Targeted pollution management can significantly reduce toxic emissions while limiting adverse effects on employment in US manufacturing


Analyzing the relationship between employment and toxic emissions at over 25,000 US manufacturing facilities between 1998 and 2012 demonstrates that significant reductions in toxic pollution can be achieved without causing equivalent reductions in employment. Three simulations provide a comparison of the combined effects on toxic releases and employment of management strategies targeted at major polluters versus strategies that encompass a random or median subset of facilities or industries. Targeted strategies are effective because toxic emissions are highly disproportionally distributed. A handful of facilities and industries account for the majority of toxic hazard released in the US manufacturing sector. Moreover, these highly polluting facilities and industries do not employ significantly more workers than peer, lower polluting facilities and industries. The research challenges the narrative that protecting the environment must come at a significant cost to economic activity. Rather, targeting egregious polluters can offer an important inroad for significantly reducing industrial pollution while limiting adverse effects on employment.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Mary B. Collins
Dustin T. Hill
Benjamin Manski
Environmental Science & Policy