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Pollution is the contamination of air, water or soil owing to toxic chemicals that destroy living beings or eco-systems. When we think pollution, we mean its origin and its effects (real or potential).
 List of pollutants (non exhaustive)
- Asbestos a carcinogenic chemical banned today but formerly used for insulation.
- Lead, in paint and old pipes, causes saturnism.
- Organic volatile compounds : found in detergents, sprays and air fresheners or in varnish, glue, pesticides and plywood. These volatile chemicals, aromatic VOCs are mainly (benzene, terpene, toluene, xylene, styrene, naphtalene) and halogen VOCs such as (chloroform, trichloroethene, vinyl chloride, Dichlorobenzene). They're health hazards.
- Benzene is a carcinogenic hydrocarbon . It is used as a solvent. You can inhale it while doing DIY work, painting or if you have some stored in a near-by garage.
- Formaldehyde is an irritating and carcinogenic coulourless gas. It's an aldehyde, present in tobacco smoke, car fumes, chipboard, some detergents, non-creasematerial. Emissions are stonger when the air is wet.
- Acetaldehyde is an aldehyde that may cause cancer.
- Styrene and naphtalene may also be carcinogenic.
- Some aromatic chemicals provoke allergies. This is the case with limonene, a terpene that's naturally found in lemon.
- Some phtalates and artificial musks are thought to be endocrine disruptors. Some phtalates are thought to cause infertility and are forbidden in toys.
- Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas, hard to detect, colourless and odourless. CO (C for carbon and O for oxygen is produced when we burn fossil fuels incompletely (oil, gas, coal) in boilers, water-heaters or car engines.
- Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.
- Ozone pollutes the atmosphere.
- Glycol ethers
- Perchloroethylene is a toxic solvent used for dry cleaning.
- Radon is a radioactive gas found in some floors. It concentrate in the house and may cause lung cancer. Good aeration will diminish the quantity in the house.
 The various types of pollution
 Air pollution
Air pollution is the degradation of the quality of the air we breathe owing to polluting chemicals that we let out into the atmosphere. Pollution peaks often happen in Summer. The main air pollutants are sulfur dioxide de soufre (SO2), ozone, les nitric oxide (NO et NO2), volatile organic compounds (VOC) etc.
Air pollution is mostly the result of the emissions of vehicles, of transportation.
There are 210 compounds of dioxine among which 17 are toxic. At least one of these dioxines is carcinogenic. They're emitted when wastes are burnt or incinerated.
In Britain, a recent study shows 50 000 early deaths are caused by air pollution.
It seems that since people have grown aware of the impact of greenhouse gases on the climate they care less about air pollution and health. Yet what about nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide?
 Air pollution indoors
Indoor air pollution is a major issue since it concerns our homes, our offices as well as classrooms where the air may be even more polluted than outside! And these are places where we spend most of our time.
Indoor pollution causes tiredness, headaches, nauseousness, etc. Everyday, even in Winter, we should open our windows for some 10 minutes to aerate the rooms
Outdoor pollutants get into the house as we bring them on our soles. So, putting off our shoes as soon as we get in is a good habit.
The agents of indoor pollution:
- Tabacco: tabacco smoke pollutes the air inside. It contains 4000 substances among which carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, tar, benzene, heavy metals...
- Heating appliances or water heaters that have flaws can emit carbon monoxide.
- Detergents can emit formaldehyde (an irritating and carcinogenic gas).
- Varnished or laminated floors and plywood emit formaldehyde.
- Carpets et moquettes emit VOCs when new (formaldehyde, ammonia or glycol ethers).
Before putting a new carpet in place, it should be left outside for about a fortnight .
Carpets will keep polluting particles, and release them later. They should be regularly vacuum cleaned, refrain from walking on them with your shoes on.
Plants for air purification: Some plants can improve the air quality. Ivy for instance can absorb benzene. the ficus benjamina, the chlorophytum and the aloe eliminate formaldehyde. Detailed article : Air purification with plants.
 Water pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of water because of wastes, chemicals or micro-organisms.
- Agriculture ( pesticides and fertilizers).
- Household wastes (medecine and biocides from sewage when sewage treatment plants or lagooning can't treat them).
Phosphates pollute waterways : the phenomenon is called eutrophication : algae proliferate and because phosphate acts as a nutrient to them and the oxygen becomes scarce for other organisms. Waterways are also polluted by oil spills and ships that release hydrocarbons.
In many places waste waters are not treated before being discarded because of the cost. This means large quantities of waste waters flow directly into the sea. The consequence may be the proliferation of algae that form a layer on the surface and can block fish gills. Treating water is a priority in temrs of environmental sustainability. Every year, tons of fish die because of pollution.
 Soil pollution
Soil pollution is visible. It can kill thousands of animals and prevents researchers to study species that are still unknown to science.
 Eye pollution
Eye pollution originates in the several degradations worked on a landscape. A plastic bag hooked to the branch of a tree for example. Other eye sores will contribute to this sort of pollution : billboards, windmills, high voltage transmission, traction current lines, roads and motorways, viaducs...
 Genetic pollution
 Light pollution
See Detailed Article : Light Pollution.
 See also
- Renewable energy
- Natural environment
- Sewage treatment plants
- Alternative propulsion
- EPA list of pollutants
- Air quality
- Air quality in European cities
- watchdog : preserving British landscapes
- Impressive slideshow exposing light pollution
- House Dangerous: Indoor Pollution in Your Home and Office and What You Can Do About It by Ellen J. Greenfield and Arthur B. Sacks. ISBN 039474537X