17/9/10 – New US Report on Metal Recycling Indicates Hazardous Air Pollution
17 September 2010
Global Community Monitor (GCM) a leading Californian environmental justice group has produced a new report that indicates that metal recycling is a hidden health threat. Ironically considered to be an environmentally friendly industry, this new report suggests that metal recycling releases toxic contaminants into the air during pre-processing.
Denny Larson, Executive Director of GCM said, "Recycling scrap metal is generally good for the environment, but it can also create serious air pollution and health threats, Independent air testing by neighbors downwind of several scrap metal recyclers and foundries has revealed high levels of toxic metals and gases. Somehow this national toxic threat has escaped regulation from air pollution control agencies, despite years of community complaints."
GCM’s report entitled, “Green Industry? Under the Radar: Air Pollution from Metal Recyclers” has identified over 40 scrap metal recyclers in the San Francisco Bay Area that potentially release hazardous metal particles and gases while pre-processing materials for recycling.
In the US the scrap metal recycling industry has expanded dramatically since 2002. The global industry processes more than 131,541,787 tons of recyclable material annually into raw material to be used for manufacturing in many industries. In 2007 the United States exported over 10 billion dollars worth of scrap steel alone.
Scarp metal varies somewhat in form from car engines, to electrical wiring and refrigerators. These materials have to be cut and stripped and often non-metal substnces such as paint have to be removed. This takes place in the facilities, which often do not prevent these materials from escaping in the air. Air testing has now identified cancer causing metal particles escaping from these facilities Traces of the banned chemical Freon 113, which may have been released from breaking up of old refrigeration equipment, have been found in samples.
GCM is leading efforts to regulate the industry and pushing for air pollution controls at recycling facilities. Due to the independent tests undertaken by GCM, the San Francisco Bay area air quality management district may become the first agency in the US to regulate toxic emissions from metal recycling facilities.