Why should we be worried about the most polluting industries?
The Most Polluting Industries for the Environment is one of the essential things on our planet, and unfortunately, they’ve been going downhill fast. We have relied on these industries for a long time to fuel our society.
But recent studies show that they may be doing more harm than good in some ways. This blog post will list the top five most polluting industries in America and explore how their business practices affect our world today.
What are The most polluting industries?
Oil & Gas Industry
The oil and gas industry contributes to air pollution in countries that produce or consume these fossil fuels. Fossil fuel burning produces greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide, which are highly potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
As a result of these emissions, air quality is worse near oil and gas production sites. In some cases, the air pollution from these sites extends to many miles downwind. This can result in respiratory problems for people in surrounding communities.
The pollution produced by oil and gas sites results from incomplete combustion when there isn’t enough oxygen for complete burning. For example, whenever you see a puff of smoke or flying embers from your car’s exhaust pipe, that’s incomplete combustion.
Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ), nitrous oxide (N 2 O), methane (CH 4 ), and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) are all products released during this incomplete combustion process. Volatile organic compounds are commonly found in solvents, cleaners, adhesives, and paints.
Despite being present at low concentrations in our atmosphere on average every year, some places have significantly higher concentrations due to their proximity to specific sources of pollution.
Coal Mining Industry
It is hard to measure the exact amount of pollution the Coal Mining Industry causes, and however, it can be said that mining coal is a high-carbon industry and has been for some time.
To fully understand how much pollution is produced from coal mining, one will need to look at the process of coal mining itself and the steps involved with coal production.
Coal is a combustible sedimentary rock that can be burned for its energy content. Coal has a variety of uses, but the most common use of coal is as a fuel for electricity generation. In 2014, 39% of all U.S fossil-fuel generated electricity came from coal (“USEIA”).
This high percentage makes it easy to see why coal companies produce so much pollution as they mine millions upon millions of tons of coal annually to meet this demand.
Mining involves digging up large quantities of earth before the desired material is found, usually sand, stone, or coal. The mining process can be broken down into four separate stages, each with environmental issues: surface mining, underground minMiningountaintop removal mining, and processing.
Surface Mining can be further divided into three different methods used to obtain coal from the land. Open-Pit MinMiningcurs when the earth layers are dug up to find coal seams below ground level.
Once the seam is found, it is then “stripped” out of the ground using large machinery before being sent through a conveyor belt system that takes it to an area where it can be loaded onto trucks for transportation away from the site.
This method has been known to cause landslides and flooding, especially if proper precautions are not taken.
Strip mining occurs when the earth layers are stripped away and leave a flat surface. Although this method is better than open-pit Mining, it leaves the land in a usable state; it can still cause extensive damage to the surrounding environment, mainly aquatic habitats, if proper precautions are not taken.
Mountaintop removal mining (MTM) is becoming more prevalent today as an increasing number of coal seams lie beneath mountainous regions such as Appalachia.
The significant difference between MTM and regular strip mining is that MTM removes most of the overlying mountain top with explosives before digging up large amounts of materials deep within the mountain.
During this process, valuable ecosystem services such as storing carbon and filtering water supplies are lost forever. Sometimes, valuable minerals and metals such as iron ore and gold are removed from the area, resulting in pollution to air and water.
Chemical Manufacturing industry
The chemical manufacturing industry, the second most polluting industry, produces about 11% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. The industry is one of the major suppliers of raw materials for synthetic chemistry processes, including chemical synthesis and production.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trends in the Chemicals Industry analyze greenhouse gas emissions from chemicals production between 1990 and 2015. The analysis shows that greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 14% while production has declined by 3%.
This Trend Brief presents implications to business strategy, technological innovation, climate policy negotiations, and corporate responsibility initiatives.
Industrial Metals Production industry
The pollution caused by the Industrial Metals Production industry is mainly sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter. These are all toxic pollutants that can cause harm to humans and the environment.
These are not the only pollutants created by this industry, but they are the most common. Industrial Metals Production produces ozone which is also a toxic pollutant of concern to humans and the environment. This industry creates many other types of pollution, but some of the most common ones are seen.
The manufacturing of chemicals and metals in the Industrial Metals Production industry emits many pollutants that can go into the atmosphere and harm humans and animals.
The chemicals released by this industry are bad for the environment and cause many health problems in both humans and animals. These include respiratory issues, lung damage, damage to muscle tissue, pulmonary edema, etc.
These chemicals release toxic chemical particles and gases such as heavy metals and sulfuric acid, which all affect people differently depending on how much exposure they have had to them.
Related: Recycling pros and cons 101
Food Processing Systemic Contaminants (GMOs)
Some chemicals in food can cause pollution. These chemicals can be categorized as systemic contaminants. Systemic contamination is widespread in the environment and often has a cumulative effect.
There are several categories of systemic food-processing contaminants: residual solvents, chlorinated hydrocarbons, packaging components, heavy metals, pesticides, and veterinary drugs.
In addition to those mentioned above, other examples include food additives, dioxins from paper processing, and gases used for safety measures in warehouses or vehicles that transport perishable goods.
Many materials pollute water when disposed of by industry through wastewater discharges or by home users through household waste disposal units (such as garbage disposals).
The pollution caused by the fashion industry has become a significant concern in many countries. The pollution caused by the fashion industry has been responsible for much destruction to the environment. Numerous species are being affected by the pollution caused by the fashion industry.
The worst part of it is how much effort this problem has taken to fix. There are debates as to what should be done about this problem.
Despite the many warnings about the effects of pollution caused by the fashion industry, nothing has been done to reduce it. One would think that the market would try to provide customers with clothes made out of natural materials.
Instead, they are chosen to maximize profits over everything else because natural products are less available and more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. The raw material is not as easy to produce as synthetics.
Synthetics can be made at a much faster rate than natural products. At first glance, this decision seems logical; however, there are significant concerns for future generations due to the amount of pollution caused by this type of production.
The most polluting industries are some of the worst offenders for human-induced climate change. Industries that produce toxic chemicals emit large amounts of greenhouse gases and cause irreversible environmental damage all rank in the top ten on a list compiled by Newsweek.
It’s not hard to see how these companies can be brought under stricter regulations or fined for their negligence regarding clean air quality if they continue down this path unchecked.