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Proposed legislation addresses burning of "recycled" oil.

More than 90 percent of all "recycled" used oil -- 784 million gallons each year, according to Environmental Protection Agency data -- is actually burned as a fuel, releasing lead and other toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium and chromium. Lead emissions from burning used oil are greater than any other industrial source reporting to the EPA.

Rep. Cardiss Collins (D-Ill.) has addressed this concern by introducing the Oil Recycling and Safe Handling Act, H.R. 131. This bill, identical to legislation introduced last year by Collins, tightens regulations regarding the recycling and management of used oil. For example, Collins' legislation would require toxins to be removed from used oil before it could be burned.

Such a law is needed because EPA regulations are too lenient, allowing high levels of toxic metal contamination in used=oil fuels, said Dan Weiss, the director of the Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program.

The burning of used oil has significant health and environmental impacts, Weiss said. Current EPA standards permit school, apartment and hospital boilers to burn used oil with a lead content 10 times higher than allow for industrial facilities. Children and urban residents are the most affected by the burning of used oil because the contaminated oil is burned inside their homes and schools.

Airborne lead has been linked to brain damage, neurological disorders and learning disabilities in children. The EPA projects that more than 3,000 cancer cases will eventually result because of the present level of used-oil burning.

In addition, 63 used-oil facilities have been placed on the Superfund list of hazardous waste sties, with a cleanup cost estimated at $2.1 billion.

Used oil recycling received a boost during last fall's election campaign when both George Bush and Al Gore, on separate occasions, visited the Evergreen Oil recycling facility in Newark, California, and hailed it as a model of environmental economics. But Evergreen, which removes toxics from used oil before re-refining it into a clean, safe lubricant, is the exception in the oil recycling business. The EPA estimates that only about five percent of used oil is recycled back into oil products.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:reprinted from National News Report, vol. 25, February 24, 1993
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Environmental clean-up spending may help boost economy.
Next Article:Clean water hearings underway in new Congress.

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