Pollution, Air pollution
, Light pollution
, Noise pollution
, emissions trading
, Ship pollution
, Water pollution
, Exhaust gas recirculation
is the release of environment
s. The U.S.
are the world leaders in air pollution emissions; however, Canada
is the number two country on a per capita basis. The major forms of pollution include:
, the release of chemicals and particulates into the atmosphere. Common examples include carbon monoxide
, sulfur dioxide
s (CFCs), and nitrogen oxide
s produced by industry
and motor vehicles. Ozone
are created as nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon
s react to sunlight.
via surface runoff
and leaching to groundwater
occurs when chemicals are released by spill or underground storage tank leakage. Among the most significant soil contaminant
s are hydrocarbon
s, heavy metals
and chlorinated hydrocarbons
, added in the wake of 20th-century discoveries in atomic physics
. (See alpha emitter
s and actinides in the environment
, which encompasses roadway noise
, aircraft noise
, industrial noise
as well as high-intensity sonar
, includes light trespass, over-illumination
, which can refer to the presence of overhead power line
s, motorway billboard
s, scarred landform
s (as from strip mining
), open storage of junk or municipal solid waste
Sources and causesthumb|left|200px|right|Air pollutionthumb|200px|right|The Montreal
, is polluted">[Lachine Canal, in Montreal
, is polluted]
Arguably the principal source of air pollutants worldwide is motor vehicle emissions, although many other sources have been found to contribute to the ever growing problem. While the EU has adopted stringent emissions controls, the U.S. has not been as assertive in this field; nevertheless, the U.S. is still the leading contributor to mobile source air emissions merely due to the very high number of vehicle miles traveled per capita.
Principal stationary pollution sources include chemical plants, coal-fired power plants, oil refineries
, nuclear waste
disposal activity, incinerators, large animal farms, PVC
factories, metals production factories, plastics factories, and other heavy industry.
Some of the more common soil
contaminants are chlorinated hydrocarbon
s (CFH), heavy metals
(such as chromium
--found in rechargeable batteries
, and lead
--found in lead paint
, aviation fuel
and still in some countries, gasoline
. Ordinary municipal landfill
s are the source of many chemical substances entering the soil environment (and often groundwater), emanating from the wide variety of refuse accepted, especially substances illegally discarded there, or from pre-1970 landfills that may have been subject to little control in the U.S. or EU.
Pollution can also be the consequence of a natural disaster. For example hurricane
s often involve water contamination from sewage, and petrochemical
spills from ruptured boat
s or automobile
s. Larger scale and environmental damage is not uncommon when coastal oil rigs
are involved. Some sources of pollution, such as nuclear power
plants or oil tanker
s, can produce widespread and potentially hazardous releases when accidents occur.
In the case of noise pollution
the dominant source class is the motor vehicle
, producing about ninety percent of all unwanted noise worldwide.
Effects on human health
Pollutants can cause disease
, including cancer
, immune disease
, and asthma
. Higher levels of background radiation
have led to an increased incidence of cancer and mortality associated with it worldwide. Some illnesses are named for the places where specific pollutants were first formally implicated. One example is Minamata disease
, which is caused by organic mercury
Adverse air quality
can kill many organisms including humans. Ozone pollution can cause respiratory disease
, cardiovascular disease
inflammation, chest pain and congestion. Water pollution causes approximately 14,000 deaths per day, mostly due to contamination of drinking water
by untreated sewage
in developing countries
. Oil spills can cause skin
irritations and rashes. Noise pollution induces hearing loss
, high blood pressure
and sleep disturbance
Regulation and monitoring
The United States Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) established threshold
standards for air pollutants to protect human health on January 1, 1970. One of the ratings chemicals are given is carcinogen
icity. In addition to the classification "unknown", designated levels range from non-carcinogen, to likely and known carcinogen. But some scientists have said that the concentrations which most of these levels indicate are far too high and the exposure of people should be less. In 1999, the United States EPA
replaced the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) with the Air Quality Index
(AQI) to incorporate new PM2.5 and Ozone standards.
Passage of the Clean Water Act
amendments of 1977 required strict permitting for any contaminant discharge to navigable
waters, and also required use of best management practices for a wide range of other water discharges including thermal pollution.
Passage of the Noise Control Act
established mechanisms of setting emission standards for virtually every source of noise including motor vehicles, aircraft, certain types of HVAC
equipment and major appliances. It also put local government on notice as to their responsibilities in land use
planning to address noise mitigation
. This noise regulation
framework comprised a broad data base detailing the extent of noise health effects
has a maximum fine of US dollar|US$25,000 for dump
ing toxic waste
. However, many large manufacturers decline to dispute violations, as they can easily afford this small fine. The state of California Cal/EPA
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has maintained an independent list of substances with product labeling requirements as part of Proposition 65
Europe right|thumbnail|200px|We can notice pollution on this French building, in [Bordeaux
Generally the European countries lagged significantly behind the United States in meaningful environmental regulation, including air quality
standards, water quality
standards, soil contamination
cleanup, indoor air quality
and noise regulation
[ Public Law No. 92-574, 86 Stat. 1234 (1972) Noise Pollution and Abatement Act of 1972, codification amended at 42 U.S.C. 4901-4918 (1988)]
Despite this, European pollution output is far lower than that of the USA. In the year 2000, UK Air Quality Regulations
were established and they were further amended in 2002. There has also been British
harmonization with EU regulation
The EU is presently entertaining use of the carcinogen MTBE
as a widespread gasoline
additive, a chemical which has been in the process of phaseout in the U.S. for over a decade.
The United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom
, it took until the 1840s to bring onto the statute books legislation to control water pollution. It was extended to all rivers and coastal water by 1961. However, currently the clean up of historic contamination is controlled under a specific statutory scheme found in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Part IIA), as inserted by the Environment Act 1995, and other ‘rules’ found in regulations and statutory guidance. The Act came into force in England in April 2000.
Pollution of controlled waters
The second part of the statutory definition of contaminated land covers where polluting material is entering or likely to enter controlled waters. The statutory guidance provides that the likelihood of the entry of the contaminant is to be assessed on the balance of probabilities. The definition of contaminated land within Part IIA (in relation to pollution of controlled waters), in that the contamination will need to be deemed to be significant.
There is currently no guidance available on what may, or may not, be significant pollution of controlled waters except that one that is based upon risk is considered to be appropriate. This approach has already been taking place throughout the industry and widely accepted by the regulators as a means of assessing the significance of groundwater contamination. As such pollutant linkages with respect to ground and surface water targets/receptors are considered in a similar manner to that for significant harm.
Two sources of published generic guidance are currently commonly used in the UK:
* The Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) Guidelines
* The Dutch Standards.
Guidance by the Inter Departmental Committee for the Redevelopment of Contaminated Land (ICRCL) has been formally withdrawn by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), for use as a prescriptive document to determine the potential need for remediation or further assessment. Therefore, no further reference is made to these former guideline values.
Other generic guidance that may be referred to (to put the concentration of a particular contaminant in context), include the United States EPA Region 9 Preliminary Remediation Goals (US PRGs), the US EPA Region 3 Risk Based Concentrations (US EPA RBCs) and National Environment Protection Council of Australia Guideline on Investigation Levels in Soil and Groundwater.
The CLEA model published by DEFRA and the Environment Agency (EA) in March 2002 sets a framework for the appropriate assessment of risks to human health from contaminated land, as required by Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. As part of this framework, generic Soil Guideline Values (SGVs) have currently been derived for ten contaminants to be used as “intervention values”. These values should not be considered as remedial targets but values above which further detailed assessment should be considered.
Three sets of CLEA SGVs have been produced for three different land uses, namely:
* residential (with and without plant uptake)
It is intended that the SGVs replace the former ICRCL values. It should be noted that the CLEA SGVs relate to assessing chronic (long term) risks to human health and do not apply to the protection of ground workers during construction, or other potential receptors such as groundwater, buildings, plants or other ecosystems. The CLEA SGVs are not directly applicable to a site completely covered in hardstanding, as there is no direct exposure route to contaminated soils.
To date, the first ten of fifty-five contaminant SGVs have been published, for the following: arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, inorganic mercury, nickel, selenium ethyl benzene, phenol and toluene. Draft SGVs for benzene, naphthalene and xylene have been produced but their publication is on hold. Toxicological data (Tox) has been published for each of these contaminants as well as for benzoa
pyrene, benzene, dioxins, furans and dioxin-like PCBs, naphthalene, vinyl chloride, 1,1,2,2 tetrachloroethane and 1,1,1,2 tetrachloroethane, 1,1,1 trichloroethane, tetrachloroethene, carbon tetrachloride, 1,2-dichloroethane, trichloroethene and xylene. The SGVs for ethyl benzene, phenol and toluene are dependent on the soil organic matter (SOM) content (which can be calculated from the total organic carbon (TOC) content). As an initial screen the SGVs for 1% SOM are considered to be appropriate.
The Water Supply Regulations (WSR) 1989 value, the UK Freshwater Environmental Quality Standards (FEQS), Dutch Intervention Values (DIV), World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality 2004 and USEPA Drinking Water Advisory are used in the UK as initial conservative screening values to assess whether groundwater contamination requires further assessment in terms of the wider groundwater/surface water environment. Where further assessment is considered necessary, this is undertaken qualitatively or quantitatively (if considered necessary or appropriate)on a Site specific basis using the Environment Agency (EA) Spreadsheets associated with R & D Paper 20, “Methodology for the Derivation of Remedial Targets for Soil and Groundwater to Protect Water Resources, Version 2.2” or similar.
China's rapid industrialization has substantially increased pollution. China has some relevant regulations: the 1979 Environmental Protection Law, which was largely modelled on U.S. legislation. But the environment continues to deteriorate.
[cite book|author=Ma, Xiaoying and Ortalano, Leonard|title=Environmental Regulation in China|publisher=Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, ]
Twelve years after the law, only one Chinese city was making an effort to clean up its water discharges.
[cite book|author=Sinkule, Barbara J.|title=Implementing Environmental Policy in China|publisher=Praeger Publishers|year=1995|id=ISBN ]
This indicates that China is about 30 years behind the U.S. schedule of environmental regulation and 10 to 20 years behind Europe.
The Kyoto Protocol
is an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC), an international treaty on global warming
. It also reaffirms sections of the UNFCCC. Countries which ratify
commit to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide
and five other greenhouse gases
, or engage in emissions trading
if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases. A total of 141 countries have ratified the agreement. Notable exceptions include the United States
, who have signed but not ratified the agreement. The stated reason for the United States not ratifying is the exemption of large emitters of greenhouse gases who are also developing countries
, like China
cite web|year=2001-06-11|url=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/06/print/20010611-2.html|title=President Bush Discusses Global Climate Change|format=Transcription of
Humankind has had some effect upon the natural environment since the paleolithic
era during which the ability to generate fire was acquired. In the iron age
, the use of tooling led to the practice of metal grinding
on a small scale and resulted in minor accumulations of discarded material probably easily dispersed without too much impact. Human wastes would have polluted rivers or water sources to some degree. However, these effects could be expected predominantly to be dwarfed by the natural world.
The first advanced civilizations of China
increased the use of water for their manufacture of goods, increasingly forged metal and created fires of wood and peat for more elaborate purposes (for example, bathing, heating). Still, at this time the scale of higher activity did not disrupt ecosystems or greatly alter air or water quality.
The dark ages
and early Middle Ages
were a great boon for the environment, in that industrial activity fell, and population levels did not grow rapidly. Toward the end of the Middle Ages populations grew and concentrated more within cities, creating pockets of readily evident contamination. In certain places air pollution levels were recognizable as health issues, and water pollution
in population centers was a serious medium for disease
transmission from untreated human waste
Since travel and widespread information were less common, there did not exist a more general context than that of local consequences in which to consider pollution. Foul air would have been considered a nuissance and wood, or eventually, coal burning produced smoke
, which in sufficient concentrations could be a health hazard in proximity to living quarters. Septic contamination or poisoning of a clean drinking water source was very easily fatal to those who depended on it, especially if such a resource was rare. Superstitions predominated and the extent of such concerns would probably have been little more than a sense of moderation and an avoidance of obvious extremes.
But gradually increasing populations and the proliferation of basic industrial processes saw the emergence of a civilization that began to have a much greater collective impact on its surroundings. It was to be expected that the beginnings of environmental awareness would occur in the more developed cultures, particularly in the densest urban centers. The first medium warranting official policy measures in the emerging western world would be the most basic: the air we breathe.King Edward I
banned the burning of sea-coal
by proclamation in London
, after its smoke had become a problem.
[cite web|url=http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/perspect/london.htm|title=London's Historic "Pea-Soupers"|accessdate=2006-08-02|author=David Urbinato|year=1994|month=Summer|publisher=US ] [cite web|url=http://www.pbs.org/now/science/smog.html|title=Deadly Smog|accessdate=2006-08-02|author= |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= ]
But the fuel was so common in England that this earliest of names for it was acquired because it could be carted away from some shores by the wheelbarrow. Air pollution would continue to be a problem there, especially later during the industrial revolution, and extending into the recent past with the Great Smog of 1952
. This same city also recorded one of the earlier extreme cases of water quality problems with the Great Stink
on the Thames
, which led to construction of the London sewerage system
It was the industrial revolution
that gave birth to environmental pollution as we know it today. The emergence of great factories and consumption of immense quantities of coal
and other fossil fuel
s gave rise to unprecedented air pollution
and the large volume of industrial chemical
discharges added to the growing load of untreated human waste. Chicago
were the first two American cities to enact laws ensuring cleaner air in 1881
. Other cities followed around the country until early in the 20th century, when the short lived Office of Air Pollution was created under the Department of the Interior. Extreme smog events were experienced by the cities of Los Angeles
and Donora, Pennsylvania
in the late 1940s, serving as another public reminder.
[cite web|url=http://www.ametsoc.org/sloan/cleanair/|title=History of the Clean Air Act|accessdate=2006-02-14|author=James R. Fleming|coauthors=Bethany R. Knorr of Colby College|publisher=American Meteorological ]
Modern awarenessthumb|left|200px|right|Early Soviet poster, before the modern awareness: "The smoke of chimneys is the breath of Soviet Russia"
Pollution began to draw major public attention in the United States between the mid-1950s and early 1970s, when Congress passed the Noise Control Act
, the Clean Air Act
, the Clean Water Act
and the National Environmental Policy Act
Bad bouts of local pollution helped increase consciousness. PCB
dumping in the Hudson River
resulted in a ban by the EPA
on consumption of its fish in 1974
. Long-term dioxin
contamination at Love Canal
starting in 1947
became a national news story in 1978
and led to the Superfund
legislation of 1980
. Legal proceedings in the 1990s helped bring to light Chromium-6
releases in California
--the champions of whose victims, such as Erin Brockovich
, became famous. The pollution of industrial land gave rise to the name brownfield
, a term now common in city planning
was banned in most of the developed world after the publication of "Silent Spring
The development of nuclear science introduced radioactive contamination
, which can remain lethally radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Lake Karachay
, named by the Worldwatch Institute
as the "most polluted spot" on earth, served as a disposal site for the Soviet Union thoroughout the 1950s and 1960s. Nuclear weapons
continued to be tested in the Cold War
, sometimes near inhabited areas, especially in the earlier stages of their development. The toll on the worst-affected populations and the growth since then in understanding about the critical threat to human health posed by radioactivity
has also been a prohibitive complication associated with nuclear power
. Though extreme care is practiced in that industry, the potential for disaster suggested by incidents such as those at Three Mile Island
pose a lingering specter of public mistrust. One legacy of nuclear testing
before most forms were banned
has been significantly raised levels of background radiation
International catastrophes such as the wreck of the Amoco Cadiz
oil tanker off the coast of Brittany
and the Bhopal
industrial disaster in 1984
have demonstrated the universality of such events and the scale on which efforts to address them needed to engage. The borderless nature of the atmosphere and oceans inevitably resulted in the implication of pollution on a planetary level with the issue of global warming. Most recently the term persistent organic pollutant
(POP) has come to describe a group of chemicals such as PBDE
s and PFC
s among others. Though their effects remain somewhat less well understood owing to a lack of experimental data, have been detected in various ecological habitats far removed from industrial activity such as the arctic, demonstrating bioaccumulation after only a relatively brief period of widespread use.
Growing evidence of local and global pollution and an increasingly informed public over time have given rise to environmentalism
and the environmental movement
, which generally seek to limit human impact on the environment.
The earliest precursor of pollution generated by life forms would have been a natural function of their existence. The attendant consequences on viability and population levels fell within the sphere of natural selection
. These would have included the demise of a population locally or ultimately, species extinction. Processes that were untenable would have resulted in a new balance brought about by changes and adaptations. At the extremes, for any form of life, consideration of pollution is superseded by that of survival.
For mankind, the factor of technology is a distinguishing and critical consideration, both as an enabler and an additional source of byproducts. Short of survival, human concerns include the range from quality of life to health hazards. Since science holds experimental demonstration to be definitive, modern treatment of toxicity or environmental harm involves defining a level at which an effect is observable. Common examples of fields where practical measurement is crucial include automobile emissions control
, industrial exposure (eg OSHA PEL
), and medicine
"The solution to pollution is dilution", is a dictum which summarizes a traditional approach to pollution management whereby sufficiently diluted pollution is not harmful.
[cite web|url=http://www.earthisland.org/eijournal/new_articles.cfm?articleID=299&journalID=49|title=The 'Solution' to Pollution Is Still 'Dilution'|accessdate=2006-02-14|author=Gershon Cohen Ph.D.|publisher=Earth Island ] [cite web|url=http://www.cleanocean.org/index_general.asp?menuid=240.010|title=What is required|accessdate=2006-02-14|year=2001|publisher=Clean Ocean ]
It is well-suited to some other modern, locally-scoped applications such as laboratory safety procedure and hazardous material
release emergency management. But it assumes that the dilutant is in virtually unlimited supply for the application or that resulting dilutions are acceptable in all cases.
Such simple treatment for environmental pollution on a wider scale might have had greater merit in earlier centuries when physical survival was often the highest imperative, human population and densities were lower, technologies were simpler and their byproducts more benign. But these are often no longer the case. Furthermore, advances have enabled measurement of concentrations not possible before. The use of statistical methods in evaluating outcomes has given currency to the principle of probable harm in cases where assessment is warranted but resorting to deterministic models is impractical or unfeasible. In addition, consideration of the environment beyond direct impact on human beings has gained prominence.
Yet in the absence of a superseding principle, this older approach predominates practices throughout the world. It is the basis by which to gauge concentrations of effluent for legal release, exceeding which penalties are assessed or restrictions applied. The regressive cases are those where a controlled level of release is too high or, if enforceable, is neglected.
[cite web|url=http://www.cdp.org.au/fed/mr/051020g.asp|title=(Article on regulation circumventions no longer available--leaving reference to original link per Wikipedia convention)|accessdate=2006-02-14|author= |coauthors= |date= |year= |month= |format= |work= |publisher=Australian Christian Democratic ]
Migration from pollution dilution to elimination in many cases is confronted by challenging economical and technological barriers.
Industry and concerned citizens have battled for decades over the significance of various forms of pollution. Salient parameters of these disputes are whether:
* a given pollutant affects all people or simply a genetically vulnerable set.
* an effect is only specific to certain species.
* whether the effect is simple, or whether it causes linked secondary and tertiary effects, especially on biodiversity
* an effect will only be apparent in the future and is presently negligible.
* the threshold for harm is present.
* the pollutant is of direct harm or is a precursor.
* employment or economic prosperity will suffer if the pollutant is abated.
Blooms of algae
and the resultant eutrophication
of lakes and coastal ocean is considered pollution when it is caused by nutrients from industrial, agricultural, or residential runoff in either point source
or nonpoint source
form (see the article on eutrophication
for more information).
Heavy metals such as lead and mercury have a role in geochemical cycles and they occur naturally. These metals may also be mined and, depending on their processing, may be released disruptively in large concentrations into an environment they had previously been absent from. Just as the effect of anthropogenic release of these metals into the environment may be considered 'polluting', similar environmental impacts could also occur in some areas due to either autochthonous or historically 'natural' geochemical activity.thumb|500px|center|Historical and projected CO2 emissions by country (1990-2025).
Source: Energy Information Administration.Carbon dioxide
, while vital for photosynthesis
, is sometimes referred to as pollution, because raised levels of the gas in the atmosphere affect the Earth's climate. See global warming
for an extensive discussion of this topic. Disruption of the environment can also highlight the connection between areas of pollution that would normally be classified separately, such as those of water and air. Recent studies have investigated the potential for long-term rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide to cause slight but critical increases in the acidity of ocean waters
, and the possible effects of this on marine ecosystems.
*AP 42 Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors
*:Category:Air dispersion modeling
*Future energy development
*History of technology
*List of environment topics
*Noise health effects
*Timeline of environmental events
*Timeline of major US environmental and occupational health regulation
*Volatile Organic Compounds
*Wastewater quality indicators
*cite book|author=Beychok, Milton R.|title=Aqueous Wastes from Petroleum and Petrochemical Plants
|edition=1st Edition|publisher=John Wiley & Sons|year=1967|id=LCCN
*cite book | author=Beychok, Milton R. | title=Fundamentals of Stack Gas Dispersion
| edition=4th Edition| publisher=author-published |year=2005 |id=ISBN http://www.air-dispersion.com www.air-dispersion.com
*http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/coi/topicIndex.do?o=read&id=9 Coastal Pollution Information from the Coastal Ocean Institute
, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
*http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-groups/one-list.tcl?short_list_name=tri00ry Toxic Release Inventory
- tracks how much waste companies release into the water and air. Gives permits for releasing specific quantities of these pollutants each year. http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/main/index.jsp Map
- manages Superfund sites and the pollutants in them (CERCLA).
*http://www.osha-slc.gov/SLTC/pel/index.html OSHA limits for air contaminants
*http://atsdr1.atsdr.cdc.gov:8080/atsdrhome.html Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
- found out top 20 pollutants, alias for chemicals, how they affect people, what industries use them and what products they are found in.
*http://ntp-server.niehs.nih.gov/ National Toxicology Program
- from National Institutes of Health. Reports and studies on how pollutants affect people.
- more databases and reports on toxicology. From NIH
*http://www.epa.gov Environmental Protection Agency
*http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html OEHHA proposition 65 list
and http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65.html website
*http://www.edf.org Environmental Defense Fund
- Good starting point for environmental jobs, environmental news, articles and books. Plus blogs on environmental issues
*http://ace.orst.edu/info/extoxnet/newsletters/ghindex.html Extoxnet newsletters
- environmental pollution news. Last update 1998.
*http://www.ewg.org/ Environmental Working Group
*http://www.ejnet.org/sludge/ Sewage Sludge
- in the U.S. it is perfectly legal to fertilize food crops with solids from the sewer, which include lots of heavy metals and toxins.
*http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/Tox/ToxTutor.html The ToxTutor from the National Library of Medicine
- An excellent resource to review human toxicology.
* http://www.ieer.org/ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
* http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/energy-from-pollution/ Energy from Pollution
New technology to generate power from carbon dioxide emissions.Category:Environmental threats ca:Contaminaciócy:Llygreddda:Forureningde:Umweltverschmutzunges:Contaminacióneo:Poluofr:Pollutiongl:Contaminaciónhr:Kontaminacijaid:Pencemaranit:Inquinamentohe:זיהום הסביבהlt:Teršimashu:Környezetszennyezésnl:Milieuverontreinigingja:公害no:Forurensningnn:Ureiningpl:Zanieczyszczenie środowiskapt:Poluiçãoru:Загрязнениеsimple:Pollutionsl:Onesnaženjesr:Контаминацијаfi:Saasteth:มลพิษwa:Mannixhancezh:污染