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Pollutants and types of pollution

Dept of CIVIL Engg,
Al Ameen Engg College,Kulapully,kerala

Classification of Pollutants:
The classification of pollutants is done from different
points of view:
(i)Depending upon their existence in nature
pollutants are of two types, namely quantitative
and qualitative pollutants.
(a) Quantitative Pollutants:
These are those substances normally occurring in the
environment, who acquire the status of a pollutant when
their concentration gets increased due to the unmindful
activities of man.
For example, carbon dioxide, if present in the atmosphere
in concentration greater than normal due to automobiles and
industries, causes measurable effects on humans, animals,
plants or property, then it is classified as a quantitative
b)Qualitative Pollutant:
These are those substances which do not normally
occur in nature but are added by man,
for example, insecticides.

(ii) Depending upon the form in which they persist

after being released into the environment, the
pollutants are categorized into two types, namely
primary and secondary pollutants.

a) Primary Pollutants
These are those which are emitted directly from
the source and persist in the form in which they
were added to the environment.
Typical examples of pollutants included under
this category are ash, smoke, fumes, dust, nitric
oxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons etc.

(b) Secondary Pollutants:

These are those which are formed from the pri-
mary pollutants by chemical interaction with some
constituent present in the atmosphere.
Examples are: Sulphur trioxide, nitrogen dioxide,
aldehydes, ketones, ozone etc.

Nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons are two
primary pollutants released from automobiles
but in the presence of sunlight, they react to form
peroxyacyl nitrate (PAN) and ozone,
two secondary pollutants which are far more
toxic than the primary pollutants from which
they are derived.
This phenomenon of increased toxicity by
chemical interaction among the pollutants is
known as Synergism

(iii) From the ecosystem point of view, i.e.,
according to their natural disposal, pollutants are of
two types:

(a) Bio-degradable Pollutants:

These are the pollutants that are quickly degraded
by natural means or by the action of micro
organismsor by engg method
Heat or thermal pollution, and domestic sewage are
considered in this category as these can be rapidly
decomposed by natural processes or by engineered
systems such as municipal treatment, plants etc.

(b) Non-degradable Pollutants:
These are the substances that either do not degrade or degrade
very slowly in the natural environment.
These include mercury salts, long chain phenolic chemicals,
DDT and Aluminum cans etc.
Such non-degradable pollutants accumulate and are
biologically magnified as they move in the biogeochemical cycle
and along food chains in the ecosystem.
For example, DDT, when washed from the ground goes to the
streams where it is absorbed by the phytoplanktons which are
eaten by the fishes.
So, the initial dose of DDT which was harmless in the
phytoplankton becomes very harmful as it accumulates in the
fish day by day, with the result that large populations offish
die or become sterile and same is the case with the birds
feeding on such fishes. This phenomenon is known as bio-
magnification or biological magnification.

Classification of Pollution

There are several types of pollution, which

come from different sources .
In total, there are nine recognized sources of
pollution in the modern world.
These sources of pollution don't simply have a
negative impact on the natural world, but they
can have a measurable effect on the health of
human beings as well.

Air Pollution
Air pollution is defined as any contamination of the
atmosphere that disturbs the natural composition and
chemistry of the air.
This can be in the form of particulate matter such as
dust or excessive gases like carbon dioxide or other
vapors that cannot be effectively removed through
natural cycles, such as the carbon cycle or the nitrogen
Air pollution comes from a wide variety of
Some of the most excessive sources include:
Vehicle or manufacturing exhaust
Forest fires, volcanic eruptions, dry soil erosion, and
other natural sources
Building construction or demolition
Depending on the concentration of air
pollutants, several effects can be noticed.

Smog increases, higher rain acidity, crop

depletion from inadequate oxygen, and higher
rates of asthma.

Many scientists believe that global warming is

also related to increased air pollution.

Water Pollution
Water pollution involves any contaminated
water, whether from chemical, particulate, or
bacterial matter that degrades the water's quality
and purity.
Water pollution can occur in oceans, rivers,
lakes, and underground reservoirs, and as
different water sources flow together through the
water cycle the pollution can spread.

Causes of water pollution include:

Increased sediment from soil erosion

Improper waste disposal and littering
Leaching of soil pollution into water supplies
Organic material decay in water supplies

The effects of water pollution

include decreasing the quantity of drinkable water
available, lowering water supplies for crop
irrigation, and impacting fish and wildlife
populations that require water of a certain purity
for survival.

Soil Pollution
Soil, or land pollution, is contamination of the soil
that prevents natural growth and balance in the land
whether it is used for cultivation, habitation, or a
wildlife preserve.
Some soil pollution, such as the creation of landfills,
is deliberate, while much more is accidental and can
have widespread effects.

Soil pollution sources include:

Hazardous waste and sewage spills
Non-sustainable farming practices, such as the
heavy use of inorganic pesticides
Strip mining, deforestation, and other destructive
Household dumping and littering
Soil contamination can lead to poor growth and
reduced crop yields, loss of wildlife habitat,
water and visual pollution, soil erosion, and
Noise Pollution
Noise pollution refers to undesirable levels of
noises caused by human activity that disrupt
the standard of living in the affected area

Noise pollution can come from:
Manufacturing plants
Construction or demolition
Some noise pollution may be temporary while
other sources are more permanent.
Effects may include hearing loss, wildlife
disturbances, and a general degradation of

Radioactive Pollution
Radioactive pollution is rare but extremely
detrimental, and even deadly, when it occurs.
Because of its intensity and the difficulty of
reversing damage, there are strict government
regulations to control radioactive pollution.
Sources of radioactive contamination include:
Nuclear power plant accidents or leakage
Improper nuclear waste disposal
Uranium mining operations
Radiation pollution can cause birth defects, cancer,
sterilization, and other health problems for human
and wildlife populations.
It can also sterilize the soil and contribute to water
and air pollution.
Thermal Pollution

Thermal pollution is excess heat that creates

undesirable effects over long periods of time.
The earth has a natural thermal cycle, but
excessive temperature increases can be considered a
rare type of pollution with long term effects.
Many types of thermal pollution are confined to
areas near their source, but multiple sources can
have wider impacts over a greater geographic area.

Thermal pollution may be caused by:
Power plants
Urban sprawl
Air pollution particulates that trap heat
Loss of temperature moderating water supplies

As temperatures increase, mild climatic

changes may be observed, and wildlife populations
may be unable to recover from swift changes.

Light Pollution

Light pollution is the over illumination of an area that

is considered obtrusive.
Sources include:
Large cities
Billboards and advertising
Nighttime sporting events and other nighttime
Light pollution makes it impossible to see
stars, therefore interfering with astronomical
observation and personal enjoyment.
If it is near residential areas, light pollution can also
degrade the quality of life for residents.
Visual Pollution
Visual pollution - eyesores - can be caused by other
pollution or just by undesirable, unattractive views.
It may lower the quality of life in certain areas, or
could impact property values and personal enjoyment.
Sources of visual pollution include:
Power lines
Construction areas
Billboards and advertising
Neglected areas or objects such as polluted vacant
fields or abandoned buildings
While visual pollution has few immediate
health or environmental effects, what's causing the
eyesore can have detrimental affects.

Personal Pollution

Personal pollution is the contamination of one's body and

lifestyle with detrimental actions.
This may include:
Excessive smoking, drinking or drug abuse
Emotional or physical abuse
Poor living conditions and habits
Poor personal attitudes
In some cases, personal pollution may be
inflicted by caregivers, while in other cases it is caused
by voluntary actions.
Taking positive steps in your life can help eliminate this
and other sources of pollution so you can lead a more
productive, satisfying life.
Pollutions related diseases

Respiratory and lung diseases including:

1. Asthma attacks because of inhaling various
poisonous gases and constant suffocation owing to
polluted air
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease COPD
2. Weakening of lung function because of
constant inhaling of contaminated air
3. Pulmonary cancer because of inhaling
various carcinogenic stuff through polluted air
4. Mesothelioma another type of lung cancer
because of inhaling asbestos particles suspended in
the air
Pneumonia: an infection of lungs because of
breathing inside bacteria flying in wind pressure and
moves into the respiratory system of a person who
inhales polluted air
6. Bronchitis; the inflammation and swelling of
the air passages between nose to lungs and throat to
7. Emphysema: its a state of lungs when tiny air
sacs in them
8. Leukemia exposure to benzene vapors causes
this disease which is a type of blood cancer
9. Birth defects and immune system defects;
it occurs due to constant breathing in polluted air
10. Cardiovascular problems; bad air quality and
lot of poisonous gases and particulate matter
suspended in the air cause heart diseases and stroke
11. Neurobehavioral disorders; its also result of
inhaling polluted air that directly affect your neuro
12. Liver and other types of cancer; suspended
carcinogenic (cancer causing) matter in the air is
main cause of all types of cancer related to
respiratory system
13. Premature death; the ultimate outcome of
constant inhaling of polluted air
14. Autism; that is tendency to live in isolation

Diseases caused by pollution in the water
15. Typhoid; an infectious diseases caused by
intake of water with harmful bacteria as a result
of mixing of various water pollutants in it
16. Giardiasis; its an intestinal diseases caused
by microscopic parasite present in polluted water
17. Amoebiasis;its a type of gastro disease and
main cause of diarrhoea
18. Ascariasis;it is intestinal infection because of
intake of polluted water
19. Hookworm;its another form of parasitic
infection of intestines
20. Gastroenteritis;its an inflammation of
gastro intestines

21. Dhiarrhea: that means complete disorder of
your digestive system and inflammation in your
stomach because of drinking water pollution
22. Encephalitis; acute inflammation of brain
because of viral infection
23. Stomach cramps and aches owing to
presence of various harmful bacteria in polluted
24. Vomiting as a result of failure of your
digestive system to process the consumed food
25. Hepatitis: an inflammation of liver as a
result of viral infection; its of A, B and C types

26. Respiratory infections because of flow of
polluted water into the respiratory system while
bathing and cleaning nose
27. Liver damage and even cancer due to
presence of chlorinated solvents in the polluted
28. Kidney damage because of various harmful
chemicals present in the polluted water
29. Neurological problems including
weakening of nervous system owing to presence of
DDT and other pesticides in water that mix into it
with agriculture run-off
30. Weak sexual power because of presence of
various chemicals in drinking water including
endocrine disruptors
31. Thyroid system disorders also because of
various harmful chemicals in polluted water
32. Malaria; its a mosquito-borne infectious
disease caused by persistent water pollutants
33. Rashes on skin of sensitive parts of body
because of direct contact of various harmful
chemicals present in polluted water
34. Ear aches: also the result of direct contact
of polluted water in sensitive parts of ear
35. Pink eyes; as a result of passage of polluted
water on eye surface

Diseases caused by pollution in the soil
36. Cancer: as a result of direct exposure of body to
polluted soil that has a lot of harmful chemicals
including benzene, chromium, pesticide, week killing
chemicals etc
37. Brain and Nerve Damage; as a result of
exposure to soil that is lead-contaminated
38. Kidney and Liver Disease: also an outcome of
polluted soil that has various infectious chemicals

Health effects of pollution of noise
39. Efficiency decrease of people living in noisy
environment is the major effect of noise pollution
40. Lack of concentration; people affected by noise polluted
fail to concentrate
41. Fatigue: persistent noise make them tired sooner than
normal beings
42. Abortion; because of the shocks on pregnant woman
owing to noise
43. Blood Pressure; it is caused because of mental
disturbance a person gets because of living in noisy
environment for quite a long time
44. Temporary or permanent deafness; it is the most
lethal effect of noise pollution and may appear in older age
45. Anxiety; person in constant noise exposure does not have
strong nerves and get worried on smaller problems.

Basic requirements for a healthy environment
Clean air
Air pollution is a major environmental risk to
health and is estimated to cause approximately 2
million premature deaths world wide per year
WHO has assessed the contribution of a range of
risk factors to the burden of disease and revealed
indoor air pollution as the 8 th most important risk
factor and responsible for 2.7 % of the global burden of
Safe and sufficient water
1.8 million people die every year from diarrheal
diseases including cholera ,90% are children under
5,mostly in developing countries

According to World food programme(2010)

-642 million in aAsia and the Pacific

-265 million in sub Saharan Africa
-53 million in Lati America and the Caribbean
-42 million in Near East and north Africa


People suffe from respiratory and other diseases

associated with indoor and out door air pollution
People are expoeed to unnecesary physical and
chemical hazards in the work place and living
Four millions infants and children die every year
from diarrheal diseases largely as a result of
contaminated food or water.
People suffer from debilitating intestinal parasites
Two million people die from malaria every year while
hundreds are ill with it
Three million people die each year from tuberculosis
Water distribution system
Food distribution systems
Waste management system
Vector and pest control system
Air pollution monitoring system

Air pollution

Primary and Secondary pollutants

Primary Pollutants
Primary pollutants are emitted from the
sources and are found in the atmosphere in the form in
which they are emitted.
Materials that when released pose health risks in their
unmodified forms or those emitted directly from
identifiable sources

Five major materials released directly into the

atmosphere in unmodified forms

Carbon monoxide
Sulfur dioxide
Nitrogen oxides
Particulate matter

Carbon Monoxide
Produced by burning of organic material
(coal,gas,wood,trash etc)
Automobiles biggest source (80%)
Cigarrette smoke another major source
Toxic because binds to hemoglobin reduces oxygen in
Not a persistent pollutant,combines with oxygen to form

Sulfur dioxide
Produced by burning sulfor containaing fossil
fuels(coal ,oil )
Coal burning power plants major source
Reacts in atmosphere to produce acids
One of the major components of acid rain
When inhaled can be very corrosive to lung tissue

Nitrogen Oxides
Produced from burning of fossil fuels
Contributes to acid rain,smog
Automobile engine main source


Hydrocarbons-organic compounds with hydrogen

From incomplete burning or evaporated from fuel
Major source is automobiles but some from
Contribute to smog
Improvement in engine design have helped reduce

Particulates small pieces of solid materials and
liquid droplets(2.5 mm, 10mm)
Examples : ash from fires, asbestoos from brakes and
insulation, dust
Easily noticed. eg.smokestacks
Can accumulate in lungs and interfere with the
ability of lungs to exchange gases
Some particulates are known as carcinogens
Those working in dusty conditions at highest

Ozone is a highly reactive gas composed of three
oxygen atoms.
It is both natural and man made product that occurs
in two zones

Tropospheric Ozone
Man- made pollutant in the lower atmosphere
Secondary air pollutant
Component of photochemical smog
Stratospheric Ozone
Essential component that screens out UV
radiation in the upper atmosphere
Man- made pollutants (ex: CFCs) can destroy it

Peroxy Acetyl nitrate(PAN)

Smog is caused by the interaction of some

hydrocarbons and oxidants under the influence of
sunlight giving rise to dangerous peroxyl acetyl

Photochemical smog

Photochemical smog is a mixture of pollutants

which includes particulates ,nitrogen
The smog often has a brown haze due to the
presence of nitrogen dioxide.
It causes painful eyes.
Aerosols and mists (H2so4)

Aerosols and mists are very fine liquid droplets

that cannot be effectively removed using
traditional packed scrubbers.
These droplets can be formed from gas phase
hydrolysis of halogenated acids
(HCl,HF,HBr),metal halides ,sulfur trioxide etc

Types of Air Pollutant.
An air pollutant is a substance in the air that can
cause harms to humans and the environment

Types of Air Pollutants
Air Pollution is a change in the physical, chemical
and biological characteristics of air that causes
adverse effects on humans and other organisms.

The ultimate result is a change in the natural

environment or ecosystem.

The substances that are responsible for causing air

pollution are called AIR Pollutants.

These Pollutants are either natural (eg.wildfires) or

synthetic (manmade)in the form of gas ,liquid or solid

Major pollutants produced by human
Sulphur dioxide (SOx)

SO2 is produced by volcanoes and various

industrial process.

Since coal and petroleum contains sulphur

compounds ,their combustion generates sulphur

Sulphur Oxides are components of acid rain

Following are the effects on human life, plants
and others

Effects on Human Health

It causes irritation of eyes and respiratory

Increase in SO2 concentration in the
atmosphere, may lead to lung cancer
SO2 may obstruct breathing.
SO2 leads to the formation of H2SO4 which is
20 times more irritant than SO2.

Effects on Plants

The low concentration for long period may

cause discoloration of leaves

SO 2 affects the growth of plants

At high concentration the leaf tissues gets


H2SO4 is extremely toxic to plants and soil


Effects on Materials

The sulfuric acid will attack building materials

containing carbonates. This will form CaSO4.

The CaSO4 gets easily washed away leaving

discolored surface.

Paper absorb SO2 causing the paper to become


Leather looses the strength and flexibility.

Carbon Monoxide

It is a colorless ,odourless,non irritating

but very poisonous gas.

It is a product by incomplete combustion

of fuel such as natural gas, coal or wood.

Vehicular exhaust is the major source

Carbon Monoxide
Effects on Humans

The high concentration of CO can cause death

The combination of CO and hemoglobin leads to the

formation of carboxylhemoglobin (cohb) reduces the oxygen
carrying capacity of blood

At concentration of 100 ppm people experience dizziness

and headache

The cigarette smoke contains 400 to 450 ppm to the

percentage of cohb in blood of cigarette smokers increases
with increase in smoking

At concentration of 750 ppm of CO it will cause death.

Effects on Plants..

CO reduces nitrogen fixing capacity of

bacteria which affects the plant growth

High concentration causes leaf drops ,reduces

the size of leaf and ageing

Effects on Materials..

Carbon monoxide appears to have no

detrimental effect on materials

Oxides of nitrogen
No2 are emitted from high temperature
combustion.It is responsible for smog ,acid rain etc
Effects on Human Health.

Nitric Oxide reduces the oxygen carrying

capacity of blood

Nitrogen dioxide causes irritation of lungs

High level of NOx causes Pneumonia ,lung

cancer, oxygen deficiency

NOx causes irritation of respiratory system

,nervous system and digestive tracts

NOx is extremely dangerous to human health.

Effects on Vegetation

NO2 and primary pollutants can damage

plant tissues
High concentration of NO causes damage to
Secondary Pollutants such as smog ,O3 may
damage the vegetation

Effects on Materials
Nitric Acid causes corrosion to metal
NO2 fade the color of clothes
NO2 causes cracking of rubber
Particulate Matter
Particulate Matter

Effects on Human.

The pollutants of size less than 1micron causes

lung damage

Asbestos fibers causes cancer

Lead from automobile exhaust affects brain

It causes several respiratory diseases

Silica, arsenic dust causes cancer

Effects on Plants

Deposition of particulate matter

containing toxic metals affects the growth
of plants

The particulate matter after deposition

on plant leaves block stomata opening of
plants and reduce plant growth.

The particulate matter with acid rain

,reduces PH of the soil which makes

Effects on Material

The particulate matter causes damage to


The corrosion is enhanced

It causes cracks and fading of pointed


Particulates accumulate on the soil and

reduces fertility of soil


Effects on plants