The question of regulating point-source pollution within private businesses

The question of regulating point-source pollution within private businesses
Polina D

Many of the daily activities undertaken by the general populace, including the utilization of various modes of transportation and the combustion of fossil fuels for electricity generation, culminate in the discharge of pollutants into the surrounding environment. There are two main types of pollution: point-source pollution and non-point-source pollution. Point source pollution is an immediately defined source or location of contamination, such as municipal and industrial discharge pipes where contaminants reach the supply of water. Non-point source pollution refers to contamination sources that cannot be recognized, such as agricultural runoff and acid rain (Point vs. Non-Point). Point-source pollution is crucial to control due to its identifiable and concentrated pollutant discharges, leading to simpler treatment and mitigation. UN Member States “recognize the need to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination by 2030” ("International Day of Clean"). 

The issue of regulating point-source pollution within private businesses is a complex one due to the need to reconcile environmental protection with economic interests, compliance challenges, and diverse risks and issues. Some of the major point-source pollutants that are human-generated and can be regulated within private businesses are water and air pollution. In Asia, man-made sources such as fossil fuel burning (for power production and transportation fuels), agricultural burning, garbage burning, and industrial activities account for 82% of total urban ambient air pollution caused by PM2.5 (fine inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller.) Businesses must recognize any negative effects of their activities and take action to prevent air pollution caused by their operations, both directly and indirectly ("CLEAN AIR AND THE BUSINESS").

Calumet River point-source industrial pollution (Photograph by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Regarding water pollution, point sources are commonly found in factories and sewage treatment plants. Businesses, such as oil refineries, pulp, and paper mills, electronics, and car factories, commonly release one or more pollutants in their discharged waterways (known as effluents) ("Point Source"). Due to an overwhelming amount of damage to bio-life in water bodies caused by water pollution, the Clean Water Act created the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to manage point source releases. Through the NPDES scheme, companies, sewage treatment facilities, and other point sources must get a permit from the state and EPA (Environmental Protection Association) before releasing waste or effluent into any kind of water (Point vs. Non-Point). This system was an effective solution as it was a way to avoid point-source pollution from many businesses all over the world as many countries found these U.S regulations effective and followed the example. 

Regulating point source pollution is important for future generations because it helps preserve the quality of the water, air, and ecosystems they depend on for their health and well-being. By controlling point source pollution, we can minimize long-term environmental damage and ensure a healthier, more sustainable planet for generations to come. By adopting green and eco-friendly technologies, being mindful of their environmental impact, implementing effective waste management practices, and replacing unsustainable materials in their operations, businesses can significantly reduce the likelihood of uncontrollable, severe pollution and the associated risks for future generations ("What You Can Do For Business").



Works Cited 


"Future Effects of Pollution." Sciencing, 11 Dec. 2018, Accessed 6 Oct. 2023. 

"International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, 7 September." United Nations, Accessed 5 Oct. 2023. 

National Geographic Society. "Point Source and Nonpoint Sources of Pollution." National Geographic, André Gabrielli, 19 Oct. 2023, Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.

"Point Source." National Ocean Service, Accessed 5 Oct. 2023. 

Point vs. Non-Point Water Pollution: What's the Difference? Office of Response and Restoration, 16 Nov. 2016, Accessed 5 Oct. 2023. 

"What You Can Do For Business: Pollution Prevention (P2)." UTAH an official website, Accessed 5 Oct. 2023.