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The problem of the silent pandemic

The problem of the silent pandemic

By Cristian Frers

Neither armed conflicts nor infections, currently environmental contamination has become the main cause of mortality and morbidity in the world. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), it is causing more casualties than the wars themselves and the so-called catastrophic events due to natural phenomena. Some of these problems are: water, air, food, radioactive contamination, among others. Most of these disasters directly affect soils and waters.


Neither armed conflicts nor infections, currently environmental contamination has become the main cause of mortality and morbidity in the world. Some of these problems are: contamination of water, air, food, radioactive, among others, most of such disasters directly affect soils and waters. Often, water is the vehicle that causes a good part of the problems generated in the environment and the health of the affected population. Obviously, the child population and the elderly are the demographic segments that suffer the most. Too often, and especially in the euphemistically called developing countries, pollution generates catastrophes of a magnitude comparable to those of any other type of casuistry. As can be the tropical hurricane. Similarly, the WHO warns that global warming could further aggravate the problem. It begins to be spoken about with words such as the silent pandemic. Contrary to other types of environmental degradation, pollution, in one way or another, affects every country on the planet. It is therefore a global problem

The continuous increase of the population, its progressive concentration in large urban centers and industrial development cause, day by day, more problems to the environment known as environmental pollution. This consists of the presence of foreign substances of human origin in the environment, causing alterations in the structure and functioning of ecosystems that may be harmful to plant or animal life, or prevent the normal use of properties and places of recreation and enjoy them. Environmental pollution is also the incorporation into receiving bodies of solid, liquid or gaseous substances, or mixtures of them, provided that they adversely alter the natural conditions of the same, or that they may affect the health, hygiene or well-being of the population.

The main types of pollution:

• Atmospheric pollution: It refers to the alteration of the Earth's atmosphere by the addition of gases, or solid or liquid particles in suspension in proportions other than natural ones. The name of air pollution is generally applied to alterations that have detrimental effects on the health of living beings and material elements, and not to other harmless alterations. The main mechanisms of atmospheric pollution are industrial processes that involve combustion, both in industries and in automobiles and residential heating systems, which generate carbon dioxide and monoxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur, among other pollutants. Similarly, some industries emit harmful gases in their production processes, such as chlorine or hydrocarbons. Air pollution can be local, when the effects linked to the source are suffered in the vicinity of the source, or planetary, when due to the characteristics of the pollutant, the general balance of the planet and remote areas to those containing the emitting sources is affected. .

• Soil contamination: Soil contamination is produced by the deposit of chemicals and garbage. The former can be industrial or domestic, either through liquid waste, such as sewage from homes, or through atmospheric pollution, due to the articulated material that then falls on the ground.

• Water contamination: It must be considered that a water is contaminated, when its composition or its state are altered in such a way that it no longer meets the optimal conditions of use as in its natural state.According to the definition given by the WHO for contamination, it must also be considered, both changes in the physical, chemical and biological properties of water, which can make it lose its potability for daily consumption or its use for domestic, industrial, agricultural activities, etc., as well as changes in temperature caused by emissions of hot water (thermal pollution).

In Argentina, environmental pollution is greater than what could be expected in a country with so much environmental legislation. As a consequence of the fragmentation of institutional responsibilities and the lack of national coordination, there has been a confusing picture of the environmental situation that allows irresponsible attitudes. Poor waste management affects almost all cities. Most of the large rivers and lakes are polluted by household garbage, sewers, and industrial or mining activity. And there are more than 2,000 open dumps without any kind of control. It seems that in the country the health of the environment matters little. In the provinces, there are serious pollution problems, especially in rivers, lakes and underground waters. The carelessness is alarming and the lack of controls, almost infallible. The main causes of pollution in Argentina are:


1. Air pollution and noise. Motor vehicles are the source of air pollution in urban areas.

2. The contamination of underground water is the most important in our country. The main source of contamination is septic tanks and industrial wastewater.

3. Surface water pollution, comes from industrial wastewater, and sewage, is one of the main causes of ecological damage around the main urban areas, lakes, lagoons, Human pollution can cause great damage today and the future of people.

To find a solution to this problem, it is necessary to begin to apply an environmental management plan that, in detail, must establish the actions that are required to prevent, mitigate, control, compensate and correct the possible negative environmental effects or impacts caused in development of a project, work or activity; it also includes follow-up, evaluation and monitoring plans and contingency plans. The content of the plan may be regulated differently in each country. Which must have:

* Mitigation Plan: Set of measures and works to be implemented before the occurrence of a disaster, in order to reduce the impact on the components of the systems.

* Environmental Management Plan: Theoretical and operational document that determines the actions that must be carried out in a given space, to guarantee the sustainable use of natural resources and the improvement of the quality of life of the human populations that inhabit it.

* Watershed Management: Water use and land use are interrelated. Decisions about water use in one part of the watershed are likely to present opportunities and constraints for users in another part. These circumstances constitute an argument in favor of integrated planning at the river basin level, in order to ensure that the water in a given basin is not excessively compromised, that upstream water users do not deprive downstream users of opportunities, that the projects fulfill their purposes, and that the type and amount of growth, maintain a balance with the hydraulic resources. There are tools and technical knowledge necessary to achieve such planning and management; the difficulties are generally institutional. Water resources do not respect political boundaries, so an institution with sufficient capacity and power to influence decisions on land and water use in multiple jurisdictions is needed. This frequently requires a reciprocal will on the part of these jurisdictions, to subordinate their authority to the institution of the river basin. In projects that depend on planning and management at the river basin level, environmental assessment teams must carefully analyze the institutional structure, the needs for its strengthening, and whether or not it is politically positive, anticipate the success of the effort. .

It is very important that people become aware of the pollution it produces. And that not only affects the cities, nor the country but the planet as a whole. The authorities must take charge and keep abreast of the seriousness of the situation. But above all, foster in children a love for nature, a healthy coexistence with it and its protection.

It may not be easy to reduce now, carbon dioxide emissions, tree felling, water pollution, among the countless problems, but if it is easier for children to get used to not using the car if it is not needed, to take care of the water, to recycle. And maybe in a not too distant tomorrow, clean air will be breathed on our planet.

It is saddening to see how the authorities have not been concerned as they should about these ecological or environmental issues. But if the government does not put measures in place, we citizens must start putting them in place, because after all we are all inhabitants of this great blue planet, which we call home. Home, that if we do not do something, we will end up destroying it. Because "When the last tree has been struck down, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught, only then will we realize that money cannot be eaten."

Cristian Frers - Senior Technician in Environmental Management and Senior Technician in Social Communication


Video: SDGs and AMR A Silent Pandemic (May 2021).