Pollution of water and air by chemical agents

polluted air

Pollution is now part of our daily lives, in fact there are more than 300 polluting chemicals present in human blood that were not present in the blood of our grandparents. Contaminants can be of chemical, physical or biological origin, these substances are present in different contexts of the environment, as well as in food. The pollution of water and air by chemical agents It is an increasingly emerging problem.

In this article we are going to tell you about the contamination of water and air by chemical agents, what these agents are and what consequences it has for the environment.

What are chemical agents

pollution of water and air by chemical agents and garbage

Chemical agents are substances that have the ability to interact and cause changes in other substances at the molecular level. These interactions can lead to a variety of effects, such as chemical reactions, physical transformations or alterations in the properties of the substances involved.

Chemical agents can be found in many forms, from simple chemical elements to more complex compounds. They can be natural, like the oxygen we breathe or the water we drink, or they can be synthetic, created by humans to various purposes, such as medicines, pesticides, cleaning products and industrial materials.

These chemicals interact through chemical processes, which are changes in molecular structures that involve bonds between atoms. These processes can include oxidation, reduction, covalent bond formation, and many other chemical transformations.

Types of chemical agents

When we talk about pollutants, we refer to those substances that are found in the natural environment and that have a detrimental effect on the health of the environment itself and the organisms that inhabit it. We can find three types of pollutants: physical, chemical and biological.

  • Chemical contaminants: They are organic or inorganic, natural or artificial substances that are present in the natural environment and can be absorbed by living organisms, causing harmful effects in the short and long term.
  • Physical contaminants: These contaminants can alter the quality of its components simply by their presence in the environment. They are characterized by the exchange of energy between the environment and living beings. Some examples of such pollutants include: noise, radiation, thermal media, etc.
  • Biological contaminants: It refers to organisms that, during their life cycle, can cause the degradation of air, water, soil and food. They represent a danger for many organisms since they can produce infectious or parasitic diseases. Examples of types of biological contaminants are viruses and pathogenic bacteria.

Pollution of water and air by chemical agents

Water contamination

contaminated water

Groundwater and surface water and all bodies of fresh and salt water are affected by different types of pollutants. The main water pollutants are:

  • Sewage water: Contains toxic substances, organic matter, heavy metals or chemicals. They must be disposed of in treatment plants, although the reality is that many industries and populations do not have plants to process them, or because it is cheaper not to process them, they end up dumping them into rivers and oceans.
  • Heavy metals: They are very toxic and can induce diseases such as cancer or mutations. Among them we find cadmium, chromium, mercury, copper, silver and lead. These metals are associated with mining and industrial activities.
  • pesticides: Agricultural activities require pesticides to combat pests, and in addition to their use on livestock to prevent infections and diseases in animals. These are a danger to groundwater since they reach them by leaching, and some of them have been banned because they are very harmful to human health.
  • Pathogenic microorganisms: These microorganisms may already be naturally present in the water, although contamination of the water by sewage may increase their numbers. These microbes can cause infections, illnesses such as diarrhea, and even death.
  • Hydrocarbons: They include gasoline, diesel or oil, which are transported by ships and which can be discharged into the sea due to accidents or spills. They are difficult to eradicate and are highly toxic, destroying many habitats.
  • Emerging pollutants: It refers to the presence of pharmaceuticals, hygiene products, microplastics, cleaning products, etc. They are contaminants that were previously undetectable, but thanks to technological advances can now be detected, or did not exist decades ago.
  • Radioactive Agents: The main source is nuclear power plants, and sometimes radioactive waste is also illegally dumped due to accidents or spills in order to dispose of it. It is perhaps one of the most dangerous pollutants because it is difficult to control and remove.

Air pollution

pollution of water and air by chemical agents

We could enumerate a long list of all the pollutants that affect the air. As a summary, we can say that these are air or atmospheric pollutants:

  • Suspended particles: These particles are very small and that is why they are so harmful to living beings because they more easily penetrate living beings and cause diseases. An example of these particles is nitrogen dioxide.
  • Greenhouse gases: such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, CFCs, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane. Ozone comes from chemical reactions of other components such as hydrocarbons. CFCs are used to make aerosols, refrigerators, and air conditioners, but they are banned because they are so dangerous. The main source of methane emissions is livestock, and the remaining gas comes mainly from combustion activities. Some of these, such as carbon dioxide or methane, are already naturally present in the atmosphere, and when they start to increase due to human activity, the problem arises.

Soil pollution

Human activities can seriously contaminate the soil. These are the main soil contaminants:

  • pesticides: All pesticide products used in agriculture and livestock, such as insecticides, herbicides or fungicides, can seriously damage the soil.
  • Heavy metals: The accumulation of these metals in the soil, mainly due to mining activities. They are very harmful to living organisms.
  • Garbage accumulation: The accumulation of waste in landfills, which causes organic waste to begin to ferment, causing toxic substances to seep into the soil.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the contamination of water and air by chemical agents.

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