Pollution is the release into the environment of contaminants
that cause, or can cause, harm or discomfort to physical systems
and living things. It takes many forms, including pollution by
chemical substances, by heat, noise and light.
It is only when the levels of a substance rise above those found
naturally in the environment that it becomes a pollutant. Pollution
of the land, air and sea by human activities presents a wide range
of environmental risks and is a threat to biodiversity and
ecosystem services. For example, a major concern highlighted by the
Millennium Assessment is nutrient enrichment of ecosystems.
World population has more than doubled over the last 40 years
and is now six billion. It is currently projected to reach more
than nine billion by 2050. The increased demand for food and energy
has led to a doubling of reactive nitrogen production in the last
century. The change has been critical for food security. However,
the increase in production of nitrogen compounds and inefficiency
of their use has led to a complex web of environmental impacts.
They are undermining air, soil and water quality and, as a result,
harming natural systems and contributing to climate
Diffuse phosphate pollution also represents a significant risk
to freshwaters in the UK. A significant proportion of rivers and
lakes are likely to fail
Water Framework Directive water quality objectives due to high
levels of phosphate.
Our pollution work currently focuses on air and marine