: Are recycling centers safe for communities? Questions rise as Indiana plastics facility burns

by | Apr 14, 2023 | Stock Market

As the fire at an Indiana plastics-recycling storage facility burned into its third day Thursday and officials scrambled to calm evacuated residents and measure air quality, larger safety questions emerged across a nation that relies on recycling to help offset the impact of teeming landfills and littered waterways. Are recycling centers — challenging to regulate because they range from small community-led efforts to major industrial facilities — as safe as Americans think they are?

Public health experts told MarketWatch the nation needs to take a harder look at how we store and dispose of chemicals-heavy plastics in particular, along with other recycled materials that can act as a tinder box in certain conditions. It may be a wakeup call to the scores of Americans who embrace recycling as one of the longest-tested and straightforward solutions to help the environment. And what happens after recycled materials leave the home is quite another story. Read: Recycling is confusing — how to be smarter about all that takeout plastic Worker safety in the handling of large recycling machinery remains a priority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other agencies, but less scrutiny may be given to the emissions those workers breathe in, and in the case of the Indiana emergency, what pollution community members near a recycling center may be exposed to. “Any company, regardless of its intentions, must be held accountable for regulations, not only for the safety of its employees, but for the communities around it,” Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonologist …

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