Hazardous Waste

Members of earlier generations routinely drained the oil from their vehicle crankcases directly on to the ground or into storm drains or took the used oil and other hazardous wastes to the dump. Highly toxic industrial wastes were also disposed of both within and at the outskirts of cities and towns. In 1996, it was estimated that some 12 million children in the United States were living less than 4 miles from a hazardous waste site. Disasters have occurred when living organisms (including humans) have not been properly isolated from radioactive wastes produced by atomic energy plants. Even when hazardous wastes aren't unceremoniously dumped, serious accidents and spills take place, with the effects sometimes lingering indefinitely, as, for example, in and around the former Soviet Union's Chernobyl atomic meltdown site.

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Hazardours Plants
Figure 25.1 Butte Sink, California. Atypical wetland, as seen from the air.

Today, there are concerted efforts to curb the disposal of hazardous wastes and to greatly reduce the probabilities of accidents and spills. At most solid-waste dumps, it is illegal to dispose of even empty latex paint cans, let alone more toxic materials, and heavy fines are levied on those found disposing of industrial wastes in an improper manner. Monies from a U.S. government "superfund" are being used, with some success, to clean up selected old hazardous waste sites. The process thus far is slow and inadequate, but the increased restrictions on disposal methods, and, as previously noted, the genetic engineering of bacteria that can dismantle and render harmless many types of wastes hold promise for the future.

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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