Tag Archive for 'Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had good news last week regarding the State’s 2018 state-wide sampling of public, school, and tribal water supplies for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  This was the first such study in the nation, and it was extensive, including 1,114 public water systems, 461 schools that operate their own wells, and 17 tribal systems.  Importantly, 90 percent of these supplies showed no detection for any PFAS. Very low levels, below 10 parts per trillion (ppt) were detected in 7 percent of systems. Levels between 10 and 70 ppt were detected in 3 percent.  Work will continue: MI will pay for quarterly monitoring of the systems with levels above 10 ppt.  In addition, the ad-hoc “Michigan PFAS Action Response Team” (MPART) will continue with a new, more formal status.  In 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer established MPART as a permanent body within the MDEQ.
*  U.S. Department of Energy announced a rather generous version of its own Green New Deal last week: up to $51.5 million for new and innovative research of technologies for trucks, off-road vehicles, and the fuels that power them.  This FOA – “funding opportunity announcement” – is focused on gaseous fuels research, including natural gas, biopower, and hydrogen; heavy-duty freight electrification; hydrogen infrastructure and fuel cell technologies for heavy-duty applications; and energy efficient off-road vehicles.  The FOA has five topical areas, including novel materials for high-density gas storage and transport, advanced waste to energy technologies, and technology integration that focuses on lowering costs and overcoming technical barriers to the use of medium- and heavy-duty natural gas and hydrogen-fueled vehicles.  Another focus is on battery electric heavy-duty freight and technical barriers to advanced batteries, electric drive systems, and charging systems.  Concept papers are due to DOE by March 29; full applications by May 15.
*  There is a fascinating story out of “9to5Google” about how two Alphabet divisions are working together to “train a neural network on weather forecasts and historical turbine data.”  Scientists there then use the DeepMind system to “predict wind power output 36 hours ahead of actual generation.”  Variability with wind and solar electric generation is a critical weakness.  Civilization doesn’t run on electricity, it runs on electrical systems, with dependability and timeliness two of the most critical factors.  If you know when the wind is going to blow you can plan on using it.  On the other hand, if you know wind won’t be there, 36 hours is plenty of lead time to make other, non-panicky arrangements.  Google’s report states that its algorithm is still being refined, but Google notes how machine learning — compared to no time-based commitments to the grid — has “boosted the value of our wind energy by roughly 20 percent.” The company is applying this optimization to its wind farms in the central United States that generate 700 megawatts of wind power.

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Exposure to Polyfluoroalkyl Substances – PFAS – is an emerging issue at state and federal levels.  Michigan has had to move quicker than most states or localities because of reports of high PFAS levels or the stuff is actually threatening public water supplies.  PFAS compounds are used in thousands of applications including firefighting foam, food packaging, and many other consumer products, by industries such as tanneries, metal platers, and clothing manufacturers.  Last week, Michigan announced reaching the mid-point in collecting samples statewide of PFAS levels in public water supplies.  Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has collected samples from 892 of the state’s 1,841 public water systems and schools that operate their own wells. Pretty good news, so far, luckily.  To date, of 341 laboratory test results only the City of Parchment’s (just north of Kalamazoo) test results exceeded the EPA Health Advisory of 70 ppt for PFAS in drinking water and the DEQ’s action level of 70 ppt in groundwater; 318 samples were between 0 and 10 ppt, 22 between 10 and 70 ppt.
*  The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is one of the federal agencies taking a close look at PFAS and health risks.  In June, ATSDR published a Draft Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls.  The Agency is seeking public review and comment as well as additional information, reports, and studies about the health effects of PFAS.   The comment period closed on August 20 and the Agency received 65 sets of comments from a range of reviewers – including state environmental agencies, the American Water Works, trade associations, and individuals.  This work is linked to the formal toxicological profiles prepared for hazardous materials most commonly found at facilities within the National Priorities List, the set of hazardous waste sites that make up the Superfund list, top priorities for EPA’s enforcement and clean up.
*  EPA released its proposed “Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule” last week.  This is the successor to the Clean Power Plan presented by the Supreme Commander to Moses on stone tablets, actually a couple hundred of them.  Because of its sacrosanct Origin, the CPP could not be questioned by the rabbis, priests and holy people writing and instilling the catechism in those ancient times.  Many ages later, though, because of lightning from Zeus, the CPP was cast from the Temple of Righteousness and replaced by the Tweeted One’s ACE.  Is ACE better than CPP?  Worse?  You’d think the Scribes would have questions and maybe even seek answers – What?!.  But no, there are no emojis created yet for “best system of emission reduction (BSER)” or New Source Review and so Darkness Dogma remains, and reigns.  [Hey c’mon, my Peeps, it’s Monday – lighten up! *:D big grin]
Tom Ewing
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513-379-5526 voice/text