Environmental groups have always focused on encouraging individuals and businesses to be responsible when it comes to creating or disposing of materials that may be toxic. Often, media images focus on things such as pollution smoke coming from a factory, or the contamination of lake, ocean and river water which can endanger both animals and humans.
In many ways, the effort to raise awareness has done a lot of good. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that toxic chemicals released into the air have been on the decline since 1998. Between 2010 and 2011 alone there was an 8 percent reduction. Similarly, toxic chemicals in water also decreased by 3 percent during the same period. Improved technology in controlling pollution levels in coal based power plants, and reduced emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants is a big reason for the drop.
But when it comes to land pollution, there is still a lot of work to be done. Between 2010 and 2011, land toxins were up 19 percent, effectively cancelling out all the progress made by the air and water reductions. Land disposal at sites such as metal mines is largely responsible for the increase.
2011 was the second consecutive year that overall pollution levels saw an increase, which is a concern not only because of the potential harm these pollutants have on wildlife, but also because those who live in areas where pollution is a major issue generally experience increased health problems, including cancers and respiratory illness.
Our environmental law firm helps those who live or work in an area where exposure to toxic substances threatens their quality of living.
Source: U.S. News, "Airborne Toxins Down, But Overall Pollutant Levels Rising: EPA," January 16, 2013