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Key Notes for UGC Paper 1 People and Environment

Key Notes for UGC Paper 1 People and Environment

Environmental Pollution and Its Effects :Part 1

Topics based on People and Environment Syllabus UGC NET PAPER 1:

  • Air pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Measures taken by government to control pollution
  • Rest of Pollution (Next Section to be added..)

*** This is not descriptive notes,Important and key points has been compiled in view of UGC NET Paper 1 exam Syllabus. Those who wish to prepare topics thoroughly can refer NCERT Books of 10th &&12th Standard.

Here’s what you need to know about the Environmental Pollution and Its Effects, how it’s affecting us, and what’s at stake in light of Questions asked in UGC NET Exam.

Pollutants are generally grouped under two classes

  • Biodegradable pollutants
    • Examples of such pollutants are domestic waste products, urine and faucet matter, sewage, agricultural residue, paper, wood and cloth etc.
  • Non- Biodegradable pollutants
    • Non-biodegradable pollutants are stronger chemical bondage, do not break down into simpler and harmless products. These include various insecticides and other pesticides, mercury, lead, arsenic, aluminum, plastics, radioactive waste etc.

Classification of Environmental Pollution

Pollution can be broadly classified according to the components of environment that are polluted.

Environmental pollution consists of five basic types of pollution, namely, air, water, soil, noise and light.

Air pollution

Air pollution – Air pollution may be defined as the presence of one or more contaminants like dust, mist, smoke and colour in the atmosphere that are injurious human beings, plants and animals.

  • Most prominent and dangerous form of pollution
  • mainly a mixture of various gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen
  • carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrocarbons (HC), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), lead, arsenic, asbestos, radioactive matter, and dust.
  • Release of sulfur dioxide and hazardous gases into the air causes global warming and acid rain;
  • Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is the main pollutant
  • Other greenhouse gases include methane—which comes from such sources as swamps and gas emitted by livestock—and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were used in refrigerants and aerosol propellants until they were banned because of their deteriorating effect on Earth’s ozone layer.
  • The major threat comes from burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum products. Thermal power plants, automobiles and industries are major sources of air pollution as well.
  • Another pollutant associated with climate change is sulfur dioxide, a component of smog. Sulfur dioxide and closely related chemicals are known primarily as a cause of acid rain.
  • Evidence of increasing air pollution is seen in lung cancer, asthma, allergies, and various breathing problems along with severe and irreparable damage to flora and fauna.
  • Global warming is a consequence of green house effect caused by increased level of carbon dioxide (CO2). Ozone (O3) depletion has resulted in UV radiation striking our earth.
  • “carbon footprint”—the amount of carbon dioxide a person is responsible for putting into the atmosphere.
  • Kyoto Protocol, an agreement between countries that they will cut back on carbon dioxide emissions.
  • The effects of air pollution are evident too. Release of sulphur dioxide and hazardous gases into the air causes global warming and acid rain; which in turn have increased temperatures, erratic rains and droughts worldwide; making it tough for the animals to survive
  • India’s first Air Quality Index SAFAR – India(System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research)initially be available to people in 10 cities for now — Delhi, Faridabad, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.

  • The index considers eight pollutants — PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3 and Pb). The likely health implications of the six categories would also be provided with a color code.
  • AQI, hosted on CPCB’s website, air pollution levels have been classified in six bands with simple descriptions to help people understand it. Each band has cut points of concentration with a colour code to visually express the level of severity that people can comprehend easily. Air quality is classified ‘good’ if the pollution levels are at least 50% below regulatory standards.
  • Indoor air quality (IAQ)



Water Pollution

  • Infested with waste ranging from floating plastic bags to chemical waste, our water bodies have turned into a pool of poison.Few Examples :
    • Raw sewage running into lake or streams
    • Industrial waste spills contaminating groundwater
    • Radiation spills or nuclear accidents
    • Illegal dumping of substances or items within bodies of water
    • Biological contamination, such as bacteria growth
    • Farm runoff into nearby bodies of water
  • Pollution of water occurs when substances that will modify the water in negative fashion are discharged in it. This discharge of pollutants can be direct as well as indirect.
  • Water pollutants include insecticides and herbicides, food processing waste, pollutants from livestock operations, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, chemical waste and others.
  • Industries produce huge amount of waste which contains toxic chemicals and pollutants which can cause air pollution and damage to us and our environment. They contain pollutants such as lead, mercury, sulphur, asbestos, nitrates and many other harmful chemicals. Many industries do not have proper waste management system and drain the waste in the fresh water which goes into rivers, canals and later in to sea.
  • The garbage produce by each household in the form of paper, aluminum, rubber, glass, plastic, food if collected and deposited into the sea in some countries. These items take from 2 weeks to 200 years to decompose.
  • The toxic chemicals  have the capability to change the color of water, increase the amount of minerals, also known as Eutrophication, change the temperature of water and pose serious hazard to water organisms.
  • The sewage water carries harmful bacteria and chemicals that can cause serious health problems. Pathogens are known as a common water pollutant.
  • The sewers of cities house several pathogens and thereby diseases. Microorganisms in water are known to be causes of some very deadly diseases and become the breeding grounds for other creatures that act like carriers.

Steps Taken by INDIA Govt. to reduce the Pollution

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has taken several positive steps to minimize pollution of the environment.

Important Environmental Laws:

  1. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
    • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in 1974 to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution, and for the maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water in the country. The Act was amended in 1988.
  2. Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
    • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in 1981 and amended in 1987 to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution in India.
  3. Cess Act, 1977
  4. Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
  5. Public Liability Insurance Act, 1981
  6. National Environmental Tribunal Act, 1995
  7. National Environmental Appellate Authority Act, 1997
  8. Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)

  9. The Biological Diversity Act 2002 was born out of India’s attempt to realise the objectives enshrined in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 1992 which recognizes the sovereign rights of states to use their own Biological Resources.
  10. The National Green Tribunal has been established on 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.


Summary :

Pollution not only affect humans by destroying their respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological systems; it also affects the nature, plants, fruits, vegetables, rivers, ponds, forests, animals, etc, on which they are highly dependent for survival. It is crucial to control pollution as the nature, wildlife and human life are precious gifts to the mankind.


We will Cover other types of Pollution in next part.


References :






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