How to Be Eco-Friendly When You’re Dead

Standard burial and cremation take tons of energy and resources. So what’s the most environmentally sound way to deal with a dead person?

by Shannon Palus

Gazette Introductory Note:  We’ve visited the issue of body disposal and water quality before.  See, for example, “How the dead pollute water.”   Also, “Formaldehyde as a Water Contaminant.”   Clearly both burial and cremation have advantages and disadvantages.  The Atlantic article below examines the options in greater detail and introduces such concepts as “green cremation.” –Hardly Waite.

When Phil Olson was 20, he earned money in the family business by draining the blood from corpses. Using a long metal instrument, he sucked the fluid out of the organs, and pumped the empty space and the arteries full of three gallons of toxic embalming fluid. This process drains the corpse of nutrients and prevents it from being eaten by bacteria, at least until it’s put into the ground. Feebly encased in a few pounds of metal and wood, it wasn’t long until all the fluid and guts just leak back out.

Most of the bodies Olson prepared in his family’s funeral home would then be buried in traditional cemeteries, below a lawn of grass that must be mowed, watered, sprayed with pesticides, and used for nothing else, theoretically until the end of time. (more…)

Low Salt

by Nancy Gross

 

Brackish groundwater: The bad news is that it has higher levels of TDS than potable water, so you can’t just pump it out of the ground to include among drinking water resources. But the good news is that it has a lower concentration of TDS than seawater, which means that treating it is less energy-intensive and more cost-effective.

Nonetheless, the US Department of the Interior explains some cons along with the pros: (more…)

 

The Pure Water Occasional for October 27, 2014, 2014

In this almost-Halloween Occasional, you’ll hear about the Thames Tideway Tunnel (aka the London Super Sewer), poultry litter, abandoned mines, drugs in the water of Congaree National Park, and saltwater intrusion in paradise. The Amazon Defense Fund vs. Chevron, Denton vs. fracking, and Mahaulepu vs. cow manure. Read about a sinking town in California, Detroit’s continuing water bill dilemma, benzene and diesel, bad news for the Lodi Flames, and the danger of Crypto oocysts.  Finally, the wisdom of Bee Sharper and Pure Water Annie,  and, as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is a project of Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette.

To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette’s website,  please go here.  (Recommended! When you read online you get the added advantage of the Gazette’s sidebar feed of the very latest world water news.)

You’ll sing better.

 

Maryland poultry farms fined for reporting lapses

by Timothy B. Wheeler

 Poultry “litter,” a mixture of bird manure and wood shavings, is periodically removed from chicken houses. Growers with large flocks are required to report annually on what they do with the waste.

 

Nearly one in five large Maryland chicken farms has been fined recently, state regulators have disclosed, because the growers failed to file information required annually outlining what they did to keep their flocks’ waste from polluting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Since July 1, the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued notices of violation to 104 of the state’s 574 “animal feeding operations.” Those are farms that are regulated like factories because of the large volumes of manure generated by raising 37,500 or more birds at a time.

Of those sent violations notices, 89 were fined $250 each for submitting incomplete reports, according to Jay Apperson, a department spokesman. The other 15 received $500 fines for not reporting anything, he said. (more…)

Maryland poultry farms fined for reporting lapses

by Timothy B. Wheeler

 

 Poultry “litter,” a mixture of bird manure and wood shavings, is periodically removed from chicken houses. Growers with large flocks are required to report annually on what they do with the waste.

 

Nearly one in five large Maryland chicken farms has been fined recently, state regulators have disclosed, because the growers failed to file information required annually outlining what they did to keep their flocks’ waste from polluting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Since July 1, the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued notices of violation to 104 of the state’s 574 “animal feeding operations.” Those are farms that are regulated like factories because of the large volumes of manure generated by raising 37,500 or more birds at a time.

Of those sent violations notices, 89 were fined $250 each for submitting incomplete reports, according to Jay Apperson, a department spokesman. The other 15 received $500 fines for not reporting anything, he said.

The reports, required once a year, spell out how much waste was generated, how it was stored to keep rainfall from washing it into nearby waterways, and what was ultimately done with it. The waste is often spread on fields to fertilize crops, either on that farm or elsewhere.

The fines represent a new, tougher stance by the state. Until recently, regulators say, they have sought to cajole and work with growers to comply with the paperwork requirements of five-year-old regulations that many farmers bitterly opposed — and still don’t think are warranted.

“This is the first time we’re reaching out in enforcement,” said Hillary Miller, deputy director of MDE’s land management administration. “They really don’t get sent these notices until we’ve tried and tried and tried to get these reports worked out with them.” (more…)

The problem with America’s abandoned mines

by Rachael Bale

Taxpayer-funded efforts to clean up Oregon’s abandoned Formosa Mine, a federal Superfund site, could cost more than $20 million.

A mine plans its death before its birth. The leftover waste from mines is so hazardous that mining companies must figure out what to do with it decades in advance, even before they start digging.

That’s how it works today, at least. But in 1981, when the United States government began requiring mines to have rehabilitation plans, many operators simply up and left instead. The government has identified about 46,000 abandoned mines on public lands alone. Some of them are top-priority Superfund sites. (more…)

London “Super Sewer” Approved

The Thames Tideway Tunnel will be 15 miles long.

The Government has given the go-ahead to start building London’s ‘super sewer’ which will tackle the sewage pollution in to the tidal River Thames.

The 25km tunnel will run underground from Acton storm tanks in West London, and travel roughly the line underneath the river to Abbey Mills Pumping Station in East London, where it will connect to the Lee Tunnel.

The sewage collected from the 34 most polluting discharge points along the tidal river in Central London, will then be taken via the Lee Tunnel to Beckton sewage works for treatment.

Last year, 55 million tonnes of sewage polluted the tidal River Thames, far higher than the average 39 million tonnes that discharges in a typical year. (more…)

 

The Pure Water Occasional for October 20, 2014

In this mid-October Occasional, you’ll hear about the dramatic re-curving of the Kissimmee River, the worst drought ever, the prestigious Water Tank of the Year award, the political wrangling over the Passaic River, and the arsenic problem in Bangladesh.  Then there’s Pratt & Whitney pollution in Florida, leaky oil tankers in Seattle, acid draining rock, Boyan Stat’s war on plastic, the environmental perils of deep sea gold mining, the forfeiture of maritime zones by drowning islands, and Dr. Bronner’s ads that were turned down by scientific publications.  Learn how BPA pollutes the air as well as water, how smog adds water to rivers, how birth control pills kill minnows, how aluminum does (or doesn’t) cause Alzheimers,  and why the privatization of water resources seldom works. You’ll read Pure Water Annie’s thoughts on dissolved oxygen, Bee Sharper on the current water news numbers, the amazing win streak of the Lodi Flames, the perils of soda guzzling, the addition of “environmental labels” to beef to save water,  and, as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is a project of Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette.

To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette’s website,  please go here.  (Recommended! When you read online you get the added advantage of the Gazette’s sidebar feed of the very latest world water news.)

You’ll sing better.

 

The Kissimmee: A River Recurved

by Amy Green

Kissimmee Straightened by the Army Corps of Engineers 

Click image for larger view.

It sounds almost superhuman to try straighten a river and then recarve the curves.

That’s what federal and state officials did to the Kissimmee River in central Florida. They straightened the river in the 1960s into a canal to drain swampland and make way for the state’s explosive growth. It worked — and it created an ecological disaster. So officials decided to restore the river’s slow-flowing, meandering path.

That billion-dollar restoration — the world’s largest — is a few years from completion. And so far, it’s bringing signs of new life, especially on a man-made canal that was dug through the heart of the river.

“Birds are back, both wading birds and ducks. They’re all over the place,” says Paul Gray of Audubon Florida. “The oxygen levels in the river are better. There’s a lot more game fish in the river like bass and bluegill and stuff. Most of the biological perimeters, the goals of the restoration we’ve already met.”

The man-made canal begins near Walt Disney World in Central Florida and flows 50 miles south. “It messed up our water management infrastructure,” Gray says. “Now we drain so much water that when it’s dry we don’t have enough water for our human needs. We over drained, and so now we’re trying to rebuild the system where we’re going to catch water instead of wasting it when it’s wet.”

For decades, piles of dirt dug for the canal have remained heaped on its banks. Now bulldozers are pushing the dirt back into the waterway, filling it and making way for the river’s old meanders to recarve their historic path. Five dams controlling the waterway’s flow are being blown up, allowing the water to flow naturally.

The 20-year restoration effort is expected to be complete by 2017. (more…)

A lifetime of sugary sodas may be 4.6 years shorter

By Lindsey Bever

You knew that drinking sugary sodas could lead to obesity, diabetes and heart attacks — but, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, it may also speed up your body’s aging process.

As you age, caps on the end your chromosomes called telomeres shrink. In the past several years, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco, have analyzed stored DNA from more than 5,300 healthy Americans in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from some 14 years ago. And they discovered that those who drank more pop tended to have shorter telomeres.

The shorter the telomere, the harder it is for a cell to regenerate — and so, the body ages. (more…)

 

The Kissimmee: A River Recurved

 

by Amy Green

Kissimmee Straightened by the Army Corps of Engineers 

Click for larger view.

It sounds almost superhuman to try straighten a river and then recarve the curves.

That’s what federal and state officials did to the Kissimmee River in central Florida. They straightened the river in the 1960s into a canal to drain swampland and make way for the state’s explosive growth. It worked — and it created an ecological disaster. So officials decided to restore the river’s slow-flowing, meandering path.

That billion-dollar restoration — the world’s largest — is a few years from completion. And so far, it’s bringing signs of new life, especially on a man-made canal that was dug through the heart of the river. (more…)

Dissolved Oxygen: An important Constituent of Water

by Pure Water Annie

Gazette Technical Wizard Pure Water Annie Explains How Oxygen Gets Into Water and Why It Needs to Be There

Our atmosphere consists of around 21 percent oxygen.  Water, however, has only a fraction of 1 percent.

Oxygen dissolves into water at the point where water and air meet.

Dissolved oxygen, called DO, is made up of microscopic bubbles of oxygen gas in water.  This dissolved oxygen is critical for the support of plant life and fish.

According to one authority, “DO is produced by diffusion from the atmosphere, aeration of the water as it passes over falls and rapids, and as a waste product of photosynthesis.  It is affected by temperature, salinity, atmospheric pressure, and oxygen demand from aquatic plants and animals.”

Dissolved oxygen is measured as percent saturation or as parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per liter (mg/L).   As the chart below indicates, oxygen dissolves easily into cold water, not so easily into warm, and not at all into boiling water.

In water treatment, a high level of dissolved oxygen can make water taste better, but it can also make water corrosive to metal pipes. Dissolved oxygen is a necessary ingredient of many water treatment processes.  The use of catalytic carbon to remove iron, for example,  requires a minimum of about 4.0 ppm of dissolved oxygen in the source water, and Birm, the popular iron removal medium, will not work without sufficient dissolved oxygen.

Oxygen can be added to water by simple aeration techniques which involve exposing the water to air.  Ozone is also used in water treatment to greatly increase the oxygen content of water.

Glasses show how oxygen leaves water.  Milky water on left with high level of dissolved oxygen.  On the right, the air has gone back to the atmosphere and the water is clear.  Often a film will be left at the surface or “skin” at the top surface of the water.  When cloudy water clears from bottom to top. the discoloration is harmless air.  Water cloudy from silt clears from top to bottom and leaves residue at the bottom of the glass.