Hazardous Waste + Toxics
Hazardous wastes and toxic substances can negatively impact water quality, bioaccumulate in aquatic species, and pose health risks to humans. Examples of hazardous waste and toxic substances include pesticides, hazardous waste sites, and industrial sites.
Pesticides are chemicals used to kill or keep away insects, rats, weeds, mold, or other pests. Stormwater runoff collects pesticides and other chemicals as it flows across lawns, roads, and parking lots into storm drains or across agricultural fields into the Bay or its tributaries. These pesticides end up in Bay waterways and degrade water quality, aquatic life, and public health. Many pesticides persist in the soil and leach into waterways and groundwater impacting the ecosystem and our drinking water supply. Crop any lawn care pesticides also harm unintended beneficial insects and food pollinators including bees and birds. The most widely-used type of pesticides, neonicotinoids, threaten the blue crab population as well as other aquatic invertebrates and insects, which serve as the foundation of the food chain for fish. Other public health concerns related to exposure to pesticides in the watershed include cancer, respiratory problems, neurological illnesses, and fertility issues.
Hazardous wastes include toxic byproducts of manufacturing, agriculture, septic systems, and other industries. When not properly disposed of, these toxins pose significant harm to water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and human health. Prior to the inception of hazardous waste regulations – many industrial facilities disposed of toxic substances without containment, leaving hazardous substances to leach into soil and ground water and migrate overtime. Hazardous waste cleanup is often needed to mitigate the risk of exposure of toxins to animals, humans, and the environment. Cleaning hazardous sites is an important part of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and providing a safe and healthy environment for humans and aquatic life.