Mongabay.com is considered a leading source of information on tropical forests by some of the world's top ecologists and conservationists. TROPICAL RAINFORESTS: Imperiled Riches—Threatened Rainforests
Air pollution above São Paulo, Brazil
Air pollution above São Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by R. Butler)

IMPACT OF POLLUTION IN THE RAINFOREST

By Rhett Butler   |  Last updated July 27, 2012

Forests around the world are affected by air and water pollution, produced from industrial and commercial activities. Besides the pollution caused by oil spills, toxic by-products, and mining accidents, rainforests are seriously degraded by air pollution. Brazil's Atlantic forest was widely damaged in Cubatão (São Paulo state) by pollution during the 1970s and 1980s.

Acid rain, which has been increasing in the tropics in recent decades due to growing industrialization, also takes its toll on tropical forests.

Dumping of trash and human waste into tributaries from overcrowded cities has resulted in serious pollution in many tropical countries. In some areas, rivers are no longer safe for human use, while plant and animal life suffers.

Fertilizers and pesticides used in agricultural areas adjacent to forests can take a toll on rainforest wildlife, including critical pollinators and seed dispersers. Overuse and misapplication of nitrogen fertilizers can cause "dead zones" of low oxygen content in river deltas and the ocean.

Since chemicals tend to accumulate up the food chain, top predators are likely to be most affected by any toxic substances used in pesticides and fertilizers. For example downstream of mining areas in the Amazon scientists have found high concentrations of mercury.





Continued / Next:

Urbanization




Other pages in this section:

A World Imperilled
Threats from Humankind
Economic Restructuring
Logging
Fires
Commercial Agriculture
Hydro, Pollution, Hunting
Debt
Consumption, Conclusion
- - - - -
References
References
References
References
References
Natural forces
Subsistence Activities
Oil Extraction
Mining
War
Cattle Pasture
Fuelwood, Roads, Climate
Population & Poverty

- - - - -
Kids version of this section
- Why are rainforests disappearing?
- Logging
- Agriculture
- Cattle
- Roads
- Poverty


Selection of information sources

  • Lovejoy, T. E. in "Biodiversity: What is it?" In Biodiversity II. Reaka-Kudla, Wilson, Wilson, eds. Joseph Henry Press, Washington D.C. 1997. notes that the Brazilian Atlantic forest was widely damaged by air pollution in Cubatao during the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Rodhe, H., and R. Herrera, eds. (Acidification in the Tropics, Chichester, England: Wiley, 1988) predict 15% of the world's remaining tropical forests may soon be affected by acid rain.
  • Gates, D.M. Climate Change and its Biological Consequences, Sunderland, Mass.: Sinauer Associates 1993.
    warns that a vast area of forest may be adversely affected by UV-B radiation, should the ozone depletion continue.





  • For kids

    Tour: the Amazon

    Rainforest news

    Tour: Indonesia's rainforests

     Home
     What's New
     About
     Rainforests
       Mission
       Introduction
       Characteristics
       Biodiversity
       The Canopy
       Forest Floor
       Forest Waters
       Indigenous People
       Deforestation
       Consequences
       Saving Rainforests
       Amazon
       Borneo
       Congo
       New Guinea
       Sulawesi
       REDD
       Country Profiles
       Statistics
       Works Cited
       For Kids
       For Teachers
       Photos/Images
       Expert Interviews
       Rainforest News
      Forest data
       Global deforestation
       Tropical deforestation
       By country
       Deforestation charts
       Regional forest data
       Deforestation drivers
     XML Feeds
     Pictures
     Books
     Education
     Newsletter
     Contact

    Nature Blog Network



     CONTENTS
    Rainforests
    Tropical Fish
    News
    Madagascar
    Pictures
    Kids' Site
    Languages
    TCS Journal
    About
    Archives
    Topics | RSS
    Newsletter




     Other languages
    Arabic
    Bengali
    Chinese (CN) (expanded)
    Chinese (TW)
    Croatian
    Danish
    Dutch
    Farsi
    French (expanded)
    German (expanded)
    Greek
    Hindi
    Hungarian
    Indonesian
    Italian
    Japanese (expanded)
    Javanese
    Korean
    Malagasy
    Malay
    Marathi
    Norwegian
    Polish
    Portuguese (expanded)
    Russian
    Slovak
    Spanish (expanded)
    Swahili
    Swedish
    Ukrainian



     WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
     Email:


     INTERACT
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Contact
    Help
    Photo store
    Mongabay gear




    Recent news

    How locals and conservationists saved the elephants of Mali amidst conflict and poverty
    (04/02/2014) At a time when Africa's elephants are facing a relentless poaching crisis, one community has managed to safeguard their elephants in the most unlikely of places: Mali. In a country that has suffered from widespread poverty, environmental degradation, and, most recently, warfare, a collaboration between conservationists and the local community has kept Mali's elephants from extinction.


    Over 9,000 primates killed for single bushmeat market in West Africa every year
    (03/24/2014) Over the past 25 years, West Africa's primates have been put at risk due to an escalating bushmeat trade compounded with forest loss from expanding human populations. In fact, many endemic primates in the Upper Guinea forests of Liberia and Ivory Coast have been pushed to the verge of extinction. To better understand what’s happening, a recent study in mongabay.com's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science investigated the bushmeat exchange between these neighboring countries.


    Indonesia's orangutan action plan failing to save great red apes
    (03/24/2014) In December 2007, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched Indonesia’s Strategy and Action Plan for National Conservation of Orangutans. Quoting the president from his speech, 'this will serve as a blueprint for our efforts to save some of our most exotic but endangered wildlife.' Furthermore, the president said that 'the Orangutan action plan formally endorses Indonesia’s commitment to orangutan conservation as expressed in 2005 when Indonesia signed the Kinshasa Declaration on the Protection of Great Apes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.'



    More news on poaching


    More rainforest news



    what's new | rainforests home | for kids | help | madagascar | search | about | languages | contact

    Copyright Rhett Butler 1994-2013

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated from mongabay.com operations (server, data transfer, travel) are mitigated through an association with Anthrotect,
    an organization working with Afro-indigenous and Embera communities to protect forests in Colombia's Darien region.
    Anthrotect is protecting the habitat of mongabay's mascot: the scale-crested pygmy tyrant.

    "Rainforest" is used interchangeably with "rain forest" on this site. "Jungle" is generally not used.