In researching economic damage from various pollutants, I often find that it's very random sources that inform me of various pollutants I need to be mindful of in calculations. Is there any kind of overarching list of known problematic pollutants that one needs to consider in calculations for environmental factors?

For instance, you might have pesticides, heavy metal aerosols, heavy metal colloids and solutions, fertilizer runoff, sewage, etc. But, how do I know there aren't more? There must be some kind of standard list, maybe the European Union or one of the environmental agencies in North America has a list of pollution categories that damage the environment.

  • $\begingroup$ It might also depend on the type of environment: air, land, water - land based (rivers, lakes, dams & wet lands) or water - oceans. There also might be a time factor or usage element, as some pollutant degrade over time & no longer remain an issue. As for usage some pollutants may be used for a period of time & then discontinued, such as DDT, CFCs, PCBs, Pb from lead paints or tetraethyl lead. It would also depend on local factors. Radiation would be an issue around Fukushima, Chernobyl, ex Soviet submarine dumping ground, or nuclear reactors, but not in the Amazon, Sahara or Antarctica. $\endgroup$ – Fred Oct 4 '20 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ Rural pollution & urban pollution may involve different items. Rural: dust - from soil or grains, pesticides. Water pollution. Consider hazardous materials, 2 $\endgroup$ – Fred Oct 5 '20 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ When you deal with organic pollutants in the water, you might use the "Stockholm Convention" as a basis. In addition, you ave heavy metals (inorganic pollutants) and mercury (particularly methyl-mercury) in the water and in marine biota. $\endgroup$ – daniel.heydebreck Oct 6 '20 at 12:42

In the USA there are two classifications of airborne pollutants. They are

There are 6 separate air pollutants. These make the bulk of the regulation, especially for the Clean Air Act. Each pollutant has different standards to adhere to. Examples include lead, ozone, and particulate matter.

This is a list of 187 pollutants. These are cancer-causing pollutants, but are usually in pretty low concentrations. Examples include asbestos, lead, and benzene.


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