Impact of Pollution on Human Health and Society!
Impacts on human health and society are measured in terms of socioeconomic impacts indirectly. Socio-economic impacts are equally important as biophysical impacts.
Any development activities in a region are weighed by positive and negative socio-economic parameters. This can be explained by a case study for easy understanding to our graduate students.
National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI, 1991) Nagpur, prepared a report titled – ‘Report on Environmental Pollution caused by industrial estates in nearby villages of Medak district in Andhra Pradesh’, based on studies and observations of five scientists. The reports concentrated mainly on human health and mortality, and their economic loses are due to crop failures and death of domestic animals like cattle, sheep, cows etc. due to industrial pollution.
Industrialization has resulted in heavy discharge of toxic chemical effluents to various water resources such as streams, rivers and tanks causing serious damages to water quality and contamination of ground water and soil, agricultural production depends upon the quality of irrigation water. Human health is one of the most important factors for economic development. A healthy workforce is essential to the development of economy.
Pearce and Warford (1993) have stated that the most important and immediate consequences of environmental degradation in the developing world takes the form of damage to human health. As cited by Pearce and Warford (1993) it is confirmed that mortality and morbidity from water borne diseases due to water pollution have definite impact on mankind. Ultimately, it has serious negative impact on economic activities in the form of loss of working days, deaths of trained workers and expenditure on hospitalization etc.
Water pollution is compared with the abatement cost pollution control program in Thailand, by direct questioning method along with the available scientific findings. The relationship between the damage cost and water quality are examined. It was concluded that the treatment level had to be kept above 75% in order to maintain river quality above 4 ppm of dissolved Oxygen above which no damage cost are assumed.
This is a serious threat to a sustainability of these economics, as many of the countries fall under the negative growth when these costs are incorporated into their Gross National Product (GNP). The exact estimation of damage to cost depends upon the reliability of data relating to environmental damage. It is confirmed that environmental deterioration damages the economies of both the rich and the poor countries.
Irrigation systems are most affected by industrial pollution in Medak district. There are as many as 15 irrigation tanks. All the 15 tanks have been considerably polluted. As irrigation has no alternative for water, farmers are forced to use the same polluted water.
As a result, the productive lands are turning unproductive. It is estimated that about 920 acres of agricultural land is affected. In study area paddy is the major crop, which gives employment to a sizeable amount of agricultural workers. This indicates that the impact is in terms of loss of production and employment losses.
Water, Air and Soil pollution have affected the villages around in this region. The most strident problem is that of drinking water. People are depending on the municipal drinking water supply, but the meager municipal water supply force the villagers to depend on the contaminated water for the purposes other than drinking. Livestock is also forced to drink the polluted water and hence suffer from various diseases. Number of livestock deaths also reported in the villages, apart from declining milk yields and fertility rates.
The industrialization in this study area started during 1986. According to the villagers, they started realizing the polluting in the 1990s. Initially the villagers thought that the industrial effluent would be beneficial for agricultural production, because they thought that the chemical water would provide more fertility to land. Between 1995-96 the villagers witnessed a rapid change of color of tank water and at the same time they witnessed the death of fish.
By 1997 it was observed that there were no fish left in the tank. In 1998-99 farmers got to know about the impact of polluted water on crops (Rice crop was observed with empty husk without rice grain in it, the size of potato is reduced by 50%). The impact of pollution on health is conspicuous. Most of the villagers are suffering from water borne diseases.
The problem further escalated when the buffalos, cattle and cows became victims of various diseases by drinking polluted water from tanks and drains. More over the villages has been incurring heavy losses by losing bullocks, cows and other valuable bovine population. By 1998-99 villagers realized that their groundwater has become polluted and undrinkable.
The study indicated that the economic condition of the villagers has been of late quite pathetic. The main reason for this is that living conditions which were of above average a decade back, has been brought down due to rapid deterioration of health, agriculture and substantial reduction of livestock due to polluted water.
The entire Digwal and Chilkapally villages have been suffering from various diseases arising out of air, water pollution. However, it was observed that most of the diseases are water borne such as skin infection, teeth corrosion, joint pains, loss of appetite defective vision, fever, abnormal pain, respiratory diseases and diarrhoea etc., apart from that general muscular weakness, irregular growth, chronic cold and cough in the middle aged and children are noticed in the village.
Most of the communicable diseases are due to polluted water, polluted soil. Diseases such as gastroenteritis, typhoid, viral infections are caused by oral-faecal contamination due to drinking infected water or food. People in many areas drink surface water from canals, tanks and rivers directly. Bathing and cleaning of animal are done at the same place where drinking water is collected.
This greatly contributes to high incidence of water borne diseases, air born diseases such as tuberculosis, acute respiratory infections. Malaria is rampant throughout the year. This is caused by the bite of anophiline mosquitoes that breed in open drainages and stagnant water pools.
Social assessment refers to a broad range of processes and procedures for incorporating social dimensions into development projects. In some jurisdictions and agencies, the social assessment is conducted in conjunction with the environmental impact assessment (EIA).
In others, it is conducted separately. In any case, the social assessment influences project design and the overall approval of the project. People are to be considered vulnerable groups – some of those will be benefited and some groups may be harmed by the project activity.
The social assessment aims to determine the social costs of the project. The benefits of a project will be distributed in an equitable manner. Social assessments are necessary to help ensure the project will accomplish its development goals i.e., poverty reduction; enhancement of the role of women in development; human resources development, including population planning; and avoiding or mitigating negative effects on vulnerable groups, and protecting these groups. By addressing the specific development goals in the assessment of development projects, developers, and governments, can ensure that project benefits are realized and negative social impacts are minimized.
Various methods and approaches have been developed to consider social dimensions, they are:
(a) Social and gender analysis;
(b) Indigenous peoples plans; and involuntary resettlement plants;
(c) Cooperation with non-governmental organizations;
(d) Use of participatory development processes;
(f) Benefits monitoring and evaluation.
Flora and Fauna:
The consumption of land and the consequent loss of natural habitat are inherent in road development. Where new roads intersect habitat, the area occupied by the road itself, borrow pits, and quarries is subtracted from the total habitat area available to flora and fauna.
When a road cuts through an ecosystem, the sum of the two parts created by the cut is less than the value of the initial whole, even when the habitat loss is ignored. Ecosystems are characterized by complex, interdependent relations between component species and their physical environment, and the integrity of the ecosystem relies on the maintenance of those interactions. Roads tend to fragment an area into weaker ecological sub- units, thus making the whole area more vulnerable to invasions and degradation.
Most animal species tend to follow established patterns in their daily and seasonal movements. The areas, through which they travel on their way to and from feeding, and between their seasonal ranges, are known as corridors.
When a road intersects or blocks a wildlife corridor, the result is either cessation of use of the corridor because animals are reluctant to cross the road, an increase in mortality because of collisions with vehicles, or a delay in migration which may result in the weakening or disappearance of an entire generation of the population. Some animals are attracted to roads for various reasons, including protection from predators, good food supplies, better travel conditions, etc.