affecting the world as a whole. It comes in many forms including air, land, and water pollution and from a variety of sources including industry, commercial, and transportation sectors. Sometimes you can see it, but other kinds are invisible to the naked eye. Pollution does not only affect animals and humans, it has many negative effects on plants as well¹. Some of these effects include leaf damage, slower growth, root damage, and inability to photosynthesize properly².
Air pollution comes from many sources such as the smoke stack in a factory, car exhaust, or off gassing from paint or producing plastic¹. The effects of air pollution on plants are widely seen and damage all plants including our food crops and trees. The chemicals responsible for the pollution include carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen oxides. Plants usually show damage in a variety of ways, including visible signs of damage like necrotic lesions, stunted plant growth, or changing in color including chlorosis (aka yellowing leaves), reddening, bronzing, mottling².
Ozone holes in the atmosphere also harm plants. Holes in the upper atmosphere allow an excess ultraviolet light to pass through the atmosphere leading to plant damage. In the lower atmosphere, ozone damages plants by preventing photosynthesis and obstructing stomata, restricting respiration and stunting plant growth².
Land or Soil Pollution
Land pollution comes from improper waste disposal, from sources like oil spills, landfills, pesticides, or illegal dumping¹. These chemicals seep into the soil and strip the land from any nutritional content, and fill the soil with chemicals or metals that damage plant cells and keep plants from obtaining nutrients and growing. Furthermore, plants can be poisoned by the toxic substances stored in contaminated soils. It also can change the plant metabolism and reduce crop yields³.
Water pollution happens in various ways, such as sewage leakage, industrial spills or direct discharge into water bodies, biological contamination, and from farm runoff¹. Pollution and contamination of water has many negative effects on plants. Sometimes there is an excess of nutrients in the water which causes an excess in plant growth. Other times this excess in nutrients in the water causes a fluctuation in acidity and damages or kills the plant⁴.
One harmful pollutant that damages plants is acid rain. It is formed when water from the atmosphere is combined with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides suspended in the air³. When this rain reaches earth’s surface, it causes damage to the soil, water, and plants. Not only does direct exposure to acid rain directly damage the plants, it damages leaves and makes it harder for the plant or tree to photosynthesize and regulate the exchange of gasses³. The acid rain also affects the quality of the soils, as it pollutes the soils and damages plants by dissolving and washing away the nutrients and minerals from the soil on which the plants rely³.
Furthermore, it is important to remember how everything in nature is interconnected. Pollution of all kinds can damage plant life and cause harm to the environment. Once a plant has been weakened, it makes them more susceptible to disease and insect infestation². This is also true for crops or other plants we rely on for food. Animals who eat polluted plants ingest these pollutants and have health problems. It is important to know that pollution causes a variety of damage to the planet as a whole. We need to work together to prevent pollution and clean up our planet as much as possible.