Integrated pollution control is an approach to pollution control which recognizes the need to look at the environment as a whole, so that solution to particular problems take account of potential effects upon all environmental media.
There is growing understanding of the links between atmospheric problems such as local air pollution, acid rain, global climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion. Isolated responses to one environmental problem may in fact worsen another. For example, catalytic converters on cars decrease nitric oxide emissions and help to reduce acid rain and urban smog but they release higher levels of nitrous oxide, which is a potent greenhouse gas and a contributor to stratospheric ozone depletion. Sulphate aerosols in the upper atmosphere contribute to acid rain but may offset greenhouse warming – and thus reducing sulphur emissions from power plants by switching to low-sulphur coal or using scrubbers may exacerbate the problem of climate change (IPCC 1996a).
In the USA, Amoco and the Environmental Protection Agency did a thorough study of one refinery in Yorktown, Virginia, to discover what pollutants came out from it and how dangerous each was. Their conclusion was that some of the things that Amoco and other refiners were required to do by EPA regulations were less effective than alternatives; meanwhile, pollution from many sources that government does not regulate could have been decreased. The study group concluded that for one fourth of the amount that it currently spends on pollution control, Amoco could achieve the same effect in protection of health and the environment – just by spending money where it made a difference, rather than where government dictated.