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#5 - EPA Study Finds Industry Could Cut Wastes By A Third Or More, 28-Dec-1986

A study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study found
that American industries could reduce by at least one-third the amount
of hazardous wastes they produce. The agency studied 18 specific
production processes, such as petroleum refining, wood preserving and
electroplating, at 100 plants nationwide. The EPA said industries could
significantly cut the amount of waste produced by starting several
"good housekeeping" practices, e.g., cutting leaks and spills and
stopping the unnecessary mixing of hazardous and non-hazardous
materials. The agency found that past efforts to cut down on industrial
waste were more concerned with economic than environmental and health
considerations. Now government regulations provide indirect incentives
for reducing waste because federal and state regulations have
significantly increased the cost of hazardous waste disposal. The
average cost of land disposal of a ton of hazardous waste is $250;
previously it was $15. Incineration costs $500 to $1500 a ton.

--Peter Montague



A report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns of the
hazards of lead in the nation's drinking water and says the agency is
considering rules to reduce by more than half the amount now tolerated
as safe. Taking lead into the body through eating, drinking or
breathing, has been found to cause a number of health problems,
including slow learning in children, hypertension in adults, and
possible effects on pregnant women. Research has found that lead in
water is possibly the largest source of lead in the human blood stream.

The rules, not yet formally proposed, would become final in 1988 and
would reduce the amount of lead permissible in water flowing in taps in
homes to 20 parts per billion from the current standard of 50 parts per

The report says the lower levels would mean a monetary saving to the
country of $800 million a year, half in health and remedial education
costs and half in the cost of repairing pipes, water heaters, meters
and other equipment corroded by water containing lead. Most of the lead
in drinking water comes from lead solder on pipe joints within the home.

The report says that the estimate of 38.1 million people exposed to
high levels of lead was probably low. Agency officials say that if the
maximum permissible level of lead in drinking water were reduced to 15
parts per billion, the monetary benefit to the nation would double to
$1.6 billion a year.

Some experts, including the president of a private water concern who
worked with the EPA on the study, believe the correct standard should
be set lower--10 parts per billion--and they advise individuals to take
the responsibility to monitor their own water and take whatever
remedial action is needed.

--Peter Montague



Recent studies linking the weed killer, 2,4-D, to cancer are causing
the chemical and lawn industries, consumer groups and federal and state
environmental agencies to reconsider use of the chemical. A study by
the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, MD, found that farmers
who had been exposed to 2,4-D were 6 times more likely to develop non-
Hodgkin's lymphoma (a tumor of the lymph system) than farmers not
exposed. A study by Hazleton Laboratories America of Vienna, VA, one of
30 performed for chemical manufacturers since 1980, found that about
10% of rats exposed to the chemical developed brain tumors. 2,4-D is
found in more than 1,500 over-the-counter weedkillers. Chemlawn
Services, the nation's largest professional lawn care company, recently
suspended all use of the herbicide. The U.S. EPA will decide in a month
or two whether to give 2,4-D special review -a process requiring up to
2 years.

An environmental toxicologist from the University of Medicine and
Dentistry of New Jersey says the dioxins that contaminate 2,4-D are in
the middle range of toxicity and 2,4-D could be used safely only with
protective gear--masks, boots and gloves. The Pesticide Public Policy
Foundation, a chemical industry group, said 2,4-D is perfectly safe for
use around the home, even without gloves. The Chevron Chemical Company,
maker of Ortho Weed B Gone the largest selling 2,4-D herbicide for home
use, also says no protective clothing is needed when using the

2,4-D is most commonly used by herbicide manufacturers because it is
cheaper, less toxic and more effective than some other weed killers. A
spokesman for the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
said that farmers may be justified in using 2,4-D because their
livelihood depends on it, but said it is absurd for people to put
themselves at risk for an emerald lawn.

--Peter Montague


Descriptor terms: epa; studies; lead; water pollution; regulations;
health; disease; drinking water; standards; 2,4-d; herbicides;
pesticides; cancer; nci; studies; dioxin; pesticide public policy
foundation; chemlawn; laboratories america; poisons; chevron; ortho
weed be gone; hazardous waste; petroleum industry; wood preservatives;