How Do People Cause Pollution?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 28, 2020 2:00:38 AM ET

Humans cause pollution in several ways, including burning fossil fuels, driving cars and trucks, manufacturing, mining and engaging in agricultural activities. Some types of pollution, such as oil spills and mining disasters, produce immediate negative impacts on surrounding environments and ecosystems. Others, such as generating electricity and driving vehicles, produce pollution over longer periods of time.


Pollution stems from many sources and takes various shapes. It exists in air, water and in land. Air pollution derives from toxic emittants, such as fossil fuels escaping into the atmosphere. Air pollution arises from the bio accumulation of certain contaminants in the air. These noxious particles include particulate matter, ozone in the lowest levels of Earth's atmosphere, nitrogen and sulfur oxides and carbon monoxide. These particles reduce air quality in local and regional atmospheres. They also increase local quantities of smog and trap heat, ultimately contributing to global warming.

On land, human sources of pollution include improper removal and disposal of waste from livestock and farming operations. Humans produce light and noise pollution too, which exist primarily in cities and urban centers. Light pollution refers to a high volume of artificial light, such as large lighting fixtures. Noise pollution comes from traffic and man-made structures, such as refineries and production facilities.