Ways to Stop Pollution

Vijayalaxmi Kinhal
Contributor: Michelle Radcliff
young environmentalist

Understanding the various forms of pollution and how it is created form the first steps in discovering the best way to stop it. Individuals create pollution and individuals can also put an end to many forms of pollution.

Preventing Air Pollution

One of the main causes of air pollution is fossil fuel use that releases many harmful gases and is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. This is harmful for people-especially children and elderly- and environment. To avoid air pollution, the emphasize is on reducing dependence on fossil fuels for energy and transportation, and changing habits.

Switch to Clean Energy

Switching from fossil fuels to clean energy can reduce emissions and provide clean fuel for heating and cooking. Moreover, clean energy sources are also renewable which do not deplete natural resources or cause environmental harm in the production phase reports Penn State University. These include bio-energy, wind, hydroelectricity, solar, ocean, thermal, and geothermal energy.

  • Wind energy can be obtained by turbines that convert kinetic energy in moving air into mechanical energy, which is then converted into electricity. No emissions or solid wastes are produced during the production of wind energy, but can often result in noise pollution.
  • Solar power is produced from the energy from the sun and fuel isn't burned, so there are no emissions or any harmful gases produced in its use and production. It is a technology that is anticipated to reach historically carbon-neutrality, . i.e. the emissions from the production of panels and other equipment will break even with emissions prevented by the energy generation and will remain so forever, according to Atlantic.com. This energy is ideal for residents, institutions and business, and there are many possible applications available, such as photovoltaic singles or panels on rooftops for electricity and heat generation, solar vents to cool houses and solar ovens for cooking.
  • Geothermal heat pump
    Geothermal energy
    Geothermal energy is the naturally occurring thermal energy that is produced by the Earth's molten inner core. It can be used to heat and cool buildings. There is some electricity needed to run the pumps that are part of the system. However, Geo-Energy considers this impact minimal compared to fossil fuel use, and as being beneficial in improving air quality.
  • Ocean wave energy harnesses the mechanical power in constant waves explains Renewable Energy World, which are not dependant on time of day or year. Some technologies available are wave dragon, wave star energy and SARA.
  • Thermal energy is energy in motion. It can be exploited through various systems including, combined heat and power units (CHPs), fuel cell technology and ocean thermal energy.
  • Hydroelectricity is electricity produced by the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. This is currently the most widely used form of renewable energy. However, research findings reported in 2016 by The Seattle Times, has found that dams produce 1.2% of total global emissions, and are not as clean as they were earlier considered to be.
  • Bioenergy is produced from biomass got from living things such as trees and plants or recently dead material, like agricultural and forestry residues, wood and bioenergy crops like corn, switchgrass and poplar etc. Bioenergy's usefulness depends on what the sources of feedstock or biomass are, and how long it takes to grow them. It is not considered completely carbon neutral, when derived from wood and its wastes, as trees require a long time to grow, and burning them contributes to carbon emissions, according to Congressional Research Service (pg. 2).

The U.S. Energy Information Administration FAQ (EIA) shows that renewables totally produced 15% of energy in 2016. The breakdown shows hydropower produced 6.5%, wind produced 5.6%, biomass produced 1.5%, solar produced 0.9% and geothermal produced 0.4%.

Ways to Reduce Car Emissions

Since people cannot do without cars and mobility, there are new clean and alternative technologies already available on the market that are replacing diesel and petroleum fueled cars. These new cars all have the advantage of having zero or reduced emissions. Vehicles using alternative technologies prevent damage to environmental and people points out an Issues report.

  • Electric car
    Electric cars are powered exclusively by electricity instead of gasoline, which is stored in the car's rechargeable batteries. In the past, major automakers would not commit to producing this type of vehicle since the battery charges had very limited driving ranges before needing to be recharged. Electric cars now run with new battery technology, and are more cost effective, have an increased energy storage and require shorter recharging times.
  • Hybrid vehicles use a combination of electricity and gas. These have an electric motor as well as an internal combustion engine, which cuts gas consumption. There are cars, SUVs, vans, trucks, and scooters that run on this technology.
  • Solar powered cars have been on the roads since 2014. They run 500 miles on a single charge and are made for daily use. Falling prices could make this the car of the future according to Renewable Energy World.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell cars are based on a new technology that uses chemical energy from hydrogen fuel, and were on sale by early 2017 according to a 2017 Los Angeles Times report. However lack of customer awareness, dealers and fuelling stations means it is restricted to California as yet.
  • Compressed air cars already have prototypes tested where vehicles run entirely on compressed air or as hybrids with bioethanol or diesel. The first cars could roll out by early 2018 according to Zero Pollution Motors, at costs as low as $10,000, claims Treehugger.

Energy Use

Some other ways to reduce air pollution are by considering:

  • Implementing energy efficient steps at home, from fixing air leaks to replacing thermostats. These small steps can improve and cut your energy use.
  • Passive heating and cooling uses appropriate site selection, buildings design and materials to reduce reliance on energy for temperature moderation, according to Energy.Gov. As Renewable Energy World.com points out, this technique is centuries old and has been used in many parts of the world.
  • Cutting down mileage by car-pooling, using cycles, walking, proper planning, working from or near to home, can reduce air pollution suggests EPA.

Global Warming

Climate change caused due to emissions of greenhouse gases is producing global warming. This is a complex problem that needs to be dealt with at levels of governments, industries, communities and individuals.

Additional Methods

Some indirect measures can be useful to tackle air pollution.

  • Government policies that regulate industrial processes which release gases that can be harmful to environment and people, with the help of laws and cooperation by industries. Such rules exist in many countries in the world including the US, where there are laws to prevent several kinds of pollution, according to EPA.
  • Volunteers planting a tree
    Planting trees can reduce 1% of the air pollution, and is being taken up in urban areas around the world, says a 2017 BBC report.
  • Afforestation is beneficial if the native tree species are planted, and in areas where deforestation has occurred, in lower and mid-latitude regions. This needs to be handled with care and expertise since trees planted in higher latitudes and altitudes can actually increase global warming according to a recent 2017 scientific study.
  • Prevention of deforestation is more beneficial in reducing global warming than replanting notes Guardian.

Preventing Water Pollution

Many sources of water pollution start on land, and make their way into open waterways, groundwater and ultimately to the oceans. There are several ways to stop water pollution that are very easy. These steps are:

  • Conserve soil by checking soil erosion since this is a major source of nutrient pollution as explained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Nutrient Pollution report.
  • Avoid plastics by reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible.
  • Use biodegradable products instead of chemicals ones, like green household cleaners and laundry detergents, since this can end up in household sewage and waste and become a pollutant. Moreover, do not dump hazardous materials, such as paint, motor oil, discarded cooking oil, antifreeze, unused medicines and lawn fertilizers responsibly, down household drains or in the gutter says Simsburg-CT.Org.
  • Improve water efficiency by using a water -efficient toilet or running a washing machine only when fully loaded, adds Simsburg-CT.Org.
  • Chemical fertilizers use should be avoided or reduced in farms and gardens. These are a major source of nutrient pollution reports EPA in the Nutrient Pollution report.
  • Natural manure should also not be used discriminately. As excess of this can also lead to nutrient pollution explains Food Agriculture Organization.
  • Eat sustainable organic food. This promotes organic farming that do not rely on chemical fertilizers to prevent pollution of air, water and soil, says Mercola.
  • Reduce burning fossil fuels since the pollutants can cause acid rain that ends up polluting water ways and harming humans and wildlife. Though no longer discussed it is still a problem points out National Atmospheric Deposition Program. Using low sulphur coal and scubbers/filters to remove nitrogen oxides are other solutions, according to Elmhurst Education.
  • Volunteers Doing Garbage Cleanup
    Prevent littering as much as possible as 80% of ocean pollution starts on land.
  • Government regulation of industries, preventing waste disposal and landfill amounts, and eco-friendly treatment of sewage and waste water can control ocean pollution.
  • Use advocacy and spread awareness of the problems of ocean pollution to get local communities on seashores involved, suggests SaveOurShores.Org.

Preventing Soil Pollution

To help prevent topsoil pollution, and its effects, businesses and governments need to be involved as much as individuals as the main cause of land pollution is industry and agriculture driven. Tackling the sources of land pollution means dealing with:

  • Domestic waste: Follow the same steps used to prevent water pollution, in terms of waste disposal to reduce land pollution.
  • Reduce size of landfills: Proper segregation, recycling and reuse of materials can reduce the size of landfills that affect not only soil, but also water and air quality.
  • Industrial waste: Mining and waste from many industrial process must be dealt with, by afforestation to reclaim land. Moreover waste disposal from industries should be monitored and regulated by policy by governments that must be strictly adhered to by industries.
  • Soil conservation: Soil erosion not only affects fertility but can be a pollution source, when it carries chemicals in it and deposits soil matter elsewhere downstream. Deforestation, over-grazing, and use of chemicals in farms are the main causes and they can be controlled through small and large scale soil conservation measures.

Reasons to Stop All Pollution

Pollution affects all the elements of an ecosystem, including air, water and soil. Pollution kills 1.7 million children less than five years old each year, accounting for one-fourth of all deaths in this age group according to a 2017 Guardian report, and happens due to "toxic air, unsafe water, and lack of sanitation." To find solutions to combat all types of pollution so that delicate ecosystems can thrive once again, causes of pollution should be addressed.

Sometimes a single agent like use of chemical fertilizers causes nutrient pollution affecting air, soil and water, as the EPA's Nutrient Pollution report explains. Restriction of its manufacture and use can reduce 10% of greenhouse emissions points out Mercola. So controlling a single factor can reduce many forms of pollution. That's why it's important to look at the various forms of pollution and end them.

Unraveling the Mystery of Stopping Pollution

Stopping pollution is a complicated issue that takes the effort of big industry as well as individual lifestyle changes. However, no change is too small when it comes to individual efforts. Many times controlling one cause can have a positive effect on multiple fronts. Be proactive in stopping pollution because the best way to influence others is to lead by example.

Ways to Stop Pollution