Nuclear and Hazardous Waste

toxic waste

toxic waste is waste material, often in chemical form, that can cause death or injury to living creatures. It usually is the product of industry or commerce, but comes also from residential use, agriculture, the military, medical facilities, radioactive sources, and light industry, such as dry cleaning establishments. The term is often used interchangeably with "hazardous waste," or discarded material that can pose a long-term risk to health or environment. Toxics can be released into air, water, or land. In 1976 the Toxic Substances Control Act required the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate potentially hazardous industrial chemicals, including halogenated fluorocarbons, dioxin, asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and vinyl chloride. Other federal legislation pertaining to hazardous wastes includes the Atomic Energy Act (1954), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976), and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or Superfund Act (1986). Toxic waste treatment and control has proved to be expensive and time-consuming with more resources spent on court battles than on actual cleanup. The disposal of toxic wastes is also a topic of international concern. In 1989, some 50 countries signed a treaty aimed at regulating the international shipment of toxic wastes. In some cases such wastes are shipped to developing countries for cheap disposal without the informed consent of their governments. The often substandard shipping, storage, and treatment methods endanger human health and the health of the environment. See air pollution; pollution; solid waste; water pollution.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Problems and Prospects for Nuclear Waste Disposal Policy
Eric B. Herzik; Alvin H. Mushkatel.
Greenwood Press, 1993
Nuclear Imperatives and Public Trust: Dealing with Radioactive Waste
Luther J. Carter.
Resources for the Future, 1988
Toxic Exports: The Transfer of Hazardous Wastes from Rich to Poor Countries
Jennifer Clapp.
Cornell University Press, 2001
Global Dumping Ground: The International Traffic in Hazardous Waste
Bill D. Moyers; Center for Investigative Reporting (U.S.).
Seven Locks Press, 1990
A Dirty Dilemma: The Hazardous Waste Trade
Lipman, Zada.
Harvard International Review, Vol. 23, No. 4, Winter 2002
All Mixed Up about Mixed Waste
Leonard, Rebecca.
Environmental Law, Vol. 32, No. 1, Winter 2002
Siting Hazardous Waste Treatment Facilities: The Nimby Syndrome
Kent E. Portney.
Auburn House, 1991
One Hundred Centuries of Solitude: Redirecting America's High-Level Nuclear Waste Policy
James Flynn; James Chalmers; Doug Easterling; Roger Kasperson; Howard Kunreuther; C. K. Mertz; Alvin Mushkatel; K. David Pijawka; Paul Slovic; Lydia Dotto.
Westview Press, 1995
The Enemy Within: The High Cost of Living near Nuclear Reactors: Breast Cancer, AIDS, Low Birthweights, and Other Radiation-Induced Immune Deficiency Effects
Jay M. Gould; Radiation and Public Health Project.
Four Walls Eight Windows, 1996
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