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ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

 

The environment can be considered as what includes the waters, the atmosphere and the soil, together with the organisms living in or on them.

 

The basis of our entire environment is the geological system. It is a complex system that includes soils, rocks and minerals, surface waters and groundwaters.

 

In the last few centuries, and in particular since the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th Century, scientific and technological advancements have been considerable.  Man has exploited and used mineral resources such as metals, coal, asbestos, oil and many others for surviving. However, all this activity has had negative effects on the environment

 

The extraction of minerals has created big scars on the Earth’s surface as well as large waste dumps, and the use of pesticides such as DDT has caused serious diseases. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil has caused atmospheric pollution as well as climatic changes, also known as the ‘greenhouse effect’.

 

With the increase in world population, the need for housing, food, raw materials and other commodities, and scientific and technological advancements larger and more permanent impacts on the geological environment have occurred to the extent that geological processes cannot restore it.

 

All these negative effects, which happened in the name of progress and development, were not of much concern until the 1980s. Reaction to the negative effects on the environment started only when it was realised that they were also seriously affecting quality of life. 

 

The expansion of towns, the revival of mining activity, the intensive cultivation and use of surface water and groundwater, and industrialisation are some of the activities that have put tremendous strain on the environment in Cyprus.

 

The geological environment in Cyprus has already suffered great damage from people’s actions in the last 80-100 years. These actions include the large number of abandoned mine pits (Photos E1, E2) at the periphery of the Troodos Range from which cupriferous sulphides were extracted; the large asbestos mine (Photo E3) at Amiantos on the Troodos Range; the large number of quarries (Photos E4, E5), most characteristic of which are those on the southern side of the Pentadaktylos Range; the waste dumps (Photo E6) from mining and quarrying; the landfills (rubbish dumps) all over Cyprus; the pollution of the ground and the waters with solid and liquid waste (Photos E7); and, the intrusion of seawater into the coastal aquifers.

 

Asbestos fibres (Photo E9) are a great potential risk to human life when inhaled (lung cancer). These fibres can be transported easily by the wind to the atmosphere and the inhabitants living around the Amiantos mine have suffered due to this past mining activity. Restoration works (Photos E11, E12, E13, E14, E15) have been carried out in the area since 1995 and it is expected that the impacts on the environment will be minimized eventually.

  

Landfills are growing day by day due to human consumption and the burning of household solid waste without permission is polluting the atmosphere and environment with hazardous gases.

 

Household liquid waste pollutes the groundwater  basins which contaminates the potable water resources therefore carrying a health risk to humans.

 

The over-exploitation of groundwater in coastal aquifers is creating salinity problems. These problems are seen extensively in Morphou and along the coastal part of the South-eastern Mesaoria Aquifer. They cause great damage to the aquifer and it takes a long time for the aquifer to restore itself naturally . The cost of restoration is very high but the benefits are significant.



 

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