Pat Quinn, Governor
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Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
The Citizens’ Bulletin
Volume 9, Issue 4 – Fall 2013
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.
Burning Leaves, Bad for Your Health
Fall is just around the corner so you may be starting to think about burning your leaves and other yard waste. However, before you burn, you should know about particulate matter (PM) and the effects it can have on your health. PM is tiny solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air, and it is made up of acids, organic chemicals, metals, soil, or dust particles. PM can be emitted by a direct source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot and smoke, are large or dark enough to see with the naked eye. Others are so small – often less than one-hundredth the width of a human hair—they can only be detected using a microscope.
Depending on the size of the particle, PM can directly affect your health. Small particles, less than 10 micrometers in diameter, pose the greatest problems because they can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream.
Potential Health Problems:
How can you prevent PM?
Keeping this information in mind, please consider a different way to dispose of your leaves. You can use your leaves as compost and mulch, or you can contact your local government to find out about leaf pickup. For more information about particulate matter, please visit the Partner’s for Clean Air website. The information included above is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Protect your groundwater day - September 10, 2013
Helping to protect groundwater is everyone’s responsibility to help ensure safe and healthy drinking water. Awareness and protection is critical for this vital resource. Considering that 99 percent of all available freshwater comes from aquifers underground and that most surface water bodies are connected to groundwater, how groundwater is impacted can affect your drinking water. Furthermore, many public water systems draw all or part of their supply from groundwater, so protecting the resource protects the public water supply and impacts treatment costs. If you own a wgell to provide water for your family, farm, or business, groundwater protection is doubly important. As a well owner, you are the manager of your own water system.
Examples of naturally occurring substances that can be present in groundwater and can be a potential health risk are:
Human activities can pollute groundwater, and this is where every person can help protect it - both in terms of groundwater quality and quantity.
Some common human causes of groundwater contamination are:
An emerging concern in recent years is the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water. Much research remains to be done to assess the health risks of trace amounts of these items. Nevertheless, disposal strategies for these substances are increasingly being advocated.
Americans are the largest water users, per capita, in the world. In terms of groundwater, Americans use 79.6 billion gallons per day - the equivalent of 2,923 12-oz. cans for every man, woman, and child in the nation.
Agricultural irrigation is far and away the largest user of groundwater in America at 53.5 billion gallons a day followed by public use via public water systems or private household wells at a combined total of 18.3 billion gallons per day. More efficient use of water in either of these areas could save a huge amount.
At the household level, the greatest amount of water used inside the home occurs in the bathroom. The remainder of indoor water use is divided between clothes washing and kitchen use, including dish washing, according to the U.S. EPA. Calculate your household water use here. Depending on where in the country you live, outdoor water use can vary widely.
If you want to get an ever better idea how much water you use, find out your "water footprint" by calculating the amount of water it takes to produce some of the food you consume.
Take action to prevent groundwater contamination
Information provided by the National Groundwater Association.
Hydrilla – An Aquatic Superweed
Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) is a highly invasive aquatic plant that threatens the health of Illinois’ lakes and rivers as well as waterfront property values and the enjoyment of fishing, boating, and swimming. The photos below illustrate how dense hydrilla can grow in a very short period of time of just 18 days elapsed between the two photos:
Hydrilla is extremely well-adapted for competing in an aquatic environment. It grows quite rapidly, up to one inch a day. Once hydrilla reaches the water surface, it can quickly produce a dense mat of stems that crowds out desirable native plants. Within the past few years, hydrilla has been discovered in Wisconsin and Indiana, and it could arrive in Illinois very soon. Early detection of hydrilla could save Illinois millions of dollars in control costs, and prevent many recreational and ecological impacts.
The Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP), along with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has recently launched the Hydrilla Task Force. The Partnership has launched a public education campaign to get the word out about this real and eminent threat to our Illinois lakes and waterways. Early detection of hydrilla in Illinois is crucial. The NIIPP website has been created that contains a number of helpful resources. NIIP has also set up the Hydrilla Hunt! program, where citizen volunteers are encouraged to be on the lookout for hydrilla.
Information provided by NIIPP.
America Recycles Day – November 15
America Recycles Day, a program of Keep America Beautiful, is a nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States. Every year on or around November 15, the event organizers educate neighbors, friends and colleagues through thousands of programs and activities. Their goal is to increase the purchase of recycled content products and recycling throughout America.
Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. In addition, it generates a host of environmental, financial, and social benefits. Materials like glass, metal, plastics, and paper are collected, separated and sent to facilities that can process them into new materials or products.
Some of the benefits of recycling include:
Recycling is an important key in completing the recycling process or "closing the loop." Consumers close the loop when they purchase products made from recycled materials. Buying recycled has both economic and environmental benefits. Purchasing products made from or packaged in recycled materials saves resources for future generations.
To learn more about America Recycles Day, taking the pledge, registering an event, finding recycling organizations, or more information about recycling in general, visit the America Recycles Day web page.
Greening Kids’ School Supplies
Interested in greening your child’s school supplies? Perhaps the best and most earth friendly way is to reuse supplies from the previous year or pass down supplies from an older sibling. The next best thing is to look for any recycled content materials, and always reuse and recycle your outdated items. Here are a few more tips to help you make sure your children’s school supplies are safe and green.
Instead of buying paper that is made from virgin materials, look for notebooks, folders, and loose-leaf with a high content of post-consumer recycled (PCW) content and that are processed chlorine-free (PCF). For nontoxic art supplies, look for an "AP" (approved product) label from the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI), which means the product is less-toxic. Some older products may have a "CP" (certified product) or "nontoxic HL" (health label) instead. When looking for pencils, look for products made from recycled blue jeans, currency or newspaper. Also, look for backpacks made out of natural fiber and notebooks made from corrugated cardboard. Reusable lunch bags are a great way to go; along with cloth napkins and reusable containers to reduce waste.
For more back to school green tips, visit the following web sites
Waste Free Lunch
As Americans we have come to depend on the many convenience products that are available to us, and nowhere is this more evident than in the school lunch room. Most parents pack lunch items in single-use plastic bags, aluminum foil, or wax paper, or they purchase single-serving items that come in their own disposable package. Admittedly, these products are extremely convenient, but they have an impact on the waste we generate and the resources we consume to sustain our daily activities?
Much of the trash we generate comes from the packaging on the food we buy, and lunch foods are no exception. In fact, it has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school.
What Does a Waste-Free Lunch Look Like?
Please consider reducing the amount of lunchtime waste your family generates. Think about what you can do to cut down on waste and conserve resources to sustain our environment for current and future generations.
Information provided by Wastefreelunches.org
Green Tips for Back-to-School
In the Community
2013 Illinois Recycling Association Awards, Excellence in Recycling
Each year, the Illinois Recycling Association (IRA) recognizes outstanding achievements in sustainable resource management, focusing on waste reduction, reuse and recycling. The Excellence in Recycling Awards is presented at the Illinois Recycling Association’s annual meeting, held during the annual conference. The following lists the 2013 award winners:
Steve Apotheker Award - Willie Cade
The Steve Apotheker, "Father of Recycling in Illinois," Award was created to recognize an individual who has shown a high degree of dedication to the development and advancement of recycling through their achievements and long-term commitment.
Outstanding Business Recycling Program - Jewel-Osco
This award recognizes a business for success in implementing waste reduction and/or recycling activities which have resulted in significant reductions to its waste stream. Specific criteria include: (1) types and quantities of materials recycled; (2) types and quantities of wastes reduced or eliminated and (3) total percentage of waste stream diverted.
During 2012, Jewel-Osco introduced a significant recycling/composting program for over 170 Jewel-Osco stores. On average, each Jewel-Osco store with organics collection is diverting 5.3 tons of food waste every month or nearly 63 tons per year. With the number of participating stores, Jewel-Osco is diverting over 6600 tons annually. They now have over 37 stores that are certified "zero waste" due to their vision of incorporating an organic food waste collection to their already successful recycling program.
Outstanding Service Provider - Springfield Electric Supply
This award recognizes the efforts of a hauler or recovery facility to provide maximum recovery of materials for recycling or reuse. Criteria include: (1) size of service area/population served, (2) specific challenges and solutions and (3) ability to transfer program to other service areas.
Springfield Electric Supply (SES) has begun an initiative to help their customers responsibly dispose of their MRO (electrical maintenance, repair and operating) products as they fail and are replaced. They are doing this by supplying their customers with barrels to place their used light fixtures, ballasts and light bulbs. The barrels are then picked up from SES by a recycling service so they are disposed properly. Over the past three years, SES’s recycling volume has increased in double digits every year. For example, in 2011 the rate was 15% over the previous year. The increase was 17% in 2012 over 2011. So far in 2013, the recycling rate is 32% over 2012.
Outstanding Special Recycling Program - Go Green Carpet Recycling Chicago, Inc.
This award recognizes programs that specifically provide recycling and recovery of materials that cannot be included in general curbside or drop-off recycling programs, such as tires, household hazardous waste, electronics, plastic bags, or other items that require additional collection and marketing efforts for recovery. Specific criteria include: (1) special collection requirements, (2) limited market availability, (3) description of innovative solutions and (4) size and type of service area.
Go Green Carpet Recycling Chicago Inc. is a new Illinois small business located in Northlake, IL. The focus of the business is primarily on the collection and recycling of discarded carpet and carpet pad materials in the Chicago area. Go Green Carpet collects carpet, then sorts and separates it according the type of material. Some of the material is sold for feedstock for future carpet manufacturers. Carpet padding is sold directly to carpet pad manufacturers and the remaining materials are recycled for use as manufacturing feedstock in other applications such as car bumpers and highway sound barriers. Go Green Carpet also collects secondary materials such as fiber tubing, corrugated cardboard, chipboard, paper and plastic. These materials are collected and then marketed to regional recyclers who process the material into a form that can then be sold to manufacturers as feedstock for the manufacturing of various products.
Outstanding Non-Profit Recycling Award - Home Sweet Home Ministries
Home Sweet Home (HSH) operates a five-story shelter for men, women and their children in Bloomington, IL. When items are donated to HSH, they go to the Mission Mart Thrift Stores. If they do not meet a certain quality standard, they are sold to a recycler. Some items are sold to secondhand clothing markets in Ghana, Pakistan and India. In 2012, nearly $200,000 was raised for Home Sweet Home by recycling various commodities. The Mission Mart Thrift Stores are focused on encouraging people to reuse items by purchasing secondhand items in which 510,150 were sold in 2012. HSH works with shelter residents to teach them how to repair donated vacuums that arrive at the thrift store. Items such as shampoo, conditioner and old linens are given to the residents from the local Marriott. The store itself and some offices in the warehouse also use repurposed carpet and carpet tiles. An area behind the building was transformed into a green space with help from various local businesses. Residents sell the seeds in the Thrift Store as "Seeds of Hope."
Outstanding Community Recycling Award - Sharefest New Lenox
ShareFest is an annual, free public event in New Lenox, Illinois that promotes sustainability while allowing attendees to dispose of household hazardous waste, electronics, Styrofoam, scrap metal, wood and more. There were eco-friendly exhibits with experts in their field displaying products and sharing ideas and helpful hints on how to be good stewards of the environment. Displays and topics included composting, community gardens, impact of litter and the use of rain barrels and the following: Book Drive/Exchange - 5,121 books were collected, reused, and recycled; Clothing & Home Goods Drive/Exchange - collected two semi-trucks with 18 Gaylord boxes that were given to local families and the remaining items were donated to the local Goodwill store; Forest Preserve District of Will County Environmental Project, - 50 volunteers completed 137.5 volunteer work hours to cut, haul, and stack 10 brush piles or 833 cubic yards of brush; Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste - served 601 vehicles from 639 households and collected 46,429 pounds of household hazardous waste, 100 cubic yards of wood, 17,570 pounds of electronics, 25 cubic yards of foam plastic and 1,940 pounds of scrap metal.
Outstanding Government Recycling Award - City of Bloomington
The City of Bloomington has been working for the past year to change the recycle collection system to an automated system, as well as increase the quantity of recyclables collected from residents. The City has purchased four new recycle trucks and issued new recycling carts to residents willing to participate in the program at no additional cost to their monthly fee. Residents are able to choose between a 95-gallon cart and a 65-gallon cart to replace the 14-gallon blue bins the City previously used for collection. The lid of the recycle cart is printed with a list of items which are and are not acceptable. For the month of January 2013, 393 tons of recyclables were collected, which increased 65% from the 255 tons collected in January 2012. For the month of February 2013, 317 tons was collected compared to 217 tons collected in February 2012, which represents a 68% increase. The City is going to continue to provide education focused on the students in the schools in an effort to increase recycling at home.
Swana Scholarship - Sara Stanford
The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Land of Lincoln Chapter annually provides a scholarship to students enrolled in engineering, environmental science or related studies. Students eligible to be considered must have graduated from an Illinois high school or be a resident of Illinois.
After completing her first two years of college at Joliet Junior College, Sara Stanford transferred to Western Illinois University (WIU) to major in Geology and minor in Environmental Studies. In addition to the normal required course work, Sara is involved in numerous outside activities. She is currently the secretary of WIU’s Campus Green, a student organization that focuses on education and building awareness towards issues that impact the environment. The student group hosted an Earth Day festival to raise funds for a community garden. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty and she proved it by participating in the Illinois River Sweep project. Volunteers select a section of the river and clean up the litter and trash that others so carelessly toss aside.
**The mention of any products or services seen in the resource web sites in the articles above are not meant as an endorsement of any of these products or services by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
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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