Typical Day of Enviro Culture

A day in the life of an average American is filled with popular culture's representations of pollution and the environment. A person makes breakfast with cereal from a company that touts itself as environmentally conscious. Flipping channels while eating breakfast, an individual learns from CNN that an oil spill has occurred overnight near a sensitive coastline, while the Weather Channel reports that beach erosion caused by a hurricane off the coast of North Carolina is harming the natural...

Activities and Accomplishments

The EPA is responsible for implementing and enforcing more than twenty-four major environmental statutes. Some of the most significant environmental statutes include the Clean Air Act the Clean Water Act the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund) the Toxic Substances Control Act the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The EPA has achieved many significant successes in implementing these programs. One of...

Amount of Reuse

In the United States, several secondhand markets are 100 billion dollar industries, and several more fall in the 1 to 10 billion range. Each year 40 million used cars are sold in the United States, nearly three times the number of new cars purchased. Overall, secondhand markets are almost as large as consumer recycling in terms of the amount of material processed (approximately fifty million tons of paper and ten million tons of glass are recycled annually in the United States), and the...

Burning Less Fuel

The key to burning less fuel is making cars and trucks more efficient and putting that efficiency to work in improving fuel economy. The U.S. federal government sets a fuel-economy standard for all passenger vehicles. However, these standards have remained mostly constant for the past decade. In addition, sales of lower-fuel-economy light trucks, such as SUVs, pickups, and minivans, have increased dramatically. As a result, on average, the U.S. passenger-vehicle fleet actually travels less...

Buzzards Bay Watershed

Seventeen municipalities make up the Buzzards Bay watershed in the southeastern region of Massachusetts. Nonpoint source pollution from failing septic systems, farm animal wastes, and stormwater runoff were contributing to a decline in water quality in the bay, forcing the closing of many shellfish beds. Watershed partners, including various federal (e.g., U.S. Department of Agriculture), state (e.g., Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection), local partners (e.g., Town of Marion),...

Chromatography

Chromatography is the method most often used in environmental chemistry to separate individual pollutants from mixtures. The mixture to be analyzed is added to a liquid or gas, depending on whether liquid or gas chromatogra-phy is employed. The liquid or gas, called the mobile phase, is then forced through a stationary phase, often a column packed with solid material that can be coated with a liquid. The stationary and mobile phases are chosen so that the pollutants in the mixture will have...

Coalbed Methane

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas trapped inside coal, can be released into the atmosphere when coal is mined. The 1993 President's Climate Change Action Plan encouraged the recovery of a possible 100 trillion cubic feet of this coal-bed methane for energy. This would reduce methane and carbon dioxide emissions overall, because burning methane produces less carbon dioxide than burning fossil fuels. Scientists from the United States Geological Survey are studying how to extract coal-bed methane...

Differences in Sensitivities

Resolving the adverse effects of a toxicant are further complicated by the variations in those effects in different species. Some species are more sensitive to certain toxicants than others, and the effects of toxicants on different tissues often vary between species. Because such variations occur between humans and rodents, in spite of the similarity (95 ) in their DNA, extrapolations of laboratory studies on the effects of toxicants on rats and mice to human health must always take this into...

Disinfection ByProducts

Disinfection, one of the primary tools of water treatment, is the removal and inactivation of pathogenic microbes, that is, small organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, that can cause disease. Disinfection has historically been accomplished using chlorination, the destruction of microbes by hypochlorous acid and the hypochlorous ion, formed by the reaction of chlorine gas and water or added directly as hypochlorite salts. Large improvements in public health occur when pathogen-free...

Early US Legislation

Late in the nineteenth century, the U.S. Congress enacted Section 10 of the River and Harbor Act of 1890, prohibiting any obstruction to the navigation of U.S. waters. The authority to implement the act through a regulatory permit program was given to the secretary of the army acting through the chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In the late 1960s the corps enlarged the scope of its review of permit applications to include fish and wildlife, conservation, pollution, esthetics, ecology,...

Earth Summit and Agenda

Environmental justice and the connection between poverty and pollution have been gaining increased attention globally, both from governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In 1992 the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in what came to be known as the Earth Summit (June 3 to 14). Unprecedented in size, the meeting focused on sustainable development, and its main result was a document of goals and plan of action known as...

Eco Apartheid

Worldwide, the urban poor tend to live in neglected neighborhoods, enduring pollution, waste dumping, and ill health, but lacking the political influence to effect improvements. Indeed, since the time of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, the urban poor, particularly racial and ethnic minorities, have had neither the resources to avoid, nor the power to control, noxious hazards in the workplace or in their homes. These are the people who have borne the greatest ecological costs of two...

Effects Of Pollution

Acid Rain Cryptosporidiosis Endocrine Disruption Fish Kills Global Warming Health, Human Hypoxia Smog Disasters Environmental Mining Accidents Energy, Nuclear Energy Efficiency Fossil Fuels Fuel Cell Fuel Economy Global Warming Green Chemistry Greenhouse Gases Lifestyle Light Pollution Mining Radioactive Waste Renewable Energy Vehicular Pollution Waste to Energy

Effects on Humans

The most important aspect of pesticides is how they affect humans. There is increasing anxiety about the importance of small residues of pesticides, often suspected of being carcinogens or disrupting endocrine activities, in drinking water and food. In spite of stringent regulations by international and national regulatory agencies, reports of pesticide residues in human foods, both imported and home-produced, are numerous. Over the last fifty years many human illnesses and deaths have occurred...

Effects on the Aquatic Environment

The movement of pesticides into surface and groundwater is well documented. Wildlife is affected, and human drinking water is sometimes contaminated beyond acceptable safety levels. Sediments dredged from U.S. waterways are often so heavily contaminated with persistent and other pesticide residues that it becomes problematic to safely dispose of them on land. A major environmental impact has been the widespread mortality of fish and marine invertebrates due to the contamination of aquatic...

Energy Production from Waste in the United States and South America

South America, with its agrarian societies, surprisingly consumes very few wastes for the production of steam or electricity. Brazil is the largest country in South America and is also the largest energy consumer, consuming about 8.5 quads of energy each year as compared to 6.1 quads for Mexico, 12.5 quads for Canada, and 97.0 quads for the United States. Due to the large size of Brazil's agricultural sector, biomass is seen as the best future alternative energy source. Currently, Brazil...

Environmental and Health Impacts

The effects of debris on other spacecraft range from surface abrasion due to repeated small-particle impact to a catastrophic fragmentation due to a collision with a large object. The relative velocities of orbital objects (10 kilometers per second km s on average, but ranging from meters per second up to 15.5 km s) allow even very small objects such as a paint flake to damage spacecraft components and surfaces. For example, a 3-millimeter (mm) aluminum particle traveling at 10 km s is...

Environmental Impacts

The environmental responsibility of mining operations is protection of the air, land, and water. Mineral resources were developed in the United States for nearly two centuries with few environmental controls. This is largely attributed to the fact that environmental impact was not understood or appreciated as it is today. In addition, the technology available during this period was not always able to prevent or control environmental damage. Air. All methods of mining affect air quality....

Glossary

24-hour standard in regulations the allowable average concentration over 24 hours absorption spectrum fingerprint of a compound generated when it absorbs characteristic light frequencies absorption the uptake of water, other fluids, or dissolved chemicals by a cell or an organism (as tree roots absorb dissolved nutrients in soil) acetylcholine a chemical that transmits nerve signals to muscles and other nerves acute in medicine, short-term or happening quickly adherence substances sticking to...

Government Agencies

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to- Environment Canada Environmental Crime GIS (Geographic Information System) Government Mexican Secretariat for Natural Resources (La Secretar a del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) Administration (NOAA National Park Service Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) President's Council on Environmental Quality U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Historical and Current

Before the 1900s, the world as a whole used wood (including wood converted to charcoal) for heat in homes and industry, vegetation for feeding draft animals, water mills for grinding grain and milling lumber, and wind for marine transportation and grain milling and water pumping. By the 1920s, however, coal and petroleum had largely replaced these energy sources in industrialized countries, although wood for home heating and hydroelectric power generation remained in wide use. At the end of the...

Historical and Regulatory Aspects

Environmental awareness and activism is not a present-day concept In the mid-1700s Benjamin Franklin and others petitioned the Pennsylvania Assembly to stop dumping waste and attempted to regulate waste disposal and water pollution. European countries were correlating sickness with lead and mercury in the late 1700s. In 1855, Chicago became the first U.S. city with a comprehensive sewer plan, and all U.S. towns with populations over 4,000 had city sewers by 1905. In 1899 the Refuse Act...

Human Health

Air Pollution Arsenic Asbestos Asthma Disasters Chemical Accidents and Spills Energy, Nuclear Groundwater Hazardous Waste Health, Human Heavy Metals Household Pollutants Indoor Air Pollution Infectious Waste Ishimure, Michiko Lead Mercury Mold Pollution Ozone Particulates Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic Chemicals Times Beach, Missouri Tobacco Smoke Toxicology Vehicular Pollution Wastewater Treatment Water Pollution Water Pollution Freshwater Water Pollution Marine Water Treatment

Identifying Systemic Pollution Prevention Opportunities

The next phase of pollution prevention is to focus on more systemic changes. These may involve more capital investment and a major cultural change on the part of an organization none of which can happen without the support of senior management. This is one reason why many companies are making sure that their innovative programs are integrated into their core business decisions. The lone environmental officer who focuses a company on complying with regulations still exists, but he or she is in...

International Solid Waste Management

Because solid waste is generated everywhere, addressing the environmentally safe management of solid waste is not limited to the United States. Management strategies vary by country and region, although most programs address waste issues with models consisting of some combination of source reduction, combustion, recycling, and landfills. For example, the European Environment Agency (EEA) offers solid-waste management guidance analogous to EPA's integrated hierarchy. Specifically, the Community...

Issues Facing the Field of Public Participation

Like any new field, the public participation field faces many challenges. Environmental activists and business leaders tend to be both white and middle class. Racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in many public participation processes. Language and cultural differences may account for some of the underrepresentation. But other barriers include a general fear of government agencies (who were sometimes sources of outright oppression in immigrants' countries of origin) and the belief...

Life Cycle Analysis

A typical product has a range of environmental impact arising from its manufacture, use, and disposal. A life cycle assessment (LCA) evaluates the entire environmental impact of a product through its life cycle. An LCA might, for example, compare the environmental impact of ordering an item online to going to a store to buy it. The analysis would include the environmental impact of having the item mailed to the purchaser's home directly from the distributor versus having it sent from the...

Light Pollution

As humankind enters the twenty-first century, ours is the first generation where the majority of children cannot routinely see the night sky in all its splendor and glory. The problem is caused by light pollution, excess or misdirected artificial light that alters the natural night sky. In the night sky, light pollution causes an atmospheric phenomenon known as skyglow. You may have seen overhead clouds at night glowing with strange pink or orange colors this is wasted light reflecting off the...

Limits to Growth

The Limits to Growth, written in 1972 by a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), presented the results of a study in which a computer model attempted to predict the fate of society. The model studied the interrelationships between the world's population, agricultural production, natural resources, industrial production, and pollution. The results of the modeling effort were generally pessimistic, indicating a depletion of natural resources accompanied by a...

Low Hanging Fruit

There are many ways pollution can be prevented. Some of the simplest, the low-hanging fruit involve basic housekeeping and maintenance modifications that do not include major capital investments, but may produce significant dividends in terms of cost savings for compliance and operations. In an industrial setting, low-cost options can involve simply changing the filters on equipment more frequently, improving the maintenance of machinery, or replacing a solvent with a water-based alternative...

Methane CH

Methane is an invisible, odorless, and combustible gas present in trace concentrations in the atmosphere. It is the major component of natural gas, a greenhouse gas a gas, such as carbon dioxide or methane, which contributes to potential climate change anthropogenic human-made related to or produced by the influence of humans on nature fossil fuel commonly used for heating and cooking. The molecule consists of one carbon atom bonded to four hydrogen atoms (CH4), making it the simplest member of...

Mexican Secretariat for Natural Resources

The Mexican Secretariat for Natural Resources (La Secretar a del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales or SEMARNAT) is the government office in Mexico responsible for creating sound national environmental policy, reversing existing damage to the environment, and establishing programs for sustainable development. SEMARNAT oversees the management of natural resources and coordinates development with other agencies. It works to restore ecosystems while taking into account the social and economic...

Mining

Modern mining is an industry that involves the exploration for and removal of minerals from the earth, economically and with minimum damage to the environment. Mining is important because minerals are major sources of energy as well as materials such as fertilizers and steel. Mining is necessary for nations to have adequate and dependable supplies of minerals and materials to meet their economic and defense needs at acceptable environmental, energy, and economic costs. Some of the nonfuel...

MSW Management

In response to mounting solid waste problems, EPA published The Solid Waste Dilemma An Agenda for Action in 1989, which presents goals and recommendations for action by the EPA, state and local governments, industry, and consumers to address the solid waste problems facing the United States. The EPA recommends an integrated, hierarchical approach to waste management using four components source reduction, recycling, combustion, and landfills. This comprehensive approach addresses critical...

MSW Stream

The generation of MSW has grown steadily over the past thirty years, from 88 million tons per year, or 2.7 pounds per person per day in 1960, to 229.9 million tons, or 4.62 pounds per person per day in 1999. The largest component of the MSW stream is paper and paperboard products (38.1 ), with yard trimmings the second most predominant component (12.1 ). The top of two pie charts on the next page breaks down this waste by material category. While the generation of waste has grown steadily, so...

Municipal Waste

Due to rapidly decreasing space in urban landfills, officials have been forced to find alternate locations for municipal waste disposal. This has created significant financial incentives for rural communities to accept garbage from urban areas. Depending on the location of these rural facilities, it may be necessary to transport large quantities of wastes by a variety of methods, most often by truck, railway, or barge. Many citizens are concerned about the transportation of the waste through...

N n n

Municipal Solid Waste Generated per Capita by Country in 1997 issues through source reduction, recycling, combustion, and landfill programs. Such community-tailored programs provide possible long-term solutions to decreasing the amount of waste that is produced and ultimately placed in landfills. see also Composting Incineration Landfill Plastic Recycling Reuse WAste WAste Reduction. Christiansen, Kim Michael. (1999). Waste Annual Topic Update 1998. Copenhagen European Environmental Agency....

National Environmental Policy Act NEPA

When signed into law in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was a visionary and wide-reaching statute that required U.S. agencies to fully identify, analyze, and weigh the environmental impacts of their decisions. Insofar as most modern land-use planning requires agency approvals, and industrial and commercial activity that results in pollution typically requires agency-issued permits, the NEPA-mandated environmental review process has dramatically affected modern lifestyles, the...

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA

Established in 1970 under the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) guides the United States' use and protection of its air and water resources. With respect to air resources, the agency conducts research and gathers data about the earth's air, and engages in subsequent technical analyses. Specific agency concerns are air pollution, acid rain, and global warming, all greatly influenced by human activity. With respect to water resources, the...

National Park Service

Established in 1916 under the National Park Service Organic Act, the National Park Service (NPS) manages over 83.6 millions acres of federal parks, including battlefields, cemeteries, historical sites, lakeshores, memorials, monuments, parkways, preserves, recreation areas, rivers, seashores, and trails. The NPS is supervised by both a director and the assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, and serves as a Department of the Interior bureau funded by Congress. As its primary...

National Toxics Campaign

The National Toxics Campaign (NTC) was once a leading environmental organization, dedicated to helping local communities seek environmental justice. From its inception in the 1980s until it ended in 1993, this grassroots organization helped many citizen groups develop strategies to hold industry and government accountable for damages to human health and the environment. The NTC's basic philosophy was that people have the right to a clean and healthy environment regardless of their race or...

Nonaqueous Phase Liquids NAPLs

Nonaqueous Phase Liquids (NAPLs) are hazardous organic liquids such as dry cleaning fluids, fuel oil, and gasoline that do not dissolve in water. A significant portion of contaminated soil and groundwater sites contain NAPLs, and they are particularly hard to remove from the water supply. NAPLs are always associated with human activity, and cause severe environmental and health hazards. Dense NAPLs (DNAPLs) such as the chlorinated hydrocarbons used in dry cleaning and industrial degreasing are...

Nongovernmental Organizations NGOs

Collaborative efforts among the public have played an important role in shaping the political and social values and hence public policy of the United States. Organizing with others who share a similar vision enhances the potential for change. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) accomplish just that. Established outside of political parties, NGOs are aimed at advocating the public's To preserve and promote awareness about the world's endangered biodiversity. To protect and promote sustainable...

NOx Nitrogen Oxides

Nitrification the process whereby ammonia, typically in wastewater, is oxidized to nitrite and then to nitrate by bacterial or chemical reactions denitrification the biological reduction of nitrate or nitrite to nitrogen gas, typically by bacteria in soil stratosphere the portion of the atmosphere ten to twenty-five miles above the earth's surface NOx is a common term for the more reactive nitrogen oxides and includes nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), but excludes, for example,...

Objectives and Evolution of Wastewater Treatment

We cannot allow wastewater to be disposed of in a manner dangerous to human health and lesser life forms or damaging to the natural environment. Our planet has the remarkable ability to heal itself, but there is a limit to what it can do, and we must make it our goal to always stay within safe bounds. That limit is not always clear to scientists, and we must always take the safe approach to avoid it. Basic wastewater treatment facilities reduce organic and suspended solids to limit pollution to...

Organization of the Material

As its title would suggest, Pollution A to Z is organized alphabetically with 267 articles presented in two volumes. Articles are cross-referenced. Authors were aware of (and sometimes wrote) related articles and, for the fullest understanding, the reader is encouraged to explore at least one level beyond the subject first selected. This is made easier with the inclusion of cross-references at the end of many articles. You will find that articles are balanced between hard science and social...

Overview of US Pollution Control Laws and Regulations

Pollution-control laws in the United States can take several different forms. Federal pollution-control statutes are enacted by Congress in response to domestic problems or needs, or to implement international treaties. They are complex laws that state a goal for lowering or eliminating the release of certain pollutants, generally within a specific medium. These laws assign a duty to an agency, typically the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to implement the law. The agency then...

Particulates

Particulates, or particulate matter (PM), refer to any mixture of solid particles or liquid droplets that remain suspended in the atmosphere for appreciable time periods. Examples of particulates are dust and salt particles, and water and sulphuric acid droplets. The length of time a particle survives in the atmosphere depends on the balance between two processes. Gravity forces the particles to settle to the earth's surface, but atmospheric turbulence can carry the particles in the opposite...

PCBs Polychlorinated Biphenyls

PCBs, known to cause cancer in animals and believed to cause cancer in humans, are among the most widespread and hazardous synthetic pollutants. They comprise a group of 209 structurally similar compounds, so-called congeners. The individual congeners differ in the degree of chlorination and the positions of the chlorine atoms in the molecule. They are numbered from one to 209 according to a scheme proposed by Ballschmiter and Zell (hence, the term BZ numbers). PCBs are obtained by the...

Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic PBT Chemicals

Persistent bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals represent a group of substances that are not easily degraded, accumulate in organisms, and exhibit an acute or chronic toxicity. They may therefore pose serious concerns for human and environmental health. The effects of PBTs range from cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive dysfunction, behavioral abnormalities, birth defects, disturbance of the immune system, damage to the liver and nervous system, to the extinction of whole...

Persistent Organic Pollutants POPs

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are a subset of the more comprehensive term persistent bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs). POPs commonly stands for organic (carbon-based) chemical compounds and mixtures that share four characteristics. They are semivolatile, stable under environmental conditions (half-lives of years to decades), fat-soluble, and possess the potential for adverse effects in organisms. Many POPs are organochlorine compounds. Among the twelve priority POPs defined by...

Pervious Permeable Concrete

An increasing number of parking lots in California are being paved with pervious concrete to reduce runoff and allow water to drain through to underlying soil or groundwater. The concrete is made from Portland cement, gravel, and water and consists of up to one-quarter empty spaces that allow rainfall to penetrate at a rate of about three to five gallons per square foot, per minute. Beneficial soil microorganisms break down pollutants, such as oil and gasoline, trapped in the voids. In 2002 a...

Petroleum

Petroleum is a naturally occurring liquid oil normally found in deposits beneath the surface of the earth. It is a type of oil composed of rock minerals, making it different from other kinds of oils that come from plants and animals (such as vegetable oil, animal fat, or essential oils). The word petroleum comes from the Latin words petra (rock) and oleum (oil), and so literally means rock oil. Despite this, petroleum is an organic compound, formed from the remains of microorganisms living...

Point Sources of Air Pollution

Point sources of air pollution include stationary sources such as power plants, smelters, industrial and commercial boilers, wood and pulp processors, paper mills, industrial surface coating facilities, refinery and chemical processing operations, and petroleum storage tanks. Examples of nonpoint sources of air pollution include on-road mobile sources such as cars and trucks nonroad mobile sources such as construction and recreation equipment engines and natural sources such as windstorms and...

Pollution and Coral Reefs

On coral reefs, eutrophication causes seaweed to grow and smother the corals. Several kinds of environmental problems interact with eutrophication to cause the deterioration of coral reefs. Overharvesting of the fish and invertebrates that eat seaweed accelerates the smothering. Careless development along coastlines and in river basins leads to soil erosion and the transport of heavy loads of silt and clay, which settle on the corals and smother them. Oil spills also take their toll. When...

Potential Problems at Site

Yucca Mountain's climate is very dry, with annual precipitation averaging about 7.5 inches (190 millimeters or mm). About 95 percent either runs off, evaporates, or is taken up by vegetation. Overall, very little water infiltrates the mountain and reaches the repository level. The bulk of any water moves very slowly through the unsaturated rock. Some data, however, suggest that water may reach the repository level in a few decades by moving through fractures that are...

Presidents Council on Environmental Quality

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) was created by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969 during the first term of President Richard Nixon. The primary role of the council is to advise the President on environmental policy. Because it is limited to an advisory role, CEQ does not have a highly visible public profile. It is composed of three members, including a chairperson, who are appointed by the president with the advise and consent of the Senate. CEQ's importance in...

Pressure Group Politics Old and

Environmentalism's political strength depends on its leadership's skill in creating a broad and diverse alliance of interests to support environmental advocacy. The environmental movement embraces a great diversity of influential organizations, including traditional conservation groups like the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation, established public health advocates like the American Cancer Society, newly formed environmental pressure groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and...

Prevention and Abatement

Once water is contaminated, it is difficult, expensive, and sometimes impossible to remove pollutants. Technologies to remove contaminants from groundwater are air stripping, granular activated carbon, and advanced oxidation. Air stripping involves pumping out the contaminated water, then heating it to evaporate the contaminant. The cleaned water is reinjected into the ground. Pumping out contaminated water and absorbing the pollutant on activated charcoal can remove less volatile compounds....

Progressive Movement

The Progressive Era, a term used to describe the period between approximately 1890 and 1920, witnessed an explosion of reform efforts in America. A great number of people, for a variety of reasons, participated in a vast number of diverse reforms, including women's suffrage, political reform, and prohibition. Progressive reformers initiated these changes in reaction to the increased level of, and problems associated with, urbanization and industrialization in late-nineteenth-century America....

Property Rights Movement

The property rights movement has had a significant impact on the nation's environmental policies since 1980. The groups identified with the movement commonly oppose federal regulation or intrusion on land that is privately held, especially in cases where federal involvement is in the form of environmental laws that limit the owner's full or partial use of the land. The movement began with the Sagebrush Rebellion of the mid-1970s, when legislators from states in western United States sought the...

Pros Cons and Other Countries

Superfund's proponents argue that the EPA must have the authority and resources to clean up hazardous waste sites. Otherwise, reluctant responsible parties will have no incentive to bear the burden of cleanup. In such cases, the protection of public health and remediation of damages to the environment would be left for taxpayers to finance. Those against Superfund reauthoriza-tion claim that many industries are responsibly handling the matter of hazardous waste sites and have invested sizable...

Public Interest Research Groups PIRGs

Early in his career as a consumer advocate, Ralph Nader struck on an idea for a new type of organization. How about a law office that worked for the public's interest not that of corporations or just individuals he thought. Out of this concept evolved the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). It began its genesis with a staff of twelve lawyers and a physician, each bringing his or her expertise in a different field to the effort. It was like a law office, but for public interest, Nader said in...

Pulitzer Prizes Awarded For Environmental Reporting

Milwaukee (WI) Journal For its successful campaign to stiffen the law against water pollution in Wisconsin, a notable advance in the national effort for the conservation of natural resources. Winston-Salem (NC) Journal and Sentinel For coverage of environmental problems, as exemplified by a successful campaign to block strip mining operation that would have caused irreparable damage to the hill country of northwest North Carolina. James Risser of the Des Moines (IA) Register For a series on...

Radioactive Waste Disposal

Various methods to manage and dispose of radioactive waste have been considered. Proposed management and disposal methods have included the transuranic waste waste containing one or more radioactive elements heavier than uranium, created in nuclear power plants or processing facilities COMMON CATEGORIES OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE Common Radionuclides in Waste and Their Half-Life (y years) Highly radioactive material that is deemed a waste that requires special precautions by humans, including remote...

Radon

Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive, though chemically unreactive gas. It has an atomic number of eighty-six, which corresponds to the number of protons found in the nucleus of any isotope of radon. There are more than thirty known isotopes of radon, and each one emits some combination B. Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow block foundation C. Pores and cracks in concrete blocks F. Weeping (drain) tile, if drained to open sump H. Loose fitting pipe...

Reducing Driving

Because we are still dependent on fossil fuels and the number of cars on the road is expected to double, a significant reduction in vehicular pollution requires more than gains in fuel efficiency. Measures that encourage us to drive less can help curb vehicular pollution and protect natural resources and public health. Alternatives that can reduce the number of vehicle-miles traveled include providing transportation alternatives to cars, including mass transit, bicycle, and pedestrian routes...

Regulations on Smokefree Environment

As of December 31, 1999, smoke-free indoor air laws of one type or another had been enacted in forty-five states and the District of Columbia. Smoking in private work sites is limited in twenty states and the District of Columbia. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws restricting smoking in state government work sites. Thirty-one states have enacted laws that regulate smoking in restaurants, and out of these, only Utah and Vermont completely prohibit smoking in restaurants....

Regulatory Reporting and Public Education

Water systems in the United States submit reports each month to state or federal regulatory agencies, summarizing treatment-plant performance and sampling results. The majority of medium and large water systems in the United States have staff working twenty-four hours a day. If something were to go wrong at the plant, the plant operators have procedures that they would follow to shut down the plant, switch to alternate equipment, adjust chemical dosages, or collect additional samples. State and...

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is energy that is regenerative or, for all practical pur- regenerative able to be regen- poses, virtually inexhaustible. It includes solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, biomass (derived from plants), geothermal energy (heat from the earth), and ocean energy. Renewable energy resources can supply energy for heating and cooling buildings, electricity generation, heat for industrial processes, and fuels for transportation. The increased use of renewable energy could reduce the...

Renewed Efforts to Protect Environmental Infrastructure

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, federal and state authorities began to wonder what else might offer a tempting target for terror attacks. New inhalation drawing into the lungs by breathing asymmetrical warfare conflict between two forces of greatly different sizes e.g., terrorists versus superpower York City and other large cities immediately took steps to protect their water systems by guarding the infrastructure and testing the water for known contaminants. In 2002 President George...

Resource Conservation and Recovery

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 is a federal law aimed at protecting human health and the environment by safely managing and reducing hazardous and solid nonhazardous waste. It gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the task of controlling hazardous waste, through safety regulations, permits, and inspections, from its creation to disposal or from cradle to grave. RCRA also aims to conserve energy and natural resources by giving states or regions the job...

Reuse by the Individual

Individuals can maximize the environmental and economic benefits of their own reuse efforts by carefully contemplating their reuse strategies, by developing the ability to make repairs, and by learning about local sources of used goods and replacement parts. The environmental and economic benefits of reuse typically increase as the size and cost of the item increase. For example, new furniture is both resource-intensive and expensive. Repair, repainting, and reupholstering of used furniture can...

Risks from Sewage Sludge A Cross Country Comparison

Sewage sludge is the semisolid or concentrated liquid residue generated during the treatment of wastewater. In addition to biodegradable organic material, sludges can contain pathogens (disease organisms) and industrial pollutants (such as heavy metals) that can be damaging to human health. Among the means for disposing of sludges by incineration, landfilling, or spreading across farmland and other open space only land application has the benefit of returning the fertilizing nutrients in sludge...

Rivers and Harbors Appropriations

The modern form of the Rivers and Harbors Act was enacted in 1890, and amended by the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899, also known as the Refuse Act. It was amended again several times during the twentieth century. In general, the act prohibits the dumping of refuse into navigable waters or the creation of any navigational obstruction, and it regulates the construction of wharves, piers, jetties, bulkheads, and similar structures in ports, rivers, canals, or other areas used for...

Sampling and Extraction

Air can be actively or passively sampled. Actively sampled air is pumped through a filter or chemical solution. For example, airborne lead, mostly originating from metals processing plants, is collected on filters by active sampling and then analyzed spectroscopically. Air that is not pumped but allowed to flow or diffuse naturally is passively sampled. Nitrogen oxides, resulting from vehicle emissions and combustion, can be monitored in passive sampling tubes by their reaction with...

Science

Scientists collect samples of air, water, soil, plants, and tissue to detect and monitor pollution. Pollutants are most often extracted from samples, then isolated by a technique called chromatography and analyzed by appropriate detection methods. Many pollutants are identified by their spectral fingerprints, unique patterns of absorbed or emitted radiation in the ultraviolet (UV), visible, or infrared (IR) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Biomonitoring and technologies including...

Scrubbers

Scrubbers are air-pollution-control devices that remove harmful gases and particulates from the smokestacks of incinerators, chemical manufacturing facilities, and electric power plants before they enter the atmosphere. There are different types of scrubbers, including wet and dry, regenerative and nonregenerative. Regenerative scrubbers recycle the material that extracts the pollutants. The nonregenerative wet scrubber is most commonly used to capture sulfur dioxide emitted from coal and oil...

Settlement House Movement

As more women gained access to a college education in the late nineteenth century, many hoped to use their skills and talents for more than homemak-ing and child rearing. Jane Addams, born in 1860 to a Quaker miller in Illinois, was one of these women who hoped to improve the life of others and society at large. After completing her education, Addams took a trip to Europe, where social activism in the slums of London had a dramatic effect on her. She returned to Chicago to found her own version...

Site Cleanup Remedies

Technologies employed to clean up sites include procedures that have been used for decades in treating water and air pollution also, novel techniques heavy metals metallic elements with high atomic weights (e.g. mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead) can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain DDT the first chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide (chemical name Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) it has a half-life of 15 years and can collect in...

Smelting

Mined ores are processed to concentrate the minerals of interest. In the case of metal ores, these mineral concentrates usually need to be further processed to separate the metal from other elements in the ore minerals. Smelting is the process of separating the metal from impurities by heating the concentrate to a high temperature to cause the metal to melt. Smelting the concentrate produces a metal or a high-grade metallic mixture along with a solid waste product called slag. The principal...

Smog

Originally, the term smog was coined to describe the mixture of smoke and fog that lowered visibility and led to respiratory problems in industrial cities. More recently, the term has come to mean any decrease in air quality whether associated with reduced visibility or a noticeable impact on human health. Smog occurs when emissions of gases and particles from industrial or transportation sources are trapped by the local meteorology so the concentrations rise and chemical reactions occur. It is...

Source Reduction

Source reduction, also known as waste prevention, is a front-end approach to addressing MSW problems by changing the way products are made and used. source reduction reducing the amount of materials entering the waste stream from a specific source by redesigning products or patterns of production or consumption (e.g., using returnable beverage containers) synonymous with waste reduction (top) Breakdown of the 229.9 million tons of MSW generated in the United States in 1999 by material category....

Sustainable Development

The term sustainable development gained international recognition after the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) released its report Our Common Future in 1983. In this report, sustainable development was defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources had introduced the term earlier in its 1980...

Swallow Ellen

Ellen Swallow Richards (1842-1911) was the first female chemist in the United States and the mother of the science of ecology. As she walked to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) each day, this sanitary chemist noticed horse wagons carrying uncovered food over Boston's dirty, unpaved Ellen Swallow. (Courtesy of the MIT Museum. Reproduced by permission.) streets, which were often flooded with pools of stagnant waste from the open sewers. She saw filth, disease, suffering, and...

Systems Science

Most traditional science works within a very restricted disciplinary domain requiring a careful and often technically rigorous and demanding approach that includes, at least in theory, the use of the Baconian scientific method of test and control in a restricted laboratory environment. This is how most science operates, and it is often a very successful approach. However, such an approach is very difficult to apply to many real problems, including those in the complex natural or seminatural...

The Challenge of Environmental Policy Reform

Despite criticism of existing environmental policies and doubts about the capacity of the EPA and states to achieve the objectives outlined in these policies, reform has proved to be difficult. Studies continue to find fault with conventional pollution control policies and urge the adoption of new approaches (e.g., reports issued by the National Academy of Public Administration). However, conflicting political pressures on members of Congress have led more often to political stalemate than to...

The Dose Response Concept

The toxicity or severity of a hazard can be described by a dose-effect (also called dose-response) relationship. This concept is conveyed graphically by plotting dosage (amount or concentration of a toxin) against population. Data for describing dose-response relationships are gathered from tests in which groups of organisms are exposed to a toxin at a range of doses. Typically, as the dose increases, the toxic effect of concern is produced in more of the population. The dosage at which the...

The Evolution of Public Participation

From the 1930s onward, the size of the U.S. federal government grew very rapidly, and government became involved in making many decisions that affected people's lives. As government grew, decisions previously made in a political process were increasingly delegated to technical experts. Over time, many people began to feel that impersonal bureaucrats were making decisions which controlled their lives. After the Depression and World War II, there was broad general agreement in the United States...

The Future for Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has many advantages that will help to maintain and expand its place in world energy supply Renewable energy resources are enormous hundreds of times beyond the needs of world energy consumption in 2000. Advances in technologies are reducing manufacturing costs and increasing system efficiencies, thereby reducing the cost of energy from renewable resources. Negative environmental and health impacts of renewable energy use are much fewer than those of fossil fuels and nuclear...

The Water Cycle

The requirements of the CWA and SDWA are different, but interrelated. Consider the water cycle and the water-use cycle. Water falls to the earth in the form of precipitation. It drains into rivers, lakes, and streams either naturally or via constructed storm-water-drainage systems. Industrial manufacturers and wastewater treatment plants discharge effluent from their processes into lakes and rivers. Under the CWA, these facilities have water-quality limits that their effluent must meet. These...

Times Beach Missouri

According to former mayor Marilyn Leistner, the 2,000 residents of Times Beach, Missouri, a community located along the Meramec River, endured a lasting toxic waste episode throughout the Christmas holiday season of 1982. In 1974 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified dioxin-contaminated waste oil as the cause of death for an unspecified number of dogs and songbirds in Times Beach. In the early 1970s, many municipalities, including Times Beach, commissioned the use of waste oil...

Todd John

INNOVATIVE ECOLOGICAL DESIGNER (1939-) John Todd is an internationally recognized biologist and pioneer in ecological design. He has been a practical activist in the ecology movement since 1969 when he cofounded the New Alchemy Institute in order to explore science and engineering based on ecological principles. Todd developed earth-based technologies to grow food, generate fuel, transform waste, and purify water. Todd is best known for his wastewater treatment systems in which floating...

Toxic Release Inventory

Congress passed a federal law called the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which gives the public the right to know about industrial toxic chemicals that are released into the environment. At present this law, which is also known as Title III of the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act, requires businesses in certain industries that manufacture, process, or otherwise use any chemical from a list of 651 designated chemicals or chemical groups in...

Toxic Substances Control Act TSCA

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), enacted by Congress in 1976, gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the responsibility for checking the relative safety of all chemical substances not already covered under other federal laws. The EPA can control or ban a chemical if it poses an unreasonable risk to human or environmental health. Manufacturers must give the EPA information about new chemicals before they are commercially produced or marketed. The EPA then reviews the...

Treaties and Regulations

There are hundreds of treaties and other international instruments relating to pollution. Some prominent examples include the following The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) calls for an immediate ban on certain chemicals, severely restricts the use of others, and provides for POPs to be disposed of and managed using environmentally sound methods. To address the problem of climate change, which is caused by an increased concentration of carbon in the atmosphere,...

Types Of Pollution

Disasters Chemical Accidents and Spills Disasters Environmental Mining Accidents Air Pollution Light Pollution Medical Waste Mold Pollution Noise Pollution Plastic Radioactive Waste Soil Pollution Space Pollution Thermal Pollution Vehicular Pollution Visual Pollution War

Ultraviolet Radiation

Incident solar sun energy that hits a particular spot suppression reduction in or prevention of an effect Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation that lies between visible light and x rays in its energy and wavelength. It is a component of the radiation that reaches the Earth from the sun. The broad UV band, having wavelengths between 190 nanometers (nm) and 400 nm, is conventionally divided into three parts UV-A or near-UV (315 to 400 nm), UV-B or mid-UV (280 to 315...

Underground Storage Tank

Leaking underground storage tanks (LUSTs) containing hazardous liquids, primarily petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, kerosene, or oil have contaminated the groundwater and drinking water of thousands of communities across the United States. Following the boom in automobile sales after World War II, gasoline stations mushroomed across the county to meet the demand for personal mobility. At these new stations, gasoline was stored underground in tanks made of bare steel, which were not...

Union of Concerned Scientists

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is a nonprofit alliance of some fifty thousand scientists and citizens across the United States. The group's stated goal is to combine rigorous scientific analysis with committed citizen advocacy in order to build a cleaner environment and a safer world. The group focuses on issues such as global warming and the environmental impact of vehicles and various energy sources. The UCS was formed in 1969 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where a...