Minnesota ban on fire retardants would be toughest in nation

Read the full story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Minnesota legislators are on the verge of approving the nation’s most restrictive use of flame-retardant chemicals in furniture and an array of household items such as textiles, mattresses and children’s products.

State firefighters have been pushing for legislation that would phase out the use of 10 such chemicals, saying they are ineffective in slowing the spread of fire and contain toxins that are sickening responders. Monday’s compromise, reached among the firefighters, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and chemical companies, would phase out the manufacture and sale of four commonly used flame retardants.

Detroit River cleanup brightens gateway to Michigan

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Cleaning up Detroit and its river could be a key in revitalizing and re-creating Michigan as a state, state officials say.

People describe Detroit as the front-door city of the state, said Ron Olson, the chief of parks and recreation for the state Department of Natural Resources. “The better Detroit does, the better the state does.”

The industrial complexes that were built up along the Detroit River and other rivers throughout the state years ago were an abusive use of land, Olson said. Now, the challenge is to dismantle these complexes and restore the waterfronts to the way they once were.

New campus recycling bins aim to bring waste awareness

Read the full story in the Daily Illini.

In an effort to make campus more eco-friendly and closer to a zero-waste initiative, 20 new recycling bins with standardized signage were installed on the Quad this month, making 30 total recycling/landfill stations.

The project was completed by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). According to the project’s leader Bart Bartels, technical assistance engineer at ISTC, the center makes recommendations and completes projects aiming to reduce waste emissions on campus.

This zero-waste initiative is part of the goal of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), the University’s mission to make campus carbon neutral by 2050.

Great Lakes state gets worst grade for water policy

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

In a state surrounded by 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, overuse and sustainability might not be the first thing on the minds of Michiganders.

And according to a study that graded states on their water policies and conservation, these concerns may not be very common in state government, either.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency’s most recent scorecard gave Michigan a mere 3 points out of the possible 40 for water efficiency and policy. Compare that to places such as fellow Great Lakes state Wisconsin with 15.5, Rhode Island’s 20, or California’s 29.

DeWitt board, Clinton Landfill owners reach deal barring PCBs

Read the full story in the News-Gazette.

Ending a 7-year-long dispute, the DeWitt County Board on Thursday night voted to approve a settlement agreement with the owners of Clinton Landfill that keeps PCBs and manufactured-gas-plant wastes out of the landfill.

The landfill sits over the Mahomet Aquifer, which is the water source for Champaign-Urbana and about 800,000 central Illinois residents.

Invasive species reintroduce toxic chemicals to Green Bay food web

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Although contaminants buried in the sediments of Green Bay may be out of sight, they should not be out mind, according to research published last month in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Two invasive species – the quagga mussel and round goby – can allow a group of toxic chemicals deposited more than 45 years ago to reenter the food web, passing them to predatory fish and possibly people.

UM researcher says microplastics could threaten Great Lakes fish

Listen to the interview at Great Lakes Echo.

Take a look in your medicine cabinet or your shower and you’re likely to find microbeads. Those are the small plastic spheres used as exfoliants in products like face wash or toothpaste. The tiny beads have been big news since scientists found them showing up in the Great Lakes several years ago. Last week, Michigan became the latest state to introduce legislation that would ban products containing microbeads.

Current State speaks with Melissa Duhaime, a researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. She’s been researching the impact of microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes.