Chemical pollution damages the environment and poses both short-term and long-term health dangers to human beings.
Chemical pollution occurs when chemicals resulting fromhuman activities enter the environment, contaminating air, water or soil. Acid rain, greenhouse gases and ozone are all examples of chemical pollution.
Pesticides and fertilizers that containnitrates 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 alsocause 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 methylmercury. Now, mercury levels in fish such as swordfish can pose dangers to people who eat it.
A major source of chemical pollution in the air is fossil fuels burned by utilities, industries andmotor 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 abyproduct 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 airpollution include ozone, carbon monoxide and lead.
Chemical pollution in soil can be caused by overuse of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Construction and demolition sites are also sources ofsoil 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 chemicalpollution 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.
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