Environmental impacts of toxic substances: improving coastal resiliency in Florida
Korman, Aaron Manuel
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Anthropogenic effects are causing significant environmental degradation, and regardless of actions taken to mitigate further changes, humans and animals will have to live with these impacts (IPCC 2019). Rapid population growth in coastal regions, saltwater intrusion (SWI), lowering water quality, and increased presence of toxic materials are degrading coastal resiliency. An important and popular coastal region for the United States is the state of Florida, and it is also an area extremely vulnerable to aspects of climate change such as sea-level rise (SLR) (Noss 2011). This project analyzes how the state is currently experiencing the direct and indirect impacts of toxic materials on the state’s people, environment, and economy. It will do so through analysis of the performance of federal legislation created with the intent to protect human and environmental health, quantification of current rates of using toxic chemicals and potential pollution, as well as quantifying effects of both anthropogenic and natural toxic materials on Florida’s housing market. It was anticipated that legislation such as the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to ensure strict enforcement of drinking water standards and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) to prevent toxic pollution would be present in the vulnerable region. Also that natural phenomenon such as the harmful algal blooms significantly degrade the housing market through decreasing income through tourism and lowering housing prices in coastal neighborhoods. This project found that the SDWA is not being enforced, EPCRA data shows a huge risk to potential exposures from large storms, and that algal blooms are significant to housing prices in the state. Using these scientific findings to improve policy and appropriately communicating complex scientific topics to the public is extremely important. Doing so will enable a higher level of coastal resiliency as communities continue attempt to mitigate climate change, but also learn to understand current impacts and better live in a degrading environment.
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