Pollution is any undesirable change in the physical, chemical, orbiological characteristics of the air, water, or land. Pollution threatens orharms the health, survival, or activities of humans or other living organisms.
Most pollutants are created when industrial facilities release harmful byproducts or waste into the environment.Damage to the environment did not originate in the industrial age.
Deforestation and over hunting, for example, were practiced by pr-industrial societies. But pee-modern people tended to manage their interaction with the environment in more harmonious and sustainable ways than members of industrialized society have (Stretton, 1976).
The most serious environmental problems, especially pollution, have accompanied the Industrial Revolution, which began in the mid-1700s
The original culprit of the English Industrial Revolution was coal, which
became the principal energy source by the mid-1700s as wood steadily
Coal-powered engines made the diverse and widespread use of
machines possible. New machines, powered by coal and later by oil and
natural gas, were a keystone to transition in human society from the small- scale, scattered, and manual production of goods to large-scale, centralized, and automatic production.
Thus, the Industrial Revolution greatly increased the production, as well as consumption, of goods by altering and shaping the earth to meet society’s needs and wants. Nevertheless, the Industrial Revolution also had devastating effects on public health and the quality of the environment.
City residents found an environment of hazards:thick smog from factories; foul-smelling, unsanitary streets pocked withexcrement, kitchen slop, dead animals, and horse manure; and drinking water
contaminated by industrial wastes such as oils, benzene, tars, and acids.
Theewage treatment systems in industrial cities were of poor quality. For example, in the 1840s, Manchester, England, had available only one indoor toilet for every 212 residents (Schnaiberg & Gould, 1994).
Not surprisingly,workers of the Industrial Revolution suffered from occupational as well asenvironmental diseases, including byssinosis, caused by inhaling cotton,flax, or hemp dust, and a variety of infections from soot and other airbornecontaminants.
In 1840, workers could expect on average to survive only 17years in the mines around Manchester, compared with 34 years for otherworkers in surrounding rural areas.
By the early 20th century, the automobile had emerged as a new source
of air pollution. Although the auto spurred the economy, altered housing
patterns, and revolutionized social relations and lifestyles, it also became the leading contributor to air pollution in modern industrialized society.
In1989, General Electric Company allowed CFC laden coolant from 300,000 defective refrigerators to escape into the atmosphere (Crawford, 1994). Industrial countries, led by the United States and followed by western European countries and Japan, account for 84% of CFC production.Industrial production also contributes to acid rain, which depletes animal and plant life, especially forests, and contaminates drinking water (Howells,1990; Kemp, 1990; Park, 1987).
About 5% of the pollutants in acid rain come from processes in nature; the rest are generated by industrial activity. For example, 90% of the sulfur dioxide in acid rain derives from burning coal or petroleum for heat and electricity; 10% comes from smelting metallic ores and other industrial processes (Karplus, 1992).
Not surprisingly, the most active constituents of rain are acid sulfates and acid nitrates in the most industrialized regions of the world, such as eastern North America, Western Europe, and Japan.
The average concentration of sulfates in rain was 60 to100 micro equivalents per liter in these areas, compared with less than 2 icroequivalents per liter in Antarctica and Greenland.
Rainfall in upstate New York contains nearly 10 times as much acidity, sulfates, and nitrites sin Oregon (Gould, 1985). Although agricultural sources are the leading cause of water quality impairment—contributing to 60% of impaired stream miles and 5 7 % of impaired lake acres in the nation (Curtis & Walsh, 1991)—industrial discharge also adds to the problem in local areas.
Consequently, they often pour excessive amountsof poison on crops or are sprayed while working in the fields, with or withouttheir consent, by crop duster planes. Rural inhabitants use pesticide drumsas water collectors and plastic pesticide liners as raincoats.
In Indonesia,leptophos, a nerve-damaging pesticide, was sold “alongside the potatoes andrice. . . . People just collect it in sugar sacks, milk cartons, Coke bottles”(Dowie & Mother Jones, 1987, p. 53).
In Central America, the pesticidealdrin has been detected at almost 2,000 times the level permitted on foodproducts in the United States (Dowie & Mother Jones, 1987).
According tothe Oxford Committee on Famine Relief, pesticide poisoning has reachedepidemic proportions in developing countries—an estimated 22,000 peopledie each year (Asinoff, 1986).
The World Health Organization found thatabout half a million people are poisoned by pesticides yearly. Some dieimmediately, but the long-term effects of exposure on those who live areunknown (Dowie & Mother Jones, 1987).
The American public, caught up in a “circle of poison,” suffers as well
(Weir & Schapiro, 1981, p. 28). In many developing countries, imported
pesticides are not generally used for domestic production.
Instead, some 70%of the pesticides are used to increase the production of large-scale exportcash crops such as cotton, coffee, tomatoes, and bananas (Clinard, 1990).
The Food and Drug Administration found that approximately 10% of the
food imported to the United States is contaminated with illegal levels of
pesticides (Clinard, 1990)
It prompted a shift in energy sources from renewable and environmentally harmless wood and running water to nonrenewable and more toxic fossil fuels. Coal burning was responsible for most of the air pollution in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1880,ew York City housed 287 foundries and machine shops. At the same time,the Pittsburgh area’s Monongahela Valley contained hundreds of iron and steel plants with approximately 14,000 chimneys dotting the landscape.
Chicago was home to the stockyards, eight major railroads, a busy port, and heavy industry (Petulla, 1987). The smog from these industries darkened the cities with a foul-smelling, disease-causing shroud.
By the early 1900s,smoke abatement leagues and ladies’ health clubs had proliferated in cities in reaction against the pollution crisis By providing fossil fuels for farm machinery and commercial fertilizers that greatly increased agricultural productivity, the Industrial Revolution pushed many farmers off the land and into the city where new industrial jobs beckoned.
The urban population grew rapidly in the 19th century. Immigrants, for instance, accounted for at least 70% of the populations of New York, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, and Chicago (Bailes, 1985).
Coal mines,metal-working factories, and textile mills, which were filled with many risks to health and safety, also developed rapidly. Because factories and people were concentrated increasingly in cities, industrial and human waste also accumulated there as well.
Motor vehicles are the main source of air pollution in the United States in the 1990s.They account for about half the hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions that together form the smog in most U.S. cities.
They emit up to 90 % of the carbon monoxide and more than half of other toxic pollutants in the air—all despite the most stringent emissions control program for motor vehicles in automaker, has been named California’s largest producer of ozone-depleting-0chemicals (Crawford, 1994).
During the peacetime economy after World War II, a variety of new products and materials, such as detergents, synthetic fibers, plastics, and pesticides, enriched life while threatening the environment. The chemical plants that manufacture these items from petroleum, natural gas, or coal tarSitu-Liu, Yingyi, and David Emmons.
Corporate Environmental Crime 49 generate excess heat, toxic gases, and hazardous waste as typical byproducts. Workers and downwind neighbors suffer from some of the highestcancer rates in the nation.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have depleted the atmosphere’s ozone layer, which filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. As a consequence, the incidence of skin cancer and cataracts will increase, and human immune systems’ defenses against many diseases will be weakened. Despite efforts to develop CFC substitutes, DuPont Corporation remains the world’s largest producer of ozone-depleting substances.
General Electric Company,for example, discharged about 500,000 pounds of poly chlorinated phenytoin the Hudson River during a 30-year period.
General Motors Corporation was alleged to have caused groundwater contamination by emitting large quantities of toxic poly chlorinated phenytoin (PCBs) near Michigan’s Rogue River.
State regulators sought more than $32 million in penalties. The EPA estimates that at least 1 million of the estimated 6 million underground tanks used to store petroleum, gasoline, solvents, and other hazardous chemicals throughout the United States are leaking their contents into groundwater.
The Dumping pesticides such as DDT on the developing world has not been without dangerous consequences. Ignorance by developing world residents about the proper use of pesticides has resulted in injury and even death.
Manyagricultural workers in Latin America, for example, cannot read the instructions and warning labels printed in English or Spanish on pesticide containers(Weir & Schapiro, 1981).
Thus, U.S. residents have become indirect victimsof corporations’ pesticide dumping overseas. Explaining Corporate Environmental Crime Corporate environmental crime is best understood as one type of corporate crime.
Theories that illuminate corporate crime in general also shed light on corporate environmental crime in particular. The best explanations are integrative, to borrow the term of Frank and Lynch (1992);