Regulation and monitoring of pollution

To protect the environment from the adverse effects of pollution, many nations worldwide have enacted legislation to regulate various types of pollution as well as to mitigate the adverse effects of pollution.

Regulation and monitoring by region


Since pollution crosses political boundaries international treaties have been made through the United Nations and its agencies to address international pollution issues.

Greenhouse gas emissions

The Kyoto Protocol[1] is an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty on global warming. It also reaffirms sections of the UNFCCC. Countries which ratify this protocol commit to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases, or engage in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases.[1] A total of 141 countries have ratified the agreement. Notable exceptions include the United States and Australia, who have signed but not ratified the agreement. The stated reason for the United States not ratifying is the exemption of large emitters of greenhouse gases who are also developing countries, like China and India.[2]

An UN environmental conference held in Bali 3–14 December 2007 with the participation from 180 countries aims to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which will end in 2012. During the first day of the conference United States, Saudi Arabia and Canada were presented with the "Fossil-of-the-day-award", a symbolic bag of coal for their negative impact on the global climate. The bags included the flags of the respective countries.[3]

Toxic wastes

Further information: Toxic waste


In Canada the regulation of pollution and its effects are monitored by a number of organizations depending on the nature of the pollution and its location. The three levels of government (Federal – Canada Wide; Provincial; and Municipal) equally share in the responsibilities, and in the monitoring and correction of pollution.


China's rapid industrialization has substantially increased pollution. China has some relevant regulations: the 1979 Environmental Protection Law, which was largely modeled on U.S. legislation, but the environment continues to deteriorate.[4] Twelve years after the law, only one Chinese city was making an effort to clean up its water discharges.[5] This indicates that China is about 30 years behind the U.S. schedule of environmental regulation and 10 to 20 years behind Europe. In July 2007, it was reported that the World Bank reluctantly censored a report revealing that 750,000 people in China die every year as a result of pollution-related diseases. China's State Environment Protection Agency and the Health Ministry asked the World Bank to cut the calculations of premature deaths from the report fearing the revelation would provoke "social unrest".[6]


The basic European rules are included in the Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC)[7] and the National Emission Ceilings Directive.

United Kingdom

In the 1840s, the United Kingdom brought onto the statute books legislation to control water pollution. It was extended to all rivers and coastal water by 1961. However, currently the clean up of historic contamination is controlled under a specific statutory scheme found in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Part IIA), as inserted by the Environment Act 1995, and other ‘rules’ found in regulations and statutory guidance. The Act came into force in England in April 2000.

Within the current regulatory framework, Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) is a regime for controlling pollution from certain industrial activities. The regime introduces the concept of Best Available Techniques ("BAT") to environmental regulations. Operators must use the BAT to control pollution from their industrial activities to prevent, and where that is not practicable, to reduce to acceptable levels, pollution to air, land and water from industrial activities. The Best Available Techniques also aim to balance the cost to the operator against benefits to the environment. The system of Pollution Prevention and Control is replacing that of Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) (which was established by the Environmental Protection Act 1990) and is taking effect between 2000 and 2007. The Pollution Prevention and Control regime implements the European Directive (EC/96/61) on integrated pollution prevention and control.

United States

A polluted ditch along Interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colorado.

Air pollution

The United States Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1963 to legislate the reduction of smog and atmospheric pollution in general. That legislation has subsequently been amended and extended in 1966, 1970, 1977 and 1990. Numerous state and local governments have enacted similar legislation either implementing or filling in locally important gaps in the national program. The national Clean Air Act and similar state legislative acts have led to the widespread use of atmospheric dispersion modeling[8] in order to analyze the air quality impacts of proposed major actions. With the 1990 Clean Air Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began a controversial carbon trading system in which tradable rights to emit a specified level of carbon are granted to polluters.

Water pollution

Enactment of the 1972 Clean Water Act required thousands of facilities to obtain permits for discharges to navigable waters, through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). It also required EPA to establish national discharge standards for municipal sewage treatment plants, and for many industrial categories (the latter are called "effluent guidelines.")[9]

Municipal and industrial permittees are required to regularly collect and analyze wastewater samples, and submit Discharge Monitoring Reports to a state agency or EPA.[10]

The Act requires use of best management practices for a wide range of other water discharges including nonpoint source pollution. Amendments in 1977 required stricter regulation of toxic pollutants.[11] In 1987 Congress added NPDES permit coverage for municipal and industrial stormwater discharges.[12]

Land pollution

Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1976, which created a regulatory framework for both municipal solid waste and hazardous waste disposed on land.[13] RCRA requires that all hazardous wastes be managed and tracked from generation of the waste, through transport and processing, to final disposal, by means of a nationwide permit system. The Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 mandated regulation of underground storage tanks containing petroleum and hazardous chemicals, and the phasing out of land disposal of hazardous waste.[14] The Federal Facilities Compliance Act, passed in 1992, clarified RCRA coverage of federally owned properties such as military bases. Illegal disposal of waste is punishable by fines of up to $25,000 per occurrence.[15]

Noise pollution

Passage of the Noise Control Act in 1972 established mechanisms of setting emission standards for virtually every source of noise including motor vehicles, aircraft, certain types of HVAC equipment and major appliances. It also put local government on notice as to their responsibilities in land use planning to address noise mitigation. This noise regulation framework comprised a broad data base detailing the extent of noise health effects. Congress ended funding of the federal noise control program in 1981, which curtailed development of further national regulations.[16]

State programs

The state of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has maintained an independent list of substances with product labeling requirements as part of Proposition 65 since 1986.

See also


  1. 1 2 Kyoto Protocol To The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  2. "President Bush Discusses Global Climate Change" (Transcription of speech). 2001-06-11. Retrieved 2006-04-09.
  3. Fossil-of-the-Day Awards at UN Climate Change Negotiations
  4. Ma, Xiaoying & Ortalano, Leonard (2000). Environmental Regulation in China: institutions, enforcement and compliance. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8476-9398-8.
  5. Sinkule, Barbara J. & Ortolana, Leonard (1995). Implementing Environmental Policy in China. Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-94980-X.
  6. China covers up pollution deaths
  8. Beychok, Milton R. (2005). Fundamentals of Stack Gas Dispersion (4th ed.). author-published. ISBN 0-9644588-0-2.
  9. United States. Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972, Pub.L. 92–500, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq. October 18, 1972.
  10. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2010). NPDES Permit Writers' Manual (Report). pp. 8–14. EPA-833-K-10-001.
  11. U.S. Clean Water Act of 1977, Pub.L. 95–217, December 27, 1977.
  12. U.S. Water Quality Act of 1987, Pub.L. 100–4, February 4, 1987.
  13. U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Pub.L. 94–580, 42 U.S.C. § 6901 et seq. October 21, 1976.
  14. U.S. Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984, Pub.L. 98–616, November 8, 1984.
  15. "Chapter I. Introduction to RCRA". Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Orientation Manual (Report). EPA. 2014. EPA 530-F-11-003.
  16. "Title IV - Noise Pollution". Clean Air Act Overview. EPA. 2016.

External links

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