Chemical Hazards: Amazon Facility

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Amazon is one of the most successful modern Internet companies: it owns a network of online stores on five continents. However, few people thought that under the guise of glorious success, there are colossal human resources. Amazon is very demanding of its employees, and in some aspects, its success was made possible only through the use of exploitative practices. In addition to the constant inhuman stress and the incredible pace of labour, some workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals. These are toxic chemicals used in industry that pollute the environment and lead to human injury when spilled or released. When using chemicals, workers may be exposed to harmful and dangerous production factors.

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First, some workers of Amazon may be exposed to hazardous chemicals contained in electronic waste. This category of garbage contains such toxic substances as heavy metal compounds: mercury, lead, cadmium, etc. This is due to the fact that millions of unsold goods are destroyed in Amazon warehouses. During the week, employees send about 130 thousand goods, including expensive technical equipment, to recycling or landfill (Caraway, 2020). Electronic equipment and office equipment differ from other types of waste by a complex component structure. They are a danger to employees due to the presence of sufficiently high concentrations of toxic components like lead, mercury, arsenic, and beryllium in the composition.

The collection, sorting, transportation, and storage of various products are associated with a significant release of dust. Many types of dust are toxic, but even such harmless dust as warehouse one leads to allergies and other respiratory diseases (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). Toxic dust released during work, getting into the body of workers, can cause acute poisoning and chronic occupational diseases. Dust of substances with high volatility is hazardous because it has a special ability to be absorbed through the skin and can harm human health. Toxic dust is formed due to the same reasons as ordinary dusts. It is released into the air through openings during the transportation of products that pose a danger to human health.

Measurements at Amazon landfills, where electronic waste is collected, recorded an excess of the norm levels of bromine compounds, brominated flame retardants, phthalates, and plasticizers. Mercury compounds contained in fluorescent lamps are also quite hazardous. If they end up in landfills, liquid mercury quickly penetrates the soil and water (Philp, 2012). Toxic elements of scrap electronics uncontrollably pollute water and soil, and penetrate plants (United States Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.). Poisoned water is drunk by workers living in the regions; because of this and constant interaction with heavy metals, workers living in disadvantaged areas develop health pathologies. Thus, Amazon employees of recycling plants often develop malignant tumors, heart and vascular diseases, and respiratory system pathologies.

Toxic dust is dangerous because, getting through the pores and combining with water, it enters into chemical reactions. The smaller the dust particles, the greater their ability to penetrate together with the air into the human respiratory organs and cause various diseases. In some Amazon branches it is still possible to put up with the dusting of the air due to the low toxicity of dust (Prajapati & Nakum, 2009). However, in others, dust can significantly harm the health of workers. The main reasons for air pollution of the Amazon working area with dust are low mechanization of technological processes, manual operations, and leaky equipment (Gupta, 2020). In this case, toxic dust has a general harmful effect on the human body.

A sampling of soil, plants, and water for heavy metals should be carried out in areas affected by industrial sources of pollution, namely Amazon recycling plants. The soil’s determination of heavy metals is carried out by atomic absorption spectrometry with flame and flame-free atomization. This instrumental method of determining the chemical composition of substances by atomic absorption spectra has become very widespread in analytical practice. It allows to determine about 70 elements, the main part of which are metals, which should be defined in this case (Kaitwade, 2020). In addition, sampling involves analyzing various environmental objects: natural and waste water, soil, biological tissues and fluids of workers, atmospheric emissions. The versatility of this method allows to conduct all of the above studies.

Determination of the concentration of toxic dust in the air and sampling will be carried out by the weight method. The weight method is based on passing dusty air through a dust-retaining filter and then determining the mass of the captured dust. The test air is passed through a special factory-made filter, which is weighed before and after sampling. Then the obtained value of the actual dust concentration is compared with the limit of the permissible concentration for this type of dust. Since in this study the harmfulness of dust will be assessed by one of its components, the weight method is the most rational. This is due to the fact that it allows to identify the most harmful components in the complex chemical composition of dust and analyze only their concentration.

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First of all, it is necessary to provide workers with filtered and boiled drinking water that does not contain heavy metals. When storing several types of electronic waste simultaneously, their compatibility should be taken into account. In places where industrial waste is collected, workers should be prohibited from storing foreign objects, personal clothing, workwear, personal protective equipment, and food. At the end of working with electronic waste and before eating, workers should thoroughly wash their hands with warm water and soap. To reduce the dryness of the skin, they should lubricate their hands with vaseline or silicone cream. However, the most effective way to protect workers is a mandatory annual medical examination. It will have to detect the content of heavy metals in the biological fluids of employees and allow them to take the necessary measures promptly.

Reducing the content of toxic dust in the air of working rooms to sanitary standards can be achieved in several ways. This can be done by the sealing of technological equipment with the use of elastic gaskets made of rubber and sealants. It is necessary to decide which protection method – dry or wet – should be applied since the type of protective clothing and individual respiratory protection depends on this. It is also required to carry out wet cleaning of workshops and equipment. The organization of general and local ventilation, which creates a rarefaction of air in the operation of the equipment and in the workshops, should be mandatory. However, the most reliable method of protecting workers will be the use of personal respiratory protection equipment. It will prevent contaminated air from entering the lungs when inhaling.

Compliance with the safety requirements in Amazon facilities, both on the part of employees and the part of the employer, will preserve the health of workers. To do this, it is necessary to familiarize everyone without exception with the safety standards. Dust removal from the workplace and the provision of personal respiratory protection equipment should be organized. It is also necessary to periodically check the knowledge of safety techniques, which requires periodic training for the workers. Safety rules for the production of any work must always be strictly followed, regardless of what position the employee has. For violation of safety regulations, the offender must be brought to material, disciplinary and civil liability.

References

Caraway, B. (2020). Interrogating Amazon’s sustainability innovation. In K. Oakley & M. Banks (Eds.), Cultural industries and the environmental crisis (pp. 65-78). Cham, Germany: Springer.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Workplace safety & health topics: Chemicals. Web.

Gupta, M. (2020). Futuristic role of machine learning: Exploring domains. International Journal of Technical Research & Science, 30(3), 13-22.

Kaitwade, N. (2020). COVID-19 shatters global automotive industry; sales of metal powder take a nosedive amid wavering demand. Metal Powder Report, 7(2), 9-18.

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Philp, R. B. (2012). Chapter 2: Water pollution, the usual culprits. In Environmental issues for the twenty-first century and their impact on human health. SAIF Zone, Sharjah, UAE: Bentham Science Publishers.

Prajapati, M., & Nakum, D. (2019). Merger and acquisition in e-commerce sector. A Global Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 2(4), 41-45.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Persistent organic pollutants: A global issue, a global response. Web.

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