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By Cristian Frers
The most important types of pollution are those that affect basic natural resources: air, soil and water. The world health organization (WHO) declares that 3,000,000 people die every year from environmental pollution.
Our planet has a restricted space - there is nowhere to go, when once we have polluted and poisoned it - environmental pollution is going to be the biggest killer of human beings and animals in the following decades.
Technological progress, on the one hand, and accelerated demographic growth, on the other, produce the alteration of the environment, in some cases reaching an attack on the biological balance of the Earth. It is not that there is an absolute incompatibility between technological development, the advancement of civilization and the maintenance of ecological balance, but it is important that man knows how to harmonize them. To do this, it is necessary to protect renewable and non-renewable resources and to become aware that environmental sanitation is essential for life on the planet.
Pollution is one of the most important environmental problems that affect our world and arises when an imbalance occurs, as a result of the addition of any substance to the environment, in such quantity, that it causes adverse effects on man, on animals , plants or materials exposed to doses that exceed the levels acceptable in nature.
The most important types of pollution are those that affect basic natural resources: air, soil and water.
Some of the most serious environmental alterations related to pollution phenomena are radioactive leaks, smog, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, the destruction of the ozone layer, the eutrophication of water or oil slicks. There are different types of pollution that depend on certain factors and that affect each environment differently.
The world health organization (WHO) declares that 3,000,000 people die every year from environmental pollution. This number triples the one million people a year who die in car accidents.
The Blacksmith Institute in the United States of America has drawn up a terrifying list of the most polluted sites in the world:
-Linfen (China): In this city, 3 million people coexist with the pollution of coal and other toxic particles in the air, produced by automobile gases and industrial emissions. The pollution is so dense that the city is constantly covered in a deep smog. Linfen is in the interior of China's Shanxi Province, which is considered the heart of China's coal belt. Surrounded by hills crammed with mines, the main cause of Linfen having the worst air in the country.
-Tianjin (China): 140 thousand people live with lead and heavy metals in the Chinese city of Tiajín. Product of the mining and production of lead, thousands of toxic substances are discharged into the soil and water of the place. Tianjin generates half of China's lead production, but it uses archaic technology and zero environmental regulations. The people of Tianjin eat, breathe and drink toxic products; for example, wheat in the area has lead levels up to 24 times higher than acceptable. Lead contamination, in addition to causing severe health problems, alters the IQ of children.
-Vapi (India): Chemical products and heavy metals generated by industrial estates, pollute the lives of 71 thousand Indian people. Mercury levels in the city's groundwater are 96% higher than allowed and considered "safe" by the WHO; on the other hand, toxic substances like heavy metals abound in the air and food.
-Sukinda (India): Hexavalent chromium and other heavy metals ruin the lives of 2.6 million people; These toxins are the result of the exploitation of chromium mines and the processing that does not contemplate any type of environmental collection. Chromium hexavalent is used for the production of stainless steel and leather tanning, it is a highly carcinogenic substance if inhaled or ingested; Sukinda's “drinking” water contains twice as much hexavalent chromium as allowed. 85% of the deaths in the area are due to diseases caused by chromium contamination and the regrettable thing is that the authorities are doing nothing to reverse this situation.
Environmental pollution in Argentina is higher than what could be expected from a country with a medium to high level of development. These problems are mainly a consequence of the gradual increase in the urban population and industrial development, together with an inadequate regulatory framework and a decades-long deficit in sanitary infrastructure and waste treatment. Institutional capacity and authority for environmental management is fragmented among numerous agencies at the national, provincial, and municipal levels, leading to overlapping jurisdictions, weak control, and non-compliance with regulations. As a consequence of this fragmentation of institutional responsibilities and lack of coordination, a confusing institutional and regulatory framework for environmental management has been produced.
One of the biggest obstacles is the scarcity of environmental information, since there is very little monitoring of air and water pollution, and there is virtually no analysis of its effects on health and other economic costs.
The main environmental problems in Argentina, among others, are: excessive felling of trees, overgrazing, intentional fires, agricultural activities, oil activities, the extraction of materials for construction, the implementation of open-air dumps, the introduction of exotic species, illegal wildlife trade, and overfishing.
To propose the solution to the problem of both prevention and control of environmental pollution, it is easy for us when we do not feel guilty or when we do not believe we are the owners of the universe, then we know that we can prevent environmental pollution by avoiding the use of pollutants or that we can eliminate those that are already in the middle.
The problem of pollution and its ecological consequence is now conceived as a global issue that requires global solutions. Currently, the various nations, especially the developed ones, are making efforts within their territory to restore and preserve the national ecological health and seek to reach agreements with other nations to extend them to the entire planet. In addition, various solution proposals arise. In all of them political and technological scientific components are observed. The policies are directed towards the legislative mechanisms available to governments to modify the behavior patterns of society; The scientific-technological ones are oriented to the study and development of environmental defense techniques.
Certain scientists bet on bioindicators compared to expensive measurement and analysis equipment, we can take some examples, when there is a variation in environmental conditions, some living beings respond by changing their vital functions or their chemical or genetic composition, some even accumulate the agent pollutant.
Certain living beings are especially sensitive to possible environmental alterations: dragonflies allow us to know the state of the waters, bees can detect urban air pollution and through corals and penguins we can know the extent of climate change. And it is that in nature there is a solution to almost everything.
If someone pollutes or destroys the portion of the land that belongs to another, they should restore or compensate them. In practice, it could become so costly that the polluter goes bankrupt through carelessness. And if company executives were held personally civilly liable for their deliberate acts of pollution, they would have little incentive to poison air, land or water. If the polluters and not the taxpayers were held responsible for the damages, they would bear the negative consequences of the pollution.
Cristian Frers - Senior Technician in Environmental Management and Senior Technician in Social Communication