TOXIC SUBSTANCES AND HAZARDOUS WASTE

Environmental Health Action Guide - compiled and maintained by the Sustainable Cleveland Partnership and NeighborhoodLink

 

WHAT IF…

Dina, Mark, Dave, Teresa, and Patricia from Mr. Park's chemistry class at Hill Crest High School used environmental databases from the Internet to develop information on businesses releasing hazardous chemicals into their community. They came up with a list of five companies that make the largest contributions to pollution in their neighborhood and wrote to them asking to visit their facilities and see what they were doing to prevent pollution. Today, these students are working with one of these local companies, GBS Technologies, Inc., to develop and implement pollution prevention plans to reduce toxic emissions. The other four facilities have kept quiet so far.

It is important for schools and neighborhood residents to get involved in local pollution prevention efforts to demonstrate to companies that the community cares about preventing pollution and maintaining good environmental quality.

Find out how you can begin working with industries and businesses in your neighborhood to promote pollution prevention, environmental quality, and jobs for your community.

 

 

DO YOU KNOW?

Cleveland is a heavily industrialized city, with hundreds of companies using, storing, treating, or disposing of toxic substances every day. Even though laws exist to address toxic substances and hazardous waste, it is important for us to know about them and how they may impact community health.

Pollution facts:

* Goldman, Benjamin A. The Truth About Where You Live: An Atlas for Action on Toxics and Mortality. New York: Times Books, 1991.

 

 

Environmental Justice Problem:

Facilities that use, store, treat, or dispose of toxic substances and hazardous waste are often located in low income and minority communities. These communities often have a disproportionate amount of pollution compared to other communities.

 

 Click on the following:

 

 

Toxics Substances and Pollution Prevention:

Every day, hundreds of pounds of toxic substances are used by both businesses and individuals. Many of these substances, which are often released into the air and water of communities that surround them, can cause long-term health and pollution problems. The best way for both businesses and individuals to prevent the contamination of our air, water, and soil is for them to stop using dangerous, toxic substances that cause the pollution in the first place. This is called "pollution prevention."

  

You Have The Right To Know…

 

 

Toxics Release Inventory (TRI):

TRI is a Federal government program that requires certain manufacturing companies to report which toxic substances they release into the air and water. Established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA), TRI requires manufacturing facilities with ten or more workers that release any one of 600 types of chemicals to report this information to the public.

 

 

 Small Business and Pollution Prevention:

While large factories or manufacturing facilities are often the sources of the largest releases of toxic chemicals, many small businesses such as dry cleaners, auto repair shops, and printers use toxic chemicals that are dangerous to human health and the environment. While their total toxic releases may be small, they can be dangerous because they are often located in our neighborhoods, close to our homes, schools, and churches.

  

 

GET INFORMED!

Local:

Access the Earth Day Coalition’s TRI Map for Cleveland to find out about facilities emitting TRI chemicals in the Cleveland area.

 

Regional:

Contact Ohio EPA’s Division of Hazardous Waste Management at 330/963-1200 for information on hazardous waste generation in Ohio. This information is also available by calling Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center. Contact them by dialing the state operator at 216/787-3000 and ask for Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center.

Access Ohio EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention Homepage for information on state pollution prevention programs.

 

National:

Access the Enviro$ense Homepage for information on what the Federal government is doing to help businesses practice pollution prevention.

Access Home*A*Syst Homepage for information on what you can do in your own home to prevent pollution.

Call US EPA’s EPCRA Hotline, toll free, at 800/424-9346 for information on chemicals, hazardous materials, and your right-to-know.

Access U.S. EPA’s Pollution Prevention Homepage for information on Federal pollution prevention programs.

Access US EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory Homepage for more information on the program.

Access Environmental Defense Fund’s Pollution Prevention Alliance Pollution Prevention Homepage.

Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.

 

 

TAKE ACTION!

Find Out How You Can Prevent Pollution: Find out about practical steps you can take at home and in your community to stop using toxic chemicals.

 

Find Out About Toxic Chemical Releases in Your Neighborhood: Use Environmental Defense Fund’s Chemical Scorecard to find out which companies are emitting TRI chemicals in your neighborhood, which chemicals they are releasing into the air, ground and water, and the potential health effects of those chemicals. Basic TRI information is also available by calling George Coder, US EPA at 440/835-5200.

 

Encourage Companies to Practice Pollution Prevention: The best way to ensure that toxic chemicals do not endanger the health of people and the environment is for facilities to practice pollution prevention. Facilities that release toxic chemicals should take steps to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals they use and release. Environmental Defense Fund’s Chemical Scorecard allows you to send a fax directly from your computer to facilities that release TRI chemicals in your neighborhood, asking them to tell you what they are doing to reduce pollution. An address and phone number is also provided so you can contact them yourself.

 

Contact Your Elected Officials: TRI Is Not A Complete Pollution Picture. Many types of companies using many types of chemicals are not required to report emissions under TRI. TRI reporting requirements should be expanded to give the public more complete pollution information. Ask them to strengthen and expand Federal right-to-know reporting and pollution prevention planning requirements.

 

 

  

Hazardous Wastes In Your Neighborhood:

Facilities that store, treat, move, or dispose of hazardous waste are regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These companies must get a RCRA permit from Ohio EPA to operate. RCRA permit information is available to the public.

 

 

GET INFORMED!

Regional:

Contact Ohio EPA’s Division of Hazardous Waste Management at 330/963-1200 for information on state hazardous waste programs and RCRA permits.

 

National:

Access US EPA’s Office of Solid Waste Homepage for information on Federal hazardous waste programs.

Contact US EPA’s RCRA Hotline, toll free, at 800/424-9346 for information on Federal hazardous waste programs.

Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.

 

 

TAKE ACTION!

Find Out About Hazardous Waste In Your Neighborhood: Contact Ohio EPA’s Division of Waste Management at 330/963-1200 or use Envirofacts to find out:

This information is also available by calling Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center. Contact them by calling the state operator at 216/787-3000 and ask for Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center.

 

Find Out Where This Waste Came From Originally: Call Paula Canter, Ohio EPA's Division of Hazardous Waste Management, at 614/644-2923, to find out which facilities are shipping waste to storage sites in your community.

 

Get Involved In The Permit Process: Ohio EPA must inform the public before a RCRA permit is issued or reissued. Public hearings are often held to give community residents a chance to comment on permit decisions. Find out about upcoming permit hearings by contacting Ohio EPA’s Division of Waste Management, at 330/963-1200 or Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center. Contact them by dialing the state operator at 216/787-3000 and asking for the Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center.

 

 

Cleaning Up Hazardous Waste and Pollution:

Many years of use, storage, and treatment of hazardous substances and hazardous waste have left areas in Cleveland and across the country polluted, endangering the health of people and the environment. Cleaning up these sites costs both time and money. Several government programs exist to clean up areas polluted by the use, storage, and treatment of hazardous substances and wastes.

 

 Ohio EPA’s Master Sites List:

This program, coordinated by Ohio EPA’s Division of Emergency and Remedial Response, identifies and works to clean up contaminated properties in Ohio.

  

US EPA’s Superfund:

Established under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), this Federal program works to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites. The CERCLIS Information System tracks these sights. There are 21 sites in Cleveland on the CERCLA list. Those that pose the greatest risk to public health are placed on the National Priorities List (NPL). Currently, there are no NPL sites in Cleveland.

  

 

GET INFORMED!

Regional:

For informatioon on the Master Sites List program, contact Ohio EPA’s Division of Emergency and Remedial Response at 330/963-1200 or Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center. Contact them by dialing the state operator at 216/787-3000 and ask for Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center.

Contact US EPA’s Region 5 Office, toll free, at 800/621-8431, for information on U.S. EPA’s Superfund Program.

Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.

 

 

TAKE ACTION!

Find Properties on the Master Sites List in Your Neighborhood: Click here for maps of these contaminated facilities in Cleveland, or call Ohio EPA’s Division of Emergency and Remedial Response at 330/963-1200. Also contact Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center by dialing the state operator at 216/787-3000 and ask for Ohio EPA's Public Interest Center.

 

Find Superfund Sites in Your Neighborhood: Contact US EPA’s Region 5 Superfund Office, toll free, at 800/621-8431, or use US EPA’s Envirofacts Superfund Database for information on all Superfund sites in the area.

 

Contact Your Local Elected Officials: Clean up of toxic waste sites often faces long delays. Ask your elected officials to work to quickly and effectively clean these sites up.  

 

 

Prepare For And Prevent Chemical Accidents:

Chemical accidents happen every day in the U.S. Since many of us live in communities near facilities that use, store, or dispose of very dangerous and toxic materials, we are especially at risk for chemical accidents, such as spills, explosions, and leaks.

 

 Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC):

Every county in the U.S. must setup an LEPC to prepare residents for chemical emergencies and work to prevent accidents.

  

 

GET INFORMED!

 

National:

Access U.S. EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Homepage for information on Federal chemical emergency programs.

Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.

 

 

 TAKE ACTION!

Contact Cuyahoga County’s LEPC at 216/443-7597 for information on:

 

Report Chemical Spills and Emergencies:

 

Attend Cuyahoga County LEPC’s Bimonthly Public Meetings: Call them at 216/443-7597 for meeting information.

 

 

 

Household Hazardous Materials:

While companies are responsible for most of the pollution caused by the use of toxic chemicals, other sources of pollution include household chemicals we use in and around our homes every day.

 

Examples of Household Hazardous Materials:

    

GET INFORMED!

Regional:

Contact the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District at 216/443-3749 for information on disposing of and recycling household hazardous materials.

Access Ohio EPA’s "A Guide to Safe Management of Household Hazardous Waste" for more information on disposing of these products and non-chemical alternatives.

 

National:

Access U.S. EPA’s Household Waste Guide for more information on household hazardous waste.

Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.

 

 

TAKE ACTION!

Only Buy What You Need: Use these products only when you need them and only buy as much as you will use right away so you won’t need to store them. Storing products increases the risk of spills or other accidents.

 

Use Non-Chemical Alternatives If Possible: Many stores sell natural, non-toxic, or non-chemical alternatives to most hazardous household products. Ask the store clerk for information or check the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District’s Homepage for tips on making and using non-toxic or non-chemical household products.

 

Dispose Of Unneeded Chemical Products Carefully: Do not just throw these materials into the garbage or pour them down the drain. Professionals who can dispose of or recycle them properly should collect these materials. Contact the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District at 216/443-3749 for information on household hazardous product collection programs, and access their guide "How to Handle Hazardous Wastes in Your Home" for advice on proper handling.

 

Use and Store In Well Ventilated Areas: Household hazardous products can cause indoor air pollution or fire hazards.

 

Practice Pollution Prevention in the Home: Access the Home*A*Syst Homepage for information on what you can do in your own home to reduce the use of hazardous materials and prevent pollution.

SCP

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