The History And Current Strength Of Recycling

Recycling has become a major part of MSW management in the United States, and it will likely continue to grow, although at a slower pace than in the past. Recycling, however, did not enjoy immediate success. It started out as a do-good activity but eventually became a necessity for municipal governments. For a quarter-century after the first Earth Day (April 22, 1970), recycling advocates pleaded their case to skeptical decision-makers in the interest of environmental benefit. In the early...

Breakdown by type of paper and paperboard products generated in municipal solid waste

Product category (thousand tons) Other commercial printing 6,950 Other nonpackaging paper4 3,960 nondurable goods 44,260 Containers and packaging Other paper packaging 1,700 Total paper and paperboard containers and packaging 38,830 Total paper and paperboard 83,090 aFormerly called Third Class Mail by the U.S. Postal Service. Includes tissue in disposable diapers, paper in games and novelties, cards, etc. Details may not add to totals due to rounding. source Adapted from Table 4. Paper and...

Landfills and the Environment

Methane, a flammable gas, is produced when organic matter decomposes in the absence of oxygen. If not properly vented or controlled, it can cause explosions and underground fires that smolder for years. Methane is also deadly to breathe. The RCRA requires landfill operators to monitor methane gas. The Smithsonian Garbage Project found that for fifteen or twenty years after a landfill stops accepting garbage, the wells still vent methane in fairly substantial amounts. Thereafter,...

Soil and Vegetation

Acid rain is believed to harm vegetation by changing soil chemistry. Soils exposed to acid rain can gradually lose valuable nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and become too concentrated with dissolved inorganic aluminum, which is toxic to vegetation. Long-term changes in soil chemistry may have already affected sensitive soils, particularly in forests. Forest soils saturated in nitrogen cannot retain other nutrients required for healthy vegetation. Subsequently, these...

The Politics Of Acid Rain

Scientific research on acid rain was sporadic and largely focused on local problems until the late 1960s, when Scandinavian scientists began more systematic studies. Acid precipitation in North America was not identified until 1972, when scientists found that precipitation was acidic in eastern North America, especially in northeastern and eastern Canada. In 1975 the First International Symposium on Acid Precipitation and the Forest Ecosystem convened in Columbus, Ohio, to define the acid rain...

Effects of acid rain on human health and selected ecosystems and anticipated recovery benefits

In the atmosphere, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides become sulfate and nitrate aerosols, which increase morbidity and mortality from lung disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis, and impacts to the cardiovascular system. Acidic surface waters decrease the survivability of animal life in lakes and streams and in the more severe instances eliminate some or all types of fish and other organisms. Acid deposition contributes to forest degradation by impairing trees' growth and increasing their...

Americans Rank Their Concerns

In March 2005 Gallup asked poll participants to rate their level of worry regarding twelve social and political issues. (See Figure 1.9.) The availability and affordability of healthcare garnered the most concern with 60 of respondents expressing a great deal of worry about it. It was followed by social security, crime and violence, drug use, terrorism, energy, the economy, and hunger and homelessness. The environment ranked ninth with 35 of those asked expressing a great deal of worry about...

Scrap Tire Recyclinga Success Story

Scrap tires have always posed a disposal problem for the United States. Scrap tires accumulated in landfills or uncontrolled tire dumps can pose health and fire hazards. The tires are highly combustible, do not compost, and do not degrade easily. The material, primarily hydrocarbons, burns easily, producing toxic, bad-smelling air pollutants and toxic runoff when burned in the open. Health effects that can result from exposure to an open tire fire include irritation of the skin, eyes, and...

Endocrine Disrupters Environmental Hormones

Medical and scientific researchers are increasingly linking some environmental chemicals to the endocrine systems of humans and wildlife. The endocrine system also called the hormone system is made up of glands located throughout the body, hormones that are synthesized and secreted by the glands into the bloodstream, and receptors in the various target organs and tissues. The receptors recognize and respond to the hormones. The function of the system is to regulate the many bodily processes,...

Chapter Water Issues

It is an essential resource for sustaining human, animal, and vegetative life. Agriculture is absolutely dependent on water to produce food crops and livestock. Water is crucial to tourism, navigation, and industry. Enormous amounts are used to generate power, mine materials, and produce goods. Water is an ingredient, a medium, and a means of conveyance or cooling in most industrial processes. Water supplies a vital habitat for many of Earth's creatures, from...

Timber Harvesting and Replanting

Environmentalists fear that forests of the United States are being depleted by clear-cutting practices the method of logging in which all trees in an area are Acres of land to be treated by Forest Service, by pest, fiscal year 2005 source Adapted from Acres of Land Planned for Treatment by Forest Service Forest Health Protection Activities for Forest Insects, Diseases and Invasive Plants Using FY05 Funding, in Healthy Forests Report, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington,...

Generation materials recovery combustion and discards of municipal solid waste

Includes combustion of MSW in mass burn or refuse-derived fuel form, and combustion with energy recovery of source separated materials in MSW (e.g., wood pallets and tire-derived fuel). Discards after recovery minus combustion. Details may not add to totals due to rounding. Includes combustion of MSW in mass burn or refuse-derived fuel form, and combustion with energy recovery of source separated materials in MSW (e.g., wood pallets and tire-derived fuel). Discards after recovery minus...

Evidence Of Ozone Depletion

Many scientists believe that the introduction of certain chemicals into the stratosphere alters the natural ozone balance by depleting ozone molecules. Chlorine and bromine atoms are particularly destructive. They can bind to loose oxygen atoms and prevent them from reforming either oxygen or ozone. Chlorine and bromine are found in the sea salt from ocean spray. Chlorine is also present in the form of hydrochloric acid emitted with volcanic gases. These are natural sources of ozone-depleting...

Federal agencies that oversee natural resources

Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Bureau of Indian Affairs Bureau of Land Management Bureau of Reclamation Fish and Wildlife Service Minerals Management Service National Park Service Office of Surface Mining U.S. Geological Survey U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Grants permits for dredging and filling in certain waterways, including many wetlands. Manages more than 190 million acres of public lands in national forests and...

Historical Perspective

The earliest humans did not have garbage disposal problems. They lived in nomadic tribes, wandering the countryside and following herds of wild animals that they hunted and killed for food and clothing. Scavengers and insects ate their discarded food remains, and what was left decomposed. About twelve thousand years ago people began to form villages and become farmers. For the first time they had to live with their garbage, which smelled bad and attracted wild animals. Therefore, some villagers...

Public Opinion About Natural Resources

Periodically, the Gallup Organization conducts a comprehensive poll of Americans on environmental issues. The latest poll with results dealing with natural resource issues was conducted in March 2004. Poll participants were asked to express their level of concern about two issues loss of tropical rain forests and extinction of plant and animal species. As shown in Table 11.3, only 35 of the respondents expressed a great deal of concern about the loss of tropical rain forests in 2004. This value...

M

Recycling in, 96 wetlands of, 159 Malina, Mario, 55 Maliti, Tom, 60 Malls malls, shopping centers, market conditions for materials commonly recycled at, 95 recycling guide for, 95 Mann, Michael E., 43 Manufacturing industrial nonhazardous waste from, 77 Toxics Release Inventory and, 103 Marine debris, 129 Marine Mammal Protection Act, 164 Sanctuaries Act, 129 Materials, acid rain's effects on, 69 Materials recovery. See Recovery Materials recovery facilities MRFs , 94, 95 MCLGs , 130 Maximum...

U

U-235 Uranium 235 , 109 Ultraviolet-B UVB , 57 Ultraviolet light UV ozone and, 39 ozone formation and, 55 radiation, 57, 62 UN. See United Nations UN Commission on Sustainable Development CSD , 12 ''Uncertainty in Predictions of the Climate Response to Rising Levels of Greenhouse Gases'' Steinforth et al. , 52 ''Understanding Environmental Literacy in America And Making It a Reality'' National Environmental Education and Training Foundation , 16 UNECE United Nations Economic Commission for...

B

Backgrounder Basic Facts and Data on the Science and Politics of Ozone Protection'' United Nations Environment Programme , 60 Bacteria, 149 t10.3 Bark beetles, 155 Barry, Ellen, 8 Basic chemicals, 66 Batteries Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act, 97 metal in, 93 BEACH Watch Environmental Protection Beaches Environmental Assessment and Health Act, 125 Beachfront Management Act, 7 BEACON Beach Advisory and Closing Online Notification , 125 Beetles, 155, 156 Beijing...

S

Antiregulatory movement and, 5 groundwater protection under, 127 protections of, 76 requirements of, 129-130 sources of drinking water and, 131 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments endocrine disrupters language in, 143 groundwater protection under, 127 requirements of, 130 Saline water, 119 Salmon acid rain and, 67-68 as threatened species, 163 San Joaquin Valley, California, 22 Schoenberger, Karl, 100 Science journal , 152 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2002 World Meteorological...

Milwaukee The Nations Worst Drinking Water Disaster

In April 1993, 403,000 residents of Milwaukee became victims of what is considered the worst drinking water disaster the nation has experienced. Cryptospor-idium flourished in the city water supply, which had been turbid cloudy for several days. For a week more than eight hundred thousand residents were without potable drinkable tap water. By the end of the disaster more than forty people lost their lives because of the outbreak. In addition to the human suffering, the disease cost an estimated...

Environmental Justicean Evolving Issue

The so-called environmental justice issue stems from concerns that racial minorities are disproportionately subject to environmental hazards. The EPA defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.'' Examples of environmental injustice include the following claims Low-income...

Clean Air Act list of titles

Title I Air Pollution Prevention And Control Title II Emission Standards For Moving Sources Title IV Acid Deposition Control Title VI Stratospheric Ozone Protection source Clean Air Act Table of Contents, in Clean Air Act, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, July 2005, http www .epa.gov air oaq_caa.html accessed August 4, 2005 pollutants, such as mercury. They fear that the cap-and-trade system would allow utility plants in some areas to release unacceptably high levels of...

Natural Sources

Natural sources of sulfate in the atmosphere include ocean spray, volcanic emissions, and readily oxidized hydrogen sulfide released from the decomposition of organic matter found in the Earth. Natural sources of nitrogen or nitrates include NO5 produced by microorganisms in soils, by lightning during thunderstorms, and by forest fires. Scientists generally speculate that one-third of the sulfur and nitrogen emissions in the United States comes from these natural sources this is a rough...

Measuring Acid Rain

The acidity of any solution is measured on a potential hydrogen pH scale numbered from zero to fourteen, with a pH value of seven considered neutral. Values higher than seven are considered more alkaline or basic the pH of baking soda is eight values lower than seven are considered acidic the pH of lemon juice is two . The pH scale is a logarithmic measure. This means that every pH change of one is a ten-fold change in acid content. Therefore, a decrease from pH seven to pH six is a tenfold...

Metals

Recycling Waste United States 1960 2003

Metal recycling is as old as metalworking. Coins and jewelry made of gold and silver were melted down in ancient times to make new coins with images of the latest Paper generated and recovered, 1960-2003 source Figure 3. Paper Generation and Recovery, 1960 to 2003, in Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States 2003 Data Tables, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Washington, DC, April 2005, 03data.pdf accessed...

Examples of point and nonpoint sources of pollution

Point Nonpoint Sources

Are indicated on the left side of the indicated on the right side of the river. source Figure 3. Examples of Point and Nonpoint Sources of Pollution, in Water Quality Key EPA and State Decisions Limited by Inconsistent and Incomplete Data, U.S. General Accounting Office, Washington, DC, March 2000 are indicated on the left side of the indicated on the right side of the river. source Figure 3. Examples of Point and Nonpoint Sources of Pollution, in Water Quality Key EPA and State Decisions...

Montreal Protocol Problems

Implementation and enforcement of the Montreal Protocol have been aggravated by numerous factors. In August 2003 the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP summarized these problems in Backgrounder Basic Facts and Data on the Science and Politics of Ozone Protection http www.unep.ch ozone pdf Press-Backgrounder.pdf . The report listed five major challenges facing complete implementation of the Montreal Protocol Incomplete ratification of all amendments Economic difficulties in the Russian...

US scrap tire disposition

Scrap Tire Disposition

Scrap Tire Disposition, 2003, in U.S. Scrap Tire Markets 2003 Edition, Rubber Manufacturers Association, Washington, DC, July 2004, https www.rma.org publications CFTOKEN 57977325 accessed August 4, 2005 discussed in a July 2001 article by the U.S. Geological Survey USGS titled ''Obsolete Computers, Gold Mine or High-Tech Trash '' The article notes that a typical personal computer PC becomes obsolete in 2-5 years. The USGS estimates that up to twenty million PCs per year...

Industrial Hazardous Waste

Industrial hazardous wastes are usually a combination of compounds, one or more of which may be hazardous. For example, used pickling solution from a metal processor may contain acid, a hazardous waste, along with water and other nonhazardous compounds. Pickling is a chemical method of cleaning metal and removing rust during processing. A mixture of wastes produced regularly as a result of industrial processes generally consists of diluted rather than full-strength compounds. Often the...

Demand Increasing for CFCs in Developing Countries

The developing countries must phase out CFC consumption by 2010. The 2003 UNEP report notes that demand for CFCs is actually increasing, not decreasing, in many of these countries. This is particularly true in Asia and Latin America where a growing middle class has increased demand for consumer products that use refrigerants. Much of this demand is met by imported goods. The UNEP complains that developed countries are exporting a large number'' of used and older model refrigeration units that...

Soil Erosion and Agriculture

Agricultural lands are the principal source of eroded soil. According to the USDA, approximately 20 of the nation's land is set aside for cropland. Three-quarters of this land is actively used to grow crops for harvesting. The remainder is used for pasture or is idled for various reasons. This would include cropland enrolled in the Federal Conservation Reserve Program CRP . See Figure 11.8. Agriculture depends primarily on the top six to eight inches of topsoil. Fields planted in rows, such as...

Public Opinion About Acid Rain

Every year the Gallup Organization polls Americans about their attitudes regarding environmental issues. The most recent poll to assess acid rain was conducted in March 2004. Participants were asked to express their level of personal concern about various environmental issues, including acid rain, water pollution, soil contamination, air pollution, plant and animal extinctions, loss of tropical rain forests, damage to the ozone layer, and global warming. The results showed that acid rain ranked...

The potential hydrogen pH scale

Mean pH of Adirondack Lakes-1975 Pure rain 5.6 Mean pH of Adirondack Lakes-1930s Distilled water Baking soda 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Acidic Neutral 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Acidic Neutral The pH potential hydrogen scale is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration. Hydrogen ions have a positive electrical charge and are called cations ions with a negative electrical charge are known as anions. A substance containing equal concentrations of cations and anions so that the electrical charges balance is neutral...

Major federal environmental and wildlife protection acts

Clean Air Act CAA Prevent the deterioration of air quality Clean Water Act CWA Regulate sources of water pollution Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability CERCLA or Superfund Address problems of abandoned hazardous waste sites Emergency Planning amp Community Right-To-Know Act EPCRA Help local communities protect public health, safety, and the environment from chemical hazards Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act FIFRA Control pesticide distribution,...

Example of a properly closed landfill

Diagram Properly Closed Landfill

Example of a Properly Closed Landfill, in Fact Flash 6 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Washington, DC, 1999 source Diagram 1. Example of a Properly Closed Landfill, in Fact Flash 6 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Washington, DC, 1999 estimated at about twenty thousand. In 1979, as part of the...

The History Of Air Pollution Legislation

Air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels was a problem in urban areas of England as long ago as the fourteenth century. In 1307 King Edward I banned the burning of coal in London ''to avoid the sulfurous smoke'' and commanded Londoners to burn wood instead. The ban was short-lived, however, as a wood shortage forced the city to switch back to coal. Historians record that future British monarchs also tried unsuccessfully to curtail the use of coal to reduce air pollution. The onset of the...

Technologies to neutralize or destroy toxic compounds in hazardous waste

Packer Protect Aquifer

Biodegradation Biodegradation uses microorganisms to breakdown organic compounds to make a wasteless toxic. Chemical reduction Chemical reduction converts metal and inorganic constituents in wastewater into insoluble precipitates that are later settled out of the wastewater, leaving a lower concentration of metals and inorganics in the wastewater. Combustion Combustion destroys organic wastes or makes them less hazardous through burning in boilers, industrial furnaces, or incinerators....

The Clean Air Acta Huge Success

Congress passed the landmark CAA, proclaiming that it would restore urban air quality. It was no coincidence that the law was passed during a fourteen-day Washington, D.C., smog alert. The act was amended several times over the following decades, including a massive overhaul in 1990 resulting in the CAAA. Although the act has had mixed results, and many goals remain to be met, most experts credit it with making great strides toward cleaning up the air. The CAAA encouraged...

Material Recovery Rates

Municipal Solid Waste 1960 2003

The Environmental Protection Agency EPA publication Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States Facts and Figures for 2003 pubs msw05rpt.pdf, April 2005 reports that Americans recycled 72.3 million tons of MSW in 2003, accounting for 30.6 of total MSW generated. See Figure 7.1. This was an average recycling rate of just more than one pound per person per day. Recycling rates for various materials are shown in Table 7.1. The materials with the highest recovery...

Depletion And Conservation Of Natural Resources

Throughout history humans have relied on the world's natural resources for survival. Early civilizations were dependent on sources of clean water, soils suitable for growing crops to feed people and livestock, and wild animals that could be hunted for meat, skins, and fur. As time passed societies learned to harvest and use other natural resources, primarily wood, metals, minerals, and fossil fuels. For centuries there was little thought given to the consequences of depleting these resources....

Illegal Trade and Smuggling of CFCs

In 1996 the ban on CFCs was implemented in the developed countries, including the United States. The CFC called Freon was widely used in automobile air conditioners prior to that time. After the ban went into effect there were still millions of Americans with cars that used Freon as a refrigerant. Although alternative refrigerants were available, they were more expensive than Freon. The result was a black market for the product. Several U.S. government agencies the EPA, the Customs Service, the...

Public concern about air pollution

PLEASE TELL ME IF YOU PERSONALLY WORRY ABOUT THIS PROBLEM A GREAT DEAL, A FAIR AMOUNT, ONLY A LITTLE, OR NOT AT ALL. AIR POLLUTION Great Fair Only a Not at No deal amount little all opinion Great Fair Only a Not at No deal amount little all opinion source Please tell me if you personally worry about this problem a great deal, a fair amount, only a little, or not at all. Air pollution in Poll Topics and Trends Environment, The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ, March 17, 2004, www.gallup.com...

Breakdown of Superfund budget sources

1,800 - 1,600 - 1,400 - 1,200 - 1,000 800 600 400 200 0 Trust fund share General revenues share SP SP c source Adapted from Superfund Budget History, in About Superfund, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, 2005, http www.epa accessed August 4, 2005 and municipalities may be unable to assume such expense. The EPA reports that the government currently collects only one-fifth of the cleanup costs that could be recovered from polluters under the Superfund law. According to the...

Earth Summit Biodiversity Treaty

At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 156 nations signed a pact to conserve species, habitats, and ecosystems. This Biodiversity Treaty is regarded as one of two main achievements of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the other being a treaty on global warming. The Biodiversity Treaty makes nations responsible for any environmental harm in other countries produced by companies headquartered in their country. One provision of the treaty concerns biotechnology, a...

Lacking Basic Knowledge

In May 2004 the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation NEETF , a private nonprofit organization, published a report titled Understanding Environmental Literacy in America And Making It a Reality'' http www.neetf.org roper ELR.pdf . The report summarizes the NEETF's findings on the depth of knowledge of environmental issues by American students and adults. It is based on polls and studies conducted by a variety of organizations, including the NEETF, Roper Starch Worldwide, and...

EPA estimates of national air pollutant emissions

In 1985 and 1996 EPA refined its methods for estimating emissions. Between 1970 and 1975, EPA revised its methods for estimating particulate matter emissions. bThe estimates for 2004 are preliminary. cNOx estimates prior to 1990 include emissions from fires. Fires would represent a small percentage of the NOx emissions. dPM estimates do not include condensable PM, or the majority of PM2.5 that is formed in the atmosphere from 'precursor' gases such as SO2 and NOx. eEPA has not estimated PM2.5...

Geologic Repositories for Radioactive Waste

Hazardous Waste Containment Facilities

The United States has sought for years to establish permanent storage facilities for HLW and TRU. These wastes have historically been kept in temporary storage at nuclear power plants and DOE facilities around the country. Scientists have focused on the use of geological repositories storage facilities constructed deep underground for permanent waste disposal. The ideal location for these repositories is in ancient geological formations that are relatively dry and not subject to earthquakes or...

Competing Interests Environment Energy and Economy

For many years the Gallup Organization has polled people about which should take priority the environment or economic growth. The vast majority of polls conducted between 1984 and 2000 showed strong support for the environment even at the risk of curbing economic growth. In all of these polls at least 58 of the people asked agreed with this view. The tide began to turn during the early 2000s as economic growth became a higher priority. The March 2005 poll showed that 53 of those asked believed...