Types of Air, Water and Land Pollution

pollution picture showing smoke from a smokestack

The term pollution usually refers to human activities that adversely affect the world around us. More often than not, it comes attached to other general terms related to the ecosystem, such as air pollution or ocean pollution, or to a human sense, such as noise pollution or light pollution.

Scientists studying different types of pollution tend to focus on more specific environmental problems.

Air pollution, for example, can be examined from many different perspectives.

The typical perspective of air pollution sees is as emblematic of the top picture, smoke billowing from the top of an industrial smokestack.

On the other and, consider another type of air pollution, ozone depletion. This type of air pollution, refers to the release of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into the atmosphere that breaks down the ozone layer in the stratosphere, allowing an increase in harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV-B radiation) to reach the ground.

Legislative History Before the Clean Air Act
A historical review covering air pollution legislation prior to the passing of the Clean Air Act.

Water Pollution

Two separate but interrelated questions frame many of today's formal water pollution conversations.

  • What is the source of the pollution?
  • What types of pollution comes from those sources?

Water pollution sources divide between point source and non-point sources.

Point source water pollution refers to specific, identifiable sources, such as sewage treatment plants or industrial plants, that directly discharge material into the water.

For example, hazardous waste discharge in local streams would be recorded. Information about local citizens groups working on watershed issues is also listed if applicable.

Non-point water pollution can not be traced to one definitive source.

The following articles address a variety of fresh water and salt water pollution issues.

Coastal Dead Zones
Coastal areas with depleted oxygen turn into dead zones.

Amoco Cadiz Oil Spill and Prestige Oil Spill
Two case studies examining the ecological effects of oil spills.

James River Ghost Fleet Disappearing
After close to a decade worth of work, it appears as if the James River Ghost Fleet is slowly but surely disappearing.

Mississippi River Pollution
Reviewing the most recent research covering the gamut of pollution problems along the Mississippi River.

Rio Grande River
A changing climate and intensive agriculture are causing stress for the Rio Grande River and its users.

Algal Blooms
An introduction to harmful algal blooms, including a case study of algal blooms in the Great Lakes.

World Wetlands Day
Wetlands are natural filters that help clean up polluted water. Each year World Wetlands Day celebrates them.

Mining and the Environment
A review of some air and water quality issues associated with the mining industry.

Trade and the Environment
A review of some air and water quality issues associated with the mining industry.

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Pollution
An examination of some water pollution problems caused by hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

© 2011-2014 Patricia A. Michaels