By Rosie Chamuryan
Hazardous waste disposal was discussed by Elans in the Chemistry Club on April 13 in honor of Earth Day.
Patrick Movley, a scientist with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, which protects California and Californians from exposure to hazardous waste, spoke at the meeting about pollution prevention and green chemistry.
Pollution prevention is improving the manufacture, delivery and use of products so that they generate less hazardous waste.
Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. Fewer hazardous substances means less hazardous waste and a healthier environment.
“Two million plastic bottles are discarded every five seconds in the US, and only three percent of plastic is recycled. Ten percent of plastic has become part of our beaches,” said Movley.
“Managing waste is a universal problem. I’m here today to let students know how important our environment is and bring awareness to the products we use and what active role people can take,” said Movley.
“The best way to reduce the harmful effects of waste is to reduce consumption. Items such as batteries, florescent tubes and some electronic devices contain mercury, lead, copper, and other substances that are hazardous to human health and the environment.
“The next best thing is to make sure you don’t throw it away,” he said.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 426,000 cell phones are discarded each day in the United States.
“Cell phones are so toxic they go straight to our landfills,” said Movley. “Fifty percent of our waste is leeching into our ground water. Ninety percent of our drinking water comes from our ground water. This is a hazard to human health and the environment. California has no money to clean up such a mess.”
The President’s Cancer Panel stated that the true burden of environmentally-induced cancers have been grossly underestimated.
“Some of the diseases we are dealing with, including prostate and breast cancer, have to do with our environment,” said Movley. “As consumers we don’t really know what we are consuming or if it’s good for us.”
Movley also encouraged students to pursue careers in chemistry, stating that there is a great demand for scientists and researchers.
Movley earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Biology from UCLA and his Master’s Degree in Biochemistry from Cal State University, Northridge.