A pollutant or novel entity is a substance or energy introduced into the environment that has undesired effects, or adversely affects the usefulness of a resource. These can be both naturally forming (i.e. minerals or extracted compounds like oil) or anthropogenic in origin (i.e. manufactured materials or byproducts from biodegradation). Pollutants result in environmental pollution or become public health concerns when they reach a concentration high enough to have significant negative impacts.
A pollutant may cause long- or short-term damage by changing the growth rate of plant or animal species, or by interfering with human amenities, comfort, health, or property values. Some pollutants are biodegradable and therefore will not persist in the environment in the long term. However, the degradation products of some pollutants are themselves polluting such as the products DDE and DDD produced from the degradation of DDT.
Pollution has widespread negative impacts on the environment. When analyzed from a planetary boundaries perspective, human society has released novel entities that well exceed safe levels.