Fossil fuels and chemicals have made living a lot easier for people on earth. We have these to thank for countless advances in areas like agriculture, materials, medicine, and plastics. Accordingly, these advances have resulted in a life expectancy so high it’s unprecedented in the developed world.
However, there is a price to pay for all these advances. Since coal became a widely used source of power during the world’s shift towards large industry, the specter of toxic air has hung over populations. It turns out, much of our life-enhancing advancements has negatively impacted a necessity of life, the very air we breathe.
The majority of companies on this list are involved in energy, oil, gas, chemical and plastics, agriculture, medicine and a variety of other industries that revolve around advanced science and technology. The toxic score is based on U.S. Government statistics compiled by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts.
This score is calculated according to the toxicity of emissions, the volume of toxic gas and the resulting health impact on the population of the United States. This damning list includes some of the largest companies in the world.
15. Praxair Inc. – Toxic Score: 1,117,412
Praxair is a worldwide company with locations in over 50 countries, employing approximately 27,000 workers. They’ve been around for over a hundred years and pride themselves on making the planet more productive. Despite statements on their website outlining their attempts to make air easier to breathe, Praxair Inc is a significant toxic air offender in the United States.
14. I Rio Tinto PLC – Toxic Score: 1,190,964
The United States is part of Rio Tinto’s portfolio, which consists of mostly of mining, exploration and energy, including gold and diamonds. In 1872, they started mining boron in the appropriately named Boron, California, which is one of two large deposits on earth. Their Kennecott facility processes and mines minerals while Rio Tinto’s copper mine in Superior, Arizona is slated to become the biggest copper operation in North America. These mining developments result in most of their toxic air emissions.
13. Koch Industries – Toxic Score: 1,237,328
This group of companies perform a wide variety of different functions, including refining, biofuels, chemicals, fertilizers, electronics and pollution control equipment. Koch Industries are owned by Charles and David Koch, who are among the top ten wealthiest on the planet. In terms of volume, they’re one of the largest contributors to toxic air.
12. Eastman Chemical Company – Toxic Score: 1,378,682
Through their worldwide headquarters in Kingsport, Tennessee, Eastman specializes in high-tech manufacturing such as advanced materials, specialty chemicals, fibers, additives and other solutions. The company’s activities has landed them on this list as they generated revenues of $9.4 billion in 2013 through business conducted with customers in about 100 countries.
11. Phillips 66 Company – Toxic Score: 1,387,682
Phillips 66 performs business across the world with facilities that concentrate on chemical manufacturing, crude refining, pipelines, railways and lubricants. Their headquarters in Houston leads over 14,000 employees and control $50 billion in assets. Phillips 66’s operations in the United States include activities in all different aspects of their business, resulting in plenty of air pollution.
10. Public Service Enterprise Group – Toxic Score: 1,700,682
Public Service Electric and Gas Company is involved in a plethora of business, including fossil fuels, nuclear, solar and other types of energy operations. Over 100 years old, their recent projects has landed them in the top ten of solar energy companies according to the Polar Electric Power Association. PSE&G have also been on the Dow Jones’ sustainability index for seven straight years. Nonetheless, they’re on the top ten in terms of toxic air production.
9. Ineos Group – Toxic Score: 2,399,202
A network of 15 businesses with 65 facilities established in 16 countries, INEOS makes oil products, specialty chemicals and petrochemicals. Despite being a relatively young company, INEOS boasts $54 billion in sales and status as a heavy-hitter in the chemicals industry. Their biggest markets are fuels, lubricants, food and packaging.
8. General Electric Company – Toxic Score: 2,607,036
GE dates back to 1878 and the creation of the Edison Electric Light Company, which eventually merged with the Thomson-Houston Company in 1892 to create the General Electric Company. The company has grown into a giant corporate entity with four main pursuits: logistics, power, health and various types of construction and manufacturing. Despite a relatively low volume of emissions, they were determined to be the eighth worst offender, suggesting high toxicity in their air pollutants.
7. Renco Group – Toxic Score: 2,208,506
As a long term investor in mineral recovery, mining, metals, automotive supply and defense companies, The Renco Group has acquired more than 40 different organizations in their portfolio since starting in 1975. Despite efforts to reduce their environmental impact through technology and compliance to government standards, they produce considerable amounts of toxic air.
6. LyondellBasell Industries – Toxic Score: 2,954,294
As one of the top toxic air polluters in the United States, LyondellBasell Industries is another chemical, refinery and plastics company. They specialize in the entire production chain for petrochemicals, from refining crude to the end product, resulting in a high score on this list.
5. BASF – Toxic Score: 2,989,289
Celebrating their 150th year by placing in the top five of toxic air polluters in the United States, BASF employs 112,000 people around the world and earned 72 billion British pounds in sales. They deal with plastics, chemicals, crop protection, oil and gas. The United States headquarters of BASF is located in Florham Park, New Jersey with major facilities in Freeport, Texas and Geismar, Louisiana.
4. ExxonMobil – Toxic Score: 3,213,993
As the biggest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world, ExxonMobil creates a large share of toxic air in the United States. The company specializes in oil and gas trading, refining, processing and delivering energy. Well known for the Exxon Valdez environmental disaster when operating as the Exxon Shipping Company, ExxonMobil continues to be a leader of both industry and pollution.
3. Dow Chemical Company. – Toxic Score: 4,363,312
Dow Chemical has been around for almost 120 years and currently focus on growth sectors such as water, packaging electronics, agriculture and coatings. They employ about 53,000 people and derive $57 billion in sales from over 180 countries worldwide. This company’s toxic air emissions are created mostly from plastics and specialty chemicals.
2. Bayer Group – Toxic Score: 5,257,823
Famous worldwide for Aspirin, the Bayer Group both creates and solves headaches through their production activities. With the second highest toxic score in this list, their healthcare, plastics, crop protection chemicals and material sciences departments emit plenty of noxious air despite their efforts to reduce their impact on the environment.
1. E.I. du Pont de Nemours – Toxic Score: 7,086,303
The most significant toxic air polluter active in the United States is DuPont, which was founded over 200 years ago by E.I du Pont, son of a Parisian watchmaker. This company is responsible for some of the most scientifically advanced materials in the world and are involved in electronics, apparel, construction, transportation and many other industries. They also invented nylon, the first completely synthetic fiber in the world.