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Toxic waste is waste material that can cause death or injury to living creatures. Waste is considered toxic if it is poisonous, radioactive, explosive, carcinogenic (causing cancer), mutagenic (damaging chromosomes), teratogenic (causing defects in the unborn), or bioaccumulative (accumulating in the bodies of plants and animals and thus in food chains).

Toxic wastes result from industrial, chemical, and biological processes. In the early years of the 21st century, U.S. factories released 3 to 4 million tons of toxic chemicals into the air, land, and water annually, including more than 70 million pounds of known carcinogens. Toxins are also found in household, office, and commercial wastes, such as batteries and pesticides, and in cell phones and computers. Five hundred billion gallons of U.S. groundwater are contaminated with ...

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