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Environmental Issues: Pollution

Pollution can take many forms. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the ground where we grow our food, and even the increasing noise we hear every day—all contribute to health problems and a lower quality of life. Find out about the environment issues of pollution, what’s being done on a global level, and what you can do in your community.
  1. Ozone Depletion (6)
  2. Smog FAQ (8)
  3. Water Pollution (5)

Chemical Spills: What is Coal Ash?
A by-product of coal combustion, coal ash sometimes enters our air and water, and causes environmental damage.

Frac Sand Mining
Learn about frac sand mining and its environmental effects

The Environmental Effects of Road Salt
Learn about the use and environmental effects of road salt, particularly on water, plants and animals

Illegal Pot Farms Harm Wildlife

Water Quality: The Best Beach States in the US

Water Quality: The Worst Beach States in the U.S.
Find out which states have the beaches with the worst water quality.

What is Air Pollution?
What is air pollution? Defining air pollution is not as simple as it seems, because air pollution can take many forms, derive from many sources, and include many different pollutants and toxins.

Cross-Border Pollution: A Growing International Problem
Cross-border pollution is a serious environmental problem that often frustrates national solutions. As pollution from one nation contaminates the air and water of another, it creates a dilemma for both and leaves local communities with few real options.

Litter Trashes the Environment
Litter is more than an eyesore on city streets and alongside highways. Litter pollutes waterways and leaches toxic chemicals into soil and groundwater as it breaks down. Most litter begins with a careless or thoughtless act by a single person who tosses away a cigarette butt or an empty soda can, which means there is a lot you can do to prevent...

Light Pollution Raises Risk of Breast Cancer
Forget romantic songs about the beautiful city lights. Light pollution, defined as excess light at night, increases women's risk of breast cancer significantly, as well as wasting energy and disrupting the migration patterns and breeding cycles of many birds and animals.

Toxic at Any Speed: Indoor Air Pollution Inside Your Car
The EPA lists indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health, and the concentrations of some toxic chemicals that cause indoor air pollution are five times higher inside your car than at your home or office. Learn more about the risks of indoor air pollution inside your car and what you can do about it.

EPA May Abandon Health Standards for Lead Air Pollution
In a stunning display of convoluted logic, the EPA is contemplating dropping health standards that regulate lead air pollution and mandate lead-free gasoline and trying to rationalize the potential decision by citing its success in virtually eliminating the toxic heavy metal as an air pollutant over the past 30 years.

Americans Breathe Dangerous Levels of Smog
More than half of the residents of 10 U.S. states are living in areas with dangerous levels of smog that routinely exceed EPA air quality standards. Smog, or ground-level ozone, creates serious health risks for children and seniors, and causes or aggravates many respiratory illnesses.

The Top 10 Worst Polluted Places on Earth
More than 10 million people in eight different countries are at serious risk for cancer, respiratory diseases, and premature death because they live in the 10 most polluted places on Earth, according to a report by the Blacksmith Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to identify and solve specific environmental problems worldwide.

Autumn Leaves: Burning Fallen Leaves May Be Hazardous to Your Health
Autumn is here again, and the trees will soon be shedding their leaves in preparation for winter. Burning fallen leaves, which used to be as much a part of autumn as Halloween or Thanksgiving, pollutes the air and can cause serious health problems for many people. Learn how skipping the leaf fire this fall may actually give you a nicer lawn and...

China to Invest $175 Billion in Environmental Protection
China has announced plans to invest $175 billion (1.4 trillion yuan) in environmental protection between 2006 and 2010. China will use the money--an amount that exceeds 1.5 percent of the nation's annual gross domestic product--to help address some of the horrendous environmental problems that have worsened during the country's rapid economic growth.

What are the Health Effects of Airport Noise and Airport Pollution?
Why airport noise and airport pollution increase risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and other illness among people who live near airports.

EPA Plan to Allow More Air Pollution Draws Friendly Fire
Learn about a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to weaken air emission standards and reporting requirements for industrial operations that spew tons of toxins into the atmosphere each year. The agency’s regional administrators are angry, saying they were never consulted about the proposed change and predict that the new rule would be "detrimental to the environment."

America's Endangered Coasts
If you want to adopt a lifestyle that will improve the environment, maybe you should think about moving inland. More than half of the U.S. population now lives in coastal counties—even though coastal areas represent only 17 percent of the land in the lower 48 states—and the numbers are still growing.

Indoor Pollution from Cooking Fires Kill 1.5 Million People Annually
More than half the world’s population—about 3 billion people—cook their meals with wood, dung, coal and other solid fuels over open fires or on simple stoves inside their homes, and that simple act is killing 1.5 million people every year, according to a report by the World Health Organization. Modern stoves that burn cleaner fuels could be installed cheaply, but would create enormous health and economic benefits.

Mowing the Grass is Greener When You Don't Use a Gas-Powered Mower
Gasoline-powered lawn mowers may account for five percent of U.S. air pollution, according to the EPA. Mowing your lawn for an hour with a gas-powered mower pollutes the air as much as driving 100 miles in your car. Find out how you can make mowing your grass a little greener.

Katrina Leaves Behind a "Toxic Gumbo" in New Orleans
In a wide ranging Q&A with Newsweek, an environmental expert warns that the news media and government PR spinmeisters may be misleading the public about the risks of returning to New Orleans, where broken sewer lines and hazardous waste containers have left the area awash in a "toxic gumbo" that may continue to create severe environmental health risks for months or years.

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Clean Air
A federal appeals court on Friday ruled in favor of a coalition of states and environmental groups that were challenging a Bush administration regulation designed to permit factories, refineries and power plants nationwide to avoid installing new pollution controls to help offset increased emissions from equipment repairs and replacements.

More Than Half of U.S. Population Lives in Counties with Unsafe Air
According to the American Lung Association, more than half of all Americans live in counties with unsafe levels of smog and particle pollution, which leads to many lung and respiratory illnesses.

Sugar Produces Bitter Results for the Environment
Sugar is many products we consume every day, yet we rarely give a second thought to how and where it is produced and what toll it may take on the environment. Find out why sugar may be creating a bitter environmental legacy.

Check the Air Quality Where You Live
The EPA provides information that enables people in the United States to check the cleanliness of the air they breathe in their own regions, states and local communities, and offers tips to help them improve their local air quality.

Don't Get Stranded on Heat Island
For many urban and suburban dwellers, heat islands are a growing concern. Heat islands are areas in and around cities that are hotter than nearby rural areas. The elevated temperatures in heat islands can increase energy demands as well as air pollution levels and heat-related illnesses. Learn about the how communities can work together to cool things down and mitigate the effects of heat islands.

Study Finds the Safety of Drinking Water at Risk in U.S. Cities
A study of drinking water systems in 19 U.S. cities by the National Resources Defense Council found that pollution and out-of-date plumbing are delivering drinking water that may pose health risks to some residents.

FAQ: Ground Water and Drinking Water
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency answers common questions about ground water contamination and drinking water quality, and their potential effects on human health.

Noise Pollution and Hearing Loss
Noise pollution is not only annoying, it's also an environmental hazard that can cause severe hearing loss and other health problems. Get tips on hearling loss prevention from the Centers for Disease Control.

Agreement to Raise Debt Ceiling May Lower Environmental Protections
An agreement between the White House and congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling and reduce deficit spending could have serious consequences for the environment. Many provisions in the original plan cut funding for critical environmental programs and reduce or eliminate important environmental protections.

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