Pat Quinn, Governor
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Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
The Citizens’ Bulletin
Volume 10, Issue 2 –Spring 2014
In This Issue…
Welcome To The Citizens’ Bulletin!
Welcome to the Illinois EPA’s Citizens’ Bulletin. We are pleased to present our electronic environmental newsletter created specifically for the citizens of Illinois. The Citizens’ Bulletin is a component of our ongoing effort to carry out Governor Pat Quinn’s commitment to making state government more responsive to citizens by using technology such as the Internet.
We created this e-newsletter to provide you with useful information, such as Green Tips, a regular feature offering tips and ideas you can use to prevent pollution and protect the environment. Events, another regular feature, will include public hearings, workshops, conferences and events that offer opportunities for you to get involved. A schedule of events will also be available on our website and will be regularly updated. Each issue will include articles about Illinois EPA programs and activities to keep you informed.
We hope that this newsletter provides you with comprehensive news, events, and helpful hints. We welcome your feedback and your ideas of how we may better serve you.
April is Earth Month!
The first Earth Day was observed across the country on April 22, 1970. Earth Day was the product of grassroots action to increase environmental awareness, but it also focused the nation's regulatory agenda on pressing environmental issues. Citizens should be aware of environmental issues more than one day a year though, and as a result, the U.S. EPA has declared April as Earth Month! Head to U.S. EPA's web site http://www.epa.gov/earthday/take-action.html to find daily environmental tips and check out the Pick Five program. Six broad categories list actions that can help reduce waste, energy consumption, water usage, and spread the word about environmental advocacy. For a timeline of Environmental Progress, visit U.S. EPA's Earth Day web page. http://www.epa.gov/EarthDay/history.htm.
Air Quality Awareness Week: Monday, April 28 - Friday, May 2
The U.S. EPA has established Air Quality Awareness Week to educate the public about the effects of air quality on citizen's health. The Illinois EPA will also celebrate Air Quality Awareness Week in Illinois. Breathing polluted air puts all people at risk, especially children with asthma, the elderly, and people with respiratory and cardiovascular ailments. Log on to the Partners for Clean Air website at http://www.cleantheair.org/air-quality-information to learn more about ozone and particulate matter, the health effects of air pollution, and ways to reduce emissions and clean the air. Tips for planning a successful Air Quality Awareness Week event can be found at http://www.epa.gov/airnow/airaware/resources.html.
Spring is here! Head outside for some fresh air.
The temperature outside is rising and flowers are beginning to bloom. As you head outside to enjoy the fresh air, keep these facts and tips in mind.
Recycle Your Mercury-switch Thermostat
If you are remodeling your home or upgrading your heating and cooling system, you may also be updating your thermostat that is used to regulate the heating and cooling system. Older thermostats may contain a small amount of mercury. The mercury will be contained in a sealed glass bulb that is part of a tilt switch component of the thermostat. Do not open the thermostat to remove the glass bulb.
The thermostat manufacturers have created a statewide program for recycling intact mercury-switch thermostats when they are taken out of service. Ask your contractor or service technician to carefully remove and recycle the mercury thermostat. Participation in the recycling program is easy. Your contractor can take the mercury thermostat to the wholesale HVAC equipment distributor where they buy thermostats. Do-it-yourselfers can take the mercury thermostat to certain retail locations, local governments and wholesale distributors.
Visit the Thermostat Recycling web page http://www.thermostat-recycle.org and enter your zip code to find the collection location nearest to you.
Household Hazardous Waste Collections
Through household hazardous waste collections, citizens are given the opportunity to safely dispose of unused or leftover household products commonly found in homes, basements and garages that may contain hazardous ingredients. The collections are staffed by individuals trained to properly handle hazardous materials in an environmentally sound manner, diverting the items from local area landfills.
Residents are encouraged to bring oil-based paints, thinners, chemical cleaners, unwanted pharmaceuticals, mercury and mercury-containing items, antifreeze, motor oil, gasoline, kerosene, weed killers, insecticides, pesticides, adhesives, hobby chemicals, household batteries and similar products. Fluorescent and other high-intensity discharge lamps may also be brought to the collections. The public is encouraged to find alternative uses for latex paint since it is not considered hazardous.
Items not accepted include explosives, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, medical waste, sharps, controlled substances, agricultural chemicals and all business wastes. Propane tanks and lead acid auto batteries cannot be accepted at most of the events, but should be taken to local recyclers.
The one-day collections are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays for:
Illinois EPA also continues to support the following long-term collection facilities:
For more information on household hazardous waste collections, visit the Illinois EPA's web site. www.epa.state.il.us/land/hazardous-waste/household-haz-waste/
Green Gardening- Create Compost!
Start your own compost heap. Recycling your unwanted outdoor trimmings, weeds, and organic scraps from the kitchen is easy and useful!
Where do I start? A location in your yard that is exposed to the elements such as rain, direct sunlight, and shade with accessible drainage is a perfect situation, but there are other options. Commercial containers for indoor or outdoor use are available. A carbon-nitrogen balanced ratio is important when beginning your pile. Carbon rich materials are the 'brown' materials. They include leaf litter, straw, shredded newspaper, dead plants or flowers. Nitrogen products are the 'green' materials. They consist of fruit and vegetable leftovers, trimmings from trees, shrubs, and plants, and manure from barnyard animals (NOT carnivores like cat or dog feces). Now you can layer your compost pile like a sundae, starting on the bottom with 'brown', then a layer of 'green'. Next is a layer of soil, finishing with a layer of 'brown'.
For a more precise run down on the steps for composting, you can visit the University of Illinois website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/building.cfm.
Compost is a wonderful soil for planting in pots, a garden, or to be used as mulch. Loose soil is more absorbent of water absorbing water droplets like a sponge; this actually decreases soil erosion. Tightly packed soil causes the runoff of water and with it washes away essential nutrients and organic materials. The LOOSE soil also makes it easier for fresh young roots to push through the earth. The compost helps maintain the soil pH level at optimal levels for absorbing nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. At the end of the day, you are reusing your scraps while reducing garbage, all by means of recycling.
Compost verses pests, compost wins. Compost is effective at keeping pesky pests at bay along with fungal and plant diseases with natural deterrents instead of harmful pesticides.
How do I know when it's ready? When ready, your pile should be dark brown in color and emit an earthy dirt smell. When insects and worms are using your pile it is good notification that your compost is ready. Wait an additional 1-3 weeks to ensure that decomposition is complete, to ensure you do not harm your plants and provide them with maximum nitrogen.
You can always chameleon your compost. There are many options to hide your compost like trellises, fencing, tall flowers, behind a shed or in the corner of any yard!
National Stormwater Calculator
U.S. EPA's National Stormwater Calculator (SWC) is a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from a specific site anywhere in the United States. Estimates are based on local soil conditions, land cover, and historic rainfall records and slope. The updated version now includes changes in seasonal precipitation levels, the effects of more frequent high-intensity storms, and changes in evaporation rates. It is designed to be used by anyone interested in reducing runoff from a property, including site developers, landscape architects, urban planners, and homeowners.
Users can enter any U.S. location and select different scenarios to learn how specific green infrastructure changes, including inexpensive changes such as rain barrels and rain gardens, can reduce stormwater runoff. This information shows users how adding green infrastructure, which mimics natural processes, can be one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce stormwater runoff. The low impact development (LID) controls that the user can choose are the following seven green infrastructure practices:
Every year billions of gallons of raw sewage, trash, household chemicals, and urban runoff flow into our streams, rivers and lakes. Polluted stormwater runoff can adversely affect plants, animals, and people. It also negatively impacts our economy - from closed beaches to decreased fishing in polluted areas.
Green infrastructure can reduce the damage caused by climate change and nonpoint source pollution by improving water quality in streams and rivers, protecting groundwater sources, and enhancing recreational activities. It helps by promoting the natural movement of water, instead of allowing it to wash into streets and down storm drains. Green infrastructure also has the added benefit of beautifying neighborhoods and increasing property values.
Clean water is essential to keeping our families and the environment healthy. The Calculator is an innovative and efficient way to promote healthy waters and support sustainable communities.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revamped its Citizen Science www.epa.gov/region2/citizenscience website to provide new resources and success stories to assist the public in conducting scientific research and collecting data to better understand their local environment and address issues of concern.
Growing up, Chad Pregracke was sick of seeing trash in the Mississippi River. Pregracke grew up in East Moline, Illinois, where the Mississippi River was in his backyard. As a teenager, he worked as a commercial shell diver and began to notice the heaps of debris in the fabled waterway -- one that supplies drinking water to 18 million people in more than 50 U.S. cities.
The updated website now offers detailed information about air, water and soil monitoring, including recommended types of equipment and resources for conducting investigations. It also includes case studies and videotapes that showcase successful citizen science projects. Although the web site focuses on U.S. EPA Region 2 (Illinois falls within U.S. EPA Region 5), it includes resources that are useful to citizen scientists everywhere. By providing the tools to increase the quality of the data collected and assist in its interpretation, the U.S. EPA is helping the public achieve greater levels of environmental protection.
Additional resources can be found on U.S. EPA's web site. http://www.epa.gov/region2/citizenscience/additionalresources.html
Visit the following web sites for more information on citizen scientist project searches and opportunities in Illinois:
Top 10 Ways to Spot a Recycler
10. When a recycler says they're a diver, they don't mean swimming. They mean dumpster.
9. At parties, recyclers round up the empty cans and bottles.
8. No recycling at the party? Recyclers take items home with them to their bins.
7. Their garbage can sits at the curb practically empty while their recycling bins are overflowing.
6. Recyclers believe in full circle. They buy carpet, furniture and clothing made from recycled plastic.
5. At the office water cooler, recyclers swap tales of the oddest things they've recycled.
4. Recyclers don't do demolition. They de-construct and donate the materials they don't need.
3. Before they buy a product, they think about if they can recycle the packaging.
2. Recyclers have boundless creativity. They can reuse egg cartons faster than chickens can fill them.
1. Recyclers act as if every purchase or waste sorting choice they make matters to the well- being of the planet. And, they're right
In the Community
Illinois fifth and sixth grade students have been selected for their creative skills used to express environmental awareness, as part of the Agency's 27th annual Poster, Poetry and Prose Contest. This year's theme focused on environmental justice and why the economy, a healthy environment and the balance of the two are important, and how it relates to the local community with Environmental Justice for All! What Are the Environmental Issues in Your Community? This year's topic is new in an effort to keep up with emerging, hot topic issues such as environmental justice.
Poetry/Prose Top Award Winners
Jessica Bek, Washington School in Glenview
Laura Dudzik, Washington School in Glenview
Emily Hwang, Old St. Mary's School in Chicago
Rishitha Namburi, Hoover Math & Science Academy in Schaumburg
Neha Nath, Hoover Math & Science Academy in Schaumburg
Zoe Marika Sarris, Hellenic American Academy in Deerfield
Posters Top Award Winners
Linnea Cheng, Hoover Math & Science Academy in Schaumburg
Emma Blair Davenport, Hoover Math & Science Academy in Schaumburg
Michelle John, Washington School in Glenview
Charlie Miller, Washington School in Glenview
Jyoti Sundaram, Countryside School in Champaign
David Tapper, Roycemore School in Evanston
Green Tips for the Home and Garden
The best place to start making a difference is right in your own home. Learn how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle materials to decrease household waste! Tips below will help you get started.
Lawn and Garden
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW):
When choosing materials to improve or remodel your home, try to buy recycled products. Using recycled products helps reduce the amount of material going to landfills. Flooring, insulation, plastic lumber, woodwork, shingles, and many garden/lawn products are made from recycled materials.
Provided by the U.S. EPA http://www.epa.gov/wastes/wycd/homeandgarden.htm
Do you have a local story of an outstanding group or individual that has contributed to a healthy environment that you would like to share with us? If so, please email us using the form below. If you prefer, you can fax, mail or call us with the following information.
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
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