Our Pollution

  • Americans use approximately 2.2 billion pounds of pesticides every year. Research shows that target pests will eventually develop resistance to these pesticides anyway.

  • Seventy-three different kinds of pesticides have been found in groundwater, which is potential drinking water.

  • More than 100 active pesticide ingredients are suspected of causing cancer, birth defects, and gene mutation.

  • A growing list of pesticides have the potential to disrupt the immune and endocrine systems and of having long term impacts on the offspring of exposed humans and animals.

  • The cost of one nuclear weapons test alone could finance the installation of eighty thousand hand pumps, giving third world villages access to clean water.

  • Estimated costs of cleaning up the 24,000 contaminated federal nuclear facilities range from $100 billion to $400 billion. (The Environmental Protection Agency)

  • Each year U.S. factories spew 3 million tons of toxic chemicals into the air, land, and water. That compounds the over one-half billion tons of solid hazardous wastes - we're not talking about your garbage here - that get dumped across the nation for our generation to one day clean up. (The Gale Environmental Scorecard)

  • In 1987, the U.S. released 1.2 million tons of toxic chemicals into our atmosphere, 670,000 tons into our soil, and 250,000 tons into our water. (International Wildlife magazine)

  • PCB's haven't been used in the U.S. for more than two decades. But dangerous levels of PCB's remain in the natural environment and pose a threat to human health. --ENN for 5/27/98

  • "Everyone has some amount of dioxin in his or her body, and the average level is already high enough to endanger health." --Lois Gibbs

  • Nitrogen is essential to crops but too much will leak into groundwater and rivers causing nutrient pollution in rivers and oceans and severe human health problems from nitrate pollution.

  • In the US, 41% of all insecticides are used on corn. Eighty per cent of these are used to treat a pest that could be controlled simply by rotating the corn for one year with any other crop.


Major Air Pollutants
Source: Environmental Protection Agency, EPA 450K-92002, October 1992.
Pollutant Sources Effects
A colorless gas that is the major constituent of photochemical smog at the Earth's surface. In the upper atmosphere (stratosphere), however, ozone is beneficial, protecting us from the sun's harmful rays.
Ozone is formed in the lower atmosphere as a result of chemical reactions between oxygen, volatile organic compounds, and nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight, especially during hot weather. Sources of such harmful pollutants include vehicles, factories, landfills, industrial solvents, and numerous small sources such as gas stations, and farm and lawn equipment. Ozone causes significant health and environmental problems at the Earth's surface. It can irritate the respiratory tract, produce impaired lung function and cause throat irritation, chest pain, cough, and lung inflammation. It can also reduce the yield of agricultural crops and injure forests and other vegetation. Ozone is the most injurious pollutant to plant life.
Carbon Monoxide
Odorless and colorless gas emitted in the exhaust of motor vehicles and other kinds of engines where there is incomplete fossilfuel combustion.
Automobiles, buses, trucks, small engines, and some industrial processes. High concentrations can be found in confined spaces like parking garages, poorly ventilated tunnels, or along roadsides during periods of heavy traffic. Reduces the ability of blood to deliver oxygen to vital tissues, affecting primarily the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Lower concentrations have been shown to adversely affect individuals with heart disease; higher concentrations can cause dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.
Nitrogen Dioxide
Light brown gas at lower concentrations; in higher concentrations becomes an important component of unpleasant-looking brown, urban haze.
Result of burning fuels in utilities, industrial boilers, cars, and trucks. One of the major pollutants that causes smog and acid rain. Can harm humans and vegetation when concentrations are sufficiently high.
Particulate Matter
Solid matter or liquid droplets from smoke, dust, fly ash and condensing vapors that can be suspended in the air for long periods of time.
Industrial processes, smelters, automobiles, burning industrial fuels, woodsmoke, dust from paved and unpaved roads, construction, and agricultural ground breaking. These microscopic particles can affect breathing and respiratory health, causing increased respiratory disease and lung damage, and possibly premature death.
Sulfur Dioxide
Colorless gas, odorless at low concentrations but pungent at very high concentrations.
Emitted largely from industrial, institutional, utility and apartment-house furnaces and boilers, as well as petroleum refineries, smelters, paper mills, and chemical plants. One of the major pollutants that cause smog. Can also, at high concentrations, affect human health, especially among asthmatics, and acidify lakes and streams.
Lead and lead compounds can adversely affect human health through either ingestion of lead-contaminated soil, dust, paint, or direct inhalation.
Transportation sources using lead in their fuels, coal combustion, smelters, car battery plants, and combustion of garbage containing lead products. Elevated lead levels can adversely affect mental development, kidney function, and blood chemistry. Young children are particularly at risk.
Toxic Air Pollutants
Includes pollutants such as arsenic, asbestos, and benzenes.
Chemical plants, industrial processes, motor vehicle emissions and fuels, and building materials. Known or suspected to cause cancer, respiratory effects, birth defects, and reproductive and other serious health effects.
Stratospheric Ozone Depleters
Chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform. These chemicals rise to the upper atmosphere where they destroy the protective ozone layer.
Industrial household refrigeration, cooling and cleaning processes, car and home air conditioners, some fire extinguishers, and plastic foam products. Increased exposure to UV radiation could potentially cause an increase in skin cancer, cataracts, suppression of the human immune response system, and environmental damage.
Greenhouse gases
Gases that build up in the atmosphere that may induce global climate change or the “greenhouse effect.”They include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
The main man-made source of carbon dioxide emissions is fossil fuel combustion for energy-use and transportation. Methane comes from landfills, cud-chewing livestock, coal mines, and rice paddies. Nitrous oxide results from industrial processes, such as nylon fabrication. The extent of the effects of climate change on human health and the environment is still uncertain, but could include increased global temperature, increased severity and frequency of storms and other “weather extremes,” melting of the polar ice cap, and sea-level rise.