Pollution is a fact of life in an industrialized society. Pollution, by its very definition, can cause harm to people, animals, and plants. As far as humans are concerned, pollution contributes to a number of serious illnesses including obesity and increased mortality.
Pollutants in the Atmosphere
A major pollutant produced by combustion is NO, nitrogen oxide. This reacts with ozone to for NO2. Another pollutant is SO2 which is produced by burning sulphur-containing fossil fuels (primarily coal and heavy oils).
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are another class of atmospheric pollutants. These includes numberous chemicals or an organic nature such as benzene.
Most atmospheric pollutants affect the respiratory system, but some can get into the blood and cause other diseases such as cancer.
These chemicals last a long time in the environment and move though the food chain. These include pesticides, dioxins, and PCBs. Dioxins are formed by incomplete combustion and whenever plastics are burned. While dioxins are not dissolved by water, they enter the food chains by binding to lipids or fats. Continue reading