Effects of Garbage on the Environment and Human Health

Despite the actions taken by the federal government and the EPA to regulate garbage disposal, environmental experts remain concerned about the continuing effects of garbage on human health and the environment. Although many old-style municipal dumps have been cleaned up since the days of open-air, unregulated garbage dumping, health advocates say that thousands of these sites were simply abandoned. Some of these lands have since

Leachate at the Lycoming County landfill in Montgomery, Pennsylvania, is shown being treated in 2006. Leachate is a toxic brew of petroleum-based chemicals mixed with water.

been converted to new uses without cleaning up what lies underground. According to the advocacy group Zero Waste America, "It is not unusual to find old landfills or randomly buried hazardous and non-hazardous waste under new or old homes, on farmland, or on commercial property—in cities, suburbs, and rural areas."5 These sites may still be leaking toxins into ground-water and air, or otherwise polluting the environment, including the farms, homes, offices, or stores that may now be perched on top of them. The only way to tell for sure that a site is safe is to conduct environmental testing of the soil and air.

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