Sunday, June 14, 2015

The History of Pollution

by Anton Antonio
June 5, 2015

“Environmental pollution is defined as the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse changes.  It is the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects.” (Antonio, 2014)  But how did pollution come into being; when did it all start?

The beginning of pollution cannot be ascertained although most literature about pollution point to the discovery of fire by man himself.  Some information, however, indicate that pollution has been an identified problem since the Middle Ages. 

The use of synthetic materials after World War II changed the pollution landscape significantly.  Industries began to manufacture products made of synthetic materials such as plastics, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and inorganic pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT).  These materials, aside from being toxic, are non-biodegradable and accumulate in the environment.  These chemicals are also largely blamed for chronic diseases and have critically increased the incidence of cancers, physical birth defects, and mental retardation.  From the environmental standpoint, synthetic materials have contributed to the worrisome loss of biodiversity.

Pollution is also attributable to natural causes.  There is an accepted theory that the dinosaurs (of the Mesozoic Era) were wiped out by an asteroid that collided with Earth.  This occurrence created dust for an extended period of time that impaired photosynthesis… and, therefore, killing most plant life on Earth which subsequently starved the dinosaurs to death.  Just to properly describe and identify the Mesozoic Era… which is divided further into three periods: Triassic, Jurassic (which is the most familiar period), and Cretaceous.  But more than the natural causes, the more worrisome causes of pollution are man-made.

For more information on environmental pollution, please check on the following articles published in
  • “Coal Plant in Palawan?” (published: June 1, 2015);
  • “Effects of Pollutants” (published: May 29, 2015);
  • “Effects of Human Activities” (published: May 6, 2015);
  • “Something Good Will Happen” (published: December 24, 2014);
  • “Environmental Noise” (published: November 14, 2014);
  • “Biologically Dead” (published: October 28, 2014;
  • “Pollution” (published: September 25, 2014); and,
  • “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (published: August 3, 2014)

Again, pollution is not a new phenomenon; it has been with us since time immemorial.  Knowing its early beginnings is not that critical anymore compared to the knowledge and awareness of why it still exists today… with deadly consequences for that matter.  However, there is an old adage that says we need to study history so we are not doomed to commit the same mistakes.  Therefore, there is also a need to study the history of pollution.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2014). “Pollution”. Retrieved on June 5, 2015 from

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