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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Impact of Pollution on Environment and Health: An


Investigation
B. Suresh Lal1*
Abstracts: Since the dawn of the Industrial age there has been slow accretion of wastes on the
planet. These wastes are the by products in the production of Industrial goods. In contrast to
natural processes where everything gets transformed into some form or other within a certain
period, these Industrial wastes left over have accumulated in the atmosphere, on the earth and in
water bodies. According to field study data focused that, public health steadily declined due to
consumption of water polluted by effluents. Residents of the village suffer from epilepsy,
respiratory diseases, skin and throat problem, glaucoma, paraplegia, jaundice, typhoid, diarrhea,
joint pains and cancer. Women and children are the most affected. In some cases even the
pregnancy is affected. Also the total land became barren/ damaged is 266 acres belonging to 177
farmers, along with agricultural equipment loss. Nearly 100 families were lost their occupation
i.e. toddy tapping, about 322 animals were died of consumption of polluted water.
Industrialization, contrary to belief, has resulted in unemployment. Pollution has displaced
several traditional families and professions. Thus, industrialization had deprived the rural people
of the drinking water facilities which they were having earlier and it had also caused a change in
the source of irrigation as most of them who were depending on tanks and steam water for
irrigation.
Key Words: Thermal plants, diseases, environment, water and air borne diseases and economy.
INTRODUCTION
In environmental health research, focus has
been shifted from relatively simple to more
complex issues. Empirical single agent single
effect studies have been supplemented by
research on risks of complex environmental
exposures in varying economic, cultural and
political settings. Environmental health impact
assessment has become a valuable tool for
decision support. These types of assessments
increasingly
being
used
so-called
environmental burden of disease measures to
express health impacts in terms of wage loss
and treatment (1). This study focuses, So2, Co2
& fly ash and bottom ash toxic substance etc,
emitted by thermal power plant (TPP) causes
reducing the agricultural yield and growth
thus incurring huge losses in agricultural
production, GNP, decrease in the life span of
the forests. The pollutants that enter the plants
in turn prove poisonous and detrimental to
animals and man when they consume it. The
animals and human beings residing near the
thermal plants are prone to various health
hazards when they inhale the air and drink the
polluted water (2). Various diseases affect
them, which ranges from mild intoxication to a
loss of an organ, to the toxic effect on their
lives. Damages due to the pollutants are
mostly done to the respiratory system and
through the exposure of the human skin to the
pollutants. The pollutants also affect the
digestive system through the food taken and
the water drank. When the health of the
human being is risked the productivity of the
labour is reduced. The production process
suffers a setback thereby reducing the
1

Kakatiya University, Warangal, AP- India.


Email: lalbsuresh@gmail.com
*For correspondence

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standard of living of the people. Wastewater


discharged from plants and ash ponds reduces
the fertility of the soil and brings a fall in the
agricultural production, vegetation, human
beings, flora and fauna. Increased situation
leads to frequent flooding theory indirectly
affecting the lives and disrupting the normal
course of events (3).
METHODS
Objectives
To analyze the importance of environment in
present day scenario, To describe the pollution
effects on ambient environment and To probe
in to the impact of pollution on the human
health and living condition.
Hypothesis
Industrialization cause pollution of drinking
and irrigation water and local people are
eliminated from their lands involuntarily.
People are deprived of pure environment,
happy and peaceful life due to the functioning
of TPPs. There is an overall degradation in the
living standards of the people due to different
pollutions surrounding the areas of TPPs.
Study Area & Statistics
The study was undertaken in winter 2008 in
Kundanpally village, of Godavarikhani in
Andhra Pradesh, India in the vicinity of STPS
of NTPC thermal power plant. A multi-stage
sample is adopted. Samples were collected by
filling up an environmental & health schedule
from selected households in the study area. A
Total 300 sample households involved in
agricultural laboring and toddy taping
occupation were chosen at random with a care
to see that the sample for each category
represents the entire study areas. Statistical

tools used like cross tabulation, frequency


counts, averages, and measures of dispersion.
RESULTS
In the rural areas and village economies, caste
system has a strong holding even today. The
caste is still playing an important role in
getting any opportunity that enables a person
or a household to improve his or her status in
social, cultural, economic, political spheres of
life. Various welfare programmes which are
exclusively meant for betterment of people
belonging to socially backward castes,
scheduled castes and scheduled tribes too are
not free from influence and manipulation of
upper caste people. Naturally dominance of
upper caste people and their social influence
play a key role in receiving compensation for
land acquisition. Creamy jobs, house plots and
other opportunities may be bagged by upper
caste people and lower caste people may be
pushed back in race of getting better
opportunities. 67% of the respondents come
under above 50 years of age, this shows that
they are aware of change in environment pre
and post thermal power plant given in table-1.
Education is most important factor that
improves efficiency of a person in all aspects.
Education helps a person to equip himself with
all capabilities which are essential in day-today life in all spheres of life social, economical
and political. Education improves skills,
through which productive capacity of labor
will increase. It is essential for optimum
utilization of opportunities that are within our
reach. 54.3 % of the respondents are illiterates
i.e., 163. The %ages of respondents who have
primary and secondary education are 29.0 %
and 14 % respectively. The number of
respondents who have higher education is
only 8 and their %age is just 2.7.
Expenditure patterns deals with how
much is being spent on food items and how
much on Non-food items- clothes, education,
health, entertainment etc.
Thus the
expenditure patterns of people show their
nutritional status, health, education status and
also socio-economic status and living
standards. Changes in the income of the people
change the spending patterns of the people.
67.7 % of the subjects having < 15,000/
income. Nearly 33 % subjects having >
20,000/ income annually. Thus majority of
respondents are poor and have low living
standards, see table1.
Environmental Issues
Ground Water Pollution
Water is essential ingredient of life on the
earth. Water is an essential and vital
component for our life support system. Ground
water plays an important role in domestic
water supplies, agriculture and for industrial
use. In its natural form it is usually free from
pathogens, color and turbidity and therefore,

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Thermal
Power Plant
Emissions
Pollutions
Air Pollution

Water Pollution

Soil Pollution

Agriculture
Effect on
Human beings
Livestock

Air,
Water
Borne
Diseases

Loss
of
Employment
(women work
force)

Tapping/
Income Loss

Decrease in
Milk Yield,
Lactation
Period

Increase
Medical

ure

Decrease
Yield

Toddy

Death of
Cattle

Illhealth

Expendit

Occupation

Wage loss/
Income

Decrease
Income

Decrease Size
of
Landholding

Change
Cropping
Pattern

in

in

Total Economic Loss

Debt Trap/
Poverty

Fig.1 Effect of Thermal Power Emissions

can be consumed directly without treatment.


Ground water is particularly important as it
meets about 88 % of drinking water needs in
rural areas, where the population is widely
dispersed and the infrastructure needed for
treatment and transportation of surface water
does not exist. Ground water badly needed in
agriculture, both for irrigated and rainfed dry
crops.
But intensive use of ground water for
irrigation and for a variety of industrial
activities is causing pollution. Water pollution
means degradation of water quality making it
unsuitable or dangerous for human and animal

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health, industry, agriculture fishing or other


activities. The ash ponds, which have been
erected for the disposal of fly ash and bottom
ash in slurry form, are main sources of ground
water pollution in the study area. The ground
water in these areas has been polluted,
became unfit for drinking and for other
domestic and irrigation purposes. According to
table-1, the main source of drinking water for
all respondents was well source only prior to
the industry. But after industry, tap has
emerged as main source of drinking water. The
tap water supply is inadequate to meet even
the drinking needs. Hence people are forced to

use contaminated ground water for domestic


purpose- drinking, bathing, washing vessels,
cloths etc. Using of this contaminated watermaking people fall prey to various water borne
diseases. 99 % subjects are victims of sever
ground water and the adverse impact of
ground water pollution is on irrigation also.
The majority subjects experience TPP caused
water and air pollutions. 3.7% are being
affected by only water pollution and 94.7% are
both water and air pollution.
Air Pollution

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Table1:
Subject
Caste Composition of Respondents:
BCs (Backward Class)
SCs (Scheduled Caste)
STs (Scheduled Tribe)
OCs (Upper Caste)
Age Composition:
21-30
31-41
41-50
> 50
Educational Status:
Illiteracy
Primary
Secondary
Higher
Income Particulars in Rs (p.a.)
Below- 11000
12000-15000
16000-20000
Above 20000
Source of Drinking Water:
Well (Pre-Industry)
Tab (Post-Industry)
Suffering from Type of Pollution
Water
Water & Air
All
Water Borne Diseases:
Jaundice
Joint pains
Typhoid
Diarrhea
All
Air Borne Diseases:
Eye irritation & pain
Lungs related
Throat related
Skin
All
Suffering from Type of Emissions:
Fly ash
Fly Ash & Solid waste
Fly ash & sewage water
Expenditure on Medical Treatment in Rs (p.a):
<5000
6000-10000
> 10000
Source of Medical Treatment:
Private
Wage Losses Due To IllHealth in Rs(p.a):
<1000
1100-1500
1600-2000
No Losses

Frequency

Percentage

Total & %

153
29
99
19

51.0
9.7
33.0
6.3

300 (100)

2
12
85
201

.7
4.0
28.3
67.0

300 (100)

163
87
42
8

53.3
29.0
14.0
2.7

300 (100)

81
116
78
25

27.0
38.7
26.0
8.0

300 (100)

300
300

100
100

300 (100)
300 (100)

11
284
5

3.7
94.7
1.6

300 (100)

24
63
34
94
85

8.0
21.0
11.3
31.3
28.0

300 (100)

90
21
11
103
75

30.0
7.0
3.7
34.3
25.0

300 (100)

17
178
105

5.7
59.3
35.0

300 (100)

138
97
87

46.0
32.3
29.0

300 (100)

298

99.3

298 (99.)

138
88
7
67

46.0
29.3
2.3
22.3

300 (100)

Source: Compiled from Field Study Data

Air is essential for all living beings on the


earth. Man has polluted the atmosphere so
heavily that much of the population now
breaths a mixture of highly toxic gases with
every lungful of air. Human body requires
approximately 25 kg of air per day to sustain

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its requirements of oxygen. As far as food


consumption is concerned, it is estimated that
1.5 kg of food is required per day per person.
That means that a man inhales 15-20 times
higher quantity of air than the quantity of food
intake (4).

The world health organization has defined


air pollution as substances put it into air by the
activity of mankind in concentration sufficient
to cause harmful effect to his health,
vegetables, property or to interfere with the
enjoyment of his property (5).

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Emissions from the TPP are mainly


responsible for air pollution in the study area.
40-45% ash content coal is used in TPP. The
ash so produced is disposed in the ash ponds
causing severe air pollution in the vicinity of
ash pond. This fly ash is getting air borne
disease even with mild breezes and spreading
in the residential areas near and around the
ash ponds. The subjects who are being affected
by fly ash is 5.7%, 59.3% are affected by fly ash
& solid wastes and 35% are by fly ash and
sewage water. The carry over of fly ash from
pond is in the radius of three kilometers in the
direction of wind blows. The environmental
issues of most concern due to ash disposal in
these study areas are; a. Effect on ground
water- the ground water has completely
become unfit for domestic and agriculture uses
and 2. Wash out of ash disposal site- the ash
disposal sites and other agricultural lands near
the ash ponds become unfit for cultivation and
cattle grazing. Dry fly ash is readily lifted up
even due to small breezes during transport,
dumping, spreading and even in idle
conditions due to least cohesive in solid
particles. The climate condition in the summer
April & May months temperatures exceed state
averages and touches 50 degree C in study
areas. Air pollution due to ash ponds has
become perpetual problem for the people
living adjacent to ash pond, particularly in
summer. Part of ash ponds become dry in
summer and hot wind blows wrap up the
neighbor hood villages with ash from ash
ponds. The disposal of utilized coal
combustion bi-products is also contaminating
surface water bodies- tanks, streams and the
river Godavari. This is causing damage to fish
and other aquatic organisms and made the
people vulnerable to various airborne
diseases.
Health Issues
Water Borne Diseases.
The polluted water supplies are responsible
for more human illness than any other
environmental influences. The state of health
of the people does not depend only on the
number of doctors and hospitals, but also on
clean environment. Nearly 80 % of worlds
diseases more so in developing world, can be
linked with water (6). The entire study village
has been badly affected by ground water
pollution and people are suffering from
various water borne diseases. Due to lack of
water for drinking and other domestic
purposes such as taking bath, washing clothes,
vessels etc people are forced to use
contaminated water and victimized by water
borne diseases. The spread of various water
borne diseases in the study area are Diarrhoea
is most common water borne disease, which
affected 31% of subjects frequently. 28%
subjects are suffering from jaundice, joint
pains, typhoid and diarrhoea. The number of

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the respondents who are suffering from


jaundice, joint pains, and typhoid are 24, 63
and 34 respectively are given in the table-1.
Air Borne Diseases
Air pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen
oxides, hydrocarbons, particulate matter etc
attack human health through respiratory
system. Diseases like bronchitis, lung cancer,
eye irritation and skin irritation etc are caused
by air pollution. Table-1, gives details of air
borne diseases, which are affecting the people
in the TPP area of the study. The majority of
respondents are suffering eye irritation and
skin related diseases. They account for 64.3%.
7% respondents are suffering from lung
related diseases and 3.7% from throat related
diseases (bronchitis). The air borne diseases,
which are wide spread in these areas, are eye
irritation, skin diseases, lung related diseases
and throat related diseases. 25% of the total
respondents are suffering from all these
diseases. These diseases which affect the
people in these areas led to severe
psychological pressure on the families, when
the main income earner of the family got these
diseases, it is resulting in the deterioration of
economic conditions of these families.
Medical Facilities
It is evident from the table-1 that 99.3 % of
respondents are depending on private medical
and health services. People are compelled to
rely on private sector health care system for
urgent and quality services, because shortage
of health and medical facilities, inadequate
supply of medicines in government hospitals,
unwillingness of doctors to work in rural areas
are some of the obstacles for the rural people
to gain access to government medical and
health services. Thus medical emergency
results in economic disaster of poor families.
Figure-1: explains the how TPPs adverse
impact of emissions on the environment and
health and economy. The emissions released
from TPP in liquid, solid and gaseous form
result in air pollution and water pollution. The
main sources of air and water pollution in TPP
area are chimney and ash pond. The ash pond
is exclusively erected for dumping fly ash and
bottom ash in slurry form. The water in ash
pond polluted the ground water and the upper
layer of the ash in the pond get air bore
diseases with small wind blows and cause
severe air pollution besides, the emissions
from stacks of the plant also cause air
pollution. The water pollution caused soil
pollution and adversely affected the
agricultural and allied activities.
Economic Issues
Table-1 provides details on expenditures on
medical and health services incurred by the
respondents. 78% subjects are spending
Rupees. <10,000/ per annum on medical

treatment. Nearly 22% of respondents who


are spending in the >10,000 pa. It will astonish
us if we compare this expenditure with the
income levels of the respondents. The number
of respondents who earn the income of
Rupees. <11,000/- is 27%, and who earn the
range of Rs.12000-15000 is 38.7%. It can be
understood from the above comparison that
the majority respondents are spending more
than 60% of their income towards medical and
health care needs compromising the other
basic needs of the family.
This shows
economic burden (onus) on the poor
respondents due to pollution related diseases.
Further table explains the details of wage loss
due to illhealth of the respondents. 46% of
respondents are suffering Rs.1000/- wage loss
per annum due to ill health and 29.3% are
suffering losses in the range of Rs. 1100-1500.
The cumulative %age of respondents who are
suffering losses is 77.7%. This explains the
adverse impact of thermal power plant
pollution on the ambient environment and
health problems, which end up in huge
medical expenditures and monetary wage loss.
Effect on Human Being
The air pollution and soil pollution adversely
altered the human health. People were caught
with various air borne and water borne
diseases. The ill health of the people resulted
in medical expenditure and wage loss. This
amounts to total economic loss and
degradation in the living standards of people,
which ultimately degrades HDI (7). Further
public health steadily declined due to
consumption of water polluted by effluents.
Residents of the village suffer from epilepsy,
respiratory diseases, skin and throat problem,
glaucoma, jaundice, typhoid, diarrhea, joint
pains and cancer. Women and children are the
most affected. In some cases even the
pregnancy is affected (8). Industrialization,
contrary to belief, has resulted in
unemployment. Pollution has displaced
several traditional families and professions.
Thus, industrialization had deprived the rural
people of the drinking water facilities which
they were having earlier and it had also caused
a change in the source of irrigation as most of
them who were depending on tanks and steam
water for irrigation, are now depending on ash
pond water and uncertain monsoon. In a way
this power station is creating pollution and
needs to be attended by the governmental
machinery (9).
Effect on Livestock
Due to pollution, the livestock in the TPP areas
grazed contaminated grass, drank polluted
water and die ultimately. The impact of
pollution on milky animals also very severe.
Decreased in milk yielding and lactation
period are the adverse impacts of pollution on
milky animals. The cattle deaths and decrease

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in milk yielding end up in economic loss to the


owners of livestock.
Impact on Agriculture
The adverse impact of pollution on agriculture
can be perceived in three ways. Firstly,
pollution caused to decline in yielding.
Secondly, continuous use of contaminated
water to irrigate fields caused lands to become
barren-become unfit for cultivation. This
caused to decrease in the sizes of operational
holdings and thereby decline in employment,
especially women work force lost employment
opportunities. Thirdly pollution also altered
the cropping pattern. Some crops are very
sensitive to the changes in the atmosphere and
environment. The crops that are less resistant
to negative changes in environment are not
grown. This resulted in replacing diversified
cropping pattern with mono-cropping pattern.
All these adverse impacts resulted in loss of
employment, income, and wealth in the form
of valuable lands of farmers. Impact of TPP
activity on environment, in Kundanapally of
Godavarikhani, resulted in localized problems
of air, water and land pollution. Within a span
of 15 years, local ground water potential
depleted and was contaminated and the
surface water sources are totally polluted.
TPPs are sources of pollution, of several
watercourses and around 10 villages are being
affected. An independent estimate puts the
wastewater flow in Kundanpally at 10 million
liters of discharges effluents per day.
Qualitatively, the characteristics of these
effluents let into Ramagundam, Bhadripally

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and Rajapur are quite alarming, they far


exceed the suggested ranges for discharge into
surface waters. The study reveals that, the
total land became barren/ damaged is 266
acres belonging to 177 farmers, along with
agricultural equipment loss. Nearly 100
families were lost their occupation i.e. toddy
tapping, about 322 animals were died of
consumption of polluted water.

problems of the people (10). The promises of


the jobs and agricultural lands in lieu of the
land acquired are never fulfilled. Only few
dominant, influential persons of the area could
manage to bag more benefits from the
compensation package, thus harming the poor
land holders in the study area, see, Table-1
which is self explanatory.
REFERENCES AND NOTES

CONCLUSIONS
The study fund overall impact of the thermal
power plants pollutions.
Involuntary
displacement, environmental degradation
caused hardships, and deprived the
respondents of their natural living conditions,
source of employment and income, livelihood,
way of life. Losses of community life, facilities,
assets, access to natural resources are the
consequences caused by thermal power plants
and their pollution. Community structure and
social networks are broken and weakened.
Cultural identity, traditional authority and the
attitudes of mutual co-operation and help are
diminished. Peoples value system, belief
system, customs and traditions were
destructed. Big buildings, electricity, dazzling
light,
water,
sanitation,
infrastructural
facilities etc. are all being enjoyed by the
project authorities and employees and the rich
people of the locality. But on the other hand,
the people who lost their lands in the
acquisition, whose lands became barren, live
in a state of misery. Poor infrastructure,
sanitation problems, absence of hospitals or
costly corporate hospitals etc., are the

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