Hazardous waste is, as the name suggests, waste that has the potential to harm humans, animals, and the environment. Much of what we know about the harm it can do has been found out the hard way: by studying the real-world effects. To learn about some of these effects, keep reading for a few reasons why we need to dispose of hazardous waste properly.
Danger to Humans
There is abundant evidence that shows how hazardous waste can harm human health. When it comes to pollution, our most vulnerable citizens face the highest risk. The different ways hazardous waste can hurt humans and how badly it can hurt them are based on how they’re exposed and which kind of hazardous waste it is. Some chemicals take a while to absorb into the skin, whereas others don’t absorb at all. Some hazardous materials can cause cancer, genetic mutations, kidney failure, sterilization, chemical burns, and other health issues.
Danger to Animals
If something can be dangerous for humans, it’s safe to assume that it can be dangerous for animals as well. Unlike humans, though, animals have no choice but to accept and adapt to whatever is thrown at them. This is a major reason why we need to dispose of hazardous waste properly. Humans are the only species on the planet capable of creating non-biodegradable waste and are therefore responsible for it and all of the effects it has.
Danger to the Environment
Even if every human and animal were able to foresee and avoid coming into contact with potentially hazardous waste, the dangers posed to the environment itself would still exist. In the case of improper chemical disposal, chemicals will soak into the soil and leak into underground aquifers. A minor spill that happens in one place can easily escalate to devastatingly affect a vast region. Even worse, the full impact of this could take a long time to notice.
It’s the Law
In the last fifty years, once we finally understood just how catastrophic hazardous waste could be, the government intervened to stop some of the more dangerous waste at its source. In 1976, Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, arguably the most important piece of environmental legislation ever written. In a nutshell, the RCRA regulates producers of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste and makes them abide by certain guidelines during the disposal process.