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Updated on September 28, 2015

Pollution and control measures


Pollution is the contamination of our environment making it relatively unsafe for living. Anything that causes unhealthy living that causes illnesses and diseases. Pollution is also anything that causes environmental hazards that could cause harm to health.

Pollution covers all undesirable changes in the habitat of living organisms, which can have harmful effect on life. Pollution is called by pollutants such as carbon, metallic dust, sulphur compounds, pesticides, halogens and radioactive substances, lead, smoke, sewage, crude oil etc.


Carbon monoxide is the commonest air pollutant. It is produced from the burning of coal and fuel (gasoline). Carbon monoxide conbines with haemoglobin thereby preventing the formation of oxy-haemoglobin.

Automobile and power plants release nitrogen dioxide gas which is reduced to nitrogen monoxide by the action of ultraviolet light. Nitrogen dioxide affects the respiratory system; cause eye and nose irritation as well as dryness of the throat. Sulphur dioxide causes irritation of the respiratory tract.


Noise is the discharge of uncomfortable loud sound into the atmosphere. Sources include radio, loud speakers, aircraft, generators, etc.


Water pollution is dangerous to human health and aquatic life. Water pulltants include oil, industrial effluents and faeces.

Oil spillage is a serious source of water pollution. It can occur at the site of exploration, lifting of oil from one place to another by tankers as well as during distribution and marketing of oil.

The consequences of oil spillage include eutrophication (lack of oxygen).When oil spreads on water, it prevents diffusion of air into the water. Deficiency if oxygen is harmful to aquatic life.


Waste products from manufacturing industries like chemicals and heavy metal (lead, zinc, mercury) are deposited into the open water. These are poisonous to aquatic life.


Sewage is commonly disposed off into large body of water. For example in Lagos, Nigeria, faeces are deposited into the lagoon. This will eventually lead to eutrophication.

Sewage disposal into bodies of water can also encourage microbial growth and spread of diseases. High concentration of faecal material in water body can lead to:

1. Increase in biochemical/ biological oxygen demand (BOD) resulting in oxygen stress.

2.Contamination by nitrates and phosphate build up due to the reductive processes going on. The result is that these nitrates and phosphates promote algal growth. Also heavy plant growth can affect navigation.


Soil can be polluted through oil spillage; uncontrolled use of fertilizers and herbicides burning of refuse dumped on the soil can also cause soil pollution.

Oil can block the air space in the soil making condition unfavourable to soil microbes that are mainly aerobes. Chemicals such as fertilizers and herbicides as well as the burning of refuse on soil destroy soil physical and chemical structures.


1. Government should legislate on environmental sanitation.

2. Human faeces and urine should be disposed of properly.

3. Harmful wastes from industries should be made harmless or prevented from getting into habitable areas.

4. Workers in industries where pollutants are common should be protected and made to undergo constant medical check-ups.

5. Refuse should be deposited in covered dustbins and disposed off by composing or burning in an incinerator.

6. Leakages of oil, burning of gas in the oil fields should be reduced to the barest minimum.


Sewage includes faeces, urine, bath water, and water from washed clothes etc. The methods often used for its disposal are:

1. Pit Latrines: They should have covers and be built away from wells and dwelling places.

2. Bucket Latrines: The use of bucket should be discouraged. It is a dirty practice and the bucket carriers are open to attack of diseases before the material is buried.

Flush Toilets: This consists of an underground septic tank with an associated soak away.

The waste(faeces) inside the toilet bowl is flushed off first into septic tank. The sewage normally settles to form sludge or solid waste, which is acted upon, by anaerobic bacteria to form cakes that could be used as biofertilizers. The above liquid effluent drains into the soak away pit. This is the most hygenic way of disposing sewage.


Do you experience pollution of any kind in your area? How serious is it?

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You can see that pollution of all kind is detrimental to our health. We must ensure that we keep our surroundings neat, ensure that our factories and refineries are working in proper condition that it doesn't contaminate the air. Our refuse bins must be properly sealed to avoid mosquitoes from messing around the place. We must stop clean up our environment daily and regularly. Those who fail to comply with these should be reported to relevant authorities. We must all be conscious of this fact that our environment defines who we really are. People value you based on how kept your environment is. Stay safe, stay healthy!


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