Chapter 13 Industrial Pollution and Environmental Policy This chapter: Discusses the nature of industrial pollutants and the practices and social philosophies that allowed them to darken the skies, poison waters, and despoil land. Discusses how massive regulatory programs developed to control industrial pollution. Explains the current operation of these programs, how they affect corporations, and how well they work.
The Indian Health Service Solves a Mystery Opening Case Five cases of malignant mesothelioma, virtually always caused by exposure to asbestos, in a pueblo of 2,000 Indians puzzled health officials. It was discovered that workers from a nearby plant discarded old asbestos insulation which was found by members of the tribe and brought back to the pueblo and put to many uses. The story of what happened to the Indians is analogous to what has happened to large populations in industrial societies. In both cases, it was only after substantial exposures had occurred and sickness began to appear that government agencies mobilized to protect public health.
Pollution Pollution refers to the release of substances into the environment that inconvenience or endanger humans. Much of it comes from natural sources. Human activity adds more contaminants. Industrial activity both harms human health and disturbs natural ecology.
Human Health Percent of DALYs Environmental Health RiskLess Developed Countries Developed Countries Water supply and sanitation 7%1% Indoor air pollution40 Urban air pollution21 Agricultural chemicals and industrial waste 12.5 All pollution-related causes Health Risks Posed by Major Sources of Environmental Pollution
The Biosphere Ecosystems services are the productivity of natural ecosystems in creating food and fiber and in regulating climate, water, soil, nutrients, and other forms of natural capital. Broad ecosystems are now degraded and under pressure as advances in human well- being have been achieved by exploiting ecosystem services. The causes of ecosystem strain are multiple and complex, but they center on accelerating economic activity.
Industrial Activity, Pollution, and the Environment Today there are nations on every continent with ambitious development plans that put industry before environmental protection. Much interest today is focused on the notion of sustainable development. There is evidence that environmental quality in growing economies does not follow a path of long-term deterioration as in the old industrial revolution model. Environmental Kuznets curve
New Ideas Challenge the Old Naturalist Aldo Leopold – inspired others to rethink traditional ideas about the man-nature relationship Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess – deep ecology Inspired anti-corporate government groups Philosopher Peter Singer – speciesism
Environmental Regulation in the United States The dominant approach to industrial pollution control in the United States has been to pass laws that strictly regulate: Emissions Effluents Waste In the 1970s, Congress passed a remarkable string of new laws, creating a broad statutory base for regulating industry. The Environmental Protection Agency
Principal Areas of Environmental Policy: Air The Clean Air Act National air quality – criteria pollutants Carbon monoxide (CO) Nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ) Sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) Ozone (O 3 ) Particulate matter Lead (Pb)
Principal Areas of Environmental Policy: Air (continued) Hazardous air pollutants (a/k/a air toxics) examples: Arsenic Benzene Chromium Radionuclides Methyl chloride The clean air act requires the EPA to set emission standards for 187 air toxics at levels that prevent disease and requires industry to use the maximum achievable control technology to comply.
Principal Areas of Environmental Policy: Air (continued) Acid rain is caused primarily by releases of two criteria pollutants: Sulfur dioxide Nitrogen oxides Indoor air pollution Ozone-destroying chemicals Chlorofluorocarbons Greenhouse gases Greenhouse gases Atmospheric gases that absorb energy radiated from the earth, preventing it from being released into space.
Principal Areas of Environmental Policy: Water Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, usually called the Clean Water Act National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requires each industrial facility to get a permit specifying the volume of one or more substances it can pour into a water body. Runoff is largely uncontrolled. Agricultural Urban
Principal Areas of Environmental Policy: Land Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Firms must label, handle, store, treat, and discard hazardous waste under strict guidelines, keeping meticulous records. Difficult to administer Difficult to comply
Principal Areas of Environmental Policy: Land (continued) Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 Better known as Superfund so-named after the large trust fund it set up to pay for cleanups Created to clean up abandoned toxic waste sites The number of sites is higher than predicted and the cleaning process more difficult and expensive than envisioned. Cleanup work started at 1,030 sites, however, only 325 have been fully restored and deleted from the list.
Typical Rotary Kiln Incinerator at a Superfund Site
Concluding Observations Industrial processes damage the environment and cause serious local and global deterioration. The response has been to adopt a series of fairly rigid and expensive regulatory programs. In the U.S. it is now the largest and most expensive area of regulation. Uneven progress has been made in the attack on air, water, and land pollution.