Environmental Impacts of Concrete

Surface concretization is one of the major environmental issues in urban areas around the world. Concretization is not always harmful but depends upon the circumstances. Since cement is major component of concrete; the it contributes a lot in the harmful environmental impacts caused by concrete. Such impacts include:

  • Cement Industry is a major contributor for carbon dioxide, a major GHG. It leads to global warming and climate change.
  • Concrete causes surface runoff of the water. This might result in soil erosion, water pollution and flooding.
  • Concrete is a major contributor of Urban Heat Island because of the massive rise in temperatures since concretised surface gets heated up much faster and also loses heat at night at faster rate.
  • Concretised surface emits / radiates harmful Ultraviolet-B rays, which are hazardous to human / animal health. Further, concrete has presence of many substances which might causes toxicity and health problems.
  • Concrete can also lead to radioactive pollution because of presence of various natural radioactive elements (K, U and Th) in concrete dwellings. However, it depends on the type of raw material used for the creation of the concrete.
  • Excessive concretised surface also causes ‘visual pollution’ as a concretised surface looks barren in contrast with the aesthetically beautiful green area.
  • Concrete dust is a source of air pollution.

However, despite of various impacts listed above, planned use of concrete can help us to have many sustainable benefits. For example, concretization is used in creation of dams, diversion and deflection of flood water; so it is a valuable tool for flood control.

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