Where Does Toxic Waste Come From?

Toxic or hazardous waste comes from a variety of sources and is considered the by-product of any hazardous substance that is thrown away, properly or improperly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hazardous waste is most commonly a result of manufacturing or industrial processes, but factories and similar sites are not the only producers. Hazardous waste can also be generated by small businesses, health-care facilities and individual homes.

According to National Geographic, the list of possible hazardous waste-producing sites is extensive. In addition to manufacturing locations, farms, medical and scientific laboratories, hospitals and other health care centers, construction sites and private homes are involved in the production of this waste. At home, septic systems, batteries, computers, paint and paint thinners provide just a few examples of materials that can create hazardous waste dangers.

In some instances, dangers arise when hazardous waste is not properly disposed of by business entities, communities or homeowners. For example, the EPA cites instances in which people may drop hazardous materials at town dumps in order to avoid paying requisite removal fees, a crime that carries stiff penalties. This is why it is important to review all laws pertaining to a particular hazardous agent as described by EPA guidelines as well as other pertinent federal, state and local authorities. In other cases, natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or other storms, can damage or compromise places where hazardous waste is found or stored. This includes equipment, such as underground tanks and septic systems, that may then contaminate other water sources.