Apr 30, 2013

EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule: Revision to Best Available Monitoring Method Request Submission Deadline for Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems Source Category

Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule: Revision to Best Available Monitoring Method Request Submission Deadline for Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems Source Category 
40 CFR Part 98  [EPA-HQ-OAR-2011-0417; FRL- 9806-7]  RIN 2060-AR74 

AGENCY:  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 
ACTION:  Final Rule.  
SUMMARY:  The EPA is revising the deadline by which owners or operators of facilities subject to the petroleum and natural gas systems source category of the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule must submit requests for use of best available monitoring methods to the Administrator. This revision does not change any other requirements for owners or operators as outlined in the best available monitoring method rule provisions.  

28,000 Rivers Disappeared over 20 years in China: What Happened?

The Atlantic: As recently as 20 years ago, there were an estimated 50,000 rivers in China, each covering a flow area of at least 60 square miles. But now, according to China's First National Census of Water, more than 28,000 of these rivers are missing. To put this number into context, China's lost rivers are almost equivalent, in terms of basin area, to the United States losing the entire Mississippi River.

Why have these rivers "vanished" from the maps and national records?

Official explanations from the Chinese government have attributed the significant reduction to statistical discrepancies, water and soil loss, and climate change.

"The disparity in numbers was caused mainly by inaccurate estimates in the past, as well as climate change and water and soil loss. Due to limited technology in the past, the previous figures were estimated using incomplete topographic maps dating back to the 1950s," said Huang He, China's Deputy Director of the Ministry of Water Resources, in an interview with theSouth China Morning Post.

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Apr 29, 2013

Pre-release — EPA Rule — NY; NAAQS/PM2.5 standard. HAP/NSPS/NESHAP in CA, AZ and NV

Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: New York; Infrastructure SIP for 1997 8-Hour Ozone and 1997 and 2006 Fine Particulate Matter Standards
Apr 29, 2013 — Pre-release — Proposed Rule — [EPA-R02-OAR-2013-0274, FRL-9807-6] 
Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; 
New York; Infrastructure SIP for the 1997 8-Hour Ozone and 
the 1997 and 2006 Fine Particulate Matter Standards 
AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 
ACTION: Proposed rule. 
SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve most 
elements of New York's State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions submitted to demonstrate that 
the State meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the 1997 8-hour ozone and the 
1997 and 2006 fine particulate matter (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standards 
(NAAQS). EPA is also proposing to conditionally approve certain elements of New York's 
submittals. The CAA requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP for the implementation, 
maintenance and enforcement of each NAAQS promulgated by the EPA and is commonly 
referred to as an infrastructure SIP. 

Delegation of New Source Performance Standards and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Arizona, California, and Nevada
Apr 29, 2013 — Pre-release — Final Rule — [EPA-R09-OAR-2011-0981; FRL- 9806-2] 
Delegation of New Source Performance Standards and National 
Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for the 
States of 
Arizona, California, and Nevada 
AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 
ACTION: Proposed rule. 
SUMMARY: EPA is proposing to approve updates to the Code of  
Federal Regulations delegation tables to reflect the current
delegation status of New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and 
National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants 
(NESHAP) in Arizona, California, and Nevada.

Delegation of New Source Performance Standards and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants:
Apr 29, 2013 — Pre-release — Proposed Rule — [EPA-R09-OAR-2011-0981; FRL- 9806-2] 
Delegation of New Source Performance Standards and National 
Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for the
States of  
Arizona, California, and Nevada 
AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 
ACTION: Proposed rule. 
SUMMARY: EPA is proposing to approve updates to the Code of  
Federal Regulations delegation tables to reflect the current  
delegation status of New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and  
National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants  
(NESHAP) in Arizona, California, and Nevada.

Workers’ Memorial Day: 25 Years of Commemorating Fallen Workers

Preventable Deaths report
National COSH

In a report detailing the personal stories of workers who lost their lives on the job in recent years, The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) pairs personal stories with government data to highlight the need for worker health and safety reforms.

The report, "Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities," was released just days before Workers' Memorial Day, which is held April 28 every year to commemorate the workers who were injured or killed on the job. According to the latest complete data available, more than 4,600 workers were killed on the job in 2011 – workers who spanned many ages, industries and causes of death.

"Each worker killed is a tragic loss to the community of family, friends and co-workers – and the worst part is, these deaths were largely preventable," said Tom O'Connor, executive director of National COSH. "Simply by following proven safety practices and complying with OSHA standards, many of these more than 4,600 deaths could have been avoided. But as companies decry regulations and emphasize profits over safety, workers pay the ultimate price."

The report especially pushes for reforms to better protect temporary workers, immigrant workers and energy workers.

Continue reading at: EHS News Today


Apr 28, 2013

Random Analytics: H7N9 Infographic ...total for China to 123-cases including 23-deaths

***** Please note that this infographic of the Avian Influenza A(H7N9) virus and was updated with public source information from late 28 Apr to early 29 April 2013 CET/EST *****

1 - H7N9_Infographic_130429

Infographic Details

In the past 24-hours there have been 3 new cases (2x in Jiangxi and 1 in Zhejiang) with no new deaths reported. This brings the total for China to 123-cases including 23-deaths and Taiwan to 1-case without loss of life. (It should be noted that I do not include the asymptomatic Beijing case in my count).

To date 18.5% of all known cases have been fatal. For context the Case Fatality Rate of SARS was 10.9%.

There were no confirmed discharges in the past 24-hours. Note: All known paediatrics and children have recovered.

See full at Link Source:

Global Growth and Defense Spending to 2022 - Global Lost Decade.

McKinsey has Global Growth Model scenarios out to 2022 bounded by emerging markets' growth rates (between 3 and 7 percent per year from 2013 to 2022) and advanced economies' growth at 1 to 3 percent annually. These growth rates define four broad-based scenarios: Global Growth Renewed, Advanced Economies Rebound, Emerging Economies Lead, and Global Lost Decade.

The scenarios suggest dramatic shifts in defense spending in absolute terms. Defense spending in the BRIC countries and Saudi Arabia will increase significantly in all scenarios—from roughly $290 billion in 2011 to between approximately $550 billion and $830 billion by 2022 (in constant 2011 dollars). The fate of the United States and its major treaty allies' defense spending is mixed, however. When the major developed economies fare well, their combined defense spending increases from a little over $1 trillion in 2011 to more than $1.4 trillion in 2022; when they fare poorly, in the Global Lost Decade and Emerging Economies Lead scenarios, their combined defense spending falls below $1 trillion by 2022.

China, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia would #2 to #5 in military spending in 3 out of 4 scenarios

Read more at NBF

Apr 27, 2013

A History of American Energy Use via @lisawade #energy

Planet Money's Jacob Goldstein and Lam Thuy Vo offered some interesting data last week about the history of energy consumption in the U.S.  First they offered data on the rise and fall of alternative energy sources.


Coal, the first to replace wood, became a common energy source largely thanks to the railroads.  Wood was more or less everywhere, but coal had to be transported.

The invention and spread of the internal combustion engine drove the demand for oil.  According to this site (PM doesn't say), natural gas becomes common in the '50s thanks to the improvement of techniques for making metals and welding. This facilitates the building of oil pipelines, hence the rise of oil.

The overall rise in energy consumption per capita is worrisome, but it has fallen off since the mid-70s.  Thanks to high prices that encourage lower use and greater efficiency of appliances, our appetite for energy seems to have leveled off.


Not to end on an optimistic note, though.  That data is per capita.  Because our population has been rising, our overall energy use has continued to go up.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Smallmouth bass in Chesapeake Bay are sick with cancer. #green

A smallmouth bass with cancer caught in the Susquehanna
River. (Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission)
Sport fishing for smallmouth bass, which has been a multimillion-dollar industry in the Chesapeake Bay, is under crisis, as many of the fish are becoming sick and are in condition too poor to keep as trophies. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation released a report Thursday saying the fish have "been struck by a perfect storm of pollution, parasites, disease and endocrine disruptors that are changing the sex of males," reports Darryl Fears for The Washington Post

The Chesapeake Bay is about 200 miles, with hundreds of rivers and thousands of streams and creeks flowing throughout the watershed, which stretches more than 64,000 miles through six states. For more background, see the Chesapeake Bay Program.

One feeder stream hit particularly hard is the 444-mile Susquehanna River, which flows from New York through Pennsylvania. Citing a study by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the report found that between 2001 and 2005, catch rates for adult bass fell 80 percent in some areas of the Susquehanna, reports Fears. Commission Director John Arway said "he caught and released 200 bass on a summer night before 2005 and can now catch only three or four, and that anglers who come up empty-handed are shying away from the smallmouth bass, a business valued at nearly $650 million in 2011, according to the American Sportfishing Association," reports Fears. (Read more)

Americans 270 times more likely to die in a workplace than from a terrorist attack #OHS #CSR

In These Times - Although Americans were 270 times more likely to die a workplace accident than a terrorist attack in 2011, the Department of Homeland Security's budget that year was $47 billion, while OSHA's budget was only $558 million. And while the Senate has grilled top intelligence officials about possible information-sharing failures in the lead-up to the Boston bombing, lawmakers have not looked at similar evidence that information-sharing problems may have played a role in the Texas explosion. A press release from Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said only that the plant "was willfully off the grid."

Yet at least seven different state and national regulatory bodies were tasked with overseeing the factory. The federal agencies primarily responsible for preventing chemical-plant explosions are OSHA, which oversees workplace safety, and DHS, which monitors security operations at plants containing explosive substances. Neither agency knew that potentially dangerous amounts of ammonium nitrate were stored on the site. A cash-strapped OSHA had not inspected the plant since 1985, and the plant owners had apparently shirked their requirement to report the chemicals to the DHS.

But a report published in the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday found that at least three state agencies— the Department of State Health Services, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Office of the Texas State Chemist—did know that the plant had a large stockpile of ammonium nitrate. However, they did not share that information with OSHA or DHS. Representatives from the TCEQ and the chemist's office told reporters that their role in regulating the plant was not to ensure fire safety, but to handle other issues, such as the possibility of environmental contamination.
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S2711 New Jersey to develop plan to phase out latex gloves in #health care & food facilities. #OHS

This is kinda a big deal... 
New Jersey DOH to develop plan to phase out use of latex gloves in health care facilities and food establishments.



     As introduced.


AN ACT concerning the use of latex gloves and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.


     BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:


     1.    The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.     Latex allergies are increasingly becoming a problem for health care workers, patients, food service workers, and consumers of food products handled with latex gloves, and is recognized as a serious occupational health risk by the Food and Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

     b.    When exposed to latex gloves or latex glove residue, a person's reaction to latex may manifest itself through skin rashes, hives, itching, swollen skin, swollen lips and tongue, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, eye or sinus symptoms, asthma and difficulty breathing, coughing spells, wheezing, shock, and even death;

     c.     In 1997, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued an alert concerning the danger of exposure to latex products and requested assistance in preventing allergic reactions to natural rubber latex among workers who use gloves and other products containing latex; 

     d.    NIOSH recommended that workers be provided with non-latex gloves to use when there is little potential contact with infectious materials, such as in the food industry, as food products may become adulterated when they come into direct contact with latex gloves because of the residue the gloves leave behind;

     e.     In January 2008, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Safety and Health Information Bulletin concerning the potential harm to workers from natural rubber latex gloves and other natural rubber products.  The bulletin stated that the two major routes of occupational exposure are dermal contact and inhalation.  Inhalation exposure can result from the use of latex gloves, particularly when glove powder acts as a carrier for natural rubber latex protein, which becomes airborne when the gloves are donned or removed; 

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80 million Americans didn't go to doctor last year because of cost #health #politics

CNN - A growing number of Americans are skipping needed medical care because they can't afford it. 

Some 80 million people, around 43% of America's working-age adults, didn't go to the doctor or access other medical services last year because of the cost, according to the Commonwealth Fund's Biennial Health Insurance Survey, released Friday. That's up from 75 million people two years ago and 63 million in 2003. 

Not surprisingly, those who were uninsured or had inadequate health insurance were most likely to have trouble affording care. But 28% of working-age adults with good insurance also had to forgo treatment because of the price...

Study: Roundup linked to major health problems #nontoxic #health

Reuters - Heavy use of the world's most popular herbicide, Roundup, could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson's, infertility and cancers, according to a new study.

The peer-reviewed report, published last week in the scientific journal Entropy, said evidence indicates that residues of "glyphosate," the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which is sprayed over millions of acres of crops, has been found in food.

Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. Samsel is a former private environmental government contractor as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Look who Congress forgot to exempt from sequester #politics

Center for Budget & Policy Priorities - Responding to highly publicized flight delays from the "sequestration" budget cuts, the House and Senate have voted overwhelmingly to allow the Transportation Department to shift some airport infrastructure funding to pay air traffic controllers.  To be sure, delays in air travel inconvenience travelers and harm the economy.  But many other sequestration-related cuts that receive much less attention are far more damaging.

That's why policymakers need to address sequestration as a whole, replacing it with a balanced mix of responsible spending cuts and new revenues, rather than adopt a piecemeal approach that only gets the issue off the front pages.
The many other people facing hardships because of sequestration include:
  • Jobless workers losing unemployment benefits.Sequestration requires every state to cut benefits for the long-term unemployed.  So far, roughly 800,000 workers in 19 states have seen their benefits cut by a little more than 10 percent — or about $120 a month, on average.  When all states implement these cuts, they will affect as many as 3.8 million jobless workers.
  • Children losing Head Start. Head Start serves about 1 million disadvantaged children across the country.  Already, some Head Start programs are cutting their programs for the current school year — dropping children from the program, ending the school year several weeks early, or cutting services such as bus transportation.  These cuts can leave families scrambling to find alternatives for their children.  The Associated Press reports, for example:
  • At least two Indiana Head Start programs have resorted to a random drawing to determine which three-dozen preschool students will be removed from the education program for low-income families, a move officials said was necessary to limit the impact of mandatory across-the-board federal spending cuts.
    Other programs will reduce enrollment or make other cuts in their programs in the coming school year that starts in September.  For example, a Head Start program in Missouri just announced that nearly 200 fewer children would be enrolled next fall.
  • Seniors losing Meals on Wheels. Some seniors programs in various states are cutting the number of home-delivered meals provided or seniors served.  In central Maine, for example, the agency on aging has started a waiting list for seniors and cut the number of weekly visits to seniors receiving meals from two to one.
Low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities losing housing assistance. CBPP estimates that 140,000 fewer households will receive vouchers to help them afford decent housing. 

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One giant leap for mankind: $20 Billion nuclear fusion project makes breakthrough in quest for age of clean, unlimited clean energy

An idyllic hilltop setting in the Cadarache forest of Provence in the south of France has become the site of an ambitious attempt to harness the nuclear power of the sun and stars.

It is the place where 34 nations representing more than half the world's population have joined forces in the biggest scientific collaboration on the planet – only the International Space Station is bigger.

The international nuclear fusion project.... Please continue reading at:

Fatal Injuries in Offshore Oil and Gas Operations — seven times higher than for all U.S. workers

During 2003–2010, the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry (onshore and offshore, combined) had a collective fatality rate seven times higher than for all U.S. workers (27.1 versus 3.8 deaths per 100,000 workers). The 11 lives lost in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion provide a reminder of the hazards involved in offshore drilling. To identify risk factors to offshore oil and gas extraction workers, CDC analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), a comprehensive database of fatal work injuries, for the period 2003–2010. This report describes the results of that analysis, which found that 128 fatalities in activities related to offshore oil and gas operations occurred during this period. Transportation events were the leading cause (65 [51%]); the majority of these involved aircraft (49 [75%]). Nearly one fourth (31 [24%]) of the fatalities occurred among workers whose occupations were classified as "transportation and material moving." To reduce fatalities in offshore oil and gas operations, employers should ensure that the most stringent applicable transportation safety guidelines are followed.

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Newsweek/Gov't Acct'bl Proj: Toxicology / Human risks w/Gulf Oil Dispersants: "52 times more toxic" than the oil itself.

This report was featured on the news, with a mention that the dispersant was "52 times more toxic" than the oil itself.

I can't yet find actual ingredient lists, mechanisms of health effect, or targeted clinical organs / effects. In the 3rd-deep linked content, here's what I found.

Eventually coined "BP Syndrome" or "Gulf Coast Syndrome," all GAP witnesses experienced spill-related health problems. Some of these effects include: blood in urine; heart palpitations; kidney damage; liver damage; migraines; multiple chemical sensitivity; neurological damage resulting in memory loss; rapid weight loss; respiratory system and nervous system damage; seizures; skin irritation, burning and lesions; and temporary paralysis.

Still, thought our discipline needed to evaluate this situation.

Apr 26, 2013

Which Drugs Actually Kill Americans [Infographic] | via @popsci

U.S. drug-related deaths, over time Katie Peek
Hint: not pot

In 2010, there were 80,000 drug and alcohol overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WONDER database. The database, maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics, keeps a tally of all the deaths listed on certificates nationwide. They're classified by the ICD-10 medical coding reference system.

Death reporting in the U.S. requires an underlying cause-the event or disease that lead to the death. This chart represents all those listed in the CDC database as "accidental poisoning," "intentional self-poisoning," "assault by drugs," and "poisoning with undetermined intent." In addition to the underlying cause, a death certificate has space for up to 20 additional causes. That's where "cocaine" or "antidepressants" would show up. The subcategories are limited in their detail-many drugs are lumped together, like MDMA and caffeine, which are listed together as "psychostimulants." And about a quarter of all overdose death certificates don't have the toxicity test results listed at all, landing them in the "unspecified" stripe

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Parental use of pesticides and brain cancer risks in their children. Also see "Cadmium and the risk of breast cancer"

Parental use of pesticides and brain cancer risks in their children
Van Maele-Fabry and colleagues from have the Université catholique de Louvain carried out a review to investigate associations between brain cancer in kids and parental exposure to pesticides. Read about their results...

Cadmium and the risk of breast cancer
A recently published study from a team in Japan describes an investigation of the association between breast cancer and cadmium exposures in women.

We've Finally Figured Out What Makes LED Bulbs So Inefficient #green #tech

An LED Mystery Researchers measured the energy spectrum of electrons emitted by an LED and found that the signature of energetic electrons matched those produced by the Auger process. École Polytechnique, Ph. Lavialle
Now maybe LED lighting will take off in more than just traffic lights and gadgets.

LEDs should be lighting the way to a greener future: They use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent light bulbs, and they do so at a cooler temperature. But right now, we mostly use LEDs in electronics, because they have a bit of a drooping problem: at higher currents, the amount of light they produce takes a nose-dive.

The efficiency droop has baffled scientists for years, but researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara and France's École Polytechnique say they've finally solved the mystery.

Their work, published in a forthcoming issue of the Physical Review Letters, identifies the source of the droop as a process called Auger recombination, a non-radiative process that produces heat. Previous research at UCSB theorized that Auger recombination might be the culprit, but this is the first study to measure the effect conclusively.

LED-based lights contain a microchip with a positive-type and a negative-type semiconductor made of gallium nitride. Between the two, in a quantum well, the negative electrons from one semiconductor and the electron holes from the other combine, producing a photon of light. When you apply more electricity, it produces more photons--to a point.

In low power situations, like in your cell phone, the process works great. But when you raise the current up to the level it takes to light a room, nitride-based LEDs stop producing photons at the same rate. According to the research from UCSB's Center for Energy Efficient Materials, it's because the electrons collide with each other and lose their energy through heat instead of light.

If we could make LEDs that circumvent that issue, they could replace compact fluorescent lights as the energy-efficient bulb of the future. Theoretically, LEDs should produce about 300 lumens per watt, making them three times more efficient than CFLs, as well as easier to dispose of since they don't contain mercury. Widely adopting LED lighting could save the country $265 billion and reduce our electricity demand by one third in the next 20 years, according to a 2010 estimate from the U.S. Department of Energy.

But it does cost more upfront, so until LED technology can live up to their theoretical efficiency at higher currents, it's a tough sell. While the U.S. is already phasing out energy-sucking incandescent light bulbs, LEDs have yet to take over the commercial and residential lighting market.

So far, we don't have a solution to the droop, but now that they've identified the source of the problem, the researchers hope to design LEDs that will minimize the effect and produce more light, making the technology a more attractive choice for home and office lighting

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Crime against #Humanity - Millionaire Sold Fake Bomb Detectors To World Governments

Iraqi Soldier with an ADE 651 If there is a bomb in that car, that device won't detect it. U.S. Navy via wikimedia commons
The British businessman's fraud likely killed many soldiers who relied on the bogus devices to detect explosives.

It turns out someone can make millions in defense technology without any skill, innovation, or relevant expertise. Instead, as businessman James McCormick found out, it just takes some snakeoil, salesmanship, hubris, a couple bribes, and a lack of scruples. A London court found McCormick guilty of fraud on April 24.

McCormick sold his product as a bomb detection tool to governments experiencing internal violence and bomb attacks, including Iraq. Commonly labeled ADE 651, it was also sold as GT2000 or Alpha 6, with a $40,000 price tag.

The science behind the device is simple: It doesn't work. It lacks any working electronic components that could conceivably resemble something that worked. Based on a $20 novelty golf ball finder, the device resembles nothing so much as a dowsing rod.

How did he manage to sell $75 million worth of useless product? In 2010, McCormick's company was under investigation in Iraq, with a report by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior noting "that many lives have been lost due to the wands' utter ineffectiveness." That report and investigation was later quashed. Why? The fact that "75% of the value of the contract went to kickbacks received by [Iraqi] officials" might explain some of it. Corruption was also involved in sales of the device to Mexico and Thailand.

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Million-Neuron Artificial Brain Works In Real Time | the machines will soon rise #tech

Neurogrid Graduate students Sam Fok and Alex Neckar hold the new brain model. Samir Menon
A smaller, cheaper, faster brain model

This new computer model of a brain has one million neurons and works just as fast as a live brain does.

There are other brain models, run on supercomputers, that are much bigger. IBM's SyNAPSE, for example, modeled 530 billion neurons last November. (That's more than the total number of neurons in humans' brains, which clock in at 86 billion neurons on average.) Such models are very slow, however. Some take a couple hours to simulate a second of brain activity. SyNAPSE works 1,500 times slower than real time.

The new artificial brain, called Neurogrid, is a lighter, cheaper version of supercomputer models. It's also much more energy efficient, using just 5 watts of electricity, compared to the 8 megawatts that Blue Gene/Q Sequoia, SyNAPSE's supercomputer, uses. Neurogrid's creators hope that others may use it to learn more about healthy brains and brains affected by diseases such as autism and schizophrenia, according to the U.S. National Science Foundation, which funded Neurogrid. Those are some of the same general goals that larger brain models try to achieve, but something like Neurogrid could make brain modeling more accessible to more labs

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Lower Great Lakes threatened by toxic waste in N.Y.

The Buffalo News began a three-part series today examining how 800 hazardous waste sites in three counties in Western New York pose a serious threat to the lower Great Lakes, drinking water for millions of people in the U.S. and Canada. A study, conducted by local environmental groups and based on information from state and federal organizations, found potential chemical hazards in Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus counties, reports Dan Herbeck and T.J. Pignataro. (Above, Greg Evans has lived all his life near the Love Canal Containment Area in Niagara Falls. Buffalo News photo by Charles Lewis.)

The study found the three counties have 174 state or federal Superfund sites (an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located) and 43 of those have been designated as significant threats to public health, Herbeck and Pignataro. write. Niagara County has more than twice as many hazardous waste sites as comparably sized counties in the state, and Erie County has almost eight times as many brownfield cleanup sites - abandoned or underused properties where there may be environmental contamination. (Read more)

15th person dies from West Fertilizer blast; some tried to warn of impending disaster

A 15th person has been confirmed dead from the April 17 blast at the West Fertilizer Co. plant in West, Tex., as new information emerges that watchdog agencies and organizations warned of potential problems at the facility, such as the 2,400 tons of potentially explosive ammonium nitrate being stored on a site near schools, houses and a nursing home. (AP photo by Charlie Riedel: Cleanup continues.)

According to a November report by the Congressional Research Service, "the U.S. has about 90 facilities -- including chemical factories, refineries, water treatment plants or fertilizer depots -- that in a worst-case scenario would pose risks to more than a million people," Mark Drajem reports for Bloomberg News. "The calculations were based on the proximity of each plant to a population center as well as a 'worst-case release scenario,' such as an explosion or leak, that facility owners are required to report to the EPA."

"Environmental groups, unions and safety groups have pushed the U.S. to tighten oversight of chemical production and storage facilities, but they have never passed Congress," Drajem writes. "Instead, a patchwork of programs operates under separate departments, each with its own objectives, congressional oversight and constraints." (Read more)

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the state chemist's office and possibly others, knew as early as 2006 that West was stowing 2,400 tons of ammonium nitrate, but all failed to raise any concerns, Randy Lee Loftis reports for The Dallas Morning News. Bryan W. Shaw, chairman for TCEQ, said, "We don't evaluate the explosive threat associated with these types of facilities. We look at the environmental and health impacts," such as whether routine air emissions will cause a local problem. "Even when processing environmental permits for companies handling ammonium nitrate, asking about fertilizer fire and explosion risks is not the TCEQ's job," he said. 

No one seems to want to take responsibility for missing the warning signs at the West plant. "Experts not involved in the investigation said that the scenario — a routine fire getting out of control and superheating a container with a large volume of ammonium nitrate, widely used as a fertilizer and as an explosive — was easily predictable and probably preventable if anyone from any agency had discussed simple safeguards with the company," writes Loftis. (Read more)

We wrote about concerns about the plant's safety regulations.

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On the Path to Commercializing a $20,000 Very Light Car with over 100 mpge

In 2011, Edison 2 built an electrically powered Very Light Car (VLC) and won the Xprize for high fuel efficiency. The four-seat streamliner achieved a record 245 mpg-e in the five-cycle EPA test.

The VLC 4.0 is the result of a move to make commercial vehicles. It replaces the race car-like tube-frame chassis of earlier VLCs with an aluminum sheetmetal center section similar to an Indy-Car tub

Edison2′s Oliver Kuttner, a former Audi, BMW and Porsche dealer, estimates that a road-legal version will weigh 1,400-pounds and could be had for as little as $20,000 with a traditional engine and something in the mid-$20k range with a gas-electric drivetrain.

Edison2 believes that a battery-electric version would limit efficiency because of the weight of the battery. Instead, a small engine would be the best solution for maximum efficiency, with Kuttner claiming that a 250cc engine would be capable of getting the VLC 4.0 safely up to highway speeds and only requiring six horsepower to maintain a 60 mph cruising speed.

Edison 2's patented "in-wheel" suspension is the most innovative (and likely most commercially attractive) aspect of the project. The suspension could be licensed to other car makers.

The VLC architecture is a "new operating system." We may see bits of it in entry-level cars of the future.

Read more at NBF

IEA indicates no overall global progress to clean energy over the last 20 years

"The drive to clean up the world's energy system has stalled," IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven told the CEM, which brings together ministers representing countries responsible for four-fifths of global greenhouse-gas emissions. "Despite much talk by world leaders, and despite a boom in renewable energy over the last decade, the average unit of energy produced today is basically as dirty as it was 20 years ago."

The IEA report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress, introduces the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted, on average, to provide a given unit of energy. The ESCII stood at 2.39 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of oil equivalent (tCO2/toe) in 1990, and had barely moved by 2010, holding at 2.37 tCO2/toe.

Read more at NBF

Coal & Oil are still beating all other energy, costing the world about $1.4 trillion in air/water pollution (2% of global GDP)

Renewables energy and nuclear power have not kept up with coal, let alone decreased its use. From 2001 to 2010, the amount of electricity generated with coal increased by 2,700 terawatt hours. Over the same period, electricity from non-fossil sources—including wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, and nuclear—increased by less than half that amount: or 1,300 terawatt hours.

Worldwide, more coal power is being installed because it's inexpensive, reliable, and easy to incorporate into the grid. Before countries decide to stop building new coal plants, wind and solar and other low-carbon alternatives need to get cheaper.

Worldwide subsidies for fossil fuels, which at $523 billion are six times higher than subsidies for renewable energy. The fossil fuel subsidies do not include giving fossil fuels a free ride on air and water pollution.

Some estimate that China is losing about 7% of its GDP due to environmental damage for air and water pollution. A rough estimate is that air and water pollution from fossil fuel is costing the world about $1.4 trillion (2% of global GDP)

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IBM solar concentrator generates electricity and enough heat for desalination or cooling

IBM and its partners used a solar concentrator dish to shine light on a thin array of highly efficient triple-junction solar cells, which produce electricity from sunlight. By concentrating the light 2,000 times onto hundreds of one-centimeter-square cells, IBM projects, a full-scale concentrator could provide 25 kilowatts of power.

In this design, the engineers hope to both boost the output of the solar cells and make use of the heat produced by the concentrator. Borrowing its liquid-cooling technology for servers, IBM built a cooling system with pipes only a few microns off the photovoltaic cells to circulate water and carry away the heat. More than 50 percent of the waste heat is recovered. "Instead of just throwing away the heat, we're using the waste heat for processes such as desalination or absorption cooling," says Bruno Michel, manager, advanced thermal packaging at IBM Research.

"We plan to use triple-junction photovoltaic cells on a micro-channel cooled module which can directly convert more than 30 percent of collected solar radiation into electrical energy and allow for the efficient recovery of an additional 50 percent waste heat," said Bruno Michel, manager, advanced thermal packaging at IBM Research. It could convert 80 percent of the incoming radiation into useful energy.

Read more at NBF

US Crude oil production up over 20% or about 1.2 million bpd from the same time last year

US daily crude oil production increased by 118,000 bpd to 7.326 millions bpd. This is an increase of over 20% (1.2 million bpd) from the same time last year.

Getting to over 7.5 million bpd will be a crude oil production level last seen in the late 1980s. (This is likely to happen this summer)

Adding another 1.2 million bpd would put US crude oil production in the 8.5 million bpd range. This would be the highest levels since the 1980s. This is likely to happen in 2014.

Lockheed 10 megawatt ocean thermal energy plant could finally be beginning of utility scale commerci

Lockheed Martin recently entered into an agreement with Beijing based Reignwood Group to develop and build a 10-megawatt Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) pilot power plant off the coast of southern China.

The offshore plant, to be designed by Lockheed Martin, will be the largest OTEC project developed to date, supplying 100 percent of the power needed for a green resort being developed by Reignwood. In addition, the agreement could lay the foundation for the development of several additional OTEC power plants, ranging in size from 10 to 100 megawatts, for a potential multibillion-dollar value.

Southern China is an ideal location for an OTEC plant, which uses the natural temperature differences found in the ocean of tropical regions to drive turbines that create electricity. The energy produced by an OTEC facility is clean, sustainable and well-suited to the ocean conditions found near 80 countries around the world, including in the Asia-Pacific.

Once the plant is operational, the two companies plan to use the knowledge gained to improve the design of the additional commercial-scale plants to be built over the next 10 years.

OTEC has the potential to offer global amounts of energy that are 10 to 100 times greater than other ocean energy options such as wave power. OTEC plants can operate continuously providing a base load supply for an electrical power generation system.

A US Dept of Energy study indicated a maximum for global OTEC power production of 30 terawatts. More modest scenarios show 7 terawatts having little impact.

Read more at NBF

Low cost and increased supply of energy

Harvard business review looked at the the Spacex process for lowering the cost of space.

Spacex has a big goal, learned from the past, looking at the whole picture to find and prioritize opportunities, then refining key aspects of the space flight model to achieve their objective — is an approach that can make any organization more creative about cutting costs.

SpaceX approach innovates and transforms by looking at the entire business model instead of the parts. Cuts weren't just made to the physical rocket itself but to everything surrounding it — overhead, support services, development timeframe, and more.

* Sustaining cost reductions over many years
* Reinvest for more innovation

Applying to Energy

Canadian David LeBlanc (Transterrestrial Energy) is developing factory mass produced molten salt nuclear reactors.

LeBlanc envisions IMSR reactor sizes ranging from 25 MWe to 300 MWe.
* No fuel fabrication cost or salt processing = extremely low fuel costs
* Under 0.1 cents/kwh
* 200 small 300MWth MSR could be used to boost Canadian oil production by 6.4 million barrels per day

The 25 MWe version of the IMSR is the size of a fairly deep hottub

There are other factory mass produced nuclear fission reactors in development. China has a 210 MWe high temperature pebble bed reactor under construction and it should be done in about 2017. Initially it will not be cheaper than other nuclear reactors in China. Although China and South Korea have nuclear reactor construction costs that are about half the cost of other countries. China is also working on a Thorium molten salt reactor.

Most of the other small modular reactors will not be systems with the potential to radically alter the world energy mix or radically change the cost of energy.

Read Moreau at NBF

Psychiatry gone wild: One in five boys now being diagnosed with ADHD in America

Boys will be boys. But when they are, their risk of being falsely diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) becomes increasingly high, according to a recent report by The New York Times (NYT). The latest figures released by the U.S. Centers for Disease...

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Teen who ate almost nothing but ramen noodles for 13 years has health of 80-year-old

Since she was about five years old, Georgi Readman from the Isle of Wight in the U.K. has been eating primarily ramen noodles and nothing more for virtually every meal. And now the 18-year-old girl is suffering the health consequences, as reports indicate that her persistent...

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"World's greenest commercial building" opens in Seattle

An aerial view of the Bullitt Center, rooftop solar array under construction, September 20...

The world of architecture figuratively doffed its cap to Earth Day on Monday with the opening of the Bullitt Center in Seattle. The Bullitt Center aims to meet the rigorous Living Building Design Challenge, which looks beyond design criteria and scrutinizes a building's green credentials, including energy self-sufficiency, over the course of a year in use. But more significantly, its developers claim that the Bullitt Center is the greenest commercial building in the world... Continue Reading "World's greenest commercial building" opens in Seattle

Nano-engineered panel passively cools buildings by emitting heat into space

Studies have already shown us how white-painted roofs can help cool buildings by reflecting sunlight, while "green" roofs beat the heat by blocking sunlight and providing a source of evaporative cooling. Now, a team of scientists from Stanford University have created a panel that not only reflects sunlight, but it also draws heat from within the building and emits it into outer space. .. Continue Reading Nano-engineered panel passively cools buildings by emitting heat into space  

Sandia Labs researcher develops fertilizer without the explosive potential

Sandia National Laboratories chemical engineer Vicki Chavez worked with Kevin Fleming to p...

Ammonium nitrate is a commonly used fertilizer, but when mixed with a fuel such as diesel, it makes a powerful explosive – as seen in last week's fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. But it's the deliberate use of the compound in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and acts of terror such as the Oklahoma City bombing that gives rise to even greater cause for concern. This is why Kevin Fleming, an optical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, developed a fertilizer alternative that isn't detonable and therefore can't be used in a bomb... Continue Reading Sandia Labs researcher develops fertilizer without the explosive potential

Volvo confirms fuel savings of 25 percent with flywheel KERS

Volvo's Flywheel KERS

After extensive testing of its kinetic flywheel technology, Volvo has announced that the system can boost fuel economy by 25 percent. The company is now looking at integrating the Flywheel KERS system into its production line. .. Continue Reading Volvo confirms fuel savings of 25 percent with flywheel KERS

Apr 25, 2013

In pictures: Top ten green buildings in the US

A New Norris House: perhaps the most modest building in the AIA's top ten (Photo: Ken McCo...

The American Institute of Architects announced its top ten green buildings in the US for 2013 on Monday (Earth Day, uncoincidentally). It's a diverse list, containing a cheese factory, senior citizens' apartments, school buildings, and a smattering of LEED certificates. There's only one net zero building on the list, though it's worth remembering that it's much easier to build a net zero home than it is a net zero office or factory. Step inside for a short profile of each of the buildings, or head straight to the gallery for the architectural eye candy... Continue Reading In pictures: Top ten green buildings in the US

Please celebrate Workers Memorial April 28 on historical webpage dedicated to recognizing & honoring fallen workers #OHS #OSHA

Please celebrate Workers Memorial Day 2013 by visiting compliance safety's amazing page dedicated to recognizing and honoring fallen workers through our nations history: http://complianceandsafety.com/blog/workers-memorial-day-2013/

WACO was just another preventable, tragic workplace incident. Here is the list for today. One is too many #OHS #WACO #OSHA

Worker Dies at Las Vegas Road Site
Authorities say a construction worker was killed when he was crushed by a pipe segment at a road-building project in northwest Las Vegas. KLAS (Las Vegas)

OSHAInvestigates Grain Bin Death in Wisconsin
OSHAis investigating the death of a 27-year-old man in a grain bin at the United Ethanol plant in Milton, Wisc. Wisconsin State Journal

Report: 32 Mass. Workers Died from Job-Related Injuries, Illnesses in 2012
Thirty-two workers died of injuries or illnesses from their jobs in the Bay State last year, according to a new report. The average fine against employers for federal violations resulting in a worker's death was $9,590 in Massachusetts last year, the report says. Taunton Daily Gazette

Pilgrim's Pride Plant Cited with Eight Safety Violations
The Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing facility in Canton, Ga. has been cited with eight safety violations and may face $58,000 in fines following the death of a worker killed there last October. The 37-year-old man died after being caught in a machine at the plant while attempting to remove a piece of cardboard.

OSHA Cites Minot Company Following Oil Worker's Death
OSHA has cited a Minot company in connection with a worker`s death last month. The agency cited First Choice Energy for exposing workers to unsafe conditions at an oil field drilling and fluid disposal operation in Stanley.

For Workers Memorial Day: Preventing Falls

"If it could happen to him it could happen to anybody."  Watch this moving video from the CDPH FACE program about a roofing supervisor who died when he fell through a skylight. Released in advance of Workers Memorial Day (4/28/13), the video highlights co-worker testimony of the events that led up to his death and what could have been done to prevent it. 

Read on at:
Hat Tip to: Jennifer McNary, MPH, CIH
Research Scientist - California Department of Public Health

@Staples helping protect people & Planet: agrees to progressive e-waste standards #Green #Humanrights #OHS

Workers at an electronics recycling operation in Guangzhou, China, separate plastic, metals, and wires as they pull apart computers. (Credit: Jay Greene/CNET)

Staples has agreed to work with one of the most environmentally progressive electronic-waste recycling groups to handle gadgets from both the company and consumers when those devices die.

The retail giant announced a deal Monday, Earth Day, to use recyclers certified by e-Stewards, a program set up by the Seattle-based environmental group, the Basel Action Network, to handle materials collected from its free technology recycling program at more than 1,500 stores nationally. The company will also use e-Stewards-certified recyclers to handle electronic waste from its own internal operations.

One of the big problems with electronics disposal is that recycling old mobile phones, laptops, and other gadgets may not actually be the most environmentally sound practice. That might seem counter intuitive. After all, in the hierarchy of green living, reuse is preferable to recycling because it extends a product's life.

Read on at CNET: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-57580786-54/staples-agrees-to-progressive-e-waste-standards/