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EnviroBytes, a Summary of Issues and Events for Week Ending March 13, 2009

EPA PLANS RAIN BARREL AND RAIN GARDEN CAMPAIGN TO REDUCE POLLUTANT RUNOFF INTO DELAWARE ESTUARY

EPA Region 3 is set to kick-off a campaign initiative to encourage the creation of thousands of rain barrels and gardens in the Delaware Estuary watersheds to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff, improve the water quality of receiving streams, reduce stream bank erosion and the negative effects on aquatic life.  The campaign will be carried out jointly with the Delaware Estuary, Inland Bay Estuary and the Maryland Coast Bays Estuary to inform, inspire and provide the necessary technical assistance and information to landowners to install rain barrels and rain gardens.  The campaign will include a website, sharing of outreach materials, rain garden registration, and compiling data on potential reductions in stormwater pollutant runoff.   The next meeting of the Rain Garden Campaign partners will be held in early April.  

PANELIST REPRESENTS EPA IN SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE CONFERENCE 

EPA's Valerie Breznicky served as a panelist for the Society of Women Environmental Professionals Capitol Chapter Conference, on March 5 at Harrisburg (Pa.) Community College. Some conference attendees took the opportunity to share technical information, discuss current environmental issues, and mentor students in the college's environmental specialist program.  The panel discussion: "Infrastructure and the Environment- Pennsylvania's Aging Sewage Treatment Plants," allowed Valerie to present EPA's sustainable infrastructure initiatives addressing present and future problems of the nation's aging infrastructure. To find out about EPA's sustainable infrastructure approach, go to http://www.epa.gov/waterinfrastructure/basicinformation.html#one

EPA AND DUPONT AGREE TO LOWER PFOA LIMITS IN DRINKING WATER NEAR PLANTS

EPA filed a consent order on March 11 to lower the level of ammonium perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C-8) in drinking water surrounding the E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company's Parkersburg, W. Va. plant, from the 0.50 parts per billion (ppb) established in 2006 to a more protective level of 0.40 ppb.  C8 is a contaminant as yet unregulated by EPA, but studies have shown it to be toxic to animals and persistent in humans.  As a result of the consent order, and an EPA health advisory for PFOA, DuPont will offer connection to public water, bottled water or treatment systems to residents if the level of PFOA in their water exceeds 0.40 ppb.  A limited number of residents (approximately 14 homes) will be impacted by this change.

EPA EXPERTS CONTRIBUTE TO ARTICLE ON PHARMACEUTICALS IN DRINKING WATER

AARP Bulletin Today has issued an article titled Drugs in Our Drinking Water: What do we do with unused medicines? which quotes two EPA experts on the emerging issue of pharmaceuticals in the environment. An investigation by the AP Exit EPA Click for Disclaimerfound trace amounts of drugs in the water supply of 24 major metropolitan areas, and a study by EPA has identified more than 100 individual pharmaceuticals and personal care products in drinking water including antibiotics, steroids, antidepressants and hormones. Meanwhile, absent legislation, pharmaceuticals in the environment are being reduced by disposal measures, collection events, and mail back programs.  But there is a need to know more about establishing regulation/safety limits, how people and aquatic life are being affected, and healthcare system costs incurred in wasted medications.  To read the article, go to (http://bulletin.aarp.org/yourhealth/policy/articles/drugs_in_our_drinking_water_.html).Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

PARTNERSHIP ADDRESSES CLIMATE CHANGE AND CHILDREN'S HEALTH

EPA is seeking partners to join the climate change and children's health campaign to encourage young people -- middle and high school students -- to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Examining how climate change (extreme weather, air pollution, infectious diseases, and heat) may affect children's health is a starting point to explore changing climate's affect on children's health.  Campaign partners pledge to inform others how climate change affects children's health, encourage young people to become climate ambassadors to teach others, promote the climate change and children's health education campaign, and participate in events and activities to address climate change and children's health.  There is a presentation and a sample proclamation that can be issued by community, school or organizational leaders.  To learn more visit: www.epa.gov/climateforaction/lead/partner.htm

EPA ANNOUNCES NEW ACTION TO PREVENT COAL ASH RELEASES

Prompted by last year's massive coal ash spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority facility in Kingston, Tenn., EPA announced it is acting to prevent similar future threats to human health and the environment nationwide by gathering critical coal ash impoundment information from electrical utilities nationwide, conducting on-site assessments to determine structural integrity and vulnerabilities, ordering cleanup and repairs where needed, and developing new regulations for future safety. EPA will also be visiting many of these facilities to see that the management units are structurally sound, and will require appropriate remedial action at any facility that is found to pose a risk for potential failure.  EPA anticipates a proposed rule ready for public comment by the end of the year. For more information, go to http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/industrial/special/fossil/coalashletter.htm

EPA PARTNER REMOVES 1,600 POUNDS OF PRIORITY CHEMICAL FROM WASTE STREAM

In 2008, the GrafTech International Holdings facility in Clarksburg, W. Va., joined EPA's National Partnership for Environmental Priorities (NPEP) which encourages public and private organizations to form partnerships with EPA to commit to reduce the use or release of any of 31 priority chemicals.  As part of the process to reduce the total emissions released during its manufacturing process, GrafTech installed new pollution control equipment to capture petroleum coke from the manufacturing process, preventing 1,600 pounds of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) and benzo(g,h,i)perylene (NPEP priority chemicals that fall under the broader PAHs category) from being discharged into the environment. PAHs can enter the human body by inhaling contaminated air, and through ingestion and skin contact. For more information on NPEP go to: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/partnerships/npep/index.htm

EPA RELEASES COMPREHENSIVE DATABASE ON ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMICALS 

EPA has released a new online database that collects information on more than 500,000 man-made chemicals from over 200 public sources. The Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource (ACToR) database allows easy access to hundreds of data sources in one place.   Sources of information include EPA, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies; state databases, the World Health Organization; and non-governmental organizations, private companies and universities.  ToxCast develops faster methods to evaluate and detail the potential toxicity for thousands of chemicals using computer modeling and advanced molecular biology techniques helping EPA prioritize future testing of chemicals. For more information on the ACToR database: http://actor.epa.gov/actor/faces/ACToRHome.jsp  or the EPA National Center for Computational Toxicology, at http://www.epa.gov/ncct

EPA PROPOSES FIRST NATIONAL REPORTING ON GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

EPA has proposed the first comprehensive national system for reporting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by major sources in the nation which are produced by the burning of fossil fuels and through industrial and biological processes. Approximately 13,000 facilities (accounting for about 85 percent to 90 percent of greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S.), would be covered under the proposal. The first annual report would be submitted to EPA in 2011 for calendar year 2010, except for vehicle and engine manufacturers, which would begin reporting for model year 2011.  The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Two public hearings will be held during the comment period. For more information on the proposed rule, go to http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ghgrulemaking.html

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