Introduction to Environmental Technology

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Transcript Introduction to Environmental Technology

Introduction to Environmental
Preserving the Legacy
Introduction cont.
• Developed in the early 70’s
– Pollutant, a general terms that refers to any substance
introduced to the environment that adversely affects
that environment.
– Contaminant, a more specific term that refers to
specific substance or features (whether physical,
chemical, biological or radiological) that has an adverse
affect on air, water or soil.
Environmental Consciousness
• Developed in the early 70’s
• Environmental health is now a national and
global priority
• New government agencies set standards and
enforce compliance with regulations
Environmental Technology
• Knowledge and skills necessary to manage,
work with and control hazardous materials
– Also refers to an industry that has developed
around the skills and knowledge base that has
– Can be very technical or more politically
• What do I mean by political?
• Hazardous materials – substances that may
cause an increase in death or irreversible
illness in the population or pose a hazard to
human health or the environment when
handled improperly
• Hazardous waste – hazardous material for
which there is no further use
Environmental Compartments
• Also called an environmental medium
• Includes air, water, soil and biota
• A spill of hazardous material that
evaporates quickly could – contaminate air
and soil immediately, migrate to ground and
surface water, and be ingested by animals
and humans
Primary Federal Agencies
• EPA – Environmental Protection Agency
• OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health
• DOT – Department of Transportation
Historical Perspectives
• During colonial times our national resources
were viewed as an unlimited supply of raw
materials for our developing nation
• Concern for the environment and reverence
for nature were first expressed by people
such as Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo
Henry David Thoreau
• Influenced policy makers during the 19th
• Wilderness was vital to human existence
• It was neither an enemy to be conquered or
a resource to be exploited
• Contributed to the establishment of the first
nation park at Yellowstone in 1872
John Muir
• A geologist and botanist, was the first
president of the Sierra Club in 1892
• Contributed to the formation of six more
national parks including Yosemite
• Has become a force in shaping US
conservation policies
• Rise of automobile based urban culture
• Era of abundance and consumption
• Petrochemical products – plastics,
pesticides, additives for food and fuels,
detergents and solvents
Rachael Carson
• Biology teacher and researcher for the Bureau of
US Fisheries - Wrote Silent Spring in 1962
• Accumulation of pesticides such as DDT had
caused disruption of the reproductive processes in
• Public health and the environment are inseparable
and should be regulated by government
Environmental Awareness
• Public concern about the environment increased
• Colleges began to offer courses in environmental science
• Paul Erlich wrote The Population Bomb in 1968
– We will talk about this further, were his predictions accurate?
• First Earth Day - April 22, 1970 A national teach-in on
the crisis of the environment
Love Canal
• First highly publicized environmental crisis
occurred in the late 1970’s
• Casual dumping of highly toxic industrial
chemicals and municipal waste
• Citizens group led by Lois Gibbs forced the
government to address the problem
• The area was declared a federal disaster area by
Jimmy Carter in 1978
Love Canal before and after
More Love Canal photos
• In 1980 Love Canal led to the enactment of
• The Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation and Liability Act
• Identifying sites and the responsible parties
as well as selecting cleanup technologies
Exxon Valdez
• March 24, 1989
• ¼ of a quarter million ton load of crude oil
was spilled into Prince Edwards Sound
• Resulted in changes in the regulation of oil
Consequences of our Actions
• Many of our environmental problems today
are a result of activities that were once
perfectly acceptable
• DDT was considered a miracle chemical!
• CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons) were used in
aerosol propellants and refrigerants
• Today we recognize that they are depleting
the ozone layer, exposing us to dangerous
ultraviolet radiation
• What present practices and activities will
be found to have harmed the environment
we leave for our children and
Population and Sustainable
• Economic productivity is no longer
considered the ultimate measure of success
• There has been little incentive to develop
long-range plans for sustainable resource
• Many of the global problems that we face
are interconnected
• Poverty, population growth, industrial
development and destruction of the
– What is a carrying capacity?
– What is sustainable growth?
– What is per capita consumption?
Population Growth
• At present and projected growth rates our world
population today of 6.6 billion
• May increase to 10-12 billion by 2050
• However, new estimates indicate a slowing of
population growth w/ a peak of ~ 9.4 billion
• 90% of this growth will occur in the world’s
poorest countries
United Nations data on
projected world
population growth
Linear growth; where the rate of
growth remains constant
Exponential growth: where the rate
of growth is non-constant but
instead varies at a compounded
percentage rate
Population Growth II
• The US represents 5% of the world’s
• We consume 25% of the world’s energy
Sustainable Development
• A global goal for the 21st century
• Management of resources to enable us to
meet our current needs without jeopardizing
the ability of the earth’s future inhabitants to
do the same
• And without degrading the environment
Career Opportunities
Occupational health and safety
Regulatory agencies
Public Service
Environmental consulting firms
Environmental cleanup contractor
Environmental laboratories
Changing Nature of
Environmental Regulations
• The scope and strictness of regulations has
increased over the years
• This regulation forms the backbone on
which environmental work is conducted in
the private sector
• Small businesses, farms and municipalities
are being affected by regulation at a higher
• Use of toxic substances and disposal of hazardous
waste are now a major concern
• Higher drinking water standards, protection from
leaking underground storage tanks (LUST), and
now increasing regulation of non-point source
• Radon contamination and the removal of asbestos
• It is estimated that municipalities will have to
charge an additional $100 per year to each
household to cover the additional regulatory
• Many small businesses may be unable to absorb
the additional cost of compliance
• Business, industry and the general public need to
educate themselves and provide input in the
process of regulation