Many companies in several industries produce hazardous waste consistently, and it’s imperative that they always properly dispose of it. The repercussions of dumping any hazardous substances in with the regular garbage are much larger than many people realize. Learn why hazardous waste cannot be thrown in the trash by reading below.
Legal Regulations and Standards of the EPA
One of the first reasons you cannot throw any hazardous waste in with the garbage is the strict regulations instituted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), all hazardous waste is supposed to be handled, treated, stored, and disposed of in a specific manner and separate from all other garbage that goes into a landfill. The failure to follow these rules can land a company in serious trouble that could involve legal penalties, from heavy fines to being shut down.
Damage to the Environment
Hazardous waste comprises materials that aren’t meant to be in the environment. Much of the destruction such substances can cause to the environment begins if they end up in a landfill with regular garbage. The hazardous substances will break down and make their way into the soil. This can cause serious effects when it comes to agriculture; plants will sicken and easily die. From the soil, substances from hazardous waste can make it into groundwater; this water leads to streams, rivers, lakes, and aquifers. The pollution can also make its way into the atmosphere as gases, causing further destruction to the ozone layer and increasing the effects of global warming.
Threats to Human Health
One of the greatest reasons why hazardous waste cannot be thrown in the trash is the threat it presents to human health. When hazardous substances get into the groundwater and make it to larger bodies of water—which becomes our drinking water and water used for agricultural purposes—humans could suffer serious effects, including cancer, birth defects, genetic mutations, and physical deformations. All of these could ultimately lead to death. These same effects could also appear through exposure to contaminated food. The same gases that damage our atmosphere can also harm human health as we breathe the air. This is why proper waste disposal is a significant part of what you should know as an RCRA hazardous waste generator. You should consistently uphold your responsibilities for the safety of our planet.