Dimensions Of Pollution ControlDocument Transcript
BUSINESS AND ITS
LESSON 12: EXTERNAL EXCHANGES
DIMENSIONS OF POLLUTION CONTROL CHAPTER 3:
ETHICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Dear students, today we will talk about ethical perspectives on The moment you step out of the house and are on the road you
environmental pollution. can actually see the air getting polluted; a cloud of smoke from
the exhaust of a bus, car, or a scooter; smoke billowing from a
Points to be covered in this lesson:
factory chimney, fly ash generated by thermal power plants, and
• Concept of environmental ethics speeding cars causing dust to rise from the roads. Natural
• Pollution and its impacts phenomena such as the eruption of a volcano and even
someone smoking a cigarette can also cause air pollution.
A study of conceptual and moral issues concerning the growth
of human population, consumption of resources, animal rights,
the moral status of nature and species, etc.
Some Issues in Environmental Ethics
• Why should we care about the planet? Or about its
• Do we have any obligations to future generations?
• Who, or what, are the proper subjects of moral
Gaseous Composition of Unpolluted Air
• Do animals have any serious moral standing? Do they have
moral rights? Gases Parts per million (vol.)
• Can we use animals and nature in any way that suits us? Nitrogen 756,500
• On what foundations should we rest our concern for rain
forest, marine ecology, or natural landscapes?
Two kinds of Environmental Strategies Carbon Dioxide 305
• Morally-Indirect Environmental Strategies: Neon 17.4
• We ought to protect the natural environment because, in Helium 5.0
the long run, it is good for us. Methane 0.97-1.16
• Morally-Direct Environmental Strategies: Krypton 0.97
• We ought to protect the natural environment because it is Nitrous oxide 0.49
good for natural environment Hydrogen 0.49
• Or something which is part of natural environment Xenon 0.08
Organic vapours ca.0.02
• The nature contains something that is intrinsically good
• The natural environment itself, or some objects in it, or
some features of these objects, are intrinsically good) Air pollution is aggravated because of four developments:
increasing traffic, growing cities, rapid economic development,
What is Air Pollution?
and industrialization. The Industrial Revolution in Europe in
the 19th century saw the beginning of air pollution as we know
it today, which has gradually become a global problem.
I’ll go out for a breath of fresh air’ is an often-heard phrase. But
how many of us realize that this has become irrelevant in today’s
world, because the quality of air in our cities is anything but
Air and its Major Pollutants The Major Air Pollutants and their Sources Carbon
One of the formal definitions of air pollution is as follows – monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is
‘The presence of one or more contaminants in the atmosphere in produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels
such quality and for such duration as is injurious, or tends to be including petrol, diesel, and wood. It is also produced from the
injurious, to human health or welfare, animal or plant life.’ It is combustion of natural and synthetic products such as cigarettes.
the contamination of air by the discharge of harmful substances. It lowers the amount of oxygen that enters our blood. It can
Air pollution can cause health problems and it can also damage the slow our reflexes and make us confused and sleepy.
environment and property. It has caused thinning of the Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the principle greenhouse gas emitted
protective ozone layer of the atmosphere, as a result of human activities such as the burning of coal, oil,
which is leading to climate change. and natural gases.
Modernization and progress have led to air getting more and Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) are gases that are released mainly
more polluted over the years. Industries, vehicles, increase in the from air-conditioning systems and refrigeration. When released
population, and urbanization are some of the major factors into the air, CFCs rise to the stratosphere, where they come in
responsible for air pollution. The following industries are among contact with few other gases, which lead to a reduction of the
those that emit a great deal of pollutants into the air: thermal ozone layer that protects the earth from the harmful ultraviolet
power plants, cement, steel, refineries, petro chemicals, and mines. rays of the sun.
Air pollution results from a variety of causes, not all of which are Lead is present in petrol, diesel, lead batteries, paints, hair dye
within human control. Dust storms in desert areas and smoke products, etc. Lead affects children in particular. It can cause
from forest fires and grass fires contribute to chemical and nervous system damage and digestive problems and, in some
particulate pollution of the air. The source of pollution may be in cases, cause cancer.
one country but the impact of pollution may be felt elsewhere.
Ozone occurs naturally in the upper layers of the atmosphere.
The discovery of pesticides in Antarctica, where they have never
This important gas shields the earth from the harmful ultravio-
been used, suggests the extent to which aerial transport can carry
let rays of the sun. However, at the ground level, it is a
pollutants from one place to another. Probably the most
pollutant with highly toxic effects. Vehicles and industries are
important natural source of air pollution is volcanic activity,
the major source of ground-level ozone emissions. Ozone
which at times pours great amounts of ash and toxic fumes into
makes our eyes itch, burn, and water. It lowers our resistance to
the atmosphere. The eruptions of such volcanoes as Krakatoa in
colds and pneumonia.
Indonesia, Mt. St. Helens in Washing- ton, USA and Katmai in
Alaska, USA, have been related to measurable climatic changes. Nitrogen oxide (Nox) causes smog and acid rain. It is
produced from burning fuels including petrol, diesel, and coal.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards Nitrogen oxides can make children susceptible to respiratory
diseases in winters.
Suspended particulate matter
POLLUTANT AVERAGE TIME CONCENTRATION (SPM) consists of solids in the
air in the form of smoke, dust,
and vapor that can remain
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) Annual average 60 µg/m3 suspended for extended periods
and is also the main source of
24 hour 80 µg/m3 haze which reduces visibility. The
Annual average 60 µg /m3 finer of these particles, when
Oxides of nitrogen (NO2)
breathed in can lodge in our
24 hour 80 µg /m3 lungs and cause lung damage
and respiratory problems.
Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) Annual average 140 µg/m3 Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a gas
produced from burning coal,
24 hour 200 µg/m3 mainly in thermal power plants.
Annual average 0.75 µg/m 3 Some industrial processes, such
as production of paper and
24 hour 1.0 µg/m3 smelting of metals, produce
Annual average 2.0 µg/m3 Sulphur dioxide. It is a major
contributor to smog and acid
24 hour 4.0 µg/m3 rain. Sulfur dioxide can lead to
Respirable Particulate Matter (RPM) Annual average 60 µg/m3
24 hour 100 µg/m3
Acid Rain the production of natural vitamin D leading to a rise in the
cases of rickets. Smog causes a misty haze similar to fog, but
very different in composition. In fact the word smog has been
coined from a combination of the words fog and smoke. Smog
refers to hazy air that causes difficult breathing conditions.
The most harmful components of smog are ground-level ozone
and fine airborne particles. Ground-level ozone forms when
pollutants released from gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles
and oil-based solvents react with heat and sunlight. It is harmful
to humans, animals, and plants.
Another effect of air pollution is acid rain. The phenomenon The industrial revolution in the 19th century saw the beginning
occurs when sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from the of air pollution in Europe on a large scale and the presence of
burning of fossil fuels such as, petrol, diesel, and coal combine smog mainly in Britain. The industries and the households
with water vapor in the atmosphere and fall as rain, snow or fog. relied heavily on coal for heating and cooking. Due to the
These gases can also be emitted from natural sources like burning of coal for heat during the winter months, emissions
volcanoes. Acid rain causes extensive damage to water, forest, soil of smoke and Sulphur dioxide were much greater in urban areas
resources and even human health. Many lakes and streams have than they were during the summer months. Smoke particles
been contaminated and this has led to the disappearance of some trapped in the fog gave it a yellow/black color and this smog
species of fish in Europe, USA and Canada as also extensive often settled over cities for many days.
damage to forests and other forms of life. It is said that it can The effects of smog on human health were evident, particularly
corrode buildings and be hazardous to human health. Because when smog persisted for several days. Many people suffered
the contaminants are carried long distances, the sources of acid respiratory problems and increased deaths were recorded,
rain are difficult to pinpoint and hence difficult to control. For notably those relating to bronchial causes. A haze of dense
example, the acid rain that may have damaged some forest in harmful smog would often cover the city of London. The first
Canada could have originated in the industrial areas of USA. In smog-related deaths were recorded in London in 1873, when it
fact, this has created disagreements between Canada and the killed 500 people. In 1880, the toll was 2000. London had one
United States and among European countries over the causes of of its worst experiences with smog in December 1892. It lasted
and solutions to the problem of acid rain. The international for three days and resulted in about 1000 deaths. London
scope of the problem has led to the signing of international became quite notorious for its smog. By the end of the 19th
agreements on the limitation of sulphur and nitrogen oxide century, many people visited London to see the fog. Despite
emissions. gradual improvements in air quality during the 20th century,
another major smog occurred in London in December 1952.
The Great London Smog lasted for five days and resulted in
about 4000 more deaths than usual. In response to the Great
London Smog, the government passed its first Clean Air Act in
1956, which aimed to control domestic sources of smoke
pollution by introducing smokeless zones. In addition, the
introduction of cleaner coals led to a reduction in sulphur
dioxide pollution. In the 1940s, severe smog began covering the
city of Los Angeles in the USA.
Relatively little was done to control any type of pollution or to
promote environmental protection until the middle of the 20th
century. Today, smoke and sulphur dioxide pollution in cities is
The term smog was first used in 1905 by Dr H A Des Voeux to much lower than in the past, as a result of legislation to control
describe the conditions of fog that had soot or smoke in it. Smog pollution emissions and cleaner emission technology.
is a combination of various gases with water vapor and dust. A
large part of the gases that form smog is produced when fuels are Major Air Pollutants and Associated Health Hazards
burnt. Smog forms when heat and sunlight react with these gases Pollutant Health Impacts
and fine particles in the air. Smog can affect outlying suburbs and RSPM Respiratory illness, including chronic bronchitis and
rural areas as well as big cities. Its occurrences are often linked to asthma; heart diseases
SO2 Heart diseases, respiratory problems including pulmonary
heavy traffic, high temperatures, and calm winds. During the
emphysema; cancer, eye burning, headache etc.
winter, wind speeds are low and cause the smoke and fog to
NO2 Lung irritation, viral infection, chest tightness etc.
stagnate; hence pollution levels can increase near ground level. SPM Pneumoconiosis, restrictive lung diseases etc.
This keeps the pollution close to the ground, right where people Benzene Immunotoxicity, asthma, anemia etc.
are breathing. It hampers visibility and harms the environment. Ozone Impaired lung function, chest pain, coughing etc.
Heavy smog is greatly decreases ultraviolet radiation. In fact, in the CO Cherry lips, unconsciousness, asphyxiation etc.
early part of the 20th century, heavy smog in some parts of Lead Decreased hemoglobin synthesis, anemia etc.
Europe resulted in a decrease in
Water Pollution Industrial Effluents
When toxic substances enter lakes, streams, rivers, oceans, and Waste water from manufacturing or chemical processes in
other water bodies, they get dissolved or lie suspended in water or industries contributes to water pollution. Industrial waste water
get deposited on the bed. This results in the pollution of water usually contains specific and readily identifiable chemical
whereby the quality of the water deteriorates, affecting aquatic compounds. During the last fifty years, the number of
ecosystems. Pollutants can also seep down and affect the industries in India has grown rapidly. But water pollution is
groundwater deposits. concentrated within a few subsectors, mainly in the form of
Water pollution has many sources. The most polluting of them toxic wastes and organic pollutants. Out of this a large portion
are the city sewage and industrial waste discharged into the rivers. can be traced to the processing of industrial chemicals and to
The facilities to treat wastewater are not adequate in any city in the food products industry. In fact, a number of large- and
India. Presently, only about 10% of the wastewater generated is medium-sized industries in the region covered by the Ganga
treated; the rest is discharged as it is into our water bodies. Due to Action Plan do not have adequate effluent treatment facilities.
this, pollutants enter groundwater, rivers, and other water bodies. Most of these defaulting industries are sugar mills, distilleries,
Such water, which ultimately ends up in our households, is often leather processing industries, and thermal power stations. Most
highly contaminated and carries disease- causing microbes. major industries have treatment facilities for industrial effluents.
Agricultural run-off, or the water from the fields that drains into But this is not the case with small-scale industries, which cannot
rivers, is another major water pollutant as it contains fertilizers and afford enormous investments in pollution control equipment as
pesticides. their profit margin is very slender.
Domestic sewage refers to wastewater that is discarded from Effects of Water Pollution
households. Also referred to as sanitary sewage, such water The effects of water pollution are not only devastating to
contains a wide variety of dissolved and suspended impurities. It people but also to animals, fish, and birds. Polluted water is
amounts to a very small fraction of the sewage by weight. unsuitable for drinking, recreation, agriculture, and industry. It
But it is large by volume and contains impurities such as organic diminishes the aesthetic quality of lakes and rivers. More
materials and plant nutrients that tend to rot. The main organic seriously, contaminated water destroys aquatic life and reduces
materials are food and vegetable waste, plant nutrient come from its reproductive ability. Eventually, it is a hazard to human
chemical soaps, washing powders, etc. Domestic sewage is also health. Nobody can escape the effects of water pollution. The
very likely to contain disease-causing microbes. Thus, disposal of individual and the community can help minimize water
domestic waste water is a significant technical problem. Sewage pollution. By simple housekeeping and management practices
generated from the urban areas in India has multiplied manifold the amount of waste generated can be minimized.
since 1947. Oil Spills
Today, many people dump their garbage into streams, lakes, rivers,
and seas, thus making water bodies the final resting place of cans,
bottles, plastics, and other household products. The various
substances that we use for keeping our houses clean add to water
pollution as they contain harmful chemicals. In the past, people
mostly used soaps made from animal and vegetable fat for all
types of washing. But most of today’s cleaning products are
synthetic detergents and come from the petrochemical industry.
Most detergents and washing powders contain phosphates, which
are used to soften the water among other things. These and other Among the most dangerous of all water pollutants is fuel oil.
chemicals contained in washing powders affect the health of all Oil spills from tankers at sea or leaks from underground storage
forms of life in the water. Agricultural Run-off tanks on land are very difficult to control as oil tends to spread
The use of land for agriculture and the practices followed in very fast, affecting a large area in a very short time. They are a major
cultivation greatly affect the quality of groundwater. Intensive menace to the environment as they cause severe damage to
cultivation of crops causes chemicals from fertilizers (e.g. nitrate) surrounding ecosystems. Oil spills at sea decrease the oxygen
and pesticides to seep into the groundwater, a process com- monly level in the water and cause grave harm to the creatures living in
known as leaching. Routine applications of fertilizers the sea. Since crude oil is lighter than water, it floats on the
and pesticides for agriculture and indiscriminate disposal of surface and poses the threat of swift-spreading fire. Oil spills are
industrial and domestic wastes are increasingly being recognized rather common as oil tankers can meet with accidents either in
as significant sources of water pollution. deep sea or offshore, while waiting to be loaded or unloaded.
The high nitrate content in groundwater is mainly from During the Gulf War, several oil reservoirs were destroyed at sea
irrigation run-off from agricultural fields where chemical and the effect on marine life was devastating. Seabirds and fish
fertilizers have been used indiscriminately. were washed ashore, their bodies covered with oil. On land crude
is transported through pipelines or tankers which can get
damaged and spew out crude oil over the land, thereby
contaminating it. Bioremediation is a method that is now being Ground water can be contaminated through various sources
use to put a check to the damage done by this oil spill. and some of these are mentioned below.
Health Impacts of Water Pollution Pesticides. Run-off from farms, backyards, and golf courses
It is a well-known fact that clean water is absolutely essential for contain pesticides such as DDT that in turn contaminate the
healthy living. Adequate supply of fresh and clean drinking water water. Its effects on the ecosystems and health are endocrine and
is a basic need for all human beings on the earth, yet it has been reproductive damage in wildlife. Groundwater is susceptible to
observed that millions of people worldwide are deprived of this. contamination, as pesticides are mobile in the soil. It is a matter
of concern as these chemicals are persistent in the soil and water.
Freshwater resources all over the world are threatened not only by
Sewage. Untreated or inadequately treated municipal sewage is a
over exploitation and poor management but also by ecological
major source of groundwater and surface water pollution in the
degradation. The main source of freshwater pollution can be
developing countries. The organic material that is discharged with
attributed to discharge of untreated waste, dumping of industrial
municipal waste into the watercourses uses substantial oxygen
effluent, and run-off from agricultural fields. Industrial growth,
for biological degradation thereby upsetting the ecological
urbanization and the increasing use of synthetic organic
balance of rivers and lakes. Sewage also carries microbial
substances have serious and adverse impacts on freshwater bodies.
pathogens that are the cause of the spread of disease. Nutrients.
It is a generally accepted fact that the developed countries suffer
Domestic waste water, agricultural run-off, and industrial
from problems of chemical dis- charge into the water sources
effluents contain phosphorus and nitrogen, fertilizer run-off,
mainly groundwater, while developing countries face problems of
manure from livestock operations, which increase the level of
agricultural run-off in water sources. Polluted water like chemicals
nutrients in water bodies and can cause eutrophication in the
in drinking water causes problem to health and leads to water-
lakes and rivers and continue on to the coastal areas. The nitrates
borne diseases which can be prevented by taking measures can be
come mainly from the fertilizer that is added to the
taken even at the household level.
fields. Excessive use of fertilizers cause nitrate contamination of
Groundwater and its Contamination groundwater, with the result that nitrate levels in drinking water
is far above the safety levels recommended. Good agricultural
practices can help in reducing the amount of nitrates in the soil
and thereby lower its content in the water.
Synthetic Organics. Many of the 100 000 synthetic com-
pounds in use today are found in the aquatic environment and
accumulate in the food chain. POPs or Persistent organic
pollutants represent the most harmful element for the ecosys-
tem and for human health, for example, industrial chemicals
and agricultural pesticides. These chemicals can accumulate in fish
and cause serious damage to human health. Where pesticides
are used on a large-scale, groundwater gets contami- nated and
Many areas of groundwater and surface water are now contami-
this leads to the chemical contamination of drinking water.
nated with heavy metals, POPs (persistent organic pollutants),
and nutrients that have an adverse affect on health. Water-borne Acidification. Acidification of surface water, mainly lakes and
diseases and water-caused health problems are mostly due to reservoirs, is one of the major environmental impacts of
inadequate and incompetent management of water resources. Safe transport over long distance of air pollutants such as sulphur
water for all can only be assured when access, sustainability, and dioxide from power plants, other heavy industry such as steel
equity can be guaranteed. Access can be defined as the number of plants, and motor vehicles. This problem is more severe in the
people who are guaranteed safe drinking water and sufficient US and in parts of Europe.
quantities of it. There has to be an effort to sustain it, and there Chemicals in Drinking Water
has to be a fair and equal distribution of water to all segments of Chemicals in water can be either naturally occurring or intro-
the society. Urban areas generally have a higher coverage of safe duced by human interference and can have serious health effects.
water than the rural areas. Even within an area there is variation: Fluoride. Fluoride in the water is essential for protection against
areas that can pay for the services have access
dental caries and weakening of the bones, but higher levels can
to safe water whereas areas that cannot pay for the services have
have an adverse effect on health. In India, high fluoride content
to make do with water from hand pumps and other sources. In
is found naturally in the waters in Rajasthan. Arsenic. Arsenic
the urban areas water gets contaminated in many different ways,
occurs naturally or is possibly aggravated by over powering
some of the most common reasons being leaky water pipe joints
aquifers and by phosphorus from fertilizers. High concentrations
in areas where the water pipe and sewage line pass
of arsenic in water can have an adverse effect on health. A few
close together. Sometimes the water gets polluted at source due
years back, high concentrations of this element was found in
to various reasons and mainly due to inflow of sewage into the
drinking water in six districts in West Bengal. A majority of
people in the area was found suffering from arsenic skin lesions.
It was felt that arsenic contamination
in the groundwater was due to natural causes. The government is Fluoride. Excess fluorides can cause yellowing of the teeth and
trying to provide an alternative drinking water source and a damage to the spinal cord and other crippling diseases.
method through which the arsenic content from water can be Nitrates. Drinking water that gets contaminated with nitrates
removed. can prove fatal especially to infants that drink formula milk as it
Lead. Pipes, fittings, solder, and the service connections of some restricts the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain causing
the ‘blue baby’ syndrome. It is also linked to digestive tract
household plumbing systems contain lead that contami- nates
cancers. It causes algae to bloom resulting in eutrophication in
the drinking water source. surface water.
Recreational use of water. Untreated sewage, industrial efflu- Petrochemicals. Benzene and other petrochemicals can cause
ents, and agricultural waste are often discharged into the water cancer even at low exposure levels.
bodies such as the lakes, coastal areas and rivers endangering
Chlorinated solvents. These are linked to reproduction
their use for recreational purposes such as swimming and
disorders and to some cancers.
Arsenic. Arsenic poisoning through water can cause liver and
Petrochemicals. Petrochemicals contaminate the groundwater
nervous system damage, vascular diseases and also skin cancer.
from underground petroleum storage tanks.
Other heavy metals. –Heavy metals cause damage to the
Other heavy metals. These contaminants come from mining
nervous system and the kidney, and other metabolic disrup-
waste and tailings, landfills, or hazardous waste dumps.
Chlorinated solvents. Metal and plastic effluents, fabric cleaning,
electronic and aircraft manufacturing are often discharged and Salts. It makes the fresh water unusable for drinking and
Exposure to polluted water can cause diarrhoea, skin irritation,
Disease respiratory problems, and other diseases, depending on the
Water-borne diseases are infectious diseases spread primarily pollutant that is in the water body. Stagnant water and other
through contaminated water. Though these diseases are spread untreated water provide a habitat for the mosquito and a host
either directly or through flies or filth, water is the chief medium of other parasites and insects that cause a large number of
for spread of these diseases and hence they are termed as water- diseases especially in the tropical regions. Among these, malaria
borne diseases. is undoubtedly the most widely distributed and causes most
damage to human health.
Cause Water-borne disease
Bacterial Typhoid, Cholera, Paratyphoid Fever,
infections Bacillary Dysentry
Viral infections Jaundice, Poliomyelitis Hazardous or toxic substances are substances that can cause an
increase in mortality rates or an increase in irreversible or
Protozoal Amoebic Dysentry incapacitating illness, or that have other seriously adverse health
infections or environmental effects. These include acidic chemicals,
inorganic metals (such as mercury or arsenic), flammable
Most intestinal (enteric) diseases are infectious and are transmit- solvents’, pesticides, herbicides, phenols, explosives, and so on.
ted through faecal waste. Pathogens – which include virus, (Radioactive wastes are also classified as hazardous substances,
bacteria, protozoa, and parasitic worms – are disease-producing but these will be discussed separately later.)
agents found in the faeces of infected persons. These diseases are
more prevalent in areas with poor sanitary conditions. These Silvex and 2, 4, 5- T, for example, are two widely used her-
pathogens travel through water sources and interfuses directly bicides that contain dioxin-a deadly poison (one hundred times
through persons handling food and water. Since these diseases are more deadly than strychnine) and a carcinogen. Until 1979 these
highly infectious, people looking after an infected patient should herbicides were being sprayed on forests in Oregon where they
maintain extreme care and hygiene. Hepatitis, cholera, dysentery, are believed to have led to an ab-normal number of miscar-
and typhoid are the more common water-borne diseases that riages in local women and to have caused a range of
affect large populations in the tropical regions.
reproductive defects in animals. A second example: In the late
A large number of chemicals that either exist naturally in the land 1970s, toxic chemicals buried by Hooker Chemical Company at
or are added due to human activity dissolve in the water, thereby sites near Niagara Falls. New York, were found to have leaked
contaminating it and leading to various diseases. Pesticides. The from the sites and to have contaminated the surrounding
organophosphates and the carbonates present in pesticides affect residential are as, including homes, schools, playing fields, and
and damage the nervous system and can cause cancer. Some of underground water supplies. The chemicals included dioxin,
the pesticides contain carcinogens that exceed recommended pesticides, carbon tetrachloride, and other carcinogenic or toxic
levels. They contain chlorides that cause reproductive and chemicals that were suspected of having induced spontaneous
endocrinal damage. abortions, nerve damage, and congenital malformations among
Lead. Lead is hazardous to health as it accumulates in the body families living nearby.
and affects the central nervous system. Children and pregnant The government estimates that over 58,000 different chemical
women are most at risk. compounds are currently being used in the United States and
that their number is growing each year. Ten times more
chemicals, many of them toxic, were being used in the mid-
1980s than in 1970. Among the most common of the toxic There are different types of solid waste depending on their
chemicals produced by industry is acrylonitrile, which is used in source. In today’s polluted world, learning the correct methods
the manufacture of plas-tics (used in appliances, luggage, of handling the waste generated has become essential. Segrega-
telephones, and numerous common household and industrial tion is an important method of handling municipal solid
products) and whose production is currently rising by 3 percent a waste. Segregation at source can be understood clearly by
year. Acrylonitrile is a suspected carcinogen and it releases the toxic schematic representation. One of the important methods of
chemi-cal hydrogen cyanide when _plastic containing it is bumed. managing and treating wastes is composting.
Benzene is another common industrial toxic chemical used in As the cities are growing in size and in problems such as the
plastics, dyes, nylon, food additives, detergents., drugs, generation of plastic waste, various municipal waste treatment
Fungicides and gasoline. Benzene is a cause of anemia, bone and disposal methods are now being used to try and resolve
marrow damage, and leukemia. Recent stud-ies have shown these problems. One common sight in all cities is the rag picker
that benzene workers are several times more likely than the who plays an important role in the segregation of this waste.
general population to get leukemia. Garbage generated in households can be recycled and reused to
Vinyl chloride is another common industrial chemical used in the prevent creation of waste at source and reducing amount of
produc-tion of plastics, whose production is rising by 3, percent waste thrown into the community dustbins.
per year. Vinyl chloride, which is released in small amounts when
plastic products deteriorate, causes liver damage, birth anomalies, Depletion of Species
liver, respiratory, brain, and ‘lymph cancers, and bone damage It is well known that human beings have depleted dozens of
plant and animal species to the point of extinction. Since 1600
Phthalates are resins used in industry to produce model cement, A.D, at least thirty-six major identifiable species of mammals and
paints and finishes. They damage the central nervous system of
ninety-four major identifiable species of birds are known to have
humans and are toxic to fish and bird life’
become extinct. Several hundred more species, such, as whales
Although the health effects of some substances are now known, and salmon, today find themselves threatened by commercial
the tox-icity of many others is unknown and difficult to predators. Forests are also being decimated by the timber indus-
determine. Many chemicals cause chronic diseases only after a long
try. Between the years 1600 and 1900 half of .the forested’ land
period following a person’s first exposure to the chemical. For
area in the United States was cleared.56 Experts estimate that the
example, most human cancers caused by exposure to toxic
planet’s rain forests. are being destroyed at the rate of about 1
chemicals take 15 to 30 years to show up, which makes it difficult
percent a year.57 If present trends con-tinue, total forest_ cover
to identify the original causes of the disease.
will decrease by 40 percent by the end of toe century. The loss of
Solid Waste forest habitats -combined with the effects of pollution is
The sight of a dustbin overflowing and the stench rising expected to lead to _the possible’ extinction of between half a
from it, the all too familiar sights and smells of a crowded million to two million species-IS to 20 percent
city. You look away from it and hold your nose as you cross
of all species on earth-by the beginning of the next century.
it. Have you ever thought that you also have a role to play in
the creation of this stench? That you can also play a role in Depletion of Fossil Fuels
the lessening of this smell and making this waste bin look a Over the last decade the non-conventional and renewable energy
little more attractive if you follow proper methods of sources have been occupying the central place in the area of energy
disposal of the waste generated in the house? generation and supply due to fast depletion of fossil fuels.
According to reports, the conventional energy sources would
likely to be exhausted globally by 2050. With such a deadline
looming over the head, the technological experts are busy finding
viable means of sustaining the existing and discovering new
sources of energy.
As many researchers argue, however, our consumption of fossil
fuels could not continue rising at historical exponential rates As
reserves of any resource shrink, they become increasingly
Since the beginning, humankind has been generating waste, be it
the bones and other parts of animals they slaughter for their difficult, and therefore more costly to extract. Consequently
food or the wood they cut to make their carts. With the progress although the rates at which reserves are depleted may rise
of civilization, the waste generated became of a more complex exponentially for a period, the rising costs of extraction
nature. At the end of the 19th century the industrial revolution eventually cause the rates to peak and then begin to decline,
saw the rise of the world of consumers. Not only did the air get without complete depletion ever being attained.
more and more polluted but the earth itself became more Overview
polluted with the generation of non biodegrad- able solid waste.
The increase in population and urbanization was also largely • Environmental ethics is the study of conceptual and moral
responsible for the increase in solid waste. issues concerning the growth of human population,
consumption of resources, animal rights, the moral status
Each household generates garbage or waste day in and day out.
of nature and species, etc.
Items that we no longer need or do not have any further use for
fall in the category of waste, and we tend to throw them away. • Pollution can seriously damage health and environment.
Resources are finite.
What is environmental ethics? What are the issues related to
environmental ethics? What are the two kinds of environmen-
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