Although it’s an old word, we didn’t use the word in Dicken’s time the way we do now (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pollution–then, it referred to sex and the body), but that didn’t stop us. We still made pollution, and described it: ‘Coketown lay shrouded in a haze of its own, which appeared impervious to the sun’s rays. You only knew the town was there, because you knew there could have been no such sulky blotch upon the prospect without a town.’
Pollution seems to have been applied to the environment in the mid-nineteen-fifties, a few years before Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring linked that what you do to the Earth you do to your body (1962). By then, plastics and pesticides had been polluting the environment for a decade or longer.
Besides making pollution, they make junk in Coketown, and if it weren’t for troublesome inspectors, they would make corpses of workers who got in the way of machines. Junk, corpses, pollution–it’s all the same–you know, lost opportunity, waste, money–that sort of thing.