Skip Navigation

13.9: Preventing Hazardous Waste Problems

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
Atoms Practice
Estimated2 minsto complete
Practice Preventing Hazardous Waste Problems
This indicates how strong in your memory this concept is
Estimated2 minsto complete
Estimated2 minsto complete
Practice Now
This indicates how strong in your memory this concept is
Turn In

What should be done about hazardous waste sites?

Cleaning up toxic wastes has incredible costs in time and money. Laws now protect lands from contamination, but many sites were damaged before those laws were passed. No other organization is big enough, so it is the government's job to clean up a toxic site if the company that caused the damage no longer exists or cannot afford cleanup.

Preventing Hazardous Waste Pollution

Nations that have more industry produce more hazardous waste. Currently, the United States is the world’s largest producer of hazardous wastes, but China, which produces so many products for the developed world, may soon take over the number-one spot.

Countries with more industry produce more hazardous wastes than those with little industry. Problems with hazardous wastes and their disposal became obvious sooner in the developed world than in the developing world. As a result, many developed nations, including the United States, have laws to help control hazardous waste disposal and to clean toxic sites.

As mentioned in the "Impacts of Hazardous Waste" lesson, the Superfund Act requires companies to clean up contaminated sites that are designated as Superfund sites (Figure below). If a responsible party cannot be identified, because the company has gone out of business or its culpability cannot be proven, the federal government pays for the cleanup out of a trust fund with money put aside by the petroleum and chemical industries. As a result of the Superfund Act, companies today are more careful about how they deal with hazardous substances.

Superfund sites are located all over the nation and many are waiting to be cleaned up.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 requires that companies keep track of any hazardous materials they produce. These materials must be disposed of using government guidelines and records must be kept to show the government that the wastes were disposed of safely. Workers must be protected from the hazardous materials.

To some extent, individuals can control the production and disposal of hazardous wastes. We can choose to use materials that are not hazardous, such as using vinegar as a cleanser. At home, people can control the amount of pesticides that they use (or they can use organic methods of pest control). It is also necessary to dispose of hazardous materials properly by not pouring them over the land, down the drain or toilet, or into a sewer or trashcan.


  • Government regulations, like the Superfund Act, hold companies accountable for the hazardous materials they produce.
  • Developed nations have seen the consequences of hazardous waste and are more likely to have protections in place than developing countries.
  • People can lessen the hazardous waste problem by using materials that are not hazardous or by disposing of wastes properly.


Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.

1. What is the Los Angeles South Bay region known for?

2. What are superfunds?

3. Who stored the oil underground in this region?

4. What is the problem at the site?

5. What do citizens need to do?

6. What has occurred at the Del Amo Facility recently?

7. What happened in March 2011?


1. How do the Superfund Act and other government regulations prevent lands from being contaminated?

2. What can you do to prevent or lessen the generation of hazardous wastes?

3. Why does the United States have so many Superfund sites compared with other nations?

Notes/Highlights Having trouble? Report an issue.

Color Highlighted Text Notes
Show More

Image Attributions

Show Hide Details
Difficulty Level:
At Grade
Date Created:
Feb 24, 2012
Last Modified:
Aug 06, 2016
Files can only be attached to the latest version of Modality
Please wait...
Please wait...
Image Detail
Sizes: Medium | Original