What are 10 types of pollution?

In this blog post, we will discuss “What are 10 types of pollution?” Firstly, the article will address the basics of environmental pollution. Then, the article will describe the 10 types of pollution. In the end, the article will provide detailed solutions to lessen pollution.

What are 10 types of pollution?

Environmental pollution has become a life-threatening obstruction in conserving and preserving the biodiversity of the Earth. Environmental pollution consists of the following:

Air Pollution Radioactive Pollution 
Water Pollution Light Pollution 
Soil Pollution Thermal Pollution 
Noise Pollution Visual Pollution 
Plastic Pollution Nutrient Pollution 

What is environmental pollution?

What heaven that would be without clean air to breathe, wild green forests to rejuvenate and safe, clear water to satiate our thirst! Our ancestors or even, say, living organisms of the Mesozoic Era- the era when dinosaurs ruled the world were the happiest creatures of the world to enjoy such raw, untouched beauty of the environment! Now, in these modern times, it is our responsibility to protect the natural resources of our environment for a healthy lifestyle.

However, rapid industrialization, population explosion, and urbanization have created a significant problem for the environment. Any guesses here? Yes, it is none other than environmental pollution!

Pollution is the intrusion of harmful materials into the environment. The existence of living organisms can feel threatened due to the dangerous effects of pollution.

I will elaborate more on the types of pollution.

 10 types of Pollution

Air Pollution

The introduction of harmful agents into the atmosphere is called air pollution. The toxic agents are known as pollutants. These pollutants are derived from natural and human activities, and they can be chemical or biological.

Major pollutants present in the air are particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone (O3), NO2, SO2, and CO. Air also has lead, allergens, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Besides climate change, air pollution has become a significant environmental risk to human health. Humans are susceptible to respiratory ailments, cardiovascular diseases and mental disorders. The greenhouse gases also intensify global warming.

As per US EPA, about 68 million tons of pollution were released into the atmosphere in the United States in 2020. These toxic emissions are responsible for ozone-induced smog in cities like Los Angeles. These conditions further lead to acid deposition and visibility impairment.

Also, according to the American Lung Association, more than 135 million Americans still live with filthy air, and more than 123 million people of the US respire unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone. Among them, children and older adults of the country are more vulnerable to air pollution-related diseases. In addition, the World Economic Forum also stated that approximately $617 billion of annual damage happens due to poor air quality. Notably, the EPA spends $65 billion every year to clean up the air.

The political leaders and Americans should strive towards minimizing air pollution can also help to improve climate change mitigation efforts. Briefly, there are two causes of air pollution- indoor and outdoor pollution. Indoor pollution is nothing but air pollution created inside the structure. Outdoor pollution is pollution in the outside environment due to human activities and natural sources. Some examples of air pollution are transportation, industries, combustion of fossil fuels, volcanic eruptions, etc.

Water Pollution

Releasing harmful pollutants such as toxic chemical effluents from the industries into the water bodies is water pollution. One of the peculiar characteristics of polluted water is its physical appearance—blackened water with a foul smell. It also has garbage floating on the water surface. However, some lethal chemicals can be present in the water, but you can’t sense them as they are colourless and odourless. In such cases, local authorities need to examine the water samples in the laboratory.

Polluted water is not safe to consume and for other purposes. The filthy water can be home to acidic and harmful pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. In addition, it can contain bacteria and viruses such as SARS-CoV and Ecoli. Therefore, consumption of pollution filled water can cause severe levels of threat to humans, plants and animals.

The United Nations observed that around 4000 children die by drinking polluted water. One of the worst examples of water pollution is oil spillage in the water bodies. The world’s most extensive petroleum seep the Coal Oil Point Seep, which is off the coast of California. The Coal Oil Point Seep generates a tremendous amount of oil. These results are visible on the nearby beaches where tar balls wash up. Mining and drilling can also cause water pollution. Acid mine drainage (AMD) occurs due to these processes. The other sources are chemical run-offs.

Soil Pollution

Soil contamination occurs due to harmful pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and acid rains. Sometimes, chemical fertilizers are used by farmers to increase crop productivity. In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson observed that DDT is a silent killer. Even if it reduces the chances of malaria, it damages bird eggs, leading to declination in the population of bald eagles, brown pelicans, and ospreys.

The irresponsible disposal of garbage on lands such as cans, glass jars and junked cars can deplete the soil nutrition. Such conditions can affect the food web and harm the animals and plants community. Un-engineered landfills cause messing up of soil nutrition. Pollutants leaked from landfills seep into the groundwater supplies. Thus, the plants and aquatic animals depending on these resources can suffer from bioaccumulation.

An improper garbage disposal can cause an unpleasant appearance of the local beauty. For instance, Kamilo Beach, the US state of Hawaii, is often littered with non-biodegradable plastic bags and bottles. The tide carries this garbage. The polluted beaches demotivate the tourism industry and face economic losses.

Noise Pollution

Noise pollution is one of the underestimated pollutions amongst humans. An unpleasant sound with a high frequency of more than 50 decibels is noise pollution. Noise pollution can permanently impair ears, cardiac arrest and other mental disorders. However, noise pollution is one of the underestimated pollutions in the world. Researchers have also claimed that underwater noise pollution created by submarines and ships impacts the movements of mammals such as whales and dolphins. Researchers have asserted that loud noises cause caterpillars’ hearts to beat rapidly. It also makes bluebirds produce fewer chicks. Noise pollution also affects the hunting skills of the predators, thus affecting the food web. Much scientific evidence shows that sonar can cause mass stranding of whales on beaches and threaten blue whales. Prominent environmental groups are requesting the US Navy to stop or reduce sonar usage for military training.

Plastic Pollution

This is one of the most severe issues that the earth currently faces. Plastic is used in daily as well as commercial works. Over-consumption of plastic products has ultimately led to plastic pollution. This mainly happens because plastic is non-degradable. Single-use plastics contribute to 40% of the plastic produced every year. Furthermore, many products like plastic bags and food wrappers are non-perishable. Therefore, they can remain in the environment for hundreds of years.

Plastic pollution can be visible in the oceans and sea. These plastic products can choke aquatic animals like turtles and sea lions. Sometimes, plastics can break into numerous small pieces of plastic. These microplastics can hinder the gastrointestinal tracts of organisms. These microplastics can pass through waterways and affect multiple organisms such as algae, zooplankton, fish, crabs, and birds. In addition, microplastics possess carcinogenic properties and can cause cancer.   

Radioactive Pollution

Studies have shown that radioactive wastes pose incredibly detrimental effects on the environment. Thus, pollution of the environment due to improper radioactive or nuclear waste is known as radioactive pollution. Whilst such form of pollution is said to be rare. However, it occurred, its consequences are beyond our imagination.

Such pollution can occur in uranium mining operations or any accidental leakage of such elements from industries. In addition, radioactive decay can lead to cancer, impotence, permanent physical defects and genetic mutations.

Light Pollution

Usage of excessive outdoor artificial light for human activities is called light pollution. Light pollution can be considered a global issue too. Too many glowing artificial lights can disturb mammals, birds and plants body patterns. Light pollution is caused mainly due to anthropogenic activities.

This pollution typically can be witnessed in many urban areas. For example, increasing population and rapid urbanization have led to many street lights, neon lights, and advertisement lights.

 Such type of pollution has created insomnia problems in humans. Birds tend to get confused due to unnatural lights, and one can witness singing in odd night hours. Such lights are also a threat to the developmental stages of the plants.  

Thermal Pollution

Power plants are primarily oriented near rivers as this river water is collected as cooling agents. However, after its use, this accumulated water is again thrown back into the river. This process causes alteration in the water temperatures and creates difficulties for fishes and other aquatic lives.

This situation eventually leads to a threat to aquatic and marine life existence. This artificial introduction of heat in the environment, which causes damage, is called thermal or heat pollution.

Visual Pollution

A phenomenon in which deterioration of visual quality occurs or one develops unattractive opinions about natural beauty is known as visual or aesthetic pollution. Such a type of pollution can degrade the quality of human life.  Some of the sources of this pollution are power lines and construction areas.

For instance, visual pollution can also distract while driving a vehicle or operating equipment. In 2015, the European Scientific Journal published a study that concluded that developed countries recognized and reduced visual pollution.

Nutrient Pollution

Human activities such as agriculture discharge excessive phosphorous and nitrogen into the water and air. Such a type of pollution is called nutrient pollution. Nutrient pollution causes harm to human health. It is also responsible for algae blooms, leading to the destruction of aquatic life. Moreover, consumption of such food or drinking water may lead to extreme illnesses of humans.

The types, as mentioned earlier, of pollution, are intricately intertwined with others. Anthropogenic activities and natural phenomena release at least two kinds of pollution simultaneously. Recent analyses about pollution have also inferred that all these activities cause cross-media pollution. Cross-media pollution is nothing but a movement of pollution from one state of an environmental medium into another.

 Below, I am giving some of the handy solutions to reduce pollution.

Solutions to reduce pollution

  • Save energy by switching off the lights or electrical appliances when not in need.
  • Get crafty! Start reusing your old products from the house. Then, convert it into an essential product.
  • Promote the recycling of products. For example, many shops such as ‘body shop’ have kept a bin to collect empty plastic bottles to recycle.
  • Consume less and choose a sustainable lifestyle.
  • Have a check on your carbon footprints. Promote local products, be vocal about them.
  • Create awareness about all the existing pollutions amongst younger generations. They are our future.
  • Discourage the use of single-use plastic products. Start using alternatives instead. Carry your metal cutleries in restaurants rather than using single-use ones.
  • Be vigilant! Check with your local authorities whether the industries discharge the treated effluents into your adjacent rivers.
  • One of the most straightforward and long-term effective solutions is to plant more and more trees! Some forest departments have seed banks and can even provide you with seeds free of cost. But don’t forget to produce only indigenous types of plants in your region.
  • Encourage the use of public transport. For example, take a walk or cycle ride for short-distanced destinations.

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

What does air pollution mean?

What air pollutants scare the lungs?

Was the Clean Air Act successful?


We discussed “What are 10 types of pollution?” in this blog post. Firstly, the article addressed the basics of environmental pollution. Then, the article described the 10 types of pollution. In the end, the article provided detailed solutions to lessen pollution.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What are 10 types of pollution?

Which pollutants causes chlorosis in plants?

Ozone causes chlorosis in plants. This is because ozone enters into leaves through stomata during typical gas exchange. As ozone is a strong oxidant, it causes several symptoms, including chlorosis and necrosis.

What are the five disastrous effects of air pollution?

The five disastrous effects of air pollution are:

  • Respiratory and heart ailments in human beings
  • Global Warming
  • Acid Rain
  • Depletion of the ozone layer
  • Food insecurity

What are the primary cause of air pollution and its effect on the environment?

The burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of air pollution. Combustion of fossil fuel is needed in the transportation sector, energy generation, and cooking activities. Such activities release a tremendous amount of carbon monoxide and other toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. These contaminants cause harm to human health, hampers flora and fauna growth, and create food insecurity.

How does air pollution affect global warming?

Air pollution also releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This contributes to the greenhouse effect. In addition, the carbon dioxide emitted traps a tremendous amount of heat into the atmosphere. This process results in global warming.

What effect does air pollution have on food crops and biodiversity?

Pollutants such as sulphur can result in excess acidification of the water bodies such as lakes and streams. This pollutant can also damage trees and fertile land. In addition, the atmospheric nitrogen can create an imbalance in biodiversity and harm overall plant communities and aquatic life. Moreover, ozone can damage the tree leaves.

Why air pollution is a problem?

Air pollution is a problem because it simultaneously harms crops, animals, and plants. Air pollution also contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer and aggravate climate change. Some of the environmental effects of air pollution are smog, hazy skies and eutrophication.


Air Quality – National Summary. EPA. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/air-trends/air-quality-national-summary#:~:text=In%202020%2C%20about%2068%20million,of%20acids%2C%20and%20visibility%20impairment.

Lee, N., 2021. 135 million Americans are breathing unhealthy air, American Lung Association says. CNBC. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/22/heres-how-many-americans-are-effected-by-air-pollution-every-year.html

National Geographic Society, 2012. Pollution. National Geographic Society. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/pollution/

National Geographic Society, 2019. Noise pollution. National Geographic Society. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/noise-pollution/

Parker, L., 2021. Plastic pollution facts and information. Environment. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution?loggedin=true

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