In an environmentally-conscious age, effective ways to reuse materials and preserve resources are encouraged and embraced by lawmakers, industries, and citizens. However, some recycling and preservation methods may reduce waste and protect some elements of the environment, only to create or contribute to other problems. In some instances, the health and safety of Iowa employees and residents could be compromised.
In a recent example, numerous toxicology experts and Muscatine County residents are concerned about the potential dangers resulting from the common practice of using slag to augment rural gravel roads. According to the Des Moines Register, slag is a waste byproduct of steel manufacturing, and state officials claim the material is cost-effective, environmentally conscious and safe to use as a road cover.
Others disagree, however. Slag consists of tiny pieces of scrap metal, which, according to toxicology reports, leach manganese and other metal dusts that can be harmful to children and people who are exposed to the material for long periods, such as steel and construction workers. Additionally, the sharp pieces of metal have been attributed to flat tires and broken windows for those driving down slag-augmented roads, which can lead to accidents when an unexpected mishap occurs.
It remains to be seen whether officials will listen to the complaints and concerns and take steps to reduce potential hazards associated with reused slag materials. Workers and residents who feel as if they are being adversely affected by this material may want to consider their legal options, which can include workers’ compensation and personal injury litigation.