EPA Investigates Hazardous Waste Effect on Low-Income Communities

Recently, we’ve covered the significant impact of hazardous e-waste dumping abroad. But what about hazardous waste dumping in the U.S.?

According to the Los Angeles Times, some hazardous waste recycling plants haven’t been environmentally friendly in the past, not only wreaking havoc on the environment, but on low-income families as well.

Photo: Riverroadenvironmental.com

The EPA reports that in 2007, about 1.8 million tons of hazardous wastes were managed by recycling (including metals, solvents or other material recovery). Photo: Riverroadenvironmental.com

“Under the Bush administration, hazardous waste recycling plants had a free pass to process more than 1 million pounds of toxic material without federal oversight,” the L.A. Times reports.

Now, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has promised to analyze these impacts, taking into consideration race and class in relation to hazardous waste plant locations, according to Earthjustice.

Hundreds of hazardous waste facilities in the U.S. have been classified as “damage cases,” meaning they have been exposed to soil and water contamination that may cause severe health and environmental problems for the surrounding areas. In Los Angeles and other urban areas, many of these plants are located in low-income communities.

Common hazardous household products include everything from cleaners and pesticides to medications and paint. The U.S. EPA defines hazardous waste as “a waste with properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment.” These materials contain at least one of four qualities: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity.

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