Posts Tagged Landfill

As the Earth Gets Sicker, So Do We

Excuse my logic, but with the way we humans have mistreated our environment, should we really be surprised in the huge increase in autism reported last week by the Center for Disease Control (CDC)?  Studies have proven there is some correlation between environmental factors and the incidence of such conditions as Autism, Tourette’s Syndrome and Multiple Sclerosis.

By Federal Law, industries that use and release any of 682 toxic chemicals into the environment must account for them once a year to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The term release means chemicals either escaping from smokestacks into the air, discharged into rivers, lakes or streams or finally those that were land-filled. This blog concerns the latter.

Yes, we may get passing grades for regulating industrial dumping into landfills at the current time, but things weren’t always that way.  However, there seems to be little regulation to what individual citizens dump everyday. 

Consider this.  In our country alone there are some 300 million people. If the average household consists of four people, that means we have 75 million households.  For argument’s sake, let’s say fully half of those households are urban dwellers who use incinerators to dispose of their garbage.  That leaves us 37.5 million households discarding trash that will end in landfills.  I know in my household and some other households of people I am acquainted with we dispose of one 13 gallon plastic bag of garbage every day.  So if we as a country are dumping 37.5 million 13 gallon bags of trash a day into landfills should be surprised by the illnesses that abound?  Just to put this in perspective, I estimate that 37.5 million 13 gallon bags of trash would be about enough to fill Madison Square Garden.  And we are filling our Earth with that amount of trash every day!  Furthermore, that’s just what we throw out at our homes. This isn’t accounting for all the garbage we generate at work, school or other daytime activities.


No one regulates the individual and what he throws out everyday.  Styrofoam cups, used oil filters, tin cans, disposable diapers just to name a few are all lethal to the ground we live on. 

To examine the link between environment and autism consider the following.  One area of the country that has emerged as a large spawning ground for autism is an 80 mile stretch of land on each side of the Ohio River betweenMount Vernon,IndianaandHawsville,Kentucky.  In 2009, industries in this belt reported 166.8 million pounds of toxins released into the environment for that year alone.  The literature that I have read suggests a strong correlation between that staggering statistic and the fact that in Evansville, Indiana, the state’s third largest city, 22 percent of public school children were receiving special ed instruction. 

As mentioned previously, industries have not always been held accountable either.  In my own state ofNew Jersey we have concentrations of ground and water pollution in many areas. Mahwah and Ringwood continue to be plagued by ground pollution that was discharged by the old Ford Motors plant in Mahwah. Pompton Lakes and vicinity were victimized by a DuPont munitions plant that generated decades’ worth of industrial pollution in that area. Bridgewater and the Raritan Riverwere systematically being polluted with benzene and other industrial chemicals by the American Cyanamid Corporation.

Elmwood Park’s High School in the 1960s and 1970s had a high incidence of Multiple Sclerosis due to dioxins from the Passaic River right across the street from it.  In Garfield, cancer causing chromium had been leaking for years from a tank at the E.C. Electroplating plant and it spread underground and affected an entire neighborhood of citizens. Teaneck’s MiltonVotee Park had to be closed for a time last year due to highly contaminated soil.

Other sites reported in 2011 by the Bergen Record newspaper included Fair Lawn where it was suspected contaminated groundwater was seeping into homes from a Superfund site that had received little oversight for many years.  In the Rutherford area Meadowlands, a dysfunctional EnCap project that was originally supposed to turn the area into a golf village left the sites more contaminated than before it started its ill advised endeavor.

This is just a smattering ofNew Jersey’s dismal list of more than 16,000 contaminated properties statewide. 

When you stop to consider that there are many other states just as industrialized as our state of New Jersey is, the whole subject of our environment can be mind boggling. 

I for one do have hope however.  McDonald’s recently announced an initiative to replace Styrofoam cups with paper.  Glad, the maker of those plastic trash bags now markets a line of Degradable Plus bags in four sizes.  Furthermore recent regulations now require that a protective layer of non permeable material be placed at the bottom of a landfill to prevent ground and groundwater pollution.  People like Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Redford lead a growing A-list of celebrities buying up tracts of land to preserve them in their natural state. 

We as individuals, regardless of whether we are famous or not, can all do our share.  Recycle whatever can be.  In particular, oil filters, car batteries and all forms of electronics wreak havoc on the environment when discarded there. When you go to the supermarket, request paper bags instead of plastic.  Instead of throwing out old bicycles, toys and other attic items have a garage sale.  Or just rearrange the junk in your garage or attic rather than discarding it.  Buy morning coffee from vendors who use paper cups instead of Styrofoam.  If you must throw out garbage and we all must, place it in paper bags. 

Another thing you can do to help curb ground and water pollution is to use organic fertilizers when fertilizing your lawn.  Using these fertilizers helps avoid extensive runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus which leads to eutrophication of water and ultimately contaminates the food chain.   

Also, if your favorite organization is involved in a neighborhood cleanup join in.  It’s our Earth and we all have a vested interest in keeping it clean.


Copyright 2012; Greg S,


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