In Effects of Hazardous Waste: Part I we discussed hazards vs. risks, and how chemicals move throughout the environment. Why does this affect you though? It’s important to understand how your choices can directly impact you and what you can be doing to help.
Why does this affect you, why should you care?
The occurrence of adverse health effects is dependent on the way the hazardous chemical enters the body. Some hazardous chemicals absorb rapidly through the skin, while others don’t at all. The toxicity of a chemical also determines the effect on the body. There are many hazardous chemicals are toxic in very small amounts, whereas others can have large volumes of exposure before there is a reaction. Up to 300 man-made chemicals have been found in the average human. Having hazardous chemicals in the human body causes adverse reactions to fetuses, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly but the reaction each may have varies. A fetus and young child is more susceptible to adverse reactions than an adult because their developing organs may be permanently damaged. Some potential health conditions in people of all ages include:
- Behavior abnormalities
- Physiological malfunctions (e.g., kidney failure, reproductive impairment)
- Genetic mutations
- Physical deformations
- Birth defects
By not disposing of hazardous wastes properly, these same wastes will likely circle back around and could affect you or your family ten-fold, is that a risk worth taking? For more information on certain chemicals, such as the likely health effects, visit the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s ToxFAQs website.
What You Should be Doing to Help
The Environmental Protection agency (EPA) has created informational outlines on designated chemicals to define how people can be exposed to hazardous chemicals and how contact to them might affect their health. The outlines also describe what happens to chemicals in the environment, who regulates them, and who people should contact for more information. Wastes are broken down into four categories and each has their own regulations and handling requirements.
It is necessary to keep in mind the long-term affect these wastes have on personal, local, national and global levels. For example, in our blog Waste Conversion – Our Responsibility to future generations we took a look at Emelle, Alabama. In 1978, Chemical Waste Management purchased a landfill for a 300-acre tract of land near the village of Emelle. Since acquiring the landfill, millions of tons of hazardous waste have been dumped on the prior farmland, which has created the largest hazardous waste landfill in the United States. The landfill is now 2,700 acres and sits directly over the Eutaw Aquifer, which supplies water to a large part of Alabama. The Emelle landfill is not the only landfill of the sort but it is certainly the largest in the United States. If hazardous waste continues to be disposed of improperly, this landfill will continue to grow or more of the same kind could be created. Companies that specialize in the disposal and handling of hazardous waste, make it their priority to either burn off chemical wastes or treat the chemical waste in a way that diminishes any potential harm it could do to the environment. Any time you are about to throw something into the trash, take a moment to determine if it is toxic. If you throw this item into the trash, keep in mind that you are making steps towards creating a hazardous waste landfill in your backyard. Is that how you want to leave this country for your children and grandchildren?
Take the next step
Hand the stress of worrying about our future generations over to experts who have the training and experience to handle hazardous waste materials. Contact us today to discuss your hazardous waste disposal needs.