Can natural disasters cause pollution?

When we speak of pollution, the images that are conjured are often related to how humans are polluting natural resources. However, that is not the only source of pollution. Pollution can also be a resultant of a natural disaster. As much as humans impact the environment with their habits, machinery, and other factors, nature also plays a hand in causing pollution.

Impact of natural disasters on the environment

We have been experiencing more and more weather-related disasters in the recent years. It is well known that natural disasters often leave an impact on individuals, property, financial and natural resources, security, and more. It also leaves a lasting impact on the landscape and the environment. There have been past instances like that of the California wildfire in 2009, which caused a dramatic change in the entire ecosystem. The rise in the sea levels, the rapid desalination, melting glaciers are many other changes brought upon by natural disasters all over the globe.

Natural disasters can also be destructive to the natural habitat of wildlife while impacting the air and water around us. The impact of hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods, etc. on the environment include,

  • Flooding of inland
  • Water contamination
  • Erosion of soil and water
  • Affects greenhouse
  • Pollution of the atmosphere with toxic gases
  • Destruction of trees,
  • Reduction in soil quality

And there are more.

What kind of pollutions can arise from natural disasters?

Natural disasters can cause a variety of pollutions, the most common being air and water pollutions. The air quality is highly dependent on our everyday activities, and so is the impact of our lifestyle on water quality. However, our lifestyle and activities also impact the environment to a huge extent, which in turn results in dramatic climate changes.

  • During a volcanic eruption, there are toxic gases released into the atmosphere, which can cause serious damage to not just humans but all the lives on earth.
  • Earthquakes not only affects the land but can also leave a lasting impact on air and water as well. When the earthquakes cause factories to collapse, toxic materials are released into the air, water, and land.
  • When Tsunami causes flood islands, it can cause structures to fall, which can cause oceanic pollution. The typical example would be the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which caused the nuclear power plant failure, resulting in huge radiation into the ocean and the atmosphere.
  • When floods arise, they carry the chemical wastes, detergents, fertilizers, and many other hazardous substances downstream.
  • The sediments left over by the flood can easily turn into molds, the decay of oceanic life, and algae formation.
  • When wildfires, tsunamis, volcanoes, and other forms of natural disasters shake up the earth, many elements like methylmercury are released into the air. These are highly toxic elements that cause health issues to not just humans but all lives in the world.

And the list is endless.

Even in cases where the people are not affected much, natural disasters leave a huge impact on the environment. Natural disasters like cyclones, earthquakes, etc., have been in existence from time immemorial. The frequency of natural disasters has changed drastically, with modernization impacting the entire world and the industrialization paving way for weather changes. To simply put, humans are laying the foundation for natural disasters and the pollution they bring forth with our actions.

It is now time to relook our habits and how we should try to save our ecosystem and the environment. Keeping our environment safe is the only way to keep control of natural disasters and to ensure that the impact is minimal when they occur.