Pollution Issues

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

Environmental Laws and Regulations

Protection of the environment is managed at the federal and state levels. 

Air Pollutants, Clean Water, and Safe Drinking Laws

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addresses several issues, from setting limits on certain air pollutants to enforcing federal clean water and safe drinking laws. In addition, EPA enforces federal regulations to reduce the impact of businesses on the environment.

Wildlife Concerns

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed in 1973 to provide for the protection and conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals as well as their habitats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service are responsible for administering the ESA:

Food Safety

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

Workplace Concerns

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

Issues Relating to Tribal, State, and Local Agencies

Many environmental programs have been delegated to the states and they have primary responsibility over them. In addition, some environmental laws and regulations apply to tribal government operations.

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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.

Report 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 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

  • 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:

    • Emergencies: To report a serious, life-threatening problem with bottled water, call the 24-hour emergency line at 1-866-300-4374 or 1-301-796-8240.

    • Non-Emergencies: To report adverse reactions or other problems with bottled water, contact your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.

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Last Updated: August 30, 2017

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