The Effects of Superfund Sites on Health
Continued exposure to the hazardous substances released from Superfund sites into the air, groundwater, and surface water can be incredibly detrimental to human health in communities within and surrounding the site. Research has shown higher levels of cancer, birth defects, developmental disabilities, and other serious health issues in communities near Superfund sites.
Children have a much higher rate of exposure to environmental toxicants than adults, as they have higher intakes of water, food, and air than adults in relation to body weight; additionally, this higher rate of exposure is exacerbated by common behaviors of children, such as hand-to-mouth behavior, and playing close to the ground when outside. Because of this higher rate of toxicant exposure, as well as their lessened ability to metabolize and excrete toxicants, children living or going to school on or near Superfund sites are particularly vulnerable to health issues. In addition to increased levels of childhood cancer and birth defects, exposure to hazardous substances released from Superfund sites has been correlated with higher rates of suspension from school and repeating grade levels, lower standardized test scores, and decreased cognitive functioning.
Other populations that are particularly vulnerable to the detrimental health effects posed by Superfund sites include pregnant women and the elderly. Research has shown that pregnant women living near a Superfund site that has not been cleaned up have a 20 to 25% higher risk of having a child with congenital birth defects than those that live near a site that has been cleaned up. The elderly are at a higher risk of developing health problems related to the release of toxicants from Superfund sites, as they generally have higher rates of comorbid conditions and decreased immune system activity.
Put the Super back into Superfund
Want to see polluters pay for their messes rather than taxpayers? Contact your representatives and tell them to support Senator Booker’s bill: Superfund Polluter Pays Restoration Act of 2017 (S.2198).