Borrowed Earth, Borrowed Time: Healing America’s Chemical by Glenn E. Schweitzer

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By Glenn E. Schweitzer

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Extra info for Borrowed Earth, Borrowed Time: Healing America’s Chemical Wounds

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Seientists attributed some of these contaminants to natural runoff from areas where trees and other plants had decayed. Other chemical pollutants were by-products of the process of chlorinating water to destroy biological contaminants. Still other unwanted chemicals seemed unequivocally linked to discharges from industrial facilities and from sewage treatment plants. In one highly publieized account, seientists from the University of New Orleans identified many organic compounds in the tap water in Louisiana-compounds which had been linked with caDFer in experiments with laboratory animals .

Sulfuric Acid: In fertilizers, chemicals, dyes, rayon, film; widely used by the metals industry. Hazard: strong irritant. 1,1,1 Trichloroethane: Solvent for cIeaning precision instruments; also in pesticides, textiles. Hazard: irritating to eyes and skin. Methyl ethyl ketone: Solvent in making plastics, textiles, paint and paint removers, adhesives. Hazard: flammable, explosive; toxic by inhalation. Dichloromethane: Industrial solvent and paint stripper; in aerosol and pesticide products; used in photographic film production.

Government inspectors and the press found toxic chemicals in rusty barrels, in abandoned ponds, and in mounds of Toxie Chemieals Move to Center Stage 0 27 dirt. lust determining which chemieals were present became a Herculean task. In response the Congress designed the Superfund legislation to provide a comprehensive framework for setting priorities and cleaning up hazardous wastes. The intent was to force responsible parties to pay the bill whenever possible. A trust fund-a Superfund-was established to be used for clean ups when the original dumpers could not be clearly identified or when emergency situations required immediate action.

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