Eastern Europe’s environmental problems are not as simple as they may seem on the surface. The environmental problems that face Eastern Europe are complicated by political, economic, and social implications. The current environmental problems are a bi-product of rapid industrial expansion under a socialist government. The soviet government was more concerned with surpassing the western cultures in technology and military might than the environmental damage they were doing to their country. The following paragraphs will address the current environmental problems facing Eastern Europe, the various solutions to the environmental problems, and the efforts taken to correct the environmental problems.
Environmental Problems in Europe
Eastern Europe during the 1980s had rapidly become the industrial giant for the Soviet Union. Massive industrial factories would be built throughout the eastern bloc of the Soviet Union and the factories used obsolete technology to provide the industrial needs of the country. “The heavy industrial activity characteristic of the post-World War II period took a heavy toll on both the region's population and its environment“(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2010). Various local populations were suffering from high rates of cancer, respiratory issues, and infant mortalities. The environments in the areas around the industrial regions were also being damaged on unprecedented levels. Legacy of Pollution
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2010), The outmoded, energy-intensive technologies were such an integral part of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and New Independent States of the former Soviet Union (NIS) region's economy in the post-war era not only wasted resources, but also caused severe local, regional, and trans-boundary pollution problems.
Not only was the industrial technology outdated, the communication among the post-war government, local governments, and various environmental ministries was ripe with secrecy and non-communication between each other. The results would prove to be catastrophic pollution of the air, surface water, soil, ground water, marine zones, and coastal areas. Air Pollution
Air pollution in Eastern Europe is the top concern because of the levels of sulfur dioxide found in all the industrial areas. High levels of sulfur dioxide exposure can lead to asthmatic children and adults, respiratory illness, decreased lung defenses, and worsening of existing cardiovascular diseases.
When Sulfur Dioxide is exposed to rain it creates acid rain and raises the acidity level of everything it touches such as soil, lakes, and streams. Buildings corrode faster and there is also a reduction in visibility. Water Pollution
Agricultural and industrial practices were causing large spread water pollution because of outdated waste regulation practices and no environmental regulation. According to Liroff (1990), Drinking-water supplies throughout Eastern Europe are heavily contaminated. Vast reaches of the Vistula River in Poland, which drains much of the country, are classified as unfit for use even by industry. The Baltic and Black Sea coasts are badly degraded by domestic sewage, agricultural run-off, and heavy metals and organic pollutants from industry. The Eastern Europe governments have been slow to implement solutions to purify the drinking water in the various regions. Soil Pollution
Samples of produce from upper Poland have yielded 30 to 70 higher percentages of cadmium, lead, zinc and mercury then acceptable levels listed by the World Health Organization. The high percentages of these heavy materials indicate how polluted the soil is in the upper polish regions. In Hungary alone, waste generators dispose of more than 500,000 tons waste found in illegal landfills. The local government has trouble tracking any kind of waste transportation and disposal due to obsolete tracking processes, and because not all...
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