News

EPA Releases 2013 Toxics Release Inventory National Analysis

Posted: January 14, 2015

WASHINGTON — Similar to previous years, in 2013, most of the toxic chemical waste managed at industrial facilities in the U.S. was not released into the environment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report. The report, published today, shows that approximately 22 billion pounds— or 84 percent— of the 26 billion pounds of toxic chemical waste were instead managed through the use of preferred practices such as recycling. Of the 4 billion pounds that were disposed of or otherwise released to the environment, 66 percent went to land, 19 percent to air, 5 percent to water, and 10 percent was transferred to other facilities.

From 2012 to 2013, the amount of toxic chemicals managed as waste by the nation’s industrial facilities increased by 4 percent. This increase includes the amount of chemicals recycled, treated, and burned for energy recovery, as well as the amount disposed of or otherwise released into the environment. In TRI, a “release” generally refers to a chemical that is emitted to the air, water, or placed in some type of land disposal. Most of these releases are subject to a variety of regulatory requirements designed to limit human and environmental harm.

“We all have a right to know what toxic chemicals are being used and released into our environment, and what steps companies are taking to reduce their releases to the environment or, better yet, prevent waste from being generated in the first place.” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The TRI Program tracks this information and makes it accessible to citizens and communities. And I’m pleased to see that TRI data show such a commitment to release reductions and pollution prevention on the part of many industrial facilities.” Read more


EPA Proposes Rule to Protect Consumers from Harmful Chemicals Found in Homes and Schools

Posted: January 8, 2015

WASHINGTON – Today, EPA is taking action to protect consumers from new uses and imports of the harmful chemicals Toluene Diisocyanates (TDI).

These chemicals are currently widely used in residual amounts in the production of polyurethanes and consumer products, such as coatings, elastomers, adhesives, and sealants and can be found in products used in and around homes or schools. Diisocyanates are well known dermal and inhalation sensitizers in the workplace and can cause asthma, lung damage, and in severe cases, death.

The proposed decision would give EPA the opportunity to evaluate the use of, and if necessary, to take action to prohibit or limit all products containing over 0.1 percent of the chemical including imported products that make their way into the United States.

EPA’s proposed action, a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), would require manufacturers (including importers) to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in consumer products at levels above 0.1 percent by weight.  EPA would then have the opportunity to evaluate the intended use of the chemicals and, if necessary, take action to prohibit or limit the activity.

Additional information on the proposed SNUR on TDI and related compounds and how to provide comments can be found at:  http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/tdi.html


University of Washington offers certificate program in green chemistry

A new certificate program from the University of Washington will help chemists, environmental and  sustainability professionals, health and safety professionals and product managers make informed  product decisions that take into account sustainability, toxicity and human health concerns. The  certificate in Green Chemistry & Chemical Stewardship will be offered through the Professional and  Continuing Education program at the University of Washington.

There will be three online courses in the certificate and individuals can sign up for a single course on a  space available basis:

  • Sustainability, Toxicology and Human Health
  • Principles of Green Chemistry
  • Assessment Tools for Safer Chemical Decisions  

The certificate program will be offered online and is intended to give professionals working in  chemicals management experience using comparative chemical hazard assessment tools for product  selection. The classes will be offered sequentially, beginning in January, 2015, and concluding in  August, 2015. Students will complete a capstone project requiring them to evaluate a chemical or  product within a sustainability framework.

Go to http://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/green-chemistry-chemical-stewardship.html to learn more  about the certificate program.


NPPR to Cohost January Conference with Air & Waste Management Association

picOn January 13 and 14, 2015, the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) and Air & Waste Management Association will co-host the Pollution Prevention Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio titled P2: Increase Profits Reduce Pollution.

This conference will be focused on pollution prevention and hosts speakers that will discuss numerous topics of varying aspects related to pollution prevention. Two keynote speakers and noted P2 consultants are Robert Pojasek and Cam Metcalf. Some of topics to be discussed include; incorporating P2 into Environmental Management Systems; P2 in federal and facility infrastructure; relationship between pollution reduction and company profits; storm water pollution; achieving global sustainability through P2; and green chemistry strategies.

For Conference agenda and to register: http://awma.org/events-webinars/upcoming-events/p2/registration


EPA to Hold Public Hearings in California, Texas and Washington, D.C. on Proposed Smog Standards


EPA to Hold Public Hearings in California, Texas and Washington, D.C. on Proposed Smog Standards

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold three public hearings on the proposed updates to the national air quality standards for ground-level ozone, also known as smog. EPA has proposed to strengthen the standards to a level within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comment on a level down to 60 ppb. The agency estimates that the benefits of meeting the proposed standards will significantly outweigh the costs, preventing asthma attacks, heart attacks, missed school days and premature deaths, among other health effects. Read more


Dr. Katy Wolf Conducts Alternatives Analysis on Floor Wax Stripping Products

Floor wax stripping products are used in thousands of commercial buildings,  public buildings and schools to maintain the look and integrity of floors.  These products often contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that  contribute to photochemical smog. Many of the VOC solvents in the  strippers are also toxic and can cause toxicity problems for janitors who  apply them, tenants of the buildings, visitors to the buildings and children  and teachers in the schools.

WSPPN subcontracted Dr. Katy Wolf from Institute of Research and Technical Assistance (IRTA) to test and analyze alternative flooring and  to test coatings that do not  require waxing or stripping.  kwolf overseeingDr. Wolf is well known in the P2  Community for past research  projects that she has done.  Some of Katy’s more recent  projects include an alternative  graffiti remover; alternatives to  release agents for parts  manufacturing, concrete  stamping and asphalt  manufacture and application;  and alternatives to methylene  chloride consumer product paint  strippers. There are many other  studies posted on her site:  http://www.irta.us/.

During the last year, IRTA recruited and worked with schools and public  buildings to test the alternatives. Two different stripper suppliers helped  Katy formulate and test promising alternative floor wax strippers. IRTA is  working with both suppliers to develop strippers based on the new surfactant  that will have very low VOC content. Screening tests were conducted on  some of these strippers and IRTA tested two different strippers at the San  Francisco City Hall. One foamed too much and the other was not quite  aggressive enough. A supplier is modifying the formulations based on the  results of the initial screening tests.

Next IRTA installed three different types of coatings on the flooring at a  Riverside school and four different types of flooring at two Riverside schools.  The coatings and alternative flooring will be inspected monthly with the  coating and flooring suppliers during the school year. The flooring that  requires floor wax is widely used today and is called vinyl composition tile  (VCT). The floor wax strippers that are commonly used generally meet the  VOC limits established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). These  are 3% VOC for light and medium buildup and 12% for heavy buildup. IRTA  will try to develop alternatives with 1% VOC content; this is the limit set by  the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) in their  certification program for janitorial products. Virtually all of the strippers  used today also contain ethanolamines which can be toxic and IRTA will try  to formulate alternatives that eliminate these components.

IRTA worked with the coating suppliers to apply three different types of  coatings over the VCT in a well-used hallway with  three doors to the outside at a Riverside school.  Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 11.14.17 AMThese included a vinyl coating, a polyurethane  coating and a UV curable coating. None of the  coatings require waxing or stripping and they can be  cleaned with plain water or a neutral cleaner. IRTA  also worked with alternative flooring suppliers to  coordinate the installation of four different types of  flooring in two Riverside schools. Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 11.14.24 AMThree of the  alternative  flooring types— sheet vinyl,  sheet vinyl with  cushioning and  linoleum—were installed in the same  school hallway where the coatings were  applied. One additional type of flooring  was installed in another Riverside school  hallway where there is substantial traffic.  This coating is Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT).  None of these types of flooring requires  waxing or stripping and they can be  cleaned with plain water or water with a  small amount of vinegar.

What’s Next?

IRTA plans to test a modified DuraChem stripper with the Riverside Unified  School District. IRTA plans to regularly monitor and inspect the coatings and  the alternative flooring installed in the two Riverside schools with the  suppliers. The flooring suppliers are very interested in the results of the  project and have invited IRTA to give a presentation in January.

Dr. Wolf said, “The suppliers think that this is a landmark study. It will be  the first time that there will be information to compare the cost and  performance of VCT with waxing and stripping to the cost and performance  of coatings and alternatives flooring without waxing and stripping.”

Katy will finish the project as she always done with a thorough report that  evaluates and compares the performance and cost of the alternatives to the  currently used methods. WSPPN will likely organize a webinar once the  project is completed, so stay tuned.


German Environment Ministry celebrates “5 years of GMO cultivation free Bavaria” and commends commitment of conservationists, farmers and beekeepers

GMObees

On a Thursday in November, an event was held at the Prince Regent Theatre in Munich celebrating the 5-year anniversary of GMO cultivation free Bavaria. Since 2009, no genetically modified crops have been grown and especially thanks to the efforts of beekeepers not been planted for research purposes since 2010 in Bavaria.

Walter Haefeker, who gave a presentation about colony collapse disorder to the EPA San Francisco office in 2010 and was featured in a WSPPN Webinar last year, received the Bavarian State Medal for his outstanding contribution to the environment. The German Professional Beekeepers Association welcomes the clear position of the Bavarian State Government and is delighted to see, that the Free State of Bavaria earlier this year officially became the 62nd GMO Free farming area in Europe, by signing the GMO Free agreement in Brussels, with the President of the European GMO Free network, Maura Malaspina, the Environment Minister for the Marche region of Italy.

Walter Haefeker is a professional beekeeper in Bavaria, south of Munich (Germany). He serves on the board of directors of the German Professional Beekeepers Association and as President of the European Professional Beekeeping Association. In this capacity he has worked on the critical issues facing Beekeepers today including pesticides, GM-crops and intensive agricultural practices.

Serving as the President of the European Professional Bee Keepers Association, Walter helped lead the European beekeeping community’s efforts to support the EU Commission’s 2013 proposal to restrict the use of 3 neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for seed treatment, soil application (granulate) and foliar treatment on bee attractive plants and cereals.

Walter also helped initiate cooperation with the German Biogas Producers organization to replace corn with flowering plants to produce renewable energy and honey while promoting biodiversity and regenerating soil. He introduced a new international “bee friendly” label developed and owned by the beekeeping community, which is designed to mobilize consumer demand for certified bee-friendly production.

He is authored many articles, has made presentations and presented papers at scientific conferences dealing with the coexistence issues around GM-crops, and was featured in the 2010 documentary “Nicotine Bees.” Under his leadership, the German Professional Beekeepers Keynote Association of independent German dairy farmers launched a “Fair Milk” product designed to use bee friendly methods of feed production  and land management. Walter’s beekeeping operation is certified organic.

In the subsequent panel discussion after the November awards presentation, those present agreed that the Free State of Bavaria and the representatives of the ruling party (CSU) will play a special role in the upcoming weeks and months when the EU is considering the rules for the so-called opt-out plan. The unmodified implementation of the decision just taken by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament would finally create a solid legal foundation not only in Bavaria for banning GMO cultivation.

Walter who has been invited to speak at Harvard in February is a successful reconnaissance and defender of a bee and environmentally friendly agricultural policy. Congratulations go to Walter for being recognized with the Bavarian State Medal.


News Release: EPA awards $600,000 to Oakland, Calif. health nonprofit to help fight asthma in schools nationwide

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

RELEASE DATE:   December 17, 2014

 

EPA awards $600,000 to Oakland, Calif. health nonprofit to help fight asthma in schools nationwide 

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $600,000 grant to the Public Health Institute’s Regional Asthma Management & Prevention (RAMP), in Oakland, Calif. to help school-based health centers across the country prevent and manage environmental asthma triggers for children.  Asthma, a chronic respiratory disease that causes the lung’s airways to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath, is the most common chronic disease among school-aged children.

“Asthma affects over 7 million children in America and over 900,000 children in California,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA’s support for RAMP and its partners advances our commitment to help communities improve indoor air quality to prevent environmental asthma triggers such as dust, mold, smoke and poor ventilation.”

Under EPA’s grant, RAMP and its partner the California School-Based Health Alliance (CSHA), will: develop an Asthma Environmental Intervention Guide for school-based health centers nationwide that identifies actions to prevent and manage environmental asthma triggers at school and at home; conduct trainings at state conferences of school-based health centers in California, Michigan, New York, and Connecticut – all states with high asthma prevalence; and convene a national learning collaborative among school-based health centers in California and nationwide.

“Children spend a significant amount of time at school, making schools a very important place to address asthma,” said Anne Kelsey Lamb, RAMP Director. “We look forward to partnering with the EPA, the CSHA, and school-based health centers across the country to collectively improve indoor air quality and reduce the burden of asthma.”

“Reducing exposure to environmental asthma triggers and improving indoor air quality can play a significant role in improving health for students with asthma,” said Kristin Andersen, CSHA Associate Director “We’re so pleased that EPA is giving us an opportunity to partner with RAMP and school-based health centers to do just that.”

RAMP is among eight organizations in the U.S. receiving grants from EPA to reduce risks to public health from indoor air pollution, for a total investment of $4.5 million.

EPA announced the grant award today with RAMP and its partners at LifeLong’s West Oakland Middle School Health Center, one of over 230 school-based health centers in California and 2,000 nationwide that will benefit from the grant project. School-based health centers are clinics typically located on a school campus to provide primary health care for students and families at no or low-cost.

While there is no cure for asthma, with access to medical care, appropriate medications, proper self-management, and prevention of environmental asthma triggers, people can control their symptoms.

# # #

About Regional Asthma Management and Prevention

Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP), a project of the Public Health Institute, promotes comprehensive strategies for reducing asthma that include clinical management and environmental protection.  www.rampasthma.org The Public Health Institute (PHI) generates and promotes research, leadership and partnerships to build capacity for strong public health programs. www.phi.org/focus-areas/ 

About California School-Based Health Alliance

The California School-Based Health Alliance (CSHA) is the statewide nonprofit organization that aims to improve the health and academic success of children and youth by advancing health services in schools. CSHA helps schools and communities put health care where kids are – at school – and our conference, webinars, resources, and technical assistance help school-based health centers offer high quality, age-appropriate care to kids.  Connect with us on Facebook and YouTube: schoolhealthcenters, Twitter: @sbh4ca. http://www.schoolhealthcenters.org/  

About U.S. EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region 9 administers and enforces federal environmental laws in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations — home to more than 48 million people. While great progress has been made to reduce smog, improve water quality, clean up hazardous waste and create sustainable, healthy communities, much work remains to achieve EPA’s goals of protecting our environment and ensuring public health. Connect with us on Twitter: @EPAregion9, Facebook: EPAregion9, and our newsletter: www.epa.gov/region9/newsletter Learn more about our work to fight asthma:http://epa.gov/asthma/ 


News Release: EPA Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act

For Immediate Release: December 16, 2014

Media Contact: Nahal Mogharabi, 213-244-1815, Mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov

 

EPA Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act

Agency tours small drinking water systems, discusses small system challenges in Coachella Valley

 LOS ANGELES — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). State, local and community representatives joined EPA Regional Administrator at an event held at the San Jose Community and Bea Main Learning Center in Coachella Valley, Calif.

“Every day more than 38 million Californians rely on clean water for cooking, washing, and bathing,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We have made incredible progress in improving water quality and are tackling the remaining challenges so that every American will have access to clean drinking water.”

Since 1997, EPA has provided the California Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) more than $1.5 billion for infrastructure projects throughout the state, much of which was used to help disadvantaged communities. EPA works with the California State Water Resources Control Board and other local and state agencies to assist providers who are working with small drinking water systems to enhance their technical, managerial, and financial capability to reliably provide safe drinking water to communities.

Drinking water in the lower Coachella Valley comes from groundwater wells impacted with high levels of naturally-occurring arsenic and chromium. Treatment technologies can be costly, especially for small systems which face unique challenges in financing upgrades and operating needed infrastructure.

Over the past 17 years, Riverside County has received $61 million from the DWSRF for drinking water infrastructure projects including construction of new water treatment plants, drinking water wells, storage tanks and consolidation projects connecting small drinking water systems with larger water districts. In 2008, EPA provided $900,000 in support of the Torres Martinez Tribe for the construction of an intertie with the Coachella Valley Water District due to high arsenic in the Tribe’s primary and backup well.  The project is expected to be completed in late 2015. The new system will service 17 connections for a total population of 53 residents.

As part of the event, Regional Administrator Blumenfeld viewed the water filtration system at the San Jose Community Center which provides drinking water to the center, learning facility and 14 residences. In addition, EPA viewed the point-of-use filtration systems at the Gamez Mobile Home Park. These point-of-use systems are small, individual reverse osmosis filtration units placed under the kitchen sink; each has its own distribution spigot that provides treated drinking water for the home.

More than 290 million people depend on 50,000 community water systems across the country for safe, reliable water every day. The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress on December 16, 1974. Over the past four decades, the SDWA has enabled EPA and partners to supply safe drinking water to more than 93 percent of the population served by community water systems. EPA has drinking water regulations for more than 90 contaminants, including microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic and organic chemicals and radionuclides. Since the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund was created in 1997, more than $25.8 billion have been provided for more than 10,000 drinking water infrastructure projects nationwide, including drinking water treatment systems, pipes for transmission and distribution of water, and storage.

For more information on the Safe Drinking Water Act, please visit: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/index.cfm


EPA to Celebrate 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, Highlight Past Successes and Small System Challenges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2014
MEDIA CONTACTS: Nahal Mogharabi, 213-244-1815, Mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov

EPA to Celebrate 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, Highlight Past Successes and Small System Challenges
Agency tours small drinking water systems at mobile home communities in Coachella Valley

LOS ANGELES – On Tuesday, December 16th, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld will be joined by State, local and community representatives at the San Jose Community and Bea Main Learning Center in Coachella Valley to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Over the past four decades, the SDWA has enabled EPA and partners to supply safe drinking water to more than 93 percent of the population served by community water systems. Following the event, participants will view the water filtration system at the San Jose Community Center which provides safe drinking water to the center, its training facility and 14 residences. Additionally, attendees can view point-of-use filtration systems at the adjacent Gamez Mobile Home Park. These point-of-use systems are small, individual reverse osmosis filtration units placed under the kitchen sink; each has its own distribution spigot that provides treated drinking water for the home.

Drinking water in the lower Coachella Valley comes from groundwater wells impacted with high levels of naturally-occurring arsenic and chromium. Treatment technologies can be costly, especially for small systems which face unique challenges including funding shortfalls and aging infrastructure. Since 1997, EPA has provided more than $1.5 billion to California for their Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program which helps fund infrastructure projects throughout the state. Riverside County has received $61 million from the DWSRF for drinking water infrastructure projects including construction of new water treatment plants, drinking water wells, storage tanks and consolidation projects connecting small drinking water systems with larger water districts.

WHO:   
Jared Blumenfeld, EPA Regional Administrator
Kyle Ochenduszko, Senior Engineer, CA State Water Resources Control Board
Mark L. Johnson, Director of Engineering, Coachella Valley Water District
Sergio Carranza, Executive Director, Pueblo Unido CDC

WHAT:
40th Anniversary to the Safe Drinking Water Act: Successes, Highlights and Challenges Facing Small Drinking Water Systems
Tour Gamez Mobile Home Park

WHEN: 
Tuesday, December 16th
11:30 a.m.
**Media should plan to arrive no later than 11:15 a.m.

WHERE: 
San Jose Community and Bea Main Learning Center
Event will be held outside of Water Filtration Systems
69-455 Pierce St., Thermal, CA

VISUALS: Media can view the installed water filtration systems at the community center and will also view point-of use filtration systems installed in the Gamez Mobile Park homes.

RSVP REQUIRED: *** Press who would like to attend this event, or for more information please e-mail Nahal Mogharabi, mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov.