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Excessive Pollution in Pennsylvania and Possible Harms to Residents

By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Aug 6, 2018

Should you be worried about possible illness or injury as a result of water pollution if you live in Pennsylvania? While Philadelphia residents might not think that they are at risk of harm as a result of water pollution, there are many ways in which pollutants can have long-term and debilitating impacts. According to a recent article in The Inquirer, Pennsylvania currently ranks second in the nation for the number of excessive pollution discharges sent in the water by commercial and industrial facilities. That information appeared in a report from PennEnvironment, and it highlights the serious dangers that Pennsylvania residents may be facing as a result of pollution.

Hundreds of Excessive Pollution Discharges in Pennsylvania’s Waterways

The PennEnvironment report used data gathered from state agencies across the country, as well as from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2016 through 2017. The report indicated that Texas had the highest number of excessive pollution discharges in the country—mean pollution discharges that exceeded the limits—but Pennsylvania came in second. More precisely, there were 633 excessive pollution discharges in Pennsylvania during a 21-month period between 2016-2017. To put that another way, more pollutants than the Clean Water Act (CWA) currently allows were dumped into Pennsylvania waterways 633 separate times.

What types of pollutants entered the water around Philadelphia as a result of the discharges? The article lists some of the following:

  • Ammonia nitrogen;
  • Styrene;
  • Copper;
  • Aluminum;
  • Oil; and
  • Grease.

According to the report, not only did a number of large industrial facilities exceed their permit limits, but some of those occasions were extremely severe. Stephanie Wein, an advocate with PennEnvironment, noted that, as a result of the excessive pollutants in Pennsylvania waters, approximately 20,000 miles of streams and rivers in the state are deemed unsafe for swimming and fishing.

Types of Injuries Resulting from Water Pollution

What harms can arise from the types of water pollutants mentioned above? A fact sheet from the EPA cites some of the following:

  • Toxic algae: if you accidentally swallow, swim in, or drink water that has toxic algae, you may end up with rashes, stomach illness, liver illness, respiratory problems, or even neurological damage.
  • Nitrates in your drinking water: nitrate is typically found in fertilizer, but it can also pollute drinking water. When infants drink water with nitrates, they can die as a result. Signs and symptoms of nitrate consumption include a shortness of breath, and/or blue-tinted skin.
  • Water treatment byproducts: dioxins, which are dangerous chemicals, can be produced when disinfectants that typically treat drinking water come into contact with toxic algae. The results of dioxins can include reproductive health problems, developmental health issues, and cancer.

Seek Advice from a Philadelphia Environmental Litigation Attorney

If you have concerns about the safety of your drinking water, or if you or your child has suffered injuries as a result of water pollution, you may witsh to contact an experienced Philadelphia environmental litigation attorney can discuss your options with you. Contact Cohen, Placitella & Roth to learn more about the services we provide and to get started on your case.

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