Top 15 Current Environmental Issues in the US

Current Environmental Issues in the USA
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Current Environmental Issues: Environment plays a crucial role in the sustainability of life on earth. All the living beings residing on the planet earth need a healthy, clean and better environment for increased adaptability and enhanced survival chances.

Since the millennium, the environmental issues have significantly risen to a new height needing the immediate attention.

Humans have been playing a devastating role in ruining the natural resources and intervening atmospheric activities.

Being the third largest country in the world, the United States of America has emerged as one of the significantly affected regions from environmental concerns and issues.

Current Environmental Issues

Let’s take a glance at the 15 environmental issues of the US today. These issues are not listed in any particular order.

1. Contaminated Soil

soil pollutionThe first environmental issue affecting North America is soil pollution. Soil pollution is a serious environmental issue in many American states today.

  • Huge industrialization and man intervened activities as a spray of various chemicals to kill pests and herbs could leach out into the soil resulting in raised levels of toxic agents and chemicals in soil.
  • Soil contamination may not only negatively affect the health of people residing in the vicinity but also result in weak plants growth for the future due to a decline in the level of soil fertility.
  • Numerous cases of diseases caused to people as a result of soil pollution have been reported in several regions of the US such as New Jersey, Tennessee, Montana, and so on.
Suggested Reading: Politico

2. Air Pollution

air pollutionThe World Health Organization reported in 2016 that almost 90% of people around the globe are inhaling in the poor polluted air with per annum death rates of about 3 million.

  • The situation seems better specifically in the US with decreased mortality rate due to air contamination.
  • California is considered the most air-polluted state of the US having many cities considered the uppermost in poor quality of air. This sub-standard air result in serious air passageway illnesses in human beings including respiratory complications, behavioral changes, cancer, and even premature death.
  • Contamination of air due to cooking and heating wastes, industrial processes, oil plants, and vehicle emissions are widespread along diverse areas across the US comprising of both compactly and lightly populated areas such as western and eastern coasts, Detroit, Chicago, and Gulf coast areas.
Suggested Reading: MIT News

3. Water Pollution

water pollutionLike the rest of the globe, the people of the US are also sufferers of water pollution including both local tap water and marine water.

  • Americans pose grave concerns over the level of toxic metabolites present in both tap and sea water resulting in water contamination.
  • Though land and air pollution also influence the water level of toxic metabolites, oil spills in California and the Gulf of Mexico have also been a source of damage to the marine environment.
  • Presence of lead in Michigan tap water, mercury in low water quality of Washington DC and brown water from taps in California Maywood are examples of severe concerns to local environmental authorities.
Suggested Reading: New Republic

4. Waste Disposal

waste disposalThe Agency for protection of the environment in the US regards the wastage of secondary level business, homes, and large production units as hazardous to human wellbeing.

  • Almost every American household is responsible for the production of 65% of garbage waste including diapers and carton boxes of everyday goods.
  • Dumping of non-recyclable waste leads to filling of landfills and loss of natural resources.
  • The west part of the US is composed of the most significant number of landfills that lead to increased soil, water, and marine contamination.
Suggested Reading: CNBC

5. Climate Change

climate changeThe US has been overpowered by serious concerns as temperature rise, loss of species, melting of ice, unusual coming of floods and hurricanes.

  • All these calamities are owed to a single major cause of global warming and change in climate. After China, the US is considered to be second in the production of greenhouse gases, the main culprit behind climate change.
  • Previously, the US government have been involved in passing out legislation to control the major environmental concern including usage of more energy from solar and natural gas resources instead of coal-based production.
  • It has been decided to reduce the emission rate of carbon to 17% by 2020, but still, the issue requires serious emphasis.
Suggested Reading: The Guardian News

6. Loss of Biodiversity

loss of biodiversityDecrease in habitat due to the reduction of biodiversity is America’s another major environmental concern.

  • Global warming, pollution, rising sea levels, urbanization, and industrialization are gravely deteriorating the situation in the US.
  • Regions of Louisiana, North Carolina, and Florida are markedly affected by the loss of biodiversity and species extinction. Reductions in some trees affect the seasonal birds‘ species and generations of other plants.
  • Bio-invasion poses a severe threat to biodiversity. There is a growing number of invasive species (i.e., non-native) in North America through increased travel and trades from other countries cause a disturbance in the US domestic and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Due to specific hunting and harvesting methods in the US, there is a significant decline in the biodiversity (eco-regions) pushing about 230+ animals to the threatened status.
Suggested Reading: IATP News

7. Deforestation

deforestationDeforestation is the long-term or permanent destruction of trees and forests for the sake of urbanization. During previous years, the states of the US have suffered considerable losses regarding forests .

  • According to surveys, since the year 1600, the US deforestation has caused the removal of virgin forests by 75%.
  • There are many reasons for deforestation in the US, which includes cutting trees for monetary benefits (i.e., for selling timbers), farmland creation, and infestations of invasive plants and animals.
  • Up to 20-40% of lands of Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida have suffered land conversions.
  • The issue has given rise to other environmental concerns like loss of biodiversity and increased pollution.

8. Ocean Acidification

ocean acidificationIncreased release of carbon and other pollutants into the waters have resulted in acidification of ocean water. The ocean is getting suffocated and losing its oxygen.

  • The coastal regions of various American states such as Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana are markedly affected by the change in ocean waters.
  • Ocean acidification has resulted in the loss of marine habitat and ocean life. However, the serious efforts are being incorporated by environmental agencies to set control over this issue to save the marine habitat and coastal lines of the US.
Suggested Reading: The Atlantic Science

9. Reduction of Ozone Layer

reduction of ozone layerMany recent studies have suggested that the layer of ozone over central parts of the US is depleting alarmingly.

  • It could result in similar effects as in regions of poles of sudden unexplainable storms. Lessening of ozone could result in the eruption of various chemical reactions that could have damaging impacts on living beings and the environment.
  • The threats of radiation of ultraviolet nature cannot be undermined in this regard, having detrimental health effects such as cancers and skin illnesses.
  • In the US, the long-term ozone loss is attributed to increased recurrence and severity of storm systems, higher levels of atmospheric CO2 and methane, and other factors.
Suggested Reading: Harvard News

10. Invasive species

invasive speciesThe United States is under the attack of invasive species. Animals from other countries that sneak into airplanes and ships bound to the American wilderness and eventually become an invasive species. These species have no natural predators so rule their eco-systems like kings!.

  • About 40,000-50,000 varieties of plants and animals have invaded various regions of American states today.
  • Billions of dollars per annum are spent over the control as well as to counter the damaging effects of these intruders that are rising alarmingly around the US such as Burmese python, Nutria, Northern snakehead, Lionfish, feral hogs and many more.
Suggested Reading: Washington Post

11. Urban Extension

urban extensionExpanding urbanization is one of the primary critical factors considered as initializing cause of numerous other environmental issues.

  • About 60-70% of the US citizens are residing in cities accentuating the American population. This massive trend of urbanization renders many effects damaging to society as a whole.
  • The urbanization leads to a competition of resources, shelter, employment and living standards that overall affects the valuing in municipalities.
  • Gigantic cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are crushed by the burden of urbanization and its damaging impacts as homelessness, pollution, and over-crowding.
Suggested Reading: US News

12. Nano pollution/Nanotoxicology

nanotoxicologyPollution resulting from nano-products such as graphene and nanotube of carbon is emerging as one of the major man-influenced impacts on the environment with severe extended span damaging effects.

  • Although the nano industry has revolutionized the way of product designing and productivity, concurrently it has also given upsurge to an obstinate type of unnoticeable contamination.
  • Car exhausts and manganese from building sites are already considered as contributing reasons in nano-pollution.
  • Nanopollutants are considerably more lethal to cells of living organisms as compared to conventional pollutants, thus, resulting in further critical illnesses.
Suggested Reading: AZO Nano

13. Toxins

toxinsThe next big environmental issue for the US is Toxic pollutants. They are arising from the consumption of chemicals in hospitals, laboratories, waste management systems, homes and industries are lethal killers of the environment.

US States Toxin Level Chart
US States Toxin Level Chart (Source: ODE)
  • Alaska is considered to be the most toxin producing states of America along with Nevada also in the same line.
  • The top 2 toxins in the US come from the metal mining industries which constitutes about 1. 5 billion pounds of toxins; followed by chemical wastes from manufacturing facilities and medical industries which are about 0. 5 billion pounds per year.
  • Based on US city ranking (being the most toxin producing city), Kotzebue, Alaska takes the first place producing about 0. 75 billion pounds of toxins every year. The second-ranked city is Indianapolis, Indiana producing approximately 11 million pounds of toxins.
Suggested Reading: Forbes

14. Radioactive Pollution

radioactivityContamination due to nuclear and radiological materials is the next environmental issue in the US today. Radioactive pollution is easily spreadable and requires effective handling.

  • Unfortunately, the US being the major producer of nuclear materials had to spend billions of dollars per year to dispose of the nuclear wastes.
  • The handling of radioactive material demands expertise and is easily disrupted.
  • Hanford in Washington is considered as the lethal nuclear-contaminated site in the US that has raised radioactive eruptions due to mishandling of the site.
Suggested Reading: BBC News

15. Mine Pollution

mining pollutionThe last but not the least current environmental issue affecting the US is mining. Mining is an essential process for the production of raw resources for various industries and applications.

  • The mining extraction is coupled with the output of dangerous heavy chemicals that contaminate the water as well as the land.
  • Arsenic, mercury in Amazon and cyanide are common mine pollutants damaging the environment.
  • Recently, dangerous mine contaminants from silver and gold mine of Landusky have polluted nearby canals making it hard for the residing tribes.
Suggested Reading: The Guardian

How to Solve Environmental Issues In the US?

The US government and the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is putting in potential efforts to control the above-mentioned environmental issues.

  • However, individual efforts are required to be incorporated. Although, many natural and human-based factors are contributing to this disastrous phenomenon discrete lifestyle interventions can pose substantial positive impacts.
  • Global warming should be addressed on priority as it is the root cause of many other types of pollutions across all the states of America. Reduced carbon emission from vehicles and factories as in Washington DC need to be ensured across different states.
  • Offshore wind power generation operative in Atlantic coasts and Rhode Islands should be exercised across other coastal lines also. Zero deforestation commitment needs more sprout among the oil refineries of the US, which was earlier less than 70%.
  • Apart from natural phenomena such as thinning of ozone layers that are to some extent unavoidable, man-made interventions need to be curbed to have a secure, healthy, clean and prosperous future for all the species of living beings ahead.

If things are kept moving the similar manner the way they are striding today, there would be no way in the future for upcoming generations to live.

What do you think? Register your opinions in the comments section below.

Cite this article as: "Top 15 Current Environmental Issues in the US," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, October 30, 2018, https://www.bioexplorer.net/current-environmental-issues-usa.html/.
Top 15 Current Environmental Issues in the US
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