1.3.2 Air, water, soil and noise pollution

Different Types of pollution are categorised based on the part of the environment which they affect or result which the particular pollution causes. Each of these types has its own distinctive causes and consequences. Categorised study of pollution helps to understand the basics in more detail and produce protocols for the specific types. Accordingly, the main types of pollution are:

  •  Water Pollution
  • Air Pollution
  • Soil Pollution
  • Thermal Pollution
  • Radioactive Pollution
  • Noise Pollution
  • Light Pollution

Let us observe these types of pollution in a more comprehensive way.

Water Pollution

As the name suggests, “Water Pollution” is the type of pollution that involves the contamination of various water bodies. Various aquatic creatures depend on these water bodies and its natural nutritious features to support its life.

What Causes Water Pollution?

  • Industrial waste is dumped into these water bodies. This causes a chemical imbalance in the water leading to death of the aquatic beings.
  • Insecticides, pesticides and ripening chemicals that are used on plants run into the ground water system or nearby streams.
  • Washing clothes near lakes and rivers with detergents also causes a condition called “Eutrophication” which blocks sunlight from entering inside and reduces oxygen values in the water causing an uninhabitable environment.
  • ‘Oil Spills’ are caused when giant oil tankers and oil rigs which are present in the oceans are damaged by either natural or human errors cause a long-time damage to the ocean as oil is lighter than water and floats on water forming a layer blocking sunlight.
  • Certain natural disasters like flash floods and hurricanes cause the intermixing of water with harmful substances on the land.

People can take certain preventable measures to stop water pollution like being more cautious of dumping contaminants into the water. For the repair of the damage that has already been done, water treatment plants are being constructed with innovative techniques to clean the polluted water. But as always, a certain part of the damage cannot be resolved therefore, it is better to prevent water pollution as water is a basic need for the survival of man.

Air Pollution

The contamination of the air present in the atmosphere is known as “Air pollution”. Respiration is an important life process of all living things. We breathe in the air present in the atmosphere. Therefore if the air around us is contaminated with poisonous gases, it would have a fatal effect on us.

The air naturally comprises of 78% of nitrogen, 21% of oxygen, 0.9% of oxide gases and 0.1% of inert gases. When this balance is disturbed, it causes disruptions of severe proportions.

What Causes Air Pollution?

  • Partially combusted exhaust gases released from internal combustion engines add poisonous gases into the atmosphere
  • Certain industries release some gases like sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide which mix with the air and clouds and cause acid rains
  • Burning of discarded plastic, wood and rubber also release carcinogenic gases into the atmosphere

 Air pollution is very much fatal to living things as almost all living beings respire directly from the atmosphere without undergoing any treatment like water. Hence the use of catalytic converters in vehicles, preventing the burning of used products when leaving vehicles running for lengthy periods of time during halts.

Soil Pollution

Stripping soil of its natural fertility by using artificial chemicals like pesticides, insecticides, ripening agents etc. is known as “Soil Pollution”. Plants depend on the nitrogenous compounds present in the soil for their nutrition. Use of insecticides, pesticides and other artificial chemicals absorbs the nitrogen from the soil making it unfit for the growth for plants. Plants are responsible for holding the soil together firmly so, when the plants cannot grow the soil splits, leading to soil erosion.

Thermal Pollution

The rise in the temperature in the ecosystem due the release of excessive heat energy into the environment by artificial methods or natural disasters is called “Thermal Pollution”. Generally, manufacturing industries release a lot of heat energy which gets transferred to the air and water bodies. Even vehicles which have combustion engines release a lot of heat energy as they require high temperatures to function. Carbon dioxide has a property of blocking heat from exiting the atmosphere and so the heat coming in from the sun is trapped in the atmosphere.

Thermal pollution results in a temperature rise which is the main cause for the melting of the polar ice caps, which is in turn leading to a rise in the water levels. Thermal pollution has increased significantly since the eighteen hundreds resulting in a hotter earth.

Radioactive Pollution

Radioactive pollution occurs when ‘Radioactive’ metals disintegrate releasing dangerous beta rays which can cause cancer and other mutative diseases. These types of pollution can occur by either the dumping of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants into water bodies, damage of nuclear reactors leading to radioactive contamination that would last for many years and many more. In the Second World War, when the U.S.A attacked Hiroshima and Nagasaki of Japan, the atomic bomb left a radioactive footprint leading to highly mutative diseases. So, most of the people who survived the atomic bombing died eventually from cancers and mutations.

Noise Pollution:

There are different qualities of sounds. The sounds which are not pleasant to hear are called ‘Noises’. So an excess of noise in the outdoors leads to “Noise Pollution”. This can be experienced by too many vehicles honking at the roads, heavy machinery being operated in the open (e.g., a jackhammer), trains, clubs, overpopulated crowds and many more. Noise pollution is known to cause mental stress and depression. It can also cause damage to the ear drum which can cause deafness. Noise pollution has more of a psychological effect than a physical one.

Light Pollution

Bright lighting in functions, big cities, etc. causes “Light Pollution”. Excessive light on the retina causes extreme discomfort in the eyes, especially in dim conditions like during nighttime. Bright lights strain the eyes and also give headaches and migraines. We will observe that light pollution, thermal pollution and noise pollution all are types of pollution that are caused by the different forms of energy.


Pollution in all its various forms causes immense damage covering all possible aspects that can be damaged. Therefore it is important to prevent all these forms to look forward to a greener, cleaner and much more pleasant living experience.