Industrial Hazardous Wastes

Hazardous industrial wastes pose even more risk than hazardous household products. Some hazardous wastes produced by man-

ufacturing are solid and easily contained; other hazardous industrial wastes are gases that can escape into the air or liquids that can contaminate groundwater supplies. Industrial operations in developed nations such as the United States have produced large quantities of hazardous waste for multiple decades, and most of that time, the disposal of these wastes was either totally unregulated or enforcement of government regulations was lax. For many years, companies simply vented gaseous wastes into the atmosphere and loaded solid and liquid toxic chemical, plastic, or pesticide wastes into large metal drums and dumped them either above or under the ground.

The danger of hazardous industrial wastes to human health and the environment was first brought home to Americans in the 1970s when an environmental disaster unfolded at Love Canal, an industrial dump site in the city of Niagara Falls, New York. The canal was owned by Hooker Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum. For thirty-three years, from

This is an aerial view of the community where toxic waste was dumped by the Hooker Chemical Company into the Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York.

This is an aerial view of the community where toxic waste was dumped by the Hooker Chemical Company into the Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York.

1920 until 1953, Hooker used the dump site, filling it with more than 21,000 tons (19,051 metric tons) of chemicals—many of them now known to be potent carcinogens. Among these were pesticides such as lindane and DDT, multiple solvents, poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin, and heavy metals.

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