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Über dieses Buch

This short, readable book is intended as a big-picture introduction/overview for environmental students and lay-people involved with environmental issues. Every freshman in college intending to study environmental science should read it. It begins with a historical perspective on waste and environmental control. Basic instruction on some important fundamentals faced by environmental professionals every day, such as sampling, analysis, data visualization, risk assessment and forensic chemistry are provided in the following chapter. Important regulatory fundamentals, such as the National Contingency Plan, which is the U.S. regulatory framework for addressing hazardous waste is also defined. The book concludes with pertinent and provocative considerations on the future of environmental management, such as alternative approaches (technical impracticability), the “not-in-my-backyard syndrome,” and the safety of chemicals in consumer products. The book contains many useful facts about waste production rates, energy use and recycling rates—all referenced to allow substantiation and provide a springboard for further research.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Abstract
Environmental management has improved tremendously since the Industrial Revolution, but there is still room for improvement. Recycling continues to increase, but so does waste generation and natural resource depletion. This book is intended to provide a perspective on several pertinent environmental topics that we face today. It will serve as an introduction to students contemplating an environmental career and for individuals involved with the issues covered herein.
Neil Shifrin

2. The Historical Context for Examining Industrial Pollution

Abstract
The early focus of environmental quality was on air and surface water pollution. Land disposal and its impacts were essentially unregulated; in fact, such impacts were eventually exacerbated due to the focus on surface water protection. An understanding of groundwater contaminant transport was not developed until the 1970s and 1980s. For most of the twentieth century, pollution definitions were rudimentary and expressed in terms of “conventional pollutants,” such as suspended solids, bacteria, dissolved oxygen, and nutrients. A chemical definition of pollution did not really first appear until US Environmental Protection Agency established its 64-chemical Priority Pollutant list in 1976. Early regulation of pollution was nuisance-based and enforced on a case-by-case basis using riparian rights and common law notions. By contrast, today environmental statutes and regulations provide a highly structured framework for discharge compliance and remediation of legacy contamination.
Neil Shifrin

3. Environmental Sampling

Abstract
Effective environmental sampling has two parts—representative sampling and accurate measurements. Both offer challenges. Performing successful sampling requires consideration of sufficient sample number, appropriate locations, and representative sample type (e.g., shallow, deep, composite). Ultimately, we attempt to represent large environmental volumes with a few small samples. Thus, careful thought is required to ensure representative sampling, and several “textbook” strategies exist to accomplish this.
Neil Shifrin

4. Environmental Analytical Chemistry 101

Abstract
Environmental chemical analysis has two parts—sample preparation and analysis. Today’s instruments measure extractions of the chemical that existed in an environmental medium, such as soils, so the first challenge is to remove the target chemical (“analyte”) purely from the medium. This step often is complicated by the extraction of unwanted chemicals, causing interferences, or by difficulties in removing all the analyte from the medium. Sometimes, the analyte is actually a group of chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which offer additional challenges. Common analytical instruments include gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers, and atomic absorption or inductively coupled plasma spectrophotometers. Operating each requires skill with sample preparation and the instrument, along with a chemist’s interpretation of the electronic output.
Neil Shifrin

5. Environmental Forensics

Abstract
Environmental forensics consists of both advanced evaluation of typical chemical analyses and advanced chemical analyses. Forensic analysis is often used to differentiate between sources or to examine the timing of historical releases. Some techniques include chemical fingerprinting, speciation, radionuclide dating, microscopic analysis, and statistical analysis. Although it has limitations, forensic analysis can be useful to extract much more from the data than usual.
Neil Shifrin

6. Environmental Data Visualization

Abstract
The graphical display of environmental data can help interpret their meaning. For example, a three-dimensional display of measurements in an environmental space shows a picture that would otherwise need to be imagined, and often incompletely, in the mind of someone reviewing otherwise tabular data. Fortunately, many tools aid in data visualization, such as database programs, GIS, and modeling, all of which are accessible through inexpensive personal computer software. Future developments may offer exciting improvements.
Neil Shifrin

7. Environmental Modeling

Abstract
Environmental models are often used to describe the transport of contaminants when measurements are not possible—for example, in predicting future events. Models can be computer simulations or napkin-back equations. Using either requires an understanding of the simplifications made to the governing equations and to the many required input-, boundary-, and initial-condition parameter values. Model calibration involves setting realistic parameter values until the model output matches reasonably well with a set of measurement data. Model validation involves matching the model output to a second set of data using the calibrated parameter values. Packaged models exist for many environmental settings, including surface water, groundwater, river sediments, air, soil vapor, and indoor air.
Neil Shifrin

8. Risk Assessment

Abstract
Human health risk assessment is useful to determine if an environmental condition is safe or permissible, and to determine appropriate cleanup levels. Risk assessment consists of two parts—exposure analysis and toxicity analysis (i.e., getting a chemical to the body and a chemical’s health impact once it is in the body). Exposure analysis often requires further evaluation of existing data—for example, using soil contamination data to determine volatilization and breathing zone air concentrations. Toxicity analysis typically converts the exposed concentration to a dose and then compares that dose to reference material on safe doses, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database. Risk assessment, as it is applied today on environmental problems like Superfund sites, could be improved by performing it as a risk–benefit analysis.
Neil Shifrin

9. Water Quality and Its Management

Abstract
Water quality is judged by water’s chemical constituent concentrations and general quality parameters, like dissolved oxygen and suspended solids, against water quality criteria established for the intended use of the water, which can vary from water supply to industrial discharge conveyance. Water quality management is the control of discharges, both point and nonpoint sources, to the extent necessary to maintain intended water quality criteria. Wastewater treatment uses various approaches and control technologies, depending on the nature of the wastewater and the degree of required treatment, to attain the control required to ensure the intended receiving water quality. Water quality in the USA is managed primarily through Clean Water Act regulations, which include permit requirements for all discharges.
Neil Shifrin

10. Air Quality and Its Management

Abstract
Air quality is difficult to measure accurately and is usually considered in terms of particulates and vapors. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) developed six key “criteria pollutants” in the 1970s: particulates, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, ozone, carbon monoxide, and lead. Some of these compounds react in the atmosphere to create smog. More recently, USEPA has established 189 hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). Air is polluted by stationary sources (point sources, i.e., stacks, and fugitive sources, e.g., blowing dust) and mobile sources (e.g., vehicles). Fugitive emissions have been the most difficult to characterize and control. Air quality within the USA is managed primarily through Clean Air Act regulations, which include a unique state–federal partnership for permitting, called State Implementation Plans (SIPs). Air emission controls are based primarily on filtration (e.g., baghouses), scrubbers, and management techniques, such as the use of cleaner fuels and fugitive source management techniques (e.g., wetting, covering, enclosing, and sweeping).
Neil Shifrin

11. The National Contingency Plan

Abstract
The National Contingency Plan (NCP) is USEPA’s road map for Superfund. Its intent is to ensure high-quality, consistent studies and remedies throughout the USA. In addition to defining rules for studies, the NCP allows for two types of cleanups: removal actions (faster, shorter, simpler parts of the total remedy) and remedial actions (the full process, expected to lead to closure). Superfund allows for costs to be recovered by the original performing party depending on cost-sharing issues, but the law requires NCP consistency. The NCP delineates nine criteria for selecting appropriate remedies.
Neil Shifrin

12. Technical Impracticability

Abstract
Some environmental contamination simply cannot be cleaned up. US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has rules for determining when this is the case (i.e., when technical impracticability precludes cleanup). In such cases, an alternative response must still be health protective and containing. One condition that often leads to a conclusion of technical impracticability is when dense nonaqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs, e.g., tarry, oily, or otherwise immiscible liquid chemicals) are present in the subsurface. When DNAPL is known to exist, it might be more efficient to declare technical impracticability and move to “plan B” rather than wasting time and money on a “plan A” cleanup destined for failure.
Neil Shifrin

13. Superduperfund

Abstract
Many Superfund site responses excavate wastes and ship them off-site for landfilling. In such cases, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) rules apply, and the wastes must be rendered nonhazardous prior to landfilling. As long as RCRA rules apply for those off-site landfills, and as long as the nonhazardous rendering remains effective, there will be no problem with Superfund’s off-site shipments. Otherwise, we will face Superduperfund sites in the future.
Neil Shifrin

14. Heads in the Sand

Abstract
The “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) syndrome prevails for many proposed projects, such as new landfills or new energy projects. Unfortunately, we need these new projects more than ever. Assuming that a proposed project has been designed to minimize actual risks, only perceived risks remain. But those perceived risks can still stymie a proposed project. A more rational approach to spending years fighting the maze of obstacles thrown in front of such projects would be to offer clear benefits to offset the perceived risks, right from the beginning, as part of the project design.
Neil Shifrin

15. The Safety of Chemical Products

Abstract
Exposures to everyday products such as household cleaners and personal care products potentially pose more actual exposure to chemicals than do Superfund sites. Product liability suits instill incentives for manufacturers to create safer products, but for those specific cases, the damage has already been done. A much-needed supplement to such indirect incentives is a product safety rating system. The system would need to be simple and clear. It would provide consumers with valuable information beyond today’s typical price–performance paradigm, and it would provide manufacturers a marketing tool with the creation of safer products as a benefit to all.
Neil Shifrin

Backmatter

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