Water Pollution from Landfills

The Global Water Crisis

Our fresh water supplies are vital to survival, but every year pollution from landfills makes a portion of the fresh water supplies in the world unusable. Landfill conditions, where trash cannot degrade easily, increase the amount of pollution that enters fresh water streams, lakes and ground water sources. The pollutants range from human waste to chemicals, causing problems with local environments and ecosystems. Finding an alternative to landfills is the only way to reduce these devastating effects.

The Problem

When considering the impact landfills have on water pollution, the first step is taking a look at how landfills work. In general, waste is packed tightly into piles, preventing sunlight from reaching lower levels of trash. Since the landfill conditions limit the exposure to the elements, there is little chance that any trash in the landfill can degrade even if it is made from naturally biodegradable materials such as paper. Materials thrown into a landfill are then rained on, and the runoff pollutes lakes, streams, and groundwater sources.

The Pollution

Water pollution from landfills is a major problem in countries around the world. Chemicals from fertilizers, organic human waste, and metal are the leading causes of water contamination from landfills. The process of leaching, where water is filtered through layers of trash, can allow the contaminated water to enter local water sources easily. Household waste, including batteries and other common items, also contribute significantly.

Household Waste

The waste from hospitals, municipal sewage, and other community based facilities are leading contributors to pollution from landfills, but household waste is a problem that everyone can work on fixing together. Items such as batteries, for instance, can be recycled to ensure the corrosive chemicals in the product don’t end up in the groundwater (however, when recycling batteries, people must ensure that the batteries are processed at well-regulated plants).  Glass, plastic, some metals, and paper can also be recycled in the local community. Common household chemicals, including paint and cleaners, can be taken to a special waste facility to keep them out of landfills, as well.

Community Waste

Community waste that causes water pollution from landfills includes waste from large facilities, such as hospitals, as well as sewage. These pollutants are more complicated to remove and a little more difficult to reduce for the average citizen. Being aware of personal water usage within the home is one way to begin reducing some community water waste. Communities that work together to find alternatives to landfills can also make a big difference.

Alternatives to Landfills

There are several alternative to landfills, including recycling and reducing the amount of waste produced. Sanitary landfills are one alternative that is becoming more common, but the simplest thing that you can do is to keep toxic chemicals out of landfills. Opting for reusable choices, such as cloth diapers, and reducing the consumption of paper and petroleum based products can make a significant difference.