WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460





     Americans today are very concerned about pollution and the damage it is
     causing to our environment. This is understandable. Each of us, old
     and young alike, wants this to be a good world in which to live. We
recognize that the world belongs to all of us and all of us, therefore, have a
responsibility for making the world today and, more importantly, the world
tomorrow, an even better place to live.
    What we do, now and in the next few years, will largely determine the
kind of place in which you will live. And you, in turn, as you become an
adult, will have to help determine the actions which must be taken in order
to have a clean, wholesome, livable world for your children.
    To do that, you  need to know and to understand  our environmental
problems. You need to know what your government is doing to make and
keep the world a good  place in which to live, and you need to know what you
can do to help. That is why the  U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency is
publishing this book.
    You will find that there are many ways you can help to improve the
environment now. In your own town and neighborhood, for example, people
of all ages can join the fight against litter in our parks, playgrounds and
streets. Each  of us can help protect the plants and trees that purify our air.
Each of us can avoid the wastefulness that adds to our ugly, unsanitary
dumps  and uses up our valuable resources. Each of us can demand that
standards and regulations  for pollution control be set and enforced.  We
are sure you and your classmates will be able to think of many more ways in
which you can become good environmentalists. And if you start now, you
will be able to intelligently and responsibly participate in the many difficult
decisions your generation will have to make about the environment.
    Some of these decisions will be personal ones—such as which product
to buy, what to  repair and what to throw away,  how to take care of your
own house and property. Others will be public decisions—about laws and
regulations and government policy—that affect the lives of all. But, make no
mistake, they will be your  decisions.
    We constantly must remember, that in our nation even the biggest and
most important decisions are really made by all of us, acting together as  a
government "of the people, by the people and for the people."
    So it's up to us! It's your world and my world, and only we can make
sure that it's a good world.
                                               WILLIAM D. RUCKELSHAUS


Earth Is a Spaceship
      Have you sometimes wished you could go with the astronauts on a trip
      into space? Well, all of us really are on a spaceship—the earth itself.
      At this very moment, Planet Earth is moving around the sun at more
than 18 miles per second. On board are nearly four billion people and a
limited supply of air, water and land. These supplies—just like the air in the
astronauts' spaceship—must be  constantly used, purified and reused,  for
that's all there is, there is no "space shop" where we can get new supplies.

     In  proportion to the earth's size, the layer of air that surrounds our
globe is no thicker than the skin on an apple. A shallow crust on the earth's
surface  has  all  the   soil   and   water  that  will  ever be   available
to earth's people. This tiny envelope of air and this crust of earth  and water
are called the biosphere—that part of our world that makes life possible.
This is the environment on which our lives depend.

     The biosphere is a "closed system" because nothing new is ever added.
Nature recycles  all things  and uses them again and again. Water,  for ex-
ample, evaporates and floats in invisible droplets into the air to make clouds.
Sooner or later, this same water conies back to earth as rain or snow or hail
or sleet. It nourishes the plants and trees. It trickles over rocks and into the
rivers where oxygen in the air helps to remove impurities it may have picked
up on its  way. The rivers flow into the oceans, and the great water cycle
begins again. The  rain that falls on your house is actually  the same water
that fell on dinosaurs 70 million years ago.

     You probably know other ways  in which  this great natural recycling
works—how the air is purified by trees and plants and how fallen leaves and
other natural "wastes" nourish the soil for new crops.

     Today, Spaceship Earth is in trouble because of the careless way we
have used our limited  supplies. Thousands of years ago there  were few
people on earth, and they lived simple lives of hunting and fishing. They did
little to affect  their environment. But the number of people increased. And
as the years passed, we learned to make greater use of the earth's resources.


     We took such things as wood  and metals and various chemicals and
combined them in new ways to make things like refrigerators, automobiles
and airplanes that are supposed to make our lives easier and pleasanter. We
built great cities. We learned to grow great amounts of food by using chem-
ical  fertilizers and pesticides. We made medicines to heal the sick. We
learned how to produce energy for light and heat—from coal, oil and even
nuclear fission. But what we failed to  realize was that, in  doing all these
things, we were actually rearranging things on Spaceship Earth in ways that
interfere with its system of recycling and purification.
     Now we are pouring back into our land, air and water more wastes than
nature's system can handle. Some of these are different kinds of wastes that
resist the natural recycling process.  So  we have pollution. And  along with
pollution, we have many other unpleasant changes in our environment—un-
usable water, land erosion, noise, smog and ugliness.

     These things not only make the Earth less pleasant, but they also en-
danger fish, birds and other wild things that share our world and that are
important to us.  And pollution is a real threat to human health and well-
being. Indeed,  many scientists believe that,  if we do not soon change our
ways, the earth will one day become so polluted that human beings will no
longer be able to survive on it.

     We must change our habits. Of course, we have to go on using the air
and water and the earth's resources; we need these for food and shelter, as
well  as for other products  that make our lives comfortable and convenient.
But we must learn to use these resources without destroying them.
     We have to stop dumping our wastes into the air and water. We have to
begin recycling paper,  metal and other valuable materials. Many things we
now throw away are made from resources that can be reused, but never can
be replaced. Even the smoke you see coming out of stacks often contains
chemical substances that have important uses in industry; many can be re-
captured and used instead of being expelled into the air  where they are
     If we want to save Spaceship Earth, we have to learn to cooperate with
nature—by using, but not  abusing, the environment on which our  lives


 What EPA Is and Does
    The  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established on
    December 2, 1970 to lead the Nation's fight against pollution. It reports
    directly to the President.
    It is in charge of Federal programs to control air and water pollution
and other environmental problems caused by solid wastes, pesticides, radia-
tion and noise. Its authority to control pollution by setting standards and
enforcing  regulations is  made possible  by  the  various laws passed by
    The President, with the consent of Congress, decided  it was best to have
a single, independent agency  so that all environmental problems  could be
considered as a whole. In this way,we can be  sure that in reducing air pollu-
tion, for example, we  don't add to  water pollution  or  make some other
environmental problem worse.
    All levels of government and all our citizens must join the effort to save
our environment. To help them, EPA has set up 10 regional offices in dif-
ferent parts of the country. EPA's  regional office specialists are experts in
pollution prevention and  control. They also know a lot about the problems
of their  area.  The list on page  48  tells  you which  regional  office serves
your State.
    Here are some of the important things EPA does:
     •  It is our Federal environmental "policeman."
    EPA makes people stop polluting  by setting and enforcing environ-
mental standards. This is important because  the standards define the kinds
and amounts  of pollutants that must be kept from entering our environment.
    The standards also set up timetables for cleaning up pollution. Some-
times they say everyone must immediately stop putting a particular chemical
into air or water or on crops and fields;  this  is done if the pollutant is dan-
gerous.  If there is no immediate danger, some time may be allowed to install
machinery in  manufacturing plants or make other changes to remove the
    For some types of pollution EPA has a lot of authority to set standards
and enforce them; for others, most authority is with the  State or local gov-
ernments. It depends on the nature of the problem.

I                In general, Congress decided that strong Federal authority is needed to
I           curb pollution that crosses State boundaries (as air and water pollution often
i           do), or where it would be difficult for the States to make or enforce the laws
I           (such as in making sure all  new cars are low-polluting). Problems, like keep-
i           ing streets clean or collecting garbage or building parks, are handled by State
I           and local governments.
                But on the big problems of national pollution, EPA makes sure that the
           same rules are followed all over the country. It uses the best research and
           knowledge available to decide what is  harmful  in  the environment and
           should be banned or limited.
                • It finds out new things about pollution and pollution  control through
                EPA studies our air and land, our rivers, lakes and oceans, to find out
           just what pollutants are there and where they come from. There are so many
           things released into the environment that it is hard to keep track of exactly
           what they are and how they all interact with each other.
                It also  does experiments in its laboratories to find out what effect pol-
           lutants have on our health and on plants and animals. It studies the findings
           of other scientists all over the world.too. This is how it determines what and
           how standards should be set.
                EPA also develops new methods for controlling pollution such as ways
           of purifying sewage water, keeping harmful smoke and gases out of the air,
           preventing oil spills and recycling trash and garbage.
               The agency has four  National  Environmental Research  Centers—at
           Cincinnati, O.: Research Triangle Park, N.C.; Las Vegas, Nev.. and Corvallis,
           Ore.  There  are also 36 other EPA  laboratories that do special kinds
           of research, such as  the effects of  pollution on  shellfish,  the control  of
           pollutants from automobiles, the effects  of radiation on human health and
           many more. In addition to its own  work. EPA has universities and  other
           scientific institutions  doing research.
                •  It helps State and local governments.
                EPA helps State and local governments  fight pollution by sending them
           the new information  it develops through research, especially about ways to
           control pollution. The people in the regional offices are always ready to help
           solve pollution problems. EPA gives  money to help run State and local en-
           vironmental  control programs and to construct  sewage treatment plants. It

also provides money to cities, counties or States to build experimental facil-
ities  that demonstrate new ways of controlling pollution; these are called
demonstration grants.
     • It trains more pollution experts.
     Because many highly skilled people are needed to solve environmental
problems, EPA conducts short-term schools for employees of State and local
governments and industry in control techniques and pollution program man-
agement. It gives fellowships to students for advanced training in the environ-
mental sciences, and it supports the  teaching of environmental courses in

     • It helps citizens be good environmentalists.
     EPA  thinks it is very important that everyone has the information
needed to make decisions about the environment  right in his or her own
     It holds many public hearings  before various standards  and regula-
tions are made final. At these hearings, anyone who wishes can come and say
whether he thinks the  standards are good or necessary, and suggest changes.
Citizens can also attend local town council and zoning board meetings where
important environmental decisions are made. They also must vote on State
laws and local bond issues that affect pollution control, and  they have to
judge how  different candidates  for public office will decide environmental
matters. Private citizens may even file lawsuits against polluters and against
the government. So every citizen should know all he can about  what is good
and bad in  the environment. EPA helps here too, by making available book-
lets, films and other information on environmental problems.
     You make environmental decisions every day.  The moment you decide
what to do  with an empty candy wrapper or soft-drink bottle, you have made
an environmental decision. When you help plant a tree or a shrub or go out
to spray the insects in your garden or burn leaves, you are making an en-
vironmental decision.  Each of  us  makes many such decisions  every day.
Some are easy, others are  complex, and it is hard to make the  better choice
unless we have all the facts.
     So EPA tries to make all its scientific information widely available and
understandable to  help people to make sensible choices about the kind of
environment they want, and what they must do to get it.


     • It helps other Federal agencies work for a better environment.
     When you stop to think that the environment is practically everything,
you realize that almost anything we do affects the environment in some way.
You can see that EPA cannot be in charge of the whole environment.
     Other government agencies take many actions that help determine the
kind of world we live in. From your study of government, you know that one
department is concerned with agriculture. Others  are responsible for dams,
highways or airports. Still others are concerned with parks, forests and wild-
life, maintaining our harbors and other things that affect the environment.
     The National Environmental  Policy Act was  designed to make  sure
that  all departments of government work towards the same purpose. When-
ever a department is planning any major project, it must think about whether
it will affect the environment. Under the law, each Federal agency must pre-
pare a statement   that  tells in advance what affect the proposed action will
have on the environment.  This is submitted  to the President's Council on
Environmental Quality and is reviewed by EPA and other  agencies.
       The National Environmental Policy Act, signed into law on Janu-
  ary 1, 1970 said that the United States intends to "maintain conditions
  under which man and nature can  exist in productive harmony and ful-
  fill the social,  economic and other requirements of present and future
  generations of Americans."

       Other nations are also concerned about changes in their parts  of
  the world, and efforts are under way for a cooperative worldwide  fight
  against pollution problems. EPA already works with many other coun-
  tries to make our country a better country and our world a better world.


We  Need  Clean Air
     The dark smoke you see coming out of stacks or from a burning dump,
     contains particulate matter—that is, tiny particles of solid or liquid
     matter. This is a form of air pollution; but there are also many gases,
most of which are not so visible. Altogether, they make up the serious air pol-
lution that, in so many places, keeps us from seeing the sun and often irri-
tates our eyes or causes us to cough or makes us ill.

     Every year, over 280 million tons of wastes are released into the air
over the United States. (You must not forget that gases—even ordinary fresh
air—have weight). This is where they come from:
     •  51 percent from transportation (chiefly the internal combustion en-
          gines that power our automobiles and planes)
     •   16 percent from burning fuel in furnaces and power generators
     •  14 percent from industrial processes
     •   4 percent from burning of trash and other solid wastes
     •  15 percent from forest fires and other miscellaneous sources.

     Among the main classes of pollutants, in addition to particulate matter,
are sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide,  hydrocarbons  and  nitrogen oxides.
Sometimes these  combine in the atmosphere to form  new classes of pol-
lutants. By the action of sunlight, nitrogen oxides can combine with gaseous
hydrocarbons to form photochemical oxidants. These sting the eyes and have
other harmful effects. They are an important part of the famous Los Angeles
"smog." That city has lots of sunshine, as well as frequent "temperature in-
versions" that keep pollutants from rising and trap them  in stagnant  air.
Photochemical  oxidants may form a brownish haze over your own city, es-
pecially in nice weather and in times of high auto traffic.
     Air pollution can spread from city to city. It even spreads from  one
country to another.  Some northern European countries have  experienced
"black  snow" from pollutants that  have traveled through the atmosphere
from other countries and fallen with the snow. So environmental pollution
is really a global problem.


     When air pollution is bad, it can be a killer, especially of babies, old
people and those who have respiratory diseases. In London, in 1952, four
thousand people died in one week as a result of a serious air pollution epi-
sode. In  1948, in the small town of Donora, Pa., 20 people died  in a four-day
period of bad air pollution.
     We know that  at levels frequently found in our cities,  air pollution in-
creases the incidence of certain lung diseases, such as emphysema, bronchitis
and asthma.  Of course, smoking and other factors help to cause these ail-
ments, too, but these cases have  increased dramatically during recent years
as air pollution has become worse.
     We know, too, that air pollution can cause both airplane and auto acci-
dents because it cuts  down visibility.
     But there are other possible health dangers from air pollution that we
don't know much about. For example, scientists are now trying to determine
whether certain chemicals that reach us from the air  may create changes in
our cells, changes which might cause babies to be born with serious defects.
There are many other things we are still trying to learn more about; one is
how all the many chemicals we are apt to take into our bodies  from air and
water and food and even medicines act together to affect our health and the
way our bodies function. That is another reason why it is  so  important to
begin to control  pollution now  instead of waiting until we learn all the
answers about just how bad it could be.
     Have you ever considered just how much money air pollution costs us
now? It soils  and corrodes our buildings. It damages farm crops and forests.
It has a destructive effect on our  art treasures. The cost of all this damage in
the United States is estimated at more than $16 billion every year—far more
than the cost  of controlling air pollution would be.
     The Federal government began to do research on air  pollution in 1955.
In 1963, Congress passed the Clean Air Act which authorized financial help
to State and  local air pollution control programs. Later the Clean  Air Act
was amended to give some new ways to fight air pollution. But it was only in
1970 that Congress authorized EPA to establish national air quality stand-
ards. This was an important change, because it meant that all parts of our
country have  to clean up their air to meet the national standards.
     This is the way  your Government is now fighting air  pollution:
     • EPA  established national air quality standards in  1971. They define


just how much of the principal pollutants will be allowed in the air. First,
they tell the maximum amount of each pollutant that can be permitted in
order to protect our health; these are primary standards. Next, they tell the
maximum amount of each pollutant that can be permitted to prevent other
undesirable effects; these are secondary standards.
     • All of our States and territories must now clean up their  air to meet
these  national  air quality standards. Each State has developed a plan which
is to insure that the primary standards (those required to protect our health)
will be met by the middle of 1975. Some extra time will be permitted to make
the air clean enough to meet the secondary standards. These State plans are
called implementation plans, and they must all be approved by EPA. If any
State  should fail to do the things required by its implementation  plan, EPA
can step in and see that they are done. So, if you live in a badly polluted
area,  you should begin to notice a big improvement in the air you breathe
within the next few years.
     Find out  what is being done in your own community under your State
plan to  clean up the air. Probably open burning is no longer permitted. Fac-
tories, power plants and incinerators may be required to install control equip-
ment  or close  down. Perhaps there are plans to limit automobile  traffic in
certain  areas or during certain  hours,  because auto exhausts contribute so
much pollution. If so, this may mean that public transportation—bus, train
or subway—will have to be improved, and people may have to use more car-
pools. Some people won't like changes of this sort, but they should change
their minds when they see how much cleaner the air will be.

     • To make sure  that new  plants and factories, or those that are being
enlarged or changed in some way, do not pollute, EPA has established and
will enforce emission standards for  certain industries. These require such
plants to use the best possible methods to keep pollution down to an absolute
minimum. They are different from the air quality standards because they tell
the plant exactly what may be allowed to come out of its stacks.

     • Certain pollutants are known  to be  extremely harmful to human
health. Among these are beryllium, mercury and asbestos. EPA has  proposed
emission standards for such  pollutants which must  be  observed by  all
plants, old or new.

     • Automobiles are among our worst polluters, so EPA establishes and
enforces emission standards for all new model cars. Since 1968, all new cars
have been required to reduce pollution levels. The newest standards require
that, by  1975, the carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons in auto emissions be
reduced by 90 percent below 1970 model cars, and that nitrogen oxides from
 1976 models be 90 percent less polluting than the 1971 models. During
 1972, emission standards for aircraft are also being established.
     The best answer to auto pollution would be to develop power sources
that don't emit  harmful pollutants.   Some engineers are working to make
the gasoline internal combustion engine—the kind most cars now use—non-
polluting. Others believe the best  solution would be a different engine alto-
gether. EPA is doing research itself, as well as encouraging others to develop
a truly non-polluting vehicle.
     Of course, even if we had a non-polluting car today, there would still
be lots of old cars on the road, so we would still have pollution from this
source for some time to come.
     You can see that we can't cure air pollution just by ordering everybody
to stop  polluting. If we  did that, most of our factories  and power plants
would have to close down, and we couldn't even drive our cars. But we can
clean up our air in the next few years if we are all willing to change our ways
of doing things—ways that cause air pollution—just as quickly as we can.



 We  Need Clean  Water
      Not so many years ago, most streams  and lakes  in  America were
      sparkling and clean. People could swim and fish in them without be-
      ing afraid of becoming sick. But as our nation grew bigger, we built
towns and factories on the banks of these streams and lakes,  and every year
we dumped more and more wastes into them. People thought that the water
would carry the wastes away and purify itself. This  was  true when  the
amount  of  wastes  was small, but as our population has grown, the greater
amounts of wastes have not been properly handled.
     What we have done is to overload the natural water recycling system of
Spaceship Earth. Now most of our streams and lakes  show some signs of
man's abuse, and many are grossly polluted. The Cuyahoga  River in Ohio,
for  example, had  so much rubble and oily pollution in  it, that it actually
caught fire a few years ago.
     Did you know that lakes can die? One of our beautiful  Great Lakes—
Lake Erie—is not dead, but it is in serious  trouble as a result of what is
called eutrophication or aging. This is a  natural process  for all  bodies  of
water, but it is speeded up today by man's pollution. Certain  pollutants, in-
cluding  the phosphates, for example, stimulate  too much  plant  growth and
otherwise disturb the ecological balance of the lake.  According  to scientists,
pollution has aged Lake Erie many years in a relatively short time. To save
it, we must stop dumping wastes into the  Lake and  take positive action  to
clean it  up.
     Marine scientists have found that even the ocean depths show the effects
of pollution. And in shallower waters near our coasts, contamination pre-
vents the harvesting of fish and shellfish in many areas. Oil—accidentally
spilled or even deliberately dumped in the ocean—has become a big problem
because it spoils our beaches and destroys fish and sea birds.
     The water that we drink is ordinarily taken from the best and least pol-
luted source, then treated to make sure it is safe for drinking.  But you  can
see  that with so much pollution, it gets more difficult to find good water and
to make sure that  it is properly treated. Even water far  below the ground,
from which many cities get their drinking water, is sometimes polluted  by
poisonous wastes seeping into the soil.


     Where does all this water pollution come from? Here are some of the
most important facts:
     • More than 1,416 communities discharge their sewage into waterways
without any treatment whatever. And more  than 2,300 communities use
just primary treatment,  which removes only 30 to 40 percent of some pol-
lutants. Within your lifetime, sewage wastes in the United States are expected
to increase by nearly four times. So you can see how important it is to build
better, more advanced sewage treatment plants that can remove almost all
     • The largest amount and the most poisonous of pollutants come from
industrial  plants. There  are about 240,000 plants  that  use water to carry
away all kinds of chemical wastes.
     • Big oil spills from vessels and from off-shore drilling have caused
serious damage. In addition, smaller amounts, totaling thousands of barrels
of oil, are  wasted or spilled every day in streams and lakes across the country.
     •  Huge feedlots, contained areas  where  thousands  of cattle or other
animals are fattened for  the market,  cause a problem because animal wastes
seep into the ground and get into waterways.
     •  Fertilizer and pesticides run off from our fields and forests.
     •  Wastes from mining operations drain into the water.
     •  Water, principally used to cool electric power generators, is put back
into streams still  hot from the power plants.  This thermal pollution often
changes plant and animal life by raising water temperature.
     •  Sewage from big ocean liners and small  pleasure boats is dumped into
our waters. Leaking gasoline and oil from boat motors are also pollutants.
    The Federal government began its efforts to clean up the Nation's waters
in 1948.  The early  Federal program was amended several times over the
years and was then  revised and greatly  strengthened by Congress in 1972.
Here are some of the ways EPA now fights water pollution under the Federal
Water Pollution Control Act:
     •  EPA gives money to communities to help  them build sewage treat-
ment plants.
     • EPA helps train men and women to design and operate sewage treat-
ment plants.
     •  EPA gives money to the States  to  help them carry on  their water
pollution  control programs.

     • EPA establishes various standards to make sure  that water pollu-
 tants from factories and community sewage treatment plants do not harm
 our health. The standards also seek to protect our water supplies; to protect
 fish and wildlife that live in or depend upon water; to make and keep  the
 water clean enough for swimming, water  skiing and boating:  and to make
 sure  that industries and farmers have water that is safe enough to use in
 manufacturing the  products  and growing the food we need and want.
     Some standards set limits on the amounts of pollutants that may  be dis-
 charged  into  the water. Some standards define how factories and sewage
 treatment plants can operate with a minimum of water pollution.
     • Some pollutants are so dangerous that they are never allowed to be
 discharged into the  water, in any amount. These include radiological, chemi-
 cal and biological warfare materials and high-level radioactive wastes.
     • To make sure that clean water will be achieved, the Federal law pro-
 hibits discharges of  pollutants into the water without a permit. Permits  are
 issued by  EPA, or by a State government if EPA approves the State's permit
     The permit is a most important part  of the water pollution control pro-
 gram, for each permit applies  various standards to a specific polluter.  The
 permit tells a polluter what pollutants, and how much, he may discharge into
 the water. If the polluter cannot meet the standards immediately, the permit
 tells him exactly when he must do so over a period of time.
    A permit for discharging pollutants is like a contract  between the gov-
 ernment and a polluter. It requires the polluter to reduce  his discharges  to
 meet government standards. It contains clear deadlines for action. And all
 permits are made public, so anyone can find out if polluters are living up to
 the conditions of their permits on schedule.
     • EPA also sets standards to control sewage discharges from ships and
 boats (except small ones, like canoes and rowboats). EPA also sets stand-
 ards for the cleanup of oil spills and other hazardous substances, and EPA
can require anyone spilling oil  or other hazardous materials into the water
to pay the  cleanup costs.
    •  Anyone violating the water pollution control law may be  fined up to
$25,000 a day  and be given one year  in  prison.  In emergencies, EPA has
the power to take whatever action is necessary to stop or prevent water pol-

lution that is an immediate danger to people's health.
     •  In addition, under another law, EPA regulates the dumping of wastes
into the oceans to protect human health, to safeguard the ocean environment
and its ecological  systems, and to protect the recreation and scenic values of
the ocean. And under still another law, EPA recommends standards  for
drinking water supplies, to help cities and towns keep their drinking water
     In general, EPA's water pollution control  programs require polluters to
use what the  law calls the "best  practicable"  technology  for controlling
water pollution by July 1,  1977, and then to use the "best available" control
methods by July 1, 1983.
     The combination of strict standards, good technology and fair but firm
enforcement should enable the United States to achieve two goals established
by Congress for our waters. The first goal  is, wherever possible, water that
is clean enough for swimming and clean enough for fish and  wildlife by July
1,  1983. The second goal is no more discharges of any pollutants into our
streams, rivers, lakes and oceans by 1 985.


The  Things  We  Throw Away

    Even the earliest cavemen had some things to throw away. Their dis-
    carded stone  tools, and the charred remains of their cooking fires which
    sometimes are found today show us what their life was like. Of course,
not much remains  because most of what they threw away was animal or vege-
table matter that  quickly returned to the earth by nature's own recycling
    Even our early American ancestors didn't have to worry much about
disposing of trash. They wasted very little, and their wastes were largely
simple, natural materials. But our lives are different today, and the problem
of getting rid of wastes  (we call it solid waste management) has become a
difficult one to solve.
    America now has a large population, much of it gathered in large cities.
Every year we manufacture, use and throw away more and more. And today
much of what we throw away does not, in fact, go "away" because it  is made
of materials that decay  slowly or not at all.  Our annual "throw-away" in-
cludes  48 billion cans, 26 billion bottles and  jars, 4 million tons of plastic,
7.6 million television sets, 7 million cars and trucks and 30 million tons of
    Much of what we throw away winds up on some open dump. If a dump
is allowed to burn, it pollutes the air. Liquids leaching out of dumps pollute
water.  And, of course, a dump is a good breeding place for disease-carrying
rats and  insects. Open dumps are ugly, smelly and unsanitary. Besides that,
most cities  and towns are running out of places to have  a dump—nobody
wants one near his house.

    Some  cities have big incinerators for  burning trash and garbage,  but
most of these now must add pollution control equipment because they pollute
the air. Quite  a bit of our trash, as you can  see, is not collected at all  but
litters our roads and sidewalks and makes our countryside ugly.

    Today, we are looking for better methods of disposing of things that
cannot be reused.  Also, we are determined to  find ways to recover and reuse

I           valuable resources.  That is why ecology-minded citizens are setting up re-
           cycling centers for paper, cans and bottles in many communities. That is why
)           the Congress passed a law called the  Resource Recovery Act of 1970 to
j           help us find new ways of managing our solid wastes.
                How serious is the solid  waste problem? Look at these statistics:
                • Americans make up  only 7 percent of the world's population but
           we use nearly half of all the industrial raw materials used throughout the
           whole world.

                •  The solid wastes produced in the United States now total 4.3 billion
           tons a year.  Of this amount, 360 million tons are household, municipal and
           industrial wastes.  In addition, 2.3 billion tons  are agricultural wastes, and
           1.7 billion tons  are mineral wastes.

                • Every year, 190 million  tons are collected and hauled away for dis-
           posal at  a cost of over $4.5 billion a year. This amount of trash and garbage
           amounts  to about 6 pounds per day for each and every one of us. By 1980,
           it is expected to  be 8 pounds per  person per day.
                EPA is trying  to  get communities all over the country to use better
           methods of collection and disposal  that  have been developed. It is  also
           working on various ways to salvage usable materials and recycle them back
           into new products.
                In Franklin, Ohio, for example, one advanced recycling plant takes all
           the city's garbage and trash, sorts it mechanically and salvages paper pulp and
           some metals. Glass and other  metals will also eventually be reclaimed. This
           is one of EPA's demonstration projects  to test the process to see if it can be
           used in other communities.
               Other demonstrations show how  solid wastes can be used as fuel to
           generate  heat or power; this is a form of recycling since it recovers energy
           which is  now thrown away. EPA is also developing and testing many other
           recycling ideas. Glass, for example, is being tested as a substitute for gravel
           in making asphalt  or "glassphalt"  for road surfaces. There are also ways of
           transforming  old materials into  new ones by chemical action. EPA is also
           trying to determine what changes  might be required in taxes, freight rates
           and other economic policies to encourage more recycling and reuse of waste

materials. Right now, our production plants often find it cheaper to use new
materials  than  recycled ones,  so there are  not  enough markets for large
amounts of salvage.
     Our  aim is to increase recycling  as fast as we can so that eventually
almost everything usable that we throw away goes back to be used again.
     We must remember, however, that even if we recycled everything we
could, we would still  have the problem  of  disposing of wastes. We must,
therefore, start using better methods of disposal right  away.
     One method of disposal that many communities  can use is the sanitary
landfill. In this  system, wastes are compacted and covered with a layer of
earth each day. Of course, the proper methods must  be used to be sure the
landfill is really sanitary and does not cause any pollution. When completed,
such landfills are used for parks or other recreational uses, making them of
more value to the community than before.
Pests—Some  We  Need,  Some  We  Don't

    Scientists tell us that there are from three to ten million known species of
    insects in the world, and thousands more are identified every year. Many
    of the known insects feed on living plants. Some, such as butterflies and
moths in the larval stage,  can seriously damage a whole  field or forest; yet
later, as adults, they carry the pollen that insures  the growth of new plants.
Some insects are harmful to man because they are disease-carriers, some are
just unpleasant nuisances, while many others are  beneficial because they
destroy insects that cause damage.
     In the United States, we have been using various chemicals for many
years to control insect pests. Among the earliest insecticides were sulfurs and


compounds containing arsenic. Light oils were often used to control mos-
quitoes. Later, man-made organic compounds  (organic me-ans they contain
carbon) were developed. Some of these kill insects long after they are ap-
plied. Chemicals, called  herbicides, were developed to control undesirable
plant growth, and others, fungicides, to protect plants from diseases. Chem-
icals are also used  to control pests  such as rodents. By now, thousands of
such pesticides in liquid, granule and powder form have been used in the
United States. Many people probably use too much pesticide on the theory
that "if a little is good, a  lot is better."
     We know, of course, that these chemicals  are beneficial. They have en-
abled us to increase food production greatly, and they have controlled such
killing diseases as malaria and encephalitis. We know now, however, that
some of these compounds may also seriously damage our environment.
     Some of the newer pesticides are called persistent compounds because
they do not break down readily in nature's recycling system. This is especially
true of the chlorinated hydrocarbons such as DDT. They persist in the en-
vironment  and eventually accumulate in the tissues  of birds, fish, wildlife
and even  man. As larger species feed on smaller ones,  more and more
chemicals are concentrated in their tissues. Some predatory birds, fish and ani-
mals may accumulate levels several  thousand times the concentration found
in the water or air or plants around them because they receive all the chem-
icals stored by all the animals in their "food chain."
     Man is  at the  top of this food chain, and the average American now
carries about eights parts per million of DDT in his fatty tissues. We do not
know if this amount is harmful to  humans. However, we have known for
some years that DDT kills fish and  there is evidence that it threatens other
desirable wildlife species.
     For example, certain bird species now produce fewer offspring, prob-
ably because of pesticide  accumulations in their bodies. Pesticides may cause
birds' eggs to have thin  shells which crush before babies can be hatched.
The brown pelican  and  the peregrine falcon are among birds regarded as
"endangered  species"  because so few young birds are now being hatched
either because of pesticide residues or other environmental factors.
     A large part of the pesticides we use finally reaches the ocean. It is esti-
mated that about one-fourth of the world's entire production of DDT may be

A A    A A

 that damage the environment. EPA can also seize and confiscate unregis-
 tered  pesticides.
     • EPA also sets standards to limit the amount of pesticide residues that
 can be in our food and in feed crops for animals.  These safety  limits—or
 "tolerances," as they are called—protect our health, and the health of ani-
 mals, and are set well below the point at which pesticide residues might be
 harmful. The Food and Drug Administration,  part  of  the  Department of
 Health, Education and Welfare,  enforces the tolerances and may seize any
 food that contains too much pesticides.
      •Anyone  violating   the  pesticide control  laws may  be fined up to
 $25,000, be sentenced  to one year in prison, or both.
     • EPA also monitors pesticides in the environment—in the air, soil,
 water, plants, and in man and animals. EPA also conducts research on the
 effects of pesticides on  the environment, including humans.
     Pest control is necessary if we are to have the food we need and to pro-
 tect our  health. Thus some chemicals will probably always be used to fight
 pests. However, a strange  thing is happening. More and more insects are be-
 coming immune to chemicals that once  killed them. In  some places,  mos-
 quitoes that carry malaria are  increasing and are  even more difficult to
 destroy than before.
     Scientists, in EPA and throughout the world, are therefore seeking  other
 methods of pest control than the use of chemicals. It is known, for instance,
 that some pests that attack crops and livestock can be partly controlled by
 their natural enemies, called predators and  parasites. Some plant varieties
 resist insect and disease damage better than others. Planting different crops
 at different times can also reduce pest infestations.
     Scientists have  also been able to sterilize some male insects by atomic
 radiation and thus prevent massive reproduction of those insects. Sound and
 ultraviolet light can also be used to trap and kill insects.  And  research is
 being done on the use of disease to destroy some insects by using viruses and
 bacteria to kill them. Research is also being done on the  use of hormones to
stop insect growth.
    Eventually, by  combining many methods into an integrated attack on
pests, science hopes to sharply reduce the need for widespread use of chemi-
cal pesticides. Meanwhile, EPA seeks to make sure that  the  chemical pesti-
cides we use are safe and will not endanger the environment.



 The Problems  of Man-Made Radiation

    There are many kinds of radiation but the one that  interests environ-
    mentalists is radioactivity—radiation caused by man-made changes in
    the structure of the atoms of which all matter is composed. Changes in
 the atom release tiny particles of radioactive matter that can be harmful to
 man and other living things.
     Man always has been exposed to radioactivity. It reaches us in cosmic
 rays from the sun  and outer space. It is in the air, ground and rocks—all
 from natural sources.  We have adopted units of measurement for it, called
 rems. In order to measure quantities smaller than a rem, we have divided it
 into 1000 parts, each of which is called a millirem.

     People in  different parts of the United States are exposed to natural
 radiation ranging from 100 to 250 millirems annually, with the average expo-
 sure about  130 millirems. In addition, the average person now receives about
 77  millirems a year of man-made radiation because we use nuclear and
 electro-magnetic technology in many ways.
     About 91  percent of man-made radiation comes from x-rays and other
 medical uses of this technology; some of us receive more than others, but
 medical  radiation  now accounts for about  35 percent of all radiation to
 which the average person is exposed.

     Before 1963,  nuclear bombs were tested in the atmosphere by our own
 and other countries. Fallout from these tests still accounts for about 5 per-
 cent of the man-made radiation to which we are exposed. In  1963, the
 United States and the Soviet Union agreed to stop testing  these weapons in
 the  atmosphere to help eliminate this problem.
     Radiation comes  from other  sources—such as color television sets,
 luminous dial watches, microwave ovens, various processes used in research
 and industry, nuclear plants which generate electric power and the facilities
 handling the fuel for these plants.
    About 23 nuclear power plants are now operable in the United States,
and this number is expected to reach 100 by 1976. By 1985, there may be

 as many as 200 to 300. Small amounts of radioactivity are released from
 these nuclear reactors in both gaseous  and liquid form, and also from the
 plants where used fuel is processed for reuse. People living within a 50-mile
 radius of an operating reactor receive relatively little radiation exposure, less
 than one millirem a year on the average or less than one percent of what they
 receive from natural sources.
     It is important to  understand both the benefits and the risks of using
 nuclear technology.  For example, our country needs and will  continue to
 need a great deal of electricity. Nuclear power can generate electricity in al-
 most unlimited amounts without using up scarce supplies of fossil fuels such
 as oil and gas and without the pollution that comes from burning these fuels.
 Because we need so much power, President Nixon, in 1971, announced that
 we would try to speed the  development of a new type of  "fast-breeder"
 nuclear plant to add to power production.
     On the other hand, radiation can be hazardous to man. Any increase
 of radioactivity in the environment is believed to increase the risks to health,
 so we must try to keep man-made radiation exposures as low as  possible.
     We know quite a lot about the effects of large doses of radiation. They
 can cause leukemia and other types of cancer,  as well as cataracts and other
 eye damage. Also, people who receive a large  enough dose may not be able
 to have children, or they  may  show  signs of old age earlier in life.
     However, we still do not know very much about the long-term effects of
 low levels of radiation.  One thing scientists are concerned about is the pos-
 sibility that  this  might alter or damage human genes. Genes are the parts of
 our body  cells that  determine our  inherited characteristics—that  is,  they
 cause  us  to  look  and  act  like  our parents and  ancestors.  Damage to
 these  genes could cause defects or other  undesirable changes  in the charac-
teristics of newborn babies. Scientists believe that natural background radi-
ation  is one of the causes  of natural mutation—that is, the  gene changes
that have, over many thousands of years, produced different races  of men
and different species of  animals and  plants. That is why we must be careful
even about low levels of radiation exposure.
     What about the  risk of  accident in a nuclear reactor which would re-
 lease  large  amounts of radioactivity? All possible  safety precautions  are

built into the plants. For example, there are failsafe devices to compensate
for human error, monitoring and control systems, and several layers of steel-
lined reinforced concrete, one inside the other, to act as barriers to any acci-
dental release of radioactivity.  In nearly 20 years of nuclear development,
no member of the public has been injured by the operation of a commercial
nuclear power plant. But, of course, the possibility of an accident cannot be
taken lightly.
     Other  problems of nuclear reactors  are  the  disposal of radioactive
wastes and the hot waste waters which, if not cooled before they are put back
into a river or bay, have a detrimental effect on fish and plant life. This latter
problem is called thermal pollution.
     EPA has the authority to establish environmental radiation standards
that limit  the  amount of  radioactivity that may be released by a nuclear
power plant. The Atomic Energy Commission, which regulates development
of the  nuclear power industry,  enforces these  standards.  EPA also reviews
all proposals for the location, construction and operation of nuclear facilities
to make sure they will not adversely affect people and the environment.


Noise  is an Invisible Pollution
      Noise is a danger to our health and welfare, especially in our congested
      urban .areas. Jet planes, trucks, buses,  railroad trains,  power lawn-
 mowers, motorcycles,  snowmobiles,  jackhammers and other construction
 equipment,  kitchen  appliances—those are some  of the  sources  of  noise
 that afflict our ears, endanger our hearing, and may even be  affecting our
 hearts and other body functions.
     Even when we try to escape the noise and congestion of our cities, noise
 follows us to the mountains and to the seashore. We just cannot get  away
 from noise.  The only alternative is to stop making so much noise,  to lower
 the decibel din of our modern, mechanized way of life.
     In response to growing public annoyance and protests about the growing
 noise problem, Congress enacted the Federal Noise Control and Abatement
 Act in 1972. Under this law, EPA will now begin to take steps to make life
 in the United States quieter and more pleasing. Here's how:
     • EPA will study the effects of noise and issue regulations setting maxi-
 mum noise levels necessary to protect public health  and  welfare, with an
 adequate margin of safety.
      •  EPA will issue noise-emission standards for major sources of noise
 in the environment—including trucks, railroads, buses, construction equip-
 ment, motors and electrical equipment.
     • EPA will submit proposed regulations to control aircraft noise and
 sonic booms to the Federal Aviation Administration.  The FA A will then
 use  the EPA  recommendations to  establish and  enforce  aircraft  noise
     • EPA will  certify  low  noise-emission products  and  the  Federal
 government will buy those products whenever possible instead of noisier
     • Noisy products that can damage public health or welfare will have to
 be labeled with their noise-emission levels.
     Scientists and engineers already know how to  control noise from many
 sources. We know  how  to  make quieter  construction  equipment, cars,
 trucks, buses,  airplanes  and appliances.  We  know how  to  build sound-


 proof  buildings  and  quieter  machinery.  The  new  noise pollution  law
 will stimulate our country to use the noise control methods we already have
 —and the law  will speed the development of new noise-control technology.
 We don't want  to shout about it, but for the first time it appears that there's
 a quieter future ahead.
An  Afterword
     At the beginning of this book we compared the earth to a spaceship be-
     cause it is a self-contained unit, and its resources are limited. In the
     pages that followed, we discussed the problems within our Spaceship
Earth, as well as the actions being taken to resolve them. Perhaps there is no
better way to end this book than with a description of the earth by a man
who has viewed it from a unique and detached perspective—from the moon.
That man is  Astronaut Frank Borman. These are his words:
     "When  you are privileged to  view the earth from afar, when you  can
hold out your thumb and cover it with your thumbnail, you realize that we
are really, all of us around the world, crew members  on the Space Station
Earth. Of all the accomplishments of technology,  perhaps the most signifi-
cant one  was the picture of the Earth over the lunar horizon. If nothing else,
it should  impress our fellow man with the absolute fact that our environment
is bounded, that our resources are limited and that our life support system is
a closed cycle. And, of course, when  this Space Station  Earth is viewed from
240,000  miles away, only its beauty, its minuteness and its isolation in the
blackness of space are apparent. A traveler from  some far planet would not
know . .  . that  the breathing  system is rapidly becoming polluted and that
the water supply is in danger of contamination with everything from DDT
to  raw sewage. The only real recourse is  for each of  us to realize that the
elements  we  have  are  not inexhaustible. We're all on the same spaceship."
     So its up to us. as we said at the beginning  of this book.  "It is your
world and my world, and only we can make sure that it's a good world."

                  United States
        Environmental  Protection  Agency
            Washington, D.C.  20460
    Regional Offices

 Boston, Massachusetts
 New York, New York
   States covered

 Connecticut, Maine,
 Massachusetts, New
 Hampshire, Rhode Island
 New Jersey, New York
 Puerto  Rico, Virgin
 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  Delaware,  Maryland
 19106                     Pennsylvania, Virginia
                           West Virginia, D.C.
 Atlanta, Georgia 30309
 Chicago, Illinois  60606
 Dallas, Texas 75201
 Kansas City, Missouri

 Denver, Colorado 80203
San  Francisco,  Calif.
Seattle, Washington
 Alabama, Florida,
 Georgia, Kentucky,
 North Carolina,
 South Carolina,

 Illinois, Indiana,
 Michigan, Minnesota,
 Ohio,  Wisconsin
 Arkansas, Louisiana,
 New Mexico, Oklahoma,

 Iowa,  Kansas,
 Missouri,  Nebraska

 Colorado, Montana,
 North Dakota,
 South  Dakota,
 Utah,  Wyoming

 Arizona, California,
 Hawaii, Nevada,
 American Samoa, Guam,
 Trust Territories of the
 Pacific, Wake Island

Alaska, Idaho,
Oregon, Washington