Editorial Feature

What is Localized Pollution?


Localized pollutions are smaller scale environmental incidents that cause pollution. While the inciting offence may be as small as a farmer illegally pouring milk into a river, the consequences of such actions can be devastating to the environment and its inhabitants.

These types of incidents can be caused by either individuals or business and can cause damage to all types of environments. When thinking of localized pollution, it is common to think of air pollution in dense cities but it can also be contamination of water sources or, most commonly, fly tipping. Fly tipping is the illegal dumping of solid waste.

Causes of Localized Pollution

In a 2015 report by the European Union Action to Fight Environmental Crime (EFFACE), a study into illegal fly tipping saw that, in 2012, Ireland received over 50,000 direct complaints of illegal waste dumping. Fly tipping has a strong environmental impact on the natural environment as well as the social and economic environment. It can contaminate the soil around it which could have negative impacts for any animals which bury or make nests in the area, destroy farmer’s livelihoods or have negative health effects to humans in public parks.

Localized air pollution is one of the most widely discussed topics in the environmental community. The most significant sources of air pollution are road transport. The air pollution becomes localized in particularly dense area of traffic such as on roads in and around cities. CO2 and NO2 are emitted for the exhaust pipes of cars and trucks and can cause smog and adverse health effects. In addition to this, construction site are also a contributor to localized air pollution as the emissions from non-road mobile machinery usually stay within the site itself, causing problems for workers. It should also be noted that industrial processes, such as factories can cause significant air pollution of the surrounding environment.

Distressingly, according to the European Environmental Agency, it is estimated that there are 2.5 million contaminated sites in Europe, however, only around 15% of these sites have been discovered and remediated.  Contaminated soil sites are classed as localized pollution, as they are localized to one specific place. In the study, it was identified that source of contamination for nearly 40% of these sites was waste disposal and treatment, followed by industrial activities. Transport spills on land made up of 7% of the contaminated sites and the military was found as a contamination source for around 2%. According to the EEA, nuclear operations were not to blame for any contaminated sites found.


Localized pollutions occur on smaller scales than huge environmental incidents but there impacts are no less significant. Localized pollution of air, soil and water can cause large scale damage to the natural environment, cause health incidents of both animals and humans and even have economic and social impacts. It is import to monitor and control these environmental crimes in order to preserve the world that we live in.


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