Environmental Chemistry  

What is Environmental Chemistry

In this chapter, we study about the environment and the major problems that have entangled it since long. Some of the major problems of the environment include air pollution, water pollution, global warming, etc. Basically, environmental chemistry is the branch of chemistry that deals with the reactions, origin, effect, etc. of the chemical species that we observe in our day-to-day life. These chemical reactions are certainly beneficial to us in many ways like we are able to get many useful products like petrol, electricity, oil, etc, because of these reactions but they have a very hazardous effect on the environment in the long run and because these human activities in the past we are facing a lot of problems today.

This chapter has a lot of real-life applications as this is directly related to the environment. Some of these are mentioned below.

  • Because of acidic pollutant in the air, the rainwater turns into the acid rain. This acid rain destroys the marble and other buildings and important monuments. Taj Mahal is one such victim monument of acid rain.

Environmental Chemistry Example

  • In many of the metropolitan cities of the world especially Delhi suffers from the problem of smog. This smog is the rising concentration of pollutants in the air. In Delhi, it is even hard for people to breath freely thus they have to use a mask on their face.
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Environmental Chemistry  example

  • The increasing concentrations of some gases carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs, etc are increasing the temperature of the environment. This is known as global warming.


Important Topics of Environmental Chemistry 

  • Environment
  • Environmental pollution
  • Atmospheric pollution
  • Water pollution
  • Soil pollution
  • Industrial waste
  • Green chemistry
  • Important questions


Overview of the Chapter

Environmental pollution: It is the condition when unwanted and harmful substances add on in the environment and create changes to it which is dangerous to all sorts of life. A substance which is responsible for pollution is known as a pollutant. Pollutants are degradable, some are easily degradable like discarded vegetables and some cannot be degraded by natural processes like DDT.

Atmospheric pollution: The atmosphere is divided into various layers. All these various layers have different densities and height. The bottom layer of the atmosphere in which the humans live is known as the troposphere. This region is dusty, containing water vapour and clouds. Above this layer, there is stratosphere. This layer contains, dinitrogen, dioxygen, and ozone. The ozone present in this region protects us from the harmful ultraviolet radiations from the sun. Atmospheric pollution is the study of the pollution in these two layers.

Atmospheric pollution

Tropospheric pollution is caused by the presence of undesired solid and gaseous particles. Some of the gaseous and particulate pollutants are as follows:
(i) Gaseous air pollutants: These pollutants are nitrogen and carbon, oxides of sulphur, ozone, hydrogen sulphide, etc.
(ii) Particulate pollutants: These are dust, fumes, smog, smoke, etc.


Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect: There are some of the gases carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs and water vapour than are responsible for global warming. Most of the sun’s energy when fall on the earth’s surface, then it is absorbed by the earth’s surface, only some of it goes back to the environment. Now, these gases like carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs, etc have the capacity to absorb this heat. In today’s time, the concentration of these gases especially of carbon dioxide is increasing due to which these gases are trapping more heat and thus the temperature of the environment is increasing. If this condition remains for long then it has very hazardous effects in the future like the melting of icebergs, flooding of low lying areas, etc. 

Acid Rain: Acid rain is the situation when the oxides of nitrogen and sulphur dissolve with the rainwater. Burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil, etc. emit these oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. This acid rain very harmful to nature. If it is dissolved in the lakes or rivers then it is harmful to aquatic life. It is also harmful to agriculture, trees, and plants as it dissolves all the nutrients and hampers their growth. It is also harmful to buildings and other kinds of structures. Taj Mahal is getting affected by this acid rain.

Water Pollution: Water pollution is a very major problem in India and in fact worldwide. Today the condition is such that we can not even find the pure water around us. All rivers, ponds, lakes, streams, oceans have been polluted aggressively. Basically, there are important sources of water pollution as mentioned below.

  • Pathogens: Pathogens are disease-causing microorganisms that enter into the water from various sources like sewage, industrial waste or animal excreta. These pathogens enter into the water and cause the water polluted and not usable. Some common pathogens are Escherichia coli and streptococcus faecalis.
  • Organic wastes: These are wastes such as leaves, woods, grass, etc. that entered into the water and pollute it. Basically, these organic materials entered into the water and rotten there and thus create the pollution. Phytoplanktons algae are also sources of water pollution.
  • Chemical pollutants: These are chemicals wasted that entered into the water and pollute it. Many times these chemicals are soluble in water but these chemicals also contain heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, nickel, etc. These heavy metals are dangerous for living beings and are the major cause of pollution. 

Soil Pollution: Soil pollution is caused by excessive and consistent use of pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. In agriculture, farmers use these substances to protect their crops from harmful insects. These fertilizers at that very moment found to be useful and effective but they are water-insoluble and non-biodegradable, thus they get collect in the soil and pollute it. Overuse of these fertilizers makes the soil ineffective for agriculture. The concentration of these toxic fertilizers increases buys 10 folds at each higher trophic level. Thus, when they reach to the human, they are in their most dangerous form.

Industrial Waste
All those waste materials that are released by the industries and harmful to the environment are known as industrial waste. Industrial waste are of two types i.e, biodegradable waste and non-biodegradable waste. Biodegradable waste is easy to handle because of a certain amount of time, these wastes get degraded but non-biodegradable wastes if not disposed of with proper treatment then it can cause various problems to the environment to the living beings.

Biodegradable wastes are released by cotton mills, textile factories, paper mills, etc. Non-biodegradable wastes are released by various sources such as thermal power plant, iron, and steel plants, industries manufacturing aluminium, fertilizers industries, etc.


Strategies to Control Environmental Pollution
After studying all these types of pollution, we understand that there is an urgent need of strategies to control these environmental pollutions. There are various kinds of wastes we have already studied. The domestic wastes are first collected in the bins. These bins are then taken to the disposal site. At this site, all these wastes are separated out into biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes. Non-biodegradable wastes are sent for recycling and biodegradable wastes are converted into compost.


If these wastes are not collected properly then they get collected to sewers. Thus they choke the sewers. If these wastes are freely deposited on the streets then cattle eat them. Thus all these domestic wastes should be properly disposed and treated.


Green Chemistry
Green chemistry is the science which motivates us to think and utilize the existing knowledge to produce the products with minimum adverse effects on the environment.


Green chemistry in daily life:

(i) Dry cleaning of clothes: Initially, Tetrachloroethene was used for dry cleaning of clothes. But it was found that this compound pollutes the groundwater and is carcinogenic. Now it is replaced by liquified carbon dioxide because this causes less harm to groundwater.
(ii) Bleaching of paper: Initially, chlorine gas was used for bleaching paper. Nowadays, hydrogen peroxide is used with a suitable catalyst for bleaching.
(iii) Synthesis of chemicals: Ethanal is now commercially prepared by one-step oxidation of ethene.


How to prepare for Environmental Chemistry?

  • This chapter is the part of inorganic chemistry. This is a very basic chapter and also possess low weightage of marks in exams.
  • For preparing this chapter, there is no need of any pre-requisite chapter. Thus prepare it freshly and actively. Most of the concepts of this chapter are very easy as you are already familiar from your earlier classes
  • In the nutshell, it can be said that although this chapter is not very long, it is a very simple and straightforward one. So always say a "Big YES" to this chapter.


Prescribed Books for Environmental Chemistry

For this chapter, first, the NCERT book is best for initial level preparation as well as for board exams. Now, after this, if you want to prepare for competitive exams like JEE and NEET, then these are the best books for you - O.P Tandon. Meanwhile, in the preparation, you must continuously give the mock tests for the depth of knowledge. Our platform will help you to provide with the variety of questions for deeper knowledge with the help of videos, articles and mock tests.


Chemistry Chapter- wise Notes for Engineering and Medical Exams

Chapters No.

Chapters Name

Chapter 1

Some basic concepts in chemistry

Chapter 2

States of matter

Chapter 3

Atomic Structure

Chapter 4


Chapter 5

Chemical Thermodynamics

Chapter 6


Chapter 7

Redox Reaction and Electrochemistry

Chapter 8

Chemical kinetics

Chapter 9

Surface Chemistry

Chapter 10

General Principle and processes of Isolation of metals

Chapter 11

Classification of Elements and Periodic table

Chapter 12 


Chapter 13

p- block Elements

Chapter 14 

s-block Elements (Alkali and Alkaline Earth Metals)

Chapter 15 

Chemical Bonding and Molecular Structure

Chapter 16


Chapter 17

Coordination Compounds

Chapter 19

Purification and Characterisation of Organic Compounds

Chapter 20

Some Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry

Chapter 21


Chapter 22

Organic Compounds containing Halogens

Chapter 23

Organic Compounds containing Oxygen

Chapter 24

Organic Compounds Containing Nitrogen

Chapter 25


Chapter 26


Chapter 27

Chemistry in Everyday Life

Chapter 28

Principles Related to Practical Chemistry

Topics from Environmental Chemistry

  • Environmental pollution - Atmospheric, water and soil. ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (18 concepts)
  • Atmospheric pollution - Tropospheric and Stratospheric ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (14 concepts)
  • Tropospheric pollutants - Gaseous pollutants: ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (8 concepts)
  • hydrocarbons ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (4 concepts)
  • Oxides of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur, ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (8 concepts)
  • Green house effect and Global warming; Acid rain ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (16 concepts)
  • Particulate pollutants: Smoke, dust, smog, fumes, mist; their sources, harmful effects and prevention ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (28 concepts)
  • Stratospheric pollution- Formation and breakdown of ozone, depletion of ozone layer - its mechanism and effects ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (16 concepts)
  • Soil pollution - Major pollutants such as: Pesticides (insecticides,, herbicides and fungicides), their harmful effects and prevention.Strategies to control environmental pollution ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (44 concepts)
  • Water Pollution - Major pollutants such as, pathogens, organic wastes and chemical pollutants; their harmful effects and prevention ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (41 concepts)
  • WATER POLLUTION ( JEE Main, AP EAMCET ) (8 concepts)

Important Books for Environmental Chemistry

  • Environmental Chemistry Book
  • Environmental Chemistry Book