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Environmental News

Compostable Bowls Contain PFAS, Restaurant Chains and Manufacturers Begin to Make Changes

March 31, 2020

Many of us are taking advantage of drive-through and pick-up options at local eating establishments as we are adhering to stay-at-home orders. Some of that food will come in compostable bowls, which have replaced the use of Styrofoam. Many of us may have even composted those fiber containers in our backyard composter, or if we work in the solid waste industry, in our composting operations. But what has not been widely known until now, is that these bowls, which have been touted as “biodegradable”, “socially responsible”, and “environmentally friendly” contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS), a group of more than 4,000 fluorinated compounds that do not biodegrade naturally in the environment and have been shown to be toxic and carcinogenic. PFAS are added to the fiber bowls to make them resistant to moisture, oil, and grease so they don’t fall apart when full of food. These bowls, which have become ubiquitous in the restaurant industry, are not really 100 percent compostable. Instead of degrading quickly,…
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Environmental News, Solid Waste News

Landfill Fires Increase, Know the Risks

March 4, 2020

More than 8,000 landfill fires occur each year, ranging from minor surface fires to massive blazes. Due to the potential release of toxic smoke and gases, these fires represent a significant health and environmental concern. Additionally landfill fires result in a cost of approximately $8 million annually in property losses and 30 firefighters injured each year while battling the fires. Fires are caused by a number of factors including arson, deposits of hot wastes, lithium ion batteries, and natural causes such as lightening. In December 2019 alone, 24 fire incidents were reported at waste and recycling facilities in the U.S. and Canada. Based on information provided by Waste 360, the waste and recycling industry experienced a total of 343 “reported facility” fires in the U.S. and Canada. A “reported facility fire” is defined as a fire that has been reported by the media and occurs at a waste or recycling facility in the U.S. and Canada. Fires that are reported by the media are larger…
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Environmental News, Regulatory News

EPA Issues Preliminary Determination to Set Enforceable Drinking Water Standard for PFAS and PFOS

February 28, 2020

On February 20, 2020, the EPA announced it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard for two of the most common per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). This decision was based on the criteria that PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health, are present in our drinking water at a frequency and concentration that represent a public health concern, and regulation will reduce the health risk to those served by public water supply systems. The preliminary regulatory determination is the first step in setting a drinking water standard, called as a maximum contaminant level (MCL) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). If an MCL is established, utilities will be required to monitor for these PFOA and PFOS and potentially treat their water to keep concentrations below the standard. It is important to note that this proposed regulation only covers PFOS and PFOA, and not the nearly…
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Environmental News, Regulatory News

Finalization of a New Rule Addressing the Clean Water Act Definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS)

February 18, 2020

On January 23, 2020 the United States Environmental Protection Agency and United States Corps of Engineers announced the finalization of a new rule addressing the Clean Water Act definition of Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”). The definition of WOTUS is considered to be one of the three critical jurisdictional terms in the Clean Water Act. It is also important because it is relevant to non-National Pollution Discharge Elimination System programs including: Section 404 of the Clean Water Act Wetland PermitsSection 311 Oil/Hazardous Substances Release RequirementsClean Water Act Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Regulations The scope of the definition of WOTUS has been the subject of frequent litigation, legislative oversight, rulemakings, and public policy debates since the enactment of the modern version of the Clean Water Act in 1972. This current version will also likely be met by lawsuits from environmental groups and some states while at the same time it is being championed by organizations representing farming and ranching interests, industry groups, and real…
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Environmental News

What are PFAS?

December 10, 2019

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a complex group of over 3,000 man-made fluorinated organic chemicals that have been used worldwide since the 1940s in industry and consumer products such as non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, cosmetics, firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. The most studied PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). PFOA and PFOS have been phased out of production and use in the United States but may still be manufactured and used in other countries. During production and use, PFAS can migrate into the soil, water, and air. Most PFAS (including PFOA and PFOS) are resistant to degradation, so they do not breakdown in the environment. As a result of their widespread use and persistence, PFAS are present at low concentrations in the environment and many food products. Additionally, PFAS are found in the blood of humans and animals throughout the world. Potential Adverse Health Affects Studies indicate that PFOA and…
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