Definition of Pollution and Its Influence on the Ecosystem

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Ever wonder how clean our air water and soil actually is? Seeing that we breath, drink and eat crops grown in the soil everyday. Pollution is seen to be the transgressor of contaminating each of these aspects in our lives on a day to day basis. The exact definition of pollution is “the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects” (National Geographic Society). In fact these contaminants can have dire effects on entire ecosystems, making life more difficult for humans, plants and animals. Along with harming human health, air pollution can cause a variety of environmental effects such as acid rain which is the precipitation containing harmful amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. These acids are formed primarily by nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned (Sullivan , Richard ).

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Pollution is found in oceans, water and our land. This is all mainly caused by harmful materials humans use on a day to day basis. Pollution however can be caused by natural causes, such as volcanic ash. Pollution began according to History editors, during ¨the Industrial Revolution of the mid-19th century which introduced new sources of air and water pollution. By the middle of the 20th century, the effects of these changes were beginning to be felt in countries around the world. In the 1960s, an environmental movement began to emerge that sought to stem the tide of pollutants flowing into the planet’s ecosystems. Out of this movement came events like Earth Day, and legislative victories like the Clean Air Act (1970) and the Clean Water Act (1972)¨. Subsequently, the effects of pollution directly affects all living things. These contaminants can have dire effects on entire ecosystems thus making life harder on humans, plants and animals. It is clear to see that not much of today’s population is aware or truly cares about pollution and its effects. Many may be aware of this problem but choose to be bystanders, who say or do nothing to counteract this dilemma.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, experts have cleared several acts and have implemented laws in certain states to help cut down the production of gas emissions, thus cutting down on polluted air. Experts have implemented what is known as “the Clean Air Act”, this legislation authorized the development of comprehensive federal and state regulations to limit emissions from both stationary (industrial) sources and mobile sources. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has stated that, “the Clean Air Act has a proven record of public health and environmental protection since 1970”. Which suggests that the Clean Air Act is not viable in the fact that this act is not being implemented in every state or city by matter. States are not requiring gas emission checks on each car to help reduce the damage being done on our air, water, ecosystems etc. However, according to the National Geographic, “many countries, including the United States, have created laws to reduce smog as well. Some laws include restrictions on what chemicals a factory can release into the atmosphere, or when the factory can release them. Some communities have 'burn days' when residents can burn waste such as leaves in their yard. These limits on chemicals released into the air reduce the amount of smog”. Based on this background of knowledge, I can predict that if states begin implementing such acts, there is a chance we can turn this all around slowly yet efficiently and save our earth as a whole.

The Barriers that stand in the way of fixing or cutting polluted air in half is mainly humans. For example, according to the National Geographic, “photochemical smog” is one of major culprits of polluted air. Photochemical smog is the process of nitrogen oxides react with sunlight. Nitrogen oxides come from car exhaust, coal power plants, and factory emissions and many other household cleaning chemicals. Once these chemicals react with sunlight they form airborne particles and subsequently affect the ozone layer. However it is clear to see that humanity needs transportation. Transportation is something we use everyday from going to work, school and back and also by transporting goods. It would be very difficult to cut transportation out of our lives.

In recapitulation, it is clear to see that the products humans use on a day to day basis can truly affect ecosystems within our oceans, forests, rainforests and in fact our own “ecosystem”. While analyzing a variety of credible sources such as, the Environmental Protection Agency, Live Science, the National Geographic and the Department of Environmental Protection. These sources suggest such a solution, where we as humans can try to drive less, walk, bike, carpool and use public transportation whenever possible. By taking care of our cars by getting regular tune-ups, changing oil on schedule and inflating tires to the proper level can improve gas mileage and reduce emissions. By fueling during the cooler hours of the day such as night or early morning, which prevents gas fumes from heating up and producing ozone. Also by avoiding products that release high levels of VOCs, such as paints. Lastly, by using electrically powered equipment, such as lawnmowers.  

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