Elimination of pollution is the most essential thing we require as it is very much necessary for the well-being of all living things. Here we deal with the elimination of pollution, its criteria and different methods for eliminating pollution.
The ideal of a pollution free world is just that; an ideal. In reality pollution is so widely entrenched in our environment that we can easily say let’s throw in the towel, eat, drink and be merry, and wait for the world to fall on itself.
But that wouldn’t do. We are after all the custodians of the Earth. It is in our deep collective conscience to be caring and nurturing. It is only the bad habits that we pick up along the way that need changing. Being laidback may feel good, but being proactive will nourish our souls.
Pollution may not be eliminated but it can be controlled and reduced to an extent. The earth with its natural cycles of self-cleansing and survival will aid us to heal itself.
Criteria for Pollution control
Controlling pollution is taken up on various levels. From the individual to the governments, everyone has a part to play.
Distinction must be made between point and non-point sources of pollution. Point source pollution is the when the source of the contaminant can be specifically identified for eg. a local industry or farm. When the exact source of pollution cannot be pin pointed or it can be attributed to more than one factor, it is called a non-point source such as household emissions. It is more effective to control the point source of pollution with necessary regulation such as treatment of industrial effluents or correct disposal of wastes.
Sometimes trying to control pollution can work out adversely for some sectors. As in the agricultural sector the main pollutants are the over use of chemical fertilizers, pesticide, ripening agents and other chemicals. Completely cutting these off from use will affect crop production and food availability. If the pests are allowed to infest the crops the yield will decrease and food prices can go high. This can affect the livelihoods of the farmers.
A better solution would be to reduce the quantity of the pollutants being used, to shift to less toxic materials. Thorough study and data must be collected to make right decisions. When these decisions are made strict government regulations can be implemented.
Data collection is usually collected as a comparison between polluted and non-polluted areas. Sometimes this also proves difficult when pristine environments cannot be located. Another difficulty faced is when data on how the environment was, prior to being polluted, is not available. The severity of the present level of toxicity cannot be properly assessed then.
Data collection has been restricted to industrial, agricultural and laboratory chemicals and government regulations for these are implemented. But there is a deficiency in the awareness of the waste products produced by household and medicinal products. As the level of toxicity is not as vast as in commercially produced contamination, it has been neglected.
Methods of reducing pollution
Pollution is controlled in two ways:
- Reducing consumption or usage of the polluting product
- Treatment of wastes, discharges and disposal of pollutants
Treatment of waste is effective in point source of pollution.
- Many developed countries have well implemented waste treatment methods and plants to treat water for most chemicals. But further improvements can be made by using microbes or fungi to clean up heavy metals and organic compounds.
- They also have reduced pollution production in their countries by shifting pollution intensive production to countries that have fewer environmental restrictions.
- The treatment of waste is normally very expensive, but when the consumer and the government put pressure, there is significant adherence to the regulations on the part of the corporations. This is particularly so when the consumer indicates a preference for products that produce less pollution; and the high cost of not following environmental regulations.
- Pollution can also be reduced by reducing the use of pollutants during production or by implementing newer techniques.
- Governments introduce regulations such as a levy or a tax plan, where the polluters have to pay a fixed amount for pollution or amount of emissions released can be fixed or minimum waste reduction techniques can be used. They can provide incentives for research and implementation of more efficient techniques.
- In agriculture sustainable means of farming have to be introduced in the long run, as pesticides of all kinds as poisons and these cannot be relied upon always. These sustainable farming methods must generate healthy ecosystems which are necessary to eventually increase bio diversity while keeping high yields
Degrading Toxicants Biologically With the Help of Microbes And Fungi
If these methods are perfected this will be effective in removing organic solvents used in commercial and household use, medicines which are not fully digested, most other organic compounds which are found accumulated in waste disposal sites and sewage systems.
Another area where using microorganisms will be effective is in degrading the agricultural pollutants found in the soil. Change in acidity or absorption in the soil can help lower the availability of toxicants, but extra monitoring and security is considerably needed to bring assurance to the citizens that there will be no return of toxins into the environment.
Ammonia, Cyanide and metals such as Copper, Cadmium and Mercury are some inorganic pollutants found at the point source of pollution and the effluents must be treated with microbes to clear these inorganic toxins.
Once a site has been cleared of its toxicity, the ecosystem can be reconstructed. Mammals, amphibians and fish have their own means of travel, yet many need connecting routes between sites. Insects and microbes which are a vital part of any ecosystem rely on wind, rain, drift and transportation on other organisms.
Often habitat fragmentation occurs. This means if there is an industry built on a site; it will slowly lead to urbanization of the area. Residential spaces, roads and other infrastructure come up where the workers and families will live. This leads to fragmentation of the original ecosystem. Other times there will be loss of large numbers of certain intermediary species which also affect recolonization. In these cases careful human intervention will be needed to introduce necessary organisms and reconstruct the ecosystem.
As the governments, corporations, organisations and consumer forums work on a higher level of research and regulatory mechanisms, the individual also can play a role in reducing the amount of pollution by simple habits. The following is not an exhaustive list but a starting point.
- Using jute /cloth bags instead of plastic.
- Using LED lights instead to cut down consumption of electricity
- Maintaining the electrical and electronic machinery one uses as this helps to reduce noise, current consumption and indoor pollution
- Using alternative modes of transport as public transport, carpooling, or bicycles to move about.
- Avoiding use of aerosols
- Planting more trees and plants.
- Restricting use of loud speakers and earphones
- Starting one’s own group of like-minded individuals to create community clean-up projects and also to reach out to others in the society. Remember the old adage “Unity is Strength”.
As awareness of one’s surroundings increase and the human nurturing spirit is rekindled, one will naturally replace destructive habits with better ones. With the collective conscience of the people, the environment can be brought back to thrive.