Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into an environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms . Pollution can take the form of chemical substances, or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Pollutants, the elements of pollution, can be foreign substances or energies, or naturally occurring; whennaturally occurring, they are considered contaminants when they exceed natural levels. Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution. The Blacksmith Institute issues annually a list of the world's worst polluted places. In the 2007 issues the ten top nominees are located in Azerbaijan, China, India, Peru, Russia, Ukraine and Zambia.
The forging of metalsappears to be a key turning point in the creation of significant air pollution levels. Core samples of glaciers in Greenland indicate increases in air pollution associated with Greek, Roman and Chinese metal production.
The earliest known writings concerned with pollution were Arabic medical treatises written between the 9th and 13th centuries, by physicians such asal-Kindi (Alkindus), Qusta ibn Luqa (Costa ben Luca), Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes), Ibn Al-Jazzar, al-Tamimi, al-Masihi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ali ibn Ridwan, Ibn Jumay, Isaac Israeli ben Solomon, Abd-el-latif, Ibn al-Quff, and Ibn al-Nafis. Their works covered a number of subjects related to pollution such as air contamination, water contamination, soil contamination, solid waste mishandling,and environmental assessments of certain localities.
King Edward I of England banned the burning of sea-coal by proclamation in London in 1272, after its smoke had become a problem. But the fuel was so common in England that this earliest of names for it was acquired because it could be carted away from some shores by the wheelbarrow. Air pollution would continue to be a problem in England,especially later during the industrial revolution, and extending into the recent past with the Great Smog of 1952. This same city also recorded one of the earlier extreme cases of water quality problems with the Great Stink on the Thames of 1858, which led to construction of the London sewerage system soon afterward.
It was the industrial revolution that gave birth to environmental pollution aswe know it today. The emergence of great factories and consumption of immense quantities of coal and other fossil fuels gave rise to unprecedented air pollution and the large volume of industrial chemical discharges added to the growing load of untreated human waste. Chicago and Cincinnati were the first two American cities to enact laws ensuring cleaner air in 1881. Other cities followed aroundthe country until early in the 20th century, when the short lived Office of Air Pollution was created under the Department of the Interior. Extreme smog events were experienced by the cities of Los Angeles and Donora, Pennsylvania in the late 1940s, serving as another public reminder.
Early Soviet poster, before the modernawareness: "The smoke of chimneys is the breath of Soviet Russia"
Pollution became a popular issue after WW2, when the aftermath of atomic warfare and testing made evident the perils of radioactive fallout. Then a conventional catastrophic event The Great Smog of 1952 in London killed at least 8000 people. This massive event prompted some of the first major modern environmental legislation, The CleanAir Act of 1956.
Pollution began to draw major public attention in the United States between the mid-1950s and early 1970s, when Congress passed the Noise Control Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Bad bouts of local pollution helped increase consciousness. PCB dumping in the Hudson River resulted in a ban by the EPA on consumption of its fish in...