What Does Pollution Abatement Mean?

Some major cities have implemented smog abatement strategies to improve air quality.
••• Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images

Pollution abatement refers to any measure taken to reduce, control or eliminate pollution from a given environment. Abatement measures can be technological, like catalytic converters on vehicles to reduce air pollution, or they may be regulatory, like laws limiting the amount of solid waste a sewage management facility can release into a waterway. Abatement measures may also be behavioral, like turning down a home thermostat a degree or two in winter to reduce electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Air

Smog, ground-level ozone pollution, acid rain and climate change influenced by greenhouse gas emissions are all products of fossil-fuel combustion, whether for industrial processes, electricity generation or gasoline-powered vehicles. Examples of contemporary abatement strategies include requiring smoke-stack scrubbers on coal-fired power plants to reduce emissions of sulfur and nitrogen dioxides and placing caps on carbon emissions to reduce greenhouse gases.

Soil

Land pollution can come from a variety of sources. Landfills, chemical and fuel refinery leaks or spills and industrial agricultural techniques that require heavy use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers all contribute to soil pollution. Abatement measures include eliminating lead from fuels to reduce lead pollution of the soil, requiring underground liners for landfills, voluntary recycling programs, regulating fuel and chemical production to minimize risks of spills or leaks and exploring alternative agricultural methods to reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides.

Water

Water pollution usually comes in one of two major forms, point source pollution and nonpoint source pollution. Point sources include specific release of pollutants into waterways, like industrial effluents or untreated sewage. Nonpoint sources are not locally specific and include pollution from storm water runoff in urban areas and pollutant leaching from contaminated soils. Abatement measures include requiring treatment of sewage waste water solids, installation of storm runoff retention systems (also called wet ponds) in areas with a high density of impervious surfaces and educating the public about the dangers of storm water pollutants to streams, rivers and aquifers.

Energy Conservation

Another basic but important pollution abatement strategy includes what many call reducing your carbon footprint. More people using fewer resources and less energy reduces pollution impacts on a larger scale. Examples of conservation include: using cleaner-burning fuels and renewable sources of energy like solar or wind power, using public transportation or carpooling, recycling and reusing paper, plastics and metals, insulating your home to make it more energy-efficient, installing energy-efficient appliances, and buying locally produced goods to reduce the need for shipping of products over long distances.

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