Accidental or intentional release of harmful substances into the environment.
There is an extensive legacy of past and contemporary pollution, in many places, affecting arable land, groundwater and surface water, causing damage to water quality, and short or long-term problems for human health, agriculture, and ecosystems. The term pollution is often used for air and water impacts, whereas contamination is applied to soils (the approach used in this Encyclopedia) but, sometimes, these are treated as synonyms. Effects on soils are dealt with in the chapter on “Contamination.”
Sources of pollution are diverse including industry, agriculture, domestic and military activities, infrastructure, and transport. Instances may arise because of poor regulation and practices, or equipment failure and unfortunate accidents (such as leakages from storage tanks, vehicles and ships, or fires and explosions).
Pollution can be caused by local...
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