Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Biological Waste Management and Disposal Los Angeles California

Segregation and Handling

Infectious, Potentially Infectious, or R-DNA Biological Waste

Waste items that are, contain, or are contaminated with:

  • human, animal, or plant pathogens
  • recombinant nucleic acids (e.g. rDNA)
  • human / primate blood, blood products, tissues, cultures, cells, or other potentially infectious material (OPIM)
  • cultures

This waste must be inactivated (e.g. autoclaved or bleach treated) before it leaves the facility.

Non-inactivated waste must be stored in the generating laboratory – do not leave unattended.
Waste biohazardous for humans must be labeled with the biohazard symbol.
Infectious waste must be kept covered and must be inactivated within 24 hrs.

Non-infectious Biological Waste

Waste items that are:

Used labware (tissue culture dishes and flasks, petri dishes, centrifuge tubes, test tubes, pipettes, vials, etc) from clinical or biomedical labs that is NOT contaminated with any of the biological wastes listed in Infectious, Potentially Infectious or R-DNA Biological Waste category above.
Gloves or other disposable personal protective equipment from clinical or biomedical labs that are NOT contaminated with any of the biological wastes listed in Infectious, Potentially Infectious or R-DNA Biological Waste category above.
Unused medical devices.
Blood, blood products, tissues, or items contaminated with these, from animals not known to, or expected to, contain pathogens.

This waste does not require inactivation before it leaves the facility.

Place this waste in the red bag-lined cardboard biological waste box for disposal.

Sharps Waste

Waste instruments that are intended to cut or penetrate skin:

  • metal lancets, scalpel blades, needles, or syringe/needle combinations

These must be placed in red, hard plastic sharps boxes, even if more 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Floating Toilets That Clean Themselves Grow On A Lake

A pod to pick up your poo: The Handy Pod features floating hyacinth plants placed underneath a houseboat's latrine. The blue tarp offers privacy.
A pod to pick up your poo: The Handy Pod features floating hyacinth plants placed underneath a houseboat's latrine. The blue tarp offers privacy.
Courtesy Taber Hand
Imagine you live on a floating lake house. Open air. Chirping crickets. Clear, starry nights. Everything seems great until you need to use the bathroom.
The natural instinct might be to make a deposit in the water. But that wouldn't be safe. Microbes in your feces would contaminate the water and could cause outbreaks of deadly diseases, like cholera.
A group of engineers in Cambodia wants to solve that problem for the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Over a million people live on or around it. Exposure to wastewater spawns diarrhea outbreaks each year. In Cambodia, diarrheal diseases cause 1 in 5 deaths of children under age 5.
To help clean the lake's water, engineers at the company Wetlands Work! in Phnom Penh are developing plant-based purifiers, called Handy Pods. The pods are essentially little kayaks filled with plants. They float under the latrine of a river house and decontaminate the water that flows out.
During the dry season, human waste makes the water putrid along the floating village of Prek Toal on Tonle Sap Lake.
During the dry season, human waste makes the water putrid along the floating village of Prek Toal on Tonle Sap Lake.
Courtesy of Taber Hand
Here's how it works. When a person uses the latrine, the wastewater flows into an expandable bag, called a digester. A microbial soup of bacteria and fungi inside the digester breaks down the organic sludge into gases, such as carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen.
Some microbes in the waste survive that first step, but then they're washed into a pod filled with water hyacinth. The hyacinth roots have a large surface area to which the remaining bacteria stick. The water that runs off the roots into the lake is clean enough to play and swim in, Wetlands Work! founder Taber Hand says. But the water is still not safe enough to drink.
During a pilot project in 2013, Hand and his team gave pods to 35 houses in a village on Tonle Sap Lake. "The pods reduced E. coli in the ambient water by 50 percent," Hand says.
That wasn't as good as the pods' performance in lab tests, where they cut levels of E. coli by more than 99 percent. Hand thinks that's because real lakes have other sources of contamination besides latrines.
At the top of that list? Pigs. Pigsties around Tonle Sap Lake produce a tremendous amount of waste, Hand says.
"The floating communities of Tonle Sap Lake are one of the most challenging contexts for sanitation in the world," says environmental engineer Joe Brown of Georgia Tech, who isn't involved with the project. "Handy Pods are potentially a useful way for processing human excrement in this context."
But the floating toilets still have a ways to go before they are widely distributed.
For starters, Brown says, it's unknown whether the pods filter out viruses and parasites that cause diseases. Manmade wetlands remove these pathogens, he says, so there's a possibility the hyacinth roots could also do it.
Another roadblock may be cost. Each Handy Pod costs about $30. Most villagers on the lake make less than $1,000 each year.
Hand thinks solving the pig problem is crucial to the overall success of the pods. Grand Challenges Canada recently gave Wetlands Work! a $100,000 grant to adapt Handy Pods for pigsties. The company will also use the money to distribute the pods to 10 more villages.
Hand isn't stopping there. His ultimate goal? "Total world domination of floating village sanitation," he jokes.
But he does hope that, one day, the pods could be used for overcrowded floating communities in places like BangladeshIndia and Nigeria.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Injection Wells: The Poison Beneath Us

Lax oversight, uncertain science plague program under which industries dump trillions of gallons of waste underground

A class 2 brine disposal well in western Louisiana near the Texas border. The well sat by the side of the road, without restricted access. (Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation's geology as an invisible dumping ground.
No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia.
There are growing signs they were mistaken. 

Records from disparate corners of the United States show that wells drilled to bury this waste deep beneath the ground have repeatedly leaked, sending dangerous chemicals and waste gurgling to the surface or, on occasion, seeping into shallow aquifers that store a significant portion of the nation's drinking water.
In 2010, contaminants from such a well bubbled up in a west Los Angeles dog park. Within the past three years, similar fountains of oil and gas drilling waste have appeared in Oklahoma and Louisiana. In South Florida, 20 of the nation's most stringently regulated disposal wells failed in the early 1990s, releasing partly treated sewage into aquifers that may one day be needed to supply Miami's drinking water.
There are more than 680,000 underground waste and injection wells nationwide, more than 150,000 of which shoot industrial fluids thousands of feet below the surface. Scientists and federal regulators acknowledge they do not know how many of the sites are leaking.
Federal officials and many geologists insist that the risks posed by all this dumping are minimal. Accidents are uncommon, they say, and groundwater reserves — from which most Americans get their drinking water — remain safe and far exceed any plausible threat posed by injecting toxic chemicals into the ground.
But in interviews, several key experts acknowledged that the idea that injection is safe rests on science that has not kept pace with reality, and on oversight that doesn't always work.
"In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted," said Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA's underground injection program in Washington. "A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die."
The boom in oil and natural gas drilling is deepening the uncertainties, geologists acknowledge. Drilling produces copious amounts of waste, burdening regulators and demanding hundreds of additional disposal wells. Those wells — more holes punched in the ground — are changing the earth's geology, adding man-made fractures that allow water and waste to flow more freely.
"There is no certainty at all in any of this, and whoever tells you the opposite is not telling you the truth," said Stefan Finsterle, a leading hydrogeologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who specializes in understanding the properties of rock layers and modeling how fluid flows through them. "You have changed the system with pressure and temperature and fracturing, so you don't know how it will behave."
A ProPublica review of well records, case histories and government summaries of more than 220,000 well inspections found that structural failures inside injection wells are routine. From late 2007 to late 2010, one well integrity violation was issued for every six deep injection wells examined — more than 17,000 violations nationally. More than 7,000 wells showed signs that their walls were leaking. Records also show wells are frequently operated in violation of safety regulations and under conditions that greatly increase the risk of fluid leakage and the threat of water contamination.
Structurally, a disposal well is the same as an oil or gas well. Tubes of concrete and steel extend anywhere from a few hundred feet to two miles into the earth. At the bottom, the well opens into a natural rock formation. There is no container. Waste simply seeps out, filling tiny spaces left between the grains in the rock like the gaps between stacked marbles.
Many scientists and regulators say the alternatives to the injection process — burning waste, treating wastewater, recycling, or disposing of waste on the surface — are far more expensive or bring additional environmental risks.
Subterranean waste disposal, they point out, is a cornerstone of the nation's economy, relied on by the pharmaceutical, agricultural and chemical industries. It's also critical to a future less dependent on foreign oil: Hydraulic fracturing, "clean coal" technologies, nuclear fuel production and carbon storage (the keystone of the strategy to address climate change) all count on pushing waste into rock formations below the earth's surface.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has primary regulatory authority over the nation's injection wells, would not discuss specific well failures identified by ProPublica or make staffers available for interviews. The agency also declined to answer many questions in writing, though it sent responses to several. Its director for the Drinking Water Protection Division, Ann Codrington, sent a statement to ProPublica defending the injection program's effectiveness.
"Underground injection has been and continues to be a viable technique for subsurface storage and disposal of fluids when properly done," the statement said. "EPA recognizes that more can be done to enhance drinking water safeguards and, along with states and tribes, will work to improve the efficiency of the underground injection control program."
Still, some experts see the well failures and leaks discovered so far as signs of broader problems, raising concerns about how much pollution may be leaking out undetected. By the time the damage is discovered, they say, it could be irreversible.
"Are we heading down a path we might regret in the future?" said Anthony Ingraffea, a Cornell University engineering professor who has been an outspoken critic of claims that wells don't leak. "Yes."
In September 2003, Ed Cowley got a call to check out a pool of briny water in a bucolic farm field outside Chico, Texas. Nearby, he said, a stand of trees had begun to wither, their leaves turning crispy brown and falling to the ground.
Chico, a town of about 1,000 people 50 miles northwest of Fort Worth, lies in the heart of Texas' Barnett Shale. Gas wells dot the landscape like mailboxes in suburbia. A short distance away from the murky pond, an oil services company had begun pumping millions of gallons of drilling waste into an injection well.
Regulators refer to such waste as salt water or brine, but it often includes less benign contaminants, including fracking chemicals, benzene and other substances known to cause cancer.
The well had been authorized by the Railroad Commission of Texas, which once regulated railways but now oversees 260,000 oil and gas wells and 52,000 injection wells. (Another agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, regulates injection wells for waste from other industries.)
Before issuing the permit, commission officials studied mathematical models showing that waste could be safely injected into a sandstone layer about one-third of a mile beneath the farm. They specified how much waste could go into the well, under how much pressure, and calculated how far it would dissipate underground. As federal law requires, they also reviewed a quarter-mile radius around the site to make sure waste would not seep back toward the surface through abandoned wells or other holes in the area.
Yet the precautions failed. "Salt water" brine migrated from the injection site and shot back to the surface through three old well holes nearby.
"Have you ever seen an artesian well?" recalled Cowley, Chico's director of public works. "It was just water flowing up out of the ground."
Despite residents' fears that the injected waste could be making its way toward their drinking water, commission officials did not sample soil or water near the leak.
If the injection well waste "had threatened harm to the ground water in the area, an in-depth RRC investigation would have been initiated," Ramona Nye, a spokeswoman for Texas' Railroad Commission, wrote in an email.
The agency disputes Cowley's description of a pool of brine or of dead trees, saying that the waste barely spilled beyond the overflowing wells, though officials could not identify any documents or staffers who contradicted Cowley's recollections. Accounts similar to Cowley's appeared in an article about the leak in the Wise County Messenger, a local newspaper. The agency has destroyed its records about the incident, saying it is required to keep them for only two years.
After the breach, the commission ordered two of the old wells to be plugged with cement and restricted the rate at which waste could be injected into the well. It did not issue any violations against the disposal company, which had followed Texas' rules, regulators said. The commission allowed the well operator to continue injecting thousands of barrels of brine into the well each day. A few months later, brine began spurting out of three more old wells nearby...READ MORE...

Friday, December 26, 2014


European trends in garden and food waste management

by Tony Breton

Biowaste (food and garden waste) makes up at least 32% - or 120 million tonnes - of municipal solid waste (MSW) in European Union (EU) countries.1 It is therefore unsurprising that biowaste is playing an increasingly important role in some Member States’ waste management strategies.
As early as 1983, Germany introduced source-separate collection schemes for biowaste and a number of Member States, mainly from central Europe (such as the Netherlands and Austria), have since introduced local obligations requiring such schemes. 
It is often argued that separate collection schemes can be an expensive option and when viewed in isolation this is generally true; however, if the whole system is considered - including potential reductions in residual collections, high biowaste recovery rates, the benefits of returning organic matter to land, energy recovery and public acceptance - the overall economic and environmental benefits are significant.


Composting and anaerobic digestion (AD) have a pivotal role to play in closing the ‘organic loop’, returning organic matter and valuable plant nutrients to the soil, thus helping to underpin sustainable agricultural and horticultural practices. They also provide a more environmentally acceptable method for treating organic wastes compared with landfill and incineration. 
To date, the principal central policy driver has been the EU Directive on the Landfill of Waste (99/31/EC), which came into force in 1999. In addition to stipulating the way in which landfill sites should be operated, it places strict limits on the amount of biodegradable municipal waste that can be disposed of to landfill, and introduces a requirement for pre-treatment of all wastes prior to landfill. 
Whilst the directive does not extend to specifying how biowastes should be collected or treated, it is likely to continue to have a profound effect on the way in which they are managed and will inevitably stimulate the development of the composting and digestion sectors.
In 2006, the European Commission launched a broad ‘Thematic Strategy on Soil Protection’, with the restoration of organic fertility being regarded as a key tool to enhance the agronomic and environmental functions of soils, including:
  • prevention of soil erosion and flooding
  • carbon sequestration
  • enhancement of biodiversity
  • reduction in use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides, with subsequent prevention of related pollution.
It is clear that the Soil Strategy should encourage further development of the composting and digestion markets by creating demand for high-quality products. However, there is currently no EU policy to link the diversion of biowaste from landfill with the application of the resultant products on land. From experience to date, it is very clear that well-performing source-separation programmes that generate high-quality/low-contaminant feedstocks are a prerequisite to manufacturing high-quality composts and digestates. 
It is also important to have clear guidelines on compost quality and standards, what is acceptable to go onto the land and what is not. During the preparation of the Soil Strategy, one of the recommended actions was the development of a ‘Biowaste Directive’, which would seek to address this issue and provide long-term clarification enabling further market development. Although a further discussion document was published, no policy-directed action was taken. 
More recently, the topic of the Biowaste Directive arose during discussions on the revised Waste Framework Directive (WFD). The European Parliament tabled an amendment to the WFD calling for specific measures on biowaste, namely a directive, but whilst this has favour amongst some members of the Commission, not all Member States are currently supportive; discussions are ongoing. 
Across the countries of Europe there is a wide range of approaches relating to biowaste, which can be generalized into four categories. 
  1. Countries where source-separation programmes are widely implemented and quality standards for products are developed - Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Germany, Switzerland, Spain (Catalonia), Italy, Sweden, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. 
  2. Countries where source separation is being implemented and quality standards are developed - Denmark, the UK, Norway and Belgium (Wallonia).
  3. Countries that are developing policy, and separation programmes are in their infancy - Ireland, France and Finland.
  4. Countries that have yet to develop policy or wide-scale separation programmes - Portugal, most parts of Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic.
The vast majority of separately collected biowaste is treated through controlled composting processes although in some countries, such as Denmark, Sweden (see box) and Germany, there is increasing evidence that AD is growing in prevalence. There are no comprehensive data concerning home composting but it is widely promoted.

Biowaste strategy

When developing a strategy for the management of biowaste, it is imperative to consider the environmental and economic impact of the whole system and not just one variable within that system. Biowaste management systems can broadly be split into three components: collection, processing and products, with each component affecting the efficiency and impact of the next.


Waste streams
Biowaste consists essentially of two components, garden waste and food waste, each with contrasting physical and biochemical properties. Garden waste has a low bulk density, relatively low putrescence and is generally collected using compaction vehicles, whereas food waste has a high bulk density, does not require compaction but has a very high water content and level of putrescence.

FIGURE 2. Seasonal fluctuations in garden and food waste1. Adapted from G. Zanon & W. Giacetti (19/4/01) based on data from the PD1 district in Italy. Click here to enlarge image 
Garden waste generation is affected by a large number of factors such as garden size, climate, types of plant and how often the garden is attended to. Seasonality also plays a significant role, with much greater quantities expected in the spring, summer and autumn, as shown in Figure 2.
Predicting garden waste capture via kerbside collection is an extremely difficult task as compositional analysis of residual waste will not take into account any additional material that the scheme will attract (diverting from central collection points, home composting, etc.). However, what is clear from experience in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the UK is that free garden waste collection in large containers will not only increase recycling rates but also lead to significant increases in overall MSW.3
The generation of food waste is affected by fewer factors, which include household size, culture and time available for food preparation. Quantities of food waste have been shown to be fairly consistent throughout the year (see Figure 2) and are more predictable than garden waste as fewer alternative disposal methods exist.

Collection systems

The choice of system for collecting biowaste will be affected by the local availability of suitable processing facilities (see below) and choice of targeted material. There are a number of options to collect garden w.


Laurent de Brunhoff Reveals Shocking Beginning of Beloved Babar Series

Can Recycling Increase Your Attractiveness?

shutterstock_95091373Who knew that recycling could make people consider you more attractive? Usually when I’m at a restaurant or and at party and ask “is there somewhere that this can be recycled?” the response I get is “Are you serious? Relax.” but according to the results of a poll by PepsiCo I may be hanging around the wrong people.
During a survey of 1,140 Americans, PepsiCo found that many Americans over the age of 18 find recycling an attractive, mate worthy trait. Hooray!
The study found the following:
- 40% of people said they would have a more positive opinion of someone if they learned they recycled
– 21% of people said they would be turned off if they found out on the first date the other person didn’t recycle.
– 2 in 5 respondents want a significant other who cares about the environment
Improved sex appeal (attractiveness) is a pretty powerful incentive. For many people increasing attractiveness may be a more powerful incentive then increasing sustainability and doing our part to protect the environment.
Of course, the numbers still need to be improved upon. Only 2 in 5 people want a significant other who cares about the environment?  I personally would appreciate higher numbers, but websites like Glamour and Yahoo found PepsiCo’s findings significant enough to share.
Though only 40% said that finding out the other person recycled would...READ MORE.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Air pollution down thanks to California's regulation of diesel trucks

December 11, 2014
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Ever wonder what’s in the black cloud that emits from some semi trucks that you pass on the freeway? Scientists knows very precisely what’s in there, having conducted detailed measurements of thousands of heavy-duty trucks over months at a time at two San Francisco Bay Area locations.

Ever wonder what's in the black cloud that emits from some semi trucks that you pass on the freeway? Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientist Thomas Kirchstetter knows very precisely what's in there, having conducted detailed measurements of thousands of heavy-duty trucks over months at a time at two San Francisco Bay Area locations.

With a specially outfitted research van equipped with sophisticated monitors for several pollutant types, he and his team are studying emissions levels from diesel trucks to understand and analyze the impact of new control technologies and California air pollution regulations.
"We're measuring a range of pollutants relevant to public health and the environment," said Kirchstetter, an air quality scientist who also serves as an adjunct professor in UC Berkeley's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "Heavy-duty diesel trucks are major sources of nitrogen oxides, which are a precursor to the formation of ozone and particulate matter (PM) in the atmosphere, and of black carbon PM, which, according to climate scientists, contributes to global warming and regional changes in climate, such as precipitation and snow melting."
Outdoor air pollution is linked to 100,000 premature deaths per year in the United States, according to published studies. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set emissions standards for new engines, most trucks and buses run for several decades, so the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has sought to accelerate emissions reductions with aggressive new regulations in recent years. As a result growing numbers of heavy-duty diesel trucks in California are using two control technologies, a diesel particle filter, which removes most particulate matter, and selective catalytic reduction, which targets emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
The good news is that these regulations are having their intended effect, Kirchstetter and his collaborators, Rob Harley, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Berkeley, and Phil Martien of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), have found. "At the Port of Oakland, we measured dramatic reductions of nitrogen oxides and black carbon PM, indicating a large degree of success which should translate into local improvements in air quality, especially as more trucks on the road use these technologies," he said.
Between 2009 and 2013, the fraction of trucks at the Port of Oakland equipped with a diesel particle filter increased from 2 to 99 percent, and the median engine age fell from 11 to 6 years. During the same period, the emission factor (or average emission rate) decreased by 76 percent for black carbon and by 53 percent for NOx.
The researchers monitored drayage (short distance) trucks at the Port of Oakland in 2009, before a new emissions rule was implemented, in 2011 during the rule's phase-in, and in 2013, after the rule was implemented. A video of these findings can be seen at:
California's program of accelerated vehicle emissions reductions is especially important because fuel consumption is rising, and diesel fuel consumption is growing at an even faster rate than that of gasoline. "These new control technologies on trucks improve air quality despite increases in vehicle miles traveled and fuel consumption," said Kirchstetter, who has been studying air pollutant emissions and controls in the transport sector for more than 20 years.
The technologies come with some trade-offs that the research team is investigating. Selective catalytic reduction can cause some trucks to have increased emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas. With diesel particle filters, the catalytic oxidation process leads to increased tailpipe emission of nitrogen dioxide, NO2, which is a toxic air contaminant and is involved in the formation of ozone. While these were known side effects, the research team is measuring the amounts of these increases.
This summer Kirchstetter brought his research van to the Caldecott Tunnel, which connects Oakland to Contra Costa County, to measure emissions from a larger sampling of heavy-duty trucks. On a sunny weekday morning graduate student Chelsea Preble and undergraduate Troy Cados are in the van, having arrived at 6 a.m. to tune the instruments and catch the morning rush hour.
The equipment includes an air sampler hanging directly above the right lane, a video camera that records the truck and its license plate as it passes under the sampling location, and state-of-the-art monitors to capture several species of pollutants.
"Our measurements are very fast. We measure concentrations at a rate of one or two times a second, which is near real-time," Preble said. "That allows us to link the emissions profile to the attributes of each passing truck, which we get from its license plate. So our methodology allows us to understand emissions changes associated with technologies."
The team plans to return to the Caldecott next summer and again in 2017 when nearly all heavy-duty trucks will have diesel particle filters installed. CARB's Truck and Bus Regulation applies to approximately 1 million trucks and buses operating statewide.
"Our study is an important verification of the impacts of California's air quality regulations," Kirchstetter said. "California tends to lead the way in air quality. The technologies we're evaluating will eventually dominate truck fleets nationwide, so the significance of our study extends far beyond California."

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

India’s New Recyclistas

The trouble with car tyres is that they weren’t designed to be used in handbags one could carry to a Page 3 event. No, they insist on being curved, not flat enough to use in one long satisfying strip, and besides, they have steel and other undesirable elements embedded in them. In that sense, used tyre tubes are much better – they are grooveless, plain rubber, and have absolutely no use to anyone in the world except the homeless who burn them for warmth in winter, and we all know that causes pollution. It’s far more responsible to wear them on your arm instead. Far more fashionable too.
Poonam Nanda, head of production at Rogue ‘N’ Rags, multitasks with ease. She switches between explaining the making of tyre bags, cuddling Brandy the Lhasa Apso, casting a critical gaze over finished bags and wallets, and checking the threadwork of half a dozen cobbler-turned-bagmakers in the firm’s Delhi workshop. For over two decades, Nanda headed an American garment production house, where she led teams of thousands of workers in Jordan, Kenya, India and Mauritius as they churned out millions of garments daily, from T-shirts to jogging pants. The pace of life at the East of Kailash-based firm, where they make only a few hundred fashion accessories a month, is slow but satisfying. After all, she’s using her skills to save the environment and get rag-picker children off the streets.  READ MORE

Happy Shih Tzu

Friday, November 21, 2014

Toxins In My Tampax? New Feminine Care Products Study Result Points To Yes

Feminine care products. They’re an inevitable part of life if you’re a woman. You can’t really avoid them, short of having surgery, can you?
Since these products come into close contact with the most sensitive parts of our bodies, they should be safe and free of harmful chemicals, right? Unfortunately that is no longer an assumption that can or should be made.
Detox the Box
The non-profit Women’s Voices of the Earth (WVE) recently conducted testing on Always Pads, a major brand of feminine care products manufactured by Proctor & Gamble. These tests showed the pads emit toxic chemicals, including some that have been identified as carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxins by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the State of California Environmental Protection Agency.
A partial list of concerning chemicals detected include:
  • Styrene (a human carcinogen)
  • Chloromethane (a reproductive toxicant)
  • Chloroethane (a carcinogen)
  • Chloroform (a carcinogen, reproductive toxicant and neurotoxin)
  • Acetone (an irritant)
  • Click to see full list
Always-Testing-Social-Image_FINALWhile it’s startling to find these ingredients in feminine care products, the lack of labeling is especially concerning. The manufacturer of Always pads does not disclose any of these harmful chemicals on the product or its packaging – so women have no way of knowing what they’re exposing themselves to.
Manufacturers are able to skirt the need for product labeling because tampons and pads are currently registered as medical devices. Medical devices do not need to label ingredients like cosmetics do because they can hide behind the guise of “trade secrets.”
Much like the push for GMO labeling, a new movement to label ingredients in feminine care products is growing. The Robin Danielson Act was recently introduced in Congress. If passed, this Act would require more research on the potential risks of the inclusion of chemical fragrances, synthetic fibers and chemicals (e.g., dioxin) in tampons and pads.
Together, WVE and Naturally Savvy have collected 21,000 signatures asking Proctor & Gamble to disclose all ingredients and eliminate toxic chemicals. You can get involved in the movement by calling or emailing Proctor & Gamble (sample script).
In the meantime, it would be a wise decision to move away from conventional pads and tampons. Menstrual cups and reusable pads made from organic fibers are the safest choices. If you’re not ready to hop on the reusable bandwagon, stick with organic pads and tampons from brands like Natracare, Organ(y)c, Maxim and Seventh Generation.
How concerned are you about the toxic chemicals in conventional pads and tampons?
Feature image courtesy of flo2night

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bed Bug Action Plan for Hotels

bed bug hotels
The season of traveling for the holidays will begin soon and if you are staying in hotels and motels,bed bugs are on a rise and love traveling around luggage and around your room. These pesky critters can cause an uncomfortable night and disturb your sleep and cause severe itchiness through out your entire trip. Worst case scenario, they can travel in your luggage and travel to your home without you even knowing. The solution, having a bed bug action plan. Many businesses in the hospitality industry are doing a great job in taking action to protect their guests when dealing with bed bugs. Hotels also are working with pest management companies to quickly get rid of any pests and solve their bed bug problems quickly. However, there have also been many cases where hotel management do not know that their hotels have bed bugs and their staff do not as well.


A recent case near the International Los Angeles Airport not only had a bed bug problem but their staff will be on strike and protesting. The hotel will be protesting the disciplinary actions that were given to a housekeeper because she failed to spot bed bugs and failure in doing so have increased their workload. It might be sometimes difficult to spot bed bugs but there are signs of infestation that can be easy to spot. It is important for the lodging industry to teach their staff and inspect their rooms for bed bugs to avoid problems like the L.A hotel. To facilitate early bed bug detection, all hotel employees should receive some bed bug identification training.


Partnering with a pest management company can help your staff plan out an inspection plan that can be done monthly so that your employees can catch the bed bugs before your guests do and becomes a bigger problem.Housekeeping personnel can also alert hotel management when their are signs of bed bugs. It is always important to have an experienced and certified pest management company to treat any bed bug problem. Our Team Heat Division specializes in eliminating bed bugs by using alternative methods like heat. Contact us if you find bed bugs in your environment to re-create a comfortable environment for your staff and guests.

Download a free copy of our Asbestos, Lead Paint & Mold eBook to learn how to mitigate the liability risks associated with common environmental threats found in residential properties.

Monday, November 3, 2014

E-waste Trading Platform Woos 'Ethical' Businesses

When it comes to disposing of electronic waste such as computers, televisions and other gadgets responsibly, there are two big certification programs that can help guide a company’s selection of disposal partner.
Their oversight is critical for controlling where discarded technology winds up and ensuring that certain toxic components don’t find their way into landfills, where they can foul up groundwater supplies and otherwise endanger human health—especially in rural locations in China and India.
The organization behind one of those initiatives, Basel Action Network (BAN), just introduced a business-to-business trading platform to make finding certified recycling partners simpler to help companies recover more value from outdated or damaged technology

The site, called e-Stewards Marketplace, lets businesses register items they are trying to unload. Registered buyers are all approved e-Stewards operations. The marketplace also supports trading of scrap materials and sales of refurbished equipment.
“Businesses disposing of end-of-life electronics will finally have price transparency, access to standardized processes and centralized reporting tools, which will greatly increase the efficiency and profitability of their recycling processes,” said Michael Rubel, CEO of Retrace, which teamed with BAN to create the site. “Recyclers will have access to a new stream of supply and low-cost transactions that support existing sales efforts.”
The United States generates approximately 3.4 million tons of e-waste every year. Most major high-tech hardware companies support collection programs, although many of those efforts center on individuals or consumers (unless you happen to have a large leasing contract). Last year, the entire U.S. consumer electronics industry collected 620 million pounds, double the previous year.

Monday, October 27, 2014


SCAQMD hearing on Exide 1
Residents express their outrage during a community meeting hosted by the SCAQMD.

Vernon, CA shares a dubious association with Frisco, TX, Baton Rouge, LA, Atlanta, GA, and perhaps other cities: their soil, air, and water have been contaminated by the battery recycler, Exide Technologies. Vernon, CA is one of many ‘toxic hot spots’ in California and across the nation where homes and schools are one door away from polluting industries.

Exide has operated the facility on South Indiana street since 2000. Since then they’ve built an impressive pollution rap-sheet. Air quality regulators (South Coast Air Quality Management District or SCAQMD) deplored the serial violator as a “higher cancer risk to more people than any of more than 450 facilities the agency has regulated… in the last 25 years.” The consequences are recorded in people’s bodies as residents witness family members and neighbors develop major illness, such as cancer, and children’s development is stunted.

In April, 2013 officials warned that over 110,000 residents were at a heightened cancer risk from the arsenic emanating from the Vernon plant. In March this year soil testing by state officials revealed lead contamination at 80-1000 ppm in areas around Exide. In response, regulators suggested residents wash their hands.
CBE is joining with the community and allies, and we’re doing more than ‘washing our hands.’ CBE organizers, scientists and lawyers have stepped in to end Exide’s lead and arsenic contamination of our communities. Stay tuned as this campaign develops

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Odd asbestos-containing materials found during building suveys

Odd asbestos-containing materials found during building suveys

Technical Chief - The Environmental InstituteTop Contributor
We have a lot of interest here in the odd materials we find during building surveys...especially those many might not always find even with much experience. If you have odd materials you've found that you can describe with how they were used...let's make a list so we can all benefit from the combined experiences.
  • Stephen
    Gheen Engineering
    Good topic! I'm always interested in expanding may knowledge and avoiding change orders. I'm not sure these qualify as odd materials, but they are often asbestos containing and I don't often see them in other consultant's reports: vapor barrier behind brick veneer; vapor barrier on the interior side of exterior walls behind plaster; gypsum roof deck (this is less often ACM, but I've found it on at least 3 roofs); mastic / vapor barrier below floor filler and flooring; and vapor barrier below terrazzo floors. I'm sure I've forgotten others.
    Tom Laubenthal, Jim Evans and 2 others like this
  • Jim Evans
    Senior Environmental Consultant at Watts Architecture & Engineering
    Tom, great topic! Thanks.
    Stephen, let me add bituminous waterproofing on concrete foundation walls below grade. We often expect it to be there, but rarely bring a shovel or backhoe to an asbestos survey. Are we noting in our reports that our survey excludes below grade materials? Hope so!

    How about built-up roofing UNDER concrete? We designed removal of built-up roofing on a concrete roof deck years ago. When removal was finished, the contractor showed us a surprise. The concrete was actually a repair, and was on top of another built-up roof on another concrete roof deck. Ouch, that was a heck of a change order.

    Transite breaker blocks for electrical circuits, and transite board behind electrical panels.

    Transite sandwiched between sheet metal for window infill panels - typical 1970s energy conservation measure of installing smaller windows in schools and offices, and filling the rest of the opening with these transite sandwiches.

    Electrical wire insulation or jacket. Not only in old buildings, but sometimes within 1950s to 1980s fluorescent light fixtures.

    Paper, or foil and paper, insulation above light bulbs in old incandescent light fixtures.
  • Tom Laubenthal
    Technical Chief - The Environmental Institute
    Top Contributor
    A friend involved with a building demo found elevator cars coated with a black sealant of some sort that was ~15% chrysotile (on the exterior of sides and rear metal panels). When the elevator cars we dismantled, a demo guy starting cutting through the door with a reciprocating saw only to find the door stuffed with perfectly layered corrugated asbestos paper insulation.
    Tony R., Yilmael D. like this
  • Jim Evans

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles