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Pollution is the contamination of air, water, or earth by harmful substances. Concern for pollution developed alongside concerns for the environment. The advent of automobiles, increase of chemical and nuclear wastes, and accumulation of garbage in landfills created a need for legislation specifically aimed at decreasing pollution.

Among the landmark acts designed to preserve the environment is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (42 U.S.C. § 6901 et seq.), which is a comprehensive regulatory statute aimed at controlling solid waste disposal. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA) (42 U.S.C. § 10101 et seq.) aims to make the disposal of nuclear wastes safer. In addition, the Clean Air Act (CAA) (42 U.S.C. § 7401 et seq.) regulates air emissions; the Clean Water Act (CWA) (33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq.) regulates the discharge of pollutants into water and sets up quality standards for surface waters. More federal laws that aim to protect the environment could be found here on the United States Environmental Protection Agency website: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/laws-and-executive-orders 

See also environmental law; the Library of Congress research guide.

U.S. Constitution and Federal Statutes
Federal Judicial Decisions
State Statutes

Category: Environmental Law

Category: Hazardous Waste

[Last updated in February of 2024 by the Wex Definitions Team]