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Cross-Media Transfers of Hazardous Wastes

  • Gilbert E. Metcalf (a1), Daniel J. Dudek (a2) and Cleve E. Willis (a2)

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The current issues of landfill bans, groundwater contamination, waste-end taxes and source reduction of hazardous wastes have rekindled interest in a systems view of environmental management. While this recent interest is new, the basic concept is not. The physical Law of Conservation of Mass as embodied in materials or mass balance has underlain most residuals management research (e.g. Ayres and Kneese [1969]; Kneese and Bower [1979]). As society grapples with the complex problem of toxic and hazardous chemical residues and their distribution in the environment, mass balance is receiving renewed attention in the form of cross-media transfers. The focus of this renewed interest is the movement and transformation of residuals among environmental media (soil, air and water) after discharge. Our early public lessons in applied ecology taught us that the environment is a single integrated system and that there are frequently unintended consequences associated with the human use of that environment. The contemporary lessons from the identification and cleanup of uncontrolled hazardous waste sites under the “Superfund” program lends a new impetus to our reconsideration of these concepts.

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Conservation Foundation, State of the Environment: An Assessment at Mid-Decade, Donnelley and Sons, Virginia, 1984.
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Kneese, A. and Bower, B., Environmental Quality and Residuals Management, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979.
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Marks, D., Hanrahan, D., and Rhodes, J., “Development of a Comprehensive Plan for Social and Hazardous Waste Management in the Commenwealth of Massachusetts,” Department of Civil Engineering Report 242, MIT, 1979.
Metcalf, G., Willis, C., and Dudek, D., “A Process Analysis of Electroplating Firm Response to Alternative Environmental Policies”, Massachusetts Experiment Station Publication No. 689, 1984.
Russell, C., “Residuals Management in Industry: A Case Study of Petroleum Refining”, Johns Hopkins University Press for Resources for the Future, Baltimore, 1973.
U.S. EPA, Economic Analysis of Proposed Pretreatment Standards for Existing Sources of the Electroplating Point Source Category, EPA 230/1-78-001, 1977.

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