Lead in Private Wells

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To prevent public health crises that result from widespread lead contamination in drinking water, community water supplies are required to closely monitor their drinking water quality. 

Lead (Pb) exposure is associated with many health effects, like neurodevelopmental impairment, distractibility, impulsivity, shortened attention span, and reduced IQ. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that no level of Pb exposure is safe, so Pb exposure in children should be prevented. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead and copper rule sets an action level of 15 micrograms per liter (μg/L), or parts per billion, for lead at customer taps for public water supplies. (If more than 10% of customer taps sampled exceed this value, additional actions to control corrosion must be undertaken.)

However, the state of Illinois does not regulate domestic wells for water quality. Studies in several other states suggested that water-borne lead might be a concern in homes with domestic wells, so researchers at the Illinois State Water, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northern Illinois University, designed a study to learn if this was also true in Illinois.

Philadelphia is about to go completely dark at night. Here’s why

Read the full story at Fast Company.

After 15 years of effort, Audubon Mid-Atlantic and several other local organizations have succeeded in convincing building owners to do more. Beginning April 1, and running for the duration of both the spring and autumn bird migration periods, buildings across Philadelphia will be voluntarily turning off their lights at night.

The initiative, Lights Out Philly, runs from April 1 to May 31 and again from August 15 to November 15, and it calls on building owners and managers to turn off, dim, or block any lights within buildings that are typically left on at night. It also calls for nonessential lights, such as those illuminating building signs or sponsor logos, to be turned off or switched to green or blue colors that are less likely to attract birds than red or white. For these twice-annual migration periods, turning off lights can help reduce the potentially deadly lure and distraction of buildings, keeping the tens of millions of birds that travel through Philadelphia along the Atlantic Flyway on their flight path.

Prey tell, what makes a publisher predatory?

Read the full story at Science.

Thanks to a childhood of but-wait-there’s-more, I had become aware that everyone, everywhere wanted to sell me something, and resisting their efforts would be an uphill but necessary battle. The poetry anthology, though, was new. It couldn’t rotisserie a chicken or cut hair with a vacuum. It was my own work sold back to me, along with the flattery that I had, via creative genius, qualified for the enviable opportunity to be their customer. I warily added the occurrence to my growing list of potential swindles—worse than the Home Shopping Network, which at least offered actual products, but a notch better than Columbia House’s eight CDs for a penny introductory offer that disguised its subscription trap.

This is why, when I started to encounter predatory publishers as a scientist—you know, the emails that greet you with much warmth and little grammar, inviting you to submit your work to their esteemed family of publications—I smelled the scam a mile away. Really, you consider me “a leader in my field”? And the publication of my research is “a matter of some urgency”? Clearly you don’t know me or my research.

Community Based Pollution Prevention for Two Urban Cities—A Case Study

Meegoda JN, Watts D, Hsieh H-N, Bezerra de Souza B. (2021). “Community Based Pollution Prevention for Two Urban Cities—A Case Study.” Clean Technologies 3(1),59-78. https://doi.org/10.3390/cleantechnol3010004

Abstract: Pollution prevention is an approach for generating less waste using fewer toxic chemicals while conserving water and energy. Even though pollution prevention practices have been encouraged for over thirty years, many smaller businesses have not considered or adopted such techniques. This study examines the effect of a community-based approach designed to emphasize the benefits to the health and economic well-being of urban communities when source reduction practices are implemented by businesses in the community. Partnering with existing community groups in Newark and Jersey City, NJ, technical assistance was provided to small and medium-sized businesses under grant funding from Region 2 of the US Environmental Protection Agency. In this research, 32 small and medium-sized businesses were evaluated for source reduction opportunities and implementation plans were drawn up. After these businesses implemented operational changes, emission and cost savings were determined and reported back to respective small business owners as well as to the communities during community meetings designed to encourage additional participation. Based on 32 case studies, several measurable benefits were achieved, including the yearly saving of 932 pounds of hazardous waste, 3917 pounds of non-hazardous waste, 13.62 metric tons of carbon equivalent (MTCE) of greenhouse gases and $5335 USD. The initial findings suggest that community-based programs such as this can be beneficial but must be sustained over a period of time. One issue that was repeatedly observed, and is likely widely believed, is the concern of small business operators that cooperation with any group funded by a government program may lead to the assessment of fines or penalties for environmental violations. This concern limits the willingness of many smaller businesses to participate. The findings of this study suggest that a sustained community-based program may overcome that concern through demonstration of the benefit to the business and the community, and through credibility building achieved by regular community reporting and the absence of official intervention. 

A Closer Look at How Humanity Deals With its Hydrocarbon Waste

Read the full story at Interesting Engineering.

Petroleum and petroleum-based products dominate our world today. From plastics to oils to practically everything we use on a daily basis, petroleum is involved in some form or fashion in its lifecycle or manufacturing. But petroleum-based products like the ones we use on a daily basis produce a significant amount of hydrocarbon waste that has to be dealt with. 

To a significant degree, this waste is never seen by consumers, rather it is a byproduct of manufacturing techniques that then can become environmental pollutants. However, hydrocarbon waste isn’t just a manufacturing byproduct, this type of waste is all around us. So what is it?

Duke Energy IRPs for Carolina utilities overlook opportunities for savings from renewables

Read the full story from IEEFA.

A pair of long-range plans for Carolina utilities owned by Duke Energy are all but ignoring potential savings from renewable energy sources over the next decade, according to a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Minneapolis company wants to ‘mine’ garbage to find metals for EV batteries

Read the full story from the Minneapolis StarTribune.

New firm breaks ground on expansion to an existing Mich. recycling center to extract cobalt, copper, nickel from industrial waste.

Solar Battery Infrastructure, Research Increasing in Wisconsin

Read the full story from SpectrumNews1.

Solar energy infrastructure has been established and is growing in Wisconsin. Now, more and more work is being done with battery technology in the state to power houses with solar energy even at night.

DOE grant fudns wastewater treatment innovation

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

A research team will work to accelerate the commercialization of a distributed water treatment technology that provides energy-positive treatment of high-strength food and beverage industry wastewater, thanks to a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE). CEE associate professor Jeremy Guest is conducting the University of Illinois portion of the research, for which his team will receive DOE funding of nearly $420,000.

Banking on Climate Chaos 2021: Fossil Fuel Finance Report

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This report analyzes fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 largest commercial and investment banks — aggregating their leading roles in lending and underwriting of debt and equity issuances — and reveals that these banks poured a total of USD $3.8 trillion into fossil fuels from 2016–2020. Fossil fuel financing dropped 9% last year, parallel to the global drop in fossil fuel demand and production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet 2020 levels remained higher than in 2016, the year immediately following the adoption of the Paris Agreement. The overall fossil fuel financing trend of the last five years is still heading definitively in the wrong direction, reinforcing the need for banks to establish policies that lock in the fossil fuel financing declines of 2020, lest they snap back to business-as-usual in 2021.