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Soil Pollution

Toxic chemicals left in the soil can eventually make their way into bodies of water and cause widespread pollution.

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Toss it and Then?

Toss it and Then?

Credit: Blanche, Wil
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SEAGULLS_SCAVENGE_AT_CROTON_LANDFILL_OPERATION_ALONG_THE_HUDSON_RIVER_-_NARA_-_549951.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

We think of a landfill as being somehow separate from the environment, but in this photo seagulls are scavenging in an open landfill along the Hudson River.

Why It Matters

Credit: Bart Everson
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11018968@N00/172690560
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Trash that will eventually be taken to a landfill [Figure2]

  • People have always produced trash. Archeologists learn about prehistoric and early historic communities from their garbage.
  • A landfill is a hole in the ground that trash is thrown in.
  • Many toxic materials come off of this trash and so it must be dealt with in an environmentally sound way.
  • There are ways of harnessing some of the materials or their byproducts to be useful.

Can you Apply It?

With the link below, learn more about landfills. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Why do you think people produce six times more garbage than they did 30 years ago?
  2. What creates leachate and what does it contain?
  3. How is the environment protected from leachate in landfills now?
  4. Which gases are produced by uncovered rotting garbage? Which is the most damaging to the environment and why?
  5. Why does the United States have less efficient landfills than European countries?
  6. What could the United States do to make landfills more than just holes in the ground?

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