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Top 10 Most Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace

Hazardous waste may not be in the news every day, but the statistics are still alarming: Over 400 million tons of hazardous waste are produced each year. Most of those come from industrial sources: sludge from electroplating operations; dyes from fabric manufacturing; pesticides and more. Workers specially trained in HAZWOPER guidelines are the front line of defense against hazardous waste contamination.

Hazardous waste may not be in the news every day, but the statistics are still alarming: Over 400 million tons of hazardous waste are produced each year. Most of those come from industrial sources: sludge from electroplating operations; dyes from fabric manufacturing; pesticides and more. Workers specially trained in HAZWOPER guidelines are the front line of defense against hazardous waste contamination.

HAZWOPER/HAZWOPER Training/Hazrardous Chemicals HAZWOPER Guidelines

Here are some of the most common substances found at hazardous waste sites in the U.S.:

Arsenic

Arsenic gets released into groundwater through agriculture, wood preservatives, and glass production. It can cause cancer, respiratory, and circulatory problems.

Lead

Lead is a hazardous chemical that often occurs near mining sites. It can get into the food chain and cause heart disease.

Benzene

Benzene can be released into the environment because of gasoline vapors and automobile exhaust, and has been linked to leukemia.

Chromium

Chromium has been used in the natural gas industry to prevent machinery from rusting. In the 1950s and 60s in Hinckley, California, it was allowed to seep into groundwater – and to this day has not been completely cleaned up. It is a known carcinogen.

Toluene

Toluene can enter the environment through its use in solvents and petroleum products. If inhaled at heavy doses, it can damage the central nervous system.

Cadmium

Highly toxic even in low doses, cadmium is most found in industrialized areas and is released into the environment through fuel combustion, incorrectly handled sewage sludge, and fertilizers.

Zinc

Zinc can be released into the atmosphere due to galvanized metal surfaces, motor oil spills, and tire dust, and can accumulate through stormwater runoff and harm fish and other aquatic life.

Mercury

Mercury gets into the atmosphere through metal processing, coal burning, medical waste, and more. The health problems it engenders are many: brain damage, and kidney and immune system problems can result from overexposure to mercury.

Pesticides

Used in industrial-scale agriculture, pesticides accumulate through water runoff and find their way into water supplies. They can cause neurological and reproductive disorders.

E-Waste

When electronics are incorrectly disposed of, hazardous substances like lead, mercury, and arsenic can leak out, contaminating their surroundings, such as when they’re in a landfill. Over time, these metals and compounds seep into the soil, and through bioaccumulation are passed along the food chain.

Learn how to deal with these chemicals, and more, in our 40-hour HAZWOPER training course.

Sources:
http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/trace/pubs/gw_v38n4/
http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/top-10-worst-toxic-pollution-problems.php
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazardous_waste
https://weather.com/health/news/top-toxic-threats-of-2015
http://www.cleanhouston.org/air/features/benzene.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkley_groundwater_contamination
https://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/toluene.html
https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/0810025.pdf

 

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