May 10, 2022

AP analysis finds growing number of poor, high-hazard dams

An Associated Press analysis tallied more than 2,200 high-hazard dams in poor or unsatisfactory condition across the U.S. — up substantially from a similar AP review conducted three years ago. The actual number is likely even higher, although it's unclear because some states don't track such data and many federal agencies refuse to release details about their dams' conditions.

The nation's dams are on average over a half-century old and often present more of a hazard than envisioned when designed because homes, businesses or highways have cropped up below them. Meanwhile, a warming atmosphere can bring stronger storms with heavier rainfall that could overwhelm aging dams.

"All of a sudden, you've got older dams with a lower design criteria that now can potentially cause loss of life if they fail," said Del Shannon, an engineer who is president of the U.S. Society on Dams.

"The number of deficient, high-hazard dams is increasing," he said, adding that without investment in upgrades, that number will continue to rise.

Decades of deferred maintenance has worsened the problem. But a changing climate and extreme floods — such as the one that caused the failure of two Michigan dams and the evacuation of 10,000 people in 2020 — have brought a renewed focus to an often overlooked aspect of America's critical infrastructure.

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed last year by President Joe Biden will pump about $3 billion into dam-related projects, including hundreds of millions for state dam safety programs and repairs.


Source: AP

May 9, 2022

EPA takes three new actions to address PFAS

The agency is developing a new broad PFAS testing method, a PFAS development for the NPDES program, and ambient water quality criteria to protect aquatic life from PFA.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced three actions to protect communities and the environment from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in waters.

"EPA is using all available tools to address PFAS contamination as part of a broader, whole-of-government effort to protect communities across the country from these chemicals," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. "Today's actions help protect the health of all Americans as we deliver on our commitment to research, restrict, and remediate PFAS."

A New Testing Method
EPA is publishing a new method that can broadly screen for the presence of PFAS in water at the part per billion level. EPA's new Draft Method 1621, the Screening Method for the Determination of Adsorbable Organic Fluorine (AOF) in Aqueous Matrices by Combustion Ion Chromatography (CIC), provides an aggregate measurement of chemical substances that contain carbon-fluorine bonds. PFAS are a common source of organofluorines in wastewater.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program interfaces with many pathways by which PFAS travel and are released into the environment and ultimately impact people and water quality. EPA is seeking to proactively use existing NPDES authorities to reduce discharges of PFAS at the source and obtain more comprehensive information through monitoring on sources of PFAS.

EPA is also developing national recommended ambient water quality criteria for PFAS to protect aquatic life. The agency is proposing the first Clean Water Act aquatic life criteria for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)—two of the most well-studied chemicals in this group. The criteria are intended to protect aquatic life in the United States from short-term and long-term toxic effects of PFOA and PFOS.

Please read full from:
https://www.waterworld.com/drinking-water/potable-water-quality/press-release/14275856/epa-takes-three-new-actions-to-address-pfas

Apr 27, 2022

WDNR - Stop Food Waste Day April 27

MADISON, Wis. – Join the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for Stop Food Waste Day on April 27 by helping keep food waste out of Wisconsin landfills.

Stop Food Waste Day is an international day of action in the fight against food waste. Food waste is edible food thrown away before it is eaten or because it is spoiled, as well as scraps such as banana peels and eggshells.

According to the DNR's 2020-2021 Statewide Waste Characterization Study, food waste make up 20% of trash headed to our landfills, an amount that has more than doubled since the last study in 2009. Most of this food waste, 14.5%, could have been consumed.

Approximately 854,000 tons of food waste and scraps were sent to the state's landfills in 2020 – that's 294 pounds per Wisconsinite. Households contribute heavily to this amount, with food waste making up 30% of waste from residential sources.

"Wisconsin is one of several states where food waste dominates the waste stream, so momentum is building to address the issue," says Brad Wolbert, DNR Waste and Materials Management Program Director. "Residents have a major opportunity to positively impact the environment while reducing resources and costs associated with food production, purchasing and disposal."

Food waste in landfills doesn't just take up valuable space. When organic waste breaks down in landfills, it emits significant amounts of methane, one of the main contributors to global warming. Landfills are required to collect and treat the gas, but it can be several years before a landfill cell is covered and those systems are in place. Meanwhile, the food waste continues to break down.

The DNR estimates that using or composting the amount of food waste sent to state landfills in 2020 would equal the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from taking nearly 600,000 passenger vehicles off the road for a year.

"The DNR's Blueprint for Climate Action has set the goal of reducing food waste disposed of in Wisconsin landfills by half by 2030," Wolbert said. "In addition to engaging residents, we look forward to building partnerships with communities, organizations and businesses."

Make A Difference – Tips To Fight Food Waste

We all can do a few easy things every day to reduce our food waste and its burden on our landfills.

  • Plan ahead. Before heading to the grocery store, take stock of what you have on hand, plan a few meals, make a list and stick to it. Don't just wing it.
  • Store leftovers safely. Handling your leftovers properly will help you avoid throwing them away. Cool them in shallow containers in the fridge to keep bacteria at bay, and if you're freezing something, wrap it securely to prevent freezer burn and label it so you can identify it later.
  • Make smart food substitutions. Avoid buying ingredients you'll only use once in small amounts, and instead swap in substitutes. Use maple syrup instead of honey, cottage cheese instead of ricotta and make your own buttermilk by adding vinegar or lemon juice to milk.
  • Know the fridge zones. Bust out your fridge's user guide to learn about its zones or pay close attention to food when you store it in different areas of your fridge. Learn what areas work best for what types of food.
  • Rescue foods nearing the end. Bananas getting brown? Peel and freeze them in sections, then use them for smoothies or banana bread. Sad-looking spinach? Sauté it for a few minutes, then add it to pizza, lasagna or pasta. Wilty kale? Stick it in a glass of water in the fridge to perk it up.
  • Understand date labels. Except for infant formula, expiration dates are provided by the company for best quality. Food past a "best by" or "use by" date is not automatically unsafe.

For more resources, visit the DNR's webpage on reducing residential food waste at home. When food waste is unavoidable, composting is an alternative to throwing food waste into the trash. For more information, check out the DNR's Composting in Wisconsin webpage.

Apr 22, 2022

Guide to Marine Plastic Pollution - EarthDay addition

(OBERK) - Plastic can be found in many of the items that people use on a daily basis. Despite the benefits that make it popular, the overuse of plastic is taking a heavy toll on the environment, particularly the ocean. For many years, throwing away a plastic bottle was done with little thought, and even today, many people routinely toss away plastic goods such as straws, utensils, or bags without considering what happens to them. Many of these items make their way into rivers and eventually the ocean, where they leach chemicals into the water that harm both human and animal health. For instance, fish are exposed to these toxins and ingest them, and then people who eat the fish are also exposed to these chemicals. Over time, this can cause problems such as birth defects or cancer. Plastics such as bottles, netting and straps, soda rings, and pellets further threaten wildlife in a number of ways. Seabirds, for example, often consume plastic, which they may inadvertently feed to their young, harming or killing them in the process. And sea turtles and other marine life frequently become trapped and tangled in plastic debris, which can cause suffocation, starvation, lacerations, and death.

Plastic debris in the ocean can accumulate in gyres or circulating ocean currents. This debris attracts other marine pollutants and continues to grow as more plastics make their way into the gyre, creating large marine trash vortexes. The largest of these is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is located in the North Pacific Ocean and is currently estimated at three times the size of France. Trash vortexes such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch continues to grow in size because most types of plastic are non-biodegradable: When a plastic bottle is tossed into the water, it cannot be transformed over time into a harmless state by natural means. Instead, it may break into smaller pieces of plastic called microplastics that remain a part of the vortex. Fortunately, the more people understand plastic ocean pollution, the more chances there are that action will be taken to reduce it.

The Problem of Marine Plastic Pollution

Learn all about marine plastic pollution and the problems that it creates by visiting this page on the Clean Water Action website.

Ocean Plastic Pollution: Our Ocean's Biggest Threat

Click this link to read about the deadly impact of plastic pollution on marine animals.

22 Facts About Plastic Pollution

There's a lot to learn about plastic pollution, and this page on the EcoWatch website can help educate people about 22 related facts.

Plastic Oceans: How You Can Help

Everyone can do their part in reducing plastic pollution, and this infographic provides seven simple actions that can help.

Facts and Figures on Marine Pollution

UNESCO provides a list of marine pollution facts and figures here.

Plastic Pollution, Our Oceans, Our Future

In this video, 17 students from Hawaii study the impact of plastic pollution in the ocean, with an emphasis on the state's high use of Styrofoam.

Marine Pollution

The U.S. Department of State website features an article that discusses the challenges associated with marine pollution, including plastics, and what the necessary steps forward are.

Plastic Pollution and its Solution

People who click this link will learn about marine debris, how it ends up in gyres, and what the potential solutions are.

Ocean Plastic Pollution

The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers this page on the plastic pollution problem in oceans to help explain its cycle, what you can do, and what they are doing to reduce and prevent it.

Ocean Plastic a Planetary Crisis

Click on this link to the BBC website to learn about ocean plastic and why the UN considers it a crisis for the entire planet.

Plastics in Our Oceans

It's hard to imagine how plastic from one's home ends up in the ocean, but this article helps to explain not only how it gets there but also how it threatens marine life and what's being done about it.

Plastics in the Ocean Affecting Human Health

Plastics in the ocean is the topic of discussion on this page, which includes information on plastic islands, sources of plastic toxins, and plastics impacting human and animal health.

Plastic Pollution Iis Killing Coral Reefs, Four-Year Study Shows

Read this NPR article about a four-year study on how the millions of tons of plastic that end up in the ocean on an annual basis are harming coral reefs.

An Ocean of Plastic

Parents and kids who visit this page can learn about plastic polluting the ocean and how to turn the tide and keep the ocean cleaner.

Health of Seabirds Threatened as 90 Percent Swallow Plastic

Learn how plastic threatens seabirds by reading this article on the Imperial College London website.

Ten Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution

Click this link to the National Resource Defense Council website to read the ten ways that it suggests people can help to reduce plastic pollution.

Popularity of Plastic Takes Toll on Oceans, Puts Human Health at Risk

This Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health resource cites statistics regarding plastic and discusses how its use is negatively impacting the oceans and human health.

Plastic Pollution

People who visit this website can read how plastics are filling the ocean with waste and the deadly consequences it has on both humans and animals.

Trash-Free Seas: Plastics in the Ocean

On this page, site visitors will find information on the problem with plastic, the waste it produces, and how it affects the ocean.

An Ocean of Plastic

Click this link to the University of California website to read about plastic waste, including how much of it makes it into the ocean and the impact it has on more than 600 species of marine life.

Trash Talk: What Is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Visit this page on the NOAA website to watch a video explaining the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Now Three Times the Size of France

CNN presents a report about birds eating plastic and how the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing faster than expected.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Anyone interested in learning about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can click this link to read a National Geographic article and look through the slide show.

Plastic Within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Increasing Exponentially, Scientists Find

Learn more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and its growth.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Ballooning

According to this article, more than 87,000 tons of plastic is clogging the Pacific Ocean, representing a major threat to marine life and birds.


Article source: https://www.oberk.com/guide-to-marine-plastic-pollution

Via: Mikayla Saunderson greenislove.org

Earth Day Fun and Facts

(GreenIsLove) - National Earth Day is April 22nd. The day was established to celebrate our shared green spaces across the nation and to spread the message of environmental awareness through green community events and initiatives. Earth Day was championed in 1970 by then Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson. During a time when corporate business and industrial manufacturing were leaving behind clouds of smog and pollution, Nelson pioneered the green cause and called for a national day of recognition to be set aside, during which Americans were reminded of the importance of conservation and all that is involved in being a green citizen.

The first Earth Day saw the participation of 20 million Americans nationwide! Community groups organized events, rallies, and tended to local green spaces, and invited people of all ages to help in any way they could. These people shared in a simple mission, leaving their mark by reducing their mark on the planet. Throughout the country, communities host a variety of eco-friendly activities and events and to encourage the celebration of Earth Day and to facilitate opportunities for all to contribute to the care and conservation of their shared green spaces. Popular Earth Day activities include roadside cleanups, playground and local park maintenance, recyclable or bottle drives, and many other service-driven activities. Earth Day is also commonly a focus of class lessons and activities, and many instructors across different ages have curated Earth Day lessons for students to enjoy. Eco-driven lesson plans aren't only applicable only to Earth science classes; it can be the focus of many different subjects.

Celebrating Earth Day in the home is a great idea, too. Getting the family together in going green can facilitate positive family time and empowers the family to do their part. Working as a team can show children the importance of going green and allows them to practice concepts they've learned in school. Have them teach older family members what it means to "go green"; you will be surprised at what they have to share. Eco-craft projects that use materials around the home: plastic jugs, cans and bottles, and paper are great to get the youngest in the family involved, too. However you choose to celebrate Earth Day, make it a priority to solidify your commitment to eco-friendly living and fostering environmental awareness.

Learn More:

 

Source: https://greenislove.org/earth-day-fun-and-facts/

Apr 18, 2022

Alcohol Caused More Deaths than COVID in 2020

A new federal study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found a 25.5 percent increase in alcohol-related deaths in 2020, compared with 2019 – whereas the increase from 1999 to 2019 had been just 3.6 percent. This startling data showed that more adults under age 65 died from alcohol-related factors (74,408) than died from COVID-19 (74,075) in 2020. Overall, just under 100,000 Americans (99,017) died from alcohol-related factors in 2020 – representing 3 percent of all deaths that year.

New Article: The Unbearable Heaviness of Climate Coloniality

This article that was recently published may be of interest, with links to full text below the abstract:

Sultana, Farhana (2022). "The Unbearable Heaviness of Climate Coloniality" Political Geography https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2022.102638

Abstract:
The extremely uneven and inequitable impacts of climate change mean that differently-located people experience, respond to, and cope with the climate crisis and related vulnerabilities in radically different ways. The coloniality of climate seeps through everyday life across space and time, weighing down and curtailing opportunities and possibilities through global racial capitalism, colonial dispossessions, and climate debts. Decolonizing climate needs to address the complexities of colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, international development, and geopolitics that contribute to the reproduction of ongoing colonialities through existing global governance structures, discursive framings, imagined solutions, and interventions. This requires addressing both epistemic violences and material outcomes. By weaving through such mediations, I offer an understanding of climate coloniality that is theorized and grounded in lived experiences.

PDF here:

Apr 11, 2022

A new DNR survey shows more households are recycling or reusing unwanted electronics instead of storing them.

Wisconsin DNR – Of the estimated 25.2 million devices in Wisconsin households, 7.6 million devices were not in use –about 17% of TVs, 26% of computers and 44% of cellphones. This was an 18% decrease from the estimated 9.3 million unused devices in the DNR's 2018 survey. Among households that had stopped using a device during the previous year, more chose to recycle or reuse, rather than store, the devices compared with 2018.

"We were really pleased to see that fewer households were storing unwanted electronics," said Sarah Murray, DNR E-Cycle Wisconsin Coordinator. "But a lot of us still have old cellphones, computers and TVs in drawers, closets and basements. Now is a good time to look for options, since more collection events are hosted in the spring and summer. And you can throw in all those tangled cords, cables and accessories – they're also recyclable."

Please read more from Wisconsin DNR

Germany Announces New Plan to ‘Turbocharge’ Transition to Renewable Energy

ECO-Watch: The goal of the new plan is for Germany to get at least 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and achieve almost 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, DW reported.

The new energy plan is a 600-page document known as the "Easter Package," DW reported. Habeck said it was "the biggest comprehensive energy package in two decades" and would "turbocharge" the transition to renewable energy. 

The plan is the work of Germany's coalition government, which includes the Free Liberals, Social Democrats and Greens, according to Reuters. It was approved by the German cabinet. It increases Germany's previous renewable energy target from 65 percent by 2030. Currently, the country gets around 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Meeting the 100 percent 2035 goal will require the country to more than double its current rate in 13 years, AP News reported. 

The new plan also sets specific targets for different types of renewable energy, according to DW. These include:

  1. Increasing land-based wind power by 10 gigawatts a year, to reach 115 gigawatts by 2030. 
  2. Increasing solar by 22 gigawatts a year, to reach 215 gigawatts by 2030.
  3. Reaching 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, 40 by 2035 and at least 70 by 2045. 

Unsafe levels of URANIUM have been detected in two-thirds of public drinking water in the US with those in the Midwest and South most at-risk

Researchers at Columbia University found that two-thirds of US drinking water systems have elevated levels of uranium
  • Around 90% of Americans use community drinking water systems, making this a wide-reaching problem in the U.S.
  • Hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, and lung cancer have all been tied to uranium exposure
  • Elevated levels of arsenic, barium, chromium, selenium were found in many drinking water systems around the country as well
  • Researchers, who published their findings at the start of the month in The Lancet Planetary Healthy, gathered data from 2000-2011 for the study, reviewing recorded metal levels from nearly 38,000 sites.

Levels of antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, mercury, selenium, thallium, and uranium were studied.

They found elevated levels of uranium across the country, with researchers nothing that semi-urban and Hispanic communities were most at risk of being exposed to the contaminated water.

In total, nearly two-thirds of sites tested had some sort of uranium contamination.

Apr 7, 2022

DNR Awards $90,000 Urban Forestry Grants To Five Communities

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that it has recently awarded a total of $90,000 to five Wisconsin communities to support urban forestry projects. These funds were made available through a United States Forest Service grant. 

Like electricity and water, an urban tree canopy is an important part of a community's infrastructure. Well-managed urban forests provide services such as energy conservation, economic vitality, improved air quality, reduced stormwater runoff, carbon sequestration and enhanced beautification.

The Village of Grafton received $25,000, the City of Greenfield received $17,238.62, the City of Monroe received $7,917.67, the Ozaukee County Planning & Parks Department received $14,843.71 and the City of West Bend received $25,000. The communities that received these must match them dollar-for-dollar. More information on the urban forestry projects is available on the DNR website.

The DNR Urban Forestry Grant program funds projects that support state and national goals of increasing the number of trees in urban forests and their benefits. An urban forest encompasses trees on both public and private property. This is the second round of grants awarded in 2022 so far.

Priorities for the 2022 grant cycle included projects that:

  • Increase the ability of local municipal partners to expand their urban forestry program
  • Increase the ability of all local partners to provide ongoing urban forestry funding, services and markets
  • Benefit multiple communities and put existing inventories of urban trees to use

More information about the DNR Urban Forestry Grant program is available on the urban forestry grants webpage.

Apr 5, 2022

Charlotte company stockpiling drug in Europe to treat radiation and chemical exposure

Author: Curtis Carden  — An international distributor of medicines, based in Charlotte, is upping its inventory of a drug in Europe that helps treat radiation and chemical exposure.

Tanner Pharma Group announced it is increasing the inventory of Leukine with the medication's owner, Partner Therapeutics, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the potential for incidents that could require a speedy deployment of the drug to treat people.

RELATED: Russia faces growing outrage amid new evidence of atrocities

"In response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Tanner is supporting preparedness and response in Europe by increasing the local inventory of Leukine that can be rapidly deployed in response to an emergency," Banks Bourne, CEO and Founder of Tanner Pharma, said in a statement provided March 24. "The unique efficacy of Leukine, which has been shown to improve survival when given within 96 hours after radiation exposure and without whole blood transfusions, makes it a highly effective countermeasure with important logistical advantages in the event of a nuclear detonation. Positioning more supply in Europe ensures that more Leukine is available quickly, if needed."

Leukine was approved by the FDA in 2018 as a way to treat acute radiation syndrome and has been held for use in the United States since 2013.

According to the FDA report, "Leukine was shown to increase survival when administered up to 48 hours after total body irradiation exposure at doses expected to be fatal to 50% of those exposed subjects under conditions of minimal supportive care."

A press release provided by the company also mentioned that the drug was used to help treat some victims of the nuclear incident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986.

Apr 4, 2022

WHO says 99% of world's population breathes poor-quality air

Independent  - The U.N. health agency says nearly everybody in the world breathes air that doesn't meet its standards for air quality
WHO said 99% of the global population breathes air that exceeds its air-quality limits and is often rife with particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs, enter the veins and arteries, and cause disease. Air quality is poorest in WHO's Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia regions, followed by Africa, it said.

"After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have 7 million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution," said Dr. Maria Neira, head of WHO's department of environment, climate change and health. "Yet too many investments are still being sunk into a polluted environment rather than in clean, healthy air."

The database, which has traditionally considered two types of particulate matter known as PM2.5 and PM10, for the first time has included ground measurements of nitrogen dioxide. The last version of the database was issued in 2018.

"Particulate matter, especially PM2.5, is capable of penetrating deep into the lungs and entering the bloodstream, causing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (stroke) and respiratory impacts," WHO said. "There is emerging evidence that particulate matter impacts other organs and causes other diseases as well."

Please read full from Independent

50% of U.S. Lakes and Rivers Are Too Polluted for Swimming, Fishing, Drinking

EcoWatch - Fifty years ago, the U.S. passed the Clean Water Act with the goal of ensuring  "fishable, swimmable" water across the U.S. by 1983. 

Now, a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) finds the country has fallen far short of that goal. In fact, about half of the nation's lakes and rivers are too polluted for swimming, fishing or drinking. 

"The Clean Water Act should be celebrated on its 50th birthday for making America's waterways significantly cleaner," EIP Executive Director Eric Schaeffer said in a press release announcing the report.  "However, we need more funding, stronger enforcement, and better control of farm runoff to clean up waters that are still polluted after half a century. Let's give EPA and states the tools they need to finish the job – we owe that much to our children and to future generations."

The report was based on reports that states are required to submit under the Clean Water Act on the pollution levels of their rivers, streams, lakes and estuaries. According to the most recent reports, more than half of the lakes and rivers are considered "impaired," meaning that they fall short of standards for fishing, swimming, aquatic life and drinking. 

Specifically, around 51 percent of rivers and streams and 55 percent of lake acres are considered impaired, The Hill reported. Further, 26 percent of estuary miles are also impaired. 

The Clean Water Act was a landmark legislative achievement when it was passed in 1972. It promised to end the discharge of all pollutants into navigable waters by 1985, according to the press release. However, it has fallen short of that goal for several reasons, according to the report. 

  1. The act has strong controls for pollution pumped directly into waterways from factories or sewage plants but not for indirect pollution such as agricultural runoff from factory farms.
  2. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dragged its feet in updating industry-specific technology-based limits for water pollution control systems. By 2022, two-thirds of these industry-specific limits had not been updated in more than 30 years.
  3. Budget cuts have hampered the ability of the EPA and state agencies to enforce the law.
  4. Permit requirements are poorly enforced.
  5. Total Maximum Daily Loads, a kind of pollution control plan, are insufficient. 
  6. There are problems effectively managing watersheds that cover two or more states. 

The report also broke down pollution by state. Indiana has the most miles of rivers and streams too impaired for swimming and recreation.

"Indiana's waters have benefited from the Clean Water Act, but unfortunately, they also illustrate some of the gaps in the law," Dr. Indra Frank, Environmental Health & Water Policy Director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, said in the press release. "We have seen persistent, unresolved impairments, especially for E coli bacteria in our rivers and streams, in part from industrial agricultural runoff.  And we have also seen examples of Clean Water Act permits used to send water contaminated with coal-ash into our rivers. We need to halt pollution like this."

Florida, meanwhile, had the most lake acres impaired for swimming and aquatic life. 

"Florida's toxic-algae crisis is the direct result of lax enforcement of phosphorus and nitrogen pollution limits in cleanup plans required by the Clean Water Act," Friends of the Everglades Executive  Director Eve Samples said in the press release. "Because these limits rely on voluntary 'best management practices' and a presumption of compliance, agricultural polluters regularly exceed phosphorus runoff limits while dodging responsibility — leading to harmful algal blooms in Florida's lakes, rivers, estuaries, and even on saltwater beaches."


Please read full from at EcoWatch

Mar 24, 2022

COVID-19 drove the largest death spike in a century, with 535,000 more deaths in 2020 than in 2019, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau data.

By the numbers: There was a 19% jump in the number of U.S. deaths between 2019 and 2020. Before then, the largest increase of the decade had been just 3.3% in 2015.
  • The U.S. death toll remained high in 2021, according to the latest provisional data for the year, and the pandemic has disrupted what were once predictable, seasonal mortality trends.

The overall rise in mortality contributed to deaths outpacing births in more than 73% of U.S. counties between mid-2020 and mid-2021 — a record high and up from 56% the year before and 46% in 2019.

  • Half of states saw more deaths than births, a phenomenon called "natural decrease." The trend was particularly clear in the Northeast and the South, according to the Census Bureau.
  • Every county in Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island experienced a natural decrease.

Yes, but: Counterintuitively, nearly three out of five (58%) U.S. counties experienced population growth between the start of July 2020 and the end of June 2021

  • This was in large part due to people avoiding more crowded, urban areas and instead staying in or heading for less populous parts of the country.
  • In many counties, those decisions helped offset the broader demographic trends that point toward population decline, such as the spike in deaths, slowing birth rates and declining international immigration to the U.S.

Between the lines: Two-thirds of U.S. counties experienced positive net domestic migration between mid-2020 and mid-2021 — meaning they saw more people staying or moving in than leaving.

  • That percentage was up from just 46% the year before.
Source:
U.S. Census Bureau data via AXIOS

Mar 21, 2022

​Federal Probe Of Contaminated Baby Food, study finding that 95% of baby food products tested contained lead, arsenic, mercury or cadmium.

Huffington Post - The Senate's top Democrat is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to examine a study that found dozens of baby food products contaminated with lead and other metals.

The study found 95% of the food tested contained lead, arsenic, mercury or cadmium. It found one in four baby foods that were tested contained all four metals.

The New York senator says consumers "rightfully expect those foods to be undeniably safe, appropriately regulated and nutritiously sustaining."

He says federal regulators should examine the study and release a public statement of their findings.

Please read full from source:

Air pollution may be linked to heightened autoimmune disease risk, scientists say

Exposure to traffic and industrial pollutants associated with 40% higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and 20% higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease

Independent: Researchers in Italy warned the most common forms of environmental air pollution, such as vehicle exhaust fumes and industrial emissions can trigger adaptive immunity, a process in which the body reacts to a specific disease-causing entity, but in cases where this adaptive response "misfires", it can prompt systemic inflammation, tissue damage, and ultimately autoimmune disease.

The number of people suffering from these conditions, which also include connective tissue diseases such as osteoarthritis, have steadily increased over the past decade.

Please read full from source:

Mar 8, 2022

​Half of US adults exposed to harmful lead levels as kids

"The more tragic part is that we keep making the same ... mistakes again," Lanphear said. "First it was lead, then it was air pollution. ... Now it's PFAS chemicals and phthalates (chemicals used to make plastics more durable). And it keeps going on and on.

"And we can't stop long enough to ask ourselves should we be regulating chemicals differently," he said.


From Article:
Over 170 million U.S.-born people who were adults in 2015 were exposed to harmful levels of lead as children, a new study estimates.

Researchers used blood-lead level, census and leaded gasoline consumption data to examine how widespread early childhood lead exposure was in the country between 1940 and 2015.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, they estimated that half the U.S. adult population in 2015 had been exposed to lead levels surpassing five micrograms per deciliter — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention threshold for harmful lead exposure at the time.

The scientists from Florida State University and Duke University also found that 90% of children born in the U.S. between 1950 and 1981 had blood-lead levels higher than the CDC threshold. And the researchers found significant impact on cognitive development: on average, early childhood exposure to lead resulted in a 2.6-point drop in IQ.

The researchers only examined lead exposure caused by leaded gasoline, the dominant form of exposure from the 1940s to the late 1980s, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Leaded gasoline for on-road vehicles was phased out starting in the 1970s, then finally banned in 1996.

Read full at:
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/associated-press-duke-university-centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention-vancouver-pfas-b2030558.html

DOE Projects Zero Emissions Medium- and Heavy-Duty Electric Trucks Will Be Cheaper than Diesel-Powered Trucks by 2035

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a study showing that by 2030, nearly half of medium- and heavy-duty trucks will be cheaper to buy, operate, and maintain as zero emissions vehicles than traditional diesel-powered combustion engine vehicles. Published by the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the study finds that continued improvements with zero emission vehicle and fuel technologies will enable clean trucks to become cheaper and more readily available over the next decade. Increased use of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) within the trucking industry will support the decarbonization of America's transportation sector and advance President Biden's goals to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, address the climate crisis, and bolster domestic manufacturing.  

"DOE is showing a clear pathway for trucking companies to make the switch from diesel to electric that will help them cut costs and pollution for their customers, while combatting climate change," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. "The Biden Administration's comprehensive approach is working to make clean transportation a reality—by reducing exposure to volatile fuel prices, investing in American manufacturing and creating a national charging network to support more electric vehicles on the road."

Read more
https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-projects-zero-emissions-medium-and-heavy-duty-electric-trucks-will-be-cheaper-diesel

Mar 3, 2022

What's a burn pit? And why it matters

Newsweek - President Joe Biden used his first State of the Union address on Tuesday to highlight the risks of burn pits and the effect they have had on the health of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan...Materials burned in these pits included chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metal/aluminum cans, munitions, and other unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics and Styrofoam, rubber, wood, and discarded food.

Some of the waste burned in these pits could give rise to toxic smoke-containing substances with potential to cause long and short-term health effects. The VA says that the burning of waste in such pits gives rise to more hazards than the burning of waste in controlled conditions such as commercial incinerators.

Short terms effects of exposure to burn pit smoke include nose, skin, and eye irritation, coughing and soreness in the throat, and breathing difficulties...

The VA uses the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which it launched in 2014, to track and monitor vets exposed to burn pits during service. According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) it is estimated that 3.5 million service members and veterans were exposed to burn pits.

Please read full at:

Feb 27, 2022

Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Acts on Proposed PFAS Standards

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) acted on three rule proposals that would establish groundwater, drinking water and surface water quality standards for PFOA and PFOS, two long-chain per- or poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). As discussed in greater detail below, the Board voted to advance a rule establishing surface water quality criteria for PFOA and PFOS, modified the proposed drinking water quality standards for PFOA and PFOS (changing the proposed standard from 20 ppt to 70 ppt combined PFOA and PFOS), and deadlocked on NR 140 groundwater standards.

First, on a tie vote (3-3, with one board member abstaining) the NRB declined to advance the "Cycle 10" NR 140 groundwater standards. This rule proposed establishing 25 new or revised groundwater quality standards, including an enforcement standard (ES) for combined PFOA and PFOS of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) and a preventive action limit (PAL) of 2 ppt. In addition to PFOA and PFOS, the rule included new standards for several agricultural chemicals and their breakdown products, including a groundwater standard for glyphosate (the active ingredient in the herbicide Round Up) as well as imidacloprid (an insecticide). The Cycle 10 package also proposed a reduction in the standard for trichloroethylene (TCE), a volatile organic compound.


Please read full from Michael Best attorney:
https://www.michaelbest.com/Newsroom/282902/Wisconsin-Natural-Resources-Board-Acts-on-Proposed-PFAS-Standards

Feb 22, 2022

Population of American Bumblebee Diminished by Nearly 90 Percent Study Says


Once one of the most commonly found bumblebees in the United States, the population of the American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) is in serious decline. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed a petition calling for the species to be listed as an endangered or threatened species and found it "may be warranted."

The population has dropped by 89 percent and is headed toward extinction, according to the petition written by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Bombus Pollinators Association of Law Students of Albany Law School.

This sharp decline, the study stated, can be due to a number of factors, including habitat loss, pesticides, disease, climate change, competition with honey bees, and loss of genetic diversity.

"In the last 20 years, the American [bumblebee] has vanished from at least eight states, mostly in the Northeast, and it is in precipitous decline in many more," the study read.

Please read full at:
https://www.newsweek.com/population-american-bumblebee-diminished-nearly-90-percent-study-says-1636758

Jan 10, 2022

Law bans televisions, new upholstered furniture and mattresses with organohalogen flame retardants

CEN - A new state law in New York bans the sale of televisions and other electronic displays that contain any intentionally added organohalogen flame retardant in their plastic enclosures or stands.

Scientific studies link exposure to organohalogen flame retardants to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive problems as well as to neurological injury in children.

New York's law is the first in the US that in effect bans organohalogens from use in the cases of electronic consumer goods, health and environmental advocacy groups say. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2024. The state follows the lead of the European Union, which banned the sale of televisions and computers with plastic cases containing organohalogen flame retardants as of March 2021.

Dozens of organohalogen flame retardants are used in a wide variety of consumer goods They are often added to plastics and are not chemically bound within a polymer structure. The substances can migrate out of products and into dust, leading people to be exposed through breathing or via their skin. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found metabolites of these compounds in the blood of most people in the US.

Please read full at American Chemical Society (ACS Publications and C&EN) :
https://cen.acs.org/safety/consumer-safety/New-York-bans-televisions-organohalogen/100/web/2022/01?PageSpeed=noscript

Dec 29, 2021

Microplastics may be linked to inflammatory bowel disease, study finds

The Guardian -  As well as the link to IBD, the scientists found that people who tended to drink bottled water or eat takeaway food had about double the concentration of microplastics in their stools. In total, 15 different types of plastic were found among the microplastics. The most common were PET, used on water bottles and food containers and polyamide, which is also found in food packaging.

The level of microplastics in the faeces was similar to those in the few previous studies conducted, once differences in methodology are taken into account. One study found infants had more microplastics than adults in their faeces. This may be due to infants chewing plastic items or use of milk bottles which are known to shed millions of microplastics.

Diet and environmental factors can trigger or exacerbate IBD, which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. "In recent years, the prevalence of IBD has sharply increased in developing countries in Asia," said the researchers from Nanjing University in China. "It is estimated that there will be 1.5 million IBD patients in China by 2025 which will cause a serious disease burden."

"This study provides evidence that we are indeed ingesting microplastics," said Evangelos Danopoulos at Hull York Medical school in the UK, who was not part of the study team. "It is an important study, as it widens the evidence base for human exposures. More data about possible confounding factors is needed to build a causal association to specific human health conditions."

Read full at:

Study linked here:

Dec 27, 2021

Ninety-Nine Percent of Americans Are Contaminated With a "Forever Chemical" That Lives in Thousands of Consumer Products

You and I are probably already poisoned by PFAS-contaminated water, along with 99% of Americans — adults and kids alike — according to recently-emerging studies. PFAS are "forever chemicals" found in all sorts of products, from firefighting foam, to stain-resistant carpets and Gore-Tex jackets, to cosmetics, to non-stick pans and fast food wrappers. Research shows that exposure to even extremely low levels of PFAS can be linked to unnaturally high rates of cancer, autoimmune diseases, liver and kidney diseases, birth defects, and more.

These forever chemicals linger in the environment, never biodegrading, and eventually build up in animals' and humans' bodies. They lodge in both the water we drink and also in the animals that many people eat. According to new information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), upwards of 100 million people in the U.S. — including children — are drinking contaminated water from approximately 120,000 poisoned sites across the country. And so far, the government still has not set any maximum contaminant levels for PFAS chemicals, meaning corporations are currently free to keep flooding our products, waterways, and bodies with these poisons.
Read more at:

Nov 22, 2021

A Power Struggle Over Cobalt Rattles the Clean Energy Revolution

The quest for Congo's cobalt, which is vital for electric vehicles and the worldwide push against climate change, is caught in an international cycle of exploitation, greed and gamesmanship.
The Times dispatched reporters across three continents drawn into the competition for cobalt, a relatively obscure raw material that along with lithium, nickel and graphite has gained exceptional value in a world trying to set fossil fuels aside.

More than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of documents show that the race for cobalt has set off a power struggle in Congo, a storehouse of these increasingly prized resources, and lured foreigners intent on dominating the next epoch in global energy.

In particular, a rivalry between China and the United States could have far-reaching implications for the shared goal of safeguarding the earth. At least here in Congo, China is so far winning that contest, with both the Obama and Trump administrations having stood idly by as a company backed by the Chinese government bought two of the country's largest cobalt deposits over the past five years.

As the significance of those purchases becomes clearer, China and the United States have entered a new "Great Game" of sorts. This past week, during a visit promoting electric vehicles at a General Motors factory in Detroit, President Biden acknowledged the United States had lost some ground. "We risked losing our edge as a nation, and China and the rest of the world are catching up," he said. "Well, we're about to turn that around in a big, big way."


Please read on at:

Nov 11, 2021

Preparing for the worst: Clinic staff practice hazmat decontamination skills

(DC Military) As medical professionals, the staff at Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River have to be prepared for the worst, including a hazmat incident.

To ensure they're ready, they recently completed First Receiver Operations Training (FROT). The 16-hour class culminated with a live decontamination exercise, during which the Sailors practiced decontaminating a patient exposed to a nerve agent.

First, they had to don personal protective equipment and set up a decontamination tent. Then they had to identify the kind of agent involved, apply triage and conduct agent-specific decontamination.

The result: "They crushed it," said Brett Cass, the clinic's Emergency Management Coordinator.

Despite being short-staffed, the Sailors were fully operational in just 6 minutes, 40 seconds, far below the 15-minute requirement, Cass said. They completed the entire exercise — under the watchful eye of a contractor from the Navy Bureau of Medicine — within 24 minutes.

"They knocked it out of the park," Cass said. "They did more with less. Even short-staffed, it was just a phenomenal team effort, and they had to go above and beyond to get it done."

The training is vital in the event of a neurological, biological, radiological, environmental or nuclear incident, Cass said. That could be anything from an anthrax attack to a gas spill.

Under the leadership of Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ryan King, the clinic's FROT team leader, 10 Sailors completed the class, which is required by the Medical Inspector General. They earned their Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The class was eye-opening, said Aviation Boatswains Mate (Fuel) 2nd Class Matthew Hardy, who works in Occupational Health at the clinic.

"Anything can happen at any time and we have to try to be prepared for that reality," he said. "That's why we train to try to save as many people as we can."

Read full by By Kathy Hieatt NHCPR Public Affairs Officer at:
https://www.dcmilitary.com/tester/tenant_profile/preparing-for-the-worst-clinic-staff-practice-hazmat-decontamination-skills/article_b8674c4b-c65f-5d2f-a326-9cb4beaa0591.html

Nov 5, 2021

Free Virtual Workshop Addressing Racism As a Public Health Issue Through the Lens of Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice

Workshop Addressing Racism As a Public Health Issue Through the Lens of Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice: From Problems to Solutions

The workshop will foster dialogue among NIEHS employees, outside researchers, and members of the community to examine racism as a public health issue. The workshop seeks to:
  1.     Raise awareness of the problem of systemic racism in America and its contributing role to Environmental Health Disparities (EHD).
  2.     Inform the NIEHS community of current EHD research and outreach activities in Environmental Justice (EJ).
  3.     Engage regional and local community leaders involved in EJ advocacy networks to discuss best practices for community engagement.

Background
The social unrest and protests that erupted in 2020, helped spur the need for the American people to have serious discussions about race and the systems that have contributed to growing health disparities and disproportionate environmental exposures. In one of his first acts after being inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. This directive encourages a comprehensive approach for promoting equity for all, especially people of color.

This workshop will focus on the systemic problem of racism in America and its contributing role to EHD. It will include keynote presentations and interactive panel discussions that feature national and local EJ leaders.

For more information and register here:
https://tools.niehs.nih.gov/conference/ejworkshop2021/

Nov 4, 2021

Join EPA for a Webinar on the GenX Chemicals Human Health Toxicity Assessment

As part of EPA's Strategic Roadmap to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the agency has released the final human health toxicity assessment for Hexafluoropropylene Oxide (HFPO) Dimer Acid and its Ammonium Salt, members of the PFAS group referred to as "GenX chemicals". The agency's final GenX chemicals toxicity assessment represents a key step in advancing the scientific understanding of GenX chemicals and their effects on human health.
 
Please join EPA's webinar on November 12, 2021 from 10:00 – 11:00am EST for an overview of the toxicity assessment.
 
View EPA's October 25th press release announcing the toxicity assessment: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-key-step-advance-science-better-protect-communities-pfas-pollution

Nov 2, 2021

DOE Announced Nearly $200 Million to Reduce Emissions From Cars and Trucks

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Vice President Kamala Harris joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in New York yesterday to announce the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $199 million to fund 25 projects aimed at putting cleaner cars and trucks on America's roads, including long-haul trucks powered by batteries and fuel cells, and at improving the nation's electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. In New York, they discussed the enormous benefits of electrification and alternative-fuel technologies, through programs like SuperTruck, to combat the climate crisis and create good-paying jobs across the country.

Transportation emits more carbon pollution than any other sector of the U.S. economy, making up approximately 29% of emissions. The announcements align with DOE's commitment to reaching President Biden's goals of having zero-emission vehicles make up half of all vehicles sold in America by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.

"As America's solutions department, DOE is working with manufacturers and industry partners to reimagine vehicle transportation across the country to achieve our climate goals—from lowering carbon emissions to increasing efficiency and affordability," said Secretary Granholm. "This investment and the innovations that come from it will help shape our clean energy future and strengthen domestic manufacturing that support good-paying careers for hardworking Americans."


https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-announces-nearly-200-million-reduce-emissions-cars-and-trucks

OSHA launches initiative to protect Midwest workers from occupational exposure to hazardous substances, other health hazards

OSHA‒ Occupational exposure to hazardous substances, such as asbestos, formaldehyde and cadmium, can lead to cancer and other long-term serious health diagnoses years after exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

To reduce employee exposure to health hazards and encourage companies to make workplace safety and health a priority, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regional office in Kansas City has established a Regional Emphasis Program targeting OSHA's Top 50 High-Hazard Health Industries.  

"Workers should not have to risk their health for a paycheck," said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City. "OSHA's goal is to increase awareness of the dangers of such exposures and ensure employers are implementing required safety and health procedures to prevent potential lifelong illness."

OSHA will focus its health inspections on employers with documented employee exposure through previous agency inspections and at companies in similar industries. The agency determined that relying solely on injury and illness data is inadequate in identifying exposure to these workplace hazards because the onset of symptoms can occur years after exposure. The emphasis program will assist in developing an inspection targeting system to identify those worksites with health hazards.

The Regional Emphasis Program's initial phase will include informational mailings to employers, professional associations, local safety councils, apprenticeship programs, local hospitals and occupational health clinics, and OSHA presentations to industry organizations and stakeholders. OSHA will also encourage employers to use the agency's free consultation services to help them implement noise safety strategies and ensure compliance with OSHA standards.

OSHA offers several compliance assistance resources on preventative measures, including respiratory protection, personal protective equipment, occupational noise exposure, and hazard exposure and risk management.

OSHA encourages employers to take steps to identify, reduce and eliminate hazards related to exposure to hazardous substances during the REP's initial phase. Following its three-month outreach that began on Oct. 1, the REP empowers OSHA to schedule and inspect select manufacturing industries in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Learn more about OSHA.

Oct 2, 2021

EPA, MPCA Begin $16 Million Project to Remove Contaminated Sediment from Duluth-Superior Harbor

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in partnership with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has begun a $16 million Great Lakes Legacy Act cleanup in the St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC). This project is one of a number of projects that the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and MPCA are working on in an effort to restore this 1,020-square mile AOC spanning Minnesota and Wisconsin--the second largest AOC on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes Basin.

"EPA continues to make substantial progress toward its ultimate goal of cleaning up the St. Louis River Area of Concern," said Acting EPA Regional Administrator Cheryl Newton. "Along with current restoration efforts at Spirit Lake, and other projects in the AOC, this recent project agreement for new work at the Pond Behind Erie Pier demonstrates that our strong federal, state and local partnership is making the restoration of this AOC a reality."
 
"Completion of the Pond Behind Erie Pier cleanup project will, in effect, put us over the halfway mark for remediation on the Minnesota side of the St. Louis River Area of Concern," said MPCA Commissioner Peter Tester "The MPCA and its partners have completed similar projects at Minnesota Slip, Slip 3, Slip C and Azcon slip, all of which restore and revitalize habitat and aquatic life. The collective impact of these projects offer exciting opportunities that support healthy families, recreation, and Minnesota's economy."

"The Great Lakes are a national treasure and vital to the economy and environment in Minnesota and our entire country," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar "The restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem is estimated to provide $50 billion in long-term economic benefits for the region and this project will ensure that the restoration of the important Saint Louis River area habitat continues. As one of the vice-chairs of the Great Lakes Task Force, I look forward to continuing this important work to protect the Great Lakes for generations to come."

Former industries contaminated the area with mercury, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxin/furans and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. A dredge will remove approximately 45,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from two backwater ponds and the adjacent Shopper's Creek. Covering the ponds with a 6-inch layer of clean sediment will create a barrier against any residual contamination and provide a healthy habitat for native organisms. Dredged sediment will be stored over the winter in geotextile tubes which act like large strainers to drain water. In the spring, dried sediment will be removed from the geotextile tubes and taken off-site for disposal.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is supervising the cleanup which is focused near Interstate 35 and Highway 2 directly west of the Erie Pier confined disposal facility. A 1-mile stretch of the Cross City Trail will be rerouted until September 2022.

In addition to this project, EPA recently announced a $6M sediment cleanup in Scanlon, Minnesota.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 as a non-regulatory program to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.

 Find out more at:

Sep 24, 2021

Keeping Trash Out of the Great Lakes: EPA Awards over $725,000 to Address Trash in Lakes Erie and Michigan

City of Erie, Pennsylvania, and University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh to implement trash collection projects to reduce trash in Lake Erie and Lake Michigan

CHICAGO (September 23, 2021) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh $417,830 and the city of Erie, Pennsylvania $309,300 to keep litter and trash out of Lakes Michigan and Erie. EPA provided the Trash-Free Waters Grants under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, or GLRI.

"EPA is committed to protecting the Great Lakes and these projects will make a visible difference," said acting EPA Regional Administrator Cheryl Newton. "Removing trash from the Great Lakes is just one of many ways we are working to restore this incredible natural resource."

City of Erie, Pennsylvania
The city will use two types of collection devices to remove floating and submerged trash in Garrison Run, a heavily polluted tributary to Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie. A "crate litter trap" uses two boom arms to capture floating litter from the water's edge. A partially submerged "litter boom" will trap and route trash to a concrete container on the stream bank. The city estimates that the devices will stop up to 4,000 pounds of litter and trash from entering the bay and the lake each year.

"Lake Erie is our region's greatest asset," said Erie's Mayor Joseph V. Schember. "Keeping trash and other debris from entering the lake helps present and future generations as well as local wildlife have cleaner water to thrive and grow."

University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

The university will purchase a trash skimmer boat to target several key waterways that drain into Green Bay and Lake Michigan. This two-hulled catamaran will collect litter and debris from Sturgeon Bay and the Fox, Ahnapee, Kewaunee and Manitowoc Rivers. The university will also purchase two stationary bins to passively capture trash in smaller areas.

"The U.S. EPA Trash Free Waters funding of trash collection at accumulation points in northeast Wisconsin will be a critical step in the clean-up and prevention of trash accumulation at major water access points in northeast Wisconsin," said University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh Chair of Sustainable Technology Gregory Kleinheiz. "In this region Great Lakes water resources are vital to the economy and society of each community.  The ability to address trash deposition and accumulation long-term is critical to protecting these water resources for all that use these resources."

Both recipients will be funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as part of a larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Specifically, the funded work supports the GLRI goal of protecting and restoring the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes basin. The GLRI was launched in 2010 as a non-regulatory program to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.

Read full at:
https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-funding/great-lakes-restoration-initiative-glri
 

Jul 27, 2021

Recycling Infrastructure Plan Released and Webinar

Washington, D.C.  – The Recycling Is Infrastructure Too Campaign released its first Recycling Infrastructure Plan today.  There are a total of 50 initiatives and requests for funding of $3.3 billion in physical infrastructure, and $3.3 billion for Infrastructure Support Policies and Programs for the first year. Over a three year period, the Plan recommends a total investment of $16.3 billion. The National Recycling Coalition (NRC), the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and Zero Waste USA issued a request for the inclusion of "waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting that will stem climate disruption, address racial justice, and create thousands of jobs throughout the country" in a March 31st press release. This Recycling Infrastructure Plan is the follow-up, with detailed policies and programs that should be included in the infrastructure discussions on Capitol Hill.
 
Recycling Infrastructure Needs"The Plan  presents the following Recycling Infrastructure initiatives, brought forward by a coalition of national reuse, recycling and composting experts, local government organizations and environmental leaders that desire to strengthen our national recycling infrastructure," stated Richard Anthony, Vice President for Advocacy of Zero Waste USA. These initiatives are presented as investments in physical infrastructure, and then needed investments in supporting infrastructure needed to maximize the efficiency and use of these physical investments.  "Adding billions of dollars in economic activity to the American economy each year, the recycling circular economy is in its infancy, while recycling infrastructure is fractured and in need of repair much like U.S. bridges and road systems," stated Bob Gedert, NRC President. With a combination of investments in physical infrastructure (like collection vehicles, carts and processing facilities) and supporting infrastructure (e.g. policies, programs, education and training), the American recycling infrastructure will grow significantly beyond the economic strength it currently is, creating the circular economy described by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation and already accomplished in large part in China. Gedert further noted: "The dollar estimates for each initiative are for the first year of a proposed 3-year investment strategy. The focus for these investments is on one-time expenses that would modernize the industry, and then be sustainable thereafter based on fees for services. The recommended funding source for this infrastructure investment could continue to help fund supporting infrastructure thereafter, and also be used to help fund other climate change initiatives."

Proposed Funding for Recycling InfrastructureRuth Abbe, President of Zero Waste USA highlighted that "this Plan also provides for innovative funding mechanisms for this infrastructure investment, to avoid the need  to be supported solely by the General Fund of the U.S. Government. Many European nations have adopted significant fees on landfills of $20-40/ton to fund recycling programs and reduce greenhouse gases. This proposal recommends that the Federal government adopt a national $20/ton Producer Responsibility  Fee on landfills and incinerators to help fund the above programs and contribute a new revenue source that would actually help meet the nation's Climate Change goals at the same time." Gedert noted that "Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs that hold producers fiscally responsible, but not physically responsible, for the proper management of products and packaging they produce according to the Zero Waste Hierarchy of Highest and Best Use are suggested to be used for hard to recycle items." National or State level EPR programs should require a local government reimbursement from industry fees because local governments bear the first line of expense of products' end-of-life management costs.  These EPR programs provide their own funding for the development of needed infrastructure, so should be considered as self-contained, fully funded infrastructure programs. These programs don't require a Federal investment of financial capital. Instead, these just require a Federal investment of political capital to establish these programs.  Neil Seldman from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance noted "There are also 5 Initiatives that reduce or eliminate Federal subsidies and will stimulate the development of infrastructure, once the marketplace adjusts. As a result, these should be considered as contributing to offsetting the cost of some of the proposed infrastructure investments. These programs reduce Federal investments of financial capital." Seldman continued "Other funding sources could include a fee on non-recyclable packaging and products that are toxic to the environment or create needless waste." Examples include but are not limited to disposable floor cleaning pads, paper towels, and mercury switches in sneakers to create light.

Recycling Infrastructure Plan Webinar
Join on July 27th at 2 - 3:30 pm EDT  to hear more details about this Recycling Infrastructure Plan. Register for this FREE Webinar and to get a link to the Plan at:  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_UAq6sNmkS8qyEKBpGNGViw