what are super fund sites

WHAT ARE SUPERFUND SITES?

A superfund site is an area that has a lot of dangerous materials in it. Most superfund sites are places that were abandoned a long time ago. These are processing plants, mining sites, manufacturing plants, and landfills, among other things.

 HOW MANY SUPERFUND SITES ARE IN THE US?

At the end of 2019, there were 1,344 superfund sites all over the United States of America. To be a superfund site, an area must be on the National Priorities List, which is made up of places that are important to the government (NPL).

  • There are a lot of superfund sites in a lot of the states in the United States.
  • As of 2016, the State of New Jersey had up to 113 superfund sites in its area, which is a lot of them. It is the state with the most superfund sites out of the rest of the 50 states.
  • California kept an eye on 97 superfund sites in different parts of the state.
  • Each of Pennsylvania’s 95 superfund sites had to be cleaned up
  • Both Wyoming and South Dakota had 2 superfund sites, while Nevada has 1 site as of 2016.
  • The United States government wants to clean up Superfund sites all over the country. That’s why the National Priorities List (NPL) is updated from time to time.
  • The government removed clean areas from the list and adds new places regularly. 
superfund sites data

SUPERFUND SITES EXAMPLES

Most states in the US have multiple superfund sites (Research source: BallotPedia):

superfund site examples
  • Atlantic Resources Corporation

-In Sayreville, New Jersey, the Atlantic Resources Corporation superfund site was polluted by mining. It is in the same place.

-Incineration was used to get things like silver and gold out of the area. You can find silver cyanide in the area.

  • Griffiss Air Force Base

-People in New York live near Griffiss Air Force Base. In this area, underground water sources are contaminated. This makes this area a superfund site.

-Most of the wells in this area still have dangerous chemicals in them.

  • Centralia Municipal Landfill

-This site is a superfund site. The landfill in this area adds different pollutants into the air, mostly heavy metals.

-Centralia was a dumping site for industrial and municipal waste.  Now both the surface and underground water sources are polluted. Additionally, the pollution affects the soil in the area as well.

STATES WITH NO SUPERFUND SITES

There are a lot of superfund sites in almost every state in the US that are being cleaned up.

  • As of January 2016, North Dakota was the only state in the United States that didn’t have any superfund sites at the time.

COMMON CONTAMINANTS FOUND AT SUPERFUND SITES

Superfund sites are often filled with long-lasting pollutants that make them unsuitable for people to live in. One’s health can be affected by living near a superfund site in a number of ways. Repeated exposure to toxins from the environment can cause health problems.

common contaminants at superfund sites
  1. Mercury

  • Because mercury is one of the most dangerous heavy metals, it is common in superfund sites. Mercury releases into the air from volcanoes and other natural events.
  • Human activities like mining, burning coal, and burning waste also cause mercury to get into the air.
  • Mercury pollution is most common in areas where there are factories and processing plants. You don’t want this metal to end up in lakes, rivers, or water that comes from under the ground.
  • People who have a lot of mercury in their bodies can have kidney problems, damage to their nervous system, and problems with their digestive system.
  1. Asbestos

  • Asbestos is a mineral that comes from the ground and is harmful to humans and other animals.
  • It is mostly found in places where there were industrial operations in the past. Asbestos is also found in the environment if people don’t properly dispose of their waste.
  • There are many industries where asbestos is used, such as making things and processing things. People who live near superfund sites that have a lot of asbestos are more likely to get sick.
  • If asbestos is inhaled, it can have a long-term effect on the lungs. People who are exposed to asbestos don’t know it because the symptoms often take years to show up.
  1. Lead

  • Lead is a heavy metal, too. It is heavier than most elements in its class and is also thought to be dangerous.
  • One’s health is often harmed by lead from a superfund site or in the environment. Lead is found in the environment and may not be a problem. However, it is dangerous when it builds up in one place.
  • Lead poisoning happens if a person breathes in or eats lead particles. Children are more likely to get lead poisoning than adults.
  • Brain damage, kidney failure, anemia, and other long-term health problems when lead builds up in your body.
  1. Radioactive Materials

  • Radioactive material is any element that can give off radiation energy on its own. Among the radioactive materials are plutonium, cobalt, polonium, radium, and so on.
  • The long-term effects of exposure to radioactive materials is bad for your health. When cells are exposed to a lot of radiation, they can become cancerous, which can lead to cancer.
  • These materials can also cause heart problems in people. Radioactive materials can spread through the soil, water, and air.
  • The Safety Light Corporation, which is in Pennsylvania, is an example of a superfund site that is full of radioactive material.
  1. Dioxins

  • Dioxins are organic pollutants that come from things that are alive. They are found in a variety of ways in the world.
  • These substances are very harmful to humans. Dioxin contamination at superfund sites has a big impact on a person’s overall health.
  • A chemical called dioxin can cause birth defects and cancer. It can also harm the immune system.
  • It’s a big problem for people’s health because there are a lot of dioxins in the air and on the ground.

WHO PAYS FOR SUPERFUND CLEANUP?

It’s done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Superfund program to clean up superfund sites. The government pays for the Superfund program. (Research source: EPA.gov)

superfund sites
  • There are a lot of superfund sites in the United States that are run by the EPA.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) checks places for dangerous materials. This lets us use the most effective ways to clean up the mess.
  • Cleanup of superfund sites can be very difficult, especially when dealing with very toxic compounds.
  • The EPA can clean up the same place over and over again while the site is being cleaned up. If you do this, you want to make sure there are no toxins in the air.

THE PROBLEM WITH SUPERFUND SITES

There is now a problem with Superfund sites all over the world. Many parts of the world are filled with toxic materials. These harmful compounds can build up in the food chain over time, which can harm people’s health.

People can also be exposed to a wide range of contaminants when they visit superfund sites. Overall, these pollutants have an effect on all ecosystems. Unfortunately, due to cost, only a few Superfund sites get completely cleaned up each year. So, many of these toxic places are still dangerous.

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