Environmental Contamination by Heavy Metals

An environment can be polluted or contaminated

Vhahangwele Masindi; Khathutshelo L. Muedi


Scholarcy highlights

  • An environment can be polluted or contaminated
  • Pollution differs from contamination; contaminants can be pollutants, and pose detrimental impact on the environment
  • Pollution is defined as the introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the environment resulting in such deleterious effects as harm to living resources, hazards to human health, hindrance to environmental activities and impairment of quality for use of the environment and reduction of amenities
  • Environmental pollution can be referred to undesirable and unwanted change in physical, chemical and biological characteristics of air, water and soil which is harmful for living organisms—both animal and plants
  • Some of the common organic pollutants which have been noted to be of special concern are human waste, food waste, polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, petroleum and organochlorine pesticides
  • Several studies have shown the feasibility of treating acid mine drainage to acceptable levels as prescribed by different water quality guidelines, but the resultant sludge has been an issue of public concern due to its heterogeneous and complex nature loaded with metal species
  • The exposure of living organisms to toxic chemical species in acid mine drainage can lead to nausea, diarrhoea, liver and kidney damage, dermatitis, internal haemorrhage and respiratory problems

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