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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pollution in Our Inner Environment

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What is pollution?
Mixing of undesirable substances so as to change the natural quality of something is called as pollution. Our environment is burdened with high intensity of pollution which is tending to change natural conditions of the earth, its atmosphere, water, plants and animals. Changes in natural quality and the original set of all these things are sure to lead to death and destruction if pollution remains unchecked. Today, pollution is affecting not alone to our external environment, it is affecting our inner environment equally or rather more seriously.
Pollutions of various types
Various types of pollutants (pollution causing agents) are intoxicating our internal environment through matter and energy that enter into our bodies. Many types of unwanted chemical substances or minerals enter into our bodies in excess quantities through the water we drink and the food items we eat. The adulterated food and oil and other fatty substances that come to our houses from markets and enter into our bodies cause hazardous impacts on our health. Some of these substances carry different types of microorganisms with them and remain potent enough to cause harmful impacts on the community health as well.
Bio- accumulation and Bio-Magnification
Pollutants present in our resources like food and water join the food-chain of the local ecosystem and enter into our bodies where they get accumulated in our tissues. Their potency gets on increasing gradually as we continue the intake of such substances and in this way these substances cause serious health hazards in the long run. The accumulation of toxic pollutants in our tissues is called as bioaccumulation and increase in their potency in the long run through continuous intake is called as bio-magnification. Accumulation of Murcury in the bodies of people living near Minamata bay in Japan had caused a strange disease called as Minamata.
The Minamata disease and other diseases
The Minamata disease which is sometimes referred to as Chisso-Minamata disease (チッソ水俣病 Chisso-Minamata-byō),is a neurological syndrome which is caused by sever poisoning due to accumulations of mercury in human bodies. Some of the important symptoms of this disease are ataxia, numbness of hands and feet, weakness of muscles, narrowed field of vision and impairment of hearing and speech. Insanity, paralysis, coma and death may follow in extreme cases.
This disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture in Japan in 1956.The disease was caused by bioaccumulation of mercury in persons who ate the fish caught from the Minamata Bay the water of which was contaminated with methyl mercury contained in the effluent of Chisso Corporation’ chemical factory, which joined the water of the bay from 1932 to 1968.
Besides Minamata, there are names of numerous other diseases that are caused due to bioaccumulation and bio-magnification of different chemical substances that remain in soil, water, air and food items. These substances are absorbed by plant roots or plant bodies and are transferred to higher trophic levels to reach to humans through the food chains operating locally. There they get accumulated, biologically magnified and become powerful enough to cause some serious health hazard.
Occupational Problems of health
Humans working in different occupational settings get caught by the pollutants released from the same site. These people often suffer from different types of diseases related to their occupation. Such types of diseases are called as Occupational Diseases.
The knowledge about environmental diseases started gaining momentum, with the recognition of the occupational diseases during Industrial Revolution. Diseases that are caused to a person due to a person’s particular type of occupation are called as occupational diseases. Pneumoconiosis like Asbestosis, silicosis, Byssinosis etc is some examples of occupational diseases. All of these diseases are caused through air pollution in the area where workers work for long hours.
The coal miners are frequently caught by the black lung disease, which is also called as Pneumoconiosis (plural- Pneumoconioses).It is the general term, applied to diseases basically caused due to the deposit of dust and particles of organic and inorganic origin into human lungs. These particles include particles of coal, sand, asbestos, and different types of minerals. Pneumoconiosis if caused due to the deposit of coal dust in the lungs of coal miners, leads to a serious lung disease called as Black Lung disease. The deposit of cotton fibres, Jute fibres, hemp fibres etc. into the lungs of human beings (and even cattle also) cause pneumoconiosis and other diseases including cancer of respiratory tract.
Workers working in the asbestos industry are caught by the serious lung disease called as asbestosis. In this case asbestos particles entering into lungs are engulfed by macrophages found in the lung tissues. These are a group of phagocytic cells acting as the ultimate defence against the inhaled particles or fibres in the work settings. Presence of high number of these cells in the deep sputum indicates the exposure of the individual to high particulate pollution. A Large number of macrophages are killed in their attempt of engulfing particles of silica, coal, cement, and fibres of cotton industries. The contents of macrophages get spread within the bronchiolar cavities. The condition gradually becomes serious and leads to the death of the worker.
Silicosis is caused due to the deposit of silica in the lungs of workers working in silica industries or at the sand blasting sites. Byssinosis is the lung disease caused due to the deposit of cotton dust in the lungs of workers working in textile industries. The total blame for these diseases goes to the air pollution.
Key Words: pollution, pollutants, inner environment, ecosystem, food-chain, minerals, water, soil, air, resources, minamata, Japan, occupational diseases, silicosis, black lung disease, coal, silica, bronchiolar cavities, macrophases, cotton industries, fibres,

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