pollution of the land

household hazardous waste

Cleaning products, lawn chemicals, paints, batteries, motor oil these are just some of the many hazardous materials that may be found in households. You might think that a household doesnt produce enough hazardous waste to worry about. But when you add up all the waste from all the households in a community, its a different story. A city of just 50,000 people might produce more than 40 tons of hazardous waste each year! Clearly, how households deal with hazardous waste matters. What can your family do? Reduce, reuse, recycle, or properly dispose of the wastes. 1. Reduce the amount of hazardous products you buy. For example, if you only need a quart of paint for a job, dont buy a gallon. 2. Use less hazardous products if you can. For example, clean windows with vinegar and water instead of toxic window cleaners. 3. Reuse products if its safe to do so. For example, paint thinner that has been used to clean paint brushes can be strained and reused. 4. Recycle whenever possible. For example, some service stations allow you to drop off used motor oil, car batteries, or tires for recycling. 5. Always properly dispose of hazardous waste. For example, let liquid waste evaporate before placing the container in the trash. Proper disposal depends on the waste. Many hazardous products have disposal guidelines on the label. Thats one reason why you should keep the products in their original containers. The labels also explain how to use the products safely. Follow the instructions to protect yourself and the environment. Most communities have centers for disposing of household hazardous waste (see Figure 19.11). Do you know how to dispose of hazardous waste in your community?

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learning from love canal

Love Canal opened peoples eyes to toxic waste burial. They realized there must be other Love Canals all over the country. Thousands of contaminated sites were found. The Superfund Act was passed in 1980. The law required that money be set aside for cleanup of toxic waste sites, like the Elizabeth Copper Mine in Vermont (see the far-right image in Figure 19.9). The law also required safer disposal of hazardous waste in the future.

pollution by hazardous waste

Love Canal highlighted the problem of pollution by hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is any waste that is dangerous to the health of people or the environment. It may be dangerous because it is toxic, corrosive, flammable, or explosive. Toxic waste is poisonous. Toxic waste may cause cancer or birth defects in people. It may also harm other living things. Corrosive waste is highly reactive with other substances. Corrosive waste may cause burns or destroy other materials that it touches. Flammable waste can burn easily. It may also give off harmful fumes when it burns. Explosive waste is likely to explode. The risk of explosion may be greater if the waste is mixed with other substances. Table 19.1 shows some examples of hazardous waste. Look closely. Are any of these examples lurking around your home? Example Description Cars contain toxic fluids such as brake fluid. The fluids may also be corrosive and flammable. This photo shows one way the fluids can end up in the ground. Cars use gas and oil. These materials are toxic and flammable. They pollute the land when they leak or spill. Batteries contain toxic and corrosive materials. People often toss them in the trash, but they should be disposed of properly. Electronics, such as old computers, contain toxic chem- icals. They may be sent to landfills where the toxic materials end up in the ground. Medical waste can contain many hazards: Human body fluids may cause disease; old thermometers may contain toxic mercury; and pharmaceuticals may be toxic to people and other living things. Example Description Paints can be both toxic and flammable. Paints may spill on the ground or be thrown improperly in the trash. Chemicals are applied to farm fields and lawns. They include fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Many of these chemicals are toxic to people and other animals.

controlling hazardous waste

The greatest source of hazardous waste is industry. Agriculture is another major source. Even households produce a lot of hazardous waste.

hazardous waste from industry and agriculture

Thanks to the lessons of Love Canal, the U.S. now has laws requiring the safe disposal of hazardous waste. Companies must ensure that hazardous waste is not allowed to enter the environment in dangerous amounts. They must also protect their workers from hazardous materials. For example, they must provide employees with the proper safety gear and training (see Figure 19.10).

the story of love canal

Love Canal gained worldwide attention in the late 1970s when the press started covering its story. The story is outlined below and illustrated in Figure 19.9.

the love canal disaster

The Love Canal disaster actually began back in the mid 1900s. The disaster continues even today. Starting in the early 1940s, a big chemical company put thousands of barrels of chemical waste into an old canal. Over the next 10 years, the company dumped almost 22,000 tons of chemicals into the ground! In the early 1950s, the company covered over the barrels in the canal with soil. Then they sold the land to the city for just a dollar. The city needed the land in order to build an elementary school. The company warned the city that toxic waste was buried there. But they thought the waste was safe. The school and hundreds of homes were also built over the old canal. As it turned out, the cheap price was no bargain. Chemicals started leaking from the barrels. Chemicals seeped into basements. Chemicals bubbled up to the surface of the ground. In some places, plants wouldnt even grow on the soil. People noticed bad smells. Many got sick, especially the children. Residents wanted to know if the old chemicals were the cause. But they had a hard time getting officials to listen. So they demonstrated and demanded answers. Finally, the soil was tested and was found to be contaminated with harmful chemicals. For example, it contained a lot of lead and mercury. Both can cause permanent damage to the human nervous system. The school was closed. More than 200 homes were evacuated. Much of the Love Canal neighborhood was bulldozed away. The area had a massive clean-up effort. The cleanup cost millions of dollars. More than three decades later, much of Love Canal is still too contaminated to be safe for people.

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instructional diagrams

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questions

Love Canal is considered to be one of the worst environmental disasters of all time.

-->  a. true

b. false

At Love Canal

a. the hazardous wastes were safely buried

b. people became sick right after the town was built

-->  c. the first sign that something was wrong was that children developed cancer

d. none of these

The soil of Love Canal was contaminated with lead and mercury.

-->  a. true

b. false

Where are Superfund sites located?

a. in densely populated areas

-->  b. spread across the U.S.A.

c. East of the Mississippi River

d. all around the world

Which of the following is NOT considered a potentially hazardous material?

-->  a. baking soda

b. batteries

c. fertilizers

d. paint

The Superfund Act requires safe disposal of hazardous waste.

-->  a. true

b. false

All hazardous waste is corrosive and explosive.

a. true

-->  b. false

At Love Canal

-->  a. the problem was uncovered by local residents

b. the local government detected the problem and dealt with it

c. the state government detected the problem and dealt with it

d. the federal government detected the problem and dealt with it

Electronic products contain toxic chemicals.

-->  a. true

b. false

Nations that produce the most hazardous waste have the most

a. people

b. farmers

c. buildings

-->  d. industry

Agriculture produces very little hazardous waste.

a. true

-->  b. false

No hazardous wastes can be recycled safely.

a. true

-->  b. false

Hazardous products should never be reused.

a. true

-->  b. false

You should never put old batteries in the trash.

-->  a. true

b. false

Most cities have centers for disposal of household hazardous waste.

-->  a. true

b. false

The Love Canal disaster began with the disposal of chemical wastes in a canal in the

-->  a. 1940s.

b. 1950s.

c. 1970s.

d. 1980s.

To dispose of liquid waste, let it evaporate.

-->  a. true

b. false

After a massive cleanup effort costing millions of dollars, Love Canal was

a. safe for people.

b. no longer toxic.

-->  c. still contaminated.

d. two of the above

Batteries contain toxic materials and should be disposed of properly.

-->  a. true

b. false

Because of the lessons learned from Love Canal

a. the Superfund Act was passed.

b. many other contaminated sites were found.

c. safer waste disposal guidelines were developed.

-->  d. all of the above

The Superfund Act requires companies to be responsible for hazardous chemicals that they put into the

-->  a. true

b. false

Pesticides in any amount are not toxic to humans.

a. true

-->  b. false

Hazardous waste may be dangerous because it is

a. toxic.

b. corrosive.

c. flammable.

-->  d. all of the above

Toxic wastes can be located because they are always visible.

a. true

-->  b. false

Examples of hazardous wastes include

a. used brake fluid.

b. old computers.

c. left over paint.

-->  d. all of the above

If you have a can containing a very small amount of paint thinner, how could you safely dispose of it?

a. Dilute the paint thinner with water and then toss the can in the trash.

-->  b. Let the paint thinner evaporate and then put the can in the trash.

c. Put the lid tightly on the can and then throw the can in the trash.

d. Pour the paint thinner down the drain and then recycle the can.

Assume you are going to use a bottle of a new cleaning product that you have never used before. What should you do first?

a. Transfer the product to a disposable container.

-->  b. Read the safety guidelines on the label of the bottle.

c. Test a small amount of the product to see if it is toxi

d. Put on latex gloves after you open the bottle.

highly reactive with other substances

a. Superfund Act

b. hazardous waste

-->  c. corrosive

d. flammable

e. pollution

any waste that is dangerous to people or the environment

a. Superfund Act

-->  b. hazardous waste

c. corrosive

d. flammable

e. pollution

able to burn easily

a. Superfund Act

b. hazardous waste

c. corrosive

-->  d. flammable

e. pollution

act of contaminating the environment

a. Superfund Act

b. hazardous waste

c. corrosive

d. flammable

-->  e. pollution

law requiring that money be set aside to clean up toxic waste sites

-->  a. Superfund Act

b. hazardous waste

c. corrosive

d. flammable

e. pollution

diagram questions

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