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Measures to Protect Wetlands ................84

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands ...........84
Ramsar Sites in India ............................86
Wetlands International ..........................93

Solved Environment Prelims Questions National Wetlands Conservation Page

(2011-15) ............................................... 3 Programme (NWCP) ...............................94
Environment ........................................32 Estuarine Ecosystem ...........................94

Habitat ..................................................32 India Estuarine Ecosystem ....................96

Biosphere ..............................................33 Mangroves .............................................96

Ecosystem .............................................33 Environmental Degradation ................99

Components of an Ecosystem ................34 Human Modified Ecosystems and

Environmental Degradation .................100
Ecology .................................................37
Environmental Issues in Himalayas .....102
Ecotone .................................................42
Soil erosion .........................................105
Ecological Niche ....................................43
Desertification .....................................109
Functions Of Ecosystem .....................44
Pollution ............................................110
Ecological Succession ............................44
Air Pollution ........................................110
Homeostasis ..........................................48
Classification of Pollutants ..................111
Homeostasis in Ecosystem ....................49
Prevention and Control of air Pollution 115
Energy Flow Through an Ecosystem –
Trophic Levels .....................................50 Government Initiative ..........................118

Food Chain............................................50 Smog ...................................................119

Food Web ..............................................52 Sulfurous smog ...................................119

Biotic Interaction ...................................53 Photochemical smog ............................120

Ecological Pyramids...............................55 Effects of Smog ....................................121

Pollutants And Trophic Level .................58 Question: UPSC Mains 2015................121

Biogeo Chemical Cycling or Nutrient Ozone Hole – Ozone Depletion .............122

Cycling .................................................60 Polar Vortex ........................................123
Nutrient Cycles......................................60 Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs) .......124
Carbon Cycle [Gaseous Cycle]................61 Harmful Effects of Ozone Depletion .....125
Nitrogen Cycle [Gaseous Cycle] ..............62 Measures to Prevent Ozone (O3) Layer
Phosphorus Cycle [Sedimentary cycle] ...66 Depletion.............................................126

Sulphur Cycle [Sedimentary cycle] .........67 Acid Rain – Acidification ......................127

Natural Ecosystem...............................68 Ocean Acidification ..............................131

Biomes or Terrestrial Ecosystems ..........69 Water Pollution....................................133

Eutrophication – Algal Bloom ................78 Causes of Water Pollution ....................133

Harmful Algal Blooms ............................79 Ground Water .....................................136

Aquatic Ecosystems...............................80 Water Pollution Control Measures .......138

Wetland Ecosystem .............................82 Effects of Water Pollution ....................140
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Water Conservation and Management..143 Insectivorous plants of India ................217

Radioactive Pollution ...........................150 Indian Vulture Crisis .........................218
Impact Of Radiation From Mobile Phone Major Global Environmental Issues ..222
Towers ................................................153 Climate Change ...................................222
Soil Pollution .......................................154 Greenhouse Effect ...............................222 Page
Noise Pollution ....................................156 Greenhouse Effect And Global Warming | 2
Solid Wastes ........................................156 Due to Greenhouse Gases ...................222
Hazardous Waste ................................158 Greenhouse Gases...............................223
Electronic waste | E – WASTE .............159 Global Warming – Impacts ...................225
Heavy Metal Toxicity And Methods Of Some methods to reduce CO2 in
Their Prevention ..................................161 atmosphere .........................................226
Occupational Health Hazards ..............162 Major International Conventions to
Treatment and disposal of solid waste .163 Protect Environment .........................229

Environmental Impact Assessment ..165 UNCED - Earth Summit 1992, Rio De

janeiro Brazil .......................................229
Biodiversity .......................................172
Convention on Biological Diversity .......230
Biodiversity of India .............................174
United Nations Convention to Combat
Wildlife Diversity Of India ....................177 Desertification (UNCCD) ......................231
Loss of Biodiversity..............................178 UNFCCC: United Nations Framework
Man - Animal Conflict..........................180 Convention on Climate Change ............231
Culling of animals – Conservation or Kyoto Protocol .....................................233
Biodiversity loss?.................................180 Flexible Market Mechanisms – Kyoto
Invasive Alien Species ..........................182 Protocol ...............................................235
Species Extinction ...............................185 Important Summits Post Kyoto ............237
Biodiversity Conservation .................185 Lima Summit, 2014 .............................239
Historic Citizen Movements to Conserve Paris summit, 2015 .............................240
Biodiversity .........................................191 REDD & REDD+ ..................................243
Biodiversity Hot Spots .........................191 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Indian Biodiversity Hot Spots ..............192 Change................................................244
World Heritage Sites ............................193 Global Environment Facility ................244
International Union for Conservation of Transition to green economy ................245
Nature .................................................194 Arctic Council......................................246
IUCN Red List or Red Data List or Red India's National Action Plan On Climate
Book ...................................................196 Change................................................246
2015 IUCN Red List India [As of April 24, Indian Network On Climate Change
2016] ..................................................197 Assessment .........................................249
Steps Taken by the Government for National Environmental Legislation .....249
Wildlife Protection ...............................215
Pollution Related Acts..........................249
Misc ....................................................215
Environment and Biodiversity Related Acts
Insectivorous Plants ............................216 ...........................................................250

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Acts for Protecting Coastal Environment If you found any mistakes, inform me
and Wetlands ......................................256 at or My
Green Revolution – Modern Agriculture Page:
...........................................................266 sFriend2485
Second Green Revolution For Sustainable
Livelihood ............................................267 I advise you to first go through the full notes Page
before trying to understand these question.
Concept Of Sustainable Agriculture .....269 |3
Methods Of Sustainable Agriculture ....270 2011-2012
Biotechnology – Genetically Modified (GM)
Q1. Which one of the following is not a site
...........................................................276 for in-situ method of conservation of flora?
Newer Agricultural Practices ................278
a. Biosphere Reserves
Crop Classifications.............................281
b. Botanical Garden
Renewable & Non-Conventional Sources c. National Park
Of Energy ...........................................285 d. Wildlife Sanctuary
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
In situ conservation = on the site conservation
(MNRE)................................................290 without displacing the affected organism.
Non-Renewable Sources Of Energy ......292
Energy conservation ............................297 Ex situ conservation = conserving the
organism in an artificial habitat by displacing
Solved Environment Prelims Questions it from its natural habitat.
Botanical Garden = Plants are bred in a
Solved Environment Prelims Questions protected environment far from their natural
(2011-15) home, especially for research purposes. So its
Ex situ conservation.
 The questions from the previous 3-4 years’
prelims papers help us understand the Rest all along with protected forests and
nature of questions asked in prelims and reserved forests are In situ conservation
the trend the UPSC is following. methods.
 Environment is the high priority topic for
prelims and can be studied in relatively Answer: b) Botanical Garden
less hours compared to other subjects
[Very High Cost to Benefit Ration]. Q2. What is the difference between the
antelopes Oryx and Chiru?
Here I have not given explanation to
location based question [Location of a. Oryx is adapted to live in hot and arid
Biosphere reserves, Tiger reserves, National areas whereas Chiru is adapted to live
Parks etc.]. in steppes and semi-desert areas of
cold high mountains. .
I will come up with a separate notes on b. Oryx is poached for its antlers whereas
Location Based Question that are Chiru is poached for its musk.
important for Prelims under Geography and c. Oryx exists in western India only
Environment. whereas Chiru exists in north-east
India only.
Most of the questions below are explained in d. None of the statements a, b, and c
detail under respective headings. given above is correct.

They are both antelopes.

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Q4. Consider the following:

1. Black-necked crane
2. Cheetah
3. Flying squirrel
4. Snow leopard
Answer: a) Which of the above are naturally found in
India ?
Q3. Among the following States, which one
has the most suitable climatic conditions a. 1, 2 and 3 only
for the cultivation of a large variety of b. 1, 3 and 4 only
orchids with minimum cost of production, c. 2 and 4 only
and can develop an export oriented d. 1, 2, 3 and 4
industry in this field ?
Black-necked crane is commonly found in
a. Andhra Pradesh Tibetan and trans-Himalayan region. In
b. Arunachal Pradesh winters they migrate to less colder regions of
c. Madhya Pradesh Indian Himalayas.
d. Uttar Pradesh
Cheetah is an extinct species. They have gone
Orchids are decorative flowering plants. They extinct during pre-independence era. Reason:
grow in regions with moderate climatic They were hunted down by various Indian
conditions [Sub-tropics with decent rainfall] kings and British officers.

They are typical to North-Eastern states. Flying Squirrels are found in many Indian
Great demand for these decorative flowering
plants exists in South-East Asian region. Snow leopard is an ‘endangered’ specie found
in the Himalayan ranges.
Answer: b)

Answer: b) 1, 3 and 4 only b. Indian wild ass

c. Indian wild boar
Q5. A sandy and saline area is the natural d. Indian Gazelle
habitat of an Indian animal species. The
animal has no predators in that area but its Sandy saline area = Kutch region
existence is threatened due to the
destruction of its habitat. Which one of the Indian wild buffalo = Terai region
following could be that animal?
Indian wild boar = can survive in different
a. Indian wild buffalo types of habitat: grasslands,

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taiga, tropical rainforests, but they prefer life d. 3 only

in deciduous forests.
IUCN is an NGO. It publishes Red data book
Chinkara (Indian gazelle) = Thar desert which contains a list of ‘Threatened species’
(vulnerable, endangered and critically
Answer: b) Indian wild ass endangered).
Q6. Consider the following kinds of Answer: b) 2 only
organisms |5
Q8. Which one of the following groups of
1. Bat animals belongs to the category of
2. Bee endangered species?
3. Bird
a. Great Indian Bustard, Musk Deer, Red
Which of the above is/are pollinating Panda and Asiatic Wild Ass
agent/agents? b. Kashmir Stag, Cheetal, Blue Bull and
Great Indian Bustard
a. 1 and 2 only c. Snow Leopard, Swamp Deer, Rhesus
b. 2 only Monkey and Saras (Crane)
c. 1 and 3 only d. Lion-tailed Macaque, Blue Bull,
d. 1, 2 and 3 Hanuman Langur and Cheetal

Pollination = transfer of pollen from stamen to As of 2016, the status of most of these
pistil. animals has changed. Outdated question.

Bees are well known pollinators. Q9. The Himalayan Range is very rich in
species diversity. Which one among the
Birds help in pollination while trying to catch following is the most appropriate reason for
insects or trying to suck nectar. this phenomenon?

Bats help in pollination while trying to catch a. It has a high rainfall that supports
insects. [Bats are pollinators – Mentioned luxuriant vegetative growth.
several times in NCERT] b. It is a confluence of different bio
geographical zones.
Answer: All c. Exotic and invasive species have not
been introduced in this region.
Q7. The ‘Red Data Books’ published by the d. It has less human interference.
International Union for Conservation of
Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Explanation:
contain lists of
Options c) and d) are wrong statements.
1. Endemic plant and animal species
present in the biodiversity hotspots. Options a) and b) are correct statements.
2. Threatened plant and animal species.
3. Protected sites for conservation of
nature & natural resources in various

Which of the statement given above is/are

correct ?

a. 1 & 3
b. 2 only
c. 2 & 3
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The top soil is continuously washed

away = nutrients are also washed away
= leaching of nutrients = very little
fertility remains in top soil = most of
the seeds don’t germinate for years =
regeneration is very slow (it takes
decades). But the layer below top soil Page
(sub-soil) is very fertile. So plants grow
very quickly once their roots reach the | 6
sub-soil and if they receive enough
2. propagules of the trees in a rain forest
have poor viability: Propagule =
detachable structure that can give rise
to a new plant, e.g. a bud, sucker, or
spore [Asexual Reproduction in plants].
Seed bearing plants are more
significant than Propagules in
rainforest. So propagules don’t really
Greater Diversity is due to 3. the rain forest species are slow-
growing: The plant species in
1. various types of forests found along the rainforests compete for sunlight. So
Himalayas Ranges [Shiwaliks, they grow as rapidly as they can.
Himachal and Himadri]. 4. exotic species invade the fertile soil of
2. Vertical zonation of vegetation [chief rain forest: this statement is wrong as
characteristic of Himachal and the rainforest soil is heavily leached.
Himadri]. Hence they are not fertile. But exotic
invasive species are a threat to rain
Answer is b) forests (E.g. Most plantation crops like
rubber, palm etc.).
Q10. If a tropical rain forest is removed, it
does not regenerate quickly as compared to
Answer: a)
a tropical deciduous forest. This is because
Q11. When the bark of a tree is removed in
a. the soil of rain forest is deficient in a circular fashion all around near its base,
nutrients it generally dries up and dies because
b. propagules of the trees in a rain forest
have poor viability a. Water from soil cannot rise to aerial
c. the rain forest species are slow-growing parts.
d. exotic species invade the fertile soil of b. Roots are starved of energy
rain forest. c. Tree is infected by soil microbes
d. Roots do not receive oxygen for
Explanation: respiration

1. the soil of rain forest is deficient in

nutrients: Rainforest = Rainfall through
the year. It rains almost every day =

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Answer: b) roots are starved of energy as the c. 1, 3 and 4 only

phloem (food carrying tissue) is cut off. d. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q12. Consider the following: Answer: c) CFCs were used as refrigerants,

pressurizing agents (foam and aerosol cans)
1. Photosynthesis and for cleaning electronic equipment.
2. Respiration
3. Decay of organic matter Q14. Consider the following:
4. Volcanic action
1. Carbon dioxide
Which of the above add carbon dioxide to the 2. Oxides of Nitrogen
carbon cycle on Earth ? 3. Oxides of Sulphur

a. 1 and 4 only Which of the above is/are the

b. 2 and 3 only emission/emissions from coal combustion at
c. 2,3 and 4 only thermal power plants ?
d. 1, 2, 3 and 4
a. 1 only
Answer: c) Photosynthesis takes out b. 2 and 3 only
CO2 from carbon cycle. Rest all ads CO2. c. 1 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3
Q13. Consider the following statements:
Chlorofluorocarbons, known as ozone- Burning coal releases CO, CO2, sulphur
depleting substances, are used dioxide and oxides of nitrogen – air pollutants.

1. in the production of plastic foams Answer: d) 1, 2 and 3.

2. in the production of tubeless tyres
3. in cleaning certain electronic Q13. Consider the following statements:
components Chlorofluorocarbons, known as ozone-
4. as pressurizing agents in aerosol cans depleting substances, are used

Which of the statements given above is/are 1. in the production of plastic foams
correct? 2. in the production of tubeless tyres
3. in cleaning certain electronic
a. 1, 2 and 3 only components
b. 4 only 4. as pressurizing agents in aerosol cans
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Which of the statements given above is/are Q17. The acidification of oceans is
correct? increasing. Why is this phenomenon a
cause of concern?
a. 1, 2 and 3 only
b. 4 only 1. The growth and survival of calcareous
c. 1, 3 and 4 only phytoplankton will be adversely
d. 1, 2, 3 and 4 affected. Page
2. The growth and survival of coral reefs
Answer: c) CFCs were used as refrigerants, will be adversely affected.
pressurizing agents (foam and aerosol cans) 3. The survival of some animals that have
and for cleaning electronic equipment. phytoplanktonic larvae will be adversely
Q15. The increasing amount of carbon 4. The cloud seeding and formation of
dioxide in the air is slowly raising the clouds will be adversely affected.
temperature of the atmosphere, because it
absorbs Which of statements given above is / are
a. the water vapour of the air and retains
its heat. a. 1, 2 and 3 only
b. the ultraviolet part of the solar b. 2 only
radiation. c. 1 and 3 only
c. all the solar radiations. d. 1, 2, 3 and 4
d. the infrared part of the solar radiation
Answer: d) the infrared part of the solar
radiation (outgoing radiation). Ocean acidification decreases the calcifying
ability of corals, calcareous plankton,
Among GHGs, only water vapor has the ability crustaceans etc. It also adversely affects cloud
to absorb both incoming (UV) and outgoing formation and cloud seeding. So Options 1, 2
(infrared) radiation. and 4 are correct [Detailed explanation is
given under “Ocean Acidification”].
Q16. The formation of ozone hole in the
Antarctic region has been a cause of Answer: d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
concern. What could be the reason for the
formation of this hole? Q18. Regarding "carbon credits", which one
of the following statements is not correct?
a. Presence of prominent tropospheric
turbulence; and inflow of a. The carbon credit system was ratified in
chlorofluorocarbons conjunction with the Kyoto Protocol
b. Presence of prominent polar front and b. Carbon credits are awarded to
stratospheric clouds; and inflow of countries or groups that have reduced
chloro fluorocarbons greenhouse gases below their emission
c. Absence of polar front and quota
stratospheric clouds; and inflow of c. The goal of the carbon credit system is
methane and chloro fluorocarbons. to limit the increase of carbon emission
d. Increased temperature at polar region quota
due to global warming d. Carbon credits are traded at a price
fixed from time to time by the United
Answer: b) Presence of prominent polar front Nations Environment Programme.
and stratospheric Clouds and inflow of
chlorofluorocarbons. [Explained in the Post on Answer d) Carbon credit prices are traded
Ozone Depletion] on an exchange. So their prices are never

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Q19. With reference to India, consider the  Maritime Zones of India (Regulation
following Central Acts: and Fishing by Foreign Vessels) Act.
1. Import and Export (Control) Act, 1947.  Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
2. Mining and Mineral Development  Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution)
(Regulation) Act, 1957 Act, 1981
3. Customs Act, 1962  Agricultural and Processed Food Page
4. Indian Forest Act, 1927 Products Export Development Authority
Act, 1985/1986 |9
Which of above Acts have relevance to/bearing  Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
on the biodiversity conservation in the  Spices Board Act, 1986
country?  National Dairy Development Board,
a. 1 and 3 only  Rules for the manufacture,
b. 2,3 and 4 only use/import/export and storage of
c. 1,2,3 and 4 hazardous microorganisms/ genetically
d. None of the above Acts engineered organisms or cells, 1989
 Foreign Trade (Development and
Answer: c) all Regulation) Act, 1992 [Imports and
Exports (Control) Act, 1947 got
Central Acts and Rules having Relevance to repealed with the enactment of
Foreign Trade (Development And
Biodiversity Conservation
Regulation) Act, 1992.]
 Protection of Plant Varieties and
 Fisheries Act, 1897
Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Act, 2001
 Destructive Insects and Pests Act, 1914
 Biological Diversity Act, 2002
 The Indian Forest Act, 1927
 Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import
 Agricultural Produce (Grading and
into India) Order, 2003
Marketing) Act,1937
 Biological Diversity Rules, 2004
 Indian Coffee Act, 1942 Import and
 The Food Safety and Standards Act,
Export (Control) Act, 1947
 Rubber (Production and Marketing) Act,
 Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional
Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest
 Tea Act, 1953
Rights) Act, 2006.
 Mining and Mineral Development
(Regulation) Act,1957
 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Q20. The National Green Tribunal Act,
1960 2010 was enacted in consonance with
 Customs Act, 1962 which of the following provisions of the
 Cardamom Act, 1965 Constitution of India?
 Seeds Act, 1966
 The Patents Act, 1970 1. Right to healthy environment,
 Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 construed as a part of part of Right to
 Marine Products Export Development life under Article 21.
Authority Act,1972 2. Provision of grants for raising the level
 Water (Prevention and Control of of administration in the Scheduled
Pollution) Act, 1974 Areas for the welfare of Scheduled
 Tobacco Board Act, 1975 Tribes under Article 275(1)
 Territorial Water, Continental Shelf,
Exclusive Economic Zone and other Which of the statements given above is/are
Maritime Zones Act, 1976 correct ?
 Water (Prevention and Control of
Pollution) Cess Act, 1977 a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2

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d. Neither 1 nor 2 technique is not only environment friendly,

but also highly cost-effective.
Answer: a)
Answer: a) remediation of oil sludge and oil
Q21. How does National Biodiversity spills
Authority (NBA) help in protecting the
Indian agriculture? Q23. Government of India encourages the Page
cultivation of 'sea buckthorn'. What is the
1. NBA checks the biopiracy and protects importance of this plant ? | 10
the indigenous and traditional genetic
resources. 1. It helps in controlling soil erosion and
2. NBA directly monitors and supervises in preventing desertification.
the scientific research on genetic 2. It is a rich source of biodiesel.
modification of crop plants. 3. It has nutritional value and is well-
3. Application for intellectual Property adapted to live in cold areas of high
Rights related to genetic / biological altitudes.
resources cannot be made without the 4. Its timber is of great commercial value.
approval of NBA.
Which of the statements given above is /are
Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?
a. 2, 3 and 4 only
a. 1 only b. 1 and 3 only
b. 2 and 3 only c. 1, 2, 3 and 4
c. 1 and 3 only d. 1 only
d. 1, 2 and 3
Q24. Two important rivers - one with its
The top biotech regulator in India for source in Jharkhand (and known by a
Genetically Modified Organisms is Genetic different name in Odisha), and another,
Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). with its source in Odisha - merge at a place
only a short distance from the coast of Bay
Answer: c) 1 and 3 only of Bengal before flowing into the sea. This
is an important site of wildlife and bio-
Q22. Recently, ‘oilzapper’ was in the news. diversity and a protected area. Which one
What is it? of the following could be this ?

a. It is an eco-friendly technology for the a. Bhitarkanika

remediation of oil sludge and oil spills. b. Chandipur-on-sea
b. It is the latest technology developed for c. Gopalpur-on-sea
under- sea oil exploration. d. Simlipal
c. It is a genetically engineered high
biofuel yielding maize variety. Simlipal National Park is far away from coast.
d. It is the latest technology to control the
accidentally caused flames from oil Chandipur-on-sea and Gopalpur-on-sea are
wells. tourist destinations with resorts. There is no
significant wildlife or bio-diversity.
Answer: a) Bhitarkanika
Using bioremediation techniques, TERI has
developed a mixture of bacteria called Q25. A particular State in India has the
‘Oilzapper and Oilivorous-S’ which degrades following characteristics:
the pollutants of oil-contaminated sites,
leaving behind no harmful residues. This 1. It is located on the same latitude which
passes through northern Rajasthan.

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2. It has over 80% of its area under forest Select the correct answer using the codes
cover. given below.
3. Over 12% of forest cover
constitutes Protected Area Network in a. 1, 2 and 3 only
this State. b. 2 only
c. 1, 3 and 4 only
Which one among the following States has all d. 1, 2, 3 and 4 Page
the above characteristics?
| 11
Lion-tailed macaque is found in Western
a. Arunachal Pradesh Ghats. So AP is the odd option.
b. Assam
c. Himachal Pradesh Answer: a) 1, 2 and 3 only
d. Uttarakhand
Q4. Which of the following is/are unique
2013 characteristic/characteristics of equatorial
Q1. Consider the following pairs:
1. Presence of tall, closely set trees with
1. Nokrek Bio-sphere Reserve: Garo Hills crowns forming a continuous canopy
2. Logtak (Loktak) Lake : Barail Range 2. Coexistence of a large number of
3. Namdapha National Park : Dafla Hills species
3. Presence of numerous varieties of
Which of the above pairs is/are correctly epiphytes
Select the correct answer using the code given
a. 1 only below:
b. 2 and 3 only
c. 1, 2 and 3 a. 1 only
d. None b. 2 and 3 only
c. 1 and 3 only
Q2. Consider the following pairs about d. 1, 2 and 3
parks and rivers passing through them:
Equatorial Vegetation
1. Corbett National Park: Ganga
2. Kaziranga National Park: Manas  High temperature and abundant
3. Silent Valley National Park: Kaveri rainfall support a luxuriant tropical
rain forest.
Which of the above pairs is/are correctly  In the Amazon lowlands, the forest is so
matched? dense that it is called ‘selvas'. [selvas:
A dense tropical rainforest usually
having a cloud cover (dense canopy)]
a. 1 and 2
 All plants struggle upwards
b. 3 only
(most ephiphytes) for sunlight
c. 1 and 3
resulting in a peculiar layer
d. None
arrangement [Canopy].
Q3. In which of the following States is lion-
tailed macaque found in its natural

1. Tamil Nadu
2. Kerala
3. Karnataka
4. Andhra Pradesh

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Old World monkeys are located in Africa,

central to southern Asia, Japan, and India.

| 12

Answer: Too easy. d) All

Q5. Consider the following fauna of India:

1. Gharial
2. Leatherback turtle
3. Swamp deer Answer: a) 1, 2 and 3 only

Which of the above is/are endangered? Q7. Consider the following animals:

a. 1 and 2 only 1. Sea cow

b. 3 only 2. Sea horse
c. 1, 2 and 3 3. Sea lion
d. None
Which of the above is/are
1 and 2 are ‘Critically Endangered’ 3 is mammal/mammals?
‘Vulnerable’. Outdated question
a. 1 only
Q6. Consider the following b. 1 and 3 only
c. 2 and 3 only
1. Star tortoise d. 1, 2 and 3
2. Monitor lizard
3. Pygmy hog  Sea cow (Dugong) found in shallow
4. Spider monkey Indian seas is a herbivorous mammal
 Sea lion is also a mammal.
Which of the above found in India?  Sea horse is a Bony Fish.

a. 1, 2 and 3 only
b. 2 and 3 only
c. 1 and 4 only
d. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Google results don’t show Spider Monkey in


Spider monkeys are New World monkeys.

Monkeys and apes of the Old World.

The New World monkeys are found in Mexico,

Central America, and South America, and the
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Answer: b) 1 and 3 only d. 1, 2 and 3

Q8. Mycorrhizal biotechnology has been Explanation:

used in rehabilitating degraded sites
because mycorrhiza enables the plants to All the above three adds to nitrogen cycle.

1. resist drought and increase absorptive Burning coal releases CO, CO2, sulphur Page
area dioxide and oxides of nitrogen – air pollutants. | 13
2. tolerate extremes of pH
3. Resist disease infestation Oxides of nitrogen fall on earth as acid rain.
Acidic rain is a complex mixture of nitrous,
Select the correct answer using the codes nitric, sulfurous and sulfuric acids which all
given below: combine to lower the pH.

a. 1 only But, the question says “Which of the following

b. 2 and 3 only adds/add nitrogen to the soil?”
c. 1 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3 1. Animal Waste like Urea, Uric acid and
Death of vegetation add nitrogen in the
Answer: d) all [Explained under “Sustainable form of nitrates directly into soil.
Agriculture”] 2. Coal combustion ads nitrogen to
atmosphere and from there it falls back
Q9. Consider the following organisms to earth in the form of acid rain and
acid rain adds nitrogen to soil.
1. Agaricus
2. Nostoc
3. Spirogyra does_5117705_burning-fuels-affect-nitrogen-
cycle.html says:
Which of the above is/are used as
biofertilizer/biofertilizers “The release of nitric oxides into the air in
large quantities causes smog and acid
a. 1 and 2 rain that pollutes the atmosphere, soil and
b. 2 only water and affects plants and animals. The
c. 2 and 3 increase in nitrogen and nitrous oxide is
d. 3 only caused by automobiles, power plants and a
wide variety of industries.
Answer: b) 2 only [Not sure]
As nitrous oxides filter into soil, it loses
Nostoc is a nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria. nutrients like calcium and potassium, which
are essential for maintaining a balance in
Q10. Which of the following adds/add plant ecosystems. With the loss of these
nitrogen to the soil? compounds, soil fertility declines. Also, soils
become significantly more acidic.”
1. Excretion of urea by animals
2. Burning of coal by man And
3. Death of vegetation also
ok/307nitrogen.html says:
Select the correct answer using the codes
given below. “The main component of the nitrogen cycle
starts with the element nitrogen in the air.
a. 1 only Two nitrogen oxides are found in the air as a
b. 2 and 3 only result of interactions with oxygen. Nitrogen
c. 1 and 3 only will only react with oxygen in the presence of
high temperatures and pressures found
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near lightning bolts and in combustion Select the correct answer using the codes
reactions in power plants or internal given below.
combustion engines. Nitric oxide, NO, and
nitrogen dioxide, NO2, are formed under these a. 1 only
conditions. Eventually nitrogen dioxide may b. 2 and 3 only
react with water in rain to form nitric acid, c. 1 and 3 only
HNO3. The nitrates thus formed may be d. 1, 2 and 3 Page
utilized by plants as a nutrient (so, soil gets
nitrogen from acid rain).” | 14
Answer: c) 1 and 3 only

So, soil gets nitrogen from acid rain. Q13. Due to improper/indiscriminate
disposal of old and used computers or their
From this, I feel Burning of coal by man adds parts, which of the following are released
nitrogen to soil but indirectly though acid into the environment as e-waste?
1. Beryllium
The answer depends on how you interpret the 2. Cadmium
question. 3. Chromium
4. Heptachlor
Answer: Official UPSC Key says answer is c) 5. Mercury
1 and 3 only. 6. Lead
7. Plutonium
If you have anything more to add write it at Select the correct answer using the codes
given below.
Q11. Contour bunding is a method of soil
conservation used in a. 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 only
b. 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 only
a. desert margins, liable to strong wind c. 2, 4, 5 and 7 only
action d. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7
b. low flat plains, close to stream courses,
liable to flooding Explanation:
c. scrublands, liable to spread of weed
growth Heptachlor is a Chlorohydrocarbon (CHC)
d. None of the above which is used as an insecticide.

Counter bunding is used along with terracing Plutonium is a radioactive metal and hence
to protect sloped surfaces. not used in computers.

Answer: d) None So, answer should not contain either 4) or 7).

Q12. With reference to the usefulness of Answer: b) 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 only

the by-products of sugar industry, which of
the following statements is/are correct? Q14. Which of the following can be found
as pollutants in the drinking water in some
1. Bagasse can be used as biomass fuel parts of India?
for the generation of energy.
2. Molasses can be used as one of the 1. Arsenic
feedstocks for the production of 2. Sorbitol
synthetic chemical fertilizers. 3. Fluoride
3. Molasses can be used for the 4. Formaldehyde
production of ethanol. 5. Uranium

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Select the correct answer using the codes

given below.

a. 1 and 3 only
b. 2, 4 and 5 only
c. 1, 3 and 5 only
d. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Page
| 15

Easiest option is 3) Fluoride. So, (b) can be


Next easiest option is Arsenic (Heavy metal).


Nest easiest option is Uranium. Many columns

are written on uranium mining and its ill-
effects. So, (a) also can be elevated. (a) and (b)
eliminated. (c) and (d) remains.

The knowledge of either “Sorbitol” or Q16. Acid rain is caused by the pollution of
“Formaldehyde” will tell us the answer. environment by

Formaldehyde is more known than sorbitol. a. carbon dioxide and nitrogen

Googling didn’t give me any authentic source b. carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide
that called formaldehyde a water pollutant. It c. ozone and carbon dioxide
is used a preservative to preserve human d. nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide
organs. It finds some application in textile,
resign and wood industry. Explanation:

Answer: c) 1, 3 and 5 only Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxides of

nitrogen and oxides of sulphur in atmosphere
Sorbitol (glucitol) is a sugar alcohol with a can cause acid rains.
sweet taste which the human body
metabolizes slowly. Both b) and d) are correct. But d) has more
influence than b)
Q15. Which one among the following
industries is the maximum consumer of Answer: d) nitrous oxide and sulphur
water in India? dioxide

a. Engineering Q17. Photochemical smog is a resultant of

the reaction among
b. Paper and pulp
c. Textiles
d. Thermal power a. NO2, 03 and peroxyacetyl nitrate in the
presence of sunlight
b. CO, 02 and peroxyacetyl nitrate in the
presence of sunlight
c. CO, CO2 and N02 at low temperature
d. High concentration of N02, O3 and CO
in the evening


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 When pollutants such as nitrogen 1. A food chain illustrates the order in

oxides (primary pollutant) and volatile which a chain of organisms feed upon
organic compounds (primary each other. (True)
pollutant) react together in the 2. Food chains are found within the
presence populations of a species. (Man won’t eat
of SUNLIGHT, OZONE (Secondary man – so, false)
pollutant) and peroxyacetyl nitrate 3. A food chain illustrates the numbers of Page
(PAN) (Secondary pollutant) are formed. each organism which are eaten by
others (food web illustrates the number | 16
Reactions involved not the food chain).

Answer: a)

Q19. Which one of the following terms

describes not only the physical space
occupied by an organism, but also its
functional role in the community of

a. Ecotone
b. Ecological niche
 Photochemical (summer smog) is c. Habitat
formed when the primary pollutant d. Home range
NO2 reacts with secondary pollutants
03 and peroxyacetyl nitrate in the Answer: b) Niche
presence of sunlight.
Answer: a) NO2, 03 and peroxyacetyl
nitrate in the presence of sunlight  Ecotone – zone of transition between
two ecosystems. E.g. grasslands,
Q18. With reference to food chains in mangroves etc.
ecosystems, consider the following  Habitat – surroundings in which an
statements: organism lives.
 Home Range - Ahome range is the area
1. A food chain illustrates the order in in which an animal lives and moves on
which a chain of organisms feed upon a daily or periodic basis.
each other.
2. Food chains are found within the Q20. With reference to the food chains in
populations of a species. ecosystems, which of the following kinds of
3. A food chain illustrates the numbers of organism is / are known as decomposer
each organism which are eaten by organism/organisms?
1. Virus
Which of the statements given above is / are 2. Fungi
correct? 3. Bacteria
a. 1 only Select the correct answer using the codes
b. 1 and 2 only given below.
c. 1, 2 and 3
d. None
a. 1 only
b. 2 and 3 only
Explanation: c. 1 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3

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Explanation: Q22. Which one of the following is the

correct sequence of ecosystems in the
 Fungi and Bacteria are decomposers. order of decreasing productivity?
They breakdown organic matter into
simple inorganic substances. a. Oceans, lakes, grasslands, mangroves
 Virus represents dormant life. They are b. Mangroves, oceans, grasslands, lakes
metabolically inactive as long as they c. Mangroves, grasslands, lakes, oceans Page
are outside a host body. They are not d. Oceans, mangroves, lakes, grasslands
| 17
decomposers. They invade host cells
and use their nucleus (DNA machinery) Explanation:
to carry out their life processes.
 Protists are unicellular organisms, such Productivity = production/unit area/unit time
as paramecium and euglena. They're
not decomposers either. Production/unit area depends on number and
diversity of producers.
Answer: b)
From the topics discussed in this post, we can
Q21. In the grasslands, trees do not replace
say that transitional zones (Ecotones) have
the grasses as a part of an ecological
very high productivity compared to normal
succession because of
ecosystems. [Tropical Rainforests is an
exception as it has productivity comparable to
a. insects and fungi wetlands because of its rich diversity of
b. limited sunlight and paucity of primary producers]
c. water limits and fire
In the options, mangroves are transitional
d. None of the above
ecosystems while the rest are normal
Answer: c)
Remember: Grasslands are not transitional all
Explanation: the time. E.g. Steppe. Non transitional
grasslands have very low productivity because
 Grasses have this one good trick to of very limited diversity of primary producers.
monopolize a place. In dry season the [Grasslands become transitional only when
grasses dry up and cause fires which they are narrow]
destroy other plant species and their
seeds. So the order of decreasing productivity will be
 Also grasslands develop in regions with like
scanty rainfall where plant growth
cannot be achieved.
Mangroves ,…… , …… , ……..
 Though forests form the climax
community in most of the ecosystems,
Oceans = very deep and hence productivity is
but in grassland ecosystem [In the
limited to surface only (Below in the aphotic
grasslands, trees do not replace the
zone productivity is negligible. Aphotic zone in
grasses as a part of an ecological
oceans is few kilometers).
succession] grasses form the climax
community. Thanks to fire and lack of
water. Also surface water in oceans are very poor in
 Grasslands are almost irreversible once nutrients. Nutrient rich cold water flows as a
deforestation in water scarce areas sub-surface flow lying in the aphotic zone.
gives way to grasslands. [Ecological Sunlight and nutrients are far apart and
Damage] hence primary productivity is very low except
in regions where there is upwelling of nutrient
rich cold water [Cold and Warm current
mixing zones].

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So open ocean ecosystem has the least Q3. In India, the problem of soil erosion is
productivity. [Desert ecosystem also has very associated with which of the following?
low productivity, lesser than oceans].
1. Terrace cultivation
So, the answer will look like Mangroves, 2. Deforestation
………., ………, Oceans. 3. Tropical climate
The only such option is c) Select the correct answer using the code given
| 18
Answer: c) Mangroves, grasslands, lakes,
oceans. a. 1 and 2 only
b. 2 only
Lakes just like oceans have low productivity. c. 1 and 3 only
But due to some plants in photic zone, lakes d. 1, 2 and 3
have productivity slightly greater than that of
oceans. Terrace cultivation is a method to prevent soil
Soil erosion occurs in all climates.
Q1. Which one of the following is the
process involved in photosynthesis? Answer: b) 2 only

a. Potential energy is released to form free Q4. Lichens, which are capable of initiating
energy ecological succession even on a bare rock,
b. Free energy is converted into potential are actually a symbiotic association of
energy and stored
c. Food is oxidized to release carbon a. algae and bacteria
dioxide and water b. algae and fungi
d. Oxygen is taken, and carbon dioxide c. bacteria and fungi
and water vapour are given out d. fungi and mosses

Answer: b) Sunlight (free energy) is More of a biology question. Fungus provides

converted into carbohydrates (potential shelter, water and minerals to the algae and,
energy) using water and carbon dioxide. in return, the alga provides food
Oxygen is released in the process. (photosynthesis).
Q2. Which of the following adds/add carbon Q5. Conserving Biodiversity
dioxide to the carbon cycle on the planet
The most important strategy for the
conservation of biodiversity together with
1. Volcanic action traditional human life is the establishment of
2. Respiration
3. Photosynthesis
a. biosphere reserves
4. Decay of organic matter
b. botanical gardens
c. national parks
Select the correct answer using the code given d. wildlife sanctuaries
Answer: a) biosphere reserves [Explained
a. 1 and 3 only under “Biodiversity Conservation”]
b. 2 only
c. 1, 2 and 4 only
Q6. With reference to ‘Eco-Sensitive
d. 1, 2, 3 and 4
Zones’, which of the following statements
is/are correct?

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1. Eco-Sensitive Zones are the areas that 3. Kolleru

are declared under the Wildlife Lake
(Protection) Act, 1972. Confluence of Musi and Krishna
2. The purpose of the declaration of Eco-
Sensitive Zones is to prohibit all kinds Which of the above pairs is/are correctly
of human activities, in those zones matched?
except agriculture. Page
a. 1 only
| 19
Select the correct answer using the code given b. 2 and 3 only
below. c. 1 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3
a. 1 only
b. 2 only Answer: a) 1 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2 Q9. Which of the following have coral
Eco-Sensitive Zones are declared
under Environmental (Protection) Act, 1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
1986. 2. Gulf of Kutch
3. Gulf of Mannar
Eco-Sensitive Zones are transitional areas 4. Sunderbans
where human activity is regulated but not
prohibited. Select the correct answer using the code given
Answer: d) Neither
a. 1, 2 and 3 only
Q7. Consider the following pairs b. 2 and 4 only
c. 1 and 3 only
1. Dampa Tiger Reserve : Mizoram d. 1, 2, 3 and 4
2. Gumti Wildlife Sanctuary : Sikkim
3. Saramati Peak : Nagaland Explanation:

Which of the above pairs is /are correctly


a. 1 only
b. 2 and 3 only
c. 1 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: c) 1 and 3 only

Q8. Consider the following pairs

Confluence of

1. Harike
Beas and Satluj/Sutlej
2. Keoladeo Ghana National
Park Banas and Chambal

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The phenomenon of hibernation can be

observed in which of the above kinds of

a. 1 and 2 only
b. 2 only
c. 1, 2 and 3 Page
d. Hibernation cannot be observed in any
| 20
of the above
vs-cold-blooded-animals [Hibernation also

Answer: c) All

Q11. Among the following organisms,

which one does not belong to the class of
other three?

a. Crab
b. Mite
c. Scorpion
d. Spider
Coral reefs don’t form in areas where there is
significant intrusion of fresh water and cold
Insects, Arachnids and Crustaceans are
subphylum of Arthropoda.
Most of the mighty Indian Rivers flow into Bay
Mite, Scorpion and spider are Arachnids,
of Bengal and hence coral reefs are absent on
while Crab is a Crustacean.
the east coast of India.
I missed this concept in biology. So I am
Coral reefs are also absent on west coast of
updating here.
Africa (Benguela Current), South America
(Peruvian or Humboldt Current), Europe
(Canaries Current) and other continents due Arachnids
to cold currents.
 Spiders, harvestmen, mites, ticks and
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gulf of Kutch other arachnids are members of the
and Gulf of Mannar are regions where there is class Arachnida.
not significant freshwater intrusion. But
Sunderbans are the mouth of Ganga-
Brahmaputra river system and hence there is
no coral reef formation there.

Answer: a) 1, 2 and 3 only

Q10. Consider the following:

1. Bats
2. Bears
3. Rodents

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a. Diatoms-Crustaceans-Herrings
b. Crustaceans-Diatoms-Herrings
c. Diatoms-Herrings-Crustaceans
d. Crustaceans-Herrings-Diatoms

 Food chain starts with a producer and
| 21
ends with a top consumer.
 Phytoplankton are the primary
producers in the oceans. They include:

1. diatoms (unicellular algae),

2. coccolithophores (unicellular,
eukaryotic protist),
3. cyanobacteria (Bluegreen algae)–
synechococcus, prochlorococcus,
nostoc, spirogyra etc..
4. dinoflagellates (flagellated protists).
 Crustaceans make up a large group of So answer is between (a) and (c)
arthropods that includes animals such
as crabs, lobsters, crayfish and shrimp.
 Crustaceans form a very large group of
They breathe with gills and have two
arthropods which includes crabs,
pairs of antennae.
lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and
 Herrings is a fish.
y/ecology/default.asp says Herrings eat

Answer: (a). Tough question. There will be 3-5

questions like this one where you might have
not even heard the name of the animal or
plant. Don’t worry.. rest 95 will be easy!

Q13. If you travel through the Himalayas,

you are Likely to see which of the following
plants naturally growing there?

1. Oak
Insects 2. Rhododendron
3. Sandalwood
 In general, insects have three-part
bodies, six jointed legs, compound eyes Select the correct answer using the code given
and two antennae. below
 Bees, wasps, beetles, mosquitoes, flies,
grasshoppers, ants, butterflies and a. 1 and 2 only
moths, and dragonflies and damselflies b. 3 only
are common types of insects. c. 1 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3
Q12. Which one of the following is the
correct sequence of a food chain? Explanation:

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Oaks occur in Sub-tropical Broad-leaved Hill 4. Use of synthetic fertilizers and other
Forests, Montane Wet Temperate Forests and agricultural chemicals in crop-fields in
Himalayan Dry Temperate Forests [All these the vicinity of rivers
forest types are found in Himalayan regions]
Select the correct answer using the code given
Rhododendron occur in sub-alpine cold below.
desert regions [Himalayan regions]. Page
a. 1 and 2 only
| 22
Sandalwood (Red Sanders) occur in Dry b. 2 and 3 only
Deciduous forests [Ganga plains, South and c. 1, 3 and 4 only
Central India. ]. d. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: a) 1 and 2 only 'Susu' or Ganges River Dolphin shares its

habitat with crocodiles, freshwater turtles and
Q14. If you walk through countryside, you wetland birds, many of which are fish eaters
are likely to see some birds stalking and are potential competitors with dolphins.
alongside the cattle to seize the insects,
disturbed by their movement through
grasses, Which of the following is/are such d_species/cetaceans/about/river_dolphins/ga
bird/birds? nges_river_dolphin/

1. Painted Stork Q16. With reference to two non-

2. Common Myna conventional energy sources called ‘coal
3. Black-necked Crane bed methane’ and ‘shale gas’, consider the
following ‘statements:
Select the correct answer using the code given
below. 1. Coal bed methane is the pure methane
gas extracted from coal seams, while
a. 1 and 2 shale gas is a mixture of propane and
b. 2 only butane only that can be extracted from
c. 2 and 3 fine-grained sedimentary rocks.
d. 3 only 2. In India abundant coal bed methane
sources exist, but so far no shale gas
Black-necked crane feeds on meadows in sources have been found.
higher altitudes of Tibetan plateau.
Which of the statements given above is/are

a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
Q15. Other than poaching, what are the
possible reasons for the decline in the CBM = Methane
population of Ganges River Dolphins?
Shale gas = Lot of Methane + Little Ethane,
1. Construction of dams and barrages on Propane, & Butane + very little carbon
rivers dioxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen sulfide.
2. Increase in the population of crocodiles
in rivers Abundant shale reserves occur in India
3. Getting trapped in fishing nets
accidentally [Explained in “Economic Geography

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Q17. In India, cluster bean (Guar) is Photovoltaic = The dislodged electrons if

traditionally used as a vegetable or animal channeled through a conductor will create
feed, but recently the cultivation of this electric current (voltage Or potential
has assumed significance. Which one of the difference) = Solar Panels. [Electric current is
following statements is correct in this nothing but movement of electrons from high
context? potential to low potential area (more electrons
to less electrons region)] Page
a. The oil extracted from seeds is used in
| 23
the manufacture of biodegradable Solar thermal = converting light into heat
plastics = solar cooker, solar water heater.
b. The gum made from its seeds is used
in the extraction of shale gas Photovoltaics generate direct current (DC).
c. The leaf extract of this plant has the [Rotating = AC, Stationary = DC. Electric
properties of anti-histamines generator, wind turbine generate AC while
d. It is a source of high quality biodiesel solar panels generate DC]

Gaur is used to make water viscous before Solar thermal is mostly used for water heating
pumping into ground for hydraulic franking purposes. Electricity can be generated by
used to extract shale gas. using hot water steam to rotate turbine = AC
[Explained in “Economic Geography
Notes”] In India both solar panels and solar cookers
are manufactured. [Remember India – USA
Q18. With reference to technologies for WTO ‘domestic content’ dispute?]
solar power production, consider the
following statements: Answer: a) 1 only

1. ‘Photovoltaics’ is a technology that Q19. There is some concern regarding the

generates electricity by direct nanoparticles of some chemical elements
conversion of light into electricity, while that are used by the industry in the
‘Solar Thermal’ is a technology that manufacture of various products. Why?
utilizes the Sun’s rays to generate heat
which is further used in electricity 1. They can accumulate in the
generation process. environment, and contaminate water
2. Photovoltaics generates Alternating and soil.
Current (AC), while Solar Thermal 2. They can enter the food chains.
generates Direct Current (DC). 3. They can trigger the production of free
3. India has manufacturing base for Solar radicals.
Thermal technology, but not for
Photovoltaics. Select the correct answer using the code given
Which of the statements given above is / are
correct? a. 1 and 2 only
b. 3 only
a. 1 only c. 1 and 3 only
b. 2 and 3 only d. 1, 2 and 3
c. 1, 2 and 3
d. None Explained under “Air Pollution”

Explanation: Q20. Which of the following are some

important pollutants released by steel
industry in India?
Photoelectric effect = When light strikes on a
material, electrons are dislodged [photons
dislodge electrons]. 1. Oxides of sulphur

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2. Oxides of nitrogen a. 1, 2 and 3

3. Carbon monoxide b. 2, 3 and 4
4. Carbon dioxide c. 1, 4 and 5
d. 1, 3 and 5
Select the correct answer using the code given
below.  The Arctic Council consists of the eight
Arctic States: Canada, the Kingdom of Page
a. 1, 3 and 4 only Denmark (including Greenland and
| 24
b. 2 and 3 only the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland,
c. 1 and 4 only Norway, Russia, Sweden and the
d. 1,2, 3 and 4 United States.

Explanation: Q23. With reference to ‘Global

Environment Facility’, which of the
Coke is used as fuel in blast furnace. following statements is/are correct?
Combustion of coke releases both CO and
CO2. a. It serves as financial mechanism for
‘Convention on Biological Diversity’ and
Oxides of sulphur and oxides of nitrogen are ‘United Nations Framework Convention
common pollutants released when any fossil on Climate Change’.
fuel is burnt. (Coal and iron ore contains b. It undertakes scientific research on
small amount of sulphur. Presence of sulphur environmental issues at global level
makes iron weak) c. It is an agency under OECD to facilitate
the transfer of technology and funds to
Answer: d) All underdeveloped countries with specific
aim to protect their environment.
Q21. Brominated flame retardants are used d. Both (a) and (b)
in many household products like
mattresses and upholstery. Why is there Explanation:
some concern about their use?
GEF is an independent financial organization.
1. They are highly resistant to degradation
in the environment. It may fund scientific research but it is not
2. They are able to accumulate in humans directly involved in scientific research.
and animals.
IPCC takes care of the most of the research
Select the correct answer using the code given work.
Answer: a)
a. 1 only
b. 2 only Q24. If a wetland of international
c. Both 1 and 2 importance is brought under the ‘Montreux
d. Neither 1 nor 2 Record’, what does it imply?

Q22. Consider the following countries: a. Changes in ecological character have

occurred, are occurring or are likely to
1. Denmark occur in the wetland as a result of
2. Japan human interference.
3. Russian Federation b. The country in which the wetland is
4. United Kingdom located should enact a law to prohibit
5. United States of America any human activity within five kilo
meters from the edge of the wetland
Which of the above are the members of the c. The survival of the wetland depends on
‘Arctic Council’? the cultural practices and traditions of

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certain communities living in its vicinity a. 1 and 2 only

and therefore the cultural diversity b. 3 only,
therein should not be destroyed c. 1 and 3 only
d. It is given the status of ‘World Heritage d. 1, 2. and 3
World Heritage Convention explained in
The Montreux Record is a register of wetland “Biodiversity”, Rest two under “Fighting Page
sites on the List of Wetlands of International Climate Change-Biodiversity Protection”
| 25
Importance where changes in ecological
character have occurred, are occurring, or are Q27. The scientific view is that the
likely to occur as a result of technological increase in global temperature should not
developments, pollution or other human exceed 2 °C above pre-industrial level. If
interference. It is maintained as part of the the global temperature increases beyond
Ramsar List. 3°C above the pre-industrial level, what can
be its possible impact/impacts on the
Answer: a) world?

Q25. With reference to a conservation 1. Terrestrial biosphere tends toward a net

organization called Wetlands International’, carbon source
which of the following statements is/are 2. Widespread coral mortality will occur.
correct? 3. All the global wetlands will permanently
1. It is an intergovernmental organization 4. Cultivation of cereals will not be
formed by the countries which are possible anywhere in the world.
signatories to Ramsar Convention.
2. It works at the field level to develop and Select the correct answer using the code given
mobilize knowledge, and use the below.
practical experience to advocate for
better policies. a. 1 only
b. 1 and 2 only
Select the correct answer using the code given c. 2, 3 and 4 only
below. d. 1, 2, 3 and 4

a. 1 only Explanation:
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2 Taiga and temperate forests act as an
d. Neither 1 nor 2 important carbon sink. Global warming by 3°C
will turn these forests into carbon source.
Answer: b) 2 only. Wetlands International is
an NGO Corals are very sensitive to temperature
changes. 3°C rise in global temperature will
Q26. Consider the following international lead to widespread coral mortality.
3°C rise in global temperature will lead to
1. The International Treaty on Plant submergence of many low lying coastal
Genetic Resources for Food and wetlands (not all) due to rise in sea levels.
Agriculture Inland wetlands like Keoladeo Ghana National
2. The United Nations Convention to Park will not be effected (it is 100s of
Combat Desertification kilometers away from coast).
3. The World Heritage Convention
Because of the slow inertia, long response
Which of the above has/have a bearing on the time for parts of the climate system, it has
biodiversity? been estimated that we are already committed
to a sea-level rise of approximately 2.3 metres
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(7.5 ft) for each degree Celsius of temperature c. 2 and 3 only

rise within the next 2,000 years. d. 1, 2 and 3  The Bombay Natural History Society,

.abstract?sid=26fd1d37-7276-46e2-9192- founded in 1883, is one of the largest
0931e6ebf6ab non-governmental organizations in
India engaged in conservation and Page
Cultivation of cereals in tropics will take a hit. biodiversity research.
| 26
But in temperate regions their production  It supports many research efforts
increases in the short run. through grants and publishes
the Journal of the Bombay Natural
Answer: b) 1 and 2 only History Society.
 It organizes and conducts nature trails
Q28. Consider the following statements: and camps for the general public.
 Many prominent naturalists, including
1. Animal Welfare Board of India is the ornithologists Sálim Ali and S.
established under the Environment Dillon Ripley, have been associated
(Protection) Act, 1986. with it.
2. National Tiger Conservation Authority
is a statutory body. Answer: c) 2 and 3 only
3. National Ganga River Basin Authority is
chaired by the Prime Minister. Q30. Consider the following statements
regarding ‘Earth Hour’
Which of the statements given above is/ are
correct? 1. It is an initiative of UNEP and UNESCO.
2. It is a movement in which the
a. 1 only participants switch off the lights for one
b. 2 and 3 only hour on a certain day every year.
c. 2 only 3. It is a movement to raise the awareness
d. 1, 2 and 3 about the climate change and the need
to save the planet.
Animal Welfare Board of India is established
under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Which of the statements given above is / are
Answer: b) 2 and 3 only
a. 1 and 3 only
Q29. With reference to Bombay Natural b. 2 only
History Society (BNHS), consider the c. 2 and 3 only.
following statements : d. 1, 2 and 3

1. It is an autonomous organization under Earth Hour

the Ministry of Environment and
Forests.  Earth Hour is a worldwide movement
2. It strives to conserve nature through for the planet organized by the World
action-based research, education and Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
public awareness.  The event is held worldwide annually
3. It organizes and conducts nature trails encouraging individuals, communities,
and camps for the general public. households and businesses to turn off
their non-essential lights for one hour,
Which of the statements given above is/are from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. towards the end
correct? of March, as a symbol for their
commitment to the planet.
a. 1 and 3 only  It was famously started as a lights-off
b. 2 only event in Sydney, Australia in 2007.

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 Earth Hour engages a massive Nitrification is important in agricultural

mainstream community on a broad systems, where fertilizer is often applied as
range of environmental issues. ammonia. Conversion of this ammonia to
nitrate increases nitrogen leaching because
Answer: c) 2 and 3 only nitrate is more water-soluble than ammonia.

Q31. Every year, a month long ecologically Agricultural fertilization and the use of Page
important campaign/festival is held during nitrogen fixing plants also contribute to
which certain communities/ tribes plant | 27
atmospheric NOx, by promoting nitrogen
saplings of fruit-bearing trees. Which of the fixation by microorganisms. Excess NOx leads
following are such communities/tribes? to acid rain. Acid rain lowers pH of soil
(increase in acidity of soil)
a. Bhutia and Lepcha
b. Gond and Korku The legume–rhizobium symbiosis is a classic
c. lrula and Toda example of mutualism—rhizobia supply
d. Sahariya and Agariya ammonia or amino acids to the plant and in
return receive organic acids as a carbon and energy source.
revolution/article3823031.ece So, excessive/inappropriate use of
nitrogenous fertilizers can make the plants
2015 independent of both symbiotic and free living
nitrogen fixers. Fixers don’t get the food from
Q1. Which of the following National Parks the plants due to broken relationship and
is unique in being a swamp with floating other factors. So their population decreases.
vegetation that supports a rich
biodiversity? Answer: c) 2 and 3 only

a. Bhitarkanika National Park Q3. With reference to the International

b. Keibul Lamjao National Park Union for Conservation of Nature and
c. Keoladeo Ghana National park Natural Resources (IUCN) and the
d. Sultanpur National park Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Q2. What can be the impact of Flora (CITES), which of the following
excessive/inappropriate use of nitrogenous statements is/are correct?
fertilizers in agriculture?
1. IUCN is an organ of the United Nations
1. Proliferation of nitrogen-fixing and CITES is an international
microorganisms in soil can occur. agreement between governments
2. Increase in the acidity of soil can take 2. IUCN runs thousands of field projects
place around the world to better manage
3. Leaching of nitrate to the ground-water natural environments.
can occur. 3. CITES is legally binding on the States
that have joined it, but this Convention
Select the correct answer using the code given does not take the place of national
below. laws.

a. 1 and 3 only Select the correct using the code given below.
b. 2 only
c. 2 and 3 only a. 1 only
d. 1,2 and 3 b. 2 and 3 only
c. 1 and 3 only
Explanation: d. 1, 2 and 3

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Explanation: Explanation:

IUCN is an NGO. CITES is an international  Dugong (sea cow) is an herbivorous

agreement between governments (multilateral animal. It eats sea grass and aquatic
treaty). plants found in shallow oceans (At
depths sea grass and aquatic plants
Answer: b) 2 and 3 only don’t grow due to absence of sunlight). Page
 Dugong ‘vulnerable’ herbivorous marine
Q4. With reference to ‘fly ash’ produced by | 28
the power plants using the coal as fuel,
which of the following statements is/are Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
 Harming endangered (vulnerable,
1. Fly ash can be used in the production endangered, critically endangered)
of bricks for building construction species listed in Schedule 1 of the Act
2. Fly ash can be used as a replacement is prohibited throughout India.
for some of the Portland cement  Hunting species, like those requiring
contents of concrete special protection (Schedule II), big
3. Fly ash is made up of silicon dioxide game (Schedule III), and small game
and calcium oxide only, and does not (Schedule IV), is regulated through
contain any toxic elements. licensing.
 A few species classified as vermin
Select the correct answer using the code given (Schedule V), may be hunted without
below restrictions.

a. 1 and 2 Answer: c) 1 and 3

b. 2 only
c. 1 and 3 Q6. Which one of the following is the
d. 3 only national aquatic animal of India?

Fly ash does contain heavy toxic elements like a. Saltwater crocodile
arsenic, cobalt, lead etc. b. Olive ridley turtle
c. Gangetic dolphin
Answer: a) 1 and 2 d. Gharial

Q5. With reference to ‘dugong’, a mammal Q7. Which one of the following regions of
found in India, which of the following India has a combination of mangrove
statements is/are correct? forest, evergreen forest and deciduous
1. It is a herbivorous marine animal.
2. It is found along the entire coast of a. North Coastal Andhra Pradesh
India b. South-West Bengal
3. It is given legal protection under c. Southern Saurashtra
Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) d. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Act, 1972.
Select the correct answer using the code given
below. North Coastal Andhra Pradesh has deciduous
and mangrove forests.
a. 1 and 2
b. 2 only South West Bengal has mangrove, semi-
c. 1 and 3 evergreen and moist deciduous.
d. 3 only

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Southern Saurashtra has dry deciduous and Explanation:

tropical thorn.
 Earth Summit 1992 is also known as
Answer: d) Andaman and Nicobar Islands The United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development
Q8. Which one of the following is (UNCED).
associated with the issue of control and  As a follow-up, the World Summit on Page
phasing out of the use of ozone-depleting Sustainable Development
substances? | 29
(Rio+10) was held in 2002 in
Johannesburg, South Africa.
a. Bretton Woods Conference  In 2012, the United Nations
b. Montreal Protocol Conference on Sustainable
c. Kyoto Protocol Development was also held in Rio, and
d. Nagoya Protocol is also commonly called Rio+20 or Rio
Earth Summit 2012.
Answer: a) United nations Conference on
Bretton Woods Conference established the Sustainable Development
International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (IBRD) and the International Q10. Which of the following statements
Monetary Fund (IMF). regarding ‘Green Climate Fund’ is/are
Montreal Protocol is an international treaty to
protect the ozone layer by phasing out the 1. It is intended to assist the developing
production of ozone depleting substances. It is countries in adaptation and mitigation
legally binding. practices to counter climate change.
2. It is founded under the aegis of UNEP,
Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of OECD, Asian Development Bank and
the UNFCCC to fight global warming by World Bank
reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in
the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent Select the correct answer using the code given
dangerous anthropogenic interference with the below.
climate system”. It is binding on the parties.
a. 1 only
Nagoya Protocol is a supplementary agreement b. 2 only
to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity c. Both 1 and 2
(CBD) on “Access to Genetic Resources and d. Neither 1 nor 2
the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits
Arising from their Utilization”. Green Climate Fund

Answer: b)  The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a

fund within the framework of
Q9. What is Rio+20 Conference, often the UNFCCC.
mentioned in the news?  It is a mechanism to redistribute money
from the developed to the developing
a. It is the United nations Conference on world.
Sustainable Development  GCF will help developing countries
b. It is a Ministerial Meeting of the World financially in adapting mitigation
Trade Organization practices to counter climate change.
c. It is a Conference of the Inter-
governmental Panel on Climate Change Answer: a) 1 only
d. It is a Conference of the Member
Countries of the Convention on Q11. Which one of the following National
Biological Diversity Parks has a climate that varies from

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tropical to subtropical, temperate and b. Geographical Indications of Goods

arctic? (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999
c. Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
a. Khangchendzonga National park d. Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
b. Nandadevi National Park
c. Neora Valley National Park Explanation:
d. Namdapha National park Page
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee
| 30
Explanation: (GEAC) is the apex body constituted in the
Ministry of Environment and Forests under
Khangchendzonga National park and 'Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export
Nandadevi National Park lies in Greater and Storage of Hazardous
Himalayas (Conifer to Alpine climate) Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered
Organisms or Cells 1989', under the
Neora Valley National Park lies near Darjeeling Environment Protection Act, 1986.
(Shiwaliks) [Sub-tropical broad leaved hill and
Sub-tropical moist hill (pine) forests]. Answer: c)

Namdapha National park lies in Purvanchal Q14. ‘Basel III Accord’ or simply ‘Basel III’,
hills in Arunachal Pradesh. often seen in the news, seeks to

In the Namdapha National Park, located in a. develop national strategies for the
Arunachal Pradesh, the climate varies from conservation and sustainable use of
tropical to subtropical, temperate and arctic. biological diversity
It is tropical and subtropical in the southern b. improve banking sector’s ability to deal
region while it is of arctic type in the northern with financial and economic stress and
part of the park. improve risk management
c. reduce the greenhouse gas emissions
Answer: d) Namdapha National park but places a heavier burden on
developed countries
Q12. ‘BioCarbon Fund Initiative for d. transfer technology from developed
Sustain-able Forest Landscapes’ is managed Countries to poor countries to enable
by the them to replace the use of
chlorofluorocarbons in refrigeration
a. Asian Development Bank with harmless chemicals
b. International Monetary Fund
c. United Nations Environment Basel III accord is about improving banking by
Programme dealing with financial and economic stress.
d. World Bank
Answer: b) improve banking sector’s ability
Q15. In a particular region in India, the
The BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable local people train the roots of living tree
Forest Landscapes (ISFL) is a multilateral into robust bridges across the streams. As
fund, supported by donor governments and the time passes these bridges become
managed by the World Bank. stronger. These unique ‘Living Root
Bridges’ are found in
Answer: d) World Bank
a. Meghalaya
Q13. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal b. Himachal Pradesh
Committee is constituted under the c. Jharkhand
d. Tamil Nadu
a. Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006
Q16. Consider the following States:
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1. Arunachal Pradesh Answer: c) 1 and 3 only

2. Himachal Pradesh
3. Mizoram Q18. With reference to an organization
known as ‘Birdlife International’ which of
In which of the following states do “Tropical the following statements is/are correct?
Wet Evergreen Forests” occur?
1. It is a Global Partnership of Page
a. 1 only Conservation Organizations.
b. 2 and 3 only 2. The concept of ‘biodiversity hotspots’ | 31
c. 1 and 3 only originated from this organization.
d. 1, 2 and 3 3. It identifies the sites known/referred to
as ‘Important Bird and Biodiversity
Explanation: Areas’.

Himachal Pradesh has many varieties of Select the correct answer using the code given
forests but not wet evergreen. below.

Purvanchal hills start at the syntaxial bend a. 1 only

(Namcha Barwa) which is in Arunachal b. 2 and 3 only
Pradesh. Wet Evergreen forests are scattered c. 1 and 3 only
all along the Purvanchal hills. d. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: c) 1 and 3 only Answer: c) 1 and 3 only

Q17. With reference to ‘Forest Carbon Q19. In India, in which one of the following
Partnership Facility’, which of the types of forests is teak a dominant tree
following statements is/are correct? species?

1. it is global partnership of governments, a. Tropical moist deciduous forest

businesses, civil society and indigenous b. Tropical rain forest
peoples c. Tropical thorn scrub forest
2. it provides financial aid to universities, d. Temperate forest with grasslands
individual scientists and institutions
involved in scientific forestry research Answer: a)
to develop eco-friendly and climate
Q20. Which one of the following is the best
adaptation technologies for sustainable
description of the term “ecosystem”?
forest management
3. It assists the countries in their ‘REDD+
a. A community of organisms interacting
(Reducing Emission from Deforestation
with one another
and Forest Degradation+)’ efforts by
b. That part of the Earth which is
providing them with financial and
inhabited by living organisms
technical assistance.
c. A community of organisms together
with the environment in which they
Select the correct answer using the code given
d. The flora and fauna of a geographical
a. 1 only
b. 2 and 3 only
Answer: c)
c. 1 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3 Explanation

It provide financial incentives to countries 1. A community of organisms interacting

(only) in their REDD+ efforts. with one another – no specific term.

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2. That part of the Earth which is IREDA is Public Limited Government

inhabited by living organisms – Company established as a Non-Banking
biosphere. Financial Institution in 1987 engaged in
3. A community of organisms together promoting, developing and extending financial
with the environment in which they live assistance for setting up projects relating to
– ecosystem. new and renewable sources of energy and
4. The flora and fauna of a geographical energy efficiency/conservation with the motto: Page
area – biodiversity. “Energy For Ever”.
| 32
Q21. With reference to bio-toilets used by Answer: c) Both
the Indian Railways, consider the following
statements: Environment and Ecosystem -
Components of an Ecosystem
1. The decomposition of human waste in
the bio-toilets is initiated by a fungal Environment
2. Ammonia and water vapour are the  Environment is the natural component in
only end products in this which biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving)
decomposition which are released into factors interact with each other. These
the atmosphere. interactions shape the habitat and
ecosystem of an organism.
Which of the statements given above is/are  In biological sense, environment constitute
correct? the physical (nutrients, water, air etc.) and
biological factors (biomolecules, organisms)
a. 1 only along with their chemical interactions
b. 2 only (chemical cycles – carbon cycle, nitrogen
c. Both 1 and 2 cycle etc.) that affect an organism or a
d. Neither 1 nor 2 group of organisms.
 All organisms are dependent on the
Decomposition of human waste in bio-toilets environment to carry out their natural life
is carried out by anaerobic bacteria. processes (birth to death) and to meet their
physical requirements (food, energy, water,
The final waste is CO2 and CH4. [Explained oxygen, shelter etc.).
in detail under “Water Pollution”]  The environment is not static. Both biotic
and abiotic factors are in a constant flux
Answer: d) Neither 1 nor 2 and keep changing continuously.

Q22. With reference to the Indian Habitat

Renewable Energy Development Agency
Limited (IREDA), which of the following
statements is/are correct?  Habitat is the physical environment in
which an organism lives (it corresponds to
1. It is a Public Limited Government address of an organism).
Company.  It is an ecological or environmental area
2. It is a Non – Banking Financial inhabited by particular species of plants,
Company. animals, fungi, etc. Many habitats make
up the environment.
 A single habitat may be common for more
Select the correct answer using the code given
than one organism which have similar
 For example, a single aquatic habitat may
a. 1 only
support a fish, frog, crab, phytoplankton
b. 2 only
and many other kinds of organisms.
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 or 2

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 The various species sharing a habitat thus

have the same ‘address’. Forest, river etc.
are other examples of habitat.
 All habitats are environments but all
environments are not habitats.

| 33

Picture Credits:

 Biosphere is absent at extremes of the

North and South poles, the highest
mountains and the deepest oceans, since
Difference between Habitat and existing hostile conditions there do not
support life [Life is the characteristic
feature of biosphere].
 Occasionally spores of fungi and bacteria do occur at great height beyond 8,000
-between-habitat-and-vs-environment/ metres, but they are metabolically inactive,
and hence represent only dormant life.
 A habitat always has life in it, whereas the
environment does not necessarily have life Ecosystem
in it.
 The habitat is a defined place or area of the
environment according to the requirements  An ecosystem can be visualised as
of a particular life form. Therefore, a a functional unit of nature, where living
habitat is always an environment, but an organisms [producers,
environment is not always a habitat. consumers, and decomposers] interact
 A habitat is always a preference of one among themselves and also with the
species, whereas an environment could be surrounding physical environment.
a preference of many species that could  Ecosystem varies greatly in size from a
eventually become many habitats. small pond to a large forest or a sea.
 Usually, the environment governs the  Forest, grassland and desert are some
properties of a habitat, but not vice versa. examples of terrestrial ecosystems; pond,
lake, wetland, river and estuary are some
examples of aquatic ecosystems. Crop
fields and an aquarium may also be
considered as man-made ecosystems.
 The biosphere is the biological  In the ecosystem, biotic and abiotic
component (supporting life) of earth which components are linked together
includes the lithosphere, hydrosphere and through nutrient cycles and energy
atmosphere. flows.
 The biosphere includes all living organisms  An ecosystem can be of any size but
on earth, together with the dead organic usually encompasses specific and limited
matter produced by them. species. Eg: Aquatic Ecosystem. [This is
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how ecosystem is different from Ecosystem → Producers, Consumers,

Environment] Decomposers and their relationships (tiny
 Everything that lives in an ecosystem is environment). It is the functional unit of
dependent on the other species and the environment.
elements that are also part of
that ecological community. If one part of Q0. Which one of the following is the best
an ecosystem is damaged or disappears, it description of the term “ecosystem”? Page
has an impact on everything else.
| 34
1. A community of organisms interacting
with one another
2. That part of the Earth which is
inhabited by living organisms
3. A community of organisms together
with the environment in which they
4. The flora and fauna of a geographical

Answer: c)


1. A community of organisms interacting

Aquatic Ecosystem with one another – no specific term.
2. That part of the Earth which is
inhabited by living organisms –
Difference Between Ecology, biosphere.
Environment & Ecosystem 3. A community of organisms together
with the environment in which they live
– ecosystem.
4. The flora and fauna of a geographical
area – biodiversity.

Components of an Ecosystem

 The components of the ecosystem are

categorized into abiotic or non-living and
biotic or living components. Both the
 Ecology is the study of the ecosystems and components of ecosystem and environment
the environment. are same.
 Environment is a group of ecosystems.
 Ecosystem is a functional unit of
environment (mostly biosphere).

Environment → Can be Almost Everything

or a Small region.

Habitat → Area where an organism lives.

Biosphere → The region on earth that

supports life.
Abiotic Components

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 Abiotic components are the inorganic and spore [Asexual Reproduction in plants].
non-living parts which act as Seed bearing plants are more
major limiting factors. significant than Propagules in
rainforest. So propagules don’t really
Limiting factor matter.
3. the rain forest species are slow-
 Lot of factors determine the survival of an growing: The plant species in Page
organism. One single factor can limit the rainforests compete for sunlight. So
they grow as rapidly as they can. | 35
range of an organism. This single factor is
called as a limiting factor. 4. exotic species invade the fertile soil of
 For example, seeds don’t germinate quickly rain forest: this statement is wrong as
in evergreen rain forests in spite of good the rainforest soil is heavily leached.
rains and vegetation as the surface soil is Hence they are not fertile. But exotic
heavily leached (nutrients washed away by invasive species are a threat to rain
running water). Here, poor soil is the forests (E.g. Most plantation crops like
limiting factor. rubber, palm etc.).
 Likewise, germinated saplings may not
survive due to lack of light because of the Answer: a)
dense canopy. Here, light [shade of the
forest] is the limiting factor.  Light: The spectral quality of solar
radiation is important for life. The UV
Q1. If a tropical rain forest is removed, it component of the spectrum is harmful to
does not regenerate quickly as compared to many organisms.
a tropical deciduous forest. This is because  Rainfall: Majority of biochemical reactions
[Prelims Question] take place in an aqueous medium. These
biochemical reactions are important for
1. the soil of rain forest is deficient in survival of an organism. So rainfall is an
nutrients important limiting factor.
2. propagules of the trees in a rain forest  Temperature: Latitudinal insolation
have poor viability decides the temperature range of a region.
3. the rain forest species are slow-growing A few organisms can tolerate and thrive in
4. exotic species invade the fertile soil of a wide range of temperatures (they are
rain forest. called eurythermal), but, a vast majority
of them are restricted to a narrow range of
Explanation: temperatures (such organisms are
called stenothermal).
 Atmosphere: 21% oxygen helps in survival
1. the soil of rain forest is deficient in
of many organisms, 78% nitrogen prevents
nutrients: Rainforest = Rainfall through
spontaneous combustion and 0.038%
the year. It rains almost every day =
carbon dioxide helps primary producers in
The top soil is continuously washed
the synthesis of carbohydrates.
away = nutrients are also washed away
o Organic compounds: Proteins,
= leaching of nutrients = very little
carbohydrates, lipids etc. are essential
fertility remains in top soil = most of
for energy transfer in the living world.
the seeds don’t germinate for years =
o Inorganic compound: Carbon, carbon
regeneration is very slow (it takes
dioxide, water, sulphur, nitrates,
decades). But the layer below top soil
phosphates, and ions of various metals
(sub-soil) is very fertile. So plants grow
are essential for organisms to survive.
very quickly once their roots reach the
o Altitude: Vertical zonation of vegetation
sub-soil and if they receive enough
is caused due to altitude. Change in
temperature with altitude is the limiting
2. propagules of the trees in a rain forest
have poor viability: Propagule =
o Buffering capacity of earth: The most
detachable structure that can give rise
unique feature of the earth is its
to a new plant, e.g. a bud, sucker, or
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buffering action due to which a neutral dehydration of cells. Thus coagulation

pH (pH- 7) is maintained in the soil and and precipitation of the cell colloid results
water bodies. The neutral pH is in death of plant. Also, frost leads to
conducive for the survival and formation of canker.
sustenance of living organisms.
o Salinity: Some organisms are tolerant of Snow
a wide range of Page
salinities (euryhaline) but others are  Snow acts as blanket, prevents further
restricted to a narrow | 36
drop in temperature
range (stenohaline). So salinity is a and protects seedlings from excessive
limiting factor. cold and frost.
 Accumulation of snow on tree parts can
Effect Of Abiotic Components On break the branches or even uproot the
Terrestrial Primary Producers – Plants tree.
 Snow shortens the period of vegetative
 Plants are the reason that the other growth.
animals are able to survive on land. So the
effect of abiotic factors on plants is crucial. Temperature

Light  High temperature results in death of plant

due to coagulation of protoplasmic proteins
 Extremely high intensity favors root [Some bacteria can survive high
growth than shoot growth which results temperatures because of their
in increased transpiration, short stem, protoplasmic proteins that don’t coagulate
smaller thicker leaves. at normally high temperatures].
 On the other hand low intensity of  High temperature disturbs the balance
light retards growth, flowering and between respiration and photo synthesis
fruiting. thereby causes depletion of food resulting
 When the Intensity of light is less than the in greater susceptibility to fungal and
minimum, the plants ceases to grow due bacterial attack.
to accumulation of CO2 and finally dies.  It also results in desiccation of plant
 Out of 7 colours in the visible part of tissues and depletion of moisture.
spectrum, only red and blue are effective
in photosynthesis. Die back
 Plant grown in blue light are small, red
light results in elongation of cells results in  Refers the progressive dying usually
etiolated plants. Plants grown in ultraviolet backwards from the tip of any portion of
and violet light are dwarf. plant.
 This is one of the adaptive mechanisms to
Frost avoid adverse conditions like drought.
 In this mechanism, the root remains alive
 Frost results in freezing the soil moisture. for years together but the shoots dies.
The plants growing in such soil, get  E.g. Sal, Red sanders, Silk cotton tree etc..
exposed to direct sun light in the morning,
they are killed due to increased Biotic Components
transpiration when their roots are unable
to supply moisture. This is the main Primary producers - Autotrophs (self-
reason for innumerable death of sal nourishing)
 As a result of frost, water in the  Primary producers are basically green
intercellular spaces of the plant gets frozen plants, certain bacteria and algae that
into ice which withdraws water from the carry out photosynthesis.
interior of the cells. This results  In terrestrial ecosystem, grasses, plants
in increasing concentration of salts and and trees are the primary producers while
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in aquatic ecosystem, microscopic algae

[plankton] are the primary producers.

Consumers — Heterotrophs or Phagotrophs

(other nourishing)

 Consumers are incapable of producing Page

their own food. They depend on organic
| 37
food derived from plants, animals or both.
 Consumers can be divided into two broad
groups namely micro and macro

Macro consumers

 Herbivores are primary consumers which

feed mainly on plants e.g. cow.
 Secondary consumers feed on primary
consumers e.g. wolves, dogs, etc. Ecology - Principles and Organizations
 Carnivores which feed on both
primary and secondary
consumers are called tertiary
consumers e.g. lion which can
eat wolves, snakes etc.
 Omnivores are organisms which
consume both plants and
animals e.g. man, bear, etc.

Micro consumers - Saprotrophs

(decomposers or osmotrophs)

 They are bacteria and fungi

which obtain energy and nutrients from
dead organic substances (detritus) of plant
and animals.
 The products of decomposition such as  The term ecology was derived from two
inorganic nutrients which are released in Greek words ‘Oikos’ meaning home and
the ecosystem are reused by producers ‘logos’ meaning study.
and thus recycled.  Ecology is the branch of biology concerned
 Earthworm and certain soil organisms with the relations of organisms to one
(such as nematodes, and arthropods) are another (energy flow and mineral cycling)
detritus feeders and help in the and to their physical surroundings
decomposition of organic matter and are (environment).
called detrivores.  Ecology encompasses study of individual,
organisms, population, community,
Classification of Ecosystems ecosystem, biome and biosphere which
form the various levels of ecological
 The Indian texts of Vedas, the Samhitas,
the Brahmanas and the Aranyakas-
Upanishads contain many references to
ecological concepts. The Indian treatise on
medicine, the Caraka-Samhita and the
surgical text Susruta-Samhita, show that

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people during this period had a good 3. Population of large cats (tigers, lions
understanding of plant and animal etc.).
ecology. 4. Sex ratio and age (young or adult) of
large cats. [Even sex of tigers can be
Levels Of Organizations In Ecology determined using
downloads/reading_pugmarks.pdf also Page
 Ecology not only deals with the study of
says the same]
the relationship of individual organisms | 38
with their environment, but also with the
study of populations, communities,  Community: Communities in most
ecosystems, biomes, and biosphere as a instances are named after the dominant
whole. plant form (species). For example: A
grassland community is dominated by
grasses, though it may contain herbs,
shrubs, and trees, along with associated
insects and animals of different species. A
 Individual: Organism is an individual
community is not fixed or rigid.
living being that has the ability to act or
 On the basis of size and degree of relative
function independently. It may be any
independence communities may be divided
into two types: Major Communities and
 Species: Species are a group of living
Minor Communities.
organisms consisting of similar individuals
capable of exchanging genes or
1. Major Communities: These are large
of interbreeding, considered as the basic
sized and relatively independent. They
unit of taxonomy and denoted by a Latin
depend only on the sun’s energy from
binomial, e.g. Homo sapiens.
outside. Eg: Tropical evergreen forests.
 Population: Population is a community of
2. Minor Communities: These are
interbreeding organisms [same species],
dependent on neighboring communities
occupying a defined area during a specific
and are often called societies. They are
secondary aggregations within a major
 Population growth rate is the percentage
community. Eg: A mat of lichen on a
variation between the number of
cow dung pad.
individuals in a population at two different
times. It can be positive due
to birth and/or immigration or negative  Ecosystem: An ecosystem is a community
due to death and/or emigration. of organisms interacting with each other
 The number of individuals per unit area at and with their environment such that
a given time is termed as population energy is exchanged and system-level
density. processes, such as the cycling of elements,
 In case of large, mobile animals like tigers, emerge.
leopards, lions, deer etc., the density may  Biome: Biome is a large naturally
be determined by counting individual occurring community of flora and fauna
animals directly or by the pugmarks (foot occupying a major habitat. E.g. Rainforest
imprints) left by the animals in a defined biome or tundra biome.
area.  Plants and animals in a biome have
 Pugmarks of each individual animals are common characteristics due to similar
unique and different from one others. climates and can be found over a range of
Study of pug marks can provide the continents.
following information reliably if analyzed  Biomes are distinct from habitats, because
skillfully: any biome can comprise a variety of
habitats (habitat: the natural home or
environment of an organism).
1. Presence of different species in the
 Biosphere: The biosphere is the biological
area of study.
component of earth which includes the
2. Identification of individual animals.
lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere.

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The biosphere includes all living organisms  In the absence of an external source of
on earth, together with the dead organic water, the kangaroo rat in North
matter produced by them. American deserts is capable of meeting all
its water requirements through its
Principles of Ecology internal fat oxidation (in which water is
a byproduct).
 It also has the ability to concentrate its Page
 On planet Earth, life exists not just in a
urine so that minimal volume of water is
few favourable habitats but even in | 39
used to remove excretory products.
extreme and harsh habitats – scorching
 Many desert plants have a
Rajasthan desert, perpetually rain-soaked
thick cuticle on their leaf surfaces and
Meghalaya forests, deep ocean trenches,
have their stomata arranged in deep pits
torrential streams, permafrost polar
to minimise water loss through
regions, high mountain tops, boiling
thermal springs, and stinking compost
 They also have a special photosynthetic
pits, to name a few. Even our intestine is
pathway (CAM) that enables their
a unique habitat for hundreds of species
stomata to remain closed during day
of microbes. How is this possible?
 Some desert plants like Opuntia, have no
leaves - they are reduced to spines-and
the photosynthetic function is taken over
 Each organism is adapted to its by the flattened stems [less leaves = less
particular environment. An adaptation is area available for transpiration].
thus, “the appearance or behavior or  Mammals from colder climates generally
structure or mode of life of an organism have shorter ears and limbs to
that allows it to survive in a particular minimise heat loss. (This is called the
environment”. E.g. Neck of a giraffe. Allen’s Rule.) Guess why an elephant has
 Adaptation is any attribute of the a huge ear.
organism (morphological – when trees  In the polar seas aquatic mammals like
grew higher, the giraffes neck got longer; seals have a thick layer of fat (blubber)
physiological – in the absence of an below their skin that acts as an insulator
external source of water, the kangaroo rat and reduces loss of body heat.
in North American deserts is capable of  Some organisms possess adaptations that
meeting all its water requirements are physiological which allow them to
through its internal fat oxidation; respond quickly to a stressful situation. If
behavioral – animals migrating you had ever been to any high altitude
temporarily to a less stressful habitat) place (>3,500m) you must have
that enables the organism to survive and experienced what is called altitude
reproduce in its habitat. sickness.
 We need to breathe faster when we are on  Its symptoms include nausea, fatigue and
high mountains. After some days, our heart palpitations. This is because in the
body adjusts to the changed conditions low atmospheric pressure of high
on the high mountain. altitudes, the body does not get enough
 Such small changes that take place in the oxygen. But, gradually you
body of a single organism over short get acclimatized and stop experiencing
periods, to overcome small problems due altitude sickness.
to changes in the surroundings, are  How did your body solve this problem?
called acclimatization. The body compensates low oxygen
availability by increasing red blood cell
Examples of Adaptation production, decreasing the binding
capacity of hemoglobin and
 Many adaptations have evolved over a by increasing breathing rate.
long evolutionary time and are genetically  Archaebacteria flourish in hot springs
fixed. and deep sea hydrothermal vents where

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temperatures far exceed 100 degree C.  In evolutionary biology, adaptive radiation

How is this possible? is a process in which organisms diversify
 A hyper thermophile is an organism that rapidly from an ancestral species into a
thrives in extremely hot environments — multitude of new forms, particularly
from 60 °C. Hyper thermophiles are a when a change in the environment makes
subset of extremophiles (can tolerate new resources available, creates new
temperatures of around 100 °C). challenges, or opens new environmental Page
 They are able to survive because of niches.
the protein structure and the nature of | 40
the cell membrane. The protein
molecules in the hyper thermophiles
exhibit hyper thermo stability—that is,
they can maintain structural stability
(and therefore function) at high
temperatures. The cell membrane
contains high levels of saturated fatty
acids to retain shape at high
 Desert lizards lack the physiological
ability that mammals have to deal with
the high temperatures of their habitat,
but manage to keep their body
temperature fairly constant by behavioral
 They bask in the sun and absorb heat
when their body temperature drops below
the comfort zone, but move into shade
when the ambient temperature starts Speciation
 Some species are capable of burrowing  Speciation is the process by which new
into the soil to hide and escape from the species are formed and evolution is the
above-ground heat. mechanism by which speciation is
brought about.
Variation  A species comprises of many populations.
Often different populations of a species
 Variations are induced by changes in remain isolated due to some geographic
genetic makeup due to addition or barrier such as mountain, ocean, river,
deletion of certain genes. etc.
 Mutations, change in climate,  The most common way a population
geographical barriers etc. induce undergoes speciation is by geographic
variations over a period of time. isolation (Allopatric speciation or
 Species are generally composed of a geographic speciation).
number of distinct populations which
freely interbreed even though they appear
to be different in appearance [E.g.
American man and Chinese women can
interbreed. They sub species under Homo
 Difference in colour of skin, type of hair;
curly or straight, eye colour, blood type
among different ethnic groups represent
variation within human species.

Adaptive radiation

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 Those offsprings which are suited to

their immediate environment have a
better chance of surviving, reaching
reproductive age and passing on the
suitable adaptations to their progeny.

Evolution Page
| 41
 Evolution is the change which gives rise
to new species. It happens in order to
make the organism better suit to the
present environment.

 After a long period of time, the sub-

populations become very different and
get isolated, reproductively, i.e. they no
longer interbreed.
 Later even when the barrier is removed
the sub-populations are unable to  Climate change, competition,
interbreed and thus subsequently the adaptability, need, changing
sub-populations become two different environment etc. are the major forces
species. behind evolution.
 Mutation and recombination are
Mutation sources of ‘variation’ or differences in
the genetic makeup or gene pool of a
 Mutation (a change in genetic material species. The variations over a period of
that results from an error in time lead to the creation of a new
replication of DNA) causes new genes species.
to arise in a population.  Evolution involves the processes of
 Further, in a sexually reproducing natural selection, adaptation, variation
population, meiosis and fertilization etc.. Evolution leads to speciation or
produce new combination of genes formation of new species.
every generation, which is  A valid theory of evolution was
termed recombination. propounded by Charles Darwin and
 Thus members of the same species Alfred Wallace in 1859. This theory has
show ‘variation’ and are not exactly been extended in the light of progress
identical. Variations are heritable. in genetics and is known as Neo-
Natural Selection
 Natural Selection is the mechanism
proposed by Darwin and Wallace.  Ever since life evolved on earth, new
Natural selection is the process by species better suited or adapted to the
which species adapt to their environment have appeared and older
environment. less successful forms have died or
 It is an evolutionary force that selects become extinct.
among variations i.e. genes that help  The primary reason for these
the organism to better adopt to its extinctions is environmental change or
environment. Such genes are biological competition.
reproduced more in a population due to  Extinction occurs when species cannot
natural selection. evolve fast enough to cope with the

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changes taking place in their serve in harsh climatic regions like

environment. Siachen Glacier.
 Extinction may take place due to 4. Gradual changes in an organism to
catastrophic natural phenomena such survive in an environment is call
as tsunami, volcanoes etc. Evolution and not Adaptation. E.g. The
 In recent time, human activities such evolution of Giraffes neck over a period
as deportation, over exploitation, of time. Page
environmental pollution and
environmental change are other factors | 42
Q3. Choose the incorrect pairs
responsible for extinction.
Characteristic feature Vegetation
Q2. Which of the following are true?
1. Sloping branches and needle like leaves
1. The presence of specific features or - Desert vegetation
certain habits, which enable a plant or 2. Deep roots - Taiga vegetation
an animal to live in its surroundings, is 3. Waxy stem, thick leaves or no leaves -
called Evolution. Tundra vegetation
2. The surroundings where an organism 4. Canopy - Tropical vegetation
lives is called its habitat.
3. Small changes that take place in the Codes:
body of a single organism over short
periods, to overcome small problems a) All
due to changes in the surroundings, is b) 4 only
called acclimatization c) 1,2,3 only
4. Gradual changes in an organism to d) 2,3 only
survive in an environment is call
Adaptation Answer: c) – incorrect pairs

Codes: Explanation:

1. All  Sloping branches (prevent accumulation of

2. 2,3 only snow) and needle like leaves (reduce
3. 1,2,4 only transpiration) – Taiga vegetation.
4. 1,2,3 only  Deep roots – Desert vegetation
 Waxy stem, thick leaves or no leaves –
Answer: b) Desert vegetation
 Canopy – characteristic feature of tropical
Explanation: forests – rainforests, deciduous forests etc.

1. The presence of specific features or Ecotone - Edge Effect | Ecological

certain habits, which enable a plant or Niche
an animal to live in its surroundings, is
called Adaptation and not evolution. Ecotone
E.g. Hibernation.
2. The surroundings where an organism  An ecotone is a zone of junction or
lives is called its habitat. (True) a transition area between two biomes
3. Small changes that take place in the [diverse ecosystems]. It is where two
body of a single organism over short communities meet and integrate.
periods, to overcome small problems  For e.g. the mangrove forests represent
due to changes in the surroundings, is an ecotone between marine and terrestrial
called acclimatization (True). E.g. ecosystem. Other examples
Soldiers undergo rigorous are grassland (between forest and
acclimatization training before they can desert), estuary (between fresh water and

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salt water) and river bank or marsh land  Niche refers to the unique functional role
(between dry and wet). and position of a species in its habitat or
 In nature, many species occupy the same
habitat but they perform different
 The functional characteristics of a Page
species in its habitat is referred to as
“niche” in that common habitat. | 43
 Habitat of a species is like its ‘address’
(i.e. where it lives) whereas niche can
be thought of as its “profession” (i.e.
activities and responses specific to the
 A niche is unique for a species while
many species share the habitat. No two
species in a habitat can have the same
niche. This is because of
Characteristics of Ecotone the competition with one another until
one is displaced.
 It may be narrow (between grassland and
forest) or wide (between forest and desert).
 As it is a zone of transition, it has
conditions intermediate to the adjacent
ecosystems. Hence it is a zone of tension.
 Usually, the number and the population
density of the species of an outgoing
community decreases as we move away
from community or ecosystem.
 A well-developed ecotones contain some
organisms which are entirely different from
that of the adjoining communities.

Edge Effect – Edge Species

 In ecology, edge effects refer to the changes

in population or community structures
that occur at the boundary of two habitats
 Sometimes the number of species and the
population density of some of the species
in the ecotone is much greater than either
community. This is called edge effect.
 The organisms which occur primarily or
most abundantly in this zone are known
as edge species.
 In the terrestrial ecosystems edge effect is
especially applicable to birds. For example
the density of birds is greater in the mixed
habitat of the ecotone between the forest
and the desert.
 For example, a large number of different
Ecological Niche species of insects may be pests of the same

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plant but they can co-exist as they feed on Ecological succession - Primary &
different parts of the same plant. Secondary Succession | Homeostasis
 A species' niche includes all of its
interactions with the biotic and abiotic Functions Of Ecosystem
factors of its environment [habitat niche -
where it lives, food niche - what is eats or  The function of an ecosystem include
decomposes & what species it competes Page
with, reproductive niche - how and when it
1. Ecological succession or ecosystem | 44
reproduces, physical & chemical niche -
temperature, land shape, land slope,
2. Homeostasis (or cybernetic) or
humidity & other requirement].
feedback control mechanisms
 An ecological niche describes how an
3. Energy flow through food chain [Next
organism or population responds to the
distribution of resources and competitors
4. Nutrient cycling (biogeochemical
(for example, by growing when resources
cycles) [Later Post]
are abundant, and when predators,
parasites and pathogens are scarce) and
Each will be discussed in detail in subsequent
how it in turn alters those same factors (for
example, limiting access to resources by
other organisms, acting as a food source
for predators and a consumer of prey). Ecological Succession
 Niche plays an important role
in conservation of organisms. If we have  Biotic communities are dynamic in nature
to conserve species in its native habitat we and change over a period of time. The
should have knowledge about the niche process by which communities of plant
requirements of the species and should and animal species in an area are replaced
ensure that all requirements of its niche or changed into another over a period of
are fulfilled. time is known as ecological succession.
 Succession is a universal process of
Q4. Which one of the following terms directional change in vegetation, on an
describes not only the physical space ecological time scale.
occupied by an organism, but also its  Succession occurs when a series of
functional role in the community of communities replace one another due to
organisms? large scale destruction (natural or
manmade). This process continues with
1. Ecotone one community replacing another, until a
2. Ecological niche stable, mature community develops.
3. Habitat  Succession is a progressive series of
4. Home range changes which leads to the establishment
of a relatively stable climax community.
Answer: b) Niche
 The first plant to colonize an area is called
Explanation: the pioneer community. The final stage of
succession is called the climax
 Ecotone – zone of transition between two community. The stage leading to the
ecosystems. E.g. grasslands, mangroves climax community are called successional
etc. stages or seres. Each transitional
 Habitat – surroundings in which an (temporary) community that is formed and
organism lives (home). replaced during succession is called a
 Home Range – Ahome range is the area in stage in succession or a seral community.
which an animal lives and moves on a  Succession is characterized by the
daily or periodic basis (a little bigger than following: increased productivity, the shift
habitat – home → office → home). of nutrients from' the reservoirs, increased
diversity of organisms with increased niche

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development, and a gradual increase in the community is stable, mature, more

complexity of food webs. complex and long lasting.
 Succession would occur faster in area  The entire sequence of communities in a
existing in the middle of the large given area, succeeding each other, during
continent. This is because, here seeds of the course of succession is termed sere.
plants belonging to the different seres Succession that occurs on land where
would reach much faster, establish and moisture content is low for e.g. on bare Page
ultimately result in climax community. rock is known as xerarch. Succession that
 The terminal (final) stage of succession takes place in a water body, like ponds or | 45
forms the community which is called lake is called hydrarch.
as climax community. A climax

Primary Succession 3. bacteria and fungi

4. fungi and mosses
 Primary succession takes place an over
a bare or unoccupied areas such as rocks More of a biology question. Fungus provides
outcrop, newly formed deltas and sand shelter, water and minerals to the algae and,
dunes, emerging volcano islands and lava in return, the alga provides food
flows as well as glacial moraines (muddy (photosynthesis).
area exposed by a retreating glacier) where
no community has existed previously.  These new conditions may be conducive to
 In primary succession on a terrestrial site the establishment of additional organisms
the new site is first colonized by a few that may subsequently arrive at the site.
hardy pioneer species that are The pioneers through their death any
often microbes, lichens and mosses. The decay leave patches of organic matter in
pioneers over a few generations alter the which small animals can live.
habitat conditions by their growth and  The organic matter produced by these
development. pioneer species produce organic acids
during decomposition that dissolve and
Q5. Lichens, which are capable of initiating etch the substratum releasing nutrients to
ecological succession even on a bare rock, the substratum. Organic debris
are actually a symbiotic association of accumulates in pockets and crevices,
providing soil in which seeds can become
1. algae and bacteria lodged and grow.
2. algae and fungi
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 As the community of organisms continues Secondary Succession

to develop, it becomes more diverse and
competition increases, but at the same  Secondary succession occurs when plants
time new niche opportunities develops. recognize an area in which the climax
 The pioneer species disappear as the community has been disturbed.
habitat conditions change and invasion of  Secondary succession is the sequential
new species progresses, leading to the development of biotic communities after Page
replacement of the preceding community. the complete or partial destruction of | 46
the existing community.

 A mature or intermediate community may  Unlike in the primary succession, the

be destroyed by natural events such as secondary succession starts on a well-
floods, droughts, fires, or storms or by developed soil already formed at the site.
human interventions such as Thus secondary succession is
deforestation, agriculture, overgrazing, etc. relatively faster as compared to primary
 This abandoned farmland is first invaded succession which may often require
by hardy species of grasses that can hundreds of years.
survive in bare, sunbaked soil. These
grasses may be soon joined by tall grasses
Autogenic and Allogenic Succession
and herbaceous plants. These dominate
the ecosystem for some years along with
mice, rabbits, insects and seed-eating  When succession is brought about by
birds. living inhabitants of that community itself,
 Eventually, some trees come up in this the process is called autogenic succession,
area, seeds of which may be brought by while change brought about by outside
wind or animals. And over the years, a forces is known as allogenic succession.
forest community develops. Thus an  Autogenic succession (caused by plants
abandoned farmland over a period themselves) is succession driven by the
becomes dominated by trees and is biotic components of an ecosystem. In
transformed into a forest. contrast, allogenic succession (caused by
drought, fire, flooding etc.) is driven by the
Difference Between Primary and abiotic components of the ecosystem.
Secondary Succession

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Q6. In the grasslands, trees do not replace  As against this, xerarch succession takes
the grasses as a part of an ecological place in dry areas and the series progress
succession because of from xeric to mesic conditions.
 Hence, both hydrarch and xerach
1. insects and fungi successions lead to medium water
2. limited sunlight and paucity of conditions (mesic) - neither too dry (xeric)
nutrients nor too wet (hydric). With time the Page
3. water limits and fire xerophytic habitat gets converted into
a Mesophytic one. | 47
4. None of the above

Answer: c) Succession in Water

Explanation:  In primary succession in water, the

pioneers are the small phytoplanktons,
 Grasses have this one good trick to they are replaced with time by free-floating
monopolize a place. In dry season the angiosperms, then by rooted hydrophytes,
grasses dry up and cause fires which sedges, grasses and finally the trees. The
destroy other plant species and their climax again would be a forest. With time
seeds. the water body is converted into land.
 Also grasslands develop in regions with  Another important fact is to understand
scanty rainfall where plant growth cannot that all succession whether taking place in
be achieved. water or on land, proceeds to a similar
 Though forests form the climax community climax community - the mesic.
in most of the ecosystems, but in
grassland ecosystem [In the grasslands,
trees do not replace the grasses as a part
of an ecological succession] grasses form
the climax community. Thanks to fire and
lack of water.
 Grasslands are almost irreversible once
deforestation in water scarce areas gives
way to grasslands. [Ecological Damage]

Autotrophic and Heterotrophic


 Succession in which, initially the green

plants are much greater in quantity is
known as autotrophic succession; and the
ones in which the heterotrophs are greater
in quantity is known as heterotrophic

Succession in Plants

 Based on the nature of the habitat -

whether it is water (or very wet areas) or it
is on very dry areas - succession of plants
is called hydrach or xerarch, respectively.
 Hydrarch succession takes place in wetter
areas and the successional series progress
from hydric to the mesic (intermediate)

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 Some organisms are able to maintain

homeostasis by physiological (sometimes
behavioral – migrating to tree shade)
means which ensures constant body
temperature, constant osmotic
concentration, etc.
 All birds and mammals, and a very few Page
lower vertebrate and invertebrate species
are indeed capable of such regulation | 48
(thermoregulation and osmoregulation).


 The ‘success’ of mammals is largely due to

their ability to maintain a constant body
temperature and thrive whether they live
in Antarctica or in the Sahara desert.
 The mechanisms used by most mammals
to regulate their body temperature are
similar to the ones that we humans use.
We maintain a constant body temperature
of 37 °C.
 In summer, when outside temperature is
more than our body temperature, we sweat
profusely. The resulting evaporative cooling
brings down the body temperature. In
winter when the temperature is much
lower than 37 °C, we start to shiver, a kind
of exercise which produces heat and raises
the body temperature.
 Plants, on the other hand, do not have
Homeostasis such mechanisms to maintain internal
 Homeostasis is the maintenance of
a stable equilibrium, especially through Conform
physiological (through bodily part
functions. E.g. Cooling your body through  An overwhelming majority (99 per cent) of
sweating) processes. animals and nearly all plants cannot
 Organisms try to maintain the constancy maintain a constant internal environment.
of its internal environment (a process Their body temperature changes with the
called homeostasis) despite varying ambient temperature.
external environmental conditions that  In aquatic animals, the osmotic
tend to upset its homeostasis. concentration of the body fluids change
 For humans, it could be achieved at home with that of the ambient water osmotic
by using an air conditioner in summer and concentration. These animals and plants
heater in winter. are simply conformers.
 Here the person’s homeostasis is  Considering the benefits of a constant
accomplished, not through physiological, internal environment to the organism, we
but artificial means. How do other living must ask why these conformers had not
organisms cope with the situation? evolved to become regulators.
 Thermoregulation is energetically
Regulate expensive for many organisms. This is

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particularly true for small animals like in time. The familiar case of bears going
shrews and humming birds. into hibernation during winter is an
 Heat loss or heat gain is a function of example of escape in time.
surface area. Since small animals have a
larger surface area relative to their volume, [
they tend to lose body heat very fast when vertebrata-phylum-chordata/#hibernation]
it is cold outside; then they have to expend Page
much energy to generate body heat [lot of  Some snails and fish go into aestivation to
food goes into heat generation] through | 49
avoid summer-related problems-heat and
metabolism. This is the main reason why desiccation.
very small animals are rarely found in  Under unfavorable conditions many
polar regions. zooplankton species in lakes and ponds
 During the course of evolution, the costs are known to enter diapause, a stage of
and benefits of maintaining a constant suspended development.
internal environment are taken into
consideration. Homeostasis in Ecosystem
 Some species have evolved the ability to
regulate, but only over a limited range of
environmental conditions, beyond which  Ecosystems are capable of maintaining
they simply conform. their state of equilibrium. They can
 If the stressful external conditions are regulate their own species structure and
localised or remain only for a short functional processes. This capacity of
duration, the organism has two other ecosystem of self-regulation is known as
alternatives. homeostasis.
 In ecology the term applies to the tendency
for a biological systems to resist changes.
 For example, in a pond ecosystem, if the
population of zooplankton increased, they
 The organism can move away temporarily would consume large number of the
from the stressful habitat to a more phytoplankton and as a result food would
hospitable area and return when stressful become scarce for zooplankton as well as
period is over other small fishes.
 Every winter the famous Keolado National  When the number zooplankton is reduced
Park (Bhartpur) in Rajasthan host because of starvation, phytoplankton
thousands of migratory birds coming from population start increasing. After some
Siberia and other extremely cold northern time the population size of zooplankton
regions. also increases and this process continues
at all the trophic levels of the food chain.

 In bacteria, fungi and lower plants, various

kinds of thick-walled spores are formed
which help them to survive unfavorable
conditions - these germinate on availability
of suitable environment.
 In higher plants, seeds and some other
vegetative reproductive structures serve as
means to tide over periods of stress besides
helping in dispersal - they germinate to
form new plants under favourable moisture
and temperature conditions. They do so by
reducing their metabolic activity and going
into a date of ‘dormancy’.  Note that in a homeostatic system,
 In animals, the organism, if unable to negative feedback mechanism [here its
migrate, might avoid the stress by escaping
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scarcity of food] is responsible for

maintaining stability in an ecosystem.
 However, homeostatic capacity of
ecosystems is not unlimited as well as not
everything in an ecosystem is always well
regulated. Humans are the greatest source
of disturbance to ecosystems. Page
| 50
Trophic Levels - Food Chain - Food Web
- Biotic Interaction

Functions Of Ecosystem Trophic levels

Autotrophs Green plants (producers)
 The functions of an ecosystem include Heterotrophs Herbivore (primary consumers)
Heterotrophs Carnivores (secondary
1. Ecological succession or ecosystem consumers)
development [Previous Post] Heterotrophs Carnivore (tertiary consumers)
2. Homeostasis (or cybernetic) or Heterotrophs Top carnivores (Quarternary
feedback control consumers)
mechanisms [Previous Post]
3. Energy flow through food chain [This  Energy flows through the trophic levels
post] from producers to subsequent trophic
4. Nutrient cycling (biogeochemical levels is unidirectional.
cycles) [Next post]  Energy level decreases from the first
trophic level upwards due to loss of energy
Energy Flow Through an Ecosystem – in the form of heat at each trophic level.
Trophic Levels  This energy loss at each tropic level is
quite significant. Hence there are usually
not more than four-five trophic levels
(Trophe = Nourishment) [beyond this the energy available is
negligible to support an organism].
 The flow of energy from producer to top  The trophic level interaction involves three
consumers is called energy flow which concepts namely
is unidirectional.
 To understand the energy flow through the 1. Food Chain
ecosystem we need to study about the 2. Food Web
trophic levels [tropical level interaction]. 3. Ecological Pyramids
 Trophic level is the representation of
energy flow in an ecosystem. The trophic
Food Chain
level of an organism is the position it
occupies in a food chain.
 Trophic level interaction deals with how  Transfer of food energy from green plants
the members of an ecosystem are (producers) through a series of organisms
connected based on nutritional needs. with repeated eating and being eaten link
is called a food chain. E.g. Grasses →
Grasshopper → Frog → Snake →
 Each step in the food chain is called
trophic level. A food chain starts with
producers and ends with top carnivores.
 The trophic level of an organism is the
position it occupies in a food chain.

Types of Food Chains

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1. Grazing food chain chain than through the grazing food

2. Detritus food chain chain.

Grazing food chain

 The consumers which start the food chain,

utilizing the plant or plant part as their Page
food, constitute the grazing food chain. | 51
This food chain begins from green plants at
the base and the primary consumer is
 For example, In terrestrial ecosystem,  Bacterial and fungal enzymes degrade
grass is eaten by caterpillar, which is eaten detritus into simpler inorganic substances.
by lizard and lizard is eaten by snake. This process is called as catabolism.
 In Aquatic ecosystem phytoplankton  Humification and mineralization occur
(primary producers) are eaten by zoo during decomposition in the soil.
planktons which are eaten by fishes and  Humification leads to accumulation of a
fishes are eaten by pelicans. dark coloured amorphous substance called
humus that is highly resistant to microbial
action and undergoes decomposition at an
extremely slow rate.
 Being colloidal in nature, humus serves as
a reservoir of nutrients. The humus is
further degraded by some microbes and
release of inorganic nutrients occur by the
process known as mineralization.
 Warm and moist environment favor
decomposition whereas low temperature
and anaerobiosis inhibit
decomposition resulting in buildup of
organic materials.

Q1. With reference to the food chains in

ecosystems, which of the following kinds of
organism is / are known as decomposer
Detritus food chain organism/organisms?

 This type of food chain starts from dead 1. Virus

organic matter of decaying animals and 2. Fungi
plant bodies. 3. Bacteria
 Dead organic matter or detritus feeding
organisms are called detrivores or Select the correct answer using the codes
decomposer. The detrivores are eaten by given below.
 The two food chains are linked. The initial a. 1 only
energy source for detritus food chain is b. 2 and 3 only
the waste materials and dead organic c. 1 and 3 only
matter from the grazing food chain. d. 1, 2 and 3
 In an aquatic ecosystem, grazing food
chain is the major conduit for energy Explanation:
flow. As against this, in a terrestrial
ecosystem, a much larger fraction of  Fungi and Bacteria are decomposers. They
energy flows through the detritus food breakdown organic matter into simple

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inorganic substances. Answer: (a). Tough question. There will be 3-5

 Virus represents dormant life. They are questions like this one where you might have
metabolically inactive as long as they are not even heard the name of the animal or
outside a host body. They are not plant. Don’t worry.. rest 95 will be easy!
decomposers. They invade host cells and
use their nucleus (DNA machinery) to carry Food Web
out their life processes. Page
 Protists are unicellular organisms, such as
 Multiple interlinked food chains make a | 52
paramecium and euglena. They're not
food web. Food web represents all the
decomposers either.
possible paths of energy flow in an
Answer: b)  If any of the intermediate food chain is
Q2. Which one of the following is the removed, the succeeding links of the chain
correct sequence of a food chain? will be affected largely.
 The food web provides more than one
1. Diatoms-Crustaceans-Herrings alternative for food to most of the
2. Crustaceans-Diatoms-Herrings organisms in an ecosystem and therefore
3. Diatoms-Herrings-Crustaceans increases their chance of survival.
4. Crustaceans-Herrings-Diatoms  Also food availability and preferences of
food of the organisms may shift seasonally
Explanation: e.g. we eat watermelon in summer and
peaches in the winter. Thus there are
 Food chain starts with a producer and interconnected networks of feeding
ends with a top consumer. relationships that take the form of food
 Phytoplankton are the primary producers webs.
in the oceans. They include:

1. diatoms (unicellular algae),

2. coccolithophores (unicellular,
eukaryotic protist),
3. cyanobacteria (Bluegreen algae)–
synechococcus, prochlorococcus,
nostoc, spirogyra etc..
4. dinoflagellates (flagellated protists).

So answer is between (a) and (c)

 Crustaceans form a very large group of

arthropods which includes crabs, lobsters,
crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles.
 Herrings is a fish.
cology/default.asp says Herrings eat

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Type of interaction Species Effects of interaction

1 2
Negative Interactions
Amensalism - 0 one species is inhibited while the other species is
Predation + - Predator—prey relationship: one species (predator) Page
benefits while the second species (prey) is harmed
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and inhibited.
Parasitism + - Beneficial to one species (parasite) and harmful to
the other species (host).
Competition - - Adversely affects both species
Positive Associations
Commensalism + 0 One species (the commensal) benefits, while the
other species (the host) is neither harmed nor
Mutualism + + Interaction is favourable to both species
Neutral Interactions
Neutralism 0 0 Neither species affects the other
Q3. With reference to food chains in
ecosystems, consider the following
Biotic Interaction
1. A food chain illustrates the order in
which a chain of organisms feed upon  The interaction that occurs among
each other. different individuals of the same species is
2. Food chains are found within the called intraspecific interaction while the
populations of a species. interaction among individuals of different
3. A food chain illustrates the numbers of species in a community is termed as
each organism which are eaten by interspecific interaction.
others.  Specific terms are applied to interspecific
interactions depending upon whether the
Which of the statements given above is / are interaction is beneficial, harmful or neutral
correct? to individuals of the species.
 Some types of interactions listed by the
1. 1 only effects they have on each partner. ‘0’ is no
2. 1 and 2 only effect, ‘-’ is detrimental and ‘+’ is beneficial.
3. 1, 2 and 3
4. None Possible biological interactions between two
+ = beneficial; - = harmful, 0 = unaffected or
1. A food chain illustrates the order in neutral.
which a chain of organisms feed upon
each other. (True) Amensalism
2. Food chains are found within the
populations of a species. (Man won’t eat  One species harms or restricts the other
man – so, false) species without itself being adversely
3. A food chain illustrates the numbers of affected or harmed by the presence of the
each organism which are eaten by other species.
others (food web illustrates the number  Organisms that secrete antibiotics and
not the food chain). the species that get inhibited by the
antibiotics are examples of amensalism.
Answer: a)
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 For example the bread mould fungi Many marine fish are infested with
Pencillium produce penicillin an antibiotic ectoparasitic copepods.
substance which inhibits the growth of a  The female mosquito is not considered a
variety of bacteria. parasite, although it needs our blood for
 A large tree shades a small plant, retarding reproduction. Why? Because it doesn’t live
the growth of the small plant. The small on the host.
plant has no effect on the large tree.  In contrast, endoparasites are those that Page
live inside the host body at different sites
Predation (liver, kidney, lungs, red blood cells, etc.). | 54
 Brood parasitism in birds is a fascinating
example of parasitism in which the
 Predators like leopards, tigers and
parasitic bird lays its eggs in the nest of its
cheetahs use speed, teeth and claws to
host. E.g. cuckoo (koel).
hunt and kill their prey.
 They keep prey populations under control.
But for predators, prey species could Competition
achieve very high population densities and
cause ecosystem instability.  This is an interaction between two
 When certain exotic species are introduced populations in which both species are
into a geographical area, they become harmed to some extent.
invasive and start spreading fast because  Competition occurs when two populations
the invaded land does not have its natural or species, both need a vital resource that
predators. is in short supply.
 Predators also help in maintaining species  The vital resource could be food, water,
diversity in a community, by reducing the shelter, nesting site, mates or space.
intensity of competition among competing  Such competition can be:
prey species.
 A wide variety of chemical substances that 1. interspecific competition-occurring
we extract from plants on a commercial between individuals of two different
scale (nicotine, caffeine, quinine, species occurring in a habitat and
strychnine, opium, etc.,) are produced by 2. intraspecific competition-occurs
plants actually as defences against grazers between individuals of same species.
and browsers.
 Intraspecific competition occurs between
Parasitism members of the same species and so it is
very intense.
 In this type of interaction, one species is
harmed and the other benefits. Commensalism
 Parasitism involves parasite usually a
small size organism living in or  In this relationship one of the species
on another living species called the host benefits while the other is neither harmed
from which the parasite gets its nor benefited.
nourishment and often shelter.  Some species obtain the benefit of shelter
 Many organisms like animal, bacteria and or transport from another species. For
viruses are parasites of plants and example sucker fish, remora often
animals. attaches to a shark by means of its sucker
 Plants like dodder plant which is present on the top side of its
(Cuscuta) and mistletoe (Loranthus) are head. This helps the remora get protection,
parasites that live on flowering plants. a free ride as well as meal from the left
 Tap worm, round worm, malarial parasite, over of the shark’s meal. The shark does
many bacteria, fungi, and viruses are not however get any benefit nor is it
common parasites of humans. adversely affected by this association.
 Parasites that feed on the external surface
of the host organism are
called ectoparasites. E.g. lice on humans.
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 Another example of commensalisms is the  Another familiar example of symbiosis is

relationship between trees and seen in pollination of flowers where
epiphytic plants. flowering plants are cross pollinated by the
 Epiphytes live on the surface of other bees which benefit by getting nectar from
plants like ferns, mosses and orchids and the plants and both cannot survive without
use the surface of trees for support and the other.
for obtaining sunlight and moisture. The  Example: in pollination mutualisms, the Page
tree gets no benefit from this relationship pollinator gets food (pollen, nectar), and
nor are they harmed. the plant has its pollen transferred to other | 55
 Cow dung provides food and shelter to flowers for cross-fertilization
dung beetles. The beetles have no effect on (reproduction).
the cows.  Lichens represent an intimate mutualistic
 Another example of commensalism is the relationship between a fungus and
interaction between sea anemone that has photosynthesizing algae or cyanobacteria.
stinging tentacles and the clown fish that  Similarly, the mycorrhizae are
lives among them. associations between fungi and the roots
 The fish gets protection from predators of higher plants. The fungi help the plant
which stay away from the stinging in the absorption of essential nutrients
tentacles. The anemone does not appear to from the soil while the plant in turn
derive any benefit by hosting the clown provides the fungi with energy-yielding
fish. carbohydrates.

Mutualism Neutralism

 This is a close association between two  Neutralism describes the relationship

species in which both the species benefit. between two species which do interact but
For example the sea anemone, a do not affect each other.
cnidarian gets attached to the shell  True neutralism is extremely unlikely and
of hermit crabs for benefit of transport impossible to prove.
and obtaining new food while the anemone
provides camouflage and protection by Ecological Pyramids - Pyramid of
means of its stinging cells to the hermit numbers, biomass & energy
 However, some mutualisms are so intimate Ecological Pyramids
that the interacting species can no longer
live without each other as they depend
 The pyramidal representation of trophic
totally on each other to survive. Such close
levels of different organisms based on their
associations are called symbiosis
ecological position [producer to final
(symbiosis is intense mutualism – E.g.
consumer] is called as an ecological
coral and zooxanthellae).
 An example of such close mutualistic
 The food producer forms the base of the
association is that of termite and their
pyramid and the top carnivore forms the
intestinal flagellates. Termites can eat
tip. Other consumer trophic levels are in
wood but have no enzymes to digest it.
However, their intestine contains certain
 The pyramid consists of a number of
flagellate protists (protozoans) that have
horizontal bars depicting specific trophic
the necessary enzymes to digest the
levels. The length of each bar represents
cellulose of the wood eaten by termites and
the total number of individuals or biomass
convert it into sugar.
or energy at each trophic level in an
 The flagellates use some of this sugar for
their own metabolism while enough is left
 The ecological pyramids are of three
for the termite. Both termite and flagellates
cannot survive without each other.
1. Pyramid of numbers,
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2. Pyramid of biomass, and  The grasses occupy the lowest trophic level
3. Pyramid of energy or productivity. (base) because of their abundance.
 The next higher trophic level is primary
Pyramid of Numbers consumer - herbivore (example -
 The individual number of grasshopper is
less than that of grass. The next energy Page
level is primary carnivore (example - rat).
 The number of rats are less than | 56
grasshopper, because, they feed on
grasshopper. The next higher trophic level
is secondary carnivore (example - snakes).
They feed on rats.
 The next higher trophic level is the top
carnivore. (Ex: Hawk).
 With each higher trophic level, the number
 Pyramid of numbers represents the total
of individual decreases.
number of individuals of different
species (population) at each trophic level.
Pyramid of numbers - inverted
 Depending upon the size, the pyramid of
numbers may not always be upright, and
may even be completely inverted.  In this pyramid, the number of individuals
 It is very difficult to count all the is increased from lower level to higher
organisms, in a pyramid of numbers and trophic level. E.g. Tree ecosystem.
so the pyramid of number does not
completely define the trophic structure for
an ecosystem.

Pyramid of numbers – upright

 In this pyramid, the number of

individuals is decreased from lower level
to higher trophic level.

Pyramid of Biomass

All Picture Credits: + NCERT
 Pyramid of biomass is usually determined
 This type of pyramid can be seen by collecting all organisms occupying each
in grassland ecosystem and pond trophic level separately and measuring
ecosystem. their dry weight.

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 This overcomes the size difference problem

because all kinds of organisms at a trophic
level are weighed. Biomass is measured in
 The biomass of a species is expressed in
terms of fresh or dry weight. Measurement
of biomass in terms of dry weight is more Page
 Each trophic level has a certain mass of | 57
living material at a particular time called
as the standing crop.
 The standing crop is measured as the
mass of living organisms (biomass) or the
number in a unit area.

Pyramid of Biomass – Upright

 For most ecosystems on land, the

pyramid of biomass has a large base of
primary producers with a smaller
trophic level perched on top.  In contrast, in many aquatic ecosystems,
 The biomass of producers (autotrophs) the pyramid of biomass may assume an
is at the maximum. The biomass of inverted form. [Pyramid of numbers for
next trophic level i.e. primary aquatic ecosystem is upright]
consumers is less than the producers.  This is because the producers are tiny
The biomass of next higher trophic level phytoplankton that grow and reproduce
i.e. secondary consumers is less than rapidly.
the primary consumers. The top, high  Here, the pyramid of biomass has a small
trophic level has very less amount of base, with the consumer biomass at any
biomass. instant actually exceeding the producer
biomass and the pyramid assumes
inverted shape.

Pyramid of Energy

 To compare the functional roles of the

trophic levels in an ecosystem, an energy
pyramid is most suitable.
 An energy pyramid represents the amount
of energy at each trophic level and loss of
energy at each transfer to another trophic
level. Hence the pyramid is always
upward, with a large energy base at the

Pyramid of Biomass – Inverted

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energy follows 10 per cent law – only 10

per cent of the energy is transferred to
each trophic level from the lower trophic
level. [above figure]
 The decreases at each subsequent trophic
level is due to two reasons:
1. At each trophic a part of the
| 58
available energy is lost in
respiration or used up in metabolism.
2. A part of energy is lost at
each transformation, i.e. when it
moves from lower to higher trophic level
as heat.

Limitations of Ecological Pyramids

Pic Credits:  It does not take into account the same

https://endangeredspeciesbiomesprojects.wik species belonging to two or more trophic levels.
 It assumes a simple food chain, something
 Suppose an ecosystem receives 1000 that almost never exists in nature; it does
calories of light energy in a given day. Most not accommodate a food web.
of the energy is not absorbed; some is  Moreover, saprophytes (plant, fungus, or
reflected back to space; of the energy microorganism that lives on decaying
absorbed only a small portion is utilized by matter) are not given any place in
green plants, out of which the plant uses ecological pyramids even though they play
up some for respiration and of the 1000 a vital role in the ecosystem.
calories, therefore only 100 calories are
stored as energy rich materials. Pollutants And Trophic Level –
 Now suppose an animal, say a deer, eats Biomagnification
the plant containing 100 calorie of food
energy. The deer uses some of it for its own Pollutants And Trophic Level
metabolism and stores only 10 calorie as
food energy. A lion that eats the deer gets Chlorinated Hydrocarbons (CHC) or
an even smaller amount of energy. Thus Organochloride
usable energy decreases from sunlight to
producer to herbivore to carnivore.
 Pollutants, especially non-degradable ones
Therefore, the energy pyramid will always
move through the various trophic levels in
be upright.
an ecosystem. Non-degradable pollutants
 Energy pyramid concept helps to explain
mean materials, which cannot be
the phenomenon of biological
metabolized by the living organisms.
magnification - the tendency for toxic
Example: Chlorinated Hydrocarbons.
substances to increase in concentration
 Chlorinated
progressively with higher trophic levels.
Hydrocarbons or Organochloride or CHC
are hydrocarbons whose some or most
Ecological Efficiency hydrogen atoms have been replaced
by chlorine E.g. DDT, endosulfan etc.).
 Ecological efficiency describes the  A variety of simple chlorinated
efficiency with which energy is transferred hydrocarbons including dichloromethane,
from one trophic level to the next. chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride.
 The number of trophic levels in the grazing
food chain is restricted as the transfer of Applications of CHC

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 Production of vinyl chloride almost all of 1. Bioaccumulation.

which was converted into 2. Biomagnification.
polyvinylchloride (PVC) [PVC pipes].
 Chloroform, dichloromethane,
dichloroethene, and trichloroethane are
useful solvents. These solvents are
immiscible with water and effective in Page
cleaning applications such as degreasing
and dry cleaning. | 59
 Pesticides and insecticides such as DDT,
heptachlor, and endosulfan are CHCs.

Effects of CHC

 Dioxins (highly toxic organic compound

produced as a by-product in some
manufacturing processes), produced Bioaccumulation
when organic matter is burned in the
presence of chlorine, and some  It refers to how pollutants enter a food
insecticides, such as DDT, are persistent chain.
organic pollutants.  In bioaccumulation there is an increase in
 DDT, which was widely used to control concentration of a pollutant from the
insects in the mid-20th century, environment to the first organism in a food
accumulates in food chains, and causes chain.
reproductive problems (e.g., eggshell
thinning) in certain bird species. Biomagnification
 DDT residues continue to be found in
humans and mammals across the planet
 Biomagnification refers to the tendency of
many years after production and use
pollutants to concentrate as they move
have been limited.
from one trophic level to the next.
 In Arctic areas, particularly high levels
 Thus in biomagnification there is an
are found in marine mammals. These
increase in concentration of a pollutant
chemicals concentrate in mammals, and
from one link in a food chain to another.
are even found in human breast milk.
 In order for biomagnification to occur, the
 In some species of marine mammals,
pollutant must be: long-lived, mobile,
particularly those that produce milk with
soluble in fats, biologically active. E.g.
a high fat content, males typically have
far higher levels, as females reduce their
concentration by transfer to their
offspring through lactation.
 Endosulfan became a highly controversial
agrichemical due to its acute toxicity,
potential for bioaccumulation, and role as
an endocrine disruptor (enhances the
effect of estrogens causing reproductive
and developmental damage in both
animals and humans).
 Because of its threats to human health
and the environment, a global ban on the
manufacture and use of endosulfan was
negotiated under the Stockholm
Convention in April 2011.
 Movement of these pollutants involves
two main processes:

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1. Ecological succession or ecosystem

development [Previous Posts]
2. Homeostasis (or cybernetic) or
feedback control mechanisms
[Previous Posts]
3. Energy flow through food chain
[Previous Post] Page
4. Nutrient cycling (biogeochemical
cycles) [This post] | 60

Biogeo Chemical Cycling or Nutrient


 Energy flow and nutrient circulation are

the major functions of the ecosystem. We
have studied about energy flow through
trophic levels in the previous posts.
 Energy is lost as heat forever in terms of
the usefulness of the system. On the other
hand, nutrients of food matter never get
used up. They can be recycled again and
again indefinitely.
 Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen,
nitrogen and phosphorus as elements
and compounds make up 97% of the mass
of our bodies and are more than 95% of
the mass of all living organisms.
 In addition to these, about 15 to 25 other
elements are needed in some form for the
survival and good health of plants and
 If a pollutant is short-lived, it will be animals.
broken down before it can become  These elements or mineral nutrients are
dangerous. always in circulation moving from non-
 If it is not mobile, it will stay in one place living to living and then back to the non-
and is unlikely to be taken up by living components of the ecosystem in a
organisms. more or less circular fashion. This circular
 If the pollutant is soluble in water, it will fashion is known as biogeochemical
be excreted by the organism. Pollutants cycling (bio for living; geo for atmosphere).
that dissolve in fats, however, may be  Among the most important nutrient cycles
retained for a long time. are the carbon nutrient cycle and the
 It is traditional to measure the amount of nitrogen nutrient cycle.
pollutants in fatty tissues of organisms  There are many other nutrient cycles that
such as fish. are important in ecology, including a large
 In mammals, we often test the milk number of trace mineral nutrient cycles.
produced by females, since the milk has a
lot of fat in it and is often more susceptible Nutrient Cycles
to damage from toxins (poisons).
 Based on the replacement period, a
Nutrient Cycles | Biogeo Chemical
nutrient cycle is referred to as Perfect or
Cycles Imperfect cycle.
Functions Of An Ecosystem
1. A perfect nutrient cycle is one in which
 The functions of an ecosystem include nutrients are replaced as fast as they

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are utilized. Most gaseous cycles are  Carbon cycle involves a continuous
generally considered as perfect cycles. exchange of carbon between the
2. In contrast sedimentary cycles are atmosphere and organisms.
considered relatively imperfect, as some  Carbon from the atmosphere moves to
nutrients are lost from the cycle and get green plants by the process
locked into sediments and so become of photosynthesis, and then to animals.
unavailable for immediate cycling.  By process Page
of respiration and decomposition of dead
 Based on the nature of the reservoir, there organic matter it returns back to | 61
are two types of cycles namely- atmosphere. It is usually a short term
1. Gaseous Cycle — where the reservoir is  Some carbon also enters a long term cycle.
the atmosphere or the hydrosphere — It accumulates as un-decomposed organic
water cycle, carbon cycle, nitrogen matter in the peaty layers of marshy soil or
cycle, etc. and as insoluble carbonates in bottom
2. Sedimentary Cycle — where the sediments of aquatic systems which take a
reservoir is the earth's crust [elements long time to be released.
mostly found in earth’s crust] —  In deep oceans such carbon can remained
phosphorous cycle, sulphur cycle, buried for millions of years till geological
calcium cycle, magnesium cycle etc. movement may lift these rocks above sea
level. These rocks may be exposed to
Carbon Cycle [Gaseous Cycle] erosion, releasing their carbon dioxide,
carbonates and bicarbonates into streams
and rivers.
 Fossil fuels such as coals, oil and natural
gas etc. are organic compounds that were
buried before they could be decomposed
and were subsequently transformed by
time and geological processes into fossil
fuels. When they are burned the carbon
stored in them is released back into the
atmosphere as carbon-dioxide.

Q1. Consider the following:

1. Photosynthesis
2. Respiration
 Carbon is a minor constituent of the 3. Decay of organic matter
atmosphere as compared to oxygen and 4. Volcanic action
 However, without carbon dioxide life could Which of the above add carbon dioxide to the
not exist because it is vital for the carbon cycle on Earth ?
production of carbohydrates through
photosynthesis by plants. a) 1 and 4 only
 It is the element that anchors all organic b) 2 and 3 only
substances from coal and oil to DNA c) 2,3 and 4 only
(deoxyribonudeic acid: the compound that d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
carries genetic information).
 Carbon is present in the atmosphere, Answer: c) Photosynthesis takes out
mainly in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 from carbon cycle. Rest all ads CO2.

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Q2. Which one of the following is the  There is an inexhaustible supply of

process involved in photosynthesis? nitrogen in the atmosphere but the
elemental form cannot be used directly by
a) Potential energy is released to form free most of the living organisms.
energy  Nitrogen needs to be ‘fixed’, that
b) Free energy is converted into potential is, converted to ammonia, nitrites or
energy and stored nitrates, before it can be taken up by Page
c) Food is oxidized to release carbon plants.
dioxide and water  Nitrogen fixation on earth is accomplished | 62
d) Oxygen is taken, and carbon dioxide in three different ways:
and water vapour are given out
1. By microorganisms (bacteria and blue-
Answer: b) Sunlight (free energy) is green algae),
converted into carbohydrates (potential 2. By man using industrial processes
energy) using water and carbon dioxide. (fertilizer factories) and
Oxygen is released in the process. 3. To a limited extent by atmospheric
phenomenon such as thunder and
Nitrogen Cycle [Gaseous Cycle] lighting.

 Apart from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen,  Certain microorganisms are capable of
nitrogen is the most prevalent element in fixing atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia
living organisms. (NH3) and ammonium ions (NH4+).
 Nitrogen is a constituent of amino acids,
proteins, hormones, chlorophylls and Ammonia is a molecule consisting of nitrogen
many of the vitamins. [All of these and hydrogen having molecular NH3,
explained under Biology while ammonium (NH4+) is an ion of ammonia
(] that is formed by accepting hydrogen ion.
 Plants compete with microbes for the
limited nitrogen that is available in soil.  The enzyme, nitrogenase which is capable
Thus, nitrogen is a limiting nutrient for of nitrogen reduction is present
both natural and agricultural ecosystems. exclusively in prokaryotes. Such microbes
 Nitrogen exists as two nitrogen atoms (N2) are called N2-fixers. These include:
joined by a very strong triple covalent
bond (N ≡ N). 1. free living nitrogen fixing bacteria (non-
 In nature, lightning and ultraviolet symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria or
radiation provide enough energy to nitrogen fixing soil bacteria)
convert nitrogen to nitrogen oxides (NO, (e.g. aerobic Azotobacter and Beijemic
NO2, N2O). kia; anaerobic Clostridium and Rhodo
 Industrial combustions, forest fires, spirillum),
automobile exhausts and power-generating 2. symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria
stations are also sources of atmospheric (e.g. Rhizobium) living in association
nitrogen oxides. with leguminous plants and non-
leguminous root nodule plants and
3. some cyanobacteria (major source of
nitrogen fixation in oceans)(blue green
Nitrogen Fixing – Nitrogen to Ammonia algae. E.g. Nostoc, Anabaena,
(N2 to NH3) Spirulina etc.).

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| 63

Leguminous: denoting plants of the pea 2. The nitrite is further oxidized

family (Leguminosae), typically having seeds to nitrate with the help of the
in pods, distinctive flowers, and root nodules bacterium Nitrobacter.
containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
 These steps are called nitrification. These
Nitrification – Ammonia to Nitrates nitrifying bacteria are chemoautotrophs.
 The nitrate thus formed is absorbed by
 Ammonium ions can be directly taken up plants and is transported to the leaves.
as a source of nitrogen by some plants.  In leaves, it is reduced to form ammonia
 Others absorb nitrates which are obtained that finally forms the amine group
by oxidizing ammonia and ammonium of amino acids, which are the building
ions. blocks of proteins. These then go through
 Ammonia and ammonium ions are oxidized higher trophic levels of the ecosystem.
to nitrites or nitrates by two groups of
specialized bacteria. Nitrification is important in agricultural
systems, where fertilizer is often applied as
1. Ammonium ions are first oxidized ammonia. Conversion of this ammonia to
to nitrite by the nitrate increases nitrogen leaching because
bacteria Nitrosomonas and/or Nitroco nitrate is more water-soluble than ammonia.

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Nitrification also plays an important role in  Living organisms produce nitrogenous

the removal of nitrogen from municipal waste products such as urea and uric
wastewater. The conventional removal acid (organic nitrogen).
is nitrification, followed by denitrification.  These waste products as well as dead
remains of organisms are converted
back into inorganic ammonia and
ammonium ions by the bacteria. This Page
process is called ammonification.
 Some of this ammonia volatilizes and | 64
re-enters the atmosphere but most of it
is converted into nitrate by soil

Denitrification – Nitrate to Nitrogen

 Nitrate present in the soil is reduced to

nitrogen by the process
of denitrification.
 In the soil as well as oceans there are
special denitrifying bacteria
(Pseudomonas and Thiobacillus),
which convert the nitrates/nitrites to
elemental nitrogen. This nitrogen
escapes into the atmosphere, thus
completing the cycle.

Step 1: N2 Fixing è Nitrogen → Ammonia or

Ammonium Ions

Step 2: Nitrification è Ammonia or

Ammonium Ions → Nitrite → Nitrate

Step 3: Ammonification è Dead Matter +

Animal Waste (Urea, Uric Acid) → Ammonia or
Ammonium Ions.

Dead Matter + Animal Waste (Urea, Uric Acid)

→ Ammonia or Ammonium Ions [most of it
escapes into atmosphere. Rest is
Nitrified (Step 2) to nitrates]

Nitrate [some of it is available for plants. Rest

is Denitrified (Step 4)]

Step 4: Denitrification è Nitrate → Nitrogen.

 The amount of Nitrogen fixed by man

through industrial process has far
exceeded the amount fixed by the Natural
Ammonification – Urea, Uric Acid to  As a result Nitrogen has become a
Ammonia pollutant which can disrupt the balance of
nitrogen. It may lead to Acid rain,

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Eutrophication and Harmful Algal As nitrous oxides filter into soil, it loses
Blooms. nutrients like calcium and potassium, which
are essential for maintaining a balance in
Q3. Which of the following adds/add plant ecosystems. With the loss of these
nitrogen to the soil? compounds, soil fertility declines. Also, soils
become significantly more acidic.”
1. Excretion of urea by animals Page
2. Burning of coal by man And
| 65
3. Death of vegetation also
ok/307nitrogen.html says:
Select the correct answer using the codes
given below. “The main component of the nitrogen cycle
starts with the element nitrogen in the air.
1. 1 only Two nitrogen oxides are found in the air as a
2. 2 and 3 only result of interactions with oxygen. Nitrogen
3. 1 and 3 only will only react with oxygen in the presence of
4. 1, 2 and 3 high temperatures and pressures found
near lightning bolts and in combustion
Explanation: reactions in power plants or internal
combustion engines. Nitric oxide, NO, and
All the above three adds to nitrogen cycle. nitrogen dioxide, NO2, are formed under these
conditions. Eventually nitrogen dioxide may
Burning coal releases CO, CO2, sulphur react with water in rain to form nitric acid,
dioxide and oxides of nitrogen – air pollutants. HNO3. The nitrates thus formed may be
utilized by plants as a nutrient (so, soil gets
nitrogen from acid rain).”
Oxides of nitrogen fall on earth as acid rain.
Acidic rain is a complex mixture of nitrous,
So, soil gets nitrogen from acid rain.
nitric, sulfurous and sulfuric acids which all
combine to lower the pH.
From this, I feel Burning of coal by man adds
But, the question says “Which of the following nitrogen to soil but indirectly though acid
adds/add nitrogen to the soil?” rain.

1. Animal Waste like Urea, Uric acid and The answer depends on how you interpret the
Death of vegetation add nitrogen in the question.
form of nitrates directly into soil.
2. Coal combustion ads nitrogen to Answer: Official UPSC Key says answer is c)
atmosphere and from there it falls back to 1 and 3 only.
earth in the form of acid rain and acid rain
adds nitrogen to soil. If you have anything more to add write it
does_5117705_burning-fuels-affect-nitrogen- Q4. Consider the following:
cycle.html says:
1. Carbon dioxide
“The release of nitric oxides into the air in 2. Oxides of Nitrogen
large quantities causes smog and acid 3. Oxides of Sulphur
rain that pollutes the atmosphere, soil and
water and affects plants and animals. The Which of the above is/are the
increase in nitrogen and nitrous oxide is emission/emissions from coal combustion at
caused by automobiles, power plants and a thermal power plants ?
wide variety of industries.
a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3 only
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c) 1 and 3 only The legume–rhizobium symbiosis is a classic

d) 1, 2 and 3 example of mutualism—rhizobia supply
ammonia or amino acids to the plant and in
Burning coal releases CO, CO2, sulphur return receive organic acids as a carbon and
dioxide and oxides of nitrogen – air pollutants. energy source.

Answer: d) 1, 2 and 3. So, excessive/inappropriate use of Page

nitrogenous fertilizers can make the plants
| 66
Q5. What can be the impact of independent of both symbiotic and free living
excessive/inappropriate use of nitrogenous nitrogen fixers. Fixers don’t get the food from
fertilizers in agriculture? the plants due to broken relationship and
other factors. So their population decreases.
 Proliferation of nitrogen-fixing
microorganisms in soil can occur. Answer: c) 2 and 3 only
 Increase in the acidity of soil can take
place Phosphorus Cycle [Sedimentary cycle]
 Leaching of nitrate to the ground-water
can occur.  Phosphorus plays a central role in aquatic
ecosystems and water quality.
Select the correct answer using the code given  Unlike carbon and nitrogen, which come
below. primarily from the atmosphere,
phosphorus occurs in large amounts as a
1. 1 and 3 only mineral in phosphate rocks and enters the
2. 2 only cycle from erosion and mining activities.
3. 2 and 3 only  This is the nutrient considered to be the
4. 1,2 and 3 main cause of excessive growth of rooted
and free-floating microscopic plants
Explanation: (phytoplankton) in lakes [Eutrophication].
 The main storage for phosphorus is in the
Nitrification is important in agricultural earth's crust. On land phosphorus is
systems, where fertilizer is often applied as usually found in the form of phosphates.
ammonia. Conversion of this ammonia to  By the process of weathering and erosion
nitrate increases nitrogen leaching because phosphates enter rivers and streams that
nitrate is more water-soluble than ammonia. transport them to the ocean.
 In the ocean phosphorus accumulates on
Agricultural fertilization and the use of continental shelves in the form of insoluble
nitrogen fixing plants also contribute to deposits.
atmospheric NOx, by promoting nitrogen  After millions of years, the crustal plates
fixation by microorganisms. Excess NOx leads rise from the sea floor and expose the
to acid rain. Acid rain lowers pH of soil phosphates on land.
(increase in acidity of soil)  After more time, weathering will release
them from rock and the cycle's
geochemical phase begins again.

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| 67

Sulphur Cycle [Sedimentary cycle] etc.), from surface of ocean and

from gases released by decomposition.
 The sulphur reservoir is in the soil and Atmospheric hydrogen sulphide also gets
sediments where it is locked in organic oxidized into sulphur dioxide.
(coal, oil and peat) and inorganic deposits  Atmospheric sulphur dioxide is carried
(pyrite rock and sulphur rock) in the back to the earth after being dissolved in
rainwater as weak sulphuric acid.
form of sulphates, sulphides and organic
sulphur.  Whatever the source, sulphur in the form
 It is released by weathering of rocks, of sulphates is take up by plants and
incorporated through a series of metabolic
erosional runoff and decomposition of
organic matter and is carried to terrestrial processes into sulphur bearing amino
and aquatic ecosystems in salt solution. acid which is incorporated in the proteins
 The sulphur cycle is mostly sedimentary of autotroph tissues. It then passes
except two of its compounds – hydrogen through the grazing food chain.
 Sulphur bound in living organism is
sulphide (H2S) and sulphur dioxide
(SO2) which add a gaseous component. carried back to the soil, to the bottom of
 Sulphur enters the atmosphere from ponds and lakes and seas
several sources like volcanic eruptions, through excretion and decomposition of
combustion of fossil fuels (coal, diesel dead organic material.

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| 68

Biomes - Terrestrial Ecosystems  Temperate Rainforest Biome

 Sub-Tropical Deciduous Biome in Eastern
Natural Ecosystem China, South Eastern USA
 Temperate Deciduous Biome
 A natural ecosystem is an assemblage of [Mediterranean Region]
plants and animals which functions as a  Tropical Deciduous Biome [Monsoon
unit and is capable of maintaining its Climate]
identity. There are two main categories of  Savanna or Tropical Wet and Dry Biome
ecosystems.  Tropical Rain Forest Biome

Terrestrial ecosystem Grassland

 Ecosystems found on land e.g. forest,  Steppe or Temperate Grassland Biome

grasslands, deserts, tundra.  Savanna or Tropical Wet and Dry Biome
[Tropical Grasslands]
 Arctic and Alpine Tundra Biome
 Tropical and Mid Latitude Desert Biome
Aquatic ecosystem
 Taiga or Boreal Biome [Coniferous forests]
 Temperate Deciduous Biome [North
Western Europe]

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 Plants and animal community found in distinct climate [precipitation and

water bodies. These can be further temperature mainly], vegetation, animal
classified into two sub groups. life and general soil type.
 Fresh water ecosystems, such as rivers,  [They are nothing but ‘Climatic
lakes and ponds. Regions’
 Marine ecosystems, such as oceans, regions-upsc-ias-geography/ explained
estuary and mangroves. under Geography Section] Page
 No two biomes are alike. The climate
Biomes or Terrestrial Ecosystems determines the boundaries of a biome and | 69
abundance of plants and animals found in
each one of them. The most important
 The terrestrial part of the biosphere is
climatic factors are temperature and
divisible into enormous regions called
biomes, which are characterized, by

Tundra Biome Distribution

 There are two types of tundra – arctic and  Arctic tundra extends as a continuous belt
alpine. below the polar ice cap and above the tree
line (taiga) in the northern hemisphere.

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 It occupies the northern fringe of Canada, lemming, arctic hare, arctic willow live
Alaska, European Russia, Siberia and in tundra region.
island group of Arctic Ocean.  Reptiles and amphibians are almost
 On the south pole, tundra is very small absent.
since most of it is covered by ocean.  Most of the animals have long life e.g.
 Alpine tundra occurs at high mountains arctic willow has a life span of 150 to 300
above the tree line. E.g. High ranges of years. Page
Himalayas, Andes, Alps etc.  They are protected from chillness by the
presence of thick cuticle and epidermal | 70
hair or fur.
 Mammals of the tundra region have large
body size and small tail and ear to avoid
the loss of heat from the surface [less
surface area = less heat loss = less food
required to produce heat].

Taiga or Boreal Biome


 The tundra climate is characterized by a

very low mean annual temperature.
 In mid-winter temperatures are as low as
40 – 50 °C below freezing.


 Precipitation is mainly in the form of snow Temperature

and sleet.
 Summers are brief and warm reaching 20-
Natural Vegetation 25 °C whereas winters are long and
brutally cold – 30-40 °C below freezing.
 There are no trees in the tundra (Ground
is frozen). Lowest form of vegetation Precipitation
like mosses, lichens are found here and
there.  Typical annual precipitation ranges from
 Coastal lowlands support hardy grasses 38 cm to 63 cm.
and the reindeer moss which provide the  It is quite well distributed throughout
only pasturage for reindeers. the year, with a summer maxima.
 In the brief summer, berry-bearing bushes  In winter the precipitation is in the form of
and Arctic flowers bloom. snow.
 In the summer, birds migrate north to prey
on the numerous insects which emerge Soil
when the snow thaws.
 Insects have short life cycles which are
 Boreal forest soils are characterized by
completed during favourable period of the
thin podozols and are rather poor.
 This is because the weathering of rocks
 Animals like the reindeer, arctic
proceeds slowly in cold environments and
fox, wolves, musk-ox, polar bear,
because the litter derived from conifer
needle (leaf) is decomposed very slowly and
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is not rich in nutrients. Moreover conifers  The soils of the coniferous forests are They
don not shed their leaves frequently. are excessively leached and very acidic.
 Most podzols are poor soils for agriculture  Humus content is also low as the
due to the sandy portion, resulting in evergreen leaves barely fall and the rate of
a low level of moisture and nutrients. decomposition is slow.
 Some are sandy and excessively drained.  Under-growth is negligible because of the
Others have shallow rooting zones and poor soil conditions. Page
poor drainage due to subsoil cementation.  Absence of direct sunlight and the short
 A low pH (acidic) further compounds duration of summer are other contributory | 71
issues, along with phosphate deficiencies factors.
and aluminium toxicity.  Coniferous forests are also found in
 The low pH (acidic) factor is due regions with high elevation [Example: The
to excessive leaching of alkaline forests just below the snowline in
oriented cations which if present would Himalayas].
neutralize the organic acids of the  But on very steep slopes where soils are
accumulating litter. immature or non-existent, even the conifer
cannot survive [Example: Southern slopes
Natural Vegetation of Greater Himalayas].

 The predominant vegetation is evergreen Temperate Deciduous Biome [North

coniferous forest. Western Europe]
 Conifers are evergreen plant species such
as Spruce, fir and pine trees, etc.
 The conifers require little moisture are best
suited to this type of sub-Arctic climate.
 The productivity and community stability
of a boreal forest are lower than those of
any other forest ecosystem.
 Animals found in this region include
Siberian tiger, wolverine, lynx, wolf, bear,
red fox, squirrel, and amphibians like
Hyla, Rana, etc.

Characteristics of Coniferous forests  Moderately warm summers and fairly mild

 Unlike the equatorial rain forests,
Coniferous forests are of moderate Temperature
density and are more uniform. The trees
in coniferous forests grow straight and tall.  The mean annual temperatures are usually
 Almost all conifers are evergreen. There is between 5° C and 15° C.
no annual replacement of new leaves as in  Winters are abnormally mild. This is
deciduous trees. because of the warming effect brought
 The same leaf remains on the tree for as by warm North Atlantic Drift. [Eastern
long as five years. Food is stored in Australian warm current in case of New
the trunks, and the bark is thick to Zealand]
protect the trunk from excessive cold.
 Conifers are conical in shape. Their conical Precipitation
shape and sloping branches prevent snow
accumulation. It also offers little grip to the  Rainfall occurs throughout the year
winds. with winter maxima.
 Transpiration can be quite rapid in the  Adequate rainfall throughout the year.
warm summer. So, leaves are small,
thick, leathery and needle-shaped to Seasons
check excessive transpiration.

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 As in other temperate regions there Distribution

are four distinct seasons.
 Winter is the season of cloudy skies, foggy  This is a small biome in terms of area
and misty mornings, and many rainy days covered. The main stretch of this habitat is
from the passing depressions. (Trees shed along the northwestern coast of North
their leaved in winter to prevent snow America from northern California though
accumulation and protect themselves from southern Alaska. There are also small Page
severe cold) areas in southern Chile, New Zealand,
 Spring is the driest and the most | 72
Australia and a few other places around
refreshing season when people emerge the world.
from the depressing winter to see
everything becoming green again.
 This is followed by the long, sunny
 Next is the autumn with the roar of gusty
winds; and the cycle repeats itself.
 This type of climate with its four distinct
seasons is something that
is conspicuously absent in the
tropics. [Rainforest == Only Rainy season,
Tropical Monsoon == Summer, Winter and
Rainy, Tropical Savanna == Summer
(rains) and Winter]
Natural Vegetation
Natural Vegetation
 Big coniferous trees dominate this habitat,
 Soils of temperate forests are podozolic and including Douglas fir, Western red cedar,
fairly deep. Mountain hemlock, Western hemlock,
 The natural vegetation of this climatic type Sitka spruce and Lodgepole pine.
is deciduous forest.  In addition to the trees, mosses and
 The trees shed their leaves in the cold lichens are very common, often growing as
season. epiphytes.
 This is an adaptation for protecting  Grizzly Bears are the common mammals
themselves against the winter snow and found in Alaska.
 Shedding begins in autumn, the ‘fall’ Sub-Tropical Deciduous Biome in
season. Growth begins in spring. Eastern China, South Eastern USA
 Some of the common species include oak,
elm, ash, birch, beech, and poplar.
 In the wetter areas grow willows (Light
weight cricket bats are made from willows.
In India willows are found in Kashmir).
 Most animals are the familiar vertebrates
and invertebrates.

Temperate Rainforest Biome

 Temperate rain forests receive an
annual precipitation of 200 cm, mostly  Characterized by a warm moist
due to on shore westerlies. summer and a cool, dry winter (one
 Precipitation occurs in the form of fog, exception: winters are also moist in Natal
rain as well as snow. Fog is quite Type).
common and is an important source of
water. Temperature
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 The mean monthly temperature varies Uruguay [Rain-

between 4° C and 25° C and is strongly shadow effect]
modified by maritime influence. Bush-veld (more Northern South Africa
Precipitation High Veld (more Southern South Africa
 Rainfall is more than moderate, anything Downs Australia: Murray- Page
from 60 cm to 150 cm. Darling basin of
| 73
 There is the fairly uniform distribution of southern Australia
rainfall throughout the year. Canterbury New Zealand
Natural Vegetation
 Climate is continental with extremes of
 Supports a luxuriant vegetation. temperature.
 The lowlands carry both evergreen broad-  Temperatures vary greatly between
leaved forests and deciduous trees summer and winter.
 On the highlands, are various species of Precipitation
conifers such as pines and cypresses
which are important  The average rainfall may be taken as about
 Perennial plant growth is not checked by 45 cm, but this varies according to location
either a dry season or a cold season. from 25 cm to 75 cm.

Steppe or Temperate Grassland Biome Natural Vegetation of Steppe Climate


 Greatest difference from the tropical

savanna is that steppes are
practically treeless and the grasses are
much shorter.
 Grasses are fresh and nutritious. This is
typical of the grass of the wheat-lands in
North America, the rich black earth or
chernozem areas of Russian Ukraine and
the better watered areas of the Asiatic

Name of the Region
Temperate  Polewards, an increase in precipitation
Grassland gives rise to a transitional zone of wooded
Pustaz Hungary and steppes where some conifers gradually
surrounding regions appear.
Prairies North America
[between the foothills Animals
of the Rockies and the
Great Lakes]  Does not have much animal diversity.
Pampas Argentina and  Horses are common in Asian Steppes.

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| 74

Temperate Deciduous Biome  Plants are in a continuous struggle against

[Mediterranean Region] heat, dry air, excessive evaporation and
prolonged droughts.
 They are, in short xerophytic [drought
tolerant], a word used to describe the
drought-resistant plants in an
environment deficient in moisture.

Tropical Deciduous Biome [Monsoon


 Parts of the world that have Mediterranean

type of climate are characterized by warm,
dry summers and cool, moist winters.  Unlike equatorial wet climate, monsoon
 Trees with small broad leaves are widely climate is characterized by distinct wet
spaced and never very tall. and dry seasons associated with seasonal
 Regions with adequate rainfall are reversal of winds.
inhabited by low broad leafed evergreen  Floods in wet season and droughts in dry
trees [mostly evergreen oaks]. season are common.
 Fire is an important hazardous factor in  Usually there are three seasons
this ecosystem and the adaptation of the namely summer, winter and rainy
plants enable them to regenerate
quickly after being burnt. Temperature

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 Monthly mean temperatures above 18 °C. seasons – winter and summer. Rains
 Temperatures range from 30-45° C in occur in summer].
summer.  Floods and droughts are common.
 In winters, temperature range is 15-30° C  Vegetation, wildlife and human life are
with mean temperature around 20-25° C. quite different from monsoon climate
Precipitation Page
| 75
 Annual mean rainfall ranges from 200-250
cm. In some regions it is around 350 cm.  Mean annual rainfall ranges from 80 – 160
 Places like Cherrapunji & cm [Rainfall decreases with distance from
Mawsynram receive an annual rainfall of equator].
about 1000 cm.
Tropical Monsoon Forests
 Mean annual temperature is greater than
 Also known as drought-deciduous forest; 18° C.
dry forest; dry-deciduous forest; tropical  The monthly temperature hovers between
deciduous forest. 20° C and 32° C for lowland stations.
 Teak, neem, bamboos, sal, shisham,
sandalwood, khair, mulberryare some of Natural Vegetation of Savanna Climate
the important species found here.
 The savanna landscape is typified by tall
grass and short trees.
 The grasslands are also
called as ‘bush-veld’.
 The trees are deciduous,
shedding their leaves in the
cool, dry season to prevent
excessive loss of water
through transpiration, e.g.
 Trees usually have broad
trunks, with water-storing
devices to survive through
the prolonged drought.
 Many trees are umbrella
shaped, exposing only a
narrow edge to the strong
 In true savanna lands, the
grass is tall and coarse,
growing 6 to 12 feet high.
The elephant grass may
attain a height of even 15
Savanna or Tropical Wet and Dry Biome  Grasses appear greenish and well-
nourished in the rainy season but turns
 This type of biome has alternate wet and yellow and dies down in the dry season
dry seasons similar to monsoon climate that follows.
but has considerably less annual rainfall.  As the rainfall diminishes towards the
 Also, there is no distinct rainy deserts the savanna merges into thorny
season like in monsoon climate. [Only two scrub.

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 Precipitation is heavy and well distributed

throughout the year.
 Annual average is always above 150 cm.
Animal Life of the Savanna In some regions the annual average may be
as high as 250 – 300 cm. Page
 There are two main groups of animals in | 76
the savanna, the grass-eating herbivorous Equatorial Vegetation
animals and the fleshing-eating
carnivorous animals.  High temperature and abundant rainfall
 The herbivorous include the zebra, support a luxuriant tropical rain forest.
antelope, giraffe, deer, gazelle, elephant  In the Amazon lowlands, the forest is so
etc. [most of the National geographic and dense that it is called ‘selvas'. [selvas: A
Animal Planet documentaries on wild dense tropical rainforest usually having a
animals are shot in savanna regions] and cloud cover (dense canopy)]
carnivorous animals include the lion, tiger,  Unlike the temperate regions, the growing
leopard, hyena, panther, jaguar, jackal season here is all the year round-
etc.. seeding, flowering, fruiting and decaying
 Species of reptiles and mammals including do not take place in a seasonal pattern.
crocodiles, alligators, giant lizards live  The equatorial vegetation comprises a
together with the larger rhinoceros and multitude of evergreen trees that
hippopotamus in rivers and marshy lakes. yield tropical hardwood, e.g. mahogany,
ebony, dyewoods etc.
Tropical Rain Forest Biome  In the coastal areas and brackish
swamps, mangrove forests
 All plants struggle upwards
 Also known as ‘The Hot, Wet Equatorial
(most ephiphytes) for sunlight resulting in
Climate’, ‘Equatorial Rainforest Climate’.
a peculiar layer arrangement [Canopy].
 The regions are generally referred
as ‘Equatorial Rainforests’, ‘Equatorial
Epiphyte (Commensalism – Epiphyte benefits
Evergreen Forests’, ‘Tropical Moist
without troubling the host): An epiphyte is a
Broadleaf Forest’, ‘Lowland Equatorial
plant that grows harmlessly upon another
Evergreen Rainforest’.
plant (such as a tree) and derives its moisture
and nutrients from the air, rain, and
sometimes from debris accumulating around

Q1. Which of the following is/are unique

characteristic/characteristics of equatorial

1. Presence of tall, closely set trees with

crowns forming a continuous canopy
2. Coexistence of a large number of
Temperature species
3. Presence of numerous varieties of
 Temperature is uniform throughout the epiphytes
 The mean monthly temperatures are Select the correct answer using the code given
always around 27° C with very little below:
 There is no winter. [Typical to Equatorial 1. 1 only
Rainforest Climate] 2. 2 and 3 only
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3. 1 and 3 only  Deserts are regions where evaporation

4. 1, 2 and 3 exceeds precipitation.
 There are mainly two types – hot like
Answer: Too easy. d) All the hot deserts of the Saharan type and
temperate as are the mid-latitude
Desert Biome deserts like the Gobi.
| 77

Hot Deserts Asia, drier portions of the Great Basin

Desert of the western United
 They include the biggest Sahara States and Patagonian Deserts of
Desert (3.5 million square miles), Great Argentina etc..
Australian Desert, Arabian Desert,  The Patagonian Desert is more due to its
Iranian Desert, Thar Desert, rain-shadow position on the leeward side
Kalahari and Namib Deserts. of the lofty Andes than to continentiality.
 In North America, the desert extends from
Mexico into U.S.A. and is called by Rainfall (Both Hot and Cold deserts)
different names at different places, e.g.
the Mohave, Sonoran,  Deserts, whether hot or mid-latitude have
Californian and Mexican Deserts. an annual precipitation of less than 25
 In South America, the Atacama or cm.
Peruvian Desert is the driest of all deserts
with less than 2 cm of rainfall annually. Temperature of Hot deserts

Mid-Latitude Deserts  There is no cold season in the hot deserts

and the average summer temperature is
 The temperate deserts are rainless because high around 30°C.
of either continentiality or rain-shadow  The highest temperature recorded is 77° C
effect. [Gobi desert is formed due in 1922 at A1 Azizia, Libya.
to continentiality and Patagonian
desert due to rain-shadow effect] Desert Vegetation
 Amongst the mid-latitude deserts, many
are found on plateau and are at a  The predominant vegetation of both hot
considerable distance from the sea. These and mid-latitude deserts is xerophytic or
are Ladakh, The Kyzyl Kum, Turkestan, drought-resistant.
Taklimakan and Gobi deserts of Central

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 This includes the cacti, thorny bushes, almost entire surface layer. This condition
long-rooted wiry grasses and scattered is known as algal bloom.
dwarf acacias.  Oxygen in aquatic ecosystem is
 Trees are rare except where there is replenished by photosynthetic aquatic
abundant ground water to support clusters plants. Algal Blooms restrict the
of date palms. penetration of sunlight resulting in death
 Most desert shrubs have long roots and are of aquatic plants, and hence restricts the Page
well spaced out to gather moisture, and replenishment of oxygen.
search for ground water. Plants have few  The oxygen level is already depleted due to | 78
or no leaves and the foliage is either waxy, the population explosion of phytoplankton.
leathery, hairy or needle-shaped to  Phytoplankton are photosynthetic during
reduce the loss of water through day time adding oxygen to aquatic
transpiration. ecosystem. But during nights, they
 The seeds of many species of grasses and consume far more oxygen as they respire
herbs have thick, tough skins to protect aggressively. i.e. Algal blooms accentuate
them while they lie dormant. the rate of oxygen depletion as the
population of phytoplankton is very high.
Eutrophication – Algal Bloom  The primary consumers like small fish are
killed due to oxygen deprivation caused by
Eutrophication – Algal Bloom algal blooms.
 Death of primary consumers adversely
 Eutrophic water body: it is a a body of effects the food chain and leads to the
water rich in nutrients and so supporting a destruction of higher life forms.
dense plant population, the decomposition  Further, more oxygen is taken up by
of which kills animal life by depriving it of microorganisms during the
oxygen. decomposition process of dead algae,
 Eutrophication is the response to the plants and fishes. Due to reduced oxygen
addition of nutrients such level, the remaining fishes and other
as nitrates and phosphates naturally or aquatic organisms also die. All this
artificially, fertilizing the aquatic
 Algal blooms are the consequence of
 Eutrophication occurs naturally due
to deposition of nutrients [such as in
depositional environments] carried
by flood waters. It takes over
centuries for eutrophication to occur
 Similar nutrient enrichment of lakes
at an accelerated rate is caused by
human activities [discharge of
wastewaters or agricultural runoff,
Combustion of fossil fuel (produces
gases —nitrogen oxides), growing
urban population in the coastal
areas) and the consequent
phenomenon is known as ‘cultural
eutrophication’. It takes only
decades. eventually leads to degradation of aquatic
 Phytoplankton (algae and blue-green ecosystem.
bacteria) thrive on the excess nutrients  The new anaerobic conditions [absence of
and their population explosion covers oxygen] created promote growth of bacteria
such as Clostridium botulinum which

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produces toxins deadly to aquatic  Increase in efficiency of nitrogen &

organisms, birds and mammals. phosphorous fertilizers and using them in
adequate levels.
 Nitrogen testing & modeling: N-Testing is a
technique to find the optimum amount of
Effects of Eutrophication fertilizer required for crop plants. It will
reduce the amount of nitrogen lost to the Page
surrounding area.
 Loss of fresh water lakes: Eutrophication | 79
 Encouraging organic farming.
eventually creates detritus layer in lakes
 Reduction in nitrogen emission from
and produces
vehicles and power plants.
successively shallower depth of surface
water. Eventually the water body is
reduced into marsh whose plant Harmful Algal Blooms
community is transformed from an
aquatic environment to  Algae or phytoplankton are microscopic
recognizable terrestrial [Lakes are one of organisms that can be found naturally in
the major sources of fresh water] coastal waters.
 New species invasion: Eutrophication  They are major producers of oxygen and
may cause the ecosystem competitive by food for many of the animals that live in
transforming the normal limiting nutrient these waters.
to abundant level. This cause shifting in  When environmental conditions are
species composition of ecosystem. favorable for their development, these cells
 Toxicity: Some algal blooms when died or may multiply rapidly and form high
eaten, release neuro & numbers of cells and this is called an algal
hepatotoxins which can kill aquatic bloom.
organism & pose threat to humans.  Water temperature has also been related to
E.g. Shellfish poisoning. the occurrence of algal blooms, with
 Loss of coral reefs: Occurs due to unusually warm water being conducive
decrease in water transparency (increased to blooms.
turbidity).  A bloom often results in a color change in
 Affects navigation due to increased the water. Algal blooms can be any color,
turbidity; creates colour (yellow, green, but the most common ones are red or
red), smell and water treatment problems; brown. These blooms are commonly
increases biomass of inedible toxic referred to as red or brown tides.
phytoplankton, benthic and epiphytic algae  Most algal blooms are not harmful but
and bloom of gelatinous zooplankton. some produce toxins and do affect fish,
birds, marine mammals and humans. The
Mitigation of Eutrophication toxins may also make the surrounding air
difficult to breathe. These are known as
Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).
Checking water pollution is the ultimate
 Harmful Algal Blooms are considered an
solution to eutrophication.
environmental hazard because these
events can make people sick when
 Treating Industrial effluents domestic
contaminated shellfish or finfish are
sewage to remove nutrient rich sludge
eaten, or when people breathe aerosolized
through waste water processing.
HAB toxins near the beach.
 Riparian buffer: Interfaces between a
 HAB events adversely affect commercial
flowing body of water and land created
and recreational fishing, tourism, and
near the waterways, farms, roads, etc. in
valued habitats, creating a significant
an attempt to filter pollution. Sediments
impact on local economies and the
and nutrients are deposited in the buffer
livelihood of coastal residents.
zones instead of deposition in water
[Wetlands, estuaries are natural riparian
buffers]. Red Tide

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 "Red Tide" is a common name for such a

phenomenon where certain phytoplankton
species contain pigments and "bloom" such
that the human eye perceives the water to
be discolored.
 Blooms can appear greenish, brown, and
even reddish orange depending upon the Page
type of organism, the type of water, and
the concentration of the organisms. | 80
 The term "red tide" is a misnomer because
blooms are not always red, they are not
associated with tides, they are usually not
harmful, and some species can be harmful
or dangerous at low cell concentrations
that do not discolor the water.
Aquatic Organisms
Aquatic Ecosystems
The aquatic organisms are classified on the
Aquatic Ecosystems basis of their zone of occurrence.

 Neuston: These organisms live at the air-

 Aquatic ecosystems refers to plant and
water interface e.g. floating plants.
animal communities occurring in water
 Periphyton: These are organisms which
bodies. Aquatic ecosystems are classified
remain attached to stems and leaves of
on the basis of salinity into following types:
rooted plants or substances emerging
 Fresh water ecosystems — Water on land
above the bottom mud such as sessile
which is continuously cycling and has low
salt content (always less than 5 ppt) is
 Plankton: Microscopic floating organisms
known as fresh water. There are two types
such as algae, diatoms, protozoans and
of fresh water ecosystems: (i) Static or still
larval forms are called plankton. This
water (Lentic) ecosystems e.g. pond, lake,
group includes both microscopic plants
bogs and swamps. (ii) Running water
like algae (phytoplankton) and animals like
(Lotic) ecosystems e.g. springs, mountain
crustaceans and protozoans (zooplankton).
brooks, streams and rivers.
 The locomotory power of the planktons is
 Marine ecosystems — the water bodies
limited so that their distribution is
containing salt concentration equal to or
controlled, largely, by currents in the
above that of sea water (i.e., 35 ppt or
aquatic ecosystems.
above). Eg: shallow seas and open ocean.
 Nekton: This group contains powerful
 Brackish water ecosystems — these
swimmers that can overcome the water
water bodies have salt content in between
5 to 35 ppt. e.g. estuaries, salt marshes,
 The animals range in size from the
mangrove swamps and forests.
swimming insects to the largest blue
 Benthos: The benthic organisms are those
found living in the bottom of the water

Factors Limiting the Productivity of

Aquatic Habitats

 Sunlight and oxygen are the most

important limiting factors of the aquatic

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Sunlight temperature. Oxygen is less soluble in

warm water. Warm water also enhances
 Sunlight penetration rapidly diminishes as decomposer activity. Therefore,
it passes down the column of water. increasing the temperature of a water body
 The depth to which light penetrates a lake increases the rate at which oxygen is
determines the extent of plant distribution. depleted from water.
 Suspended particulate matters such as  When the dissolved oxygen level falls below Page
clay, silt, phytoplankton, etc. make the 3-5 ppm, many aquatic organisms are
likely to die. | 81
water turbid.
 Turbidity limits the extent of light
penetration and the photosynthetic activity Winterkill
in a significant way.
 Based on light penetration and plant  An ice layer on the top of a water body can
distribution they are classified as photic effectively cut off light. Photosynthesis
and aphotic zones. stops but respiration continues in such
water body.
Photic zone  If the water body is shallow, the oxygen
gets depleted and the fish die. This
 Photic (or "euphotic") zone is the portion condition is known as winterkill.
that extends from the lake surface down to
where the light level is 1% of that at the Temperature
surface. The depth of this zone depends on
the transparency of water.  Since water temperatures are less subject
 It is the upper layer of the aquatic to change, the aquatic organisms
ecosystems within which photosynthetic have narrow temperature tolerance
activity is confined. Both photosynthesis limit.
and respiration activity takes place.  As a result, even small changes in water
temperature are a great threat to the
Aphotic zone survival of aquatic organisms when
compared to the changes in air
 The lower layers of the aquatic ecosystems, temperatures in the terrestrial organisms.
where light penetration and plant growth
are restricted forms the aphotic zone Lake Ecology
(profundal zone). Only respiration activity
takes place in this zone.  Any body of standing water, generally large
 Aphotic zone extends from the end of the enough in area and depth is known as
photic zones to bottom of the lake. lake.
 The largest lake in the world is lake
Dissolved oxygen Superior in North America. Lake Baikal in
Siberia is the deepest. Chilka lake of
 In fresh water the average concentration of Orissa is largest lake in India.
dissolved oxygen is 10 parts per million or  Three main zones can be differentiated in a
10 ppm by weight. This is 150 times lower lake:-
than the concentration of oxygen in an
equivalent volume of air. 1. Peripheral zone (littoral zone) with shallow
 Oxygen enters the aquatic ecosystem water.
through the air water interface and by the 2. Open water beyond the littoral zone where
photosynthetic activities of aquatic plants. water is quite deep.
 Dissolved oxygen escapes the water body 3. Benthic zone (bottom) or the floor of the
through air-water interface and through lake.
respiration of organisms (fish,
decomposers, zooplanktons, etc.). Ageing of Lakes
 The amount of dissolved oxygen retained in
water is also influenced by
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 Lakes receive their water from surface the lakes), floodplains (areas lying adjacent
runoff (sometimes also groundwater to the river channels beyond the natural
discharge) and along with it various levees and periodically flooded during high
chemical substances and mineral matter discharge in the river) and other marshy or
eroded from the land. swampy areas.
 Over periods spanning millennia, ageing
occurs as the lakes accumulate mineral Page
and organic matter and gradually, get filled
up. | 82
 The nutrient-enrichment of the lakes
promotes the growth of algae, aquatic
plants and various fauna. This process is
known as natural ‘eutrophication’.
 Similar nutrient enrichment of lakes at an
accelerated rate is caused by human
activities (discharge of wastewaters or
agricultural runoff) and the consequent
ageing phenomenon is known as ‘cultural
 On the basis of their nutrient content,
lakes are categorized as Oligotrophic (very  These habitats experience periodic flooding
low nutrients), Mesotrophic (moderate from adjacent deep water habitats and
nutrients) and Eutrophic (highly nutrient therefore supports plants and animals
rich). specifically adapted to such shallow
 Vast majority of lakes in India are either flooding or water logging.
eutrophic or mesotrophic because of the  Waterlogged soil, adapted plant life
nutrients derived from their surroundings (hydrophytes) and hydric soils (not
or organic wastes entering them. enough O2) are the chief characteristics of
Parameter Oligotrophic Eutrophic  India has totally 27,403 wetlands, of which
23,444 are inland wetlands and 3,959 are
Oxygen in the Present Absent
coastal wetlands.
bottom layer
 Wetlands occupy 18.4% of the country's
Depth Tend to be Tend to be
area of which 70% are under paddy
deeper shallower
Water quality Good Poor
 Natural wetlands in India range from high
for domestic &
altitude wetlands in Himalayas; flood
industrial uses
plains of the major river systems; saline
Number of Many Fewer
and temporary wetlands of the arid and
semi-arid regions; coastal wetlands such
and animal
as lagoons, backwaters, estuaries,
mangroves, swamps and coral reefs, and
Wetlands - Wetland Ecosystem so on.
Wetland Ecosystem
Distinction from Lakes
 Wetlands are areas of marsh or peatland
 Lakes are generally less important when
with water that is static or flowing, fresh,
compared to wetland from the viewpoint of
brackish or saline, including areas of
ecosystem and biodiversity conservation.
marine water the depth of which at low
 There is no clear distinction between lakes
tide does not exceed 6 m.
and wetlands. Wetlands are shallow water
 Wetlands are transition zones between
bodies whereas lakes can be deep or
terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. E.g.
Mangroves, lake littorals (marginal areas
between highest and lowest water level of

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 National Lake Conservation Programme Flood control Significant

(NLCP) considers lakes as standing water Waste No Yes
bodies which have a minimum water depth treatment
of 3 m, generally cover a water spread of Importance of Wetlands
more than ten hectares, and have no or
very little aquatic vegetation.
 Wetlands are indispensable for the
 Wetlands (generally less than 3 m deep Page
countless benefits or “ecosystem services”
over most of their area) are usually rich in
that they provide humanity, ranging from | 83
nutrients (derived from surroundings and
freshwater supply, food and building
their sediments) and have abundant
materials, and biodiversity, to flood
growth of aquatic macrophytes.
control, groundwater recharge, and climate
 They support high densities and diverse
change mitigation.
fauna, particularly birds, fish and macro
 Wetlands are habitat to aquatic flora and
invertebrates, and therefore, have high
fauna, numerous species of native and
value for biodiversity conservation.
migratory birds.
 Excessive growth of macrophytes (both
 Wetlands are an important resource for
submerged and free-floating; macrophytes
sustainable tourism.
–aquatic plant large enough to be seen by
 They carry out water purification, filtration
the naked eye) in wetlands affects the
of sediments and nutrients from surface
water quality adversely and interfere with
the utilization of the water body.
 They help in nutrients recycling, ground
 However, marginal aquatic vegetation is
water recharging and stabilization of local
desirable as it checks erosion, serves
habitat for wildlife and helps improve
 Play an important role in flood mitigation
water quality.
by controlling rate of runoff.
 Buffer (act as riparian buffer) shorelines
Characteristic Lake Wetland against erosion and pollutants.
(shallow  They act as genetic reservoir for various
lake) species of plants (especially rice).
Origin Largest are Mostly
due to Fluvial,
tectonic Residual
forces: Fluvial, lakes
increase in
water table,
Water turnover Permanent Permanent
Water level Relatively Relatively
changes small Large
Reasons for depletion
Thermal Yes No
Vertical mixing Thermally Wind  Excessive pollutants (Industrial effluents,
regulated regulated domestic waste, agricultural runoff etc.)
Dominant Phytoplankton Macrophytes are dumped into wetlands beyond the
Producer recycling capacity.
Food chain Grazing Detritus  Habitat destruction and deforestation
Pathway Pathway creates ecological imbalance by altering the
Productivity Low High population of wetland species.
Trophic status Oligotrophic Mostly  Conversion of wetlands for agriculture and
Eutrophic encroachment by public and mafia.
Functions- Less Significant

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 Over fishing and fish farming (Aqua  It is also known as the Convention on
culture). Wetlands.
 Overgrazing in marshy soils.  It is named after the city of Ramsar in
 Removal of sand from beds near seas Iran.
makes the wetland vulnerable to wave  The Convention was signed on 2nd of
action and tidal bore. February, 1971.
 The 2nd of February each year is World Page
Mitigation Wetlands Day.
 Number of parties to the convention (COP) | 84
 Demarcation of wetlands using latest
 At the center of the Ramsar philosophy is
technology, proper enforcement of laws
the “wise use” of wetlands.
and stringent punishments for violators.
 Wise use: maintenance of ecological
 Preventing unsustainable aquaculture and
character within the context of sustainable
cultivation of shellfish.
 Treating industrial effluents and water
from farm lands before discharging into
wetlands. Need for Such Convention
 Utilizing wetlands on a sustainable basis
by giving enough time for natural  Wetlands are indispensable for the
regeneration. Artificial regeneration for countless benefits or “ecosystem
quick recovery. services” that they provide humanity,
 Afforestation, weed control, preventing ranging from freshwater supply, food and
invasive species is the key to wetland building materials, and biodiversity, to
conservation. flood control, groundwater recharge, and
 Preventive measures to stop the climate change mitigation.
introduction of exotic invasive species like  64% of the world’s wetlands have
water hyacinth. disappeared in the last century.
 Soil conservation measures &
afforestation. Preventing grazing in What is wetland
peripherals of wetlands.
 Wildlife conservation, sustainable tourism,  The Convention uses a broad definition of
eco-tourism and sensitizing local populace. wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers,
 Eutrophication abatement by processing underground aquifers, swamps and
nutrient rich discharge into the water marshes, wet grasslands, peatland, oases,
body. estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves
 Involving local population in the and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all
conservation of wetlands. human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice
paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.
Ramsar Sites in India - Ramsar
Convention on Wetlands COP
Measures to Protect Wetlands
 Conference of the Parties (COP) is the
Convention's governing body consisting of
 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands all governments that have ratified the
 Ramsar Sites in India treaty.
 Wetlands International  Every three years, representatives of the
 National Wetlands Conservation Contracting Parties meet as the Conference
Programme (NWCP) of the Contracting Parties (COP)
 COP is the policy-making organ of the
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Convention which adopts decisions
(Resolutions and Recommendations) to
 International treaty for “the conservation administer the work of the Convention.
and sustainable use of wetlands”.

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 The most recent COP12 was held in Punta a. Changes in ecological character have
del Este, Uruguay in 2015. COP13 will occurred, are occurring or are likely to
take place in Dubai, United Arab occur in the wetland as a result of human
Emirates, in 2018. interference.
b. The country in which the wetland is
Under the Convention, the Contracting located should enact a law to prohibit any
Parties commit to: human activity within five kilo meters from Page
the edge of the wetland
 Work towards the wise use of all their c. The survival of the wetland depends on the | 85
wetlands; cultural practices and traditions of certain
 Designate suitable wetlands for the List of communities living in its vicinity and
Wetlands of International Importance (the therefore the cultural diversity therein
“Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective should not be destroyed
management; d. It is given the status of ‘World Heritage
 Cooperate internationally on trans Site’
boundary wetlands, shared wetland
systems and shared species. Answer: a)

Ramsar Site International Organization Partners

 At the time of joining the Convention, each  The Ramsar Convention works closely with
Contracting Party undertakes to designate six other organizations known as
at least one wetland site for inclusion in International Organization Partners (IOPs).
the List of Wetlands of International These are:
 The inclusion of a “Ramsar Site” in the List 1. Birdlife International
embodies the government’s commitment to 2. International Union for Conservation of
take the steps necessary to ensure that its Nature (IUCN)
ecological character is maintained. 3. International Water Management
 The List of Wetlands of International Institute (IWMI)
Importance included 2,231 Ramsar Sites 4. Wetlands International
in March 2016. 5. WWF
 The country with the highest number of 6. International Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
Sites is the United Kingdom with 170 (WWT)
 The country with the greatest area of listed
wetlands is Bolivia. Other Partners

The Montreux Record  Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

 Convention to Combat Desertification
 The Montreux Record is a register of (UNCCD),
wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of  Convention on the Conservation of
International Importance where changes in Migratory Species of Wild Animals
ecological character have occurred, are  Convention on Migratory Species (CMS),
occurring, or are likely to occur as a result  World Heritage Convention (WHC) and
of technological developments, pollution or  Convention on International Trade in
other human interference. It is maintained Endangered Species (CITES).
as part of the Ramsar List.
Project funding is done by various groups like
Q1. If a wetland of international multilateral development banks, bilateral
importance is brought under the ‘Montreux donors, UN agencies such as UNEP, UNDP,
Record’, what does it imply? Non-governmental organizations etc.

Transboundary Ramsar Sites

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 Contracting Parties are designating their  If it supports plant and/or animal species
new and existing Ramsar Sites as at a critical stage in their life cycles, or
Transboundary Ramsar Sites. provides refuge during adverse conditions.
 These are ecologically coherent, shared  If it regularly supports 20,000 or more
wetlands extending across national water birds.
borders, which are managed  If it regularly supports 1% of the
collaboratively. individuals in a population of one species Page
or subspecies of water birds.
Criteria for Identification of Wetlands  If it supports a significant proportion of | 86
under Ramsar Convention indigenous fish subspecies
 If it is an important source of food for
fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or
 If it contains a representative, rare, or
migration path.
unique example of a natural or near-
 If it is an important source of food and
natural wetland type.
water resource, increased possibilities for
 if it supports vulnerable, endangered, or
recreation and eco-tourism, etc.
critically endangered species; or threatened
ecological communities.
 If it supports populations of plant and/or Ramsar Sites in India
animal species important for maintaining
the biological diversity of a particular  At present, there are 26 Ramsar Sites in
biogeographic region. India.

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| 87

Wetland State and Area

in km²
1 Ashtamudi Wetland Kerala  A natural backwater in Kollam district.
614  River Kallada and Pallichal drains into it.
 It forms an estuary with Sea at
Neendakara which is a famous fishing
harbour in Kerala.
 National Waterway 3 passes through it.

2 Bhitarkanika Mangroves Orissa  The core area of Bhitarkanika Wildlife

650 Sanctuary was declared Bhitarkanika
National Park.
 Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary includes
Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary.
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 Bhitarkanika Mangroves, a part of

Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary were
designated a Ramsar Wetland of
International Importance in 2002.
 It is famous for its salt water crocodiles
and Olive ridley sea turtle.
3 Bhoj Wetland Madhya Pradesh  The Bhoj Wetland consists of two lakes
| 88
32 located in the city of Bhopal.
 The two lakes are the Bhojtal and the
Lower Lake.
 It is a manmade reservoir.
 A total of more than 20,000 birds are
observed annually.
 The largest bird of India, the sarus crane
(Grus antigone) is found here.

4 Chandra Taal Himachal

5 Chilika Lake Orissa  Chilka Lake is a brackish water lagoon at
the mouth of the Daya River
1165  It is spread over the Puri, Khurda and
Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the
east coast of India.
 It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and
the second largest lagoon in the world.
 The lagoon hosts
 over 160 species of birds in the peak
migratory season. Birds from as far as the
Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and
other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz
steppes of Mongolia, Central and
southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas
come here.
 In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the
first Indian wetland of international
importance under the Ramsar Convention.
 Birds: White bellied sea eagles, greylag
geese, purple moorhen, jacana, flamingos,
egrets, gray and purple herons, Indian
roller, storks, white ibis, spoonbills,
brahminy ducks, shovellers, pintails, and
 Nalbana Island is the core area of the
Ramsar designated wetlands of Chilika
 Nalbana was notified in 1987 and declared
a bird sanctuary in 1973 under the
Wildlife Protection Act.
 The Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella
brevirostris) is the flagship species of
Chilika lake.
 Chilka is home to the only known

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population of Irrawaddy dolphins in India.

 It is classified as critically endangered, in
five of the six other places it is known to

6 Deepor Beel Assam

40 | 89
7 East Calcutta Wetlands West Bengal  The wetland forms an urban facility for
treating the city's waste water
125  The wetland provides about 150 tons of
fresh vegetables daily, as well as some
10,500 tons of table fish per year.

8 Harike Wetland Punjab  An important site for breeding, wintering

and staging birds, supporting over
41 200,000 Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans,
etc.) during migration.

9 Hokera Wetland Jammu and  Hokera wetland is only 10 km away from

Kashmir Srinagar.
 68 waterfowl species like Large Egret,
13.75 Great Crested Grebe, Little Cormorant,
Common Shelduck, Tufted Duck and
endangered White-eyed Pochard, coming
from Siberia, China, Central Asia, and
Northern Europe.

10 Kanjli Wetland Punjab

11 Keoladeo National Park Rajasthan  A complex of ten artificial, seasonal
lagoons, varying in size, situated in a
28.73 densely populated region.
 Placed on the Montreux Record in 1990
due to "water shortage and an unbalanced
grazing regime".
 Additionally, the invasive growth of the
grass Paspalum distichum has changed
the ecological character of large areas of
the site, reducing its suitability for certain
waterbird species, notably the Siberian

12 Kolleru Lake Andhra Pradesh  Bird sanctury

13 Loktak Lake Manipur  Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake
in the north-eastern region.
266  Keibul Lamjao the only floating national
park in the world floats over it.

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14 Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary Gujarat  A natural freshwater lake (a relict sea)

that is the largest natural wetland in the
[Declared as Ramsar site in 123 Thar Desert Biogeographic Province and
2012. Most recent Ramsar represents a dynamic environment with
Site in India] salinity and depth varying depending on
 Besides a few mammalian species Page
including the endangered wild ass and
the black buck, its migratory bird | 90
population includes rosy
pelicans, flamingoes, white
storks, brahminy ducks and herons.
Thousands of migratory waterfowl flock to
this sanctuary just after the Indian
monsoon season.
 The wetland is also a lifeline for a satellite
population of the endangered Indian Wild
Ass (Equus hemionus khur) which uses
this area in the dry season.

15 Point Calimere Wildlife and Tamil Nadu  One of the last remnants of Dry Evergreen
Bird Sanctuary Forests.
385  Habitat:Dry Evergreen Forests, Mangrove
& Wetlands.
 Winter Migrants : Spoon Billed Sandpiper,
Greater Flamingos.

16 Pong Dam Lake Himachal  A water storage reservoir created in 1975

Pradesh on the Beas River in the low foothills of
the Himalaya on the northern edge of the
156 Indo-Gangetic plain.

17 Renuka Lake Himachal  A natural wetland with freshwater springs

Pradesh and inland subterranean karst
formations, fed by a small stream flowing
0.2 from the lower Himalayan out to the Giri
 There are 103 species of birds of which 66
are residents, e.g. Crimson-breasted
barbet, Mayna, Bulbul, Pheasants, Egrets,
Herons, Mallards and Lapwing.
 Among ungulates Sambhar, Barking deer
and Ghorals are also abundant in the
 The lake has high religious significance
and is named after the mother of Hindu
sage Parshuram, and is thus visited by
thousands of pilgrims and tourists.

18 Ropar_Wetland Punjab  A humanmade wetland of lake and river

formed by the 1952 construction of a
13.65 barrage for diversion of water from the
Sutlej River for drinking and irrigation

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 The site is an important breeding place for

the nationally protected Smooth Indian
Otter, Hog Deer, Sambar, and several
reptiles, and the endangered Indian
Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) is thought
to be present.
 Some 35 species of fish play an important Page
role in the food chain, and about 150
species of local and migratory birds are | 91

19 Rudrasagar Lake Tripura

20 Sambhar Lake Rajasthan  The Sambhar Salt Lake, India's largest
inland salt lake.
240  Sambhar has been designated as a
Ramsar site (recognized wetland of
international importance) because the
wetland is a key wintering area for tens of
thousands of flamingos and other birds
that migrate from northern Asia.
 The specialized algae and bacteria growing
in the lake provide striking water colours
and support the lake ecology that, in turn,
sustains the migrating waterfowl. There is
other wildlife in the nearby forests, where
Nilgai move freely along with deer and

21 Sasthamkotta Lake Kerala  It is the largest freshwater lake in Kerala,

situated inKollam district.
22 Surinsar-Mansar Lakes Jammu and

23 Tsomoriri Jammu and  A freshwater to brackish lake lying at
Kashmir 4,595m above sea level. The site is said to
represent the only breeding ground
120 outside of China for one of the most
endangered cranes, the Black-necked
crane (Grus nigricollis), and the only
breeding ground for Bar-headed geese in
 The Great Tibetan Sheep or Argali (Ovis
ammon hodgsoni) and Tibetan Wild Ass
(Equus kiang) are endemic to the Tibetan
plateau, of which the Changthang is the
westernmost part.

24 Upper Ganga River (Brijghat Uttar Pradesh  The river provides habitat for IUCN Red
to Narora Stretch) listed Ganges River Dolphin, Gharial,
266 Crocodile, 6 species of turtles, otters, 82
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species of fish and more than hundred

species of birds.

25 Vembanad-Kol Wetland Kerala  Largest lake of Kerala.

 Famous tourist locations like Alappuzha
1512 and Kumarakom, known for house boats
falls here. Page
 River mouths of Pamba-Achenkovil rivers
| 92
in Vembanad forms one of the unique
wetland topography of Kerala, the
Kuttanad. It is below sea level and is
famous for exotic fish varieties and Paddy
fields that are below sea level.

26 Wular Lake Jammu and  The largest freshwater lake in India.


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| 93

Wetlands International governments, corporate and international

policy fora and conventions.
 Wetlands International is a global
organization (NGO) that works to sustain Q1. With reference to a conservation
and restore wetlands and their resources organization called ‘Wetlands
for people and biodiversity. International’, which of the following
 It is an independent, not-for-profit statements is/are correct?
organization, supported by government
and NGO membership from around the 1. It is an intergovernmental organization
world. formed by the countries which are
 Wetlands International's work ranges from signatories to Ramsar Convention.
research, advocacy and engagement with

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2. It works at the field level to develop and  It also provides guidelines, financial &
mobilize knowledge, and use the practical technical assistance to state govt.
experience to advocate for better policies.  Since the land resources belong to them,
the State Governments/UT Administration
Select the correct answer using the code given are responsible for management of
below. wetlands.
a. 1 only Mangrove and Estuarine Ecosystems
| 94
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2 Estuarine Ecosystem
d. Neither 1 nor 2
 An estuary is a place where a river or a
Answer: b) 2 only. Wetlands International stream opens into the sea (mouth of the
is an NGO river).
 It is a partially enclosed coastal area of
National Wetlands Conservation brackish water (salinity varies between 0-
Programme (NWCP) 35 ppt) with one or more rivers or streams
flowing into it, and with a free connection
 NWCP was implemented in the year 1985- to the open sea.
86.  At the estuaries, fresh water carrying
 Under the programme, 115 wetlands have fertile silt and runoff from the land mixes
been identified by the MoEF which require with the salty sea water.
urgent conservation and management  Estuaries form a transition zone
interventions. (ecotone) between river environments and
 Criteria for identification of wetlands of maritime environments.
national importance under NWCP are same  Examples of estuaries are river mouths,
as those prescribed under the ‘Ramsar coastal bays, tidal marshes, lagoons and
Convention on Wetlands’. deltas.


 Conservation of wetlands to prevent their

further degradation and ensuring their
wise use for the benefit of local
communities and overall conservation of


 to lay down policy guidelines for

conservation and management of wetlands.
 to provide financial assistance for
undertaking intensive conservation
measures.  Estuaries are formed due to rise in sea
 to monitor implementation of the level, movement of sand and sandbars,
programme. glacial processes and tectonic processes.
 to prepare an inventory of Indian wetlands.  All the plants and animals in the estuaries
are subjected to variations in salinity to
Federal management which they are adapted (osmoregulation).
 Estuaries are greatly influenced by tidal
 The Central Government is responsible action. They are periodically washed by sea
for overall coordination of wetland water once or twice a day based on the
conservation programmes. number of tides.

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 In some narrow estuaries, tidal bores are ideal locations for the construction of ports
significant. Tidal bores cause great damage and harbours.
to the estuarine ecology.  The banks of estuarine channels form a
favored location for human settlements,
Importance of Estuaries which use the estuaries for fishing and
commerce, but nowadays also for dumping
 They are the most productive (more
civic and industrial waste. Page
productive than wetlands) water bodies in | 95
the world because of the mixing of fresh Differences between Lagoon and
water and saline water zone where marine Estuary
organisms of both the ecosystems meet.
 A lagoon is a stretch of salt water
Ecotone regions (transitional zones) separated from the sea by a low sandbank
like mangroves, wetlands, estuaries, or coral reef.
grasslands etc. have far greater productivity  Backwaters in Kerala are mostly lagoons
compared to natural ecosystems like forest where sea water flows inwards through a
ecosystem, ocean ecosystem, pond ecosystem, small inlet that is open towards the sea.
riverine ecosystem, desert ecosystem etc.. This  The main difference between lagoons and
is because of the wide ranging species from estuaries is in the flow dynamics of the
the adjacent ecosystems being present in the water bodies: in estuaries, the water flows
ecotone. fast and strong, while in lagoons the water
is more shallow and flows sluggishly.
 Also, an estuary has very little wave  Estuaries are usually deeper than lagoons.
action, so it provides a calm refuge from Also, lagoons mostly don’t have any fresh
the open sea and hence becomes ideal for water source while the estuaries have at
the survival of numerous aquatic species. least one. Lagoons more saline than
 Estuaries are most heavily populated areas estuaries.
throughout the world, with about 60% of  Lagoons are formed due to fall in sea levels
the world's population living along (coastline of emergence. E.g. Kerala Coast)
estuaries and the coast. whereas estuaries are mostly formed due
 The vast mangrove forests on the sea ward to rise in sea levels (coastline of
side of an estuary act as barrier for the submergence. E.g. Konkan coast)
costal habitat to check the wind speed
during cyclones and high velocity landward Estuarine Vegetation
 Mangroves act as a filter trapping  Only certain types of plants and animals
suspended mud and sand carried by rivers specially adapted to the "brackish"
which leads to delta formations around estuarine waters flourish in the estuaries.
estuaries.  Factors influencing the growth and
 Precipitation of clay and alluvium particles distribution of organism in an estuary are
in estuarine region is high because of the its salinity and the amount of flooding.
exposure to saline water (saline water  Estuaries support diverse habitats, such
precipitates fine alluvium). as mangroves, salt marshes, sea-grass,
 Estuaries store and recycle Nutrients, mudflats etc.
traps sediment and forms a buffer between  Estuaries are very dynamic and productive
coastal catchments and the marine ecosystems since the river flow, tidal range
environment. and sediment distribution is continuously
 They also absorb, trap and detoxify changing in them.
pollutants, acting as a natural water filter.  In general the phytoplanktons of estuaries
 Estuaries with their wetlands, creeks, are diatoms, dinoflagellates, green algae,
lagoons, mangroves and sea-grass beds are blue-green algae.
rich in natural resources including  Towards the sea coast of the estuaries
fisheries. there are large algae and sea grasses. Near
 They are deep and well protected from
marine transgressions and hence they are
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the mouth of the rivers and deltas there  Destruction of biodiversity through prawn
are mangrove forests. seed collection and operation of small-
 Estuaries are homes to all kind of meshed nets (e.g., Hooghly, Chilka, Pulicat)
terrestrial or land-based plants and  Submergence of catchment areas due to
animals, such as wood storks, pelicans, rise in water level.
coniferous and deciduous trees and
butterflies. Mangroves Page
 Estuaries are also homes to unique aquatic
plants and animals, such as sea turtles, | 96
 Mangroves represent a characteristic
sea lions, sea catfish, saltworts, eelgrass,
littoral (near the sea shore) forest
saltgrasses, cordgrasses, sea grass, sedge,
bulrush etc..
 These are mostly evergreen forests that
grow in sheltered low lying coasts,
India Estuarine Ecosystem estuaries, mudflats, tidal creeks
backwaters (coastal waters held back on
 The Country has 14 major, 44 medium land), marshes and lagoons of tropical and
and 162 minor rivers drains into the sea subtropical regions.
through various estuaries.  Mangroves grow below the high water level
 Major estuaries occur in the Bay of Bengal. of spring tides. The best locations are
Many estuaries are locations of some of the where abundant silt is brought down by
major seaports. rivers or on the backshore of accreting
 Most of the India's major estuaries occur sandy beaches.
on the east coast. In contrast, the  Mangroves are highly productive
estuaries on the west coast are smaller (In ecosystems and the trees may vary in
environmental studies, deltas are height from 8 to 20 m. They protect the
considered as sub sections of estuaries). shoreline from the effect of cyclones and
 Two typical examples of estuaries on the tsunamis.
west coast are the Mandovi and Zuari  They are breeding and spawning ground
estuaries. for many commercially important fishes.
 Since mangroves are located between the
Issues of Indian Estuarine Ecosystem land and sea they represent the best
example of ecotone.
 Mangroves are shrubs or small trees that
 Modifications of the estuarine catchments
grow in coastal saline or brackish water.
results in changes in water flow in various
 Mangroves are salt tolerant trees, also
estuaries, either far in excess or much
called halophytes, and are adapted to life
lower than required (Eg: Hooghly,
in harsh coastal conditions.
Narmada, Krishna, Godavari, Pulicat etc.)
 Mangrove vegetation facilitates more water
 Pollution through industries and combined
loss. Leaves are thick and contain salt
city sewage discharge.
secreting glands. Some block absorption of
 Recreational boating and fishing.
salt at their roots itself.
 Navigation, dredging and shipping (e.g.
 They contain a complex salt filtration
system and complex root system to cope
 Expansion of urban and rural settlements,
with salt water immersion and wave
mining & industries, agriculture and
dumping of solid wastes
 They are adapted to the low oxygen
 Over exploitation of target fish stock due to
(anoxic) conditions of waterlogged mud.
increased demand.
 They produces pneumatophores (blind
 Reclaiming the fringed areas for intensive
roots) to overcome respiration problem in
aquaculture in pens.
the anaerobic soil conditions.
 Obstructing the migratory routes of fish
 Mangroves occur worldwide in the tropics
and prawn recruitment (e.g., Chilka,
and subtropics, mainly between latitudes
25° N and 25° S.
 Polluting the environment through feeding
 They require high solar radiation to filter
of stocked fish and prawn in pens (Chilka)
saline water through their roots. This
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explains why mangroves are confined to

only tropical and sub-tropical coastal
 Mangroves occur in a variety of
configurations. Some species
(e.g. Rhizophora) send arching prop
roots down into the water. While other Page
(e.g. Avicennia) send vertical
“Pneumatophores” or air roots up from | 97
the mud.

Prop roots and pneumatophores

 The mangroves of Sundarbans are the

largest single block of tidal holophytic
mangroves of the world.
 The major species of this dense mangrove
forest include Herritiera fames, Rhizophora
spp., Bruguiera spp., Ceriops decandra,
Sonneratia spp. and Avicennia spp., Nypa
fruticans are found along the creeks.
 This mangrove forest is famous for the
Stilt roots Royal Bengal Tiger and crocodiles.
Mangrove areas here are being cleared for
 Adventitious roots which emerged from the agricultural use.
main trunk of a tree above ground level are  The mangroves of Bhitarkanika (Orissa),
called stilt roots. which is the second largest in the Indian
 Mangroves exhibit Viviparity mode of sub-continent, harbour high concentration
reproduction. i.e. seeds germinate in the of typical mangrove species and high
tree itself (before falling to the ground). genetic diversity.
 This is an adaptive mechanism to  Mangrove swamps occur in profusion in
overcome the problem of germination in the intertidal mudflats on both side of the
saline water. creeks in the Godavari-Krishna deltaic
regions of Andhra Pradesh.
Mangroves in India  Mangroves of Pichavaram and Vedaranyam
are degraded mainly due to construction of
aquaculture ponds and salt pans.
 On the west coast of India, mangroves,
mostly scrubby and degraded occur along
the intertidal region of estuaries and

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creeks in Maharashtra, Goa and  They are destroyed for conversion of area
Karnataka. for agricultural purpose, fuel, fodder and,
 The mangrove vegetation in the coastal salinization, mining, oil spills, aqua
zone of Kerala is very sparse and thin. cultural (shrimp farming), use of chemical
 In Gujarat (north-west coast) mangroves pesticides & fertilizers, industrial
Avicennia marine, Avicennia officinalis and purposes.
Rhizophora mucronata are found mainly in Page
Gulf of Kachchh and the Kori creek. Q2. Which one of the following is the
 Mangroves are of scrubby type with correct sequence of ecosystems in the | 98
stunted growth, forming narrow, order of decreasing productivity?
discontinuous patches on soft clayey mud.
 The condition of the mangroves is a. Oceans, lakes, grasslands, mangroves
improving especially in the Kori creek b. Mangroves, oceans, grasslands, lakes
region, which is a paleodelta of the Indus c. Mangroves, grasslands, lakes, oceans
river. d. Oceans, mangroves, lakes, grasslands
 In size, mangroves range from bushy
stands of dwarf mangroves found in Gulf of Explanation:
Kuchchh, to taller stands found in the
Sunderbans. Productivity = production/unit area/unit time
 On the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the
small tidal estuaries, neritic inlets and the Production/unit area depends on number and
lagoons support a dense and diverse diversity of producers.
undisturbed mangrove flora.
From the topics discussed in this post, we can
Importance of Mangroves say that transitional zones (Ecotones) have
very high productivity compared to normal
 Mangrove plants have (additional) special ecosystems. [Tropical Rainforests is an
roots such as prop roots, pneumatophores exception as it has productivity comparable to
which help to impede water flow and wetlands because of its rich diversity of
thereby enhance the deposition of primary producers]
sediment in areas (where it is already
occurring), stabilize the coastal shores, In the options, mangroves are transitional
provide breeding ground for fishes. ecosystems while the rest are normal
 Mangroves moderate monsoonal tidal ecosystems.
floods and reduce inundation of coastal
lowlands. Remember: Grasslands are not transitional all
 They prevents coastal soil erosion. the time. E.g. Steppe. Non transitional
 They protects coastal lands from tsunami, grasslands have very low productivity because
hurricanes and floods. of very limited diversity of primary producers.
 Mangroves enhance natural recycling of [Grasslands become transitional only when
nutrients. they are narrow]
 Mangrove supports numerous flora,
avifauna and wild life. So the order of decreasing productivity will be
 Provide a safe and favorable environment like
for breeding, spawning, rearing of several
fishes. Mangroves ,…… , …… , ……..
 They supplies woods, fire wood, medicinal
plants and edible plants to local people.
Oceans = very deep and hence productivity is
 They provides numerous employment
limited to surface only (Below in the aphotic
opportunities to local communities and
zone productivity is negligible. Aphotic zone in
augments their livelihood.
oceans is few kilometers).
Threats Also surface water in oceans are very poor in
nutrients. Nutrient rich cold water flows as a

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sub-surface flow lying in the aphotic zone. So, the answer will look like Mangroves,
Sunlight and nutrients are far apart and ………., ………, Oceans.
hence primary productivity is very low except
in regions where there is upwelling of nutrient The only such option is c)
rich cold water [Cold and Warm current
mixing zones]. Answer: c) Mangroves, grasslands, lakes,
oceans. Page
So open ocean ecosystem has the least
productivity. [Desert ecosystem also has very | 99
Lakes just like oceans have low productivity.
low productivity, lesser than oceans]. But due to some plants in photic zone, lakes
have productivity slightly greater than that of

Environmental Degradation & comforts have resulted in rapid

Himalayan Environment industrialization.
 Rapid industrialization in turn led to
Environmental Degradation overexploitation of natural resources.
 The consequences of such exploitation are
 Environmental degradation is making the evident in the form of soil erosion,
environment unfit or less suitable for the desertification, loss of biodiversity,
survival of different life forms thereby pollution of land, air and water bodies.
causing immense ecological damage.
 Population explosion, urbanization and Major Causes of Environmental
associated increase in human needs and Degradation

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 Air/water/soil pollution: Gaseous Consequences of Environmental

pollutants: Oxides of carbon, nitrogen and Degradation
sulphur. [All types of pollution are
explained in detail in future posts]
 Increased sensitivity to
 Particulate matter: Fine metal dust, fly
diseases: Cultivated species of plants,
ash, soot, cotton dust and radioactive
fishes and other domesticated animals
have become increasingly sensitive to pest Page
 Burning of plastics: Emit poly chlorinated
and diseases. |
biphenyles (PCBs).
 Genetic resistance: An increased use of
 Industrial and domestic effluents:
insecticides, pesticides and antibiotics has 100
Pathogens, heavy metals in water bodies
speeded up directional natural selection
and soil.
and caused genetic resistance in
 Industrial catastrophes: Accidental release
of some poisonous gases
 Effect on nutrient recycling: Use of
like phosgene (COCl2) and methyl
fertilizers in agricultural fields interferes
isocynate (as it happened in Bhopal) were
with the natural biogeochemical cycles.
 Loss of biodiversity: Habitat destruction
 Secondary air pollutants formed from
and habitat fragmentation are threatening
complex reactions between primary
the survival of many endangered species.
pollutants, such as smog and acid rain.
 Climate change/global warming: Air
 Habitat fragmentation and
pollution is making the plant inhospitable
destruction: Industrialization and
due to events like global warming, acid
associated infrastructure development has
rain, ocean acidification etc.
led to the destruction of habitats of many
 Melting of ice caps and glaciers/Sea
level change: Global warming is posing
 Hazardous waste/Toxic substances: Use
serious threat to Himalayan and polar
of various type of chemicals today have
ecosystems by melting snow at a faster
serious health implications. Incidence of
rate. Rise in sea level in future is a serious
cancer, genetic mutations and damage to
threat to costal landforms.
nervous, immune and hormonal systems.
 Depletion of water resources: Water
 Invasive populations: Introduction of new
pollution has created tremendous scarcity
alien species or non-native species reduces
of quality water resources.
the populations growth of native species.
 Desertification: Lot of arable land is
 Stress due to over
converted to waste land due to erosion,
harvesting: Overgrazing by livestock
salinity and loss of fertility.
results in soil erosion and loss of
 Change in weather patterns: The
productivity. Similarly over harvesting of
incidence of extreme weather events and
edible fishes reduces population and may
change in weather patterns have become
become completely extinct if the over
common due to environmental
fishing continues for long.
 Global warming: Increasing use of fossil
fuels is a leading cause of increasing levels
of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the Human Modified Ecosystems and
atmosphere. Environmental Degradation
 Over exploitation of natural resources:
Rapidly growing population results in over  Some examples of human modified
exploitation of resources. Over exploitation ecosystems are: agro-ecosystems,
and introduction of a new or genetically plantation forests, rural and urban
modified species reduce the productivity of ecosystems, aquaculture etc.
natural ecosystems.
 Deforestation, over grazing, intensive Characteristics of human modified
cultivation, over irrigation etc. results in ecosystems
the loss of top soil and fertility of the land.
Prolonged degradation of land leads to  Highly unstable, unsustainable and have a
desertification. devastating effect on the environment.
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 Highly simplified with a very low species  The aim is to grow fast growing trees which
diversity and poor nutrient cycling. are commercially valuable. E.g. Palm,
 Food chains are simple, small and undergo rubber, eucalyptus etc.
frequent changes.  Trees planted on barren land, private land,
 Depend on human (anthropogenic) support village panchayat land, roadsides, canal
for survival. banks, along with railway line and on land
 Species are highly susceptible to epidemic not suitable for agriculture. Page
 Highly subjected to soil erosion and soil Characteristics of plantation forests |
degradation. 101
 Regeneration and recovery of the  Plantation forests are generally
environment is very slow. Some adverse monoculture, like oil palm plantation,
effects are irreversible for a very long time. rubber plantation, coffee
plantation, Jatropa curcare (biodiesel).
Agro ecosystems  Plantation forests have trees of
approximately same age.
 Agro ecosystems are large areas where  Plantation forests are highly susceptible to
commercial crops are cultivated. pathogens.
 Crops are mostly cultivated
as monoculture (growing only one type of Economic importance
crop) on the entire field.
 Tree plantation are raised for fruits, oil,
Characteristics of agro-ecosystems rubber, coffee, timber, fire wood, pulp
wood for making rayon and paper
 Attract weeds and susceptible to plant industries.
diseases.  Trees are also planted to serve as wind
 Soil are poor, deficient in nutrients, require breaks or shelter belts.
supplement of chemical or fertilizers.  Tree plantations are also raised for
 Need artificial irrigation and water controlling soil erosion and for increasing
management. soil fertility.

Disadvantages of agro-ecosystem Aquaculture

 Large scale monoculture of agricultural  Aquaculture is the artificial cultivation of

crops results in severe loss of native aquatic plants or animals.
biodiversity including genetic diversity of  It is primarily carried out for cultivating
crop plants. certain commercially important edible
 High yielding varieties of crop plants are species of fresh and marine water fishes,
more susceptible to disease. E.g. smut of molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants.
sugarcane, maize and sorghum and rust of  Fisheries include the extraction of food
wheat and bajra. from the sea and the fresh water whereas
 Protecting crops from pests and diseases aquaculture is rearing of the aquatic
requires large scale use of pesticides and organisms in artificially made water bodies
chemicals which pollute the environment. e.g. culture of fish like carps, tilapia (also
 Deplete ground water in many areas due to known as aquatic chicken.).
well irrigation.
 Run off water from agricultural field laden There are two types of aquaculture
with fertilizers and pesticides pollute river,
lakes and ponds (Eutrophication).  Fish farming is cultivation of fish in a
controlled environment often a coastal or
Plantation Forest inland pond, lake, reservoir or rice field
(paddy) and harvesting when they reach
 It is a manmade ecosystem consisting of the desired size.
individuals of a particular tree species.

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 Fish ranching is a practice of keeping Advantages of dams

fishes in captivity for the first few years in
floating cages in coastal lagoons and  Water released from dams is used to
releasing them from captivity into water generate electricity.
bodies. Adults are harvested when they  Hydroelectricity n reduces dependence on
return for spawning to the lagoons. E.g. coal and hence reduces CO2 emission.
Salmon and Hilsa which migrate to rivers  Reduces downstream flooding. Page
to spawn are cultivated by fish ranching  Reduces river silting below the dam.
method.  Supply irrigation water for croplands. |
Merits of aquaculture

 Ecological efficiency is high. 2 kg. of grains Disadvantages of dams

are required to add 1 kg live weight.
 High yield in small volume of water.
 Permanently submerge large areas of
 Improved qualities of fish obtained by
forests and crop lands.
selection and breeding and genetic
 Displace large number of native people.
 Increase water pollution on account of
 Aquaculture reduces over harvesting of
reduced water flow.
 Reduce nutrients replenishment of
 High profit.
downstream flood plains.
 Disrupt spawning and migration of some
Demerits of aquaculture fish species.
 High costs and long gestation period.
 Large inputs of feed, water and land are
required. Large reservoirs increase the risk of
 Loss of native aquatic biodiversity. As it earthquakes (Killari Reservoir is speculated to
replaced by monoculture of a commercially have Induced Latur Earthquake of 1993 that
important fish species. has killed more than 9,000 people).
 Produces large amounts of fish wastes that
pollute water bodies.
 Destroys mangrove forests or coastal Environmental Issues in Himalayas
 Aquaculture fishes are very sensitive to Importance of Himalayan Region
pesticide runoff from croplands.
 In aquaculture ponds high population  The Indian Himalayan Region has wide
density is maintained that makes them ranging ecological and socioeconomic
highly vulnerable to diseases leading to significance.
total collapse of the crop.
 Aquaculture tanks or reservoirs are often Ecological Services
get contaminated after a few years.
 Natural water reservoir that feeds several
Dams, Reservoirs And Diversions perennial rivers.
 With wide ranging natural vegetation, it
 A dam is a structure built in order to store acts as a giant ‘carbon sink’.
river or tidal water. Dams, reservoirs and  It is one of the most important regions of
diversions capture and store runoff water rich biodiversity, especially the eastern
and release it as needed. They are used for: Himalayan region which is a global
 controlling or moderating floods, biodiversity hotspot. It is storehouse of
 producing hydroelectric power, and endemic species.
 supply water for irrigation, industry and
other uses to rural, suburban and urban Role in Indian climate
areas. Support recreational activities such
as swimming and boating.

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 The Himalayan region acts as a barrier to accumulation of debris along the water
the south-west monsoon winds causing courses which cause flash floods in wet
copious rainfall (orographic rainfall) in season.
the foothill and the Ganga-Brahmaputra
plain region. Without out Himalayas, this Hydroelectric power projects
region would have been a desert.
 It stops the cold waves from central Asia,  Hydroelectric power projects are a serious Page
China and Siberian Russia from entering cause of concern. Their construction has |
India. weakened the structural stability of the
steep slopes causing landslides. 103
Economic importance  Tunnel drilling has created new
unnatural water courses that cause more
 Himalayan region is ideal for soil erosion and makes the stratum
hydroelectric power generation. highly unstable increasing the risk of
 With the most beautiful landscapes on landslides.
earth, the Himalayan region is a great  Change of river courses causes
tourist destination. accumulation of debris in new sites which
 Himalayas are well known for their increase the chances of flash floods in the
cultural tourism. wet season.

Degradation of Himalayan Environment Urbanization to meet tourism demands

 The Himalayan region, with its young and  Thriving tourist industry has created
unstable topography, is one of the most great demand for lodging facilities.
fragile ecosystems on earth. Buildings are constructed
 It has recently gained notice for its indiscriminately by flouting rules.
‘vulnerability’ due to various General non-compliance with prescribed
unsustainable economic and norms and guidelines has become very
developmental activities such as common.
unchecked tourism and mountaineering,  The natural sites for these illegal
hydroelectric power projects, constructions are river banks, dried and
indiscriminate urbanization etc.. old river courses and moderately sloped
Biotic pressure  During wet seasons, landslides become
common along sloped regions that are
affected by construction. The debris from
 Population explosion has resulted in high
the construction sites block the river
biotic pressure by putting strain on
courses causing flash floods. All these
natural resources.
cause a great damage to the fragile
 Many species are now threatened due to
habitat destruction and habitat
fragmentation caused by anthropogenic
activities. Infrastructure development
 Man-animal conflict: snow Leopards are
hunted to save livestock.  Growing population, thriving tourism,
military (security) needs have led to rapid
Pollution and solid waste construction of roads, and railways on
the Himalayan slopes.
 Instability caused by infrastructure
 Air pollution due to increase in vehicle
development is evident in numerous
density; water pollution and soil pollution
landslides that occur in along the slopes
due to domestic sewage are making the
in the region.
region more vulnerable.
 Indiscriminate solid waste dumping as a
result of urbanization and tourism Cultural/Pilgrimage Tourism
development have resulted in
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 The Himalayas is known to be a home of Initiatives to save Himalayan

saints, destination of pilgrimage since Environment
time immemorial.
 For example, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Ban on Plastic in HP
Gangotri-Yamunotri and Hemkund Sahib
in Uttarakhand, Manimahesh, Jwala  State government enacted the Himachal
Devi, Chintpurni, Naina Devi in Himachal Pradesh Non-Biodegradable Garbage Page
Pradesh and Vaishnav Devi and (Control) Act, 1995 in order to prevent |
Amarnath in Jammu & Kashmir, throwing or depositing non-biodegradable
Khecheopalri and other sacred lakes in garbage in public drains, roads. 104
Sikkim are particularly important  It has then increased the minimum
destinations. thickness of plastic carry bags to 70
 Unfortunately, most of these places lack microns of virgin material, which
adequate facilities of transport, exceeded the 20 micron thickness
accommodation, waste disposal and other recommended by Central Rules.
amenities for the ever growing number of  Further, the state Government has taken
pilgrims that visit them every year. a Cabinet decision to ban plastics
 Also, there is a gross lack of regulatory altogether in the entire state since 2009.
mechanism for infrastructure creation,
management, and for controlling the
Participatory Conservation of Lakes in the
tourist inflow in such sites.
 As a result the sensitive ecosystems and
cultural values of these areas are facing
pressures far beyond their carrying  The Nainital Lake is the sole source of
capacities. drinking water for Nainital town, an
important tourist destination in
Deforestation Uttarakhand state.
 Increasing inflow of tourists, urban waste
making its way into the lake is adversely
 Deforestation in rampant all over India. affecting water quality.
In spite of their fragile ecosystem,  To conserve the water body, the residents
Himalayas are no exception. have switched on to a scientific garbage
 Trees are felled for their timber which find disposal system - under the project name
many domestic and industrial 'Mission Butterfly' by Nainital Lake
applications. Conservation Project.
 Deforestation leads to soil erosion and  The sweepers, on a small monthly charge,
slope instability. Landslides become collect waste from each household and
common. directly transfer it to the compost pits.
 Apart from the residents, schools and
Climate change/global warming hotel owners have extended full
cooperation to the authorities, to save its
 Climate change has evolved as the single precious eco-system.
biggest threat to the Himalayan  In addition, they are able to generate
ecosystem. Melting of glaciers, ice caps income and employment by converting it
and bursting of lakes create havoc to manure.
 The receding snowline has threated the Assam Hill Land and Ecological Sites Act,
local biodiversity. Many species 2006
acclimatized to the cold environment are
moving further up the slopes. They lose  The Assam Hill Land and Ecological Sites
their normal pray and hence struggle to (Protection and Management) Act, 2006
survive. Their natural habitat turns to prevent indiscriminate cutting of trees
hostile leading to extinction of many and filling up of water bodies in urban
critical species. areas.

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 Under the Act, the state government can conservation-based community managed
bring any hill under its purview for tourism development in remote
protection. settlements, by gradually building local
capacity and ownership.
Sikkim's Ecotourism Policy
Promoting Ecotourism and Regulation of
 "Sikkim - the Ultimate Tourist Commercial Tourism Page
Destination" is the policy motto of the |
state.  Eco-tourism villages, parks, sanctuaries
 The state is employing a system of and other areas should be identified to 105
environmental fees, and permits for establish a primary base for ecotourism.
entries, and stay time restrictions in  Village communities, especially youths,
some environmentally sensitive high and rural women should be involved in
altitude/pristine areas. Ecotourism.
 Operationalization of tourism in various  Restrictions on the entry of vehicles and
modes, such as village tourism, nature visitors per day/ per group should be
tourism, wildlife tourism, imposed in sensitive ecological sites.
trekking/adventure tourism, and cultural  Local art, crafts, cuisines, and dishes
tourism in the state and should be promoted and made an integral
institutionalization of tourism part of tourist experience in order to
management at the community level. ensure economic benefits to the locals
 Promotion and use of local art & craft, and their cultural integrity/ entity is not
cuisines, etc., along with organizing lost.
tourism fairs and festivals.  Best practices on commercial trekking
 Imparting training in tourism related should be imposed on a mandatory basis
service industries.  Creation of log/bamboo huts should be
 The efforts made by Sikkim can be a promoted in busy mountain areas.
basis of responsible tourism in other
Himalayan states. Soil Erosion - Wind & Water Erosion |
Measures That Can Be Taken to Protect
Himalayan Ecosystem Soil erosion

Harnessing Religious Sentiments for  Soil erosion is the loosening and

Conservation displacement of topsoil particles from the
 Encouraging devotees and tribals to
undertake participatory plantation for Pace Of Soil Erosion
rehabilitation of degraded areas.
 Promoting the concept of eco-cultural  Soil erosion in nature may be
landscapes. Both landscapes are highly  a slow process (or geological erosion) or
evolved with high level of economic and  a fast process promoted by deforestation,
ecological efficiencies. floods, tornadoes or other human
 Involving them in maintenance and activities. These two processes are
strengthening of sacred groves/landscape explained below:
(e.g., Sacred Groves of Meghalaya: The
tribal communities - Khasis, Garos, and Water Erosion
Jaintias, have a tradition of
environmental conservation based on
religious beliefs and customary law and  Running water is one of the main agents,
are protected from any product which carries away soil particles.
extraction.  Soil erosion by water occurs by means of
 Himalayan Homestays: The Himalayan raindrops, waves or ice.
Homestays programme fosters

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 Soil erosion by water is termed differently rills increase in size they are called
according to the intensity and nature of gullies. Ravines are deep gullies.
 (i) Raindrop erosion (ii) Sheet erosion (iii)
Rill erosion (iv) Steam banks erosion (v)
Erosion due to landslides (vi) Coastal
erosion. Page

Raindrop erosion |
 Raindrops falling on land surface cause
detachment of the soil particles. The loose Stream bank erosion
soil particles are washed away by flowing
 An average size of raindrop is  The erosion of soil from the banks (shores)
approximately 5 mm in diameter falling of the streams or rivers due to the flowing
through the air hits the soil at a velocity water is called bank erosion.
of 32 km/hr.  In certain areas where river changes its
 Larger raindrops and gusts of wind hit course, the river banks get eroded at a
the soil surface even at higher velocities. rapid rate. Stream bank erosion damages
 Raindrops behave like tiny bombs when the adjoining agricultural lands, highways
falling on exposed soil, displace soil and bridges.
particles and destroy soil structure.
 Presence of vegetation on land prevents
raindrops from falling directly on the soil
thus erosion of soil in areas covered by
vegetation is prevented.
 With continued rainfall the displaced soil
particles fill in the spaces between soil
particles and so prevent water from
seeping into the soil.
 After some time this result in
accumulation of water called ‘ponding’ on
the land. This water begins to flow. This Landslide
flowing water is called runoff. As the
water moves it erodes the soil surface.  Sudden mass movement of soil is called
landslide. Landslides occur due to
Sheet erosion instability or loss of balance of land mass
with respect to gravity.
 The detachment and transportation of  Loss in balance occurred mainly due to
soil particles by flowing rainwater is excessive water or moisture in the earth
called sheet or wash off erosion. This is mass.
very slow process and often remain  Gravity acts on such an unstable
unnoticed. landmass and causes the large chunks of
surface materials such as soil and rocks
Rill erosion slide down rapidly.

Coastal erosion
 In rill erosion finger like rills appear on
the cultivated land after it has undergone
sheet erosion. These rills are usually  Coastal erosion of soil occurs along sea
smoothened out every year while forming. shores. It is caused by the wave action of
Each year the rills slowly increase in the sea and the inward movement of the
number become wider and deeper. When sea into the land.

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Consequences of water erosion  To prevent stream bank erosion runoff

water should be stored in the catchment
 The fine particles of the topsoil which for as possible by maintaining vegetation
contain the bulk of nutrients and organic cover and as by constructing dams for
matter needed by the plants are lost from storing water.
soil erosion. Erosion removes the most  For prevention or reduction of coastal
fertile part of soil. The less fertile subsoil is erosion, protective vegetation along the Page
left. beaches should be re-established.
 Erosion may result in removal of seeds or  The best method of controlling coastal |
seedlings so that the soil becomes bare. dune erosion is not to disturb the dunes 107
Bare soil is more vulnerable to erosion and the coastal system.
both by wind and water.  Further, construction of buildings and
 Removal of seeds and seedlings reduces other development should be located
the ability of soil to store water. behind the dune system.
 Sheet, rill, gully and stream bank erosion
also cause siltation of rivers, streams and Wind erosion
fields. Deposition of silt results in damage
of crops and pastures, and sedimentation  Soil erosion by wind is more common in
of water bodies like streams, dams, areas where the natural vegetation has
reservoirs etc. been destroyed. Such conditions occur
 Sedimentation of water bodies deteriorate mainly in arid and dry areas along the
water quality and damage aquatic habitats sandy shores of oceans, lakes and rivers.
and organisms.  The loose soil particles are blown and
 Gully erosion also results in loss of large transported from wind by following three
volumes of soil. Wider deep gullies ways: (i) Siltation: blown by wind in a
sometimes reach 30 m and thus severely series of short bounces. (ii) Suspension:
limit land use. transported over long distances in the form
 Large gullies disrupt normal farm of suspended particles. (iii) Surface creep:
operation. transported at ground level by high velocity
 Stream bank erosion not only causes loss winds.
of land, but also changes the course of a
river or stream. Consequences of wind erosion
 Stream banks erosion also damage public
 Wind erosion removes the finer soil
 Mass movement of land or landslides also
material including organic matter, clay and
inhibits farm production and land use.
slit, in a suspension (colloidal) form and
 It also causes mortality in animals and
leaving behind coarser, less fertile
 Coastal erosion causes the adjourning land
 Productive capacity of the soil is lost as
to become covered by sand.
most of the plant nutrients which remain
attached smaller colloidal soil fraction are
Prevention of water erosion
 Wind erosion also damages roads and
 It is essential to retain vegetation cover fertile agricultural fields by depositing large
that soil is not exposed to rain. quantities of air blown soil particles.
 Plants intercept rainfall and protect soil
from direct impact of raindrops. Prevention of wind erosion
 Cattle grazing should be controlled.
 Crop rotation and keeping the land fallow
 The vegetation cover over sandy soils
(not planting anything in the soil for some
should be kept above 30%.Access of wind
time) should be adopted.
to the soil should be controlled by leaving
 Vegetation and soil management should be
the stubble or mulch on the soil. (Stubble
improved in order to increase soil organic
is the remains of crop left after harvesting).

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 Wind speed can be broken or controlled by  Deforestation includes cutting and felling
planting trees in form of a shelter belt. of trees, removal of forest litter.
 The practice of leaving the land fallow (i.e.  Browsing and trampling by livestock, forest
not planting anything in the field) and use fires, also leads to cause deforestation etc.
of machinery should be modified. This can  Deforestation leads to erosion.
be done by using direct- drilling techniques Deforestation further leads to land
(ploughing the field) and by using direct- degradation, nutrient and the disruption of Page
drilling techniques. the delicate soil plant relationship.
 Over grazing by cattle should be avoided. |
Farming 108

 Crops are grown,

harvested, land is
ploughed and is exposed
to wind. All this prevents
replenishment of
 Agriculture also
causes the worst type of
soil erosion on farmland
in the form of wash-off or
sheet erosion.
 On the arid and
semiarid areas, sand
blows and sand shifts act
in a similar fashion as
sheet erosion does, where
water is the chief agent.
Consequently, a creeping
effect of desertification
sets in and the fertility of
the land is lost

The following
agricultural practices
can lead to accelerated
soil erosion

 or
ploughing increases the
chances of erosion
because it disturbs the
natural soil surface and
protective vegetation.
 Continuous
cropping: Continuous
cropping of the same
land and extending of
Soil Erosion Caused By Human cultivation of marginal and sub-marginal
Activities lands encourages soil erosion.
 Cultivation on mountain slopes:
Deforestation Cultivation on mountain slopes without
appropriate land treatment measures such
as bounding, terracing and trenching
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cause soil erosion and loss of soil soil erosion and disruption of natural
nutrients. drainage system.
 Monoculture: Monoculture refers to the
practice of planting of the same variety of Soil degradation and soil conservation are
crop in the field. already explained under “Indian Geography”
 Monoculture practices can lead to soil
erosion in three ways. Desertification Page

1. A monoculture crop is harvested all at one |

 Desertification is diminution of the
time, which leaves the entire fields bare
biological potential of the land which 109
exposing it to both water and wind.
ultimately leads to the formation of desert.
2. Without vegetation natural rainfall is not
 The land that has lost its productivity
retained by the soil and flows rapidly over
(ability to grow plants) is called a desert.
the surface rather than into the ground. It
 A desert landscape supports a very limited
also carries away the top soil which results
growth of sparse vegetation and stunted
in soil erosion and degradation.
growth of plants.
3. In the event any disease or pest invades
 Substantial part of earth’s terrestrial area
the field , the entire crop is usually wiped
is facing desertification due to
out leaving the bare soil susceptible to
overexploitation and mismanage of land
water and wind.
resources for human activities. Some of the
principal causes, which promote
Overgrazing desertification, are: over cultivation,
overgrazing, deforestation, and salt
 It means too many animals are allowed to accumulation due to irrigation.
feed on a piece of grassland. Trampling
and grazing by cattle destroys the Over Cultivation
vegetation of the area.
 In the absence of adequate vegetative cover
 Every cycle of cultivation is preceded by
the land becomes highly susceptible to
ploughing to remove weeds. The ploughed
both wind and water erosion.
land turns soil upside down thus exposing
rich sub-soil to wind and water erosion.
Economic activities  Such land may remain barren for most
part of the year and in turn lose more soil
 Soil erosion also occurs due to economic due to erosion. Such erosion is most
activities. The extraction of useful natural pronounced on slopes.
resources such as metals, minerals and  Moreover, in regions where rainfall is low,
fossil fuels etc., from the land causes the soil is often dry and is more
serious disturbance to the land leading to susceptible to erosion. Ploughed soil loses
soil erosion and drastic changes in the more water by evaporation.
Developmental activities
 Deserts receive less rainfall. Deserts have
 Soil erosion may also occur because of sparse vegetation mostly consisting of
various developmental activities such as grasses and herbs less and best used for
housing, transport, communication, grazing.
recreation, etc.  Overgrazing by goats, domestic cattle
 Building construction also promotes soil remove the protective vegetation and
erosion because accelerated soil erosion expose the soil. Further the movement of
takes place during construction of houses, grazing animals loosen the soil surface by
roads, rail tracks etc. their hoofs.
 The construction of such facilities causes  Unprotected loose soil becomes highly
massive disturbance to land, resulting in susceptible to erosion by wind and water.

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Such conditions leads to progressive  Pollution may be of the following types: Air
desertification. pollution, Noise pollution, Water pollution,
Soil pollution, Thermal pollution and
Deforestation Radiation pollution.
 In order to control environmental pollution,
 Forests and vegetation prevent soil erosion the Government of India has passed
and to hold water in soil. Plant roots the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to Page
absorb and recycle nutrients released from protect and improve the quality of our
environment (air, water and soil). |
the decaying organic matter.
 Forests are often cleared to agriculture, 110
timber, construction wood, firewood, raw Air Pollution
material for paper etc. All this leads to
barrenness of the land leading to  Air pollution may be defined as the presence
desertification. of any solid, liquid or gaseous substance
including noise and radioactive radiation in
Salting due to Irrigation the atmosphere in such concentration that
may be directly and/or indirectly injurious to
 With demand for more land for agriculture, humans or other living organisms, property or
crops are grown in areas that have little interferes with the normal environmental
access to natural water bodies. processes.
 The water is supplied to these growing  An ever increasing use of fossil fuels in power
areas by artificial means and improved plants, industries, transportation, mining,
irrigation methods. Such water brings salts construction of buildings, stone quarries had
dissolved in it. led to air pollution.
 Even the best quality of irrigation water  Fossil fuels contain small amounts
contain 200-500 ppm of salts. Water used of nitrogen and sulphur. Burning of fossil
for irrigation is lost from agriculture field fuels like coal (thermal power plants) and
through evaporation and transpiration by petroleum (petroleum refineries) release
crop plant. The water gets evaporated but different oxides of nitrogen and sulphur into
the dissolved salt keeps on accumulating the atmosphere.
which makes the soils more salty.  These gases react with the water vapour
 Saline accumulation retards plant growth. present in the atmosphere to form sulphuric
Land devoid of plant cover easily becomes acid and nitric acid. The acids drop down with
desertified. rain, making the rain acidic. This is
 Accumulation of excessive salt in soil or called acid rain.
salinization makes the soil unfit for  Acid rain corrodes the marble monuments like
agriculture. Taj Mahal. This phenomenon is called
as “Marble cancer”.
Air Pollution - Major Air Pollutants -  Other kinds of pollutants
Prevention & Control are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which are
used in refrigerators, air conditioners and
Pollution as pressurizing agents in aerosol sprays.
CFCs damage the ozone layer of the
 Pollution may be defined as addition of  The combustion of fossil fuels also increases
undesirable material into the environment as the amount of suspended particles in air.
a result of human activities. The agents which These suspended particles could be unburnt
cause environmental pollution are called carbon particles or substances called
pollutants. hydrocarbons.
 A pollutant may be defined as a physical,  Presence of high levels of all these pollutants
chemical or biological substance released into cause visibility to be lowered, especially in
the environment which is directly or indirectly cold weather when water also condenses out
harmful to humans and other living of air. This is known as smog and is a visible
organisms. indication of air pollution.

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Classification of Pollutants  Fly ash is ejected mostly by thermal power

plants as byproducts of coal burning
According to the form in which they persist
after release into the environment.  Fly ash pollutes air and water and may cause
heavy metal pollution in water bodies.
 Fly ash affects vegetation as a result of its
 Primary pollutants: These persist in the form
direct deposition on leaf surfaces or indirectly Page
in which they are added to the environment
through its deposition on soil.
e.g. DDT, plastic.
 Fly ash in the air slowly settles on leaves and |
 Secondary Pollutants: These are formed by
crops in fields in areas near to thermal power 111
interaction among the primary pollutants. For
plants and lowers the plant yield.
example, peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN) is
 Fly ash is now being used for
formed by the interaction of nitrogen
making bricks and as a land fill
oxides and hydrocarbons.
According to their existence in nature
 Fly ash particles are oxide rich and consist of
 Quantitative Pollutants: These occur in
silica, alumina, oxides of iron, calcium, and
nature and become pollutant when their
magnesium and toxic heavy metals like lead,
concentration reaches beyond a threshold
arsenic, cobalt, and copper.
level. E.g. carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide.
 Major oxides are present are Aluminium
 Qualitative Pollutants: These do not occur in
silicate (in large amounts), silicon dioxide
nature and are man-made. E.g. fungicides,
(SiO2) and calcium oxide (CaO).
herbicides, DDT etc.
Particulate pollutants
 Cement can be replaced by fly ash up to 35%,
 Particulate matter suspended in air are dust thus reducing the cost of construction,
and soot released from the industrial making roads, etc.
chimneys. Their size ranges from 0.001 to 500  Fly ash bricks are light in weight and offer
micrometers (µm) in diameter. high strength and durability.
 Particles less than 10 µm float and move freely  Fly ash is a better fill material for road
with the air current. Particles which are more embankments and in concrete roads.
than 10 µm in diameter settle down. Particles  Fly ash can be used in reclamation of
less than 0.02 µm form persistent aerosols. wastelands.
 Major source of SPM (suspended particulate  Abandoned mines can be filled up with fly
matter) are vehicles, power plants, ash.
construction activities, oil refinery, railway  Fly ash can increase the crop yield and it also
yard, market place, industries, etc. enhances water holding capacity of the land .
 According to Central Pollution Control Board
(CPCB), particulate size 2.5 µm or less in Policy measures of MoEF
diameter (PM 2.5) are responsible for causing
the greatest harm to human health.  The Ministry of Environment and Forests has
 These fine particulates can be inhaled deep made it mandatory to use Fly Ash based
into the lungs and can cause breathing and products in all construction projects, road
respiratory symptoms, irritation, embankment works and low lying land filling
inflammations and pneumoconiosis – a works within 100 kms radius of Thermal
disease of the lungs due to inhalation of dust, Power Station and mine filling activities within
characterized by inflammation, coughing, and 50 kms radius of Thermal Power Station.
Q1. With reference to ‘fly ash’ produced by
Fly ash the power plants using the coal as fuel,
which of the following statements is/are

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1. Fly ash can be used in the production of Source:

bricks for building construction
2. Fly ash can be used as a replacement for some /PMC3388445/
of the Portland cement contents of concrete
3. Fly ash is made up of silicon dioxide and  Nanoparticles are particle with dimensions
calcium oxide only, and does not contain any comparable to 1/109 of a meter [1 divided by
toxic elements. 100 crores]. Page
 Major natural processes that release NPs in
Select the correct answer using the code given the atmosphere are forest fires, volcanic |
below eruptions, weathering, dust storms from 112
desert etc.
a. 1 and 2  Naturally occurring NPs are quite
b. 2 only heterogeneous in size and can be transported
c. 1 and 3 over thousands of kilometres and remain
d. 3 only suspended in the air for several days.
 Nanotechnology has a global socioeconomic
Fly ash does contain heavy toxic elements like value, with applications ranging from
arsenic, cobalt, lead etc. electronics to biomedical uses (delivering
drugs to target sites).
Answer: a) 1 and 2  Man-made NPs are unknowingly or purposely
released in the environment during various
Lead industrial and mechanical processes.

 It is present in petrol, diesel, lead batteries, Effects of Nanoparticles on the

paints, hair dye products, etc. environment
 It can cause nervous system damage and
digestive problems and, in some cases, cause  After release in the environment, NPs will
cancer. Lead affects children in particular. accumulate in various environmental matrices
 Tetraethyl lead (TEL) is used as an anti- such as air, water, soil and sediments
knock agent in petrol for smooth and easy including wastewater sludge.
running of vehicles.  NPs in the environment influences dust cloud
 The lead particles coming out from the formation, environmental hydroxyl radical
exhaust pipes of vehicles is mixed with air. If concentration, ozone depletion, or
inhaled it produces injurious effects stratospheric temperature change.
on kidney and liver and interferes with
development of red blood cells. Effect of NNPs on dust cloud formation
 Lead mixed with water and food can create
cumulative poisoning. It has long term effects  NNPs are thought to play an important role in
on children as it lowers intelligence. dust-clouds formation after being released
into the environment as they coagulate and
Metallic Oxides form dust cloud.
 Dust cloud formation decreases sun light
 Oxides of iron, aluminum, manganese, intensity.
magnesium, zinc and other metals have
adverse effect due to deposition of dust on Asian brown clouds impact on Himalayan
plants during mining operations and glaciers
metallurgical processes.
 They create physiological, biochemical and  Asian brown clouds carry large amounts of
developmental disorders in plants and also soot and black carbon (NPs) which are
contribute towards reproductive failure in deposited on the glaciers.
plants.  This could lead to higher absorption of the
sun's heat and potentially contributing to the
Nanoparticles – NPs increased melting of glaciers.

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NPs and ozone depletion less dense than air. It is short-lived (stay only
few months) in the atmosphere.
 The nanoparticles have greater chemical  Carbon monoxide is produced from the
reactivity. They can result in increased exhaust of internal combustion engines and
production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), from incomplete combustion of various other
including free radicals like Cl-. fuels. Iron smelting also produce carbon
 Radicals like Cl- destroy ozone. [Explained in monoxide as a byproduct. Page
“Ozone Depletion”]  It forms when there is not enough oxygen to
produce carbon dioxide (CO2). |
In chemistry, a radical (a free radical) is an  In the presence of oxygen, carbon monoxide 113
atom, molecule, or ion that has unpaired burns with a blue flame, producing carbon
valence electrons. dioxide.
 Worldwide, the largest source of carbon
Effect of NPs on stratospheric temperature monoxide is natural in origin, due to
photochemical reactions in the troposphere.
 NPs in the troposphere interact with molecular  Other natural sources of CO include
hydrogen accidentally released from hydrogen volcanoes, forest fires, and other forms of
fuel cells and other sources. combustion.
 Molecular hydrogen along with NPs moves up
to the stratosphere, resulting in the Health Effects
abundance of water vapour in the
stratosphere.  Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most
 This will cause stratospheric cooling due to common type of fatal air poisoning.
formation Stratospheric clouds (mostly ice  It is toxic to hemoglobic animals (including
crystals). humans) when encountered in concentrations
 Stratospheric clouds destroys ozone. above about 35 ppm.
[Explained in “Ozone Depletion”]  It is also produced in normal animal
metabolism in low quantities.
There is some concern regarding the  It combines with hemoglobin to
nanoparticles of some chemical elements produce carboxyhemoglobin, which usurps
that are used by the industry in the the space in hemoglobin that normally carries
manufacture of various products. Why? oxygen.

1. They can accumulate in the environment, and Environmental Effects

contaminate water and soil.
2. They can enter the food chains.  In the atmosphere, it is spatially variable and
3. They can trigger the production of free short lived, having a role in the formation
radicals. of ground-level ozone (tropospheric ozone)
and can elevate concentrations of methane.
Select the correct answer using the code given  Carbon monoxide reacts with hydroxyl radical
below. (-OH) to produce peroxy radical. Peroxy radical
reacts with nitrogen oxide (NO) to form
a. 1 and 2 only nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and hydroxyl
b. 3 only radical. NO2 gives O3 via
c. 1 and 3 only photolysis (separation of molecules by the
d. 1, 2 and 3 action of light).

Major Gaseous Air Pollutants, Their Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Sources & Effects
 Colorless and odorless gas vital to life on
Carbon monoxide (CO) Earth. It is heavier than air.
 Natural sources include volcanoes, hot
springs and geysers, and it is freed from
 Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless,
carbonate rocks by dissolution in water and
tasteless and highly toxic gas that is slightly
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 Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it  Ozone makes our eyes itchy, and watery. It
occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lowers our resistance to cold and pneumonia.
lakes, in ice caps and glaciers and also in
seawater. Nitrogen oxide (NOx)

Effects on Health  NOx is a generic term for the various nitrogen

oxides produced during combustion. Page
 CO2 is an asphyxiant gas (asphyxia → a  They are produced mainly in internal |
condition arising when the body is deprived of combustion engines and coal burning power
oxygen, causing unconsciousness or death.). plants. They are produced naturally 114
 Concentrations of 7% may cause suffocation, by lightening.
even in the presence of sufficient oxygen,
manifesting as dizziness, headache, and [Oxygen and nitrogen do not react at ambient
unconsciousness. temperatures. But at high temperatures they
produce various oxides of nitrogen. Such
Effects on Environment temperatures arise inside an internal
combustion engine or a power station boiler]
 Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse
gas. Burning of carbon-based fuels since the  Agricultural fertilization and the use of
industrial revolution has led to global nitrogen fixing plants also contribute to
warming. atmospheric NOx, by promoting nitrogen
 It is also a major cause of ocean fixation by microorganisms.
acidification because it dissolves in water to  NOx (contributes to global cooling) should
form carbonic acid. not be confused with nitrous oxide (N2O),
which is a greenhouse gas and has many
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) uses as an oxidizer.

 Chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs) are used in Effects on Health and Environment

refrigerators, air conditioners and aerosol
sprays.  They are believed to aggravate asthmatic
 Since the late 1970s, the use of CFCs has conditions and create many respiratory
been heavily regulated because of their health issues, especially in children.
destructive effects on the ozone layer.  The reduction of NOx emissions is one of the
(Explained in a separate post on Ozone most important technical challenges
Depletion) facing biodiesel.
 The Montreal Protocol on Substances that  NOx gases react to form smog and acid
Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to rain as well as being central to the formation
the Vienna Convention for the Protection of of tropospheric ozone.
the Ozone Layer) is an international  When NOx and volatile organic compounds
treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight, they
phasing out the production of numerous form photochemical smog.
substances including CFCs which are  Mono-nitrogen oxides eventually form nitric
responsible for ozone depletion. acid when dissolved in atmospheric moisture,
forming a component of acid rain.
Ozone (O3)  NOx emissions cause global cooling through
the formation of -OH radicals that destroy
 It occurs naturally in the stratosphere. Here it methane molecules, countering the effect of
absorbs harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. greenhouse gases.
 However, at the ground level, it is a pollutant
(Greenhouse gas) with highly toxic effects. Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
 Vehicles and industries are the major source
of ground-level ozone emissions.  It is a toxic gas with a pungent, irritating
 Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide play a smell. It contributes to acid rain
major role in converting O2 to O3.

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 It is released naturally by volcanic activity. It containing polymer chains of ethylene units in

is abundantly available in the atmosphere various chain lengths.
of Venus.  Ethylene is also an important natural plant
 Sulfur dioxide is primarily produced for hormone, used in agriculture to force
sulfuric acid manufacture. the ripening of fruits.
 Inhaling sulfur dioxide is associated with  Ethylene is of low toxicity to humans and
increased respiratory symptoms and disease, exposure to excess ethylene cause adverse Page
difficulty in breathing, and premature death. health effects like headache, drowsiness,
It also weakens the functioning of certain dizziness and unconsciousness. |
nerves.  Ethylene is not but Ethylene oxide is a 115
It is also produced by
Tobacco Smoke
 burning coal in thermal power
plants and diesel fuels.  Tobacco smoke generates a wide range of
 some industrial processes, such as production harmful chemicals and
of paper and smelting of metals. is carcinogenic (cancer causing).
 reactions involving Hydrogen Sulphide (H 2S)  Health effect - burning eyes, nose, and throat
and oxygen. irritation to cancer, bronchitis, severe asthma,
 The roasting of sulfide ores such as pyrite, and a decrease in lung function.
sphalerite, and cinnabar (mercury sulfide).
Pollutants Biological pollutants

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)  It includes pollen from plants, mite, and hair
from pets, fungi, parasites, and some bacteria.
 Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a  Most of them are allergens and can cause
large group of carbon-based chemicals that asthma, hay fever, and other allergic diseases.
easily evaporate at room temperature.
 For example, formaldehyde, which evaporates Asbestos
from paint, has a boiling point of only –19 °C.
Formaldehyde causes irritation to the eyes
 Asbestos refers to a set of six naturally
and nose and allergies.
occurring silicate fibrous minerals ––
 The main indoor sources are perfumes, hair
chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite,
sprays, furniture polish, glues, air fresheners,
tremolite, and actinolite.
moth repellents, wood preservatives, and other
 It is now known that prolonged inhalation of
asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal
 Health effect - imitation of the eye, nose and
illnesses including lung cancer,
throat, headaches, nausea and loss of
mesothelioma, and asbestosis (a type of
 Long term - suspected to damage the liver and
other parts of the body.
Benzene and Ethylene
 It is a gas that is emitted naturally by the soil.
Due to modern houses having poor
 Benzene is a natural constituent of crude oil
ventilation, it is confined inside the house and
and is one of the elementary petrochemicals.
causes lung cancers.
 Because benzene has a high octane number,
it is an important component of gasoline.
Smog - Photochemical smog – Sulfurous
 Benzene increases the risk of cancer and
other illnesses. Benzene is a notorious cause
of bone marrow failure.
 Ethylene is widely used in the chemical Prevention and Control of air Pollution
industry. Much of this production goes
toward polyethylene, a widely used plastic Indoor Air Pollution

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 Poor ventilation due to faulty design of 3. installing devices which reduce release of
buildings leads to pollution of the confined pollutants.
 Paints, carpets, furniture, etc. in rooms may  Devices like filters, electrostatic precipitators,
give out volatile organic compounds (VOCs). inertial collectors, scrubbers, gravel bed filters
 Use of disinfectants, fumigants, etc. may or dry scrubbers are described below:
release hazardous gases. Page
 In hospitals, pathogens present in waste Filters
remain in the air in the form of spores. This |
can result in hospital acquired infections and  Filters remove particulate matter from the gas 116
is an occupational health hazard. stream. The medium of a filter may be made of
 In congested areas, slums and rural areas fibrous materials like cloth, granular material
burning of firewood and biomass results in lot like sand, a rigid material like screen, or any
of smoke. mat like felt pad.
 Children and ladies exposed to smoke may  Baghouse filtration system is the most
suffer from acute respiratory problems. common one and is made of cotton or
synthetic fibres (for low temperatures) or glass
Prevention and control of indoor air cloth fabrics (for higher temperature up to
pollution 2900 C).

 Use of wood and dung cakes should be Electrostatic precipitators (ESP)

replaced by cleaner fuels such as biogas,
kerosene, LPG or electricity. But supply of  There are several ways of removing particulate
electricity is limited. Similarly kerosene is also matter; the most widely used method is
limited. The use of solar cookers must be electrostatic precipitation, which can remove
encouraged. over 99 per cent particulate matter present in
 Old stoves must be replaced with improved the exhaust from a thermal power plant.
stoves with high thermal efficiency and  The emanating dust is charged with ions and
reduced emission of pollutants including the ionized particulate matter is collected on
smoke. an oppositely charged surface.
 The house designs should incorporate a well-  An electrostatic precipitator has electrode
ventilated kitchen. wires that are maintained at several thousand
 Those species of trees such as baval (Acacia volts, which produce a corona that
nilotica) which are least smoky should be releases electrons.
planted and used. Charcoal is a comparatively  These electrons attach to dust particles giving
cleaner fuel. them a net negative charge. The collecting
 Indoor pollution due to decay of exposed plates are grounded (relatively positive charge)
kitchen waste can be reduced by covering the and attract the charged dust particles.
waste properly.  The velocity of air between the plates must be
 Segregation of waste, pretreatment at source, low enough to allow the dust to fall.
sterilization of rooms will help in checking  The particles are removed from the collection
indoor air pollution. surface by occasional shaking or by rapping
the surface.
Control of Industrial Pollution  ESPs are used in boilers, furnaces, and many
other units of thermal power plants, cement
 Industrial pollution can be greatly reduced by: factories, steel plants, etc.

1. use of cleaner fuels such as liquefied natural

gas (LNG) in power plants, fertilizer plants etc.
which is cheaper in addition to being
environmentally friendly.
2. employing environment friendly industrial
processes so that emission of pollutants and
hazardous waste is minimized.

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 Motor vehicles equipped with catalytic

converter should use unleaded
petrol because lead in the petrol inactivates
the catalyst.

Apart from the use of above mentioned

devices, other control measures are - Page
 increasing the height of chimneys.
 closing industries which pollute the 117
 shifting of polluting industries away from
cities and heavily populated areas.
 development and maintenance of green belt of
Inertial collectors adequate width.

 It works on the principle that inertia of SPM Steps Taken to Control Vehicular
(suspended particulate matter) in a gas is Pollution
higher than its solvent and as inertia is a
function of the mass of the particulate matter,  The emission standards for automobiles have
this device collects heavier particles more been set which if followed will reduce the
efficiently (centrifugation is the technique). pollution. Standards have been set for the
 ‘Cyclone’ is a common inertial collector used durability of catalytic converters which reduce
in gas cleaning plants. vehicular emission.
 In cities like Delhi, motor vehicles need to
Scrubbers obtain Pollution Under Control (PUC)
certificate at regular intervals. This ensures
 Scrubbers are wet collectors. They that levels of pollutants emitted from vehicle
remove aerosols from a stream of gas either exhaust are not beyond the prescribed legal
by collecting wet particles on a surface limits.
followed by their removal, or else the particles  The price of diesel is much cheaper than
are wetted by a scrubbing liquid. petrol which promotes use of diesel. To reduce
 The particles get trapped as they travel from emission of sulphur dioxide, sulphur content
supporting gaseous medium across the in diesel has been reduced to 0.05%.
interface to the liquid scrubbing medium. (this  Earlier lead in the form of tetraethyl lead was
is just like mucus in trachea trapping dust) added in the petrol to raise octane
 A scrubber can remove gases like sulphur level for smooth running of engines. Addition
dioxide. of lead in petrol has been banned to prevent
emission of lead particles with the vehicular
Catalytic converter emission.
 Usage of alternate fuels like CNG in public
transport vehicles is made mandatory in cities
 Proper maintenance of automobiles along with like Delhi. All the buses of Delhi were
use of lead-free petrol or diesel can reduce the converted to run on CNG by the end of 2002.
pollutants they emit.
 Catalytic converters, having expensive metals
 CNG burns most efficiently, unlike petrol or
namely platinum-palladium and rhodium as
diesel, in the automobiles and very little of it is
the catalysts, are fitted into automobiles for
left unburnt. Moreover, CNG is cheaper than
reducing emission of poisonous gases.
petrol or diesel, cannot be siphoned off by
 As the exhaust passes through the catalytic
thieves and adulterated like petrol or diesel.
converter, unburnt hydrocarbons are
 The main problem with switching over to CNG
converted into carbon dioxide and water, and
is the difficulty of laying down pipelines to
carbon monoxide and nitric oxide are changed
deliver CNG through distribution
to carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas,
points/pumps and ensuring uninterrupted
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supply. The National Air Quality Monitoring

Programme (NAMP) is undertaken

 Simultaneously parallel steps taken in Delhi  to determine status and trends of ambient air
for reducing vehicular pollution include quality;
phasing out of old vehicles, use of unleaded  to ascertain the compliance of NAAQS;
petrol, use of low-sulphur petrol and diesel,  to identify non-attainment cities; Page
use of catalytic converters in vehicles,  to understand the natural process of cleaning
in the atmosphere; and |
application of stringent pollution- level norms
for vehicles, etc.  to undertake preventive and corrective 118
 The Government of India through a new auto measures.
fuel policy has laid out a roadmap to cut down
vehicular pollution in Indian cities. National Ambient Air Quality Standards
 More stringent norms for fuels means steadily (NAAQS)
reducing the sulphur and aromatics content
in petrol and diesel fuels.  The NAAQS have been revisited and revised in
 The goal, according to the roadmap, is November 2009 for 12 pollutants, which
to reduce sulphur to 50 ppm in petrol and include
diesel and bring down the level of aromatic  sulphur dioxide (S02),
hydrocarbons to 35 per cent.  nitrogen dioxide (NO2),
 The Bharat Stage II (equivalent to Euro-II  particulate matter having micron (PM10),
norms), which is currently in place in Delhi,  particulate matter having size less than 2.5
Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and micron (PM2.5),
other major cities was made applicable to all  ozone,
automobiles throughout the country.  lead,
 All automobiles in major cities were expected  carbon monoxide (CO),
to meet the Euro III emission specifications by  arsenic,
2005 and Euro-IV norms by 2010.  nickel,
 The rest of the country was expected to meet  benzene,
Euro-III emission norm by 2010.  ammonia, and
 According to an estimate, a substantial fall in  benzopyrene.
CO2 and SO2 level has been found in Delhi
between 1997 and 2005. But still their levels National Air Quality Index (AQI)
are not under permissible levels.
 The recent odd-even formula is expected to  Launched by the Environment Ministry in
improve the worsening air quality in Delhi. April 2015.
 In India, the Air (Prevention and Control of  Initiative under ‘Swachh Bharat’.
Pollution) Act came into force in 1981, but
was amended in 1987 to include noise as an AQI
air pollutant. Noise is undesired high level of
 It helps the common man to judge the air
quality within his vicinity.
Government Initiative  Index constituted as a part of Government’s
mission to improve the culture of cleanliness.
National Air Quality Monitoring
Programme Old vs new

 Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has  While the earlier measuring index was limited
been executing a nationwide programme of to three indicators, the current measurement
ambient air quality monitoring known as index had been made quite comprehensive by
National Air Quality Monitoring Programme the addition of more parameters.
Previously who measured Air pollution

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 Central Pollution Control Board along with Smog

State Pollution Control Boards has been
operating National Air Monitoring Program

Why is AQI necessary

 Quality of data from some cities remains weak
and the standards set for pollutants fall short
of World Health Organization 119
 The pollution related analysis using vast
number of complex parameters was
complicated for the common man to
Categories of air pollution under AQI m2mI

 There are six AQI categories, namely Good,  Smog = smoke + fog (smoky fog) caused by
Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very the burning of large amounts of coal,
Poor, and Severe. vehicular emission and industrial
fumes (Primary pollutants).
Pollutants considered  Smog contains soot particulates like smoke,
sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other
 The proposed AQI will consider eight components.
pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3,  At least two distinct types of smog are
NH3, and Pb). recognized: sulfurous
smog and photochemical smog.
Primary and secondary pollutants
 Government is disincentivising use of private
vehicles through congestion charging.  A primary pollutant is an air pollutant emitted
 The National Green Tribunal has ordered that directly from a source.
diesel vehicles over 10 years old not ply on  A secondary pollutant is not directly emitted
Delhi roads. as such, but forms when other pollutants
 Odd even formula. (primary pollutants) react in the atmosphere.
 Making city roads friendly to bicycle users.  Examples of a secondary pollutant
 Promoting rooftop solar power as an include ozone, which is formed when
alternative to coal power.
1. hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)
Photochemical smog - Sulfurous smog combine in the presence of sunlight;
2. NO combines with oxygen in the air; and
In this Post: Smog - Primary and secondary 3. acid rain, which is formed when sulfur dioxide
pollutants; Types of Smog: Sulfurous smog or nitrogen oxides react with water.
[London Smog] and Photochemical smog [Los
Angeles Smog]; Effects of Smog; Question Sulfurous smog
UPSC Mains 2015: Mumbai, Delhi and
Kolkata are the three mega cities of the
country but the air pollution is much more  Sulfurous smog is also called “London
serious problem in Delhi as compared to the smog,” (first formed in London).
other two. Why is this so?] [200 words]  Sulfurous smog results from a high
concentration of SULFUR OXIDES in the air
and is caused by the use of sulfur-bearing
Previous post: Must read post: Condensation –
fossil fuels, particularly coal (Coal was the
Forms of Condensation – Types of Clouds
mains source of power in London during
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nineteenth century. The effects of coal burning Nitrogen

were observed in early twentieth century). Dioxide + Sunlight + Hydrocarbons = Oz
 This type of smog is aggravated one (Ozone in stratosphere it is beneficial,
by dampness and a high concentration of but near the earth’s surface it results in
suspended particulate matter in the air. global warming as it is a greenhouse gas)

 The resulting smog causes a light brownish Page

coloration of the atmosphere, reduced
visibility, plant damage, irritation of the eyes, |
and respiratory distress. 120

Photochemical smog Reactions involved

 Photochemical smog is also known as “Los

Angeles smog”.
 Photochemical smog occurs most prominently
in urban areas that have large numbers of
automobiles (Nitrogen oxides are the primary
 Photochemical (summer smog) forms when
pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (primary
pollutant) and organic compounds (primary
pollutants) react together in the presence
of SUNLIGHT. A gas called OZONE (Secondary
pollutant) is formed.

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Haze  Smog is a combination of airborne particulate

matter, like soot, and invisible toxic gases
 Haze is traditionally an atmospheric including ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO),
phenomenon where dust, smoke and other dry sulfur dioxide (SO2), which are carcinogens
particles obscure the clarity of the sky (No (cancer causing agents).
condensation. Smog is similar to haze but  Temperature inversions are accentuated
there is condensation in smog). and precipitation is reduced.
 Sources for haze particles include farming  Smog related Haze lowers visibility.
(ploughing in dry weather), traffic, industry,
and wildfires. Question: UPSC Mains 2015

Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are the three

mega cities of the country but the air
pollution is much more serious problem in
Delhi as compared to the other two. Why is
this so?] [200 words]

 In spite of similar urbanization, air pollution is

much more severe in Delhi compared to that
in Mumbai and Kolkata. This is because of
Effects of Smog
Polluting Industry in close vicinity in
 The atmospheric pollution levels of Los
Angeles, Beijing, Delhi, Mexico City and other
cities are increased by inversion that traps  Delhi and its immediate neighborhood is the
pollution close to the ground. hot bed of polluting industries which are
primarily coal fueled. Burning coal releases
Oxides of sulphur which forms sulphurous
Temperature Inversion – Types – Effects on
smog. This type of smog is more pronounced
in Delhi than in the other two cities due to
geography and climate.
 It is usually highly toxic to humans and can
cause severe sickness, shortened life or death.
Vehicular Emissions
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 All the three cities contribute nearly equal degraded into molecular oxygen in the
vehicular emissions rich in CO2 and NO2. stratosphere.
NO2 results in phochemical smog. Here again,  There should be a balance between production
Delhi is worst hit due to its geography and and degradation of ozone in the stratosphere
climate. so that there is a continuous layer of ozone.
 Of late, the balance has been disrupted due to
Geography and Climate enhancement of ozone degradation by Page
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
 This the most detrimental factor. Delhi is [chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are halocarbons]. |
a continental city while the other two are There is a steady decline of about 4% in the 122
coastal. Land and See Breezes in Mumbai and total volume of ozone in Earth's stratosphere.
Kolkata carry pollutants away from the city.  Much larger decrease in stratospheric ozone is
There is no such advantage to Delhi as it is observed around Earth's polar regions.
land locked.
 Also, the duration of monsoon winds is short Halocarbon == a compound in which the
in Delhi compared to the other two. hydrogen of a hydrocarbon is replaced by
 Delhi faces severe cold wave in winter halogens like chlorine, bromine, iodine etc.
compared to the other two. Cold climate here
creates temperature inversion which traps the Halogen == group of reactive non-metallic
pollutants, mainly smog, for a longer duration. elements like fluorine, chlorine, bromine,
iodine, and astatine.
Farm Straw Burning
The thickness of the ozone in a column of air
 Delhi is at the heart of major agricultural from the ground to the top of the atmosphere
region. Burning of farm straw in the is measured in terms of Dobson units (DU).
surrounding regions also adds to Delhi’s
pollution levels. The ozone measurement instruments and
techniques are varied. Some of them are
226 words. Cutting those 26 words will be the Dobson spectrophotometer and
detrimental for success. the filter ozonometer called M83.

Ozone Depletion | Ozone Hole - Causes, Halogen atoms like chlorine destroy
Effects ozone

A layer of ozone preset in the atmosphere  Photodissociation (under the influence of

(stratosphere) protects the biosphere from the sunlight) of ozone-depleting substances
harmful effects of UV radiation by absorbing (ODS) like
1. halocarbon refrigerants (CFCs),
Ozone depletion or ozone hole refer to the 2. halocarbon solvents (Methyl Chloroform,
damage suffered by the ozone layer due to carbon tetrachloride),
natural and anthropogenic causes. 3. propellants, and foam-blowing agents (CFCs,
HCFCs, carbon tetrachloride and
Each of the factors/causes responsible for trichloroethane, freons, halons [used in
ozone depletion are explained below. firefighting])

Ozone Hole – Ozone Depletion creates free chlorine atoms that destroy
 Polar vortex and ozone depletion are two
distinct but related phenomena.  Bromine containing compounds
 Ozone gas is continuously formed by the called halons and HBFCs, i.e. hydrobromo
action of UV rays on molecular oxygen in the fluorocarbons [both used in fire
stratosphere. Also, ozone is simultaneously extinguishers and methyl bromide (a widely

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used pesticide)] release bromine atoms similar

to CFCs that release chlorine atoms.
 Each bromine atom destroys hundred
times of more ozone molecules than what a
chlorine atom does.


The ozone depletion is significant near poles

(especially south pole) than at any other place.
This is because of high altitude polar clouds
called Polar Stratospheric Clouds formed
during Polar Vortex events.

Q1. Consider the following statements:

Chlorofluorocarbons, known as ozone-
depleting substances, are used

1. in the production of plastic foams

2. in the production of tubeless tyres
3. in cleaning certain electronic components
4. as pressurizing agents in aerosol cans

Which of the statements given above is/are


a. 1, 2 and 3 only
b. 4 only Polar Vortex
c. 1, 3 and 4 only
d. 1, 2, 3 and 4
 Polar vortex (circumpolar vortex) is a polar
Answer: c) CFCs were used as refrigerants,  A polar vortex is a large pocket of very cold air,
pressurizing agents (foam and aerosol cans) typically the coldest air in the Northern
and for cleaning electronic equipment. Hemisphere, which sits over the polar region
during the winter season.
But how does a chlorine atom reach to  Polar vortex is closely associated with jet
such high levels of atmosphere? streams [Rossby waves].
 It is formed mainly in winter and gets weaker
 Methane (CH4), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), in summer.
nitrous oxide (N2O) and water are injected  It surrounds polar highs and lie within the
into the stratosphere through polar front (boundary separating the
towering tropical cumulus clouds. temperate and polar air masses).
 These compounds are broken down by the
ultraviolet radiation in the stratosphere.

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 PSCs or nacreous clouds contain water,

nitric acid and/or sulfuric acid.
 They are formed mainly during the event
of polar vertex in winter; more intense
at south pole.
 The Cl-catalyzed ozone depletion is
dramatically enhanced in the presence of Page
polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) [Finally this
how polar vortex contributes to ozone |
depletion]. 124
 A number of naturally occurring substances
like Hydrogen oxide (HOx), Methane (CH4),
Hydrogen gas (H2), Nitrogen oxides
(NOx) aid the process of ozone depletion.

Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs)

 Extend from 12 km – 22 km above the

 They are nacreous clouds.

Nacreous clouds

 Nacreous clouds, sometimes called mother-of-

pearl clouds, are rare clouds.
 They are mostly visible within two hours after
sunset or before dawn.
 They form in frigid regions of the lower
stratosphere, some 15 - 25 km (9 -16 mile)
high and well above tropospheric clouds.  PSCs convert "reservoir" compounds into
 They are bright even after sunset and before reactive free radicals (Cl and ClO).
dawn because at those heights there is still  These free radicals deplete ozone as shown in
sunlight. the animation below.
 They are seen mostly during winter at high  So PSC accelerate ozone depletion.
latitudes like Scandinavia, Iceland, Alaska
and Northern Canada. Sometimes, however,
they occur as far south as England.

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b. Presence of prominent polar front and

stratospheric Clouds and inflow of
c. Absence of polar front and stratospheric
clouds; and inflow of methane and
d. Increased temperature at polar region due to Page
global warming
Answer: b) Presence of prominent polar front 125
and stratospheric clouds and inflow of
Gif Images: View in power point in full screen chlorofluorocarbons
Harmful Effects of Ozone Depletion

Effects on Humans

 UV rays are highly injurious to living

organisms since DNA and proteins of living
organisms preferentially absorb UV rays, and
its high energy breaks the chemical bonds
within these molecules.
 UV radiation of wavelengths shorter than UV-
B, are almost completely absorbed by Earth’s
atmosphere, given that the ozone layer is
 But if UV-B manages to reach the troposphere
due to ozone depletion, DNA and mutation
may occur. It causes aging of skin, damage to
skin cells and various types of skin cancers.
 In human eye, cornea absorbs UV-B radiation,
and a high dose of UV-B causes inflammation
of cornea, called snow-blindness cataract, etc.
Such exposure may permanently damage the

In short

 Increased susceptibility to skin-cancer

 Increase cataract (a medical condition in
which the lens of the eye becomes
progressively opaque, resulting in blurred
 Damage DNA (DNA mutations)
 Damage to cornea and causes retinal diseases
 Suppresses human immune systems

Effects on terrestrial plants

Q2. The formation of ozone hole in the
Antarctic region has been a cause of
concern. What could be the reason for Psychological and developmental processes of
ozone depletion at poles? plants are affected by UV-B radiation.

a. Presence of prominent tropospheric  Inhibits photosynthesis

turbulence; and inflow of chlorofluorocarbons  Inhibits metabolism

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 Represses growth 3. Integrated Global Ocean Services Systems

 Destroys cells (IGOSS)
 Causes DNA mutations 4. Global Climate Observing System (GCOS)
 Decline in forest productivity
CFC substitutes
Effects on aquatic ecosystems
 Further, use of HCFCs (Hydrochloric Page
 Exposure to solar UV-B radiation has been fluorocarbons) as a substitute for CFCs is
shown to affect both orientation mechanisms being recommended on temporary basis
and motility in phytoplankton, resulting in because HCFCs are relatively less damaging to 126
reduced survival rates for plankton population ozone layer as compared to CFCs, but they are
adversely affecting marine food chain. not completely ozone safe.
 Marine/freshwater organisms are very
sensitive to UV-rays. E.g. Corals International Efforts

Effects on air quality  Recognizing the deleterious effects of ozone

depletion, an international treaty, known as
 Increase in UV-B radiation result in higher the Montreal Protocol, was signed at Montreal
photo dissociation rates of key trace gases (Canada) in 1987 (effective in 1989) to control
that control the chemical reactivity of the the emission of ozone depleting substances.
 This can increase both production and Vienna Convention for the Protection of
destruction of ozone (03) and related oxidants the Ozone Layer
such as hydrogen peroxide (H202), which are
known to have adverse effects on human  Multilateral Environmental Agreement.
health, terrestrial plants, and outdoor  It was agreed upon at the Vienna Conference
materials. of 1985 and entered into force in 1988.
 Changes in the atmospheric concentrations of  It acts as a framework for the international
the hydroxyl radical (OH) may change the efforts to protect the ozone layer.
atmospheric lifetimes of climatically important  However, it does not include legally binding
gases such as methane (CH4) and the CFC reduction goals for the use of CFCs, the main
substitutes. chemical agents causing ozone depletion.
 Increased tropospheric reactivity could also These are laid out in the accompanying
lead to increased production of particulates Montreal Protocol.
such as cloud condensation nuclei, from the
oxidation and subsequent nucleation of Montreal Protocol

Effects on materials  The Montreal Protocol on Substances that

Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the
Vienna Convention for the Protection of the
 Accelerate breakdown of paints Ozone Layer) is an international treaty
 Accelerate breakdown of plastics designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing
 Affect temperature gradient levels in the out the production of numerous substances
atmosphere that are responsible for ozone depletion.
 Affect atmospheric circulation pattern,  It was agreed in 1987, and entered into force
climatic changes. in 1989, followed by a first meeting in
Helsinki, May 1989. Since then, it has
Measures to Prevent Ozone (O3) Layer undergone eight revisions.
Depletion  As a result of the international agreement, the
ozone hole in Antarctica is slowly recovering.
Monitoring of ozone layer is taken up by  Climate projections indicate that the ozone
layer will return to 1980 levels between 2050
1. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and 2070.
2. World Weather Watch (WWW)
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 It is the single most successful international Answer: b)

agreement to date.
Acid Rain – Causes, Effects | Ocean
The two ozone treaties (Vienna Convention Acidification
and Montreal Protocol) have been ratified by
197 parties [196 UN states + European Union] Acid Rain – Acidification
making them the first universally ratified Page
treaties in United Nations history.  Acid rain refers to any precipitation (rain, fog, |
mist, snow) that is more acidic than normal
UN Framework Convention on Climate (pH of less than 5.6. [pH below 7 = acidic]). 127
Change is also ratified by 197 parties.  Acid rain is caused by atmospheric pollution
from acidic gases such as sulphur
Q3. Which one of the following is dioxide and oxides of nitrogen emitted from
associated with the issue of control and burning of fossil fuels.
phasing out of the use of ozone-depleting  It is also recognized that acidic smog, fog,
substances? mist, move out of the atmosphere and settle
on dust particles which in turn accumulate on
a. Bretton Woods Conference vegetation as acid depositions. When rain
b. Montreal Protocol falls, the acid from these depositions leak and
c. Kyoto Protocol form acid dews.
d. Nagoya Protocol
The pH scale
Bretton Woods Conference established the
International Bank for Reconstruction and
 The pH scale is a measure of how acidic or
Development (IBRD) and the International
basic (alkaline) a solution is.
Monetary Fund (IMF).
 It ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral.
 A pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH greater
Montreal Protocol is an international treaty to than 7 is basic.
protect the ozone layer by phasing out the  It is based on hydrogen ion concentration in
production of ozone depleting substances. It is an aqueous solution.
legally binding.  pH values decreases as hydrogen ion levels
Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of  A solution with pH 4 is ten times more acidic
the UNFCCC to fight global warming by than solution with pH 5, and a hundred times
reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in more acidic than solution with pH 6.
the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent  Whilst the pH range is usually given as 0 to
dangerous anthropogenic interference with the 14, lower and higher values are theoretically
climate system”. It is binding on the parties. possible.

Nagoya Protocol is a supplementary agreement Acidic gases and their emission sources
to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD) on “Access to Genetic Resources and
the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits
Arising from their Utilization”.
Acidic gases Source
CO2 (Carbon dioxide) Fossil fuel burning, industrial process, respiration.
CH4 (Methane) Paddy fields, wetlands, gas drilling, landfills, decomposition of animals
wastes and carcasses.
CO (Carbon monoxide) Biomass burning, Industrial sources: smelting of iron ore, Biogenesis,
Plant isoprene's.
SO. (Sulphur oxides) Fossil fuel burning, power plants, smelting of metal sulfide ores,
industrial sources, industrial production of sulfuric acid in metallurgical,
chemical and fertilizer industries volcanoes, seas and
oceans, decomposition of organic matter.
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NO. (nitrogen oxides) Fossil fuel burning, lightening, biomass burning, forest fires, oceans,
power plants.
Formic acid (HCOOH)  Biomass burning due to forest fires causes emission of formic acid
(HCOOH) and formaldehyde (HCHO) into the atmosphere.
 Large fraction formaldehyde gets photo — oxidation and forms formic acid
in the atmosphere.
Carbonic acid (H2CO3) Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide dissolve in water (water vapor) to
form carbonic acid.
Q1. Acid rain is caused by the pollution of Dry Deposition 128
environment by
 In areas where the weather is dry, the acid
a) carbon dioxide and nitrogen chemicals may become incorporated into dust
b) carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide or smoke and fall to the ground through dry
c) ozone and carbon dioxide deposition, sticking to the ground, buildings,
d) nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide vegetation, cars, etc.
 Dry deposited gases and particles can be
Explanation: washed from these surfaces by rainstorms,
through runoff. This runoff water makes the
Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxides of resulting mixture more acidic.
nitrogen and oxides of sulphur in atmosphere  About half of the acidity in the atmosphere
can cause acid rains. falls back to earth through dry deposition.

Both b) and d) are correct. But d) has more Chemistry of Acid Rain
influence than b)
Six basic steps are involved in the formation of
Answer: d) nitrous oxide and sulphur acid rain:
 The atmosphere receives oxides of sulfur and
Types Of Acid Deposition
nitrogen from natural and man-made sources.
 Some of these oxides fall back directly to the
 "Acid rain" is a broad term referring to a ground as dry deposition, either close to the
mixture of wet and dry deposition (form of place of origin or some distance away.
deposition material) from the atmosphere.  Sunlight stimulates the formation of photo-
oxidants (such as ozone) in the atmosphere.
Wet Deposition  These photo-oxidants interact with the oxides
of sulfur and nitrogen and other gases (like
 If the acid chemicals in the air are blown into NH3) to produce H2SO4 (sulphuric acid) and
areas where the weather is wet, the acids can HNO3 (nitric acid) by oxidation.
fall to the ground in the form of rain, snow,  Acid rain containing ions of sulfate, nitrate,
fog, or mist. ammonium and hydrogen falls as wet
 As this acidic water flows over and through deposition.
the ground, it affects a variety of plants and

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Harmful effects of acid rain magnesium in the soil cause leaching of the
nutrients, making the soil infertile. This is
 Acid precipitation affects both aquatic and accompanied by a decrease in the respiration
terrestrial organisms. It also damages of soil organisms.
buildings and monuments.  An increase in ammonia in the soil due to a
decrease in other nutrients decrease the rate
of decomposition. The nitrate level of the soil
Effects on humans
is also found to decrease.
 The impact of acid rain on soil is less in India;
 Acid rain affects human health is a number of
because Indian soils are mostly alkaline, with
good buffering ability.
 The obvious ones are bad smells, reduced
visibility; irritation of the skin, eyes and the
Effects on aquatic life
respiratory tract.
 Some direct effects include chronic bronchitis,
pulmonary emphysema and cancer.  The pH of the medium is very important for
 Some indirect effects include food poisoning metabolic processes of aquatic organisms.
vis a vis drinking water and food.  Eggs or sperms of fish, frogs and other aquatic
 An increase in the levels of toxic heavy-metals organisms are sensitive to pH changes.
like manganese, copper, cadmium and  Acid rain kills their gametes affecting the life
aluminium also contribute to the detrimental cycles and productivity. Death or their
effects on human health. inability to increase in numbers causes severe
ecosystem imbalances.
 Acidic lake waters may kill
Effects on soil
bacteria/microbes/planktons and the acidic
lakes become unproductive and life less. Such
 The exchange between hydrogen ions and the
acidic and lifeless ponds/lakes adversely
nutrient cations like potassium and
affect fisheries and livelihood.
Naturally acidic lakes Anthropogenically acidified lakes
Brown to yellow colour Very clear water caused by reduced primary productivity
caused by humic substances
Concentrations of dissolved Dissolved organic carbon concentrations are low. Whereas the
organic carbon are high transparency is high.
while transparency is low
Low pH but well buffered. Poorly buffered
Abound with aquatic life. Some of the more sensitive taxa, such as blue-green algae, some
bacteria, snails, mussels crustaceans, mayflies and fish either
decrease or /are eliminated.
Effect on terrestrial life  Acid rain damage cuticle of plant leaves
resulting etiolation (pale and weak) of foliage.
This in turn reduces photosynthesis.
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 Reduced photosynthesis accompanied by leaf an acidic environment, most blue-green

fall reduces plant and crop productivity. bacteria prefer an alkaline environment.
 Acidic medium promotes leaching of heavy  So after a long run of acid rain, microbial
metals like aluminum, lead and mercury. species in the soil and water shift from
Such metals when percolate into ground water bacteria-bound to fungi-bound and cause an
affect soil micro flora/fauna. imbalance in the micro flora.
 Absorption of these toxic metal ions by  This causes a delay in the decomposition of Page
plants/microorganisms affect their soil organic material, and an increase in
metabolism. fungal disease in aquatic life and forests. |
 Acid rain can directly affect the eggs and 130
tadpoles of frogs and salamanders that breed Effects on forests
in small forest ponds.
 It has been postulated that acid rain can  Acid rains kill vegetation and causes severe
indirectly affect wildlife by allowing metals damage to the forest landscape.
bound on soils and sediments to be released
into the aquatic environment, where toxic Effect on buildings, monuments and
substances may be ingested by animals, like materials
birds, that feed in such an environment.
 Other indirect effects of acid rain on wildlife  Many old, historic, ancient buildings and
are loss or alteration of food and habitat works of art/textile etc. are adversely affected
resources. by acid rain.
 Limestone and marble are destroyed by acid
Effects on micro organisms rain. Smoke and soot cover such objects. They
slowly dissolve/flake away the surfaces
 pH determines the proliferation of any because of acid fumes in the air. Many
microbial species in a particular environment buildings/monuments such as Taj Mahal in
and the rate at which it can produce. Agra have suffered from acid rain.
 The optimum pH of most bacteria and
protozoa is near neutrality; most fungi prefer
Material Type of Impact Principal Air Pollutants
Metals Corrosion, tarnishing Sulphur Oxides and other acid gases
Paints and organic Surface erosion, discoloration, Sulphur dioxides, hydrogen sulphide
coatings soiling
Textiles Fading, colour change Nitrogen oxides, ozone
Leather Weakening, powdered surface Sulphur oxides
Rubber Cracking Ozone
Trigger Effect of Acid Rain on  The use of lime has helped in reducing the
Pollutants mercury levels in fish.

 A low pH of the rainwater and subsequent Aluminium

increased acidity in the environment can
trigger off or aggravate the effects of certain  Acidified waters are known to leach
harmful pollutants. substantial amounts of aluminium from
Mercury  Even at relatively low levels, aluminium has
been implicated in dialysis dementia, a
disorder of the central nervous system, which
 Methyl mercury and related short chain alkyl
may be toxic to individuals with impaired
mercurial compounds are most dangerous to
kidney function.
humans, as they accumulate in edible fish
 Although acid deposition may not increase the Cadmium
production of methyl mercury, it may increase
the partitioning of methyl mercury into the  Cadmium can enter the drinking water supply
water column. through corrosion of galvanized pipe or from

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the copper-zinc solder used in the distribution  Lowering of soil pH is reported from north-
systems. eastern India, coastal Karnataka and Kerala,
 A decrease in water pH from 6.5 to 4.5 can parts of Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar.
result in a fivefold increase in cadmium and
could cause renal tubular damage. Indicators

Lead  Lichens serve as good bio-indicators for air Page

 Foetuses and infants are highly susceptible to  In the variety of pH around 6.0, several
drinking water lead contamination. animals, those are important food items for 131
 High blood lead levels in children (>30 mug/ fish decline. These include the freshwater
Ml) are believed to induce biochemical and shrimp, crayfish, snails and some small
neurophysiological dysfunction. mussels.
 However, lower than normal blood levels of
lead can cause mental deficiencies and Acid Rain Control
behavioural problems.
 Any procedure that shall reduce, minimize, or
Asbestos halt emission of sulphur and nitrogen oxides
into the atmosphere shall control acid rain.
 Asbestos in natural rock can be released by  Use of low sulphur fuel or natural gas or
acidic waters. washed coal (chemical washing of pulverized
coal) in thermal plants can reduce incidences
Acid Rain Areas of acid rain.
 Buffering - the practice of adding a
 They are concentrated in the industrialized neutralizing agent to the acidified water to
belt of the northern hemisphere. increase the pH is one of the important control
 They are often upland and/or mountainous measures. Usually lime in the form of calcium
areas, which are well-watered by rain and oxide and calcium carbonate is used.
 Due to the abundance of water, they possess Ocean Acidification
numerous lakes and streams and also have
more land covered with vegetation. Being  Ocean acidification has been called the “evil
upland, they often have thin soils and twin of global warming” and “the other CO2
glaciated bedrock. problem”.
 Many parts of Scandinavia, Canada, the North  Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in
and Northeast United States and Northern the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the
Europe (particularly West Germany and uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the
upland Britain) share these features. atmosphere.
 Across the Atlantic there are number of acid  An estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide
rain hot spots including Nova Scotia, from human activity released into the
Southern Ontario and Quebec in Canada, the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and
Adirondack Mountains in New York, Great lakes.
Smoky mountains, parts of Wisconsin,  To achieve chemical equilibrium, some of it
Minnesota, and the Colorado Rockies of the reacts with the water to form carbonic acid.
US.  Some of these extra carbonic acid molecules
react with a water molecule to give a
In India bicarbonate ion and a hydronium ion, thus
increasing ocean acidity (H+ ion
 In India, the first report of acid rain came from concentration).
Bombay in 1974. Instances of acid rain are  Checking CO and CO2 emissions and
being reported from metropolitan cities. controlling pollution are the only means to
 In India, the annual SO2 emission has almost reduce ocean acidification.
doubled in the last decade due to increased
fossil fuel consumption. Other contributors

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 Acid rain can have a pH between 1 and 6 and crustaceans, sea urchins, certain types of
has impact on surface ocean chemistry. It has plankton, lobsters, etc.).
major effect on ocean acidification locally and  However, increase in atmospheric CO2 levels
regionally but very small globally. lead to decrease in pH level, increase in the
 Eutrophication leads to large plankton concentration of carbonic acid and
blooms, and when these blooms collapse and bicarbonate ions, causing a decrease in the
sink to the sea bed the subsequent respiration concentration of carbonate ions. Page
of bacteria decomposing the algae leads to a  Thus carbonate ions are less available and
decrease in sea water oxygen and an increase calcification is therefore harder to achieve, |
in CO2 (a decline in pH). and may be prevented altogether. 132
Effects of Ocean Acidification Saturation horizons

 Oceans are an important reservoir for CO2,  Deep, cold ocean waters are naturally under
absorbing a significant quantity of it (one- saturated with carbonate ions causing the
third) produced by anthropogenic activities shells of most calcifying organisms to dissolve.
and effectively buffering climate change.  Surface waters are oversaturated with
 The uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide is carbonate ions and do not readily dissolve
occurring at a rate exceeding the natural shells of calcifying organisms.
buffering capacity of the oceans creating new  The saturation horizon is the level below
problems in the form of ocean acidification. which calcium carbonate minerals undergo
1. Increasing acidity depresses metabolic rates  Those organisms that can survive below the
and immune responses in some organisms. saturation horizon do so due to special
2. Other chemical reactions are triggered which mechanisms to protect their calcium
result in a net decrease in the amount of carbonate from dissolving.
carbonate ions available. This makes it more  As ocean acidification causes this horizon to
difficult for marine calcifying organisms, such rise vertically (upwelling) in the water column
as coral (calcareous corals) and some so more and more calcifying organisms will be
plankton (calcareous plankton), to form exposed to under saturated water and thus
biogenic calcium carbonate. vulnerable to dissolution of their shells and
3. Commercial fisheries are threatened because skeletons.
acidification harms calcifying organisms
which form the base of the Arctic food webs. Impact of Ocean Acidification on Cloud
4. Acidification could damage the Arctic tourism Formation
economy and affect the way of life of
indigenous peoples. A major pillar of Arctic
 The majority of sulfur in the atmosphere is
tourism is the sport fishing and hunting
emitted from the ocean, often in the form
of dimethylsulfide (DMS) produced by
5. Increasing acidity accentuates coral bleaching
as corals are very sensitive to changes in
 Some of DMS produced
water composition.
by phytoplankton enters the atmosphere and
reacts to make sulphuric acid, which clumps
How ocean acidification effects into aerosols, or microscopic airborne
calcifying ability particles.
 Aerosols seed the formation of clouds,
 Seawater absorbs CO2 to produce carbonic which help cool the Earth by reflecting
acid, bicarbonate and carbonate ions. sunlight.
 The carbonate ions are essential to the  But, in acidified ocean water,
calcification process that allows certain phytoplankton produce less DMS. This
marine organisms to build their calcium reduction of sulfur may lead to decreased
carbonate shells and skeletons (e.g. hard cloud formation, raising global
tropical corals, cold water corals, molluscs, temperatures.

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Artificial Cloud seeding heat, which degrades the quality of water so

that it becomes unfit for use’.
 Cloud seeding is the process of spreading  Water pollution is caused by a variety of
either dry ice, or more commonly, silver human activities such as industrial,
iodide aerosols, into the upper part of clouds agricultural and domestic.
to try to stimulate the precipitation process  Natural sources of pollution of water are soil
and form rain. erosion, leaching of minerals from rocks and Page
 Since most rainfall starts through the growth decaying of organic matter.
of ice crystals from super-cooled cloud |
droplets in the upper parts of clouds, Point and non-point sources of 133
the silver iodide particles are meant to pollution
encourage the growth of new ice particles.
 Rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, estuaries and
Q2. The acidification of oceans is ground water sources may be polluted by
increasing. Why is this phenomenon a point or non-point sources.
cause of concern?  When pollutants are discharged from a
specific location such as a drain pipe carrying
1. The growth and survival of calcareous industrial effluents discharged directly into a
phytoplankton will be adversely affected. water body it represents point source
2. The growth and survival of coral reefs will be pollution.
adversely affected.  In contrast non-point sources include
3. The survival of some animals that have discharge of pollutants from diffused sources
phytoplanktonic larvae will be adversely or from a larger area such as run off from
affected. agricultural fields, grazing lands, construction
4. The cloud seeding and formation of clouds will sites, abandoned mines and pits, roads and
be adversely affected. streets.

Which of statements given above is / are Causes of Water Pollution

Sewage Water
a. 1, 2 and 3 only
b. 2 only
c. 1 and 3 only  Sewage water include discharges from houses,
d. 1, 2, 3 and 4 commercial and industrial establishments
connected to public sewerage system.
Explanation:  The sewage contains human and animal
excreta, food residues, cleaning agents,
detergents and other wastes.
We have already learnt that ocean
 Domestic and hospital sewage contain many
acidification decreases the calcifying ability of
undesirable pathogenic microorganisms, and
corals, calcareous plankton, crustaceans etc.
its disposal into a water without proper
It also adversely affects cloud formation and
cloud seeding. So Options 1, 2 and 4 are
Putrescibility is the process of decomposition
of organic matter present in water by
Answer: d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
microorganisms using oxygen.
Water Pollution - Causes, Control Dissolved Oxygen (DO) – Biological Oxygen
Measures Demand (BOD) – Chemical oxygen demand
Water Pollution
 Water pollution is the addition/presence of
undesirable substances to/in water such as
organic, inorganic, biological, radiological,

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 Presence of organic and inorganic wastes in  The higher value of BOD indicates low DO
water decreases the dissolved Oxygen (DO) content of water. Since BOD is limited to
content of the water. biodegradable materials Therefore, it is not a
 Water having DO content below 8.0 mg/L may reliable method of measuring pollution load in
be considered as contaminated. Water having water.
DO content below. 4.0 mg/L is considered to
be highly polluted. COD Page
 DO content of water is important for the
survival of aquatic organisms. A number of |
 Chemical oxygen demand (COD) is a slightly
factors like surface turbulence, photosynthetic better mode used to measure pollution load in 134
activity, O2 consumption by organisms and water.
decomposition of organic matter are the  COD measures the amount of oxygen in parts
factors which determine the amount of DO per million required to oxidize organic
present in water. (biodegradable and non-
 The higher amounts of waste increases the biodegradable) and oxidizable
rates of decomposition and O2 consumption, inorganic compounds in the water sample.
thereby decreases the DO content of water.
Industrial Wastes
 The industries discharge several inorganic and
 The demand for O2 is directly related to
organic pollutants, which may prove highly
increasing input of organic wastes and is
toxic to the living beings.
expressed as biological oxygen demand (BOD)
 Discharge of waste water from industries like
of water.
petroleum, paper manufacturing, metal
 Water pollution by organic wastes is measured
extraction and processing, chemical
in terms of Biochemical Oxygen Demand
manufacturing, etc., that often contain toxic
substances, notably, heavy metals (defined as
 BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen
elements with density > 5 g/cm3 such
needed by bacteria in decomposing the
as mercury, cadmium, copper, lead,
organic wastes present in water. It is
arsenic) and a variety of organic compounds.
expressed in milligrams of oxygen per litre of
Type of Industry Inorganic pollutants Organic pollutant
Mining Chlorides, ferrous sulphate, sulphuric acid,
hydrogen sulphide, ferric hydroxide and heavy
Iron and Steel Iron cyanide, thiocyanates, sulphides, oxides Oil, phenol and naptha
of copper, chromium, cadmium, and mercury.
Chemical Plants Various acids and alkalies, chlorides, sulphates, Aromatic compounds
nitrates of metals, phosphorus, fluorine, silica and solvents, organic acids,
suspended particles. nitro compound dyes,
Pharmaceutical Proteins,
carbohydrates, organic
solvent intermediate
products, drugs and
Soap and Detergent Tertiary ammonium compounds, alkalies (e.g. Flats and fatty acids,
lime or caustic soda) glycerol,
Food processing pathogens
Paper and Pulp Sulphides, bleaching liquors. organic acids.

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Agricultural sources ponds, allow the water to cool before releasing

into any receiving water body
 Agricultural runoff contains dissolved salts  Nuclear accidents near water bodies or during
such as nitrates, phosphates, ammonia and natural calamities like tsunami and
other nutrients, and toxic metal ions and earthquakes poses the risk of radiation
organic compounds. leakage (radiation exposure) into water bodies.
 Fertilizers contain major plant nutrients such E.g. Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Page
as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
 Excess fertilizers may reach the ground water Radiation exposure causes mutations in |
by leaching or may be mixed with surface DNA of marine organisms. If those mutations 135
water of rivers, lakes and ponds by runoff and are not repaired, the cell may turn cancerous.
 Pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, Radioactive iodine tends to be absorbed by
herbicides, nematicides, rodenticides and soil the thyroid gland and can cause thyroid
fumigants. They contain a wide range of cancer.
chemicals such as chlorinated hydrocarbons
(CHCs. E.g. DDT, Endosulfan etc.), Oil Spills
organophosphates, metallic salts,
carbonates, thiocarbonates, derivatives of  Oil spills are most glaring of all oceanic
acetic acid Many of the pesticides are non- pollution.
degradable and their residues have long life.  The most common cause of oil spill is leakage
 The animal excreta such as dung, wastes from during marine transport and leakage form
poultry farms, piggeries and slaughter houses underground storage tanks. Oil spill could
etc. reach the water though run off and occur during off shore oil production as well.
surface leaching during rainy season.
Impact of oil spill on marine life
Thermal and Radiation Pollution
 Oil being lighter than water covers the water
 Power plants – thermal and nuclear, chemical surface as a thin film cutting off oxygen to
and other industries use lot of water for floating plants and other producers.
cooling purposes and the used hot water is  Within hours of oil spill, the fishes, shellfish,
discharged into rivers, streams or oceans. plankton die due to suffocation and metabolic
 Discharge of hot water may increase the disorders.
temperature of the receiving water by 10 to 15  Birds and sea mammals that consume dead
°C above the ambient water temperature. This fishes and plankton die due to poisoning.
is thermal pollution. Death of these organisms severely damages
 Increase in water temperature decreases marine ecosystems.
dissolved oxygen in water which adversely
affects aquatic life. Impact of oil spills on terrestrial life
 Unlike terrestrial organisms, aquatic
organisms are adopted to a uniform steady  Bays, estuaries, shores, reefs, beaches
temperature of environment. Sudden rise in particularly near large coastal cities or at the
temperature kills fishes and other aquatic mouth of rivers are relatively more susceptible
animals. to the hazards of oil spills.
 Discharge of hot water in water body affects  A number of coastal activities, especially
feeding in fishes, increases their metabolism recreational such as bathing, boating, angling,
and affects their growth. Their swimming diving, rafting are affected. As a result tourism
efficiency declines. Running away from and hotel business in the coastal areas suffers
predators or chasing prey becomes difficult. seriously.
Their resistance to diseases and parasites
decreases. Invasive species
 One of the best methods of reducing thermal
pollution is to store the hot water in cooling

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 Plants of water hyacinth are the world’s most Next easiest option is Arsenic (Heavy metal).
problematic aquatic weed, also called ‘Terror Damn!
of Bengal’.
Nest easiest option is Uranium. Many columns
are written on uranium mining and its ill-
effects. So, (a) also can be elevated. (a) and (b)
eliminated. (c) and (d) remains. Page
The knowledge of either “Sorbitol” or
“Formaldehyde” will tell us the answer. 136

Formaldehyde is more known than sorbitol.

Googling didn’t give me any authentic source
that called formaldehyde a water pollutant. It
is used a preservative to preserve human
organs. It finds some application in textile,
 They grow abundantly in eutrophic water resign and wood industry.
bodies, and lead to an imbalance in the
ecosystem dynamics of the water body. Answer: c) 1, 3 and 5 only
 They cause havoc by their excessive growth
leading to stagnation of polluted water.
Sorbitol (glucitol) is a sugar alcohol with a
sweet taste which the human body
Underground water pollution metabolizes slowly.

 In India at many places, the ground water is Marine pollution

threatened with contamination due to seepage
from industrial and municipal wastes and
 Oceans are the ultimate sink of all natural
effluents, sewage channels and agricultural
and manmade pollutants.
 Rivers discharge their pollutants into the sea.
 Pollutants like fluorides, uranium, heavy
 The sewerage and garbage of coastal cities are
metals and nutrients like nitrates and
also dumped into the sea.
phosphates are common in many parts of
 The other sources of oceanic pollution are
navigational discharge of oil, grease,
detergents, sewage, garbage and radioactive
Q1. Which of the following can be found as wastes, off shore oil mining, oil spills.
pollutants in the drinking water in some
parts of India?
Ground Water
1. Arsenic
2. Sorbitol Titbit: 22 March is celebrated as the world
3. Fluoride water day.
4. Formaldehyde
5. Uranium General Assembly of the United Nations
proclaimed the period 2005 – 2015 as the
Select the correct answer using the codes International Decade for action on “Water
given below. for life”

a. 1 and 3 only Natural stores of water in the global

b. 2, 4 and 5 only hydrological cycle
c. 1, 3 and 5 only
d. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Stores Percentage (%)
Oceans 97.71
Easiest option is 3) Fluoride. So, (b) can be Ice caps 1.9
eliminated. Ground water 0.5
Soil moisture 0.01
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Lakes and rivers 0.009 waste dumps and municipal drains may also
Atmosphere 0.0001 cause pathogenic contamination.

 The moisture in the soil indicates the presence Trace metals

of water underground.
 If we dig deeper and deeper, we would reach a  Include lead, mercury, cadmium, copper,
level where all the space between particles of chromium and nickel. These metals can be Page
soil and gaps between rocks are filled with toxic and carcinogenic.
water. The upper limit of this layer is called
the water table. Arsenic 137
 The water table may be at a depth of less than
a metre or may be several metres below the  Seepage of industrial and mine discharges, fly
ground. The water found below the water table ash ponds of thermal power plants can lead to
is called groundwater. metals in groundwater.
 The process of seeping of water into the  In India and Bangladesh [Ganges Delta],
ground is called infiltration. millions of people are exposed to groundwater
 At places the groundwater is stored between contaminated with high levels of arsenic, a
layers of hard rock below the water table. This highly toxic and dangerous pollutant.
is known as an aquifer.  Chronic exposure to arsenic causes black foot
 The rainwater can be used to recharge the disease. It also causes diarrhoea, peripheral
groundwater. This is referred to as water neuritis, hyperkeratosis and also lung and
harvesting. skin cancer.

Mahatma Gandhi said: “No one need to wait Organic compounds

for anyone else to adopt a humane and
enlightened course of action.”  Seepage of agricultural runoff loaded with
organic compounds like pesticides and may
Groundwater Contaminants and Their cause pesticide pollution of ground water.
 Excess fluoride in drinking water
 Dissolved nitrates commonly contaminate causes neuromuscular disorders, gastro-
groundwater. intestinal problems, teeth deformity,
 Excess nitrate in drinking water reacts with hardening of bones and stiff and painful
hemoglobin to form non- joints (skeletal fluorosis).
functional methaemoglobin, and impairs  Fluorisis is a common problem in several
oxygen transport. This condition is states of the country due to intake of high
called methaemoglobinemia or blue baby fluoride content water.
syndrome.  Fluorides cause dental fluorisis, stiffness of
joints (particularly spinal cord) causing
Methemoglobin is a form of the oxygen- humped back.
carrying metalloprotein hemoglobin.  Pain in bones and joint and outward bending
Methemoglobin cannot bind oxygen, unlike of legs from the knees is called Knock-Knee
oxyhemoglobin. syndrome.
 High concentration of fluoride ions is present
 High level of nitrates may form carcinogens in drinking water in 13 states of India. The
and can accelerate eutrophication in surface maximum level of fluoride, which the human
waters. body can tolerate is 1.5 parts per million
(mg/L of water). Long term ingestion of
Pathogens fluoride ions causes fluorosis.

 Poor hygiene of wells may cause pathogenic Major Water Issues Of India
contamination. Water seepage from solid

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Water scarcity therefore, ecologically very sensitive. They

need special protection.
 Due to un-even distribution of rainfall in time
and space and ever-increasing demand of Water Pollution Control Measures
water for agricultural, industrial and domestic
activities, the water resources are over-  Realizing the importance of maintaining the
exploited. This is resulting in shrinking or Page
cleanliness of the water bodies, the
even drying up of many water bodies for Government of India has passed the Water |
considerable periods in a year. (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,
 Reducing demands by optimum use, 1974 to safeguard our water resources. 138
minimization of wastage, efforts to reduce the  An ambitious plan to save the river, called
percolation and evaporation losses, the Ganga Action Plan was launched in 1985.
conservation efforts in domestic uses, It aimed to reduce the pollution levels in the
groundwater recharging, rain water river. However, the increasing population and
harvesting, afforestation, recycling and reuse industrialization have already damaged this
are important to combat this problem. mighty river beyond repair.
 In India, the Central Pollution Control Board
Pathogenic pollution (CPCB), an apex body in the field of water
quality management, has developed a concept
 Water borne diseases are the most important of “designated best use”.
water quality issues in India. This is mainly  Accordingly the water body is designated as A,
due to inadequate arrangements for transport B, C, D, E on the basis of
and treatment of wastewaters.  pH,
 dissolved oxygen, mg/1
Oxygen depletion  BOD, (200C) mg/l
 total coliform (MPN/100ml)
 Eutrophication [oxygen depletion due to algal  free ammonia mg/l,
blooms] is a common problem in most of the  electrical conductivity etc.
India lakes and rivers due to discharge of  The CPCB, in collaboration with the concerned
untreated sewage and industrial effluents. State Pollution Control Boards, has classified
all the water bodies including coastal waters
Salinity in the country according to their “designated
best uses”.
 There are number of cases where salinity is  This classification helps the water quality
increasing in both surface water and managers and planners to set water quality
groundwater. targets and identify needs and priority for
 The increase in groundwater salinity is mainly water quality restoration programmes for
due to increased irrigation activities or sea various water bodies in the country.
water intrusion in coastal areas.  The famous Ganga Action Plan and
subsequently the National River Action
Toxic pollution Plan are results of such exercise.
 Riparian buffers: A riparian buffer is a
 Due to discharge of toxic effluents from many vegetated area (a "buffer strip") near a stream,
industries and increased use of chemicals in usually forested, which helps shade and
agriculture and their subsequent contribution partially protect a stream from the impact of
to the water bodies, many water bodies in the adjacent land uses. It plays a key role in
country are polluted due to presence of toxic increasing water quality in associated
substances. streams, rivers, and lakes, thus providing
environmental benefits.
Ecological health  Treatment of sewage water and the industrial
effluents before releasing it into water bodies.
 A large number of areas in our aquatic Hot water should be cooled before release from
environment support rare species of aquatic the power plants.
and amphibious plants and animals and are,  Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides
should be avoided. Organic farming and
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efficient use of animal residues as fertilizers Using bioremediation techniques, TERI has
can replace chemical fertilizers. developed a mixture of bacteria called
 Water hyacinth (an aquatic weed, invasive ‘Oilzapper and Oilivorous-S’ which degrades
specie) can purify water by taking some toxic the pollutants of oil-contaminated sites,
materials and a number of heavy metals from leaving behind no harmful residues. This
water. technique is not only environment friendly,
 Oil spills in water can be cleaned with the help but also highly cost-effective. Page
of bregoli — a by-product of paper industry
resembling saw dust, oil zapper, Q2. Recently, ‘oilzapper’ was in the news. |
microorganisms. What is it? 139
 It has been suggested that we should
plant eucalyptus trees all along sewage 1. It is an eco-friendly technology for the
ponds. These trees absorb all surplus remediation of oil sludge and oil spills.
wastewater rapidly and release pure water 2. It is the latest technology developed for under-
vapor into the atmosphere. sea oil exploration.
3. It is a genetically engineered high biofuel
Bioremediation yielding maize variety.
4. It is the latest technology to control the
 Bioremediation is the use of microorganisms accidentally caused flames from oil wells.
(bacteria and fungi) to degrade the
environmental contaminants into less toxic Answer: a) Current Affairs based question.
forms. Keep track of latest developments.
 The microorganisms may be indigenous to a
contaminated area or they may be isolated Ex situ bioremediation
from elsewhere and brought to the
contaminated site.  Ex situ — involves the removal of the
 The process of bioremediation can be contaminated material to be treated
monitored indirectly by measuring elsewhere.
the Oxidation Reduction Potential or  Land farming: contaminated soil is excavated
redox in soil and groundwater, together with and spread over a prepared bed and
pH, temperature, oxygen content, electron periodically tilled until pollutants are
acceptor/donor concentrations, and degraded. The goal is to stimulate indigenous
concentration of breakdown products (e.g. biodegradative microorganisms and facilitate
carbon dioxide) their aerobic degradation of contaminants.
 Biopiles: it is a hybrid of land farming and
In situ bioremediation composting. Essentially, engineered cells are
constructed as aerated composted piles.
 In situ — It involves treatment of the Typically used for treatment of surface
contaminated material at the site. contamination with petroleum hydrocarbons.
 Bioventing: supply of air and nutrients  Bioreactors: it involves the processing of
through wells to contaminated soil to contaminated solid material (soil, sediment,
stimulate the growth of indigenous bacteria. It sludge) or water through an engineered
is used for simple hydrocarbons and can be containment system.
used where the contamination is deep under  Composting: Composting is nature's process
the surface. of recycling decomposed organic materials into
 Biosparging: Injection of air under pressure a rich soil known as compost.
below the water table to increase groundwater
oxygen concentrations and enhance the rate of Advantages and Disadvantages of
biological degradation of contaminants by bioremediation
naturally occurring bacteria
 Bioaugmentation: Microorganisms are Advantages of bioremediation
imported to a contaminated site to enhance
degradation process.  Useful for the complete destruction of a wide
variety of contaminants.

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 The complete destruction of target pollutants mercury which are released from radioactive
is possible. nuclear waste.
 Less expensive.
 Environment friendly. Effects of Water Pollution on Health
and Environment
Disadvantages of bioremediation
Effects of Water Pollution Page
 Bioremediation is limited to those compounds
that are biodegradable. Not all compounds Effects of Water Pollution on Human
are susceptible to rapid and complete Health 140
 Biological processes are often highly specific.
 Domestic and hospital sewage contain many
 It is difficult to extrapolate from bench and
undesirable pathogenic microorganisms, and
pilot-scale studies to full-scale field
its disposal into a water without proper
treatment may cause outbreak of serious
 Bioremediation often takes longer time than
diseases, such as, amoebiasis dysentery,
other treatment process.
typhoid, jaundice, cholera, etc.
 Metals like lead, zinc, arsenic, copper,
Phytoremediation mercury and cadmium in industrial waste
waters adversely affect humans and other
 Phytoremediation is use of plants to remove animals.
contaminants from soil and water. Natural  Arsenic pollution of ground water has been
phytoremediation is carried out by mangroves, reported from West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar,
estuarine vegetation and other wetland Western U.P. Consumption of such arsenic
vegetation. polluted water leads to accumulation of
 Phytoextraction/phytoaccumulation: plants arsenic in the body parts like blood, nails and
accumulate contaminants into the roots and hairs causing skin lesions, rough skin, dry
aboveground shoots or leaves. and thickening of skin and ultimately skin
 Phytotransformation/phytodegradation: cancer.
uptake of organic contaminants from soil, and  Mercury compounds in waste water are
their transformation to more stable, less toxic, converted by bacterial action into extremely
less mobile form. toxic methyl mercury, which can cause
 Phytostabilization: plants reduce the numbness of limbs, lips and tongue, deafness,
mobility and migration of contaminated soil. blurring of vision and mental derangement.
Leachable constituents are adsorbed and  Pollution of water bodies by mercury
bound into the plant structure. causes Minamata (neurological syndrome)
 Rhizodegradation: breakdown of disease in humans and dropsy in fishes.
contaminants through the activity existing in  Lead causes lead poisoning (Lead interferes
the rhizosphere (region of soil in the vicinity of with a variety of body processes and is toxic to
plant roots). This activity is due to the many organs and tissues). The compounds of
presence of proteins and enzymes produced by lead cause anaemia, headache, loss of muscle
the plants or by soil organisms such as power and bluish line around the gum.
bacteria, yeast, and fungi.  Cadmium poisoning causes cancer of lungs
 Rhizofiltration: water remediation technique and liverand Itai – Itai disease (a painful
that involves the uptake of contaminants by disease of bones and joints, causes softening
plant roots. Rhizofiltration is used to reduce of the bones and kidney failure) etc.
contamination in natural wetlands and  Water contaminated with cadmium can cause
estuary areas (E.g. Mangroves). itai itai disease also called ouch-ouch disease
 Mycoremediation: fungi are used to (a painful disease of bones and joints) and
decontaminate the area. cancer of lungs and liver.
 Mycofiltration: using fungal mycelia to filter
toxic waste and microorganisms. Water Borne Diseases
 The bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans has
been used to detoxify toluene and ionic
Bacterial diseases

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Disease Causative organism Mode of spread Symptoms

Typhoid Salmonella typhi Contaminated food, water, Continuous fever which increases day by
milk, unwashed raw day Temperature higher in evening than
vegetables and flies morning, body ache, headache and
constipation. Haemorrhage from an
ulceration in small intestine
Cholera Vibrio cholerae Water or food con- Painless diarrhoea , vomiting, 30-40 stools
taminated by bacteria per day which soon becomes typically Page
from stools of cholera watery and colourless with flakes of
patient mucous floating in them
Bacterial Shigella spp. Contaminated food, water Diarrhoea, with blood and dysentry mucous
Diaorhoea and by direct personal in the stools along with severe gripping pain 141
contact in the abdomen. Stools not too frequent (4-
10 per day), faecal matter scanty. Patient
looks ill
Leptospirosis Leptospira Rodents primary hosts- Fever, pain in legs, nausea, vomiting are
carry organisms in common, congestion of the conjunctival
kidneys. Infection by blood vessels around corneas of the eyes
wading or swimming in
water contaminated with
rodent urine
Viral diseases
Infective Hepatitis Hepatitis virus Food and water Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and
contaminated with virus diarrhoea, accompanied with fever. Urine
in stools dark coloured. Eye and skin appear yellow
Protozoan diseases
Amoebic Entamoeba histolytica Ingestion of cysts in food Abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea, with
dysentery and water or without blood or mucous in stools, fever,
chills and gripping pain in abdomen
Diarrhoea Giardia (=Lamblia) Food or water con- Intestinal disorders leading to epigastric
taminated with faeces pain, abdominal discomfort, loss of
intestinalis having cysts appetite, headache and loose bowels
Bilharzia Schistosoma spp Cercaria larvae of flukes Allergy-like itch, rash, aches, fever,
in water penetrate skin of eosinophilia etc.
persons wading in water
When infection becomes heavy, eggs may
block arterioles of lungs cardio-pulmonary
water causing schistosomiasis and may
lead to congestive heart failure.
Guinea worm Dracunculus medinensis Unfiltered water Blister near the ankle, causing allergy and
Vector borne diseases related with water

Disease Causative Vector Hosts Symptoms

Malaria Plasmodium sp Female Anopheles Man (intermediate Shivering, chills and sweating. As
hosts) chills subside body temperature
(primary or final rises as high as 106° F. When
hosts) temperature comes down patient
sweats profusely and becomes
comfortable until next attack which
takes place at regular intervals
Filaria Wuchereria Culex fatigans Man (final hosts) Enlargement of limbs and scrotum
(Elephantiasis) (=filaria)
Dengue Barbo-virus Aedes aegypti Man (reservoir) Sudden onset of moderately high
fever, excruciating joint pain,
intense pain behind eyes, a second
rise in temp following brief
remission, reduction in neutrophilic
white blood cells
Effects of Water Pollution on  Micro-organisms involved in biodegradation of
Environment organic matter in sewage waste consume lot of
oxygen, and make water oxygen deficient
killing fish and other aquatic creatures.

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 Presence of large amounts of nutrients in Algal Blooms and Eutrophication are

water results in algal bloom [excessive growth explained in the previous post]. This leads
of planktonic (free-floating) algae [Harmful to ageing of lakes.


 A few toxic substances, often present in

industrial waste waters, can undergo
biological magnification (Biomagnification) in
the aquatic food chain. This phenomenon is
well-known for mercury and DDT.
 High concentrations of DDT disturb calcium
metabolism in birds, which causes thinning of
eggshell and their premature breaking,
eventually causing decline in bird populations.
 Thermal wastewater eliminates or reduces the
number of organisms sensitive to high
temperature, and may enhance the growth of
plants and fish in extremely cold areas but,
only after causing damage to the indigenous
flora and fauna.
 Aquatic organisms take up pesticides from
water which get into the food chain and move
up the food chain. At higher trophic level they
get concentrated and may reach the upper
end of the food chain
[Biomagnification explained in ‘Trophic

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Effects of Water Pollution on Aquatic


 Polluted water reduces Dissolved Oxygen (DO)

content, thereby, eliminates sensitive
organisms like plankton, molluscs and fish
etc. Page
 However a few tolerant species like Tubifex |
(annelid worm) and some insect larvae may
survive in highly polluted water with low DO 143
content. Such species are recognized
as indicator species for polluted water.
 Biocides, polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs) and heavy metals directly eliminate
sensitive aquatic organisms.
 Hot waters discharged from industries, when
added to water bodies, lowers its DO content.

Water Conservation and Management

Water Conservation and Management

 Primary source of water in India is south-west

and north-east monsoons. Monsoon, however,
is erratic and amount of rain fall is highly
variable in different parts of our country.
Hence, surface runoff needs be conserved.

EcoSan toilets

 Can you imagine the amount of water that one

can save if one didn’t have to flush the toilet?
Well, this is already a reality. Ecological
sanitation is a sustainable system for
handling human excreta, using dry
composting toilets.
 This is a practical, hygienic, efficient and cost-
effective solution to human waste disposal.
 With this composting method, human excreta
can be recycled into a resource (as natural
fertilizer), which reduces the need for chemical
fertilizers. There are working ‘EcoSan’ toilets
in many areas of Kerala and Sri Lanka.


Designed by

 Railways along with DRDO.

Why Bio Toilets in Rail?

 Direct discharge of human waste from the

existing toilet system in trains causes
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corrosion of the tracks, costing crores to The final waste are Methane and Carbon
replace the rail tracks. Dioxide.
 The bio-toilets are fitted underneath the
lavatories and the human waste discharged Aerobic biodegradation Vs Anaerobic
into them is acted upon by a particular kind biodegradation
of bacteria that converts it into non-
corrosive neutral water. Aerobic biodegradation Page

Terms associated with Bio-Toilets  Forced aeration is essential which is energy |

intensive. 144
 Bio-digesters: The term bio digester is used  Incomplete aeration (partial aerobic condition)
for the shells made up of steel for leads to foul smell.
the anaerobic digestion of human waste.  Less effective pathogen inactivation.
 Bio tank: The term bio tank is used for the  Cannot tolerate detergents
tanks made up of concrete for the anaerobic  Generate large amount of sludge.
digestion of human waste.  Repeated addition of bacteria/enzyme is
 Aerobic Bacteria: Aerobic bacteria are those required for the process.
which flourish in the presence of free  Maintenance & recurring cost is high.
dissolved oxygen in the waste water and
consume organic matter for their food, and Anaerobic biodegradation
thereby oxidizing it to stable end products.
 Anaerobic Bacteria: Anaerobic bacteria  No aeration is required.
flourish in the absence of free dissolved  Complete anaerobic conditions.
oxygen, and survive by utilizing the bounded  More than 99% pathogen inactivation.
molecular oxygen in compounds like nitrates  Anaerobes can even degrade
(NO3) and sulphates (SO4) etc. thereby detergents/phenyl
reducing them to stable end products along  Sludge generation is very less.
with evolution of foul smelling gases like H2S  One time bacterial inoculation is enough.
(hydrogen sulphide), CH4 (methane)  Minimal maintenance and no recurring cost.
 Facultative Bacteria: Facultative bacteria
can operate either as aerobically or as With reference to bio-toilets used by the
anaerobically. Indian Railways, consider the following
 Anaerobic Microbial inoculums: mixture of statements:
different types of bacteria (hydrolytic,
Acidogenic, acetogenic and methanogenic 1. The decomposition of human waste in the bio-
groups) responsible for breakdown of complex toilets is initiated by a fungal inoculum.
polymers into simple sugars which are further 2. Ammonia and water vapour are the only end
broken down into low chain fatty acids and products in this decomposition which are
finally into biogas. released into the atmosphere.

Anaerobic biodegradation system Which of the statements given above is/are

 Anaerobic digestion is a collection of processes
by which microorganisms break down 1. 1 only
biodegradable material in the absence of 2. 2 only
oxygen. 3. Both 1 and 2
4. Neither 1 nor 2

Decomposition of human waste in bio-toilets

is carried out by anaerobic bacteria.

The final waste is CO2 and CH4.

Answer: d) Neither 1 nor 2

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Contour farming running out to sea, to west and south west

 Contour farming is an example of harvesting  The transfer of the surplus Ganga water would
technique involving water and moisture make up for the periodical shortage in Son,
control at a very simple level. Narmada, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery.
 It often consists of rows of rocks placed along
the contour of steps. Runoff captured by these Adoption of drip sprinkler irrigation Page
barriers also allows for retention of soil, |
thereby serving as erosion control measure on  Surface irrigation methods leads to water loss
gentle slopes. due to evaporation and percolation. 145
 This technique is especially suitable for areas  Drip irrigation is an efficient method of
having rainfall of considerable intensity, irrigation in which a limited area near the
spread over large part i.e. in Himalayan area, plant is irrigated by dripping water. This
north east states and Andaman and Nicobar method is particularly useful in row crop.
islands.  Similarly sprinkler method is also suitable for
 In areas where rainfall is scanty and for a such water scarce areas. About 80% water
short duration, it is worth attempting these consumption can be reduced by this method,
techniques, which will induce surface runoff, whereas the drip irrigation can reduce water
which can then be stored. consumption by 50 to 70 %.

Ground water conservation Management of growing pattern of

Artificial recharge
 In water scarce areas, the crop selection
 Increasing the surface area for percolation, should be based on efficiency of the crop to
percolation tank construction etc. are some utilize the water. Some of the plants suitable
artificial recharge methods. for water scarce areas are:
Catchment area protection (CAP) 1. plants with shorter growth period;
2. high yielding plants that require no increase
 It helps in withholding runoff water albeit in water supply;
temporarily by a check bund constructed 3. plants with deep and well trenched roots and
across the streams in hilly terrains to delay 4. plants which cannot tolerate surface
the run off so that greater time is available for irrigation.
water to seep underground.
 Such methods are in use in north-east states,
Selection of crop varieties
in hilly areas of tribal belts. This technique
also helps in soil conservation. Afforestation in
the catchment area is also adopted for water  Crop performance and yield are the results of
and soil conservation. genotype expression as modulated by
continuous interactions with the environment.
Inter-basin transfer of water  Generally, the new varieties of crop do not
require more water than the older ones.
However, they require timely supply of water
 Western and peninsular regions have because their productivity is high.
comparatively low water resources/cultivable  Frequent light irrigation is more conductive
land ratio. Northern and eastern region which than heavy irrigation at large intervals for
are drained by Ganga and Brahmaputra have obtaining high yields.
substantial water resources.
 Hence, the scheme of diverting water from
Nutritional management
region with surplus water to water deficit
region can be adopted.
 Ganga-Cauvery link would enable the transfer  Potassium plays a major role under stress
of vast quantities of Ganga basin flood water conditions. It improves the tissue water

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potential by osmoregulation, ultimately municipal waste water can be easily used for
increasing the water use efficiency. irrigation.
 Experiments conducted at the Water
Technology Centre, Coimbatore, indicated that Reuse of wastewater
foliar application of 0.5% potassium chloride
can reduce the moisture stress in soyabean,
 Wastewater contains lots of nutrients. Its use
for irrigation saves these nutrients. It Page
sorghum and groundnut.
improves the productivity of crops and soil |
Role of antitranspirants fertility.
 Wastewater is a resource rather than a waste 146
 Application of antitranspirants reduces since it contains appreciable amount of
transpiration maintaining thereby the tissue nitrogen, phosphorus and potash.
water potential. Plants then take up less water  Stabilization ponds can be used for fish
from soil. aquaculture. The effluent can also be used for
 Antitranspirants can prolong the irrigation cultivation of short-term and long term,
intervals by slowing down soil water depletion. ornamental, commercial and fodder crops.
Application of Kaolin (3%) and lime wash (2%)
was found to maintain the water balance of The potential applications of reusing of treated
plant and resulted in normal yield of sorghum wastewater are in the following fields or areas:
under moisture stress conditions.
 Certain growth regulators reduce the plants  Agricultural use through irrigation of crops as
susceptibility to water stress. Application well as for improving river amenity;
of cycoel, a growth retardant increases the  Industrial cooling especially in large industrial
ability to withstand drought. enterprises;
 Cycoel application also reduces production  Reuse in municipal public areas such as
of gibberellic acid which leads to closing of watering lawns, parks, play grounds and
stomata. Transpiration loss of water gets trees;
reduced.  Flushing toilets in hotels and residential
Reducing evapotranspiration  Reuse of the treated wastewater for urban
landscape purposes.
 Evapotranspiration losses can be reduced by  Treated waste water can also be used for
reducing the evaporation from soil surface and groundwater recharging.
transpiration from the plants, in arid zones,
considerable amount of water is lost in Grey water reuse
evaporation from soil surface.
 This can be prevented by placing water tight  Grey water is defined as untreated household
moisture barriers or water tight mulches on wastewater, which has not come into contact
the soil surface. Non-porous materials like with toilet waste. It can originate from the
papers, asphalt, plastic foils or metal foils can shower, bath, bathroom, washing basin,
also be used for preventing evaporation losses. clothes washing machine and laundry trough.
 Transpiration losses can be reduced by Grey water can be used in agriculture and
reducing air movement over a crop by putting many industries.
wind breaks and evolving such types of crops
which possess xerophytic adaptations. Reduce the loss of water due to
Recycling of water
 The methods that reduce evaporation from
 The wastewater from industrial or domestic water bodies are - installing wind breaks,
sources can be used after proper treatment, reducing energy available for evaporation,
for irrigation, recharging ground water, and constructing artificial aquifers, minimizing
even for industrial or municipal use. If exposed surface through reservoir regulation,
agricultural lands are available close to cities, reducing ratio of area/volume of water bodies,

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locating reservoirs at higher altitudes and biological processes such as slow sand
applying monomolecular firms. filtration.
 There are numerous methods to reduce losses
due to evaporation and to improve soil Coagulation / Flocculation
moisture. Some of them are listed below:
 Mulching i.e. the application of organic or  Aluminium sulphate (alum) is the most
inorganic materials such as plant debris, common coagulant used for water Page
compost, etc., slows down the surface run-off, purification. Other chemicals, such as ferric
improves soil moisture, reduces evaporation |
sulphate or sodium aluminate, may also be
losses and improves soil fertility. used. 147
 Soil covered by crops, slow down run-off and  During coagulation, liquid aluminium sulfate
minimize evaporation losses, hence, fields (alum) is added to untreated water.
should not be left bare for long periods of  This causes the tiny particles of dirt in the
time. water to stick together or coagulate.
 Ploughing helps to move the soil around. As a  Next, groups of dirt particles stick together to
consequence it retains more water thereby form larger particles called flocs.
reducing evaporation.  Flocs are easier to remove by settling or
 Shelter belt of trees and bushes along the edge filtration.
of agricultural fields slow down the wind
speed and reduce evaporation and erosion. Sedimentation
 Planting of trees, grass, and bushes breaks
the force of rain and helps rainwater penetrate  As the water and the floc particles progress
the soil. through the treatment process, they move into
 Fog and dew contain substantial amounts of sedimentation basins where the water moves
water that can be used directly by adapted slowly, causing the heavy floc particles to
plant species. Artificial surfaces such as settle to the bottom.
netting-surface traps or polythene sheets can  Floc which collects on the bottom of the basin
be exposed to fog and dew; the resulting water is called sludge, and is piped to drying
can be used for crops. lagoons.
 Contour farming is adopted in hilly areas and  In Direct Filtration, the sedimentation step is
in lowland areas for paddy fields. Farmers not included, and the floc is removed by
recognize the efficiently of contour based filtration only.
systems for conserving soil and water.
 Salt-resistant varieties of crops have been also Filtration
developed recently. Because these grow in
saline areas, overall agricultural productivity
 Water flows through a filter designed to
is increased without making additional
remove particles in the water. The filters are
demands on fresh water sources. Thus, this is
made of layers of sand and gravel, and in
a good water conservation strategy.
some cases, crushed anthracite.
 Desalination technologies such as distillation,
 Filtration collects the suspended impurities in
electro-dialysis and reverse osmosis are
water and enhances the effectiveness of
disinfection. The filters are routinely cleaned
by backwashing.
Water Treatment for Domestic Use
 Substances that are removed during the
process of drinking water treatment include  Water is disinfected before it enters the
suspended solids, bacteria, algae, viruses, distribution system to ensure that any
fungi, and minerals such as iron and disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and
manganese. parasites are destroyed.
 The processes involved in removing the  Chlorine is used because it is a very effective
contaminants include physical processes such disinfectant, and residual concentrations can
as settling and filtration, chemical processes be maintained to guard against possible
such as disinfection and coagulation and biological contamination in the water
distribution system.
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 The addition of chlorine or chlorine  Lime is added to the filtered water to adjust
compounds to drinking water is called the pH and stabilize the naturally soft water in
chlorination. order to minimise corrosion in the distribution
 Chlorine can combine with certain naturally system, and within customers’ plumbing.
occurring organic compounds in water to
produce chloroform and other potentially Titbit: National Environmental Engineering
harmful byproducts. The risk of this is very Research Institute (NEERI) is at Nagpur. Page
small, however, when chlorine is applied after
coagulation, sedimentation, and filtration. |
Removal of iron
 Ozone gas may also be used for disinfection of 148
drinking water. However, since ozone is  In many parts of our country we have problem
unstable, it cannot be stored and must be of excess iron in drinking water especially in
produced on-site, making the process more North-East regions. Iron causes bad taste and
expensive than chlorination. odour to the drinking water. Bureau of Indian
 Ozone has the advantage of not causing taste Standards prescribes desirable limit for iron
or odour problems. It also leaves no residue in as 0.3 mg/l.
the disinfected water.  A major part of iron is oxidized. Then the
 The lack of an ozone residue, however, makes water is made to react with oxidizing media
it difficult to monitor its continued (lime stone). By aeration and further oxidation
effectiveness as water flows through the the dissolved iron is converted to insoluble
distribution system. ferric hydroxide. The insoluble iron can thus
be easily removed through filtration.
Sludge Drying
Removal of arsenic
 Solids that are collected and settled out of the
water by sedimentation and filtration are  Arsenic is found in ground water in some
removed to drying lagoons. parts of West Bengal. Arsenic is highly toxic in
nature. It may cause a number of skin
Fluoridation disorders or even cancer. Bureau of Indian
Standards prescribes desirable limit for
 Water fluoridation is the treatment of arsenic as 0.05 mg/l.
community water supplies for the purpose of  Removal of arsenic is essential.
adjusting the concentration of the free fluoride  Bleaching powder and alum are used for
ion to the optimum level sufficient to reduce removal of arsenic.
dental caries.
 Fluoride is generally present in all natural Watershed Management
water. Its concentration up to certain level is
not harmful. Beyond that level, the bones
 Watershed is an area that contribute water to
start disintegrating. This disease is
a stream or a water body through run-off or
called fluorosis.
underground path.
 We have fluoride problem in many parts of our
 That is the region from which surface water
country. Bureau of Indian Standards
draws into a river, a lake, wet land or other
prescribes 1.0 mg/l as desirable and 1.5 mg/l
body of water is called its watershed or
as maximum permissible limit for drinking
drainage basin.
 Watershed management is a technique for
 Defluoridation at domestic level can be carried
conservation of water and soil in a watershed.
out by mixing water for treatment with
 The presence of water in soil is essential for
adequate amount of aluminum sulphate
the growth of plants and vegetation. Forests
(alum) solution, lime or sodium carbonate and
and their associated soils and litter layers are
bleaching powder depending upon its
excellent filters as well as sponges, and water
alkalinity (concentration of bicarbonates and
that passes through this system is relatively
carbonates in water) and fluoride contents.
 Various kinds of forest disturbances can
pH Correction
speed up the movement of water from the

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system and in effect, reduce the filtering  Roof top rain water collection for drinking
action. purposes. [2/3rds of water is wasted in RO –
 In mountainous terrain the forests play a reverse osmosis filtration]
prominent role in prevention of soil erosion.
 Erosion threat can be tackled by the Government’s efforts on water
maintenance of continual cover. Ideally, this is conservation
achieved by single stem harvesting; only one Page
tree is felled at any one point, and the small
 National Water Policy 2002 strongly |
gap so created is soon sealed by the outward
emphasize conservation of water.
growth of its neighbors.
 Construction of large number of dams on 149
 Despite the uncertain balance of water gain
various river systems.
and loss, forests offer the most desirable cover
 Interlinking of rivers (proposed).
for water management strategies.
 Promotion of bunds at village level.
 In contrast to the rapid flows of short duration
 Promotion of rain water harvesting.
characteristics of sparsely vegetated land
 Promotion of reuse and recycling of
water yields are gradual, reliable and uniform
in forests. Deforested land sheds water swiftly,
 Steps to protect water quality.
causing sudden rises in the rivers below.
 Drought-proofing the future.
 Over a large river system, such as that of the
Ganga and the Yamuna, forests are a definite
advantage since they lessen the risk of floods. Permanent conservation measures may
They also provide conditions more favourable include:
to fishing and navigation than does un-
forested land.  Subsidizing use of water-efficient faucets,
 All natural streams contain varying amounts toilets and showerheads
of dissolved and suspended matter, although  Public education and voluntary use reduction.
streams contain varying amounts of dissolved  Billing practices that impose higher rates for
and suspended matter, although streams higher amounts of water use
issuing from undisturbed watershed are  Building codes that require water-efficient
ordinarily of high quality. fixtures or appliances
 Waters from forested areas are not only low in  Leak detection surveys and meter testing,
foreign substances, but they also are relatively repair and replacement
high in oxygen and low in unwanted  Reduction in use and increase in recycling of
chemicals. industrial water
 The belief that forests increase rainfall has not
been substantiated by scientific inquiry. Local Temporary cutbacks may include:
effects can, however, prove substantial,
particularly in semiarid regions where every  Reduction of system-wide operating pressure
millimeter of rain counts.  Water use bans, restrictions, and rationing
 The air above a forest, as contrasted with  Strengthening of local or municipal bodies
grassland, remains relatively cool and humid could help addressing the issue of water
on hot days, so that showers are more shortage and its management in cities.
 Many areas in India used to get significant Q3. Which one among the following
rainfall when they were forested are now industries is the maximum consumer of
facing severe draught due to denudation water in India?
(example Rajasthan desert).
a. Engineering
Individual And Community Role b. Paper and pulp
c. Textiles
 Building check dams on seasonal rivers. d. Thermal power
 Micro-watershed management project.
 Constructing percolation tanks in every Water consumption by various industries
residential and industrial complex.
1. Thermal power

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2. Textile industry after sufficient pre-treatment, should be done

3. Paper and Pulp in suitably shielded containers buried within
4. Iron and Steel industry the rocks, about 500 m deep below the earth’s
5. Fertilizer Industry surface. However, this method of disposal is
meeting stiff opposition from the public.
Radioactive Pollution - Ionizing and
Non-Ionizing Radiation Effects  The quick devastating and immediate effects Page
of nuclear radiations are well known as
Radioactive Pollution witnessed following Hiroshima and Nagasaki |
in Japan during world war II. 150
Sources  Continued small dose exposure to nuclear
radiation can cause childhood leukemia,
Artificial Sources of Radioactive pollution miscarriage, underweight babies, infant
deaths, increased susceptibility to AIDS
 Accidents in nuclear power plants and nuclear and other immune disorders and increased
waste. criminalities.
 Nuclear weapon testing and explosion  Underground bomb testing releases radiations
(Nuclear fallout). The fall Out contains in very small doses of radicals that pollutes
radioactive substances such as strontium-90, water and soil.
cesium-137, iodine-131, etc.  This radioactive water is taken by plants
 Uranium mining and mining of other through roots. The radioactivity enters food
radioactive material like thorium Uranium chain when such plants are eaten by animals
contamination is well observed in India. and humans. Such radioactivity has been
 Radiation therapy and direct exposures to detected even in the milk.
radiation for diagnostic purposes (e.g. X-rays),  Radiation, that is given off by nuclear waste is
chemotherapy etc. extremely damaging to biological organisms,
 The slow nuclear radiations can emanate from because it causes mutations to occur at a very
a variety of sources viz. nuclear reactors, high rate.
laboratories, hospitals, and direct exposures  At high doses, nuclear radiation is lethal but
to X-rays etc. at lower doses, it creates various disorders,
the most frequent of all being cancer.
Natural Sources
Ionizing and Non-Ionizing Radiation
 They include cosmic rays from space and
terrestrial radiations from radio-nuclides  Radioactivity is a phenomenon of spontaneous
present in earth's crust such as radium-224, emission of proton (alpha-
uranium-238, thorium-232, potassium-40, particles), electrons (beta-
carbon-14, etc. particles) and gamma rays (short wave
 Some species of animals and plants electromagnetic waves) due
preferentially accumulate specific radioactive, to disintegration of atomic nuclei of some
materials. For example, oysters deposit 65Zn, elements. These cause radioactive pollution.
fish accumulate 55Fe, marine animals  Radiations can be categorized into two groups
selectively deposit 90Sr. namely the non-ionizing radiations and the
ionizing radiations.
Effects of Radioactive pollution
Non-ionizing radiations
 The use of nuclear energy has two very
serious inherent problems.  Non-ionizing radiations are constituted by the
electromagnetic waves at the longer
1. accidental leakage, as occurred in the Three wavelength of the spectrum ranging from
Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima near infra-red rays to radio
incidents and waves [include higher wavelength
2. safe disposal of radioactive wastes. It has been ultraviolet rays, microwaves].
recommended that storage of nuclear waste,  These waves have energies enough to excite
the atoms and molecules of the medium
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through which they pass, causing them to  They may damage eyes which may be caused
vibrate faster but not strong enough to by reflections from coastal sand, snow
ionize them. (snow blindness) directly looking towards sun
 In a microwave oven the radiation causes during eclipse.
water molecules in the cooking medium to  They injure the cells of skin and blood
vibrate faster and thus raising its capillaries producing blisters and reddening
temperature. called sunburns. Page

Ionizing radiations molecules of the medium, thereby producing

 Ionizing radiations cause ionization (one or  The ions produced in water molecules, for
more electrons are pealed out from the outer example, can induce reactions that can break
shells of an atom) of atoms and molecules of bonds in proteins and other important
the medium through which they pass. molecules.
 An example of this would be when a gamma
Ionization is the process by which an atom or ray passes through a cell, the water molecules
a molecule acquires a negative or positive near the DNA might be ionized and the ions
charge by gaining or losing electrons to form might react with the DNA causing it to break.
ions, often in conjunction with other chemical  They can also cause chemical changes by
changes. breaking the chemical bonds, which can
damage living tissues.
 Electromagnetic radiations such as short  Short range effects include burns, impaired
wavelength ultra violet radiations (UV), X- metabolism, dead tissues and death of the
rays and gamma rays and energetic particles organisms.
produced in nuclear processes, electrically  Long range effects are mutations increased
charged particles like alpha and beta incidence of tumors and cancer, shortening
particles produced in radioactive decay of life-span and developmental changes.
and neutrons produced in nuclear fission, are
highly damaging to living organisms. Non-ionizing radiations affect only those
 Electrically charged particles produced in the components which absorb them and have
nuclear processes can have sufficient energy low penetrability.
to knock electrons out of the atoms or

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Ionizing radiations have high penetration the cells may either be changed permanently
power and cause breakage of macro or die.
molecules.  Cells changed permanently may go on to
produce abnormal cells when they divide and
Biological Damage Due to Ionizing may become cancerous.
Radiations  At even higher doses, the cells cannot be
replaced fast enough and tissues fail to Page
 The biological damage resulting from ionizing function. An example of this would be
radiations is generally termed as radiation “radiation sickness.” This is a condition that |
damage. results after high doses is given to the whole 152
 Large amounts of radiation can kill cells that body (>100 rem).
can dramatically affect the exposed organism
as well as possibly its offspring. Damage due to radiation particles
 Affected cells can mutate and result in cancer.
A large enough dose of radiation can kill the  Alpha particles, can be blocked by a piece of
organism. paper and human skin.
 Radiation damage can be divided into two  Beta particles can penetrate through skin,
types: (a) somatic damage (also while can be blocked by some pieces of glass
called radiation sickness) and (b) genetic and metal.
damage.  Gamma rays can penetrate easily to human
 Somatic damage refers to damage to cells that skin and damage cells on its way through,
are not associated with reproduction. reaching far, and can only be blocked by a
 Effects of somatic radiation damage include very thick, strong, massive piece of concrete.
reddening of the skin, loss of hair,
ulceration, fibrosis of the lungs, the Half-Life - Period of Radioactivity
formation of holes in tissue, a reduction of
white blood cells, and the induction  Each radioactive material has a constant
of cataract in the eyes. This damage can also decay rate. Half-life is the time needed for half
result in cancer and death. of its atoms to decay.
 Genetic damage refers to damage to cells  Half-life of a radio nuclide refers to its period
associated with reproduction. This damage of radioactivity. The half-life may vary from a
can subsequently cause genetic damage fraction of a second to thousands of years.
from gene mutation resulting in  The radio nuclides with long half-time are the
abnormalities. Genetic damages are passed on chief source of environmental radioactive
to next generation. pollution.

Radiation dose Accidents at nuclear power plants

 The biological damage caused by the radiation
 Nuclear fission in the reactor core produces
is determined by the intensity of radiation and
lot of heat which if not controlled can lead to a
duration of the exposure.
meltdown of fuel rods in the reactor core.
 It depends on the amount of energy deposited
 If a meltdown happens by accident, it will
by the radiation in the biological system.
release large quantities of highly dangerous
 For example, alpha particles (protons) do
radioactive materials in the environment with
much more damage per unit energy deposited
disastrous consequences to the humans,
than do beta particles (electrons).
animals and plants.
 A traditional unit of human-equivalent dose is
 To prevent this type of accidents and reactor
the rem, which stands for radiation equivalent
blow up, the reactors are designed to have a
in man.
number of safety features. Inspire of these
 At low doses, such as what we receive every
safety measures three disasters in the nuclear
day from background radiation (<1 m rem),
power plants are noteworthy – Three Mile
the cells repair the damage rapidly.
Island’ in Middletown (U.S.A.) in 1979,
 At higher doses (up to 100 rem), the cells
Chernobyl (U.S.S.R.) in 1986 and
might not be able to repair the damage, and

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Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in  change it into harmless or less harmful

2011. isotopes. Currently no method is known to do
 In the first two cases a series of mishaps and that and the method would be too costly.
errors resulted in over heating of the reactor  presently waste fuel rods are being stored in
core and lot of radiation was released into the special storage ponds at reactor sites or sent
environment. to reprocessing plants. Even though
 The leakage from Three Mile Island reactor reprocessing is more expensive but some Page
was apparently low and no one was injured countries use reprocessing as an alternative to
immediately. However, in case of Chernobyl waste storage. |
the leakage was very heavy causing death of 153
some workers and radiation spread over large Preventive/Control Measures
areas scattered all over Europe.
 The latest one – Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
 Prevention is the best control measure as
accident was triggered by an earthquake.
there is no cure available for radiation
 Other important nuclear power plant disasters
include Chalk river, Canada, Windscale
 All safety measures should be strictly
Plutonium Production Center, U.K and Monju,
enforced. UN should have more powers to
perform safety checks in various nuclear
 Accidents with nuclear submarines and
establishments across the world.
nuclear warships is a possibility.
 Worldwide monitoring of radiation leakage
should be a priority.
Safe Disposal Of Nuclear Wastes  Proper technologies should be developed to
prevent contamination of water and soil by
 Radioactive wastes are of two types radioactive waste and radioactive materials.
 More avenues for safe disposal of radioactive
1. low level radioactive wastes (LLW) which must be worked out.
include civilian applications of radionuclides  Regular monitoring through frequent sampling
in medicine, research and industry, materials and quantitative analysis in domestic nuclear
from decommissioned reactors, protection establishments.
clothing worn by persons working with  Appropriate steps should be taken to protect
radioactive materials or working in nuclear from occupational exposure.
establishments.  Gradually decreasing the share of nuclear
2. High level radioactive wastes (HLW) results power is a necessity.
from spent nuclear fuel rods and obsolete  World must unite to ban production and use
nuclear weapons. of nuclear weapons.

Some proposed methods of disposing nuclear Impact Of Radiation From Mobile

waste are: Phone Towers

 bury it deep underground in insulated  The radiation that comes from mobile tower
containers. This is a strategy being pursued in radiation is non-ionizing radiation.
United States.
 shoot it into the space or into the sun. The
Health Impacts
cost would be very high and a launch accident
should be disastrous.
 bury it under the ice sheet of Antarctica or  Every antenna on cell phone tower radiates
Greenland ice cap. The ice could be electro-magnetic radiation (power).
destabilized by heat from the waste. The  One cell phone tower is being used by a
method has been prohibited by international number of operators, more the number of
law. antennas more is the power intensity in the
 dump it into deep oceans by keeping the nearby area.
waste into glass and steel cases. But the  The power level near towers is higher and
containers might leak and contaminate the reduces as we move away.
ocean.  EMR may cause cellular and psychological
changes in human beings due to thermal
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effects that are generated due to absorption of towers in wildlife and ecologically important
microwave radiation. areas.
 The exposure can lead to genetic defects,
effects on reproduction and development, State Environment and Forest Department
Central Nervous System behavior etc.
 EMR can also cause non thermal effects which  State Environment and Forest Department are
are caused by radio frequency fields at levels entrusted with the task of providing regular Page
too low to produce significant heating and are awareness among the people about the norms |
due to movement of calcium and other ions on cell phone towers and dangers of EMR from
across cell membranes. them. 154
 Such exposure is known to be responsible for
fatigue, nausea, irritability, headaches, loss of Department of Telecommunications
appetite and other psychological disorders.
 The current exposure safety standards are
purely based on the thermal effects  Avoid overlapping of high radiation fields. New
considering few evidences from exposure to towers should not be permitted within a
non-thermal effects. radius of one kilometer of the existing tower.
 The location and frequencies of cell phone
towers and other towers emitting EMR should
Impact on birds
be made available in the public domain GIS
mapping of all the cell phone towers to be
 The surface area of bird is relatively larger maintained to monitor the population of bird
than their body weight in comparison to and bees in and around the wildlife protected
human body so they absorb more radiation. area and the mobile towers.
 Also the fluid content in the body of the bird is  Need to refine the Indian standard on safe
less due to small body weight so it gets heated limits of exposure to EMR, keeping in view the
up very fast. available literature on impacts on various life
 Magnetic field from the towers disturbs birds' forms.
navigation skills hence when birds are  To undertake Precautionary approaches to
exposed to EMR they disorient and begin to fly minimize the exposure levels and adopt
in all directions. stricter norms perennial, that live longer than
 A large number of birds die each year from agricultural crops.
collisions with telecommunication masts.  Any study conducted on impact of EMF
radiation on wildlife needs to be shared to
What are the responsibilities of facilitate appropriate policy formulations.
Soil Pollution
 Soil pollution is defined as the 'addition of
 The MoEF has to notify the impacts of substances to the soil, which adversely affect
communication towers on wildlife and human physical, chemical and biological properties of
health to the concerned agencies for soil and reduces its productivity.
regulating the norms for notification of  It is build-up of persistent toxic compounds,
standards for safe limit of EMR. chemicals, salts, radioactive materials, or
disease causing agents in soil which have
State/Local Bodies: adverse effects on plant growth, human and
animal health.
 Regular monitoring and auditing in urban
localities/educational/hospital/industrial/ Causes and Sources of Soil Pollution
residential/recreational premises including
the Protected Areas and ecologically sensitive Plastic bags
 Carry out an 'Ecological Impact Assessment'  They accumulate in soil and prevents
before giving permission for construction of germination of seeds. They stay in soil for

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centuries without decomposing (non- Other pollutants

 Burning of plastic in garbage dumps release  Many air pollutants (acid rain) and water
highly toxic and poisonous gases like carbon pollutants ultimately become part of the soil
monoxide, carbon dioxide, phosgene, and the soil also receives some toxic chemicals
dioxins and other poisonous chlorinated during weathering of certain rocks.
compounds. Page
 Toxic solid residue left after burning remains Effects of soil pollution
in soil. The harmful gases enters soils through |
chemical cycles. Agriculture 155
Industrial sources  Reduced soil fertility due to increase in
alkalinity, salinity or pH.
 They includes fly ash, metallic residues,  Reduced crop yield due to reduced fertility.
mercury, lead, copper, zinc, cadmium,  Reduced nitrogen fixation due to the reduced
cynides, thiocynates, chromates, acids, number of nitrogen fixers.
alkalies, organic substances, nuclear wastes  Increased erosion due to loss of forests and
 Large number of industrial chemicals, dyes, other vegetation.
acids, etc. find their way into the soil and are  Run off due to deforestation cause loss of soil
known to create many health hazards and nutrients.
including cancer.  Deposition of silt in tanks and reservoirs due
to soil erosion.
 Pesticides are chemicals that include
insecticides, fungicides, algicides,  Health effects are similar to effects of water
rodenticides, weedicides sprayed in order to pollution.
improve productivity of agriculture, forestry
and horticulture. Environment
 Chlorohydrocarbons (CHCs) like DDT,
endosulfan, heptachlor accumulate in soil  Ecological imbalance.
and cause biomagnification. Some of these  Foul smell and release of gases.
pesticides like DDT and endosulfan are  Waste management problems.
banned by most of the countries.
Control measures
Fertilizers and manures

 Excessive use of chemical fertilizers reduces More or less same as for water pollution
the population of soil borne organisms and
the crumb structure of the soil, productivity of  Indiscriminate disposal of solid waste should
the soil and increases salt content of the soil. be avoided.
 To control soil pollution, it is essential to stop
Discarded materials the use of plastic bags and instead use bags of
degradable materials like paper and cloth.
 Sewage should be treated properly before
 It includes concrete, asphalt, rungs, leather,
using as fertilizer and as landfills.
cans, plastics, glass, discarded food, paper
 The organic matter from domestic,
and carcasses.
agricultural and other waste should be
segregated and subjected to vermicomposting
Radioactive wastes which generates useful manure as a
 Radioactive elements from mining and nuclear  The industrial wastes prior to disposal should
power plants, find their way into water and be properly treated for removing hazardous
then into the soil. materials.

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 Biomedical waste should be separately should not be permitted at night. Use of

collected and incinerated in proper horns, alarms, refrigeration units, etc. is to be
incinerators. restricted. Use of fire crackers which are noisy
 Use of bio pesticides, bio fertilizers. Organic and cause air pollution should be restricted.
farming.  A green belt of trees is an efficient noise
 Four R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. absorber.
 Afforestation and Reforestation. Page
 Solid waste treatment. Ambient Noise Level Monitoring
 Reduction of waste from construction areas. |
 Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) 156
Noise Pollution Rules, 2000 define ambient noise levels for
various areas as follows:
 Noise by definition is “sound without value” or
“any noise that is unwanted by the recipient”. Category of Limits in dB(A) Leq
 Noise level is measured in terms of decibels Area/Zone
(dB). An increase of about 10 dB is Day Time Night Time
approximately double the increase in 6 a.m. to 10 p.m to 6
loudness. 10 p.m. a.m
 H.O. (World Health Organization) has Industrial Area 75 70
prescribed optimum noise level as 45 dB by Commercial Area 65 55
day and 35 dB by night. Anything above 80 Residential Area 55 45
dB is hazardous. Silence Zone 50 40

Effects of noise pollution  The Government of India on Mar 2011

launched a Real time Ambient Noise
 Noise pollution leads to irritation, increased Monitoring Network.
blood pressure, loss of temper, mental  Under this network, in phase-I, five Remote
depression and annoyance, decrease in work Noise Monitoring Terminals each have been
efficiency, loss of hearing which may be first installed in different noise zones in seven
temporary but can become permanent in the metros (Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai,
noise stress continues. Bangalore, Chennai and Lucknow).
 In Phase II another 35 monitoring stations will
Prevention and control of noise be installed in the same seven cities. Phase III
pollution will cover installing 90 stations in 18 other
 Road traffic noise can be reduced by better  Phase-III cities are Kanpur, Pune, Surat,
designing and proper maintenance of vehicles. Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Jaipur, Indore, Bhopal,
 Noise abatement measures include creating Ludhiana, Guwahati, Dehradun,
noise mounds, noise attenuation walls and Thiruvananthpuram, Bhubaneswar, Patna,
well maintained roads and smooth surfacing Gandhinagar, Ranchi, Amritsar and Raipur.
of roads.  Silence Zone is an area comprising not less
 Retrofitting of locomotives, continuously than 100 metres around hospitals,
welded rail track, use of electric locomotives or educational institutions, courts, religious
deployment of quieter rolling stock will reduce places or any other area declared as such by a
noises emanating from trains. competent authority.
 Air traffic noise can be reduced by appropriate
insulation and introduction of noise Solid Hazardous E - Waste & Heavy
regulations for takeoff and landing of aircrafts Metal Toxicity
at the airport.
 Industrial noises can be reduced by sound Solid Wastes
proofing equipment like generators and areas
producing lot of noise.  Solid wastes or municipal solid wastes
 Power tools, very loud music and land movers, generally comprise paper, food wastes,
public functions using loudspeakers, etc.

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plastics, glass, metals, rubber, leather, textile, plastic garbage as food items, swallow them
etc. and die.
 Open-burning reduces the volume of the  Plastic bags deteriorates soil fertility as it
wastes, although it is generally not burnt to forms part of manure and remains in the soil
completion and open dumps often serve as the for years.
breeding ground for rats and flies.
 Sanitary landfills were adopted as the Designing eco-friendly, biodegradable plastics Page
substitute for open-burning dumps. In a is the need of the hour.
sanitary landfill, wastes are dumped in a |
depression or trench after compaction, and Remedy for Plastic Waste 157
covered with dirt every day.
 Landfills are also not really much of a solution  Polyblend is a fine powder of recycled and
since the amount of garbage generation modified plastic waste. This mixture is mixed
specially in the metros has increased so much with the bitumen that is used to lay roads.
that these sites are getting filled too.  Blends of Polyblend and bitumen, when used
 Also there is danger of seepage of chemicals, to lay roads, enhanced the bitumen’s water
etc. from these landfills polluting the repellant properties, and helped to increase
underground water resources. road life by a factor of three.

Effects of Plastic Waste Industrial solid waste

 Conventional plastics, right from their  Thermal power plants producing coal ash/fly
manufacture to their disposal are a major ash;
problem to the environment.  The integrated iron and steel mills producing
 The land gets littered by plastic bag garbage blast furnace slag;
and becomes ugly and unhygienic.  Non-ferrous industries like aluminium, copper
 Conventional plastics have been associated and zinc producing red mud and tailings;
with reproductive problems in both humans  Sugar industries generating press mud;
and wildlife.  Pulp and paper industries producing lime
 Dioxin (highly carcinogenic and toxic) mud;
byproduct of the manufacturing process is one  Fertilizer and allied industries
of the chemicals believed to be passed on producing gypsum;
through breast milk to the nursing infant.
 Burning of plastics, especially PVC releases
Recoverable Matter
dioxin and also furan into the atmosphere.

Dioxins are environmental pollutants. They  Pulp and paper: Ligno-sulphate, sodium salts.
belong to the so-called “dirty dozen” - a group  Textile: Caustic soda.
of dangerous chemicals known as persistent  Distillery: Potassium salts, yeast Fertilizer
organic pollutants (POPs). (phosphatic) Calcium sulphate, fluoride.
 Coke oven: Ammonia, ammonium sulphate,
tar, naphthalene, phenol.
The name "dioxins" is often used for the family
of structurally and chemically
related polychlorinated dibenzo para Concept Of Cleaner Technologies
dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated
dibenzofurans (PCDFs).  One way to emulate nature is to recycle and
reuse the chemicals used in industries instead
 Plastic bags can also contaminate foodstuffs of dumping them into the environment.
due to leaching of toxic dyes and transfer of  Industries may interact in such a way that
pathogens. they establish a “resource exchange”
 Careless disposal of plastic bags chokes programme in which waste of one industry or
drains, blocks the porosity of the soil and manufacturer is utilized as raw material by
causes problems for groundwater recharge. another-industry- similar to food web in
 Plastic disturbs the soil microbe activity. The nature.
terrestrial and aquatic animals misunderstand
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 Use of CNG by automobiles instead of petrol, characteristics: toxicity, ignitability,

as an automobile fuel, is an example of corrosivity or reactivity (explosive). Thus,
cleaner technology which has reduced any waste that contains hazardous or very
pollution of the environment. hazardous substance is called hazardous
 Instead of throw away economy which creates waste.
huge amount of waste, the manufacturers can  Hazardous wastes can originate from various
make more money if their product is sources such as: house-hold, local areas, Page
redesigned so that it uses minimum amount urban, industry, agriculture, construction
of raw materials lasts longer, easy to activity, hospitals and laboratories, power |
maintain, repair, remanufacture, reuse or plants and other sources. 158
recycle.  The hazardous waste when disposed of release
a number of environmentally unfriendly
Hazardous Waste substance(s).
 Hospitals generate hazardous wastes that
contain disinfectants and other harmful
 Any substance that is present in the
chemicals, and also pathogenic micro-
environment or released into the environment
organisms. Such wastes also require careful
causing substantial damage to public health
treatment and disposal. The use
and welfare of the environment is called
of incinerators (destroy, especially waste
hazardous substance.
material, by burning) is crucial to disposal of
 Any hazardous substance could exhibit any
hospital waste.
one or more of the following
Source Disposed/used Polluting agent Effect
Industrial Incineration of Toxic fumes e.g. Chlorine, polyvinylchloride Chlorine could cause acid
waste waste rain
Incomplete Dioxins/organochlorides Carcinogenic
Release into Chlorophenol, fluorine Cause environmental
water bodies compounds, aldehydes, SO2, CO pollution
Plastic Polythene, poly propylene, polyesters etc. on Toxic, ecological pollution
burning release gases
Nuclear Hospitals Slow/sustained in medical/agriculture use Health hazard,
waste Laboratories
carcinogenic, mutation
Agricultural Forms of Manure/Dung rich in NO3/N022 Accumulate in vegetables,
waste Nitrogen cause methanoglobenemia
wastes cyanosis
Nitrosamines/ NO3/NO i Carcinogenic contribute to
acid rain
N2O – Nitrous Oxide Greenhouse effect

[NOx – NO, NO2 are global

coolers, N2O is greenhouse
NH3+ (from livestock breeding) Affect aquatic life;
stimulate fungal growth;
epiphytes; cause
weathering of forests
Phosphates Eutrophication of aquatic
Phytosanitary Insecticides/pesticides/fungicides/herbicides Enter soil as run off,
product polluter water table affect
aquatic life, carcinogenic,
renal failure
Methane Ruminating cattle, fermentation of organic Powerful greenhouse effect

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Stockholm Convention on Persistent  International treaty that was designed to

Organic Pollutants reduce the movements of hazardous waste
between nations.
 Main goal is to prevent transfer of hazardous
 Stockholm Convention is an international
waste from developed to less developed
environmental treaty
countries (LDCs).
 Came into effective in 2004
 It does not address the movement Page
 Aims to eliminate or restrict the production
of radioactive waste.
and use of persistent organic pollutants
 182 states and the European Union are |
parties to the Convention 159
 POPs are defined as "chemical substances
 Location è Basel, Switzerland
that persist in the environment, bio-
accumulate through the food web, and pose a
risk of causing adverse effects to human Rotterdam Convention
health and the environment".
 Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed
Important Listed substances Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous
Chemicals and Pesticides in International
 Aldrin: Used as a local ectoparasiticide and Trade.
insecticide  Multilateral treaty to promote shared
 Heptachlor: Uses as a termiticide (including responsibilities in relation to importation of
in the structure of houses and underground), hazardous chemicals.
for organic treatment and in underground  The convention promotes open exchange of
cable boxes information and calls on exporters of
 Hexachlorobenzene: Use as a chemical hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling,
intermediate and a solvent for pesticides safe handling, and inform purchasers of any
 Endrin: Endrin has been used primarily as an known restrictions or bans.
agricultural insecticide on tobacco, apple  Signatory nations can decide whether to allow
trees, cotton, sugar cane, rice, cereal, and or ban the importation of chemicals listed in
grains. the treaty..
 Polychlorinated biphenyl: PCB's commercial
utility was based largely on their chemical Electronic waste | E – WASTE
stability, including low flammability, and
physical properties, including electrical  The discarded and end-of-life electronic
insulating properties. They are highly toxic. products ranging from computers, equipment,
 DDT: DDT is the best-known of several home appliances, audio and video products
chlorine-containing pesticides used in the and all of their peripherals are popularly
1940s and 1950s. known as Electronic waste (E-waste).
 E-waste is not hazardous if it is stocked in
Basel Convention safe storage or recycled by scientific methods
or transported from one place to the other in
 Basel Convention on the Control of parts or in totality in the formal sector. The e-
Transboundary Movements of Hazardous waste can, however, be considered hazardous
Wastes and Their Disposal. if recycled by primitive methods.

Source and health effects

Particulars Source Health Effects
Lead Used in glass panels and gaskets in computer Lead causes damage to the central and peripheral
monitors nervous systems, blood systems, kidney and
reproductive system in humans. It also effects the
Solder in printed circuit boards and other endocrine system, and impedes brain development
Components among children.

Lead tends to accumulate in the environment and has

high acute and chronic effects on plants, animals and

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Cadmium Occurs in SMD chip resistors, infra-red Toxic cadmium compounds accumulate in the human
detectors, and semiconductor chips body, especially the kidneys.

Some older cathode ray tubes contain cadmium

Mercury It is estimated that 22 % of the yearly world Mercury can cause damage to organs including the
consumption of mercury is used in electrical and brain and kidneys, as well as the foetus. The
electronic equipment developing foetus is highly vulnerable to mercury
exposure. When inorganic mercury spreads out in the Page
Mercury is used in thermostats, sensors, relays, water, it is transformed to methylated mercury which
switches, medical equipment, lamps, mobile bio-accumulates in living organisms and concentrates |
phones and in batteries through the food chain, particularly via fish.
Mercury, used in flat panel displays, will likely
increase as their use replaces cathode ray tubes
Hexavalent Chromium VI is used as corrosion Chromium VI can cause damage to DNA and is
Chromium/ protector of untreated and galvanized steel plates extremely toxic in the environment.
Chromium and as a decorative or hardener for steel
VI 29 housings Plastics (including PVC): Dioxin is
released when PVC is burned.

The largest volume of plastics (26%) used in

electronics has been PVC. PVC elements are
found in cabling and computer housings.

Many computer moldings are now made with the

somewhat more benign ABS plastics
Brominated BFRs are used in the plastic
retardants housings of electronic
(BFRs): equipment and in circuit boards to prevent
Barium Barium is a soft silvery-white metal that is used Studies have shown that short-term exposure to
in computers in the front panel of a CRT, to barium causes brain swelling, muscle weakness,
protect users from radiation damage to the heart, liver, and spleen.
Beryllium Beryllium is commonly found on motherboards Exposure to beryllium can cause lung cancer.
and finger clips Beryllium also causes a skin disease that is
characterized by poor wound healing and wart like
It is used as a copper- beryllium alloy to bumps. Studies have shown that people can develop
strengthen connectors and tiny plugs while beryllium disease many years following the last
maintaining electrical conductivity exposure.
Toners Found in the plastic printer cartridge containing Inhalation is the primary exposure pathway, and acute
black and color toners. exposure may lead to respiratory tract irritation.
Carbon black has been classified as a class 2B
carcinogen, possibly carcinogenic to humans. Reports
indicate that colour toners (cyan, magenta and yellow)
contain heavy metals.
Phosphor Phosphor is an inorganic The phosphor coating on cathode ray tubes
chemical compound that is applied as a coat on contains heavy metals, such as cadmium, and other
additives the interior of the CRT faceplate. rare earth metals, for example, zinc, vanadium as
additives. These metals and their compounds are very
toxic. This is a serious hazard posed for those who
dismantle CRTs by hand.
Q1: Due to improper/indiscriminate 5. Mercury
disposal of old and used computers or their 6. Lead
parts, which of the following are released 7. Plutonium
into the environment as e-waste?
Select the correct answer using the codes
1. Beryllium given below.
2. Cadmium
3. Chromium 1. 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 only
4. Heptachlor 2. 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 only

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3. 2, 4, 5 and 7 only
4. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7


Heptachlor is a Chlorohydrocarbon (CHC)

which is used as an insecticide. Page
Plutonium is a radioactive metal and hence
not used in computers. 161

So, answer should not contain either 4) or 7).

 Over half of the e-wastes generated in the
Answer: b) 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 only developed world are exported to developing
countries, mainly to China, India and
E — Waste in India Pakistan, where metals like copper, iron,
silicon, nickel and gold are recovered during
 India generates about 18.5 lakh metric tonnes recycling process.
(MT) of electronic waste every year, with  Unlike developed countries, which have
Mumbai and Delhi-NCR accounting for the specifically built facilities for recycling of e-
biggest chunk. The figure is likely to reach up wastes, recycling in developing countries often
to 30 lakh MT per year by 2018. involves manual participation thus exposing
 Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, workers to toxic substances present in e-
Hyderabad, Pune, Surat and Nagpur are other wastes.
important cities generating substantial
amount of e-waste. Heavy Metal Toxicity And Methods Of
 Among the eight largest e-waste generating Their Prevention
states, Maharashtra ranks first followed
by Tamil Nadu (2nd), Andhra Pradesh (3rd),
 Toxic metals are dispersed in the environment
Uttar Pradesh (4th), Delhi (5th), Gujarat (6th),
through metal smelting industrial emissions,
Karnataka (7th) and West Bengal (8th).
burning of organic wastes, automobiles and
coal based power generation.
 Heavy metals can be carried to places far away
from their source of origin by winds when they
are emitted in gaseous form or in form of fine
 Rain ultimately washes the air having metallic
pollutants and brings them to the land and to
water bodies.
 Heavy metals may endanger public health
after being incorporated in food chain.
 Heavy metals cannot be destroyed by
biological degradation.
 Incidence of heavy metal accumulation in fish,
oysters, mussels, sediments and other
components of aquatic ecosystems have been
reported from all over the world.
 The heavy metals often encountered in the
environment include lead, mercury, arsenic,
chromium. These are known to cause toxic
effects in living organisms.


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 Lead enters the atmosphere from automobile  Ground water contamination with arsenic is
exhaust. Tetraethyl lead (TEL) was added to very common in areas where it is present.
petrol as an anti-knock agent for smooth  Chronic arsenic poisoning causes melanosis
running of automobile engines. and keratosis (dark spots on the upper chest,
 TEL has now been replaced by other anti- back and arms are known as melanosis. The
knock compounds to prevent emission of lead next stage is keratosis in which palms become
by automobiles. Lead in petrol is being phased hard) and leads to loss of appetite, weight, Page
out by introduction of lead free petrol. diarrhoea, gastrointestinal disturbances and
 Many industrial processes use lead and it is skin cancer. |
often released as a pollutant. Battery scrap  Surface waters are generally free from arsenic 162
also contain lead. It can get mixed up with pollution and should be preferred for drinking
water and food and create cumulative and cooking.
poisoning.  Alternatively the tube well/ hand pump water
 Lead can cause irreversible behavioral should be purified to remove arsenic before
disturbances, neurological damage and other consumption. Techniques for removing
developmental problems in young children arsenic from water are available.
and babies. It is a carcinogen of the lungs and
kidneys. Cadmium

Mercury  Mining especially of zinc and metallurgical

operations, electroplating industries, etc.
 In Japan, mass mercury poisoning (Minamata release cadmium in the environment.
disease) was observed in 1960s, caused by  It may enter the human body by inhalation or
eating fish from Minamata Bay which were from aquatic sources including fish, etc.
contaminated with methyl mercury.  It may cause hypertension, liver cirrhosis,
 Largest source of mercury pollution is through brittle bones, kidney damage and lung cancer.
aquatic animals such as fish which  Itai-itai disease first reported from Japan in
accumulate mercury as methyl mercury. 1965 was attributed to cadmium
 Mercury kills cells in the body and damages contamination in water and rice caused by
organs which come in contact with mercury discharge of effluents from a zinc smelter into
and thus impairs their functioning. a river.
 Inhalation of mercury vapours is more
dangerous than its ingestion. Other Heavy Metals
 Chronic exposure causes lesions in the mouth
and skin and neurological problems.
 Metals such as zinc, chromium,
 Typical symptoms of mercury poisoning are
antimony and tin enter food from cheap
irritability, excitability, loss of memory,
cooking utensils.
insomnia, tremor and gingivitis.
 Preserved foods stored in tin cans also cause
 Exposure to mercury can be prevented by
contamination by tin.
taking care that mercury is not released in the
 Zinc is a skin irritant and affects pulmonary
environment as well as by replacing mercury
by other materials.
 Problems of heavy metal toxicity can be
 Mercury thermometers used earlier are getting
prevented by avoiding the use of utensils
replaced by mercury free thermometer.
made from materials containing these heavy
metals or use of drinking water and
Arsenic consuming fish having these heavy metals.

 Arsenic is associated with copper, iron and Occupational Health Hazards

silver ores.
 Arsenic is also emitted from fossil fuel Black lung disease
 Liquid effluents from fertilizer plants also
 In coal mining areas coal dust is the main air
contain arsenic.
pollutant. The deposits of coal dust makes

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miners lungs look black instead of a healthy  Efficiency: High level of noise at the work
pink and hence the name black lung disease. place reduces working efficiency. Quiet
 Black lung disease is the common name environment helps in increasing efficiency.
for pneumoconiosis (CWP) or anthracosis, a  General change in the body: Exposure to noise
lung disease of older workers in the coal increases blood pressure, pulse rate,
industry, caused by inhalation over many breathing and sweating or headache.
years, of small amounts of coal dust. Page
 The particles of fine coal dust accumulate in Chemicals and Biological Agents
lungs. Eventually this build-up causes |
thickening and scarring making the lungs less
 Workers in many industries are exposed to 163
efficient in supplying oxygen to the blood.
chemicals which are hazardous and may be
 In some cases a progressive massive fibrosis
even carcinogenic such as in textiles, cement
develops, in which damage continues in the
and construction industries.
upper parts of the lungs even after exposure
 Substances such as benzene, chromium,
to dust has ended.
nitrosamines and asbestos may cause
 X-rays can detect black lung disease before it
cancers of lung, bladder, skin, mesothelium,
causes any symptoms.
liver, etc.
 Occupational asthma is caused due to
Noise exposure to organic dusts, microorganisms,
bacteria, fungi and moulds and several
 Workers in mining, manufacturing and chemicals.
construction industries are exposed to high  Silicosis first reported from Kolar gold mines
levels of noise which is a very important stress in 1947 is a common disease among miners,
factor. pottery and ceramic industry workers.
 Sound levels higher than 80 to 90 dB for more  Pneumoconiosis and byssinosis are common
than eight hours are harmful to human ear. among mica and textile industry workers
Some of the adverse effects of sound are – respectively.

Psychological Treatment and disposal of solid waste

 Noise leads to emotional disturbances such as Open dumps

annoyance, disturbed sleep, lack of
concentration and reduced efficiency.  Open dumps refer to uncovered areas that are
used to dump solid waste of all kinds.
Auditory effects  The waste is untreated, uncovered, and not
segregated. It is the breeding ground for flies,
 Auditory fatigue – Occurs when noise level is rats, and other insects that spread disease.
in the range of 85 to 90 dB e.g. noise of a food  The rainwater runoff from these dumps
blender. contaminates nearby land and water thereby
 Deafness or impaired hearing – It may be spreading disease. Treatment by open dumps
temporary or permanent. Temporary hearing is to be phased out.
loss occurs on continuous exposure to noise
as in case of telephone operators. Landfills
 Repeated or continuous exposure to noise
more than 90 dB may result in permanent  It is a pit that is dug in the ground. The
loss of hearing. garbage is dumped and the pit is covered with
soil everyday thus preventing the breeding of
Non-auditory effects flies and rats.
 After the landfill is full, the area is covered
 Interference with speech and communication. with a thick layer of mud and the site can
 Annoyance: Most people are annoyed by noise thereafter be developed as a parking lot or a
and some may become neurotic. Neurotic park.
people lose their temper quickly and become  Problems - All types of waste are dumped in
irritable. landfills and when water seeps through them

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it gets contaminated and in turn pollutes the  This finished product, which looks like soil, is
surrounding area. This contamination of high in carbon and nitrogen and is an
groundwater and soil through landfills is excellent medium for growing plants.
known as leaching.  It increases the soil's ability to hold water and
makes the soil easier to cultivate. It helps the
Sanitary landfills soil retain more plant nutrients.
 It recycles the nutrients and returns them Page
 Sanitary landfill is more hygienic and built in back to soil as nutrients.
a methodical manner to solve the problem of  Apart from being clean, cheap, and safe, |
leaching. composting can significantly reduce the 164
 These are lined with materials that are amount of disposable garbage.
impermeable such as plastics and clay, and
are also built over impermeable soil. Vermiculture
Constructing sanitary landfills is very costly.
 It is also known as earthworm farming. In this
Incineration plants method, Earth worms are added to the
compost. These worms break the waste and
 The process of burning waste in large furnaces the added excreta of the worms makes the
at high temperature is known as incineration. compost very rich in nutrients.
 In these plants the recyclable material is  Four R's – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and
segregated and the rest of the material is Recover.
burnt and ash is produced.
 Burning garbage is not a clean process as it Waste Minimization Circles (WMC)
produces tonnes of toxic ash and pollutes the
air and water.  WMC helps Small and Medium Industrial
 A large amount of the waste that is burnt here Clusters in waste minimization in their
can be recovered and recycled. In fact, at industrial plants.
present, incineration is kept as the last resort  This is assisted by the World Bank with the
and is used mainly for treating the infectious Ministry of Environment and Forests acting as
waste. the nodal ministry.
 The project is being implemented with the
Pyrolysis assistance of National Productivity Council
(NPC), New Delhi.
 It is a process of combustion in absence of  The initiative also aims to realize the
oxygen or the material burnt under controlled objectives of the Policy Statement for
atmosphere of oxygen. It is an alternative to Abatement of Pollution (1992), which states
incineration. that the government should educate citizens
 The gas and liquid thus obtained can be used about environmental risks, the economic and
as fuels. health dangers of resource degradation and
 Pyrolysis of carbonaceous wastes like the real economic cost of natural resources.
firewood, coconut, palm waste, corn combs,  The policy also recognizes that citizens and
cashew shell, rice husk paddy straw and saw non-governmental organizations play a role in
dust, yields charcoal along with products environmental monitoring, therefore, enabling
like tar, methyl alcohol, acetic acid, them to supplement the regulatory system
acetone and fuel gas. and recognizing their expertise where such
exists and where their commitments and
Composting vigilance would be cost effective.

 Composting is a biological process in which Leave a review

micro-organisms, mainly fungi and bacteria,
decompose degradable organic waste into
humus like substance in the presence of t-upsc-ias#reviews

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Individual projects that need require Page
Environmental Impact Assessment clearance from central government
 Nuclear power and related projects such as 165
Environmental Impact Assessment heavy water plants, nuclear fuel complex, rare
 Development projects in the past were  River valley projects including hydel power,
undertaken without any consideration to their major irrigation and their combination
environmental consequences. As a result the including flood control.
whole environment got polluted and degraded.  Ports, harbours, airports (except minor ports
 In view of the colossal damage to the and harbours).
environment, governments and public are now  Petroleum refineries including crude and
concerned about the environmental impacts of product pipelines.
developmental activities. So, to assess the  Chemical fertilizers (nitrogenous and
environmental impacts, the mechanism of EIA phosphatic other than single superphosphate).
was introduced.  Pesticides (technical).
 EIA is a tool to anticipate the likely  Petrochemical complexes (both olefinic and
environmental impacts that may arise out of aromatic) and petrochemical intermediates
the proposed developmental activities and such as DMT, Caprolactam, LAB etc., and
suggest mitigation measures and strategies. production of basic plastics such as LDPE,
 EIA was introduced in India in 1978, with HDPE, PP, PVC.
respect to river valley projects. Later the EIA  Bulk drugs and pharmaceuticals
legislation was enhanced to include other  Exploration for oil and gas and their
developmental sections since 1941. production, transportation and storage
 EIA comes under Notification on  Synthetic rubber
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of  Asbestos and asbestos products
developmental projects 1994 under the  Hydrocyanic acid and its derivatives
provisions of Environment (Protection) Act,  Primary metallurgical industries (such as
1986. production of iron and steel, aluminium,
 Besides EIA, the Government of India under copper, zinc, lead, and ferro-alloys)
Environment (Protection) Act 1986 issued a  Chlor alkali industry
number of other notifications, which are  Integrated paint complex including
related to environmental impact assessment. manufacture of resins and basic raw materials
 EIA is now mandatory for 30 categories of required in the manufacture of paints
projects, and these projects  Viscose staple fibre and filament yarn
get Environmental Clearance (EC) only after  Storage batteries integrated with manufacture
the EIA requirements are fulfilled. of oxides of lead and lead antimony alloy
 Environmental clearance or the ‘go  All tourism projects between 200m-500
ahead’ signal is granted by the Impact