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Pollution in the United States

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As with many countries pollution in the United States is a concern for environmental organizations, government agencies and individuals.



Land is where most pollution happens. Examples of land pollution include:



Air pollution is caused predominantly from burning fossil fuels.[1] Both natural and human are sources for air pollutants. In certain locations, natural causes of air pollution among others are forest fires, volcanic eruptions, wind erosion, pollen dispersal, evaporation of organic compounds, and natural radioactivity. These natural sources of pollution often soon disperses and thins settling near its locale. However, major natural events such as volcanic activity can convey throughout the air spreading, thinning and settling over continents.[2] Fossil fuel and Coke (fuel) burning in plants for energy transfer at production works and automobile combustion for transportation are responsible for about 90% of all air pollution in the United States.[3]



In a report published in the November 12, 2008 online issue of Environmental Science and Technology, researchers found that freshwater pollution by phosphorus and nitrogen costs U.S. government agencies, drinking water facilities and individual Americans at least $4.3 billion annually. Of that, they calculated that $44 million a year is spent just protecting aquatic species from nutrient pollution.[4]


Oil spillsEdit

Hazardous wasteEdit


The use of DDT and its consequences as a pollutant is attributed as sparking the environmental movement in the United States.




Worldwide there are numerous environmental organizations attempting to ban the use of polystyrene. One such organization in the U.S. is Californians Against Waste.[5] The city of Berkeley, California, was one of the first cities in the world to ban polystyrene food packaging (called Styrofoam in the media announcements).[6][7] It was also banned in Portland, Oregon and Suffolk County, New York in 1990.[8] Now, over 20 US cities have banned polystyrene food packaging, including Oakland, California, on Jan 1, 2007.[9] San Francisco introduced a ban on the packaging on June 1, 2007:[10] Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin noted:

"This is a long time coming. Polystyrene foam products rely on nonrenewable sources for production, are nearly indestructible and leave a legacy of pollution on our urban and natural environments. If McDonald's could see the light and phase out polystyrene foam more than a decade ago, it's about time San Francisco got with the program."[11]

The overall benefits of the ban in Portland, Oregon have been questioned,[12] as have the general environmental concepts of the use of paper versus polystyrene.[13] The California and New York state legislatures are currently considering bills which would effectively ban expanded polystyrene in all takeout food packaging state-wide.[14]



The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and with safeguarding the natural environment: air, water, and land. The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on 2 December 1970, when it was passed by Congress, and signed into law by President Nixon, and has since been chiefly responsible for the environmental policy of the United States.

See alsoEdit


  1. Shapiro, Susan G. (2005). Environment And Global Community. IDEA. ISBN 978-1932716122. 
  2. Miller, G. Tyler Jr. Living in the Environment. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1987.
  3. Bloom, Paul R. 'Environmental Encyclopedia. Acid Rain' . Detroit: Gale Research International Limited, 1994.
  4. Freshwater Pollution Costs at Least $4.3 Billion Annually Newswise, Retrieved on November 28, 2008.
  5. "Business Gives Styrofoam a Rare Redemption.". Stockton Record. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  6. The Berkeley Daily Planet
  7. Styrofoam food packaging banned in Oakland
  8. Californians Against Waste website
  9. San Francisco Chronicle article, June 28, 2006
  10. San Francisco Chronicle article, November 7, 2006
  11. San Francisco Chronicle Article, June 27, 2006
  12. Eckhardt, Angela (November, 1998). Paper Waste: Why Portland's Ban on Polystyrene Foam Products Has Been a Costly Failure. Cascade Policy Institute. Retrieved on 2007-10-23.
  13. Thomas, Robert A. (March 8, 2005). Where Might We Look for Environmental Heroes?. Center for Environmental Communications, Loyola University, New Orleans. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved on 2007-10-23.
  14. AB 904

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