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Many adverse impacts on the environment can be directly related to the materials dispersed to the environment during processing or use, or after use as refuse and waste. Some materials, such as toxic wastes, are a major concern because they create immediate problems with longer-term effects. Gases released by major manufacturing industries can contribute to long-term regional and global problems such as acid rain or increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The use of other materials, however, appears to be more benign or strictly localized in their impacts. If the current per capita level of material consumption in the United States was achieved worldwide, it would create major stresses on both resource adequacy and the environment. In fact, stresses have been created and will continue from this consumption style (developed countries) even if others don't achieve them. ?? 1996 International Association for Mathematical Geology.