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Pollution Caused by Urbanization and Its Solutions

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There are a large number of people who move to metropolitan areas in search of better job opportunities and living conditions. This process is called urbanization which is featured by a faster increase of urban population and economic development compared with rural areas. In spite of economic growth and improvement of basic facilities, cities, especially in developing countries, suffer from negative consequences of urbanization and postindustrialization. It is evident that modern cities are featured by environmental degradation, worsening of water quality and shortages of housing. This essay will focus on the air pollution and water pollution caused by urbanization. These harmful pollutants have serious negative effects on people’s health such as damage to people’s respiratory system. Following this, it will put forward some feasible solutions to deal with these problems. The air quality in cities has become worse and worse along with the process of urbanization and people have been suffering from serious respiratory problems.

A typical example of this is the “smokfog” phenomenon in Beijing where people need to wear a gauze mask to go outside. It is true that the working offices or central business districts are located in the downtown area of the city and a large number of people crowded into the center of the city for work or for entertainment. As a result, there is a huge population who take public transportation to travel to workplace and some wealthier five-to-nine workers choose to go for work by private cars. Therefore, the exhausted gas produced by these transportation tools is immeasurable, especially on the workdays. This also causes a huge pollution difference between workday and weekend and this effect that less pollution is caused in the holiday period is called “Holiday Effect”. Tan et al (2013) argues that pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds or non-methane hydrocarbon, sulfur dioxide, and PM 10 are measured to be higher on weekdays than on weekends. According to PhD Bert B and MD Stephen TH (2002), the effect on shortening life expectancy has been evaluated at 1–2 years for realistic exposure contrasts.

In addition, there are an increase number of factories which have found their footprints in the rural areas because the air situation in cities has exceeded its bearing capacities. This is also due to the rapid pace of urbanization as factories in cities can no longer meet people’s needs. Consequently, the natural environment in rural areas is damaged and people can no longer enjoy the fresh air as they breathed two decades ago. Those pollutants made during urbanization has damaged people’s health and resulted in serious diseases (Brunekreef & Holgate, 2002). There are 32 more case-control studies that have shown an obvious relationship between air pollution, especially from traffic, and lung cancer. Another serious consequence caused by urbanization is water pollution. Some people who live in cities even have no access to drinkable water. It is calculated that three-fourths of US citizens live in cities. With the population in cities increasing at a faster face, it becomes more and more difficult to deal with the waste generated in cities. Most of the waste is discharged or simply dumped into rives or lakes or even on the streets. The water pollutes has worsened the water quality greatly and made it unfit for people to use as daily water directly.

As a result, it becomes much more difficult for city dwellers to obtain clean and drinkable water. It is true that many cities in undeveloped areas, especially in Africa, are unable to provide sufficient water supply for their citizens because most of water is lost in the pipe leakages. It is a fact that most people who live in cities, especially in developing countries are forced to boil their water or buy expensive bottled water to drink simply because of the worsening water quality caused by urbanization. It is believed that people in developing countries suffer from poor water sanitation much more than those in developed countries because the speed of urbanization in developing countries moves faster than that of developed countries. Chinanet (2005) pointed out that about 300 million people in China have no access to drink water, and it is a typical example that some people in villages are suffering from serious diseases due to unsafe drinking water. Moreover, urban areas are generally located in places where water sources are available. It is impossible to move forward the pace of urbanization without adequate access to fresh and dependable water; otherwise it cannot meet domestic and industrial needs.

The urbanization development in early periods relied on coastal waters to get food and foster transportation. This urbanization development patterns continue as more and more people who prefer to live in places adjacent to freshwater streams. As a consequence, it has negative impacts on local lakes, groundwater and coaster waters as well. The air pollution and water degradation caused by urbanization have posed severe threats to human’s health, so it is necessary to carry out some feasible measures to deal with these problems. It is the government’s top priority to deal with these serious pollution problems. The government should take the responsibility to introduce some advanced technologies to address the increasingly worsening situation. As for the air pollution, some government-funded projects, such as the electric-transportation scheme, can be implemented to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel. The government can also impose taxes on private car using because cars can produce more pollutes than public transportation, such as bus or subway. In this sense, the government can also invest more capital to improve the subway system and carry out some campaigns to encourage citizens to take public transportation rather than private cars or taxies.

The government can also devote more funds to the factories in rural areas to improve the infrastructure and facilities so as to reduce emission of waste. J.M. BarrigĂłn Morillas et al (2005) argue that urban air pollution is indeed stratified, and that an appropriate way to study this stratification is by means of a categorization method. This method aims to classify the street of the town based on their use as transportation routes. Their study utilized an easy and low-cost way to classify the street functions. For example, trucks that produce pollution can incredibly only be allowed to use on the streets outside of the central area. This way could reduce the pollution in the main area of cities immediately and effectively. On addressing the problems of water deteriorating, the government can invest more money to explore the renewable natural resources, such as solar energy and wind, to take place of the electricity to produce drinkable water. More government-funded scientific researches should be reinforced to develop state-of-the-art technology to process exhausted water and underground water (Booth, 1991).

Sewage water needs to be treated in a proper way and it should not be allowed to enter into water system. It is true that storm water, sewage and drinking water are mixed up, so it is significant to divert the used water apart from the clean drinking water or reuse them after properly processing. The local communities should also spare no efforts to deal with air pollution and water pollution because of urbanization. These efforts might include clean-up or recycling campaigns to promote the citizens’ awareness to save water and take action to protect the air. Farmers need to be encouraged to build small farm ponds in the field as a way to store rainwater which can be used efficiently for agriculture. Knowledge on biodiversity and water-saving know-how should be spread to every citizen. There should be effective system when people report smoking vehicles to the local authority. As a result, citizens can take practical measures to relieve the serious situation of water and air contamination. As the United Nations Environment Program states that one person alone cannot make any big change to the planet’s damaging biodiversity, each individual’s effort to promote the nature’s wealth and build a livable environment.

For every individual’s part, they can organize the car-pooling or van-pooling projects to get to work instead of taking taxi to the workplace alone. They can choose low-polluting models of vehicles to go for work. Each citizen can also strive to change their eating and consumption habits. They can choose to use energy-saving electrical tools with less pollution at home and develop good habits to conserve water. In conclusion, the urbanization has caused huge damage to the sound environment of cities and people’s health, although it is seen as a landmark of better living standard and decent employment opportunities. This is typical with the worsening air and water quality.

People, especially those in developing countries, can no longer breathe fresh air and enjoy the benefits brought by clean and fresh water. These problems have posed serious threat to people’s health and well-being. Thus, effective and feasible measures should be taken as soon as possible so that we can live longer rather than suffer from pollutants such as trace metals or particulates. The government, local communities and individuals should make joint efforts to protect the air and take practical measures to save water. Only by doing this can we build a comfortable and livable environment to live in and enjoy the merits of urbanization.


Tan, P.-H., Chou, C., Chou, C.C.-K. (2013), Impact of urbanization on the air pollution “holiday effect” in Taiwan, Atmospheric Environment, Vol.70 ,pp 361-375 Chinanet, (2005). The shortage of water per a year 40 trillions meter cubed, the shortage of water supply in about 400 cities, viewed 5 March 2014. http://www.china.org.cn/japanese/151846.htmBooth, D. B.
(1991). Urbanization and the Natural Drainage System — Impacts, Solutions, and Prognoses. The Northwest Environmental Journal. pp: 93-118. J.M. BarrigĂłn Morillas, V. GĂłmez Escobar, J.A. MĂ©ndez Sierra, R. VĂ­lchez-GĂłmez, J.M. Vaquero, Carmona J. Trujillo (2005). “A categorization method applied to the study of urban road traffic pollution” Acoustical society of America ,117 (5), pp. 2844–2852. PhD Bert B and MD Stephen TH, (2002). “Air pollution and health”,The Lancet,360(9341),pp1233-1242. Brunekreef, B. & Holgate, S.T. (2002). Air pollution and health. The lancet. 360(9341), pp. 1233-1242.

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