Besides the toxins in the ocean,especially from the oil spill,  what are some other ways that toxins are released into the environment?

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ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three mechanisms for the release of toxins into the environment are pesticide runoff, industrial waste, and toxic storage seepage.  Pesticide runoff is when too many pesticides are used to spray onto crops and they are washed away by rain to nearby streams and rivers where they collect and concentrate in a particular area.  Pesticides in small amounts are safe for human contact but in concentrated amounts they can bioaccumulate in tissues and cause health problems.  Industrial waste is always a problem.  This is because even chemicals classified as non-toxic can be problematic in sufficient quantities and concentrations.  Chemical waste must be treated or incinerated before it can be released into the environment.  Chemicals or biowaste that cannot be sufficiently treated to be rendered non-hazardous must be permanently stored in long term storage facilities like landfills or buried containers.  This leads to the other mechanism, toxic storage seepage.  Certain kinds of industrial waste like used nuclear fuel must be simply stored in enclosed containers in remote areas for long term because nobody knows of any way to render it non-toxic.  But if these burial sites are not monitored, the toxins can seep out of the containers and into the environment over time.  In fact, at older industrial sites where waste was buried in the ground decades ago before such things were more strictly regulated, leaked waste can lead to major clean-up issues and cause the site to be unable to be sold due to the extensive amount of money required to properly clean up the site to make it legal to sell.  This can leave the properties in the care of the current owners for long term even if they no longer want the facility. Toxins are released into the indoor environment through products like tape, plastics, recycled paper, countertops, synthetic wool fabric and recycled plastic that release volitile organic and persistent organic compunds (VOCs and POPs), like dioxins and phthalates, that gas-off and "dust-off" particles.

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