In polluted air there are: gases, dust, microorganisms. Gases present in the air are:
- sulfur dioxide (SO2): irritates the upper respiratory tract, lungs, eyes;
- carbon monoxide (CO): causes headaches and dizziness, nausea, vomiting, can cause death;
- nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2): cause bronchitis and bronchiolitis.
Dusts, or fine particles, entering the bronchi and alveoli cause pneumoconiosis. Radioactive dust, created by nuclear explosions, mixes with the air and gets into the soil and plants. In this way, they contribute to the formation of cancer.
The problem is getting bigger as the world’s population grows
Microorganisms: bacteria, viruses, mold spores are the source of the occurrence of many infectious diseases, for example: smallpox, measles, pulmonary tuberculosis, rhinosinusitis, bronchitis. They also contribute to the occurrence of allergies, or sensitization.
Man, as a result of his activities leading to the improvement of living conditions, interferes greatly with the environment in which he lives. The problem is getting bigger as the world’s population grows. We need more and more living space. Unfortunately, the human economy almost always leads to rapid degradation of the environment. We only notice the situation when the threat begins to affect us as well.
Degradation of the natural environment takes place at different levels and depends on the type of human activity. Danger occurs when the environment is unable to cope with pollution on its own and is unable to return to its original shape.
From a spatial point of view, we distinguish:
- local pollution, covering a small area
- regional or national pollution,
- global pollution, of the atmosphere, oceans, etc.
The intensity of human interference also depends on the type of environment. There are 3 main types: Areas of large agglomerations and urban and industrial conurbations, here the environment is not present at all, such areas are characterized by the highest degree of pollution and degradation of nature.
Agricultural, forest and recreational regions, there is less degradation here, however, problems may arise as a result of excessive chemicalization of agriculture, Areas uninhabited and undeveloped by man ( anekumena), they are the least altered by man, preserved natural character, such areas are often legally protected.
In large urban-industrial agglomerations, the environment is contaminated mainly by industrial pollution and also by municipal pollution and pollution from automobile transport. All elements of the environment, relief, soils, waters, vegetation and the animal world are distorted and threatened.
They come from both large power
Airborne dust from the chimneys of industrial plants often contains heavy metals. Most emitted are sulfur compounds, nitrogen compounds and carbon dioxide involved in the greenhouse effect. These pollutants result from the combustion processes of energy resources such as coal and lignite, and to a lesser extent natural gas. They come from both large power plants and combined heat and power plants and from individual farms and small boiler plants. Their range depends on many factors, the height of the chimney (the higher the pollutants reach further), weather conditions, terrain. vegetation cover.
Another very big threat to the environment is municipal and industrial wastewater discharged into surface waters. In Poland, only 60% of wastewater is pretreated, with the remainder going directly into surface waters. Most wastewater is produced by large urban agglomerations such as Warsaw.
We have led to the disastrous situation of our rivers and lakes. In the 1960s, about 25% of our waters belonged to the first class of purity, while as early as 1987, no waters in our country were found that could qualify for the first class of purity.
Very great damage mainly to the relief is caused by the mining industry and especially its open-pit variety. Open-pit mines often occupy huge areas. As a result of mining, the natural landscape is completely altered. Numerous heaps are created, and water relations in the area are also disturbed. Water is pumped out of the resulting depression all the time, the groundwater table is lowered and a so-called depression funnel is formed. This reflects negatively on the vegetation cover. The surrounding wells are drying up.
The impact of pollution on plants manifests itself in the disappearance of some species that are unable to adapt to changed environmental conditions. They are displaced by plants with better and faster adaptation. There are permanent changes in both natural and anthropogenic ecosystems.
Living in large cities, we are exposed to another threat – noise. Its sources are primarily traffic, television, industrial plants, road works. Noise of sufficiently high intensity is very harmful to our body. Already at an exposure equal to 30 Db, a psychophysiological reaction is noticeable in some, 90 Db causes weakness and hearing loss, while 120 Db leads to mechanical hearing damage.