Why we need to care about pollution

Pollution is the introduction of a substance or contaminant into the environment that causes harmful or poisonous effects. This contamination could be of air, water or soil. Humans are the biggest culprits when it comes to pollution of our resources. Effects of this pollution vary from alteration of wildlife habitats, acid rain, toxic metals or oil spillage which enters into our water system.

When we create conditions that are new to the ecosystem, the living organisms respond differently to these changes. Fish for example die due to water pollution in lakes and oceans and if they don’t die, the poisonous substances are accumulated in their bodies and later transferred to humans through ingestion which brings the toxic effects closer home.

The biggest culprits to water and air pollution are industrialized towns with factories. DDT is one such chemical that has an effect on pests. However, such a chemical has been found in the past to accumulate in the cells and tissues of vertebrates and humans included.

Acid rain is another such effect arising from polluted air that got into contact with gases emitted from industries. Acid rain kills trees by harming the leaves which are the main source of food through the process of photosynthesis.

Acid rain also harms aquatic life such as fish and other wildlife through increase of water acidity. Acid rain also infiltrates into the soil causing an alteration of the soil chemistry which interferes with plant and crop growth.

Air pollution by sulphur dioxide, nitrous dioxide, carbon monoxide and lead also affects our lungs and could cause respiratory diseases. Lead is even more dangerous as it accumulates in the blood and body and is not readily excreted.

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Pollution leads to disease or death in some cases. A case is in Mombasa, Kenya where children affected by Lead poisoning are being born with deformities and lower body masses. These children have wounds and sores on their limbs and this was as a result of the lead accumulation in mothers carrying unborn children.

The area affected is a slum commonly referred to ‘Owino Uhuru’ and it is close to a lead battery manufacturing plant. The people living in the slum of Owino Uhuru have greatly suffered the effects of this Lead poisoning with children experiencing dizzy spells, seizures and chronic pains due to the constant exposure to the lead contaminant.

Noise pollution is yet another source of pollution but most often ignored. Noise affects humans and animals. Animals for instance rely on their listening ability to predate or to sense predators, for migration and for mating. Noise pollution interferes with the noise patterns thus affecting these day-to-day activities of animals.

Many other effects of pollution can be experienced all over the world. In under-developed nations for instance, burning of wood fuel and use of kerosene stoves is one of the ways in which we contaminate our environment.

Burning of trees for coal or using burning as a land clearing method also pollutes the air through release of the gases that contaminate the air and lead to formation of acid rain as well.

Developed countries are not free from fault either as pollution is caused by the fuel used in automobiles, generators, powerboats, trains and so forth.

Use of refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners also contributes to pollution by producing ozone depleting substances. This pollution emanates from the compound chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) used as coolants in refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners. The same compound is also used in dry cleaning agents and in hospitals as a sterilizer.

Ignorance by our governments or by we the people living in an area is the reason pollution will not stop. We need to consciously refuse to be part of pollution of any kind and we need laws and policies that protect us and our health.

So we are all guilty of pollution in one way or another and there is really no way to completely attain one hundred percent zero pollution but where we can, we can minimize the pollutants and ease the contamination on Mother Earth. Let’s be part of the change.