In the context of the environment, a compound generally refers to a substance made up of two or more elements that are chemically bonded together. These compounds can have various impacts on the environment, depending on their properties and how they are used or disposed of.
Some examples of compounds in the environment include:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2): a compound made up of carbon and oxygen that is a greenhouse gas and contributes to climate change.
- Methane (CH4): a compound made up of carbon and hydrogen that is also a greenhouse gas and is released during processes such as natural gas extraction and livestock digestion.
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): a class of compounds made up of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine that were once widely used in refrigerants and aerosol sprays but are now known to deplete the ozone layer.
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): a class of synthetic organic compounds that were once used in a variety of industrial applications but are now banned due to their persistence in the environment and toxic effects on wildlife and humans.
In addition to these examples, there are many other compounds that can have environmental impacts, both positive and negative. For example, compounds can be used as fertilizers to improve crop yields, as well as pollutants that can contaminate water and soil.