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In The News: Connecticut, Canada, Chemicals, and Climate Change

Hey there, ecoSPEARS readers! It’s that time of the week again (Tuesday, in case you were wondering) which means it’s time for our weekly blurb. This week we’re going to look at a few news articles from last week, including one from somewhere we haven’t been able to cover much yet: Quebec, Canada. Let’s get to it.

Our first article comes to us last week from the American Chemical Society. We’ve discussed issues of airborne PCBs in the past, primarily in the case of New Bedford Harbor, but New Bedford is a site on the EPA’s National Priority List of cleanup sites. No one expects to find airborne PCBs in their home, which is why scientists were shocked when 16 Iowa homes tested for airborne PCBs were found to have much higher levels than expected of PCB-47, PCB-51, and PCB-68. Perhaps the most shocking discovery was that higher levels of PCBs were found in houses that built more recently rather than older houses built with material that may have been produced prior to 1979, when the manufacture of PCBs were federally banned.

Sealant in kitchen cabinets has been found to be a new source of airborne PCBs in Iowa homes.

“After testing the emissions coming from a variety of household items, including the stove, floor and walls, the researchers found the PCBs wafting off the finished kitchen cabinetry,” the articles says. It continues to say the researchers involved in the study, “suspect that the substances come from the decomposition of 2,4-dichlorobenzoyl peroxide, a common ingredient in modern cabinet sealants.”

Undoubtedly more research has to be done if the scope and length of study is to be expanded, but the research done so far has been peer-reviewed and verified by numerous federal agencies.

Our second article for this week’s blurb comes out of Suffield, Connecticut. The town’s library underwent initial renovations in late 2014 with plans to finish the renovations in roughly a year; however, the discovery of PCBs in the material of the building halted construction efforts and redirected the town’s focus to grant acquisition and cleanup abilities for the library.

Last Monday, Director of Public Works Julie Oakes gave a presentation during which she declared two companies offering bids for cleaning PCBs from Kent Memorial Library had estimated their costs for the project to be roughly $1.45 million, blindsiding town citizens. The town’s Board of Finance had originally estimated costs of cleanup efforts to be closer to $800,000-$1,200,000, but have reportedly set aside $1 million to help cover the cost of the library’s cleanup.

Kent Memorial Library in Suffield, CT where PCB remediation costs are estimated to be $1.45M

According to Oaks, tests were conducted on paint samples from the library’s ceiling and walls – where PCBs were detected – to see what could be done to reduce concentration levels below EPA’s safety standards. Oakes stated that an epoxy sealant, when covered on the surfaces, “reduced the presence of PCBs…to almost zero.” Suffield citizens and selectmen are continuing to research grant opportunities to aid in covering the cost for cleaning the library. Some others remain hopeful that if more companies conduct bids on the cost and find it to be a lower estimate, efforts can begin sooner rather than later.

Lastly, the town of Amos in Quebec, Canada recently pleaded guilty to one charge of selling PCB-contaminated products in April of 2015. PCB regulations in Canada prevent the sale of goods contaminated with PCBs with concentrations of 50 mg/kg or higher. The investigation, which was conducted by enforcement officers of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) ultimately resulted in the town being fined for $100,000 and having a recorded offence under the 1999 Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

Canada is one of the world’s leaders in combating climate change and harmful environmental impacts.

The ECCC was established in 1995, “to provide a mechanism for funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments to be directed to projects that will benefit our environment.” The guilty plea by the town will be entered into Canada’s Environmental Offenders Registry.

And that’s all for this week, readers! Be sure to check back every Tuesday afternoon for weekly highlights of environmental news.

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For more information about the agencies and organizations mentioned in the article, please click the following links:

American Chemical Society


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