Visual pollution is the term given to unattractive and man-made visual elements of a vista, a landscape, or any other thing that a person does not feel comfortable to look at. Visual pollution is an aesthetic issue, referring to the impacts of pollution that impair one's ability to enjoy a vista or view. The term is used broadly to cover visibility, limits on the ability to view distant objects, as well as the more subjective issue of visual clutter. In other words, pollution is the contamination of the environment as a result of human activities. The term pollution refers primarily to the fouling of air, water, and land by wastes (see air pollution; water pollution; solid waste). In recent years it has come to signify a wider range of disruptions to environmental quality. Thus litter, billboards, and auto junkyards are said to constitute visual pollution; noise excessive enough to cause psychological or physical damage is considered noise pollution; and waste heat that alters local climate or affects fish populations in rivers is designated thermal pollution.
Public awareness that the environment could not absorb limitless amounts of waste came with the Industrial Revolution. By the latter part of the 19th century, many industrial areas were experiencing severe air pollution caused by the burning of coal to run mills and machinery. The quantities of fly ash, smoke, carbon and sulfur gases, and other wastes had become too great for local environments—like those of London and Pittsburgh—to disperse rapidly. Similarly, industrial effluents and sewage were polluting river systems. Not until after World War II, however, was pollution generally viewed as more than a nuisance that blackened buildings and sullied streams, i.e., as a pervasive threat to human health.
By the 1960s, the threat had become great enough, many believed, to challenge the integrity of the ecosystem and the survival of numerous organisms including humans. Population explosion, industrial expansion, and burgeoning truck and automobile use were producing wastes in such gigantic quantities that natural dispersing and recycling processes could not keep pace.
THE CLEAN WATER ACT- Water Pollution became a serious and widespread problem with the tremendous industrial and population booms of the last hundred years. The population quickly increased and the problem grew worse in the years following World War II, when use of man-made chemicals became more widespread and began to assume tremendous importance in our daily lives. For that reason, industries and cities increasingly used rivers as a dumping grounds for their waste, and many of the Nation's screams began to run heavy with pollution. So by the mid- 1960s, there were no tolerance for water in many areas of the United States. However, by the mid-1970s, the nationwide attack on the problem was beginning to turn a tide. In 1972 Congress passed a major amendment to the Federal Pollution Control Act. This Act, which is now known as the Clean Water Act, gave the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) board responsibility and the authority to oversee all cleanup of the Nation's water. Under the Act, every point source of industrial or municipal pollution must have a permit limiting its discharge. When permits are issued, limitations are placed based on the amount of pollution that may legally be discharged. The problem here is that, when massive pollution control efforts after a century or more quickening municipal and industrial water pollution, attention was focused on high levels of primary bacteria and viruses entering the Nation's water largely through municipal sewage (disease causing organisms) and low levels of oxygen-so low that fish are unable to breathe (it can cause extensive fish kills).
The Penobscot River in Maine (New England) once teemed with the Atlantic salmon, powerful silvery fish who would return to their freshwater birthplace after two or three years of feeding and maturing in the ocean. Then came the revolution, population growth, pollution, dams that blocked the return of the salmon to their upstream spawning grounds, fluctuating water temperatures and levels, and overfishing. Then came the growth of the pulp and paper industry and pollution. Between 1873 and 1890, salmon catches dropped to an average of 12,000 a year. In 1947, commercial salmon catch on the Penobscot was only 40, and in 1970, only one salmon was taken from the Penobscot. Blast fishing/Over-fishing pollution from the pulp mills and other industries all contributed to what seemed to be the end of the Atlantic salmon in the Penobscot.
In the Connecticut River, salmon were also numerous during 1819. In fact, one observer noted that salmon had scarcely been seen in the river for twenty years, since the last known catch of salmon was recorded around 1874. Even though there were more fish caught during 1977, and more salmon were seen in the Connecticut River, there were still problems with fish returning from the Atlantic into the river because of continued pollution problems. In subsequent years, however, increasing pollution controls began to take effect. After the 1972 amendments to the Clean Water Act, more and more salmon began to return to the river. In 1967, Connecticut's Clean Water Program established water quality standards for all of its waters. The program required that the Naugatuck and the lower Housatonic River be upgraded to fishable-swimmable status. Thus, the state ordered industries on both rivers to install pollution controls, including pretreatment facilities for plants discharging into municipal sewer systems. As a result, the amounts of heavy metals and organic wastes going into these rivers have decreased dramatically.
In the last ten years, two important urban river systems in New Jersey—the Hackensack and Navesink systems—have experienced observable improvements in water quality. By the mid-twenty century, the Hackensack River and the Meadowlands suffered from nearly every environmental problem to be found in a major urban setting. For over fifty years, the 22-mile (35 km)-long tidal portion of the Hackensack constituted a swampy, mosquito-infested jungle, where rusting auto bodies, demolition rubble, industrial oil slicks, and cattails merged in a stinking union. Trash collectors dumped a huge mountain of municipal refuse from all counties of New Jersey on 2,000 acres (810 ha) of tidal wetlands. Then, rain soaked through those huge mounds of garbage, becoming contaminated with toxic substances in the process. The contaminated rainwater then seeped into the river. At this point, the Hackensack received heavy metals and organic pollutants from the wastes dumped by oil and chemical companies, coke plants, and ink printing manufacturers. Fish were killed by the industrial chemicals, or driven out by the growth of oxygen-demanding algae fed by the nutrients in inadequately treated municipal wastes.
As a result, in response to this environmental disaster, the New Jersey Legislature in December 1968 created the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission to help promote environmental cleanup and industrial, recreational, and residential development. In 1971, the commission began a massive effort to clean up the Hackensack and its tidal meadowlands by reducing industrial and municipal pollution, first by diking and eventually eliminating landfills, and by preventing any new waste discharges from entering the Hackensack estuary. Since 1971, there have been far fewer fish kills in the Hackensack estuary. The number and extent of oil slicks have reduced as have the amount of pollutants discharged into the estuary.
Of all waters, maybe none are as vulnerable to pollution as those where the land meets the sea-the Nation's bays, harbors, and estuaries. They are the home of the most delicate of marine ecosystems, and many have been ravaged by pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the States, Local Governments, and other citizen groups have repeatedly allied themselves into a force of cleanup. Their impact on reducing pollution in these important waters has clearly been felt.
Afer the Second World War, ocean dumping of sewage sludge and industrial wastes increased rapidly in the United States because for some reason, it was the cheapest way to get rid of those waste. In fact, there was evidence that those wastes, which included toxic chemicals and disease organisms, had become a bigger threat to marine life and through every other food chain, to humans. Therefore, in 1972 in response to increasing that evidence and all the concerns about the dangers of ocean dumping, congress passed the Marine Protection, Research, and sanctuaries Act (Ocean Dumping Act). It required EPA to limit and eventually stop all ocean disposalS of sewage sludge and industrial wastes. To act quickly, the EPA focused on two of the areas that ocean dumping were taking place the most: the Mid-Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. As for the Atlantic coast, however only the part above or near the east side was quite vulnerable to restricted ocean dumping based or its size and circulation because of the water's relative shallowness and because the pollution generated along the shore. As for the Gulf of Mexico, although it was ranked the fifth by how threatened the pollution had overcome, it was still vulnerable to wastes, especially toxic wastes, disposed of in its waters. Although, several companies were still dumping their industrial wastes into the Gulf of Mexico under "Letter of No Objection" from the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which allowed the dumping of industrial wastes, but when the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 came into effect, everything was regulated and put into stop.
This river was a perfect example of some success in cleaning up pollution from the mines. By 1950, the Monongahela River had become a aquatic wasteland. Drainage from acid mines brought LOW PH Levels, severe turbidity, bottom deposits of chemicals, rains, and high concentration of iron on so forth. Not only were fish unable to survive, but boats, dams, and bridges were being attack by the river's corrosive waters. By the 17 and 18 of December 1963, a major turning point in the campaign about saving the Monongahela River came about. It was agreed by conferees that all of the mines be inventoried. So, in 1965, all active coal mines were required to treat their discharges, and they were to contain no more than seven milligrams per liter of waste. As a result, water quality monitoring records from the late 1960s and the early 1970s showed high PH Levels and less acidity.
In Hobbs, New Mexico, public health problem and environmental problems were turning into economic asset. The city's wastewater treatment plant, built in 1938 and modified in 1953, was adding unsafe levels of nitrates to groundwater. Since there were no waterways in that area to receive discharges, the plant used a trickling filter process followed by discharge into percolation pounds. As the treated effluent percolated into the ground, it carried nitrates to the groundwater.
In response to the problem of high nitrate levels, the city decided to improve the wastewater treatment process it was using and sold part of the effluent which was bought by oil producers to inject it into petroleum formation as part of their secondary oil recovery operations. So, with the Environmental Protection Agencies and States Grants, Hobbs completed the land application facility in 1976, which allowed the city to begin restoring the quality of underground water supply. Since oil companies were using groundwater for their secondary recovery operations, if effluents were not available, Hobbs was also helping in conserving water through the sale of its treated wastewater. Therefore, the city's arrangement was not only based on saving money, but also conserving water.