Day: April 9, 2018

Energy Hogs: Can World’s Huge Data Centers Be Made More Efficient?

Read the full story in e360.

The gigantic data centers that power the internet consume vast amounts of electricity and emit as much  CO2 as the airline industry. To change that, data companies need to turn to clean energy sources and dramatically improve energy efficiency.

Childhood exposure to flame retardant chemicals declines following phase-out

Read the full story from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.

Exposure to flame retardants once widely used in consumer products has been falling, according to a new study by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. The researchers are the first to show that levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) measured in children significantly decreased over a 15-year period between 1998 and 2013, although the chemicals were present in all children tested. The Center previously linked exposure to PBDEs with attention problems and lower scores on tests of mental and physical development in children.

Results appear in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

Unilever Joins Partnership to Turn PET Waste into Virgin Grade Material

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Unilever, Dutch chemicals start-up Ioniqa, and PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) resin producer Indorama Ventures (IVL) have joined forces to develop a food packaging system that converts PET waste into virgin grade material.

Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products: Court Order; Compliance Date

Read the full Federal Register Notice.

On March 13, 2018, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order in the case of Sierra Club and A Community Voice-Louisiana vs. Scott Pruitt, which resulted in the compliance date for emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling (i.e., the manufactured-by date or import-by date) becoming June 1, 2018, rather than December 12, 2018. This case involved the formaldehyde regulations for composite wood products under Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and, specifically, a challenge to EPA’s extension to December 12, 2018 of the December 12, 2017 compliance date in a September 25, 2017 rule.

NYC characterization study shows waste reduction, long road to ‘zero’

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

New Yorkers are putting less material on the curb even as their population numbers grow, according to a new 2017 waste characterization study from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY). The agency noted a drop in aggregate annual weight per household (now 0.994 tons) from 2013 (1 ton), largely due to a decline in refuse.

Based on this new study, conducted by MSW Consultants, organics account for the largest portion of DSNY’s residential material stream at 34%. Curbside recyclables account for another 34%, followed by 9% of other “divertable” material such as textiles, plastic shopping bags, e-waste and household hazardous waste. That puts DSNY’s theoretical maximum diversion rate at 68%, or 77% when factoring in drop-off options, under its current system.

The study also found increasing contamination rates for both of DSNY’s two recycling streams. The contamination rate for paper was 8.9%, up from 7.3% in 2013. For the metal/glass/plastic stream it was 19.5%, which stayed flat from 2013 when factoring in the addition of rigid plastics since. Some of this contamination resulted from misplaced material in opposite categories.

Livestock emissions still up in the air

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

The air near large-scale industrialized pig, chicken, and dairy cow operations not only stinks, it can be hazardous to public health. But no one knows exactly what is in the air surrounding such facilities because the U.S. livestock industry has long been exempt from reporting hazardous air emissions under federal law. A 2017 court decision would have upset that status quo by requiring farmers and ranchers to report certain emissions from animal waste, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, when released above certain thresholds. Congress stepped in last month to pass a bill that once again exempts many farmers and ranchers from reporting air emissions to federal authorities. It is now up to the states to determine how best to deal with air emissions from the livestock industry.

Dr. King Said Segregation Harms Us All. Environmental Research Shows He Was Right.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Both minorities and whites who live in racially divided communities are exposed to higher levels of pollution than those who live in more integrated areas.

Urban Darwinism: How Species Are Evolving to Survive in Cities

Read the full story at e360.

In urban areas, the forces of rapid natural selection are leading to striking genetic changes in animals. Dutch biologist Menno Schilthuizen talks to Yale e360 about the transformations seen in creatures ranging from mice in Central Park to anole lizards in Puerto Rico.

The Great Lakes Are Filling Up With Giant Green Blobs

Read the full story in Mother Jones.

Industrial agriculture fuels them, and new science shows that they emit way more greenhouse gas than previously thought.

Community science keeps pollution in check for the Hudson River

Read the full story at Shareable.

Here’s the problem: Beginning at Lake Tear of the Clouds, the Hudson River cascades and winds its way through a beautiful valley for 315 miles, running alongside New York City in its last stretch before joining the Atlantic Ocean. The Hudson Valley has long been a muse for artists, a popular retreat for city dwellers, and a sanctuary for its residents, while its southern neighbor —New York City— continues to be a bustling metropolis.

However, the popularity of this region surrounding the Hudson has heightened the need to monitor the quality of its water and combat contamination flowing through increasingly overtaxed sewage systems. Although the passage of the NYS Pure Waters Bond Act and Clean Water Act —and most recently the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017— have helped protect the River’s water, a lack of investment in maintenance and upgrades to sewer systems threaten the health of the river, its watershed, and the people who use it.

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