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A chemical hazard occurs when a given location is contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals. It can as well happen, when physical or biological elements of the earth are tampered with to a point that normal environmental functions are extremely affected. These harmful chemicals can be constructions and industrial wastes, chemical spillages and the toxic materials deliberately released to the environment. Releasing toxic substances to the environment has been a way of life for years, but the major problem started with urbanization, that is the industrial revolution era.
Effects of Chemical Hazard on
This occurs when chemicals, biological wastes or specific matter are released to the environment whether natural or manmade, to cause harm to humans or living organism They can be in solid state, Liquid droplets or in gaseous state. Effects of air contamination include: High Ultra Violet radiation, acidic rain, enhanced ground level Ozone concentration, green house and increased Nitrogen Oxides levels. The most destructive chemicals to the air mostly when released by Nuclear explosions are; Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and Ozone Volatile Organic Compounds.
Nitrogen Oxide, released from high temperature burning in air, has a sharp biting smell that can cause a lot of discomfort to humans and animals; it is the most famous air hazard.
Sulfur Dioxide, Produced by manufacturing processes and by volcanic eruptions. When Sulfur is oxidized further it causes acid rain. Combusted coal and petroleum contain sulfur and so, it cannot be stressed enough the effect of these fuels as the source of power energy.
Carbon Monoxide is an extremely poisonous gas that is odorless, colorless and non -irritating, obtained from unfinished burning of firewood or coal. Vehicle exhaust pipes are the main and worst source of this hazard.
Carbon Dioxide, causes acidity in ocean, it is released from sources as production of cement, combustion and respiration. It has the same characteristics as Carbon Monoxide. Ozone Volatile Organic Compounds has Methane as a category which is causes global warming by green house gases. Non Methane can cause leukemia if humans are exposed to it for a long time.
Other chemicals include; Particulate matter, which are smaller particles loosely hanging in gas and Persistent free radicals which causes heart diseases. Lead and Copper are some of the toxic metals to the air. Ammonia used as fertilizer though beneficial is very hazardous. Radio activity mainly from explosions and natural reasons like radioactive decay are very caustic. Ground level ozone causes smogging.
This is caused by releasing harmful substances which are more than the volume of the water. The damage is usually done to the lakes, rivers, oceans and other water sources. This substance release in water environment whether directly or indirectly results to hazard to human health, marine work and the quality of water. Attaching a factory pipe to discharge its wastes to the water also known as point source and, oil spill are some of the ways of polluting water. In April 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster caused death to millions of animals both reptiles and birds. Water hazard include;
Sewerage – People in the immediate surrounding tend to suffer from water related diseases like Cholera and typhoid. Viruses can be carried down the drain to the environment which can cause severe illness to so many people. It can also kill marine animals if directed to the seas and lakes.
Radioactive Waste – A lesser concentration can cause cancer but in high concentration can lead to death. This hazard is released from nuclear plant which releases its radioactive waste into the water.
Chemical Waste – Toxic metals for example polychlorinated biphenyl’stakes a very long time to break down and so its effects can be felt for decades. So when they are released, one can only imagine its detrimental hazards to the water. 73 years ago a Japanese factory released a huge amount of mercury in to the ocean, which poisoned more than 2000 people who had eaten fish from the ocean. Many people died and many more disabled as a result of this.
Oil – this is caused by excessive shipping and people on the dry land pouring drains and during rainy seasons get swept to the oceans. Tanker spill is also very dangerous. Oil spill is not a strange occurrence since it happened in the United States of America in 1989; enough animals were killed to say the least. Oil spill disturbs the ecosystem and wash up the sandy beaches hence adversely affects tourism. The people living around the sea carry all the burden of the spill after this.
Thermal Hazard raises intense heat thus reducing Oxygen dissolution in the water making the water not to fit to support its aquatic life.
This is caused by dumping home and industrial waste carelessly. Excessive agricultural practices are harmful to land; this is done by littering locations with chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. Wastes from agriculture, mining, industries, sewage treatment, ashes and garbage are some of the solid matter released by human actions. Skin infections, birth defect, cancer and respiratory problems are some of the effects of land hazards to the animals and humans. Plants also suffer when they are grown in hazardous land.
Solutions currently implemented
It is hard to identify contaminated water but land and air can be noticed by even nonprofessional can. Therefore, the first step is to sample the water and measure the quantity of chemicals concentration. According to a study carried out in Iowa USA in 1997, 50% of the well’s water was found to be contaminated with hyacinth, a quarter of lakes were found to be unfit for swimming and fishing.
According to the report released in January 2011 in to the cause of the Gulf oil spill, concluded that safety and regulations were not adhered to. This ended up being blame game between the supplier who claimed that it was only engineering and technical conditions and the consumer claiming safety lapses. Fact is, this was a hazard and solutions had to be found.
Report concurred that, tight regulations and strict inspections were to be carried out for commercial vessels. Tankers in bad conditions should not be allowed to transport oil. Education and professional training certification was to be carried in the industries. Conditions of the vessels should have been checked prior to transportation. It was agreed that ship movements should be inspected and regulated strictly. They also concurred that the tankers would increase their movement speed avoid accidents.
Deforestation – ‘Cut one tree, plant three trees’ is a slogan by the second president of Kenya; he said this because forest cover was diminishing leaving the land bare, rainwater would sweep fertile land to the lake with all its impurities. Trees, act as gutters to hold water and prevent soil erosion. Mercury emission is prevented by reducing coal burning and minimizing the amount of factory emission that cause acid rains.
In the recent global warming conference, John Gale spoke of “Carbon Capture and Storage: global potential and status”. He suggested that carbon could be turned into liquid and stored underground after capturingit. At this conference, the attendees tried to find solutions to green revolutions. They looked at different ways to avoid carbon emission to the environment.
Technologically, computer and electronics companies are advising their customers to return their electronic after certain years for recycling. There are international laws governing water because, it has no boundaries and laxity in one country’s regulations on its water can cause harm to other countries. Among the laws are ‘1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea’ with over 120 states signatories
In some countries if a person is found littering the roads, parks or streets, they get charged by the council police. Most people litter because they know that the government or someone else will take their mess. By charging them, collected revenue from defaulters enhances economy. If for instance a company directs its waste to the river or if a tanker company fails to take its safety regulations and spills oil in ocean, they have to pay for its clean up services and all the organisms’ death.
Educating people about the reason for conserving the environment is the utter most steps to attaining a clean world. Every person should be made aware that whatever decision they make in the present would determine their future. Education should start at a very tender age, probably at nursery school then children grow up knowing that it is their duty to conserve the environment.
Twenty Years ago Britain youth formed a group called “Surfers against Sewerage” which forced the government to clean up the sewerages. This was after they got tired of walking on sewerage and getting infections from this contamination. Many youths worldwide carry sessions to clean up their locations. There are success stories so far because there are countries that shoppers have woven shopping bags instead of paper bags. Most offices are trying to introduce the green revolution program in their operation. Vehicles are manufactured that do not emit petroleum gases. Eco-friendly coffins were introduced just recently though most people are unsure of using it (Buzzi, 2002).
Limitations are general attitude of human beings that, it is the work of the government to take care of everything. There must be somebody to do something so, they usually have thought that even if they threw litters all over, the council is paid to do that, after all they pay tax to gain such services. It is difficult to teach an old dog new trick, if someone grew up with the knowledge that they could eat bananas and throw the peel on the road then that is how they would live. With the expansion of businesses, buildings and the increase in human population, it has been hard to contain and direct wastes to the right channels.
It is up to every person to take care of their surroundings to make it safer for the future generations, animals, plants and the incumbent humans. There is something that each individual can do to have clean water, safe land and pure air. Before blaming the authorities one must stand up and make a change in society. The government should have strict legislative measures to make sure that those who do not abide by the law are punished. There should be no paper bags for carrying items from the shop; they should be replaced with bags that can be used more than once.
Driving cars that exhumes harmful gases should be avoided. There are diesels that are unleaded, which do not cause so much damage to the Ozone layer. There are some items from homes that can be recycled. Litters from homes should be disposed accordingly. Recycling inorganic matter like plastics and glass can be very helpful in the conservation. Teaching Kindergarten pupils the benefits of taking responsibility to avoid situation not be able to play in the future, plays a crucial role because, young children don’t forget what they learn.