Month: April 2020

Webinar: Pollution Prevention Opportunities in the Metal Finishing Sector

Wed, May 27, 2020 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CDT
Register here.

The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) will cover their recently completed metal finishing pollution prevention (P2) work funded under EPA Region 5’s Source Reduction Assistance Grant Program. The focus of the presentation will be the Rinsing Manual that was developed through the project. An overview of the project will also be provided. The Rinsing Manual is a new on-line resource developed under the project for evaluating and improving rinsing systems in the metal finishing sector.

During the P2 project, the manual was used to help a Michigan metal finishing shop reduce water use and sludge generation and these results will also be discussed.

EPA provides critical information to the American public about safe disinfectant use

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues its efforts to provide critical information on surface disinfectant products that can be used to protect the health of all Americans throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency. In support of these efforts, EPA now has nearly 400 products that have qualified to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This week the agency also published an overview of its actions and resources related to disinfection against the novel coronavirus.

“EPA is dedicated to its mission of protecting human health and we want all Americans to have access to effective and approved surface disinfectant products,” said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We also want everyone follow the directions on the product so that we can safely use registered disinfectants and provide critical protection to our families.”

When using an EPA-registered surface disinfectant, always follow the product’s directions and remember:

  • Never apply the product to yourself or others. Do not ingest disinfectant products. This includes never applying any product on List N (the agency’s list of disinfectants to use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19) directly to food.
  • Never mix products unless specified in the use directions. Certain combinations of chemicals will create highly toxic acids or gases.
  • Wash the surface with soap and water before applying disinfectant products if the label mentions pre-cleaning.
  • Follow the contact time listed for your product on List N. This is the amount of time the surface must remain visibly wet to ensure efficacy against the virus. It can sometimes be several minutes.
  • Wash your hands after using a disinfectant. This will minimize your exposure to the chemicals in the disinfectant and the pathogen you are trying to kill.

EPA provides additional information on disinfectant safety messages on its twitter feeds, @EPA and @EPAChemSafety. These channels will be updated with new materials throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

EPA also continues to add additional chemicals to its list of commodity inert ingredients. These actions are intended to help address supply chain issues for EPA-registered disinfectants and other pesticides. It allows manufacturers of already-registered EPA products to change the source of listed inert ingredients.

To learn more about disinfectant safety, see this guide from our partner, the National Pesticide Information Center, about using disinfectants to control COVID-19: http://npic.orst.edu/ingred/ptype/amicrob/covid19.html

Functional Fungi

Read the full story at Centered.tech.

A Chicago entrepreneur is using fungi to detoxify asphalt waste and transform it into a potentially valuable resource.

The AIR Index helps car buyers evaluate vehicle pollution levels

The AIR Alliance has created a database for car buyers that reveals the levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions created by a particular vehicle.

The AIR Index details vehicle emission information and rates models from A (the best) to E (the worst), based on the actual on-road urban NOx and CO2 emissions using European method CWA17379, “Real drive test method for collecting emission.”

Human-caused warming will cause more slow-moving hurricanes, warn climatologists

Read the full story from Princeton University.

Hurricanes moving slowly over an area can cause more damage than faster-moving storms, and rising global temperatures will likely cause more mid-latitude hurricanes to slow down, said a team of climatologists. They used a large ensemble of climate simulations to explore the link between anthropogenic climate warming and hurricane movement speed.

New model to improve accuracy of storm surge analysis

Read the full story from the University of Central Florida.

A new international study applied a novel statistical method that — for the first time — captures the important interactions between tides and storm surges. These natural forces are caused by meteorological effects, such as strong winds and low atmospheric pressure, and their impacts have often been difficult to understand because of the complexity of Mother Nature.

EPA Expands Research on COVID-19 in the Environment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to make COVID-19 issues a top priority. The Agency has been actively supporting response efforts across the country to protect public health. As part of these efforts, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is asking for a rapid review with the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to provide feedback on research needs identified by EPA’s researchers. This research will enhance and build on the Agency’s capabilities to address the environmental and human health impacts from the virus that causes COVID-19.

“EPA’s world-class researchers are building on their already expansive body of knowledge to help mitigate the environmental and public health impacts from COVID-19,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Our scientists have identified a number of research areas to focus on to further help combat and diminish the spread of COVID-19 including environmental cleanup and disinfection techniques, virus behavior in wastewater and the air, and procedures for disinfecting personal protective equipment.”

A Federal Register Notice (FRN) notifying the SAB of the charge questions and the two public meetings will be published this week. Comments from the SAB will inform and help guide the Agency as it enhances its capabilities to address the environmental and human health impacts from COVID-19.

Current EPA Research on the virus that causes COVID-19

Funded primarily through the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, EPA researchers have already begun increasing the Agency’s knowledge. For example, we have begun evaluating disinfectant efficacy on different types of surfaces in public areas that are frequently touched by multiple people, such as in subway cars.

In addition, EPA researchers are collaborating with CDC researchers in several other areas, such as:

  • Environmental Cleanup and Disinfection: The researchers are currently evaluating the use of ultraviolet (UV), ozone, and steam as solutions for large-scale disinfecting needs; for example in a school or an office. The researchers are also evaluating whether electrostatic sprayers and foggers used with EPA-approved disinfectants can be effective at killing the virus.
  • Wastewater Virus Detection: The researchers are studying whether SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in wastewater at levels that could inform public health strategies. They will focus on understanding viral loads, or how much of the virus is present, whether it is in an infectious state, and how it moves through the wastewater system. This information will help public health agencies by acting as an early warning system and can identify if there is an outbreak in a specific community. Public health agencies can then take early action to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Salivary Antibody Assay Development: The researchers are developing an easy, non-invasive, and reliable antibody assay to help determine the true infection rate across the country.

From Rust to Resilience: Climate change brings new challenges and opportunities

Read the full story at Great Lakes Now.

Great Lakes cities don’t have to worry about sea-level rise and hurricanes to the extent cities do on the coasts. However, the region is highly vulnerable to the heat waves, flooding and severe storms expected to increase with climate change.

USDA let millions of pounds of food rot while food-bank demand soared

Read the full story in Politico.

Tens of millions of pounds of American-grown produce is rotting in fields as food banks across the country scramble to meet a massive surge in demand, a two-pronged disaster that has deprived farmers of billions of dollars in revenue while millions of newly jobless Americans struggle to feed their families.

While other federal agencies quickly adapted their programs to the coronavirus crisis, the Agriculture Department took more than a month to make its first significant move to buy up surplus fruits and vegetables — despite repeated entreaties.

Perchloroethylene Draft Risk Evaluation Available for Public and Scientific Review

EPA is asking for public input on the draft risk evaluation of perchloroethylene. Seeking public input on the draft risk evaluation is the next step in the process outlined by the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The draft risk evaluation is not a final agency action. Rather, it represents the agency’s initial review of the scientific data on this chemical and will be peer reviewed by independent, scientific experts as well as open for public comment. EPA will use feedback received from the peer review and public comment process to inform the final risk evaluation and will provide frequent updates on the agency’s progress throughout this process. If EPA’s final risk evaluation finds there are unreasonable risks associated with this chemical under the specific conditions of use, the agency will propose actions to address those risks within the timeframe required by TSCA. EPA’s actions could include proposed regulations to prohibit or limit the manufacture, processing, distribution in the marketplace, use, or disposal of this chemical substance, as applicable.

The document discusses how workers, occupational non-users, consumers, bystanders, and the environment could be adversely affected by perchloroethylene under certain conditions of use. Any unreasonable risks found in the draft risk evaluation, including those associated with this chemical’s use in dry cleaning, are preliminary and do not require any action at this time. It is important to note that use of perchloroethylene in dry cleaning has decreased over time as companies shift to alternative chemicals and new technologies. As with any chemical product, EPA strongly recommends that users carefully follow all instructions on the product’s label/safety data sheet. Consumers wishing to avoid exposure can ask retailers if products used contain perchloroethylene and consider not using products containing this chemical.

Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, EPA will accept comments on the draft risk evaluation for perchloroethylene for 60 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0502 on regulations.gov. EPA will also hold a virtual peer review meeting of EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) on the draft risk evaluation on May 26-29, 2020. The virtual peer review meeting is open to the public to attend and provide comments.

Additional Information

View the perchloroethylene draft risk evaluation and supporting documents: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/draft-risk-evaluation-perchloroethylene

Learn more about the peer review meeting: https://www.epa.gov/tsca-peer-review/peer-review-draft-risk-evaluation-perchloroethylene

Background

Perchloroethylene is a colorless liquid used primarily in industrial settings for dry cleaning and degreasing metals. This chemical is also used in the production of fluorinated compounds, as a solvent for cleaning and degreasing, and in lubricants, adhesives, and sealants. Perchloroethylene has a limited number of consumer uses in products like adhesives for arts and crafts and stainless steel polish. The yearly aggregate production volume ranged from 388 to 324 million pounds between 2012 and 2015.

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