Environmental pollution is the most serious problem that humanity is facing today. Badly polluted air can cause illness and even death whereas polluted water kills marine life. Pollution of soil reduces the amount of land available for growing food. It also brings ugliness to our beautiful land. Our earth is a heaven and we should keep it as a sacred property that God has donated to man for maintaining its sanctity. If we follow the law of nature and adopt the suggested measures, environmental pollution may be reduced to a great extent. This is very necessary for sustaining the life on earth. Let us remove poverty and squalor on earth. The world should be changed into the actual Kingdom of God, where life could exist in its natural form without any danger. We should save all varieties of birds and animals, flora and fauna etc.
- Environmental pollution means destabilizing the balance of atmospheric composition.
- It is an undesirable change in the environment due to its physical, chemical & biological changes, which is harmful for the human life and other species present on the earth.
- It means removal of certain ingredients from air, soil or water and also the addition of extraneous substances into them.
Kinds of Pollution
There are several kinds of environmental pollution. Major of them are as follows:
1: Air Pollution
Air pollution turns the clear and odorless air into a poisonous gas that harms health, kills plants and damages property. People pour hundreds of millions of tons of gases and particles into the atmosphere each year. The most common form of air pollution is smog (mixture of smoke and fog).
Mostly, air pollution results from combustion (burning) processes. The burning of gasoline to power motor vehicles and the burning of coal to heat buildings are examples of such processes. Each time a fuel is burned in a combustion process, some type of pollutant is released into the air. The pollutions range from small amounts of colourless poisonous gas to clouds of thick black smoke.
Weather conditions can reduce the amount of pollution in the air. Wind scatters pollutants, and rain and snow wash them into the ground. But in many areas, pollutants are put into the air faster than weather conditions can dispose them of. In crowded cities, for example, thousands of automobiles, factories and furnaces may add tons of pollutants to a small area of the atmosphere each day.
Air pollution includes industrial pollution, automobile pollution, nuclear. pollution/radiation and thermal pollution etc. For centuries, Europe & Latin America have been polluting the mother nature and enjoying comforts of modern life, but we have no clean air to breath, no pure water to drink and no guarantee of getting them clean in the future.
2: Water Pollution
Water pollution reduces the amount of pure and fresh water that is available for such necessities, as drinking and cleaning, and for such activities as swimming and fishing. The pollutants of water come mainly from industries, farms and sewerage systems. Industries dump huge amounts of waste products into bodies of water each year. These wastes include chemicals, wastes from animals and plants matter, and hundreds of other substances. Wastes from farms include animal refuses, fertilizers, and pesticides. Most of these materials drained off from fields accumulate into nearby bodies of water. Sewerage systems carry wastes from homes, offices and industries into water. Nearly all cities have waste treatment plants that remove some of the most harmful wastes from sewage. But even the treated sewage contains material that harms water. Water pollution includes seawater pollution, river water pollution, land water pollution, industrial wastes and sewerage.
According to a survey report, 57 percent of the drinking water samples are unhygienic due to contamination. In agricultural land, the chemical fertilizers may go down in the earth and ultimately may mix with land water and utilize for drinking and household work. Scientists, estimate that 30 percent of all reported diseases are water-borne which include Cholera, Typhoid, Diarrhea, skin irritation and Jaundice. Seven million children die in early age due to water-borne diseases. Excessive use of fertilizers may form a crest in the soil. It doesn’t allow water to pour down into the earth, which causes the waterlogging and salinity.
Basic necessity for all living things is pure water but in Pakistan, water sources are limited. Water is used without purification. So any future pollution can play havoc with lives of our people.
Following are the causes of water pollution:
- Dumping of waste into rivers, oceans & lakes etc.
- Contamination of water-by-water pipes because the joints of pipes are soldered with leads which is a toxic substance.
- The seawater can be a source of pollution due to nuclear dumpage.
- Oil-pouring into the seawater. During the Gulf War 0.5 to 3 billion barrels of oil were poured into the seawater.
- Sewerage system if it opens in a lake or a river. e.g. Sewerage of Lahore city which falls into the river Ravi is 389 cusics whereas level of the water of the river Ravi in winter is 400 cusics. So there is 1:1 ratio of dilution of pure water with polluted water.
- Nutrient-rich sewerage causes depletion of dissolved oxygen and ultimately causes death of aquatic animals.
- During the sixties, the lakes in the Scandinavian countries became totally devoid of marine life due to pollution.
- 60 percent of infant deaths are due to infection of parasitic diseases, most of them are water borne.
- Vegetables grown from wastewater have serious bacteriological contamination problems.
- Pollution of river water has cut its fish production by 5000 tons per year.
- Water pollution causes live stock death and contaminates a large tract of cultivated land.
3: Noise Pollution
Noise is a very troublesome pollutant in urban areas. People living near cities are exposed to loud noise much of the time. The noise comes from airplanes, vehicles construction of projects, industries, speakers used by street vendors, crackers and marriage bombs, pressure horns and Hi-Fi music etc.
- It affects sense of hearing.
- It causes anxiety, depression, blood pressure and nervousness.
- Wildlife also suffers from noise pollution.
4: Soil Pollution
Soil pollution damages the thin layer of fertile soil that covers much of the earth’s land, which is essential for growing food. Solid wastes are probably the most visible forms of pollution. People throw away billions of tons of solid material each year. Much of this waste ends up littering roadsides, floating in lakes and streams and collecting in ugly dumps. Examples of solid wastes include junked automobiles tyres, refrigerators and stoves; cans and other packing materials; and scraps of metal and paper. Such solid pollutants are most common in the heavily populated areas in and near cities. Land pollution includes domestic pollution, garbage, hospital wastes and polythene bags etc.
- Accidental splits or explosion.
- Leakage of methylisocyanate (Bhopal, India) Chernobyl disaster in USSR.
- Explosion in Ojri Camp at Rawapindi.
- Plastic bags are not made of food grade material. Their use for packing food is a health hazard. When these are burnt with garbage, they emit poisonous gases.
- Chemical products can cause poisoning, which depends on its strength, amount and manner of its use. About 1 lac chemicals are used commercially in the world.
- Consumer products, which cause diseases, are cosmetic and mosquito repellants.
Major factors responsible for environmental pollution
The gases, population explosion, rapid industrialization, pesticides, radiations, deforestation, garbage disposal, and hazardous wastes are the major factors responsible for environmental pollution. The brief description of each is given below:
About twenty gases are very harmful for man and animal life. Industrial smoke contains CO2, CO, Nitrous Oxides, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Ozone methane and other harmful gases.
CFCs are found in air conditioners, refrigerators, foams, aerosols and for cleaning delicate computer circuits. Gases are also released from motor engines, furnaces and burning fossil fuel etc.
- These are responsible for raising the temperature of earth. (Greenhouse effect) Gases burn people’s eyes and irritate their lungs.
- They may cause respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis. They may cause cancer.
- Poisonous gases in the air can restrict the growth of plants and eventually kill them.
- They threaten to destroy or erode hard and strong materials like concrete and steel e.g., Taj Mahal in India is threatened by industrial pollution.
- They may affect the weather. Some of them allow sunlight to reach the ground, but prevent the heat from going out of the atmosphere.
- CO reduces the ability of hemoglobin to carry Oxygen to the body. They affect central nervous system.
- They cause headache, drowsiness, death, anemia, and kidney disorder and tissue damage in brain.
- They cause depletion of Ozone layer. They cause acid rain.
1: Photosynthesis: Tree needs CO2. So more trees mean low amount of CO2 in air. Hence we can say that higher natural cleaning pumps.
2: The burning of fossil fuel should be replaced by other non-pollutant methods.
3: Forestation: Tree planting may be encouraged throughout the year.
2: Population Explosion
Overpopulation is the mother of all problems. When there are more people, we are in need of more food, more goods, and more shelter. So for this purpose, we have to develop new industries and for shelter, we have to clean the forests. In this way, we destroy the natural environment. That’s why it is not wrong to say that overpopulation is the mother of all problems.
Population explosion is resulting in unbalanced population distribution, poor infrastructure, and lack of basic amenities for teeming millions, malnutrition, poor human health and unhygienic conditions of life.
3: Rapid Industrialization
Chemical industry, leather industry and heavy mechanical industry etc. are responsible, for air, water, land and noise pollution. Industrial smoke has added CO2, CO, Nitrous compounds and has reduced Oxygen in the atmosphere. The industrial revolution in Europe has a major share in pollution. Only six percent of the world’s population of industrialized and developed countries is responsible for sixty percent of world pollution. Industrial countries have chosen developing countries as their dumping ground to carry on with their enterprise to play with the lives of people just to satisfy profit stimulus.
- Lung diseases, ear damage, skin diseases, disastrous effects on crops and temperature change etc.
Most of the pesticides are poisonous. These chemicals are used to prevent, destroy, repel or otherwise control the objectionable insects in our homes besides destroying the unwanted shrubs and bushes in the fields, for instance, chlorinated pesticides (DDT) and phosphorus pesticides. Most of the DDT is produced in developed countries.
- DDT attacks nervous system and is toxic.
- Pesticides affect the natural cycles in soil and water.
- Much pesticide material never reaches the target and affects man, animal and environment.
Radiation is an invisible pollutant that cans .be highly dangerous. Some radiations reach the earth from the sun and outer space. Other radiation comes from radioactive materials, such as fallout from nuclear weapons testing and waste materials from nuclear power plants. Various electronic devices also produce radiation. Scientists have not determined exactly what effects small amounts of radiation have on humans. But exposure to large amounts of radiation is believed to result in cancer and in harmful changes in reproductive cells. International agreements have banned most testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. Such regulations have helped to eliminate the largest sources of radiation. However, the number of electronic devices that produce small amounts of radiation is steadily increasing, for example, television sets and microwave ovens. Scientists are trying to determine the effects of frequent exposure to small quantities of radiation on human beings.
Cutting of rain forest creates an environmental problem. Rain forest forms only 2 percent of the earth surface, located in South and Central America, South and South East Africa. Cutting of forests means that the economic system is in danger.
Causes of deforestation are as under:
- For timber purposes Clearance for crops after eliminating trees Firewood is obtained by deforestation.
- Resource developments are the cause of de-frostation.
- Five Lacs of trees are cut in USA on every Sunday only for the publication of newspapers and periodicals.
- In Pakistan, the forest area is about 5 percent, but according to UNEP, it should be 25 percent.
- Soil erosion Desertification
- Flood Rising of temperature Affects wildlife
- Affects watershed management.
7: Garbage Disposal
Garbage is a product of consumer society. North America having only 8 percent of the world population produces 50 percent of the world garbage. Recycling is another useful way. of reducing garbage.
- Residential Garbage: Paper, food, scrapes, rotten fruit, vegetables and plastics are residential garbage.
- Industrial Garbage: In Pakistan, there is no effective industrial garbage disposal system.
- Garbage disposal causes virile disease that harms sexual power.
8: Hazardous Waste
Chemical pollution can cause poisoning. About one lac chemicals are used commercially in the world. Many of those chemicals are banned in developed countries but those are available in underdeveloped countries.
- Bioproduct of the industrial manufacturing process
- Consumer products, which are discarded. (Cosmetics, pesticides, etc.)
- Accidental spills or explosions, e.g.
- Leakage of methyl isocyanate in Bophal (India)
- Cherbonyl disaster in Russia.
- The explosion in Ojri Camp arms depot in Pakistan
Major effects of environmental pollution
Following are the major effects of environmental pollution:
1: Depletion of ozone layer
Between 20 to 40 Km above the surface of earth with the stratosphere, there exists ozone gas. (Ozone layer of 20 km in thickness). Ozone layer has been formed on South and North Poles of the earth. Ozone layer acts as a shield against ultraviolet rays, which are being emitted, continuously by the Sun. Ultraviolet rays are the radiation of wavelengths less than those of visible light. If these rays reach on the surface of the earth, they will end all life on it. Ozone layer functions as natural umbrella that protects us from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiations.
CFCs destroy the Ozone layer. A hole of the size of the USA has appeared over Antarctica. CFCs are man-made chemicals. When CFCs are released into the atmosphere, they breakdown into chlorine & fluorine, which react with Ozone during 10-100 years and so the shield over the light is eaten away. Most of the countries have banned the use of CFCs in aerosol sprays and hair sprays etc, but these are still used in the third world countries.
- Increase risk of melanoma
- Skin cancer
- Incidents of optic ailment
- Suppression of human immune system
- Major field crops are adversely affected
- Use of ceiling fan than air conditioner have energy smother nature.
- CFCs are used in refrigeration with the trade name of Freon. It should not be released in the atmosphere.
- Replacement of CFCs with HFCs.
2: Acid Rain
When Sulphur-dioxide and various oxides of nitrogen are released into air, they react with the moisture, sunlight and oxygen. As a result of this reaction, Sulphuric acid & Nitric Acid are produced in the air and mixing with rain, these acids fall on earth. This rain is called Acid Rain.
- Kill flora & fauna.
- Destroy Buildings
- Pollute river, Lakes and Ponds
- Kill fish and other animals
- Increase acidity of soil.
- Branches of tree become bare as leaves fall off.
- Creating awareness of the source of emission of sulphur oxide and nitrous oxide Conservation of energy
- Reducing of motor vehicles
- Introducing the effective transport system
3: Greenhouse effect (Global Warming)
Increased level of CO2 gas in the atmosphere has a greenhouse effect of heat trapping. It absorbs heat from the sunlight without letting it to radiate back into space. Owing to this, the temperature of the World’s atmosphere is rising.
Emission of twenty gases may possibly cause a green house effect. The major gases are CO, CO2, Ozone, Nitrous oxides, Methane and Chlorophlore-carbons. (CFCs) but CFCs are more dangerous, as they can trap more heat. CFSc are found in air conditioners, refrigerators, foams and aerosols.
The major sources of these gases are:
- Burning fossil fuels
- Motor Engines
- Automobile exhaust
- Coal combustion
- Agriculture fertilizers
- Rotten Plants
- By various Hydrocarbons & nitrous oxide
In 1890, global average Temperature was 14.5-degree centigrade and in 1990, global average Temperature was 15.2 degree centigrade. This shows that the global average temperature has risen about 0.7 degree centigrade in the last one hundred years. This global warming temperature change can have devastating effect on
Leaders of over 100 countries and 178 delegations of the entire world assembled at Riode Generio, the city of Brazil in June 1992 to discuss the common threat of pollution faced by the whole world. The conference failed to achieve its targets due to stern attitude of the rich north especially USA. North is more responsible for pollution due to its industries and more consumption of goods but refused to share fruits of industrialization with the poor South and cooperation in fighting against pollution. The most controversial treaty of the Earth Summit has been the bio-diversity convention. Its aims and objects are to protect plant and animal life. The USA is the only country, which refused to sign it.
It was estimated that 7 percent of the GDP of the North or US $125 billion are required to give practical shape to Agenda 21 of the Summit. Rich countries promised just peanuts for the great cause. The Agenda 21 is so called with relevance to 21st century. It comprises 800 pages and aims at helping the poor in eradicating pollution. It was acknowledged that the poor countries of the South need economic and technical aid in this regard ensuring no exploitation from the rich countries. But the rich showed no zeal in helping the poor. They have their own vested interests, which are dearer to them than noble cause of fighting against a common menace of which the poor are relatively harder hit.
- Reducing the use of CFCs Replace with the HFCS or HCFCs Less use of fuel emitting gases.
- Replace gases of air conditioner De-forestation to be discouraged.
- Noise pollution should be controlled. Use of Ear Muffs, wooden blocks and masks and reduction of pressure horns.
- Environmental awareness
- Bio remedial measures and some bacteria’s purify the water; microorganisms eat or decompose compounds as DDT, TNT and PCBs eat toxic chemical such as Banzeane, xylene and other drugs, break down of carcinogenic compounds, chew up some of the compounds of solid rocked fuel.
- Some Fungi are beneficial for human and aquatic life, which must be protected
- Radioactive waste is harmful for aquatic life if dumped in the seawater and causes skin diseases.
- Water conservation and cleanliness measures must be taken into effect
- Industrial wastes should be managed properly and recycled removing lead from plumbering system food, crops, and vegetables grown with sewerage sludge should be used with care.
- Less use of fertilizer to plant more forests
- Control of population less use of vehicles
- Industries installed far away from cities
- The global environmental degeneration is a result of very high population growth. The irrational and indiscriminate use of natural resources adds to pollution.
- Vehicles are run by organic fuel which is needed to be minimized and a new system of public transport using electric energy to be developed. Making intensive research and development should develop vehicles driven by solar energy.
- The garbage can safely be burnt as fuel for generating electric power.
- All countries should unite for the protection of global environment and share according to its magnitude (environment pollution).
- In rural areas, animal dung can be used for the production of biogas. This has various benefits e.g.
- Safe disposal of dung instead of lying in heaps as pyramids polluting the environment.
- The remaining manure has increasing fertility quantities.
- It also protects excessive use of wood avoiding less deforestation.
- Bio-gas is easy to buy and is helpful in cooking.
- Improvement of cleanliness systems and disposal of wastage and sewage
- Forestation and greenery to be expanded
- At present, forests in Pakistan are less than 5 percent of the cultivable area while the required area is over 25 percent. Therefore, shortage of forests must be overcome immediately by expanding the scope of the plantation.
- Imposition of strict laws is required for control of pollution and the spread of pollution must be considered as a crime against humanity because it has an indirect sure killing effect.
- Sewage or contaminated water from industries must be urgently treated before pouring into fresh water canals, rivers and seas.
- We can make our world a heaven by dedicated and well-planned efforts or hell with negligence from environmental problems. The survival of living creatures in this world depends on proper protection of the environment.
Role of Pakistan in combating pollution
At the Federal level, there exists a full fledged independent “Environment and Urban Affairs Division” and “Pakistan Environment Projection Agency” with its sub-agencies in all the four provinces. Our policy framework document with the name of National Conservation Strategy has specified 14 crore acres for concert action, involving an investment requirement of Rs.150.7 billion in 241 different Projects. According to the government policy, all the mobilization is sought to be achieved through the NGOs and through peoples voluntary participation.
The government of Pakistan has taken the following measures to combat the pollution crisis:
1: Environmental Awareness
The Government of Pakistan has earmarked substantial funds for increasing environmental awareness and popularizing the environmental, message. It has got the governmental organizations, functionaries, and the non-governmental organizations involved (NGOs) for the purpose. It has increased the coverage of environmental issues in electronic media, developed the curricula for schools and colleges programs, held many seminars, workshops and conferences. The Government has also founded the research institutions including PCSIR, PAEC, NIO, PFI, SUPARCO and PARC for environmental research.
2: Legislative Measures
The subject of “Environmental Pollution and Ecology” was included in the constitution of 1973. Environmental Protection Ordinance came into operation in 1983, which was oriented towards pollution control through the establishment of emission standards and formation of a monitoring agency. The Pakistan Environmental Protection Ordinance is entrusted with the task of environmental policy formulation and inclusion of environmental consideration, within the broader design of national development. Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA) is responsible for the framing and implementation of rules to control environmental degradation.
3: Environmental Impact Assessment
Prior to the independence of Pakistan, few Laws for environmental protection or conservation were available. After independence, a law provision was included in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and fresh legislation has been enacted to encourage the neglected areas of wildlife
protection, pesticide control and regulation of motor vehicles.
4: Water Pollution
The problem is assuming staggering dimensions in Pakistan. The provincial and local governments have recently undertaken some measures to stem water pollution, which empower municipal institutions to establish standards, frame rules and organize monitoring, and inspection, and award penalties for violations. The Punjab Local Government Ordinance empowers Urban Councils to control, regulate and inspect all private sources of water supply and its quality. It also imposes a responsibility on the owner of commercial or industrial units to ensure adequate disposal of their Waste. Similarly, the Baluchistan Water and Sanitation Ordinance of 1988 established a Water and Sanitation Authority to provide piped water collect, treat and prevent unlicensed discharge of industrial waters. The Sindh Fisheries Ordinance 1980 requires that all sewerage and industrial waste must be treated, before discharging into water. The Karachi Joint Board Ordinance 1949 also prohibits the emptying of rubbish, filth or other such matter into any water ways, the river or so.
5: Air Quality
There is a provision in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for penalty of Rs.500 on whosoever vitiate the atmosphere as to make it noxious to the human ‘health in carrying his business or passing along a public way. According to the Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1965 and Motor Vehicle Rule 1969, “all motor vehicles will be instructed and maintained in such a condition that they will not emit any smoke, vapour, grit, sparks, ashes, cinder or oily substance”. The penalty will be awarded to the violators of such rules.
6: Noise Pollution
Noise pollution is related with industrial and construction process, use of loud speakers, and transport like motor vehicle, railway engines and aircrafts. Ironically, there exist no laws to deal with noise pollution. Although there are laws like West Pakistan Regulation and Control of Loudspeakers and Sound Amplifiers Ordinance, which control the use of loudspeakers and noise, associated with road transport only.
7: Marine Pollution:
The Port Qasim Authority Controls the marine pollution in its
jurisdiction, which is limited in its sphere. In addition, Pakistan Territorial Water . and Marine Zones Act 1976 develops, preserves and protects the marine, environment; prevents and controls marine pollution and explores, develops, exploits, conserves and manages living and non-living resources in Pakistan Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends upto 200 miles from the coast line.
8: Population Control
There are many reasons for the overwhelming increase in
population in Pakistan such as high fertility rate, massive poverty, high infant mortality, illiteracy, warm weather and health menace. The National Conservation strategy (NCS) has recommended a comprehensive programme to solve the population problem. The programme involves the improving of the role of women, upgrading the human resources through increased allocation for education and health, introducing community development programmes and family planning. The Government of Pakistan has supported and encouraged the NGOs with regard to the family planning activities. It has also established a department at the federal level as well as the provincial and local level, to control the population and to create awareness regarding the family planning methods.
9: Forest Conservation
The Government of Pakistan envisaged a National Forest Policy in 2000 to double the area under forest by the year 2004. Besides, the
güvernment is preparing a Forestry Master Plan to improve the forest 10″ management, to preserve the state-owned forest land and to assume the control of privately owned forest. Further, the government has also adopted various plans to enhance forest areas, to protect present forests and involve the local population for developing forests.
10: Preservation of cultural Heritage
The Government of Pakistan has passed the Antiquities Act 1975, which prohibits destruction, damage and defacement of antiquities. The Punjab Special Premises (preservation) Ordinance 1985 protects any premise of historical, cultural and architectural value. The establishment of Pakistan Institute of Archaeological Training and Research in 1989 indicates the recognition of need for preservation of cultural heritage. In addition, the Lahore Conservation Society, Multan Conservation Society, Anjuman-e-Minaran and the Society for the Preservation of Muslim Heritage are the major organizations, which are working in this regard.
11: National Conservation Strategy
The National Conservation Strategy (NCS) designed as a broad based policy programme is responsible for the sustainable use of renewable resources, prevent action against pollution and other adverse effects of industrial and urban growth, mandatory environmental impact assessment of new projects, control and toxic chemicals and hazards substances.
NCS has recommended the investment programs in the following areas:
- Preventing and abating pollution
- Managing urban wastes
- Supporting institutions for common resources
- Integrating population and environment programme
- Preserving the cultural heritage
Environmental Pollution can be controlled with the joint efforts of the government and the people. The assistance of UN agencies will also go a long way to banish pollution.