Archive for News

Recent news report about the pollution that is seriously mining the ecosystem of the Danube river, Europe’s second longest river after the Volga. “It’s a serious ecological catastrophe, but we don’t know the size of it,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told reporters.

THE FACT: A caustic red slurry was released Monday (October 4th) in Ajka, about 160 kilometres southwest of Budapest, after a reservoir burst at an alumina refining plant owned by Magyar Aluminium Termelo es Kereskedelmi (the Hungarian Aluminum Production and Trade Company), also known as Mal. The flood killed four people, injured more than 100 and damaged several communities.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/10/07/hungary-sludge-danube.html?ref=rss#ixzz11mplA4TC

The laboratories at EMSL Analytical provide affordable mold, lead, asbestos and other contaminant testing solutions.

Westmont, NJ

As the economy shows signs that the country is over the worst of the recession with a 3.5% third quarter growth in GPD, the number of homes going into foreclosure continues to climb. Even with all the government sponsored efforts to prevent foreclosures the past three months have likely seen the highest number of foreclosures in the country’s history.

According to one recent report by RealtyTrac® one in every 136 homes in the U.S. are now in foreclosure, which is 23% increase over the same period last year. The market is now flooded with these properties and many first time homebuyers and real estate investors are looking to buy these discounted properties.

Real estate foreclosures come in all types of conditions from move-in ready to completely run down, vandalized and neglected properties. Many of these same properties are being sold by the banks ‘as is’ so buyers need to be aware of potential problems with such issues such as mold contamination, lead paint and asbestos.

Properly conducted home inspections should identify many of these issues, but a number of buyers forgo this important step which can lead to costly environmental issues later. EMSL Analytical, one of the nation’s largest environmental testing laboratories, provides affordable testing solutions for prospective buyers and property inspectors.

“Up to 24 million homes in the U.S. contain substantial lead paint hazards according to the CDC and the EPA recently announced new guidance for properties constructed or renovated between 1950 and 1978 because of concerns with PCBs in caulking material,” reported Joe Frasca, Executive Vice President for EMSL Analytical. “Millions more likely have issues with mold and asbestos so it is imperative to have a property inspected and tested to protect the buyer’s interests,” Frasca continued.

To learn more about environmental testing or other testing needs please visit www.EMSL.com, email info@EMSL.com or call (800) 220-3675.

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of indoor air quality, environmental, industrial hygiene, food and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.

[Source: http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=107209]

In his first speech to the United Nations, President Barack Obama issues a blunt message on Wednesday: America alone cannot fix the world’s problems. The president calls for a new era of cooperation to solve the globe’s most pressing issues.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
September 23, 2009
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
“Responsibility for our Common Future”
Address to the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentleman: it is my
honor to address you for the first time as the forty-fourth President of the United
States. I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people
have placed upon me; mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history;
and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at
home and abroad.
I have been in office for just nine months, though some days it seems a lot longer. I
am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world.
These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted – I believe – in a
discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our
differences, and outpaced by our problems. But they are also rooted in hope – the
hope that real change is possible, and the hope that America will be a leader in
bringing about such change.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Peebles Squire, cross-posted from the CCAN blog.

Yesterday the EPA performed a turn-around on its protection of the locations of 44 “high risk” coal ash impoundment sites, signaling a desire to make the regulatory body more transparent.

Formerly protected under the auspices of national security, the ash impoundments, located in Ohio, Arizona, and throughout the southeast, have been determined to be particularly vulnerable to failure. In a time where the future of American energy remains stuck between antiquated fossil fuels and cleaner, renewable technology, concerns over proper disposal of coal ash has risen to the top of the debate, particularly after last December’s TVA sludge disaster in Roane County, Tennessee.

The reason behind this concern is, of course, fairly easy to identify. Coal slurry ponds, which may hold several billion gallons of the toxic sludge, are typically held in place by earthen dams made of rock and other fill material. While typically sturdy, history has shown us that these dams are definitely prone to failure, especially when not regulated properly. In fact, the dangers surrounding slurry dams have been well known and well documented for decades. West Virginia’s Buffalo Creek Flood of 1972 destroyed over 500 homes with a 30-foot high, 132 million gallon wave of the toxic stuff. When blasting occurs near these ponds (as it does near Marsh Fork Elmentary in Sunrise, WV), the risk becomes intensified as nearby shockwaves may threaten the structural integrity of the dam.

Fly ash, though dry and therefore less at risk to flooding, presents just as serious a hazard to the local ecosystem, including surrounding communities, wildlife, and groundwater reserves. Fly ash is stored in landfills, most of which are lined, but all of which are failure-prone. Particles in the air, blown from these ash impoundments, can cause serious health problems such as asthma and other respiratory diseases. Like wet slurry, fly ash contains a cocktail of harmful heavy metals and other contaminants that present a serious threat to the local and regional ecosystem… and to human health.

“CCRs [coal combustion residues] contain a broad range of metals, for example, arsenic, selenium, cadmium, lead, and mercury, but the concentrations of these are generally low. However, if not properly managed, (for example, in lined units), CCRs may cause a risk to human health and the environment and, in fact, EPA has documented cases of environmental damage“ (courtesy EPA.gov).

The collection and storage of coal ash is but one piece in a larger fossil fuel regime that thrives on the continued exploitation of the United States’ natural, non-renewable resources, known to cause significant air pollution and contribute to global climate change. The coal extraction, combustion, and disposal process is among the most destructive practices in human history, and with the continued popularity of mountaintop removal mining, the coal industry goes so far as to threaten the geography of Appalachia itself.

The EPA has made positive steps in naming these so-called high-risk sites, but seems to be avoiding tackling the bigger picture; coal is an unsustainable resource that is dirty, harmful, and dangerous. While 44 of these impoundment sites may be deemed more at-risk than others, the fact remains that anywhere coal is extracted, burned, or stored, safety is a non-issue, because coal is not, and never will be, “safe.”

President Obama, who has so far struggled with fulfilling his promise of increased transparency and accountability within government, has made significant forward progress by allowing the release of these 44 sites. However, the larger issue of formulating an American energy future – one without coal – rests untackled. As long as coal is allowed to thrive in Appalachia, the Midwest, and elsewhere, American citizens will remain at risk. The fossil fuel industry represents an old and outdated way of thinking: the idea that our actions now will bear no consequence on the future. We have now stepped healthily into the 21st century, largely thankful to the energy that fossil fuels of yore have given us, and as we continue to evolve as a species and a society, we are charged with abandoning a tradition that will serve no other end but to continue to harm Americans.

To President, Obama, Congress, and the EPA, if we are to bring the United States into a clean energy future, one that emphasizes the importance of renewable technologies, green jobs, and energy that is free of filthy, harmful substances, then we must see a real effort to focus on goals that do not give coal a future in the grid. The EPA seems to think that the term, “high risk,” should be reserved for a mere 44 out of the hundreds of slurry ponds and fly ash fills that sprinkle the American landscape. A more appropriate move would be to extend the “high risk” moniker to its proper breadth, across the entire industry.

The Post-Standard – Syracuse.com, NY
How far did the contamination spread while environmental and utility officials were figuring out what do? Could the cleanup have begun earlier? Is there a way to inject more urgency into the process, from the time contaminants are discovered to the … [read more]

Southern Research Institute is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 scientific research organization that conducts preclinical drug discovery and development and advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, environment and energy. Their more than 600 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries. Southern Research is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with facilities also located in Wilsonville, Ala., Anniston, Ala., Frederick, Md., and Durham, NC. For more information about Southern Research and its capabilities and accomplishments, visit www.SouthernResearch.org.

Led by Dr. Derek Eggert, Southern Research will now begin developing approaches to remediate problematic constituents contained in commercial and industrial effluents

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 11 — Southern Research Institute today announced that it is adding a new research capability focusing on the remediation of problematic constituents in water and wastewater sources. Environmental toxicologist Derek Eggert, Ph.D. will lead the new program that is located on Southern Research’s main campus in Birmingham.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Eggert has joined Southern Research, enabling us to expand our environmental services to industry,” said Michael D. Johns, vice-president of Engineering at Southern Research. “The remediation of industrial water is important to the quality of our water systems. Because of Derek’s expertise, Southern Research can now help develop environmentally and economically sound solutions to treat those problems.”

By creating the Water and Wastewater Treatment team, Southern Research will help remediate contaminants — such as arsenic, mercury, selenium, aluminum, copper, lead, zinc and oil and grease — from various waste streams in order to reuse or discharge into a local waterway.

Before joining Southern Research, Dr. Eggert was a research assistant in Environmental Toxicology at Clemson University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Clemson University. He is a member of The Wildlife Society, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Sigma Xi.

CONTACT:
Rhonda Jung, 205-337-9634
Jung@SouthernResearch.org

On March 25, the AWWA webcast series will continue with Perchlorate, Pharmaceuticals, and Other Emerging Contaminants—Where Are We Now? Emerging contaminants remain a concern, particularly for those most vulnerable in our population. Several environmental studies have sought to identify an association between drinking water contaminated with perchlorate and measures of thyroid impairment.

AWWA’s panel of experts will discuss perchlorate and other issues, as well as whether or not the new Administration will be able to address this situation given other competing priorities.

Webcast presenters include:

  • Alan Roberson – Director of Regulatory Affairs, AWWA Government Affairs
  • Zaid Chowdhury – Vice President, Malcolm Pirnie, Inc.
  • Dr. Shane A. Snyder – R&D Project Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority
  • Brett Vanderford – Research Chemist, Southern Nevada Water Authority

For more information, visit www.awwa.org/Education/webcasts.

About AWWA
AWWA is the authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of water in North America and beyond. AWWA is the largest organization of water professionals in the world. AWWA advances public health, safety and welfare by uniting the efforts of the full spectrum of the entire water community. Through our collective strength we become better stewards of water for the greatest good of the people and the environment.

SOURCE: AWWA

Cleaning up the dangerous contaminants — dry-cleaning fluids, solvents and petroleum hydrocarbons — found in underground water presents one of the most urgent challenges facing environmental science. A report issued January 30 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sheds light on a new way to monitor and improve the success of clean-up efforts using a technique developed at the University of Toronto.

“The most common method to clean-up groundwater is biodegradation — using microbes to consume the contaminants and break them down into more benign end products that are not harmful to the environment,” says U of T geochemist Barbara Sherwood Lollar, the scientist who initiated the concept and goals for the EPA report and is one of its five international authors.

The report outlines how this can be done using a novel technique called Compound Specific Isotope Analysis, developed in U of T’s Stable Isotope Laboratory. The elements of carbon that form the basis for the hydrocarbon contaminants actually come in two types called isotopes, explains Sherwood Lollar. “When microbes degrade contaminants, they prefer the lighter isotope carbon 12 over the heavier isotope carbon 13. The resulting change in the ratio of these isotopes in the contaminant itself is a dramatic and definitive indicator that the biodegradation is successfully taking place.”

Beginning in the 1990s, U of T’s Stable Isotope Laboratory has been an international pioneer in discovering how different carbon isotopes can be used to identify whether or not biodegradation is taking place. “Today, dozens of students in Canada have been trained in this method, drawn in by the fascinating combination of fundamental research that has important applications such as the clean-up of drinking water,” says Sherwood Lollar. Over the past decade, as the new technique has become more widespread, centres for research and education —- and even private companies — have blossomed worldwide.

“Much of the research on new methods of analyzing groundwater contamination has been published in scientific and professional journals but this report — written specifically for the practitioners in accessible language with clear procedural information and decision-making strategies — is a milestone,” says Sherwood Lollar.

“It is particularly gratifying to be able to take a technique out of the lab and to put it into the hands of the people working on this issue every day around the world,” she says.

The report can be found on the EPA website. It was funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, the EPA and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

University of Toronto. “New Way To Monitor And Improve Clean-up Of Contaminated Groundwater.” ScienceDaily 1 February 2009. 3 February 2009 <http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/01/090130093405.htm>

Article from: The Australian

AUTHORITIES in Queensland have dismissed as obsolete a state government study that concluded there was likely to be a high risk of viruses, bacteria and other contaminants entering the drinking water supply through a recycled waste-water scheme.

The scoping study was commissioned in 2000 by the Queensland Natural Resources Department, when the Beattie government first began considering the recycling option as a solution to the future water needs of the state’s heavily populated southeast.

The Bligh Government has been on the defensive this week over plans to begin pumping recycled industrial effluent and sewage from the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project to Brisbane’s Wivenhoe Dam from early next year.

The Government has said advanced water treatment plants similar to those built in southeast Queensland have been in use overseas for up to 40 years.

The 2000 scoping study, prepared by Queensland Health Scientific Services and the National Centre for Environment Toxicology, was able to draw on the experience overseas.

The study said there would probably be a high risk of people contracting viruses from drinking recycled water. It said 15 genera of bacteria and two genera of fungi were most commonly associated with waste water.

There were also risks in drinking recycled water from parasitic invertebrates, and from hepatotoxins and neurotoxins, which could produce symptoms ranging from mild gastroenteritis to death.

Other potential contaminants included radioactive elements and organic chemicals. Pesticides, including organochlorines that had been banned for health reasons but were environmentally persistent, were another hazard. The study cautioned that little was known about the health implications of drinking recycled water.

“The lack of information in some areas reflects that little is understood of the health impacts without further extensive literature review and scientific study,” it said.

But Queensland Health population health director Linda Selvey said the report was obsolete.

“It should be emphasised that this was a scoping report done eight years ago and referred to potential issues and not to any particular recycling technology,” Dr Selvey said.

“It was not based on technology that became available subsequently that will be used in the western corridor project.”

Dr Selvey said the direct recycling referred to in the report did not have the benefits of the sixth and seventh barriers in the seven-stage treatment process being used in Queensland.

“Bacteria and viruses are effectively eliminated by this process,” she said.

Queensland Water Commission chief executive John Bradley said chemicals and other industrial contaminants would be removed during treatment.

“This technology is used in a number of other places around the world and has been the subject of extensive testing, which confirms its effectiveness in the removal of both biological and chemical contaminants,” Mr Bradley said.

Tests on bottled water turned up a variety of contaminants often found in tap water, according to a study released Wednesday by an environmental advocacy group.

The findings challenge the idea that bottled water is purer than tap water, the researchers said. All the brands in the study met federal health standards, but two violated a California standard, said the Washington-based Environmental Working Group.

The study’s lab tests on the 10 brands detected bacteria and 38 chemicals including caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic ingredients and the radioactive element strontium.

The International Bottled Water Assn. called the findings “alarmist.”

From the Associated Press