#YHSafetyTips - Ecotoxicology Safety

Posted by Matt Bushey in #YHSafetyTips, Apr 05, 2017

Chemical pollution

This is when there is a presence or increase in our environment of chemical pollutants that are not naturally occurring in the particular environment. Toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage an organism.

What types of chemicals are the worst?

PCBs (aka: polychlorinated biphenyls), are man made organic chemicals consisting of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine atoms. These however, were banned in 1979, but some older products could contain PCBs.

    These products can include:
  • -Transformers and capacitors
  • -Electrical equipment including voltage regulators, switches, re-closers, bushings, and electromagnets
  • -Oil used in motors and hydraulic systems
  • -Old electrical devices or appliances containing PCB capacitors
  • -Fluorescent light ballasts
  • -Cable insulation
  • -Thermal insulation material including fiberglass, felt, foam, and cork
  • -Adhesives and tapes
  • -Oil-based paint
  • -Caulking
  • -Plastics
  • -Carbonless copy paper
  • -Floor finish

Hazardous Air Pollutants are pollutants that are known to cause cancer or other serious health effects.

    These can include the following:
  • -benzene, which is found in gasoline
  • -perchloroethylene, which is emitted from some dry cleaning facilities
  • -methylene chloride, which is used as a solvent and paint stripper by a number of industries
  • -dioxin compounds
  • -asbestos compounds
  • -toluene compounds
  • -cadmium compounds
  • -mercury compounds
  • -chromium compounds
  • -lead compounds

Tires filling our oceans with trash

What happens to animals:
Male fish have been discovered to be producing eggs in their testes from chemical contamination - thus causing them to start to turn into females. Alligators from South America are having sex reversals from a chemical used to make plastic bottles, aka Bisphenol A (BPA). Hundreds of pet birds dies each year from fumes of Teflon-coasted products.

How to Prevent Contamination

Soil Contamination
Soil contamination can happen from heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides being used in the environment. Heavy metals from fertilizers can help plants grow, but the ultimate problem is they harm animals and humans, who the plants were meant for in the first place.

Prevention
Use fertilizers that are more natural, containing no heavy metals or harmful chemicals. Use pesticides and herbicides that are more natural. Natural predators to each pest can stop them from eating your crops or destroying your plants around your property. Also, stop throwing everything in the dump. Recycle everything you can. A compost can be a good place to throw unused food. This can also be used as natural fertilizer.

Water Contamination
Chemicals are the main contamination cause in our water that hurt our environment and health. These come mainly from industrial and commercial facilities; oil and chemical spills; non-point sources such as roads, parking lots, and storm drains; and waste water treatment plants and sewage systems. Many of these contaminants do not breakdown in animals or humans, so they remain in them, causing harm or unwanted changes.

Prevention/Improve:

  • -Plant grass, trees, and shrubs in bare areas to reduce and absorb runoff, reduce erosion, and improve habitat.
  • -Properly dispose of pet waste, motor oil and household chemicals.
  • -Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly on lawns and gardens.
  • -Keep trash out of storm drains, where it will clog up the drain or end up in the nearest stream or lake.
  • -Organize neighborhood cleanups.
  • -Maintain your car to prevent oil leaks.
  • -Consider purchasing and using less-toxic household chemicals.
  • -Recycle plastic, glass, and paper.

If you missed last week Safety posts on Tornado Safety, read it here. Come back next week when we cover Electrical Safety.

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