TOPIC 13: TOXIC AND HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL

 

ON-LINE Lecture Discussion Requirement:

For this topic, the on-line lecture discussion requirement is to do five (5) questions:

  1. I. Molecule or Report of the Week: Hazardous Chemicals.

  2. II.  Content Question A - Everyone should do BOTH Ques. 1 and 2.

  3. III.    Content Question B - Do the assigned question 3 - 9 on the right.

  4. IV.  Issue Question - Case Study - Trial - A Civil Action

  5. V.   Response or Ask a Question - respond or comment to someone else, or use General Questions to ask a general question the Prof or others might answer.  Extra responses earn extra credit (1 pt/ques. up to 2 points)


I.  Molecule or Report of the Week:  Hazardous Chemicals


Text Readings: Chap. 19 - p. 564-580

1. Definitions of toxic or hazardous compounds and waste

 Brief definition: Fatal to humans in low doses; carcinogenic, mutagenic; flammable or ignitable at less than 60 C; corrosive; or highly reactive or explosive

Text p. 564-66

Toxic Alert Home Page
Definitions

Toxic Substances: Chemicals that are fatal to animals and humans in low doses; most are neurotoxins, which attack nerve cells.

 

Hazardous Substances: Substances or action that can cause injury, disease, economic loss, or environmental damage.

 

Physical hazards: ionizing radiation, fires

 

Chemical hazards: harmful chemicals in air, water, or food. Can cause harm because they are flammable or explosive, irritate or damage the skin or lungs, or induce allergic reactions of the immune system (allergens), carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens

 

Biological hazards: disease causing bacteria and viruses

 

2. Toxicology, Poisons, and Hazards - Chap 18

A. Testing For Toxicity - LD 50 - a lethal dose of chemical that results in the death of 50 % of the test subjects.

 p.535-537

B. Corrosive - Strong Acids and Bases and Oxidizing Agents such as ozone, hydrogen peroxide.

 p. 538

C. Metabolic Poisons - Hydrogen cyanide, HCN, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide

 p.539

D. Toxic Metals - Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic

 p. 539-543

Case Study - Mercury - Minamata Bay

Lead Poisoning -wiki

E. Neurotoxins - Chemical warfare agents - wiki, pesticides, botulism, anthrax -wiki

 p. 543-547

 F. Mutagens - cause mutations - Aflatoxin, benzopyrene, nitrous acid , caffeine

Carcinogens - cause cancer - benzopyrene, naphthylamine, vinyl chloride, radiation

Teratogens - cause birth defects - As, Cd, Hg, PCB's, Thalidomide

 p. 547-554

Bruce Ames Statement on Causes of Cancer

 G. PCB's, Dioxins, Biomagnification - based upon solubility - likes dissolve likes; organics accumulate in the fatty tissues of each higher order animal.
Pesticides: Insecticides- chlorinated such as DDT, organophosphate - parathion; carbamates - carbaryl (Sevin), Aldicarb

Herbicides: weed killers - 2,4-D, Agent Orange, atrazine

 p. 230, 304, 422

Dioxins

PCBs

Agent Orange - wiki

Biomagnification of DDT

 H. Asbestos

p. 33-35, 554-55

 EPA Asbestos Info - also other links on indoor air pollution

 K. PBT: Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic Chemicals

 p.302-04, 425-26

Fact Sheet for PBTs -Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Chemicals (PBT) - Fact sheet on each.

Preview of some of the chemicals that will be important for the Part IV. Issue Question
trichloroethylene (TCE), - ATSDR
tetrachloroethylene or(PERC) - ATSDR
1,2-trans-dichloroethylene (DCE) - ATSDR
1,1,1-trichloroethane, or TCA;  - ATSDR
chloroform - ATSDR


Hazardous Chemical Report:

ATSDR - Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry - General Reference for all hazardous compounds - In the search box, type in the chemical of interest, then click on the first title which is the cover page for that chemical.  More info is then available in the links on the left.


Report: 
Choose any chemical or element from the list in section # 2 A-K (above). In section #2 K - PBT there are 10 compounds listed in the fact sheet that you can choose one to report on. Toxic Chemicals (PBT) - Fact sheet on each.  Or choose  a chemical from the Issue preview list above for the issue question. 

If no links are given you can type directly into the search of ATSDR registry and/or for more info type into the search box of Wikipedia.


The Hazardous Chemical report should include the following:

Briefly describe what the compound or element is, what it is used for?  How does it get into the environment?  What are the routes to exposure?  Why and how is it a health hazard?  What corrective measures are needed to either stop it from getting into the environment or control it?


______________________________________________________

3. Risk Assessment

 A. Measuring Toxicity

p. 552

 Ames Test - screening test for mutagens

 B. Risk assessment and acceptance

ProfO Notes: Risk Assessment Summary
Estimating Risk
Epidemiology -  Shows how the link between heart disease and long cancer was caused by smoking.

4. Environmental Impact of hazardous waste

 A. Contaminate groundwater and other water supplies

 

Groundwater Contamination - many brief specific links - nice diagrams

 B. Soil contamination

 Waste Disposal of Sludge - from water treatment plant

 C. Habitat destruction of major ecosystems

 Biomagnification of DDT

 D. Risks to Human Health

 

 E. Fires, Explosions, and Property Damage

 

5. Sources and producers of hazardous waste

6. Control and Management

  1. A.Reduce or waste minimization through process changes, Recycle and Reuse
    Notes: Green Chemistry - “
    The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 established a national policy to prevent or reduce pollution at its source whenever feasible. The Pollution Prevention Act also provided an opportunity to expand beyond traditional EPA programs and devise creative strategies to protect human health and the environment. Green chemistry is the use of chemistry for pollution prevention. More specifically, green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.  Green chemistry is a highly effective approach to pollution prevention because it applies innovative scientific solutions to real-world environmental situations.”  Source EPA


 B. Conversion to less hazardous form

 

7. Hazardous Household Chemicals

 Lawn care fertilizers and Pesticides




8. Superfund Sites and Clean Up

Superfund - A concise description of the program

Superfund Home Page

Superfund 30th Anniversary Report

Superfund Today - lacks sufficient funding.  Originally superfund was funded by a tax on all chemical industries, but that expired in 1995 and has not been renewed to date. Current funding is from general revenue and what can be collected from responsible companies.

NOTES: Super Fund - In 1980, Congress established what is commonly known as the Superfund Program. This is a fund financed jointly by the federal and state governments and taxes on chemical and petrochemical industries. The money is to be used for the cleanup of abandoned or inactive hazardous-waste dump sites and leaking underground tanks that are threats to human health and the environment. The EPA is authorized to collect fines and sue the owners of abandoned sites and tanks to recover up to three times the cleanup costs.

In 1989, the EPA estimated that there are more than 32,000 sites in the United States containing hazardous sites, but has stopped looking for any others. By 1991, The EPA placed 1,211 sites on a National Priority list for cleanup because of their threat to nearby populations.

In 1991, the EPA announced that $ 7 billion at been spent and declared 64 sites "clean", removed 24 sites from the Priority list, spent an average of $26 million per site. In fact only $2.4 billion was actually spent on clean-up. The remaining money was spent on administrative and litigation costs to compel owners of waste to pay up.


  1. II.Content Questions A:


Do BOTH Ques. 1 and 2 for full credit.

QUES. 1: Pick ONE Superfund Site in Illinois or anywhere in the U.S., give the location and name of the site, a 2-3 sentence description of the site, list several hazardous chemicals which are present and why these present a hazard to the public, air, or water.  

Then select ONE chemical found at the selected superfund site and briefly report all three of the following for one specific chemical such as:   what is it? impacts on the ecology and environment, and impacts on health.

First use the first link below to select the site.  Scroll down the past the map and look at the various listings or pick a state.   When you click on the Site Progress Profile, a lot of info is presented and you can read through this and click on various links within.  More details Box are given if you click on the list of item in more details box on the top right.  Click on “More in depth Site Details”.  Also click on “Additional Site Documents”.  These will be helpful in Ques. 2 below.

Pick a Superfund Site in Illinois-  From this site pick Illinois or any other state that you wish to see.  After picking the site, the click on the “Site Progress Profile”.  Then DO NOT lose this page as there are more questions about it in Question 2.  So maybe work on the chemical for this question after you complete Ques. 2.

Brief Description of Chemicals and Health Effects

Toxic Chemical Descriptions

QUES. 2:  Site Clean-Up or Remediation:  Use the same Superfund Site as chosen in Ques. 1.

Select ONE clean-up method and briefly explain how it is used to clean up the selected chemical from Ques. 1). Include a description of the method, what contaminants are cleaned up, what are the the science principles used in the method, if you can find any explanations of this?  Please work on this hard using the info on how to do it below.


When you click on the specific site, a lot of info is presented and you can read through this and click on various links within.  More details are given if you click on the list of item in the “more details box” on the top right.  Click on “More in depth Site Details”.  Also click on “Additional Site Documents”, in this site there are various links in tab form - the most useful one is “Operable Units - OUs”.  This will give a listing of contaminants and the cleanup technologies used.  Then you can click on the two links below for a further explanation of that technology.



OR
if you are unable to find the clean up method for the selected chemical at the selected Super Fund site, then pick any other clean up method of your choice from the remediation Technologies listed below.



EPA Site Remediation Technologies

Technology Focus - click on side menu for more specifics.




Content Questions B - shall precede the final issue debate question.  The issue question is given here to give context for the content questions.  Look further down for the start of the Content B questions.

DEBATE OR TRIAL QUESTION:
Did Trichloroethylene or any chemicals in ground water from W.R. Grace Company Cause a Cluster of Leukemia Deaths in Woburn, MA.?

For this issue debate, you may self select the position that you would like to promote.

INTRODUCTION:

"A Civil Action" is a book by Jonathan Harr, and subsequent Hollywood movie of the same name, which documents a court trial in Woburn, Massachusetts. W.R. Grace Company and several other companies were accused of contaminating the drinking water, which in turn lead to a cluster of leukemia cancers. In this case study, we will look at a series of documents about the trial, subsequent studies, and the EPA Superfund Cleanup to determine the answer to the main debate question. After researching the the original trial and subsequent studies, you will be the jury for the retrial of this case. There are many documents in this case study, since it will be quite time consuming to read all of them, each student will concentrate on one or more and summarize the main points for the other students. Then the other students can read the summaries for the their decision about the trial.

SUMMARY ARTICLES - EVERYONE SHOULD READ AT LEAST THE FIRST ONE.

Each student should read at least the summary of A Civil Action to get an overall view of the original trial.

Woburn Case Study at Carlton College - best and most complete site

A Civil Action - Movie review

A Toxic Legacy - series of articles by Dan Kennedy

A legal brief from students at the Harvard Law School - give both sides in a series of sequential pages

Chemical Descriptions, Toxicity, and Health Effects

TOX FAQ's - ADSTR



  1. III.Content Questions B:


Ques. 3: As described in some of the above articles, give a summary for this case study and trial? Comment on the accuracy of the movie to actual events. What can be learned from this case?



A Civil Inaction Daniel D. Kennedy


Epilogue: A Civil Action the Real Story

 

Additional Resources:


A Toxic Legacy - news paper articles by Dan Kennedy




Ques. 4: Student # 1 & 2: Briefly summarize the history of chemical contamination at Woburn and list several of the chemicals found.

Student # 3 & 4: Research two of the chemicals to give name, use, and toxicity. Use links below to find info about the chemicals.



First Newspaper Story on Hazardous Material 

Industrial History

Some of the chemicals that are important for the Part IV. Issue Question
trichloroethylene (TCE), - ATSDR
tetrachloroethylene or(PERC) - ATSDR
1,2-trans-dichloroethylene (DCE) - ATSDR
1,1,1-trichloroethane, or TCA;  - ATSDR
chloroform - ATSDR

ATSDR - Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry - General Reference for all hazardous compounds - In the search box, type in the chemical of interest, then click on the first title which is the cover page for that chemical.  More info is then available in the links on the left.





Ques. 5:
Briefly, what is the nature of the evidence for an increase in cancer rates in Woburn. Summarize some of the key points


Childhood Leukemia Answers Sought

Childhood Leukemia Follow up Study - 1997 well after the trial

Health Studies related to water at Woburn - summarizes the evidence at the time of the trial.


Ques. 6: What are the main conclusions of the leukemia childhood follow up study? What chemicals may be the cause?


Childhood Leukemia Follow up Study - this study was not completed until 1997 - too late for the trial.

Birth Defects Study

Consult ATSDR - Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry - General Reference for all hazardous compounds - In the search box, type in the chemical of interest, then click on the first title which is the cover page for that chemical.  More info is then available in the links on the left.


Ques. 7: Several students should work on summarizing various aspects of the trial. After the first summary, following students should fill in more details to the summary rather than just starting from scratch each time. Points to look for - What did they have to prove about the water from the wells? What proof was needed? What errors were made? What did the experts say? What evidence contradicted the facts that the chemicals came from W.R. Grace?


Dan Kennedy - Death and Justice - Trial summary -

 Toxic Trial - Jonathan Harr talks to Dan Kennedy - short summary

Judges Ruling on the Trial -


Ques. 8: Summarize the trial and evidence from the point of view of W. R. Grace. What are the differences in the interpretation of the evidence? What evidence does Grace cite that points away from it as the cause of contamination in the wells?


WR Grace Defense -  Read this carefully as it gives alternative theories on the source of the contamination.

Industrial History - Leading to water contamination.

Presence of arsenic, lead, and pesticides from prior companies at the site.

Summerizes History of Water in Woburn - Look carefully at the Wells G and H and the role played by the Water department of the city of Woburn.

Dan Kennedy - Death and Justice - Trial summary - Read the section "The Trouble with George" - the results of his testimony deflected testimony away from WR Grace and also shows that the river water itself may have reached the wells.


Ques. 9: What is the significance of the U. S. Geologic Survey study about the Aberjona River as a source of contamination of the well water? Also look for the relevant evidence and contention in the Trial Summary by Dan Kennedy under the heading “the trouble with George”.


“Schlichtmann's shortcomings were never more obvious than in the testimony of his poorly prepared lead witness, George Pinder, a nationally recognized hydrogeologist whose role was to explain how contaminated ground water beneath the Beatrice and Grace properties flowed into the drinking-water wells.
Pinder put forth a bizarre theory that the wells couldn't have drawn water from the heavily polluted Aberjona River, on whose banks they had been drilled, yet could readily pull water from the Beatrice property, on the other side of the river and some distance away. Facher easily -- and brutally -- exposed Pinder's testimony as erroneous. Harr, in A Civil Action, describes Pinder's mistake as an honest one, and I believe him. But at the time, Pinder came off as someone who had been caught concocting a tale to benefit his client. ***(Government tests later revealed that the wells pulled about 40 percent of their water from the river, but that a considerable quantity of toxins from beneath the Grace and Beatrice properties had nevertheless found their way into the wells.)” Take Two by Dan Kennedy

1978 Study Shows Water may come from the Aberjona River
Further Article on water from the river.

Simulation of Possible TCE movement - Ohio State University.  These were done well after the trial ended.
Page containing several visualizations of water from river and TCE movement
Explanation of Woburn Simulation -Look down to get past all of the advertising.   Makes the case that TCE from Grace probably never reached the wells or did so just prior to their being shut down for good. “Although the jury found W.R. Grace and Co. liable for contaminating wells G and H, in some of the models plausible scenarios, the TCE plume emanating from W.R. Grace does not get to well G or well H.

"In the few plausible scenarios showing that contamination from the Grace property does reach wells G and H, the contamination arrived at the end of the period that the wells operated, and the concentration of TCE was low compared to what the wells captured from the other sources, Bair added.

The jury found another local company, Beatrice Foods Corp., not liable for contaminating wells G and H. But according to the model results, Bair and Metheny said most of the TCE entering the wells from the late 1960s through the 1970s probably came from the Beatrice property and the Hemingway Trucking Co. property, which are on the west side of the nearby Aberjona River. Lesser amounts of TCE captured by the wells probably came from the properties of UniFirst Corp., New England Plastics Corp., and W.R. Grace. “




  1. IV.  Issue Question:

Objective 4: Decision Making

Did trichloroethylene or any chemicals in ground water from W.R. Grace Company cause a cluster of leukemia deaths in Woburn, MA.?

In this issue, you should pretend to be on the jury for this case.  You should consider the facts of the case as presented in Questions 3-9.  Some of the facts presented may not have been from the original trial, but have been found by subsequent people working on this case.  Do not be so quick to make a judgement without adequate facts.

Treat this assignment as an Experimental Hypothesis Analysis.  The hypothesis is the main question above put forth by the prosecution in the case.  The various questions 3-9 have tried to develop the evidence.

TRIAL VERDICT:  four to six paragraphs.  In your verdict report, briefly summarize what the case is about. Continue with all of the below for a full hypothesis analysis.

The original question in the trial is presented above.  It is really a two part question, the first, did the chemicals from W.R. Grace reach the wells?  What is the evidence for or against the chemical contamination to the water wells?  What are the possible the sources of the chemicals?  Did they come from W.R. Grace or somewhere else?

Secondly did these chemicals cause a cluster of leukemia deaths?  The answer today, because of further studies may or may not be the same as in the original trial.

So you really need to answer both questions to reach a verdict.  What is your final verdict - guilty or innocent?





  1. V.  Response or Ask a Question - respond or comment to someone else, or use General Questions to ask a general question that the Prof or others might answer.  Extra responses earn extra credit (1 pt/ques. up to 2 points)

    Response Format:
      What or why is something interesting?  Then add a new perspective or viewpoint.  Needs to be longer than one sentence.

    Ask a question Format: 
    Give a little background of what you already know or what is your interest, then add what you already know, then finally ask your question.







Charles E. Ophardt, Professor of Chemistry, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL 60126, charleso at elmhurst.edu, Copyright 2009

Content Question B

Ques. No.      Student ID #


Ques. 3       5, 8, 15, 25

Ques. 4       9, 12, 16, 26         

Ques. 5       10, 17, 22, 27

Ques. 6       1, 7, 18, 24, 28

Ques. 7       2, 6, 13, 19, 29

Ques. 8      3, 14, 20, 30

Ques. 9      4, 11, 21, 23


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