Sources and factors of man-induced environmental impacts:
1. Communications (railways, main motor roads oil and gas pipeline, power transmission lines, water and other pipelines, sewers);
2. Reclamation constructions (channels, irrigation systems, ponds, reservoirs);
3. Power generation facilities (heat power plants, hydroelectric power stations, nuclear power plants);
4. Nuclear industry facilities (nuclear testing areas sites of experimental explosions);
5. Metallurgical facilities;
6. Mining facilities (exploited largest-, large- and medium-sized deposits of ferrous, non-ferrous, rare and other metals, of oil, gas, and condensate of coal, oil shale, non metallic mineral resources, and construction materials);
7. Domestic and industrial wastes treatment facilities (domestic and industrial wastewater disposal fields, slime ponds mine and drainage water tanks, ash collectors, domestic and industrial dumping grounds, storage grounds for mineral fertilizers and pesticides, barren rock dumps, etc.);
8. Urbanization (depending on population number) and dimension of industrial production.
There are many environmental problems in Kazakhstan. One of the most acute is the problem of the Aral Sea basin. The excessive use of water resources of the Amudarya and the Syrdarya rivers resulted in a rapid shallowing and drying-up of the Aral Sea. The adjacent area has turned into lifeless desert. This entailed negative consequences for the natural environment, economic activity possibilities, and human health.
The significant shallowing threatens also Lake Balkash. Its western part can dry out completely while its eastern part can turn into saline lands (sor).
Environmental pollution, especially atmospheric pollution, is another urgent problem in Kazakhstan. In some big cities and industrial centers concentrations of some toxic substances, such as heavy metal dust, sulfur dioxide, carbon oxide, and some others, are greater by tens of time than maximum permissible concentrations (MPC). The most acute situation is typical of the cities Taraz, Temirtau, Almaty, Oskemen, Leninogor, Shymkent, Balkash, and some others. Pollutant concentrations in these cities within a year are by 5 to 10 times greater than MPC.
Atmospheric air is significantly polluted in the regions, where mineral resources are exploited. Air pollution results also from spaceships launching at the Baikonur space center.
Apart from air pollution there is also pollution of surface waters and other components of the biosphere in the industrially developed regions. For example, 35 to 40 % of the Syrdarya run-off are formed by industrial and communal waste waters as well as drainage waters. Pathogens of dysentery, enteric fever, paratyphoid, hepatitis, and also such hazardous substances as DDT, benzene hexachlonde (BHC), etc. are present in water permanently.
The industrial pollution is aggravated by large-scale chemical pollution caused by agriculture. Various chemical means for plant protection, defoliants, pesticides, and excessive fertilizers pollute both environmental and foodstuffs.
The strain environmental situation has arose in the vicinity of nuclear testing ground in Semey. Ground tests of nuclear weapons has been held there from 1948 till 1964 followed by underground tests from 1964 till 1989. Testing of nuclear weapons has caused negative effect on the environment and population health in this region.
In order to protect the environment in the republic measures are worked out and implemented, which are aimed at rational use of the Earth’s mineral resources (combined use of mineral resources, land reclamation and planting on former dumps, etc.), waste water treatment, reduction of air pollution caused by industrial enterprises (presently about 80 % of hazardous substances emitted by the stationary sources of air pollution are caught and neutralized), implementation of wasteless technologies and water recycling systems, development of environmentally appropriate energy sources and modes or transportation, economic stimulating of resource conservation, substitution of biological plant protection for chemical one, etc.
Soil protection from water and wind erosion, control over salinization through the introduction of the appropriate crop rotation, planting of the forest shelter belts, consolidation and afforestation of gullies and ravines, land reclamation are important directions of environmental protection. Erosion control measures are performed in the republic within the area exceeding 20,000,000 ha.
Much attention is given in Kazakhstan to the forest protection and to the development of reserves. The regime of limited economic activity is established for a considerable part of forests. Afforestation is performed yearly within the area of up to 90,000 ha.