Today, the National Journal reported that EPA has released a proposed rule that would limit the amount of pollutants, including mercury, discharged from dental offices as a result of procedures involving dental amalgam. According to EPA’s fact sheet:
The proposed rule would require all affected dentists to control mercury discharges to POTWs by reducing their discharge of dental amalgam to a level achievable through the use of the best available technology (amalgamseparators) and the use of Best Management Practices. In order to simplify compliance with, and enforcement of the numeric reduction requirements, the proposed rule would allow dentists to demonstrate compliance by installing, operating and maintaining amalgam separators. The proposal also includes a provision by which dental offices that have already installed amalgam separators that do not meet the proposed amalgam removal efficiency would still be considered in compliance with the rule for the life of the amalgam separator.
For more information on the proposed rule, including supporting documentation (when it is made available), visit http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/dental/.
It’s holiday time again, which means you’re probably going to buy at least one gift for someone, as well as items for celebrations and holiday meals. You may wish to consult Consumer Reports Greener Choices web site, which provides information to help choose more environmentally friendly products. Articles and “green ratings” are available for the following product categories: Appliances, Cars, Electronics, Food & Beverages, and Home & Garden. Within these sections, you’ll find links to articles, information on conservation of resources (such as energy, water, fuel, etc.), resources for shopping greener, and information on recycling and disposal. The “Hot Topics & Solutions” section of the site includes the Eco-labels Center (which helps you interpret what product labels really mean), the Electronics Recycling Center, the Global Warming Solutions Center, and sections on Energy, Water, and Waste.
The “Toolkit” section includes calculators to help save energy, water, and money, as well as a Toxics Search tool to find out whether there’s a potential for exposure while using a particular product, and how that can affect your health. The “Community” section of the site includes links to Consumers Union campaigns, forums and resources for further information, as well as blogs on cars, food safety, green homes, and safety.
On September 17, 2008, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced legislation requiring electronics manufacturers to collect and recycle or reuse electronics products. At no charge to consumers, the law authorizes the use of a combination of incentives and mandates to reduce the ever-increasing amount of electronic waste – televisions, printers, computer monitors, computers, laptops, printers, fax machines and MP3 players – and their toxic substances, such as lead, cadmium, copper, flame retardants, and phosphorus, from being disposed in Illinois landfills. It also gives manufacturers flexibility in the strategies they use to meet their goals, such as partnering with retailers and local governments to sponsor collections. Manufacturers, recyclers, refurbishers and collectors must also register annually with the Illinois EPA. Effective January 1, 2012, landfills would be prohibited from knowingly accepting any of the covered electronic devices for disposal. SB 2313 is effective immediately.
For further information on SB 2313, as well as a link to the resulting Public Act (095-0959; the Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act), see the Illinois General Assembly web site.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Sept. 15, 2008 released its strategy to promote research, development, and commercialization of innovative and practical technologies that prevent pollution through cleaner, cheaper, smarter chemistry. The strategy, released in the report “Advancing Green Chemistry: An Action Plan for Michigan Green Chemistry Research, Development and Education” identifies key steps for the success of green chemistry in Michigan.
In October 2006, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm issued Executive Directive No. 2007-6, “Promotion of Green Chemistry for Sustainable Economic Development and Protection of Public Health,” that established state policy encouraging the use of safer, less toxic, or non-toxic chemical alternatives to hazardous substances and the research, development, and implementation of Green Chemistry in Michigan.
The DEQ has been given primary responsibility to implement the Green Chemistry Executive Directive, including establishing a Michigan Green Chemistry Program and convening a Michigan Green Chemistry Roundtable. The Roundtable, which is comprised of experts representing business, academia, environmental interest groups, and the public, had significant input into the development of the Action Plan and will be participating in the implementation of the Michigan Green Chemistry Program.
Source: Michigan DEQ, 9/15/08.
While we’re on the subject of energy efficient light bulbs, note that Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, is currently offering instant cash-back rewards on select Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. The promotion began on October 1, and while supplies last, Wisconsin residents can buy the CFLs for as little as $0.99. For more information on participating retailers, contact Focus on Energy at 800-762-7077 or see the campaign web page. The campaign site also includes a nice little calculator to estimate your yearly savings based upon the number of standard bulbs you replace with CFLs.
If you’re concerned about mercury content in CFLs, Focus on Energy also has a helpful publication entitled “The Facts About Mercury in CFLs” that could convince you the benefits of CFL use outweigh the risks. This fact sheet includes a chart that compares the mercury content of CFLs to that of other common household products, such as float switches in sump pumps and watch batteries. Proper disposal and cleanup of broken CFLs are also covered.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently announced that it will host a workshop on the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH). REACH is a recently adopted overhaul of the chemicals management system in the EU. REACH has important implications for United States firms exporting to EU member states and the rules became effective on June 1, 2007. The training session will take place on September 26, 2007 at DEC headquarters in Albany, NY.
An earlier post described a similar workshop that will be held in Lansing, MI on September 27.
For more upcoming events, check the GLRPPR online calendar and Sector Resources.
The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration announces a sixty day public comment period for a Draft Great Lakes Mercury in Products Phase-Down Strategy. In fulfillment of a Collaboration Strategy recommendation, in April 2006, State, Tribal, and City staff commenced development of a basin-wide Strategy for the phase-down of mercury in products and waste.
A draft Strategy is now available for public comment at http://glrc.us/initiatives/toxics/drafthgphasedownstrategy.html, through October 27, 2007. We invite comments on the Strategy itself and on how best to move forward with implementation, as well as commitments from stakeholders to implement components of the Strategy.
A copy of the draft document was first distributed to government agency experts for technical review, then revised and distributed to a limited group of industry and environmental group stakeholders. A summary of comments that were received and incorporated can also be found at the above web link.
Please send comments electronically to Debra Jacobson at firstname.lastname@example.org. When sending comments by e-mail be sure to put the words “Great Lakes Mercury Strategy Comments” in the subject line.
If you have questions please contact Debra Jacobson at email@example.com or (630) 472 – 5019 (Phone).
Thanks to Deb Jacobson for submitting this information.
Thanks to Michael Murray, Ph.D., National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Staff Scientist for the Great Lakes Natural Resource Center, for providing three new NWF documents for access on the GLRPPR web site:
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing in the Great Lakes Region: A Survey of State, Municipal and Institutional Programs assesses EPP programs in the eight Great Lakes states, eight municipalities and three universities, with an emphasis on policies addressing PBT chemicals. Researched and written by Cameron S. Lory and Amy E. Scott-Runnels of INFORM, Inc., and Michael W. Murray, Ph.D. of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).
Recycling Mercury Thermostats in Ohio outlines the problem of mercury in the environment, and provides information on mercury in thermostats and alternatives and recycling mercury containing thermostats in Ohio. It also includes a comparison of collection of mercury containing thermostats via the Thermostat Recycling Corporation voluntary program for both the U.S. as a whole and Ohio.
Putting the Brakes on Quicksilver: Removing Mercury From Vehicles in Ohio addresses the removal of mercury switches from automobiles in Ohio. This report was written by Michael W. Murray, Ph.D. with research assistance by Knoll Larkin and Liz Szaluta of the University of Michigan.
The Healthy Schools Campaign has introduced House Bill 895 (Green Cleaning Schools Act) to the Illinois legislature. This bill would require the creation and regular ammendment of guidelines and specifications for environmentally friendly cleaning and maintenance products for school facilities, and would also require the establishment of green cleaning policies at both public and private schools in Illinois following implementation of the guidelines. See the Healthy Schools Campaign Blog entry related to this action, and continue to monitor their blog for updates.
A free new tool has been launched to promote the application of industrial ecology and facilities research on material flows. The Industrial Ecology of Metals Forum maintains two web-based dynamic and interactive compendia of data: one containing the concentrations of metals found in various high-volume materials, and the other containing the flow rate information for high-volume materials. A discussion group focused on building and maintaining the compendia completes the Forum. The Forum also contains an area for comments on data quality issues. The compendia are available to the general public for viewing, but only discussion group members can make additions to or comments on data contained in the compendia. Funding for the Forum is provided by the U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) and by U.S. EPA Region 5. For more information on the Forum, contact Gary Miller, Assistant Director, WMRC.