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Storms Turn Everyday Trash into Toxic Waste

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marti1900

Storms Turn Everyday Trash into Toxic Waste

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(CNN) -- Tons of household chemicals that were once stored safely in garages, bathrooms and kitchen cabinets along the Gulf Coast pose a potential environmental threat after being scattered by Hurricane Katrina and its twin Rita. The storms destroyed or damaged some 160,000 homes and left an estimated 22 million tons of debris in their wake. That's enough to cover 200 football fields with a 50-foot pile. Buried in the mess, like toxic needles in a haystack, are paint cans, bottles of chlorine bleach, drain cleaners and other contaminates. "We calculated that there's as much as 5 million gallons of that particular waste stream," said Chuck Brown with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. The gasoline tanker trucks you see on the highway hold about 9,000 gallons, so it would take more than 550 of them to carry all those chemicals.Crews are going street to street in cities and towns across the region to collect the contaminants and make sure they are disposed of properly. A crew working in Slidell, Louisiana, did not have enough people to dig through all the debris, so they were only grabbing what they could see. "If we're lucky, we'll probably get maybe 20 percent, 30 percent, somewhere right around there," said David Romero with the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA asked residents to help out by marking chemical containers and setting them aside until they can be disposed of. Officials also urged people not to burn the containers or dump them into drains or toilets. Here's the direct link:www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/10/05/hur ... oriesMarti in Mexico
MadArchitect

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Re: Storms Turn Everyday Trash into Toxic Waste

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Seems kind of obvious, doesn't it? The more materials that you have that need to be stored in a particular way to avoid health hazards, the more you put yourself at risk when circumstances push everything into disorder. And this article is talking about things contained in most homes. The problem, though, is coming up with solutions for how to minimize the potential for unleashing hazards. Any ideas?One that occurs to me, and it may not be optimal, is that of selling hazardous materials in smaller quantities, so that there are fewer unused portions after a job is done. Bleach, for example, comes in fairly huge plastic tubs. If they were packaged in smaller quantities, such that most people would finish off a complete container in a single use, there'd be less to store in homes -- ergo, less available for spillage in situations like these.
marti1900

Re: Storms Turn Everyday Trash into Toxic Waste

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Mad, the problem with packaging in smaller quantities is that then that creates a landfill problem. Instead of one 1-gallon bleach jug, you have 20 of those little plastic non-degradable jugs. I think there is no good easy solution to the modern lifestyle. Let's face it, we are not willing to give up most of the way we live. so we have to live with the consequences.That article caught my attention because I was so focused on the plight of the people who now have no "stuff" anymore, but have no home to go back to, and probably never will. I hadn't though about the toxicity that would be leaking out of the submerged cars, or the household chemicals that would be poisoning the earth. For me, it just puts a whole new level of horror on this tragedy.Marti in Mexico
MadArchitect

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Re: Storms Turn Everyday Trash into Toxic Waste

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marti1900: Mad, the problem with packaging in smaller quantities is that then that creates a landfill problem.True enough, but I also think that we should make a move away from disposable containers and try to implement a system of permanent containers which are continually refilled -- you know, sort of like humanity did things for just about ever.I think there is no good easy solution to the modern lifestyle. Let's face it, we are not willing to give up most of the way we live. so we have to live with the consequences.Easy, no; but change is possible. One of my interests in looking at history is determining what made broad social changes possible.
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