Industrial pollution is pollution which can be directly linked with industry, in contrast to other pollution sources. This form of pollution is one of the leading causes of pollution worldwide; in the United States, for example, the Environmental Protective Agency estimates that up to 50% of the nation's pollution is caused by industry. Because of its size and scope, industrial pollution is a serious problem for the entire planet, especially in nations which are rapidly industrializing, like China.
This form of pollution dates back to antiquity, but widespread industrial pollution accelerated rapidly in the 1800s, with the start of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution mechanized means of production, allowing for a much greater volume of production, and generating a corresponding increase in pollution. The problem was compounded by the use of fuels like coal, which is notoriously unclean, and a poor understanding of the causes and consequences of pollution.
There are a number of forms of industrial pollution. One of the most common is water pollution, caused by dumping of industrial waste into waterways, or improper containment of waste, which causes leakage into groundwater and waterways. Industrial pollution can also impact air quality, and it can enter the soil, causing widespread environmental problems.
Because of the nature of the global environment, industrial pollution is never limited to industrial nations. Samples of ice cores from Antarctica and the Arctic both show high levels of industrial pollutants, illustrating the immense distances which pollutants can travel, and traces of industrial pollutants have been identified in isolated human, animal, and plant populations as well.
Industrial pollution hurts the environment in a range of ways, and it has a negative impact on human lives and health. Pollutants can kill animals and plants, imbalance ecosystems, degrade air quality radically, damage buildings, and generally degrade quality of life. Factory workers in areas with uncontrolled industrial pollution are especially vulnerable.
A growing awareness of factory pollution and its consequences has led to tighter restrictions on pollution all over the world, with nations recognizing that they have an obligation to protect themselves and their neighbors from pollution. However, industrial pollution also highlights a growing issue: the desire of developing nations to achieve first world standards of living and production. As these countries industrialize, they add to the global burden of industrial pollution, triggering serious discussions and arguments about environmental responsibility and a desire to reach a global agreement on pollution issues.