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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, September 5, 2014
Math Might Help Nail Oceans' Plastic 'Garbage Patch' Polluters
Who's flushing plastic pollution into the oceans, creating tiny time bombs that kill fish, birds and sea turtles ingesting what they think is food? That question has been around since 1997, when the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" was discovered, and a new mathematical model could provide the tool needed to track down the culprits. The model shows that pollution can cross what scientists thought were boundaries between oceans and especially its five gyres -- large circular currents that are now known to trap floating debris in what have been dubbed garbage patches. Most of that trash is not even visible: It's tiny plastic pellets floating at or just below the surface. Source: NBC News, 9/2/14

Call for Papers: 30th International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management
The International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management is an annual conference where researchers, government officials, consultants, educators, managers and community leaders from 40 countries meet to present and discuss important topics of solid waste technology and management. The conference will be held in Philadelphia on March 15-18, 2015. Abstract submissions are invited for oral or poster presentation at the Conference. Abstracts are encouraged from all areas of solid waste technology and management. See the Call for Papers for a complete list of topics or to submit an abstract. Source: International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management, 9/5/14

Are parabens and phthalates harmful in makeup and lotions?
Should you worry about the chemicals in your makeup, lotion, shaving cream, soap and shampoo? The answer is a clear maybe. Why maybe? That's because some critics suspect that chemicals such as phthalates and parabens can interfere with the body's hormones, most notably reproductive hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. The possible health risks could include chronic diseases, cancers and a host of developmental disorders and fertility problems. Manufacturers use phthalates to help dissolve other ingredients into a consistent solution, to make nail polishes less brittle and to keep hair spray from making hair too stiff. Parabens in personal care products act as preservatives and antimicrobials. The chemicals are not regulated in consumer products, in large part because the Food and Drug Administration says there's no evidence that current exposures are a health hazard. Source: The Washington Post, 9/1/14

Thursday, September 4, 2014
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Provides Funding to Target Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy today announced that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) will provide almost $12 million to federal and state agencies to protect public health by targeting harmful algal blooms (HABs) in western Lake Erie. The funding builds upon the GLRI's on-going efforts to reduce algal blooms and will be made available to Ohio, Michigan and Indiana state agencies and to the U.S. Geological Survey, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Source: U.S. EPA, 9/4/14

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Back to the drawing board: how good design can eliminate waste
From charging for the use of aircraft engines to waste-free supermarkets, experts share ideas for breaking the cycle of unsustainable design. Source: The Guardian, 9/3/14

John Elkington, the 'Breakthrough Challenge' and tomorrow's bottom line
Sustainable business pioneer John Elkington discusses his new book, the big challeges companies face and whether he's optimistic about the future. Source: GreenBiz, 9/3/14

20 years later, Interface looks back on Ray Anderson's legacy
To understand what a green leader achieved, let's look at the changes a businessperson started in himself and the mistakes he was willing to make. Source: GreenBiz, 9/3/14

Which way to recycling? Walmart's Closed Loop Fund vs. EPR
A group of major companies launches the fund to help finance municipal recycling, but some say extended producer responsibility would accomplish more. Source: GreenBiz, 9/3/14

Why 2014 is the year of the energy-water nexus
2014 is shaping up to be the year of the energy-water nexus. First, the United Nation's World Water Day centered on this topic. Then, the U.S. Department of Energy released a 250-page report on the energy-water nexus and indicated that it will be included in its Quadrennial Energy Review. And this week, the biggest international water conference, World Water Week, is taking on the nexus.Held every year in Stockholm, Sweden, World Water Week is led by the Stockholm International Water Institute and serves as a platform for over 200 collaborating organizations and 2,500 participants from 130 countries around the world to discuss global water and development issues. In choosing the energy-water nexus as this year's theme, SIWI and its supporters are affirming -- on a global stage -- what policy experts have been saying for years: energy and water are inextricably linked, and the best way to set the energy-water system on a sustainable course is to plan for both resources holistically. Source:, 9/3/14

Facing Climate Change, Cities Embrace Resiliency
Lacking substantial state or federal support, local governments throughout the country are using natural disasters as a way to get their infrastructure, personnel and budgets better prepared for the next. Source: Governing, September 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Cool Planet: can biochar fertilize soil and help fight climate change?
Although market information and long-term impacts remain unknown, a biofuel byproduct can store carbon and enhance soil quality -- and its market is growing despite higher costs. Source: The Guardian, 9/2/14

Report recognizes importance of groundwater for human health, the environment and economy
An annual report by the Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council highlights the critical role groundwater plays in human health, the environment and economy and supports additional research and cooperation to understand how best to manage the precious resource. Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 9/2/14

Friday, August 29, 2014
Small businesses face too many barriers to increasing energy efficiency
Energy companies and the government need to roll out smart meters and provide support to struggling SMEs. Source: The Guardian, 8/29/14

Science and sustainability goals: what researchers want businesses to know
If companies are to help reach key climate targets and keep the world a viable place to do business, executives need to take a broader view -- and pay attention to the latest science Source: The Guardian, 8/29/14

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