Decomposed biosolids (e.g., leaves, crop residue, animal waste) have long been used to recycle plant nutrients and enhance soil fertility. It is one of the most ancient of agricultural innovations, as is evidenced by an ancient Telgu proverb "Leaf manure produces luxuriant growth" (Donahue et al., p.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was established in 1980 by Congress. CERCLA's objective was to provide a regulatory mechanism in response to threats to human health or the environment from abandoned hazardous waste sites.

Consensus Building

Consensus building addresses conflict by helping disputants themselves decide the process and the outcome. It involves a number of collaborative decision-making techniques and an impartial facilitator or mediator is often used to assist diverse or competing interest groups to reach agreement on policy matters, environmental conflicts, or other issues in controversy affecting a large number of people.

Consumer Pollution

Consumer pollution refers, in part, to traces of numerous consumer products, including pain relievers, prescription drugs, antibiotics, insect repellent, sunscreens, and fragrances—collectively called pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)—discovered in inland and ocean waters. Between 1999 and 2000 the United States Geological Survey (USGS) established the widespread occurrence in the environment of minute but measurable quantities of PPCPs, along with other organic wastewater contaminants, such as detergent metabolites, plasticizers, and fire retardants.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit analysis (C-BA) is a form of economic analysis in which costs and benefits are quantified and compared. C-BA is used primarily to evaluate public expenditure decisions with regard to such factors as esthetics, ethics, and long-term environmental costs (e.g., pollution costs).

Cousteau, Jacques Marine Environmental Protection Advocate (1910–1997)

Jacques Yves Cousteau was the twentieth century's best-known advocate for marine environmental protection. He produced 115 documentary films and television programs about adventures on his research ship, Calypso.


Cryptosporidiosis (also referred to as Crypto) is a gastrointestinal illness that results from exposure to the organism Cryptosporidium parvum (C. parvum).

DDT (Dichlorodiphenyl Trichloroethane)

DDT, dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane, was synthesized in 1874, but its insecticidal properties were first identified in 1939 by P.H. Mueller.


Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel (1858–1913), a German thermal engineer, invented the diesel engine and patented it in 1893. Unlike their gasoline counterparts, which ignite an air/fuel mixture using spark plugs, diesel engines compress air to a very high pressure and then inject the fuel.


Dilution was the solution to pollution when populations were small. Everything people wanted to get rid of went into the water.


Dioxin, formed by burning chlorine-based chemical compounds with hydrocarbons, is one of the most toxic chemicals known. Dioxin is a general term that describes a group of hundreds of chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment.

Disasters: Chemical Accidents and Spills

By their nature, the manufacture, storage, and transport of chemicals are accidents waiting to happen. Chemicals can be corrosive, toxic, and they may react, often explosively.

Disasters: Environmental Mining Accidents

Some of the most publicized environmental disasters are associated with the mining industry. These disasters are attributed to both natural and miningrelated causes.

Disasters: Natural

A natural disaster can be defined as some impact of an extreme natural event on the ecosystem and environment, and on human activities and society. The concept relies on the interaction of a natural agent—the hazard—with human vulnerability to produce a risk that is likely to eventually materialize as a destructive impact.

Disasters: Nuclear Accidents

Of all the environmental disaster events that humans are capable of causing, nuclear disasters have the greatest damage potential. The radiation release associated with a nuclear disaster poses significant acute and chronic risks in the immediate environs and chronic risk over a wide geographic area.

Disasters: Oil Spills

Liquid petroleum (crude oil and its refined products such as tar, lubricating oil, gasoline, and kerosene) can be released as catastrophic spills from point sources (e.g., from tankers and blowouts) or as chronic discharges typically from nonpoint sources (e.g., from urban runoff or fallout from the atmosphere). Releases of petroleum into the environment occur naturally from seeps as well as from human sources.

Donora, Pennsylvania

The towns of Donora and Webster, Pennsylvania, along the Monongahela River southwest of Pittsburgh, were the site of a lethal air pollution disaster in late October 1948 that convinced members of the scientific and medical communities, as well as the public, that air pollution could kill people, as well as cause serious damage to health. The disaster took place over the course of five days, when weather conditions known as a temperature inversion trapped cooled coal smoke and pollution from a zinc smelter and steel mill beneath a layer of warm air over the river valley that enclosed the two towns and the surrounding farmland.


Dredging is the process of excavating or removing sediments from the bottom of lakes, rivers, estuaries, or marine (ocean) locations. Sediment excavation or dredging is conducted for multiple purposes.

Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning is the use of solvents instead of water to clean fabrics. It is believed to have originated in France in 1828 when a factory worker spilled lamp oil, a flammable petroleum-based solvent, on a soiled tablecloth.

Earth Day

An estimated twenty million Americans took part in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Virtually every community from Maine to California hosted activities.

Earth First!

Earth First! (EF!) is a network of environmental activists, living mostly in the United States, committed to preserving wilderness and biological abundance.

Earth Summit

On June 3 and 4, 1992, the Earth Summit (formally the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development or UNCED) met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a twenty-year follow-up to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE, held in Stockholm). The goal of the 120 heads of state, over ten thousand government delegates, and hundreds of officials from UN organizations was to refocus global attention on the planet's degradation.