Dangerous Chemicals: 4 Pollutants That Wreak Havoc on the Environment
By Anica Oaks
In order to define the four pollutants that wreak havoc on the environment, it is important to understand the divisions within our environment: air, water, and soil.
Pollutants emitted into the air at toxic levels presents a danger to human life. Air is necessary to breath. Pollutants fall into two basic categories: organic and inorganic. Organic pollutants originate in normal balance within the environment. These are at de minimis levels, which are legally allowed levels. These exist in air, water and soil.
When they exceed compliance levels, it is usually due to the introduction of other chemicals, organic or inorganic, that alter basic composition and balance. For example, chlorine as a gas emitted into the air at minimal levels causes eye irritations and lung problems due to heavy metal properties. Here are few examples of pollutants that destroy the environment.
One of the major chlorine disasters occurred at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India when methyl isocyanate used in pesticides, adhesives and rubber, leaked from a storage tank.
Methyl isocyanate is an organic compound that is extremely hazardous to human health. In Bhopal, nearly 4,000 people were killed in that disaster.
When certain pollutants are emitted into air streams, they create changes in normal soil composition. This is true of methyl isocyanate. Once released into the air, it leaches into soil and groundwater. Methyl isocyanate has the ability to quickly destroy human life, plants and animals.
There are several pollutants such as benzene, barium and cadmium that are carcinogens. Benzene is one of the 21 chemicals used as a soil/natural gas separator in the fracking process. Barium and cadmium are often used in polyvinyl manufacturing processes.
Chloroethylene, a colorless gas is water soluble and flammable. It is used in the production of polyvinyl and vinyl products. When it exceeds compliance regulations, it can cause deforestation if released into wooded areas or groundwater.
In some instances, pollutants can be persistent. These are referred to as POPs, (persistent organic pollutants.) These pollutants collect over time, usually from chemical solvents, pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Chlordane, hexachlorobenzene and DDT are POP pesticides that remain in the environment for years. Companies like Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management are trying to reduce the pervasiveness of harmful pesticides by taking eco-friendly approaches instead.
Volcanic lava also has high levels of POPs due to its properties:
Titanium, aluminum, iron, magnesium, potassium, oxygen, calcium, sodium, phosphorus and silicon and others.
Pollutants are becoming a pervasive problem for humanity as we continue to learn their effects on the environment and our own health. To ensure our greatest potential levels of health, we must reign in our pollutants.