How to Reduce and Control Pollution to Improve Environment
A is an elaborate and systematic plan of action. We need to find the methods for reducing the pollution as well as means and devices to prevent air pollution. Soil pollution can also be controlled by various means and methods such as landfill, composting etc. Water pollution is also reduced and controlled in the same way in agriculture by following certain measures and methods that are eco-friendly.
Strategies at the individual level
reduce travel demand: Cut down on unnecessary travel by automobiles. Use public transport or car pools.
Use alternative fuels: Use automobiles that conform to the Bharat Norms or use CNG if possible. Bharat Norms are the standard for the emission through cars. They prescribe the pollution limits within which emission are safe. Battery operated two wheelers are also a good option. I have listed also some of the alternative fuels for the vehicles in the latter part of my article.
Get automobiles checked regularly: This will reduce emission as it helps in fuel efficiency and reduces friction in the automobile industry.
Create less waste by changing lifestyle: Cut down on waste and unnecessary use of products. For example, we could do away with the use of cars when we need to travel for shorter distances.
Encouraging recycling: recycling of plastics, glass and other articles will reduce the volume of garbage. We can re-use plastics and cardboard packaging before discarding it. Old bed sheets, towels and other cloth items can be torn up and re-used as dusters and floor cloths etc.
Encourage environment friendly technologies: Many companies manufacture products with labels that certify that they re eco-friendly products or they have taken steps to reduce pollution during manufacturing process of the product. The eco-mark label is one such label that is represented by an earthern pot. We could buy these products only.
Strategies at the social level
Segregation: The community can segregate wet and dry garbage at source, and can set up collective system of garbage disposal. In some countries, garbage is sorted into as many as five groups before it is collected for disposal.
It can start an awareness program or campaigns on environmental issues through talks, television and seminars.
It can celebrate special days like the World Environment Day and the Earth day or even the Earth Hour where the world decide to cut down their mains just for one hour in support of our mother nature.
It can even launch movements and agitations. Some examples of community participation that have helped conserve the environment are Chipko movement, Appiko movement, Beej Bachao Andolan, Silent Valley protests etc.
Some newspapers regularly publish data about the chemicals and SPMs that pollute the air in various metro cities. This encourages individuals and NGOs to redouble their efforts and to prevent air pollution.
A community has great strength. Since it can take collective measures, it is more effective. Pooling of resources is also possible and many new ideas may come up in group discussion.
Strategies at the government level
making laws and implementing them
The laws ensure environmental protection by imposing fines and setting up emission limits.
In India, many laws have been implemented to protect the environment. Some of them are:
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
The Air ( Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
The Water( Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,1974
The Environment Protection Act, 1986
The Forest Conservation Act, 1980
Setting of emission standards: Standards are descriptions of environmental purity. Standards specify limits to which emissions can be made without destroying the environment. Most standards in our country is set up by Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) and the Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB).
Initiate technological improvement and up-gradation: The government should encourage industries to switch to cleaner and eco-friendly technologies. For example, the government encouraged the industries near Taj Mahal to switch to a gas as a source of energy rather than crude oil.
Improving traffic management: The government should ensure that traffic moves freely and smoothly. The more we apply brakes or changes gears the more pollutants we release.
Create awareness: The government should use the television or radio network to create awareness among people on various environmental issues.
Take part in international conferences: The government could participate in international conferences and treaties that foster environmental protection. our country has taken part in many of them. Some of them are Earth Summit and Kyoto Protocol.
Technologies strategies for reducing air pollution
Treatment of pollutants before they are released: For this purpose, control devices may be used. Some such devices are electrostatic precipitator, wet scrubber and fabric filters. In an electrostatic precipitator, an electric charge is created between two electrodes. So, when the pollutant gases passes between these electrodes due to the charge, some of the harmful materials are removed.
Modification and maintenance: This also reduces air pollution. For example, if friction is reduced then machines use less energy. As a result, less fuel is burnt.
Use of alternative sources; One of the methods to reduce air pollution, we may use CNG, lead free petrol, solar energy, wind energy etc.
Methods to control air pollution
Change of raw material
If some type of raw materials are responsible for causing air pollution, another type of raw material can be used to reduce or eliminate the formation of pollutants. For example,
Liquefied Petroleum Gas or CNG can be used instead of coal or diesel to reduce the release of undesirable particles.
Low sulphur content fuel, which has less harmful emissions can be used instead of using high sulphur fuel.
Change of process Change or modify the process of production in order to lower the atmospheric pollutants. For example, the coal is washed before Pulverizing it to reduce the fly ash emissions.
Modify the existing equipment Undesirable emissions can be controlled by modifying the existing equipments. For example:
If open hearth furnaces are replaced with controlled basic oxygen furnaces or electric furnaces, emission of smoke, carbon monoxide and fumes will be reduced.
In petroleum refineries, loss of hydrocarbon vapors from storage tanks can be reduced by designing the storage tanks with floating roof covers.
Maintenance of equipment Many times, a badly maintained equipment consumes more energy and at the same time produces more fumes. Occasionally, there are losses due to leakage of the volatile or liquid material. Regular check ups of seals, gaskets and exhausts can reduce emissions. You may use Dr. Fixit or any other adhesive, it depends on you.
Pollution control equipments
Some of the pollution control equipments are:
Filters: Filters separate the particulate matter form the gases in electric power plants.
Cyclones: The polluted air is passed through metallic cylinder at high speed. The particulates strike the walls of the cylinder and fall at the bottom.
Gravitational settling chamber: This device consists of huge rectangular chambers. The gas stream polluted with particles are allowed to enter form one end. The horizontal velocity of the gas is kept low in order to give sufficient time for the particles to settle by gravity.
Scrubber: It is a device that employs spray of water to catch pollutants. It is used to remove acid gases that easily dissolve in water.
Methods to control water pollution
Prevent run-off of manure. Divert such run-off to a basin for settlement. This is nutrient rich water that can be used in the fields. If you watch Doordarshan, you shall know this application.
Have a separate drainage for sewage and one for rainwater to prevent overflow of sewage with rainwater.
Plant trees to reduce pollution by sediments.
Use bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides. Judicious use of these will reduce the surface run-off and leaching.
Installation of treatment plants for reducing water pollution
Primary treatment In primary treatment, screens, grit, and sedimentation chambers are used in a serial order. After the water passes through them, chlorine gas is used to kill microbes. However, in this process, various types of organic wastes cannot be separated.
Secondary treatment In this method, organic matter is biologically degraded by microbes. The biological degradation of organic matter takes place under aerobic conditions. The sludge material settle in the sedimentation tanks and are removed through sludge digester.
Tertiary treatment In this method, the chemicals remaining in the water are segregated and removed. For example, when the iron slats are added, precipitation of phosphorus takes place.
Methods for reducing soil pollution
Segregation, composing, landfill and incineration: In the segregation method, waste are separated before their disposal. In vermi-composting, all the dried leaves from the garden and roadside and wet kitchen waste is put in a compost pit with some earthworms. Landfilling involves dumping wastes in a low lying area and then covering them with a loose layer of soil. Incineration involves burning wastes in a machine called the incinerator. These are the best methods to reduce soil pollution.
Find alternative to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides: We can use bio-pesticides like neem, or water in which tobacco leaves have been soaked. These are harmful for pests but not for humans.