Climatic Conditions

Climatic conditions can greatly influence the movement and the ultimate fate of many potentially toxic substances in the environment. For example, ultraviolet light from the Sun could accelerate the breakdown of many organic chemicals and at the same time also be injurious to microorganisms. Increased temperature due to bright sunlight especially in tropical climate may result in increase vaporization of chemicals into atmosphere, creating respiratory hazard for local communities. Increased temperature also decreases excretion through kidneys in mammals, which may promote the accumulation of toxic substances in their bodies. In natural waters, increased temperature decreases the oxygen content causing fish deaths and making the surviving fish more susceptible to other environmental stresses. Increased water in soil increases soil biological activity but may also lead to anaerobic conditions, particularly in unperturbed soil, causing biodegradation activity to slow down considerably.

Air movement increases loss of volatile chemicals from exposed surfaces and can move contaminants in the air far away from site of production. For example, emissions including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from British coal-fired power stations are carried across the North Sea to Scandinavia where it contributes to the acidification of lakes and resultant fish kill. The acid rain can also dissolve metals from the rocks, soil, and sediments and these metals may reach toxic levels in affected soil, lakes, streams, and rivers. Another good example is the air movement seen during the summer months in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico carrying sand particles originated thousands of miles away in Sahara causing respiratory ailments especially in children and aged population. Increased evaporation due to hot air leads to salination of irrigated lands ultimately rendering them useless for crop cultivation. This situation is quite peculiar to some Southeast Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, where millions of acres of productive land have been lost due to high salination of soil.

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