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Posted: October 7, 2014

Agency seeks input on improvements

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted additional data and added new functions to ChemView, EPA’s publicly-accessible, one-stop online tool to find information for chemicals regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

“In the absence of TSCA reform, EPA is moving ahead to improve access to chemical health and safety information, and increase the dialogue to help the public choose safer ingredients used in everyday products,” said James Jones, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The additional data along with a customer satisfaction survey will make chemical information more readily available for decision-makers and consumers.”

The enhanced data functions include: improving the display and content for the Chemical Data Reporting information, adding a new link that displays the pollution prevention information generated as part of the Toxics Release Inventory program, and launching an administrative tool that will save EPA resources by streamlining the loading of future information. Read more

Posted: October 3, 2014
Source: Body Shop Business.com

PPG has now converted more than 10,000 collision centers in the U.S. and Canada to its waterborne systems, with the majority of these conversions taking place in National Rule areas rather than in low-VOC compliant regions. The announcement was made by PPG waterborne segment manager Tim Jones.

According to Jones, more than 10,000 collision centers in North America are now using PPG waterborne products, with more than 50 percent of these shops in National Rule markets. This means most PPG customers choose to use waterborne products and systems even though they are not required to do so to meet low-VOC regulations.

“Waterborne is not just a compliance solution anymore,” said Jones. “More than 10,000 PPG customers in the U.S. and Canada see the value in superior color matching, excellent throughput and performance, consistent color mixes and other key qualities that our waterborne products provide. PPG has a longstanding commitment to the collision repair industry to deliver high-quality and time-saving products. Envirobase High Performance and Aquabase Plus products are easier to blend and apply. Our customers appreciate this and see a real difference in their shops’ productivity.
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Posted: October 2, 2014

Agency highlights water conservation project in the city of Fresno, reducing water use by 25%

FRESNO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld announced more than $183 million in funding to invest in California for statewide improvements in local water infrastructure and the reduction of water pollution. Blumenfeld was joined by Fresno Public Utilities Director Thomas Esqueda, and other state and local officials for the announcement at an event highlighting $51 million in federal funding that was used to install water meters within the city of Fresno. The event was held at the home of Bruce and Amy Roberts, who participated in the water meter program.

“Water is the lifeblood of our communities and EPA is committed to working with our state and city partners to protect this precious resource,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Today’s funding will help create construction jobs, develop infrastructure and conserve resources as we deal with the challenge of climate change.”

The City of Fresno, through a zero percent interest loan from the state, used the $51 million in drinking water funding to purchase and install 73,152 water meters in residential homes in several neighborhoods. The meters help homeowners and the city easily identify how much water homes are using. The meters have an electronic device that helps the city obtain quicker and more accurate meter readings. Since the installation of the meters was completed this year, water usage in the city has decreased by 25 percent.
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Posted: September 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its fourth year of Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data, detailing greenhouse gas pollution trends and emissions broken down by industrial sector, geographic region and individual facilities. In 2013, reported emissions from large industrial facilities were 20 million metric tons higher than the prior year, or 0.6 percent, driven largely by an increase in coal use for power generation.

“Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life—increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA is supporting the President’s Climate Action Plan by providing high-quality greenhouse gas data to inform effective climate action.”

The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is the only program that collects facility-level greenhouse gas data from major industrial sources across the United States, including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills and landfills. The program also collects data on the increasing production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) predominantly used in refrigeration and air conditioning.
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Release Date: 09/26/2014

Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (415) 947-4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will give technical assistance to help Carson City develop infrastructure that will contribute to greener, more vibrant neighborhoods and increase resiliency from the impacts of our changing climate.

Through its Greening America’s Capitals program, EPA will fund a team that will provide design assistance to Carson City for improvements along William Street, a former state highway that connects to downtown. The project will help the city explore how to incorporate green infrastructure through the use of native plants, and to enhance the neighborhood’s economic vitality.

“EPA is pleased to have this opportunity to work with Carson City as it pursues the vision of a more sustainable future,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This project will help
make Williams Street an economically thriving route into the heart of the city.”

“Carson City is proud to be a recipient of the EPA’s Greening America’s Capitals programs. As the state capital, Carson City is the face of Nevada both now and for years to come,” said Carson City Mayor Robert L. Crowell. “As such, it is important that we incorporate smart growth techniques into our development standards that promote an attractive business environment as well as desirable quality of life for millennials and retirees alike. This program will help us achieve that
goal.”

The portion of William Street slated for redevelopment is near the center of the City which connects several neighborhoods to commercial services and community facilities. It is one of the only east-west connections across the new freeway that bisects the city from north to south. As a former state highway, William Street is designed to accommodate cars, and current conditions along the corridor create an unsafe environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

Support from the EPA will help the City in tackling the design challenge of creating a multi-modal corridor, including bikes and pedestrians that enhances economic vitality. As part of the design process, the City and EPA will actively engage with the local community in the planning process to create a more connected and attractive environment to residents and visitors alike.

Since 2010, EPA has helped 18 capital cities and the District of Columbia create community designs that help clean the air and water, stimulate economic development, and make existing neighborhoods more vibrant places. The final designs provide models for other communities interested in adopting similar approaches that can improve the environment, strengthen local economies, and protect public health.

Four other capital cities were also selected this week:

  • Austin, Texas, will receive assistance to create design options to improve pedestrian and bike connections in the South Central Waterfront area, and to incorporate green infrastructure that reduces stormwater runoff and localized flooding, improves water quality, and increases shade.
  • Columbus, Ohio, will receive assistance to develop design options for the Milo-Grogan neighborhood that use green infrastructure to improve stormwater quality, reduce flooding risks, and encourage walking and cycling.
  • Pierre, S.D., will receive assistance to redesign its historic main street, South Pierre, in a way that uses green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff and improve resiliency to extreme climate conditions.
  • Richmond, Va., will receive assistance to design options for more parks and open spaces, and to incorporate green infrastructure to better manage stormwater runoff on Jefferson Avenue, a street which serves as the gateway to some of Richmond’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.

The Greening America’s Capitals program aims to help communities consider ways to incorporate sustainable design strategies that yield multiple environmental, economic, and social benefits into their
planning and development. EPA implements this program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a program that helps communities
create more housing and transportation choices that result in better environmental outcomes for communities.

More information on Greening America’s Capitals:

http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/greencapitals.htm

View design options for past recipients: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usepagov/sets/72157647526563747

More information on green infrastructure: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/index.cfm

U.S. EPA NEWS

RELEASE DATE:   September 25, 2014

MEDIA CONTACT:  Suzanne Skadowski, 415-972-3165, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

U.S. EPA proposes to eliminate mercury pollution from dentist offices nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a proposal to eliminate mercury pollution from dental offices nationwide. These new Clean Water Act standards would cut discharges of dental amalgam – a mixture of mercury and other metals that dentists use to fill cavities. Under this proposal, dentists must use devices to remove mercury and other toxic metals before they go down the drain.

“This proposed rule would cut mercury and toxic metal discharges to public wastewater systems by at least 8.8 tons a year nationwide,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Bay Area communities already require dentists to use amalgam capture devices and have seen their mercury pollution levels drop nearly 75 percent. Now the rest of California and the nation will see these same benefits.”

About half the mercury that enters public water treatment systems comes from dental offices that do not use amalgam separators. When mercury from amalgam is discharged into water bodies, it can be transformed into methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that builds up in fish, shellfish and fish-eating animals. People can be harmed by methylmercury when they eat contaminated fish and shellfish. Methylmercury is a neurotoxin which impairs brain and nervous system development and function.

Many states and local wastewater districts have started mercury pollution control programs that require amalgam separators in dentist offices. Amalgam separators remove 90 to 95 percent of mercury and other metal waste. Under the San Francisco Bay Regional Watershed Mercury control program, virtually all Bay Area cities and public water systems have successful mandatory dental amalgam separator programs, but this is not the case in most other communities and states.

EPA estimates that up to 120,000 dental offices in the U.S. use or dispose of amalgam fillings that contain mercury.  Almost all of these offices discharge to sanitary sewers that flow to wastewater treatment plants.  While most offices use some practices to reduce amalgam discharges to the sewers, they are not nearly as effective as amalgam separators. Because 40 to 50 percent of dentists across the country already use amalgam separators thanks to state and local programs, the new rule may result in installation of separators in up to 60,000 dental offices nationwide.

EPA estimates put the total annual cost of the proposed rule at $44 to $49 million and a new streamlining proposal will cut state and local oversight costs by a similar amount. This action is one way the U.S. is meeting the goals of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international environmental agreement that addresses human activities contributing to widespread mercury pollution.

EPA will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register and expects to finalize the rule in September 2015.

More information: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/dental/

Posted: September 29, 2014

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed standards under the Clean Water Act to help cut discharges of dental amalgam to the environment. Amalgam is a mixture of mercury and other metals that dentists use to fill cavities. Mercury is discharged when dentists remove old fillings or remove excess amalgam when placing a new filling.

Studies show about half the mercury that enters Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) comes from dental offices. Mercury from amalgam can then make its way into the environment in a number of ways, including through discharge to water bodies. Contact with some microorganisms can help create methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that builds up in fish, shellfish and fish-eating animals. Fish and shellfish are the main sources of human exposure to methylmercury.

In response, many states and localities have implemented amalgam discharge-cutting programs requiring amalgam separators and other Best Management Practices in dentist offices. The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends separators and other Best Management Practices for amalgam.

EPA expects compliance with this proposed rule would cut metal discharge to POTWs, half of it from mercury, by at least 8.8 tons a year.
Read more

Posted: September 22, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $335,000 to the University of California Berkeley and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control for projects to help businesses and manufacturers reduce hazardous chemicals in consumer products and to train a new generation of engineers, chemists, and product designers to use green chemistry for safer products.

“UC Berkeley and DTSC are exploring innovative tools and technologies to make consumer products safer and more environmentally friendly,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By promoting green chemistry during product design, companies can reduce costs, increase market opportunities and operate more sustainably.”

UC Berkeley’s Center for Green Chemistry received a $230,915 pollution prevention grant to create “Greener Solutions: an Interdisciplinary Safer Design Partnership,” providing student training in green chemistry and helping businesses reduce their use of hazardous chemicals. UC Berkeley will develop a for-credit course to teach 25 students per year in using green chemistry techniques to solve real-world business problems. Students will apply their green training to help five companies find ways to reduce hazardous chemicals and products in their supply chains. UC Berkeley will share innovations from these projects through training materials and pollution prevention case studies.
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Posted: September 22, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, EPA announced the availability of up to $5 million in grant funding to establish clean diesel projects aimed at reducing emissions from marine and inland water ports located in areas of poor air quality.

“Communities surrounding ports often face serious air quality and other environmental challenges, “ said Janet McCabe,  Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. “By working with fleet owners to replace or update older equipment with cleaner technologies, we can find collaborative solutions that foster both economic growth and improve public health.”

Older diesel engines emit large amounts of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter (PM).  These pollutants are linked to a range of serious health problems including asthma, lung and heart disease, and other respiratory ailments.  Most of the country’s busiest ports are located near large metropolitan areas and, as a result, people in neighboring communities are exposed to high levels of diesel emissions.  Since most ships and equipment at ports run on diesel engines, clean diesel projects at ports will produce immediate emissions reductions and provide health benefits to those living and working in the area.

This is the second grant competition to focus on reducing emissions at ports under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA). Under this competition, EPA anticipates awarding between two and five assistance agreements. Applicants may request up to $2 million in funding toward eligible projects. Port authorities, governmental or quasi-governmental public agencies that operate ports, and state and local governments with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality are eligible to apply. Community groups, terminal operators, shipping carriers, and other related entities are encouraged to participate through partnerships with eligible applicants.  Projects may include drayage trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and cargo handling equipment at marine or inland water ports.  Funding is limited to projects at ports located in areas of poor air quality, as determined by the Administrator.  The list of eligible areas for this RFP can be found at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/documents/fy14-ports-county-area-list.pdf.

All proposals must be received by December 11, 2014. For more information and to access the Request for Proposals and other documents, please visit http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/ports-dera-rfp.htm.

Posted: September 16, 2014
Source: The New York Times, Health
By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS

Concerned by rising rates of prescription drug abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Monday that it would permit consumers to return unused prescription medications like opioid painkillers to pharmacies.

The move is intended to help reduce stockpiles of unneeded medicines in homes, which are often pilfered by teenagers. Under the new regulation, patients and their relatives will also be allowed to mail unused prescription drugs to an authorized collector using packages to be made available at pharmacies and other locations, like libraries and senior centers.

The new regulation, which will go into effect in a month, covers drugs designated as controlled substances. Those include opioid painkillers like OxyContin, stimulants like Adderall and depressants like Ativan.

Until now, these drugs could not legally be returned to pharmacies. The Controlled Substances Act allowed patients only to dispose of the drugs themselves or to surrender them to law enforcement.

“This is big news and long overdue,” said Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s baffling that it’s so easy to get a prescription for opioids and yet so difficult to dispose of these drugs safely.”

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