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Author(s): Taranjeet Kukreja, Sanjana Yadav, Arushi Saloki, Swarnlata Saraf


Address: University Institute of Pharmacy, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India.
University Institute of Pharmacy, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India.
University Institute of Pharmacy, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India.
University Institute of Pharmacy, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India.

*Corresponding Author:

Published In:   Volume - 36,      Issue - 1,     Year - 2023

Cite this article:
Kukreja, Yadav, Saloki and Saraf (2023). Chemical Pollutants: A Concern to The Environment. Journal of Ravishankar University (Part-B: Science), 36(1), pp. 66-93.

Chemical Pollutants: A Concern to The Environment

Taranjeet Kukreja1, Sanjana Yadav¹,  Arushi Saloki1, Swarnlata Saraf1*

1University Institute of Pharmacy, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India, 492010

 *Corresponding Author: 


Chemical contamination could lead to one of the worst environmental risks to humanity, but knowledge of the problem is still unevenly distributed worldwide. This review consists of risks associated with human exposure to a chemical pollutant depend on the degree of exposure and the chemical nature of the pollutant. Our knowledge of the scope of pollutants on human health and their hazards. Although some pollution control measures are in place, they are frequently not implemented at the rate required to prevent both acute and chronic consequences on human health today and in the decades to come. Increased global awareness and scientific examination of the whole scope of chemical risk are urgently needed. This review covers numerous aspects that may have negative impacts on human health in polluted places, with a focus on variables influencing the behaviour of pollutants.

Keywords: Pollutants, pollution, hazard, chemical pollutants, environment, health


Chemical pollutants that enter the body through human ingestion, absorption through the skin, or inhalation may have a local impact on certain organs (such as the lungs, digestive system, or skin), or they may have a systemic impact due to absorption, blood circulation, and distribution throughout the body. Damage to the liver, kidneys, neurological system, blood, cardiovascular system, immunological system, or reproductive system are examples of systemic impacts. Additionally, some pollutants have likely to stand as mutagenic, teratogenic, or carcinogenic (causing cancer or other physical problems in developing children affect DNA). The risks associated with human exposure to a chemical pollutant depend on the degree of exposure and the chemical nature of the pollutant (and how it functions and affects the human body)(Rodrigues & Römkens, 2017). Our exposure to both organic (such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, furans, polychlorinated biphenyls, or trichloroethane) and inorganic pollutants, including possibly harmful substances (PTEs) like Pb, Cd, Cr, Hg, and Ar has significantly increased as a product of various anthropogenic activities over the earlier century. By being absorbed by plants, pollutants found in soils can enter the trophic level and offer several risks to both animal and human health. The importance of soil in the feed and food supply chain for ensuring the delivery of safe and high-quality products has come to light(Franz et al., 2008)The level of pollution and the properties of the soil have a significant impact on the availability of PTEs for plant uptake and subsequent accumulation in edible plant sections as well as animal target organs (such as kidneys, liver, and muscle)(de Vries et al., 2007; Rodrigues & Römkens, 2017). Due to the deposition of the contaminant in the diet as well as feed stuff and the subsequent accumulation in people's bodies over time, the presence of PTEs including Cd, As, Hg, Pb, Co, Sb, Ba, and U in soils used to produce in diet, as well as feed stuff, may represent a hazard to the public's health. This accumulation can lead to a variety of health concerns in both people and animals, including reduced kidney function.(Franz et al., 2008).

PTEs in soils can have harmful effects on a person's health, including lung, kidney, liver, and cancer impairment after contact with Cr (Unceta et al., n.d.); adverse reactions on children's cognitive development from exposure to Pb(Appleton et al., 2012; Marschner et al., 2006); gastrointestinal, circulatory, liver, renal, neurological system, and cardiac conditions; skin and lung malignancies; and exposure to As; and kidney, bone, and pulmonary damage from exposure to Cd(Duker et al., 2005).

The number of chemicals discharged, the kind and concentration of chemicals and the place of the chemicals can all affect how pollutants affect the environment shown in the fig 1. Due to their widespread usage, ability to build up, the potential for interaction, and frequently unknowable long-term consequences on humans, plants, and the environment, chemicals can be concerning (e.g., cancer, mercury in fish).

The objective of this review emphasizes on eliminating chemical contamination is achievable, but it necessitates public education, a shift in perspective, and adjustment of long-standing, deeply-ingrained operating methods.

Health Risks of Chemical Pollutants

The use of pesticides, fungicides, and other soil additions like compost and sewage sludge; the disposal of industrial waste, particularly that from the metallurgical, electrical, and chemical industries; traffic emissions; and the incineration of garbage. The management of wastes is one of them that contributes significantly to soil chemical pollutants. A persistent background of both organic compounds and PTEs in soils in urban contexts is also caused by the use of specific oil-based lubricants, paints, and wood preservatives and the weathering and corrosion of metal structures (such as galvanized metal roofs, wire fences, and pipes). Tire wear causes increased metal loads in soils, especially where there is high traffic. The use of chlorinated compounds, such as tetrachloroethylene (TCE) in the dry-cleaning industry and chlorine used in the production of polyvinyl chloride, is another cause causing soil pollution (PVC) (e.g., by dioxins)(Abdel-Shafy & Mansour, 2016).

Fig 1: Various chemical pollutants that are harming the environment(Elder et al., 2016; Flame Retardants - Google Search, n.d.; Human Medicines - Google Search, n.d.; Images (344×146), n.d.; Nanoformulation Manufacturing - Google Search, n.d.; Pharmaceutical Expired Materials - Google Search, n.d.; Uv Filters - Google Search, n.d.; Veterinary Pharmaceutical Products - Google Search, n.d.; Kwiatkowski et al., 2020; Paliya et al., 2021; Vasilachi et al., 2021).


Chemical Pollution's Effects

Recent years have seen a sharp increase in the field of environmental analysis, making it a significant area of analytical science including the development of cutting-edge novel analytical techniques to identify and quantify trace contaminants in the environment. It must be distinguished that environmental analysis, like all other scientific disciplines, significantly relies on instrumentation, and that, in this regard, its methodology is fundamentally unchanged from that of traditional macro- and semi-microchemical analysis. Gas chromatography (GC), GC/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) are the main techniques used to identify organic contaminants. Nevertheless, a number of the classes of the so-called evolving pollutants cannot be measured using these methods.(Patnaik, 2017).

Through a number of mechanisms, chemical contaminants can impact marine species. Direct absorption of dissolved elements from seawater is possible. Potentially harmful particles could be consumed. Contaminants can either be removed in faecal pellets or digested and transferred to higher food levels via trophic transfer in both situations(Vasilachi et al., 2021). Because chemical contaminants are frequently linked to fine sediments that accumulate in low-energy habitats, benthic species in bays and estuaries are particularly in danger of exposure.(Naidu et al., 2021)At different levels, including the individual, population, and community levels, stressors have an impact on biology. The majority of research on chemical stressors has concentrated on the immediate effects on people as shown by cellular, biochemical, physiological, and behavioural reactions as well as figuring out lethal dosages(Marcus, n.d.).The environment now contains an extensive diversity of chemical contaminants, some of which interact with hormones and other physiological processes. These "endocrine-disrupting chemicals" (EDCs) adversely affect physiology and development. EDCs also have negative impacts on a variety of behaviours, including aggression, and dominance, in addition to added social behaviours, activity, sexual, motivation, communication, and other reproductive behaviours, learning and other cognitive capacities, and activity. We also looked at current research that casts doubt on some toxicological axioms. EDCs, for instance, have a number of unexpected characteristics, such as synergy and non-mono-tonic dosage effects. Furthermore, when studied in real-world ecological settings such as social stress and infection, negative effects of EDCs occasionally only become apparent. These results cast reservation on the viability and practicality of doing adequate testing for chemical contaminants(Zala & Penn, 2004).

Chemical Pollutants showing their Effect by contaminating the Soil.

It happens frequently for different metallic and non-metallic substances to contaminate the soil. However, persistent chemicals can seriously contaminate the soil with fluoride and manganese, particularly as soon as they are employed for a long time. Chemical residues can harm soil microorganisms and perhaps reduce soil fertility. In addition, crops cultivated in polluted soil often include chemical residues that make them unfit for ingestion by humans and animals. Overuse of fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides can result in chemical contamination of the soil. All building and demolition sites, mines, landfills, and foundries are situated as foundations of soil pollution(Chemical Pollution: Effects, Types and Life Cycle, n.d.-a).

Increasing Soil Erosion:

90 million hectares of terrestrial have had problems with soil erosion due to the presence of chemicals in the soil and other factors. Approximately, sixty thousand million tonnes of soil are lost to water erosion each year. In addition to over-cutting and over-grazing, erosion is the chemical breakdown of the soil's natural vegetation cover.

Now is the moment to contemplate, plot, also performance sustainably. If it is implemented, we will also be able to technologically foresee most of the implications and consequences that will follow the usage of land resources. Additionally, we want to educate individuals about dangerous chemicals. We must begin conservation studies in our institutes and academies since only they can monitor the soil and river pollution in India(Chemical Pollution: Effects, Types and Life Cycle, n.d.-a).

Impact on Both People and Plants

Every human is exposed to dangerous toxins in each and every second. These irritating substances have been connected to problems with the skin, liver, heart, and kidneys as well as headache, nausea, and eyesight. They skeletonize the leaves and have an impact on necrosis in interventional areas(Chemical Pollution: Effects, Types and Life Cycle, n.d.-a).


Chemical Pollution of Water:

Chemicals that pollute water come from pesticides and fertilizers that contain phosphate and nitrate. Through a variety of channels, these pollutants enter the groundwater and mix with runoff that flows into waters and streams.

Fluoride, antimony, barium, manganese, cadmium, and many more compounds are introduced into water bodies through a variety of mechanisms. They contaminate groundwater as well as surface water. Water contamination results from the air-borne spray of elements on planted areas, undertaking in drainage, surface runoff, and puffing of surface dust by chemical manufacturing plant effluents.

Water pollution can also be brought on by industrial emissions. Mercury in waste water from the paper industry is one example. When the mercury mixes with bacteria in the water, it transforms into methyl mercury, which gets into fish like swordfish and can be dangerous for consumers to consume.

Nitrates are a chemical hazard in drinking water. They can be turned into nitrites in the intestinal canal by specific bacteria, and once in the circulation, these nitrites stop haemoglobin in red blood cells from delivering oxygen. Infants whose diet contains such water have been shown to suffer greatly and even pass away from hypoxia.

Men who use fluoridated water develop fluorosis. While manganese salts cause human eye blindness, they also cause gastrointestinal problems and mental difficulties. Herbal development and growth are similarly impacted by fluoride in addition to manganese salts, which also increase their susceptibility to chemical attack.

The burning of fossil fuels in things like utilities, businesses, and automobiles is a significant source of chemical pollution in the air. Sulphur dioxide is produced when coal is burned. It is a component of acid rain and can harm the lungs of those who breathe it in heavily. Nitrogen oxides (NOx), a by-product of motor vehicles including cars, trucks, and airplanes, also contribute to acid rain and human lung harm. Ozone, Lead and carbon monoxide are other more substances that contribute to air pollution(Chemical Pollution: Effects, Types and Life Cycle, n.d.-a).

Different Chemicals Pollutants:

Fig 2: Different chemical pollutants

1.     Explosives

These are defined as a solid, liquid, pyrotechnic substance, or article that is on its own capable of creating gas through a chemical reaction at a temperature, pressure, and speed high enough to inflict harm to the immediate environment.

2.     Toxic Substances

Chemicals that have the following actual poisonousness levels and are capable of causing serious accident threat sowing to their physical and chemical characteristics:

Table 1: Chemical Pollutants a growing threat to the Environment:(Toxic Chemical Pollutants Table - Yahoo India Image Search Results, n.d.)

Name of the chemical pollutant


Adverse effect to the environment


Nickel-Cadmium batteries, Contact Switches, Light Sensitive Resistors.

Severe lung damage.

Bone toxicity.

Sever lung damage.

Harmful to the microbes as well as the ecosystem.


Flat Screen Monitors, Fluorescent Tubes.

Enters the food chain.

Very toxic chemical pollutant.

Causes sensory impairment, memory loss, dermatitis, and muscle weakness.

Damages the kidneys and the nervous system.

Causes slow growth and development in animals.

May reduce fertility.

May also cause death.


CRT Monitor glass, Electrical Solder.

Extremely toxic.

Damagesthe nervous system as well as the blood system, kidneys and reproductive organs.

Also its similarly harmful for animals and the aquatic animals.


Heat Insulation System for CPU as well as Power Transistors.


Damages the lungs.

Chronic Beryllium disease.


Poly vinyl chloride (PVC)

Wires and Cables (Insulated)

Most Poisonous when burnt.

Causes respiratory problems.

Damages the lungs.

Hexavalent chromium

Protection from Corrosion

Extremely toxic and causes cancer.

Bromated flame retardants (bfrs)

In most of Electronic Devices it is used as a Flame Retardant.

Builds up in the environment.

Impairs the development of the Nervous system.

Causes Liver damage.

Damages the Endocrine System as well.


3.     Flame-prone chemicals:

Table 2: Different flame-prone chemicals



Flame-prone gases

Gases that are ignitable at 20 °C and 101.3 Kpa standard pressure when mixed through airborne at a volumetric ratio of no more than 13%.

Extremely flammable liquids

Chemicals with a boiling point of less than 35°C and a flash point that is below or comparable to 23°C

Liquids that are extremely highly flammable

Chemicals with an initial boiling point higher than 35°C and a flash point lower than or equivalent to 23°C

Very flammable fluids

Chemicals with a showy point higher than 23°C but not greater than 60°C.

Flammable liquids

Substances with a showy point that is greater than 60°C but less than 90°C(Chemical Pollution: Effects, Types and Life Cycle, n.d.-a).


Chemical Pollutants: Life Cycle:

Compounds are typically combined with other chemicals when they are unconfined into the environment as waste or by products. When combined, they may have chemical, synergistic, or incompatible interactions. They could result in breakdown products, by products, or reactions that create new compounds in the environment or waste stream.

Territorial limitations do not apply to pollution. Because they tend to remain in the environment for long periods of time and have a high capacity for long-distance movement, priority pollutants have intensified global action on priority pollutant control.

A hierarchy of strategies for controlling priority pollutants has been recognized by the government, regulatory bodies, and industrial initiatives:(Chemical Pollution: Effects, Types and Life Cycle, n.d.-b)


Fig 3: A hierarchy of strategies for controlling pollutants

Chemicals are discharged and can enter the environment at any point, from creation and testing through manufacture, storage, and distribution through usage and ultimately disposal, making chemical pollution prevention very difficult illustrated in fig 3.

Fig 4: Life Cycle of Chemical Pollutants(Agricutural Purpose of Chemicals - Google Search, n.d.; Chemical Production - Google Search, n.d.; Chemical Safety - Google Search, n.d.; Chemical Storage and Distribution - Google Search, n.d.; Domestic Purpose of Chemicals - Google Search, n.d.; Environment - Google Search, n.d.; Industrial Purpose of Chemicals - Google Search, n.d.; VOCs: Emerging Chemical Pollution Threat (Important)- Examrace, n.d.).

The following categories apply to the broad release of chemicals pollutants into the environment

a)     Point source releases

b)     Release from a diffuse or non-point source.

Prior to now, controls have been put in place to strictly regulate discharge into water and sewer systems and focus on eliminating the biggest point source.

It is well known that there are many different environmental and industrial factors involved in pollution control. The implementation of Integrated Pollution Control has significantly improved environmental management by introducing a more thorough control philosophy (IPC). IPC applies to releases from the industrial process that produces the most pollution.

Some chloroflourocarbons are predicted to create trifluoroacetic acid, which is quite stable and washes out of the atmosphere in rain. Trifluoroacetic acid may concentrate in locations with high evapotranspiration rates, such as seasonal wetlands, and cause plant harm.

For chemical pollutants, direct toxicity assessment is taken into account as a tool for process and emissions management. Ecological monitoring is also necessary to give a more comprehensive picture of the state of the ecosystem. The ultimate purpose of chemical control is the preservation of the environment, and it is through assessing changes in ecological quality that the success of chemical control measures and other control measures may be ascertained.(Chemical Pollution: Effects, Types and Life Cycle, n.d.-b)

Table 3. Chemical Pollutants from Industry and the harm it will cause to the environment(Industrial Pollution: Types, Effects and Control of Industrial Pollution, n.d.).



Wastes Produced

Type of Pollution


Iron and steel

Smoke, gases, coal dust, fly ash, fluorine

Air, water, and land



Organic waste

Land and water



Ammonia, cyanide,




oxides of nitrogen,

Air and water



oxides of sulphur




Inorganic waste pigment

Land and water


Cement dust, smoke

Particulate matter



Organic and inorganic

Water and land






Oil Refineries

poisonous gases, organic waste, and smoke

Air and water


Caustic Soda

Mercury, Chlorine gas

Air, water and land


Paper and Pulp

Smoke, organic waste

Air and water



Organic waste, molasses

Land and water



Smoke, particulate matter

Land and water



Organic waste



Thermal power

Fly ash, SO2 gas

Air and water


Nuclear power station

Radioactive wastes

Water and land


Food processing

Alkalies, phenols chromates, organic wastes

Water and land


A chemical by product created during the production of a product is known to as a chemical pollutant product. Chemical waste includes acids, alkalies, detergents, toxic metals and their ions, as well as other toxic materials.

These are typically created by businesses including sugar mills, paper and pulp mills, iron and steel mills, distilleries, and enterprises that manufacture fertilizer. These are typically released into surrounding bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and oceans, as well as occasionally onto lands. These substances may change pH, BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand), and COD after entering the body (Chemical Oxygen Demand)(Industrial Pollution: Types, Effects and Control of Industrial Pollution, n.d.). Heavy metals, their ions, and suspended matter (sm) loading drastically alter the physiochemical composition of the water. The aquatic plants and animals absorb, assimilate, and bio-concentrate the chemical contaminants, which ultimately destroys the living species and food chains of the eco-system. As a result, these disrupt the dynamics and equilibrium of the natural ecosystem.

1.     Industrial chemical pollutants

Fig 5: Effect of Industrial chemical pollutants(Air Pollution - Definition, Causes, Effects And Control, n.d.; Effects of Air Pollution on Soil Sustainability - Forest Research, n.d.; Effects Of Pollution on Human Health Essay, n.d.; Johnson et al., 2018)

i.       There are several negative effects on

ii.     Human health, including

iii.   irritated eyes, noses, throats, respiratory systems, etc.

iv.   It raises the rates of morbidity and mortality.

v.     Many different particles, primarily pollens, cause asthma episodes.

vi.   Chronic respiratory conditions including bronchitis and asthma are exacerbated by high amounts of Sulphur dioxide, Nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and photochemical smog.

vii.  Poisoning can result from some toxic metals such as lead entering the body through the lungs.

2. Concerning animal health: Pollutants enter animals in two steps.

i.       The build-up of airborne pollutants in vegetation, foraging animals, and prey animals.

ii.     Animals that eat the contaminated food later become poisoned. Fluorine, arsenic, and lead are the three contaminants that cause the most harm to animals.

3.     On plants:

i.       It has been demonstrated that industrial pollution has major negative impacts on plants. In certain instances, vegetation discovered more than 150 kilometres from the source of the pollution has been found to be impacted.

ii.     The primary pollutants that are harmful to plants are SO2, O3, MO, NO2, NH3, HCN, ethylene, herbicides, PAN (peroxy acetyl nitrate), etc.

iii.   The healthy plants experience neurosis, chlorosis, abscission, epinasty, etc. when contaminants are present(Industrial Pollution: Types, Effects and Control of Industrial Pollution, n.d.).


Control of Industrial Pollutants.

The basic goal of pollution control strategies is to ensure human, material, and technological safety. The adoption of control measures must be founded on the idea that pollutants can be recovered or recycled and must be viewed as an essential component of production, never as a liability but always as an asset.

Table 4: Among the crucial preventative actions are:

S. No.

Crucial preventative actions



Waste Management for Industry:

Before being released, industrial wastes need to undergo thorough treatment.


Source Control:

It requires making appropriate adjustments to the raw material selection, the procedure used to treat exhaust gases before they are finally released, and raising the stock height to a maximum of 38 metres in order to ensure optimal mixing of the released pollutants.


Tough Government Measures:

Industries that dump more pollutants into the environment than the limit set by the Pollution Control Board should face harsh punishment from the government.


Site Selection for the Industry:

Before establishing an enterprise, the industrial location should be thoroughly studied in light of the topographical and climatic conditions.



Dust, smoke, and other pollutants are significantly reduced in the area because of intensive cultivation.


Evaluation of Environmental Effects

Regular environmental impact assessments that aim to identify and assess the potential negative effects of companies on natural eco-systems should be carried out.


Implementing the Environmental Protection Act strictly

The Environment Protection Act must be scrupulously adhered to, and anyone who harm the environment must face severe penalties(Top 6 Types of Chemical Industries | Pollution, n.d.).


Table 5: Harmful chemical pollutants

S. No.

Harmful chemical pollutants




The market is filled with a huge variety of pesticides. They either cause phosphate or chloride contamination of the water, as well as a rise in BOD, COD, sulphate, and nitrate levels. Some herbicides can raise BOD levels as high as 20,000 to 30,000 mg/1. Both aquatic life and people are harmed by toxic pesticides including DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, and benzene.



There are alkali manufacturing or textile companies that release alkaline effluents into the environment, making the water unusable for human consumption and infertile for the soil. They obliterate the local vegetation and animals. A few years ago, a pesticide factory in Bhopal leaked methyl isocyanate, causing roughly 20,000 people to become disabled and about 15,000 to pass away within a few days.


Toxic Metals:

Metal companies release a variety of metals, metallic oxides, and another slag that pollutes the earth, water, and air with metals. Enteric ailments and mental disorders are brought on by the harmful metals, which slowly seep into the groundwater and percolate there(4 Major Industries That Are Responsible for Causing Pollution, n.d.).



The fertilizer industry releases sulphur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere, both of which contribute to acid rain or stunt the growth of plants like trees, fruits, vegetables, and even grass. These industries' effluent is also toxic and needs to be properly treated before being released(4 Major Industries That Are Responsible for Causing Pollution, n.d.).



The direct dumping of oil into the ocean by the oil industry has entirely disrupted the sea kingdom. Marine pollution needs to end right away. In summary, dangerous pollutants are released by large industries such as steel, rubber, textiles, rayon, and titanium dioxide(Top 6 Types of Chemical Industries | Pollution, n.d.).


Poisonous Chemicals:

The chemical industries release a variety of toxic chemicals into the fields, destroying the soil, the water, and the vegetation. It will be difficult to live on our planet if the effluent is not treated appropriately before being discharged. They even release cyanides into the fields, which at one point caused the deaths of 50,000 fish in the Kali River in Meerut in 1984(4 Major Industries That Are Responsible for Causing Pollution, n.d.).


Chemical exposure to human health in India

The industrial sector significantly boosts the economies of developing nations by supplying goods and services that advance both the economy and society. In response to the increasing demand for chemicals, the worldwide chemical industry rose from US$ 171 billion in 1970 to US$ 4.12 trillion in 2010 (Sharma et al., 2014). India has evolved into one of the top investment locations for chemical companies in the world as a consequence of the chemical industry's major contribution to the country's economic development over the past decade, which accounts for around 3% of the worldwide chemical sector.(Inclusive & Growth, 2012).

India's chemical industry is one of the most diverse industrial sectors, producing more than 70,000 commercial goods, including bulk medications, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, paints, insecticides, and petroleum products as well as basic chemicals and their derivatives. In 2017–18, the sector produced 49 million tonnes of chemicals and petrochemicals. Alkaline makes up 69% of all chemicals produced in India, whereas polymer makes up 59% of the country's petrochemical production. This industry as a whole contributes around 3% of India's GDP.(Poison, Unlimited: India’s Chemicals Industry Remains Dangerously, n.d.)Every chemical in the world is harmful, and it is necessary to treat them with great care. However, the sixth-largest chemical sector in the world, India's, keeps growing perilously. Methyl isocyanate, the gas that leaked on December 1-2, 1985, killing more than 3,500 individuals and injuring thousands more, is still legal in India. This is despite the tragic Bhopal gas leak being the world's worst industrial disaster and taking place 35 years ago. In August 2018, the Union government reluctantly imposed a ban on CarbarylSevin, an insecticide that the Union Carbide facility in Bhopal was producing. The nation still permits the production of polyurethane, a type of plastic, using methyl isocyanate.(Poison, Unlimited: India’s Chemicals Industry Remains Dangerously, n.d.). Air pollution is responsible for approximately 1.1 million deaths in India each year, with Delhi being the most affected. The country's air pollution issue is further exacerbated by India's steadily rising population and energy consumption: The yearly average level of fine particulate matter in Delhi is 15 times higher than what the World Health Organization recommends. (PM2.5)(S. Hama et al., 2021).According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 14 Indian cities are among the 20 most polluted in the world.(India Cities Dominate World Air Pollution List - BBC News, n.d.)

Table 6: lists the top 14 polluted cities in the world based on statistics from the (WHO) Urban*PM2.5











































*(Annual mean, ug/m3)


According to the report “Using data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2015, the 2017 Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health concluded that in 2015, pollution was responsible for an estimated 9 million fatalities (16% of all deaths worldwide) and $4.61 trillion in economic losses (6% of global economic output). The Commission underlined the extreme unfairness associated with pollution: 92% of pollution-related deaths and the majority of its financial costs occur in low- and middle-income nations (LMICs). On the basis of the GBD 2019 data, this paper gives an updated estimate of the consequences of pollution on health and analyses patterns going back to 2000.These statistics demonstrate that nothing has changed and that pollution still poses a serious threat to everyone's health and prosperity, especially in LMICs.(Fuller et al., 2022).

Particularly, India's northern region experiences the worst levels of particle matter air pollution (Guo et al., 2017; Jethva et al., 2018; R. Kumar et al., 2014; Schnell et al., 2018). Population growth, industrialization, urbanization, and energy use are the main drivers of rising pollution levels(P. Kumar et al., 2013, 2015; Shukla et al., 2020). With a present population of 30.29 million (WPR, 2020), Delhi has annual average PM2.5 concentration levels that can be up to 15 fold greater than the WHO's recommended level of 10 g m3 (Ambient Air Pollution, n.d.). A significant air pollutant that causes cities like Delhi's air quality to deteriorate is PM2.5, which is produced by both natural and anthropogenic sources (S. M. L. Hama et al., 2020; P. Kumar et al., 2020).

Organic and inorganic chemical components can combine to form PM2.5, which can be a complicated mixture.(Heal et al., 2012) The toxicity of PM2.5 is influenced by chemical composition(Atkinson et al., 2015), which is connected to the source of the oxidation of the atmosphere due to pollutants and other biological and chemical processes(Kim et al., 2018). The main constituents of PM2.5 are typically carbonaceous aerosols and water-soluble ionic species, along with trace amounts of elements that can be helpful for source attribution. Carbonaceous aerosols are composed of carbon elements (EC) and organic carbon (OC). Direct emissions of EC result from the incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels. OC can be created via a chemical reaction between its precursor gases and/or their condensation into particles to make secondary organic carbon, or it can be released directly from sources such the burning of fossil fuels, vehicle emissions, and burning of biomass.

Urban regions mostly experience inorganic ions in the PM2.5 portion as ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate, which are produced when atmospheric ammonia is used to neutralize sulfuric acid and nitric acid, respectively(Squizzato et al., 2013). Considering their possible impact on the environment, people's health, and heterogeneous chemical processing, as well as their influence,(Izhar et al., 2016) metal compounds are an essential component of PM (SO2 oxidation). Several natural and anthropogenic factors, including crustal and soil dust, building activities, traffic emissions (both exhaust and non-exhaust), industry, municipal waste incineration, and biomass burning(Cheng et al., 2013; Das et al., 2015; Pant & Harrison, 2012), are among the sources of metal element emissions in PM2.5. Several cellular oxidation-reduction reactions have been shown to be impacted by these metals through altering important enzymes; an abundance of hazardous metals in the body can cause cellular and tissue damage.

Table 7: There are few studies that describe the PM source profiles in India.


Measurement years

Profiles of different sources




Domestic cooking, solid waste burning and industrial process

(Bano et al., 2018)



Paved road, unpaved road dust

(Samiksha et al., 2017)



Traffic and Dust

(Matawle et al., 2015)


2012 and 2013

road and soil debris, pedal pad

(Pant et al., 2015)



Burning of solid waste, domestic fuel, industrial furnaces, and welding shops

(Matawle et al., 2014)


2009 and 2010

Residential, and industrial

(Pipalatkar et al., 2014)

Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kanpur, Mumbai and Pune


Soil dust, paved road and unpaved road dust, coal and wood combustion in stoves, waste burning, fuel oil combustion, agricultural waste burning, brick kiln.

(Patil et al., 2013)


Chemical pollution's silent threat

Chemicals have spread widely in the global environment. By 2030, it is predicted that the world's chemical manufacturing will have doubled from its current rate of roughly 35% annually. Roughly two-thirds of the world's current chemical production is produced in LMICs. The illness burden due to these chemicals is most certainly undercounted since only a tiny portion of the thousands of produced chemicals in commerce have been sufficiently assessed for safety or toxicity and the disease burdens related to these compounds cannot be estimated.  Developmental neurotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, and immunotoxicity are three particularly concerning and understudied consequences of chemical pollution(Fuller et al., 2022).

1.     Chemical developmental neurotoxicity

Over 200 chemicals are neurotoxic to humans, including lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides, organic solvents, and brominated flame retardants, and many of these chemicals are common in the modern environment(Fuller et al., 2022). Children are especially vulnerable to their effects: even low-dose neurotoxic chemical exposure during critical periods of developmental vulnerability in foetal and postnatal life has more serious health consequences than high-dose exposure to the same chemicals in adults(Grandjean et al., 2019; Ho et al., 2012).

2.     Chemical reproductive toxicity

The evidence is mounting that even low-dose exposure to certain manufactured chemicals can have a negative impact on fertility and pregnancy. Pesticides, industrial chemicals (such as halogenated flame retardants, plasticizers, and dioxins), ambient pollutants originating from pharmaceuticals, hazardous metals, and various reproductive problems have all been connected. A higher prevalence of reproductive illnesses later in life, such as endometriosis, breast cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, and testicular cancer, appears to be associated with prenatal and early postnatal chemical exposure. (Fuller et al., 2022).

3.     Chemical immune-toxicity and its implications for communicable disease control

Some pollutants are immune system toxins. For instance, perfluoroalkyl acids have been connected to lower vaccination antibody responses, a rise in the likelihood that children may be hospitalised for an infectious illness, and increased COVID-19 infection severity(Chen et al., 2021). While exposure to cadmium has been connected to an increase in influenza mortality, exposure to traffic-related air pollution has been linked to an increase in COVID-19 mortality (Park et al., 2020). Many other chemical exposures have been shown in laboratory studies to be toxic to the immune system; however, research on the clinical consequences of exposure is still limited(Fuller et al., 2022).

Environmental impact of the pharmaceutical industry

The notion that medications should be regarded differently from other drugs since they are "intended to be biologically active"(Sumpter, 2014) seems to be shared by a lot of commentators, with the inference that this criterion is sufficient to separate pharmaceuticals from other substances. This, however, is wrong because it assumes falsely that medications are specifically physiologically active by design and is based on an ignorance of pharmaceutical development. Based on their general safety, pharmaceuticals are chosen from among the various compounds that have specific impact on both humans and animals When used to chemical "library" containing millions of compounds, high-throughput screening methods, capable of screening >100,000 compounds each day, are used to find the great majority of medications.(Szymański et al., 2012)The screening test is made to only find compounds with the required biological activity because it is known that the most of chemicals have some biological activity. It is normal for this preliminary screening stage to provide several hundred possible leads, which must then be narrowed down to 1 or 2 possibilities for more research. All of these early prospective leads contain the necessary biological activity, but they could also have additional harmful toxicological traits that need to be brutally weeded out of the chosen group during the refining stage.

Thus, medications are equivalent to any other chemical in terms of assessing environmental danger. They are only one sort of microcontaminant that significantly advanced analytical science led to the emergence of towards the end of the 20th century. Pharmaceuticals as a group, however, must be handled differently in terms of risk management due to theirimpact on the health and welfare of people.(Taylor & Senac, 2014)The environmental effect of the pharmaceutical business was generally thought to be minimal until the late 1990s. Any environmental impact was thought to be solely the result of manufacturing facilities, and because these were relatively small in size and had well-controlled emissions, environmental impacts were not thought to be a problem. Although the biological activity of the pharmaceutical products was acknowledged, due to low production quantities and high production costs, it was anticipated that very little of the active ingredient would be discharged into the environment during manufacturing.

We now know that there are three ways that medicines might enter the environment: through patient excretion, the disposal of unwanted and expired medication, and wastewater released from manufacturing sites. There is general consensus that the latter source dominates worldwide environmental input, with wastewater discharges and the disposal of unneeded medications contributing just significantly, notwithstanding the difficulty of providing exact quantification for any specific pharmaceutical. (Halling-Sørensen et al., 1998)Locally high concentrations can occur close to industrial wastes, especially in developing nations (Larsson, 2014) and hospital.

The risks associated with pharmaceutical manufacturing environmental discharge differ from those associated with drug excretion in several ways. This is due primarily to differences in exposure levels, as effect thresholds are independent of the source of contamination. Due to the fact that only a small number of individuals use any given medication on a regular basis, unless there is a big epidemic or pandemic outbreak, pharmaceutical concentrations in municipal untreated sewage are constrained. Additionally, each individual consumes a lot of water in many nations, which causes a significant initial dilution of urine and faeces. Additionally, sewage treatment effectively eliminates a lot of APIs. Since APIs are often found at ng l−1 quantities in treated municipal sewage effluents, concentrations larger than 10 µg l1 are unusual there. In low- and middle-income countries, where sewage treatment is typically inadequate and water use per capita is lower, the levels may be a little higher. The great bulk of a specific API's worldwide production may be centred in a small number of factories or perhaps a single location, in contrast to excreted APIs(Kookana et al., 2014). Even while only a small fraction of the APIs are anticipated to be lost through discharge during manufacture, it is evident that concentrations in manufacturing effluents could be several orders of magnitude more than in municipal sewage effluents.

Pollution prevention law and policies

P2 Law

According to the Pollution Prevention Act (P2 Act), which Congress passed in 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency must create a source reduction programme that collects and disseminates information, provides financial assistance to States, and conducts the other operations. The "Findings" section of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 outlines the justification for the Act's adoption by Congress. Some of the causes are as follows:

·       The United States produces millions of tonnes of pollution each year, and dozens of thousands of dollars are spent trying to eradicate it.

·       By making cost-effective modifications to its operations, production, and utilisation of raw materials, business has a great opportunity to minimise or prevent pollution at the source.

·       Source reduction is essentially better and more desired than waste management and pollution control.(Pollution Prevention Law and Policies | US EPA, n.d.)

P2 Explained

By altering manufacturing processes, promoting the use of nontoxic or less hazardous substances, applying conservation practises, and recycling materials rather than adding them to the waste stream, pollution prevention aims to reduce or eliminate waste at the source. In this memo dated May 28, 1992, with the subject line "EPA Definition of "Pollution Prevention," the EPA defines P2 as source reduction.

According to the Pollution Prevention Act, "source reduction" refers to any practise that:

·       Reduces the amount of any toxic materials, pollutant, or contaminant into any waste stream or otherwise discharging into the environment (particularly gas emission) prior to recycling, processing, or disposing; and

·        Reduces the risks to the environment and public health associated with the release of such substances, pollutants, or contaminants.

The concept covers improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training, or inventory management, as well as changes to equipment, processes, or procedures. It also covers changes to product composition or design, as well as changes to raw materials.

The Pollution Prevention Act excludes recycling, energy recovery, treatment, and disposal from the concept of pollution prevention.(Pollution Prevention Law and Policies | US EPA, n.d.)

National Policy for the Prevention of Pollution

Environmental Protection Act creates a federal strategy that the EPA puts into practise:

·       whenever possible, pollution should be stopped or decreased at the source;

·       Pollution should be recycled in an environmentally responsible manner whenever it cannot be avoided;

·       As a last option, disposal or other releases into the environment should only be made after taking precautions to protect the ecosystem.

Federal Statutes Relating to Pollution Prevention

Pollution Prevention Act (PPA)

§ 13103 - EPA is required to create and implement a plan to encourage source reduction.

§ 13104 The EPA, in its capacity as administrator, has the power to award grants to the States to encourage source reduction by industries.

§ 13105 EPA was required to create a database with data on source reduction.

§ 13106 - A toxic elimination and recycling report is needed of business owners and operators that are required to submit a toxic chemical release form.(Pollution Prevention Law and Policies | US EPA, n.d.)

Clean Air Act (CAA)

§ 7402 - Encourages cooperation amongst the federal departments, states, and local governments for prevention and control of air pollution.

§ 7403 - Developing a nationwide research and development programme for preventive and air pollution control was mandated by the EPA.

Also, EPA must also help agencies that deal with air pollution coordinate their efforts.

§ 7405 - EPA can make grants to air pollution prevention and control agencies.

§ 7412 - Facilities that reduce their emission of toxics into the air by 90-95% can qualify for permit waivers.

§ 7414 - 7418 - EPA has the authority to implement record keeping, inspections, and oversight for all establishments that release toxins

§ Subchapter I, Part C Sec 7470-7479 – Protection against the deterioration of air quality-establishment of a plan that includes emissions limitations to protect public welfare and the environment.

§ Subchapter II 12. General emissions standards.(Pollution Prevention Law and Policies | US EPA, n.d.)



This review illustrated the hazards of the chemical pollutants and the pollution caused by the chemicals across the globe. The environmental risk and pollution associated with manufacturing of pharmaceutical and exposure to such effluents in the wider range. In addition, the Indian chemical and pollution regulatory and management scenario was highlighted, and an attempt was made to identify potential areas for improvement. The requirement for using bioavailability measurements in site-specific risk evaluations will be concluded as a vital step toward more precise and affordable assessments compared to present evaluation methodologies. Various compounds are increasing rapidly and new chemicals are always emerging due to the chemical industry's rapid global expansion. People use chemicals frequently and produce a large amount of chemical waste, including hazardous and deadly pollutants. Since the discharge is out of control, the ecosystem continues getting worsened. Understanding the origins and effects of chemical pollutants and effluents, enhancing environmental protection are the major concern.



The authors are thankful to Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur for the continuous support.

 Statements and Declarations

The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.

 Ethical Approval

The manuscript is original and have not been published elsewhere in any form or language.

 Consent to participate

All authors agreed with the content and that all gave explicit consent to submit and that they obtained consent from the responsible authorities at the institute/organization where the work has been carried out, before the work is submitted.

 Consent to publish

All authors have given their consent for publishing this manuscript in Journal of Ravishankar University.

 Author Contributions

“All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material Preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Taranjeet Kukreja, Sanjana Yadav, Arushi Saloki under the guidance of Swarnlata Saraf. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Taranjeet Kukreja and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.”


“The authors declare that no funds, grants, or other support were received during the preparation of manuscript.”

 Competing Interests

“The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.”

 Availability of data and materials

Not available.



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