Industrialization has not slowed down since then, and as economies and populations have continued to grow over the years, so too has environmental pollution. This has created a serious global problem that has affected biodiversity, ecosystems, and human health worldwide. Whilst pollution can take several forms, such as light, noise, and radioactive waste, the three major types are air, land, and water pollution. Humans contribute to each of these every day.
Air pollution is a major problem, especially in more urban areas. It is typically caused by fossil fuel combustion from the transportation and industrial sectors, which emit harmful pollutants such as PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide. Whilst people from all walks of life are affected, the most polluted areas are typically in the developing world. As of 2019, the most polluted country in the world is Bangladesh, which has dangerously high PM2.5 particulate matter concentrations. In this same year, Delhi, India was ranked as the world’s most polluted capital city for the second year running. People all around the world suffer from high air pollution exposure, causing millions of premature deaths every year.
Much like emissions, waste generation has been increasing steadily around the world, with those in developed nations producing the most per capita. One of the most harmful forms of waste is electronic waste. Electronics can consist of toxic components such as mercury and chromium, so when devices are not properly disposed of it can lead to soil and water contamination. However, e-waste typically ends up in landfill sites in developing countries.
Another form of waste that has been brought to the public’s attention in recent years is plastic waste. Since the 1950s, billions of tons of plastic have been produced with only a small fraction of this being recycled. Because of this, huge quantities of plastics end up in oceans, leading to ecological disasters such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.