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In Brief

California Lost 174,000 Tons of Toxic Waste

Pollution at Doheny Beach, Calif.
Pollution at Doheny Beach, Calif. (Image credit: Hannah Arista Photography)

Uh-oh. California has lost track of 174,000 tons of toxic materials slated for disposal.

Tons of hazardous waste such as lead, benzene and a flammable solvent called methyl ethyl ketone (nicknamed "methyl ethyl death") were shipped for disposal, but never recorded as having arrived at their disposal sites, according to a public database.

It's probably too soon to start wearing a hazmat suit to work, though, as officials think the toxic substances were probably destroyed. "I do not believe that Californians are at risk," Debbie Raphael, director of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, told the Los Angeles Times.

California has some of the strictest laws on hazardous waste on the books, with dry cleaners, heavy manufacturers and other business owners having to log every shipment of toxic waste.

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Tia Ghose
Tia Ghose

Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.