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Atlanta Environmental Law Blog

Risk of chemical exposure high from black women's hair products

Any woman, whether here in Georgia or elsewhere, who has walked into a hair salon knows that numerous chemicals are used in order to achieve the styles they desire. Some of them come with the potential for chemical exposure that could cause harm to both salon workers and their customers. It turns out that those who face the most risk could be black women and children.

Recently, the results of a new study indicate that out of 18 of the most popular hair products used by black women and children, an alarming 80 percent contain hazardous chemicals. The chemicals in question are linked to fertility issues, asthma and weight gain to name a few. Perhaps the most disturbing finding revealed that some of the chemicals are even linked to cancer. 

Many new developments in Georgia encounter zoning issues

Over the years, many industrial businesses have gone out of business here in Georgia just as they do everywhere else. Sometimes, those properties stay empty for years until a developer comes along and wants to make use of the land. Unless the developer uses the property for its original zoning purpose, the new project will more than likely encounter some zoning issues.

For instance, a company wants to convert an old building site into a mixed-use development. The plan is to put in an amphitheater and apartments, along with spaces for restaurants, warehouses and retail establishments. It is intended to be place where the residents can work and live without having to travel too far from their neighborhood in order to shop or enjoy entertainment.

Environmental law news: Forest biomass recognized by EPA

Solar and wind energy basically cornered the market on clean energy here in the United States until recently. The Environmental Protection Agency decided to recognize another form of clean and renewable energy that some say will benefit the state of Georgia -- forest biomass energy. During a time when many are concerned about the direction of environmental law, the Georgia Forestry Association applauded the EPA's decision by saying that it would be good for the state.

Georgia has millions of acres of privately-owned working forests. The communities around those forests may benefit from greater economic viability, sustainability and health due to biomass energy markets that receive a boost from the EPA's latest announcement. Forest biomass is said to be a carbon neutral and renewable source of energy.

Sediment pollution could get your business into trouble

Whether you developed the land yourself or purchased a standing building, it was probably necessary to clear the land first. The removal of trees, vegetation and other natural land formations to make way for infrastructure and buildings removed a barrier to storm water.

As the water moves, it picks up sediments that could end up in Georgia's waterways and could contaminate the water eventually. If you fail to take steps to prevent this from happening, you could find your business in trouble with the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

Apple is protecting the environment through recycling old iPhones

Recycling is not just for Georgia residents. Large corporations, small family businesses and anyone else can get into the habit of recycling as a way of protecting the environment. In fact, many companies already participate in these types of programs, and Apple used Earth Day as an opportunity to announce its newest recycling robot, Daisy, in advance of the day itself.

Many of the components of iPhones can be reused in future products. Back in 2016, Apple unveiled Liam, which  was used to disassemble old phones so that their parts could be reused. Liam worked well enough for Apple that when Daisy was being built, she was given reusable parts from Liam as well. Daisy is designed to take apart nine different versions of Apple's iPhones at a rate of approximately 200 per hour.

Scientists warn of exposure to contaminated ground water

Toxic chemicals are used every day in industries across the country, including many here in Georgia. For several years now, scientists have warned the government, and specifically the Environmental Protection Agency, of the dangers of perchlorate, which is a chemical component in explosives. This toxic substance is used in food packaging, airbags and fireworks, not to mention munitions and rocket fuel, among other things. The current uses of perchlorate have left approximately 17 million people at risk of exposure to contaminated ground water.

This toxic chemical compound most often affects the thyroid, which is needed for normal development and growth. The presence of perchlorate in the water supply could potentially put children at risk right alongside adults. The campaign to get the EPA to regulate the use and monitor the spread of this chemical compound has gone on for decades. In fact, in 2016, one group, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit, attempting to force the EPA to set safe standards for perchlorate.

Even accidental water pollution can cause significant damage

Numerous industries throughout Georgia work with chemicals and other toxic substances that could have a detrimental impact on the environment. If not handled with care, those items could cause significant water pollution if spilled. This could result in a company encountering issues with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Environmental Protection Division.

For instance, a chicken plant in Northern Georgia recently found itself on the wrong side of an inquiry from the EPA and EPD when employees accidentally released ferric chloride into a stream behind the plant when they punctured a 55-gallon drum of the compound. All of the fish and other life that called the stream home died. Reports indicate that the company failed to report the incident right away, which further tarnished the company's reputation with locals.

Will the risk of chemical exposure by children increase?

The Environmental Protection Agency exists to help ensure that everyone, including children, has access to clean water and fresh air. It enforces regulations and laws designed to reduce the potential for chemical exposure through the water supply and air whether here in Georgia or elsewhere. However, recent changes made by the current head of the agency could put children more at risk.

For instance, previous restrictions regarding the amount of mercury, lead and other toxic metals in the water supply were scaled back. This means that industrial facilities may be letting more of these harmful materials into the waterways. Children in particular are vulnerable to the effects of these toxic metals and could suffer from developmental delays and behavioral issues.

Could your organization use an environmental audit?

How long has your organization been in business? You probably made sure that you accounted for all environmental regulations that apply to your business before opening the doors. The problem is that regulations and laws tend to change on a fairly regular basis.

You may not realize that your company could inadvertently be violating one or more environmental laws. One way to rectify the situation is to conduct an environmental audit. One of the first things to know about this type of audit is that you may want someone with the appropriate experience and knowledge of environmental regulations and laws to conduct it.

EPA investigates possible environmental law violations

Because of the potential for harmful pollution, chemical plants here in Georgia and across the country often need to comply with numerous rules and regulations. The demands of environmental law may help combat pollution, but they can also box a company into a corner. Failing to comply with applicable laws could even lead to criminal allegations.

The owner of an out-of-state chemical plant recently came under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency and the state's Department of Environmental Quality. Apparently, allegations arose indicating that the company's air emissions fail to meet with current standards and the terms of a settlement reached back in 2013. The agencies appear to believe the problem to be serious enough to warrant more than just a civil inquiry. Reports indicate that the company has a history of failing to comply with air quality standards.

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