Jan 21, 2021

DNR Releases Latest Sampling Results Revealing Broader PFAS Presence In Madison Area Lakes And Yahara River Chain

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the presence of elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in surface water samples taken from Madison-area lakes and along the Yahara River.

The DNR found elevated levels of PFAS in Lake Monona and Starkweather Creek in 2019, which resulted in a new PFAS fish consumption advisory for those two water bodies. The DNR collected surface water and fish samples in 2019 due to PFAS-containing stormwater leaving the Dane County airport into Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona.

Due to public safety concerns, the DNR collected additional surface water samples in 2020 on lakes Mendota, Monona, Upper Mud, Waubesa and Kegonsa, as well as along sections of the Yahara River between the lakes.

The DNR also collected samples from Lake Wingra and Nine Springs Creek. PFAS compounds were discovered throughout the areas sampled, many of those samples were at levels above what the DNR may consider acceptable.

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers and stain-resistant sprays. These legacy contaminants have made their way into the environment in a variety of ways, including spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams.

PFAS do not break down in the environment and have been discovered at concentrations of concern in groundwater, surface water and drinking water. PFAS are known to bioaccumulate in the tissues of fish and wildlife. They also accumulate in the human body and pose several risks to human health.

Surface Water Sampling
More information on how the DNR is addressing PFAS contamination in Wisconsin is available here.

Jan 20, 2021

Amazon Bans Toxic Chemicals From Its Food Packaging

Lana Bandoim (Forbes) - Amazon has banned the use of certain chemicals in its Amazon Kitchen brand products and food packaging. The company's decision to exclude chemicals of concern only affects its private brands for now. The chemicals have been linked to various health problems and other effects, such as environmental issues.

What Are the Chemicals of Concern?

Amazon's definition of chemicals of concern includes substances that are a "carcinogen, mutagen, reproductive or other systemic toxicant," and products that are "persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic." Although Amazon has mentioned it is encouraging manufacturers to avoid these potentially toxic chemicals, the company is focusing on its own private brands because it has complete control over them.

The restricted substances on Amazon's list include antiseptics (antimicrobial substances), nonylphenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates (detergent-like substances), formaldehyde donor preservatives (substances that slowly release formaldehyde over time), parabens (preservatives) and phthalates (chemicals to make plastics more flexible). The list has more than 50 items ranging from triclosan (antimicrobial chemical) to propylparaben (preservative).

Free WebCast on Respiratory Protection

Protection around workplace breathing hazards
This webcast is designed to familiarize you with respiratory hazards, including oxygen-deficient atmospheres. You'll learn how to protect yourself around workplace breathing hazards. After completing this webcast, you will be able to:
  • Identity workplace and engineering controls,
  • Define personal protective equipment (PPE),
  • Recognize respiratory safety hazards,
  • Explain why a medical evaluation is necessary,
  • Select appropriate PPE for respiratory protection,
  • Evaluate a respirator seal for fit, and
  • Follow proper maintenance procedures.
This session includes a live Q&A session with our experts.
Ray Chishti
EHS Editor
J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

Mark Stromme
EHS Editor
J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

Thursday, January 28th
1:00 PM Central Time
(2 ET, 12 MT, 11 PT)

Jan 8, 2021

EPA requests applications for $5 million in funding for Great Lakes trash-free water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is seeking a second round of applications under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant program focused on keeping trash out of the Great Lakes. Approximately $5 million is available through the Trash-Free Waters Great Lakes program to fund approximately 10 large-scale projects to remove trash from Great Lakes harbors, rivermouths, and waterfronts. The deadline for applications is March 5, 2021.

In October 2019, EPA Administrator Wheeler announced the GLRI Action Plan III, an aggressive plan to guide Great Lakes restoration and protection activities by EPA and its many partners over the next four years.  The trash-free water projects EPA selects will support the larger GLRI effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

"This grant program will continue to harness the power of collaboration and strong partnerships we've established to fuel progress and so many successes under the GLRI," said EPA Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede. "This funding will help communities across the Great Lakes basin ensure that their harbors, rivermouths and waterfronts are trash-free— something Administrator Wheeler and this Administration has placed as a high priority for this agency."

Mismanaged or misplaced trash, including litter or garbage, can degrade aquatic habitats, threaten aquatic wildlife, and interfere with human uses of lake, coastal, and riparian environments. These grants will support large-scale projects that use mechanical devices, vessels and other technology to remove trash from Great Lakes harbors, rivermouths and waterfronts. With these grants, EPA intends to increase the number of Great Lakes communities with operational large-scale aquatic trash collection devices that will continue to be used after project funding has ended. The minimum award is $300,000 and the maximum award is $1,000,000.

State agencies, federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia, any agency or instrumentality of local governments, nonprofit organizations, interstate agencies, and colleges and universities are eligible to apply for the grants.

EPA will host a webinar on January 26, 2021, at 2 p.m. CST to provide additional information and answer questions. To register for the webinar or learn more about the request for applications, visit https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-funding/glri-trash-free-waters-fy2021-request-applications-rfa

In July 2020, Administrator Wheeler announced seven Great Lakes Trash-Free Waters grants totaling approximately $2 million to support efforts to clean up beaches and water bodies.

The GLRI was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Federal agencies have funded more than 5,400 projects totaling over $2.7 billion to address the most important Great Lakes priorities such as addressing agricultural nutrients and stormwater runoff, cleaning up highly contaminated "Areas of Concern," combating invasive species and restoring habitat. Making GLRI funding available through a competitive application process is just one way that the GLRI achieves results.

For more information on the GLRI, visit https://www.glri.us/