LIVING WITH TOXIC WASTE
When we think of toxic waste, we are actually thinking of Pollution. The definition of term pollution is the contamination of air, water, or soil by a substance that is harmful to living organisms. It may occurs naturally, for example through volcanic eruptions. As the result of human activities, such as the spilling of oil or disposal of industrial waste. The dictionary definition of toxic waste refers to chemical compounds produced by industry, which, if human breathe them in, can cause physiological damage. Toxic waste are chemical waste material capable of causing death or injury to life, according to Ramon. J Aldag, Toxic waste, Encyclopaedia Britannica (2007)
Characteristic of a toxic waste
A material can be termed as toxic, if has the following properties. It contains agents that causes cancer in human. They are in three major categories, namely:
• Chemical carcinogens- from biological sources
• Physical carcinogens
• Moreover, oncogenic- cancer causing viruses.
Secondly if substances are poisonous. A poison, in biochemistry, is a substance, natural or synthetic, that causes damage to living tissues. It maybe be injurious or fatal effect on the body. It can be ingested, it can inhaled, or absorbed, or injected through the skin.
Thirdly, if the matter is radioactive. Radioactivity is the property that certain types of matter, exhibit. This kind of matter emit energy and subatomic particles spontaneously, which is an attribute of individual atomic nuclei.
Fourth, if the matter is explosive. For example. A device, produce a volume of rapidly expanding gas in an extremely short a period. These can be detonating, or high, explosives and deflagrating, or low, explosives.
Lastly, but not least, if be mutagenic that is causing damage to chromosomes or, teratogenic, that leads to birth defects or bio accumulative , which is increase in concentration at the higher ends of food chains.
Waste containing dangerous pathogens for example, used syringes is termed as toxic wastes. Poisoning occurs when toxic waste is in contact with human body or body of any living thing, either ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.
Types of toxic waste
There eleven key substances that United Nation Environment (UNEP) has Identified risky, and dangerous to human health: These includes Arsenic, Asbestos, Cadmium, clinical waste, Cyanide, lead chromium, Mercury, polychlorinated Biphenyls(PCBs), Persistent Organic Pollutant(POPs), and strong Acids and Alkalis.
Arsenic: Arsenic used in making electrical circuits as well as an ingredient in pesticides. It used as wood preservative, and, classified, as a carcinogen.
Asbestos:A material used for the insulation of buildings. Businesses are still using this material to manufacture roofing material. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to lung cancer and asbestosis.
Cadmium: Found in batteries and plastics materials. If inhaled through Cigarette smoke, or digested when included as a pigment in food. Exposure leads to lung damage, irritation of the digestive tract, and kidney disease.
Clinical waste: Such as syringes and medication, bottles can spread pathogens and harmful microorganisms. This will lead to a variety of illnesses.
Cyanide: A poison found in certain pesticides and rodenticides. In large quantities can lead to paralysis, Convulsions, and respiratory ache.
Lead: Found in batteries, paints, and ammunition. If ingested, or inhaled can cause harm to the nervous, and reproductive systems, and kidneys.
Chromium: Used as brick lining for high-temperature industrial furnaces. As a solid metal, it is used in making steel, and in chrome plating, manufacturing dyes, and pigments, wood preserving, and leather tanning. It is known to cause cancer, and prolonged exposure can cause chronic bronchitis and causes damage to lung tissue.
Mercury: Used for dental fillings and batteries and for production of chlorine gas. Exposure can lead to birth defects, and kidney and brain damage.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): Used in many manufacturing processes in utility industry, and in paints and sealants. Damage can occur through exposure, affecting the nervous, reproductive, and immune systems, as well as the liver
Persistent Organic Pollutant (POPs) :
Found in chemicals, and pesticides. It may lead to nervous and reproductive system defects. They can bio-accumulate within the organic phenomenon, or act the atmosphere.