Negative Health Effects of Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is dangerous for humans, wildlife, and the environment. It often pollutes air and water. Sometimes, it ends up in the ground and can seep into your home through foundation cracks. Certain workers even face exposure to hazardous waste on the job, requiring protective gear. This waste can lead to medical conditions and illnesses. Learn about the negative health effects of hazardous waste and what causes them by reading below.

Respiratory Conditions

Air pollution and waste emissions cause respiratory conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and bronchoconstriction. People exposed to aerosols are at risk for respiratory infections such as influenza, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. And living by a coal plant can be very dangerous to lung health, especially in children. Coal ash contains arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury. Scientists believe this is why families who live nearby have higher rates of asthma.

Heart Disease

Living near a site containing hazardous waste can raise your risk of heart disease. Congenital heart disease in babies is also common in areas where the mother was exposed to waste from agricultural pesticides, solvents, and metals.


Hazardous waste is often carcinogenic. Carcinogens are substances capable of causing cancer in living tissue. Some examples include benzene, asbestos, pesticides, and arsenic. Another carcinogenic substance is vinyl chloride. It can be found in the air near landfills and certain processing plants.

Acute Health Problems

Not all negative health effects of hazardous waste are deadly. Some problems people may experience include dizziness, headaches, and stomach discomfort. People who work with hazardous waste may experience skin rashes and nausea. That’s why hazardous waste labeling and marking is crucial. Those who handle it can protect themselves from contact.

Birth Defects

Pregnant women who are in an environment exposed to hazardous waste can have babies with birth defects such as spina bifida, cleft palate, and hypospadias. Being around hazardous waste before pregnancy is bad, too. It can make reproduction problematic, causing sperm damage and infertility.

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