Science

The waste of thousands of old industrial sites may come out from the flood

As sea levels rise, coastal areas are at increased risk of flooding. But humans and environments in urban centers and near the ocean may face issues beyond rising water. There are also a large number of manufacturing facilities in these areas.

Over the years, many of them may have released toxic chemicals into the soil. And now those areas are also under threat of flood. When it rains heavily or the sea rises too high, people nearby can expect to be exposed to a variety of leftover materials and chemicals, some of which are meant to be ingested or touched by humans. has not been created.

How big is the risk? Many of our major cities are located near the sea. In some sense, in 2020, about 400 million people lived within 20 meters of sea level and 20 kilometers of coastline.

New research has used historical data along with projections of sea level rise to find out how this issue may affect the United States. It has been found that as the climate warms and floods become more common, more people will likely be exposed to industrial pollution from manufacturing sites. Urban areas and marginalized groups within them may be particularly at risk.

“We have all these sites; We know where they are,” Thomas Marlowe, lead author of the research and a postdoctoral researcher at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus in the United Arab Emirates, told Ars. “They are facing certain climate risks, including extreme weather conditions. events, precipitation—that sort of thing—or sea level rise?”

unseen sites

Former industrial facilities run the gamut in terms of size and function. Some operations were particularly large, while others had only a small number of employees. The research explicitly looks at sites that are no longer functioning and focuses on those whose operations are likely to use hazardous industrial materials of some sort. They were all operating at some point after 1950 but were closed by the end of 2016.

Former tenants of the sites include manufacturers of plastics, rubber, textiles, automobiles and metals. In Providence, Rhode Island, one of the cities studied, the data also includes small-scale jewelry makers, as the city used to sport a large number of them, Marlowe said. Jewelry makers use various heavy metals and polyvinyl chloride – which can be a carcinogen, among other compounds.

(Marlow noted that the paper did not attempt to identify any chemicals as particularly perishable. He added that the research does not explicitly confirm that the hazardous chemicals identified are present at any of the sites—only That the industries on the sites use them.)

Due to the changing climate of the world, flooding is becoming more common in America. When, for example, the site of a former textile manufacturer or plastics factory is flooded, leftover chemicals can make their way into the water supply, flowing into nearby homes (if they are also flooding). ), or can contaminate the wider environment. As such, residents of neighboring duplexes, for example, could end up touching or consuming chemicals without their knowledge.

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