Sometimes the chemicals are not so easily seen as they were at Love Canal. But the impacts can be seen statistically.
Lead and mercury are two chemicals that are especially toxic to humans. Lead was once a common ingredient in gasoline and paint, but it was shown to damage human brains and nervous systems. Since young children are growing rapidly, lead is especially harmful in children under the age of six. In the 1970s and 1980s, the United States government passed laws completely banning lead in gasoline and paint. Homes built before the 1970s may contain lead paint. Paint so old is likely to be peeling and poses a great threat to human health. About 200 children die every year from lead poisoning.
Lead is found in leaded gasoline and paint
(a) Leaded gasoline. (b) Leaded paint.
Mercury is a pollutant that can easily spread around the world. Sources of mercury include volcanic eruptions, coal burning, and wastes such as batteries, electronic switches, and electronic appliances such as television sets. Like lead, mercury damages the brain and impairs nervous system function. More about the hazards of mercury pollution can be found later in this concept.
The Superfund Act of 1980 requires that companies safely dispose of hazardous chemicals they generate and clean up sites they pollute.
The effects of hazardous wastes on human populations include miscarriages, birth defects, brain damage, and cancer, particularly in children.
An individual may develop a disease, like cancer, but when the number of cases of the disease exceeds what is found in other areas, it is cause for concern.