Toxics Action Center
Toxics Action Center

Stopping a Polluter

Learn the Basics

Start with A First Look at Challenging Claims. Use it to analyze any claims the company or government has made about the benefits to the community, or about how the downsides won’t be that bad. By the end you will choose which claims you want to challenge.

Gather Data

The data you look up will depend on your interest. If you’re having a hard time finding data or understanding the calculations, the SfA activities listed below might help.

Explore Strategies

The strategies below assume you may know something about the business from operations in another town, or from past performance in your own town.

  • Did that company make promises about emissions and break them? Find emissions data. You may be able to find some on SfA’s Public Data page.
  • Did pollution levels increase? Or were they illegal? Use Compare to Standards, followed by Finding Newsworthy Data
  • Was the pollution toxic? Make a list of the emissions/contaminants associated with that business. Look up information about each of them in the ATSDR’s ToxFAQs on SfA’s Public Data page. The activity As Toxic As…? can help you think about how toxic each of the contaminants are.Even if the new or expanded business won’t add much contamination, you can argue that your community is already burdened with too much.
  • Are there already health problems? Look up data on the CDC’s WONDER database on SfA’s Public Data. If cancer is a concern, see A Guide to State Cancer Profiles.
  • What would happen to your local economy and property values? Is there a better economic use for that land that doesn’t harm human health? See Economic Options. Examples given there assume existing pollution. In your case, you can use a situation in another other town for comparison.

Make Your Case

When you have the key information you want to communicate to decision-makers or to the community, Communicating with Numbers helps you make your case effectively in words, images, and fact sheets.