The Effects of Improper Waste Disposal

The Earth and its natural processes are considered to be a delicate system. With severe environmental issues facing the planet, the species that inhabit it are suffering. Since humans, plants, and animals all rely on these clean air and water sources for survival, the issue of contaminating the Earth is a serious issue that must be addressed.

Types of Dumping
As a result of improperly disposing of hazardous household waste (HHW), wastewater treatment facilities can’t handle the dangers associated with these hazardous contaminates effectively. In turn, these products release toxins and environmental pollution. These pollutants can also enter the atmosphere and water sources nearby.

Ocean Dumping
Communities around the world have used the ocean for waste disposal for years. Some of the materials that are dumped into the ocean include the disposal of chemical and industrial wastes, radioactive wastes, trash, munitions, sewage sludge, and other contaminated materials. The Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA) or Ocean Dumping Act is one of several key environmental laws passed by the US EPA and Congress in 1972 to address the issue of ocean dumping. The act has two essential aims: to regulate intentional ocean disposal of materials and to authorize any related research of the effects. However, marine life and ocean habitats are still suffering the effects.

Land Dumping

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Landfills are the most common method to store waste.

Most developed countries such as the U.S utilize landfills to store their waste products. Some landfills are used for waste management purposes, such as the temporary storage, consolidation and transfer of waste, or the processing of waste material for storing, treating, or recycling.

Environmental dumping is the practice of shipping waste (household waste, industrial/nuclear waste, etc.) from one country to another. The goal is to take the waste to a country that has less strict environmental laws, or environmental laws that are not strictly enforced.

Environmental crisis: President Trump allows for coal companies to dump waste into nearby water sources

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President Trump signed a bill that allows coal companies to dispose of waste into nearby water sources.

Trump signed a bill undoing the so-called Stream Protection Rule, which aimed to curb environmental damage from mountaintop removal coal mining. During the particularly violent mining process, coal companies blow up the tops of mountains by using mild explosives and dispose of the waste, which often contains heavy metals, in streams and other bodies of water. Research has suggested that this results in “adverse outcomes in community health” in many Appalachian towns. In addition, Trump also plans to roll back on President Obama’s climate change policies such as the Clean Power Plan. Trump mentions that the environment is taking a “back seat” due to his commitment to creating jobs in the energy industry.

Crisis At Penn State

During the late fall semester of 2016, Penn State identified elevated levels of lead found during routine water testing.
Routine follow-up tests found elevated levels of lead in three residences buildings and Nittany Apartments on the University Park campus. Consuming lead is harmful to the students and staff due to many health reasons.

Although the causes of the lead are still under investigation, this is an example of what could happen if waste such as: lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil, certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, food, and cosmetics are improperly disposed.

The Effects

Ocean Acidification

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One of the most popular coral reefs, The Great Barrier Reef, has been strongly impacted by the raising levels of acid in ocean water. In the photo above, the stages of it’s “death” are displayed.

Contaminated water sources especially affect marine life. Ocean acidification is the presence of higher acid levels in the ocean over an extended period of time, caused primarily by uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and materials dumped into the oceans. Since fish and other marine life are extremely sensitive to pH balances, this can affect everything from the lives of animals that depend on fish for food, to the fishing industry that humans rely on for profit.

Loss of Biodiversity
Also, as a result of contaminated resources and land, certain species may die off or disrupt the natural balances of the predator-prey relationships. This is defined as the loss of biodiversity. Imbalanced biodiversity or depletion of certain species of plants or animals in an area or on the whole planet are attributed to pollution due to dumping, climate change, and deforestation. All of these environmental issues can occur as a chain of events.

Despite the governmental actions regarding these severe issues, you can do a few things at home to help this cause. First, properly disposing of waste is critical. Be sure to recycle when possible, compost organic waste, and take care of dangerous household products. Most waste management companies take air conditioners, batteries, refrigerators, and other appliances and disposes them properly for minimal to no cost. By doing these things among others, it will make significant environmental differences.


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The problem regarding deforestation effects countries around the world.

Deforestation is the removal of a forest and/or trees in which the empty land is converted for non-forest uses. The issue of deforestation is a serious problem here in the U.S and across the world. As of now, forests cover 30% of the Earth’s land and experts estimate that within 100 years there will be no rain forests left if we continue to remove forests and trees at the same rate.

The Importance of Trees:

Some may underestimate the importance of trees and even take them for granted.Trees create an ecosystem to provide a habitat and food for birds and other animals. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gasses such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide from the air. In turn, they release oxygen. This oxygen is essential to human, animal, and other plant life. They are also considered natural filters or the lungs of the Earth because they absorb pollutants through their leaves. This idea of sequestering pollutants and filtering contaminants in the air helps “clean” the air we all breathe.

Causes of Deforestation:

  • Farmland and Ranches
    • The ever growing demand for farmland and ranches is the primary cause of deforestation.
    • The demand for space to grow a variety of crops and house livestock causes companies to clear the land. With ample amount of space, they are able to mass-produce crop and animal products.
  • Housing/Factories
    • Since the population is growing on an exponential scale, the number of houses needed to                accommodate the large amount of people has increased with the population. Due to this increased need for space and overpopulation, forests are diminishing.
  • Building Products/Logging
    • Excessive quantities of wood is needed to construct houses and buildings.
  • Natural Disasters
    • Unfortunately, forest fires are natural causes to the depletion of forests.

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The dry, arid climate in California is contributing to the increased number of forest fires in the state.


Since industrialized countries consume 12 times more wood and its products per person than the non-industrialized countries, they are mostly to blame for this severe issue. Among these industrialized countries, Russia, the United States, and Japan consume about half of the world’s timber.

Negative Effects of Deforestation:

At this rate, if deforestation is not slowed down or adequate solutions have been reached, the Earth will suffer immensely. Some of these negative effects include:

  • Loss of biodiversity in the area
  • Water cycle and Carbon cycle disturbances
  • Loss of habitat for the animals/ indigenous people
  • Soil erosion
    • The diagram below demonstrates the issues associated with deforestation and soil erosion.

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  • Global warming
    • Carbon dioxide emissions are no longer absorbed by trees

Environmental Crisis: The Amazon Rainforest

It is estimated that if deforestation rates do not slow, the remainder of the Earth’s rain forests will be diminished in approximately 100 years. One area that is currently suffering the consequences of deforestation is the Amazon Rainforest that covers primarily Brazil, Columbia, and Peru. The Amazon is known to be the Earth’s largest rain forest. It was once known to host a teeming ecosystem with exotic animals and plants. More than half of the world’s estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects live in the tropical rainforests and one-fifth of the world’s fresh water is in the Amazon Basin. Also, 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon. In addition, the sheer size of forest itself allows for large amounts of carbon dioxide absorption. Not only is the destruction of this natural beauty effecting the natural ecosystem and wildlife that inhabit the area, the indigenous people are facing the issue of relocating.

Skyrocketing in the 1990’s, deforestation of the Amazon rainforest accelerated significantly between 1991 and 2004. By 1995, 70% of formerly forested land in the Amazon had been converted for cattle ranching. Now, organization are working to help reverse these effects and stop companies from taking advantage of the natural space.

Things You Can Do to Help Fight Deforestation:

  • Plant trees
    • By planting even one tree on your property will not only help reverse the effects of deforestation, but also provide some shade to the area around it.
  • Switch to paperless
    • Companies today provide the feature to unsubscribe and switch to paperless. A few things that you can change in your daily routine includes switching over from paper newspapers or printed magazines to online versions on their websites. Some even opt to read books through an E-reader or Kindle. It is also common to do bills and bank online. By doing this, companies save both ink and paper. Even simple things such as taking notes on a computer as opposed to a notebook will help save paper.
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle paper products

World Wildlife Fund For Nature:

Founded in Switzerland, the WWF focuses on tackling some of the largest wildlife and nature crises facing the world today. Among them, deforestation has been a primary focus since the 1980’s.

The President and CEO of WWF discusses in  the video above the importance of saving the Amazon and its indigenous species. A black Jaguar is one of the many species that lives in the Amazon and is at risk of endangerment.

There are so many environmental issues mankind is delegated to tackle. If not assessed in a timely fashion, the Earth will undergo a variety of negative processes and its inhabitants will struggle severely. Some effects are not even known to scientists. Deforestation is a problem the entire world must come together to fight. On the other hand, if you’re interested in more ways to get involved on a more personal level, visit the World Wildlife website linked here.

Climate Change and Global Warming

Image result for global warmingIncreasing global temperatures have put certain species at risk of extinction.

Global Warming

The concept of global warming is labeled as a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. Global warming is generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’S), and other pollutants.

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Depending on the time of the year, the Earth has average temperatures between 58-61 degrees.

Contrary to belief, the Earth is in fact a natural greenhouse. The energy absorbed by Earth from the sun, allows the surface and atmosphere to hold an average temperature of 58-61 degrees Fahrenheit. When the rays from the sun reach the Earth, they are either reflected back into space or absorbed by the gasses in the atmosphere and the surface of the Earth.  Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth would be too cold to sustain human and plant life.

However, starting during the industrialization period, greenhouse gas emissions have skyrocketed. Scientists observe, human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation are the main culprits of global warming.

Science behind CO2

Carbon Dioxide forms when carbon molecules are oxidized. This oxidation occurs at high temperatures, for example when fossil fuels are burned. Since all fossil fuels (natural gas, coal, and petroleum) contain at least 50% of carbon, fossil fuels are primarily responsible for the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In particular, the use of petroleum or oil used for transportation is linked to increased levels of atmospheric CO2.


According to the Earth System Research Laboratory, “chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) are nontoxic, nonflammable chemicals containing atoms of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine. They are used in the manufacturing of aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams and packing materials, as solvents, and as refrigerants”. CFC’s are responsible for the destruction of the Earth’s ozone layer.

Countries such as the U.S have taken action to ban aerosols. The National Geographic mentions, “About 90 percent of CFC’s currently in the atmosphere were emitted by industrialized countries in the Northern Hemisphere, including the United States and Europe. These countries banned CFC’s by 1996, and the amount of chlorine in the atmosphere is falling now.”

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CFC’s are present during the manufacturing process of making aerosol sprays.

Global warming has a variety of negative effects on the planet such as ozone layer depletion, animal extinction, and climate change.

Climate Change

Over the recent years, climate change has been defined as a long-term change in global or regional climate patterns. In particular, this change was apparent from the mid to late 20th century up until now. Increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide has attributed to climate change.

Although the concept of climate change is debatable to some, it is known that the global temperature has in fact increased. “Even small increases in Earth’s temperature caused by climate change can have severe effects. The Earth’s average temperature has gone up 1.4° F over the past century and is expected to rise as much as 11.5° F over the next century” (Takepart). Some of these effects are already present on Earth today.

Effects Behind Global Warming and Climate Change

  • Rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps
  • More severe and frequent storms and natural disasters
  • Warming ocean temperatures
  • Threats of extinction to wildlife

Unfortunately, scientists are unaware of the other possible effects that come with global warming and climate change.

Environmental Crisis: Ozone Layer Depletion
According to National Geographic, “The ozone layer is a belt of the naturally occurring gas “ozone.” It sits 9.3 to 18.6 miles (15 to 30 kilometers) above Earth, and serves as a shield from the harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation emitted by the sun. Ozone is a highly reactive molecule that contains three oxygen atoms. It is constantly being formed and broken down in the high atmosphere, 6.2 to 31 miles (10 to 50 kilometers) above Earth, in the region called the stratosphere.”

Scientists are collecting measurements above the Antarctic circle where the “ozone hole” has been identified. This area has been significantly impacted by pollution. The National Geographic also states, “the region’s low-temperature climate speed up the conversion of CFC’s to chlorine”, in turn breaking down the ozone molecules.

A Dobson unit is a unit of measurement for the total amount of ozone in the atmosphere above a point on the Earth’s surface. One Dobson unit is equivalent to a layer of pure ozone 0.01 mm thick at standard temperature and pressure. The ozone “hole” is actually not a break in the ozone layer, but a decreased number of Dobson units in that particular space above the Antarctic circle.

On the website linked here, Time magazine includes a visual time lapse video of the Earth from space that shows the effects of climate change and global warming. Being aware of the difference between climate change and global warming is important. Reducing energy and water consumption and reusing or recycling materials can all have small, yet significant impacts on the levels of emissions if more people take action.

Pollution, Pollution, Pollution

Pollution is a well-known word to many younger generations. According to the EPA, Pollution is defined as the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects. If these substances naturally occur in the environment, they are considered “pollutants” when they exceed Earth’s natural levels. There are two types of pollution on the planet today:

Primary Pollutants: A pollutant that is emitted directly from its source.

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx, NO)
  • Nitric Oxide (NO)
  • Sulfur Oxides (SOx)
  • Sulfur Dioxide-SO2
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Particulate Matter (dust and ash particles)
    • Particles with the size between 4-10 parts per million (PPM) are harmful to humans.

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Carbon Dioxide contributes to the greenhouse-effect on Earth.

Interesting fact: Contrary to belief, Carbon dioxide is not a primary pollutant or even considered a pollutant at all. Scientists deem CO2 not a pollutant because it does not affect the general welfare of people. However, there is a correlation with the levels of carbon dioxide and global temperature. When CO2 levels rise, the global temperature is said to increase. The CO2 levels on Earth naturally fluctuate, but with increased levels of industrialization, CO2 levels have been the highest on record. As a result of these high levels of carbon dioxide, global temperatures are reaching record highs as well. When global temperatures rise by only a few degrees, the Earth could experience extreme consequences such as a reduction in agriculture production, forest depletion, coastal flooding, extreme tropical storms, and health problems. So, although CO2 is not a pollutant, it still can contribute significantly to the greenhouse effect and global temperatures. Critics even say rising levels of CO2 can contribute to plant growth.

Secondary Pollutants: Pollutants that are not directly emitted as such, but forms when other pollutants (primary pollutants) react in the atmosphere.

  • Ozone
  • Acid Rain
  • Smog

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L.A is one of the cities in the U.S known for high levels of smog.

Environmental Crisis:

What: Smog Issues

Where: Los Angeles, California

Smog is a hazy, yellowish or blackish fog formed mainly by a mixture of pollutants in the atmosphere which consists of fine particles and ground level ozone. Smog is known as a secondary pollutant. Secondary pollutants are formed when primary pollutants mix with the air.

The first ingredient to smog is particulate matter. Particulate matter is released into the air because of the combustion of fossil fuels, particularly coal. The second component to smog is the ground level ozone, also known as “bad’ ozone. Ground level ozone is created by the chemical reactions between oxidized nitrogen atoms (NOx compounds) and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in the presence of sunlight. When all of these things occur and interact, smog is produced.

L.A is particularly vulnerable to smog conditions due to the large population of about 33 million people, non-stop traffic, terrain, and sunny climate. Due to the large population, there is a large amount of fuel combustion that is happening in a concentrated area. Along with this, California’s rocky terrain traps this pollution and forms a layer of ground-level ozone. Lastly, weather in L.A is mostly warm and muggy. When all of these factors come together, they contribute to the unhealthy levels of air pollution that effect the city of Los Angeles, California. During the hot summer months, smog is typically a common issue.

Breathing in smog can lead to a variety of health issues. Among these health issues, short and long-term respiratory problems can develop and people with asthma experience an increased chance for having an attack. According to an article written by The Los Angeles Times, the summer of 2016 was the worst year for smog since 2009.

What can you do to decrease pollution?

  • Commute by mass transit or carpool
  • Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle or hybrid
  • Save energy in your house by turning off the lights, unplugging appliances when not in use and purchasing energy-efficient appliances.
    • Buy energy-efficient appliances. The Energy Rating web site will help you select energy efficient appliances:
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Things companies are implementing:

  • Carbon catchers
    • Carbon capture or sequestration is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site, and burying it underground. By doing this, the CO2 will not be able to enter the atmosphere.
  • Bag Houses
    • A bag house is an air pollution control device that removes particulates out of the air or gas released from commercial processes or combustion for electricity generation.

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This is a bag house dust collector used in a commercial facility.

There are a variety of negative effects that can cause harm if we continue to emit the same levels of pollution. The U.S and China in particular are responsible for over 50 percent of the world’s emissions therefore, if we don’t try to correct these issues in the near future, the Earth and the people that inhabit it will experience severe consequences.


Some may say that we, the people that inhabit the Earth, are currently enduring an environmental crisis. New technology has allowed scientists to observe, record, and store data about many natural aspects of the planet. There are many benefits to being so technologically advanced; however, scientists have made some unfortunate discoveries about the state of our planet. Of course, we are aware the environment is always changing but recently it hasn’t been for the better.

There are a variety of environmental issues that have been brought to attention during this crisis. Terms such as Pollution, Global Warming, Overpopulation, Natural Resource Depletion, Improper Waste Disposal, Deforestation, Climate Change, Loss of Biodiversity, Ocean Acidification, Ozone Layer Depletion are just a few of the environmental concerns currently effecting the planet. Here are some general definitions gathered from Google and the Webster Dictionary that will help highlight the differences in these environmental issues. On this blog, there will be many posts regarding these topics.

  • Pollution: the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects. If these substances naturally occur in the environment, they are considered “pollutants” when they exceed its natural levels.

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Smog is an effect of pollution.

  • Global Warming: a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants. Global warming has a variety of negative effects on the planet such as ozone layer depletion and climate change.
  • Overpopulation: the condition of having a population so dense as to cause environmental deterioration, an impaired quality of life, or a population crash.
  • Natural Resource Depletion: consumption of a resource faster than it can be replenished.
  • Improper Waste Disposal: hazardous household waste, or HHW, can result in contaminated wastewater treatment facilities or septic systems, physical injuries to sanitation workers, and unexpected releases of toxins and environmental pollution.
  • Deforestation: action or process of clearing large amounts of trees from a forest area.
  • Climate Change: a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
  • Loss of Biodiversity: imbalance or depletion of certain species of plants or animals in an area or on the whole planet attributed to climate change, deforestation, and mankind.
  • Ocean Acidification: refers to a reduction in the pH of the ocean over an extended period of time, caused primarily by uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
  • Ozone Layer Depletion: reduction of the amount of ozone in the stratosphere.


With this, there have been several companies and agencies that are working to asses these issues. Based out of the United States of America, The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and Friends of Earth work for a variety of causes. In addition, the U.S Government has many agencies under the Environmental Protection Department that set regulations to protect the Earth and the citizens. The most common agency known is the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States (EPA). The EPA was founded by Richard Nixon in late 1970. Also, the Council of Environmental Quality, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration handle different aspects of environmental protection and energy conservation. In addition, most states have their own agencies and councils that are responsible for regulating wildlife, water, energy, and agriculture.

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Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill

Environmental crisis:

What: Deepwater Horizon oil spill

When: April, 20th, 2010

Where:  Gulf of Mexico

Who: Transocean and British Petroleum

Also, known as the biggest oil spill in history, in April of 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered an explosion which caused thousands of barrels of oil to contaminate the Gulf of Mexico. Here is a detailed article with more information on the catastrophic event.

Consequently, the Earth is suffering from many environmental issues due to mankind. There are so many things we can do to help decrease the negative effects. Simple actions like recycling, turning off electrical appliances when not in use, and conserving water are just a few things we all are able to do daily. Its critical to take these problems seriously. Ignoring these problems lead to severe consequences for the future of our generation and generations to come. It is up to us to lead the change and do as much as we can on an individual and global level to help correct or reduce these problems. In addition, there are a select group of nations that are contributing more so than other countries to certain environmental issues. For example, in the United States most people own cars and drive alone in those cars. While the luxury of owning their own car can be convenient, it is significantly contributing to the high levels of carbon dioxide occupying the air.  These harmful issues will affect people around the globe; therefore, it is imperative for the nations to come together and work to assess these problems.