Toxic Waste

Hazardous substances in solid, liquid, sludge, and radiation form disposed of in the ground, water bodies, and atmosphere, potentially harming plants, animals, and human health can be called toxic waste.

Some toxic wastes remain in the environment for an extended period and accumulate over time.

What are the Sources of Toxic Waste?

There are various day-to-day human activities such as industrial manufacturing, agriculture, construction, research laboratories, hospitals, etc. that produce toxic waste. Even construction items such as batteries, paint leftovers, and pesticides produce hazardous wastes.

The most common types of toxic waste are arsenic, lead, benzene, chromium, toluene, cadmium, mercury, and zinc.

What are the Effects of Toxic Waste?

The effects of toxic waste on the environment may be short-term or long-term.

Short-term effects are often seen in polluted water. When toxic waste is disposed into water bodies, the aquatic plants and animals die immediately. Also, if an animal drinks or prey from the polluted waterways, it may sicken and die.

Long-term effects are mutation in animals and inhibition in plants' normal growth processes. Toxic waste such as lead and mercury cause diseases like cancer, anemia and damages nervous, respiratory, and immune systems. Toxic waste disposed on land slowly infiltrates into the underground water table and pollutes it.

How to Handle Toxic Waste?

Toxic waste must be handled carefully as it can pose a serious threat. Few hazardous types of waste can be treated with physical, chemical, thermal, and biological processes that make them non-hazardous.

The waste which cannot be turned non-hazardous must be sealed tightly in a non-degradable container (to avoid degradation of the container over time and the potential of a toxic waste leakage) and buried underground. Such lands are labeled as 'brownfield' and used for commercial or industrial purposes.

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