Hazardous Waste Local Production Site Contamination – Love Canal Legislative Efforts RCRA CERCLA Superfund Sites Hazard Transport Long-Term Hazards Environmental and Health Effects Modern industry produces many products that contain hazardous wastes Many industrial processes use hazardous materials and produce hazardous waste
History of the Love Canal: 1892 –1978 The Love Canal, a neighborhood in the southeast LaSalle district of the City of Niagara Falls, New York, takes its name from the failed plan of nineteenth century entrepreneur, William T. Love. Approximately four miles upstream of Niagara Falls, Love saw an ideal location to harness water to generate power to the burgeoning industries developing along the seven mile stretch of the River to the mouth of Lake Ontario. In 1892,the canal was his solution to provide ships a route to bypass the Falls. A few years later Love's dream of the navigable waterway evaporated. A nationwide economic depression, loss of financial backing, and the invention of alternating electrical current forced Love to abandoned his project. Only one mile of the canal had been dug. U.S. Geological Aerial Photographs taken in 1927 clearly show an open body of water sixty feet wide and three thousand feet long at the otherwise undeveloped edge of the City. The Love Canal remained as a recreational area for swimming and boating well into the early 20th century. By 1920, Love's land was sold at public auction and quickly became a municipal and chemical disposal site. From 1942 through 1953, the Love Canal Landfill was used principally by Hooker Chemical, one of the many chemical plants located along the Niagara River. Nearly 21,000 tons (42 million pounds) of what would later be identified by independent scientists as "toxic chemicals" were dumped at the site. In 1953, with the landfill at maximum capacity, Hooker filled the site with layers of dirt. As the post-war housing and baby boom spread to the southeast section of the City; the Niagara Falls Board of Education purchased the Love Canal land from Hooker Chemical for one dollar. Included in the deed transfer was a "warning" of the chemical wastes buried on the property and a disclaimer absolving Hooker of any further liability. Single-family housing surrounded the Love Canal site. As the population grew, the 99th Street School was built directly on the former landfill. At the time, homeowners were not warned or provided information of potential hazards associated with locating close to the former landfill site. According to residents who lived in the area, from the late 1950s through the early 1970s repeated complaints of odors and "substances" surfacing in their yards brought City officials to visit the neighborhood. The City assisted by covering the "substances" with dirt or clay, including those found on the playground at the 99th Street School. Faced with continuing complaints, the City, along with Niagara County hired Calspan Corporation as a consultant to investigate. A report was filed indicating presence of toxic chemical residue in the air and in the sump pumps of residents in living at the southern end of the canal. Also discovered were 50 gallons drums just below the surface of the canal cap and high levels of PCB's (polycholorinated biphenyls) in the storm sewer system. Remedial recommendations included covering the canal with a clay cap, sealing home sump pumps and a tile drainage system to control migration of wastes. No action was taken. By 1978, the Love Canal neighborhood included approximately 800 private, single-family homes, 240 low-income apartments, and the 99th Street Elementary School - located near the center of the landfill. Two other schools, 93rd Street School and 95th Street School - were also considered to be part of this neighborhood comprised of working class families. In April 1978, Michael Brown, a reporter for the Niagara Gazette newspaper, wrote a series of articles on hazardous waste problems in the Niagara Falls area, including the Love Canal dumpsite. In response to the articles, Love Canal residents once more began calling on City and County officials to investigate their complaints. By this time, many residents were beginning to question health risks and noting already existing inexplicable health problems. At the same time, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) began collecting air and soil tests in basements and conducting health studies of the 239 families immediately surrounding the canal. On April 25, 1978, the New York State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Robert Whalen issued a determination of public health hazard existing in the Love Canal Community. He ordered the Niagara County Health Department to remove exposed chemicals from the site and install a protective fence around the area. Once the report was public, Lois M. Gibbs, a resident and mother of two small children, canvassed the neighborhood to petition the closure of the 99th Street School where her son attended kindergarten. Throughout the spring and summer of 1978, New York State Health Department, City of Niagara Falls and County of Niagara Falls officials, and Love Canal residents met to discuss the growing health hazard. On August 2, 1978, the New York State Commissioner of Health, Robert M. Whalen, M.D. declared a medical State of Emergency at Love Canal and ordered the immediate closure of the 99th Street School. Immediate cleanup plans were initiated and recommendations to move were made for pregnant women and children under two who lived in the immediate surrounding area of the Love Canal. The President of the United States Jimmy Carter declared the Love Canal area a federal emergency on August 7, 1978. This declaration would provide funds to permanently relocate the 239 families living in the first two rows of homes encircling the landfill. The remaining 10 block area of the Love Canal, including the home of Lois Gibbs, were not included in the declaration.
Love Canal – Who is at fault Hooker Chemical? City of Niagara Falls? US Army? Consumers?
RCRA, CERCLA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (1976) Gave EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from the "cradle-to-grave." Includes the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (1980) Commonly known as Superfund; Enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980. Created tax on the chemical and petroleum industries Provided broad Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment
Superfund Sites – where are they? • Industrial regions, and • Rural regions
Avtex – PA Superfund Site Established in 1929 as the American Viscose Corporation, the current Crawford County Industrial Park has gone through many changes over the years. Initially a textile plant producing acetate yarn, the plant was purchased by Avtex Synthetic Fibers Inc. in 1972, but shut down in 1985 due to the lagging textile industry. • Powerplant • Water treatment Plant • In 1990, the former Avtex site was declared a state Superfund Site, and thePennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with the Meadville Redevelopment Authority, began site reclamation: • Fly ash waste along French Creek - Stabilized • PCB leakage monitored
Avtex Cleanup – Brownfield Redevelopment Benefit: Reuse old uindustrial sites rather than pollute new areas Problems: Future liability
Travel of Synthetic Chemicals through the Environment Many pathways
Recall E-Waste • We are an electronic society • How is power stored? • What is needed?
Lead concentrations in ocean sediments (orange bars). Black numbers beneath the bars are station locations. Black numbers along the orange bars and on the grey arrows indicate lead 206/207 ratio (used to determine source). Boundary currents of Atlantic water (blue arrows) explain the distribution of contaminant lead within the Eurasian Basin sediments. The times of transit from the North Sea are shown in blue italics (a=year). The location of the front between the Atlantic and Pacific surface water masses (dashed green line) is a recent relocation of that front. Pb in Arctic Sediments http://www.emannorth.ca/ic/ds028/cadmium.cfm
PCBs in Great Lakes – Regional Transport http://wi.water.usgs.gov/pubs/FS-116-96/pcbfig1b.GIF
PCBs – Global/International Transport http://carto.eu.org/article2426.html
PCB Specific Effects – Why be concerned? Immune EffectsDecreases in thymus gland size Decreased immune system response after immune challengeDecreased resistance to infectionsReproductive EffectsDecreases in birth weightDecreases in conception ratesDecreases in the number of live birthsDecreases in sperm countNeurological EffectsDecreases in visual recognitionDecreases in short term memory abilitiesDecreases in learning abilitiesEndocrine EffectsDecreased thyroid hormone levelsHearing deficitsOther developmental deficitsOther EffectsDermal and ocular deficitsLiver toxicity
Bioaccumulation • Some toxicants resist decay and persist in the environment • Pass through an animal’s digestive tract in its original form. • Substances accumulate/magnify every step up the food chain. • Animals at the top of the food chain are at greatest risk for negative effects. • Example: PCB level in a gull can be 100 million times higher than in the water it feeds at.
Hormone Mimicry • Endocrine-disrupting substances mimic the structure of hormone molecules • Bind to cellular receptor for the hormone • Cause cell to react as if it had encountered the hormone VIDEO http://www.greenfacts.org/endocrine-disruptors/endocrine-disrupters.htm
Bis-Phenol A – Plastic Bottles • Very recently, scientists discovered that the accidental exposure of lab mice to low levels of Bis-Phenol A (due to the disintegration of plastic lab cages when the wrong cleaning chemical was used) causes severe meiotic disturbances in the developing eggs of the female mice • Result replicated by feeding female mice very low ( and environmentally relevant) doses of BPA in drinking water. • Hunt PA, Koehler KE, Susiarjo M, Hodges CA, Ilagan A, Voigt RC, Thomas S, Thomas BF, Hassold TJ. Bisphenol a exposure causes meiotic aneuploidy in the female mouse
Effect of Environmental Estrogens on Men’s Health • Some of the first adverse human health effects postulated to be connected to environmental estrogen exposure were disorders of the male reproductive tract. • Reports of falling sperm counts, increased testicular cancers, and increased birth defects of the male genitalia suggested to scientists that all three conditions were caused by exposure to excess estrogen. • A likely source of these exposures was environmental estrogen. Unfortunately, it has proven difficult definitively prove this hypothesis, as dangerous estrogen exposures can be very small (and thus hard to detect) and effects of exposure are not manifest for years (or sometimes decades) after exposure. http://enhs.umn.edu/5200/estrogen/mn.html
Environmental Estrogens and Male Fertility • Research group reported in 2002 that PCBs found in the semen of infertile men, but not in the semen of fertile men. • The authors hypothesized that PCB exposure may have come, from some extent, to fish consumption. • This report suggests that some male infertility is due to exposure to environmental estrogens after birth.
Environmental Estrogens and Prostate Cancer – • Research group found in 2003 that men with prostate cancer had increased levels of PCB in their blood, compared to men without prostate cancer. • This result suggests that environmental estrogen exposure after birth can lead to prostate cancer.
Human Neurological Effects Area of No Pesticide Use Area of Pesticide Use
Effects of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors on Wildlife • Endocrine disruptors enter aquatic ecosystems through: • Rain water • Well water • Lakes • Oceans
Some things to remember about ED effects on wildlife • Effects most likely to occur in the offspring, not parent • Effects determined by the timing of exposure (the stage of development the individual was exposed) • Effects different along lifespan of the animal (embryo and fetus vs. newborn vs. adult) • Effects often delayed • full expression may not occur until adulthood
What animal effects have ED’s been linked to? • Abnormal thyroid function and appearance • Decreased fertility • Decreased hatching success • Demasculinization and feminization in males • Defeminization and masculinization in females • Decreased offspring survival • Altered immune system function • Altered behavior
Wildlife Impacts Invertebrates • Female marine snails in the NE Pacific have male genitals. Fish • White suckers in Lake Superior have decreased hormone levels, smaller gonads, less eggs at maturity, and take longer to mature • Great Lakes salmon now have abnormal thyroids. At one point in investigation, 100% of the 2-4 year old salmon had enlarged thyroids • For study, researchers released BPAs (from plastics) into a lake in Ontario, Canada for three years. Found that all of the male pearl dace minnows were feminized (producing female egg proteins) and one-third of actually grew eggs in their testes
Wildlife Impacts Reptiles • Male alligators in Lake Apopka (FL) were demasculinized • Their phalluses were smaller(1/3 to1/2) than normal • abnormal seminiferous tubules • low levels testosterone and estrogen, but there was more estrogen than testosterone • The hatchlings were either females with normal ovaries or intersexed (there were no normal males) and they had an increased risk of mortality • The population experienced a reduced hatching rate.
Mammals • Female hamsters exposed to Kepone show masculinization and no feminization and they try to mate with other females. • American mink have undergone reproductive failures. Beluga whales in Quebec have abnormal reproductive rates, an increased number of hermaphrodites, an increased frequency of thyroid lesions, and an increased frequency of adrenal cortex lesions. • Dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean have suppressed immune systems. • Floridian panthers have experience an increase in testes retention (90%), sterility, and sperm abnormalities and show altered estradiol/testosterone ratios for both females and males. • Canadian female bears have male-appearing genitalia, BUT have female internal reproductive tracts
Recall Testing and Toxicology: How safe are these chemicals? (http://sciwebserver.science.mcmaster.ca/biology/2001-2002/3U03-4S03/ECOSYSTEM.HTM#5) LD50 (lethal dose, 50% mortality) What is used? Fathead minnows Mice Lemna Some aquatic invertebrates (e.g. gammarus) What if you are not a fish, mouse, plant or aquatic organism??
Recall Precautionary Principle • Some are now arguing that because: • there is tremendous uncertainty surrounding much of the science of environmental problems, and; • the stakes are so high ---- • THEREFOREwe should be adopting a different approach to science, termed "post-normal" science. • Take Precautions if risks and uncertainty are high • Argument for guilty until proven innocent!!!