Hazardous waste and its proper disposal have become a major sociological problem today due to its capability of contaminating the area in which we live and its potential to be lethal to all living things. In order for the United States and the rest of the world to save itself from a potentially life threatening problem they must fix the causes which lead to the improper disposal of hazardous wastes and like materials. Some reasons that hazardous waste has become a problem in the United States today is due to the breakdown in enforcing laws for the proper disposal of such wastes, a lack of initiative on big companies behalf to spend money on proper disposal, and the ease of disposing of such wastes illegally.
The mistakes of the past need not be repeated, for hazardous waste can be controlled using methods that prevent damage to human health and the environment. These methods have been neglected in the past primarily because they cost more than indiscriminate or careless dumping, and because no law required their use(Kiefer, 1981, p.51).
The problem of hazardous waste today actually stems from the growth of the United States industry after the Second World War. However, “with the benefits, unavoidably, come hazardous wastes(Kiefer, 1981, p.9). Hazardous wastes are the byproducts of everyday industry, ranging from heavy metals like lead, mercury, copper to more dangerous chemicals including cyanide, acids, and synthetic organic compounds. “The EPA has established four characteristics that may be used to determine whether or not a waste should be classified as hazardous: Ignitability, Corrosivity, Ractivity, and Toxicity”(Block, 1985, p.44). All of these substances and many more are dangerous to wildlife and humans if they are not properly disposed.
In 1976 the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was put into effect by the Environmental Protection Agency. This act requires “that hazardous waste be controlled from the time it is produced to its final disposal – from “cradle-to-grave”(Kiefer, 1981,p.11). However, “before RCRA went into effect, about ninety percent of hazardous waste was disposed of by methods that did not protect human health or the environment”(Kiefer, 1981, p.15). “In New Jersey alone 30 percent (120,000 gallons) of waste is treated or disposed of in 20 licensed New Jersey facilities. The remaining sevent...
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...umping it will be a long time before we witness any progressive developments on this problem. As for the areas that we have already contaminated with our hazardous wastes there is little hope of ever rejuvenating these sites. We as a nation must see that by addressing the problems with proper care and disposal of toxic wastes we are in fact saving our own lives. Once we come to this realization we can expect much more pressure by the people for stricter laws and harsher punishments of illegal dumping. Only then will we see a positive change that will affect our future.
Block, Alan A. (1985). Poisoning for profit The Mafia and toxic waste in America.
New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
Dodd, Frank J. (1980, Oct. 7). Hazardous Waste Can Be Controlled. The New York Times, C 7.
Enthoven, Alain C. (1973). Pollution, Resources, and the Environment New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Kiefer, Irene. (1981). Poisoned Land : The Problem of Hazardous Waste. New York : McClelland & Steward, Ltd.
Purvis, Andrew. (2000, July 17). Deadly Discharge. Time: Internet. 3 Oct 2000. Available http://www.time.com/time/europe/magazine/2000/228/danube.html.
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