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Problems and Concerns caused by Human Influences on the Environment Index

Agriculture
Acid Rain
Depletion of the Ozone Layer and the Greenhouse Effect
Factory Farming
Famine
Fishing
Fossil Fuels
Natural Resources
Nuclear Energy
Oil Spills
Traffic
Domestic Wastes
Water Pollution

Human Influences on the Environment Homepage
Human Influences on the Environment : Questions

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Fact File No. 68

On the night of 2 December, 1984, in Bhopal, India, there was a gas leak from a factory which made insecticides, owned by the Union Carbide company. The gas which leaked into the atmosphere was methyl isocyanate. This gas affects the lungs and the eyes. Bhopal was home to 900000 people. The official figure for the number of people who died that night is 3135, but the actual number is thought to be much higher. Another 500000 were seriously affected by the gas; many of them were blinded. In February, 1989, Union Carbide gave 470 million dollars to help the people who had suffered because of the gas leak.

 

Fact File No. 69

On 1 November 1986 there was a fire in the Sandoz Chemical Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland. 1250 tonnes of chemical products were burnt. Many of these chemicals were toxic (harmful). Clouds of pollutant gases formed in the sky. The water used by firemen to put out the fire picked up toxic substances which then found their way into the Rhine. Fish died in millions and the drinking water was seriously affected.

 

Fact File No. 70

On the 10th July, 1976 in Seveso, Italy, there was a gas leak from a chemical factory. The chemical which was released into the atmosphere is called dioxin. Dioxin belongs to a group of dangerous chemicals which are used in chemical warfare. In Seveso, 37000 people were exposed to the dioxin. These were the people who lived inside the contaminated area of 1800ha. Dioxin causes skin disorders. After the accident, 184 people were treated for skin disorders; 164 of these people were children under the age of five. Dioxin also causes headaches and digestive upsets. The long-term effects of dioxin are thought to include liver cancer and malformed births.

Scientists predict that the dioxin will not totally disappear from the contaminated area until the year 2040. Dioxin is destroyed by sunlight, therefore there is none left on the surface of the soil. In 1986, however, ten years after the accident, dioxin was still present at a depth of 136cm in the soil.

 

For an up-to-date of industrial disasters follow the link below to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of industrial disasters From Wikipedia

PROBLEMS AND CONCERNS CAUSED BY HUMAN INFLUENCES ON THE ENVIRONMENT

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Industry

 

Scene from Avonmouth, Bristol, UK © Shirley Burchill

Scene from Avonmouth, Bristol, UK

 

Many people live in towns and cities. Some of these people work in factories which produce such items as cloth and steel. The European Union, the United States and Japan have big cities and many factories. Because there is so much industry, these countries are called industrialized countries. Industries such as the steel industry and the electricity industry provide work for a large number of people. There are also chemical industries which produce medicines and fertilizers.

 

Scene from Avonmouth, Bristol, UK © Shirley Burchill

Scene from Avonmouth, Bristol, UK

 

Some industries produce waste products which are pollutants. Industries which burn coal or oil to power their machines produce smoke. When smoke is mixed with the dust and dirt in the air in large cities, smog is produced.

Smog can be dangerous because it makes things difficult to see and causes traffic accidents. It also makes it difficult for some people to breathe and can cause lung disease, such as bronchitis. London was famous for its smog. Eventually a law was passed which only allowed smokeless fuel to be used by industry and in homes.

 

Scene from Avonmouth, Bristol, UK © Shirley Burchill

Scene from Avonmouth, Bristol, UK

 

Chemical industries produce waste gases such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. These gases rise up into the atmosphere and dissolve in the water droplets which make up the clouds. Once these waste gases are dissolved in water they form weak solutions of acids, such as sulphuric acid and nitric acid.

The waste gases produced by the industrialized nations in Western Europe form clouds which are blown by the wind toward the east. Here the dissolved gases fall to the earth as acid rain. Acid rain is often more acidic than vinegar or lemon juice.

Acid rain first kills the aquatic animals, especially the fish, which live in rivers and lakes. It attacks the forests through the soil water and through the air. Acid rain is slowly killing the trees in the Scandinavian, Canadian and Eastern European forests. The European nations are trying to reduce the amounts of waste gases which they release into the air.

 

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