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Pollution Issues

Learn about the different types of pollution in your community and what you can do about them.

Environmental Laws and Regulations

Learn which state and federal agencies manage environmental protection and regulation.

Air Pollutants, Clean Water, and Safe Drinking Water Laws

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits on certain air pollutants. It also enforces federal laws on clean water and safe drinking water. The EPA also enforces federal regulations to limit the impact of businesses on the environment.

Wildlife and Endangered Species Protection

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed in 1973. It protects and conserves threatened and endangered plants, animals, and their habitats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service administer the ESA.

Laws Governing Pesticide Use on Food

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA have a cooperative arrangement to carry out the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The FDA is responsible for the safety of food and any substance that is applied to the human body.   

Environmental Concerns at Work

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is part of the U.S. Department of Labor. It deals with problems with the environment inside the workplace. This includes the presence or handling of toxic chemicals and fumes. 

Find State, Local, and Tribal Offices That Handle Environmental Concerns

States have primary responsibility over many environmental programs. And some environmental laws and regulations apply to tribal government operations.

Report Environmental Emergencies and Violations

Report an environmental emergency online through the National Response Center (NRC), or call the NRC at 1-800-424-8802 or 1-202-267-2675.

If you see something that immediately threatens public health or the environment, report it as an emergency first, and then report it as a possible violation.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains more about the difference between an environmental emergency and an environmental violation.

Examples of Environmental Emergencies

Environmental emergencies are a sudden threat to the public health or the well-being of the environment and can include:

  • Oil, natural gas, and chemical spills/releases
  • Radiation emergencies
  • Biological discharges
  • Transportation accidents

Report Non-Emergency Environmental Violations

Environmental violations occur when an activity or an existing condition does not comply with an environmental law or regulation and can include:

  • Smoke or other emissions from local industrial facilities
  • Tampering with emission control or air conditioning systems in automobiles
  • Improper treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous wastes
  • Exceedances of pollutant limits at publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants
  • Unpermitted dredging or filling of waters and wetlands
  • Unpermitted industrial activity
  • Late-night dumping or any criminal activity including falsifying reports or other documents

You can report a suspected environmental violation online with the EPA, or by calling an EPA regional office.

If the EPA cannot address the problem, they will forward it to or direct you to contact the appropriate authority.

Report Pesticide Poisoning or Spills

Report Ground, Drinking, and Bottled Water Problems

  • Use the EPA online form for your comments or drinking water questions. 

  • Report complaints about drinking or groundwater by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

  • File complaints about bottled water with the Food and Drug Administration:

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Last Updated: July 21, 2021