As ‘Yuck Factor’ Subsides, Treated Wastewater Flows From Taps

Read the full story in the New York Times.

As water becomes more precious, suppliers are beginning to overcome public aversion to treating and reusing wastewater.

Environmental Security Technology Certification Program Open Burn/Open Detonation (OBOD) Area Management Using Lime for Explosives Transformation and Metals Immobilization

Environmental Security Technology Certification Program Open Burn/Open Detonation (OBOD) Area Management Using Lime for Explosives Transformation and Metals Immobilization; ESTCP Project Number ER-0742
By W. Andy Martin, Deborah R. Felt, Steven L. Larson, Gene L. Fabian, and Catherine C. Nestler

Abstract: A common disposal method for munitions stockpiles is Open Burn/Open Detonation (OBOD). These activities are necessary to destroy unserviceable, unstable, or unusable munitions and explosives. Due to the relatively small area of OD facilities, there is a high probability of explosives and heavy metal contamination in the soil. The objective of this demonstration was to evaluate a lime soil amendment management strategy to control active OD area contaminant mobility and promote contaminant degradation that is low cost and minimally resource intensive. A soil treatability study and baseline characterization evaluation were undertaken at the site—the OD area of Aberdeen Proving Grounds—prior to initiation of the field demonstration. The field demonstration involved adding hydrated lime to the OD area to transform explosive residues and stabilize metals at the site to prevent offsite migration. Lime was further dispersed on the site and mixed with the deeper soils by adding it to the hole dug for the waste munitions before the detonations. Seven amendment methods were evaluated. Effective dispersion was monitored by surface soil sampling after the detonation fallout had settled. The detonations all dispersed the lime along with the crater ejecta. Additional lime was placed in the bottom of the crater prior to pushing the dispersed soil back into the crater. The mechanical movement of the soil back into the crater served to further mix the dispersed lime into the soil. The end result was a reactive zone of elevated pH that spanned the depth of the detonation crater. Air monitoring and the effect of lime on soil invertebrates was also conducted. Alkaline hydrolysis of the munitions residues in soil was confirmed. Transport of the residues off-range in surface water or towards groundwater was reduced below baseline levels and met regulatory requirements. Results of the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) and the Distilled Deionized Water Suspend and Settle (DDI S&S) analysis of OBOD area soil samples indicated that cadmium was leached from the soil by the DDI S&S procedure, although not detected in the TCLP extraction solutions. Aluminum and iron, two metals leached by both procedures, were detected at higher concentration by the DDI S&S procedure but were well within national background concentrations for soil. Alkaline hydrolysis through lime amendment of soil was successful at controlling off-range transport of munitions explosive residues and heavy metals without changes in soil characteristics or ecological impact.

If you wish to access/download the document (89 pages, 1.8 mb) in pdf format, the address is:$N/1006000

Don’t Reinvent The Wheel, Steal It: An Urban Planning Award for Cities That Copy

Read the full post from Good.

Cities around the world may all be struggling with the same problems, from building affordable housing to boosting internet access, but a lack of dialogue means that local governments rarely copy each other’s successful ideas.  The world’s “567,000 mayors are reinventing the wheel, every single one of them with everything” they do, says Sascha Havemeyer, general director of Living Labs Global, a Copenhagen-based non-profit that encourages collaboration among the world’s cities.

Industry Progressing in Voluntary Effort to Reduce Toxic Chemicals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the interim results of a voluntary effort by eight chemical manufacturers to reduce emissions and use of long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (LCPFCs), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Used in hundreds of manufacturing and industrial applications, LCPFCs are toxic, persistent in our environment worldwide and can accumulate in people. Reducing toxic chemicals in our environment is one of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s top priorities.

EPA’s 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program was established in 2006 in partnership with DuPont, Solvay Solexis, Asahi Glass Company, Daikin America, Inc., Clariant International Ltd., 3M/Dyneon, Arkema Inc. and BASF (formerly Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corporation). The program set a goal of reducing facility emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals on a global basis by 95 percent, no later than 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content of these chemicals by 2015. The interim results released today highlight the success companies participating in the partnership have made in reducing releases of PFOA and other LCPFCs.

Daikin, DuPont, 3M/Dyneon and Solvay Solexis have met the program’s intermediate goal of a 95 percent reduction in global emissions and product content by 2010. The companies continue to reduce emissions of LCPFC’s as well as overall product content of LCPFC’s. Additionally, more than150 replacement chemicals have been developed. The eight participating companies have informed EPA that they are on track to phase out LCPFCs by the end of 2015.

“I am pleased to see that many of the Stewardship Program companies are making excellent progress and all are on track to meet the ultimate goal of phasing out LCPFCs by the end of 2015,” said Jim Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The program is an important part of the agency’s efforts to mitigate exposures to LCPFCs.”

EPA remains concerned about LCPFCs being produced by companies that are not participating in the stewardship program and intends to take action to address those concerns. These actions are part of an ongoing effort outlined in 2009 that would further reduce exposure to LCPFCs by addressing their use in products from sources other than the eight companies participating in the stewardship program. For more information on these efforts, see the action plan at:

EPA Releases Final Health Assessment for Tetrachloroethylene (Perc)

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted the final health assessment for tetrachloroethylene – also known as perchloroethylene, or perc – to EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database. Perc is a chemical solvent widely used in the dry cleaning industry. It is also used in the cleaning of metal machinery and to manufacture some consumer products and other chemicals. Confirming longstanding scientific understanding and research, the final assessment characterizes perc as a “likely human carcinogen.” The assessment provides estimates for both cancer and non-cancer effects associated with exposure to perc over a lifetime.

EPA does not believe that wearing clothes dry cleaned with perc will result in exposures which pose a risk of concern. EPA has already taken several significant actions to reduce exposure to perc. EPA has clean air standards for dry cleaners that use perc, including requirements that will phase-out the use of perc by dry cleaners in residential buildings by December 21, 2020. EPA also set limits for the amount of perc allowed in drinking water and levels for cleaning up perc at Superfund sites throughout the country, which will be updated in light of the IRIS assessment.

“The perc health assessment released today will provide valuable information to help protect people and communities from exposure to perc in soil, water and air,” said Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “This assessment emphasizes the value of the IRIS database in providing strong science to support government officials as they make decisions to protect the health of the American people.”

The toxicity values reported in the perc IRIS assessment will be considered in:

  • Establishing cleanup levels at the hundreds of Superfund sites where perc is a contaminant
  • Revising EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level for perc as part of the carcinogenic volatile organic compounds group in drinking water, as described in the agency’s drinking water strategy
  • Evaluating whether to propose additional limits on the emissions of perc into the atmosphere, since perc is considered a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act

The assessment replaces the 1988 IRIS assessment for perc and for the first time includes a hazard characterization for cancer effects. This assessment has undergone several levels of rigorous, independent peer review including: agency review, interagency review, public comment, and external peer review by the National Research Council. All major review comments have been addressed.

EPA continues to strengthen IRIS as part of an ongoing effort to ensure the best possible science is used to protect human health and the environment. In May 2009, EPA streamlined the IRIS process to increase transparency, ensure the timely publication of assessments, and reinforce independent review. In July 2011, EPA announced further changes to strengthen the IRIS program in response to recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences. EPA’s peer review process is designed to elicit the strongest possible critique to ensure that each final IRIS assessment reflects sound, rigorous science.

Chemists Harvest Light to Create ‘Green’ Tool for Pharmaceuticals

Read the full post from the University of Arkansas.

A team of University of Arkansas researchers, including an Honors College undergraduate student, has created a new, “green” method for developing medicines. The researchers used energy from an ordinary 13-watt compact fluorescent light bulb to create an organic molecule that may be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. The finding, coauthored by Soumitra Maity, Mingzhao Zhu, Ryan Spencer Shinabery and Nan Zheng, is published in the current issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition, one of the top journals in the field of chemistry.

Full citation for research article: Dr. Soumitra Maity, Dr. Mingzhao Zhu, Ryan Spencer Shinabery and Prof. Dr. Nan Zheng (2012). “Intermolecular [3+2] Cycloaddition of Cyclopropylamines with Olefins by Visible-Light Photocatalysis.” Angewandte Chemie International Edition 51(1), 222.226. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201106162.

Abstract: A visible-light-mediated intermolecular [3+2] cycloaddition of mono- and bicyclic cyclopropylamines with olefins catalyzed by [Ru(bpz)3](PF6)2⋅2 H2O has been developed to furnish aminocyclopentane derivatives in good yields (see scheme, bpz=2,2′-bipyrazine). Saturated 5,5- and 6,5-fused heterocycles are obtained in synthetically useful yields and diastereoselectivity.

Students green Chicago restaurants in new environmental economics course

Read the full story from the University of Chicago.

The Program for the Global Environment and Environment, Agriculture and Food Group are introducing a new practicum-style course for undergraduates and graduates this winter: Environment, Agriculture, and Food: Economic and Policy Analysis. The course, taught by Sabina Shaikh and assisted by Nancy Himmelfarb, requires students to work in small groups and partner with restaurant owners in order to create a green certification for Chicago restaurants.