What Are Pollutants?

pollutants Credit: David Henderson/OJO Images/Getty Images

Pollutants are high concentrations of toxic chemicals found in the environment. They are generally introduced into the ecosystem through the air, water or soil, and they have the ability to cause great harm to the environment and people’s health.

There are multiple types of pollutants in the environment. Air pollutants are a toxic blend of many different solid particles and gases. This type of pollution is related to a variety of respiratory and reproductive disorders in humans. Carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide fumes emitted by vehicles are among the main causes of air pollution.

Water pollutants are toxins that build up in lakes, oceans and rivers due to the excessive dumping of toxic waste. Industrial waste disposal and mining activities contribute to water pollution, as does street litter, which can wash into storm drains and waterways, ultimately ending up in the ocean.

Water pollution can cause long-term health problems in humans who regularly consume the water, and wildlife and marine life can die from ongoing exposure to water toxins as well. Watering plants with polluted water is also hazardous to human health. Toxic water can contaminate soil, and plants that are grown in contaminated soil have hazardous substances in their roots. When humans or animals ingest these plants, they can get sick.