Pollution emitted in industrial areas represents a threat to human health
and the surrounding natural resources. We have a tendency to believe that
the production processes are the only source of environmental damage,
and often forget about the possible long-term effects of harmful production
practices. In the Caucasus for example, industrial complexes such as Rustavi
(Georgia), Sumgait (Azerbaijan) or Alaverdi (Armenia) have significantly
polluted the air, soil and water, sometimes for great distances. Since
the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent economic crises, industrial
activity has dramatically reduced. We may think that the closure of these
huge industrial areas would improve the quality of the environment. Unfortunately,
this ignores the threat of the remaining waste, abandoned and poorly stored.
It represents an even bigger danger because it stands neglected as it
degrades and leaks into the earth without any surveillance whatsoever.
Surface Water Contamination
Changes in the water chemistry due to surface water contamination can
affect all levels of an ecosystem. It can impact the health of lower food
chain organisms and, consequently, the availability of food up through
the food chain. It can damage the health of wetlands and impair their
ability to support healthy ecosystems, control flooding, and filter pollutants
from storm water runoff. The health of animals and humans are affected
when they drink or bathe in contaminated water. In addition aquatic organisms,
like fish and shellfish, can accumulate and concentrate contaminants in
their bodies. When other animals or humans ingest these organisms, they
receive a much higher dose of contaminant than they would have if they
had been directly exposed to the original contamination.
Contaminated groundwater can adversely affect animals, plants and humans
if it is removed from the ground by manmade or natural processes. Depending
on the geology of the area, groundwater may rise to the surface through
springs or seeps, fl ow laterally into nearby rivers, streams, or ponds,
or sink deeper into the earth. In many parts of the world, groundwater
is pumped out of the ground to be used for drinking, bathing, other household
uses, agriculture, and industry.
Contaminants in the soil can harm plants when they take up the contamination
through their roots. Ingesting, inhaling, or touching contaminated soil,
as well as eating plants or animals that have accumulated soil contaminants
can adversely impact the health of humans and animals.
Air pollution can cause respiratory problems and other adverse health
effects as contaminants are absorbed from the lungs into other parts of
the body. Certain air contaminants can also harm animals and humans when
they contact the skin. Plants rely on respiration for their growth and
can also be affected by exposure to contaminants transported in the air.
Leachate is the liquid that forms as water trickles through contaminated
areas leaching out the chemicals. For example, the leaching of landfill
can result in a leachate containing a cocktail of chemicals. In agricultural
areas leaching may concentrate pesticides or fertilizers and in feedlots
bacteria may be leached from the soil. The movement of contaminated leachate
may result in hazardous substances entering surface water, groundwater