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September 2013 is National Preparedness Month

As September’s National Preparedness Month comes to a close, it’s a great time to recap a few tips on how you can better prepare  in case of an emergency. If you haven’t yet, make time to identify potential hazards and discuss with your family what to do before, during and after an emergency. For more information on National Preparedness Month, visit http://dnr.mo.gov/env/esp/healthandsafety.htm. Here are some tips on ways you can prepare:

Be Ready.
Prepare for all hazards, emergencies and disasters.
Be informed about what to do before, during and after an emergency.
Make a plan for what you will do in an emergency.
Build a kit of emergency supplies.
Get involved in preparing your community.
Have a workplace plan.

Prepare, plan and stay informed for emergencies. American Red Cross and Centers for Disease Control Emergency Preparedness and You.

If you are informed, plan ahead and are prepared, then you are ready to handle an emergency or disaster.

 

Healthy Diets Tips and Do’s and Don’ts for your Plumbing — Really!

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Let’s help celebrate SepticSmart Week – Sept. 23-27 by learning how to properly maintain our septic systems.

Proper septic system care and maintenance is vital for homes that have septic systems to treat wastewater. Homeowners that properly maintain their septic systems help protect our public health and preserve valuable water resources. When homeowners flush and forget about their septic systems, it can lead to system back-ups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs, pollute local waterways, and create a risk to public health and the environment.

Tips for Maintaining your Septic System

  • Septic Tank Maintenance Tips – Do’s and Don’ts for properly maintaining your septic tanks are a must. Learn more.
  • Put Your Plumbing on a Healthy Diet – You probably know that many of those delicious, high-fat, down-home, home-cooked meals are bad for your arteries. But, did you also know that the fat, lard and grease that make them so tasty are bad for your plumbing, too? The greasy messes that you pour or scrape down the kitchen sink will eventually find their way into the sewer system, either yours, or the city lines you’re hooked up to. Learn more.
  • Disaster Response for Onsite Wastewater Septic Systems - Natural disasters can damage on-site wastewater systems. Some of the systems may be so damaged that repairs will be required before they will work again. Health and safety hazards can exist from exposed sewage and damaged systems. Take personal safety precautions when examining your system for damage and when making repairs. Learn more.  

Learn more about how you can help at http://dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/Wastewater-SepticSystems.htm

Comment period on MW Recycling lead remediation plans extended to Oct. 6

 The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is seeking comments on draft action plans addressing sampling and cleanup of lead contamination found in residential yards near the MW Recycling (Shapiro) facility, located in Festus.

The department will continue to accept comments until close of business on Oct. 6 and  can be submitted to the department’s Hazardous Waste Program by:

 ·         Mail to the Department of Natural Resources’ Hazardous Waste Program, Attention Michael Stroh, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176;

·         Email with the subject line “Action Plans” to Michael.Stroh@dnr.mo.gov; or,

·         Hand delivery to the receptionist at the department’s Hazardous Waste Program building, located at 1730 E. Elm Street in Jefferson City.  The comments should be marked   “Attention Michael Stroh, Hazardous Waste Program.”

Copies of the draft action plans can be found online at http://on.mo.gov/shapiro under the headline “Draft Action Plans.”

You may also obtain a copy by calling the Hazardous Waste Program-Superfund section at 573-751-4187. For more information, visit www.dnr.mo.gov.

Are you SepticSmart?

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To help raise awareness about the need for proper care and maintenance of septic systems and to encourage homeowners to do their part, next week EPA is launching its first Annual SepticSmart Week, Sept. 23-27 and the Department of Natural Resources is helping them celebrate.

For septic systems to effectively treat wastewater to levels that provide adequate protection to public health and valuable water resources, proper system care and maintenance is vital. When homeowners “flush and forget” about their septic systems, it can lead to system back-ups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs, pollution of local waterways, and  added risks to public health and the environment.

By taking small steps to care for and maintain their septic systems, homeowners will not only be helping to protect public health and the environment, they can also save money and protect property values.

Learn more at http://dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/Wastewater-SepticSystems.htm

Get in the round to save money

Air makes a tire round. When tires are not inflated to the proper pounds per square inch rating, or PSI, they require more energy to move and maintain speed. Under-inflated tires increase fuel costs and add to air pollution.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, every two PSI of air under the maximum recommended level creates a one percent loss of fuel efficiency. The average car is driven more than 12,000 miles a year racking up an extra 144 gallons of fuel due to under-inflated tires.

Every gallon of fuel used equals 20.8 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into the air creating extra air pollution. One estimate suggests U.S. drivers waste a staggering two billion gallons of fuel annually due to low tire pressure. Two billion gallons creates 57.5 billion pounds of carbon monoxide pollutants just because tires are not round.

Once a month go round your vehicle and check your tire pressure when the tires are cold. The tire pressure requirements for your vehicle are usually located on a sticker on the driver’s side doorjamb or in the vehicle manual. The number on the tire is for the tire’s maximum tire pressure which may differ from the vehicle’s optimum tire pressure.

Simple tips to improve air quality and save you money:

·         Walk, bike, share rides or take the bus.
·         Limit driving and use cruise control on trips.
·         Keep car tuned and tires properly inflated.
·         Do not top off your tank when filling car.
·         Avoid drive-through trips and unnecessary idling.
·         If the check engine light comes on, check it out!
·         Shop online.
·         More tips.

It’s SepticSmart Week – Sept. 23-27!

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When you think of infrastructure you typically think of roads right?  But there is a ‘hidden’ infrastructure we all tend to forget about since it is underground—our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.  Until there is a water main break or a septic system failure, people don’t tend to think much about it.

Approximately 25 percent of the U.S. households and 33 percent of new construction (both domestic and commercial) are served by septic wastewater systems, also known as onsite wastewater systems.  Today’s septic systems feature advanced technologies enabling them to achieve the same level of wastewater treatment provided by the traditional sewer systems.

Learn more about SepticSmart Week at http://dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/Wastewater-SepticSystems.htm

Department seeks public comments on wastewater project list

Public hearing to be held Thursday, July 18!

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is seeking comments on its draft plan outlining how it intends to use approximately $364 million in federal and state funds designated for improving wastewater infrastructure.

The department will hold a public hearing to take comments on the plan at 9 a.m., July 18 at the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, 1101 Riverside Dr., Jefferson City. The hearing will be held in conjunction with the regularly scheduled Missouri Clean Water Commission meeting.

The annual plan, known formally as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Intended Use Plan, describes how the department intends to use the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to make low-interest loans to wastewater systems to improve infrastructure, comply with the Clean Water Act and protect the environment. The interest rate on the available loan funds this year will be approximately 30 percent of the interest rate offered on a market rate loan.

The public hearing will provide the department opportunity to present testimony and provide both the department and the public the opportunity to comment on the intended use plan and priority lists.

The department will accept comments on these drafts until 5 p.m., July 25.  A copy of the plan can be found  at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/srf/wastewater-assistance.htm.

Missouri launches electronic discharge monitoring report system

The Department of Natural Resources has released a new online tool to help Missouri wastewater permit holders submit their discharge monitoring reports electronically.

Some wastewater systems are required to submit discharge monitoring reports that summarize effluent monitoring results.  The electronic discharge monitoring report, or eDMR, system allows wastewater treatment facilities to submit their reports via the internet.   Historically, the reports were handled entirely through a paper recording and submission process.

This new eDMR system will be faster and more efficient than the current system and will greatly reduce the amount of time and labor wastewater facilities spend preparing these reports. Additionally, eDMR will save the department time and improve accuracy by eliminating potential errors that might be introduced by manual data entry.  

For more information on the system or to attend a training workshop, visit www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/edmr.htm.

Pesticide Pickup in Clinton

If you have gotten rid of pests but are plagued by left-over pesticides, this collection program may help what’s bugging you. The department is providing Missouri residents with a convenient, free opportunity to properly dispose of pesticides. Proof of residence may be requested. Bring your waste to the Clinton Street Department Lot, 801 E. Sedalia Ave., on Saturday, June 29 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Items that will be accepted include fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, rodenticides, fertilizers containing herbicides or pesticides, de-wormers & fly-tags. Only material that is clearly identifiable as a pesticide or herbicide will be received.

This event will not accept explosives, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, cylinders, asbestos, trash, yard waste, electronics. Also not accepted are pesticides from businesses, pesticide production facilities, pesticide distributors or pesticide retailers, or any other chemicals or waste other than pesticides or herbicides.

Collection services will be processed by the Environmental Quality Company and overseen by the department’s Environmental Services Program http://dnr.mo.gov/env/esp/esp-eer.htm and Hazardous Waste Program http://dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/index.html staff. For more information on the pesticide collection program, contact Andrew Reed at 573-526-2736. http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/pesticide/

Why particulates matter

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.

The shady side of trees

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.”

For more information about air quality, visit the Air Pollution Control Program or the Environmental Services Program’s Air Quality Assurance and Air Quality Monitoring websites.

 

 

 

 

Asbestos is nothing to sneeze at

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.

Asbestos can be found in:

  • 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:

Ozone season starts April 1

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. 

Check faucets and showerheads for leaks during Fix a Leak Week

During Fix a Leak Week, March 18-24, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources encourages consumers to check their household fixtures for leaks.

Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.  One potential source could be your faucet or showerhead.  Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks. Old worn out washers and gaskets in faucets and showerheads frequently cause leaks. They may need to be replaced.

Some leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. Pipe tape, also called Teflon tape, is available at most hardware stores, is easy to apply, and can help tame unruly leaks. For more complicated valve leaks in showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber.

If you’ve determined you have leaks and you find these solutions aren’t enough to stop them, it might be time to replace your leaking fixtures. Look for the WaterSense label if you are considering new fixtures.  You could increase your home’s water efficiency.

Check your toilet during Fix a Leak Week.

During Fix a Leak Week, held March 18-24, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources asks consumers to do a little detective work to find household fixtures that may be leaking.  One possible source of a leak could be your toilet.

Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 15 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)

A common reason why toilets will leak is an old or worn out toilet flapper (sometimes called a “valve seal”). Flappers are inexpensive rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Replacing them can be a quick and easy fix for your water woes. To fix this leak, consult your local hardware store, home improvement retailer, or licensed plumber.

If your leaky toilet is beyond repair and the time has come to replace it, look for the WaterSense label on a new toilet to increase your home’s water efficiency.