Good Pollution

79 The University of Chicago Law Review Dialogue 31 (2013)

Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 1302

14 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2013

Date Written: February 1, 2013


“Good pollution” refers to pollutants that are harmful and beneficial at the same time and in the same quantity. What some regard as a harmful pollutant is valued by others as providing a valuable benefit. Pesticides possess this quality: they kill pests (thus providing a benefit), but they also harm birds, other animals, farm workers, and those who eat tainted food. This phenomenon of “good pollution” is even more common outside the context of environmental pollution. Claims of sensory pollution – including noise pollution, light pollution, and visual pollution – involve sounds, lights, and sights that are welcomed by some people even as they bother others. Cultural pollution – as pornography and violent entertainment are often characterized – is simultaneously enjoyed and loathed by different viewers. A different set of responses is needed for these kinds of good pollution because the goal is not simply to reduce the harm caused by pollution. The response to good pollution must seek to preserve its benefit as well as reducing its harm.

Keywords: pollution, pesticide, dispersant, Montana, arsenic, William Clark, Arden Rowell, exposure, dose, DDT, Deepwater Horizon, noise pollution, cultural pollution, FIFRA

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Nagle, John Copeland, Good Pollution (February 1, 2013). 79 The University of Chicago Law Review Dialogue 31 (2013); Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 1302. Available at SSRN:

John Copeland Nagle (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States

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