Thursday, August 4, 2011

The New Green Movement

With the global economy frayed, everyone is looking for ways to personally dig themselves out of this mess and come up with a newer, and greener world. For years, we here in America have sent materials to landfills that have no place there. Batteries, plastics, metals, yard waste; the list is endless.

It comes down to following the money trail. What is cheapest? National Geographic has for years printed pictures of developing countries' small children pulling copper and gold wiring and other precious metals from old electronics juxtaposed in front of towering piles of sludge and old computers and puddles of undrinkable water.

Recycling. We don't always do it at home. We outsource even this.

So it should come as no surprise that for years when we reshingle houses they go to landfills where they are buried and forgotten; except that the petroleum, mercury, asbestos, benzene, fiberglass and polycrylics, and other chemicals are all leaching into the groundwater.

It should also come as no surprise that the Wisconsin DNR want to do something about this situation.

Enter asphalt shingle grinding technology that has advanced to the point that these shingles can be ground to a consistent size and used as a filler in hot mix asphalt for road construction. Recycling, new job development, re-use of petroleum products; sounds like a big win, huh?

Not if one of these grinding operation is slated to begin operation in your neighborhood.

The EPA and OSHA have declined to rule on the health effects of asphalt fumes, pending decent studies of risks. The CDC has collected a small inconclusive set of test results without decent control on lifestyle habits such as smoking, the majority of which were done before 1988. One of the other problems are there are a lot of different chemicals in shingles depending on age and manufacturer.

There are three or maybe four of these operation in Wisconsin. One is in the bottom of a quarry. I don't know the location of the others, but I would bet not within a municipality's boundaries.

Noise. Heat. Towering piles of ground shingles. Asphalt fumes. Possibly mercury and asbestos.

The CDC has stated though the typical risks, of sensitivity, rashes, pulmonary complications, renal, bladder, and lung cancers, right up to and including DNA mutagens.

But hey, it will create jobs. And, although Wild Rose does not have the infrastructure to provide good, dependable, cheap Internet and cell phone service to our residents or the type of DSL that would lure companies like call centers and light manufacturing; we can compete with developing nations by being a dumping grounds for nasty waste products.

Hooray for the green movement!

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