What We Leave Behind
Have you ever really thought what toxic waste is? With all the talk lately about being green and such, I’m quite sure you’ve heard the term mentioned once or twice. So what is toxic waste?
Well, it is constituted by poisonous byproducts of nearly every aspect of human life, from farming, septic systems, manufacturing, construction, laboratories, garages, hospitals and many other industries. It comes in a variety of forms—waste can be solid, liquid or sludge, and it contains chemicals, heavy metals, radiation and dangerous pathogens.
Even your own house creates hazardous waste from items such as used computer equipment, batteries, and leftover paints or pesticides. The toxins are harmful to all forms of life if encountered in streams, groundwater supplying the drinking water or buried in the ground. Some heavy metals persist, for instance mercury, and are consumed by both people and animals when eating fish.
So what happens with all these toxins? The ways of disposing of any hazardous waste are regulated by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires that any such waste be disposed of in designated facilities throughout the US. The most common way of discarding toxins is storing them in sealed containers under ground. Less toxic waste, like soil with lead, may be allowed to stay buried under ground and then sealed off with a clay cap. These areas may later be labeled “brown fields” suitable for industrial or commercial use or be used for golf courses, parks and such.
Unfortunately, illegal dumping of hazardous waste still happens and even tough EPA tries to increase the severity of restrictions, so far greedy corporations opt for the illegal dumping since all facilities charge fees for discarding toxic waste. Hopefully, there are more environmentally conscious corporations than the greedy ones…