Superfund Sites are a classification of serious hazardous waste disposal sites. The U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 created a program known as Superfund to cover the clean-ups of such locations.
Superfund sites are determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or state-level agencies; they are locations that are in severe need of cleanup due to environmental and health risks resulting from toxic wastes. There are presently thousands of Superfund sites, and many more that will be eventually added to the list.
A large variety of risks are involved with Superfund Sites. Groundwater contamination is one of the most constant underlying threats, with air pollution and contaminated soils often present as well. Stream water runoff contains toxic chemicals that can cause erosion. Cleanup of such sites, even once initiated, can take decades to complete, while contamination continues to spread in the meantime.
Superfund Sites have caused much harm already. Among the health problems reported are nausea, headaches, respiratory disorders, heart and
reproductive problems, birth defects, and liver, heart, kidney, and thyroid problems, depending on the type of toxic waste involved. Exposure to such hazardous waste has been known to result in cancer in many cases.
Pollution from Superfund sites can produce harmful effects through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. All Superfund Sites are hazardous, because this is the reason the EPA classifies them as such. The hazardous material may be any one of a wide range of
toxic chemicals and wastes, or a combination of these, including the following: petroleum compounds, PCBs, asbestos, pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, and cyanide. Any one of these substances can contaminate soil, water, and the air. Even odors can pose problems for those with existing respiratory problems. Also, high levels of methane and volatile organic chemicals from toxic waste dumps can
build up in home basements and cause fires or explosions.
The EPA's Superfund program