Industrial Waste Disposal in the United States as a Historical Problem

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

This paper explores the manner in which historians have dealt with the issue of industrial pollution in the United States. It reviews the existing literature, suggesting reasons for the subject's neglect in the past. It also raises a series of questions for historians of pollution to focus upon. These questions include the need to understand societal values and knowledge that determined how society reacted to past pollution that threatened its health and the quality of its environment; the need to identify major turning points in the understanding and regulation of these wastes; the need to clarify how different professional groups have related to the issue of industrial pollution; the need to explore the development of indicators for measuring and regulating industrial pollution; and, the importance of clarifying what past responsible parties understood about the risks of industrial pollutants and how they had gained this knowledge. These issues are important not only to clarify the historical record but also to inform public policy.




Published In

Ambix, 49, 1, 4-20.