The primary harm from nuclear waste comes from radiation, which can cause health problems in humans and other living organisms and degrade the quality of surrounding air, water and soil. Radioactive waste comes in the form of liquid, solid and gas. The level of radioactivity within nuclear waste varies, as does the time it remains active and capable of causing harm to the environment.
Nuclear waste must be properly handled and disposed of to prevent harm. Nuclear particles do not degrade in the air or water and accumulate rapidly in the environment. According to the EPA, the buildup of radiation poses significant short- and long-term risks to humans and other living organisms, including a heightened risk for developing certain cancers, birth defects and neurological ailments.