Visual Pollution – Concept, causes, effects and examples

We explain what visual pollution is, its causes and the different effects it produces. Also, their possible solutions and examples.

Visual contamination
Visual pollution presents elements such as posters, cables, poles, advertisements, etc.

What is visual pollution?

Just as pollution is the presence in the environment of toxic substances or substances outside its physical and chemical cycles, we call visual pollution presence of visual elements in a landscape that interrupt its aesthetics, violate their overall perception and hinder their perception of the environment.

Visual pollution can occur in both rural and urban environments, given the presence of non-architectural elements such as posters, antennas, cables, poles, advertisements, trellises among other possible factors that generate an aggressive, invasive and generally simultaneous visual overstimulation.

This type of irruption generates a not inconsiderable environmental impact, since its impact on the quality of life in contaminated environments is notorious and considerable.

In general, these are elements that contradict the aesthetic or panoramic trend of the landscape, introducing extraneous visual content that ugly or corrupts the environment.

As with other forms of pollution, visual pollution requires regulations, laws and ordinances that keep it below the minimum limits of what is acceptable. Visually highly polluted environments generate rejection and force people to flee quickly.

Causes of visual pollution

Visual contamination
Visual pollution tends to be a consequence of human activity.

Visual pollution, like other forms of pollution, tends to be a consequence of human activity. Advertising, urban sprawl, industrialization and agricultural life often leave visual traces of their existence, many of which are not intended to interfere as little as possible with the environment, or are even intended to highlight the environment as much as possible.

All this stress that visual pollutants put on bystanders, forcing them to pay their attention or distracting them from what might be a friendly or peaceful environment, ends up driving people away or, failing that, by stressing them out and making them suffer.

Effects of visual pollution

The main effects of visual pollution on human beings point to increased stress, which significantly deteriorates their living, working or development conditions.

Stress can have an impact on people’s cardiovascular health, on their emotional or psychological health and even lower their productivity margins by constantly distracting them.

On the other hand, visual pollution has a negative impact on tourism and recreational activities, as it turns hostile environments that should be harmonious or peaceful, and this has economic and social consequences.

Solutions to visual pollution

Some possible solutions for environmental pollution are:

  • Reduction and control of the quantity of advertisements or of another nature that are allowed in a specific area, urban or rural.
  • Frequent removal of out-of-date signs, posters, and other advertisements, especially when they are large and brightly colored.
  • Planning of protected areas within cities, such as parks and other environments that allow visual and auditory rest.
  • Visually schedule the urban and architectural development of the city, allowing the people to exercise control in this regard.
  • Protection and promotion of trees in the city.

Examples of visual contamination

Visual contamination
The abandonment of bulky buildings is an example of visual pollution.

Some possible examples of visual contamination are:

  • The excessive presence of electricity or telephone poles and wiring in important natural or tourist landscapes.
  • The overcrowding of intra- or extra-urban expressways with advertising and large advertisements with lights, movement, colors.
  • The placement of advertisements and messages on lamp posts, walls and trees during electoral campaigns, which after the elections are not removed and remain in place for months and even years.
  • The abandonment of unfinished bulky or tall buildings in cities.

Noise pollution

Just as there is visual pollution, there is also noise pollution (also called pollution sonorous or acoustics): the presence of annoying or deafening noises in quiet surroundings, or the excess of simultaneous sounds in a certain area.

This form of contamination produces stressful and overwhelming effects not just on humans, but rather in other forms of life, which in the long term can lead to specific physical or medical damage.

Increased stress, damage to the auditory system and even headaches and symptoms of disorientation or lightheadedness can occur in highly acoustically polluted environments.