Toxic waste, also called hazardous waste or poisonous waste is simple any kind of waste that is known to cause deaths and serious health conditions to living things and the environment. The effect may be an immediate one or long a term one. Toxic waste may be in the form of solid, liquid and sludge. Examples are lead, and some metals found in computer and technological items. Examples include asbestos, used-up engine oils, batteries, solvents, farming chemicals, cleaning chemicals and parts of refrigerators and computers.
Where does toxic they come from?
Many of the glass, plastic, metal items we enjoy in life are manufactured using some kind of chemicals. These chemicals are exposed after the items reach their end of life. During manufacturing, there are also lots of by-products that contain some or mixtures of chemicals.
What are the types of harmful wastes?
- Ignitable: If this waste item easily catches fire, burst into flames, irritate eyes, skin or breathing. Examples include varnish, paints or polish.
- Reactive: If this waste item can chemically react with another substance to explode or give off dangerous vapours. An example includes Ammonia, which can read with Chlorine bleach to produce a harmful gas.
- Toxic: If the waste item is poisonous to humans and other living things. Many pesticides and household cleaning chemicals fall into this class.
- Corrosive: These waste items are acidic in nature and can erode other materials. Corrosive waste can eat through metal, or cause severe burns and skin complications if they get into contact with skins.
Why is Toxic Waste a major issue?
Unlike organic waste or household waste, toxic waste can be extremely harmful, if they leak into water bodies, soils or places that humans are. They can immediately contaminate (pollute) waterbodies and cause grave problems for animal life and people who drink from it. Contaminated soils can pass on some of these toxins into the plants grown in them. Animals and humans that eat such plants can be harmed. In an event of fire outbreak, ignitable waste can make the fire worse and fuel the blaze. The smoke from such chemicals may also be another worry.
How does toxic waste get into the environment?
Many industries store such their hazardous waste until they can be safely disposed of. But things go wrong. There can be spills and leakages. Sometimes many industries break the law and dispose of waste in secret locations or add them to their regular waste. At home, individuals also throw medicines, metals and chemicals around and down their drains.
How is hazardous waste disposed of?
Many communities have rules on hazardous waste disposal. Some also have centres that you can take them for recycling or safe authorized disposal. Never add them to your regular trash. It is important to know what toxic waste is so that you can deal with them appropriately. In many developed communities, landfills are contracted in remote and designated areas. The areas are double lined with leak-proof materials and securely covered to minimize the risks. There is no such thing as ‘Safe’ or ‘Risk-free’ waste disposal. All the methods harm the environment, but responsible methods reduce the risks.