Aluminum Dross: a hazard to your health and the environment
What is aluminum dross?
Aluminum dross is the “residual waste material produced during an aluminum melting process,” (Environmental Chemistry) and it poses a risk to people and the environment. Approximately “five millions tons of aluminum dross are produced per year in the United States.” (University of Kentucky Law)
There are two primary types of aluminum dross: black and white. Black dross, also known as dry dross, has a granular texture. It tends to have a low metal content and a high concentration of salts and oxides. White dross, which is wet, has high concentrations of metal and a smaller amount of salts and oxides.
What is aluminum dross used for?
The reason why aluminum dross is produced in such high quantities in the United States is because aluminum is a material commonly utilized in the production of a number of products including “pistons, engine and body parts for cars, beverage cans, doors, siding and aluminum foil.” (University of Kentucky Law)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working closely with “the aluminum industry, waste industry, and the states of Ohio and Indiana on a research project focused on safe management of aluminum productions wastes.” (EPA) All have expressed varying degrees of concerns “about the management of secondary aluminum wastes,” which are the cause of “fires, odors, elevated operating temperatures, engineered component failures and leachate releases at some municipal solid waste landfills.” (EPA)
What are the potential dangers of Aluminum dross?
- Dross is highly flammable when in contact with water.
- Dross is a skin and eye irritant. If a person gets the substance on their skin, it is strongly advised that they wash it off immediately. If they get dross in their eyes, they are advised to flush out the substance “for at least twenty minutes.” (Chemical Dictionary Online)
- Dross emits toxic chemicals and gases into the atmosphere, such as ammonia. Workers handling the dross are usually provided with breathing apparatuses, which filter out the fumes, but people living or working near sites of aluminum dross production are especially vulnerable, especially if they already suffer from a respiratory condition such as asthma.
- More serious medical conditions associated with aluminum dross exposure include “cancer, liver damage, skin rashes and reproductive disorders.” (University of Kentucky College of Law)
- When deposited and stored in landfills, dross is hazardous to the environment. When dumped in landfills, aluminum dross emits foul, often toxic odors.
- Every year “there are approximately 8,300 fires that occur in landfills, (University of Kentucky College of Law),” many of which contain highly flammable aluminum dross products.
Weitz & Luxenberg: Leading environmental attorneys
Weitz & Luxenberg is determined to doing everything legally possible to ensure that you and your neighbors have access to air and water that are not contaminated by toxic chemicals such as aluminum dross. We are committed to seeking justice on behalf of those who cannot rent or sell their homes, due to offensive landfill odors and other types of pollution affecting their communities.
Our firm secured a landmark $423 million settlement against several of America’s oil giants for contaminating public drinking water supplies with methyl butyl tertiary ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive. Reckless disregard for the environment devalues property, undermines business and worst of all, compromises the health of area residents. No one should have to suffer from chemical contaminants and we are here to help you secure compensation from the parties responsible for polluting your home and/ or work environment.
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): http://www.epa.gov/reg5rcra/wptdiv/solidwaste/projects/disposal.htm
University of Kentucky College of Law: http://www.kjeanrl.com/2009/09/fire-in-hole-aluminum-dross-in.html
Environmental Chemistry: http://environmentalchemistry.com/yogi/chemicals/cn/Aluminum%A0dross.html
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