Gates, Rockefeller Foundations Form Alliance to Spur 'Green Revolution' in Africa

Read the full press release.

The Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City have formed an alliance to foster a new “green revolution” in Africa that will dramatically increase the productivity of small farms, moving tens of millions of people out of poverty and significantly reducing hunger.

Study Finds Environmental Toxin Causes Heritable Adult-Onset Diseases

Read the full article in Environmental Protection.

A disease you are suffering today could be a result of your great-grandmother being exposed to an environmental toxin during pregnancy — and you may already have passed it along to your children.

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) found that exposure to an environmental toxin during embryonic development can cause an animal, and almost all of its descendents, to develop adult-onset illnesses such as cancer and kidney disease. Their discovery suggests that toxins may have played a role in the rapid increase in localized geographic areas of diseases that were previously thought to be caused primarily by genetic mutations.

The articles were published in Endocrinology as rapid electronic publications on September 14, 2006.

Mercury Lamp Drum-Top Crusher Study

USEPA has posted a study of mercury lamp drum-top crushing (DTC) devices. The devices reduce the volume of waste lamps and improve storage and handling associated with fluorescent lamp recycling. The study provides the most current information on the performance of DTC devices, with respect to operator exposure to mercury emissions from the units.

The study evaluated four different devices. The data collected in the course of the study indicate that none of the DTC devices evaluated completely controlled mercury emissions during lamp processing operations, even with optimal operation. Use of a poorly designed device could result in mercury exposures nearly an order of magnitude above the OSHA permissible exposure limits. Fundamental design changes to reduce the reliance on fallible components would be needed to improve the ruggedness of DTC devices. [Thanks to Phil Kaplan for the information]

Proposed Rule – Alternatives for the Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning Sector

EPA is proposing to expand the list of choices car manufacturers have when choosing non ozone-depleting refrigerants for use in vehicle air conditioning systems.

Today’s action proposes to list HFC-152a and CO2 as acceptable alternatives for ozone depleting substances (ODS) in new motor vehicle air conditioning systems under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. When used with proper risk mitigation measures, HFC-152a and CO2 can reduce the environmental impact of motor vehicle air conditioners.

The automotive industry, if they choose to adopt these technologies, would be required to comply with the conditions necessary to deploy HFC-152a and CO2 systems in a safe manner. Car manufacturers, component manufacturers and the motor vehicle air conditioning service industry have been actively engaged in the development of this rulemaking and are developing prototype systems with the use conditions defined in this proposal.

EPA will accept public comment on its proposal for 30-days following publication of the proposal in the Federal Register.

For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/regulations.html.

EPA plans to close labs, drop scientists and reduce oversight

Read the full article in the Kansas City Star.

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to close labs, cut its cadre of upper-level scientists and reduce regulatory oversight, according to an internal agency document.

In a memo dated June 8, a top agency official outlined “a set of proposed disinvestments, innovations, efficiencies and consolidations” for the upcoming 2008 fiscal budget.

EPA Seeks Better Use of Millions of Tons of Wasted Sand

EPA is today releasing a guide to help states get more productive use out of millions of tons of sand discarded by the foundry industry.

The State Toolkit for Developing Beneficial Reuse Programs for Foundry Sand is designed to significantly increase the volume of sand that is reused from foundry operations, saving landfill capacity and protecting natural resources.

Foundry products are found in virtually every sector of the U.S. economy, including transportation, construction, agricultural equipment, and military weapon systems.

Each year, foundries, also known as metal casters, use about 100 million tons of sand to create molds for cast metal, but then dispose of about 10 million tons. Most of the disposed sand is not hazardous and could be reused in a variety of ways, including roadbeds, construction fill, and cement manufacturing. However, barriers in state programs and the market result in only about   one million tons (10 percent) being reused to benefit society. For example, State barriers include the time required for approval of reuse requests, overly strict requirements for testing by-products proposed for reuse, and insufficient outreach on how to apply for the beneficial use activity.

While the Toolkit can help states promote beneficial reuse of foundry sand, it is also helpful to states when starting or revising programs aimed at a much wider range of industrial byproducts, such as coal combustion by-products and construction and demolition debris.

The Toolkit was released today by EPA before the American Foundry Society at their 18th Environmental Health and Safety Conference in Nashville.

For a copy of the Toolkit and more information about beneficial reuse of foundry sand, visit: http://www.epa.gov/sectors/metalcasting/foundry.html.

The Toolkit was developed through the Sector Strategies program (http://www.epa.gov/sectors) in EPA’s Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation, in partnership with the foundry industry and EPA’s Resource Conservation Challenge, which is focusing on foundry sands as one of three industrial byproducts that present strong reuse opportunities (The other two are coal combustion by-products and construction and demolition debris).

For more information about the Resource Conservation Challenge, visit http://www.epa.gov/rcc/.