Exposure of human beings to toxic substances or hazardous waste poses a great risk to human and animal life. The effect of human exposure to toxic substances can present itself in the form of bio-accumulation (where human beings continuously ingest toxic substances over a long period of time) or bio-magnification (where human beings ingest organisms possessing toxic substances). Both forms of toxins’ intake negatively affect the functions of the human body. Toxic emissions in to the environment are the major sources of pollution. Consumption of contaminated products by unsuspecting people poses a great health risk since in some situations the effects are seen after a long period of time.
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Zoning of industries is of utmost importance especially when there is rapid industrialization. Proper siting of the incinerator could have assisted in reducing the troubles and the costs that are associated with pollution. This site was not appropriate for the incinerator. A sick society is an additional burden to the government since the peoples productivity is lowered while the cost of managing their health is raised. Such a dumping site should be located in an area away from human settlement to ensure minimal health risk to the inhabitants of this area. Before approval of this site, sufficient study should have been done to ensure that it does not pose a health hazard to the community living around the area. More over, it is seen to have attracted more outsiders to dump their waste in the area, causing noise pollution. While zoning, individual rights to a clean and healthy environment should be considered. Environmental Impact assessment should have been conducted in order to ensure that all environmental parameters are taken in to consideration while determining the suitability of the incinerator. Possible alternative sites need to have been considered and their vulnerability levels documented in order to establish with reasons, the best site.
Exposing one area to the risk of pollution may hamper the ability to solve problems in another area; e. g failing to combat pollution in one area may hinder the capacity of the government to provide health services to its citizens. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (2006), “The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act hazardous waste permitting program helps ensure the safe treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes by establishing specific requirements that must be followed when managing those wastes”. This was not observed while considering issuance of the permanent permit. The state permit should be issued after thorough environmental impact assessment on the suitability of the site.
Every individual has a right to a peaceful environment. It is irritating to live in a noisy and smelly environment. The people causing this irritation live in quiet and unpolluted places. Children who grow up in this environment may never know what it means to live in an environment free from pollution. There is a possibility of these children polluting the environment when they become adults since they got used to polluted environments.
Clear and present risks
The unpleasant odor emanating from the incinerator is a nuisance to the people living in the neighborhood. This smell could be caused by toxic fumes of burning waste. Toxic fumes are a great danger to pregnant women and are known to cause miscarriage. The unpleasant odors prevent proper intake of fresh air hence reducing the capacity of the human respiratory system to function properly.
Noise pollution is also a source of discomfort amongst the people living around this area. It is a barrier to effective communication. Infants, the old and the sick need a calm environment. This site therefore hinders home based care for the sick and the old as well as endangering proper growth of children. Loud noise is harmful to the ear. The receptor cells of the ear are damaged by continuous exposure to noise. The most vulnerable are the young children. According to Sheila Foster (2005), “A common complaint of individuals with noise induced hearing loss is that they can hear but not understand”.
Industrialization and urbanization are aimed at production of goods and services to improve on the life of humans. They should therefore not pose risks to hamper the existence of humans in which ever way. This incinerator was meant for destroying waste that is undesirable to humans. It has instead had a negative impact on the same people that it was meant to assist. It should therefore not exist since it does not serve the purpose it was meant for. It rather poses a greater problem than a solution.
The principles for risk management decision-making were not applied in this case. This is because essential factors were not considered while approving the site. According to ATSDR (2001), “The incinerator must be designed and operated in a manner that minimizes production of non-stack, fugitive emissions”. Environmental impact assessment was not carried out to establish the possible risks posed by the incinerator.
- ATSDR (2001). Public Health Overview of Incineration as a Means to Destroy Hazardous Wastes.
ATSDR@1-800-CDC-INFO, 8th December 2007
- Environmental Protection Agency (2006). Solid Waste Combustion/Incineration.
Print As-Is. Friday, August 29th, 2008.
- Sheila Foster, “Environmental Justice”, 2005
CPR Perspectives Series © 2005 the Center for Progressive Reform