Every day, we use chemicals all around us and more than 70,000 chemicals are used regularly worldwide. Whether they are synthetic, man-made or natural, when used and disposed of properly, they are able to enhance the quality of life. However when they are improperly used and disposed of, they may have harmful effects in the environment, including humans.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Hazardous waste is most often a by-product of a manufacturing process - material left after products are made. Some hazardous wastes come from our homes: our garbage can include such hazardous wastes as old batteries, bug spray cans, and paint thinner. Regardless of the source, unless we dispose of hazardous waste properly, it can create health risks for people and damage the environment.”
Hazardous waste that is released into the environment may turn into health risks. For instance, when rain falls on soil to a hazardous waste site, it may carry it deeper into the ground, affecting groundwater. As stated by the EPA, Hazardous waste may cause injury, illness or death when:
Exposure depends on:
We may be exposed to these hazards through the following methods:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the HAZWOPER standard to protect workers against hazardous waste. OSHA HAZWOPER requirements are available online to employers and employees to take part in.
image by: Monty Rakusen/Corbis