The definition of workplace pollution is the presence of hazardous materials or noises within a workplace that may affect people while performing their job. Such workplace pollutants may affect workers' health, especially if exposure continues over longer periods of time even at low levels. The most common exposure is that to workplace air pollution. This involves workplace hazards from airborne pollution, or, in other words, the presence in the workplace indoor air of hazardous substances either as gases (fumes) or as particulate matter (tiny particles - dust) dispersed in the air. Other types of exposure may occur involving skin contact, ingestion, and/or injection.
The exposure to hazardous materials can occur in several ways, including through:
Additionally, workplace noise is another example of workplace pollution that could affect workers' hearing and psychological well-being. Another danger might come from the possibility that Chinese drywall was used in the building where you work.
These days we hear about pollution so often that it seems as if it could be anywhere! The word has almost lost its meaning, while it seems to be intrinsically connected to the modern society and has become so much a part of our way of living that it is hard to imagine we can really have any escape from it. And yet, this is far from the truth, as there are many things we can do both as individuals and as a society in order to prevent and change our pollution exposure at the workplace or elsewhere. The first step is to become aware that some people are more exposed or more at risk than others. If we identify that we are at a higher risk, then there are many things we can do to change this. In this section, we provide information related to workplace pollution and simple things you can do to test and change the exposure and risks, with the final goal of pollution prevention. Below is a checklist with professions/jobs at higher risk of workplace pollution:
Additionally, any jobs involving the storage and disposal of waste may also create a pollution exposure risk.
In addition to the jobs listed above, the environmentalists or environmental professionals may also be exposed to hazardous materials while performing their job. However, the environmental professionals, unlike other workers, are aware of the risks and thus take precautionary measures. However, this category of professionals usually performs field work in polluted environments and could still be exposed to hazardous materials in the following situations:
These events are however disparate and, although they can cause acute exposure episodes, overall they may pose a lower threat than the exposure to lower levels of hazardous materials through workplace pollution in the situation of the jobs listed above.
Thus, one may ask: what kind of regulation corrects air pollution or job discrimination? There are many regulations in place, starting with safety procedures and preventive regulations under OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) and various EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations. In general, employees are required to comply with such regulations, while employers ensure safe workplace environments. Pollution prevention at the workplace involves the same measures as anywhere else. These include: wearing protective equipment if contact with hazardous materials may not be avoided otherwise, good air ventilation indoors and deployment of safety procedures (e.g. such as identify and avoid direct contact with toxic materials, do not drink or eat in the presence of hazardous materials, wear protective equipment whenever required). In fact, any environmental investigation must take into consideration the appropriate Health and Safety Plans.