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close this bookAn Overview of Disaster Management (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - United Nations Development Programme , 1992, 136 p.)
close this folderChapter 4. Natural hazards
close this folderCharacteristics of particular hazards and disasters 1
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEarthquakes
View the documentTsunamis
View the documentVolcanoes
View the documentLandslides
View the documentTropical cyclones
View the documentFloods
View the documentDroughts
View the documentEnvironmental pollution
View the documentDeforestation
View the documentDesertification
View the documentPest infestations
View the documentEpidemics
View the documentChemical and industrial accidents

Environmental pollution

Causal phenomena

Air pollution - pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, carbon monoxide, and lead from industry and transport.
Marine pollution - Sewage, industrial effluents, marine litter, petroleum spills and dumped radioactive substances.
Fresh water pollution - Discharge of human waste and domestic wastewaters into lakes and rivers, industrial effluents, use of irrigation and pesticides, runoff of nitrogen from fertilizers. Increased runoff from deforestation causing sedimentation.
Possible global warming - Accumulation of Carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation, and methane from livestock.
Ozone depletion - Chloroflorocarbons (CFCs) released into the atmosphere deplete ozone shield against ultraviolet light.


Pollution is related to per capita consumption so, as countries develop, pollution will also tend to increase. Deforestation is increasing in some countries.

Factors contributing to vulnerability

High levels of industrialization and per capita consumption
Lack of regulation of pollutants
Insufficient resources to counter the impact of pollution

Typical adverse effects

Air pollution - Damages agricultural crops, forests, aquatic systems, structural materials and human health.
Water pollution - Spread of pathogens, injury to marine animals, spread of chemicals to the environment effecting the health of humans, animals and sealife.
Global warming - Sea level rise, climate change, temperature rise
Ozone depletion - Increase in skin cancer, cataracts, reduction in immune system functions, damage to marine life.

Possible risk reduction measures

Set ambient air quality standards
Set emission limits for every pollutant
Establish protection policies for water supplies
Reduce the use of pesticides by integrated management
Reduce the rate of deforestation and increase planting of trees
Promote energy efficiency
Regulate use of aerosols and disposal of refrigeration units
Prohibit manufacture and use of CFCs

Specific preparedness measures

Establish a national environmental safety and protection plan
Create education programs for environmental awareness
Training of government personnel as part of development programs

Impact assessment tools

Aerial, remote sensing and ground surveys
Air, water and soils testing
Comparison of climatic data
Socioeconomic surveys