Water Pollution

Water pollution is the introduction of chemical, biological and physical matter into large bodies of water that degrade the quality of life that lives in it and consumes it.

What are the sources of water pollution?

Some of the main contributors to water pollution are:

  • Factories
  • Refineries
  • Waste treatment facilities
  • Mining
  • Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers
  • Human sewage
  • Oil spills
  • Failing septic systems
  • Soap from washing your car
  • Oil and antifreeze leaking from cars
  • Household chemicals
  • Animal waste

Facts about Water Pollution

Here are a few facts about water pollution:

  • Over two-thirds of U.S. estuaries and bays are severely degraded because of nitrogen and phosphorous pollution
  • Every year almost 25% of U.S. beaches are closed at least once because of water pollution
  • Over 73 different kinds of pesticides have been found in the groundwater that we eventually use to drink
  • 1.2 trillion gallons of sewage, stormwater and industrial waste are discharged into U.S. waters every year
  • 40% of U.S. rivers are too polluted for aquatic life to survive
  • Americans use over 2.2 billion pounds of pesticides every year, which eventually washes into our rivers and lakes

How to Prevent Water Pollution

The best way to prevent water pollution is to not throw trash and other harmful chemicals into our water supplies. Here are a few more ways you can prevent water pollution:

  • Wash your car far away from any stormwater drains
  • Don’t throw trash, chemicals or solvents into sewer drains
  • Inspect your septic system every 3-5 years
  • Avoid using pesticides and fertilizers that can run off into water systems
  • Sweep your driveway instead of hosing it down
  • Always pump your waste-holding tanks on your boat
  • Use non-toxic cleaning materials
  • Clean up oil and other liquid spills with kitty litter and sweet them up
  • Don’t wash paint brushes in the sink

How can you get involved in pollution prevention?

The best way for you to get involved with pollution prevention is to practice efforts on your own or join a project or program.  You can see a complete list of U.S. Pollution Prevention Projects & Programs by checking out the Environmental Protection Agency website.