Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 28, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise; Special Guest author Fred Siegel Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?
Today’s atmospheric carbon level is 419.53 ppm, up two points from just a week ago. Additionally, scientists announced today that within the next five years we are 90 percent likely to break yet another record for the hottest year in recorded history, which despite 197 countries joining the Paris Agreement, and working so hard to reduce global warming, shows that we’re tracking in the wrong direction.
How is this possible?
The United States is at the very bottom of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), tier 6, “Critically Insufficient.” The CAT monitors how countries are progressing toward “the globally agreed aim” of 1.5ºC. / 2.7ºF. A major factor in the rise in temperature, despite all the effort, has a lot to do with our insufficient progress in carbon drawdown as a result of soil degradation and deforestation. This most difficult challenge has been further complicated by the rising temperature fueling massive wildfires on three continents which resulted in the scorching of billions of trees in 2020 alone, as well as the continued degradation of soil through the long dry months of drought, which has undermined our aggressive effort to drawdown excess carbon and store it in the soil.
All of our eyes should be on the soil. The life-changing documentary Kiss the Ground was released in October 2020 and gave many of us hope that we could still win this war against global warming, despite the huge obstacles. Once soil health became the core objective, we quickly learned that agricultural chemicals have resulted in much of the world’s soil degradation. The word “chemicals” naturally results in some of us casting our gaze on a few other types of chemicals, hazardous waste chemicals, the types that seep into the soil in our communities and undermine soil health everywhere, as well as personal health, preventing the much needed carbon drawdown. The total impact is 22 million acres affected.
In short, there are:
- 1,344 federal superfund sites
- 1,571 nonfederal National Priorities List (NPL) sites
- 450,000 brownfield sites
These staggering numbers don’t include the lesser known hazards such as golf courses and dry cleaners that are hidden in plain sight in many of our towns. If we lump all this land together, it’s much easier to see why carbon drawdown has been so slow, and what we need to be more aware of in the age of the climate crisis.
Heart of the matter. Against this dire backdrop comes the alarming warning from Hazardous Waste expert Fred Siegel, who outlined in his recently published book, Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?, the likely risk we face with the 49 top toxic hazards, outlined in his essential reference guide, impacting our well-being, several of which are in the majority of U.S. communities.
Absorbing the magnitude of these threats, and factoring in the influence of weather events such as rain bombs, hurricanes and chronic flooding, and the increase these will have on our likely exposure to the toxins, I feel compelled to shine a spotlight on Fred’s work. Many of these chemicals are carcinogens and spread far and wide during storms as we saw back in February 2021, when an Indonesian dye factory flooded and red dye was soon swirling for miles along the newly formed rivers that filled city streets. According to the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, 60 percent of the NPL sites may be impacted by flooding.
Fred Siegel and Tony Quagletta have been conducting environmental site assessments for over 30 years (toxictom.com). Fred’s passion and motivation were initially ignited by learning that he and his wife Vicki had purchased their first home atop a toxic landfill in Woodbridge, New Jersey and never knowing it until after they relocated. The flames of activism have been burning strong ever since. In fact, Fred’s eager to explain why he has twice been arrested.
Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed? is rich with concise summations of compelling facts, data and first hand insights, that quickly turn readers into “woke” believers. An example that highlights how shocking these facts are, is the beautiful golf course that dots thousands of communities across the country. A study conducted in New York, entitled Toxic Fairways, found that the golf fairways are maintained with extremely high volumes of pesticides, 7 to 8 times higher than the volume used on farms if compared pounds per acre. Many golf courses use pesticides that contain chlorpyrifos which in 2015 the EPA deemed so toxic that there is no safe exposure to it. The soil beneath these fairways is not healthy soil with high water infiltration rates, so during heavy downpours, most of the toxins wash away into our streets and down our public drains. Golf course toxins are just the tip of the iceberg.
I asked Fred to comment on hazardous chemicals, fire and heat. He remarked, “Depending on the temperature of the fire the materials at the waste site would burn and send chemicals into the air. It would be similar to a chemical factory fire only worse. Wide areas would need to be evacuated and the residue from the fire could potentially create a superfund site 10 times the size or worse.” This is particularly worrisome considering that the higher temperatures associated with global warming have the potential to impact hazardous waste and cause combustion that results in an explosion.
Fred Siegel’s book Environment Hazards, Are You Exposed? is an absolute necessity for every household in America. It’s the ideal reference guide as we all face the climate crisis together. Many of the health threats related to toxic chemicals are preventable if we know what to look out for and what to avoid. As well-intended as our elected representatives might be, we’ve all seen that there are many barriers to keeping us safe from all the potential threats.
When I asked Fred what his focus was in writing such a complete guide to hazardous waste in America, he said, “I hope people realize the government will not protect them. They need to protect themselves with knowledge.”
Gallant Gold Media’s Hill Report will help facilitate Fred’s plan by passing along a small bit of Fred Siegel’s knowledge and insights each week. Our goal is to feature an environmental hazard piece every Friday, touching on each one of Fred’s 49 chapters.
- Fred’s book is available in paperback or ebook and is free if you have Kindle Unlimited
- Refer to the chart at the back of the book that provides an important Distance from Hazard Chart
- Check out Fred’s website toxictom.com
- Join Gallant Gold Media’s newly opened online Act Now for the Earth Cafe community that Fred often frequents and posts insightful comments
- Follow Fred on Twitter and stay updated on his insights on current events
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