Arsenic in soil is widespread and extremely toxic in part because it accumulates in our bodies. It is just one way businesses externalizes costs onto others, and is so widespread it is hard to calculate the damage.
I bought acreage in a county in Texas slated for Superfund remediation, where the government comes in and taxpayers pay for cleanup after the corporations destroy land and water with toxins. The government is way behind on Superfund cleanup due to lack of funds; however, both parties refuse to force corporations to include toxic clean up as as a cost of doing business. This is called “externalizing costs” in business schools and considered a huge plus to maximize your profits at the expense of others.
It is part of why the Trumpster feels like he is a smart negotiator in business, because he routinely externalizes costs. Four bankruptcies left others holding the bag while he skated out of paying for his bad decisions. Pretty routine.
In my county in Texas, cotton farmers were the Market Economy big boys that externalized the cost of cotton farming as they chose to do that. Picking cotton was harder if the leaves were still on the plants. It slowed the pickers down and left more hidden boles unpicked.
Defoliation with arsenic was allowed even though all concerned knew how toxic it would be in the soil and to the workers who produced it, the cotton pickers, the balers, etc. The Market Economy boys selling arsenic and the big cotton farmers made money. The poor workers and their children paid the price. Eventually the taxpayers will pay too.
So the arsenic producers and cotton farmers moved on. In that county, about 60% of the poor people living around the train station offloading arsenic in leaking and sometimes broken bags, are seriously ill even today. They are on government assistance and their medical bills are paid by taxpayers. This is about the third generation that has lived and died in low level arsenic poison because it is widespread. They have brain damage and will never be able to make decisions that would save their children.
Another Market Econony businessman used to externalizing costs bought thousands of acres of this depleted and toxic acreage at a very cheap price, divided it up into ~10 acre parcels, and owner financed it to thousands of folks out of Dallas wanting to live the country life dream. Their yard dogs get sick and so do their children, because decades after the arsenic was dumped, it persists in the soil.
I bought 14 acres from this man. To be more accurate, I bought two 7 acre pieces that gave me a mild north slope (cooler by a few degrees in Texas) and control over my miniature watershed except in major flooding. Before I moved there, I dug a 40×60 runoff pond and planted Sunflowers. Sunflowers are arsenic accumulators and bird attractors. The Sunflowers cost less than $20. I remediate 14 acres. The federal government could disseminate this information and not spend billions one of these days. But the Market Economy boys will one day get million dollar contracts for a cleanup that maximizes damage to the area so that more million dollar contracts will be given to fix that new damage.
There are many more ramifications and there is a lot of information about arsenic in southern soils and how even low levels lowers IQ. Recent scandals about deep south farmers switched to rice farming. Rice is another arsenic accumulator. Instead of burning and containing the arsenic… they chose to “externalizes the cost” of remediation by selling the rice for human consumption instead of burning and removing the arsenic safely. Rice is a big portion of Market Economy babyfoods. Now that they have been selling arsenic-laced rice for a few years, their websites piously proclaim lowered arsenic levels in the soil. Sure, it is now in the water supply.
All justified and glorified in our taxpayer funded colleges and universities that promote “externalizing costs” in the business schools as if it is a desirable and essential component of capitalism. This one concept is behind 90 percent of lethal business practices and it is not an inherent component of capitalism. The Earth is a closed and circular economy and externalizing costs is not possible; the pretense is a death dance.