Essay on Environmental Pollution for Students and Children

500+ words essay on environmental pollution.

Essay on Environmental Pollution – Environment is the surroundings in which we live. But the contamination of our environment by pollutants is environmental pollution. The current stage of the earth that we are seeing is the cause of centuries of exploitation of earth and its resources.

Moreover, the earth cannot restore its balance because of environmental pollution . The human force has created and destroyed life on earth. Human plays a vital role in the degradation of the environment.

Essay on Environmental Pollution

Effect of pollution on the health

The environmental pollution, directly and indirectly, affects the lives of humans and other species. These living beings co-existed on the earth with human from centuries.

Effect on Air

Carbon and dust particles string up with the air in the form of smog, damaging respiratory system , haze, and smoke. These are caused by the emission of industrial and manufacturing units by burning of fossil fuels, vehicle combustion of carbon fumes.

Moreover, these factors affect the immune system of birds which become a carrier of viruses and infections.

Besides, it also affects the body system and body organs.

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Effects on Land, Soil, and Food

Human’s organic and chemical both waste harm the land and soil with its decomposition. Also, it introduces some chemical in the soil and water. Land and soil pollution mainly caused by the use of pesticides, fertilizers , soil erosion, and crop residues.

Effect on Water

Water gets contaminated easily with any pollutant whether it is human waste or chemical discharge from factories. Also, we use this water for irrigation of crops and drinking. But, because of infection they become contaminated too. Besides, an animal dies because they drink this same contaminated water.

Moreover, around 80% of pollutants of land such as chemical, industrial and agricultural waste end up in the water bodies.

Besides, these water bodies ultimately connect to the sea which means it indirectly pollutes the biodiversity of the sea.

Effect on Food

Because of contaminated soil and water, the crop or agricultural produce also get toxic. Furthermore, this contaminated food effect our health and organs. From the beginning of their life, these crops are laced with chemical components that reach a mass level until the time of harvest.

Effect on Climate

Climate change is also a cause of environmental pollution. Also, it affects the physical and biological components of the ecosystem.

Moreover, ozone depletion, greenhouse gases, global warming all these climate changes are a cause of environmental pollution.

environmental pollution and global issues essay

Furthermore, some unstable climate changes are earthquakes, famine, smog, carbon particles, shallow rain or snow, thunderstorms, volcanic eruption, and avalanches are all because of climate change that happens all because of environmental pollution.

In conclusion, man has exploited the wealth of nature at the cost of his and environments health. Also, the effect that is now emerging rapidly is all because of the activities of humans for hundreds or thousands of years.

Above all, if we wish to survive and continue our life on earth then we have to take measures. These measures will help is securing our as well as our next generation future.

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Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These harmful materials are called pollutants.

Biology, Ecology, Health, Earth Science, Geography

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Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment . These harmful materials are called pollutants . Pollutants can be natural, such as volcanic ash . They can also be created by human activity, such as trash or runoff produced by factories. Pollutants damage the quality of air, water, and land. Many things that are useful to people produce pollution. Cars spew pollutants from their exhaust pipes. Burning coal to create electricity pollutes the air. Industries and homes generate garbage and sewage that can pollute the land and water. Pesticides —chemical poisons used to kill weeds and insects— seep into waterways and harm wildlife . All living things—from one-celled microbes to blue whales—depend on Earth ’s supply of air and water. When these resources are polluted, all forms of life are threatened. Pollution is a global problem. Although urban areas are usually more polluted than the countryside, pollution can spread to remote places where no people live. For example, pesticides and other chemicals have been found in the Antarctic ice sheet . In the middle of the northern Pacific Ocean, a huge collection of microscopic plastic particles forms what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . Air and water currents carry pollution. Ocean currents and migrating fish carry marine pollutants far and wide. Winds can pick up radioactive material accidentally released from a nuclear reactor and scatter it around the world. Smoke from a factory in one country drifts into another country. In the past, visitors to Big Bend National Park in the U.S. state of Texas could see 290 kilometers (180 miles) across the vast landscape . Now, coal-burning power plants in Texas and the neighboring state of Chihuahua, Mexico have spewed so much pollution into the air that visitors to Big Bend can sometimes see only 50 kilometers (30 miles). The three major types of pollution are air pollution , water pollution , and land pollution . Air Pollution Sometimes, air pollution is visible . A person can see dark smoke pour from the exhaust pipes of large trucks or factories, for example. More often, however, air pollution is invisible . Polluted air can be dangerous, even if the pollutants are invisible. It can make people’s eyes burn and make them have difficulty breathing. It can also increase the risk of lung cancer . Sometimes, air pollution kills quickly. In 1984, an accident at a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, released a deadly gas into the air. At least 8,000 people died within days. Hundreds of thou sands more were permanently injured. Natural disasters can also cause air pollution to increase quickly. When volcanoes erupt , they eject volcanic ash and gases into the atmosphere . Volcanic ash can discolor the sky for months. After the eruption of the Indonesian volcano of Krakatoa in 1883, ash darkened the sky around the world. The dimmer sky caused fewer crops to be harvested as far away as Europe and North America. For years, meteorologists tracked what was known as the “equatorial smoke stream .” In fact, this smoke stream was a jet stream , a wind high in Earth’s atmosphere that Krakatoa’s air pollution made visible. Volcanic gases , such as sulfur dioxide , can kill nearby residents and make the soil infertile for years. Mount Vesuvius, a volcano in Italy, famously erupted in 79, killing hundreds of residents of the nearby towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Most victims of Vesuvius were not killed by lava or landslides caused by the eruption. They were choked, or asphyxiated , by deadly volcanic gases. In 1986, a toxic cloud developed over Lake Nyos, Cameroon. Lake Nyos sits in the crater of a volcano. Though the volcano did not erupt, it did eject volcanic gases into the lake. The heated gases passed through the water of the lake and collected as a cloud that descended the slopes of the volcano and into nearby valleys . As the toxic cloud moved across the landscape, it killed birds and other organisms in their natural habitat . This air pollution also killed thousands of cattle and as many as 1,700 people. Most air pollution is not natural, however. It comes from burning fossil fuels —coal, oil , and natural gas . When gasoline is burned to power cars and trucks, it produces carbon monoxide , a colorless, odorless gas. The gas is harmful in high concentrations , or amounts. City traffic produces highly concentrated carbon monoxide. Cars and factories produce other common pollutants, including nitrogen oxide , sulfur dioxide, and hydrocarbons . These chemicals react with sunlight to produce smog , a thick fog or haze of air pollution. The smog is so thick in Linfen, China, that people can seldom see the sun. Smog can be brown or grayish blue, depending on which pollutants are in it. Smog makes breathing difficult, especially for children and older adults. Some cities that suffer from extreme smog issue air pollution warnings. The government of Hong Kong, for example, will warn people not to go outside or engage in strenuous physical activity (such as running or swimming) when smog is very thick.

When air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide mix with moisture, they change into acids . They then fall back to earth as acid rain . Wind often carries acid rain far from the pollution source. Pollutants produced by factories and power plants in Spain can fall as acid rain in Norway. Acid rain can kill all the trees in a forest . It can also devastate lakes, streams, and other waterways. When lakes become acidic, fish can’t survive . In Sweden, acid rain created thousands of “ dead lakes ,” where fish no longer live. Acid rain also wears away marble and other kinds of stone . It has erased the words on gravestones and damaged many historic buildings and monuments . The Taj Mahal , in Agra, India, was once gleaming white. Years of exposure to acid rain has left it pale. Governments have tried to prevent acid rain by limiting the amount of pollutants released into the air. In Europe and North America, they have had some success, but acid rain remains a major problem in the developing world , especially Asia. Greenhouse gases are another source of air pollution. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane occur naturally in the atmosphere. In fact, they are necessary for life on Earth. They absorb sunlight reflected from Earth, preventing it from escaping into space. By trapping heat in the atmosphere, they keep Earth warm enough for people to live. This is called the greenhouse effect . But human activities such as burning fossil fuels and destroying forests have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This has increased the greenhouse effect, and average temperatures across the globe are rising. The decade that began in the year 2000 was the warmest on record. This increase in worldwide average temperatures, caused in part by human activity, is called global warming . Global warming is causing ice sheets and glaciers to melt. The melting ice is causing sea levels to rise at a rate of two millimeters (0.09 inches) per year. The rising seas will eventually flood low-lying coastal regions . Entire nations, such as the islands of Maldives, are threatened by this climate change . Global warming also contributes to the phenomenon of ocean acidification . Ocean acidification is the process of ocean waters absorbing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Fewer organisms can survive in warmer, less salty waters. The ocean food web is threatened as plants and animals such as coral fail to adapt to more acidic oceans. Scientists have predicted that global warming will cause an increase in severe storms . It will also cause more droughts in some regions and more flooding in others. The change in average temperatures is already shrinking some habitats, the regions where plants and animals naturally live. Polar bears hunt seals from sea ice in the Arctic. The melting ice is forcing polar bears to travel farther to find food , and their numbers are shrinking. People and governments can respond quickly and effectively to reduce air pollution. Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a dangerous form of air pollution that governments worked to reduce in the 1980s and 1990s. CFCs are found in gases that cool refrigerators, in foam products, and in aerosol cans . CFCs damage the ozone layer , a region in Earth’s upper atmosphere. The ozone layer protects Earth by absorbing much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation . When people are exposed to more ultraviolet radiation, they are more likely to develop skin cancer, eye diseases, and other illnesses. In the 1980s, scientists noticed that the ozone layer over Antarctica was thinning. This is often called the “ ozone hole .” No one lives permanently in Antarctica. But Australia, the home of more than 22 million people, lies at the edge of the hole. In the 1990s, the Australian government began an effort to warn people of the dangers of too much sun. Many countries, including the United States, now severely limit the production of CFCs. Water Pollution Some polluted water looks muddy, smells bad, and has garbage floating in it. Some polluted water looks clean, but is filled with harmful chemicals you can’t see or smell. Polluted water is unsafe for drinking and swimming. Some people who drink polluted water are exposed to hazardous chemicals that may make them sick years later. Others consume bacteria and other tiny aquatic organisms that cause disease. The United Nations estimates that 4,000 children die every day from drinking dirty water. Sometimes, polluted water harms people indirectly. They get sick because the fish that live in polluted water are unsafe to eat. They have too many pollutants in their flesh. There are some natural sources of water pollution. Oil and natural gas, for example, can leak into oceans and lakes from natural underground sources. These sites are called petroleum seeps . The world’s largest petroleum seep is the Coal Oil Point Seep, off the coast of the U.S. state of California. The Coal Oil Point Seep releases so much oil that tar balls wash up on nearby beaches . Tar balls are small, sticky pieces of pollution that eventually decompose in the ocean.

Human activity also contributes to water pollution. Chemicals and oils from factories are sometimes dumped or seep into waterways. These chemicals are called runoff. Chemicals in runoff can create a toxic environment for aquatic life. Runoff can also help create a fertile environment for cyanobacteria , also called blue-green algae . Cyanobacteria reproduce rapidly, creating a harmful algal bloom (HAB) . Harmful algal blooms prevent organisms such as plants and fish from living in the ocean. They are associated with “ dead zones ” in the world’s lakes and rivers, places where little life exists below surface water. Mining and drilling can also contribute to water pollution. Acid mine drainage (AMD) is a major contributor to pollution of rivers and streams near coal mines . Acid helps miners remove coal from the surrounding rocks . The acid is washed into streams and rivers, where it reacts with rocks and sand. It releases chemical sulfur from the rocks and sand, creating a river rich in sulfuric acid . Sulfuric acid is toxic to plants, fish, and other aquatic organisms. Sulfuric acid is also toxic to people, making rivers polluted by AMD dangerous sources of water for drinking and hygiene . Oil spills are another source of water pollution. In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing oil to gush from the ocean floor. In the following months, hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spewed into the gulf waters. The spill produced large plumes of oil under the sea and an oil slick on the surface as large as 24,000 square kilometers (9,100 square miles). The oil slick coated wetlands in the U.S. states of Louisiana and Mississippi, killing marsh plants and aquatic organisms such as crabs and fish. Birds, such as pelicans , became coated in oil and were unable to fly or access food. More than two million animals died as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Buried chemical waste can also pollute water supplies. For many years, people disposed of chemical wastes carelessly, not realizing its dangers. In the 1970s, people living in the Love Canal area in Niagara Falls, New York, suffered from extremely high rates of cancer and birth defects . It was discovered that a chemical waste dump had poisoned the area’s water. In 1978, 800 families living in Love Canal had to a bandon their homes. If not disposed of properly, radioactive waste from nuclear power plants can escape into the environment. Radioactive waste can harm living things and pollute the water. Sewage that has not been properly treated is a common source of water pollution. Many cities around the world have poor sewage systems and sewage treatment plants. Delhi, the capital of India, is home to more than 21 million people. More than half the sewage and other waste produced in the city are dumped into the Yamuna River. This pollution makes the river dangerous to use as a source of water for drinking or hygiene. It also reduces the river’s fishery , resulting in less food for the local community. A major source of water pollution is fertilizer used in agriculture . Fertilizer is material added to soil to make plants grow larger and faster. Fertilizers usually contain large amounts of the elements nitrogen and phosphorus , which help plants grow. Rainwater washes fertilizer into streams and lakes. There, the nitrogen and phosphorus cause cyanobacteria to form harmful algal blooms. Rain washes other pollutants into streams and lakes. It picks up animal waste from cattle ranches. Cars drip oil onto the street, and rain carries it into storm drains , which lead to waterways such as rivers and seas. Rain sometimes washes chemical pesticides off of plants and into streams. Pesticides can also seep into groundwater , the water beneath the surface of the Earth. Heat can pollute water. Power plants, for example, produce a huge amount of heat. Power plants are often located on rivers so they can use the water as a coolant . Cool water circulates through the plant, absorbing heat. The heated water is then returned to the river. Aquatic creatures are sensitive to changes in temperature. Some fish, for example, can only live in cold water. Warmer river temperatures prevent fish eggs from hatching. Warmer river water also contributes to harmful algal blooms. Another type of water pollution is simple garbage. The Citarum River in Indonesia, for example, has so much garbage floating in it that you cannot see the water. Floating trash makes the river difficult to fish in. Aquatic animals such as fish and turtles mistake trash, such as plastic bags, for food. Plastic bags and twine can kill many ocean creatures. Chemical pollutants in trash can also pollute the water, making it toxic for fish and people who use the river as a source of drinking water. The fish that are caught in a polluted river often have high levels of chemical toxins in their flesh. People absorb these toxins as they eat the fish. Garbage also fouls the ocean. Many plastic bottles and other pieces of trash are thrown overboard from boats. The wind blows trash out to sea. Ocean currents carry plastics and other floating trash to certain places on the globe, where it cannot escape. The largest of these areas, called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. According to some estimates, this garbage patch is the size of Texas. The trash is a threat to fish and seabirds, which mistake the plastic for food. Many of the plastics are covered with chemical pollutants. Land Pollution Many of the same pollutants that foul the water also harm the land. Mining sometimes leaves the soil contaminated with dangerous chemicals. Pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural fields are blown by the wind. They can harm plants, animals, and sometimes people. Some fruits and vegetables absorb the pesticides that help them grow. When people consume the fruits and vegetables, the pesticides enter their bodies. Some pesticides can cause cancer and other diseases. A pesticide called DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was once commonly used to kill insects, especially mosquitoes. In many parts of the world, mosquitoes carry a disease called malaria , which kills a million people every year. Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Muller was awarded the Nobel Prize for his understanding of how DDT can control insects and other pests. DDT is responsible for reducing malaria in places such as Taiwan and Sri Lanka. In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson wrote a book called Silent Spring , which discussed the dangers of DDT. She argued that it could contribute to cancer in humans. She also explained how it was destroying bird eggs, which caused the number of bald eagles, brown pelicans, and ospreys to drop. In 1972, the United States banned the use of DDT. Many other countries also banned it. But DDT didn’t disappear entirely. Today, many governments support the use of DDT because it remains the most effective way to combat malaria. Trash is another form of land pollution. Around the world, paper, cans, glass jars, plastic products, and junked cars and appliances mar the landscape. Litter makes it difficult for plants and other producers in the food web to create nutrients . Animals can die if they mistakenly eat plastic. Garbage often contains dangerous pollutants such as oils, chemicals, and ink. These pollutants can leech into the soil and harm plants, animals, and people. Inefficient garbage collection systems contribute to land pollution. Often, the garbage is picked up and brought to a dump, or landfill . Garbage is buried in landfills. Sometimes, communities produce so much garbage that their landfills are filling up. They are running out of places to dump their trash. A massive landfill near Quezon City, Philippines, was the site of a land pollution tragedy in 2000. Hundreds of people lived on the slopes of the Quezon City landfill. These people made their living from recycling and selling items found in the landfill. However, the landfill was not secure. Heavy rains caused a trash landslide, killing 218 people. Sometimes, landfills are not completely sealed off from the land around them. Pollutants from the landfill leak into the earth in which they are buried. Plants that grow in the earth may be contaminated, and the herbivores that eat the plants also become contaminated. So do the predators that consume the herbivores. This process, where a chemical builds up in each level of the food web, is called bioaccumulation . Pollutants leaked from landfills also leak into local groundwater supplies. There, the aquatic food web (from microscopic algae to fish to predators such as sharks or eagles) can suffer from bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals. Some communities do not have adequate garbage collection systems, and trash lines the side of roads. In other places, garbage washes up on beaches. Kamilo Beach, in the U.S. state of Hawai'i, is littered with plastic bags and bottles carried in by the tide . The trash is dangerous to ocean life and reduces economic activity in the area. Tourism is Hawai'i’s largest industry . Polluted beaches discourage tourists from investing in the area’s hotels, restaurants, and recreational activities. Some cities incinerate , or burn, their garbage. Incinerating trash gets rid of it, but it can release dangerous heavy metals and chemicals into the air. So while trash incinerators can help with the problem of land pollution, they sometimes add to the problem of air pollution. Reducing Pollution Around the world, people and governments are making efforts to combat pollution. Recycling, for instance, is becoming more common. In recycling, trash is processed so its useful materials can be used again. Glass, aluminum cans, and many types of plastic can be melted and reused . Paper can be broken down and turned into new paper. Recycling reduces the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills, incinerators, and waterways. Austria and Switzerland have the highest recycling rates. These nations recycle between 50 and 60 percent of their garbage. The United States recycles about 30 percent of its garbage. Governments can combat pollution by passing laws that limit the amount and types of chemicals factories and agribusinesses are allowed to use. The smoke from coal-burning power plants can be filtered. People and businesses that illegally dump pollutants into the land, water, and air can be fined for millions of dollars. Some government programs, such as the Superfund program in the United States, can force polluters to clean up the sites they polluted. International agreements can also reduce pollution. The Kyoto Protocol , a United Nations agreement to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, has been signed by 191 countries. The United States, the world’s second-largest producer of greenhouse gases, did not sign the agreement. Other countries, such as China, the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, have not met their goals. Still, many gains have been made. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River, in the U.S. state of Ohio, was so clogged with oil and trash that it caught on fire. The fire helped spur the Clean Water Act of 1972. This law limited what pollutants could be released into water and set standards for how clean water should be. Today, the Cuyahoga River is much cleaner. Fish have returned to regions of the river where they once could not survive. But even as some rivers are becoming cleaner, others are becoming more polluted. As countries around the world become wealthier, some forms of pollution increase. Countries with growing economies usually need more power plants, which produce more pollutants. Reducing pollution requires environmental, political, and economic leadership. Developed nations must work to reduce and recycle their materials, while developing nations must work to strengthen their economies without destroying the environment. Developed and developing countries must work together toward the common goal of protecting the environment for future use.

How Long Does It Last? Different materials decompose at different rates. How long does it take for these common types of trash to break down?

  • Paper: 2-4 weeks
  • Orange peel: 6 months
  • Milk carton: 5 years
  • Plastic bag: 15 years
  • Tin can: 100 years
  • Plastic bottle: 450 years
  • Glass bottle: 500 years
  • Styrofoam: Never

Indoor Air Pollution The air inside your house can be polluted. Air and carpet cleaners, insect sprays, and cigarettes are all sources of indoor air pollution.

Light Pollution Light pollution is the excess amount of light in the night sky. Light pollution, also called photopollution, is almost always found in urban areas. Light pollution can disrupt ecosystems by confusing the distinction between night and day. Nocturnal animals, those that are active at night, may venture out during the day, while diurnal animals, which are active during daylight hours, may remain active well into the night. Feeding and sleep patterns may be confused. Light pollution also indicates an excess use of energy. The dark-sky movement is a campaign by people to reduce light pollution. This would reduce energy use, allow ecosystems to function more normally, and allow scientists and stargazers to observe the atmosphere.

Noise Pollution Noise pollution is the constant presence of loud, disruptive noises in an area. Usually, noise pollution is caused by construction or nearby transportation facilities, such as airports. Noise pollution is unpleasant, and can be dangerous. Some songbirds, such as robins, are unable to communicate or find food in the presence of heavy noise pollution. The sound waves produced by some noise pollutants can disrupt the sonar used by marine animals to communicate or locate food.

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Environmental and Health Impacts of Air Pollution: A Review

Ioannis manisalidis.

1 Delphis S.A., Kifisia, Greece

2 Laboratory of Hygiene and Environmental Protection, Faculty of Medicine, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece

Elisavet Stavropoulou

3 Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Service de Médicine Interne, Lausanne, Switzerland

Agathangelos Stavropoulos

4 School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Eugenia Bezirtzoglou

One of our era's greatest scourges is air pollution, on account not only of its impact on climate change but also its impact on public and individual health due to increasing morbidity and mortality. There are many pollutants that are major factors in disease in humans. Among them, Particulate Matter (PM), particles of variable but very small diameter, penetrate the respiratory system via inhalation, causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, reproductive and central nervous system dysfunctions, and cancer. Despite the fact that ozone in the stratosphere plays a protective role against ultraviolet irradiation, it is harmful when in high concentration at ground level, also affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular system. Furthermore, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), dioxins, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are all considered air pollutants that are harmful to humans. Carbon monoxide can even provoke direct poisoning when breathed in at high levels. Heavy metals such as lead, when absorbed into the human body, can lead to direct poisoning or chronic intoxication, depending on exposure. Diseases occurring from the aforementioned substances include principally respiratory problems such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, bronchiolitis, and also lung cancer, cardiovascular events, central nervous system dysfunctions, and cutaneous diseases. Last but not least, climate change resulting from environmental pollution affects the geographical distribution of many infectious diseases, as do natural disasters. The only way to tackle this problem is through public awareness coupled with a multidisciplinary approach by scientific experts; national and international organizations must address the emergence of this threat and propose sustainable solutions.

Approach to the Problem

The interactions between humans and their physical surroundings have been extensively studied, as multiple human activities influence the environment. The environment is a coupling of the biotic (living organisms and microorganisms) and the abiotic (hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere).

Pollution is defined as the introduction into the environment of substances harmful to humans and other living organisms. Pollutants are harmful solids, liquids, or gases produced in higher than usual concentrations that reduce the quality of our environment.

Human activities have an adverse effect on the environment by polluting the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the soil in which plants grow. Although the industrial revolution was a great success in terms of technology, society, and the provision of multiple services, it also introduced the production of huge quantities of pollutants emitted into the air that are harmful to human health. Without any doubt, the global environmental pollution is considered an international public health issue with multiple facets. Social, economic, and legislative concerns and lifestyle habits are related to this major problem. Clearly, urbanization and industrialization are reaching unprecedented and upsetting proportions worldwide in our era. Anthropogenic air pollution is one of the biggest public health hazards worldwide, given that it accounts for about 9 million deaths per year ( 1 ).

Without a doubt, all of the aforementioned are closely associated with climate change, and in the event of danger, the consequences can be severe for mankind ( 2 ). Climate changes and the effects of global planetary warming seriously affect multiple ecosystems, causing problems such as food safety issues, ice and iceberg melting, animal extinction, and damage to plants ( 3 , 4 ).

Air pollution has various health effects. The health of susceptible and sensitive individuals can be impacted even on low air pollution days. Short-term exposure to air pollutants is closely related to COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, asthma, respiratory disease, and high rates of hospitalization (a measurement of morbidity).

The long-term effects associated with air pollution are chronic asthma, pulmonary insufficiency, cardiovascular diseases, and cardiovascular mortality. According to a Swedish cohort study, diabetes seems to be induced after long-term air pollution exposure ( 5 ). Moreover, air pollution seems to have various malign health effects in early human life, such as respiratory, cardiovascular, mental, and perinatal disorders ( 3 ), leading to infant mortality or chronic disease in adult age ( 6 ).

National reports have mentioned the increased risk of morbidity and mortality ( 1 ). These studies were conducted in many places around the world and show a correlation between daily ranges of particulate matter (PM) concentration and daily mortality. Climate shifts and global planetary warming ( 3 ) could aggravate the situation. Besides, increased hospitalization (an index of morbidity) has been registered among the elderly and susceptible individuals for specific reasons. Fine and ultrafine particulate matter seems to be associated with more serious illnesses ( 6 ), as it can invade the deepest parts of the airways and more easily reach the bloodstream.

Air pollution mainly affects those living in large urban areas, where road emissions contribute the most to the degradation of air quality. There is also a danger of industrial accidents, where the spread of a toxic fog can be fatal to the populations of the surrounding areas. The dispersion of pollutants is determined by many parameters, most notably atmospheric stability and wind ( 6 ).

In developing countries ( 7 ), the problem is more serious due to overpopulation and uncontrolled urbanization along with the development of industrialization. This leads to poor air quality, especially in countries with social disparities and a lack of information on sustainable management of the environment. The use of fuels such as wood fuel or solid fuel for domestic needs due to low incomes exposes people to bad-quality, polluted air at home. It is of note that three billion people around the world are using the above sources of energy for their daily heating and cooking needs ( 8 ). In developing countries, the women of the household seem to carry the highest risk for disease development due to their longer duration exposure to the indoor air pollution ( 8 , 9 ). Due to its fast industrial development and overpopulation, China is one of the Asian countries confronting serious air pollution problems ( 10 , 11 ). The lung cancer mortality observed in China is associated with fine particles ( 12 ). As stated already, long-term exposure is associated with deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system ( 3 , 5 ). However, it is interesting to note that cardiovascular diseases have mostly been observed in developed and high-income countries rather than in the developing low-income countries exposed highly to air pollution ( 13 ). Extreme air pollution is recorded in India, where the air quality reaches hazardous levels. New Delhi is one of the more polluted cities in India. Flights in and out of New Delhi International Airport are often canceled due to the reduced visibility associated with air pollution. Pollution is occurring both in urban and rural areas in India due to the fast industrialization, urbanization, and rise in use of motorcycle transportation. Nevertheless, biomass combustion associated with heating and cooking needs and practices is a major source of household air pollution in India and in Nepal ( 14 , 15 ). There is spatial heterogeneity in India, as areas with diverse climatological conditions and population and education levels generate different indoor air qualities, with higher PM 2.5 observed in North Indian states (557–601 μg/m 3 ) compared to the Southern States (183–214 μg/m 3 ) ( 16 , 17 ). The cold climate of the North Indian areas may be the main reason for this, as longer periods at home and more heating are necessary compared to in the tropical climate of Southern India. Household air pollution in India is associated with major health effects, especially in women and young children, who stay indoors for longer periods. Chronic obstructive respiratory disease (CORD) and lung cancer are mostly observed in women, while acute lower respiratory disease is seen in young children under 5 years of age ( 18 ).

Accumulation of air pollution, especially sulfur dioxide and smoke, reaching 1,500 mg/m3, resulted in an increase in the number of deaths (4,000 deaths) in December 1952 in London and in 1963 in New York City (400 deaths) ( 19 ). An association of pollution with mortality was reported on the basis of monitoring of outdoor pollution in six US metropolitan cities ( 20 ). In every case, it seems that mortality was closely related to the levels of fine, inhalable, and sulfate particles more than with the levels of total particulate pollution, aerosol acidity, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen dioxide ( 20 ).

Furthermore, extremely high levels of pollution are reported in Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro, followed by Milan, Ankara, Melbourne, Tokyo, and Moscow ( 19 ).

Based on the magnitude of the public health impact, it is certain that different kinds of interventions should be taken into account. Success and effectiveness in controlling air pollution, specifically at the local level, have been reported. Adequate technological means are applied considering the source and the nature of the emission as well as its impact on health and the environment. The importance of point sources and non-point sources of air pollution control is reported by Schwela and Köth-Jahr ( 21 ). Without a doubt, a detailed emission inventory must record all sources in a given area. Beyond considering the above sources and their nature, topography and meteorology should also be considered, as stated previously. Assessment of the control policies and methods is often extrapolated from the local to the regional and then to the global scale. Air pollution may be dispersed and transported from one region to another area located far away. Air pollution management means the reduction to acceptable levels or possible elimination of air pollutants whose presence in the air affects our health or the environmental ecosystem. Private and governmental entities and authorities implement actions to ensure the air quality ( 22 ). Air quality standards and guidelines were adopted for the different pollutants by the WHO and EPA as a tool for the management of air quality ( 1 , 23 ). These standards have to be compared to the emissions inventory standards by causal analysis and dispersion modeling in order to reveal the problematic areas ( 24 ). Inventories are generally based on a combination of direct measurements and emissions modeling ( 24 ).

As an example, we state here the control measures at the source through the use of catalytic converters in cars. These are devices that turn the pollutants and toxic gases produced from combustion engines into less-toxic pollutants by catalysis through redox reactions ( 25 ). In Greece, the use of private cars was restricted by tracking their license plates in order to reduce traffic congestion during rush hour ( 25 ).

Concerning industrial emissions, collectors and closed systems can keep the air pollution to the minimal standards imposed by legislation ( 26 ).

Current strategies to improve air quality require an estimation of the economic value of the benefits gained from proposed programs. These proposed programs by public authorities, and directives are issued with guidelines to be respected.

In Europe, air quality limit values AQLVs (Air Quality Limit Values) are issued for setting off planning claims ( 27 ). In the USA, the NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) establish the national air quality limit values ( 27 ). While both standards and directives are based on different mechanisms, significant success has been achieved in the reduction of overall emissions and associated health and environmental effects ( 27 ). The European Directive identifies geographical areas of risk exposure as monitoring/assessment zones to record the emission sources and levels of air pollution ( 27 ), whereas the USA establishes global geographical air quality criteria according to the severity of their air quality problem and records all sources of the pollutants and their precursors ( 27 ).

In this vein, funds have been financing, directly or indirectly, projects related to air quality along with the technical infrastructure to maintain good air quality. These plans focus on an inventory of databases from air quality environmental planning awareness campaigns. Moreover, pollution measures of air emissions may be taken for vehicles, machines, and industries in urban areas.

Technological innovation can only be successful if it is able to meet the needs of society. In this sense, technology must reflect the decision-making practices and procedures of those involved in risk assessment and evaluation and act as a facilitator in providing information and assessments to enable decision makers to make the best decisions possible. Summarizing the aforementioned in order to design an effective air quality control strategy, several aspects must be considered: environmental factors and ambient air quality conditions, engineering factors and air pollutant characteristics, and finally, economic operating costs for technological improvement and administrative and legal costs. Considering the economic factor, competitiveness through neoliberal concepts is offering a solution to environmental problems ( 22 ).

The development of environmental governance, along with technological progress, has initiated the deployment of a dialogue. Environmental politics has created objections and points of opposition between different political parties, scientists, media, and governmental and non-governmental organizations ( 22 ). Radical environmental activism actions and movements have been created ( 22 ). The rise of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) are many times examined as to whether and in which way they have influenced means of communication and social movements such as activism ( 28 ). Since the 1990s, the term “digital activism” has been used increasingly and in many different disciplines ( 29 ). Nowadays, multiple digital technologies can be used to produce a digital activism outcome on environmental issues. More specifically, devices with online capabilities such as computers or mobile phones are being used as a way to pursue change in political and social affairs ( 30 ).

In the present paper, we focus on the sources of environmental pollution in relation to public health and propose some solutions and interventions that may be of interest to environmental legislators and decision makers.

Sources of Exposure

It is known that the majority of environmental pollutants are emitted through large-scale human activities such as the use of industrial machinery, power-producing stations, combustion engines, and cars. Because these activities are performed at such a large scale, they are by far the major contributors to air pollution, with cars estimated to be responsible for approximately 80% of today's pollution ( 31 ). Some other human activities are also influencing our environment to a lesser extent, such as field cultivation techniques, gas stations, fuel tanks heaters, and cleaning procedures ( 32 ), as well as several natural sources, such as volcanic and soil eruptions and forest fires.

The classification of air pollutants is based mainly on the sources producing pollution. Therefore, it is worth mentioning the four main sources, following the classification system: Major sources, Area sources, Mobile sources, and Natural sources.

Major sources include the emission of pollutants from power stations, refineries, and petrochemicals, the chemical and fertilizer industries, metallurgical and other industrial plants, and, finally, municipal incineration.

Indoor area sources include domestic cleaning activities, dry cleaners, printing shops, and petrol stations.

Mobile sources include automobiles, cars, railways, airways, and other types of vehicles.

Finally, natural sources include, as stated previously, physical disasters ( 33 ) such as forest fire, volcanic erosion, dust storms, and agricultural burning.

However, many classification systems have been proposed. Another type of classification is a grouping according to the recipient of the pollution, as follows:

Air pollution is determined as the presence of pollutants in the air in large quantities for long periods. Air pollutants are dispersed particles, hydrocarbons, CO, CO 2 , NO, NO 2 , SO 3 , etc.

Water pollution is organic and inorganic charge and biological charge ( 10 ) at high levels that affect the water quality ( 34 , 35 ).

Soil pollution occurs through the release of chemicals or the disposal of wastes, such as heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and pesticides.

Air pollution can influence the quality of soil and water bodies by polluting precipitation, falling into water and soil environments ( 34 , 36 ). Notably, the chemistry of the soil can be amended due to acid precipitation by affecting plants, cultures, and water quality ( 37 ). Moreover, movement of heavy metals is favored by soil acidity, and metals are so then moving into the watery environment. It is known that heavy metals such as aluminum are noxious to wildlife and fishes. Soil quality seems to be of importance, as soils with low calcium carbonate levels are at increased jeopardy from acid rain. Over and above rain, snow and particulate matter drip into watery ' bodies ( 36 , 38 ).

Lastly, pollution is classified following type of origin:

Radioactive and nuclear pollution , releasing radioactive and nuclear pollutants into water, air, and soil during nuclear explosions and accidents, from nuclear weapons, and through handling or disposal of radioactive sewage.

Radioactive materials can contaminate surface water bodies and, being noxious to the environment, plants, animals, and humans. It is known that several radioactive substances such as radium and uranium concentrate in the bones and can cause cancers ( 38 , 39 ).

Noise pollution is produced by machines, vehicles, traffic noises, and musical installations that are harmful to our hearing.

The World Health Organization introduced the term DALYs. The DALYs for a disease or health condition is defined as the sum of the Years of Life Lost (YLL) due to premature mortality in the population and the Years Lost due to Disability (YLD) for people living with the health condition or its consequences ( 39 ). In Europe, air pollution is the main cause of disability-adjusted life years lost (DALYs), followed by noise pollution. The potential relationships of noise and air pollution with health have been studied ( 40 ). The study found that DALYs related to noise were more important than those related to air pollution, as the effects of environmental noise on cardiovascular disease were independent of air pollution ( 40 ). Environmental noise should be counted as an independent public health risk ( 40 ).

Environmental pollution occurs when changes in the physical, chemical, or biological constituents of the environment (air masses, temperature, climate, etc.) are produced.

Pollutants harm our environment either by increasing levels above normal or by introducing harmful toxic substances. Primary pollutants are directly produced from the above sources, and secondary pollutants are emitted as by-products of the primary ones. Pollutants can be biodegradable or non-biodegradable and of natural origin or anthropogenic, as stated previously. Moreover, their origin can be a unique source (point-source) or dispersed sources.

Pollutants have differences in physical and chemical properties, explaining the discrepancy in their capacity for producing toxic effects. As an example, we state here that aerosol compounds ( 41 – 43 ) have a greater toxicity than gaseous compounds due to their tiny size (solid or liquid) in the atmosphere; they have a greater penetration capacity. Gaseous compounds are eliminated more easily by our respiratory system ( 41 ). These particles are able to damage lungs and can even enter the bloodstream ( 41 ), leading to the premature deaths of millions of people yearly. Moreover, the aerosol acidity ([H+]) seems to considerably enhance the production of secondary organic aerosols (SOA), but this last aspect is not supported by other scientific teams ( 38 ).

Climate and Pollution

Air pollution and climate change are closely related. Climate is the other side of the same coin that reduces the quality of our Earth ( 44 ). Pollutants such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and aerosols affect the amount of incoming sunlight. As a result, the temperature of the Earth is increasing, resulting in the melting of ice, icebergs, and glaciers.

In this vein, climatic changes will affect the incidence and prevalence of both residual and imported infections in Europe. Climate and weather affect the duration, timing, and intensity of outbreaks strongly and change the map of infectious diseases in the globe ( 45 ). Mosquito-transmitted parasitic or viral diseases are extremely climate-sensitive, as warming firstly shortens the pathogen incubation period and secondly shifts the geographic map of the vector. Similarly, water-warming following climate changes leads to a high incidence of waterborne infections. Recently, in Europe, eradicated diseases seem to be emerging due to the migration of population, for example, cholera, poliomyelitis, tick-borne encephalitis, and malaria ( 46 ).

The spread of epidemics is associated with natural climate disasters and storms, which seem to occur more frequently nowadays ( 47 ). Malnutrition and disequilibration of the immune system are also associated with the emerging infections affecting public health ( 48 ).

The Chikungunya virus “took the airplane” from the Indian Ocean to Europe, as outbreaks of the disease were registered in Italy ( 49 ) as well as autochthonous cases in France ( 50 ).

An increase in cryptosporidiosis in the United Kingdom and in the Czech Republic seems to have occurred following flooding ( 36 , 51 ).

As stated previously, aerosols compounds are tiny in size and considerably affect the climate. They are able to dissipate sunlight (the albedo phenomenon) by dispersing a quarter of the sun's rays back to space and have cooled the global temperature over the last 30 years ( 52 ).

Air Pollutants

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports on six major air pollutants, namely particle pollution, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and lead. Air pollution can have a disastrous effect on all components of the environment, including groundwater, soil, and air. Additionally, it poses a serious threat to living organisms. In this vein, our interest is mainly to focus on these pollutants, as they are related to more extensive and severe problems in human health and environmental impact. Acid rain, global warming, the greenhouse effect, and climate changes have an important ecological impact on air pollution ( 53 ).

Particulate Matter (PM) and Health

Studies have shown a relationship between particulate matter (PM) and adverse health effects, focusing on either short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic) PM exposure.

Particulate matter (PM) is usually formed in the atmosphere as a result of chemical reactions between the different pollutants. The penetration of particles is closely dependent on their size ( 53 ). Particulate Matter (PM) was defined as a term for particles by the United States Environmental Protection Agency ( 54 ). Particulate matter (PM) pollution includes particles with diameters of 10 micrometers (μm) or smaller, called PM 10 , and extremely fine particles with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers (μm) and smaller.

Particulate matter contains tiny liquid or solid droplets that can be inhaled and cause serious health effects ( 55 ). Particles <10 μm in diameter (PM 10 ) after inhalation can invade the lungs and even reach the bloodstream. Fine particles, PM 2.5 , pose a greater risk to health ( 6 , 56 ) ( Table 1 ).

Penetrability according to particle size.

Multiple epidemiological studies have been performed on the health effects of PM. A positive relation was shown between both short-term and long-term exposures of PM 2.5 and acute nasopharyngitis ( 56 ). In addition, long-term exposure to PM for years was found to be related to cardiovascular diseases and infant mortality.

Those studies depend on PM 2.5 monitors and are restricted in terms of study area or city area due to a lack of spatially resolved daily PM 2.5 concentration data and, in this way, are not representative of the entire population. Following a recent epidemiological study by the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health (Boston, MA) ( 57 ), it was reported that, as PM 2.5 concentrations vary spatially, an exposure error (Berkson error) seems to be produced, and the relative magnitudes of the short- and long-term effects are not yet completely elucidated. The team developed a PM 2.5 exposure model based on remote sensing data for assessing short- and long-term human exposures ( 57 ). This model permits spatial resolution in short-term effects plus the assessment of long-term effects in the whole population.

Moreover, respiratory diseases and affection of the immune system are registered as long-term chronic effects ( 58 ). It is worth noting that people with asthma, pneumonia, diabetes, and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are especially susceptible and vulnerable to the effects of PM. PM 2.5 , followed by PM 10 , are strongly associated with diverse respiratory system diseases ( 59 ), as their size permits them to pierce interior spaces ( 60 ). The particles produce toxic effects according to their chemical and physical properties. The components of PM 10 and PM 2.5 can be organic (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, benzene, 1-3 butadiene) or inorganic (carbon, chlorides, nitrates, sulfates, metals) in nature ( 55 ).

Particulate Matter (PM) is divided into four main categories according to type and size ( 61 ) ( Table 2 ).

Types and sizes of particulate Matter (PM).

Gas contaminants include PM in aerial masses.

Particulate contaminants include contaminants such as smog, soot, tobacco smoke, oil smoke, fly ash, and cement dust.

Biological Contaminants are microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold, and bacterial spores), cat allergens, house dust and allergens, and pollen.

Types of Dust include suspended atmospheric dust, settling dust, and heavy dust.

Finally, another fact is that the half-lives of PM 10 and PM 2.5 particles in the atmosphere is extended due to their tiny dimensions; this permits their long-lasting suspension in the atmosphere and even their transfer and spread to distant destinations where people and the environment may be exposed to the same magnitude of pollution ( 53 ). They are able to change the nutrient balance in watery ecosystems, damage forests and crops, and acidify water bodies.

As stated, PM 2.5 , due to their tiny size, are causing more serious health effects. These aforementioned fine particles are the main cause of the “haze” formation in different metropolitan areas ( 12 , 13 , 61 ).

Ozone Impact in the Atmosphere

Ozone (O 3 ) is a gas formed from oxygen under high voltage electric discharge ( 62 ). It is a strong oxidant, 52% stronger than chlorine. It arises in the stratosphere, but it could also arise following chain reactions of photochemical smog in the troposphere ( 63 ).

Ozone can travel to distant areas from its initial source, moving with air masses ( 64 ). It is surprising that ozone levels over cities are low in contrast to the increased amounts occuring in urban areas, which could become harmful for cultures, forests, and vegetation ( 65 ) as it is reducing carbon assimilation ( 66 ). Ozone reduces growth and yield ( 47 , 48 ) and affects the plant microflora due to its antimicrobial capacity ( 67 , 68 ). In this regard, ozone acts upon other natural ecosystems, with microflora ( 69 , 70 ) and animal species changing their species composition ( 71 ). Ozone increases DNA damage in epidermal keratinocytes and leads to impaired cellular function ( 72 ).

Ground-level ozone (GLO) is generated through a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen and VOCs emitted from natural sources and/or following anthropogenic activities.

Ozone uptake usually occurs by inhalation. Ozone affects the upper layers of the skin and the tear ducts ( 73 ). A study of short-term exposure of mice to high levels of ozone showed malondialdehyde formation in the upper skin (epidermis) but also depletion in vitamins C and E. It is likely that ozone levels are not interfering with the skin barrier function and integrity to predispose to skin disease ( 74 ).

Due to the low water-solubility of ozone, inhaled ozone has the capacity to penetrate deeply into the lungs ( 75 ).

Toxic effects induced by ozone are registered in urban areas all over the world, causing biochemical, morphologic, functional, and immunological disorders ( 76 ).

The European project (APHEA2) focuses on the acute effects of ambient ozone concentrations on mortality ( 77 ). Daily ozone concentrations compared to the daily number of deaths were reported from different European cities for a 3-year period. During the warm period of the year, an observed increase in ozone concentration was associated with an increase in the daily number of deaths (0.33%), in the number of respiratory deaths (1.13%), and in the number of cardiovascular deaths (0.45%). No effect was observed during wintertime.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide is produced by fossil fuel when combustion is incomplete. The symptoms of poisoning due to inhaling carbon monoxide include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and, finally, loss of consciousness.

The affinity of carbon monoxide to hemoglobin is much greater than that of oxygen. In this vein, serious poisoning may occur in people exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide for a long period of time. Due to the loss of oxygen as a result of the competitive binding of carbon monoxide, hypoxia, ischemia, and cardiovascular disease are observed.

Carbon monoxide affects the greenhouses gases that are tightly connected to global warming and climate. This should lead to an increase in soil and water temperatures, and extreme weather conditions or storms may occur ( 68 ).

However, in laboratory and field experiments, it has been seen to produce increased plant growth ( 78 ).

Nitrogen Oxide (NO 2 )

Nitrogen oxide is a traffic-related pollutant, as it is emitted from automobile motor engines ( 79 , 80 ). It is an irritant of the respiratory system as it penetrates deep in the lung, inducing respiratory diseases, coughing, wheezing, dyspnea, bronchospasm, and even pulmonary edema when inhaled at high levels. It seems that concentrations over 0.2 ppm produce these adverse effects in humans, while concentrations higher than 2.0 ppm affect T-lymphocytes, particularly the CD8+ cells and NK cells that produce our immune response ( 81 ).It is reported that long-term exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide can be responsible for chronic lung disease. Long-term exposure to NO 2 can impair the sense of smell ( 81 ).

However, systems other than respiratory ones can be involved, as symptoms such as eye, throat, and nose irritation have been registered ( 81 ).

High levels of nitrogen dioxide are deleterious to crops and vegetation, as they have been observed to reduce crop yield and plant growth efficiency. Moreover, NO 2 can reduce visibility and discolor fabrics ( 81 ).

Sulfur Dioxide (SO 2 )

Sulfur dioxide is a harmful gas that is emitted mainly from fossil fuel consumption or industrial activities. The annual standard for SO 2 is 0.03 ppm ( 82 ). It affects human, animal, and plant life. Susceptible people as those with lung disease, old people, and children, who present a higher risk of damage. The major health problems associated with sulfur dioxide emissions in industrialized areas are respiratory irritation, bronchitis, mucus production, and bronchospasm, as it is a sensory irritant and penetrates deep into the lung converted into bisulfite and interacting with sensory receptors, causing bronchoconstriction. Moreover, skin redness, damage to the eyes (lacrimation and corneal opacity) and mucous membranes, and worsening of pre-existing cardiovascular disease have been observed ( 81 ).

Environmental adverse effects, such as acidification of soil and acid rain, seem to be associated with sulfur dioxide emissions ( 83 ).

Lead is a heavy metal used in different industrial plants and emitted from some petrol motor engines, batteries, radiators, waste incinerators, and waste waters ( 84 ).

Moreover, major sources of lead pollution in the air are metals, ore, and piston-engine aircraft. Lead poisoning is a threat to public health due to its deleterious effects upon humans, animals, and the environment, especially in the developing countries.

Exposure to lead can occur through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption. Trans- placental transport of lead was also reported, as lead passes through the placenta unencumbered ( 85 ). The younger the fetus is, the more harmful the toxic effects. Lead toxicity affects the fetal nervous system; edema or swelling of the brain is observed ( 86 ). Lead, when inhaled, accumulates in the blood, soft tissue, liver, lung, bones, and cardiovascular, nervous, and reproductive systems. Moreover, loss of concentration and memory, as well as muscle and joint pain, were observed in adults ( 85 , 86 ).

Children and newborns ( 87 ) are extremely susceptible even to minimal doses of lead, as it is a neurotoxicant and causes learning disabilities, impairment of memory, hyperactivity, and even mental retardation.

Elevated amounts of lead in the environment are harmful to plants and crop growth. Neurological effects are observed in vertebrates and animals in association with high lead levels ( 88 ).

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons(PAHs)

The distribution of PAHs is ubiquitous in the environment, as the atmosphere is the most important means of their dispersal. They are found in coal and in tar sediments. Moreover, they are generated through incomplete combustion of organic matter as in the cases of forest fires, incineration, and engines ( 89 ). PAH compounds, such as benzopyrene, acenaphthylene, anthracene, and fluoranthene are recognized as toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic substances. They are an important risk factor for lung cancer ( 89 ).

Volatile Organic Compounds(VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as toluene, benzene, ethylbenzene, and xylene ( 90 ), have been found to be associated with cancer in humans ( 91 ). The use of new products and materials has actually resulted in increased concentrations of VOCs. VOCs pollute indoor air ( 90 ) and may have adverse effects on human health ( 91 ). Short-term and long-term adverse effects on human health are observed. VOCs are responsible for indoor air smells. Short-term exposure is found to cause irritation of eyes, nose, throat, and mucosal membranes, while those of long duration exposure include toxic reactions ( 92 ). Predictable assessment of the toxic effects of complex VOC mixtures is difficult to estimate, as these pollutants can have synergic, antagonistic, or indifferent effects ( 91 , 93 ).

Dioxins originate from industrial processes but also come from natural processes, such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions. They accumulate in foods such as meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish, and especially in the fatty tissue of animals ( 94 ).

Short-period exhibition to high dioxin concentrations may result in dark spots and lesions on the skin ( 94 ). Long-term exposure to dioxins can cause developmental problems, impairment of the immune, endocrine and nervous systems, reproductive infertility, and cancer ( 94 ).

Without any doubt, fossil fuel consumption is responsible for a sizeable part of air contamination. This contamination may be anthropogenic, as in agricultural and industrial processes or transportation, while contamination from natural sources is also possible. Interestingly, it is of note that the air quality standards established through the European Air Quality Directive are somewhat looser than the WHO guidelines, which are stricter ( 95 ).

Effect of Air Pollution on Health

The most common air pollutants are ground-level ozone and Particulates Matter (PM). Air pollution is distinguished into two main types:

Outdoor pollution is the ambient air pollution.

Indoor pollution is the pollution generated by household combustion of fuels.

People exposed to high concentrations of air pollutants experience disease symptoms and states of greater and lesser seriousness. These effects are grouped into short- and long-term effects affecting health.

Susceptible populations that need to be aware of health protection measures include old people, children, and people with diabetes and predisposing heart or lung disease, especially asthma.

As extensively stated previously, according to a recent epidemiological study from Harvard School of Public Health, the relative magnitudes of the short- and long-term effects have not been completely clarified ( 57 ) due to the different epidemiological methodologies and to the exposure errors. New models are proposed for assessing short- and long-term human exposure data more successfully ( 57 ). Thus, in the present section, we report the more common short- and long-term health effects but also general concerns for both types of effects, as these effects are often dependent on environmental conditions, dose, and individual susceptibility.

Short-term effects are temporary and range from simple discomfort, such as irritation of the eyes, nose, skin, throat, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness, and breathing difficulties, to more serious states, such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, and lung and heart problems. Short-term exposure to air pollution can also cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

These problems can be aggravated by extended long-term exposure to the pollutants, which is harmful to the neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems and causes cancer and even, rarely, deaths.

The long-term effects are chronic, lasting for years or the whole life and can even lead to death. Furthermore, the toxicity of several air pollutants may also induce a variety of cancers in the long term ( 96 ).

As stated already, respiratory disorders are closely associated with the inhalation of air pollutants. These pollutants will invade through the airways and will accumulate at the cells. Damage to target cells should be related to the pollutant component involved and its source and dose. Health effects are also closely dependent on country, area, season, and time. An extended exposure duration to the pollutant should incline to long-term health effects in relation also to the above factors.

Particulate Matter (PMs), dust, benzene, and O 3 cause serious damage to the respiratory system ( 97 ). Moreover, there is a supplementary risk in case of existing respiratory disease such as asthma ( 98 ). Long-term effects are more frequent in people with a predisposing disease state. When the trachea is contaminated by pollutants, voice alterations may be remarked after acute exposure. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be induced following air pollution, increasing morbidity and mortality ( 99 ). Long-term effects from traffic, industrial air pollution, and combustion of fuels are the major factors for COPD risk ( 99 ).

Multiple cardiovascular effects have been observed after exposure to air pollutants ( 100 ). Changes occurred in blood cells after long-term exposure may affect cardiac functionality. Coronary arteriosclerosis was reported following long-term exposure to traffic emissions ( 101 ), while short-term exposure is related to hypertension, stroke, myocardial infracts, and heart insufficiency. Ventricle hypertrophy is reported to occur in humans after long-time exposure to nitrogen oxide (NO 2 ) ( 102 , 103 ).

Neurological effects have been observed in adults and children after extended-term exposure to air pollutants.

Psychological complications, autism, retinopathy, fetal growth, and low birth weight seem to be related to long-term air pollution ( 83 ). The etiologic agent of the neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's and Parkinson's) is not yet known, although it is believed that extended exposure to air pollution seems to be a factor. Specifically, pesticides and metals are cited as etiological factors, together with diet. The mechanisms in the development of neurodegenerative disease include oxidative stress, protein aggregation, inflammation, and mitochondrial impairment in neurons ( 104 ) ( Figure 1 ).

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Impact of air pollutants on the brain.

Brain inflammation was observed in dogs living in a highly polluted area in Mexico for a long period ( 105 ). In human adults, markers of systemic inflammation (IL-6 and fibrinogen) were found to be increased as an immediate response to PNC on the IL-6 level, possibly leading to the production of acute-phase proteins ( 106 ). The progression of atherosclerosis and oxidative stress seem to be the mechanisms involved in the neurological disturbances caused by long-term air pollution. Inflammation comes secondary to the oxidative stress and seems to be involved in the impairment of developmental maturation, affecting multiple organs ( 105 , 107 ). Similarly, other factors seem to be involved in the developmental maturation, which define the vulnerability to long-term air pollution. These include birthweight, maternal smoking, genetic background and socioeconomic environment, as well as education level.

However, diet, starting from breast-feeding, is another determinant factor. Diet is the main source of antioxidants, which play a key role in our protection against air pollutants ( 108 ). Antioxidants are free radical scavengers and limit the interaction of free radicals in the brain ( 108 ). Similarly, genetic background may result in a differential susceptibility toward the oxidative stress pathway ( 60 ). For example, antioxidant supplementation with vitamins C and E appears to modulate the effect of ozone in asthmatic children homozygous for the GSTM1 null allele ( 61 ). Inflammatory cytokines released in the periphery (e.g., respiratory epithelia) upregulate the innate immune Toll-like receptor 2. Such activation and the subsequent events leading to neurodegeneration have recently been observed in lung lavage in mice exposed to ambient Los Angeles (CA, USA) particulate matter ( 61 ). In children, neurodevelopmental morbidities were observed after lead exposure. These children developed aggressive and delinquent behavior, reduced intelligence, learning difficulties, and hyperactivity ( 109 ). No level of lead exposure seems to be “safe,” and the scientific community has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the current screening guideline of 10 μg/dl ( 109 ).

It is important to state that impact on the immune system, causing dysfunction and neuroinflammation ( 104 ), is related to poor air quality. Yet, increases in serum levels of immunoglobulins (IgA, IgM) and the complement component C3 are observed ( 106 ). Another issue is that antigen presentation is affected by air pollutants, as there is an upregulation of costimulatory molecules such as CD80 and CD86 on macrophages ( 110 ).

As is known, skin is our shield against ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and other pollutants, as it is the most exterior layer of our body. Traffic-related pollutants, such as PAHs, VOCs, oxides, and PM, may cause pigmented spots on our skin ( 111 ). On the one hand, as already stated, when pollutants penetrate through the skin or are inhaled, damage to the organs is observed, as some of these pollutants are mutagenic and carcinogenic, and, specifically, they affect the liver and lung. On the other hand, air pollutants (and those in the troposphere) reduce the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation UVR in polluted urban areas ( 111 ). Air pollutants absorbed by the human skin may contribute to skin aging, psoriasis, acne, urticaria, eczema, and atopic dermatitis ( 111 ), usually caused by exposure to oxides and photochemical smoke ( 111 ). Exposure to PM and cigarette smoking act as skin-aging agents, causing spots, dyschromia, and wrinkles. Lastly, pollutants have been associated with skin cancer ( 111 ).

Higher morbidity is reported to fetuses and children when exposed to the above dangers. Impairment in fetal growth, low birth weight, and autism have been reported ( 112 ).

Another exterior organ that may be affected is the eye. Contamination usually comes from suspended pollutants and may result in asymptomatic eye outcomes, irritation ( 112 ), retinopathy, or dry eye syndrome ( 113 , 114 ).

Environmental Impact of Air Pollution

Air pollution is harming not only human health but also the environment ( 115 ) in which we live. The most important environmental effects are as follows.

Acid rain is wet (rain, fog, snow) or dry (particulates and gas) precipitation containing toxic amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. They are able to acidify the water and soil environments, damage trees and plantations, and even damage buildings and outdoor sculptures, constructions, and statues.

Haze is produced when fine particles are dispersed in the air and reduce the transparency of the atmosphere. It is caused by gas emissions in the air coming from industrial facilities, power plants, automobiles, and trucks.

Ozone , as discussed previously, occurs both at ground level and in the upper level (stratosphere) of the Earth's atmosphere. Stratospheric ozone is protecting us from the Sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. In contrast, ground-level ozone is harmful to human health and is a pollutant. Unfortunately, stratospheric ozone is gradually damaged by ozone-depleting substances (i.e., chemicals, pesticides, and aerosols). If this protecting stratospheric ozone layer is thinned, then UV radiation can reach our Earth, with harmful effects for human life (skin cancer) ( 116 ) and crops ( 117 ). In plants, ozone penetrates through the stomata, inducing them to close, which blocks CO 2 transfer and induces a reduction in photosynthesis ( 118 ).

Global climate change is an important issue that concerns mankind. As is known, the “greenhouse effect” keeps the Earth's temperature stable. Unhappily, anthropogenic activities have destroyed this protecting temperature effect by producing large amounts of greenhouse gases, and global warming is mounting, with harmful effects on human health, animals, forests, wildlife, agriculture, and the water environment. A report states that global warming is adding to the health risks of poor people ( 119 ).

People living in poorly constructed buildings in warm-climate countries are at high risk for heat-related health problems as temperatures mount ( 119 ).

Wildlife is burdened by toxic pollutants coming from the air, soil, or the water ecosystem and, in this way, animals can develop health problems when exposed to high levels of pollutants. Reproductive failure and birth effects have been reported.

Eutrophication is occurring when elevated concentrations of nutrients (especially nitrogen) stimulate the blooming of aquatic algae, which can cause a disequilibration in the diversity of fish and their deaths.

Without a doubt, there is a critical concentration of pollution that an ecosystem can tolerate without being destroyed, which is associated with the ecosystem's capacity to neutralize acidity. The Canada Acid Rain Program established this load at 20 kg/ha/yr ( 120 ).

Hence, air pollution has deleterious effects on both soil and water ( 121 ). Concerning PM as an air pollutant, its impact on crop yield and food productivity has been reported. Its impact on watery bodies is associated with the survival of living organisms and fishes and their productivity potential ( 121 ).

An impairment in photosynthetic rhythm and metabolism is observed in plants exposed to the effects of ozone ( 121 ).

Sulfur and nitrogen oxides are involved in the formation of acid rain and are harmful to plants and marine organisms.

Last but not least, as mentioned above, the toxicity associated with lead and other metals is the main threat to our ecosystems (air, water, and soil) and living creatures ( 121 ).

In 2018, during the first WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, the WHO's General Director, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called air pollution a “silent public health emergency” and “the new tobacco” ( 122 ).

Undoubtedly, children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution, especially during their development. Air pollution has adverse effects on our lives in many different respects.

Diseases associated with air pollution have not only an important economic impact but also a societal impact due to absences from productive work and school.

Despite the difficulty of eradicating the problem of anthropogenic environmental pollution, a successful solution could be envisaged as a tight collaboration of authorities, bodies, and doctors to regularize the situation. Governments should spread sufficient information and educate people and should involve professionals in these issues so as to control the emergence of the problem successfully.

Technologies to reduce air pollution at the source must be established and should be used in all industries and power plants. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 set as a major target the reduction of GHG emissions to below 5% by 2012 ( 123 ). This was followed by the Copenhagen summit, 2009 ( 124 ), and then the Durban summit of 2011 ( 125 ), where it was decided to keep to the same line of action. The Kyoto protocol and the subsequent ones were ratified by many countries. Among the pioneers who adopted this important protocol for the world's environmental and climate “health” was China ( 3 ). As is known, China is a fast-developing economy and its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is expected to be very high by 2050, which is defined as the year of dissolution of the protocol for the decrease in gas emissions.

A more recent international agreement of crucial importance for climate change is the Paris Agreement of 2015, issued by the UNFCCC (United Nations Climate Change Committee). This latest agreement was ratified by a plethora of UN (United Nations) countries as well as the countries of the European Union ( 126 ). In this vein, parties should promote actions and measures to enhance numerous aspects around the subject. Boosting education, training, public awareness, and public participation are some of the relevant actions for maximizing the opportunities to achieve the targets and goals on the crucial matter of climate change and environmental pollution ( 126 ). Without any doubt, technological improvements makes our world easier and it seems difficult to reduce the harmful impact caused by gas emissions, we could limit its use by seeking reliable approaches.

Synopsizing, a global prevention policy should be designed in order to combat anthropogenic air pollution as a complement to the correct handling of the adverse health effects associated with air pollution. Sustainable development practices should be applied, together with information coming from research in order to handle the problem effectively.

At this point, international cooperation in terms of research, development, administration policy, monitoring, and politics is vital for effective pollution control. Legislation concerning air pollution must be aligned and updated, and policy makers should propose the design of a powerful tool of environmental and health protection. As a result, the main proposal of this essay is that we should focus on fostering local structures to promote experience and practice and extrapolate these to the international level through developing effective policies for sustainable management of ecosystems.

Author Contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest

IM is employed by the company Delphis S.A. The remaining authors declare that the present review paper was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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Essay on Environmental Issue

Environment is the surrounding of an Organism. This Environment in which an Organism lives is made up of various components like Air, Water, Land, etc. These components are found in fixed proportions to create a Harmonious Balance in the Environment for the Organism to live in. Any kind of undesirable and wanted change in the proportions of these components can be termed as Pollution. This Issue is increasing with every passing year. It is an Issue that troubles Economically, Physically and Socially. The Environmental problem that is worsening with each day needs to be addressed so that its harmful effects on Humans as well as the planet can be redressed. 

Environmental Issue

Our green world is now in Jeopardy. Humans depleted Natural Resources by polluting Water, Soil, and Air. We must tackle the challenges we have created by opening our eyes. The Environment has been profoundly impacted by Industrial Growth. People emit more Pollution for more convenience. Human actions have an impact on the Environment, both directly and indirectly. As a result, there is a symbiotic link between a creature and its surroundings. Let’s discuss some major Issues our Environment Issues which our Environment is facing nowadays:

Global Warming:

Foremost symptom of natural imbalance is Global Warming. When Greenhouse Gasses accumulate and cause the temperature to rise, we see the Greenhouse effect. It has an impact on the rising of the World Ocean level and the melting of Arctic ice. According to specialists, coastal countries and certain islands could be overwhelmed by water over several decades.

Increasing Population:

People require greater space and resources as their population grows, in order to meet all of their food and housing needs. To make room for pastures and agricultural fields, people began cutting down trees. Forests serve as the Earth's main lungs and the primary habitat for a wide range of animals, birds, and insects. Deforestation and Human activities have put a lot of forest species in Jeopardy.

Ozone Layer Depletion:

Depletion of the Ozone layer is a complex Issue that Humanity is grappling with. The Ozone layer absorbs UV radiation, which is damaging to Humans. Increased Ozone hole numbers result in more intense solar radiation and a rise in skin cancer.

Deforestation: 

Plants and trees are essential components of Human life. Everyone benefits from trees because they give air, food, and medicines. Forests are being cut down to meet rising demand. During the summer, natural wildfires are common. To maximize profit, people take down trees in an unethical manner.

Climate change is occurring at a faster rate than it was a century ago. The weather change has an impact on industrial advancement. Climate change has resulted in disastrous hurricanes, floods, and droughts. In recent years, many countries have been hit by a slew of natural disasters.

Polluted Environments can cause a variety of illnesses. Many species of flora and wildlife that are important to flora are threatened with extinction. Nature preserves balance, and all Organisms' feeding habits are linked in a food chain, as we all know. In areas with petroleum refineries, chemicals, iron and steel, non-metal products, pulp and paper manufacturers, and textile industries, the problem of industrial Pollution is often severe.

Causes of Environmental Issue

With the rise of the industries and the migration of people from villages to cities in search of employment, there has been a regular increase in the problem of proper housing and unhygienic conditions of living. These reasons have given rise in factors for Pollution. Environmental Pollution is of five basic types namely; Air, Water, Soil and Noise Pollution.

Air Pollution:  

Air Pollution is a major Issue in today’s world. The smoke pouring out of factory chimneys and automobiles pollute the air that we breathe in. Gasses like Carbon dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and Sulphur Dioxide are emitted which mix with air and cause great harm to the Human body, Flora and Fauna. The dry farm waste, dry grass, leaves and coal used as domestic fuels in our villages also produce harmful Gasses. Acid rain occurs due to excess Sulphur Dioxide in the Air. 

Water Pollution:  

Water Pollution is one of the most serious Environmental Issues. The waste products from the growing industries and sewage water are not treated properly before disposing into rivers and other water bodies, thus creating Pollution. Agricultural processes with excess fertilizers and pesticides also pollute the water bodies.

Soil or Land Pollution:  

The next source of Environmental Pollution is soil. Waste materials such as plastics, polythene, bottles, etc. cause land Pollution and render soil infertile. Moreover, dumping of dead bodies of men and animals, washing of clothes and utensils add to this Issue. It is a very dangerous aspect of Environment since it affects the fertility and food production of the area and the country.

Noise Pollution:  

This Issue is a very subtle form of Pollution. All Human activities contribute to noise Pollution to a large extent. Horns of the vehicles, loud speakers, music system, industrial activities contribute towards this Issue.

Problems like Ozone depletion, Global Warming, Greenhouse effect, change in climatic and weather conditions, melting of glaciers etc. are some more Issues in the Environment.

How to Minimize Environmental Issues?

To minimize this Issue, preventive measures need to be taken.

Principle of 3R’s:  

To save the Environment, use the principle of 3 R’s; Reuse, Reduce and Recycle. 

Reuse products again and again. Instead of throwing away things after one use, find a way to use them again.  Reduce the amount of waste products generated. 

Recycle:  

Paper, plastics, glass and electronic items can be processed into new products while using fewer natural resources and lesser energy.

To prevent and control measures of air Pollution including better-designed equipment and smokeless fuels should be used in homes and industries. 

More and more trees should be planted to balance the ecosystem and control Greenhouse effects.

Noise Pollution can be minimized by better designing and proper maintenance of vehicles. Industrial noise can be reduced by sound proofing equipment like generators, etc. 

To control soil Pollution, usage of plastic bags must be stopped. Sewage should be treated properly before using it as fertilizers and as landfills.  

Several measures can be adopted to control water Pollution. Some of them are that the water requirement can be minimized by altering the techniques involved. Water should be reused with treatment. The quantity of water waste discharged should be reduced. 

People, unfortunately, forget that we are a part of nature. We must live in harmony with nature and take care of it. We need to rethink how we consume natural resources. People must be aware that the natural world is on the verge of collapse. People must recognise that they are not the primary users of the Environment and construct Environmentally suitable homes. We must consider future generations and what will be left behind after we are gone. People come up with remedies to Environmental Issues. We recycle trash, develop electric automobiles, reduce air, water, and soil Pollution, and restore land erosion by planting new trees. But it is not enough; people must drastically alter their lifestyles until nature takes the last drastic measures.

Saving our planet from these Environmental Issues is the responsibility of every individual. If preventive measures are not taken then our future generation will have to face major repercussions. Government is also taking steps to create public awareness. Every individual should be involved in helping to reduce and control Pollution.

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FAQs on Environmental Issue Essay

1. What are the Major Environmental Issues?

The major environmental issues are environmental degradation, climate change, global warming, and greenhouse effects.

2. What is the Best Way to Control Greenhouse Effect?

Afforestation is the best way to control greenhouse effect.

3. What is the Principle of 3Rs?

The principle of 3Rs is Reuse, Reduce and Recycle.

4. How do you Minimize Soil Pollution?

Stopping the use of plastics can minimize soil Pollution.

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Article Contents

Introduction, links between environmental pollution and health, the contribution of environmental pollution to the global burden of disease, conclusions, environmental pollution and the global burden of disease.

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David Briggs, Environmental pollution and the global burden of disease, British Medical Bulletin , Volume 68, Issue 1, December 2003, Pages 1–24, https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldg019

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Exposures to environmental pollution remain a major source of health risk throughout the world, though risks are generally higher in developing countries, where poverty, lack of investment in modern technology and weak environmental legislation combine to cause high pollution levels. Associations between environmental pollution and health outcome are, however, complex and often poorly characterized. Levels of exposure, for example, are often uncertain or unknown as a result of the lack of detailed monitoring and inevitable variations within any population group. Exposures may occur via a range of pathways and exposure processes. Individual pollutants may be implicated in a wide range of health effects, whereas few diseases are directly attributable to single pollutants. Long latency times, the effects of cumulative exposures, and multiple exposures to different pollutants which might act synergistically all create difficulties in unravelling associations between environmental pollution and health. Nevertheless, in recent years, several attempts have been made to assess the global burden of disease as a result of environmental pollution, either in terms of mortality or disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). About 8–9% of the total disease burden may be attributed to pollution, but considerably more in developing countries. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and poor hygiene are seen to be the major sources of exposure, along with indoor air pollution.

Despite the major efforts that have been made over recent years to clean up the environment, pollution remains a major problem and poses continuing risks to health. The problems are undoubtedly greatest in the developing world, where traditional sources of pollution such as industrial emissions, poor sanitation, inadequate waste management, contaminated water supplies and exposures to indoor air pollution from biomass fuels affect large numbers of people. Even in developed countries, however, environmental pollution persists, most especially amongst poorer sectors of society 1, 2 . In recent decades, too, a wide range of modern pollutants have emerged—not least, those associated with road traffic and the use of modern chemicals in the home, in food, for water treatment and for pest control. Most of these pollutants are rarely present in excessively large concentrations, so effects on health are usually far from immediate or obvious. As Taubes 3 has noted, few of the problems of environmental exposure that concern us today imply large relative risks. Detecting small effects against a background of variability in exposure and human susceptibility, and measurement error, poses severe scientific challenges.

The progressively larger number of people exposed to environmental pollution (if only as a result of growing population numbers and increasing urbanization) nevertheless means that even small increases in relative risk can add up to major public health concerns. The emergence of new sources of exposure and new risk factors, some of them—such as endocrine disruptors—with the capacity to have lifelong implications for health, also means that there is a continuing need for both vigilance and action. As the impact of human activities and issues of environmental health become increasingly global in scale and extent, the need to recognize and to address the health risks associated with environmental pollution becomes even more urgent. Effective action, however, requires an understanding not only of the magnitude of the problem, but also its causes and underlying processes, for only then can intervention be targeted at where it is most needed and likely to have greatest effect. As background to the other chapters in this volume, therefore, this chapter discusses the nature of the link between environmental pollution and health and considers the contribution of environmental pollution to the global burden of disease.

Environmental pollution can be simply, if somewhat generally, defined as the presence in the environment of an agent which is potentially damaging to either the environment or human health. As such, pollutants take many forms. They include not only chemicals, but also organisms and biological materials, as well as energy in its various forms ( e.g. noise, radiation, heat). The number of potential pollutants is therefore essentially countless. There are, for example, some 30,000 chemicals in common use today, any one of which may be released into the environment during processing or use. Fewer than 1% of these have been subject to a detailed assessment in terms of their toxicity and health risks 4 . The number of biological pollutants is truly unquantifiable. They include not only living and viable organisms, such as bacteria, but also the vast array of endotoxins that can be released from the protoplasm of organisms after death. There is, therefore, no shortage of potential environmental risks to health. What is lacking, for the most part, is an understanding of the nature and mechanisms of these risks.

The source–effect chain

The link between pollution and health is both a complex and contingent process. For pollutants to have an effect on health, susceptible individuals must receive doses of the pollutant, or its decomposition products, sufficient to trigger detectable symptoms. For this to occur, these individuals must have been exposed to the pollutant, often over relatively long periods of time or on repeated occasions. Such exposures require that the susceptible individuals and pollutants shared the same environments at the same time. For this to happen, the pollutants must not only be released into the environment, but then be dispersed through it in media used by, or accessible to, humans. Health consequences of environmental pollution are thus far from inevitable, even for pollutants that are inherently toxic; they depend on the coincidence of both the emission and dispersion processes that determine where and when the pollutant occurs in the environment, and the human behaviours that determine where and when they occupy those same locations.

The whole process can simply be represented as a causal chain, from source to effect (Fig. 1 ). As this indicates, most pollutants are of human origin. They derive from human activities such as industry, energy production and use, transport, domestic activities, waste disposal, agriculture and recreation. In some cases, however, natural sources of pollution may also be significant. Radon, released through the decay of radioactive materials in the Earth’s crust, arsenic released into groundwaters from natural rock sources, heavy metals accumulating in soils and sediments derived from ore-bearing rocks, and particulates and sulphur dioxides released by wildfires or volcanic activity are all examples.

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The source–effect chain.

Release from these various sources occurs in a wide range of ways, and to a range of different environmental media, including the atmosphere, surface waters, groundwaters and soil (Fig. 2 ). Estimates of emission by source and environmental medium are inevitably only approximate, for they can rarely be measured directly. Instead, most emissions inventories derive from some form of modelling, either based on emission factors for different processes or source activities 5 or on input–output models ( i.e. by calculating the difference between quantities of the material input into the process and quantities contained in the final product).

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Sources and pathways of emission into environmental media.

Atmospheric emissions

Emissions to the atmosphere tend to be more closely modelled and measured, and more generally reported, than those to other media, partly because of their greater importance for environmental pollution and health (emissions to the atmosphere tend to be more readily discernible and to spread more widely through the environment), and partly because of the existence of better established policy and regulation. Figure 3 shows the main sources of emissions of selected pollutants in the European Union. As this shows, combustion represents one of the most important emission processes for many pollutants, not only from industrial sources, but also from low-level sources such as motorized vehicles and domestic chimneys, as well as indoor sources such as heating and cooking in the home or workplace. Emissions from industrial combustion or waste incineration tend to be released from relatively tall stacks, and often at high temperature, with the result that they are dispersed widely within the atmosphere. Emissions from low-level sources such as road vehicles and low-temperature combustion sources such as domestic heating, in contrast, tend to be much less widely dispersed. As a result, they contribute to local pollution hotspots and create steep pollution gradients in the environment. In urban environments, for example, traffic-related pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide typically show order-of-magnitude variations in concentration over length-scales of tens to a few hundred metres 6 . Evaporation and leakage are also important emission processes contributing to local variations in environmental pollution. In the UK, releases from filling stations account for ca. 1.8% of benzene emissions; leakages from gas pipelines contribute ca. 13.7% of methane emissions to the atmosphere; evaporation and leakage of solvents during processing and use produce ca. 40% of atmospheric emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) 7 . In addition, abrasion, corrasion and corrosion release significant quantities of emissions to the atmosphere. Wear and tear of catalytic converters during operation is a major source of platinum emissions 8 , for example, whereas tyre wear (corrasion) and road wear (abrasion) account for about 16% of particulate emissions from road transport and almost 97% of zinc emissions from road transport 7 —and perhaps more where studded tyres are used 9 .

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Atmospheric emissions by source in the European Union (EU15). Note: Ozone precursors include methane, NMVOCs, NO x and CO; acidifying substances include NO 2 , SO 2 , NH 3 . Source: European Environment Agency.

These fugitive and local emissions are often overlooked in epidemiological and other studies that use modelling techniques to estimate exposures, but they can be extremely important, both because they are frequently responsible for the highest concentrations of environmental pollution, and because—unlike high-level emissions—they remain close to source and show marked dilution gradients with distance from source. In many cases, they may therefore be the real sources of variation being considered when distance is used as a proxy for exposure around point industrial sources in epidemiological studies.

Emissions to surface water, groundwater and soil

Releases to other media, such as surface waters, groundwaters and soil, also occur through a range of processes. Deliberate discharge, spillage ( e.g. from storage, during transport, or during processing and usage), leakage and runoff ( e.g. of agricultural chemicals) are all important in terms of aqueous pollutants. Legal limits for discharges to streams are set for many industries, aimed at keeping levels of contamination within accepted limits. Illegal discharges, or accidental spillage, however, sometimes occur and accounted for the majority of reported surface water pollution incidents in the UK in 2001, for which the cause is known 10 . Dumping (both legally in landfill sites and illegally) represents a major source of emission of solid wastes, though final release into the wider environment may only occur when these materials decompose or break up. Landfill sites may thus be responsible for emissions of a wide range of pollutants, via different pathways, especially when these sites are inadequately sealed or poorly maintained 11 . The contribution of informal and illegal dumping to environmental pollution is, inevitably, only poorly known.

Environmental fate

Once released into the environment, pollutants may be transported via many different processes and pathways, often moving from one medium to another, and undergoing a wide range of modifications in the process. Chemical reactions, physical abrasion, sorting by size or mass and deposition all change the composition of the pollutants and alter the pollution mix. Dilution occurs as pollutants spread outward into a wider volume of space; concentration may occur as pollutants accumulate in local ‘sinks’ or in the bodies of organisms, as they pass along the food chain.

In general, these processes tend to result in some degree of distance-decay in environmental concentrations, if only because the opportunity for dilution, decomposition and deposition increases with increasing distance of transport. It is largely on this basis that distance is often used as a surrogate for exposure in many epidemiological studies. The realities of environmental patterns of pollution are, however, often much more complex than these simple distance-based models imply. They also vary greatly between different pollutants and environmental media, because of the different transportational behaviours that are involved. In addition, dispersion processes and resulting pollution concentration fields may vary substantially depending on the prevailing ( e.g. meteorological) conditions at the time. Patterns of atmospheric dispersion, for example, differ not only in relation to windspeed and direction but also atmospheric stability ( e.g. between stable and unstable weather conditions, or when there is a temperature inversion) 6 . Movement of many pollutants through soils occurs mainly as mass flow in water passing through larger pore spaces and fissures: the irregular distribution of these within highly structured soils means that dispersion often follows highly discrete pathways 12, 13 . Gaseous pollutants may follow similar preferred pathways. Releases from landfill sites may thus travel relatively long distances in the soil or bedrock, before emerging at the surface, where they can cause local hazards including explosions 14 . Radon shows the same discrete and complex pattern, such that concentrations may vary by orders of magnitude from one home to another in the same district 15, 16 . Modelling these locally variable pathways poses severe challenges.

To a large extent, the increased opportunity for mixing means that dispersion of pollutants in surface and groundwaters is more regular, leading to more uniform patterns of contamination, at regional scales. In developed countries, also, considerable water mixing often occurs during treatment and distribution, so that water quality is relatively uniform across large areas and populations. Local variations may occur, however, because of contamination within the distribution system or differences in the length of the network, and thus in the time available for contamination and decomposition of the disinfectants incorporated at treatment 17 . In developing countries, especially, considerable variations may also occur between waters in shallow wells, particularly where these are affected by local pollution sources, such as badly sited latrines or agricultural activities. Again, this makes exposure assessment difficult, without the ability to collect data on water quality for individual wells.

Similar difficulties occur in tracking and modelling transport of pollutants in the food chain. Whilst the general pathways followed by pollutants are often clear in natural (and some farmed) food chains, in that persistent compounds tend to accumulate as they pass from one trophic level to another, the detailed patterns of contamination are often far more complex. Many animals have very restricted feeding behaviours: even in areas of open grazing land, for example, sheep tend to focus on distinct home ranges from which they rarely stray 18 . As a result, marked variations may occur in contaminant uptake by livestock, even over short distances, as illustrated by patterns of contamination from the Chernobyl incident in the UK 19 . Significant accumulation of these contaminants in humans likewise tends to occur only where small groups of individuals rely on local food sources. On the other hand, in many modern food supply systems, industrial-scale processing and distribution operations mean that foodstuffs often travel large distances before consumption and are drawn from far-flung sources. In the UK, as in most developed countries, therefore, the average distance travelled by foodstuffs before consumption has increased markedly, from an average of about 82 km in 1978 to 346 km in 1998 20 . In the light of these changes, several attempts have been made in recent years to calculate the distance travelled by ingredients in common food products or meals (so called ‘food-miles’). In Iowa, USA, for example, ingredients for a standard meal of stir-fry and salad were estimated to have been transported 20,000 km 21 ; in the UK, Sustain, a pressure group on food and agriculture, estimated that ingredients for a traditional turkey dinner had been transported some 38,620 km 22 ! Apart from implications for increased energy consumption and environmental pollution, such extended distribution networks clearly mean that it can be difficult to track and control potential contamination between source and consumption.

By whatever pathways and processes pollutants pass through the environment, four related factors are especially important in determining the potential for exposure and health effects: their persistence, their mobility, their decomposition products and their toxicity. The problems associated with the release of persistent pollutants into the environment were highlighted many years ago with recognition of the global extent of contamination, and wide-ranging environmental and health effects, caused by DDT and other organochlorine pesticides 23 . The story is in many ways now being repeated in relation to chlorofluorocarbons and other atmospheric pollutants that act as greenhouse gases or scavengers of stratospheric ozone 24 , and perhaps also in relation to endocrine disruptors 25 . Persistence, however, is not necessarily the most important issue, for where they persist in inert yet inaccessible forms, pollutants may pose relatively limited risks. Thus, whereas inorganic mercury is persistent, it is less toxic and less readily bioavailable than methyl mercury, to which it is naturally converted through chemical reactions and the action of soil and aquatic microorganisms 26, 27 . Equally, many solid wastes represent little risk to health so long as they remain in their original form. The problems in these cases often come when decomposition occurs, either because the decomposition products are inherently more toxic or because they are more mobile, and thus are more likely to result in human exposure.

Exposure and dose

Whilst the potential for health impairment initially depends upon the existence and concentrations of pollutants in the environment, for health effects to occur exposures must take place that lead to a dose sufficient to have adverse health consequences. Exposure in this context is defined as the contact between a hazardous agent (in this case a pollutant) and an organism. Dose refers to the quantity of the substance in the body. The absorbed dose refers to the amount of the substance entering the body as a whole; target organ dose refers to the amount reaching the specific organs that are affected.

Exposure can take place in many different ways. Three main forms of exposure are generally recognized: dermal contact, inhalation and ingestion. In some cases, however, it may also be useful to recognize a fourth—injection—for example, when pollutants are transmitted by animal bites or by deliberate injection. In each of these cases, exposure may occur in a range of different environments. Whilst some exposures occur in the outdoor (ambient) environment, most people spend the majority of their time indoors, either at home or at their place of work or learning. Indoor exposures therefore often make up a major proportion of total exposure 28 —although they tend to be rather neglected in many epidemiological studies. Food and drinking water are likewise important routes of exposure for many pollutants.

What determines levels of exposure is consequently not just the distribution of pollution within the environment, but also human behaviours and lifestyles, and thus the sorts of exposure environments in which people spend their time. By the same token, exposure is not only an environmental process, it is also a social, demographic and economic one. Indeed, because of the myriad ways in which socio-economic and demographic factors influence and interact with environmental conditions, exposures, human susceptibility and health outcome, they may often appear to outweigh the effects of the environment per se in associations between pollution and health. One expression of these complex interactions is the patterns of what is often called environmental injustice that are seen throughout the world: namely, the tendency for environmental pollution and poverty or other forms of disadvantage to be strongly correlated, such that poorer people tend to live in more polluted environments 29, 30 . Whilst the reasons for this association are not fully understood, and may be more subtle than often assumed, the double jeopardy that it represents seems to be generally reflected in terms of health inequalities as well. The problem, however, comes in trying to separate the contributions to these adverse health outcomes from socio-economic and environmental factors—and thus to quantify the attributable effects of pollution.

It also has to be recognized that pollutants rarely occur in isolation; more typically they exist in combination. Exposures are therefore not singular. Instead we are usually exposed to mixes of pollutants, often derived from different sources, some of which may have additive or synergistic effects. Unravelling the effects of individual pollutants from this mix is a challenging problem that has yet to be adequately resolved in many areas of epidemiology.

Health effects: dose–response relationships, latency and attributable risk

One of the underlying tenets of environmental epidemiology is that, for the health effects of interest, a relationship exists between the level of exposure (or dose) and the degree of effect. Effects can, in fact, be represented in two different ways: by the type of effect or by its severity or the probability of its occurrence (often termed the ‘response’). In either case, these associations are generally assumed to be broadly linear, such that the effect or response increases with each increment of exposure to a pollutant (Fig. 4A ). For many pollutants and many health effects, this assumption seems to hold true at least over a wide range of exposures and responses. Some, however, appear to be characterized by more complex associations. Thresholds may exist, for example, below which no detectable health effects occur (Fig. 4B ). At high levels of exposure, responses may weaken, so that the dose–response relationship is essentially curvilinear-convex (Fig. 4C ) or S-shaped (Fig. 4D ). In a few cases, there is some evidence that ∩- or, more rarely, U-shaped relationships may exist—for example, in relation to solar radiation or vitamin intake. One of the main purposes of epidemiology is to demonstrate and, if possible, quantify these relationships, where they exist.

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Common forms of exposure–response relationships.

Just as exposures may be long- or short-term, so health effects can be short-lived (acute) or prolonged (chronic). Health effects may also be delayed to a greater or lesser extent after initial exposure, either because it takes time for exposures to reach a critical level, or because the disease itself takes time to develop and become apparent (latency). Many acute effects are almost immediate, and have latencies typically of no more than a few minutes to a few days. Many chronic effects, on the other hand, can have latencies of several years—up to 20 years or more, for example, in the case of some cancers and diseases such as asbestosis. Dealing with these latencies is problematic in epidemiological studies, both because they often imply the need for information on past (in some cases long-past) exposures, and because the degree of latency may vary from one individual to another, depending on factors such as the level of exposure, the age at which exposure occurred and pre-existing health status. In some cases, too, a so-called harvesting effect may occur, such that, following a brief increase in disease rates as more vulnerable people are affected, rates of illness fall because there are fewer vulnerable people left (Fig. 5 ). This, too, can complicate epidemiological studies, for the scale (and even the direction) of the dose–response relationship may vary depending on the length of latency allowed for in the analysis.

 alt=

Harvesting effects.

Long-term legacies for health may also occur as a result of sensitization and predisposition of individuals to the effects of exposure in early life. Sensitization to house dust mite and other allergens both in the diet and the indoor environment during the first few months of life, for example, appears to increase risks of allergic airway disease later in childhood 31 . Similarly, inverse associations have been found between birth weight and the incidence of a range of diseases including hypertension, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults 32– 34 . Environmental exposures, such as air pollution, that contribute to these predisposing conditions may thus have long-term (and in some cases lifelong) implications for health.

Health outcomes may also be more or less specific to exposures to particular pollutants. Very few diseases are, in practice, pollutant-specific. Amongst these are asbestosis and mesothelioma (due to exposures to asbestos) and bagassosis, through exposure to organic dusts (the most common example, of which, is ‘Farmer’s lung’). Far more commonly, individual health effects may arise as a result of exposures to a number of different risk factors, either individually or in combination, whereas individual exposures can give rise to a range of different health effects. Environmental health is thus characterized by many-to-many relationships; understanding these is, again, a major challenge for epidemiology. Partly for this reason, it is often extremely difficult to assess the health burden attributable to an individual pollutant. Over-estimation may occur due to double-counting (or multiple attribution) of health effects; under-estimation may arise due to the failure to recognize some contributions to the disease burden as a result of masking by other risk factors.

In addition, of course, all epidemiological studies—and other studies that contribute to the establishment of dose–response relationships, such as laboratory experiments and clinical trials—are subject to error and uncertainty. These arise for many different reasons: because of errors in exposure assessment or classification, because of errors in diagnosis or reporting of health outcome, because of inadequate sample size, because of inadequate adjustment for confounding or effect modification by other factors, because of biases in sampling and statistical analysis, and because of the underlying indeterminacy of some of the associations of interest. As a result, dose–response reported by different studies often shows substantial differences, and many separate studies may be needed before a clear pattern of association emerges. Even then, problems may be encountered in deriving reliable dose–response relationships ( e.g. through some form of meta-analysis), because of inconsistencies in study design ( e.g. in methods of exposure classification, target populations or specification of health outcome). Most dose–response relationships are thus accompanied by a relatively large degree of uncertainty.

Models of pollutant pathways

As the discussion above has indicated, the relationships between pollution and health are both complex and often indirect. Considerable difficulties are thus encountered in quantifying the associations involved. It is largely for this reason that many of the health effects of environmental pollution are still uncertain, and that problems arise in attempting to attribute health outcome to environmental causes—for example, when trying to confirm or explain apparent spatial clusters in health.

These subtleties and complexities highlight the importance of examining critically any hypothesis about a relationship between a pollutant and an apparent health effect, and of setting such hypotheses within a wider environmental context. Assumptions about simple, singular cause–effect relationships often need to be eschewed; in their place we need to recognize the possibility for multifactorial effects in which single health outcomes are attributable to a wide variety of (possibly inter-related) environmental and other risk factors; and in which individual exposures may contribute to a range of different health effects. The contingent and historical nature of many of these associations also needs to be appreciated: health effects seen now in many cases owe their existence to exposures, sensitization or some process of predisposition far in the past. Because environmental conditions, and even the very nature of the risk factors involved, may change quite considerably over time, uniformitarianist principles may not hold true, i.e. the present cannot always be seen as the key to the past.

Against this background, the use of models to conceptualize the possible interplay of different risk factors and exposure pathways, and how they might have evolved over time, represents an important tool for attempts to understand associations between pollution and health. One example is illustrated in Figure 6 , which shows possible sources and pathways of exposure of environmental pollution associated with landfill sites. Several important lessons can be drawn from this example. First, it is evident that the pathways of exposure are highly varied and complex. Which is the most important may well differ from one situation to another. The possibility of contributions from each and all of them needs to be allowed. Second, it is evident that landfill sites leave a legacy which may persist long after they are no longer operational. Present-day land use and activity may therefore not account for current exposures. Third, related to this, sources and pathways of exposure change markedly over time—and, indeed, many of the risks associated with what are now landfill sites may well predate the sites themselves ( e.g. from prior land use). Perhaps it is for this reason that several studies of health risks around landfill sites have found that raised levels of risk existed before the landfill sites were opened 35, 36 .

 alt=

A model of emission processes and exposure pathways from landfill sites.

Estimating the global burden of disease

For all the reasons outlined above, estimating the contribution of environmental pollution to the burden of disease is far from easy. In general, too little is known either about the causal links between environmental pollution and health, or about the levels of exposure across the population, to make reliable assessments of the proportion of disease or mortality attributable to pollution. These difficulties are severe in developed countries, where disease surveillance, reporting of mortality, environmental monitoring and population data are all relatively well established. In most developing countries they become all but insurmountable, because of the generally impoverished state of routine monitoring and reporting. Given that controls on emissions and exposures in the developing world are often limited, it is in these countries that risks from environmental pollution are likely to be greatest. Such uncertainties thus render any attempt to quantify the environmental burden of disease highly approximate at best.

Assessments of the disease burden attributable to different forms and sources of pollution are nevertheless worth the effort. They are needed, for example, to raise awareness about some of the risks associated with environmental pollution, and as a basis for advocacy—to ensure that those most in need have a voice. They are needed to help motivate and prioritize action to protect human health, and to evaluate and monitor the success of interventions. They provide the foundation, therefore, for extremely powerful indicators for policy support, and a means of pricking the global conscience about inequalities in health.

Over recent years, therefore, many attempts have been made to assess the health status of the population, both nationally and globally, and to deduce the contribution made by pollution and other environmental factors. In Europe, for example, more than 50 national environmental health action plans have been developed, following the Helsinki Conference in June 1994, setting out strategies to tackle problems of environmental health 37 . Although these differ substantially in terms of their content and scope, many have involved attempts to make formal assessments of the disease burden attributable to different environmental hazards, and to rank these in terms of their public health significance 38, 39 . Various methods were used for this purpose, though most relied on some form of expert judgement, informed where available by quantitative data on mortality or disease rates. Whatever the weaknesses of these assessments, their practical importance is evident, for they have contributed directly to policy prioritization and development in the countries concerned.

The same need has arisen to support the development of environmental health indicators. Since the early 1990s, largely motivated by WHO, increasing attention has been given to constructing indicators on environmental health at all levels from the local to the global scale 40– 43 , and a number of indicator sets have been created (and to a lesser extent used) 44– 46 . Environmental pollution is, inevitably, a major focus of concern in these indicator sets. By definition, also, environmental health indicators provide measures that link environmental hazards and health effect 41 . As such they depend upon an understanding of the association between pollution and health, either in the form of what have been called ‘exposure-side indicators’, which use information on exposures to imply degrees of health risk, or ‘health-side indicators’, which use information on health outcome to suggest attributable effects 41, 43 . In both contexts, the ability to make at least semi-quantitative interpretations of the link between pollution and health, and thus to assess the contribution to the burden of disease, is assumed.

The most explicit attempts to quantify these links, however, have come in recent years through work to estimate the global (and to some extent regional) burden of disease. Earlier efforts in this direction were targeted specifically at making broad-scale enumerations of the total disease burden across the world 47, 48 . The traditional measure used for such assessments was mortality, both because data on deaths tended to be more reliable and widely available, and because mortality is directly comparable in terms of health outcome, unlike morbidity which implies differences in severity of effect. Even so, results from the various efforts differed somewhat, largely because of the ways in which gaps and uncertainties in the available data were dealt with 49 . Overall, however, cardiovascular diseases were seen to be the major cause of mortality, accounting for between 19% (based on the World Health Survey estimate) and 28% (based on Murray and Lopez’s Global burden of disease study 44 ) of total deaths worldwide. Cancer (an estimated 12% in each case), acute respiratory diseases (8.1, 8.7%, respectively), unintentional injuries (5.7, 6.4%), diarrhoeal diseases ( ca. 5.8%), chronic respiratory diseases ( ca. 5.7%) and perinatal conditions (6.2, 4.8%) were other major killers.

Years of life lost and disability adjusted life years

Crude estimates of the number and proportion of deaths due to different diseases, of this nature, obviously give only a distorted picture of the true burden of disease, for they take no account of the age of death or the duration of any preceding illness and disability, nor the amount of suffering involved. In an attempt to redress this, Murray and Lopez 48 also computed estimates of the ‘years of life lost’ (YLL) and ‘disability adjusted life years’ (DALYs). Years of life lost are estimated as the difference between age at death and the life expectancy in the absence of the disease, based on an advanced developed country (82.5 years for women and 80 years for men at that time). DALYs also incorporate an allowance for the number of years lived with a disability due to disease or injury, weighted according to its severity (based on expert assessments of the relative impact of some 500 different conditions and disease sequelae). The years of disability or life lost are also discounted according to the age of onset (since it is assumed that future years of life lost contribute less to the burden of disease than current ones).

Results of these calculations are summarized and discussed by WHO 49 . Estimates of YYL and DALYs provide a somewhat different ranking of disease compared to crude mortality, since they give additional weight to early-onset diseases and chronic illness. Cardiovascular diseases are thus seen as somewhat less important (making up ca. 13% of YYL and 9.7% of DALYs). Acute respiratory diseases (12% and 8.5%, respectively), diarrhoeal diseases (10% and 7.2%) and unintentional injuries (9.3% and 11%) all become proportionally more significant. Mental health conditions also figure as a major source of ill health in terms of DALYs, contributing 11% of the total burden of disease worldwide.

Variations in the global burden of disease

By whichever method they are computed, marked variations are evident in the burden of disease between different sectors of the population. Children are seen to be especially at risk—and young children most of all. More than 30% of all deaths for all diseases in the Global burden of disease study occurred to children under 15 years of age; in the case of diarrhoeal diseases they accounted for 88% of deaths, and for acute respiratory illness 67% of deaths. Malaria also struck children disproportionately (82% of deaths), whilst mortality as a result of perinatal diseases and vaccine-preventable diseases was inevitably almost wholly of children. When measured in terms of DALYs, the overwhelming burden of all these diseases falls on children 49 .

Similar inequalities occur both socially and geographically. The World Bank, for example, compared mortality rates and DALYs between poor and rich nations in the world 50 . Clear differences were shown. Whereas ischaemic heart disease, for example, was responsible for 23.4% of deaths in the rich countries, it accounted for only 7.3% in the poor countries; malignant neoplasms were responsible for 22.6% of deaths among rich countries, but only 5.6% among the poor. Conversely, respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases accounted for 13.4% and 11.3% of deaths, respectively in poor nations, compared with 4.0% and 0.3% in rich countries; for childhood cluster diseases, the proportions were 7.8% and 0.1%, respectively. Similar disparities have been shown in a comparison of ‘less developed’ and ‘more developed’ countries by Smith et al 51 . As these examples show, generalizations about the burden of disease thus need to be interpreted with care. Beneath the often stark global figures lie even starker indications of health inequalities that cry out to be addressed.

The environmental burden of disease

Whilst the original estimates of the global burden of disease made by Murray and Lopez and WHO during the mid 1990s were a major step forward in terms of providing comparable data on health status across the world, they gave information only on health outcomes and did not for the most part attempt to attribute these outcomes to specific causes. Smith et al 51 did, however, make an attempt to assess the environmental contribution to the global burden of disease, using Murray and Lopez’s data. This suggested that environmental factors accounted for between 25% and 33% of the total burden of disease, but with a disproportionate share of this falling on children under 5 years of age. Diarrhoeal diseases (for which some 90% of DALYs were attributed to the environment), malaria ( ca. 88%) and acute respiratory illness (60%) were seen as outcomes for which the environment was especially influential. Murray and Lopez 52 also made preliminary assessments of the relative importance of different risk factors for the global burden of disease, based on their 1990 data. Malnutrition stood out as the most important factor considered, accounting for ca. 11.7% of deaths and 15.9% of DALYs worldwide. Poor water and sanitation was estimated to be responsible for ca. 5.3% of deaths and 6.8% of DALYs, whereas air pollution contributed 1.1% and 0.5%, respectively. Subsequently, a more specific attempt was made by Prüss et al 53 to assess the effects of water, sanitation and hygiene, using a combination of exposure-based risk assessment and outcome-based disease attribution 54 . Based on available information, they estimated that these environmental factors were responsible for ca. 4% of global mortality and 5.7% of total DALYs. These estimates are somewhat lower than those implied by the original Global burden of disease study 52 , partly perhaps because of differences in methodology and partly because of a decline in mortality in the intervening years.

All these attempts to partition the global burden of disease by causative risk factor have faced, and admitted, a number of major difficulties. These relate not only to uncertainties in the available data on health outcome, but also to problems of how to attribute any single death to a single cause or risk factor. Two main approaches have been proposed for disease attribution 55 . Categorical attribution assigns each death to a specific disease or risk factor, according to a defined set of rules ( e.g. the ICD system). The advantage of this approach is that it is relatively straightforward and consistent, and avoids double-counting; the disadvantage is that it ignores the multi-factorial nature of many diseases and still leaves unresolved the problem of how to define appropriate rules. Counterfactual attribution involves comparing the current level of disease or mortality with that which might be expected to occur in the absence of the risk factor (or at some other reference level). One of the main difficulties with this approach is how to define this reference level. Several possibilities exist: for example, the complete absence of the risk factor, the level of risk in some reference population or area, or the achievable level of risk with current technologies. Each will tend to give a rather different measure of the attributable burden of disease. In this context, another difficulty also arises, i.e. how to assess the likely change in disease burden under the selected scenario, in the absence of empirical data.

Results from this assessment for a number of environmental risk factors are summarized in Table 1 . More detail on the methods and results are available on the WHO website for a number of the disease groups, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, malnutrition and injuries 57 , and others will be published as available. The sources of environmental and occupational pollution listed in Table 1 account for 8–9% of the total global burden of disease, measured either in terms of mortality or DALYs. Amongst these risk factors, water, sanitation and hygiene and indoor air pollution are seen to be the most important; health effects of outdoor air pollution are comparatively small, although to some extent this may reflect differences in methodology between this and the other expert groups. It is also evident that a range of other sources of pollution, not included in this table, might be implicated in the global burden of disease, such as exposures to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, food contamination, pesticides, household hazardous chemicals, wastes and other forms of indoor air pollution. The overall burden of disease attributable to pollution, therefore, cannot yet be assessed.

Global burden of disease (thousand and percent) attributable to selected sources of environmental and occupational pollution

Source: based on Ezzati et al 56 .

As with previous estimates of the burden of disease, marked variations can also be recognized between different parts of the world. As is to be expected, the developing countries bear the major proportion of the burden. Problems of unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene, for example, account for an estimated 6.6% of DALYs in Africa, and 4.7% in south-east Asia, compared with 0.5% in Europe. Indoor air pollution accounts for 4.4% of DALYs in Africa and 3.6% in south-east Asia, compared to 0.4% in Europe. In absolute terms the differences are even more stark. The total number of DALYs per head of population attributable to these two risk factors in Africa are 29.1 per thousand for unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene and 19.3 per thousand for indoor air pollution; in south-east Asia they are 12.8 and 9.9 per thousand, respectively; in Europe they are 0.8 and 0.6 per thousand, respectively. Risks attributable to environmental pollution in the developing world are thus 15–35 or more times greater than in developed countries.

The complexities involved in the link between environmental pollution and health, and the uncertainties inherent in the available data on mortality and morbidity, in existing knowledge about the aetiology of diseases, and in environmental information and estimates of exposure, all mean that any attempt to assess the environmental contribution to the global burden of disease is fraught with difficulties. The estimates produced to date must therefore be regarded as no more than order-of-magnitude estimates. Despite these limitations, however, several conclusions seem beyond refute.

The first is that environmental pollution plays a significant role in a number of health outcomes, and in several cases this adds up to a serious public health concern. Water pollution, sanitation and hygiene, indoor air pollution, and to a lesser extent outdoor air pollution and exposures to chemicals in both the indoor and outdoor environment are all important risk factors in this respect. Ionizing and non-ionizing radiation and noise are also causes for concern in many cases.

Secondly, it is clear that the distribution of risks from these factors is not equal across the world. The global burden of disease may be difficult to quantify, but stark contrasts in that burden are evident between the developed and the developing world, between rich and poor, and often between children and adults. The developed world is not risk-free, and development is no panacea for all environmental health ills. On occasions, in fact, the opposite is true: developments, such as increased reliance on road transport, increased use of chemicals in agriculture, and increased proportions of time spent in modern, hermitically sealed buildings surrounded by chemically-based fabrics and furnishings may actually increase exposures and exacerbate health risks. But overall the developing world is far more severely affected by pollution, and in many instances becoming more so, as pressures from development add to traditional sources of exposure and risk.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, many of these risks and health effects are readily avoidable. Rarely does the solution lie in advanced technologies or even expensive drugs. Instead, the need is for preventive action to reduce the emission of pollutants into the environment in the first place—and that is largely achievable with existing know-how. Indeed, in many cases it has already been implemented in many of the richer countries. Science, therefore, certainly has a role to play in addressing these issues. More research is undoubtedly needed on a range of emerging environmental health issues. But the deficit of action that has allowed environmental pollution still to take its toll on health derives not so much from failures in science or technology as from the lack of political will and economic empowerment. It is from that direction that salvation needs ultimately to come for those at the mercy of environmental pollution.

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  • cost of illness
  • developing countries
  • environmental pollution
  • disability-adjusted life years
  • global burden of disease
  • health outcomes

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Environmental Issues Essay

Climate change is happening because of human activity. We're releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping heat and causing the Earth to warm up. This is called global warming, and it's a huge problem. Here are some sample essays on environmental issues.

  • 100 Words Essay On Environmental Issues

Our environment is changing due to disruption. These are small steps you can take on an individual level that together can have a huge impact on the environment. And if enough individuals start taking such steps, we could make huge strides towards preserving the environment for future generations. As an individual, you can:

200 Words Essay On Environmental Issues

500 words essay on environmental issues.

Environmental Issues Essay

Reduce your energy consumption by changing to LED or CFL light bulbs and unplugging electronic devices when not in use;

Use public transport or carpool instead of driving;

Buy locally produced food and products as much as possible;

Separate your waste for composting and recycling instead of sending it all to landfills; and

Plant trees in your yard.

In the past several centuries, humans have altered land use in order to accommodate growing populations and economic development needs. This has led to a range of environmental issues such as habitat destruction, soil erosion, pollution, species extinction and water scarcity.

How Changes in Land Use Can Lead to Environmental Issues

As a result of the disruption due to growing population, the global climate has been thrown off balance, leading to more frequent and intense natural disasters like floods, hurricanes and droughts.

One of the most pressing environmental issues caused by changes in land use is deforestation. Trees are vital for storing carbon dioxide, as well as providing habitats for wildlife. Unsustainable logging practices have led to extreme cases of deforestation that result in global warming and habitat loss. Additionally, when trees are removed from ecosystems it can lead to soil erosion which contributes to water pollution and scarce resources for the surrounding wildlife.

In addition to deforestation there are many other activities that can disrupt land use such as oil drilling, urbanization or different types of agriculture. It’s important for us to be aware of how our behaviors can cause harm to our environment so that we can take steps towards improving land management practices in order to ensure our planet remains healthy for future generations.

You sit down to dinner, and suddenly you're confronted with a difficult decision. You can either have a steak that's been raised on a factory farm, where the animal has been exposed to antibiotics and growth hormones, or you can choose something that's organic and humanely raised.

The same dilemma confronts us when we shop for groceries, clothes, or anything else. Do we want to buy something that's bad for the environment, or do we want to make a conscious choice to purchase something that will help sustain it?

It's not always easy to make the right decision, but it's important that we try. Why has the climate been changing, and why do people think it's a problem?

Examining the Effects of Pollution

Pollution is having a devastating effect on the environment. Pollution is causing irreversible damage to our planet, and it's happening on a scale that is unprecedented in human history.

The effects of pollution are far-reaching and complex. They can be felt in every corner of the globe, from the air we breathe to the water we drink. Pollution is making our planet uninhabitable, and if we don't take action now, we will be facing a very uncertain future.

Impact of Deforestation on the Environment

Deforestation is a major issue that is contributing to climate change and has a serious impact on the environment.

When trees are cut down, it not only reduces the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, but it also leads to the release of carbon dioxide. This, in turn, accelerates climate change and contributes to the greenhouse effect. Deforestation also affects water systems, contributing to floods and droughts.

Exploring Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Environmental Impact

One of the biggest things you can do to reduce your environmental impact is to make lifestyle changes. This can mean anything from reducing your consumption to changing the way you travel and even altering your diet.

Reducing consumption means buying less, reusing and repurposing items, and recycling more. It also means being mindful of what you throw away.

When it comes to transportation, try switching to public transport or carpooling when possible. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more sustainable, why not try walking or cycling?

Lastly, food is another area where you can make changes. Eating locally sourced food that’s in season reduces your carbon footprint and helps local farmers.

So, what do we need to do?

To start, it’s important to realize that individuals can make a difference. There is no single answer to this question; it will require action from all of us. But if we each take small steps in our own lives, we can make a big difference. Here are a few ideas to get started:

Reduce your consumption, and choose products that are environmentally friendly

Reuse and recycle whenever possible

Educate yourself and others about environmental issues

Support organizations that are working to protect the environment

Together, we can make a difference. Let's work together to create a more sustainable future for our planet.

Explore Career Options (By Industry)

  • Construction
  • Entertainment
  • Manufacturing
  • Information Technology

Bio Medical Engineer

The field of biomedical engineering opens up a universe of expert chances. An Individual in the biomedical engineering career path work in the field of engineering as well as medicine, in order to find out solutions to common problems of the two fields. The biomedical engineering job opportunities are to collaborate with doctors and researchers to develop medical systems, equipment, or devices that can solve clinical problems. Here we will be discussing jobs after biomedical engineering, how to get a job in biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering scope, and salary. 

Data Administrator

Database professionals use software to store and organise data such as financial information, and customer shipping records. Individuals who opt for a career as data administrators ensure that data is available for users and secured from unauthorised sales. DB administrators may work in various types of industries. It may involve computer systems design, service firms, insurance companies, banks and hospitals.

Ethical Hacker

A career as ethical hacker involves various challenges and provides lucrative opportunities in the digital era where every giant business and startup owns its cyberspace on the world wide web. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path try to find the vulnerabilities in the cyber system to get its authority. If he or she succeeds in it then he or she gets its illegal authority. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path then steal information or delete the file that could affect the business, functioning, or services of the organization.

Data Analyst

The invention of the database has given fresh breath to the people involved in the data analytics career path. Analysis refers to splitting up a whole into its individual components for individual analysis. Data analysis is a method through which raw data are processed and transformed into information that would be beneficial for user strategic thinking.

Data are collected and examined to respond to questions, evaluate hypotheses or contradict theories. It is a tool for analyzing, transforming, modeling, and arranging data with useful knowledge, to assist in decision-making and methods, encompassing various strategies, and is used in different fields of business, research, and social science.

Geothermal Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as geothermal engineers are the professionals involved in the processing of geothermal energy. The responsibilities of geothermal engineers may vary depending on the workplace location. Those who work in fields design facilities to process and distribute geothermal energy. They oversee the functioning of machinery used in the field.

Remote Sensing Technician

Individuals who opt for a career as a remote sensing technician possess unique personalities. Remote sensing analysts seem to be rational human beings, they are strong, independent, persistent, sincere, realistic and resourceful. Some of them are analytical as well, which means they are intelligent, introspective and inquisitive. 

Remote sensing scientists use remote sensing technology to support scientists in fields such as community planning, flight planning or the management of natural resources. Analysing data collected from aircraft, satellites or ground-based platforms using statistical analysis software, image analysis software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a significant part of their work. Do you want to learn how to become remote sensing technician? There's no need to be concerned; we've devised a simple remote sensing technician career path for you. Scroll through the pages and read.

Geotechnical engineer

The role of geotechnical engineer starts with reviewing the projects needed to define the required material properties. The work responsibilities are followed by a site investigation of rock, soil, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest. The investigation is aimed to improve the ground engineering design and determine their engineering properties that include how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. 

The role of geotechnical engineer in mining includes designing and determining the type of foundations, earthworks, and or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be made. Geotechnical engineering jobs are involved in earthen and concrete dam construction projects, working under a range of normal and extreme loading conditions. 

Cartographer

How fascinating it is to represent the whole world on just a piece of paper or a sphere. With the help of maps, we are able to represent the real world on a much smaller scale. Individuals who opt for a career as a cartographer are those who make maps. But, cartography is not just limited to maps, it is about a mixture of art , science , and technology. As a cartographer, not only you will create maps but use various geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems to measure, analyse, and create different maps for political, cultural or educational purposes.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysis, in a nutshell, entails thoroughly analyzing the details of a financial budget. The budget analysis aims to better understand and manage revenue. Budget analysts assist in the achievement of financial targets, the preservation of profitability, and the pursuit of long-term growth for a business. Budget analysts generally have a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a closely related field. Knowledge of Financial Management is of prime importance in this career.

Product Manager

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  

Underwriter

An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.

Finance Executive

Operations manager.

Individuals in the operations manager jobs are responsible for ensuring the efficiency of each department to acquire its optimal goal. They plan the use of resources and distribution of materials. The operations manager's job description includes managing budgets, negotiating contracts, and performing administrative tasks.

Bank Probationary Officer (PO)

Investment director.

An investment director is a person who helps corporations and individuals manage their finances. They can help them develop a strategy to achieve their goals, including paying off debts and investing in the future. In addition, he or she can help individuals make informed decisions.

Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

Transportation Planner

A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.

An expert in plumbing is aware of building regulations and safety standards and works to make sure these standards are upheld. Testing pipes for leakage using air pressure and other gauges, and also the ability to construct new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring and threading pipes are some of the other more involved aspects of plumbing. Individuals in the plumber career path are self-employed or work for a small business employing less than ten people, though some might find working for larger entities or the government more desirable.

Construction Manager

Individuals who opt for a career as construction managers have a senior-level management role offered in construction firms. Responsibilities in the construction management career path are assigning tasks to workers, inspecting their work, and coordinating with other professionals including architects, subcontractors, and building services engineers.

Urban Planner

Urban Planning careers revolve around the idea of developing a plan to use the land optimally, without affecting the environment. Urban planning jobs are offered to those candidates who are skilled in making the right use of land to distribute the growing population, to create various communities. 

Urban planning careers come with the opportunity to make changes to the existing cities and towns. They identify various community needs and make short and long-term plans accordingly.

Highway Engineer

Highway Engineer Job Description:  A Highway Engineer is a civil engineer who specialises in planning and building thousands of miles of roads that support connectivity and allow transportation across the country. He or she ensures that traffic management schemes are effectively planned concerning economic sustainability and successful implementation.

Environmental Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as an environmental engineer are construction professionals who utilise the skills and knowledge of biology, soil science, chemistry and the concept of engineering to design and develop projects that serve as solutions to various environmental problems. 

Naval Architect

A Naval Architect is a professional who designs, produces and repairs safe and sea-worthy surfaces or underwater structures. A Naval Architect stays involved in creating and designing ships, ferries, submarines and yachts with implementation of various principles such as gravity, ideal hull form, buoyancy and stability. 

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.

Veterinary Doctor

Pathologist.

A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.

Speech Therapist

Gynaecologist.

Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth. 

An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.

Audiologist

The audiologist career involves audiology professionals who are responsible to treat hearing loss and proactively preventing the relevant damage. Individuals who opt for a career as an audiologist use various testing strategies with the aim to determine if someone has a normal sensitivity to sounds or not. After the identification of hearing loss, a hearing doctor is required to determine which sections of the hearing are affected, to what extent they are affected, and where the wound causing the hearing loss is found. As soon as the hearing loss is identified, the patients are provided with recommendations for interventions and rehabilitation such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and appropriate medical referrals. While audiology is a branch of science that studies and researches hearing, balance, and related disorders.

Hospital Administrator

The hospital Administrator is in charge of organising and supervising the daily operations of medical services and facilities. This organising includes managing of organisation’s staff and its members in service, budgets, service reports, departmental reporting and taking reminders of patient care and services.

For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs. 

Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.

Video Game Designer

Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages.

Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.

Radio Jockey

Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.

A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.

Choreographer

The word “choreography" actually comes from Greek words that mean “dance writing." Individuals who opt for a career as a choreographer create and direct original dances, in addition to developing interpretations of existing dances. A Choreographer dances and utilises his or her creativity in other aspects of dance performance. For example, he or she may work with the music director to select music or collaborate with other famous choreographers to enhance such performance elements as lighting, costume and set design.

Videographer

Multimedia specialist.

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

Social Media Manager

A career as social media manager involves implementing the company’s or brand’s marketing plan across all social media channels. Social media managers help in building or improving a brand’s or a company’s website traffic, build brand awareness, create and implement marketing and brand strategy. Social media managers are key to important social communication as well.

Copy Writer

In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.

Linguistic meaning is related to language or Linguistics which is the study of languages. A career as a linguistic meaning, a profession that is based on the scientific study of language, and it's a very broad field with many specialities. Famous linguists work in academia, researching and teaching different areas of language, such as phonetics (sounds), syntax (word order) and semantics (meaning). 

Other researchers focus on specialities like computational linguistics, which seeks to better match human and computer language capacities, or applied linguistics, which is concerned with improving language education. Still, others work as language experts for the government, advertising companies, dictionary publishers and various other private enterprises. Some might work from home as freelance linguists. Philologist, phonologist, and dialectician are some of Linguist synonym. Linguists can study French , German , Italian . 

Public Relation Executive

Travel journalist.

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What is a Global Environmental Pollution Problem?

  • Published: 04 February 2010
  • Volume 210 , pages 1–2, ( 2010 )

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Global environmental pollution problems are not just problems that affect many people. Instead, they are those immense problems that affect the entire planet Earth. These problems may or may not affect all people at the same time, nor to the same level. Global environmental pollution problems may have commenced many decades or centuries ago and are the result of additive, interconnected events that are manifested in a more complex present-day problem. It may also be true that the problem was generated at a relatively simple level of complexity but evolved into a more complex problem, requiring a complex solution. An excellent example of this type of global pollution problem is global climate change which is complex, requires the cooperation of all countries, and makes our human society and all living organisms vulnerable. Global climate change is really the sum of all pollution combined with natural changes in climate. Global problems are also problems where solutions may not be immediate and involve complex political, social, and economic components. Some humans will be resistant to change, cannot imagine the consequences, insist their values are correct, and may have constrained ideological, cultural, and political values and ideas. This is all occurring in a time of globalization—in increased interconnectedness among countries in the areas of economics, trade, culture, and politics.

It was not raining when Noah built the ark. Humans have the capacity to think ahead, plan, anticipate, predict, and be prepared. The future of humanity lies in anticipating and preventing global problems while fixing our existing problems at the local, national, and global levels. Of course, this is an immense challenge to humans because we disagree on forms of government, economics, basic human rights, war and conflict versus peace, and the distribution of resources on the planet. Humanity’s future is not guaranteed unless all people and all nations strive for a quality of life that is sustainable while managing our current climate change crisis and at the same time reducing human population growth and implementing conservation policies worldwide. This may seem like a utopian wish as we enter another decade with too many humans subjected to poverty, hunger, conflicts, wars, uneven distribution of resources, lack of universal basic human rights and needs, lack of education, potable water, public health, pandemics, transportation and communication infrastructure, discrimination, racism, religious intolerance, greed, power, dictatorships, unstable governments, a multitude of national and international security issues, and no legally binding agreement on climate change for countries. The list is not complete, but the point has been made.

In the past, an immense amount of effort was devoted to solving or remediating existing problems. Today, we have the capacity to predict many problems or changes. Science, engineering, and technology have enabled us to have immense predictive powers. Therefore, our capacity for insight and visionary thinking increases as more information is translated into knowledge. Visionary thinking is essential if we are to determine how humans share our planet, share our humanity, and share a common rulebook to prevent further damage to our biosphere. Visionary thinking and problem solving are necessary because climate change is an interlinked and complex problem with unrecognized outcomes. It may be that some proposed and attempted solutions are incorrect. Interconnected problems make solutions more difficult. One could even suggest that the most important environmental problem is deciding what is the most important environmental problem.

However humanity decides to solve global climate change, it will involve information systems that will lead to entirely new disciplines and fields of knowledge. This will spawn new industries and hopefully a better sharing of resources in our common, shared, singular biosphere. Hopefully, there will be another renaissance in thinking, education, innovation, research, and cooperation for humanity. If you enjoy problem solving, thinking, education, humanities, laws, computing and information systems, policy formation and implementation, and innovation and research, then use your skills and expertise to solve the most critical global problems—some of which were mentioned in this article. We also look forward to articles being submitted to this journal that assist in solutions to any environmental problem of significance. The point is—be successful at meaningful activities in research, not trivial ones.

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Trevors, J.T. What is a Global Environmental Pollution Problem?. Water Air Soil Pollut 210 , 1–2 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-010-0337-9

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Published : 04 February 2010

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-010-0337-9

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ENVIRONMENTAL POLUTION A GLOBAL ISSUE

Profile image of Bilu Kasanda

Environmental Pollution is one of the global issues that has been the agenda ever since. In a global scale, almost 80% of our marine pollution comes from the land based activities such as oil spills, fertilizers, seas of garbage, sewage disposal, and toxic chemicals from industries. This case study is done in Madang town along the Madang Star International Hotel towards the main town Market. It is approximately 1km drive from Divine Word University. Rationale of this study is to identify the environmental damage done to the rivers/ oceans and in public places where people do marketing and at the same time the resting places. The area was quiet alarming where it is full of rubbish from plastic bags, tin cans, bags, and old materials from the neighboring residence all are dumped into the sea. However, this paper will give analyses and give mitigation approached for conserving the environment to deter from water pollution.

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The Effects of Climate Change

The effects of human-caused global warming are happening now, are irreversible for people alive today, and will worsen as long as humans add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

environmental pollution and global issues essay

  • We already see effects scientists predicted, such as the loss of sea ice, melting glaciers and ice sheets, sea level rise, and more intense heat waves.
  • Scientists predict global temperature increases from human-made greenhouse gases will continue. Severe weather damage will also increase and intensify.

Earth Will Continue to Warm and the Effects Will Be Profound

Effects_page_triptych

Global climate change is not a future problem. Changes to Earth’s climate driven by increased human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are already having widespread effects on the environment: glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking, river and lake ice is breaking up earlier, plant and animal geographic ranges are shifting, and plants and trees are blooming sooner.

Effects that scientists had long predicted would result from global climate change are now occurring, such as sea ice loss, accelerated sea level rise, and longer, more intense heat waves.

The magnitude and rate of climate change and associated risks depend strongly on near-term mitigation and adaptation actions, and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages escalate with every increment of global warming.

environmental pollution and global issues essay

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Some changes (such as droughts, wildfires, and extreme rainfall) are happening faster than scientists previously assessed. In fact, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the United Nations body established to assess the science related to climate change — modern humans have never before seen the observed changes in our global climate, and some of these changes are irreversible over the next hundreds to thousands of years.

Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for many decades, mainly due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities.

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report, published in 2021, found that human emissions of heat-trapping gases have already warmed the climate by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since 1850-1900. 1 The global average temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees C (about 3 degrees F) within the next few decades. These changes will affect all regions of Earth.

The severity of effects caused by climate change will depend on the path of future human activities. More greenhouse gas emissions will lead to more climate extremes and widespread damaging effects across our planet. However, those future effects depend on the total amount of carbon dioxide we emit. So, if we can reduce emissions, we may avoid some of the worst effects.

The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss the brief, rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.

Here are some of the expected effects of global climate change on the United States, according to the Third and Fourth National Climate Assessment Reports:

Future effects of global climate change in the United States:

sea level rise

U.S. Sea Level Likely to Rise 1 to 6.6 Feet by 2100

Global sea level has risen about 8 inches (0.2 meters) since reliable record-keeping began in 1880. By 2100, scientists project that it will rise at least another foot (0.3 meters), but possibly as high as 6.6 feet (2 meters) in a high-emissions scenario. Sea level is rising because of added water from melting land ice and the expansion of seawater as it warms. Image credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Sun shining brightly over misty mountains.

Climate Changes Will Continue Through This Century and Beyond

Global climate is projected to continue warming over this century and beyond. Image credit: Khagani Hasanov, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Satellite image of a hurricane.

Hurricanes Will Become Stronger and More Intense

Scientists project that hurricane-associated storm intensity and rainfall rates will increase as the climate continues to warm. Image credit: NASA

environmental pollution and global issues essay

More Droughts and Heat Waves

Droughts in the Southwest and heat waves (periods of abnormally hot weather lasting days to weeks) are projected to become more intense, and cold waves less intense and less frequent. Image credit: NOAA

2013 Rim Fire

Longer Wildfire Season

Warming temperatures have extended and intensified wildfire season in the West, where long-term drought in the region has heightened the risk of fires. Scientists estimate that human-caused climate change has already doubled the area of forest burned in recent decades. By around 2050, the amount of land consumed by wildfires in Western states is projected to further increase by two to six times. Even in traditionally rainy regions like the Southeast, wildfires are projected to increase by about 30%.

Changes in Precipitation Patterns

Climate change is having an uneven effect on precipitation (rain and snow) in the United States, with some locations experiencing increased precipitation and flooding, while others suffer from drought. On average, more winter and spring precipitation is projected for the northern United States, and less for the Southwest, over this century. Image credit: Marvin Nauman/FEMA

Crop field.

Frost-Free Season (and Growing Season) will Lengthen

The length of the frost-free season, and the corresponding growing season, has been increasing since the 1980s, with the largest increases occurring in the western United States. Across the United States, the growing season is projected to continue to lengthen, which will affect ecosystems and agriculture.

Heatmap showing scorching temperatures in U.S. West

Global Temperatures Will Continue to Rise

Summer of 2023 was Earth's hottest summer on record, 0.41 degrees Fahrenheit (F) (0.23 degrees Celsius (C)) warmer than any other summer in NASA’s record and 2.1 degrees F (1.2 C) warmer than the average summer between 1951 and 1980. Image credit: NASA

Satellite map of arctic sea ice.

Arctic Is Very Likely to Become Ice-Free

Sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean is expected to continue decreasing, and the Arctic Ocean will very likely become essentially ice-free in late summer if current projections hold. This change is expected to occur before mid-century.

U.S. Regional Effects

Climate change is bringing different types of challenges to each region of the country. Some of the current and future impacts are summarized below. These findings are from the Third 3 and Fourth 4 National Climate Assessment Reports, released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program .

  • Northeast. Heat waves, heavy downpours, and sea level rise pose increasing challenges to many aspects of life in the Northeast. Infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised. Farmers can explore new crop options, but these adaptations are not cost- or risk-free. Moreover, adaptive capacity , which varies throughout the region, could be overwhelmed by a changing climate. Many states and cities are beginning to incorporate climate change into their planning.
  • Northwest. Changes in the timing of peak flows in rivers and streams are reducing water supplies and worsening competing demands for water. Sea level rise, erosion, flooding, risks to infrastructure, and increasing ocean acidity pose major threats. Increasing wildfire incidence and severity, heat waves, insect outbreaks, and tree diseases are causing widespread forest die-off.
  • Southeast. Sea level rise poses widespread and continuing threats to the region’s economy and environment. Extreme heat will affect health, energy, agriculture, and more. Decreased water availability will have economic and environmental impacts.
  • Midwest. Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. Climate change will also worsen a range of risks to the Great Lakes.
  • Southwest. Climate change has caused increased heat, drought, and insect outbreaks. In turn, these changes have made wildfires more numerous and severe. The warming climate has also caused a decline in water supplies, reduced agricultural yields, and triggered heat-related health impacts in cities. In coastal areas, flooding and erosion are additional concerns.

1. IPCC 2021, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis , the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

2. IPCC, 2013: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

3. USGCRP 2014, Third Climate Assessment .

4. USGCRP 2017, Fourth Climate Assessment .

Related Resources

environmental pollution and global issues essay

A Degree of Difference

So, the Earth's average temperature has increased about 2 degrees Fahrenheit during the 20th century. What's the big deal?

environmental pollution and global issues essay

What’s the difference between climate change and global warming?

“Global warming” refers to the long-term warming of the planet. “Climate change” encompasses global warming, but refers to the broader range of changes that are happening to our planet, including rising sea levels; shrinking mountain glaciers; accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic; and shifts in flower/plant blooming times.

environmental pollution and global issues essay

Is it too late to prevent climate change?

Humans have caused major climate changes to happen already, and we have set in motion more changes still. However, if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, the rise in global temperatures would begin to flatten within a few years. Temperatures would then plateau but remain well-elevated for many, many centuries.

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environmental pollution and global issues essay

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  1. Environmental Issues Essay for Students and Children

    In this Essay on Environmental Issues. The environment plays a significant role to support life on earth. But there are some issues that are causing damages to life and the ecosystem of the earth. In this Essay on Environmental Issues. ... Besides, its main source is pollution, global warming, greenhouse gas, and many others. The everyday ...

  2. Essay on Environmental Pollution for Students and Children

    500+ Words Essay on Environmental Pollution. Essay on Environmental Pollution - Environment is the surroundings in which we live. But the contamination of our environment by pollutants is environmental pollution. The current stage of the earth that we are seeing is the cause of centuries of exploitation of earth and its resources.

  3. Environmental Pollution Essay for Students in English

    Environmental pollution is of five basic types namely, Air, Water, Soil, and Noise pollution. Air Pollution: Air pollution is a major issue in today's world. The smoke pouring out of factory chimneys and automobiles pollute the air that we breathe in. Gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide are emitted with this smoke ...

  4. Pollution

    Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These harmful materials are called pollutants. Pollutants can be natural, such as volcanic ash. They can also be created by human activity, such as trash or runoff produced by factories. Pollutants damage the quality of air, water, and land.

  5. Essay on Environmental Pollution A Global Problem [PDF]

    According to a publication by the United Nations Environment Annual Report 2018, pollution is a global issue affecting over 100 million people worldwide and which is comparable to global killer diseases such as HIV and Malaria. In the US, approximately 40% of rivers and 46% of lakes are too polluted for aquatic life, fishing, swimming, or even ...

  6. Essay on Environmental Pollution: 100 Words, 200 Words

    There are four main types of pollution - Air Pollution, Water Pollution, Noise Pollution and Soil or Land Pollution. Additionally, pollution contributes to global issues including acid rain, global warming, and greenhouse gas consequences. A rise in the planet's average surface temperature is referred to as global warming, and it causes ...

  7. Essay on Global Environmental Issues

    In conclusion, the global environmental issues of climate change, deforestation, pollution, and biodiversity loss pose severe threats to the planet and its inhabitants. Addressing these challenges requires collective action at all levels - individual, community, national, and global. It calls for a shift towards sustainable practices ...

  8. Environmental and Health Impacts of Air Pollution: A Review

    Without any doubt, the global environmental pollution is considered an international public health issue with multiple facets. Social, economic, and legislative concerns and lifestyle habits are related to this major problem. Clearly, urbanization and industrialization are reaching unprecedented and upsetting proportions worldwide in our era.

  9. Climate Change Assay: A Spark Of Change

    Bahçeşehir College is committed to increasing students' awareness of the changing world we live in. This climate change essay competition saw many students submitting well thought out pieces of writing. These essays were marked on their format, creativity, organisation, clarity, unity/development of thought, and grammar/mechanics.

  10. Environmental Issue Essay

    Essay on Environmental Issue. Environment is the surrounding of an Organism. This Environment in which an Organism lives is made up of various components like Air, Water, Land, etc. These components are found in fixed proportions to create a Harmonious Balance in the Environment for the Organism to live in. Any kind of undesirable and wanted ...

  11. Environmental Pollution Essay

    500 Words Essay on Environmental Pollution. Environmental pollution has serious impacts on both humans and the environment. It affects air quality, water quality, soil fertility, and public health. Poor air quality affects the respiratory system, leading to respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis. Water pollution can lead to the spread ...

  12. Environmental pollution and the global burden of disease

    David Briggs, Environmental pollution and the global burden of disease, British Medical Bulletin, Volume 68, Issue 1, December 2003, Pages 1-24, ... As the impact of human activities and issues of environmental health become increasingly global in scale and extent, the need to recognize and to address the health risks associated with ...

  13. (PDF) Current Environmental Issues and Emerging Global ...

    The UN Environment's Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) in 2019 is the latest most comprehensive assessment of the state of the world's environment and emerging environmental problems.

  14. Essay on Environmental Pollution

    Environmental pollution is primarily classified into air, water, and soil pollution. Air pollution, caused by the release of harmful gases and particulates, leads to respiratory diseases and global warming. Water pollution, on the other hand, is the result of dumping untreated waste and chemicals into water bodies, causing harm to aquatic life ...

  15. Environmental Issues Essay

    200 Words Essay On Environmental Issues. In the past several centuries, humans have altered land use in order to accommodate growing populations and economic development needs. This has led to a range of environmental issues such as habitat destruction, soil erosion, pollution, species extinction and water scarcity.

  16. Environmental Problems: Care of the Planet Essay

    The earth faces three major environmental crises: overpopulation, climate change, and global warming. Overpopulation is the leading cause of the two other problems. Overpopulation has been caused by the rapid increase in population in developing countries. The rapid population leads to an increase in the clearance of forests and industrialization.

  17. Environmental Pollution and Global Warming Essay

    Environmental Pollution and Global Warming Essay. This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples. Fossil fuels are a natural fuel such as coal or gas, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms.

  18. Global environmental issues

    Essay on Global environmental issues. Most prominent environmental problems: Climate change, Survival of the species, Energy crisis, Natural resources exploitation, Land degradation, Land usage, Nuclear issues, Overcrowding, Pollution, Waste management.

  19. Global environmental pollution

    Global annual deaths due to PM2.5 and ozone air pollution Annual attributable deaths as a result of long term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone air pollution worldwide (in ...

  20. What is a Global Environmental Pollution Problem?

    Global climate change is really the sum of all pollution combined with natural changes in climate. Global problems are also problems where solutions may not be immediate and involve complex political, social, and economic components. Some humans will be resistant to change, cannot imagine the consequences, insist their values are correct, and ...

  21. (PDF) ENVIRONMENTAL POLUTION A GLOBAL ISSUE

    Environmental Pollution is one of the global issues that has been the agenda ever since. In a global scale, almost 80% of our marine pollution comes from the land based activities such as oil spills, fertilizers, seas of garbage, sewage disposal, and toxic chemicals from industries. This case study is done in Madang town along the Madang Star ...

  22. Essay on Environmental Issues

    The major environmental issues of the world today are global warming, green-house effect, and climate change. The reasons behind the problems are mostly related to the grave amount of neglect and intolerance of humans towards the environment. 10 Lines on Environmental Issues Essay in English. Environmental issues are a matter of concern these days.

  23. Plastic Pollution Essay (2500 words): A Global Environmental

    Here are some key global efforts to address plastic pollution: United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA): The UNEA has highlighted the issue of plastic pollution and called for action to address it. In 2019, the UNEA adopted a resolution on marine litter and microplastics, urging countries to take measures to reduce plastic waste.

  24. Essay About Environmental Pollution

    Environmental Pollution Essays. Environmental Pollution Our environment is affected by our daily actions. The earth is plagued with land, air and water pollution. Some of the problems we face on earth are: deforestation, nuclear waste, acid rain, global warming, overpopulation and some animals are endangered. Air pollution has many different ...

  25. The Effects of Climate Change

    Global climate change is not a future problem. Changes to Earth's climate driven by increased human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are already having widespread effects on the environment: glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking, river and lake ice is breaking up earlier, plant and animal geographic ranges are shifting, and plants and trees are blooming sooner.

  26. World's worst polluted cities are in Asia

    Millions of people die each year from air pollution-related health issues. Air pollution from fossil fuels is killing 5.1 million people worldwide every year, according to a study published in the ...