• Written By Shalini Kaveripakam
  • Last Modified 25-01-2023

Industrial Pollution: Definition, Causes, Effects, Prevention

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Industrial pollution takes many forms and has a negative influence on the land, water, and environment; they are also the causing factors of sickness and death around the world. Coal combustion, the combustion of fossil fuels such as petroleum, oil, natural gas, and chemical solvents used in the tanning and dyeing industries are the primary drivers of industrial pollution.

Furthermore, when fossil fuels such as coal and oil are used for power generation and transportation, they emit pollutants such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and sulphur dioxide, as well as fly ash, which damages the air, water, and land. In this article, we will discuss the types of industrial pollution, their causes and effects, and preventive measures. Read on to know more!

What is Industrial Pollution?

Pollution refers to the addition of any substance to the environment that has a harmful or poisonous effect. Any form of pollution whose source can be traced to industrial activities is called industrial pollution.

Also, check,

Learn Everything About Industrial Pollutants

Environmental Pollution
Air Pollution

Pollution Due to Industrial Wastes

The industries use raw materials, process them, produce finished products, and some by-products are thrown into the environment as industrial wastes in gas, liquid or solid, thus polluting the air-water or soil.
Industrial wastes may be classified as:

Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable

  1. Biodegradable wastes are generated by textile factories, food processing units, paper mills, and cotton mills.
  2. Non-biodegradable wastes are generated by thermal power plants, iron and steel plants, and fertilizer industries, posing a severe threat to humankind.

Process Waste and Chemical Wastes

1. Process waste produced during the washing and processing of raw materials may be organic or inorganic, but both are toxic to living organisms.

For example, organic waste is liberated from food processing units, distilleries, sugar mills, etc. and inorganic process waste is generated by the caustic soda industry, the paint industry, the petroleum industry, iron and steel plants, thermal power plants, etc.

Fly ash from thermal power plants contaminates the atmospheric tract causing respiratory tract disorder. Fertilizer industries produce gypsum. Iron and steel plants have slag. Few industries might also cause thermal pollution and noise pollution.

  • (i) Chemical waste contains detergents, alkalis, acids, and other harmful substances produced by industries, sugar mills, etc. The wastes are usually liberated into nearby water bodies like lakes, oceans, etc., altering the pH of biological oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand. The aquatic animals and plants absorb chemical waste destroying the ecosystem’s trophic levels and food chains. The following ways can be adopted for the disposal of Non-Biodegradable industrial solid waste to control environmental pollution.
  • (ii) The cement industry can utilise fly ash and slag from the steel industry.
  • (iii) Waste should be subject to proper treatment before its discharge.

Types of Industrial Pollution

Water Pollution- Industrial wastewaters contain a variety of organic and inorganic residues. They heavily pollute all rivers and water bodies. The discharge of toxic industrial wastes contains poisonous chemicals such as cyanide, cadmium, mercury, lead, arsenic, and chromium, which are highly poisonous. They make river water unfit for the use of humans, aquatic plants and animals.

Colour producing dyes change the colour of water and decrease the oxygen level, thereby affecting aquatic life. In addition, acids and alkalis rapidly change water pH, affecting fish and other marine life.

Soil Pollution- The rapid growth of industries has resulted in the release of many industrial wastes containing toxic acid disastrous chemicals that are usually non-biodegradable. Solid waste from industries is dumped temporarily overland. During rains, heavy metals and toxic chemicals wash down into the soil and pollute the same. It is mainly discharged from Pulp and Paper Mills, oil refineries, sugar factories, glass industries, drugs, etc.

Industrial waste affects and alters soil’s chemical and biological characteristics, which finally enter the food chain, disturb the biochemical processes and eventually induce serious hazards to living organisms.

Air Pollution- Many industries like chemical plants, steel, fertilizers, sugar and cement manufacturing units emit a large amount of smoke and pollutants like oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, lead particles and chlorofluorocarbons pollute the air. For example, the emissions from the oil refinery at Mathura and the numerous coal-burning Industries at Agra contain sulphur dioxide, which causes acid rain. In addition, many industries produce chemicals, some of which escape into the atmosphere causing air pollution.

Noise Pollution– Industrial activities can cause noise pollution. Some familiar sources of noise pollution are road traffic, aircraft, trains, construction sites, factories, electronic and electrical equipment, and the bursting of firecrackers.

Causes of Industrial Pollution

  1. Unplanned Industrial Growth- In most countries, industrial development and urbanization have progressed unexpectedly. It is responsible for all types of pollution.
  2. Use of Outdated Technology- Many industrial units are slow to adopt new technology to address pollution.
  3. Use of water for Industrial Processes- Most of the industry units required a large amount of water. Water used in different production processes comes into contact with harmful chemicals, heavy metals, biological waste, etc.; after use, the water is dumped into water bodies causing water contamination.
  4. Poor Implementation of Policies and Laws- Many developing countries do not have effective environmental policies and laws.
  5. Inefficient waste Disposal System- With unplanned and rapid industrial development, all countries generate industrial waste quickly. All countries face the challenge of effectively disposing of industrial waste, including e-waste, which contains toxic material.
  6. Absence of Nation-Wide Pollution Tax- There is no nationwide pollution tax imposed in all the countries. So, industrial pollution is very high.

Effects of Industrial Pollution

  • Effect on Human Health- Industrial pollution has been responsible for the contamination of water, air and the natural environment. Moreover, it has affected the health of the people. Industrial toxic waste is responsible for diseases like cancer, lung infection, asthma, etc.
  • Low Agricultural Productivity- The toxic materials dumped by the industrial units cause soil and groundwater contamination. It affects the fertility of the soil. In addition, the consumption of contaminated crops causes health problems.
  • Global Warming- Global warming leads to rising water levels due to the melting of glaciers, a constant threat of natural disasters like tsunamis, and several Storms. Moreover, due to global warming, many animals and fishes are getting extinct.
  • Effect of Wildlife- Industrial pollution and industrial activities have led to the destruction of animals’ natural habitats. As a result, many wildlife species face extinction due to these factors.
  • Depletion of Green cover and Biodiversity- The green cover helps balance temperature. Therefore, it is essential to protect areas and human health affected by rising temperatures due to global warming. Unfortunately, unregulated industrial activities have been responsible for the loss of green cover.
    • 1. Industrial wastes discharged into water bodies contain many toxic substances that make water unfit for drinking and bathing. Pollution of moisture also reduces the number of aquatic plants and animals due to the destruction of their habitat and nesting places.
    • 2. The wastewater released by factories and industries is rich in organic matter. The wastewater is rich in nutrients resulting in a thick growth of algae and many other weeds like ragweed, skunk, buckthorn, and horsemint, and these plants cover the entire surface of the water. The algae use so much oxygen; hence the aquatic animals and other plants die due to its lack.
    • 3. When industries release mercury, it contaminates with water, and it’s used for drinking by human beings and animals; it causes numbness of lips, tongue and limbs. Also, it leads to blurred vision and mental disorders.

Control of Industrial pollution

To inspect the air pollution by industrial plants, and chimney wastes, several measures are adopted to remove particulate matter and gaseous pollutants from the scraps. The most common equipment used for removal is cyclone collectors, electrostatic precipitators, bag filters and scrubbers.

  • Cyclone Collectors- Removing particulates through vortex separation without filters from the liquid stream, gas or air is called Cyclonic separation. Cyclone collectors are instruments used to trap the particles like dust produced by wood and cement factories, etc.
  • Electrostatic Precipitators- These are working on charging the dust by the applications of high voltage electricity. The particles settle down finally. These are safe and simple to operate.
  • Bag Filters- It consists of filter bags made up of bag materials like cotton, glass wool, Teflon, ceramic fibre or polyester, etc., the dust-laden gas passed through it. As a result, the dust gets filtered, and clean air escapes out. The dust collected is removed by shaking the bag periodically.
  • Scrubbers- Scrubbers can remove the harmful gas released by different factories by spraying cool water in a scrubber device. The gaseous pollutants observe inappropriate liquid to bring the pollutants from gaseous to liquid or solid-state—the different types of scrubbers used at spray type, Venturi scrubbers, impingement scrubbers, etc.
  • The pollution due to industries may be eliminated by the use of electricity in place of coal fuel. Furthermore, the extent of air pollution can be reduced by the self-cleaning process of air. Moreover, it can increase vegetation in the nearby locality and provide Green Belt between residential and industrial areas.

Summary

To survive and lead a life on this planet, the soil is always the first certificate. When the environment pollutes, life would have been simply unbearable. Therefore, the governing bodies and citizens must have a collective responsibility to prevent and control industrial pollution. We must try to work together to end pollution and build a comfortable environment.

In this article, we studied that humans, as well as biological activities, cause industrial pollution. Additionally, there are various effects and causes of industrial pollution which can be controlled by taking preventive measures.

FAQs on Industrial Pollution

Q.1: What is industrial pollution?
Ans: Pollution refers to adding any substance to the environment with a harmful or poisonous effect. Any form of pollution whose source can trace to industrial activities is called industrial pollution.

Q.2: How do industries pollute our water resources?
Ans: Industrial wastewaters contain a variety of organic and inorganic residues. They heavily pollute all rivers and water bodies. The discharge of toxic industrial wastes contains poisonous chemicals such as cyanide, cadmium, mercury, lead, arsenic, chromium, which are highly poisonous. In addition, they make river water unfit for the use of man and aquatic plants and animals.

Q.3: How can industrial pollution be prevented?
Ans: Pollution due to industries eliminated by the use of electricity in place of coal fuel. The extent of air pollution is minimized by the self-cleaning process of air. It can be achieved by increasing vegetation in the nearby locality and providing Green Belt between residential and industrial areas.

Q.4: How does industry cause air pollution? What is its impact on the environment?
Ans: Many industries like chemical plants, steel, fertilizers, sugar and cement manufacturing units emit a large amount of smoke and pollutants like oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, lead particles and chlorofluorocarbons, which pollute the air. For example, the emissions from the oil refinery at Mathura and the numerous coal-burning industries at Agra contain sulphur dioxide, which causes acid rain. In addition, many industries produce chemicals, some of which escape into the atmosphere causing air pollution.

Q.5: How many types of industrial pollution are there?
Ans: The different types of industrial pollution are air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, noise pollution, radioactive pollution and thermal pollution.

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