When the waste in a septic tank is broken down, some substances in it may produce methane, a greenhouse gas, or hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas.
However, the contents of a septic tank are composed mainly of what we would likely consider to be “fertilizer”. Sometimes, the growth of a tree root may cause it to penetrate a septic tank. When this happens, the most common result is that the tree that breached the tank will begin to grow at a much faster rate due to the large quantities of nutrients in the tank.
Septic tanks may also contain lead, from the pipes in the house, as well as chemicals found in detergents and other cleaning products used in the house. The impact these substances have on the environment is known, but the septic tank produces them in low enough amounts that their impact as a direct result of septic tanks is not yet understood or considered to be a problem.
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