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How is pollution caused?

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Quick Answer

Pollution is mainly a byproduct of human activity. Industrial manufacturing, the use of automobiles, power production, mining and war are all significant sources of environmental pollution.

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Pollution can be roughly divided into several groups. Air pollution is caused by the release of particulate matter and chemicals into the air, usually by way of gases. Soil pollution is caused by the dumping or accidental spill of chemicals or toxic materials into landfills and waterways. Water pollution is caused by sewage discharge and industrial waste water discharge as well as chemical dumping and spills. Radioactive contamination is a byproduct of the creation and use of nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

A leading source of air pollution is carbon dioxide emissions from the use of motor vehicles. Other major contributors are the byproducts of industrial processes like mining, manufacturing, construction and certain aspects of agriculture. Power production by way of burning coal is also a significant contributor to air pollution. Soil pollution comes from a wide variety of human sources such as the spraying of pesticides and herbicides, dumping of heavy metals and hospital wastes, and fuel spills. Chemicals and toxins can also leach into the soil through landfills. Many of these same sources also cause pollution of ocean waters.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What causes environmental pollution?

    A:

    Environmental pollution is caused by several sources, including human and anthropogenic activities. Most environmental pollution comes from human sources and enters into the atmosphere, streams and soils. Factories, transportation vehicles — including cars, trains and planes — and negligent agricultural and construction practices are all common and widespread sources of pollution.

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  • Q:

    How is nuclear pollution caused?

    A:

    Nuclear pollution is caused by a range of human activities that relate to the creation of fuel for nuclear energy and the construction of nuclear weapons. The process of mining and processing uranium ores to create fuel for nuclear power and weapons also generates byproducts that are radioactive.

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  • Q:

    Why is pollution bad?

    A:

    Pollution can profoundly affect air, water and soil, causing breaches in the ozone layer, introducing toxins to rivers, soils and the surrounding air and even causing harm in the form of excess noise. Environmental pollution exists in five fundamental forms: air, soil, water, noise and light pollution. Of the types of pollution, air is the most harmful variety.

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  • Q:

    How is air pollution measured?

    A:

    In the United States, the amount of air pollutants in the atmosphere can be directly measured by anyone using instruments such as the GASPer air quality monitor, area's immediate reading, or AIR device and sun photometer. Common examples of air pollution include smog, vehicular and power plant emissions and acid rain.

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