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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, December 2, 2016
EPA Action Plan Outlines Ways to Improve Safety, Reliability of Nation's Drinking Water
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a plan that serves as a national call to action, urging all levels of government, utilities, community organizations, and other stakeholders to work together to increase the safety and reliability of drinking water. Source: U.S. EPA. 11/30/16

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
EPA Names First Chemicals for Review Under New TSCA Legislation
EPA is announcing the first ten chemicals it will evaluate for potential risks to human health and the environment under TSCA reform. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, requires EPA to publish this list by December 19, 2016. These chemicals were drawn from EPA's 2014 TSCA Work Plan, a list of 90 chemicals selected based on their potential for high hazard and exposure as well as other considerations. Source: U.S. EPA, 11/29/16

EPA Adds Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) Category to Toxics Release Inventory List
EPA has finalized a rule adding a hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) category to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) list of reportable chemicals. This action will expand the scope of chemicals subject to TRI reporting and provide communities with more complete information on toxic chemical releases.

HBCD is a brominated flame retardant used mainly in expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) and extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). EPS and XPS are used primarily for thermal insulation boards in the building and construction industry. HBCD may also be used as a flame retardant in textiles. Concerns about releases and uses of HBCD have been raised because it is found worldwide in the environment and wildlife and has also been found in human breast milk, fat tissue and blood.

EPA also determined that HBCD meets the environmental effects criterion for listing because it is highly toxic to aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Additionally, HBCD bioaccumulates and is persistent in the environment. As a result, HBCD meets the TRI criteria for a Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) chemical and is designated as a chemical of special concern, with a 100-pound reporting threshold. Source: U.S. EPA, 11/29/16


Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Innovating in Foundational Industries: Steel
AMO works with steel manufacturers through R&D projects to leverage innovation resources and implement best practices in steel manufacturing. This industry, which has been around for a century, has long played an important role in the U.S. economy. Today, more than 142,000 people work in steel manufacturing in the U.S. and the industry directly or indirectly supports almost one million U.S. jobs that use steel to make other products for consumers. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, since 1990, the steel industry has reduced energy intensity by 31 percent. Technologies for efficiency improvements are essential tools to compete in an ever expanding global market. Source: U.S. DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office, 11/21/16

Monday, November 21, 2016
Developing products for a circular economy
Cross-functional collaboration and customer-focused design thinking can help companies reap more value from the energy and resources they use. Source: McKinsey & Company, November 2016

Eileen Fisher has designs on keeping clothing out of landfills
Buying recycled items from trusted retailers is the next big fashion trend -- and saves billions of tons of clothing from going to waste. Source: GreenBiz, 11/21/16

Environmental policy center to convene Great Lakes mayors
The Freshwater Lab, a University of Illinois at Chicago-based environmental research and policy center, has been awarded two grants to support its work examining social and human issues related to water, energy and natural resources in the Great Lakes region. Source: University of Illinois Chicago, 11/10/16

The E-Waste Aftermath of Samsung's Galaxy Note7 Recall
Samsung and waste management companies are facing the challenge of safely disposing or recycling the massive amount of e-waste caused by the recall. Source: Waste360, 11/16/16

National e-scrap recycling rate is up
The weight of electronics recycled in 2014 increased from the year before, according to data from the U.S. EPA. The electronics recycling rate in 2014 was 41.7 percent. That is an increase from 37.8 percent the year before. In all, 1.4 million tons of electronics were recycled in 2014, up from nearly 1.3 million tons. E-scrap generation, however, stayed the same at 1.3 percent of the entire municipal solid waste (MSW) stream. According to the U.S. EPA's report, selected consumer electronics accounted for 3.3 million tons in the waste stream in both 2014 and 2013. Source: Resource Recycling, 11/17/16

Why worker-led monitoring is needed to challenge electronic sweatshops
An alternative global strategy for the protection and promotion of workers' human rights in ICT supply chains is emerging, writes David Foust Rodríguez, Coordinator of the Center for Labor Reflection and Action. Source: New Internationalist Blog, 11/2/16

Widespread Shallow Groundwater Contamination Found in Southwestern Illinois Cave Streams and Springs
Researchers have detected prescription and over-the-counter medications and personal care products in Illinois groundwater, an indication that humans are contaminating water that is vital to aquatic life. This study was funded by the Prairie Research Institute and the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and is published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.. ISTC researcher Wei Zheng is a co-author on the paper. Source: Illinois Natural History Survey News, 11/17/16

Friday, November 18, 2016
New method shows some Great Lakes fish consumption advisories may not protect health
Great Lakes fish consumption advisories could be inadequate and exposing consumers to higher levels of toxic chemicals than anticipated. A new study says that the current approach to creating advisories doesn't take into account what happens when more than one chemical is present in a fish. This means they are "probably deficient in protecting the health of human consumers," the study says. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 11/18/16

EPA Aims to Finish Climate Rules; Decisions Fall to Trump
The Obama administration aims to cement its greenhouse gas regulations in the time remaining, but some of the largest greenhouse gas decisions will slide to President-elect Donald Trump, according to the updated federal regulatory agenda. Source: Bloomberg BNA, 11/17/16

Understand pollution, environmental impacts from food in 6 charts
In the latest P2 Impact column, Jeff Kohn and Kelsey Kruger from U.S. EPA illustrate the environmental impact of the food manufacturing industry. Source: GreenBiz, 11/18/16

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