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The presence of waste and hazardous materials in our environment has consequences that cut across a number of environmental issues. Waste disposal can shape land use by requiring space for landfills, rather than alternate uses. In addition, landfill disposal, as well as improper disposal of hazardous waste, can result in chemicals leaching into soil and groundwater. Additional pollution from waste may reach rivers and streams through stormwater runoff. Finally, landfill waste contributes to the production of methane, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming. Therefore, the simple steps of reducing consumption, reusing materials and recycling eligible waste not only decrease the waste stream, but have beneficial impacts on a host of related issues.
Hazardous materials may also be encountered in daily life via certain products and building materials. Lead, asbestos, radon, pesticides, and mercury are just some examples of potentially hazardous materials that may be encountered through routine activities. Therefore, it is important to understand the potential health effects of these substances, as well as how to handle and dispose of them safely.