Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 33: Pollution from factories

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 33: Pollution from factories


In this chapter:

Factories make useful products, but they also make waste. Unfortunately, factory owners do not always dispose of waste safely. Factories often put dangerous chemicals and other dangerous materials into the air, water, and ground. Pollution from factory waste causes serious health problems for everyone in the community, and when it travels in air and water, can even cause illness for people who live hundreds of miles away. (See Pollution from garment factories, and Pollution from shoe factories.)

4 women talking in a group of 6.
Health experts came today to test the water and soil. They say our water is polluted and dangerous. What can we do about it?
Companies should be shut down if they won’t stop dumping waste into the river.
But factories provide the only jobs we have around here.
Where are we going to get water now?

Factories must provide workers and people in the communities around the factory with:

  • information on the chemicals and materials used in the plant, and how they are disposed of.
  • results of regular government or independent testing of waste disposal through smokestacks, ventilation systems, pipes, burial pits, and other methods.
  • proof that machinery and installations in the factory are safe, in good condition, and that evacuation plans and resources for the area are ready in case of natural disaster or serious accident.


Factory products can be dangerous to our health when they are poorly designed or cannot be recycled or disposed of safely. Workers need to work with environmental and consumer organizations to protect both jobs and health.