Properly disposing of waste is not just a personal responsibility; some kinds of waste, usually hazardous, must be properly disposed of according to law set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic waste can seep into the ground and contaminate our water supplies, and sometimes cause widespread disease. Even non-toxic waste causes pollution that contributes to global warming and a general negative impact on the public health. EPA studies suggest that global warming could make earth almost inhospitable by the end of the century.
The Environmental Protection Agency enforces and regulates most of the laws related to waste disposal. Some of the most important laws include the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which grants the EPA the authority to oversee the proper disposal of hazardous waste. The EPA also sets general U.S. environment policy and protects the general health of the public.
Unregulated dumping grounds pose a serious risk to the health of the environment. Toxic chemicals can leak from hazardous products and eventually find their way into water sources and soil. The burning of garbage also contributes greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, a major part of global warming theory, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Proper waste disposal uses liners to catch toxic chemicals that can leach into the ground, and safely contain methane burned from trash.
When people dispose of waste properly and protect the environment, this almost always carries with it added improvements to the public health. Reducing pollution lowers the chances of respiratory illness, and cleaner water lessens the risk of drinking dangerous chemicals. A good example of the potential dangers of illegal and unregulated dumping occurred in New Jersey during the late 1980's. Wind carried chromium from a nearby dump to a local school and caused an epidemic of chromium poisoning.
Some waste, such as yard trimmings and wood chips, can easily turn into a vital part of a garden or farm through composting. Composting replenishes soil nutrients and mitigates the need to purchase soil reclamation services. Also, not only does a compost pile divert organic waste from a landfill, it can even save communities money from having to buy commercial landfill covers.
Greenhouse gases such as carbon monoxide and methane trap heat and have contributed to the eight warmest years in recorded history, all of which occurred after 1998, according to the EPA. Although the life cycle of plants and animals need greenhouse gases to keep that earth warm, too much warmth hurts most creatures. Unless the world reduces greenhouse gases, like the through the proper disposal of waste, the world could warm up to seven degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.