The picturesque family neighborhood of Lakeland, Florida had everything you could ask for: lush grass and

a great view. Brian Dyer’s goal was to be the top of the neighborhood houses. So, promptly after moving to the family home, Dyer decided to build a beautiful swimming pool in the plush backyard. He and his family left on a short trip, leaving the holedigging to the contractors. A couple of hours into the vacation, however, Dyer received a call which demanded his immediate return. And when Dyer returned to his previously green, lush backyard, he saw and smelled something extraordinary. His backyard was actually a small carpet of grass, covering more than 10 feet below of discarded egg cartons, broken home appliances, tangerine cartons, and food remains —trash. The Dyer family’s home was built on a deep landfill that spanned across the entire idyllic neighborhood. So the government enacted an official decree: finders’ keepers, loser’s weepers. The Dyers’ story is not anything special.

Landfills are exactly what they sound like. They’re gigantic holes the ground that can take a daily helping of our everyday trash. In our current time, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or the EPA, America is ranked one of the top three nations in terms of % of waste thrown into these landfills. 55% of all our trash —that leftover steak or the empty bottle of shampoo—goes into landfills. The three components of decomposition: sunlight, moisture, and oxygen are scarce in a landfill because of dry soil, which makes decomposition very, very difficult. So the trash just sits there, taking its time. In fact, according to the U.S. National Park Service and Composting Council in January 2009, glass bottles are estimated to last from one to two million years to decompose in dry, sealed conditions; plastic bags 750 years, and plastic bottles 500 years. Soda cans and cigarette butts up to 200 years, and even an apple core could be years old.

While the years pass, this trash doesn’t come without any negative effects. This practice has led to a myriad of environmental and health concerns. As the landfill waste rots, various gases amass. Methane and other volatile chemicals can seem from old dumps and contaminate everything from the air we breathe to the water we drink. Additionally, according to Green Living, methane that is produced in landfills by rotting trash is about 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping the sun’s heat. Landfills also accumulate a toxic soup of industrial and home -cleaning chemicals that will accumulate and combine over time. The mixture of chemicals like bleach and ammonia in landfills can produce toxic gases that can significantly impact the quality of air in the vicinity of the landfill. They have everything from lead to cadmium, and these chemicals and poisonous compounds periodically wash away by rain, and potentially are dragged to fresh water supply. Green Waste Enterprise explains that landfills are a threat because landfills are located in and around large bodies of fresh water or swamps, so liquid pollution is difficult to detect. As these compounds submerge into the ground water, it inevitably ends up in our drinking glasses at the dinner table.

WeGreen USA. Landfills can also be used to generate electricity. states that “Studies have shown significantly re duced height among children who live near Love Canal. Literally right under our feet. leading more and more companies to look at landfills as gold mines. Another example lies in Katherine Tran. saying that no liner has the ability to keep all of the contaminants away. Of America's 2. which is the second-largest active landfill in the country. a non-profit environmentalist group.15 million tons received in 2008. and having a heart defect kept the baby in the hospital for his entire infancy. We cannot allow these atrocities against the environment and our state of health continue to be practiced. So why Kettleman City? Because this impoverished town was settled near one of many large toxic waste dumps. The landfills in Kettleman City and Puente hills had emissions of chemicals that affected people to the very line of DNA. Eventually. After the long list of detrimental effects that this practice allo ws for. had suffered from a cleft palate in his body. All landfills must have the necessary landfill liner.300 landfills. Therefore. these incredibly thin liners will rip. and other emissions from getting into the land soil. proposed to the United States Congress. it’s time to analyze how the government attempted to prevent them. in Kettleman City alone. So the dangers and the smells are all there. Step 1: create government subsidies for turning the hidden and in-use landfills into centers of energy. It has also been shown that people living close to landfills suffer from lung and heart diseases from the toxic gasses that are released from the landfill degradation”. crack. Katherine lives near the Puente Hills landfill. After processing. with 3. These landfills contain a wealth of mineral resources that are simply sitting there rotting away. One scary fact is that some home buyers are unaware of their actual home location. The government’s attempts to prevent these fatal mishaps from occurring have evident flaws.000 homes. I advocate the following twostep legislative solution. That is. which is a plastic film that thinly separates the gases. NY. He had to undergo multiple surgeries in his life. a resident in the City of Industry. chemicals. it attacks us. or even degrade. But less trash still . who was born near a landfill in the San Joaquin Valley of California.This problem isn’t just a sum of facts and statistics. 520 capture gases and burn them to produce electricity—enough to power 688. the chemical waste dump near Niagara Falls. and he is one of the 11 children to have a serious birth defect in the year 2007. This problem doesn’t just affect us. they could be living on a waste dump and never know about it. A number of landfills have been in use since long before the popularity of recycling. who gave birth to a baby with misshaped heart valves. Ivan Hernandez. and this has created a unique opportunity for "green" American mining. landfill gas is identical to the natural gas recovered from reservoirs deep underground. But the EPA doubted these methods.

reuse. Monitoring requirements must be met at landfills not only during their operation. The RCRA requires constant monitoring of methane migration. Not only will the occurrences of harmful effects be lessened. but for 30 years after its closure. pay no attention to the biodegradability of what is bought. Step 2: Enact the Clean Air Act. But luc kily. do something. or the CAA. The CAA requires landfills that meet design and emissions capacity and criteria to collect gas and either flare it or use it for green energy.” then we can actually back up this problem and improve our health and nature. the citizen. But this problem will never move as far until we. or the RCRA. the energy potential in landfills could be harnessed for long periods of time. and recycle. You don’t have be a treehugger to make a huge difference in this very delicate and fragile planet. We as Americans are greatly attracted to items in fancy packaging. The problem is greatly legislation-dependent.doesn’t mean less gas! Waste Management states that gas extraction can last for another 25 years even if it receives no more than one banana peel. . and in turn. supplemented with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. if we simply embrace the cliché phrase of “reduce. The first step to reversing this double edged sword from harming both the environment and our state of health is to acknowledge that we’re the cause of this whole thing.

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