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Harmful effects and causes of Air pollution on our food

Are you thinking how Air Pollution affecting our food? Then find the harmful effects and causes of air pollution on our food.
Pollution and its entry in our Food-web

Pick up the newspaper- All you read is about adulterated food, dyes in foods, pesticides, insecticides, Growth Hormone injections, and the recently heard of Chinese Vegetables. Did anyone from our ancestors could ever think of Air Purifiers or Fruit and Vegetable Washers? Where are we leading to? Just to state the facts straight- the food you eat, apart from the additionally added pollutants, are inherently polluted through the Ecosystem. Now, that is even more concerning. Who is to be blamed- the Farmer, the Vegetable Stocker, the Distributor or You?

Pollution is one of the biggest yet most unpublicized global concerns. It is a term that concerns everyone when they hear it but is something which is a part of their everyday life. It is the contaminants introduced into the environment which cause adverse changes that everyone is acquainted with these days. We human beings play a major role in destroying purity and making the environment unclean through our activities. The pollutants we produce not only affect us but also the other living beings and non-living parts of the environment such as the land, the air, and the water. Pollution is the result of our ignorance towards the environment and petty actions which affect the surroundings we live in, some of them are listed here:

Exhaust smoke coming out of the vehicles raise the level of poisonous gases in the atmosphere which can be avoided but people do not switch off their engines even at long traffic halts.

A lot of toxic waste is released by the industries into the environment such smoke in the air and contaminated by-products in rivers streams etc which can be avoided.

People in slum areas wash clothes and utensils near lakes and rivers contaminating the water bodies by detergents which help in the growth of algae on the top layer of water blocking the sunlight and oxygen of the aquatic beings.

Air conditioners and refrigerators release certain gases called the CHOLORO-FLOURO-CARBONS which detrimental to the ozone layer.

Dumped plastic bags harm the soil fertility as they take thousands of years to decompose.
Use of insecticides and pesticides on crops by the farms lead to both food and land pollution etc.

A Food web, or food chain, is the consumption cycle of the organisms in an ecosystem. For example, birds feed on rodents who further eat insects which eat plants. Pollutions affect both humans and wildlife all around the world, from the polar bears in the snow land to fish in the local water bodies. Pollution is bound to affect the plant and animal species which interact with the ones that are already affected by it.


Pollution in the ecosystem creates disturbance in the natural balance of the system that affects organisms in different ways. Even a simple act of introducing sewage water or toxic waste into a lake can threaten several animal and plants species in the area.

Oil, pesticides, nitrogen and phosphate from fertilizers are some pollutants that can massively impact the ecosystem especially if the water gets contaminated. In a lake, for example, the ecological balance gets changed as it stimulates the growth of plants and algae, blocking the oxygen cycle and causing the death of the livings beings due to suffocation from the lack of oxygen dissolved in the water. The polluted water has serious effects on the living beings dependent on it. The creatures are forced to shift to some other area or face death due to the unavailability of food and water. Death of an animal breed due to the exposure to a pollutant results in food scarcity for other breeds. For instance, water pollution may lead to the death of fishes because of which the bears of the area would have to look out for some other source of food, or they might have to migrate to some other place to meet their dietary requirements.

Human beings are the dominant consumers. The food webs are affected by their energy production, agriculture, pollution, habitat destruction, over-fishing and hunting. Their increasing requirement for food and shelter along with population growth is affecting the ecosystem. Humans have a tremendous effect on the food chain. By killing plants by pollution they also kill the animals dependent on the plants to survive, and if one community of animals go extinct because of humans there will be a chain reaction of animals going extinct in large numbers. Animals are dependent on each other for their survival even if one vanishes from the chain extinction will start multiplying and eventually most animals will no longer be alive.


Environmental degradation can result in degradation of human health as these pollutants from the environment get into the food web through air water and soil. For example, water pollution may accumulate and concentrate in carbs. Carbs can be consumed by birds or other animals from which the pollution gets transferred into the food web where its pollution concentration is extremely high when it reaches humans due which they are the most serious intoxicated in the complete food web. Every person’s health is sensitive to food pollution. Therefore people suffer from chronic food diseases or illnesses, even a healthy person can develop diseases like food-poisoning etc. Some of the diseases caused by different types of pollution are:

Diseases due to air pollution
  • Asthma: Inhaling poisonous gases can cause asthma.
  • Pulmonary Cancer: carcinogens inhaled from the polluted air in the environment cause lung cancers.
  • Cardiovascular problems: Cardiovascular system is severally affected by poor air quality, poisonous gases etc which leads to stroke and heart diseases.

  • These diseases can only be prevented by maintaining a decent distance between the industrial and residential areas.
  • Trees should be planted especially around mining areas.
  • Gas fuel should be used instead of coal fuel.
  • Every automobile must have an emission control system. Vehicles should be designed in such a way.
  • Servicing of Vehicles should be done timely so that they stay in a good condition and the fuel exhaustion is minimum.
  • People should increase the use of public transportation as it helps to prevent the air pollution.
  • Try bringing in use alternative energy sources such as solar energy, hydroelectric energy, and wind energy.

  • Diseases due to water pollution
  • Typhoid: it is a communicable disease caused by consumption of polluted water.
  • Diarrhoea: It is one of the most common diseases in which the person suffers from watery and loose stools and inflammation in the stomach as the digestive system is out of order.
  • Cancer and Liver damage: chlorinated solvents that pollute water cause these diseases.

  • Using non-toxic soaps, detergents and cleaning products can help reduce water pollution.

  • Use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn and gardens should be avoided.
  • Environment-friendly washing powders, cleaning agents and toiletries should be used.
  • Chemicals should be stored properly in order to protect groundwater which is critical for drinking, irrigation and other purposes.

  • Diseases due to soil pollution
  • Nerve and Brain Damage: This usually happens when a person is exposed to the soil contaminated with lead.
  • Cancer: chemicals include weed killers, chromium, benzene and a variety of pesticides. If a person is stays exposed to such polluted soil he or she can suffer from cancer.
  • Liver and kidney disease: coming in contact with the soil polluted with a variety of infectious chemicals can result in such diseases.
  • Fertilizers and pesticides use should be limited #Afforestation and reforestation must be practised.
  • Minimizing the use of plastic bags and subsequently encouraging the use of paper bags.
  • The soil-binding grass should be planted as it binds the soil also large trees should be planted along the banks.
  • A definite cropping technique should be followed so that weeds do not settle on the fields.
  • Areas should not be left barren and dry.
  • Every pollutant has the potential to pollute the food web this why there are numerous causes of food pollution. Vegetables and fruits can easily get contaminated as toxic chemicals get into the food through different situations like:

    When food is grown (e.g. crops, fruits, vegetables) in polluted soils or areas with polluted groundwater; grown food Irrigated (e.g. vegetables, fruits, crops) with polluted water; Food has grown (e.g. crops, fruits, vegetables) in areas with polluted air; Use of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, for agricultural treatment. Use of sewage sludge and polluted fertilizers in agriculture (containing ash from power plants); Animals consuming polluted water and/or food.

    The fact that plants (vegetables, crops, or trees) become intoxicated or polluted is because they absorb pollutants from the environment through their roots, along with water and nutrients.


    Excess pollution level is harming the wider environment including humans, animals, plants and trees. Diffusion of toxins in the food chain affects the top level predators the most and they have the highest level of chemical concentration in their bodies and face the worst effects of it. These pollutants find their way into the entire food supply and have a huge impact on all levels of the food chains. Precautions have to be taken to limit their effects. All types of pollution air, water, soil have their impact on the living beings which can range from mild discomfort to serious diseases and health problems including skin damage, problems with the circulatory system, and an increased risk of cancer. Therefore prevention is really important.

    There are many methods for prevention of pollution. For water pollution, we must try to improve sanitation, hygiene, allow no open defecation so as to avoid contamination of the environment. Also not letting the factory by-products spilt or dumped into streams lakes and rivers. Air pollution can be reduced by controlling the release of gases by industries and vehicles in the form of smoke. Waste optimization strategy of Reduction, Reuse and Recycling can be used for the pollutants derived from solid wastes.

    Let us all pledge towards a cleaner city and cleaner Foodweb. Let us realise the importance of curbing pollution at its earliest before all our systems get polluted with toxins.