pollutant discharges

danielxu85

Senior Member
Mandarin Chinese
I find in my dictionary that discharge is used as uncountable. Is its usage in the following sentence correct? Could you tell me when to use the plural form and when to use the singular form? Is it idiomatic?

The central government has announced annual and five-year quotas for reducing pollutant discharges.
 
  • Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    The central government has announced annual and five-year quotas for reducing pollutant discharges.

    I would delete 'discharges' and change pollutant to the plural form. Reason: Not all pollutants are 'discharged' from something. Discharged pollutants are those that are ejected from something such as smokestacks, tail-pipes, sewage pipes. Pesticides, herbicides, and many fertilizers are not discharged. Neither are the contents of hazardous waste that oozes or seeps out of storage containers or containment sites. Many hazardous wastes themselves are byproducts or products of production and are not "discharged".

    Orange Blossom
     

    danielxu85

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Thanks, Orange Blossom! Do you mean that "discharge" could be used in plural form and it is not an uncountable noun?

    In other contexts, could I say a discharge or two discharges?
     

    Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    Whether you can count discharge falls somewhat into the same category as whether or not you can count snow or fruit. My answer is: in certain circumstances.

    The discharges from the factories mingled and reacted with the atmosphere which resulted in acid rain.

    I used 'discharges' because I was discussing different kinds of discharges. I might also use 'discharges' to speak of 'discharges' from several sources or places.

    Orange Blossom
     
    Top