pollution

(redirected from Contaminants)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.

pollution

the contamination of the environment by the discharge of industrial substances, smoke emissions and the dumping of waste materials and products. In the past, little attention was paid to the social costs of polluting the atmosphere, rivers, the countryside etc., but increasingly governments have passed more onerous regulations covering the use and disposal of industrial materials and production methods. As a consequence industry itself is being forced to invest in appropriate pollution control and limitation systems, and take a more proactive approach to the production and marketing of products which are environment-friendly.

In the UK responsibility for matters relating to the environment resides with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The basic approach of government policy on the environment is that pollution should be prevented at source and that the polluter should pay for the necessary controls (the polluter pays principle). The main measure for achieving this is the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Under the Act the Inspectorate of Pollution is charged with the task of getting businesses to use the best available technology and techniques to prevent or minimize pollution in industrial processes.

Firms which do not comply with the new controls face fines of up to £20,000 in the magistrates' court, and unlimited fines in the Crown Court. Clean-up costs incurred by the enforcing authorities can also be recovered from the polluter. Many countries now have adopted ‘practical’ measures aimed at controlling pollution including the imposition of environmental standards and emission permits (limits set on permissible smoke emission, noise etc levels) and environmental taxes (on production processes and products which cause pollution). Member countries of the European Union (EU) are required to observe various environmental ‘directives’. For example, all new cars produced in the EU are required to be fitted with a catalytic converter to reduce sulphur emissions (typically, adding around £400 to the price of a car); and in 2000, in a landmark case, Greece was fined heavily by the European Court for failing to halt the discharge of toxic waste into the River Kouroupitos in Crete.

Finally, governments have encouraged businesses and householders (through the provision of free ‘wheeliebins’ collected by the local authority) to RECYCLE waste products such as cans, glass bottles and paper.

International recognition and concern at the harmful impact on the ozone layer of toxic industrial emissions (so-called ‘greenhouse gases’ such as CFC and carbon dioxide gases) began to build up in the 1970s and 1980s leading to the Montreal Protocol in 1987. This set a target for the developed countries to ban CFC gases by 2020. In fact, this was achieved by 1995. Further attempts have proved to be more intractable. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2000 Bonn Accord committed countries to make substantial cuts in other greenhouse gases (particularly carbon dioxide emissions for coal, gas and oil fuels). Although some 180 countries have signed the Bonn Accord, the biggest polluter nation, the USA, has not. See GREEN CONSUMER, EXTERNALITIES.

pollution

responsibility for dealing with pollution on polluters. See WELFARE ECONOMICS.

pollution

the contamination of the environment by dirty or harmful substances. In economics, pollution problems such as smoke from factory chimneys, hazardous chemical waste and the dumping of waste materials and products are treated as EXTERNALITIES. Pollution is considered to be a cost of economic growth and a negative input into the measure of economic welfare (see SOCIAL COST, WELFARE ECONOMICS).

Increasingly, governments have passed more onerous regulations covering the use and disposal of industrial materials and production methods. As a consequence, industry itself is being forced to invest in appropriate pollution control and limitation systems and to take a more proactive approach to the production and marketing of products that are environment-friendly.

In the UK, the basic approach of government policy on the environment is that pollution should be prevented at source and that the polluter should pay for the necessary controls (the POLLUTER PAYS PRINCIPLE). The main measure for achieving this is the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Under the Act, the Inspectorate of Pollution is charged with the task of getting businesses to use the best available technology and techniques to prevent or minimize pollution. Firms that do not comply with the Act can be subject to unlimited fines in the Crown Court. At the present time, pollution and other environmental matters in the UK are administered by the DEPARTMENT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS (DEFRA) and its agency, the ENVIRONMENT AGENCY.

In addition, member countries of the European Union (EU) are required to observe various environmental ‘directives’. Recently, in a first-time case, Greece was fined heavily by the European Court for failing to halt the discharge of toxic waste into the River Kouroupitos in Crete.

International recognition of, and concern at, the harmful impact on the ozone layer of toxic industrial emissions (so-called ‘greenhouse gases’ such as CFC and carbon dioxide gases) began to build up in the 1970s and 1980s, leading to the Montreal Protocol in 1987. This set a target for the DEVELOPED COUNTRIES to ban CFC gases by 2020. In fact, this was achieved by 1995. Further attempts have proved more intractable. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2000 Bonn Accord committed countries to make substantial cuts in other greenhouses gases (particularly carbon dioxide emissions from coal, gas and oil fuels). Although some 180 countries have signed the Bonn Accord, the biggest polluter nation, the USA, has not.

See GREEN CONSUMER, GREEN PRODUCT, ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT, EMISSIONS PERMITS, ENVIRONMENTAL TAX, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT, MARKET FAILURE.

References in periodicals archive ?
FWS contaminants specialists often take part in the efforts to cleanup contaminated areas, rehabilitate wildlife, and restore habitat.
The plenum chamber is primarily used to settle out the large contaminants that were pulled out of the air wash so that the dust load to the dust collector does not become unnecessarily excessive.
The actual standard for contaminants are "maximum contaminant levels" (MCLs).
Sentinel organisms such as marine bivalve molluscs may be especially sensitive as indicators of ecological condition, as they reflect the bioavailability of a wide range of contaminants as well as the biological consequences of contaminant exposure.
In response to concerns that contaminants from the DMCA were affecting nearby residential well water, USACE discontinued disposal of dredge material into Pearce Creek.
Congaree National Park, like other parks around the country, is positioned in a landscape where surrounding land uses, municipal wastewater discharges and on-site visitation can potentially introduce contaminants into the protected areas, said Paul Bradley, USGS Research Ecologist/Hydrologist and lead author of the study.
Increasing the ventilation rate led to lower contaminant concentrations but not necessarily higher ventilation effectiveness.
There are many contaminants that may fall on paint as it is being applied or soon after, including dirt, overspray, oil droplets, soot, fibers, personal care products, chain lubricants, and oven aerosols and drips.
But anytime you find water or other contaminants in the fuel-water separator or the fuel system filter sump, here's what to do:
Mazumdar (2009) found that a moving passenger in an aircraft cabin could carry a contaminant in his or her wake to positions far from the contaminant source.
This study sought to quantify and assess the risk for tissue floaters and contaminants in the 2 areas that are the source for most floaters: the water bath and the traditional linear H&E stainer.
Identification of a contaminant on a surface is almost always followed by speculation as to the source of the contaminant and the mechanism of contamination.