chemical contamination



We explain what chemical pollution is, its origin, causes and consequences. Types of pollutants and forms of pollution.

Chemical contamination causes unpredictable and often toxic or lethal changes.

What is chemical contamination?

It is understood by chemical contamination, or also chemical hazard, to the capacity of certain elements and substances generally of industrial use, to be introduced in other compounds, organic fabrics and even ecosystems, causing unpredictable and often toxic or lethal changes, as a consequence of chemical reactions uncontrolled.

From a certain point of view, it could be said that all forms of pollution it is chemical, since it consists of the introduction of harmful substances into an environment to which they are alien, and from which it is difficult to extract them later. However, the case of chemical contamination differs from others in that its causal elements come directly from the chemical industry and constitute toxic substances or dangerous.

Origin of chemical contamination

Chemical pollution can also be caused by volcanic activity.

The presence of chemical elements or chemicals in an uncontrolled manner in the terrestrial ecosystems It has occurred throughout its geological history on multiple occasions, especially as a consequence of long periods of volcanic activity or, even, of the appearance and flowering of photosynthetic plant life, which gradually filled the earth's atmosphere with gaseous oxygen.

However, in its very short history of the planet, the human being has altered the balance of ecosystems in a much more rapid and radical way, due to the start-up of industries, especially after the Industrial Revolution 18th century.

The human being's understanding of the way matter operates has allowed him to manufacture substances and manipulate substances. atoms that constitute them, but underproducing in the process other useless and often harmful substances, which in the absence of better handling will give the environment. Once there, they can enter wildlife and destroy the chemical balance of the ecosystem, having truly serious consequences for the sustainability of life in the wild. planet.

Causes of chemical contamination

Most of the causes of chemical contamination are man-made. There are also chemical materials thrown from the subsoil by the volcanoes and geysers, but these events are more infrequent and often give the nature the time needed to recover from ecological damage.

On the other hand, the amount of substances that humans pour into air, Water and soil day after day are more abundant, difficult to eliminate and therefore harmful in the medium and long term. The indiscriminate discharge of wastewater or gases and substances to rivers, air or seas comes not only from large factories, but from automobile exhaust, from products discarded commercials and Energy.

Consequences of chemical contamination

Chemical pollution can cause phenomena like acid rain.

Chemical pollution has serious consequences on the molecular balance of ecosystems and the life itself, such as:

  • High levels of toxicity. Which leads to massive deaths of animal or plant or microscopic species, destroying the trophic (food) balance of a given ecosystem, and decreasing its biodiversity.
  • Chronic diseases. Such as cancer, respiratory insufficiency, skin damage, etc., both in humans and in animals Y plants.
  • Unpredictable chemical reactions. When entering the meteorological and climatic cycles, these substances can produce unexpected reactions that give rise to phenomena such as acid rainFor example, where instead of raining water, it rains a very mild acid that causes material damage.
  • Biochemical accumulation. Certain contaminants can be stored in the body of living beings, thus traveling from one place to another as one animal devours another, and eventually reaching our own food, to enter our bodies and cause disease.

Types of polluting chemicals

Chemical pollutants can be classified according to their effect on the environment in:

  • Poisons Substances that, when introduced into the body of living beings, inhibit or dramatically alter their vital biochemical processes and cause the death.
  • Mutagenic. Substances whose presence in the organism of living beings affects the conformation of the molecules from DNA, thus causing mutations unpredictable, some of which can be passed down generationally.
  • Corrosive. Materials that when interacting with the organic material cause their corrosion, that is, your oxidation violent, causing irreparable damage to it.
  • Suffocating Especially gases, they are lighter than air and tend to displace it, occupying the space of the lungs and generating mechanical asphyxia in living beings.
  • Radioactive. Atomically unstable substances, which emit particles Y waves of energy at such a frequency that they affect DNA causing genetic damage and causing disease.

Forms of chemical contamination

Chemical contamination usually occurs by inhalation (breathing of toxic gases) or direct contact (penetration through the skin), or irradiation (simply by being in the vicinity of the material) in the case of radioactive materials.

In the case of the human being, you are behaviors immediate damage can be controlled and minimized, but not to that of animals or plants, which suffer the effects of chemical contamination and eventually bring them to our own food. Furthermore, we cannot foresee the damage to the ecosystem that occurs silently when substances are dumped, let us suppose, into rivers. Its effects will be observable in the long term, usually when it is too late.

Main chemical pollutants

The main chemical pollutants today are:

  • Heavy metals.Metallic elements used in the manufacture of tools, pipes and other industrial uses, capable of detaching with the weather Particles that end up suspended in the air, in water, or as part of food, which can eventually cause poisoning or incidences of cancer.
  • Chemical pesticides. Substances used in the agricultural industry and that fulfill the function of protecting crops from insects, bacteria or even herbs that can ruin them, but also have a residual presence in groundwater and in the food itself, making it slightly toxic for consumption.
  • Drug waste. Disposal of expired or unnecessary drugs must occur through appropriate mechanisms, or otherwise their active components will end up in the environment, thus becoming biochemical pollutants.
  • Commercial waste. The chemical content of batteries (batteries), aerosol products, disinfectants and other products of daily use in our homes almost always go to the environment and, in large proportions, become a source of harmful chemicals.


Radioactivity is one of the most serious cases of chemical contamination that exists, since it is about unstable chemical elements, which emit particles and energy waves constantly and in all directions, crossing practically all the matter (except lead, which is why it is used to contain this type of material) and damaging above all the genetic material of living beings.

Radioactive materials have a variable decay period, but in some cases it can be extremely long, as in the case of plutonium-239 that emits radiation for 24,100 years, used during the 20th century in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.


Some theories claim that chemtrails contain polluting biological agents.

Thechemtrails (of Englishchemical trails, “Chemical traces”) are the name that some conspiracy theories give to the contrails left by airplanes in the atmosphere, which would contain, according to these theories, chemical or biological contaminating agents, which dark powers behind the pharmaceutical industry employ to keep people sick. population and being able to sustain the pharmacology business.

How to prevent chemical contamination?

Chemical contamination demands firm action from the societies to reduce the amount of harmful materials that are dumped into the environment on a daily basis. This can mean:

  • Strict government controls for the chemical, petrochemical and steel industries regarding the management of sewage, vapors and waste.
  • Exemplary punishments for those who cause environmental damage through poor or irresponsible management of chemical substances.
  • Prohibition of commercialization of products with harmful chemical elements, promotion of consumption of eco-healthy alternatives and strategies of recycling so that these products do not end up in the environment.
  • Prohibition or control of pesticides and promotion of independent, objective and self-financed studies that evaluate each product before its massive use.
  • Hazardous materials recycling systems: batteries, medicines, empty aerosol containers, etc.
  • Awareness campaigns so that the population understands the risks of chemical contamination.

Examples of chemical contamination

The chemical industries dump toxic substances polluting the ocean.

Some classic examples of chemical contamination are those caused by certain chemical industries in the ocean: by pouring their waters full of sulfates and other substances into the water, they promote the growth (by overfeeding) of certain algae and similar organisms, whose population increases to the point of suffocating other species and then competing with themselves, dying en masse and rotting on the shores of the sea, which is all to the detriment of the biological Diversity and the marine biotic balance.

Another traditional example has to do with the use of DDT as a pesticide during the 20th century, until it was banned, as traces of this toxic substance were found in animals on the other side of the world, as well as in food and even sewage for human consumption.

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