Samuel Slater opened the first cotton mill in the United States in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, on December 20, 1790, essentially beginning the Industrial Revolution in America.1 In doing so, he inadvertently created one of the primary health hazards of modern America: hazardous waste that is the byproduct of manufacturing. That waste was never the primary concern of American industry. Mills in Pittsburgh created steel; mills in Lowell created cloth. They also created waste, but that was not the point, and for decades the general public in America largely associated factories with their intended production, not their unintended production. The problem, of course, was that the unintended production created unintended consequences, including health problems and damaged ecosystems.
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