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Causes, Effects, and Solutions of Urban Pollution

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Causes, Effects, and Solutions of Urban Pollution

 

Background 

In first and third world nations, urban pollution is considered a menace due to the ever-increasing amounts of air pollutants in the environment that have a damaging effect on the land and water bodies. Within cities, waste disposal and management are componential elements considered in the discourse of urban pollution. The deterioration of buildings and destruction of forests have been enlisted as some of the devastating effects of urban pollution directly caused by acid rain. The impact on the ozone layer necessitates the urgency of resolving urban pollution as it threatens the very existence of both flora and fauna on a global scale (Jacobson 80). With this in mind, it is imperative to evaluate the different intricacies of urban pollutions and their causes, effects, and solutions. This will help better develop functional and effective strategies coupled with resources to ensure that urban pollution is addressed efficiently and the environment is protected. This study will focus on waste and air pollution as the primary sources of pollution in urbanised cities and evaluate effective solutions whose implementation will assist international and national institutions curb such forms of pollution.

Causes

  1. Air Pollutants

In urban areas, transport contributes significantly to pollution as there is great reliance on movement from one locality to the next. The combustion process of fossil fuels used during transportation translates to the release of fumes comprising pollutants that have gained notoriety as greenhouse gases responsible for global warming and related phenomena (Kirwan 51). These gases include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen monoxide, sulphur oxides, hydrocarbons, suspended particulate elements, and lead. The introduction of these gases into the environment compromises the air quality.  Other urban activities which lead to the release of such polluting gases include power generation, domestic heating, industrial processes, motor vehicles and incineration of solid wastes disposed of as garbage (Jacobson 99).  A review some of the major air pollutants and their emissions will help gain comprehension on their influence on the environment and their detrimental outcomes.

  1. Waste

Waste is depicted as anything that lacks in value addition capability and productivity owing to its depletion of life-cycle longevity, therefore, becoming unwanted. With the increase in population as a characteristic of urban areas and drastic change in lifestyles, waste has become increasingly a problematic issue affecting sanitation and the overall presentation of the landscape given the overfilling of landfills and garbage disposal pits. An attributive element contributing to such occurrences is the increased generation of solid waste facilitated by the expansion of industries in cities (Jacobson 75). Another aspect is the high population caused by rural to urban migration coupled with the fast-paced communication networks allowing for localised movement in different cities and states. Characteristic concepts associated with urbanised areas such as ‘use and throw’ have changed the overall mindset of populations further worsening waste disposal system and laying pressure on its management by city councils.

 

Effects

According to studies conducted recently, health outcomes such as eye irritation and, in extreme cases, death, have been attributed to the rising rate of urban pollution.  The worst affected areas include Western Europe and North America indicating that the combustion particulates are primarily responsible for these health complications (Jacobson 80). Public health has also been affected as implied by current scientific evidence that  informs the environmental policies applied by international and national agencies for pollution control. The compromise on air quality is the leading causative agent of most maladies associated with urban air pollution. Allergic respiratory diseases have been highlighted as being on the rise since the age of industrialisation, therefore, indicating their linkage to urban pollution (Kirwan 53). Some of the diseases include bronchial asthma and rhino-sinusitis, whose onset in facilitated by the inhalation of particulate matter emitted from combustion systems and industrial fumes. Given the readily available carriers of aeroallergens, inclusive of plant-derived particles such as pollen grains and fungal spores, their transference into indoor spaces is easily facilitated therefore increasing the likelihood of the development of respiratory diseases.

Relating to waste management, rapid urbanisation coupled with poor handling of waste material and increasing slum populations as observed in developing countries has posed severe health hazards to people living in these areas (Kirwan 54). Firstly, improper management has resulted in dumpsites, landfills, waste-covered streets and draining sewage facilitating the propagation of infections caused by increased exposure to germs. Unhygienic conditions are the outcomes of improper waste management releasing pungent odours within the environment due to the decomposition of wet waste. Research has linked these conditions to health problems observed in urbanised areas where waste management is a concern (Khalaf-Kairouz 1). With the inclusion of the waste chain approach in assessing the impact of improper waste disposal and management on health, studies reveal that some of the effects include low birth weight and congenital disabilities. Also, respiratory, cardiovascular diseases, and high morbidity and mortality rates, have been associated with this pollutant. Secondly, plastic as a waste material also contributes to the deterioration of health in urban areas, which is further worsened by its effect on the overall landscape regarding appearance.

 

Solutions

A change in policies is imperative to control air pollution in urban areas. The current lifestyles associated with activities such as industrialisation have a direct impact on the contamination of air and the reduction of its quality which, in turn, has led to the deterioration of the overall public health and destroying the ozone layer which protects against harmful UV radiations that promote global warming. With the pumping of over 300 tonnes of these gases into the air, the ecosystem is significantly destroyed, demonstrating the need for strategies aimed at resolving this form of pollution (Kirwan 60). Firstly, awareness creation initiatives should be promoted to ensure that people are more receptive to environment-friendly possibilities such as hybrid motor vehicles. By investing in a hybrid model of a car running on hydrogen-based fuel cells or electric motor, the rate of greenhouse gas emissions may be drastically reduced.

 

Government agencies responsible for environment conservation should also spearhead initiatives that promote environment-friendly lifestyles. For instance, compact fluorescent bulbs for lighting can replace the incandescent ones. The advantages of such bulbs are less air conditioning which means less use of power, leading to reduced gas emissions in power generation (Jacobson 81). Another lifestyle change, particularly regarding recycling and waste management, includes encouraging the reuse of plastic bags. This change can be achieved by implementing a fee charge system where people are expected to pay for plastic bags in major retail and wholesale outlets. Through this mechanism, people may be motivated to reuse existing plastic shopping bags instead of purchasing an additional one.

 

Policing as a process ought to be mandatory for regulation of greenhouse emission and an obligation. Such a mandate for the government should be applied in a manner that ensures that industries comply with the rules enacted in protecting the public and environment from the devastating impacts of GH gases. As demonstrated by the United States Environmental Protection Act, the federal clean air act and greenhouse gas standards can be applied as tools for controlling air pollution caused by industrial powerhouses, oil refineries, and powerhouses (Jacobson 83). By placing limits on the greenhouse gas emissions, despite negative aspects such as employee cuts in industries, these rules play a big role in ensuring the environment is safeguarded from the debilitating effects of global warming and climate change caused by air pollution attributed to greenhouse gases. An additional effort involves upgrading the environmental protection administration as exemplified by China, which is a global industrial giant good at curbing the pollution crisis.

 

Concerning waste garbage as an urban area pollutant, innovative measures have been established to ensure consistency is maintained in disposal and recycling processes. The introduction of transfer stations has been considered an innovative and highly effective strategy for managing waste disposal at its ground root level (Kirwan 63). Developed nations like Japan have established such stations to eradicate urban pollution.  The rationalisation of this waste management technology relies on the effectiveness of streamlining garbage transportation processes. With the consideration that this mode also assures reduced fuel combustion, these transport systems are elemental in air pollution reduction also synonymous with urban areas (Jacobson 100). Given the decrease in carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases during the transportation process, as well as proper waste transference from city dwellers to landfills, transfer stations present a mechanism that assures precise and well-executed waste management.

 

The second commendable technology in waste management is incineration conducted by highly efficient incineration stations situated in convenient localities within industrialised cities. Regarding techniques geared towards encouraging environment conservation, it is imperative also to consider application and incorporation of a similar mechanism in safely managing waste (Kirwan 65). Currently, the development of automated incineration devices is underway highlighting key technologies that should be implemented. The beneficial aspect of these devices is turning waste management processes into a less involved and time-consuming activity. Additionally, facilities holding these devices allow for the generation of both high and low calorific compounds (Khalaf-Kairouz 2). Lastly, this advanced incineration approach can help cut global warming by curbing the greenhouse gases emitted during incineration processes.

 

Plastic bottles are considered a major nuisance as a waste product given its negative characteristics and they require effective measures of management. New advanced methods in dealing with plastic bottles, particularly soda bottles, common in urban cities involve their collection and subsequent recycling. Through the application of these processes, it is easier to control pollution caused by this pollutant hence reducing its substantial impact regarding dirtying of the environment, and clogging drainage systems (Khalaf-Kairouz 2). Due to its non-biodegradable nature, it is more efficient to target implementation of methods for improvisation of recycling processes to ensure removal of plastic in the environment. Elemental frameworks whose function is addressing the plastic menace in waste disposal and management necessitates the incorporation of the 3R policy whereby this pollutant can be recycled into useful and reusable products. The principal advantage of this policy is ensuring cost-effectiveness of managing plastic as a waste product, and with the collaboration of advanced technological devices, production of materials such as carpets is actualised through recycling.

 

Food waste, usually collected from food producing companies and restaurants, can be managed through the production infrastructure significant in processing this garbage into reusable resources through recycling (Jacobson 93). The derived products, usually animal feeds and fertilisers, are essential in daily activities such as pet keeping and farming and indicative of recycling as an important waste management process. Considering that the resultant products are environmentally friendly and safe for use, there is the need for proper collection of food waste and recycling which not only ensures that urban cities maintain sanitation and hygiene but also boost various sectors of the economy such as agriculture (Jacobson  95). The enactment of policies, which encourage this mode of recycling allowing for the establishment of related infrastructure within urban areas, can turn waste from an environmental hazard into something useful. Some of these infrastructures include: feed production, fermentation, feed production and power generation facilities.

Landfills in urban areas are attributed to the spread of diseases emanating from contaminants found in the disposed waste (Jacobson 98). Technological advancement allows this concern to be resolved through the creation of semi-aerobic landfills. These structures are elaborate in promoting sanitation and address the detrimental effects of improper waste management. The rationale of these landfills is their ability to stabilise chemical reactions occurring within waste components; therefore, allowing for subsequent rehabilitation of the land after it fulfils its duty as a landfill (Khalaf-Kairouz 2). These wastelands can be reintegrated into recreational parks and sporting fields and this methodology considers crucial facets such as hygiene, sanitation, and public well-being by reducing the vectors of diseases within the landfills.

 

Conclusion

Addressing urban pollution requires an intricate understanding of the primary causative agents inclusive of waste and air pollution through industrial emissions. The effects of these pollutants such as the detrimental impact on public health due to spread of diseases  because of improperly disposed waste, global warming and climate change from greenhouse gases indicate the importance of incorporation of cost and time-effective strategies that can resolving waste management and air pollution issues in urban areas.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Jacobson, Mark Z. “Urban Air Pollution.” Air Pollution and Global Warming, Aug. 2012, pp. 73-100.

Khalaf-Kairouz, Layla. “Post wars solid waste.” Waste Management, vol. 68, 2017, pp. 1-2.

Kirwan, Mark J. “Environmental and Waste Management Issues.” Paper and Paperboard Packaging Technology, vol. 2, no. 12, 2015, pp. 50-83.

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