Digital Study Material on Protection of Our Environment
Why should we be concerned about the environment?
- Environmental problems once begun, can take a long time before they can be corrected.
- Damage to the environment can alter the whole ecological cycle, resulting in catastrophic consequences
- Even a small damage to the environment caused at a local level can impact the environment at a global scale for generations to come
- It is important to recognize that one of the real sources of environmental damage is our unfettered need and desire for modern goods and services
- Many of us assume that manufacturing companies are the only cause for environmental damage, and we must learn about all possible causes
- It is our duty to be knowledgeable and be concerned with how our day- to-day activities and decisions can impact the environment
- We also have an obligation to preserve the environment and the species for future generations
As citizens, we have the right to demand the government to establish and enforce regulations to protect the environment
Some of the common environmental damages
- Global climate change, in particular global warming
- Ozone depletion
- Loss of habitat and endangerment of species
- Surface water chemistry changes
- Soil degradation
- Precipitation acidity, in particular, acid rain
- Decreased visibility
- Toxicity in plants and crops due to herbicides and pesticides
- Photochemical smog
- Groundwater pollution
- Impact of radioactive material
- Toxic sludge
- Oil spills
- Toxic sedimentsHazardous wastes
Impact of industry on the environment
The effects on the environment connected with industrial activities are mainly related to the production of industrial wastes that can be divided into different types:
solid waste, such as dust particles or slag from coal, liquid wastes from various processes including radioactive coolants from power stations and gas wastes, primarily produced by the chemical industry.
Some of the major effects of industries on the environment are as follows:
Industrialization contributes a significant part of the economic development and prosperity of the country. On one hand, it provides employment opportunities and wealth generation while, on the another hand it leads to following environmental deterioration:
- It leads to the depletion of natural resources
- It leads to air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution
- Global warming, climatic changes are the major consequences of industrialization
- It causes acid rain
- It leads to the degradation of land quality
- It leads to the generation of hazardous waste, whose safe disposal becomes a significant problemThese industries are responsible for the following adverse diseases and ill effect like silicosis and pneumoconiosis, tuberculosis, skin diseases and deafness.
Describe what is meant by the ‘Environment’.
What is the environment?
The environment is everything around us. This is all external conditions and factors, living and nonliving, which can affect any living organism or ecosystem.
What is environmental management?
Environmental management is the planning and implementation of practices aimed to manage the human impact upon the environment.
What is sustainability?
Sustainability is the ability of earth’s various systems, including human economies and cultural systems to survive and adapt to changing environmental conditions indefinitely.
What are the four principles of sustainability?
Through the study of how life on earth has survived and adapted to significant changes, environmental scientists have determined that human societies need to:
- Become more reliant on renewable energy (specifically solar energy)
- Protect and preserve biodiversity
- Control population growth
Recycle and reuse nutrients
How do we become more sustainable?
We can become more sustainable through pollution prevention, switching to renewable energy, making wise purchasing decisions, waste prevention, protecting habitat, environmental restoration, less resource waste, population stabilization, and protecting natural capital.
Definitions of pollution.
Environmental pollution is the contamination of the earth’s biological and physical components which include water, air and land. This leads to their depletion to the extent that normal ecological processes are severely affected. Pollution is when the land, air, water or anywhere on earth gets contaminated.
Contamination means that something is dirty, grimy, and impure. All the different types of pollution on our earth that are caused by humans are contaminating the environment and not making it fit for use or at least they are decreasing the efficiency of it. Pollution can be found everywhere on the globe, even in the Polar Regions. Pollution destroys and harms not only the air, the water, and the environment, but also humans, animals, and plants. Pollution affects us all.
There are many different types of pollution, though not all types of pollution can be, seen. However, they all harm our ecosystem. An ecosystem includes all living organisms and how they interact together and with their environment. The types of pollution that affect us can be, classified into four main types.
- Air Pollution: is anything that
contaminates the natural composition
of the chemistry of the air. This means
that anything that disturbs the natural
state of our atmosphere is considered
air pollution. Examples of things that
might contaminate the air is if there
are too many gases or smoke or other
vapors that cannot through a natural process be removed and cleared away.
Sources: Vehicle exhaust, which is the smoke that comes out of the exhaust pipe in cars, deforestation and forest fires because this destroys a primary source of oxygen, smoke and gases from factories and industries…
Effects: Smog increases, acid rain increases, higher rates of asthma, decrease in crops because of the decrease in oxygen, lung problems…
- Water Pollution:
When the water is no longer pure and contains bacteria or chemical contaminants. All these impurities decrease and lower the quality of the water and can have serious effects on the marine life. Water pollution happens in oceans, rivers, lakes, and even in fresh water and water reservoirs.
Sources: Littering in the water, sewage, excessive
use of fertilizers washed away in waters, thus affecting the marine life, oil spills from tankers and ships in waters, chemicals reaching or washing away in streams or water supplies.
Effects: Decrease in drinking water, decrease in quality of water, serious harm to marine life…
- Land or Soil Pollution: is when something happens to the soil or land that it no longer can keep its growth rate or if something disturbs the natural balance of growth in that area. The balance can be in terms of planting crops, or preserving the animals and wildlife, or just making sure that the natural environment is kept pure as it is without anything contaminating it.
Sources: Oil spills, sewage and waste dumping, the mishandling of solid waste, which is garbage; deforestations, pesticides and use of other chemicals, deforestation as that reduces the amount of oxygen produced…
Effects: Desertification, which means that good cultivation land can turn into deserts, a decrease in crops, wildlife becoming extinct or dying…
- Noise Pollution: is when humans make and produce high levels of noise, which are beyond the regular.
Sources: traffic, concerts, airplanes, industrial machinery, construction or demolition …
Effects: Hearing loss in humans and animals. Examples of industrial waste streams contributing to air, land and water pollution
- Metallic contaminant like Cd, Zn, Hg etc., destroy bacteria and beneficial microorganisms in the soil
- Industrial wastes including toxins enter the food chain causes number of undesirable effects to living beings and animals
- Industrial effluent damages the natural biological purification mechanism of sewage treatment causing several soil and water borne diseases
- Radioactive industrial pollutant cause unwanted disease when food containing radio-nuclides is taken by man
Definitions of waste
Waste and wastes are terms for unwanted materials. Examples include municipal solid waste (household trash/refuse), wastewater (such as sewage, which contains bodily wastes or surface runoff),
radioactive waste and others. The term is often subjective (because waste to one person is not necessarily waste to another) and sometimes objectively inaccurate (for example, to send scrap metals to a landfill is to inaccurately classify them as waste, because they are recyclable).
Litter refers to waste disposed of improperly.
Waste is a wide-ranging term encompassing most unwanted materials. Waste includes any scrap material, effluent or unwanted surplus substance or article that requires disposal because it is, broken, worn out, contaminated or otherwise spoiled. Wastes are ‘those substances or objects which fall out of the commercial cycle or chain of utility’.
Four broad categories of potential waste are:
Worn but functioning substances or objects that are still usable (albeit after repair) for the purpose they were, made
Substances or objects that can be put to immediate use otherwise than by a specialized waste recovery establishment or undertaking for example ash from a power station used as a raw material in building blocks
Degenerated substances or objects that can be put to use only by establishments or undertakings specialized in waste recovery. These are always wastes even if transferred for recovery for the value, for example, contaminated solvents or scrap Such substances only cease to be a waste when they have been, recovered Substances or objects which the holder does not want and which he has to pay to have taken away. If materials or objects are consigned to the process of waste collection then, they are a waste but they may not be where they are, fit for use in their present form by another identified person
Pollution and waste control:
Pollution control is a term used in environmental management. It means the control of emissions and effluents into air, water or soil. Without pollution control, the waste products from consumption, heating, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, transportation and other human activities, whether they accumulate or disperse, will degrade the environment.
The waste hierarchy is a process used to protect the environment and conserve resources through a priority plan established in waste policy and legislation. The hierarchy establishes preferred program priorities based on sustainability. To be, sustainable, waste management cannot be solved only with technical end-of-pipe solutions and an integrated approach is necessary.
The waste management hierarchy indicates an order of preference for action to reduce and manage waste and is, usually, presented diagrammatically in the form of a pyramid. The hierarchy captures the progression of the material or product through successive stages of waste management, and represents the latter part of the life-cycle for each product.
The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum
amount of waste. The proper application of the waste hierarchy can have several benefits. It can help prevent emissions of greenhouse gases, reduces pollutants, save energy, conserves resources, create jobs and stimulate the development of green technologies.
In the hierarchy of controls, pollution prevention and waste minimization are more desirable than pollution control. In the field of land development, low impact development is a similar technique for the prevention of urban runoff.
Prevention: The prevention of waste is the most vital point in the waste hierarchy. Prevention or reduction minimizes the generation of waste products in the first place. Prevention
usually, results in the least environmental and economic life cycle cost because it requires no collecting or processing of materials. Prevention also typically produces significant benefits in terms of production efficiencies and the use of resources. It involves using less material in design and manufacture trying to keep products for longer and using less hazardous materials.
Reduce: Source reduction involves efforts to reduce hazardous waste and other materials by modifying industrial production. Source reduction methods involve changes in manufacturing technology, raw material inputs, and product formulation. At times, the term “pollution prevention” may refer to source reduction.
Re-use: The reuse of waste is the next most desirable option. It is any operation where products or materials that are not waste are used again for the same purpose for which they were, intended. Reusing waste often requires the collection but relatively little or no processing. It involves checking, cleaning, repairing, and/or refurbishing, entire items or spare parts.
Recycle: Recycling of waste is the next step in priority. It is any activity that includes the collection of used, reused, or unused items that would otherwise be considered waste. Recycling involves sorting and processing the recyclable products into raw material and then remanufacturing the recycled raw materials into new products.
Recovery: The recovery of waste is further, separated into categories: the recovery of materials and the recovery of energy. Whichever of these two choices is better for the environment, and human health is the preferred option. The recovery of materials is most often, preferred and includes activities such as recycling and composting. These management activities require a collection system and a method of material processing and conversion into a new product. Recovery of energy, such as incineration, is, usually, the less preferred option. The conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity, or fuel is done through a variety of processes, including anaerobic digestion, gasification, and pyrolysis.
Responsibly release or dispose of: The last resort is disposal and is only, considered once all other possibilities have been, explored. Disposal is any operation that involves the dumping and incineration of waste without energy recovery. Before final disposal, a considerable amount of pre- treatment may be necessary to change the characteristics of the waste in order to reduce the quantity or harmfulness of the waste and that may include physical, thermal, chemical, or biological processes. Landfills are the most common form of waste disposal and the final disposal option.
Employer duty of care
Employer duty of care lasts from the moment producing the waste until you give it to a licensed waste business to deal with. Employer is still responsible for checking how that business deals with waste if Employer suspect it’s not following the duty of care. Company should report if another business mishandles Employer waste.
Main elements of an environmental management system
Companies should not only focus on evaluating a company conformity with existing legislation and regulations but should define possible environmental targets to be reached through a time- bound, step-by-step process which would include:
- The definition of company environmental objectives and policy
- The definition of short, medium and long-term strategies
- The adoption of a cradle-to-grave approach
- The allocation of appropriate budget resources
- The integration of health and safety within environmental audit procedures
- The participation of workers and trade union representatives in the analysis and decision-making process
- The establishment of an environmental audit team with worker representatives
An environmental management system (or commonly referred to as an EMS) is a structured system designed to help organizations manage their environmental impacts and improve environmental performance caused by their products, services and activities. ISO 14001 environmental management system provides a structure to environmental management and covers areas such as training, record management, inspections, objectives and policies.
Implementation of an environmental management system requires the following steps to be completed by the organization:
- Development of an environmental policy that reflects it’s commitments
- Appointment of a person(s) responsible for its coordination
- Identification of how the organization interacts with the environment
- Identification of actual and potential environmental impacts
- Identification of relevant legal and other requirements
- Establishment of environmental objectives, targets and programs
- Monitoring and measurement of the progress to achieve it’s objectives
- Reviewing the system and environmental performance
- Continuous improvement of the organization’s environmental performance
Examples of how businesses can help to reduce pollution and waste
There are many different approaches to assessing activities, to reduce pollution and waste
The following are important potential components of any such programme:
- Definition of flow diagrams for each operational unit
- Monitoring of process inputs by
operational unit. For example: water,
energy, raw materials used, number of workers involved, health, safety and environmental risk assessment, organization of work
- Monitoring of process outputs by operational unit, for example, quantification of products/byproducts, waste water, gaseous emissions, solid wastes for disposal on and off site
- Adoption of company targets
- Feasibility analysis of potential barriers (economic, technical, environmental, social) and adoption of consequent programmes
- Adoption and implementation of an information strategy
- Adoption and implementation of training strategy to promote worker awareness and full participation
- Monitoring and evaluation of performance/results !