Eco-Tip: Ending Chemical Spills, Lessons from Hungary and Beyond
It can be challenging for people to wade through all of the lengthy chemical studies and information that’s published about many of the toxic chemicals that we hear about. Some “top ten toxins” lists are popular, although it’s hard to see how it’s possible to rank harmful chemicals from “top” to “bottom.” I’m guessing if you asked the folks in Hungary last week, they wouldn’t have listed “aluminum sludge” as a top toxin.
And the Hungarian spill is hardly the first environmental health threat from lesser-known toxins. Here are a few others:
- Trimethyl chloro silicane: barrels of the toxic chemical spilled into waterways in Jilan, China earlier this summer, forcing a shutdown of the city’s water supplies. The incident followed a massive 2005 spill of benzene and nitrobenzene at Jilan, causing an 80-kilometer long chemical plume.
- Methyl isocyanate: Ever heard of this deadly gas? The residents of Bhopal, India have…
- Trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene: ask residents of Woburn, MA…(see “A Civil Action”)
- Hazardous waste from low-grade oil refining: residents of the Ivory Coast felt the health effects from the chemical dumping by Trafigura…
- 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin: Okay, dioxin may be a somewhat familiar term, but how many Americans know that a massive release of the deadly chemical poisoned the town of Seveso, Italy in 1976….
- Phosphoric acid esters, mercury, atrazine: spilled into the Rhine River in 1986, these and other chemical releases created a toxic stew, killing thousands of fish and waterfowl…
Avoiding harmful chemical exposures to our families is important. But to avoid these kinds of massive industrial chemical catastrophes, we must find safer means of production without harmful chemicals. That’s why chemical policy reforms, like the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act, are so important.