How Hazardous Waste Gets Into Groundwater

How Hazardous Waste Gets Into Groundwater

Whether it be through buried tanks or landfills, there are a plethora of ways hazardous waste gets into groundwater, which is a big problem considering how many people rely on this source for their drinking water. Dysentery and lead poisoning are very possible outcomes of drinking tainted water—outcomes that could be avoided if people take proper care of their water supply.

Buried Tanks

One method of waste disposal is to simply bury tanks filled with discarded chemical substances. It is fine to use buried tanks, as long as the barrels are able to survive cracks and corrosion. When the tanks are not built to withstand the dirt’s pressure, waste can leak out into the groundwater, leading to severe contamination. Businesses that decide to bury their chemical waste should be up to date on the government regulations for such a process.

Faulty Septic Tanks

Septic systems are designed to drain human waste slowly, at a harmless rate. If a septic system is poorly made, damaged, or mismanaged, bacteria or viruses could leak into the groundwater. Occupants of homes, offices, or other buildings near water sources should be extra careful how they handle their septic tanks, or else they may cause unfortunate damage to unsuspecting people.

Abandoned Hazardous Waste

There are tens of thousands of abandoned and uncontrolled waste sites in the United States. These are locations where barrels or other containers full of hazardous waste are left lying around. If these containers were to leak, the hazardous substances could travel from the soil into the groundwater.


Landfills—places where garbage is buried—are supposed to have a protective bottom layer to keep the groundwater from getting contaminated. But if there is no layer, or if the layer has cracked, hazardous substances like battery acid, paint, and household cleaners could end up in the groundwater.

Lawn Chemicals and Road Salts

Another way hazardous waste gets into groundwater is through lawn chemicals and road salts. Lawn chemicals include products that kill weeds and insects. These chemicals can seep into the ground and eventually get into the ground water. Road salts, which are put on the roads during wintertime to keep cars from sliding, can also end up in the water.

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