pollution


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to pollution: air pollution, Environmental pollution

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 ?
ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION CONTROL EQUIPMENT PRODUCER DIRECTORY Environmental Pollution Control Equipment Producer Profiles Distributors Trading Companies Research Institutions and Associations
This study expands on the previous research and helps build the case for stronger pollution controls on cars, factories and power plants that generate fine particulate matter pollution, according to an editorial accompanying the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
This shows that air pollution isn't just an urban problem," says Ramanathan.
It is not uncommon for pollution incidents such as discovery of a long forgotten abandoned and leaking underground oil tank to be discovered by new owners.
holding that an absolute pollution exclusion applied to claims arising from exposure to welding fumes.
For the Communist Party--which has based its legitimacy on delivering economic growth--the question is how to curb pollution without crippling the economy: Chinese leaders fear that a slowdown could lead to social instability.
the owner and parent company of Bowen, respectively--alleging that Bowen and nine other Southern coal-fired plants failed to install modern pollution controls as required by law when they made upgrades to plant equipment.
Davis notes similar tragic incidents in Liege, Belgium, in 1930, where a "killer fog" trapped heavy pollution and killed dozens, and in London in i952, while debate still raged over the exact cause of the events in Donora.
With the rise of the germ theory, though, sewage and disease problems could be separated from industrial waste problems, removing much of the conflict between the pollution reformers and manufacturers.
Particulate pollution is the most important contaminant in our air," says Joel Schwartz, a Harvard School of Public Health scientist.
Just what EPA would do to regulate them is not clear, but there are suggestions that the agency consider the total smoke pollution from both wild and prescribed fires, and seek to keep that total pollution within acceptable limits.
This pollution prevention hierarchy represents a hierarchy of benefits based on the idea that avoiding pollution has major advantages over treating and disposing of it (Council on Environmental Quality, 1991, pp.