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On April 21 the U.S. Coast Guard notified the department’s Environmental Emergency Response section that up to 87 barges broke loose from their moorings near Mississippi River mile marker 172 near Lemay. The count of barges was later reassessed at 114 with nine barges missing. Four barges hit the I-255 Bridge, also known as the Jefferson Barracks Bridge, causing a temporary closure at that time. At total of 10 barges sank, including nine coal barges. Four barges carrying hazardous materials, or hazmat, were secured at the bank with no reported leakage. The rest of the barges were pushed into the bank along the river. Emergency responders reported that no surface water intakes for drinking water can be affected if a leak should occur.
The hazmat barges were assessed, with none found to be leaking. One of the barges carrying dry caustic soda (sodium hydroxide), never lost its mooring. Another barge carrying caustic soda was located in good condition and returned to river mile 171. A barge carrying mono ethyl glycol was located in good condition. That barge was attached to an empty naphtha solvent barge which was damaged but not leaking. Those barges were also returned to river mile 171.
The Environmental Emergency Response section is the department’s front line of defense against significant and imminent hazardous substance releases, natural or man-made disasters, or homeland security threats that impact public safety and the environment. Responsibilities include responding to any chemical, petroleum, or other material spilled on to the land, or into the water or air, that may impact the public health and safety and the environment.
The Environmental Emergency Response section is called to the scene of more than 300 emergencies each year, including fires, traffic accidents, leaking storage tanks and other incidents that could have a negative environmental impact. The department’s 24-hour spill line receives more than 1,600 incident reports annually.
To report an environmental emergency, including fuel spills, please contact the spill line at (573) 634-2436. You can report a suspected environmental concern through the department’s online reporting form.
You cannot always see particulates but they matter because no matter what you may have heard, what you can’t see can still hurt you!
Smoke, soot, dust and dirt particles are included in a group known as particulate matter, one of the six common air pollutants monitored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Particulate matter, abbreviated PM, is an airborne mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles made up of organic chemicals, metals, acids or dust particles.
There are two groups of PM that matter the most since they can easily be inhaled. PM10, are particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometers and are frequently found near roadways and dust-creating industries. Fine particles, or PM2.5, are 2.5 micrometers and smaller. PM2.5 lurks in smoke from burning oil, coal, wood or residential waste; smog, haze and vehicle exhaust.
To give you an idea of the sizes of particulate matter, an average hair from your head is about 70 micrometers which would be seven times bigger than the largest PM10 and 30 times bigger than the biggest PM2.5.
Although these particulates are tiny their effect on human health can really matter. Whether inhalable or fine, particulates that are 10 micrometers or smaller can enter the lungs from the throat and nose creating serious health issues in some individuals, such as:
- Increased respiratory problems.
- Aggravated asthma.
- Decreased lung function.
- Irregular heartbeat and nonfatal heart attacks.
- Premature death.
Even healthy people may experience symptoms from exposure to particulate matter. Particle pollution can also damage the environment.
The Department of Natural Resources maintains a system of air monitors across the state as part of a network to monitor air pollutants known to affect people’s health. So the next time smoke gets in your eyes; limit your exposure because particulates matter.
Arbor Day in Missouri is the first Friday in April, or April 5 this year, so it seems like a good time to talk about trees. Most of us probably think trees are great for air quality but just like people, trees have their good side and their not so good side.
Trees are beneficial to the air quality because their shade is cooling which reduces the need to generate air conditioning. The surface area of leaves allows for the removal of nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter. Trees and plants use carbon dioxide in the air along with sun, soil and water to make food and release oxygen for us to breathe in the process. Trees store carbon dioxide in their trunk and roots.
Turn that leaf over though and you will see that trees release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can react with nitrogen oxides from cars and power plants to form ozone and particulate matter. In some rural areas with low nitrogen oxide concentrations though, the VOCs from trees can actually remove ozone. When you start looking at a tree from different angles, you can really get in some deep weeds!
The earth’s vegetation is responsible for about two-thirds of the VOCs emitted around the world, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In their computer simulation model, removing man-made pollutants created a 50 percent drop in tree pollutants. When we reduce our pollutants we help trees reduce their pollutants.
We can plant trees and then help trees pollute less by reducing our own pollution. In return trees will shade and protect us. As Chief Seattle said, “All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man…the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.”
Don’t blow off the possibility of asbestos in your surroundings. Before demolishing or renovating structures, excluding some residential buildings, the structures must be inspected by a Missouri-certified asbestos inspector for the presence of asbestos. Debris should be kept wet to minimize potential asbestos emissions.
Although newer structures may have fewer asbestos-containing building materials used in them, asbestos may be present in any structure.
- Attic insulation.
- Wall insulation.
- Vinyl floor tiles.
- Roofing shingles
- Siding shingles
- Textured paint and patching compounds.
- Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves.
- Hot water and steam pipes.
- Oil or coal furnaces and door gaskets.
- Heat-resistant fabrics.
- Automobile brakes and clutches.
Even worse, disturbing asbestos can release the fibers into the air. Exposure to asbestos can cause scarring of the lungs, mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Learn more about asbestos:
No fooling! The start of ozone season is just around the corner. The reason for the season is ozone is good up high and bad nearby.
Summer heat can bring some lovely days for a dip in the swimming pool but the heat and sunlight can also produce ground-level ozone – commonly known as smog. Smog is a gas created when the pollution from business, power plants and vehicles mix in the presence of sunlight. Higher temps and sunlight speed up the formation of this ground-level ozone.
Exposure to ground-level ozone contributes to health and environmental problems. Adults and children can experience problems breathing, especially those who exercise or work outdoors. Ground-level ozone may also damage trees and agricultural crops.
Simple everyday steps can help reduce the emission of harmful ozone-causing pollutants:
- Keep vehicle tires properly inflated. (Under-inflated tires also increase gasoline consumption.)
- Use public transportation, carpool, bike or walk.
- Stop at the first click when filling up gas tanks. Do not top off the tank. Resist the urge to squeeze that nozzle!
- Don’t use gas-powered lawn equipment on hot, sunny days with little or no wind. Consider waiting until early evening to mow your lawn.
- Conserve energy by turning off lights and appliances when leaving a room to reduce emissions from power plants.
- Set a goal to reduce your utility bill by two percent. You will save money and protect air quality.
Ozone monitoring data for ozone season, which begins April 1 and runs through Oct. 31, is available from monitors placed around the state. For more information on ozone, visit the department’s Ozone webpage. You may also want to read the article The Darker Side of Ozone in the summer 2011 edition of Missouri Resources’ magazine.
Due to the light agenda, the Land Reclamation Commission meeting scheduled for Jan. 24 is cancelled. The commission will meet next at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 28 in the Nightingale Conference Room inside the Lewis and Clark State Office Building in Jefferson City. For more information about the Land Reclamation Commission, including future meeting dates, times and locations, visit the commission webpage at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/lrp/commission/lrc.htm.
Happy New Year! The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has released two environmental compliance calendars aimed at helping regulated industries with the most common reporting requirements.
The calendars, which are available free of charge for download from the department’s website, include the 2013 General Industry Compliance Calendar and the 2013 Dry Cleaning Compliance Calendar. These fact sheets, designed to look like wall calendars, are intended to be a guide to the most common reporting requirements faced by companies in Missouri.
The General Industry Compliance Calendar, PUB1311, provides a quick reference of permits held by a facility. The calendar can be tailored to a facility’s particular requirements. Each month of the calendar lists some of the more commonly required reports. The list does not include internal record keeping requirements that may be included in permit conditions for a specific process or facility. Each facility is responsible for reviewing and complying with their permit conditions and with all applicable regulations.
The calendar helps keep track of general facility information when dealing with hazardous waste, water issues, land reclamation, air emissions and more.
The Dry Cleaning Compliance Calendar, PUB1310, may be used to keep records required by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The inspection checklist covers the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Emissions Standards for Air Pollutants, or NESHAP, for dry cleaners.
Both calendars are available on the department’s publications webpage. The General Industry Compliance Calendar is located at www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub1311.pdf. The Dry Cleaning Compliance Calendar is located at www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub1310.pdf.
Diesel moves approximately 90 percent of America’s freight. Diesel engines power nearly all delivery trucks, freight trucks, locomotives and commercial marine vessels. The Air Pollution Control Program wants those diesel engines to keep Missouri’s skies cleaner while they are moving our nation’s goods on down the road.
Under the State Allocated Diesel Emission Reduction Act Funding for 2012, the Air Pollution Control Program received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, to fund a clean diesel program in Missouri.
The program used the grant to award subgrants to St. Louis Regional Clean Cities and to the Ozark Center for Sustainable Solutions at Drury University.
St. Louis Regional Clean Cities will receive a subgrant for $108,250. The St. Louis area project will include repowering the 1984 propulsion engines on a 600-horsepower tugboat with new cleaner and more efficient engines that meet more stringent federal emission standards. In addition, a 2000 model year class 8 long-haul tractor-trailer that is used to fulfill pick-up and delivery contracts in all of Missouri’s major metropolitan areas will be replaced with a new truck with an engine meeting the latest EPA emission standards for heavy-duty diesel vehicles.
The Ozark Center for Sustainable Solutions at Drury University will be receiving a subgrant for $82,000. The southwest Missouri area project will include the early replacement of two 1997-model year school buses owned by Logan-Rogersville and Hollister School District, respectively. The new bus engines will meet the latest EPA emission standards for school buses. In addition, one 1990 dump truck owned by APAC will be replaced with a new truck that will operate exclusively on compressed natural gas as opposed to conventional diesel fuel.
These projects are expected to keep more than 3,200 tons of diesel emissions from entering Missouri’s air through the life of the vehicles and engines that will be replaced or repowered. This is also expected to conserve thousands of gallons of diesel fuel each year for the combination of fleets included in the project.
The Air Pollution Control Program is committed to reducing diesel emissions in Missouri. Diesel emissions contain oxides of nitrogen as well as volatile organic compounds, which in the presence of sunlight, react to form ground-level ozone, the pollutant of most concern statewide in Missouri. Ozone is known to cause and aggravate respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Diesel emissions also contain fine particulate matter, which can penetrate deep into people’s lungs past their natural defenses. This can lead to a variety of different lung and respiratory disease including lung cancer. Reducing diesel emissions, particularly in areas with disproportionately high concentrations of air pollutants is vital to the Air Pollution Control Program’s mission of protecting public health.
Did you know air pollution is a trigger for asthma? Did you know children are especially sensitive to the harmful effects of air pollution? When the air quality is unhealthy what changes are you going to make in children’s outdoor play?
The School Flag Program is an effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help schools improve the health and wellness of students and staff.
Air pollution can affect the health of children, especially those with asthma. The School Flag Program is designed to help the school community stay aware of outdoor air quality conditions so teachers, coaches and students can take protective measures to reduce students’ exposure to air pollution. Modifying outdoor activities is recommended when air quality has reached unhealthy levels.
There are four easy steps to get the School Flag Program started at your school to ensure healthy learning environments.
First, purchase five flags, pennant style, solid colors, Schools participating in the School Flag Program raise a flag each day. The flag colors are based on the colors of the Air Quality Index. Each flag color corresponds to a different level of health concern:
- Green = good
- Yellow = moderate
- Orange = unhealthy for sensitive groups
- Red = unhealthy
- Purple = very unhealthy
Second, educate and inform parents, teachers and students.
Fourth, follow the recommendations for schools and others on poor air quality days.
For more information about air pollutants, ozone and the air quality data system, visit the Air Pollution Control Program.
Is the sight of fellow students throwing away perfectly good recyclables making you cringe?
Cure the cringe by starting a recycling program at school, or if your school already has recycling, encourage and educate classmates about the importance of recycling.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- In the Class Room.
- Students should always recycle old worksheets. If you have a recycle receptacle in your class room, it’s easy, just use it. If not, ask for one to be provided.
- Notebooks are often thrown away because the first couple of pages are already used for a different project. Simply tear out and recycle the old pages and reuse the rest of the notebook.
- Outside of Class.
- Get a team together to help the school recycle.
- Post signs in hallways about how and what to recycle.
- In the Cafeteria.
- If your school recycles, be sure to look for the recycle symbol on food packaging and put those packages into recycling containers.
- If your school does not have recycling containers, ask your school staff about getting them.
Just remember, we impact our environment by the choices we make every day.
To find more tips on being eco-friendly all year long, visit our Green Tips website.