Industrial pollution is the release of wastes and pollutants generated by industrial activities into the natural environments including air, water, and land. Additionally, industrial pollution is linked to the degradation of the natural environment. Industrial pollution impacts the environment in multiple ways and has grave consequences on human lives and health.
At the same time, industrial pollution can adversely damage plants, kill animals, cause ecosystem imbalance, and degrade the quality of life. Leading industries such as power stations, steel mills, sewage treatment plants, heating plants, and glass smelting among other production, processing and manufacturing companies are the contributors to industrial pollution.
They release smoke, effluents, material wastes, toxic byproducts, contaminated residues, and chemical consumer products that eventually end up in the environment thereby causing pollution.
Here is a list of the top causes of industrial pollution.
- Toxic Chemicals
The toxic chemicals used by industries in processing and manufacturing are the biggest contributors to industrial pollution. These substances are a threat to attaining quality life and are hazardous to human health and the environment. Industrial facilities across the world generate more than 25 million tonnes of toxic chemicals as production-related wastes and pollutants. These toxic chemical pollutants are released into the environment resulting in various forms of pollution.
- Industrial Consumer Products
Industrial end products such as electronics, car parts, plastics, metals, and chemical utilities such as petroleum, paints, sprays, and cleaning solvents created for human consumption are a major cause of pollution. All these industrial products at some point in their lifetime become obsolete, and a good number of them end up in landfills or water bodies thus causing land and water pollution respectively. Besides, these consumer products contain poisonous chemical elements which can have an adverse effect on the human and animal heath, and plant life.
- Hazardous Waste Streams
Hazardous waste streams treatment is for the most part not done efficiently in the majority of industries. The industrial waste stream contains numerous chemical substances that are defined in terms of reactivity, ignitability, toxicity and corrosivity. As such, the waste generated is always somewhat hazardous and coupled with the lacking waste management systems, the environment is periodically exposed to high scores of industrial waste pollution.
In particular, water streams are the ones that negatively suffer from such trends. Long-term discharge of hazardous waste streams into water cause severe health problems and reduces water quality.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Carbon dioxide (CO2) gas is highly known as a greenhouse gas due to its ability to absorb thermal radiation leading to global warming and climate change. Industrial energy use during production emits high scores of carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere, making it a leading source of CO2 emission. CO2 emissions around the world arise from energy use in commercial, production, processing, and power producing industries combined. Although carbon dioxide emissions from industries have reduced in the past decade, industries remain a major contributor of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
- Existence of Numerous Small Scale Industries
In the recent years, the number of small-scale industries and manufacturing activities has been doubling at a fast rate. The major challenge for small scale industries is that they want to operate, but with limited capital. Per se, they opt for crooked and dangerous means of manufacturing in order to maximize output at the expense of observing environmental laws. In most cases, they operate illegally thereby promoting illegal dumping. Consequently, they release huge loads of toxic pollutants and dangerous chemicals into the environment.
- Degradation and Depletion of Natural Resources
Industries need a consistent supply of fresh raw materials used to produce their respective final products. As a result, scores of raw materials including metals, minerals, trees, and oils are extracted from beneath the earth thereby depleting the resources at the same time degrading land and water resources. Lands are left bare or destroyed owing to deforestation or clearance of vegetation cover to pave the way for industrial raw material extraction.
Raw material extraction also causes pollution to the soil, air, and water, either through the extraction processes or when the toxic compounds of the materials are released into the environment. For instance, oil spills during oil extraction have led to the widespread death of marine birds, fish, mammals and amphibians.
- Use of Outdated Technologies
A number of industries still utilize technologies of the past in their production processes instead of embracing cleaner and green technologies. This is one of the causative factors of industrial pollution in the contemporary era. Use of outdated technologies merely generates large quantities of harmful wastes into the environment.
- Deficient Institutionalization of Anti-pollution Policies
In many countries, especially developing nations, industrial pollution activities are above the bar due to lax anti-pollution policies. As an outcome, industries have continued to pollute the environment with impunity thereby affecting the lives and health of many people. Similarly, plants and wildlife have been badly affected in these regions. Notable cases are in particular nations in Asia and North America where industries have persistently released toxic wastes and poisonous gases into the environment.
- Lack of Effective Industrial Land use Planning
Industrial sprawl is a major problem in most industrial townships. Most industrial townships are set up without considering proper land use planning such that it has made it difficult to manage wastes and utilize production energy efficiently. As a result, it has given rise to improper damping and continued emission of toxic gases.