- What is pollution?
- What are the various types of pollution?
- What is global warming?
- Awful pollution facts for kids
- Plastic pollution facts for kids
When huge quantities of harmful chemicals, substances, smoke, and gases are let out into the environment, it causes pollution.
These gases and chemicals are extremely damaging to human, plant, and animal life. As adults, it is our responsibility to tell children about pollution and the inevitable need to control it.
What is pollution?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines pollution as “the action of polluting especially by environmental contamination with man-made waste”.
According to the European Environment Agency, pollution is “the introduction of substances or energy into the environment, resulting in deleterious effects of such a nature as to endanger human health, harm living resources and ecosystems, and impair or interfere with amenities and other legitimate uses of the environment (1)”.
What are the various types of pollution?
The major types of pollution are air pollution, land pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, and thermal pollution.
Let us take a look at each of them, their causes and effects on the environment.
1. Air pollution
Air pollution occurs when large amounts of poisonous gases are released into the atmosphere. The air is polluted due to industrial release of gases, the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal, petrol, etc.,) from automobiles, and the release of methane gasses from animal and landfill wastes.
The gases that increase the earth’s temperature and are responsible for global warming are called greenhouse gases.
Everyday vehicles like cars, trucks, and buses contribute to air pollution. These vehicles use fossil fuels that emit carbon monoxide into the air.
- The effect of air pollution is such that it can lead to asthma, worsen existing respiratory problems, and develop chronic illnesses such as lung cancer, pulmonary diseases, etc.
- When smoke and fog is combined, it forms smog, which can cause serious respiratory diseases, including asthma.
- One can reduce air pollution by reducing the use of polluting vehicles and shifting to bicycles, and electric or hybrid vehicles, which do not operate on fossil fuels.
2. Land pollution
Land pollution is the result of billions of people dumping the waste on the land.
- These wastes consist of harmful chemicals that leak underground and pollute the soil and the deeper layers of the Earth.
- We should follow the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. If we reduce our waste and try to reuse them by recycling them, it will cause less harm to our environment.
- We need to dispose of trash responsibly to prevent land pollution. Carry the waste to recycling centers, where it is recycled to make new products. This is the most effective way of reducing waste.
3. Water pollution
Water pollution is the pollution of water bodies at the source: like rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and groundwater.
- One of the main causes of water pollution is the discharge of industrial effluent, insecticides, fertilizers, food waste, sewage, detergents, and garbage into the water bodies.
- The water is also contaminated when people bath, drop feces and wash on the banks.
- Maritime trade and increasing shipping activity also release toxic material into the waters, leading to the death of aquatic animals like dolphins, fish, and whales.
- Drinking polluted water can cause diseases like typhoid, cholera, and dysentery.
- Water is essential for human survival, but we are running out of safe drinking water.
- We can prevent water pollution by installing water-efficient toilets, disposing of toxic or oily liquid waste carefully and never throwing plastic in water bodies.
- We can also stop water pollution by treating the polluting residues from industries and manufacturing facilities before releasing them into the environment.
4. Noise pollution
Noise pollution occurs when we cross the decibels levels and emit harmful levels of noise-causing illnesses in human beings. 55-70 decibels for 24 hours is permissible for human hearing (2), beyond which it can affect a person’s health.
- Noise pollution mainly happens due to loud honking, thunderous music, screeches, and sirens.
- Sound pollution causes insomnia and increases stress. This can also disturb people from focusing on their daily activities.
- Severe noise pollution can cause hearing loss, hypertension, and heart diseases (3).
5. Thermal pollution
When the temperature of a water body rises due to contamination caused by humans, it is known as thermal pollution.
- The most common causes are the industries and power plants that use water as a coolant and then release it back without treatment.
- This raises the temperature of water bodies, decreases oxygen in the water, and affects the marine life.
What is Global Warming?
Global warming or climate change is the continuous rise in the Earth’s temperature, leading to rising sea levels, expansion of deserts, and increasing precipitation.
The biggest cause of global warming is the greenhouse gas emissions.
Pollution, in all its forms, is dangerous both to the planet and the humans. You may use some facts to explain the gravity of the problem to your children.
Awful pollution facts for kids
It is good if children know about these worrisome facts to understand the problem at hand (4) (5).
|1. Children are more vulnerable than adults to pollution as their immune system is still developing.|
|2. Pesticides, the chemicals used in farming to kill insects, contribute to land and water pollution. Approximately, 22 million tons of fertilizers and chemicals are dumped into the water bodies every year.|
|3. 90% of wastewater and 70% of industrial wastes in developing countries is dumped into the waters without treatment.|
|4.Bathing in contaminated waters is the cause behind 250 million of gastroenteritis and respiratory disease cases every year.|
|5. The waste generated by cattle like cows, buffalo or chicken is known as livestock waste. Deadly bacteria from this waste go into the streams and soil, causing soil pollution and thus affecting the quality of food we eat and the fertility of the soil.|
|6. According to the World Health Organization, nine out of 10 people or 92% of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution has exceeded the safe limits.|
|7. Air pollution comes fourth in the dangers posed to human health, after high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking.|
|8. The world’s oceans take in 6.5 million tons of litter each year.|
|9. 100 million mammals and 1 million seabirds die every year due to water pollution.|
|10. The world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide is China, followed by the US.|
|11. Recycling of waste and composting has saved 85 tons of trash from being dumped into the environment.|
Plastic pollution facts for kids
One of the most dangerous causes of land and water pollution is plastic, as it is non-biodegradable. Let us learn how plastic pollution is affecting our environment (6).
|12. A non-biodegradable material is that which cannot be broken down by natural organisms. Therefore, they are not eco-friendly, thus acting as a source of pollution. They remain on earth for millions of years without degradation or decomposition.|
|13. Plastic can take 450 to 1000 years to decompose. For example, a plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose.|
|14. Around 18 billion pounds of plastic waste is let into the oceans every year.|
|15. 40% of plastic produced is used for packaging items and is used just once and discarded.|
|16. Nearly 50% of all plastic ever manufactured has been done since the year 2000.|
|17. Half of the world’s plastics are made in Asia.|
|18. Plastics are recycled the most in Europe at 30%, then China 25%, and the US 9%.|
|19. Almost one million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute around the world.|
|20. 12% of plastic is incinerated, and 79% is dumped in the landfills.|
Children see this world as a beautiful place to live. They love their home, school, city and the life around. As adults, we need to retain that beauty for the future generations. By making children – the future adults – aware of the problem at hand, we can hope for a better place to live and allow the planet to breathe better again.
What is your say on pollution? Let us know about it in the comments section below.
2. Daniel J. Fink; What is a safe noise level for the public?; NCBI.
3. THEMATIC ISSUE: Noise impacts on health; Science for Environment Policy, European Commission.
4. 7 shocking facts about air pollution; World Economic Forum.
5. Pollution – Facts and figures; World Ocean Network.
6. Fast Facts About Plastic Pollution; National Geographic.
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