The perils of pollution are real, but identifying the exact problems is itself difficult. I currently teach in an area often called “Cancer Alley.” The name comes from the number of chemical plants and refineries in the area. More than that, it is a name that comes from the number of cancer cases that are found in that area. Since I commute into the area, then leave, it seemed harmless. I now must access that idea in a new understanding.
The issue is that all appears well. The air is not noticeably different most of the time. Oh, there are plumes of smoke rising upwards, but the plants are supposed to be monitored for acceptable emissions.
One problem in addition to the possibility of atmospheric pollution is the impact on the water supply. Since I bring my water in bottles from home, I never considered this.
Statistically, the area does have a higher than average cancer rate. But I breathe air that is filtered by air conditioning and avoid the water, except for hand washing.