Pollution and Waste
How do I affect pollution and waste?
After more than a century of heavy industrialization and consumption, the planet’s inhabitants are feeling the impacts of over-crowded garbage dumps, contaminated sites, acid rain and polluted air and water. Along with industry, the everyday actions of individuals – such as driving, yard work, home energy and home water use – are major causes of waste and pollution in Canada.
How do pollution and waste affect me?
Pollutants are substances that directly or indirectly harm human health or the environment. Improperly disposed of toxic substances can build up in living organisms from polluted air or water, or through contaminated food. This can lead to biomagnification, in which the level of contamination inflicts increasing levels of harm on species – including humans – that are higher up the food chain. As well, new science is showing that both short- and long-term exposure to some chemical contaminants in polluted drinking water can have a serious impact on public health. Pollution also causes acid rain, smog and air pollution which are recognized as significant health hazards.
How do pollution and waste affect the environment?
By definition, pollution is any substance that is present in or has been introduced into the environment and has harmful or unpleasant effects. A few of these negative causes and effects include: overcrowded landfills that encroach on wildlife habitats; toxic substances that can cause eggshell thinning, deformities, reproductive dysfunction, tumours, embryo and adult mortality in wildlife; and acid rain that can cause an alteration to the aquatic food web.
How can I make a difference?
You can change your everyday habits and practice pollution prevention to minimize and avoid the creation of pollutants and waste. Pollution prevention focuses on removing the causes of pollution and waste rather than on managing them after being created. Individuals can contribute by: avoiding the use of toxic substances; reducing home energy use; recovering, reusing and recycling materials; and buying and using green products.
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