Gruide to
Earth Day 25 Edition
April 22,1995
C3££ice of Solid. aste &
Emergency Response
Project Manager and Editor:
Julie Klaas Pangman
Cover photo: Bottomland Hardwoods, Yazoo
National Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi, courtesy
U.S. Fish 6ar Wildlife Service.
This Guide To Environmental Issues was based
in concept and format on Citizens' Guide for
Environmental Issues - A Handbook for Cultivating
Dialogue by the National Institute for Chemical
Studies and U.S. EPA, 1989 and 1990.

public health
where do I get Kelp?
community safety
pollution prevention
health & environmental rish
air & radiation
surface water
glossary of terms & acronyms
ground water
major environmental laws
government agencies
hazardous waste
I3P.A information numbers
solid waste

Note: Bold face terms used throughout are
defined in the Glossary, Laws Section, or
Government Agencies Section.

information sources
Although protective laws respond to public
needs, we need to understand how laws and
regulations work in real situations. Knowing
where to turn for help is sometimes as diffi-
cult as understanding which issues are
addressed by specific environmental laws.
By choosing to read this Guide, you are show-
ing your concern for the environment. Many
of our daily activities can potentially alter envi-
ronmental balances, but too often we ignore
relationships among people, other living crea-
tures, and our surroundings,
Environmental protection can be most effec-
tive when complex connections between all
parts of an ecosystem and society are taken
into account. No longer can we say, "I'm too
busy to be concerned with the environment—
someone else can take care of it."
citizen participation
That someone is you. Citizen participation is a
key element in environmental protection. This
Guide is dedicated to the enthusiastic interest
and creative ideas of people across the country
who are concerned about the nation's environ-
mental health. Diverse elements of everyday
life make each contribution unique. The abili-
ties and vision of a multitude of people need
to be applied to the public decision-making
This handbook lists federal and state agencies
as well as pertinent health, safety, and envi-
ronmental laws, with brief comments on each
law's intent.
the terminology problem
Discussing complex economic, technical,
health, safety, and environmental issues can
be frustrating. Many environmental conversa-
tions evolve into a series of acronyms, techni-
cal terms, and jargon that can leave you con-
fused unless you have been previously
involved with the issues. When words or
phrases remain undefined, dialogue is likely
to be limited. With Guide to the EPA, we try to
make environmental concepts clear to all so
that language and limited access to informa-
tion do not hinder public participation.
When you see a term in bold, that word is
defined in the Glossary in the back or may refer
to a specific Law or Government Agency. We
included terms and definitions relating to pol-
lution prevention, enforcement, regulations,

community involvement, and environmental
risk. We also included a variety of technical
terms and acronyms frequently used by sub-
ject matter specialists.
Please note that many terms in the text and
glossary may have different meanings for dif-
ferent audiences. Definitions and explanations
presented here provide only a general under-
standing of the terminology and should not
be taken as full technical or legal definitions.
Although much more could be said about any
topic, the information provides the basics in
non-bureaucratic English. We hope this
Guide helps you become actively involved in
community dialogue and better able to under-
stand environmental issues.
Civic and community organizations are usual-
ly helpful too. Chances are, if you contact one
group that is not involved with a particular
topic, you will be steered to the correct orga-
nization. In some areas, environmental and
other community groups have formed coali-
tions for improved communications and
action on specific issues.
The literally thousands of trade and citizen
groups involved in environmental issues are
far too numerous to list. Your local telephone
Yellow Pages contains a directory of many
groups and their respective telephone num-
bers. You should contact those groups whose
interests are similar to yours.
where do I get kelp?
Have you ever wondered where to turn for
answers to environmental problems? If so,
you are not alone. In the back of this Guide
we have listed four pages of EPA and federal
agency telephone numbers and addresses, fol-
lowed by two pages of Hotlines that EPA
maintains for general and specific information.
But protection of the environment is a big job.
Federal, state, and local agencies across the
nation are all involved, employing thousands
of citizens who care about their health and
natural resources. Every city, county, and
state networks with federal groups to share
and provide information. If the first person
you contact can't answer a specific question,
he or she will know who can.

substitute raw materials, and make improve-
ments in management techniques, training, and
inventory control.
Here's one example. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for
protecting people and the environment from
risks associated with all sorts of toxic chemicals.
One of the most encouraging environmental
developments of recent years is the trend toward
preventing — and not just treating — pollu-
tion, For example, scientists have found various
ways to treat wastes in order to protect the envi-
ronment. Now, there is growing realization that
whenever possible, avoiding wastes altogether is
even better.
On a broad level, passage of several laws relating
to the environment helped create a climate of
change. The Clean Air Act (CAA) in 1970 and
the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972 signalled
our nation's intent to address pollution. Many
activities and programs have followed these Acts
to limit further the amounts of allowable dis-
charges into the environment. We now recog-
nize that end-of-pipe technology offers only a
partial solution and fails to completely protect
the environment.
The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 takes a
new approach. To avoid pollution in the first
place, manufacturers are encouraged to modify
equipment and processes, redesign products,
One of the best ways to accomplish this is
through pollution prevention. Before a new
chemical is marketed, EPA reviews the ingredi-
ents and intended uses to determine potential
health or environmental hazards. During the
review, EPA identifies measures aimed at reduc-
ing exposures to the chemical. At this early stage,
companies wanting to manufacture or use the
chemical can readily integrate pollution preven-
tion measures into their plans. If such measures
will not reduce potential risks, EPA can regulate
the chemical in several other ways.
EPA also reviews chemicals already in produc-
tion. The Toxic Substances Control Act
(TSCA) Inventory lists about 70,000 existing
chemicals. Of greatest concern are 10,000 to
14,000 high-volume chemicals for which little
or no data exist. To address this large number
of chemicals, EPA systematically reviews clus-
ters of related chemicals and ranks them for
further review or testing. Nominations of can-
didates for screening come from a variety of
sources, including a federal interagency testing
committee of experts.

Pollution prevention also involves waste mini-
mization — recycling what we used to throw
away or not generating wastes in the first place.
Many companies now are cleaning up solvents
for re-use or changing the industrial process to
more efficiently use raw materials. Likewise, sci-
entists are developing new technolo-
gies every year to eliminate or
greatly reduce our depen-
dence on toxic sub-
stances. A simple
example is using hot
water and soap
instead of organic
solvents to clean
Preventing pollution can save money in a variety
of ways, and so EPA has designed several non-
regulatory, innovative pollution prevention pro-
grams. Corporations, environmental groups,
electric utilities, and state, city, and local govern-
ments participate voluntarily in the following:
The "33/50" Program focuses on reducing over-
all risk from 17 high-priority toxic chemicals.
The name derives from voluntary performance
goals: participating companies pledged to
reduce emissions and transfers of these chemi-
cals by 33% in 1992 and 50% by 1995. The
1992 goals were surpassed a year ahead of
schedule — more than 486 million pounds of
reductions were achieved, due to conscientious
business practices.
Through the "Design for the Environment" Pro-
gram, EPA is working with specific industries to
find chemical substitutes and exposure reduc-
tion techniques. The printing and drycleaning
industries are currently piloting a voluntary shift
toward using more environmentally safe chemi-
cals and technologies. More information is avail-
able at 202/260-1821.
Six "Energy STAR" programs seek to prevent
emissions of air pollutants associated
with climate change and acid
rain, while promoting prof-
itable investments in ener-
gy-efficient technologies.
Information about all
"Energy STAR" programs is
available from 202/233-
9659. You can request
specific documents to be
mailed or sent by facsimile. A handy set of direc-
tions walks you through program selections on
your telephone.
In a nutshell, the "Green Lights" program
encourages the widespread use of energy-saving
light bulbs and fluorescent tubes. "Green Lights"
participants are already avoiding over 95 million
kilowatts annually — that equals $9.4 million in
avoided electricity costs.
The "Energy STAR Buildings" program is a part-
nership effort with business to promote energy
efficiency in commercial buildings. The program
starts with membership in "Green lights," fol-
lowed by a comprehensive building survey and
tune-up. The program then engineers increased
efficiency in heating, ventilation, and air condi-
tioning loads and improved fans and air-han-
dling systems.

"Energy STAR Computers" is another partner-
ship with leading U.S. manufacturers to save
additional energy costs. Desktop computers,
monitors, and printers can "sleep" or "power
down" when not in use, cutting electricity use by
over one-half. The federal government, the
largest user of computer equipment in the
world, will buy only energy-efficient computers
in the future.
The "Ag STAR" Program focuses on animal waste
methane which is emitted to the air when
manures ferment. Such emissions waste a usable
energy supply, produce odors, and contribute to
climate change. This innovative program recov-
ers methane gas from swine and dairy manure
for re-use by the farmer.
The "Natural Gas STAR" program is another
methane recovery project aimed at oil and natur-
al gas pipeline leakages and system inefficiencies.
EPA is working with public utility commissions
to reform rate structures to include incentives for
efficiency gains, cost reductions, and methane
emissions reductions.
The "Super Efficient Refrigerator
Program" seeks to produce
energy-wise appliances for
home and commercial use,
(CFCs), chemicals used in
refrigerators for cooling and
freezing, are ozone-depleting
substances that will be phased out
of production by 1995. This program
is finding alternative coolants and opti-
mizing energy efficiency through better com-
pressors, door seals, and insulation.
In addition, EPA has many other new voluntary
programs, some just getting off the ground, but
these three top the list:
The "Climate-Wise" Program challenges organi-
zations from all sectors of the economy to find
creative ways to limit or reduce greenhouse gas
emissions (see climate change in the Glossary).
Such actions may include raw material substitu-
tion, process improvements, and switching to
lower-carbon-content fuels. Other initiatives put
into place employee's good ideas: planting more
trees, grasses, and plants to absorb excess carbon
dioxide from the air, carpooling, and installing
corporate-wide efforts to recycle and reduce
waste. For more information, call 202/260-4407.
The "Waste-Wise" Program is a public-private
partnership designed to assist businesses in
reducing their solid waste. Businesses set theiT
own goals and commit to achievements in the
following three areas: waste prevention, recy-
cling collection, and buying or manufacturing
recycled products. Additional information is
available by calling 800/ EPA-WISE.
Last, but not least, is the "Water
Alliance for Voluntary Efficiency" Pro-
gram, called WAVE. Designed to
focus attention on efficient use of
water, WAVE encourages hotels and
motels to install water-saving

I Water Alliances for Voluntary Efficiency
V	. oEPA
devices. Use of low-flush toilets, and low-flow
shower heads, dishwashers, and laundry equip-
ment, as well as recycling wastewater, is both
profitable and practical. The payback period for
most projects is three years or less. This program
will be expanded to more businesses, institu-
tions, and local governments. For more informa-
tion, call 202/260-7288.
The same basic pollution prevention ideas can
be used in the home. Each of us can use energy
efficient or recyclable products and decrease our
volume of waste. Contact agencies listed in the
Directory of this Guide for things you can do to
prevent pollution. In addition, bookstores and
libraries typically contain information that can
help you and your family dramatically reduce —
and in some cases eliminate altogether — every-
day sources of pollution. As our awareness
grows and we begin to realize the full health and
environmental effects our actions have, pollution
prevention becomes increasingly attractive.
some questions & answers
on pollution prevention
Q. How does pollution prevention work?
A. Here's an example. If a chemical has been
identified as toxic to the environment and a less
harmful substance is used instead, pollution may
be prevented. By the same token, your conscien-
tious selection of products for the home can pre-
vent pollution.
Q. Why wasn't pollution prevention started
A. During the industrial revolution, few peo-
ple envisioned what an enormous collective
effect we would have on the global environment.
We chose first to treat the obvious effects of pol-
lution, not the sources.
Q. What are some specific ways I can personally
prevent pollution?
A. Look for goods with less packaging; use
longer-lasting, full-spectrum fluorescent tubes
that require only a fraction of the energy of
incandescent bulbs; reduce your use of haz-
ardous household products; recycle glass, paper,
plastic, cardboard, and other materials. Many
other ideas are available from EPA, environmen-
tal groups, and trade associations.
Q. Where can I get more information on pollution
A. Call EPA's Pollution Prevention Office at
202/260-1023. Many states also have pollution
prevention offices with information available to
the public.

address these and other chronic air quality
These Amendments signal a change from past
pollution control approaches. Innovations in
this law include programs based on coopera-
tion between government and industry, and
air & radiation
Perhaps more than anything else, air interacts
directly and constantly with us. All land crea-
tures breathe gases and materials suspended
in the air. By the same token, trees, grasses
and other plant species carpeting the earth are
equally dependent on clean air. We all have a
stake in the quality of our air.
Outdoor air quality is affected by many human
and natural activities. Manufacturing compa-
nies, power plants, small businesses, automo-
biles, forest fires, and volcanoes are all sources
of air pollution. Any activity that releases mate-
rials into the air affects air quality.
Although the landmark 1970 Clean Air Act
(CAA) prompted large improvements in air
quality, not all of Congress' goals have been
met. Emissions of pollutants such as sulfur
oxides, volatile organic compounds
(VOCs), carbon monoxide, particulates, and
lead have been greatly reduced. But much
work remains to effectively reduce acid rain,
smog, and air toxics associated with increased
cancer risk and other health complaints. The
1990 CAA Amendments were intended to
pollution prevention incentives based on
market forces. The goal of the entire Act is to
reduce air pollution by 56 billion pounds per
year. These reductions are expected to come
from cutting emissions from several major as
well as many minor sources.
Urban pollution also is addressed under the
1990 CAA Amendments. Cities that fail to
meet standards for human health must com-
ply with the standards by deadlines set in the
law, In many urban areas, ground level ozone
persists in concentrations harmful to human
health. Large sources of pollutants (such as
nitrogen oxides) that contribute to this prob-
lem and smaller sources of hydrocarbons
must reduce emissions. In some cities, this
requires vehicle emissions testing, vapor
recovery systems at gas stations, and other
controls on smaller sources of pollution.
Carbon monoxide problems in non-attain-
ment areas are addressed in a similar fashion.
Areas with the worst carbon monoxide prob-
lems are required to use special forms of gaso-
line known as oxyfuels during winter months.

Other areas that fail to attain standards for
particulate matter may be required to limit
the use of wood stoves and fireplaces and to
impose stiffer controls on industry.
In addition, emissions of 189 air toxics must
be reduced by the turn of the century. EPA
has published a list of source categories for
which Maximum Achievable Control Tech-
nology (MACT) is being developed. Compa-
nies that achieve reductions of emissions
before the regulations are proposed can
receive six-year extensions to comply with the
standard. EPA has estimated that overall
health risks, including risk of cancer, respira-
tory disease, heart ailments, and reproductive
disorders, will decline significantly once
MACT controls are installed.
The CAA Amendments also look beyond the
U.S. to reduce acid rain and address loss of
stratospheric ozone. Sulfur dioxide emissions
from power plants are a major source of acid
rain. Under a new two-phase system, these
emissions will be cut in half by the year 2000.
Power plants will be
issued emission
allowances which
can be banked or
traded. If emissions
exceed the allowances
held, the power plant
must pay a penalty.
The CAA Amend-
ments also restrict
the use, emission,
and disposal of
ozone-depleting chemicals such as chlorofluo-
rocarbons (CFCs, also known as Freons) and
other chlorine- and bromine-containing com-
pounds. CFCs are commonly used in refrigera-
tors and air conditioners.
Working in consultation with state and local
governments, EPA bears primary responsibili-
ty for this sweeping legislation. EPA's Office
of Air and Radiation is the lead office for
developing the scores of regulations required
under the Act. States also share responsibility
for issuing and enforcing air pollution, per-
mits. In some areas, local governments will
test vehicle emissions and monitor other air
quality issues.
Indoor air is often more polluted than the air
outside our homes and workplaces. This has
been shown to be true across the country, even
in neighborhoods without heavy industrial
pollution. More than 90% of our time is spent
indoors where we are
exposed to contaminants
from faulty heating units,

gas stoves, fireplaces, cleaners, solvents, cos-
metics, cigarette smoke, wall coverings, paints,
and improperly stored chemical products.
Another significant indoor health hazard
results from radon gas, which in many areas of
the country seeps from the earth into homes.
There are several ways to check and safeguard
your home, with proper ventilation being one
of the simplest. Radon test kits are available
from a variety of sources including hardware
stores, health departments, and environmental
In your home, make sure that gasoline cans for
lawn mowers have securely fitted lids. These
items as well as household hazardous chemicals
should be stored outside the home when possi-
ble. Dispose of unwanted or unused solvents
and pesticides properly. Some stores that sell
these items will dispose of them for you. In
many states, environmental agencies in cooper-
ation with industries have sponsored "House-
hold Hazardous Waste Days" during which citi-
zens may take paint, solvents, and other wastes
to local collection sites for proper disposal.
The quality of indoor air is largely up to indi-
viduals and businesses. Although safe working
conditions are mandated by the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),
no agency forces homeowners to provide clean
indoor air. You must take steps on your own
to improve the quality of indoor air in your
some questions & answers
about air quality
. Who monitors the required reports of toxic
air emissions and safety measures used to control
those emissions?
A. EPA, your state air quality office, the
State Emergency Response Commission
(SERC), and your Local Emergency Plan-
ning Committee (LEPC) monitor these
Q. Who sets the legal air exposure limits for
toxic chemicals?
A. EPA sets the standards for outside (ambi-
ent) air, OSHA for the workplace.
Q. What is Best Available Control Technology?
What is MACT?
A. Best Available Control Technology
(BACT) refers to the best equipment, tech-
niques, or mechanisms that are currently
available to achieve a level of pollution con-
trol. Through research, technology may be

available in the future to achieve even better
controls. MACT is Maximum Achievable
Control Technology and refers to the maxi-
mum degree of pollution reduction obtainable.
Q. What happens to toxic airborne emissions
when they are released from chemical plants,
automobiles, or power plants? Do they change
into other toxics when they mix? Where are they
finally deposited?
A. We are only beginning to find out what
happens to emissions. Little is known about
the interaction of chemicals in ambient air,
but some effects such as smog, ozone deple-
tion, acid rain, and climate change are a few
of the known consequences when air emis-
sions interact, are blown by the wind, and are
deposited in cities, fields, and wetlands.
These effects have generated new research to
find answers.
Q. Do weather conditions affect pollution and
the dispersion of airborne chemicals?
A. Yes. Weather conditions—including
temperature, sunlight, precipitation, and
wind—play a major role in how vapors and
suspended particles behave. Sunlight can
destroy or alter some airborne chemicals.
Rain, snow, and wind affect where and when
air pollutants are deposited on land or water.
Q. Are incinerators a source of toxic emissions
to the air?
A. Well-designed, well-constructed, and
well-operated incinerators can nearly elimi-
nate toxic emissions to the air. To receive a
permit to operate, a hazardous waste inciner-
ator must demonstrate 99.99% efficiency in
destroying most hazardous wastes. The stan-
dard is even stricter for dioxins and PCBs.
Q. How does eliminating toxic wastes at the
source of production differ from utilizing best
available control technology (BACT)?
A. Basically, at-source control is a pollu-
tion prevention approach that seeks to keep
hazardous wastes from being produced.
BACT, on the other hand, is the best technol-
ogy for treating, containing, or reducing dis-
charges and emissions.

charged into our lakes, streams, rivers, and
oceans, as well as the energy needed to
treat wastewater.
The cornerstone for protecting this valu-
able resource and controlling water pollu-
tion was the Federal Water Pollution Con-
Although the vast majority of the earth's
surface is covered with water, the oceans
and seas are salty. Only 3% is fresh — and
two-thirds of that is ice! This tiny fraction
of fresh water sustains a multitude of very
specific life forms, including our own.
While many people get their drinking
water from underground reserves, surface
waters also are an important source. In
addition, lakes, rivers, and streams provide
boating, swimming, fishing, and other
forms of recreation.
The economic support offered by plentiful
and high quality surface waters includes
agricultural irrigation, process and cooling
waters for power plants, and chemical,
steel, lumber, mining, and other industrial
operations. The eastern U.S. has a bounti-
ful supply of this natural resource, while in
the western states, the relative scarcity of
surface water serves to increase its value. In
all parts of the country, however, we need
to use our water efficiently. Using less
water reduces the amount of wastes dis-
trol Act of 1972. In 1977, the Act was
reauthorized and renamed the Clean
Water Act (CWA). The goal of the CWA
is the "restoration and maintenance of the
chemical, physical and biological integrity
of the Nation's waters." Under this Act, it
is illegal to discharge pollutants from a
point source into any surface water with-
out a National Pollution Discharge Elim-
ination System (NPDES) permit. EPA
has the authority to set standards for the
quality of wastewater discharges. Amend-
ments to the CWA in 1987 increased the
ability of EPA and states to improve water
quality by addressing toxic discharges,
allowing citizen lawsuits, and funding
municipal sewage treatment facilities.
Most states have legal authority to imple-
ment and enforce the provisions of the
Clean Water Act, while EPA retains over-
sight responsibilities for most state water
programs. Water quality standards, crite-
ria to assure that streams are "fishable and
swimmable," are set by each state, with

EPA oversight and approval. State water
pollution control agencies and EPA use
these standards to set limits on the
amounts of pol-
lutants that can
be dis-
into surface
waters. Ques-
tions dealing
with specific
bodies of water,
monitoring sur-
veys, or permits
should be direct-
ed to your state water
quality agency.
Wetlands occupy a special-
ized niche between land and sur-
face water, where plants and ani-
mals abound. Wetlands have his-
torically been viewed as mosqui-
to-ridden wastelands, impedi-
ments to development because
of their saturated and frequently
flooded conditions. The impor-
tance to fish and wildlife, clean
water, and flood control went
unappreciated as draining and filling
operations destroyed more than 60% of
coastal and inland wetlands nationwide.
Discharges from industries, midnight
dumping of toxic wastes, urban runoff,
acid rain, and agricultural chemicals have
polluted and degraded wetlands as well.
Wet meadows, prairie potholes, wooded
swamps, and coastal, saltwater marshes are
distinctly different. But all wet-
lands are important wildlife
habitats, breeding grounds,
and nurseries. Hundreds of
species of birds use wetlands
for mating, nesting, brood-rear-
ing, and for resting and feeding
during migration. Fish, crus-
taceans, insects, and other animals
form complex food chains in
these valuable ecosystems.
Some progress has been made, but a major
challenge remains to reduce and control
pollutants that enter all surface waters.
Water that runs off city streets and parking
lots during rainstorms may contain metals,
oil, grease, and other automotive fluids.
Runoff from agricultural fields contains ani-
mal waste, fertilizers, and pesticides. These
contaminants and others are called non-
point source pollution and cannot be
reduced by traditional end-of-pipe controls.
Recent stormwater regulations are begin-
ning to reduce nonpoint source pollution
from industries and
cities. Farming prac-
tices that emphasize
soil conservation and
appropriate use of pesti-
cides are effective in reducing pollutants in
runoff. You can help prevent nonpoint
source pollution by properly disposing of

used motor oil, using fewer pesticides, and
carefully assessing lawn and garden prac-
tices. By reducing the potential contami-
nants we place on streets, driveways and
lawns, we can make a substantial contribu-
tion to improving the quality of rivers,
streams, lakes, and wetlands.
some questions & answers
on surface water
Q, Where can I get information about the
water quality oj streams, lakes, wetlands, and
other bodies of water in my state?
A. State water quality agencies, in gener-
al, maintain records of water quality for
many state surface waters. General infor-
mation about water quality is available
through the state agency information
offices, EPA, and many citizen groups. EPA
maintains an Office of Water Resource
Center to answer general questions about
standards and water quality. The telephone
number is 202/260-7786.
Q. How are water quality standards devel-
oped for U.S. surface waters?
A. EPA develops water quality criteria
that indicate concentrations of contami-
nants that are not expected to harm human
health and aquatic life. States may use
these criteria to set water quality standards
or they may develop their own standards
that address state-specific needs, are scien-
tifically defensible, and as stringent as the
national criteria. States are required to
review water quality standards every three
years. New information from EPA, indus-
try, or any other group concerning safe lev-
els of materials in surface water may be
considered, and existing standards may be
revised to reflect current scientific develop-
ments. Notices of proposed revisions are
published in newspapers to encourage the
public to participate in the revision
process. State standards must be approved
by EPA.
Q. How can I find out what materials are
being discharged into local bodies of water?
A. By submitting a request to the water
pollution control agency in your state, you
can review the National Pollutant Dis-
charge Elimination System (NPDES) per-
mits for specific dischargers into surface
water. New permits and renewals of exist-
ing permits are published in local papers
with information on how to review the per-
mit application. State and federal agencies,
including EPA's Office of Water and the
U.S. Geological Survey, compile stream-
specific water quality data in various
reports available to the public.
Q. What can I do if I think that an NPDES
permit should not be issued or that the
requirements of the permit are inadequate?

A. Anyone may comment on the issuance
or reissuance of an NPDES permit within
the period listed in the public notice. The
permit-issuing agency must respond to
public comments before granting the per-
mit. Most states have a process by which
affected citizens and companies may appeal
the terms and conditions of a NPDES per-
mit or who receives one.
Q. Whom do I contact if I see a spill or
notice unusual conditions such as color, odor,
or fish kills in a stream, lake, estuary, or
coastal area?
A. First contact your city or county pub-
lic health department or check to see if
your state has a toll-free pollution hotline.
Any spill should be reported immediately
to the National Response Center at
1-800-424-8802. For other complaints and
concerns about water quality, call your
state agency representatives during normal
business hours and ask for an investigation.

parts of the country are abundant and sup-
ply good quality water, contamination in
other areas may be severe but undetected
until the ground water is used.
Activities to protect ground water are guid-
ed by several different federal and state laws
and are conducted by a number of different
ci water
The nation's ground water resources are
extremely valuable. Half of all Americans
and more than 95% of our rural population
get their household water supplies from
underground sources. Ground water also is
used for about half of all agricultural irriga-
tion and a third of industrial water needs. In
many places, this vital resource is already
contaminated or threatened.
Even more than surface waters, ground
water resources are often taken for granted
because they are not visible. Rainfall and
surface water which had seeped into the
earth's crust over many years formed under-
ground reservoirs. Where the water table is
at or close to the surface, ground water
enters wetlands, lakes, rivers, and streams
and provides a base flow during dry periods.
By comparison to rivers and streams, ground
water moves very slowly and with little tur-
bulence. Therefore, once contamination
reaches ground water, little dilution or mix-
ing occurs. While wells and springs in many
agencies. Some states have comprehensive
ground water protection statutes, but all
states have some authority to protect ground
water under solid and hazardous waste laws,
public health laws, and energy extraction
laws. Regulatory authority and information
about ground water quantity and quality
vary among state agencies, but usually
reside in natural resources, environmental
protection, or public health agencies.
Ground water issues in agricultural areas
are the concern of a wide variety of organi-
zations and institutions including soil and
water conservation districts and commis-
sions, In urban areas, local public works
and planning departments can often
respond to questions about the effects of
land disturbance on ground water.
Federal statutes that authorize ground
water protection include the Safe Drinking
Water Act (SDWA), the Resource Conser-
vation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the

Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation, and Liability
Act (CERCLA, or Superfund law). On the
federal level, EPA has primary responsibili-
ty for ground water.
As an individual, you can
help protect your com-
munity's ground
water, Use and dis-
pose of household
hazardous substances
properly. Reduce your
use of these hazardous
substances whenever
possible. When you do
have pesticides,
cleaning products,
and paint to dispose
of, don't pour these
down the
drain, put
them in the trash, or dump them on the
ground. Hazardous substances disposed of in
these ways can find their way into both sur-
face and ground water. Reducing home water
use also will reduce ground water contami-
Household products that are hazardous
materials may be recycled. Check with local
gas stations and automotive centers about
recycling used motor oils and batteries and
with paint stores for leftover paints and sol-
vents. In many communities, businesses
and government agencies sponsor annual
Household Hazardous Waste Days when cit-
izens can bring household chemicals to a
central spot for collection, proper treat-
ment, and/or disposal.
some questions & answers
on ground water
Q. How is ground water contaminated?
A. Ground water may become cont-
aminated when rainfall and surface
runoff pass through contaminated
soil. Water dissolves many sub-
stances and can carry particles and
microorganisms with it into the ground water.
Landfills, mining, improperly applied pesti-
cides, improperly stored chemicals and
de-icing salts, leaking underground
storage tanks, improperly installed
or failing septic tanks, and other
' surface activities can significantly alter

ground water quality. Contamination often
goes undetected for many years.
Q. If 1 notice a change in the taste, color, or
odor of my well water, whom should I contact?
A. You should contact your county health
department, state agency with ground water
responsibility, and state health department.
These agencies can investigate the cause of the
change in your well water, In addition, infor-
mation on ground water may be obtained by
calling EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline
(800/426-4791) or the U.S. Geological Survey
(USGS) (703/648-4460).
Q. What should I do if I suspect that a nearby
facility may be contaminating my well and the
ground water?
A. You should contact the agencies listed
above. Depending on the circumstances, they
may be able to help you. You might also con-
tact the state agencies that issue environmen-
tal permits to the facility; permits can be
reviewed by the public.
Q. Can contaminated ground water be cleaned
A. In some situations, yes. Contaminated
reservoirs that are limited in size may be
cleaned up by pumping water out of the
aquifer for treatment by above-ground treat-
ment systems. Also, methods are under devel-
opment to treat ground water in the subsur-
face, such as biodegradation. However,
ground water cleanup is very difficult, expen-
sive, and less than completely effective. Pre-
venting ground water contamination is more
practical to ensure good water quality.
Q. Are permits required for water supplies and
sewage treatment systems?
A. Yes. State health and environmental
agencies are responsible for certifying the
adequacy of municipal water supplies and
sewage treatment systems.
Q. What is the relationship between ground
water and surface water?
A. Surface water seeps into ground water
during wet weather periods and the reverse
occurs during drought conditions. When
close to the surface, ground water often
becomes surface water in the form of springs,
wetlands, and streams. Contamination of
ground water can pollute surface water and
vice versa.
Q. Are underground storage tanks (USTs)
A. Yes. In 1988, EPA issued regulations
setting minimum standards for new tanks and
requiring owners of existing tanks to close,
replace, or upgrade them. Tank owners and
operators are required to meet leak detection
requirements and to show they have financial
resources to pay for cleanups should a leak or
spill occur.

EPA estimates that there are from 5 to 7 mil-
lion USTs nationwide. Most of the USTs hold
petroleum and the rest hold hazardous mate-
rials, used motor oil, or other substances.
Q. Who runs the UST program and who
should be notified if a leak is suspected?
A. State and local governments oversee the
UST program, Report suspected leaks to the
state implementing agency. Contact the
RCRA/Superfund/UST Hotline at 800/424-
9346 for the name, address, and telephone
number of the agency in your state.

quency or location of application, or require
the use of specially trained, certified applica-
tors. EPA also can suspend or cancel the reg-
istration if later information shows that use
of the pesticide poses unacceptable health
pGb Licides
Few chemicals have had as much effect or
been the subject of as much controversy in
recent decades as pesticides. Broadly
defined, a pesticide is any agent used to kill
or control undesired insects, weeds, rodents,
fungi, bacteria, or other organisms. Pesti-
cides are used on food and feed crops, lawns
and golf courses, in schools, in the home
and other buildings, and to disinfect swim-
ming pools and hospital equipment. Because
of their wide application, EPA "registers"
(licenses) thousands of pesticide products in
the U.S. No pesticide may legally be sold or
used unless the chemical's label bears an
EPA registration number.
EPA must ensure that these pesticides will
not present unreasonable risks to people,
wildlife, fish, and plants, including endan-
gered species. Under the Federal Insecti-
cide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
(FIFRA) and its 1988 Amendments, the
chemical's benefits must outweigh the risks.
FIFRA gives EPA the authority to limit the
amount of pesticide applied, restrict the fre-
Pesticide registration decisions are based pri-
marily on EPA's evaluation of test data pro-
vided by applicants. Testing is needed to
determine whether a pesticide can cause
adverse effects, including acute toxic reac-
tions, skin and eye irritations, cancers, birth
defects, and reproductive system disorders.
Data on how a pesticide behaves in the envi-
ronment also is required. This information
lets EPA determine whether a chemical poses
a threat to ground water or to "non-target"
species (other than those the pesticide is
meant to control).
Many of us are concerned about food safety
but don't understand how crops are raised
or how our fruits and vegetables arrive at
grocery stores. We seem to have an abun-
dance of fresh produce every day, regardless
of what is "in season." Advances in technolo-
gy over the years have ensured bumper
crops of many fruits and vegetables, and
what we don't grow in this country we
import from abroad.

Pesticides can be registered or re-registered
under FIFRA for use on our food or feed
crops only if "tolerances," or maximum legal
limits, for residues are established under the
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFD-
CA). These tolerances help ensure that con-
sumers (especially infants and children) are
not exposed to unsafe levels of pesticides
remaining in or on their food. EPA sets a tol-
erance only if chemical and toxicological
data, as well as residue and food consump-
tion data, show no unreasonable risk to con-
sumers from eating foods containing low-lev-
el residues of the pesticide—even over an
entire lifetime.
EPA also is working to develop and maintain
programs that will protect world health and
the global environment from adverse effects of
pesticide use. A major objective is to improve
foreign countries' abilities to meet our stan-
dards for food safety while improving their
own citizens' health. EPA's Office of Pes-
ticide Programs is working to
pesticides that are banned from use in the
U.S. because we may be importing fruits and
vegetables grown and harvested with these
same chemicals. Likewise, use of banned pes-
ticides or improper application may lead to
contaminated topsoil and ground water, and
may have lasting adverse effects on wildlife
in these other countries.
In addition, EPA is making a concerted effort
to safeguard farmworkers in the U.S. through
a combination of educational, regulatory,
and research programs. Many farmworkers
are non-English-speaking immigrants who
are unable to read instructions or warnings
on product labels. These applicators must
contend with many insect and weed species
that have become resistant to insecticides
and herbicides, necessitating higher doses
and increased applications. In the last 40
years, pesticide use has increased 10-fold, yet
crop loss has almost doubled. Many farmers
and ranchers have come to question the
benefit of pesticides and started prac-
ticing alternative farming methods.
Some of these methods are embod-
ied in the concept of sustainable
agriculture, which was officially
recognized by Congress when
the Organic Foods Production
Act was passed as part of the
1990 Farm Bill. This law required the U.S.
Department of Agriculture to develop
national organic certification standards and
labeling requirements for crops that are

organically grown. USDA is being advised by
a National Organic Standards Board composed
of farmers, processors, scientists, and environ-
mentalists. USDA will be publishing regula-
tions that list synthetic and natural substances
and biochemicals that will be permitted or
prohibited in organic production. Any formu-
lated products must be registered with EPA.
As a consumer, you can remove pesticide
residues by thoroughly washing your fruits
and vegetables with soap and water. If you
feel you need to use a pesticide in your home,
first seek advice from local professionals.
Many nurseries, hardware stores, and garden
centers have staff who are knowledgeable
about the best product to use and how to
apply the chemical. You may not need a pes-
ticide at all—sometimes cleaning or removal
of objects attracting a "pest" are all that is
necessary. Take special precautions to apply
the chemical exactly according to the label
instructions. Wear protective clothing indi-
cated on the label over hands and face and
keep all containers isolated from children or
pets. Close off rooms to children and pets
when a pesticide has been applied, and never
use a pesticide close to your face.
Outdoors, be aware that pesticides also can
kill many beneficial insects as well as birds
and squirrels. Some chemicals are unusually
persistent, meaning residues are left in the
environment for long periods of time, even
years. Watch for "Household Hazardous
Waste Disposal Days" in your community to
bring any unused amounts or empty contain-
ers for proper disposal. Because of their
inherent nature, all pesticides, including
home, lawn, and garden pesticides, are
potentially toxic and should be used with the
utmost care.
some questions & answers
on pesticides
Q. Are there any alternatives to using pesti-
A. Yes. Scientists have begun to manage,
rather than try to eradicate, certain species
using Integrated Pest Management (1PM).
IPM uses a combination of biological, cultural,
and genetic control methods, with use of pes-
ticides as the last resort. Understanding a
species' life cycle is essential to reduce the use
of pesticides. Population explosions can be
prevented and reptiles, birds, bats, and preda-
tor insects used as natural pest controls. A
sustainable farm ecosystem provides habitat
for a multitude of beneficial organisms which
maintain the pest-predator balance.
Q. What natural controls can I use in my gar-
A. Many garden shops and nurseries have
resident experts on this topic, as do county
extension services, Some common methods
include planting marigolds to repel asparagus
beetles. Beer or vinegar in a shallow pan readi-
ly attracts and traps slugs and snails. Gypsy
moths on oak and ornamental trees can be

controlled by a common bacterial spray
applied at the hatching and early larval stages
(a form of IPM). In addition, several soaps are
on the market that are pest-specific and
Q. How can I get rid of cockroaches in my
A. Mix equal parts of powdered sugar and
powdered boric acid, obtainable from any
hardware store. Sprinkle in comers and along
baseboards. Find points of entry and seal
them off. Store food in sealed containers and
keep the kitchen clean. At night, drain your
sink and wipe dry. Cockroaches are depen-
dent on water, so check for small leaks under
the sink and seal.
Q. What does organically grown mean?
A. Growing organically is an alternative
approach that views the farm as an agro-
ecosystem. The key principle is biodiversity,
first accomplished by building a balanced, fer-
tile soil rich in microorganisms. This concept
of "feeding the soil, not the plant" imparts
resistance and vigor to the crops grown. A
diversity of crops are grown in a long period of
rotation, particularly grasses and legumes for
animal forage and green manures. Such rota-
tions break pest life cycles, improve soil fertili-
ty, and reduce soil erosion. In addition, the
natural resources on the farm such as forests,
wetlands, and meadows are viewed as critical
resources for climate and water management
and provide habitat for indigenous species.
Certified organic crops can be harvested after
three continuous years since the last applica-
tion of a prohibited pesticide or fertilizer. But
organically grown does not mean "no spray."
Farmers can use naturally derived pesticides
that break down quickly in the environment;
some wash off with rain. Other synthetically
derived materials that can be used include
toxins from bacteria, soaps, fish emulsions,
vitamins, minerals, and certain medicines for
livestock. In practice, livestock must be fed
organically grown grains and forages, and can
receive no hormones, antibiotics, or medica-
tions that increase growth or production.
Q. What pesticides are banned in the U.S.?
A. Over the years, EPA has banned 42 dif-
ferent pesticides, including aldrin, DDT,
dinoseb, and vinyl chloride. Others are called
restricted-use, meaning they must be applied
by or under the direct supervision of a certi-
fied applicator. Banned or restricted chemi-
cals are acutely toxic to farmworkers and
applicators, as well as various mammals,
birds, and aquatic animals, and have environ-
mental effects long after suspended use.

Today's world is complex — sophisticated
technologies produce consumer goods rang-
ing from cars to cleaning fluids. Many of
these processes generate hazardous wastes
of one sort or another. Hazardous wastes are
specifically identified by EPA because they
have characteristics that make them poten-
tially dangerous. Hazardous wastes include
chemicals that are corrosive, flammable,
reactive, or toxic. Hazardous wastes may be
by-products of manufacturing processes or
discarded consumer products, such as house-
hold cleaning fluids, paints, and batteries.
Once generated, hazardous wastes require
proper storage, treatment, and disposal.
While major industries must follow specific
regulatory requirements for handling haz-
ardous wastes, many companies are institut-
ing pollution prevention techniques that
reduce the amounts of wastes that are gener-
ated. Individual citizens also should try to
reduce the amounts of chemicals used.
When we must discard hazardous materials
such as pesticides and old paint, we should
follow proper disposal practices to protect
our environment.
Currently operating industries that produce
hazardous wastes are regulated by the provi-
sions of the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA), One of the RCRA
requirements is the cradle-to-grave reporting
system that tracks hazardous wastes from the
factory through transportation, treatment, and
disposal. Most states have received authority
from EPA to regulate and enforce RCRA; EPA
controls hazardous waste storage, treatment,
and disposal in those states that do not have
this authority.
In addition to active facilities regulated under
RCRA, some sites have abandoned hazardous
wastes for which ownership is unclear or
unknown. In these situations, control and
cleanup is possible through the Comprehen-
sive Environmental Response, Compensa-
tion, and Liability Act (CERCLA), com-
monly known as Superfund. Under the
Superfund program, EPA has the authority to
clean up the nation's worst hazardous waste
sites using money from a trust fund support-
ed primarily from a tax on chemical feed-
stocks used by manufacturers. Those sites
have been placed on EPAs National Priori-
ties List (NPL). Companies or individuals
responsible for the wastes are identified by

EPA, if possible, and made to pay for the
some questions & answers
on hazardous waste
Your participation as a concerned community
member is an integral part of the Superfund
cleanup process. The Superfund Amend-
ments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of
1986 specifically provided for public partici-
pation in selecting the appropriate remedies
for site contamination problems. EPA assigns
staff to each Superfund site to work with the
local community to reach decisions related to
site cleanup activities. EPA is required to
make site-related information accessible to
the public. In most cases, this information
and records of EPA decisions about the site
are placed in the public library or town hall.
Communities near Superfund sites have numer-
ous resources available to them for meaningful
participation in the management and cleanup of
the site. For example, technical assistance grants
(TAGs) from EPA are authorized under SARA.
These grants allow communities to hire experts
to help citizens understand the
technical aspects of haz-
t ardous waste problems.
Q. What should I do if I suspect hazardous
waste dumping?
A. Contact the National Response Center
at 1-800-424-8802 if you detect signs of illegal
dumping such as:
•	drums in the woods, on roadsides or
abandoned property, in empty buildings
or city or county landfills;
•	odors that smell like turpentine, paint,
fingernail polish, glue, rotten eggs, or
any unfamiliar chemical odor;
•	discolored soil with dead vegetation
along roadsides, in abandoned lots or
fields, around vacant buildings, or
beside streams and rivers;
•	abandoned warehouses or factories with
leaking drums or waste-like material;
sludge-like appearance or ooze on
the ground.

Q. Are hazardous substances regulated under
A. No. RCRA only regulates hazardous sub-
stances once they become wastes, but some
hazardous substances are regulated under the
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or by
the Occupational Safety and Health Admin-
istration (OSHA). Many hazardous chemicals
must be reported to federal, state, and local
officials under the Emergency Planning and
Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
Q. Can hazardous wastes be incinerated safe-
ly? Does incineration make hazardous wastes
A. A hazardous waste incinerator that is
properly designed and operated to meet per-
formance standards set by EPA can safely and
effectively reduce or destroy a wide variety of
hazardous wastes. Depending on the compo-
sition of the hazardous wastes, some wastes
can be rendered non-hazardous. The residues
left after incineration, such as ash and materi-
als from air pollution control equipment,
must be properly managed and disposed of in
accordance with EPA requirements.
Q. Why are new commercial incinerators
being built?
A. Federal legislation mandated each state
to provide, by October 17, 1989 a 20-year
plan to assure that the state had the capacity
to dispose of hazardous and solid wastes gen-
erated within its borders. Most hazardous
wastes cannot be landfilled and some must be
incinerated because they have no other dis-
posal method. In addition, many states simply
have no available landfill space, and so
municipal solid waste, including household
garbage, must be incinerated. But many new
facilities are waste-to-energy plants which
convert the heat from combustion into elec-
tricity for the community, an added bonus to
eliminating tons of trash.
Q. How are citizens assured that permitted haz-
ardous waste facilities are complying with the law?
A. Hazardous waste inspectors have the right
to enter a facility at any reasonable time for an
inspection, which may be unannounced. Facili-
ties are inspected for compliance with laws and
regulations, as well as with the specific condi-
tions of their individual permits. When viola-
tions are found, they are followed by appropri-
ate actions, ranging from issuance of a non-
compliance notice to initiation of a criminal
investigation. If you have reason to believe that
a hazardous waste facility is not complying
with the law, call your state environmental
office with responsibility for hazardous waste.
A complaint filed with the agency may result in
an unannounced inspection of the facility.
Q. What is the difference between hazardous
waste management and treatment?
A. Hazardous waste management refers to
the precautions taken to reduce the dangers of
handling or disposing of hazardous wastes.

Hazardous waste treatment refers to practices
which render the wastes non-hazardous or
less harmful. Treatment methods include neu-
tralization, such as mixing acids with bases
to make their pH more like that of water, bio-
logical treatment to break the waste down into
simpler compounds, and incineration.
Q. What is being done to reduce hazardous
A. Better manufacturing processes and work-
er training are reducing quantities used and
non-hazardous or less hazardous ingredients
are being substituted in processes. Some wastes
are refined and recycled; others are immobi-
lized so they cannot be released into the envi-
ronment. Another important way is to design
well-managed, well-regulated hazardous waste
management facilities with proper state permits.
Q. Officials in my area have just declared an
old abandoned property in my community a
Superfund site. What does that mean?
A. Under CERCLA, abandoned hazardous
waste sites that pose an immediate threat can
be cleaned up under emergency response and
removal programs. Sites that do not pose an
immediate danger but have significant contam-
ination may be cleaned up by responsible par-
ties or under federal or state investigation and
cleanup programs,
Q. Shouldn't the folks who put the chemicals in
the dump pay for the cleanup?
A. Yes. Using Superfund enforcement
authority, EPA locates the owners, operators,
generators, and transporters and negotiates for
the cleanup. Those who contributed only mini-
mal amounts or low-toxicity wastes (de min-
imis parties) can "cash out", putting their pro-
portional share of costs into a trust fund for the
cleanup. Or EPA can order non-cooperative
parties to conduct the work. Cleanup doesn't
have to wait until legal and financial issues are
resolved. EPA can stabilize the site and then
pursue responsible parties to recover costs and
commit to long-term remedial actions.
Q. How do I dispose of household hazardous
wastes, such as old pesticides, paints, acids, clean-
ers, and used oils?
A. Watch your newspaper for local "House-
hold Hazardous Waste Disposal Days." Often
local organizations or businesses, in coopera-
tion with state environmental agencies, will
sponsor free disposal if you bring your materi-
als to a specified collection site. Public service
announcements on television and radio also
help to promote such events. In addition, some
local gas stations recycle used motor oils and
old automobile batteries.
The best way to deal with household haz-
ardous wastes is to purchase products wisely.
Estimate your needs accurately and buy the
smallest quantity possible.

solid waste
cling efforts and created a demand for "post-
consumer" materials.
But the early days of the "sanitary" landfill
fouled ground water, soil, surface water,
and air because of improper disposal meth-
ods. Engineers have since designed new liners
Solid waste continues to receive a great deal
of media attention across the country as cities
and counties deal with the lack of available
space to dispose of household garbage and
municipal solid waste. How to manage our
wastes has been a problem for decades. In the
early 1960s, cities and towns across the coun-
try practiced open air burning of trash. In
response, Congress passed the Solid Waste
Disposal Act in 1965 as part of the amend-
ments to the Clean Air Act. This was the first
federal law that required environmentally
sound methods for disposal of household,
municipal, commercial, and industrial waste.
In 1970, Congress amended this law and
passed the Resource Recovery Act, the first
nationwide recycling initiative. Federal agen-
cies were recycling high-grade white paper
and newsprint with the slogan, "Use it Again
Sam." The beverage industry at this time
switched from tri-metal to the lighter but
more expensive aluminum, primarily to save
transportation and equipment costs. That
switch paved the way for other major recy-
and leachate treatment systems to prevent
environmental degradation. Today, landfill
space is at a premium. Other options include
incineration, recycling, source reduction,
and biodegradation as viable alternatives to
solid waste disposal.
Each of us is part of the problem as well as
the solution. From gum wrappers to used
cars, we exert our personal choices in what
we purchase, how we use the product, and
how we dispose of the waste.
Simple solutions include purchasing goods
with less packaging, maintaining and repair-
ing household appliances, and carrying
reusable shopping bags. Recycling newspa-
pers, aluminum cans, glass, and some plastics
is becoming more common at schools and the
workplace. Even if your town does not have a
recycling program, you can effectively reduce
waste while conserving raw materials and
energy. Yard and food wastes make up at
least 25% of materials heading for landfills.
But making compost of these wastes replaces

soil nutrients and commercial fertilizers when
placed in the garden. Removal of these mate-
rials from household garbage also extends the
useful life of existing landfills.
some questions & answers
about solid waste & waste
Q. How do we dispose of solid wastes?
A. In 1990, more than 67% of our wastes
were landfilled. We recycled about 17% and
the balance (16%) was incinerated.
Q. How is out-of-state garbage regulated?
A. Current legal readings of interstate
commerce laws suggest that a state, in gener-
al, cannot flatly refuse to accept
out-of-state waste. In oth-
er words, wastes export-
ed to your state may
be restricted only
to the degree in-
state wastes are
restricted. For
example, if in-
state or county
mandatory recycling
laws are enacted to
require separation of
waste into recyclable
and non-recyclable
components, out-of-
state waste can be
restricted in a similar

Q. What goes into a solid waste landfill? What
happens to it over time?
A. In 1990, on average, the solid waste that
went into a typical municipal landfill was
estimated to contain 38% paper; 18% yard
waste (trimmings, leaves, etc.); 8% metals;
7% food; 7% glass; 6% wood; 8% plastics;
and 8% miscellaneous. Biodegradable materi-
als may decompose over many years, while
non-degradable materials, such as glass and
most plastics, remain at the site.
Q. When rainfall leaches through an unlined
landfill, how is ground water affected?
A. Leachate can contain a variety of sub-
stances depending upon the contents of the
waste, including metals, organic compounds,
suspended particles, and bacteria. If toxic
wastes are deposited in the land-
fill, the leachate can contain tox-
ic chemicals that are hazardous
even at low levels. Many of these
substances pollute the ground
Most leachates are collected at per-
mitted landfills and treated at local
sewage treatment plants. Treatment
can include aeration to eliminate
volatile compounds and gases and
to enhance oxygen-dependeni
breakdown of organics, settling or
filtering to remove sediment, and
other treatment to stimulate chemi-
cal or microbial breakdown of con-

Q. Are hazardous wastes disposed oj in land-
A. Both hazardous and solid waste regula-
tions prohibit disposal of hazardous waste in
a landfill that is not specifically designed and
permitted. Nevertheless, we generate a great
deal of hazardous wastes in our homes that
we unwittingly dispose of daily. For example,
pesticides and paint thinners may be tossed
in trash taken to the landfill. Most businesses
are regulated and monitored for their haz-
ardous waste disposal practices. Although
some people and companies illegally put haz-
ardous wastes in landfills, heavy penalties
including fines and jail sentences make illegal
disposal very unattractive.
Q. How do we know that infectious hospital
wastes are not going into landfills?
A. Only non-infectious hospital waste can
be legally dumped in a non-hazardous waste
landfill. Hospitals operate under regulations
that specify disposal requirements for med-
ical wastes. Violations of these rules can sub-
ject hospitals to substantial penalties.
Q. How is the volume of waste entering a
landfill regulated?
A. Generally, the volume of waste accepted
is set in the terms of the landfill permit, usu-
ally as tons per month. The landfill operator
weighs the waste upon arrival, and tonnage
reports must be submitted on a periodic basis
to state environmental agencies.
Q. How close can a landfill be to my house?
A. State and local regulations may require
that a landfill be a minimum distance from an
occupied dwelling unless written permission
to be closer is given by the occupant. A com-
mon distance is 500 feet.
Q. Won't a landfill attract pests suck as rats,
flies, and cockroaches?
A. At the end of each day, a landfill is
required to be covered with a layer of soil to
deter scavenging animals. If the cover is prop-
erly applied, these pests should be less of a
Q. How will a landfill affect my well water?
Who can check my water to be sure it remains
A. Some state and local regulations require
a landfill to be located a minimum distance
(in some states, at least 1,200 feet) from a
well water supply. Monitoring wells
required around the landfill aid in the detec-
tion of ground water contamination before it
reaches the drinking water well. Monitoring
reports are usually available upon request
from the county government, state environ-
mental agency, or your local health depart-
ment, or county extension service.
If a well owner desires testing of a well, a cer-
tified laboratory should be hired to run the
tests. Names of such laboratories can be
obtained from your local health department.

Q. How is a landfill closed? Are there any pos-
sible uses or restrictions for a closed landfill?
A. A landfill that reaches capacity is cov-
ered with a multi-layer, protective cap and
planted with grasses and other ground covers.
The owner must then conduct post-closure
care, which includes monitoring of ground
water, landfill gases, and leachate collection
systems. Monitoring may be required for 30
years following closure.
Few restrictions exist on how the property
over a closed landfill can be used. Parks and
golf courses are examples of possible uses.
Construction of large buildings is usually
avoided because of settling that occurs during
biodegradation and compaction of the waste.

bringing people of all races, cultures, incomes,
and educational levels into the mainstream of
environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
A major public health issue today is exposure to
lead, Elimination of leaded gasoline has reduced
air-borne exposure for the general population.
piiLuic l^eal fcla
Society's earliest historical records reveal that
public health problems have been associated
with life in large communal groups. Early writ-
ers documented such epidemic diseases as
cholera, plague, and polio, and attributed them
to crowded living conditions in cities and vil-
lages. Epidemics were later traced by scientists
and physicians to lack of sanitation and dis-
ease-carrying organisms. With these discover-
ies, public health agencies emerged to prevent
such occurrences by building sewers and water
purification plants. Innoculation campaigns
continue through modern times.
Public health research today addresses the more
difficult cause and effect relationships behind
cancer, leukemia, and birth defects. Citizen par-
ticipation in these investigative activities through
questionnaires and providing illness and lifestyle
information greatly assists in the effort. But
minority and low-income communities are often
characterized by poor health and lack of educa-
tion, two factors that exacerbate exposure to
toxic substances. EPA has committed to
address environmental justice concerns by
But threats remain for children, who are most
susceptible to the adverse effects of lead. In
many homes, lead from old pipes and solder
may dissolve into the water. If you have plumb-
ing that was installed before the early 1950s,
you can reduce your exposure to lead by letting
the tap run for a few minutes. Use only cold
water for cooking or drinking.
Another avenue of exposure to small children,
and perhaps the greatest, is through lead paint
in older housing. Small children tend to stick
almost anything in their mouths. If a child
swallows chips of lead-based paint, exposure to
lead is increased. To help protect small chil-
dren, the Consumer Product Safety Commis-
sion no longer allows the sale of paints with
high levels of lead. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention suggests that paint
already existing inside and outside of buildings
be tested for lead. If the lead content is high,
the paint should be removed in a safe manner
and replaced with a lead-free paint.

State health departments often oversee public
water supplies and private septic tanks in
addition to duties associated with food safety,
Many states maintain registries of diseases such
as cancer and birth defects. Studying patterns
of incidence may help identify causes and
allow public health agencies to target resources
on high risk diseases, behaviors, or locations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Preven-
tion (CDC), an arm of the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS), conducts
research on the causes of disease and tracks the
progression of infectious and other diseases.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Dis-
ease Registry (ATSDR) is a part of the Public
Health Service in HHS. The mission of ATSDR
is to protect the public from exposure to haz-
ardous substances in the environment. See
Government Agencies section.
some qiAestions &? answers
on public liealtla
Q. Where can I find information about disease
rates in my community?
A. In many states, the state health depart-
ment may have a registry of diseases such as
cancer. A call to your state health department
should let you know if the registry can give you
information specific to your community. Your
local health agency may also be aware of
research that may have been performed in your
community by universities or other researchers.
Q. Do chemical companies and other industries
keep track of employees' cancer and respiratory ill-
nesses and deaths?
A. Many large companies do. Some compa-
nies keep extremely detailed medical records
on employees. Larger companies may have an
epidemiologist who studies the incidence of
disease in workers. Smaller companies may not
have as detailed medical records on employees
and may not keep them for long.
Q. Whom do I call about suspected contamina-
tion of my public water supply?
A. The water pollution control agency or
public works department in your county or
state has an office dealing with the safety of
public water supplies. Ask them for the office
to contact with questions and concerns.

Every day, oil and hazardous substances are
spilled or released into our harbors and water-
ways, onto the ground, and into the air.
Some of these incidents are relatively minor,
some cause disruptions in the community,
and others cause serious damage and take
lives. Most such incidents are handled at the
local level, by fire fighters, police, and emer-
gency medical teams. In many cases, the
owner or operator of a facility will handle the
cleanup or provide help to local responders,
sometimes in the form of technical advice or a
trained hazardous materials team.
Some serious incidents, however, warrant acti-
vation of the National Response System. When
the person in charge of a facility or vessel con-
taining a hazardous substance becomes aware
of a release in a reportable quantity, that person
must notify the National Response Center
(NRC) at 1-800-424-8802. Reportable quanti-
ties have been established for 779 hazardous
substances. Similarly, a discharge or spill of oil
that causes a discoloration or "sheen" on the
surface of the water must be reported.
The NRC is the primary communications cen-
ter for reporting major chemical and oil spills
and other hazardous substances into the envi-
ronment. Operated by the U.S. Coast Guard
since 1972, the NRC receives reports of trans-
portation emergencies, oil and hazardous sub-
stance spills, and other chemical accidents.
The NRC relays information to a predesignat-
ed federal On-Scene Coordinator (OSC),
based on the incident's geographical location.
Coastal and tidal waters fall under Coast
Guard jurisdiction; EPA manages inland
waterways and spills on land; the Depart-
ments of Defense and Energy manage inci-
dents on their respective properties.
When the federal OSC receives a call, he is
backed up by Special Forces: the U.S. Coast
Guard s National Strike Force (NSF) com-
posed of three teams: Atlantic, Pacific, and
Gulf coasts; EPA's Environmental Response
Team; and the NOAA Scientfic Support
Coordinators. EPA's 10 regional offices each
have a team of OSCs and direct responders
who can access any of the Special Forces for
assistance. The OSC in turn contacts state
and local agencies to coordinate their role.
State Emergency Response Commissions
(SERCs) administer community safety pro-
grams and appoint Local Emergency Plan-
ning Committees (LEPCs) in all major cities


and every county. LEPC members include
state or local officials, police, fire, public
health, environmental, hospital, and trans-
portation officials, as well as community
groups and the media. The Emergency Pre-
paredness Coordinator at the county level is
usually the chairperson of the LEPC and has a
listed telephone number, although large cities
frequently have a separate LEPC.
The key statute directing all of these federal
and state activities is the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation,
and Liability
Act of 1980
was amended in
1986 by the
and Reautho-
rization Act (SARA),
Title III of SARA authorized the Emergency
Planning and Community Right-to-Know
Act (EPCRA). This law is based on the
premise that citizens have a right to know
about chemicals in their communities.
EPCRA has two main purposes: to encourage
planning for responses to accidents, and to
provide the public and the government with
information about possible chemical hazards
in communities.
Section 313 of EPCRA requires certain manu-
facturers (those in Standard Industrial Clas-
sification (SIC) Codes 20-39) to report to
EPA and the states the amounts of over 300
toxic chemicals and 20 chemical categories
that they release directly to air, water, or land,
inject underground, or transfer to off-site facil-
ities. In addition, EPCRA specifies that EPA
must compile these reports into an annual
inventory of releases and transfers — the Tox-
ic Release Inventory (TRI) — and make that
inventory available to the public.
In October of 1990, Congress passed the Pol-
lution Prevention Act, requiring all TRI facili-
ties to provide information on pollution pre-
vention and
efforts for
on their
forms beginning
with the 1991 reporting year. Information
includes quantities recycled, source reduction
practices, and changes in production. EPA
recently added two chemical categories and 32
additional chemicals that require reporting.
By the end of 1994, EPA will add 313 priority
pollutants to the list, including acutely toxic
chemicals, flammable gases and liquids,
explosives, and pesticides. Small-source
exemptions will be proposed at that time. In
early 1995, TRI reporting will be extended to
treatment plants for drinking water, utilities,
mining companies, propane retailers, and oth-

er nonmanufacturing industries associated
with significant chemical releases.
These right-to-know efforts have been enhanced
by a 1994 Executive Order committing EPA
and other federal agencies to environmental
justice for minority and low-income popula-
tions. Efforts to educate and empower citizen
groups, native Americans, and new immigrants
to our shores will ensure early participation in
environmental decision making, form partner-
ships, and promote sustainable communities.
Another law intended to improve public safety
is the Hazardous Materials Transportation
Uniform Safety Act (HMTUSA). Under this
law, local emergency planners and responders
can receive grants and technical assistance from
the federal government to help communities
deal with the risks from transporting hazardous
materials. HMTUSA is aimed at improving
transportation safety by ensuring that haz-
ardous material manufacturers, transportation
companies, and community safety officials
reduce the threat of chemical accidents on our
nation's highways, railroads, and waterways.
some cjuestioxis & answers
on cormnunity safety
Q. How do I know what chemicals are used or
made in an industrial plant near my home and
what amounts are being stored there?
A. Ask the plant for a copy of EPCRA Sec-
tion 311 and 312 data submitted to the LEPC
and an explanation of the codes used. Or, ask
the LEPC for this information.
Q. In case of an accident at a chemical plant,
who will warn me and my family about toxic
emissions and provide for appropriate protection?
A. Your LEPC has developed warning sys-
tems, evacuation plans, and shelter-in-place
instructions. You can also ask the local plant
to explain how their emergency response
plans mesh with the LEPC. The plant must
report immediately all incidents of chemical
releases to the NRC, the SERC, and the LEPC.
Q. Are visible, continuous emissions or odors
from an industrial plant harmful?
A. To identify whether specific emissions
are harmful, you should ask the plant manag-
er about emissions and request a copy of the
plant's SARA Section 313 data. Or, ask your
SERC for the data, EPA's Chemical Emer-
gency Preparedness and Prevention Office
also may be able to help. After identifying the
chemicals and volumes being emitted, Mater-
ial Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) may help
you to determine risk. Remember that risk
depends on the dose received; Section 313
data are reported annually and can not be
used alone to accurately determine exposure
or dose, or their consequences,

Q. Where do I get the MSDS for the emissions
in question? Can I understand an MSDS? Isn't it
too technical?
A. An MSDS is a fact sheet that describes
how to use, handle, and dispose of a specific
chemical (see the Glossary). The plant that
manufactures, stores, or discharges the
chemical must submit an MSDS to the LEPC.
Ask the LEPC or the plant safety manager for
help in interpreting the information.
Q. What is the difference between hazardous
chemicals and toxic chemicals?
A. Hazardous chemicals are a much broader
category and may be toxic, flammable, corro-
sive, explosive, or environmentally harmful.
Substances which are toxic can cause severe ill-
ness, poisoning, or death when ingested,
inhaled, or absorbed by living organisms. Toxic
chemicals are one type of hazardous chemical.
Q. If I am exposed to a small amount of a tox-
ic chemical once, are my chances of getting can-
cer the same as someone who is exposed to the
chemical everyday?
A. Generally, no. Exposure relates both to
the amount and frequency of coming into
contact with a specific chemical. Federal
agencies have established certain exposure
limits for workers that prevent them from
becoming ill. Repeated exposure to low levels
of a mix of chemicals may be linked to health
problems, while a single incident at a higher
level may be below a toxic threshold.
Q. What processes can be used to reduce or
eliminate the hazards presented by the storage
and transportation of large volumes of hazardous
A. There are some technologies, called con-
tinuing or closed-loop processes, that convert
hazardous or dangerous compounds into
more stable or less toxic substances in a sin-
gle continuous system. That is, some chemi-
cals are immediately converted or recombined
in the manufacturing process to reduce risks
that would otherwise be posed by transporta-
tion and storage. Some companies also are
using just-in-time delivery to reduce the need
to store large volumes of chemicals,
Q. Where can I go to get more information
about chemical risks?
A. Ask EPA's Office of Research and Devel-
opment, your LEPC, environmental or con-
sumer activists, or any of several other organi-
zations in the directory at the end of this Guide.

ItLi &
those that best reduce risk. Some manage-
ment decisions may lead to elimination of
the risk altogether. Since precise estimates of
risk often are not possible, policy makers
may use qualitative risk assessments to iden-
tify substances or activities that pose a risk
to our health and the environment. With
good data, quantitative risk assessments can
Risk is a description of the chance that some
hazard to health or the environment will
occur. For example, insurance companies
commonly use risk to assess the probability
that a driver will or will not have an acci-
dent. While society has always assessed risk,
it was not until recently that risk has been
discussed as a policy-making tool for health
and environmental issues.
Risk assessment is an evaluation of the
potential for a problem to occur and the sci-
entific analysis of its threat to public health
and the environment. The evaluation may
include toxicology, epidemiology, and expo-
sure data and provides a systematic analysis
of risks. While risk assessments are based on
science, they are rarely precise, since
absolute data almost never exist.
In attempting to control risks, environmental
managers examine the options and select
go a step further to identify how much of a
substance or activity may cause a harmful
effect. For example, exposure to 10 grams of
a chemical compound may create a specific
health problem, or the loss of 20% of the
trees in the Amazon basin may cause a num-
ber of severe problems for wildlife.
Risk analysis is used by agencies, industries,
and individuals every day to identify health
and environmental problems in our society.
Regulatory agencies use risk assessment as a
tool to evaluate health and safety issues such
as food safety and workplace exposure.
Chemicals or practices that are identified as
very risky receive more management atten-
tion then those perceived to be less risky.
Risk communication is the exchange of
information between interested parties and is
a tool for understanding many environmen-
tal risks. To enhance public outreach activi-

ties about risk, EPA is working toward envi-
ronmental equity so that no segment of the
population, regardless of race, national ori-
gin, or income bears a disproportionate
share of exposure to environmental pollu-
tants. For information on how agencies use
risk assessments regarding specific public
hazards, you should call EPA's Office of Pol-
icy, Planning, and Evaluation or your state
agencies that deal with health and environ-
mental protection.
some questions & answers
on health & environmen-
tal risk
Q. Can a risk assessment tell me
exactly what to do about a specific
A. No. Risk assessments are
often imprecise in that they draw ^
upon available information about
the hazard, apply scientific princi-
ples, and provide guidance. But risk assess-
ments can help you identify hazards. You
can use that information to decide what
steps, if any, to take to reduce the hazard.
Q. Why use risk assessment if it can not pro-
vide absolute answers?
A. Because so many hazards exist in
everyday life, risk assessment must be used
as a tool for evaluating the most pressing or
most hazardous. Over time we find that
some activities are more hazardous than
once perceived (smoking cigarettes or man-
ufacturing PCBs). Once the evidence is eval-
uated, these practices may be either stopped
or limited. An assessment on an unknown
chemical or practice attempts to project
what the consequences might be without
waiting for final proof.
Q. Is zero risk possible? Can we eliminate all
A. No. We live in a world with many
risks, both natural and manmade, and many
we take voluntarily. We can develop prac-
tices that reduce, but not totally eliminate,
daily risks. For example, U.S. motor vehicle
laws mandate that we drive on the right side
of the road. This reduces, but does not elim-
inate, auto accidents. Similarly, public
health and environmental officials, together
with industries and the public,
must seek to reduce
industrial accidents
and societal hazards
that contribute to

caught. We use enforcement actions to compel
a person or company to comply. These actions
include civil and criminal prosecution in
courts, administrative orders, and other forms
of action that take place after a violation has
occurred. Although directed at a specific viola-
tor, enforcement causes a deterrent effect that
motivates other people to comply.
Environmental enforcement is a comprehen-
sive program involving federal, state, local,
and tribal governments working together to
enforce federal environmental laws. These
laws set standards for what individuals and
institutions must do to control or prevent pol-
lution. Without enforcement, environmental
laws would be just words on paper.
The term "enforcement" covers all efforts to
encourage compliance with environmental
laws. "Compliance" refers to the condition that
exists when a person or company fully obeys
the law. An environmental law without com-
pliance would mean that pollution problems
would continue and grow worse. EPA has an
enforcement program to make sure that laws
get the results that Congress and the public
want.This program will include environmen-
tal justice concerns in all compliance efforts.
The fundamental aim of enforcement is to con-
vince those who are regulated that it is better to
comply quickly than to wait until they are
some questions & answers
on liealtli & environmen-
tal risle
Q. Is EPA responsible for every environmental
A. No. Virtually every federal environmen-
tal law allows state governments to develop
their own programs to carry out the law.
When EPA has determined that the state pro-
gram meets federal requirements, EPA
approves the program. Such programs are
called "delegated" or "approved" programs.
Under this arrangement, the states apply the
national standards and regulations by issuing
and enforcing their own rules and permits.
State governments carry out the lion's share
of environmental enforcement actions and
perform a majority of the inspections.
Q. What is the enforcement relationship
between EPA and the states?

A. EPA strives to work out an effective
enforcement partnership with each state. This is
accomplished through enforcement agreements
with the separate state agencies. These agree-
ments usually define the characteristics of a
good program, using the same criteria by which
EPA judges its own performance. The agree-
ments also spell out the circumstances under
which EPA will step in and take enforcement
action in an approved state program (called
"overfiling"). The most common reasons are:
the state asked for help; the state's enforcement
response was not timely and appropriate
(according to EPA guidance); the case involves
national precedents; or there is a violation of an
EPA order or settlement agreement.
Q. What is the range of enforcement responses?
A. EPA's policy is to respond to every viola-
tion in some way, and the type of response wilt
be in keeping with the seriousness
and circumstances of the violation.
EPA has a range of options when
contemplating an enforcement
response against a violator, and
these options differ from one
law to another:
• Informal response—adminis-
trative actions that are
advisory in nature, such as
a notice of noncompliance
or a warning letter. In these
actions, EPA advises the
manager of a facility what
violation was found, what
corrective action should be taken, and by
what date. Informal responses carry no
penalty or power to compel actions, but if
they are ignored, they can lead to more
severe actions,
Formal administrative responses—legal
orders that are independently enforceable,
and which may require the recipient to
take some corrective or remedial action
within a specified period of time, to refrain
from certain behavior or to require future
compliance. These administrative actions
are strong enforcement tools. If a person
violates an order, EPA may go to U.S. fed-
eral court to force compliance. Administra-
tive actions are handled under EPA's inter-
nal administrative litigation system, which
is comparable to any court system except
that administrative law judges preside.
Civil judicial responses—formal lawsuits
brought in U.S. federal court by the
Department of Justice (DOJ) at EPA's
request. They are normally used against
the more serious or recalcitrant vio-
lators of environmental laws or
to seek prompt correction of
imminent hazards. Civil
judicial cases gener-
ally result in penal-
ties and court orders
requiring correction of the
violation and specific
actions to prevent future

•	Criminal judicial responses—used when a
person or company has knowingly and
willfully violated the law. In a criminal
case, the DOJ prosecutes an alleged viola-
tor in federal court, seeking criminal sanc-
tions including fines and imprisonment.
Criminal actions are often used to respond
to flagrant, intentional disregard for envi-
ronmental laws (such as "midnight dump-
ing" of hazardous wastes) and deliberate
falsification of documents or records.
Q. What happens as a result of an enforcement
A. Most importantly, the enforcement action
results in a remedy to the violations, but also
serves as a deterrent to others. In many cases,
EPA seeks both a remedy and a penalty. These
may result from either administrative or judi-
cial cases, and either from a settlement or from
a final decision in court or an administrative
action. The remedy includes returning the vio-
lating facility to compliance and sometimes
other remedial actions:
•	Compliance—the violator will be required
to comply with the law. If the violation
has not already been corrected, the viola-
tor is usually placed under a court-
ordered schedule, with severe penalties
for failure to comply with the order.
•	Benefit projects—in some cases, the viola-
tor is permitted to carry out a supplemen-
tal environmental project that will yield
environmental benefits partly offsetting
the harmful effects of the violation.
•	Penalties—the violator is required to pay
a cash penalty that is not tax deductible
(in criminal cases, a fine). The penalty
includes sanctions intended to deter the
violator from falling into noncompliance
again and to deter others from similar
•	Imprisonment—in criminal cases, the vio-
lator may be sentenced to jail time or
placed on probation.
•	Contractor listing—a facility that has violat-
ed the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air
Act may be placed on EPA's List of Violat-
ing Facilities. Listed facilities are not eligi-
ble to receive federal contracts, grants, or
loans from EPA or any other federal
agency. Facilities that commit criminal vio-
lations of other environmental statutes may
be subject to possible suspension and/or
debarment from receiving or entering into
EPA or other federal agency contracts.
Q. What is an inspection?
A. Inspections are the government's main
tool for officially assessing compliance. An
inspection is an examination into the environ-
mental affairs of a single regulated facility, to
determine its compliance with environmental
requirements. Inspection findings become the
basis for a variety of possible actions EPA might
take to bring the facility into compliance.

Q. How does the EPA decide which facilities to
A. While we would like to inspect every reg-
ulated facility on a regular basis, we do not have
the funds or personnel to do so. As a result,
each EPA program has a strategy or policy for
allocating inspections to various segments of the
regulated community and ultimately to particu-
lar facilities. Most inspections are routine, con-
ducted because the facility is within a segment
of the regulated community that has been tar-
geted for inspection. Other inspections are "for
cause," meaning there is some reason to suspect
that an actual violation exists. The stimulus may
be a tip, a citizen's complaint, a self-monitoring
report, or information from the Toxic Release
Inventory (TRI). Inspections may be
announced or unannounced.
Q. Can a citizen file a suit to enforce an envi-
ronmental standard?
A. Yes. The first citizen suit provision
appeared in 1970, when Congress enacted the
Clean Air Act. Specifically, this provision
allowed citizens to sue polluters who violated
certain requirements of the Clean Air Act and to
sue the EPA if we failed to carry out a non-dis-
cretionary duty set forth in the Act. Since 1970,
a citizen suit provision has been included in
almost every federal environmental statute.
Under these statutes, Congress has granted citi-
zens the power to initiate an enforcement action
in federal court in order to ensure adequate
protection of the environment. Citizen suits
have proven to be an important tool for the
enforcement of the various environmental
Q. How can I recognize a potential pollution
A. While some pollution is an unfortunate
consequence of modern industrial life, national
and state laws limit the amount and kinds of
pollution allowed. Sometimes a citizen can easi-
ly identify pollution that violates a law and
sometimes we need sophisticated equipment.
EPA encourages the public to "keep their eyes
and ears open" and to contact the appropriate
local, state, and federal authorities whenever
they notice a potential pollution problem.
Q. Whom should I contact to report a pollution
A. State and local governments have
responsibility for enforcing most environmen-
tal laws in the area where you live. You can
locate them through your telephone directory.
In most communities, the responsible agency
is the city or county health department. At the
state level, an environmental agency carries
out the pollution control laws, whereas an
agriculture agency often handles regulation of
pesticides. If they are unable to help you,
contact the EPA, which principally operates
through 10 Regional Offices, The Public
Affairs office is a good starting point.

Acid - A corrosive solution with a PH less
than 7. Vinegar is a common weak acid; bat-
tery acid is much stronger.
Acid Rain - You first need to understand Acid
Deposition; a complex chemical and atmos-
pheric phenomenon that occurs when emis-
sions of sulfur and nitrogen compounds and
other substances are transformed by chemical
processes in the atmosphere, often far from
the original sources, and then deposited on
earth in either wet or dry form. The wet forms
(precipitation) are popularly called "acid rain"
and fall as rain, snow, or fog. The dry forms
are acidic gases or particulates.
Active Ingredient - In any pesticide product,
the component that kills, or otherwise con-
trols, target pests. Pesticides are regulated pri-
marily on the basis of active ingredients.
Activated Sludge Process - A sewage treat-
ment process by which bacteria that feed on
organic wastes are continuously circulated and
put in contact with organic waste in the pres-
ence of oxygen to increase the rate of decom-
Acute Effect - An adverse effect on any living
organism in which severe symptoms develop
rapidly and often subside after the exposure
Acute Toxicity - Adverse effects that result
from a single dose or single exposure of a
chemical; any poisonous effect produced
within a short period of time, usually less
than 96 hours. This term normally is used to
describe effects in experimental animals.
Administrative Order on Consent - A legal
agreement signed by EPA and an individual,
business, or other entity through which the
violator agrees to pay for correction of viola-
tions, take the required corrective or cleanup
actions, or refrain from an activity. The order
describes the actions to be taken, may be sub-
ject to a comment period, applies to civil
actions, and can be enforced in court.
Administrative Order - A legal document
signed by EPA directing an individual, busi-
ness, or other entity to take corrective action
or refrain from an activity. The order

describes the violations and actions to be tak-
en, and can be enforced in court, Such orders
may be issued, for example, as a result of an
administrative complaint whereby the respon-
dent is ordered to pay a penalty for violations
of a statute.
Administrative Record - All documents
which EPA considered or relied on in selecting
the remedy at a Superfund site, culminating in
the record of decision for remedial action, or
an action memorandum for removal actions.
Aeration - The act of mixing a liquid with air
Aerobic - A biological process that occurs in
the presence of oxygen.
Agricultural Waste - Poultry and livestock
manure, and residual materials in liquid or
solid form generated from the production and
marketing of poultry, livestock, furbearing
animals, and their products. Also includes
grain, vegetable, and fruit harvest residue.
Air Quality Standards - The level of selected
pollutants set by law that may not be exceeded
in outside air. Used to determine the amount
of pollutants that may be emitted by industry.
Alar - Trade name for daminozide, a pesti-
cide that makes apples redder, firmer, and
less likely to drop off trees before growers are
ready to pick them. Alar also is used to a less-
er extent on peanuts, tart cherries, concord
grapes, and other fruits.
Alkalinity - Having the properties of a base
with a pH of more than 7. A common alkaline
is baking soda.
Ambient - Any unconfined portion of the
atmosphere; open air; outside surrounding air.
Anaerobic - A biological process which
occurs in the absence of oxygen.
Aquifer - A water-bearing layer of rock
(including gravel and sand) that will yield
water in usable quantity to a well or spring.
Asbestos - A mineral fiber that can pollute air
or water and cause cancer or asbestosis when
inhaled. EPA has banned or severely restricted
the use of asbestos in manufacturing and con-
Assimilative Capacity - The ability of a nat-
ural body of water to receive wastewaters or
toxic materials without harmful effects and
without damage to aquatic life.
Bactericide - A pesticide used to control or
destroy bacteria, typically in the home,
schools, or on hospital equipment.
Benthic Organism - Any of a diverse group
of aquatic plants and animals that lives on the
bottom of marine and fresh bodies of water.
The presence or absence of certain benthic
organisms can be used as an indicator of
water quality.

Best Available Control Technology (BACT)
The application of the most advanced meth-
ods, systems, and techniques for eliminating
or minimizing discharges and emissions on
a case-by-case basis as determined by EPA.
BACT represents an emission limit based on
the maximum degree of reduction of each
pollutant as described in regulations under
the Clean Air Act (CAA). The determination
of BACT takes into account energy, environ-
mental, economic effects, and other costs.
Best Available Technology Economically
Achievable (BATEA) - Originally described
under Section 304(b)(2)(B) of the Clean
Water Act, this level of control is generally
described as the best technology currently in
use and includes controls on toxic pollutants.
Best Management Practices (BMP) - Proce-
dures or controls other than effluent limita-
tions to prevent or reduce pollution of sur-
face water (includes runoff control, spill pre-
vention, and operating procedures).
Bioaccumulation/Biomagnification - A
process where chemicals are retained in fatty
body tissue and increase in concentration over
time. Biomagnification is the increase of tissue
accumulation in species higher in the natural
food chain as contaminated food species are
Bioassay - A method of testing a material's
effects on living organisms.
Biochemicals - Chemicals that are either nat-
urally occurring or identical to naturally
occurring substances. Examples include hor-
mones, pheromones, and enzymes. Biochemi-
cals function as pesticides through non-toxic,
non-lethal modes of action, such as disrupting
the mating pattern of insects, regulating
growth, or acting as repellants. Biochemicals
tend to be environmentally compatible and
are thus important to Integrated Pest Man-
agement programs.
Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) - A
measure of the oxygen required to break
down organic materials in water. Higher
organic loads require larger amounts of oxy-
gen and may reduce the amount of oxygen
available for fish and aquatic life below
acceptable levels.
Biodegradable - The ability of a substance to
be broken down physically and/or chemically
by microorganisms. For example, many
chemicals, food scraps, cotton, wool, and
paper are bio-degradable; plastics and poly-
ester generally are not.
Biodiversity - The number and variety of dif-
ferent organisms in the ecological complexes
in which they naturally occur. Organisms are
organized at many levels, ranging from com-
plete ecosystems to the biochemical struc-
tures that are the molecular basis of heredity.
Thus, the term encompasses different ecosys-
tems, species, and genes that must be present
for a healthy environment. A large number of

species must characterize the food chain, rep-
resenting multiple predator-prey relationships.
Biological pesticides - Certain microorgan-
isms, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and
protozoa that are effective in controlling target
pests. These agents usually do not have toxic
effects on animals and people and do not
leave toxic or persistent chemical residues in
the environment.
Bioremediation - The use of living organ-
isms (e.g., bacteria) to clean up oil spills or
remove other pollutants from soil, water, and
Biota - All living organisms in a given area.
Boom - (1) A floating device used to contain
oil on a body of water, (2) A piece of equip-
ment used to apply pesticides from a tractor
or truck.
Bubble (Bubble Policy) - Existing sources of
air pollution with several facilities may control
more than is required at one emission point
where control costs are lower, in return for
comparable relaxation at a second point where
costs are higher or more difficult to achieve.
By-product - Materials, other than the intend-
ed product, generated as a result of an indus-
trial process.
Cap - A fairly impermeable seal, usually com-
posed of clay-type soil or a combination of
clay soil and synthetic liner, which is placed
over a landfill during closure. The cap serves
to minimize leachate volume during
biodegradation of the waste by keeping pre-
cipitation from percolating through the land-
fill. The cap also keeps odors down and ani-
mal scavengers from gathering.
Capacity Assurance Plan - A plan which
assures that a state has the ability to treat and
dispose of hazardous wastes generated within
its borders over the next 20 years. Section 104
of SARA required the first plan to be submit-
ted to EPA in October 1989. But even though
capacity has been certified, the state is not
required to treat or dispose of hazardous
wastes at home; many are exporting to other
states that have commercial facilities, permitted
landfills, and incinerators. See Law section.
Carcinogenic or Carcinogen - Capable of
causing cancer. A suspected carcinogen is a
substance that may cause cancer in humans or
animals but for which the evidence is not
CERCLIS (Pronounced SERK-liss) - The fed-
eral Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation, and Liability Information Sys-
tem. This database includes all sites which
have been nominated for investigation by the
Superfimd program and the actions that have
been taken at these sites. If the site investiga-
tion reveals contamination, the site is ranked
and may be included on the National Priori-
ties List for Superfimd cleanup. Inclusion in

the CERCLIS database does not necessarily
mean that a property is a hazardous waste
site. An emergency action may have been con-
ducted there or a simple investigation which
concluded that no further action was required.
Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) - Since
the 1890s, CAS has been assigning identifica-
tion numbers to chemicals that companies
register with them. Every year, CAS updates
and writes new chemical abstracts on well
over a million different chemicals, including
their composition, structure, characteristics,
and all the different names of that chemical.
CAS On-Line is a computer network available
to individual and business account holders to
receive information about specific chemicals
of concern. Each abstract is accompanied by
the CAS number.
Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) - A mea-
sure of the oxygen-consuming capacity of inor-
ganic and organic matter present in water or
wastewater; the amount of oxygen consumed
from a chemical oxidant in a specific test.
Chlorination - Adding chlorine to water or
wastewater, generally for the purpose of disin-
fection, but frequently for accomplishing other
biological or chemical results. Chlorine also is
used almost universally in manufacturing
processes, particularly for the. plastics industry.
Chlorofiuorocarbons (CFCs) - A family of
chemicals commonly used in air conditioners
and refrigerators as coolants and also as sol-
vents and aerosol propellants. CFCs drift into
the upper atmosphere where their chlorine
components destroy ozone. CFCs are thought
to be a major cause of the ozone hole over
Chronic Effect - An adverse effect on any liv-
ing organism in which symptoms develop
slowly over a long period of time or recur fre-
Clear Cut - Harvesting all the trees in one
area at one time, a practice that destroys vital
habitat and biodiversity and encourages rain-
fall or snowmelt runoff, erosion, sedimenta-
tion of streams and lakes, and flooding.
Cloning - In biotechnology, obtaining a
group of genetically identical cells from a sin-
gle cell; making identical copies of a gene.
Climate Change - this term is commonly
used interchangeably with "global warming"
and "the greenhouse effect," but is a more
descriptive term. Climate change refers to the
buildup of man-made gases in the atmosphere
that trap the sun's heat, causing changes in
weather patterns on a global scale. The effects
include changes in rainfall patterns, sea level
rise, potential droughts, habitat loss, and heat
stress. The greenhouse gases of most concern
are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous
oxides. If these gases in our atmosphere dou-
ble, the earth could warm up by 1.5 to 4.5
degrees by the year 2050, with changes in
global precipitation having the greatest conse-

Closure - The procedure an operator must go
through when a landfill reaches the legal
capacity for solid waste. No more waste can
be accepted and a cap usually is placed over
the site. The cap is then planted with grasses
and other ground covers. Post-closure care
includes monitoring ground water, landfill
gases, and leachate collection systems, some-
times for as long as 30 years.
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) - A peri-
odic publication of the regulations established
by U.S. law.
Commercial Waste - All solid waste from
businesses. This category includes, but is not
limited to, solid waste originating in stores,
markets, office buildings, restaurants, shop-
ping centers, and theaters.
Commercial Waste Management Facility -
A treatment, storage, disposal, or transfer
facility that accepts wastes from a variety of
sources for profit. A commercial facility man-
ages a broader spectrum of wastes than a pri-
vate facility, which normally manages a limit-
ed volume or type of waste.
Community Relations - Two-way communi-
cations with the public to foster understand-
ing of EPA programs and actions and to
increase citizen input into EPA decisions. Spe-
cific community relations activities such as
holding public meetings and comment peri-
ods and opening information repositories are
required at Superfund sites.
Compost - Decomposed organic material that
is produced when bacteria in soil break down
garbage and biodegradable trash, making
organic fertilizer. Making compost requires
turning and mixing and exposing the materi-
als to air. Gardeners and farmers use compost
for soil enrichment.
Concentration - The relative amount of a
substance mixed with another substance. An
example is five parts per million of carbon
monoxide in air or 1 milligram/liter of iron
in water.
Conditionally Exempt Generators - Small
quantity facilities that produce fewer than 220
pounds of hazardous waste per month.
Exempt from most regulations, conditionally
exempt generators are required to determine
whether their waste is hazardous and to notify
local waste management agencies. These gen-
erators may treat or dispose of the waste on
site or ensure that the waste is sent to a per-
mitted disposal or recycling facility.
Cone of Depression - A lowering in the water
table that develops around a pumped well.
Construction and Demolition Waste -
Waste building materials, dredging materials,
tree stumps, and rubble resulting from con-
struction, remodeling, repair, and demolition
operations on houses, commercial buildings
and other structures, and pavements. May
contain lead, asbestos, or other hazardous

Corrosive - A substance that eats or wears
away materials gradually by chemical action.
Consent Decree - A legal document submit-
ted by the Department of Justice on behalf
of the EPA for approval by a federal judge to
settle a case. A consent decree can be used to
formalize an agreement reached between EPA
and potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for
cleanup at a Superfund site. Consent decrees
also are signed by regulated facilities to cease
or correct certains actions or processes that
are polluting the environment and include
payment of penalties. The Clean Water Act,
Clean Air Act, Toxic Substances Control
Act, and others all use consent decrees.
Conservation - Preserving and renewing nat-
ural resources to assure their highest econom-
ic or social benefit over the longest period of
time. Clean rivers and lakes, wilderness areas,
a diverse wildlife population, healthy soil, and
clean air are natural resources worth conserv-
ing for future generations.
Continuous Discharge - A permitted release
of pollutants into the environment that occurs
without interruption, except for infrequent
shutdowns for maintenance, process changes,
Controlled Reaction - A chemical reaction at
temperature and pressure conditions that are
maintained within safe limits to produce a
desired product.
County Emergency Operations Plan - A
plan required by Federal Emergency Man-
agement Agency regulations that describes
actions the county will take to respond to
emergency situations such as natural disas-
ters, major fires, transportation incidents, or
chemical releases.
Covered Facility - A facility having one or
more of the 366+ extremely hazardous sub-
stances in amounts higher than the quantity
designated by EPCRA. These facilities must
file reports with the SERC and LEPC.
Cradle-to-Grave or Manifest System - A
procedure in which hazardous wastes are
identified as they are produced and are fol-
lowed through further treatment, transporta-
tion, and disposal by a series of permanent,
linkable, descriptive documents.
Criteria - Descriptive factors taken into
account by EPA in setting standards for pollu-
tants. For example, water quality criteria
describe the concentration of pollutants that
most fish can be exposed to for an hour with-
out showing acute effects.
Dechlorination - Removal of chlorine and
chemical replacement with hydrogen or
hydroxide ions to detoxify a substance.
Deep Well Injection - A process by which
waste fluids are injected deep below the sur-
face of the earth.

Delist - Use of the petition process (1) to
have a chemical's toxic designation rescinded;
(2) to remove a site from the National Priori-
ty List; or (3) to exclude a particular waste
from regulation even though it is a listed haz-
ardous waste.
Destruction and Removal Efficiency (DRE) -
a percentage that represents the number of
molecules of a compound removed or
destroyed in an incinerator. A DRE of 99.99%
means that 9,999 molecules are destroyed for
every 10,000 that enter.
Discharge - The release of any waste into the
environment from a point source. Usually
refers to the release of a liquid waste into a
body of water through an outlet such as a
pipe, but also refers to air emissions.
Discharge Area - An area of land where there
is a net annual transfer of water from the
ground water to surface water, such as to
streams, springs, lakes, and wetlands.
Dispersion Model - A mathematical predic-
tion of how pollutants from a discharge or
emission source will be distributed in the
surrounding environment under given condi-
tions of wind, temperature, humidity, and
other environmental factors.
Disposal - The discharge, deposit, injection,
dumping, spilling, leaking, or placing of any
solid waste or hazardous waste into the
environment (land, surface water, ground
water, and air).
Disposal Facility - A landfill, incinerator, or
other facility which receives waste for dispos-
al. The facility may have one or many dispos-
al methods available for use. Does not include
wastewater treatment.
Dissolved Oxygen (DO) - Oxygen that is
freely available in water to sustain the lives of
fish and other aquatic organisms.
Dose - In terms of monitoring exposure lev-
els, the amount of a toxic substance taken
into the body over a given period of time.
Dose Response - How an organism's
response to a toxic substance changes as its
overall exposure to the substance changes. For
example, a small dose of carbon monoxide may
cause drowsiness; a large dose can be fatal
Dump - A land site where wastes are discard-
ed in a disorderly or haphazard fashion with-
out regard to protecting the environment.
Uncontrolled dumping is an indiscriminate
and illegal form of waste disposal. Problems
associated with dumps include multiplication
of disease-carrying organisms and pests, fires,
air and water pollution, unsightliness, loss of
habitat, and personal injury.
Emergency Broadcasting System (EBS) -
Used to inform the public about an emer-
gency and the protective actions to take. The
EBS is a service of local radio and television
stations, activated as needed and approved by
a local emergency management agency.

Ecology - The study of the relationships
between all living organisms and the environ-
ment, especially the totality or pattern of
interactions; a view that includes all plant and
animal species and their unique contributions
to a particular habitat.
Ecosystem - The interacting synergism of all
living organisms in a particular environment;
every plant, insect, aquatic animal, bird, or
land species that forms a complex web of
interdependency. An action taken at any level
in the food chain, use of a pesticide for exam-
ple, has a potential domino effect on every
other occupant of that system.
Effluent - Wastewater discharged from a
point source, such as a pipe.
Effluent Guidelines - Technical documents
developed by EPA which set discharge limits
for particular types of industries and specific
Effluent Limitations - Limits on the amounts
of pollutants which may be discharged by a
facility; these limits are calculated so that
water quality standards will not be violated
even at low stream flows.
Emergency and Hazardous Chemical
Inventory - An annual report by facilities hav-
ing one or more extremely hazardous sub-
stances or hazardous chemicals above certain
weight limits, as specified in Section 311 and
312 of EPCRA.
Emergency Preparedness Coordinator - The
local government official designated to be noti-
fied immediately of chemical emergencies
(e.g., spills, chemical releases, explosions, or
fires) under EPCRA.
Emission - The release or discharge of a sub-
stance into the environment. Generally refers
to the release of gases or particulates into
the air.
Emission Standards - Government standards
that establish limits on discharges of pollu-
tants into the environment (usually in refer-
ence to air).
Endangered Species - Animals, plants, birds,
fish, or other living organisms threatened
with extinction by man-made or natural
changes in the environment.
Energy Recovery - To capture energy from
waste through any of a variety of processes
(e.g., burning). Many new technology incin-
erators are waste-to-energy recovery units.
Environmental Assessment (EA) - A prelim-
inary, written, environmental analysis
required by NEPA (see the Federal Law sec-
tion) to determine whether a federal activity
such as building airports or highways would
significantly affect the environment; may
require preparation of more detailed Environ-
mental Impact Statement.
Environmental Audit - An independent
assessment (not conducted by EPA) of a facili-

ty's compliance policies, practices, and controls.
Many pollution prevention initiatives require
an audit to determine where wastes may be
reduced or eliminated or energy conserved.
Many supplemental environmental projects
that offset a penalty use audits to identify ways
to reduce the harmful effects of a violation.
Environmental Equity - Equal protection
from environmental hazards for individuals,
groups, or communities regardless of race,
ethnicity, or economic status.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - A
document prepared by or for EPA which
identifies and analyzes, in detail, environmen-
tal impacts of a proposed action. As a tool for
decision-making, the EIS describes positive
and negative effects and lists alternatives for
an undertaking, such as development of a
wilderness area. (Required by NEPA — see
Federal Law Section).
Environmental Justice - The fair treatment of
people of all races, cultures, incomes, and
educational levels with respect to the develop-
ment and enforcement of environmental laws,
regulations^ and policies. Fair treatment
implies that no population should be forced
to shoulder a disproportionate share of expo-
sure to the negative effects of pollution due to
lack of political or economic strength.
Environmental Response Team (ERT) -
EPA's group of highly trained scientists and
engineers based in Edison, NJ and Cincinnati,
OH who back up the federal On-Scene Coor-
dinator. The ERT's capabilities include multi-
media sampling and analysis, hazard assess-
ment, hazardous substance and oil spill
cleanup techniques, and technical support.
Epidemiologist - A medical scientist who
studies the various factors involved in the
incidence, distribution, and control of disease
in a population.
Erosion - The wearing away of soil by wind
or water, intensified by land-clearing practices
related to farming, residential or industrial
development, road building, or logging.
Estuary - A complex ecosystem between a
river and near-shore ocean waters where fresh
and salt water mix. These brackish areas
include bays, mouths of rivers, salt marshes,
wetlands, and lagoons and are influenced by
tides and currents. Estuaries provide valuable
habitat for marine animals, birds, and other
Explosive Limits (chemical) - The amounts
of vapor in air that form explosive mixtures.
These limits are expressed as lower and upper
values and give the range of vapor concentra-
tions in air that will explode if an ignition
source is present.
Exposure - Radiation or pollutants that come
into contact with the body and present a
potential health threat. The most common
routes of exposure are through the skin,
mouth, or by inhalation.

Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) -
Any of 366 (+ or -) chemicals or hazardous
substances identified by EPA on the basis of
hazard or toxicity and listed under EPCRA.
The list is periodically revised.
Fecal Coliform Bacteria - Found in the
intestinal tracts of mammals, this bacteria in
water or sludge is an indicator of pollution
and possible contamination by pathogens.
Feedstock - Raw material supplied to a
machine or processing plant from which other
products can be made. For example,
polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene are raw
chemicals used to produce plastic tiles, mats,
fenders, cushions, and traffic cones.
Financial Assurance - A means (such as insur-
ance, guarantee, surety bond, letter of credit, or
qualification as a self-insurer) by the operator
of a facility such as a landfill to assure financial
capability for cleaning up possible environ-
mental releases and closure of that facility.
First Draw - The water that comes out when
a faucet in the kitchen or bathroom is first
opened, which is likely to have the highest
level of lead contamination from old plumb-
ing solder and pipes.
Flammable - Describes any material that can
be ignited easily and that will burn rapidly.
Flare - A device that burns gaseous materials
to prevent them from being released into the
environment. Flares may operate continuous-
ly or intermittently and are usually found on
top of a stack. Flares also burn off methane
gas in a landfill.
Flash Point - The lowest temperature at
which evaporation of a substance produces
enough vapor to form an ignitable mixture
with air.
Floodplain - Mostly level land along rivers and
streams that may be submerged by floodwater.
A 100-year floodplain is an area which can be
expected to flood once in every 100 years.
Flue Gas Desulfurization - The removal of
sulfur oxides from exhaust gases of a boiler or
industrial process; usually a wet scrubbing
operation which concentrates hazardous mate-
rials in a slurry, requiring proper disposal.
Fugitive Emissions - Air pollutants released
to the air other than those from stacks or
vents; typically small releases from leaks in
plant equipment such as valves, pump seals,
flanges, sampling connections, etc.
Fungicide - A pesticide used to control or
destroy fungi on food or grain crops.
Garbage - Food waste (animal and vegetable)
resulting from the handling, storage, packag-
ing, sale, preparation, cooking, and serving of
General Reporting Facility - A facility hav-
ing one or more hazardous chemicals above

the 10,000-pound Threshold Planning Quan-
tity. These facilities must file Material Safety
Data Sheets and emergency inventory infor-
mation with the SERC, LEPC, and local fire
Generator - A facility or mobile source that
emits pollutants into the air; any person who
produces a hazardous waste that is listed by
EPA and therefore subject to regulation.
Genetic Engineering - A process of inserting
new genetic information into existing cells in
order to modify an organism for the purpose
of changing particular characteristics.
Global Wanning - See definition for Climate
Grab Sample - A single sample of soil or of
water taken without regard to time or flow.
Greenhouse Effect - See definition for Cli-
mate Change.
Ground Water - Water found below the sur-
face of the land, usually in porous rock for-
mations. Ground water is the source of water
found in wells and springs and is used fre-
quently for drinking.
Hazard Communication Standard - An
OSHA regulation that requires chemical man-
ufacturers, suppliers, and importers to assess
the hazards of the chemicals they make, sup-
ply, or import, and to inform employers, cus-
tomers, and workers of these hazards through
a Material Safety Data Sheet.
Hazardous Chemical - EPA's designation for
any hazardous material that requires a Mater-
ial Safety Data Sheet. Such substances are
capable of producing adverse physical effects
(fire, explosion, etc.) or adverse health effects
(cancer, dermatitis, etc.)
Hazardous Waste - A subset of solid wastes
that pose substantial or potential threats to
public health or the environment and meet
any of the following criteria:
-	is specifically listed as a hazardous waste by
-	exhibits one or more of the characteristics
of hazardous wastes (ignitability, corrosive-
ness, reactivity, and/or toxicity);
-	is generated by the treatment of hazardous
waste; or is contained in a hazardous waste.
Hazardous Waste Landfill - A specially per-
mitted, excavated or engineered area in which
hazardous waste is deposited and covered.
Proper protection of the environment from
the materials to be deposited in such a land-
fill requires careful site selection, the cata-
loging of types of wastes, good design (includ-
ing a liner and a leachate collection and treat-
ment system), proper operation, and thor-
ough final closure.
Health Assessment - An evaluation of avail-
able data on existing or potential risks posed by
a Superfund site. Every site on the National Pri-
orities List has a health assessment prepared by
the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry (see Government Agency section).

Heavy Metal - A common hazardous waste;
can damage organisms at low concentrations
and tends to accumulate in the food chain.
Herbicide - A pesticide designed to control
or kill plants, weeds, or grasses. Almost 70%
of all pesticide used by farmers and ranchers
are herbicides. These chemicals have wide-
ranging effects on non-target species (other
than those the pesticide is meant to control).
Household or Domestic Waste - Solid waste,
composed of garbage and rubbish, which nor-
mally originates from residential, private
households, or apartment buildings. Domestic
waste may contain a significant amount of toxic
or hazardous waste from improperly discard-
ed pesticides, paints, batteries, and cleaners.
Hydraulic Gradient - The direction of ground
water flow due to changes in the depth of the
water table.
Hydrocarbons - Chemicals that consist entire-
ly of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons con-
tribute to air pollution problems like smog.
Identification Code or EPA I.D. Number -
The unique code assigned to each generator,
transporter, and treatment, storage, or dispos-
al facility by EPA to facilitate identification
and tracking of hazardous waste. Superfund
sites also have assigned I.D. numbers.
Impoundment - A body of water or sludge
confined by a dam, dike, floodgate, or other
Incident Command System (ICS) - An orga-
nizational scheme wherein one person, nor-
mally the Fire Chief, takes charge of an inte-
grated, comprehensive emergency response.
This commander is backed by an Emergency
Operations Center which provides support,
resources, communications, and advice.
Incineration - The destruction of solid, liq-
uid, or gaseous wastes by controlled burning
at high temperatures. Hazardous organic
compounds are converted to ash, carbon
dioxide, and water. Burning destroys organ-
ics, reduces the volume of waste, and vapor-
izes water and other liquids the wastes may
contain. The residue ash produced may con-
tain some hazardous material, such as non-
combustible heavy metals, concentrated
from the original waste.
Incinerator - A furnace for the routine burn-
ing of waste materials using controlled flame
Incompatible Waste - A waste unsuitable for
mixing with another waste or material
because of reactivity hazards.
Indirect Discharge - The introduction of pol-
lutants from a non-domestic source into a
publicly owned wastewater treatment system.
Indirect dischargers can be commercial or
industrial facilities who must pre-treat their
wastes before discharge into local sewers.
Indoor Air - Breathing air inside a habitable
structure, often highly polluted because of
lack of exchange with fresh oxygen from out-
doors. Solvents, smoke, paints, furniture

glues, carpet padding, and other synthetic
chemicals trapped inside contribute to an
often unhealthy environment.
Industrial Waste - Unwanted materials pro-
duced in or eliminated from an industrial
operation and categorized under a variety of
headings, such as liquid wastes, sludge, solid
wastes, and hazardous wastes.
Inert ingredients - Substances that are not
"active," such as water, petroleum distillates,
talc, corn meal, or soaps. When discussing
pesticides, inert ingredients do not attack a
particular pest, but some are chemically or
biologically active, causing health and envi-
ronmental problems.
Infectious Waste - See definition for Med-
ical Waste.
Innovative Technology - New or inventive
methods to treat hazardous wastes, conserve
energy, or prevent pollution.
Insecticide - A pesticide compound specifical-
ly used to kill or prevent the growth of insects.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) - A
combination of biological, cultural, and genet-
ic pest control methods with use of pesticides
as the last resort. IPM considers a targeted
species' life cycle and intervenes in reproduc-
tion, growth, or development to reduce the
population. Land use practices are examined
for possible change; other animals, birds, or
reptiles in the ecosystem are used as natural
Interstate Commerce - A clause of the Unit-
ed States Constitution which reserves to the
federal government the right to regulate the
conduct of business across state lines. Under
this clause, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled
that states may not restrict the disposal of
wastes originating out-of-state more than that
of waste originating in-state.
Inversion - An atmospheric condition caused
by increasing temperature with elevation,
resulting in a layer of warm air preventing the
rise of cooler air trapped beneath. This condi-
tion prevents the rise of pollutants that might
otherwise be dispersed. Trapping pollutants
near the ground increases ozone to harmful
Irradiated Food - Food that has been briefly
exposed to radioactivity (usually gamma rays)
to kill insects, bacteria, and mold. Irradiated
food can be stored without refrigeration or
chemical preservatives and has a long "shelf
Irritant - A substance that can cause irritation
of the skin, eyes, or respiratory system. An
irritant can cause an acute effect from a sin-
gle high-level exposure, or chronic effects
from repeated, low-level exposures. Some
examples of irritants are chlorine, nitric acid,
and various pesticides.
Karst - A geologic formation of irregular lime-
stone deposits with sinks, underground
streams, and caverns.

Lagoon - A shallow, artificial treatment pond
where sunlight, bacterial action, and oxygen
work to purify wastewater; a stabilization
pond. An aerated lagoon is a treatment pond
that uses oxygen to speed up the natural
process of biological decomposition of organ-
ic wastes. A lagoon is regulated as a point
source under the Clean Water Act if there is
a direct surface water discharge. Some
lagoons that discharge into ground water
also are regulated if they have a direct hydro-
geologic connection to surface water. In other
areas, lagoons were historically used to dump
various liquid, solid, and hazardous wastes
from manufacturing or industrial processes.
These wastes typically flooded and polluted
surrounding environs or seeped under-
ground. Such lagoons are now regulated
under RCRA but some must be cleaned up
under Superfund.
Land Disposal Restrictions (Land Ban) -
Mandated by the 1984 amendments to
RCRA; prohibits the disposal of hazardous
wastes into or on the land.
Landfill - A method for final disposal of sol-
id waste on land. The refuse is spread and
compacted and a cover of soil applied so that
effects on the environment (including public
health and safety) are minimized. Under cur-
rent regulations, landfills are required to have
liners and leachate treatment systems to pre-
vent contamination of ground water and sur-
face waters. An industrial landfill disposes of
non-hazardous industrial wastes. A munici-
pal landfill disposes of domestic waste includ-
ing garbage, paper, etc. This waste may
include toxins that are used in the home,
such as insect sprays and powders, engine oil,
paints, solvents, and weed killers.
Large Quantity Generator - Person or facili-
ty which generates more than 2,200 pounds
of hazardous waste per month. In 1989,
only 1% of more than 20,000 generators fell
into this category. Those generators produced
nearly 97% of the nation's hazardous waste.
These generators are subject to all require-
ments of RCRA.
Leachate - Liquid (mainly water) that perco-
lates through a landfill and has picked up
dissolved, suspended, and/or microbial cont-
aminants from the waste. Leachate can be
compared to coffee: water that has percolated
down through the ground coffee.
Lethal Concentration 50 (LC 50) - A con-
centration of a pollutant or effluent at which
50% of the test organisms die; a common
measure of acute toxicity.
Lethal Dose 50 (LD 50) - The dose of a tox-
icant that will kill 50% of test organisms
within a designated period of time. The lower
the LD 50, the more toxic the compound.
Limited Degradation - A policy that allows
for some lowering of natural environmental
quality to a given level beneath an established
health standard.

Liner - Structure of natural clay or manufac-
tured material (plastic) which serves as a barri-
er to restrict leachate from reaching or mixing
with ground water in landfills, lagoons, etc,
Litter - The highly visible portion of solid
waste (usually packaging material) which is
generated by the consumer and carelessly dis-
carded outside of the regular garbage dispos-
al system, as on the highways or in streets.
Local Emergency Planning Committee
(LEPC) - The body appointed by the State
Emergency Response Commission (SERC),
as required by EPCRA, which develops com-
prehensive emergency plans for Local Emer-
gency Planning Districts, collects MSDS
forms and chemical release reports, and pro-
vides this information to the public. Each
county and some large city governments par-
ticipate in an LEPC.
Manifest System - Tracking of hazardous
waste from "cradle to grave" (generation
through disposal), with accompanying docu-
ments known as "manifests."
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) - Print-
ed material concerning a hazardous chemi-
cal, or Extremely Hazardous Substance,
including its physical properties, hazards to
personnel, fire and explosion potential, safe
handling recommendations, health effects,
fire fighting techniques, reactivity, and prop-
er disposal. Originally established for
employee safety by OSHA.
Maximum Achievable Control Technology
(MACT) - Generally, the best available con-
trol technology, taking into account cost and
technical feasibility.
Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) - The
maximum level of certain contaminants per-
mitted in drinking water supplied by a public
water system as set by EPA under the federal
Safe Drinking Water Act.
Maximum Contaminant Level Goal
(MCLG) - The maximum level of a contami-
nant that is associated with no adverse health
effects from drinking water containing that
contaminant over a lifetime. For chemicals
believed to cause cancer, the MCLGs are set
at zero. MCLGs are not enforceable, but are
ideal, health-based goals which are set in the
National Primary Drinking Water Standards
developed by EPA. MCLs are set as close to
MCLGs as possible, considering costs and
Medical Waste - All wastes from hospitals,
clinics, or other health care facilities ("Red
Bag Waste") that contain or have come into
contact with diseased tissues or infectious
microorganisms. Also referred to as infec-
tious waste which is hazardous waste with
infectious characteristics, including: contami-
nated animal waste, human blood and blood
products, pathological waste, and discarded
sharps (needles, scalpels, or broken medical
Microorganisms - Bacteria, yeasts, simple
fungi, algae, protozoans, and a number of

other organisms that are microscopic in size.
Most are beneficial but some produce disease.
Others are involved in composting and
sewage treatment.
Milligrams/liter (mg/1) - A measure of con-
centration used in the measurement of flu-
ids. Mg/1 is the most common way to present
a concentration in water and is roughly
equivalent to parts per million.
Minimization - Measures or techniques that
reduce the amount of wastes generated dur-
ing industrial production processes; this term
also is applied to recycling and other efforts
to reduce the volume of waste going to land-
fills. This term is interchangeable with waste
reduction and waste minimization.
Mitigation - Measures taken to reduce
adverse effects on the environment.
Monitoring Well - A well used to take water
quality samples or to measure ground water
Morbidity - Rate of incidence of disease.
Mortality - Death rate.
Mutagenicity - The property of a chemical
that causes the genetic characteristics of an
organism to change in such a way that future
generations are permanently affected.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards
(NAAQS) - Maximum air pollutant standards
that EPA set under the Clean Air Act for
attainment by each state. The standards were
to be achieved by 1975, along with state
implementation plans to control industrial
sources in each state.
National Emissions Standards for Haz-
ardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) - Emis-
sion standards set by EPA for an air pollutant
not covered by NAAQS that may cause an
increase in deaths or serious, irreversible, or
incapacitating illness. Primary standards are
designed to protect human health, secondary
standards to protect public welfare.
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System (NPDES) - The primary permitting
program under the Clean Water Act which
regulates all discharges to surface water.
National Priorities List (NPL) - A list of
sites, many nominated by the states, for haz-
ardous waste cleanup under Superfund.
National Response Center (NRC) - The pri-
mary communications center operated by the
U.S. Coast Guard to receive reports of major
chemical and oil spills and other hazardous
substances into the environment. The NRC
immediately relays reports to a predesignated
federal On-Scene Coordinator.
National Response Team (NRT) - Represen-
tatives from 15 federal agencies with interests
and expertise in various aspects of emergency
response to pollution incidents. EPA serves as
chair and the U.S. Coast Guard serves as vice-
chair. The NRT is primarily a national plan-

ning, policy, and coordinating body and does
not respond directly to incidents. The NRT
provides policy guidance prior to an incident
and assistance as requested by a federal On-
Scene Coordinator via a Regional Response
Team during an incident. NRT assistance
usually takes the form of technical advice,
access to additional resources or equipment,
or coordination with other RRTs.
National Strike Force (NSF) - Operated by
the U.S. Coast Guard, the NSF is composed
of three strategically located teams (Atlantic,
Pacific, and Gulf coasts) who back up the fed-
eral On-Scene Coordinator. These teams are
extensively trained and equipped to respond
to major oil spills and chemical releases.
These capabilities are especially suited to inci-
dents in a marine environment but also
include site assessment, safety, action plan
development, and documentation for both
inland and coastal zone incidents. The NSF
Coordination Center is at Elizabeth City, NC.
Neutralization - The chemical process in
which the acidic or basic characteristics of a
fluid are changed to those of water (pH = 7).
Non-Attainment - Refers to areas of the Unit-
ed States that have not met air standards for
human health by deadlines set in the Clean
Air Act.
Non-Contact Cooling Water - Water used
for cooling which does not come into direct
contact with any raw material, product, by-
product, or waste.
Non-Degradation - A policy that forbids any
lowering of naturally occurring environmen-
tal quality regardless of established health
Nonpoint Source - Any source of pollution
not associated with a distinct discharge
point. Includes sources such as rainwater,
runoff from agricultural lands, industrial
sites, parking lots, and timber operations, as
well as escaping gases from pipes and fittings.
No Observed Adverse Effect Level or No
Observed Effect Level (NOAEL) or (NOEL)
A level of exposure which does not cause
observable harm.
Odor Threshold - The lowest concentration
of a substance in air that can be smelled. Odor
thresholds are highly variable because of the
differing ability of individuals to detect odors.
On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) - The federal
official responsible for the coordination of a
hazardous materials response action, as speci-
fied in individual Regional Contingency Plans.
OSCs are predesignated by EPA for inland
areas and by the U.S. Coast Guard for coastal
areas. The OSC coordinates all federal contain-
ment, removal, and disposal efforts and
resources during a pollution incident. The OSC
is the point of contact for the coordination of
federal efforts with those of the local response
community. The OSC has access to extensive
federal resources, including the National

Strike Force, the Environmental Response
Team, and Scientific Support Coordinators.
The OSC can be a source of valuable support
and information to the community.
On Site - On the same, or adjacent, property.
Organically Grown - Food, feed crops, and
livestock grown within an intentionally-diver-
sified, self-sustaining agro-ecosystem. In prac-
tice, farmers build up nutrients in the soil
using compost, agricultural wastes, and cover
crops instead of synthetically derived fertiliz-
ers to increase productivity, rotate crops,
weed mechanically, and reduce dramatically
their dependence on the entire family of pesti-
cides. Farmers must be certified to character-
ize crops as organically grown and can only
use approved natural and synthetic biochemi-
cals, agents, and materials for three consecu-
tive years prior to harvest. Livestock must be
fed a diet that includes grains and forages that
have been organically grown and cannot
receive hormones, sub-therapeutic antibiotics,
or other growth promoters.
Organism - Any living being, whether plant,
mammal, bird, insect, reptile, fish, crustacean,
aquatic or estuarine animal, or bacterium.
Oxidant - A substance containing oxygen
that reacts chemically with other materials to
produce new substances. Oxidants are the
primary ingredients in smog.
Ozone - Three molecule oxygen compound
(03) found in two layers of the earth's atmos-
phere. One layer of beneficial ozone occurs at
seven to 18 miles above the surface and
shields the earth from ultraviolet light. Several
holes in this protective layer have been docu-
mented by scientists. Ozone also concentrates
at the surface as a result of reactions between
by-products of fossil fuel combustion and
sunlight, having harmful health effects.
Particulates - Liquid or solid particles such
as dust, smoke, mist, or smog found in air
Parts per billion (ppb) - One ppb is compa-
rable to one kernel of corn in a filled, 45-foot
silo, 16 feet in diameter.
Parts per million (ppm) - One ppm is com-
parable to one drop of gasoline in a tankful of
gas (full-size car).
Parts per trillion (ppt) - One ppt is compa-
rable to one drop in a swimming pool cover-
ing the area of a football field 43 ft. deep.
Pathogen - A bacterial organism typically
found in the intestinal tracts of mammals,
capable of producing disease.
Performance Bond - Cash or securities,
deposited before a landfill operating permit is
issued, which are held to ensure that all
requirements for operating a landfill are per-
formed. The money is returned to the owner
after proper closure of the landfill is complete.
If contamination or other problems appear at
any time during operation, or upon closure,
and are not addressed, the owner must forfeit

all or part of the performance bond which is
then used to cover costs of cleanup.
Permeability - The ease with which water, or
other fluid, passes through a substance.
Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - Work-
place exposure limits for contaminants estab-
lished by OSHA.
Permit - A legal document issued by state
and/or federal authorities containing a
detailed description of the proposed activity
and operating procedures as well as appropri-
ate requirements and regulations. The permit-
ting process includes provisions for public
Pesticide - Substances intended to repel, kill,
or control any species designated a "pest"
including weeds, insects, rodents, fungi, bac-
teria, or other organisms. The family of pesti-
cides includes herbicides, insecticides,
rodenticides, fungicides, and bactericides.
PH - The measure of acidity or alkalinity of a
chemical solution, from 0-14. Anything neu-
tral, for example, has a pH of 7. Acids have a
pH less than 7, bases (alkaline) greater than 7.
Plume - A concentration of contaminants in
air, soil, or water usually extending from a
distinct source.
Point Source - A stationary location or fixed
facility such as an industry or municipality
that discharges pollutants into air or surface
water through pipes, ditches, lagoons, wells,
or stacks; a single identifiable source such as
a ship or a mine.
Pollution - Any substances in water, soil, or
air that degrade the natural quality of the
environment, offend the senses of sight, taste,
or smell, or cause a health hazard. The useful-
ness of the natural resource is usually
impaired by the presence of pollutants and
Pollution Prevention - Actively identifying
equipment, processes, and activities which
generate excessive wastes or use toxic chemi-
cals and then making substitutions, alter-
ations, or product improvements. Conserving
energy and minimizing wastes are pollution
prevention concepts used in manufacturing,
sustainable agriculture, recycling, and
clean air/clean water technologies.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) - A
group of toxic, persistent chemicals used in
electrical transformers and capacitors for
insulating purposes, and in gas pipeline sys-
tems as a lubricant. The sale and new use of
PCBs were banned by law in 1979.
Potable Water - Raw or treated water that is
considered safe to drink.
Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) - Any
individual or company that is potentially
responsible for or has contributed to a spill or
other contamination at a Superfund site.
Whenever possible, EPA requires PRPs to
clean up sites they have contaminated.

Pretreatment - Methods used by industry and
other non-household sources of wastewater to
remove, reduce, or alter the pollutants in
wastewater before discharge to a POTW.
Primary Treatment - First stage of waste-
water treatment in which solids are removed
by screening and settling.
Process Wastewater - Any water which
comes into contact with any raw material,
product, by-product, or waste.
Public Comment Period - The time allowed
for the members of an affected community to
express views and concerns regarding an
action proposed to be taken by EPA, such as a
rulemaking, permit, or Superfund remedy
Public Water System - Any water system that
regularly supplies piped water to the public
for consumption, serving at least an average of
25 individuals per day for at least 60 days per
year, or has at least 15 service connections.
Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW)
A municipal or public service district
sewage treatment system.
Quality Assurance/Quality Control - A sys-
tem of procedures, checks, audits, and correc-
tive actions to ensure that all technical, opera-
tional, monitoring, and reporting activities are
of the highest achievable quality.
Quench Tank - A water-filled tank used to
cool incinerator residue or hot materials from
industrial processes.
Radioactive Waste - Any waste that emits
energy as rays, waves, or streams of energetic
particles. Radioactive materials are often mixed
with hazardous waste, usually from nuclear
reactors, research institutions, or hospitals.
Radon - A colorless, naturally occurring gas
formed by radioactive decay of radium atoms.
Radon accumulating in basements and other
areas of buildings without proper ventilation
has been identified as a leading cause of lung
Raw Water - Intake water prior to any treat-
ment or use.
Reactivity - Refers to those hazardous wastes
that are normally unstable and readily undergo
violent chemical change but do not explode.
Receiving Waters - A river, lake, ocean,
stream, or other body of water into which
wastewater or treated effluent is discharged.
Recharge Area - An area of land where there
is a net annual transfer of water from the sur-
face to ground water; where rainwater soaks
through the earth to reach an aquifer.
Recycling - Reusing materials and objects in
original or changed forms rather than discard-
ing them as wastes.

Record of Decision (ROD) - A public docu-
ment that explains which cleanup alternative
was selected for a Superfund site.
Red Bag Waste - see definition for Medical
Reference Dose (RfD) - The particular con-
centration of a chemical that is known to cause
health problems. A standard that also may be
referred to as the acceptable daily intake.
Refine - To remove impurities.
Regional Response Team (RRT) - There are
13 RRTs, one for each of 10 federal regions,
plus one for Alaska, one for the Caribbean,
and one for the Pacific Basin. Each RRT main-
tains a Regional Contingency Plan and has
state and federal government representation.
EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard cochair the
RRTs. Like the NRT, RRTs are planning, poli-
cy, and coordinating bodies and do not
respond directly to pollution incidents but do
provide assistance when requested by the fed-
eral On-Scene Coordinator. RRTs also pro-
vide assistance to SERCs and LEPCs in local
preparedness, planning, and training for
emergency response.
Registration - Formal listing with EPA of a
new pesticide before sale or distribution. EPA
is responsible for pre-market licensing of pes-
ticides on the basis of data demonstrating no
unreasonable adverse health or environmental
effects when applied according to approved
label directions.
Release - Any spilling, leaking, pumping,
pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging,
injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping, or dis-
posing into the environment of a hazardous
or toxic chemical, or extremely hazardous
Remedial Action - The actual construction or
clean-up phase of a Superfund site cleanup.
Reportable Quantity (RQ) - Amount of a
hazardous or extremely hazardous sub-
stance that, if released into the environment,
must be reported to the NRC, the SERC, and
the LEPC under Section 304 of EPCRA.
Residual Risk - The risk associated with pol-
lutants after the application of maximum
achievable control technology or MACT.
Resource Recovery - The extraction of useful
materials or energy from solid waste. Such
materials can include paper, glass, and metals
that can be reprocessed for re-use. Resource
recovery also is employed in pollution pre-
Responsiveness Summary - A summary of
oral and written comments received by EPA
during a public comment period on key doc-
uments or actions proposed to be taken, and
EPA's response to those comments.
Risk - A measure of the chance that damage
to life, health, property, or the environment
will occur.

Risk Assessment - A process to determine
the increased risk from exposure to environ-
mental pollutants together with an estimate of
the severity of impact. Risk assessments use
specific chemical information plus risk factors.
Risk Communication - The process of
exchanging information about levels or signif-
icance of health or environmental risk.
Risk Factor - A characteristic (e.g., race, sex,
age, obesity) or variable (e.g., smoking, expo-
sure) associated with increased chance of tox-
ic effects. Some standard risk factors used in
general risk assessment calculations include
average breathing rates, average weight, and
average human life span.
Rodenticide - A pesticide or other agent used
to kill rats and other rodents or to prevent
them from damaging food, crops, or forage.
Sanitary Water - Water discharged from
restrooms, showers, food preparation facili-
ties, or other nonindustrial operations; also
known as "gray water."
Scientific Support Coordinators (SSC) -
Scientific and technical advisors in coastal and
marine areas from the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who
serve as members of the federal On-Scene
Coordinator's staff. Their capabilities include
contingency planning, surface/subsurface tra-
jectory forecasting and hindcasting, resource
risk analysis, and liaison to other scientists.
Scrubbing - A common method of reducing
stack air emissions; removal of impurities by
spraying a liquid that concentrates the impu-
rities into waste.
Secondary Treatment - The second step tak-
en by a Publicly Owned Treatment Works
in which bacteria consume the organic parts
of the waste. This treatment usually removes
about 90% of all solids and oxygen-demand-
ing substances.
Sediment - Topsoil, sand, and minerals
washed from the land into water, usually after
rain or snow melt. Sediments collecting in
rivers, reservoirs, and harbors can destroy fish
and wildlife habitat and cloud the water so
that sunlight cannot reach aquatic plants. Loss
of topsoil from farming, mining, or building
activities can be prevented through a variety
of erosion-control techniques.
Septic tank - An underground tank to collect
wastes from homes that are not connected to
a municipal sewer system. Waste goes from
the home to the tank and is decomposed by
bacteria. Solids and dead bacteria settle to the
bottom as sludge while the liquid portion
flows into the ground through drains. While
properly placed and maintained septic sys-
tems can effectively treat domestic waste-
water, others are a major source of ground
water and surface water pollution.
Sewer - A channel or conduit that carries
wastewater and stormwater to a treatment
plant or receiving waters. "Sanitary" sewers

carry household, industrial, and commercial
waste. "Storm" sewers carry runoff from rain
or snow.
Siting - Choosing a location for a facility.
Sludge - The residue (solids and some water)
produced as a result of raw or wastewater
Slurry - A pumpable mixture of solids and
Small Quantity Generator (SQG) - Persons
or facilities that produce 220-2,200 pounds
per month of hazardous waste. SQGs are
required to keep more records than condi-
tionally exempt generators. SQGs may
include automotive shops, dry cleaners, pho-
tographic developers, and a host of other
small enterprises. SQGs comprise by far the
vast majority of hazardous waste generators.
Smog - Dust, smoke, or chemical fumes that
pollute the air and make hazy, unhealthy con-
ditions (literally, the word is a blend of smoke
and fog). Automobile, truck, bus, and other
vehicle exhausts and particulates are usually
trapped close to the ground, obscuring visibil-
ity and contributing to a number of respirato-
ry problems.
Solid Waste - As defined under RCRA, any
solid, semi-solid, liquid, or contained gaseous
materials discarded from industrial, commer-
cial, mining, or agricultural operations, and
from community activities. Solid waste
includes garbage, construction debris, com-
mercial refuse, sludge from water supply or
waste treatment plants, or air pollution con-
trol facilities, and other discarded materials.
Solid Waste Management Facility - Any dis-
posal or resource recovery system; any sys-
tem, program, or facility for resource conser-
vation; any facility for the treatment of solid
Source Reduction - The design, manufacture,
purchase, or use of materials (such as prod-
ucts and packaging) to reduce the amount or
toxicity of garbage generated. Source reduc-
tion can help reduce waste disposal and han-
dling charges because the costs of recycling,
municipal composting, landfilling, and com-
bustion are avoided. Source reduction con-
serves resources and reduces pollution.
Source Separation - Organizing materials by
type (such as paper, metal, plastic, and glass)
so that these items can be recycled instead of
thrown away. For example, many of us sepa-
rate these items from the rest of our house-
hold and office wastes. Industries also orga-
nize materials in this fashion.
Standard Industrial Classification Code
(SIC Code) - A method of grouping indus-
tries with similar products or services and
assigning codes to these groups.
State Emergency Response Commission
(SERC) - The agency appointed by the Gov-
ernor to oversee the administration of EPCRA
at the state level. This commission designates

and appoints members to LEPCs and reviews
emergency response plans for cities and
Surface Impoundment - Treatment, storage,
or disposal of liquid hazardous wastes in
Surface Water - All water naturally open to
the atmosphere (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds,
streams, seas, estuaries) and all springs, wells,
or other collectors directly influenced by sur-
face water.
Surfactant - A detergent compound that pro-
motes lathering.
Suspended Solids - Solids that either float
on the surface or are suspended in water,
wastewater, or other liquids.
Sustainable Agriculture - Environmentally
friendly methods of farming that allow the pro-
duction of crops or livestock without damage to
the farm as an ecosystem, including effects on
soil, water supplies, biodiversity, or other sur-
rounding natural resources. The concept of sus-
tainable agriculture is an "intergenerational" one
in which we pass on a conserved or improved
natural resource base instead of one which has
been depleted or polluted. Terms often associat-
ed with farms or ranches that are self-sustaining
include "low-input," organic, "ecological," "bio-
dynamic," and "permaculture."
Synergism - The cooperative action of two or
more organisms producing a greater total result
than die sum of their independent effects;
chemicals or muscles in synergy enhance the
effectiveness of one another beyond what an
individual could have produced.
Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) - EPA
grants of up to $50,000 for citizens' groups to
obtain assistance in interpreting information
related to cleanups at Superfund sites. Grants
are used by such groups to hire technical
advisors to help them understand the site-
related information for the duration of
response activities.
Ten-to-the-Minus-Sixth (10"^) - Used in risk
assessments to refer to the probability of
risk. Literally means a chance of one in a mil-
lion, Similarly, ten-to-the-minus-fifth means a
probability of one in 100,000, and so on.
Teratogen - A substance capable of causing
birth defects.
Tertiary Treatment - An enhancement of
normal sewage treatment operations to pro-
vide water of potable quality using further
chemical and physical treatment; the highest
drinking water standard achieved in the U.S.
Threshold Limit Value (TLV) - The concen-
tration of an airborne substance that a healthy
person can be exposed to for a 40-hour work
week without adverse effect; a workplace
exposure standard.
Tolerance - Permissible residue level for pes-
ticides in raw agricultural produce and
processed foods. Whenever a pesticide is regis-

tered for use on a food or feed crop, a toler-
ance must be established, EPA establishes the
tolerance levels, which are enforced by the
Food and Drug Administration and the
Department of Agriculture.
Tonnage - The amount of waste that a land-
fill accepts, usually expressed as tons per
month. The rate at which a landfill accepts
waste is limited by the landfill's permit.
Total dissolved solids (TDS) - The quantity
of dissolved material in a given volume of
Toxic Chemical - Substances that can cause
severe illness, poisoning, birth defects, dis-
ease, or death when ingested, inhaled, or
absorbed by living organisms.
Toxic Cloud - An airborne mass of gases,
vapors, fumes, or aerosols of toxic materials.
Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) - A database
of annual toxic releases from certain manufac-
turers compiled from EPCRA Section 313
reports. Manufacturers must report annually
to EPA and the states the amounts of almost
350 toxic chemicals and 22 chemical cate-
gories that they release directly to air, water,
or land, inject underground, or transfer to
off-site facilities. EPA compiles these reports
and makes the information available to the
public under the "Community Right-to-
Know" portion of the law.
Toxic Substance - A chemical or mixture
that can cause illness, death, disease, or birth
defects. The quantities and exposures neces-
sary to cause these effects can vary widely.
Many toxic substances are pollutants and
contaminants in the environment.
Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Proce-
dure (TCLP) - A test designed to determine
whether a waste is hazardous or requires
treatment to become less hazardous; also can
be used to monitor treatment techniques for
Toxicity Testing - Biological testing (usually
with an invertebrate, fish, or small mammal)
to determine the adverse effects, if any, of a
chemical, compound, or effluent,
Trade Secret - Any confidential formula, pat-
tern, process, device, information, or set of
data that is used in a business to give the
owner a competitive advantage. Such infor-
mation may be excluded from public review.
Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility
(TSD) - Refers to any facility which treats,
stores, or disposes of hazardous wastes.
Ultraviolet Rays - Radiation from the sun in
the invisible portion of the spectrum. Some
UV rays (UV-A) enhance plant life and are
useful in certain medical and dental proce-
dures. Other UV rays (UV-B) can cause skin
cancer or other tissue damage. The ozone
layer in the atmosphere partly shields us from
ultraviolet rays reaching the earth's surface.

Underground Injection Control (UIC) - A
program under the Safe Drinking Water Act
that regulates the use of wells to pump fluids
Underground Storage Tank (UST) - A tank
and any underground piping connected to
the tank that has 10% or more of its volume
(including pipe volume) beneath the surface
of the ground. USTs are designed to hold
gasoline, other petroleum products, and haz-
ardous materials.
Vapor - The gas given off by substances that
are solids or liquids at ordinary atmospheric
pressure and temperatures.
Vapor Dispersion - The movement of vapor
clouds or plumes in the air due to wind,
gravity, spreading, and mixing.
Vapor Recovery System - A system by
which the volatile gases from gasoline are
captured instead of being released into the
atmosphere. Recovery systems may be
required for gasoline stations in some cities
and other non-attainment areas.
Vent - The connection and piping through
which gases enter and exit a piece of equip-
Volatile - Any substance which evaporates
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) - Any
organic compound which evaporates readily
to the atmosphere. VOCs contribute signifi-
cantly to photochemical smog production
and certain health problems.
Wasteload Allocation (WLA) - The portion
of a stream's total assimilative capacity
assigned to an individual discharger.
Wastewater Treatment Plant - A facility
containing a series of tanks, screens, filters,
and other processes by which pollutants are
removed from water. Most treatments include
chlorination to attain safe drinking water
Water Quality Standard (WQS) - The com-
bination of a designated use and the maxi-
mum concentration of a pollutant which will
protect that use for any given body of water.
For example, in a trout stream, the concentra-
tion of iron should not exceed 1 mg/1.
Water Table - The boundary between the
saturated and unsaturated zones. Generally,
the level to which water will rise in a well
(except artesian wells).
Wellhead Protection Area - A protected sur-
face and subsurface zone surrounding a well
or well field that supplies a public water sys-
tem and through which contaminants could
likely reach well water.
Wetlands - Areas that are soaked or flooded
by surface or ground water frequently
enough or for sufficient duration to support
plants, birds, animals, and aquatic life. Wet-

lands generally include swamps, marshes,
bogs, estuaries, and other inland and coastal
areas, and are federally protected. Wetlands
frequently serve as recharge/discharge areas
and are known as "nature's kidneys" since
they help purify water. Wetlands also have
been referred to as natural sponges that
absorb flood waters, functioning like natural
tubs to collect overflow. Wetlands are impor-
tant wildlife habitats, breeding grounds, and
nurseries because of their biodiversity. Many
endangered species as well as countless
estuarine and marine fish and shellfish, mam-
mals, waterfowl, and other migratory birds
use wetland habitat for growth, reproduction,
food, and shelter. Wetlands are among the
most fertile, natural ecosystems in the world
since they produce great volumes of food
(plant material).
Wildlife Refuge - An area designated for the
protection of wild animals, within which
hunting and fishing are either prohibited or
strictly controlled.
Wood Treatment Facility - An industrial
facility which treats lumber and other wood
products for outdoor use. The process
involves use of chromated copper arsenate
and other toxic chemicals which are regulat-
ed as hazardous materials.
Z-list - OSHA's Toxic and Hazardous Sub-
stances Tables (Z-l, Z-2, and Z-3) of air cont-
aminants; any material found on these tables
is considered hazardous.
Zone of Saturation - The layer beneath the
surface of the land in which all openings are
filled with water.
Xenobiotic - A term for non-natural or man-
made substances found in the environment
(i.e., synthetics, plastics).

If you are interested in becoming active in
environmental, health, and community safety
issues, you will need to understand many of
the following federal laws. These laws, and
others enacted by states, have various require-
ments and are enforced by various agencies.
We have presented a brief description of the
intent of each law. For more details, you
should obtain a copy from your local library,
state library, or the relevant federal or state
agency. Federal and state officials, community
organizations, and interest groups will help
you gain a working knowledge of these laws.
tlie clean air act (CAA)
42 U.S.C. s/s 7401 et seq. (1970) ~ ~~
The Clean Air Act is the comprehensive fed-
eral law which regulates air emissions from
area, stationary, and mobile sources. This law
authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) to establish National Ambient
Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect
public health and the environment. The goal
of the Act was to set and achieve NAAQS in
every state by 1975. This setting of maximum
pollutant standards was coupled with direct-
ing the states to develop state implementation
plans (SIPs) applicable to appropriate indus-
trial sources in the state.
The Act was amended in 1977 primarily to set
new goals (dates) for achieving attainment of
NAAQS since many areas of the country had
failed to meet the deadlines. The 1990 amend-
ments to the Clean Air Act in large part were
intended to meet unaddressed or insufficiently
addressed problems such as acid rain, ground
level ozone, stratospheric ozone depletion,
and air toxics.

tlie clean water act (CWA)	
33 USC. s/s 121 etseq. (1977)
The Clean Water Act is a 1977 amendment
to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of
1972, which set the basic structure for regu-
lating discharges of pollutants to waters of
the United States. This law gave EPA the
authority to set effluent standards on an
industry-by-industry basis (technology-based)
and continued the requirements to set water
quality standards for all contaminants in sur-
face waters. The CWA makes it unlawful for
any person to discharge any pollutant from a
point source into navigable waters unless a
permit (NPDES) is obtained under the Act.
The 1977 amendments focused on toxic pol-
lutants. In 1987, the CWA was reauthorized
and again focused on toxic substances,
authorized citizen suit provisions, and funded
sewage treatment plants (POTWs) under the
Construction Grants Program.
The CWA provides for the delegation by
EPA of many permitting, administrative, and
enforcement aspects of the law to state gov-
ernments. In states with the authority to
implement CWA programs, EPA still retains
oversight responsibilities.
the comprelienBive
environmental response,
compensation, and- liability
act (CKRCLA or Superfitnd)
42US.Cs/s960l etseq. (1980)
CERCLA (pronounced SERK-la) provides a
federal "Superfund" to clean up uncontrolled
or abandoned hazardous waste sites as well
as accidents, spills, and other emergency
releases of pollutants and contaminants into
the environment. Through the Act, EPA was
given power to seek out those parties responsi-
ble for any release and assure their cooperation
in the cleanup. EPA cleans up orphan sites
when potentially responsible parties (PRPs)
cannot be identified or located, or when they
fail to act. Through various enforcement tools,
EPA obtains private party cleanup through
orders, consent decrees, and other small par-
ty settlements, EPA also recovers costs from
financially viable individuals and companies
once a response action has been completed.
EPA is authorized to implement the Act in all
50 states and U.S. territories. Superfund site
identification, monitoring, and response activ-
ities in states are coordinated through the
state environmental protection or waste man-
agement agencies.
the emergency planning &
coxxirriiiiTrty liglit-to-lenow
act (EPCRA)
42 USC 11011 etseq. (1986)
Also known as Title III of SARA, EPCRA was
enacted by Congress as the national legislation
on community safety. This law was designed to
help local communities protect public health,
safety, and the environment from chemical

To implement EPCRA, Congress required
each state to appoint a State Emergency
Response Commission (SERC). The SERCs
were required to divide their states into
Emergency Planning Districts and to name a
Local Emergency Planning Committee
(LEPC) for each district. Broad representa-
tion by fire fighters, health officials, govern-
ment and media representatives, community
groups, industrial facilities, and emergency
managers ensures that all necessary elements
of the planning process are represented.
the endangered species act
7 U.S.C. 136; 16 U.S.C. 460 et seq. (1973)
The Endangered Species Act provides a pro-
gram for the conservation of threatened and
endangered plants and animals and the habi-
tats in which they are found. The U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (FWS) of the Depart-
ment of Interior maintains the list of 632
endangered species (326 are plants) and 190
threatened species (78 are plants). Species
include birds, insects, fish, reptiles, mam-
mals, crustaceans, flowers, grasses, and trees.
Anyone can petition FWS to include a species
on this list or to prevent some activity, such
as logging, mining, or dam building. The law
prohibits any action, administrative or real,
that results in a "taking" of a listed species, or
adversely affects habitat. Likewise, import,
export, interstate, and foreign commerce of
listed species are all prohibited.
EPA's decision to register a pesticide is based
in part on the risk of adverse effects on
endangered species as well as environmental
fate (how a pesticide will effect habitat).
Under FIFRA, EPA can issue emergency sus-
pensions of certain pesticides to cancel or
restrict their use if an endangered species will
be adversely affected. Under a new program,
EPA, FWS, and USD A are distributing hun-
dreds of county bulletins which include habi-
tat maps, pesticide use limitations, and other
actions required to protect listed species.
In addition, we are enforcing regulations under
various treaties, including the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The U.S. and
70 other nations have established procedures
to regulate the import and export of imperiled
species and their habitat. The Fish and Wildlife
Service works with U.S. Customs agents to stop
the illegal trade of species, including the Black
Rhino, African elephants, tropical birds and
fish, orchids, and various corals.
the federal insecticide,
fungicide and rodenticide
act (FIFRA)	
7U.S.Cs/sl35etseq. (1972)
The primary focus of FIFRA was to provide
federal control of pesticide distribution, sale,
and use. EPA was given authority under
FIFRA not only to study the consequences of

pesticide usage but also to require users
(farmers, utility companies, and others) to
register when purchasing pesticides. Through
later amendments to the law, users also must
take exams for certification as applicators of
pesticides. All pesticides used in the U.S. must
be registered (licensed) by EPA. Registration
assures that pesticides will be properly labeled
and that, if used in accordance with specifica-
tions, will not cause unreasonable harm to the
the (federal) freedom of
lnforiTiatioTi act (FOIA)	
The Freedom of Information Act provides
specifically that "any person" can make
requests for government information. Citizens
who make requests are not required to identify
themselves or explain why they want the infor-
mation they have requested. The position of
Congress in passing FOIA was that the work-
ings of government are "for and by the people"
and that the benefits of government informa-
tion should be made available to everyone.
All branches of the federal government must
adhere to the provisions of FOIA with certain
restrictions for work in progress (early drafts),
enforcement confidential information, classified
documents, and national security information.
the national enviix>nrnental
policy act (NHPA)
42 U.S.C s/s 4321 etstq. (1969)
The National Environmental Policy Act was
one of the first laws ever written that estab-
lishes the broad national framework for pro-
tecting our environment. NEPA's basic policy
is to assure that all branches of government give
proper consideration to the environment prior
to undertaking any major federal action which
significantly affects the environment. NEPA
requirements are invoked when airports, build-
ings, military complexes, highways, parkland
purchases, and other such federal activities are
proposed. Environmental Assessments (EAs)
and Environmental Impact Statements
(EISs), which are assessments of the likelihood
of impacts from alternative courses of action,
are required from all federal agencies and are
the most visible NEPA requirements.
the occupational
safety and health act	
Congress passed the Occupational and Safety
Health Act to ensure worker and workplace
safety. Their goal was to make sure employers
provide their workers a place of employment
free from recognized hazards to safety and
health, such as exposure to toxic chemicals,
excessive noise levels, mechanical dangers, heat

or cold stress, or unsanitary conditions. In
order to establish standards for workplace
health and safety, the Act also created the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health (NIOSH) as the research institution
for the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA). OSHA is a division
of the U.S. Department of Labor which over-
sees the administration of the Act and
enforces federal standards in all 50 states.
tlie oil pollution act of 1990
33 USC. Section 2702 to 2761
The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 stream-
lined and strengthened HPA's ability to prevent
and respond to catastrophic oil spills. A trust
fund financed by a tax o;n oil is available to
clean up spills when the responsible party is
incapable or unwilling to do so. The OPA
requires oil storage facilities and vessels to
submit to the federal government response
plans detailing how they will respond to large
discharges. EPA has published regulations for
aboveground storage facilities; the Coast
Guard has done so for oil tankers. The OPA
also requires the development of Area Contin-
gency Plans to prepare and plan for oil spill
response on a regional scale.
tke pollution prevention act
42 USC 13101 and 13102, s/s 6602 et
seq. (1990)
The Pollution Prevention Act focused industry,
government, and public attention on reducing
the amount of pollution produced through
cost-effective changes in production, operation,
and raw materials use. Opportunities for
source reduction are often not realized
because existing regulations, and the industrial
resources required for compliance, focus on
treatment and disposal. Source reduction is
fundamentally different and more desirable
than waste management or pollution control.
Pollution prevention also includes other
practices that increase efficiency in the use of
energy, water, or other natural resources, and
protect our resource base through conserva-
tion. Practices include recycling, source
reduction, and sustainable agriculture.
tlie resource conservation
and. recovery act (RCRA)
42 U.S.C. s/s 321 et seq. (1976)
RCRA (pronounced "rick-rah") gave EPA the
authority to control hazardous waste from
"cradle-to-grave." This includes the genera-
tion, transportation, treatment, storage, and
disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA also set
forth a framework for the management of
non-hazardous solid wastes.
The 1986 amendments to RCRA enabled EPA
to address environmental problems that
could result from underground tanks storing
petroleum and other hazardous substances.
RCRA focuses only on active and future facili-
ties and does not address abandoned or his-
torical sites (see CERCLA).

HSWA (pronounced "hiss-wa") - The federal
Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments.
The 1984 amendments to RCRA which
required phasing out land disposal of haz-
ardous waste. Some of the other mandates of
this strict law include increased enforcement
authority for EPA, more stringent hazardous
waste management standards, and a compre-
hensive underground storage tank program.
tlae safe drinleing water act
43US.Cs/s300fetseq. (1974)
The Safe Drinking Water Act was established
to protect the quality of drinking water in the
U.S. This law focuses on all waters actually or
potentially designated for drinking use,
whether from above ground or underground
sources. The Act authorized EPA to establish
safe standards of purity and required all own-
ers or operators of public water systems to
comply with primary (health-related) stan-
dards. State governments, which assume this
power from EPA, also encourage attainment
of secondary standards (nuisance-related).
the superfund amendments
and reauthorization act
42 U.S.C. 9601 etseq. (1986)
The Superfund Amendments and Reautho-
rization Act of 1986 reauthorized CERCLA
to continue cleanup activities around the
country. Several site-specific amendments,
definitions, clarifications, and technical
requirements were added to the legislation,
including additional enforcement authorities.
Title 111 of SARA also authorized the Emer-
gency Planning and Community Right-to-
Know Act (EPCRA).
tke toxic substances
control act (TSCA)
15 U.S.C s/s 2601 et seq. (1976)
The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976
was enacted by Congress to test, regulate, and
screen all chemicals produced or imported
into the U.S. Many thousands of chemicals
and their compounds are developed each year
with unknown toxic or dangerous characteris-
tics. To prevent tragic consequences, TSCA
requires that any chemical that reaches the
consumer market place be tested for possible
toxic effects prior to commercial manufacture.
Any existing chemical that poses health and
environmental hazards is tracked and report-
ed under TSCA. Procedures also are autho-
rized for corrective action under TSCA in cas-
es of cleanup of toxic materials contamina-
tion. TSCA supplements other federal
statutes, including the Clean Air Act and the
Toxic Release Inventory under EPCRA.

pvemment agencies
Throughout this handbook we have referred
to organizations, agencies, and offices to con-
tact for further information. The following is
a list of several of those organizations and
agencies dealing with health and environ-
mental protection. For each citation, a cur-
rent address and phone number are provided,
as well as a brief notation of responsibilities
and/or interests of the group. This list is pro-
vided for quick reference when specific issues
arise but is by no means complete.
federal agencies for liealtli &
eriviraruaiental prcytection
l/.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
401 M Street, 5.W.
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 260-2080
Public Information Center, open 9 AM
to 4:30 PM, Monday - Friday
Responsible for: working with state and local
governments to control and prevent pollution
in areas of solid and hazardous waste, pesti-
cides, water, air, drinking water, and toxic
and radioactive substances. When contacting
EPA, we suggest starting with your Regional
Office. If the Regional Office is unable to
assist you, your questions may be directed to
EPA Headquarters in
Washington, DC.

U.S. EP-A. regional offices
Region 1
U.S. EPA (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine,
New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)
JFK Federal Building
1 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02203
Region 2
U.S. EPA (New Jersey, New York, Puerto
Rico, Virgin Islands)
26 Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278
Region 3
U.S. EPA (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia)
841 Chestnut Building
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Region 4
U.S. EPA (Alabama, Florida, Georgia,
Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Tennessee)
345 Courtland Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30365
Region 5
U.S. EPA (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan,
Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin)
77 West Jackson
Chicago, IL 60604
Region 6
U.S. EPA (Arkansas, Louisiana,
New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas)
1445 Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX 75202
Region 7
U.S. EPA (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska)
726 Minnesota Avenue
Kansas City, KS 66401
Region 8
U.S. EPA (Colorado, Montana, North
Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming)
999 18th Street
Denver, CO 80202-2466
Region 9
U.S. EPA (Arizona, California, Hawaii,
Nevada, Guam, American Samoa)
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Region 10
U.S. EPA (Idaho, Washington, Oregon,
1200 Sixth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

U.S. department of justice (l30j)
U.S. coast guard
10th and Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Responsible for: all enforcement actions that
must be filed in court, and organizing eviden-
tiary and other documents to prepare for and
conduct litigation. Litigation includes the pro-
tection, use, and development of the nation's
natural resources and public lands, wildlife
protection, Indian rights and claims, cleanup
of hazardous waste sites, acquisition of private
property for federal use, and defense of envi-
ronmental challenges to government programs
and activities. DOJ's Environment and Natural
Resources Division is the nation's environmen-
tal lawyer and the largest environmental law
firm in the country.
U.S. department of
transportation (DOT)
400 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590
Responsible for: setting standards for safety and
providing funds to plan, construct and operate
transportation systems by rail, highway, air, or
water and providing law enforcement and traf-
fic management services for the nation's air-
space and waterways. DOT also regulates man-
ufacturers of containers and transporters of
hazardous materials.
2100 2nd St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20593
Responsible for: port safety, maritime law
enforcement, boating safety, search and res-
cue, aids to navigation, merchant marine safe-
ty, and environmental protection. The Coast
Guards works with EPA on marine protection
programs, including regulating the transporta-
tion of hazardous cargoes, oil pollution
cleanup, and marine salvage.
federal emergency manage-
ment agency (FEMA)
P.O. Box 70274
Washington, D.C. 20024
Responsible for: providing a federal focus on
emergency management in the United States.
This includes natural disasters such as earth-
quakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, tech-
nological calamities, and national security crises.
U.S. geological survey (USGS)
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Mail Stop 119
Reston, VA 22092
Responsible for: analyzing the quantity and
quality of surface and ground water and pre-

cipitation, and conducting research in geology
and hydrology. Programs include extensive
topographic and land-use mapping, energy
and mineral resource assessments, evaluations
of natural disasters, and space exploration.
U.S. department of Inealtla
& kuman services:
National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health (NIOSH)
1600 Clifton Road, N.E.,
Building 1, Room 3007
Atlanta, GA 30333
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, N.E., Building 1
Atlanta, GA 30333
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry (ATSDR)
1600 Clifton Road, N.E., Building 1
Atlanta, GA 30333
NIOSH provides research and evaluation
studies of occupational injuries and hazardous
substances in the workplace. These criteria are
used by OSHA for setting workplace safety
standards. The CDC tracks and evaluates inci-
dence of disease and performs epidemiological
studies. ATSDR conducts research focused on
toxic substances and their effects on public
health. Programs include health studies, sub-
stance-specific research, and maintaining vari-
ous disease registries.
U.S. department of labor
Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA)
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
Responsible for: issuing standards and rules for
safe and healthful working conditions, tools,
equipment, facilities, and processes. Employ-
ers have the general duty of providing their
workers a place of employment free from rec-
ognized hazards to safety and health, and
must comply with OSHA standards. OSHA
conducts workplace inspections to assure
standards are followed.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA)
14th and Constitution Ave., N.W., Rm 6013
Washington, D.C. 20230
Responsible for: environmental satellite and
data information, oceanic and atmospheric
research, sustainable development, coastal
management programs, cleanup of oil spills,
the National Weather Service, and the
National Marine Fisheries Service.

EPA. iirfoirmation nuixibers
In many situations, a phone call to EPA can
provide you with the information you need to
start working with environmental issues.
Below is a list of some of the most useful EPA
telephone numbers. Although numbers
change periodically, these were correct at the
time of printing. All telephone numbers are in
the Eastern Standard Time Zone.
general U.S.HI3A nmiabers
Public Information Center
(202) 260-2080
(202) 260-7751
ORD Research Information (Cincinnati)
(513) 569-7562
National Center for Environmental
Publications & Information (Cincinnati)
(513) 489-8190
Kotlines listed by topic
Acid Rain
(617) 674-7377
Air Control Technology Assistance Center
(919) 541-0800
Air Risk Hotline
(919) 541-0888
Appropriate Technology (energy: DOE)
(800) 428-2525
Asbestos Ombudsman
(800) 368-5888
Drinking Water
(800) 426-4791
Emergency Planning & Community
(800) 535-0202
Environmental Education
(202) 260-4962

Environmental justice
(800) 962-6215
Green Lights/Energy Star Programs
(202) 775-6650
Ground Water
(202) 260-7786
Hazardous Waste Ombudsman
(800) 262-7937
Indoor Air
(800) 438-4318
National Response Center (U.S. Coast Guard)
(800) 424-8802
Pesticides (health effects, spills)
(800) 858-7378
Pollution Prevention Info. Exchange System
(703) 821-4800
Pollution Prevention Clearinghouse
(202) 260-1023
(800) 767-7236
RCRA, Superfund, and Underground
Storage Tanks
(800) 424-9346
Small Business
(800) 366-5888
Solid Waste Information Clearinghouse
(800) 677-9424
Storm Water, NPDES Permitting
(703) 821-4823
Stratospheric Ozone Protection (CFCs)
(800) 296-1996
Toxic Substances & Asbestos Information
(202) 554-1404
Transporting Hazardous Materials
(800) 752-6367
Waste Water
(800) 624-8301
(800) 832-7828

we want your comments!
Additional copies of this Guide may be
obtained from:
Public Information Center (3404)
401 M Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20460
(202) 260-7751
This booklet is intended to help you address
environmental issues that interest you. Help
us do a better job by letting us know what
information you need. Questions or sugges-
tions for future revisions of this Guide can be
sent to the Project Manager, mail code
(2225), or call (202) 260-9812.