Day: February 5, 2021

PFAS Webinar

Feb 19, 2021, noon
Register here.

PFAS is a family of chemical compounds (over 4,000) found in most everything we use in our daily lives. These forever chemicals have been identified as emerging contaminants and have found their way into some of our water systems.

The development of treatment technologies that can reliably, sustainably, and cost effectively remove PFAS from water and maximize the use of our water resources is a critical short-term step.

This Southern California Water Coalition program will explore PFAS, what it is, how we can treat the existing conditions and explore long-term solutions that replace these chemicals to ensure the protection of future generations’ access to water today and for tomorrow.

Panelists:

  • Robert Beste, Assistant General Manager, Water Replenishment District of Southern California
  • Steven Carmona, City Manager, City of Pico Rivera, California
  • Jason Dadakis, Executive Director, Water Quality and Technical Resources, Orange County Water District
  • Scott Grieco, P.E., Ph.D., Global Technology Leader, Jacobs
  • Craig Miller, General Manager, Western Municipal Water District
  • Dan Newton, California State Water Resource Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water
  • Steve Tedesco, Senior Vice President, Tetra Tech

EPA nominee Regan highlights plastics, PFAS challenges in confirmation hearing

Read the full story in Waste Dive.

Michael Regan, the nominee for U.S. EPA administrator, acknowledged plastic pollution as a “significant” challenge in response to a question during Wednesday’s Senate confirmation. If confirmed, he agreed to take a further look at proposals and programs aimed at reducing single-use plastic.

Regan, currently the secretary for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), also vowed to address issues related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which he described as a “top priority” for the Biden administration. He promised to evaluate strategies for regulating the chemicals, but stopped short of confirming that EPA would set specific limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Known for his work on environmental justice initiatives, Regan also said he plans to direct more resources to efforts protecting marginalized communities affected by climate change and pollution.

Environmental groups outline $1.3B worth of federal plastics reduction, recycling recommendations

Read the full story in Waste Dive.

More than 250 groups in the Break Free From Plastic movement are recommending 13 actions — worth a collective $1.3 billion in annual federal funding — they believe the Biden administration and Congress should prioritize in any future stimulus legislation. 

Top suggestions include $500 million for new or improved MRF infrastructure and $250 million for organics recycling infrastructure. Another $150 million is suggested to establish reusable foodware systems, water refill stations and other updates at government buildings, publicly funded educational institutions and other sites.

The report also urges against funding or supporting areas such as plastic exports, plastic carbon sequestration, and chemical recycling, or any other processes converting material into fuel and uses that are “of lower quality and functionality than the original material.”  

Congressional investigators find ‘dangerously high’ levels of heavy metals in some baby food

Read the full story in The Hill.

A congressional investigation found “dangerously high” levels of heavy metals in some baby foods.

staff report from the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released Thursday found that some internal company standards “permit dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals.”

The panel said Nurture Inc., which sells baby food under the brand HappyBABY, Beech-Nut Nutrition Company, Hain Celestial and Gerber responded to its requests for internal documents and test results, noting that arsenic, lead and cadmium was present in baby foods made by all of the companies.

The report also criticized the Trump administration for ignoring “a secret industry presentation to federal regulators revealing increased risks of toxic heavy metals in baby foods.”

Investigators found that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received a secret slide presentation from Hain that said its corporate policy to test only ingredients and not final products under-represents the level of heavy metals in baby foods. The agency reportedly took no action in response.

Pokey-picker-upper tool gives maintenance crews a pick-me-up

By Kim Larson / Arizona Department of Transportation Communications

What’s a “pokey picker upper,” you ask? This uniquely named idea implemented by Timothy Mitchell, highway operations supervisor for the Quartzsite Maintenance Unit, has allowed his team to spend less time transporting equipment to the shop and is creating savings in repair costs. 

“When we were doing regular spot litter removal, the number of flat tires we were getting was so high, we needed to come up with a way to reduce that waste,” Mitchell said.

That push for a countermeasure became the idea of the pokey picker upper. 

Because so many pieces of metal were causing the damage, a magnet seemed the best way to tackle the problem. The real quandary, however, was how to find a way to use the magnet to grab the metal before it could puncture any tires. Mitchell brainstormed an idea and quickly welded together a prototype. A 3-foot bar was affixed to the front of the truck and the magnetic bar hung from that, hovering just above the ground. That’s what you see in the photo at the top of the post. He also made it interchangeable so it is easily moved to either the passenger or driver side of the vehicle, depending on where it is needed. 

Crews began using the new tool in August. The maintenance unit discovered it worked well and since then their welder has improved upon the prototype. The upgraded version will be reproduced for other vehicles across the agency doing similar duties with potential for tire damage.

They are still compiling data for the number of hours and costs related to the flat tires. But Mitchell said before they were trekking to the shop two to four times a week for repairs, and now it’s only once or twice a month, which is a substantial improvement. 

And what about the very scientific name? Mitchell said “It kind of just came to me.”

Spoken like a true inventor!

This device is an example of how ADOT employees are committed to solving problems and eliminating wasteful processes by using Governor Doug Ducey’s Arizona Management System

Biden EPA pick promises ‘clean slate’ in examining GHG regulations

Read the full story in Smart Cities Dive.

President Joe Biden’s pick to serve as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pledged to take a “clean slate” approach when determining how to take on the Clean Power Plan versus the Affordable Clean Energy Act — regulations under the Obama and Trump administrations, respectively, aimed at addressing carbon emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

Michael Regan promised to work cooperatively with states and local communities, and said under his watch protecting the environment would not come “solely from regulation.” 

Republican senators grilled Regan over a spate of actions and appointments Biden has made on climate in the past few weeks, pressing him on whether he was committed to protecting fossil fuel communities from major economic fallout.

Spam’s new frontier? Now even spinach can send emails

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Scientists at MIT have taken the leafy greens online – in the hope they will be able to warn about explosives.

PepsiCo doubles down on carbon targets: ‘We’re talking about a resilience strategy for the business and the planet’

Read the full story from Food Navigator.

PepsiCo has stepped up its carbon footprint targets, with the ambition to become carbon neutral by 2040. FoodNavigator speaks to European sustainability chief Chris Daly about why it is an ‘absolutely aggressive challenge’ but also a timetable that is ‘not for debate’.

Sleeping with the Enemy

Read the full story in Hakai Magazine.

Great blue herons are seeking safety by nesting beside predatory eagles. Researchers call it the “mafia protection racket.”

The Egg Thief

Read the full story in Outside Magazine.

For decades Jeffrey Lendrum helicoptered up and rappelled down to aeries on cliff faces from Patagonia to Quebec, snatching unhatched raptors and selling them, investigators believe, to wealthy Middle Eastern falconers. This week in London, one of the most bizarre criminals in modern history goes on trial for the fourth time. Here is his story.

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