Notice of Final  Action on Reconsideration

In response to the public comments it received, the EPA has issued a Notice of Final Action on Reconsideration.

The EPA is retaining the minimum CO limit of 130 ppm and the PM CPMS requirements that were set out in the January 2013 rule.  The EPA has also made minor changes to the definition of startup and shutdown periods and work practices during these periods.

This final rule also makes a number of technical corrections and clarifications to 40 CFR Part 63, Subpart DDDDD.  This revision to the Boiler MACT affects facilities that operate industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters as well as emit 10 tons per year (tpy) of any single hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or 25 tpy of a combination of HAPs.


Sudden shutdown of Monticello nuclear power plant causes fish kill The sudden drop in temperature in the discharged cooling water resulted in a fish kill in the Mississippi River.

The Monticello, Minn., nuclear power plant was shut down suddenly on Monday after an equipment problem, causing a fish kill in the Mississippi River from thermal shock.

In a report to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Xcel Energy said it shut down the plant while operating at 100 percent power after a problem arose with a reactor pump. The utility said shutdown happened safely, with no release of radiation and no risk to the public.

But the sudden drop in temperature in the discharged cooling water resulted in a fish kill. Xcel said it counted 59 dead fish. The fish were crappies, sunfish, bass, catfish and carp, according to the state Department of Natural Resources, which was notified of the incident.

During unexpected shutdowns, the water temperature near the plant can drop from about 65 degrees to 40 degrees in a few hours, said Harland Hiemstra, a DNR information officer. The fish can't cope with the sudden change in temperature, he said. "It is thermal shock," he added.

DNR is monitoring the situation with Xcel's onsite biologist, he said. There is no evidence that the fish kill exceeded Xcel's count, he said. The utility will be assessed a penalty for each dead fish.

Bacteria on the Brain

 The New Yorker

New process produces hydrogen from methane, without emitting CO2

An experimental reactor has been designed by researchers that's capable of separating methane into components of ...

Natural gas accounts for over 28 percent of US energy consumption. Its main component, methane, is a widely-used fossil fuel but also a major contributor to rising CO2 levels, and thus climate change. To address this issue, researchers from the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a process that extracts the energy content of methane, in the form hydrogen, without producing carbon dioxide.

. Continue Reading New process produces hydrogen from Gizmag

Minimize Air Pollution

Air pollution is one of the immense problems that humanity is suffering from. The air we breathe is no longer fresh instead what we usually inhale are harmful air pollutants. Whether we are inside our home or office or outside the house we are surrounded by air pollutants that come from different sources. At home, some of the sources of air pollutants are the household products we use (like pesticide, paint), molds, pollen and cigarette smoke. The air pollutants are hazardous to our body and sometimes we experience shortness of breath and cough. Radon 22 is one of the major indoor pollutants known to be the second major cause of lung cancer.

Outside our homes, the major air pollutants are carbon dioxide and nitrogen monoxide which comes mostly from transportation vehicles and industrial plants. Burning fossil fuel and deforestation can result to increase in production of carbon monoxide and aside from imposing harmful effects to us humans, carbon monoxide also contributes to global warming which means the temperature of Earth increases and may result to adverse effects to this world we live in.

Air pollution can be minimized if all of us will find and follow ways on how to minimize this problem and make the air we breathe clean and fresh. We can start minimizing air pollution right within our homes. Below are several tips we should start to practice and follow to reduce air pollution and keep our body away from diseases caused by unclean air.
1. Don't smoke
Smoking can cause air pollution and can be very dangerous to our health. It does not only endanger the person smoking but also the people around him. Smoke from cigarettes release thousands of pollutants in the form of small particles which is called particulate matter. Furthermore, studies show that air pollution produced by cigarettes or tobacco is 10 times greater than the emissions by diesel cars.
2. Plant trees
Planting trees even in your backyard can help clean the air we breathe because trees produce oxygen we need.
3. Learn to recycle
Recycling can help a lot in minimizing air pollution because when we recycle and reuse the things we have, lesser things need to be produced by factories and this helps lessen air pollution.
4. Save energy
Save energy at home or in the office by turning appliances and light off when not in use can help lessen air pollution. You can also save money by cutting off electricity consumption.
5. Clean your home as often as possible
Cleaning your home can remove dust and air pollutants and make your home safer and healthier for your family to stay.
6. Avoid using car daily
Instead of using your car, you can travel by public transit to avoid more harmful emissions that come from vehicles. If you are working, suggest car pool to your co-workers or ride with a co-worker that lives near you.
7. Select the products you buy
Buy products that are reusable and eco-friendly. When shopping, you can use a canvas bag instead of a plastic bag.

There are many other things that we can do to minimize air pollution. We should start finding ways to clean our air now before more calamities will happen and might imperil the health of our children and those of the next generation. Let's act now in saving our world and making it a better place to live.

Causes, Effects and Sources of Air Pollution

Air pollution means the presence of contaminants or pollutants in the atmosphere beyond tolerance limit that can cause health problems to all human beings on earth. The causes of air pollution can be both natural or man-made. Air pollutants are mostly gases or small particles which remain suspended in the air for very long time period.

Sources of Air Pollution:

The most characteristic sources of air pollution have always been combustion processes where the pollutant is smoke. Out of all combustion processes, the most dominant player responsible for pollution is automobiles. The burning of fossil fuels in automobiles releases enormous amount of sulfur and nitrogen oxides which are heavy air pollutants.

Apart from the automobiles, power sector is another major play in causing pollution. Humans are still dependent on fossil fuels for all their energy demands. Coal is the major source of energy in thermal power plants to produce electricity and is the dirtiest of fuel among all. Burning coal produces smoke which contains contaminants and when this smoke is released into atmosphere, these contaminants remain suspended in atmosphere for a long duration.

Air Pollution Scenarios:

Smoke has been the reason of urban air pollution since centuries because of the same reason. The use of coal throughout the centuries has caused cities to be very smoky places. The present scenario is not very different. Coal is still burnt in large quantities to produce electricity worldwide and is therefore one of the main source of pollution.

The world has now shifted to liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons like oil and natural gas to meet its energy demands. Though these fuels are considerably cleaner than coal but excessive use of these fuels have resulted in increased concentration of greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides etc. in the atmosphere.
Effects of Air Pollution:

Pollutants have a wide range of effects with health problems being of most concern. Respiratory diseases tops the chart of health problems. The second major health problem is heart diseases caused due to increased level of carbon monoxide in the air. Pollutants are also involved in increasing cases of Asthma, Eye Irritation and a range of bronchial diseases.

Pollution also affect our environment and ecosystems. Acid rain is the result of increased amount of pollutants present in the atmosphere which gets dissolved with the rain water. This acidic rain caused serious harm to our natural environment and ecosystems. Fading shine of Taj Mahal, among world's seven wonders, is one of the example of how air pollution can impact our environment?

Air pollution control:

The need to control pollution was recognized in the earliest cities. The nineteenth century saw a growing interest in improving public health by controlling pollutants. Laws were formed to keep the pollutants downwind or outside the city.

Since then, as the environmental awareness has increased, a lot of precautionary measures have been taken by the governments and strict pollution laws have been imposed on industries to control pollutants. The improvements in technology and increased energy efficiency of engines have also helped in reduced emissions compared to a few decades ago.

Protecting Yourself From Indoor Air Pollution

The word 'pollution' usually invokes images of smoggy city-skylines and industrial power stations, but what about the pollution we don't see?

The air we breathe inside our homes may actually contain pollutants of its own. Invisible, but no less hazardous - accounting for an estimated one-third of our nation's health bill.

The good news is that with some simple precautions, you can ensure the air in your home stays clean. Before we find out how to prevent indoor air pollution, let's take a quick look at what it is and what causes it.

Indoor air pollution is the accumulation of hazardous airborne substances within a building or structure, sometimes to toxic levels. It is mostly caused by inadequate ventilation, malfunctioning appliances, and various chemicals within the home. Indoor air pollutants can have a wide range of health effects. From headaches and fatigue, to asthma and other respiratory problems. In the most severe cases, the can even cause death.
Common indoor air pollutants:

    Radon - a byproduct of decomposing radium found in the ground beneath buildings. Radon gas seeps through cracks in walls and foundations. It's the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

    Carbon Monoxide - comes from fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves and water-heaters that are not properly installed and ventilated. This gas interferes with the delivery of oxygen throughout the body.

    Dusts and Mold - an abundance of dust or mold build-up is usually due to inadequate ventilation. These types of particles can trigger wheezing and shortness of breath, and contribute to the epidemic of asthma, as well as pulmonary disease.

    Volatile Organic Compounds - compounds found in household cleaners, pesticides, paints/lacquers/varnishes, equipment, and building materials that evaporate into the air. These can cause adverse reactions and damage the central nervous system.
The Global Scale of Indoor Pollution

On a worldwide level, the human health impact is staggering. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 2 million people die every year from an illness directly attributed to their indoor environment. Half of pneumonia related deaths in young children are caused by inhalation of particle matter found indoors.

The health risks of indoor air pollution are greater for people living in the poorer developing countries of the world. It's estimated that about 3 billion people worldwide still use open fuel sources, or burn biomass to cook and heat their homes. In their homes, the concentration of hazardous particles can be 100 times more than the standards established for safe air.

This doesn't mean that indoor air pollution is of no concern for a modern residential home. The American Medical Association has estimated that over thirty percent of our national health bill may be attributable to indoor air pollution. If you're wondering about the quality of the air in your home, you are not alone. Many people are testing to see if pollutants are present, and making improvements to their homes to minimize pollutant buildup.
Making Sure Your Home Stays Free of Pollution

The biggest things you can do to make your home environment less susceptible to pollution is control it at the source, and ventilate your home adequately. You can also test your home to see if pollutants have built up to dangerous levels.

Test Your Air

If you want to know if the air quality in your home has been compromised, you can have it tested. Do-it-yourself test kits for radon and mold are commonly available and inexpensive. You can also have a sample of your home's air analyzed in a laboratory for a full range of harmful compounds. This usually costs between 60-100 dollars but is well worth the investment for the piece of mind.
Stop Pollution at the Source

Obviously, any burning of open fuel source should be done in a well ventilated area, and not inside a home. You may also want to check to ensure that home appliances are properly installed and in working order, and ensure that any duct-work and ventilation equipment associated with those appliances is installed correctly.

Changing central a/c and heating filters regularly is a best practice for keeping the air in your home healthy. Make sure that the filter is installed correctly (follow manufacturer instructions) so that polluted air does not get continually re-cycled throughout the home.

A home should be cleaned and vacuumed regularly to avoid the buildup of dust and dander. Particles in carpets and on surfaces actually become airborne when moved, extremely large amounts of this kind of particle matter in the home should be avoided.

Second-hand smoke should also be avoided at all costs. Smoking indoors effects everyone who lives there, and is probably the quickest way to pollute your home's air. Either smoke outside or in some kind of detached unit that is separate from your residence.

Ventilate Your Home

Ventilating your home is important for many reasons. Not only does it directly expel particles in the air that may be building up to unhealthy levels, but can also help regulate humidity making the air less prone to certain pollutants. Higher levels of humidity and moist air can contribute to mold problems, specifically. Buildings that are well-insulated typically have trouble ventilating and are more prone to indoor air problems.

One way to ventilate is through the opening of adjacent windows. This will allow for some level of air to enter and exit the home. You want to force older polluted air out, and draw in fresh air from outside. Use ceiling fans or box fans to assist with the air flow and you should get a good amount of air exchange, but you still may find that there are areas of the home that are hard to ventilate this way.

The other way to ventilate is through some type of mechanical ventilation system. These systems are usually permanently installed in a home or building. They consist of powerful exhaust fans that pull air from every part of the home, and push it through attic vents and back outside. Many know them as a whole house fan or whole house system. These systems can completely exchange the air in your house in less than a minute, so they're a very effective means of ventilation. Because they ventilate so well, they regulate moisture and humidity and help prevent the formation and spread of mold. Without a system like this, a building is left to rely mostly on cracks in walls and windows to get what little ventilation it can.

Organic Gardening

Pest control is a very hot topic in the gardening world, and one that is debated regularly. Environmental and health concerns are very emotionally charged topics in the area of integrated pest management, organic pest control practices, and in the area of the philosophy of the sustainable gardening, for both commercial farmers and to the home gardener.

Integrated pest management is a method that is based on decisions of information that is systematically collected by integrating economic, environmental and social goals. It applies to any situation, agricultural and urban and has the flexibility to accommodate for the changing demands of agriculture, commerce, and society, not leaving out the use of chemical means of pest control.

Organic pest control methods also have their drawbacks. Some of the natural pesticides are more harmful than some of the synthetic brands on the market. The number one thing that is important to remember is that pesticides all contain poisons, organic or synthetic. The difference is that organic pesticides are poisons that are derived from the earth, it's deposits or plant life, and synthetic are designed by chemists in a laboratory. The use of pesticides, even organic, will kill off beneficial insects as well as the pests.

Organic gardening, attracts the attention of most when talking about eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are healthy for you, but are you familiar with sustainable gardening. Sustainable gardening is a way of gardening in harmony with nature and not against it, contributing to the earth, rather than taking from it, and at the same time creating a habitat that attracts wildlife to control pests naturally in your gardens, along with the planting of plants that grow without depleting natural resources or contributing to pollution of any kind, air, soil or water.

Anyone can practice sustainable gardening, and it is easy to do. It just requires though and a little planning. Limiting the size of your lawn and gardens, improving soil structure with organic matter, creating a habitat for wildlife, both in the soil and around your yard. Feeding the soil so it can feed plant life naturally with compost, kelp, rock phosphate or seaweed. These are all thoughts that are all important in planning a successful sustainable gardening practice.

 When thought through and planned properly, sustainable gardening is a way of gardening that is as natural as nature itself. Creating an environment that for the long term will provide a healthy and productive crop for years to come and benefit the natural ecosystem at the same time.

Growing Organic Food For Health

Everyone - including the backyard gardener - who wants to grow food in a way that is sustainable and that respects the natural environment can benefit from using the federal organic guidelines from the Organic Food Production Act that took effect in 2002. These federal standards for organic cultivation were designed by people with a profound knowledge of how to produce food ecologically.

With the home gardener rather than the market gardener especially in mind, what follows here is an overview and some highlights of the standards and regulations. For more details, visit the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) website: http://www.ams.usda.gov. Click "National Organic Program."

In an organic gardening system, soil health is fundamental to success. Even though natural fertilizers and other inputs are used in organic gardening, they are minimized by regular additions of organic material to feed and improve the soil. This material can come, for instance, from tilling in cover crops and from using approved soil amendments such as compost.

Raw animal manures are not to be used as soil amendments within six months of harvest for root crops. For crops where the edible part never touches the soil, raw animal manures are not used within three months of harvest. Sewage sludge is absolutely banned. Crop residues can be chopped into the soil, but not burned.

Biological pesticides can be used, but should be viewed as a last resort. Before spraying a pesticide, organic gardeners can use predators of the pest species, develop habitat to encourage the natural enemies of pests, and use controls like traps and non-synthetic repellants.


Prevention is the idea. Plants grown in healthy soil are naturally resistant to disease. Crop rotation and selecting the right varieties also contribute to disease control. If, however, there is still a problem, visit the USDA web site mentioned above and select from the National List of biologicals and botanicals that are permitted to certified organic growers.


The federal organic standards allow no herbicides. Control weeds by tilling, hand weeding, mowing, etc. Also, natural mulches (e.g. straw) are useful.

~~Seeds and Transplants~~

These must also be organic for the crop to be labeled organic.

The backyard gardener who is interested in growing organically for the nutritional and environmental benefit rather than for the purpose of marketing, probably doesn't need all the nitty gritty details of the Organic Food Production Law.

Just use the basic guidelines and act with respect for nature, and you're on the way to producing organic food. It's well worth it: healthier for people and healthier for the environment.

Making Compost From Grass Cuttings

The abundant volume of grass cuttings during late Spring and Summer often greatly exceeds the supply of other green waste to make a suitable and usable compost mixture. If this is the case then you can use solely grass cuttings or combine them with other mixed green waste. This particular method involves the use of soil as an essential ingredient, and you must ensure that the pile is never turned and should be kept covered to keep it out of the rain.

Essentially you must keep in as much heat as possible. One way is to make the pile a large one, although in warmer climes the heat comes naturally within the pile and requires little assistance. Plastic compost bins, or adapted receptacles, are much better than using ordinary plastic bags, are very sturdy and make a big difference.

The actions to take are fairly simple. Firstly, you need to make a layer of grass cuttings about 20 cm in depth. Next, spread a layer of shredded carbohydrate rich material,l such as newspaper or sawdust, over the surface. You can even use oatbran or such like if you have any stale cereal in the cupboard. A couple of small handfuls should be plenty. Now you need to cover this with a thin layer of soil. Approximately 2.5cm will provide an abundance of bacteria and will additionally absorb the water and gases which stop the compost making process. Continue in this manner until all of the grass cuttings are used, then cover the top to keep out the rain, or simply place the lid on the plastic compost bin.

Next time you mow your lawn simply repeat the process on top of the previous pile. A pile made in Spring or Summer can be used in late Autumn or the following Spring. If the grass has been treated with a feed and weed spray leave at least six months between placing grass cuttings on the pile and using the compost.

As well as grass cuttings I tend to add other natural matter such as vegetable peel or other similar waste. I try to avoid anything which contains seeds as these have the potential to sprout and grow in the compost pile. I also absolutely avoid adding any weed matter to my pile as they have the same reaction as seeds, which then defeats the whole object.

Good luck composting and mulching.

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