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...

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...

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...

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

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 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 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...

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...

US Coast Guard

Established in 1790 as the Revenue Marine Service but named as such after combination with the U.S. Lifesaving Service, the U.S. Coast Guard provides support for the protection and preservation of the United States' marine and natural resources. Although a branch of the armed forces, the agency operates under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation during times of peace. The agency is responsible for managing the nation's seas and coastal waters, with environmental issues primarily...

US Department of Agriculture

Department of Agriculture (DOA) works with landowners to maintain the productive capacity of their land while helping them to protect soil, water, forests and other natural resources. The department conducts a large part of this work through two of its agencies the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The Forest Service is charged with the oversight of 191 million acres of federal land. In advancing its pollution-control efforts, the...

Vehicular Pollution

The large majority of today's cars and trucks travel by using internal combustion engines that burn gasoline or other fossil fuels. The process of burning gasoline to power cars and trucks contributes to air pollution by releasing a variety of emissions into the atmosphere. Emissions that are released directly into the atmosphere from the tailpipes of cars and trucks are the primary source of vehicular pollution. But motor vehicles also pollute the air during the processes of manufacturing,...

Visual Pollution

Visual pollution is an aesthetic issue, referring to the impacts of pollution that impair one's ability to enjoy a vista or view. The term is used broadly to cover visibility, limits on the ability to view distant objects, as well as the more subjective issue of visual clutter, structures that intrude upon otherwise pretty scenes, as well as graffiti and other visual defacement. Visibility is a measure of how far and how well people can see into the distance. Haze obscures visibility. It is...

VOCs Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are small organic molecules that take part in photochemical reactions in the atmosphere, resulting in smog. They have low boiling points and vaporize easily. When present in the atmosphere, VOCs, such as benzene and ethylbenzene, are not removed by passing the air through a filter. The atmosphere also contains nonvolatile organic compounds and semivolatile species such as anthracene and nicotine. The latter separate partly on a filter and partly in the gas...

Warren County North Carolina

In 1982 residents of the predominantly African-American Warren County, North Carolina, began to protest the construction of a hazardous waste landfill near Warrenton in which the state planned to bury 400,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The contamination occurred when a disposal contractor dripped approximately 12,850 gallons of PCB-tainted fluids along 210 miles of roads in fourteen counties in North Carolina in 1978. Soon after the spill was...

Waste Reduction

Waste reduction, also known as source reduction, is the practice of using less material and energy to minimize waste generation and preserve natural resources. Waste reduction is broader in scope than recycling and incorporates ways to prevent materials from ending up as waste before they reach the recycling stage. Waste reduction includes reusing products such as plastic and glass containers, purchasing more durable products, and using reusable products, such as dishrags instead of paper...

What Actions Have Been Taken to Reduce the Amount of Ozone at Ground Level

Ozone pollution at the earth's surface is formed within the atmosphere by the interaction of sunlight with chemical precursor compounds (or starting ingredients) the nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In the United States, the efforts of the Environmental Protection combustion burning, or rapid oxidation, accompanied by release of energy in the form of heat and light Agency (EPA) to reduce ozone pollution are therefore focused on reducing the emissions of the precursor...

Bioterrorism

The environment can also be a conduit for terrorism. Biological elements such as disease-causing bacteria and viruses can become potent weapons when taken out of their natural environment. Shortly after the attack on the WTC, several pieces of mail in and around Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York City tested positive for the biocontaminant anthrax. Anthrax is a bacterium that, in its most potent inhaled form, has a fatality rate of over 90 percent. Over ten thousand people may have been...

Laws And Regulations

Air Pollution Control Act Clean Air Act Clean Water Act Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Disasters Environmental Mining Accidents Disasters Natural Emergency Planning and Community Right-to- Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Laws and Regulations, International Laws and Regulations, United States Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System...

Cleaner Fuels

The gasoline and diesel fuel in use today contains significant amounts of sulfur and other compounds that make it harder for existing control technology to keep vehicles clean. Removing the sulfur from the fuel and cutting down on the amount of light hydrocarbons helps pollution-control technology to work better and cuts down on evaporative and refueling emissions. Further large-scale reductions of other tailpipe pollution and CO2 can be accomplished with a shift away from conventional fuels....

Mold Pollution

Microorganism bacteria, archaea, and many protists single-celled organisms too small to see with the naked eye substrate surface on which an organism, i.e. mold, grows sick building syndrome shared health and or comfort effects apparently related to occupation of a particular building Mold pollution is the growth of molds in a building resulting in damage to or the destruction of the structure itself (or its contents) and adverse health effects on the building's occupants. It is estimated that...

Combustion Air Stripping and Adsoprtion

Combustion is the process of burning, a chemical reaction. It involves combining combustible material with oxygen under conditions that produce light and heat in addition to by-products. The combustion of wastes, such as municipal solid waste, sludge, or hazardous waste, results in gaseous emissions and a solid ash residue. It significantly reduces the volume and mass of waste requiring disposal, by shifting some wastes to gaseous form. Although carbon dioxide has been implicated in global...

Diagram Of A Properly Closed Landfill

Landfill Diagram

Cutaway view of a modern landfill designed to prevent the two main hazards of the dump explosions or fires caused by methane gas, and leakage of rainwater mixed with dangerous chemicals or leachate . Cutaway view of a modern landfill designed to prevent the two main hazards of the dump explosions or fires caused by methane gas, and leakage of rainwater mixed with dangerous chemicals or leachate . about the benefits of recovering and burning methane as an energy source. By 2002 the program had...

Water Pollution

Water covers more than 70 percent of Earth's surface. It is essential to all life. Organisms can survive longer without food than without water. It is one of our most valuable resources. Pollute means to make impure or unclean. In that sense, water pollution has always occurred as a natural phenomenon. Forest fires, storms, volcanoes, or a heavy leaf fall can contaminate a water body. However, these organic materials are broken down or biodegraded naturally. Pollution as we know it began when...

Major US Pollution Control Statutes

One of the first modern environmental protection laws enacted in the United States was the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 NEPA , which requires the government to consider the impact of its actions or policies on the environment. NEPA remains one of the most commonly used environmental laws in the nation. In addition to NEPA, there are numerous pollution-control statutes that apply to such specific environmental media as air and water. The best known of these laws are the Clean Air...

Examples of Mining Pollution and Reclamation

The Bunker Hill Mine complex is located in northwest Idaho in the Coeur d'Alene River Valley, and has a legacy of nearly a hundred years of mining-related contamination since 1889. Operations ceased in 1982, and the EPA declared much of the area a Superfund site in 1983. The complex produced lead, zinc, cadmium, silver, and gold, as well as arsenic and other minerals and materials. Much of the mining pollution was caused by the dispersal of mining wastes containing such contaminants as arsenic,...

The Water Treatment Process

Natural Treatment Plant System

Whether in the natural environment or a constructed water-treatment plant, there are several key processes that occur during water treatment dilution, coagulation and flocculation, settling, filtration, disinfection, and other chemical treatments. The quality of the source water and the effectiveness of source-water protection and management have a direct bearing on the complexity of the treatment that is required. Source-water protection is the first step in water treatment, with the natural...

Reduction and Regulation of Marine Pollution

There is much that individuals can do to prevent marine pollution avoid putting toxic substances into drains, avoid dropping litter, minimize the use of pesticides and fertilizers, reduce automobile emissions, and pressure your local government for sewage treatment in the community if it does not yet exist. Larger-scale problems require legislation and enforcement, ranging from the local laws of coastal states in the United States, through national laws such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air...

Nuclear Terrorism

Biocontamination is not the only threat to safety in the United States. One of the most frightening terror scenarios that government officials must consider is the possibility of a nuclear device, or dirty bomb, being detonated in a U.S. city. Quite separate from the direct human health consequences, the environmental effects of even a low-yield five kiloton nuclear weapon are severe The shock wave will disperse radioactive fallout over a wide area, poisoning wildlife and groundwater. The heat...

Mass Market P Technologies

Mass-market P2 technologies are those that can be used in many different industries or even in consumer households. These technologies create new markets because their production creates jobs and spin-offs, and they generate ready demand from producers who want to reduce input costs. Each has the following criteria 1. The technology is widely applicable across a variety of industry types and sizes. 2. The technology does not require very large capital expenditures. 3. The technology's...

Petroleum Economy

Petroleum, like all fossil fuels, primarily consists of a complex mixture of molecules called hydrocarbons molecules containing both hydrogen and carbon . When it comes out of the ground, it is known as crude oil, and it may have various gases, solids, and trace minerals mixed in with it. Through refinement processes, a variety of consumer products can be made from petroleum. Most of these are fuels gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, kerosene, and propane are common examples. It is also used to...

Future Legislative Action

As stated earlier, the single-medium approach to environmental protection is an impediment to progress. Many attempts have been made to change laws or regulations on the federal, state, and local levels to leverage more opportunities for prevention and cleaner production without dismantling the current regulatory framework. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA has overseen several initiatives designed to allow more flexibility within the current system, in the hope of attaining more...

Reduced Use and Recycling

There is growing concern about the excess use of plastics, particularly in packaging. This has been done, in part, to avoid the theft of small objects. The use of plastics can be reduced through a better choice of container sizes and through the distribution of liquid products in more concentrated form. A concern is the proper disposal of waste plastics. Litter results from careless disposal, and decomposition rates in landfills can be extremely long. Consumers should be persuaded or required...

Technologies Designed to Prevent Pollution

Some technologies are designed specifically for protecting the environment while also improving business performance. For example, recycling technologies can help recover valuable materials from wastes, cutting manufacturing costs, while also preventing pollution. Examples include gene-engineered plants that do not need protection using chemical insecticides and fuel cells for generating electricity. However, it is surprisingly challenging to identify such technologies. Most technologies that...

Regulations Role of the Agency in US Pollution Control

Federal agencies in the United States are established through enabling legislation known as organic acts. These acts create and empower agencies, as well as define and limit their roles. Congress delegates a certain amount of authority to each agency, allowing its officials to develop regulations to ensure that the agency's duties will be achieved. Congress grants this authority to agencies because the legislature cannot always foresee all the elements that will be Clean Air Act 1970 42 USC...

The Cold War Legacy

Military activities and preparations for war can have enormous environmental impacts even without a shot being fired. The development of the atomic bomb during the early 1940s, referred to as the Manhattan Project, not only had devastating consequences in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but also produced a long-lasting legacy of deadly radioactive pollution in the United States. In 1939 Nobel Prize physicist Niels Bohr warned that although it was possible for the United States to build an atom bomb, it...