The recent literature proposes many variables as significant determinants of pollution. This paper gives an overview of this literature and asks which of these factors have an empirically robust impact on water and air pollution. We apply Extreme Bound Analysis (EBA) on a panel of up to 120 countries covering the period 1960--2001. We find supportive evidence of the existence of the environmental Kuznets curve for water pollution. Furthermore, mainly variables capturing the economic structure of a country affect air and water pollution. Copyright 2011 Oxford University Press 2010 All rights reserved, Oxford University Press.