Chemical pollution damages the environment and poses both short-term and long-term health dangers to human beings.
Chemical pollution occurs when chemicals resulting from human activities enter the environment, contaminating air, water or soil. Acid rain, greenhouse gases and ozone are all examples of chemical pollution.
Chemicals That Cause Water Pollution
Pesticides and fertilizers that contain nitrates and phosphates are a source of chemicals that cause water pollution. These chemicals seep into the groundwater and mix with runoff moving to lakes and rivers.
Industrial emissions can also cause water pollution. An example is mercury in waste water from paper manufacturers. Instead of remaining inert as expected, the mercury reacted to bacteria in the water and changed to methyl mercury. Now, mercury levels in fish such as swordfish can pose dangers to people who eat it.
Chemicals that Cause Air Pollution
A major source of chemical pollution in the air is fossil fuels burned by utilities, industries and motor vehicles.
Sulfur dioxide is produced when coal is burned. It is an ingredient of acid rain and can cause lung damage to people who breathe large amounts of it.
Nitrogen oxides are a byproduct of motor vehicles such as cars, trucks and airplanes. These oxides are also an ingredient of acid rain and can cause lung damage to people over time.
Other chemicals that cause air pollution include ozone, carbon monoxide and lead.
Chemical Pollution in Soil
Chemical pollution in soil can be caused by overuse of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Construction and demolition sites are also sources of soil pollution, as are mines, landfills and foundries.
Individuals can help prevent chemical pollution by making simple changes in their habits and activities. Some ways you can prevent chemical pollution include buying only the chemicals you need, buying the least harmful or least hazardous products, mixing and applying pesticides at the proper concentration and using alternative fuels.