Because of the dangerous contaminated air emissions emitted by landfill biodegradation, landfills pose a clear and obvious threat to human health as well as to our ecosystem. Over ten poisonous gases are emitted from landfills, with methane being the most dangerous. Methane gas is created spontaneously during the decomposition of organic substances. Methane gas builds considerable pressure as it forms and then begins to flow through the soil. Off-site migration of gases, including methane, was discovered at 83 percent of the waste sites in a recent study of 288 landfills. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide.

Children that reside near Love Canal, a chemical waste dump in Niagara Falls, NY, have been found to have considerably shorter heights in studies. People who live near landfills have also been demonstrated to suffer from lung and heart problems as a result of the poisonous gasses generated by landfill degradation.

Groundwater pollution from leachates (the liquid that drains or’leaches’ from a landfill) is the most serious environmental challenge we face as a result of landfills. Despite their intent to protect humans from poisons, protective barriers merely serve to postpone the inevitable due to natural decay. When a new municipal landfill is proposed, proponents always highlight that “no hazardous wastes will be disposed of in the landfill.” Several studies have demonstrated, however, that while municipal landfills are a good idea, they aren’t always the best option.

The main problem with landfill leachates is the release of a significant number of contaminants into fresh water streams, which then wind up in our homes as drinking water or everyday usage water. Because landfills are frequently placed near big bodies of fresh water or in wetlands, pollution is frequently undiscovered. The toxins seep into the earth, groundwater, and, eventually, our dinner plates. Animal and plant life are also seriously harmed by pollution.

The leakage of extremely small amounts of leachate could contaminate groundwater. TCE is a cancer-causing substance that is commonly detected in landfill leachate. In an average swimming pool, fewer than 4 drops of TCE combined with the water would be sufficient (20,000 gallons)

According to some estimates, 82 percent of landfills have leaks, with up to 41 percent of them having a leak area of more than one square foot. According to EPA-funded research, burying household waste in the ground poisoned ground water. Even with double-lined landfills, the EPA has stated that the risk of leakage is very significant.

The likelihood of leaks increases five-fold as the number of landfills grows. Population growth and consumerism are to blame for the rise of waste. Although the United States’ population growth is comparable to or somewhat lower than that of most middle to low-middle-income developing countries, the United States’ rate of consumption is significantly higher than that of any other industrialized or developing country today.

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