There are many areas under the umbrella of environmental law. All have one thing in common – the protection of ecology and the health of the environment.
The first and most visible way in which the public is aware of and engaged with environmental law is pollution. Some of the world’s earliest environmental laws concern the protection of our environment from polluting materials and, by extension, aim to improve public health.
Air Pollution and Quality: This is the enforcement of air standards through monitoring that determines what constitutes safe levels of certain substances emitted by industrial processes, motor vehicles, and part of our everyday lives. There are laws for the outside and indoor environments to ensure safe working levels. They are designed to protect human and ecological health. Some are concerned with placing limitations on emissions (as some countries now include emissions tests for annual vehicle safety checks) while others are enacted to eliminate it altogether. One of the best examples of control or elimination is the global legislation in the 1980s to limit CFC emissions that were damaging the ozone layer There may also be requirements on what technologies must be used for mitigation such as the use of catalytic converters in cars that used older lead fuel .
Contaminant Cleanup, Prevention and Mitigation: Toxic spills and leaks happen even with all the best intentions in the world. While some are the result of negligence, some are unavoidable. Regardless of whether such a pollutant leak is avoidable or unavoidable, there are necessary laws determining what is required of the responsible party and the team responsible for the cleanup should do to ensure that contamination is first limited and controlled, and then removed from an environment to avoid longer-term or large-scale damage. Regulations can also include liability, response, determine the process of investigation, monitoring before, during and after cleanup, and the risk assessment of long-term effects.
Safe Use of Chemicals: The safe use of chemicals is required in any workplace where they are used: from industrial manufacturing to agriculture, testing laboratories, professional cleaning, repair garages, such chemical safety laws seek to govern how we use them. This means the corrects storage of chemicals, their use, safety equipment in their application, the types of storage containers and even how (and who) they are bought and sold such as licenses, to registered businesses and so on. This seeks to manage and control by limiting risk and ensuring safety, the actual chemicals and substances where they are necessary. Environmental law has also banned some chemicals where their risks outweigh the benefits. A good example of this is the removal of Bisphenol A from plastic bottles in some states .
Waste Management: Waste is a fact of life. Our homes, industry, and commerce all produce waste; it cannot be avoided. Waste management concerns the governance of many aspects of waste from their transport and storage, proper procedure on disposal and treatment where necessary, everything from the recyclable packaging of our household waste right up to nuclear waste as a byproduct of energy production. Some of these are damaging to the environment or human health – or both – while some are not harmful but take too long so long to break down that they go into a landfill. Waste management is as much about reducing the amount of raw material in a landfill as it is about protecting health.