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Keeping It Green
Updated: Oct. 19, 2017
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For more definitions
from the EPA, click here.

A
AANNWR
Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Abatement Debris
Waste from remediation activities.
Acclimatization
The physiological and behavioral adjustments of an organism to changes in its environment.
Acid Aerosol
Acidic liquid or solid particles small enough to become airborne. High concentrations can irritate the lungs and have been associated with respiratory diseases like asthma.
Acid Rain
A complex chemical and atmospheric phenomenon that occurs when emissions 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, popularly called "acid rain," can fall to earth as rain, snow, or fog. The dry forms are acidic gases or particulates.
Acid Mine Drainage
Drainage of water from areas that have been mined for coal or other mineral ores.
Activated Carbon
A highly adsorbent form of carbon used to remove odors and toxic substances from liquid or gaseous emissions. In waste treatment, it is used to remove dissolved organic matter from waste drinking water. It is also used in motor vehicle evaporative control systems.

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Activated Sludge
Product that results when primary effluent is mixed with bacteria-laden sludge and then agitated and aerated to promote biological treatment, speeding the breakdown of organic matter in raw sewage undergoing secondary waste treatment.
Acute Toxicity
The ability of a substance to cause severe biological harm or death soon after a single exposure or dose. Also, any poisonous effect resulting from a single short-term exposure to a toxic substance. (See: chronic toxicity, toxicity.)
ACWA
American Clean Water Association
Adulterants
Chemical impurities or substances that by law do not belong in a food, or pesticide.
Aerosol
1. Small droplets or particles suspended in the atmosphere, typically containing sulfur. They are usually emitted naturally (e.g. in volcanic eruptions) and as the result of anthropogenic (human) activities such as burning fossil fuels
2. The pressurized gas used to propel substances out of a container.

Affected Landfill
Under the Clean Air Act, landfills that meet criteria for capacity, age, and emissions rates set by the EPA. They are required to collect and combust their gas emissions.

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Affected Public
1. The people who live and/or work near a hazardous waste site
2. The human population adversely impacted following exposure to a toxic pollutant in food, water, air, or soil.

Agent
Any physical, chemical, or biological entity that can be harmful to an organism (synonymous with stressors.
Agent Orange
A toxic herbicide and defoliant used in the Vietnam conflict, containing 2,4,5-trichlorophen-oxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) and 2-4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) with trace amounts of dioxin.
Agricultural Pollution
Farming wastes, including runoff and leaching of pesticides and fertilizers; erosion and dust from plowing; improper disposal of animal manure and carcasses; crop residues, and debris.
Agricultural Waste
Poultry and livestock manure, and residual materials in liquid or solid form generated from the production and marketing of poultry, livestock or fur-bearing animals; also includes grain, vegetable, and fruit harvest residue.
Air Curtain
A method of containing oil spills. Air bubbling through a perforated pipe causes an upward water flow that slows the spread of oil. It can also be used to stop fish from entering polluted water.

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Air Pollutant
Any substance in air that could, in high enough concentration, harm man, other animals, vegetation, or material. Pollutants may include almost any natural or artificial composition of airborne matter capable of being airborne. They may be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, gases, or in combination thereof. Generally, they fall into two main groups:
1. those emitted directly from identifiable sources
2. those produced in the air by interaction between two or more primary pollutants, or by reaction with normal atmospheric constituents, with or without photoactivation.
Exclusive of pollen, fog, and dust, which are of natural origin, about 100 contaminants have been identified. Air pollutants are often grouped in categories for ease in classification; some of he categories are: solids, sulfur compounds, volatile organic chemicals, particulate matter, nitrogen compounds, oxygen compounds, halogen compounds, radioactive compound, and odors.
Air Pollution Episode
1. A period of abnormally high concentration of air pollutants, often due to low winds and temperature inversion, that can cause illness and death.
2. Any program heard on the Rush Limbaugh show.

Air Quality Standards
The level of pollutants prescribed by regulations that are not be exceeded during a given time in a defined area.
Air Toxics
Any air pollutant for which a national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) does not exist (i.e. excluding ozone, carbon monoxide, PM-10, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide) that may reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer; respiratory, cardiovascular, or developmental effects; reproductive dysfunctions, neurological disorders, heritable gene mutations, or other serious or irreversible chronic or acute health effects in humans.

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Alar
Trade name for daminozide, a pesticide that makes apples redder, firmer, and less likely to drop off trees before growers are ready to pick them. It is also used to a lesser extent on peanuts, tart cherries, concord grape
Algae
Simple rootless plants that grow in sunlit waters in proportion to the amount of available nutrients. They can affect water quality adversely by lowering the dissolved oxygen in the water. They are food for fish and small aquatic animals.
Algal Blooms
Sudden spurts of algal growth, which can affect water quality adversely and indicate potentially hazardous changes in local water chemistry.
Allergen
A substance that causes an allergic reaction in individuals sensitive to it.
Alluvial
Relating to and/or sand deposited by flowing water.
Alternative Fuels
AKA Renewable Energy. Substitutes for traditional liquid, oil-derived motor vehicle fuels like gasoline and diesel. Includes mixtures of alcohol-based fuels with gasoline, methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, and others. See Alternative Energy.
Anaerobic
A life or process that occurs in, or is not destroyed by, the absence of oxygen.

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Antarctic "Ozone Hole"
Refers to the seasonal depletion of ozone in the upper atmosphere above a large area of Antarctica. (See: Ozone Layer.)
Anthropocene Epoch
Thought to have begun in the 1950s, when human activity, namely rapid industrialization and nuclear activity, set global systems on a different trajectory. And there's evidence in the geographic record. Indeed, scientists say that nuclear bomb testing, industrial agriculture, human-caused global warming and the proliferation of plastic across the globe have so profoundly altered the planet that it is time to declare the 11,700-year Holocene over. More
Anthropogenic Climate Change
Caused by man or resulting from human activities. Used in the context of greenhouse gas emissions produced as a result of human activities.

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Anti-Microbial
An agent that kills microbes.
Aromatics
A type of hydrocarbon, such as benzene or toluene, with a specific type of ring structure. Aromatics are sometimes added to gasoline in order to increase octane. Some aromatics are toxic.
Arsenicals
Pesticides containing arsenic.
Asbestos
A mineral fiber that can pollute air or water and cause cancer or asbestosis when inhaled. (causes Asbestosis)
Attainment Area
An area considered to have air quality as good as or better than the national ambient air quality standards as defined in the Clean Air Act. An area may be an attainment area for one pollutant and a non-attainment area for others.

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B
Backyard Composting
Diversion of organic food waste and yard trimmings from the municipal waste stream by composting hem in one's yard through controlled decomposition of organic matter by bacteria and fungi into a humus-like product. It is considered source reduction, not recycling, because the composted materials never enter the municipal waste stream.
Bacteria
(Singular: bacterium) Microscopic living organisms that can aid in pollution control by metabolizing organic matter in sewage, oil spills or other pollutants. However, bacteria in soil, water or air can also cause human, animal and plant health problems.
Baffle Chamber
In incinerator design, a chamber designed to promote the settling of fly ash and coarse particulate matter by changing the direction and/or reducing the velocity of the gases produced by the combustion of the refuse or sludge.
Basal Application
In pesticides, the application of a chemical on plant stems or tree trunks just above the soil line.
Basalt
Consistent year-round energy use of a facility; also refers to the minimum amount of electricity supplied continually to a facility.

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Becquerel
In the International System of units (SI), the becquerel (Bq) is the unit of radioactivity. One Bq is 1 disintegration per second (dps). One curie is 37 billion Bq. Since the Bq represents such a small amount, you are likely to see a prefix used with Bq, as shown below: 1 MBq (27 microcuries) 1 GBq (27 millicuries) 37 GBq (1 curie) 1 TBq (27 curies) See Curie
BEN
EPA's computer model for analyzing a violator's economic gain from not complying with the law.
Benefit-Cost Analysis
An economic method for assessing the benefits and costs of achieving alternative health-based standards at given levels of health protection.
Beryllium
A metal hazardous to human health when inhaled as an airborne pollutant. It is discharged by machine shops, ceramic and propellant plants, and foundries.
BACM
Best Available Control Measures : A term used to refer to the most effective measures (according to EPA guidance) for controlling small or dispersed particulates and other emissions from sources such as roadway dust, soot and ash from wood stoves and open burning of rush, timber, grasslands, or trash.
Biomass
Biomass energy, or "bioenergy"—the energy from plants and plant-derived materials has been in use since people began burning wood to cook food and keep warm. Wood is still the largest biomass energy resource today, but other sources of biomass can also be used. These include food crops, grassy and woody plants, residues from agriculture or forestry, oil-rich algae, and the organic component of municipal and industrial wastes. Even the fumes from landfills (which are methane, a natural gas) can be used as a biomass energy source. Learn more.
Bimetal
Beverage containers with steel bodies and aluminum tops; handled differently from pure aluminum in recycling.

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Biodiversity
Refers to the variety and variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur. Diversity can be defined as the number of different items and their relative frequencies. For biological diversity, these items are organized at many levels, ranging from complete ecosystems to the biochemical structures that are the molecular basis of heredity. Thus, the term encompasses different ecosystems, species, and genes.
Biohybrid Solar Cells
The Biohybrid Breakthrough

Part biological molecule, part electrode material. “In our case, those molecules are Photosystem I proteins, which drive photosynthesis in green plants,” said Kane Jennings, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Vanderbilt University, who led the study with David Cliffel, an associate professor of chemistry. Read more.

Biological Contaminants
Living organisms or derivates (e.g. viruses, bacteria, fungi, and mammal and bird antigens) that can cause harmful health effects when inhaled, swallowed, or otherwise taken into the body.
Biological Magnification
Refers to the process whereby certain substances such as pesticides or heavy metals move up the food chain, work their way into rivers or lakes, and are eaten by aquatic organisms such as fish, which in turn are eaten by large birds, animals or humans. The substances become concentrated in tissues or internal organs as they move up the chain. (See: bioaccumulants.)

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Biological Pesticides
Certain microorganism, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa that are effective in controlling 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.
Biological Stressors
Organisms accidentally or intentionally dropped into habitats in which they do not evolve naturally; e.g. gypsy moths, Dutch elm disease, certain types of algae, and bacteria.
Biosphere
The portion of Earth and its atmosphere that can support life.
Biota
The animal and plant life of a given region.
Biotech(nology)
Techniques that use living organisms or parts of organisms to produce a variety of products (from medicines to industrial enzymes) to improve plants or animals or to develop microorganisms to remove toxics from bodies of water, or act as pesticides.
Bitumen (AKA Dilbit)
Mineral pitch; a black, tarry substance, burning with a bright flame; Jew’s pitch. It occurs as an abundant natural product in many places, as on the shores of the Dead and Caspian Seas. It is used in cements, in the construction of pavements, et cetera.
By extension, any one of the natural hydrocarbons, including the hard, solid, brittle varieties called asphalt, the semisolid maltha and mineral tars, the oily petrolea, and even the light, volatile naphthas.
The primary ingredient of tar-sands oil.

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Black Liquor
No, it's not the latest drink sensation, but a very toxic substance derived from wood pulp. Energy industry advocates have snuck into D.C.'s renewable energy law, permission to include this fuel in their Renewable Portfolio Stsndard (RPS).
Blackwater
Water that contains animal, human, or food waste.
Bloom
A proliferation of algae and/or higher aquatic plants in a body of water; often related to pollution, especially when pollutants accelerate growth.
Bog
A type of wetland that accumulates appreciable peat deposits. Bogs depend primarily on precipitation for their water source, and are usually acidic and rich in plant residue with a conspicuous mat of living green moss.
Boom
1. A floating device used to contain oil on a body of water.
2. A piece of equipment used to apply pesticides from a tractor or truck.

Botanical Pesticide
A pesticide whose active ingredient is a plant-produced chemical such as nicotine or strychnine. Also called a plant-derived pesticide.
Bottle Bill
Proposed or enacted legislation which requires a returnable deposit on beer or soda containers and provides for retail store or other redemption. Such legislation is designed to discourage use of throw-away containers.

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Bottom Ash
The non-airborne combustion residue from burning pulverized coal in a boiler; the material which falls to the bottom of the boiler and is removed mechanically; a concentration of non-combustible materials, which may include toxics.
BPA
BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. See what the MAYO Clinic thinks of this chemical agent.
Brackish
Mixed fresh and salt water.
Brine Mud
Waste material, often associated with well-drilling or mining, composed of mineral salts or other inorganic compounds.
British Thermal Unit (BTU)
Unit of heat energy equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level.
Brownfields
Abandoned, idled, or under used industrial and commercial facilities/sites where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. They can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. EPA's Brownfields initiative helps communities mitigate potential health risks and restore the economic viability of such areas or properties.
Building Related Illness
Diagnosable illness whose cause and symptoms can be directly attributed to a specific pollutant source within a building (e.g. Legionnaire's disease, hypersensitivity, pneumonitis.)
Burial Ground  (Graveyard)
A disposal site for radioactive waste materials that uses earth or water as a shield.

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C
Cadmium (Cd)
A heavy metal that accumulates in the environment.

See Contamination

CAFE Standard
See Fuel Economy Standard
Calcination
It is made by baking calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to make quicklime (CaO) – a process called calcination – and releases CO2. This accounts for about 5 per cent of all human-produced carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. There is also the reverse process. See also carbonation.
Calving
Also known as "Iceberg" or "Glacier" Calving.
Cows have calves, glaciers calve icebergs, which are chunks of ice that break off glaciers and fall into water. Calving is when chunks of ice break off at the terminus, or end, of a glacier. Ice breaks because the forward motion of a glacier makes the terminus unstable. Learn more.
Cap and Trade
Cap and trade is an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply. Successful cap and trade programs reward innovation, efficiency, and early action and provide strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth.

More on this subject

Capacity Assurance Plan
A statewide plan which supports a state's ability to manage the hazardous waste generated within its boundaries over a twenty year period.
Capillary Action
Movement of water through very small spaces due to molecular forces called capillary forces.
Carbon Adsorption
A treatment system that removes contaminants from ground water or surface water by forcing it through tanks containing activated carbon treated to attract the contaminants.

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Carbination
Although climate scientists have always factored calcination into their calculations, they haven’t so far given a lot of thought to this reverse process, in which cement, over the years, absorbs atmospheric carbon. Read more here.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Aan atmospheric gas that is a major component of the carbon cycle. Although produced through natural processes, carbon dioxide is also released through human activities, such as the combustion of fossil fuels to produce electricity. Carbon dioxide is the predominate gas contributing to the greenhouse effect, and as such is known to contribute to climate change.
Carbon Footprint
The term refers to the amount of carbon (C02) we emit individually in any one-year period. C02 is produced from many sources and is the primary gas responsible for Global warming and the resulting alarming changes in our climate. Calculate yours.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
A colorless, odorless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete fossil fuel combustion.
Carbon Sequestration
The uptake and storage of carbon. Trees and plants, for example, absorb carbon dioxide, release the oxygen and store the carbon. Fossil fuels were at one time biomass and continue to store the carbon until burned. See Sinks. [Source: NASA's Earth Observatory library]
Carbon Tetrachloride (CC14)
Compound consisting of one carbon atom ad four chlorine atoms, once widely used as a industrial raw material, as a solvent, and in the production of CFCs. Use as a solvent ended when it was discovered to be carcinogenic.

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Carcinogen
Any substance that can cause or aggravate cancer.
Cap and Trade
A market-based method of reducing dependence of fossil fuels. (More)
Cask
A thick-walled container (usually lead) used to transport radioactive material.
Catalytic Converter
An air pollution abatement device that removes pollutants from motor vehicle exhaust, either by oxidizing them into carbon dioxide and water or reducing them to nitrogen.
Cells
1. In solid waste disposal, holes where waste is dumped, compacted, and covered with layers of dirt on a daily basis.
2. The smallest structural part of living matter capable of functioning as an independent unit.

CERCLIS
The federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System is a database that includes all sites which have been nominated for investigation by the Superfund program.

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CH4 (Methane)
The most abundant organic molecule in the Earth’s atmosphere and plays important roles in both the planet’s radiative energy budget and global atmospheric chemistry (Brasseur et al., 1999). It’s presence in the atmosphere was first noted in 1948 from features in the infrared absorption spectrum [Migeotte, 1948] and it is now routinely measured. CH4 is the third most important greenhouse gas after H2O vapor and carbon dioxide (CO2) and has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) 25 times that of CO2 on a 100 –year timescale (Forster et al., 2007).  
Channelization
Straightening and deepening streams so water will move faster, a marsh-drainage tactic that can interfere with waste assimilation capacity, disturb fish and wildlife habitats, and aggravate flooding.
Chemical Stressors
Chemicals released to the environment through industrial waste, auto emissions, pesticides, and other human activity that can cause illnesses and even death in plants and animals.
Chemnet
Mutual aid network of chemical shippers and contractors that assigns a contracted emergency response company to provide technical support if a representative of the firm whose chemicals are involved in an incident is not readily available.
Chemosterilant
A chemical that controls pests by preventing reproduction.
Chemtrec
The industry-sponsored Chemical Transportation Emergency Center; provides information and/or emergency assistance to emergency responders.

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CHP
Combined Heat and Power, converts waste heat to power. Read more.
Chilling Effect
The lowering of the Earth's temperature because of increased particles in the air blocking the sun's rays. (See: greenhouse effect.)
Chlorinated Hydrocarbons
1. Chemicals containing only chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen. These include a class of persistent, broad-spectrum insecticides that linger in the environment and accumulate in the food chain. Among them are DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, chlordane, lindane, endrin, Mirex, hexachloride, and toxaphene. Other examples include TCE, used as an industrial solvent.
2. Any chlorinated organic compounds including chlorinated solvents such as dichloromethane, trichloromethylene, chloroform.

• Chlorination
The application of chlorine to drinking water, sewage, or industrial waste to disinfect or to oxidize undesirable compounds.
Chloro- fluorocarbons (CFCs)
A family of inert, nontoxic, and easily liquefied chemicals used in refrigeration, air conditioning, packaging, insulation, or as solvents and aerosol propellants. Because CFCs are not destroyed in the lower atmosphere they drift into the upper atmosphere where their chlorine components destroy ozone. (See: the Ozone Hole.)
Cholinesterase
An enzyme found in animals that regulates nerve impulses by the inhibition of acetylcholine. Cholinesterase inhibition is associated with a variety of acute symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, stomach cramps, and rapid heart rate.

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Chromium
(See: heavy metal toxicity.)
Chronic Toxicity
The capacity of a substance to cause long-term poisonous health effects in humans, animals, fish, and other organisms.
Crystalline Silicon
Crystalline silicon cells are made of silicon atoms connected to one another to form a crystal lattice. This lattice comprises the solid material that forms the photovoltaic (PV) cell's semiconductors. This section describes the atomic structure and bandgap energy of these cells. More
Cistern
Small tank or storage facility used to store water for a home or farm; often used to store rain water.

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Class I Substance
One of several groups of chemicals with an ozone depletion potential of 0.2 or higher, including CFCS, Halons, Carbon Tetrachloride, and Methyl Chloroform (listed in the Clean Air Act), and HBFCs and Ethyl Bromide (added by EPA regulations). (See: Global warming potential.)
Clean Air Act
EPA projects that the Clean Air Act Amendments will prevent over 230,000 early deaths in 2020. Learn more about the Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act. Full Report
Clean Coal Technology
Any technology not in widespread use prior to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. This Act os said to achieve significant reductions in pollutants associated with the burning of coal. Most people in the environmental movement believe this term to be a myth.
Clean Fuels
Blends or substitutes for gasoline fuels, including compressed natural gas, methanol, ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas. Of course, the cleanest fuels are those that emit no CO2 or other pollutants, to which the aforementioned does not apply - specifically, Solar, Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc. See our page on Renewable Energy.

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Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the cornerstone of surface water quality protection in the United States. (The Act does not deal directly with ground water nor with water quantity issues.) The statute employs a variety of regulatory and nonregulatory tools to sharply reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways, finance municipal wastewater treatment facilities, and manage polluted runoff. These tools are employed to achieve the broader goal of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters so that they can support "the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water." More
Clear Cut
Harvesting all the trees in one area at one time, a practice that can encourage fast rainfall or snow melt runoff, erosion, sedimentation of streams and lakes, and flooding, and destroys vital habitat.
Climate Change
(also referred to as 'global climate change'): The term 'climate change' is sometimes used to refer to all forms of climatic inconsistency, but because the Earth's climate is never static, the term is more properly used to imply a significant change from one climatic condition to another. In some cases, 'climate change' has been used synonymously with the term, 'global warming'; scientists however, tend to use the term in the wider sense to also include natural changes in climate. Pro/Con arguments on what is reponsible for Climate Change

Please visit our dedicated Climate Change page.

Clothianidin
On March 22, 2012, commercial beekeepers and environmental organizations filed an urgent Legal Petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demanding the suspension and further use of a pesticide, which the agency's own scientists originally assessed as "highly toxic to honey bees" back in 2003. The Petition demands new safeguards, to prevent similarly dangerous pesticides being approved by the agency in the future. The legal petition is supported by over one million citizen-petitions, collected from people across the country, demanding the ban of clothianidin in particular – because of its lethal impact on honey bees. Read the disappointing EPA response.

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Co-fire
Burning of two fuels in the same combustion unit; e.g., coal and natural gas, or oil and coal.
Coal Gasification
Conversion of coal to a gaseous product by one of several available technologies.
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR):
Document that codifies all rules of the executive departments and agencies of the federal government. It is divided into fifty volumes, known as titles. Title 40 of the CFR (referenced as 40 CFR) lists all environmental regulations.
Coefficient of Haze (COH)
A measurement of visibility interference in the atmosphere.
Cogeneration
The consecutive generation of useful thermal and electric energy from the same fuel source.
Coliform Index
A rating of the purity of water based on a count of fecal bacteria.

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Cold Fusion
Not to be confused with ColdFusion , a software product, cold fusion is a hypothetical process in which hydrogen fusion supposedly occurs at room temperature. The topic is controversial, because the notion appears to defy the laws of physics. Some scientists believe that cold fusion represents a real phenomenon and that it will someday form the basis for an abundant, cheap source of energy. Others maintain that cold fusion, like perpetual motion, is impossible. Read more about CF.
Combined Sewers
A sewer system that carries both sewage and storm-water runoff. Normally, its entire flow goes to a waste treatment plant, but during a heavy storm, the volume of water may be so great as to cause overflows of untreated mixtures of storm water and sewage into receiving waters. Storm-water runoff may also carry toxic chemicals from industrial areas or streets into the sewer system.
Commingled  Recyclables
Mixed recyclables that are collected together.

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Community Solar
Community Solar is defined as a solar-electric system that, through a voluntary program, provides power and/or financial benefit to, or is owned by, multiple community members. Community Solar advocates are driven by the recognition that the on-site solar market comprises only one part of the total market for solar energy. A 2008 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that only 22 to 27% of residential rooftop area is suitable for hosting an on-site photovoltaic (PV) system after adjusting for structural, shading, or ownership issues. Read More
Compact Fluorescent Lamp
(CFL) Small fluorescent lamps used as more efficient alternatives to incandescent lighting. Also called PL, CFL, Twin-Tube, or BIAX lamps.
Compliance Coal
Any coal that emits less than 1.2 pounds of sulfur dioxide per million Btu when burned. Also known as low sulfur coal.
Compost
A humus or soil-like material created from aerobic, microbial decomposition of organic materials such as food scraps, yard trimmings, and manure. Note: Composting is the controlled biological decomposition of organic material in the presence of air to form a humus-like material. Controlled methods of composting include mechanical mixing and aerating, ventilating the materials by dropping them through a vertical series of aerated chambers, or placing the compost in piles out in the open air and mixing it or turning it periodically.

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Compressed Natural Gas
(CNG): An alternative fuel for motor vehicles; considered one of the cleanest because of low hydrocarbon emissions and its vapors are relatively non-ozone producing. However, vehicles fueled with CNG do emit a significant quantity of nitrogen oxides.
Concentrated Solar Power
Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants produce electricity by converting solar energy into high-temperature heat with mirror configurations. The heat is channelled through a conventional generator. The plants consist of two parts: one that collects solar energy and converts it to heat, and another that converts heat energy to electricity. Read More.
Conditionally Exempt Generators (CE)
Persons or enterprises which produce less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month. Exempt from most regulation, they are required merely to determine whether their waste is hazardous, notify appropriate state or local agencies, and ship it by an authorized transporter to a permitted facility for proper disposal.
Confined Aquifer
An aquifer in which ground water is confined under pressure which is significantly greater than atmospheric pressure.

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Consent Decree
A legal document, approved by a judge, that formalizes an agreement reached between EPA and potentially responsible parties (PRPs) through which PRPs will conduct all or part of a cleanup action at a Superfund site; cease or correct actions or processes that are polluting the environment; or otherwise comply with EPA initiated regulatory enforcement actions to resolve the contamination at the Superfund site involved. The consent decree describes the actions PRPs will take and may be subject to a public comment period.
Conservation
Preserving and renewing, when possible, human and natural resources. The use, protection, and improvement of natural resources according to principles that will ensure their highest economic or social benefits.
Construction and Demolition Waste
Waste building materials, dredging materials, tree stumps, and rubble resulting from construction, remodeling, repair, and demolition of homes, commercial buildings and other structures and pavements. May contain lead, asbestos, or other hazardous substances.
Consumptive Water Use
Water removed from available supplies without return to a water resources system, e.g. water used in manufacturing, agriculture, and food preparation.

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Contaminant
Any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter that has an adverse effect on air, water, or soil.
Contingency Plan
A document setting out an organized, planned, and coordinated course of action to be followed in case of a fire, explosion, or other accident that releases toxic chemicals, hazardous waste, or radioactive materials that threaten human health or the environment. (See: National Oil and Hazardous Substances Contingency Plan.)
Conventional Power
Power that is produced from non-renewable fuels, such as coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear. Conventional fuels are finite resources that cannot be replenished once they are extracted and used.
COP21
The acronym stands for "Conference of the Parties," and refers to the 2015 Paris Climate Change Summit. For a synopsis from the Nature Conservancy, click here.
Core
The uranium-containing heart of a nuclear reactor, where energy is released. See Nuclear Meltdown.
COREXIT
COREXIT 9500 and 9527, both produced by Nalco. BP used over 1,800,000 gallons of dispersant since the start of the oil leak. See Oil Dispersant
Cost Sharing
A publicly financed program through which society, as a beneficiary of environmental protection, shares part of the cost of pollution control with those who must actually install the controls. In Superfund, for example, the government may pay part of the cost of a cleanup action with those responsible for the pollution paying the major share.

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Cradle-to-Grave or Manifest System
A procedure in which hazardous materials are identified and followed as they are produced, treated, transported, and disposed of by a series of permanent, linkable, descriptive documents (e.g. manifests). Commonly referred to as the cradle-to-grave system.
Criteria Pollutants
The 1970 amendments to the Clean Air Act required EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for certain pollutants known to be hazardous to human health. EPA has identified and set standards to protect human health and welfare for six pollutants: ozone, carbon monoxide, total suspended particulates, sulfur dioxide, lead, and nitrogen oxide. The term, "criteria pollutants" derives from the requirement that EPA must describe the characteristics and potential health and welfare effects of these pollutants. It is on the basis of these criteria that standards are set or revised.
Cross Contamination
The movement of underground contaminants from one level or area to another due to invasive subsurface activities.
Cryptosporidium
A protozoan microbe associated with the disease cryptosporidiosis in man. The disease can be transmitted through ingestion of drinking water, person-to-person contact, or other pathways, and can cause acute diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, and can be fatal as it was in the Milwaukee episode.
CSP
Concentrated solar power (also called concentrating solar power, concentrated solar thermal, and CSP) systems use mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is converted to heat, which drives a heat engine (usually a steam turbine) connected to an electrical power generator. Examples
Cultural Eutrophication
Increasing rate at which water bodies "die" by pollution from human activities.

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Curie
The amount of radioactivity in a quantity of material can be determined by noting how many curies of the material are present. This information should be found on labels and/or shipping papers. More curies = a greater amount of radioactivity A large amount of material can have a very small amount of radioactivity; a very small amount of material can have a lot of radioactivity.
See Becquerel (Bq)
Cutie-Pie:
An instrument used to measure radiation levels. Doesn't sound so cute to us?
D
Desalination
The removal of salt from sea water to make it drinkable. Water can never be created or destroyed, it simply moves between physical states, i.e. ice, clouds, liquids.
DDT
he first chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide chemical name: Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane. It has a half-life of 15 years and can collect in fatty tissues of certain animals. EPA banned registration and interstate sale of DDT for virtually all but emergency uses in the United States in 1972 because of its persistence in the environment and accumulation in the food chain.
Deep-WellInjection
Deposition of raw or treated, filtered hazardous waste by pumping it into deep wells, where it is contained in the pores of permeable subsurface rock.
Defluoridation
The removal of excess fluoride in drinking water to prevent the staining of teeth.
Defoliant
An herbicide that removes leaves from trees and growing plants.

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Dermal Toxicity
The ability of a pesticide or toxic chemical to poison people or animals by contact with the skin. (See: contact pesticide.)
Desiccant
A chemical agent that absorbs moisture; some desiccants are capable of drying out plants or insects, causing death.
Desulfurization
Removal of sulfur from fossil fuels to reduce pollution.
Dicofol
A pesticide used on citrus fruits.
Dike
A low wall that can act as a barrier to prevent a spill from spreading.
Dilbit
See Bitomen
Dioxin
Any of a family of compounds known chemically as dibenzo-p-dioxins. Concern about them arises from their potential toxicity as contaminants in commercial products. Tests on laboratory animals indicate that it is one of the more toxic anthropogenic (man-made) compounds.

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Distributed Energy Storage
(For reducing power demand )
Mating an energy storage component and a power conversion and delivery component with computer intelligence and digital data communications hardware helps to effectively and efficiently monitor and react to the power demand profile at a location in an advanced manner without expensive industrial controls or human interaction. Read the abstract and more.
Distributed Solar Generation
Distributed generation (DG) refers to electricity that is produced at or near the point where it is used. Distributed solar energy can be located on rooftops or ground-mounted, and is typically connected to the local utility distribution grid. States, cities and towns are experimenting with policies to encourage distributed solar to offset peak electricity demand and stabilize the local grid. More Information
Dispersant
A chemical agent used to break up concentrations of organic material such as spilled oil.

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Dissolved Oxygen (DO)
The oxygen freely available in water, vital to fish and other aquatic life and for the prevention of odors. DO levels are considered a most important indicator of a water body's ability to support desirable aquatic life. Secondary and advanced waste treatment are generally designed to ensure adequate DO in waste-receiving waters.
Drainage Well
A well drilled to carry excess water off agricultural fields. Because they act as a funnel from the surface to the groundwater below. Drainage wells can contribute to groundwater pollution.
E
• E-10, E-85
See Ethanol
Ecological Entity
In ecological risk assessment, a general term referring to a species, a group of species, an ecosystem function or characteristic, or a specific habitat or biome.
Ecological/Environ- mental Sustainability
Maintenance of ecosystem components and functions for future generations.
Ecological Impact
The effect that a man-caused or natural activity has on living organisms and their non-living (abiotic) environment.

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Ecology
The relationship of living things to one another and their environment, or the study of such relationships.
Ecosphere
The "bio-bubble" that contains life on earth, in surface waters, and in the air. (See: biosphere.)
Ecosystem
The interacting system of a biological community and its non-living environmental surroundings.
Effluent
Wastewater--treated or untreated--that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers to wastes discharged into surface waters. See Effluent Limitation.
Electric Cars 2014
Read about 13 new electric vehicles for 2014. More information.
Electrodialysis
Electrodialysis has the potential to desalinate seawater quickly and cheaply but does not remove other contaminants such as dirt and bacteria.But now chemical engineers have worked out how to do that too. See how.

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Electrostatic Wind Energy Converter (EWICON)
Will transform wind energy into usable electricity without mechanical input. Moreover, the building has been imagined with Rotterdam’s residents in mind—its technology runs silently, without casting the distracting intermittent shadows often associated with wind energy. Above all else, the building will give the booming city of Rotterdam its own distinct landmark and is expected to draw 1.5 million new visitors annually. Read More
Emission
Pollution discharged into the atmosphere from smokestacks, other vents, and surface areas of commercial or industrial facilities; from residential chimneys; and from motor vehicle, locomotive, or aircraft exhausts.
Emissions Trading
The creation of surplus emission reductions at certain stacks, vents or similar emissions sources and the use of this surplus to meet or redefine pollution requirements applicable to other emissions sources. This allows one source to increase emissions when another source reduces them, maintaining an overall constant emission level. Facilities that reduce emissions substantially may "bank" their "credits" or sell them to other facilities or industries.

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Endangered Species
Animals, birds, fish, plants, or other living organisms threatened with extinction by anthropogenic (man-caused) or other natural changes in their environment. Requirements for declaring a species endangered are contained in the Endangered Species Act. Learn about the most endangered.
Endrin
A pesticide toxic to freshwater and marine aquatic life that produces adverse health effects in domestic water supplies.
Energy Audit
See Welcome Screen Energy Assessment
Energy Efficiency
Refers to products or systems using less energy to do the same or better job than conventional products or systems. Energy efficiency saves energy, saves money on utility bills, and helps protect the environment by reducing the demand for electricity. When buying or replacing products or appliances for your home, look for the ENERGY STAR® label -- the national symbol for energy efficiency. For more information on ENERGY STAR-labeled products, visit the ENERGY STAR Web site.
Energy Harvesting
AKA: power harvesting or energy scavenging. The process by which energy is derived from external sources (e.g. solar power, thermal energy, wind energy, salinity gradients, and kinetic energy), captured, and stored for small, wireless autonomous devices, like those used in wearable electronics and wireless sensor networks. Read More
Energy Recovery
Obtaining energy from waste through a variety of processes (e.g. combustion).

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Environment
The sum of all external conditions affecting the life, development and survival of an organism.
Environmental Equity/Justice
Equal protection from environmental hazards for individuals, groups, or communities regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status. This applies to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, and implies that no population of people should be forced to shoulder a disproportionate share of negative environmental impacts of pollution or environmental hazard due to a lack of political or economic strength levels.
EPA
The Federal Environmental Protection Agency. Let's keep it funded so that it can do its job, namely to protect us from environmental hazards. Experience shows that industry cannot be its own watchdog.
Estuary
Region of interaction between rivers and near-shore ocean waters, where tidal action and river flow mix fresh and salt water. Such areas include bays, mouths of rivers, salt marshes, and lagoons. These brackish water ecosystems shelter and feed marine life, birds, and wildlife. (See: wetlands.)
Ethanol
An alcohol-based fuel made by fermenting and distilling starch crops, such as corn. It can also be made from "cellulosic biomass" such as trees and grasses. The use of ethanol can reduce our dependence upon foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
E10 (also called “gasohol”) is a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline sold in many parts of the country. All auto manufacturers approve the use of blends of 10% ethanol or less in their gasoline vehicles. However, vehicles will typically go 3–4% fewer miles per gallon on E10 than on straight gasoline.
E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, can be used in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which are specially designed to run on gasoline, E85, or any mixture of the two. FFVs are offered by several vehicle manufacturers. To determine if your vehicle can use E85, consult your owner’s manual or check the inside of your car's fuel filler door for an identification sticker.

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Eutrophication
The slow aging process during which a lake, estuary, or bay evolves into a bog or marsh and eventually disappears. During the later stages of eutrophication the water body is choked by abundant plant life due to higher levels of nutritive compounds such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Human activities can accelerate the process.
EWICON
See Electrostatic Wind Energy Converter
Excess Lifetime Risk
The additional or extra risk of developing cancer due to exposure to a toxic substance incurred over the lifetime of an individual.
Executive Order 13423
Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy and Transportation Management -- Executive Order 13423 calls for Federal agencies sets goals in the areas of energy efficiency, acquisition, renewable energy, toxics reductions, recycling, sustainable buildings, electronics stewardship, fleets, and water conservation.
Exotic Species
A species that is not indigenous to a region. (see Native Species.)
Extraction Procedure (EP Toxic)
Determining toxicity by a procedure which simulates leaching; if a certain concentration of a toxic substance can be leached from a waste, that waste is considered hazardous, i.e."EP Toxic."
Extremely Hazardous Substances
Any of 406 chemicals identified by EPA as toxic, and listed under SARA Title III. The list is subject to periodic revision.
F
Feebate
A contraction of "fee" and "rebate". A feebate program is a self-financing system of fees and rebates used to shift the costs of externalities produced by the private expropriation, fraudulent abstraction, or outright destruction of public goods onto those market actors responsible. Originally coined in the 1990s, feebate programs have typically been used to shift buying habits in the transportation and energy sectors. Click here for more detail.

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Feed-In-Tarrif
It is a policy mechanism to encourage investment in renewable energy technologies. It achieves this by offering long-term contracts to renewable energy producers, typically based on the cost of generation of each technology. Technologies such as wind power, for instance, are awarded a lower per-kWh price, while technologies such as solar PV and tidal power are offered a higher price, reflecting higher costs.
In addition, feed-in tariffs often include "tariff degression", a mechanism according to which the price (or tariff) ratchets down over time. This is done in order to track and encourage technological cost reductions. The goal of feed-in tariffs is to offer cost-based compensation to renewable energy producers, providing the price certainty and long-term contracts that help finance renewable energy investments. The British Version
FERC
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. It also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave FERC additional responsibilities as outlined in FERC's Top Initiatives and updated Strategic Plan. More anout FERC

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FIFRA Pesticide Ingredient
An ingredient of a pesticide that must be registered with EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Products making pesticide claims must register under FIFRA and may be subject to labeling and use requirements.
Flash Point
The lowest temperature at which evaporation of a substance produces sufficient vapor to form an ignitable mixture with air.
Floodplain
The flat or nearly flat land along a river or stream or in a tidal area that is covered by water during a flood.
Flue Gas
The air coming out of a chimney after combustion in the burner it is venting. It can include nitrogen oxides, carbon oxides, water vapor, sulfur oxides, particles and many chemical pollutants. (See Desulfurization.)

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Fluorocarbons (FCs)
Any of a number of organic compounds analogous to hydrocarbons in which one or more hydrogen atoms are replaced by fluorine. Once used in the United States as a propellant for domestic aerosols, they are now found mainly in coolants and some industrial processes. FCs containing chlorine are called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). They are believed to be modifying the ozone layer in the stratosphere, thereby allowing more harmful solar radiation to reach the Earth's surface.
Fly Ash
Non-combustible residual particles expelled by flue gas. Dangers
Food Chain
A sequence of organisms, each of which uses the next, lower member of the sequence as a food source.
Formaldehyde
A colorless, pungent, and irritating gas, CH20, used chiefly as a disinfectant and preservative and in synthesizing other compounds like resins. Obviously: Should not be used in travel trailers.
Forward Osmosis (FO)
FO is a remarkable new technology that turns muddy, contaminated water, into a clean and refreshing drink. See also Reverse Osmosis
Fossil Fuels
The nation's principal source of electricity. Fossil fuels come in three major forms: coal, oil, and natural gas. Because fossil fuels are a finite resource and cannot be replenished once they are extracted and burned, they are not considered renewable.

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Fracking
See Hydraulic Fracturing
Friable Asbestos
Any material containing more than one-percent asbestos, and that can be crumbled or reduced to powder by hand pressure. (May include previously non-friable material which becomes broken or damaged by mechanical force.) Dangers
Fuel Cells
Similar to batteries, fuel cells store energy that can be used to power all sorts of things. Unlike a battery though, fuel cells do not "run out" and do not need to be recharged or replaced. See also, Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
Fuel Economy Standard
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standard (CAFE) effective in 1978. It enhanced the national fuel conservation effort imposing a miles-per-gallon floor for motor vehicles. New standard announced.
Fukishima Nuclear Disaster
Some scientists say Fukushima is worse than the 1986 Chernobyl accident, with which it shares a maximum level-7 rating on the sliding scale of nuclear disasters.
G
Gasohol
Mixture of gasoline and ethanol derived from fermented agricultural products containing at least nine percent ethanol. Gasohol emissions contain less carbon monoxide than those from gasoline.
Gasification
Conversion of solid material such as coal into a gas for use as a fuel.

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Genetic Engineering
A process of inserting new genetic information into existing cells in order to modify a specific organism for the purpose of changing one of its characteristics.
Genotoxic
Damaging to DNA; pertaining to agents known to damage DNA. More
Geoengineering
Many of the world's nations show few signs of cutting their greenhouse gas emissions anytime soon. That's why, in recent years, more and more climate scientists have been pondering the concept of "geoengineering" as a way to slow the pace of global warming. When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it cooled the planet nearly 1 degree F. Geoengineering would work a lot like that.
When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it cooled the planet nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit. Geoengineering would work a lot like that.
One popular idea involves spraying reflective particles into the atmosphere to deflect a small portion of Earth's sunlight.
Al Gore is not a fan of this concept.

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Geothermal
Many technologies have been developed to take advantage of geothermal energy—the heat from the earth. This heat can be drawn from several sources: hot water or steam reservoirs deep in the earth that are accessed by drilling; geothermal reservoirs located near the earth's surface, mostly located in the western U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii; and the shallow ground near the Earth's surface that maintains a relatively constant temperature of 50°-60°F. Learn More.
Glacial Calving
See Calving
Global Warming
An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Scientists generally agree that the Earth's surface has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past 140 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently concluded that increased concentrations of greenhouse gases are causing an increase in the Earth's surface temperature and that increased concentrations of sulfate aerosols have led to relative cooling in some regions, generally over and downwind of heavily industrialized areas. (See: climate change)

Glyphosate
Monsanto's active ingredient in their Roundup® weed killer. Used in yards, farms and parks throughout the world, Roundup has long been a top-selling weed killer. But now researchers have found that one of Roundup’s inert ingredients can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. Your weeds won't be the only thing that gets whacked. Read the article by Scientific American.

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Graphene
(Stronger, better solar cells: Graphene research on the cusp of new energy capabilities)
Under the guidance of Canada Research Chair in Materials Science with Synchrotron Radiation, Dr. Alexander Moewes, University of Saskatchewan researcher Adrian Hunt spent his PhD investigating graphene oxide, a cutting-edge material that he hopes will shape the future of technology. Read more
Gray Water
Domestic wastewater composed of wash water from kitchen, bathroom, and laundry sinks, tubs, and washers.
Green Energy Certificates (RECs)
A REC (pronounced: "'A-Reck") represents the property rights to the environmental, social, and other nonpower qualities of renewable electricity generation. A REC, and its associated attributes and benefits, can be sold separately from the underlying physical electricity associated with a renewable-based generation source. RECs provide buyers flexibility:
1. In procuring green power across a diverse geographical area.
2. In applying the renewable attributes to the electricity use at a facility of choice.
This flexibility allows organizations to support renewable energy development and protect the environment when green power products are not locally available.
Green Washing
An attempt by dirty energy producers to create the illusion that their product is green. The most glaring example is “Clean Coal”. There are others, so caveat emptor!
Join the movement to stop this practice.

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Greenhouse Effect
The warming of the Earth's atmosphere attributed to a buildup of carbon dioxide or other gases; some scientists think that this build-up allows the sun's rays to heat the Earth, while making the infra-red radiation atmosphere opaque to infra-red radiation, thereby preventing a counterbalancing loss of heat.
Greenhouse Gas
A gas, such as carbon dioxide or methane, which contributes to potential climate change.
Greenhouse gases are ones that trap heat within the atmosphere, and that experts believe are responsible for global warming and climate change. Since the 18th century and the beginning of the industrial revolution, the activities of humankind have been responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouses gases in the atmosphere. Consult the guide.
Green Power Purchasing
Green power can be purchased nationwide from several sources. Green power marketers offer green power products to consumers in deregulated markets, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New England. In states that do not allow retail competition in the electricity markets, many utilities offer green power products through green pricing programs. In addition, all customers nationwide have the opportunity to buy green power and stimulate the development of renewable generation sources through renewable energy certificates. Finally, customers can choose to install on-site generation, such as solar photovoltaics.

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Ground Water
The supply of fresh water found beneath the Earth's surface, usually in aquifers, which supply wells and springs. Because ground water is a major source of drinking water, there is growing concern over contamination from leaching agricultural or industrial pollutants or leaking underground storage tanks.
Ground-Water Discharge
Ground water entering near coastal waters which has been contaminated by landfill leachate, deep well injection of hazardous wastes, septic tanks, etc.
H
Habitat
The place where a population (e.g. human, animal, plant, microorganism) lives and its surroundings, both living and non-living.
Half-Life
1. The time required for a pollutant to lose one-half of its original coconcentrationor example, the biochemical half-life of DDT in the environment is 15 years.
2. The time required for half of the atoms of a radioactive element to undergo self-transmutation or decay (half-life of radium is 1620 years).
3. The time required for the elimination of half a total dose from the body.

Hard Water
Alkaline water containing dissolved salts that interfere with some industrial processes and prevent soap from sudsing.
Hazard
1. Potential for radiation, a chemical or other pollutant to cause human illness or injury.
2. In the pesticide program, the inherent toxicity of a compound. Hazard identification of a given substances is an informed judgment based on verifiable toxicity data from animal models or human studies
.

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Hazardous Air Pollutants
Air pollutants which are not covered by ambient air quality standards but which, as defined in the Clean Air Act, may present a threat of adverse human health effects or adverse environmental effects.Such pollutants include asbestos, beryllium, mercury, benzene, coke oven emissions, radionuclides, and vinyl chloride.
Hazardous Waste
By-products of society that can pose a substantial or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly managed. Possesses at least one of four characteristics (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity), or appears on special EPA lists.
Heavy Metals
Metallic elements with high atomic weights; (e.g. mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead); can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain. See Heavy Metal Toxicity.
High-Level Radioactive Waste (HLRW)
Waste generated in core fuel of a nuclear reactor, found at nuclear reactors or by nuclear fuel reprocessing; is a serious threat to anyone who comes near the waste without shielding. See: low-level radioactive waste.
Home Energy Assessment
Also known as a home energy audit, it's the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time,as well as reducing your carbon footprint.
Host
1. In genetics, the organism, typically a bacterium, into which a gene from another organism is transplanted.

2. In medicine, an animal infected or parasitized by another organism.

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Household Hazardous Waste
Hazardous products used and disposed of by residential as opposed to industrial consumers. Includes paints, stains, varnishes, solvents, pesticides, and other materials or products containing volatile chemicals that can catch fire, react or explode, or that are corrosive or toxic.
Hydraulic Fracturing
Hydraulic fracturing (Fracking) is a process used in nine out of 10 natural gas wells in the United States, where millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground to break apart the rock and release the gas. Scientists are worried that the chemicals used in fracturing may pose a threat either underground or when waste fluids are handled and sometimes spilled on the surface. Learn more.
Hydroelectric
1. Small Scale: In addition to very large hydroelectric plants in the West, the United States also has many smaller hydroelectric facilities. Like large plants, small-scale hydroelectric systems capture the energy in naturally flowing water and convert it to electricity. Although the potential for small hydroelectric systems depends on the availability of suitable water flow, these systems can provide cheap, clean, reliable electricity where the resource exists.

2. Large Scale: The process of generating electricity by harnessing the power of moving water. Hydroelectric power (hydropower) is generated by forcing water that is flowing downstream, often from behind a dam, through a hydraulic turbine that is connected to a generator. The water exits the turbine and is returned to the stream or riverbed. Much of the hydroelectricity in the United States is generated at large facilities and in the Pacific Northwest, where it meets about two-thirds of the electricity demand. In the United States, hydroelectricity contributes about 10% of the total electricity supply.

Hydrocarbons (HC)
Chemical compounds that consist entirely of carbon and hydrogen.
Hydrologic Cycle
Movement or exchange of water between the atmosphere and earth. More on this.

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Hypoxia/Hypoxic Waters
Waters with dissolved oxygen concentrations of less than 2 ppm, the level generally accepted as the minimum required for most marine life to survive and reproduce.
 I 
Iceberg Calving
See Calving
In Situ
In its original place; unmoved unexcavated; remaining at the site or in the subsurface.
Incineration
A treatment technology involving destruction of waste by controlled burning at high temperatures; e.g., burning sludge to remove the water and reduce the remaining residues to a safe, non-burnable ash that can be disposed of safely on land, in some waters, or in underground locations.
Indirect Discharge
Introduction of pollutants from a non-domestic source into a publicly owned waste-treatment system. Indirect dischargers can be commercial or industrial facilities whose wastes enter local sewers.
Industrial Sludge
Semi-liquid residue or slurry remaining from treatment of industrial water and wastewater.

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Industrial Waste
Unwanted materials from an industrial operation; may be liquid, sludge, solid, or hazardous waste.
Inexhaustable Resources
Inexhaustible resources are a resource that is present with unlimited amounts in the nature; they cannot be depleted or exhausted by human activity. Inexhaustible resource is known as a renewable resource. This includes water, wind, sand clay, and solar energy. More here
Infectious Waste
Hazardous waste capable of causing infections in humans, including: contaminated animal waste; human blood and blood products; isolation waste, pathological waste; and discarded sharps (needles, scalpels or broken medical instruments).

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Injection Well
A well into which fluids are injected for purposes such as waste disposal, improving the recovery of crude oil, or solution mining.
Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)
EPA's electronic data base containing the Agency's latest descriptive and quantitative regulatory information on chemical constituents.
Intelligent Hybrid Inverter
AKA: Smart Grid Converter - a new generation of inverter for dedicated solar applications using renewable energy for home consumption, especially for solar photovoltaic installations. Electricity from solar panels is generated only during the day, with a peak production around midday. This electricity is fluctuating and not synchronized with the electric consumption of the household. To overcome this gap between what is produced and what is required during the evening when there is no solar electricity production, it is necessary to store energy for later use and manage energy storage and consumption in an intelligent (smart grid). With the development of systems using renewable energy and rising prices of electricity, private companies and research laboratories have developed smart inverters to enable correlation between energy production and consumption. See also Micro Converter.

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Inversion
A layer of warm air that prevents the rise of cooling air and traps pollutants beneath it; can cause an air pollution episode.
Irradiated Food
Food subject to brief radioactivity, usually gamma rays, to kill insects, bacteria, and mold, and to permit storage without refrigeration.
J - K
Jar Test
A laboratory procedure that simulates a water treatment plant's coagulation/flocculation units with differing chemical doses, mix speeds, and settling times to estimate the minimum or ideal coagulant dose required to achieve certain water quality goals.
Joint & Several Liability
Under CERCLA, this legal concept relates to the liability for Superfund site cleanup and other costs on the part of more than one potentially responsible party (i.e. if there were several owners or users of a site that became contaminated over the years, they could all be considered potentially liable for cleaning up the site.)

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Karst
A geologic formation of irregular limestone deposits with sinks, underground streams, and caverns.
Keystone XL Pipeline
The Tar Sands delivery system. From extraction to processing to shipping to combustion, tar sands are far and away the dirtiest form of all fuels. It demands enormous amounts of energy to simply extract and then process into crude that can move through a pipeline. It has a 20-percent larger carbon footprint (PDF) than plain old dirty oil. And it leaves toxic wastelands wherever the sands are removed. Click for a Map
Kilowatt-hour (kWh)
A is a standard metric unit of measurement for electricity. (1) One kilowatt-hour (kW) is equal to 1,000 watt-hours (Wh). (2) A watt-hour is the amount of energy delivered at a rate of one watt (W) for a period of one hour. (3) One watt is the amount of power rate of one joule of work per second of time. (4) Example: A 100 watt light bulb in use for 10 hours uses 1000 watt-hours, or 1 kilowatt of electricity. (100 watts x 10 hours = 1000 watt-hours = 1 kWh)
Kinetic Energy
Energy possessed by a moving object or water body.
Kinetic Rate Coefficient
A number that describes the rate at which a water constituent such as a biochemical oxygen demand or dissolved oxygen rises or falls, or at which an air pollutant reacts.

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Kyoto Protocol
Signed by the United States and 37 other countries in 1997, the U.S. never ratified it, having been undermined by pro-fossil fuel influences. Read the Guardian article.
L
Lagoon
1. A shallow pond where sunlight, bacterial action, and oxygen work to purify wastewater; also used for storage of wastewater or spent nuclear fuel rods.

2. Shallow body of water, often separated from the sea by coral reefs or sandbars
.

Land Ban
Phasing out of land disposal of most untreated hazardous wastes, as mandated by the 1984 RCRA amendments.
Land Farming (of Waste)
A disposal process in which hazardous waste deposited on or in the soil is degraded naturally by microbes.
Landfills
1. Sanitary landfills are disposal sites for non-hazardous solid wastes spread in layers, compacted to the smallest practical volume, and covered by material applied at the end of each operating day.

2. Secure chemical landfills are disposal sites for hazardous waste, selected and designed to minimize the chance of release of hazardous substances into the environment.

Landscape Ecology
The study of the distribution patterns of communities and ecosystems, the ecological processes that affect those patterns, and changes in pattern and process over time.
Langelier Index (LI)
An index reflecting the equilibrium pH of a water with respect to calcium and alkalinity; used in stabilizing water to control both corrosion and scale deposition.

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Latency
Time from the first exposure of a chemical until the appearance of a toxic effect.

LEC or LCOE
The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), also known as Levelized Energy Cost (LEC), is the net present value of the unit-cost of electricity over the lifetime of a generating asset. It is often taken as a proxy for the average price that the generating asset must receive in a market to break even over its lifetime.
LD 50 Lethal Dose:
The dose of a toxicant or microbe that will kill 50 percent of the test organisms within a designated period. The lower the LD 50, the more toxic the compound. (More)
Leachate
Water that collects contaminants as it trickles through wastes, pesticides or fertilizers. Leaching may occur in farming areas, feedlots, and landfills, and may result in hazardous substances entering surface water, ground water, or soil.
Lead (Pb)
A heavy metal that is hazardous to health if breathed or swallowed. Its use in gasoline, paints, and plumbing compounds has been sharply restricted or eliminated by federal laws and regulations. Lead Dust
LEED Certification
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.More
Lethal Concentration (LC50) or Lethal Dose (LD50)
LC50: A concentration of a pollutant or effluent at which 50 percent of the test organisms die; a common measure of acute toxicity.
LD50: The dose of a toxicant that will kill 50 percent of test organisms within a designated period of time; the lower the LD 50, the more toxic the compound.

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Lignocellulose (lig-no-cel-lu-lose)
Plant dry matter (biomass), so called lignocellulosic biomass. It is the most abundantly available raw material on the Earth for the production of biofuels, mainly bio-ethanol. It is composed of carbohydrate polymers (cellulose, hemicellulose), and an aromatic polymer (lignin).
Life Cycle( Product)
All stages of a product's development, from extraction of fuel for power to production, marketing, use, and disposal.
Light-Emitting Diode (LED)
A long-lasting illumination technology used for exit signs which requires very little power.
Limnology
The study of the physical, chemical, hydrological, and biological aspects of fresh water bodies.
Lindane
A pesticide that causes adverse health effects in domestic water supplies and is toxic to freshwater fish and aquatic life. Effects
Listed Waste
Wastes listed as hazardous under RCRA but which have not been subjected to the Toxic Characteristics Listing Process because the dangers they present are considered self-evident.

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Lithium-ion
The mobile world depends on lithium-ion batteries — today's ultimate rechargeable energy store. Last year, consumers bought five billion Li-ion cells to supply power-hungry laptops, cameras, mobile phones and electric cars.
Modern Li-ion batteries hold more than twice as much energy by weight as the first commercial versions sold by Sony in 1991 — and are ten times cheaper. But they are nearing their limit. Most researchers think that improvements to Li-ion cells can squeeze in at most 30% more energy by weight (see 'Powering up'). That means that Li-ion cells will never give electric cars the 800-kilometre range of a petrol tank, or supply power-hungry smartphones with many days of juice. Read more.
Low Emissivity (low-E) Windows
New window technology that lowers the amount of energy loss through windows by inhibiting the transmission of radiant heat while still allowing sufficient light to pass through.
Low-energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR)
A controversial field that traces its origins to the claims of ‘cold fusion’ by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in 1989. This is a term used in the study of cold fusion.
Low-Level Radio-active Waste (LLRW)
Wastes less hazardous than most of those associated with a nuclear reactor; generated by hospitals, research laboratories, and certain industries. The Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and EPA share responsibilities for managing them. (See: high-level radioactive waste.)

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M
Mandatory Recycling
Programs which by law require consumers to separate trash so that some or all recyclable materials are recovered for recycling rather than going to landfills.
Margin of Safety
Maximum amount of exposure producing no measurable effect in animals (or studied humans) divided by the actual amount of human exposure in a population.
Marsh
A type of wetland that does not accumulate appreciable peat deposits and is dominated by herbaceous vegetation. Marshes may be either fresh or saltwater, tidal or non-tidal. (See: wetlands mapper.)
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
A compilation of information required under the OSHA Communication Standard on the identity of hazardous chemicals, health, and physical hazards, exposure limits, and precautions. Section 311 of SARA requires facilities to submit MSDSs under certain circumstances.
Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)
A facility that processes residentially collected mixed recyclables into new products available for market.
Megawatt-hour (MWh)
Equal to 1,000 kWh.

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Mercury (Hg)
A heavy metal that can bioaccumulate in the environment and is highly toxic if breathed or swallowed.
Mercury Aquatic Contamination
Mercury has been well known as an environmental pollutant for several decades. As early as the 1950¹s it was established that emissions of mercury to the environment could have serious effects on human health. These early studies demonstrated that fish and other wildlife from various ecosystems commonly attain mercury levels of toxicological concern when directly affected by mercury-containing emissions from human-related activities. Human health concerns arise when fish and wildlife from these ecosystems are consumed by humans.
During the past decade, a new trend has emerged with regard to mercury pollution. Investigations initiated in the late 1980¹s in the northern-tier states of the U.S., Canada, and Nordic countries found that fish, mainly from nutrient-poor lakes and often in very remote areas, commonly have high levels of mercury. More recent fish sampling surveys in other regions of the U.S. have shown widespread mercury contamination in streams, wet-lands, reservoirs, and lakes. To date, 33 states have issued fish consumption advisories because of mercury contamination. Read more from the U.S. Geological Survey
Methane (CH4)
See CH4
Methane Hydrate
Methane hydrates—frozen deposits of the main ingredient in natural gas found in ocean sediments and near permafrost—are thought to be abundant. Worldwide, such deposits contain about 35 percent more gas than other reserves. In Japan, offshore deposits could supply the country with 100 years of natural gas, say researchers. Read More

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Microbeads
Microbeads are used in common products such as toothpaste, facial scrubs, body washes, and soaps. Companies around the world use polyethylene plastic micro-beads in these products, because they are cheaper than natural options, such as walnut husks or pumice, for exfoliants in personal products.
The problem is that microscopic particles of the beads and the beads themselves are turning up in our oceans and lakes. (1,2) Since microbeads are too small to be sifted out at water treatment plants, they end up in our lakes and oceans. Many fish and other animals that live in or near oceans and lakes are consuming the microplastic, which puts them at risk from chemical pollution and us as well. Learn more.
 
Microconverter
Microinverters are small inverters that convert the output from a single solar panel into electricity you can use in your home. When sunlight hits a solar panel, the panel creates DC (direct current) power. Because the electric grid uses AC (alternating current) power, and solar panels can’t create AC power on their own, a device called an inverter is needed to make the switch. Read more.
Microgrid
Microgrid power systems are small-scale power-generation solutions consisting of local power-generating facilities and individual homes and buildings equipped with wind and solar power systems. This type of distributed power generation is a lower-cost alternative to large-scale systems. Read more
Microorganisms
Tiny living organisms that can be seen only with the aid of a microscope. Some microorganisms can cause acute health problems when consumed in drinking water.
Microturbines
A technology that uses a small natural gas turbine to produce both electricity and heat. This is sometimes referred to as “gas cogeneration” or “mini-Combined Heat and Power (CHP).

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Molten Salt Power Gen
Molten salt can be used in solar-power generation to store heat until it is needed. Unlike most forms of solar power, this method can work when the sun isn't. Conventional belief is that when the sun doesn't shine, solar power is useless. This technology can change all that. Tell me more.
Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol is widely considered as the most successful environment protection agreement. The Protocol sets out a mandatory timetable for the phase out of ozone depleting substances. This timetable has been reviewed regularly, with phase out dates accelerated in accordance with scientific understanding and technological advances. Learn more.
Mountaintop Mining
Mountaintop removal / valley fill coal mining (MTR) has been called strip mining on steroids. One author says the process should be more accurately named: mountain range removal. Mountaintop removal /valley fill mining annihilates ecosystems, transforming some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world into biologically barren moonscapes. More bad news

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Net Metering
A method of crediting customers for electricity that the customer generates on site in excess of their own electricity consumption. Customers with their own generation offset the electricity they would have purchased from their utility. If such customers generate more than they use in a billing period, their electric meter turns backwards to indicate their net excess generation. Depending on individual state or utility rules, the net excess generation may be credited to their account (in many cases at the retail price), carried over to a future billing period, or ignored. See state by state net metering rules.
Net Zero Buildings
As the U.S. market for green building design and construction evolves, we are hearing much more lately about net-zero buildings. Homes and commercial buildings that earn the net-zero badge of honor do so by demonstrating extremely high-performance in energy efficiency. To qualify as net-zero, a building must be able to prove that its total annualized energy-related operating costs are brought down to $0.00. Some net-zero buildings even produce more energy than they consume in a year, generating positive cash flow. These impressive feats are made possible via careful implementation of innovative architectural designs and detailed construction strategies — including smart integration of on-site renewable energy systems, especially geothermal heat pump technology.

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Nitric Acid (HNo3)
An acid that can be produced from nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that results from the burning of fossil fuels.
Nitrogen Oxides
Gases consisting of one molecule of nitrogen and varying numbers of oxygen molecules. Nitrogen oxides are produced in the emissions of vehicle exhausts and from power stations. In the atmosphere, nitrogen oxides can contribute to formation of photochemical ozone (smog), can impair visibility, and have health consequences; they are thus considered pollutants.
Nuclear Meltdown
AKA Core Meltdown. If the reactor core cooling fails, e.g. due to a major leakage in the reactor cooling circuit, and the emergency core cooling system fails simultaneously, the residual heat in the fuel created by the radioactive decay of the fission products heats up the reactor core - possibly until the fuel melts. During the meltdown, the core support structures also fail so that the whole molten mass drops into the lower hemispherical area of the reactor pressure vessel. It can be assumed that the heat released by the molten mass melts through the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel. The density of the containment is important for the extent of radioactive substances released to the environment in the case of such a core meltdown accident.
Best known examples are the, Chyrnoble (Ukraine) in 1986, Three-Mile Island (USA) in 1979. According to a recent report, the Fukushima Dai-ichi (Japan), which was deluged by a tsunami in 2011 may have recently had a meltdown, due to an explosion in the plant.

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Nuclear Regulatory Comminssion (NRC)
This regulatory agency is part of the Department of Energy (DOE). Its primary focus is for nuclear security and safety. This covers nuclear power as well as weaponry. How do they regulate? We're glad you asked.
O
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) uses the heat energy stored in the Earth's oceans to generate electricity.
It works best when the temperature difference between the warmer, top layer of the ocean and the colder, deep ocean water is about 20°C (36°F). These conditions exist in tropical coastal areas, roughly between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. To bring the cold water to the surface, OTEC plants require an expensive, large diameter intake pipe, which is submerged a mile or more into the ocean's depths.
Some energy experts believe that if it could become cost-competitive with conventional power technologies, OTEC could produce billions of watts of electrical power. Learn More.
Oil Dispersants
Oil dispersants are a common tool used after oil spills to break up oil slicks on the water surface and increase the oil's rate of biodegradation. By breaking up large slicks, oil dispersants are intended to reduce harmful oil exposures of birds, fish, and other wildlife in proximity to spills. Two oil dispersant products were used heavily in the BP oil leak: COREXIT 9500 and 9527.
Oil dispersants work by separating an oil slick into small droplets of oil. Wind, waves, and other turbulence in the water break up these droplets and disperse them throughout the water column. Once dispersed, the oil droplets are consumed by naturally occurring bacteria or they are carried out into the open ocean. The goal of using oil dispersants is to protect fragile coatal areas from oil coming ashore. But there are some severe side effects.

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Oil Sands
Tar sands are a combination of clay, sand, water, and bitumen, a heavy black viscous oil. Tar sands can be mined and processed to extract the oil-rich bitumen, which is then refined into oil. The bitumen in tar sands cannot be pumped from the ground in its natural state; instead tar sand deposits are mined, usually using strip mining or open pit techniques, or the oil is extracted by underground heating with additional upgrading. More
On-site Renewable Generation
Electricity generated by renewable resources using a system or device located at the site where the power is used. On-site generation is a form of distributed energy generation. For more information about distributed energy technologies that are renewable and non-renewable, visit the Department of Energy's Distributed Energy Resources Web site.
Organic Agriculture
According to the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), organic agriculture is defined as "an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, or enhance ecological harmony.
The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people." (NOSB, 1997) The term "organic" is defined by law (see "Legal" section below), as opposed to the labels "natural" and "eco-friendly," which may imply that some organic methods were used in the production of the foodstuff, but this label does not guarantee complete adherence to organic practices as defined by a law. Most "natural" products do not contain synthetic products, but may have been provided conventional (synthetic chemicals used in production) food or feed (as in "natural" beef). More

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Oxyhydrogen Generation Video Cam
An oxyhydrogen generator, like the one demonstrated in this video link, uses electricity from your car battery to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gasses. (Electricity + 2H20 --> 2H2 + O2) Together, these make a fuel that is much more powerful than gasoline, and the only emission released is—water!
Of course, to be a completely clean fuel, the electricity used to generate the gas needs to be from a clean source. Solar, wind, or water power could be a few examples. Important Disclaimer: The amount of electrical energy required to make the gas is more than the energy you can obtain from it. This is NOT an energy generator so much as it is an energy converter.
Ozone (o2)
chemical that is made of three oxygen atoms joined together, and found in the Earth's atmosphere. There are two kinds of ozone: good ozone, and bad ozone. Good ozone is found high in the Earth's atmosphere, and prevents the sun's harmful rays from reaching the Earth. Bad ozone is found low to the ground, and can be harmful to animals and humans because it damages our lungs, sometimes making it difficult to breathe. See Ozone Layer.

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PACE
Acronym stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. Reducing energy use by enhancing energy efficiency has long been viewed as “low-hanging fruit” in the drive to lower energy bills, boost economic productivity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Home and property owners, agricultural, commercial and industrial businesses, and energy sector players have been looking for ways to finance and make energy-efficiency upgrades and retrofits more affordable and accessible. Read More.

 

Particle Pollution
Particles less than or equal to 10 micrometers in diameter are so small that they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. Ten micrometers is less than the width of a single human hair. Coarse dust particles (PM10) are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter. Read More.

 

Pathogen
A disease-causing organism.
Peat Bogs
See Bogs

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Perfluorotributylamine
Try saying that 3 times,fast. This synthetic compound is the world's worst greenhouse gas. A class of compounds known as perfluoroalkyl amines have been manufactured for more than 50 years for use by the electronics industry. Climate scientists don’t know much about them, but they have been worried for some time that they could be affecting the climate. And a new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, seems to have confirmed some of their worst fears. Read the article.
 
PEM
See Protein Exchnage Membrane
Perovskites
Sounds like former late Soviet foreign policy, but it is actualy a mineral that can be used to make thin-film photovoltaics. The formula: CH3NH3PbI3. Photovoltaic conversion requires two successive steps:
1. accumulation of a photogenerated charge and charge separation
2. determination of how and where charge accumulation is attained and how this accumulation can be identified is mandatory for understanding the performance of a photovoltaic device and for its further optimization More Info

PFTBA
Researchers at the University of Toronto discovered very small amounts of an industrial chemical, known as perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), in the atmosphere. While only traces of PFTBA were measured, the chemical has a much higher potential to affect climate change on a molecule-by-molecule basis than carbon dioxide (CO2), the most significant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and a major contributor to global warming, said study co-author Angela Hong, of the University of Toronto's department of chemistry.
pH
A scale that denotes how acidic or basic a substance is. Pure water has a pH of 7.0 and is neither acidic nor basic. For more information, see the pH page.
Photostream 1 (PS1)
Using nature to make solar even better. See Biohybrid.
Photosynthesis
The process that plants use to convert sunlight to energy to live and grow. Basically, plants "inhale" Co2, and "exhale" oxygen.

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Photovotaic
The word “photovoltaic” combines two terms – “photo” means light and “voltaic” means voltage. A photovoltaic system in this discussion uses photovoltaic cells to directly convert sunlight into electricity. More.
Phthalates
Plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity) .Human-made chemicals used in the manufacture of household and industrial products such as children's toys, infant-care and personal-care products, cosmetics, garden hoses, raincoats, adhesives and lubricants.
The Dangers! Phthalates block male hormones and can interfere with normal genitalia development High phthalate levels can cause sluggish sperm, low androgen and testosterone levels in adult males Most Americans tested have metabolites of Phthalates in their urine Easily absorbed and evaporated into food Commonly found in PVC piping, shower curtains and carpeting Phthalates are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, meaning they interfere with normal brain function Phthalates send signals in the body that could result in Autism, Breast Cancer, Testicular cancer and reduced sperm counts. More
 

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Polar Ice Cap
Average temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. Arctic ice is getting thinner, melting and rupturing. For example, the largest single block of ice in the Arctic, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, had been around for 3,000 years before it started cracking in 2000. Within two years it had split all the way through and is now breaking into pieces.
Polar bear, beware. You're treading on thin ice. More.
Protein Exchange Membrane
Proton exchange membrane fuel cells, also known as polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells (PEMFC), are a type of fuel cell being developed for transport applications as well as for stationary fuel cell applications and portable fuel cell applications. Their distinguishing features include lower temperature/pressure ranges (50 to 100 °C) and a special polymer electrolyte membrane. PEMFCs operate on a similar principle to their younger sister technology PEM electrolysis. They are a leading candidate to replace the aging alkaline fuel cell technology, which was used in the Space Shuttle.

Pumped Storage
Pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH), or pumped hydroelectric energy storage (PHES), is a type of hydroelectric energy storage used by electric power systems for load balancing. ... During periods of high electrical demand, the stored water is released through turbines to produce electric power.
PURPA
The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act: A United States Act passed as part of the National Energy Act. It was meant to promote energy conservation and promote greater use of domestic energy and renewable energy. The law was created in response to the 1973 energy crisis, and one year in advance of a second energy crisis. Upon entering the White House, President Jimmy Carter made energy policy a top priority.  More

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Q-R
Radionuclides
Any man-made or natural element that emits radiation and that may cause cancer after many years of exposure through drinking water.
REC (Renewable Energy Certificate
See Green Energy Certificate
Red Tide
A bloom of dinoflagellates that causes reddish discoloration of coastal ocean waters. Certain dinoflagellates of the genus Gonyamlax produce toxins that kill fish and contaminate shellfish. This is an accurate description but it is a little lacking.
Red Tide also kills fish, crustaceans, sea mammals (like manatees and dolphins), and birds. It causes mild to sever respiratory distress in humans. It may also cause respiratory distress on other animals, but no research has been done on that to date to our knowledge. Also unstudied are the long term effects on humans exposed to red tide toxins for long term periods (like lifeguards).
Red tide kills by paralyzing. More

Reverse Meetering
See Net Meetering
Renewable Energy Sources
The energy from natural sources It is so named because, unlike fossil fuels, can never really run out. The world is shifting to renewable energy sources because of the scarcity of and rising prices of oil, natural gas and coal. Unlike the aforementioned, renewable energy is clean.
More info on: Biomass, Geothermal, Hydro, Solar, Tidal, Wind

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Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)
The requirement that an electric power provider generate or purchase a specified percentage of the power it supplies/sells from renewable energy resources, and thereby guarantee a market for electricity generated from renewable energy resources.
Risk Assessment
The evaluation of scientific information on the hazardous properties of environmental agents (hazard characterization), the dose-response relationship (dose-response assessment), and the extent of human exposure to those agents (exposure assessment). The product of the risk assessment is a statement regarding the probability that populations or individuals so exposed will be harmed and to what degree (risk characterization).
S
Silicosis
Silicosis is a respiratory disease caused by breathing in (inhaling) silica or heavy metals dust. One of the dangers of mining, including gold mining in certain circumstances, includes inhalation or bringing dust contaminants into the home of the miner, exposing his family to risk.
Smart Grid
“Smart grid” generally refers to a class of technology people are using to bring utility electricity delivery systems into the 21st century, using computer-based remote control and automation. These systems are made possible by two-way communication technology and computer processing that has been used for decades in other industries. They are beginning to be used on electricity networks, from the power plants and wind farms all the way to the consumers of electricity in homes and businesses. They offer many benefits to utilities and consumers -- mostly seen in big improvements in energy efficiency on the electricity grid and in the energy users’ homes and offices. More from the Dept of Energy
Smart Meters/ Smart Thermostats
The term Smart meter often refers to an electricity meter, but it also may mean a device measuring natural gas or water consumption. Similar meters, usually referred to as interval or time-of-use meters, have existed for years, but "Smart Meters" usually involve real-time or near real-time sensors, power outage notification, and power quality monitoring. These additional features are more than simple automated meter reading (AMR). See what Japan is doing.

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They are similar in many respects to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters. Interval and time-of-use meters historically have been installed to measure commercial and industrial customers, but may not have automatic reading. More Information
Regarding thermostats: Here is an article from Florida ower & Light (FPL) on the money-saving potential of smart thermostats.
Solar-aided Power Generation (SAPG)
The integration of solar thermal collectors into conventional fossil plants has proven a viable solution to address the intermittency of power generation and combines the environmental benefits of solar power plants with the efficiency and reliability of fossil power plants.
Solar Batteries
A solar battery is one that receives its energy from the sun or from some other light source through the use of photovoltaics. In most cases, a solar-powered battery is implanted in an electronic device and not capable of being removed. A solar battery is usually capable of fully charging after just an hour or two of exposure to sunlight. Learn more by clicking here.
Solar Energy
The rays of the sun can produce energy in a variety of ways. Solar energy can be Passive, Photovoltaic or Solar Hot-water.

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Solar Inverter
People often ask, what is an inverter? They play a crucial role in any solar energy system and are often considered to be the brains of a project, whether it’s a 2-kW residential system or a 5-MW utility power plant. An inverter’s basic function is to “invert” the direct current (DC) output into alternating current (AC). AC is the standard used by all commercial appliances, which is why many view inverters as the “gateway” between the photovoltaic (PV) system and the energy off-taker. Learn more.
Solar Sail
Also called light sails or photon sails, are a form of spacecraft propulsion using radiation pressure exerted by sunlight on large mirrors. A useful analogy may be a sailing boat; the light exerting a force on the mirrors is akin to a sail being blown by the wind. High-energy laser beams could be used as an alternative light source to exert much greater force than would be possible using sunlight, a concept known as beam sailing.
Solar sail craft offer the possibility of low-cost operations combined with long operating lifetimes. Since they have few moving parts and use no propellant, they can potentially be used numerous times for delivery of payloads. More Information
Solar Spinach
PopeyeIf it's good enough for Popeye, it's good enough for solar. Click the image to learn about this suprising breakthrough. To learn more about this technology, click biohybrid here.


Solar Thermal
AKA: Solar Hot Water. Using the suns rays to heat your bath, swimmimg pool, washing machine, dishwasher, etc. There is a magazine dedicated to this industry.

Solar Stacking
Stacking cells could make solar as cheap as natural gas (without the methane)
A novel manufacturing method could make it practical to stack solar cells and convert more of the energy in sunlight into electricity. Read this.
Solid Oxide Fuel Cell
A fuel cell is like a battery that always runs. It consists of three parts: an electrolyte, an anode, and a cathode.
For a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), the electrolyte is a solid ceramic material. The anode and cathode are made from special inks that coat the electrolyte. Unlike other types of fuel cells, no precious metals, corrosive acids, or molten materials are required. More

Strip Mining
See Mountain Top Mining

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Sulfate Aerosols
Particulate matter that consists of compounds of sulfur formed by the interaction of sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide with other compounds in the atmosphere. Sulfate aerosols are injected into the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels and the eruption of volcanoes like Mt. Pinatubo.
Recent theory suggests that sulfate aerosols may lower the Earth's temperature by reflecting away solar radiation (negative radiative forcing). General Circulation Models which incorporate the effects of sulfate aerosols more accurately predict global temperature variations.
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
High concentrations of SO2 affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children, and the elderly. Sulfur dioxide is also a primary contributor to acid rain, which causes acidification of lakes and streams and can damage trees, crops, historic buildings, and statues. In addition, sulfur compounds in the air contribute to visibility impairment in large parts of the country. This is especially noticeable in national parks. Sulfur dioxide is released primarily from burning fuels that contain sulfur (such as coal, oil, and diesel fuel). Stationary sources such as coal- and oil-fired power plants, steel mills, refineries, pulp and paper mills, and nonferrous smelters are the largest releasers.

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Sunshot Initiative
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office focuses on achieving the goals of the SunShot Initiative, which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. Watch videoVideo Cam.
Superfund
The program operated under the legislative authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) that funds and carries out EPA solid waste emergency and long-term removal and remedial activities. These activities include establishing the National Priorities List, investigating sites for inclusion on the list, determining their priority, and conducting and/or supervising cleanup and other remedial actions.
Sustainability
Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment. Learn More.
Sustainable Forestry
Sustainable forestry means managing our forest resources to meet the needs we have today without interfering with our future generations' needs. Any management of the forest resource must include inventory and planning to provide the basis for evaluating and implementing the goals of the landowner. Learn More.

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T
Tar Sands
Northern Alberta’s oil sands are increasingly becoming a source of political conflict, both domestically and globally, as scrutiny of the world’s second-largest known oil reserve intensifies. While recent production in the oil sands has driven rapid economic growth in Alberta, there is increasing concern that this growth is causing unprecedented ecological harm.
Major environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs), such as Greenpeace and the Pembina Institute, and local First Nations have begun to call for a moratorium on new oil sands projects until associated environmental destruction can be mitigated. Read More
Thermal imaging
Making the invisible visible is a useful first step when you're greening your home. To see how a house may be wasting energy, Click here to see an example of the technology.
Thin-Fim Solar
The advantages and limitations of photovoltaic solar modules for energy generation are reviewed with their operation principles and physical efficiency limits. Although the main materials currently used or investigated and the associated fabrication technologies are individually described, emphasis is on silicon-based solar cells. Wafer-based crystalline silicon solar modules dominate in terms of production, but amorphous silicon solar cells have the potential to undercut costs owing, for example, to the roll-to-roll production possibilities for modules. Recent developments suggest that thin-film crystalline silicon (especially microcrystalline silicon) is becoming a prime candidate for future photovoltaics. From the Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Tidal Energy
Some of the oldest ocean energy technologies use tidal power. All coastal areas consistently experience two high and two low tides over a period of slightly greater than 24 hours. For those tidal differences to be harnessed into electricity, the difference between high and low tides must be at least five meters, or more than 16 feet. There are only about 40 sites on the Earth with tidal ranges of this magnitude.
Currently, there are no tidal power plants in the United States. However, conditions are good for tidal power generation in both the Pacific Northwest and the Atlantic Northeast regions of the country. Learn More.

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Toxic Waste
Hazardous wastes are poisonous byproducts of manufacturing, farming, city septic systems, construction, automotive garages, laboratories, hospitals, and other industries. The waste may be liquid, solid, or sludge and contain chemicals, heavy metals, radiation, dangerous pathogens, or other toxins. Even households generate hazardous waste from items such as batteries, used computer equipment, and leftover paints or pesticides. Learn more.
Trichloroethylene
A stable, low boiling-point colorless liquid, toxic if inhaled. Used as a solvent or metal decreasing agent, and in other industrial applications.
U-V
Ultraviolet Radiation (UV)
The energy range just beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum. Although ultraviolet radiation constitutes only about 5 percent of the total energy emitted from the sun, it is the major energy source for the stratosphere and mesosphere, playing a dominant role in both energy balance and chemical composition.
UNFCCC
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Convention on Climate Change sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. It recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The Convention enjoys near universal membership, with 189 countries having ratified. Under the Convention, governments:
Unranium Dangers
Aside from the fact that a nucear accident can kill thousands, and cost billiions to repair, there are many other dangers resulting from uranium use. This includes the chance of human and animal contamination from mining operations, and homes that are affected by exposure to this element. Learn More.

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Vehicle to Grid (V2G)
The flow of power in and out of an electric-drive vehicle can be valuable to the electric grid, but only if it is provided precisely when needed. The University of Delaware has developed a set of interacting technologies, policies, and market strategies to achieve this value, while meeting driving requirements of vehicle owners.
Electric-drive vehicles, whether powered by batteries, fuel cells, or gasoline hybrids, have within them the energy source and power electronics capable of producing the 60 Hz AC electricity that powers our homes and offices. When connections are added to allow this electricity to flow from cars to power lines, we call it "vehicle to grid" power, or V2G. Cars pack a lot of power. One properly designed electric-drive vehicle can put out over 10kW, the average draw of 10 houses. The key to realizing economic value from V2G are grid-integrated vehicle controls to dispatch according to power system needs.

W-Z
Watershed
The land area from which water drains into a stream, river, or reservoir.
Wind Farm
An area laid out to support wind turbines. More Information.
Zero Energy Buildings
On the surface, it may seem that Net Zero Energy is the most responsible approach to building construction, but we may be missing the point.
Not to be confused with "Zero Emmisions," also discussed in the article. Learn More.

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