Definition of Pollutant? Types and Classification?

Definition of Pollutant:

"Any substance which cause pollution is called pollutant. e.g. plastics, pesticides, Lead, mercury, Carbon oxides, Particulate matter, bacteria  etc."
"Pollutant is any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such concentration as may be or tend to be harmful to the environment."

Pollutants can be divided into four types:

Solids: Metal, plastic, paper, wood, leaves, human waste, animal waste etc
Liquid: Oil, Chemicals (Acids, bases), pesticides, detergents etc
Gaseous: Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Methane, Hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, Nitrogenous gases (NOx), Sulfurous gases (SOx) etc. 
Biological: Bacteria, fungi,  virus etc.

Classification of Pollutants

The pollutants can be classified into two basic groups:
(a) Degradable pollutants or Bio-degradable Pollutants
(b) Non-degradable Pollutants:

(a) Degradable pollutants or Bio-degradable Pollutants:

    These are organic substances which can be decomposed by the natural processes like biological or microbial action.
The degradable pollutants can be further sub-divided into two categories:
(i) Rapidly degradable pollutants:
     For example, the decomposition of sewage and wastes of animals and plants is a faster process.
(ii) Slowly degradable pollutants:
    For example, degradation of synthetic compounds and radio-active elements.

(b) Non-degradable Pollutants:

     The substances or products which cannot be broken down by the natural processes i.e. by action of microbes. 
These can be further subdivided into two more classes:
(i) Waste:
     e.g. glass, phenolic compounds, aluminum cans etc.
(ii) Poisons:
      e.g. pesticides, heavy metals like mercury, lead etc.


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