In the United States there are some 75,000 chemicals in everyday use, mnay of which endanger the lives of millions of people who live near where they are produced, handled, transported, or dumped. Contained in pesticides, herbicides, food additives, drinking water, building materials, household goods, and many other carriers, toxic chemicals threaten every woman, man, child, and animal. We are literally poisoning ourselves to death. (Naar, 1990)
Toxic waste disposal is being implemented in most areas, but the methods contain flaws. The main disposal methods are as follows:
a. Dumping in pits, ponds, and lagoons. This is the cheapest and least regulated method, any many sites are illegal.
b. Landfills fitted with liners of clay and plastic. They have the potential of leaching toxic substances into ground, water, and sewers.
c. Above-ground storage by tanks or sheds. These present the danger of fire or explosion.
d. Incineration where combustion is used to destroy toxic materials. This produces air pollution and residual ash.
e. Underground deep wells. A concern of the impact of earthquakes. (Naar, 1990)
Some health effects of toxic chemicals include swelling of tissues in the upper respiratory tract, depression of the central nervous system, irritation, and stripping naturally protective oils from skin, lung tissue, or eyes. Other effects are damaging cells, and chronic effects on the liver, kidneys, and heart. In addition, most of the chemicals mentioned are suspected of causing cancer. (Naar, 1990)
What can you do about toxic chemicals? First, realize that although it may not seem important if you pour a can of old bleach or turpentine down the sink or toilet, imagine our country’s total dumping. For example, if you mulitply your one can by 83 million other houseuholds in the United States, each one of which contains an estimated 3 to 8 gallons of hazardous waste, it certainly adds up. Therefore, clean up your own mess in the proper fashion. Also, contact the EPA and your local toxic waste facility for specific information on removal of toxic wastes. (Naar, 1990)