We all know the feeling well. Technical jargon getting in the way of thorough understanding of a relatively simple matter. In this post, technical terms and assumptions made by many in the environmental services field are explained. The explanations provided may not be the formal definitions from Webster’s dictionary yet they will clarify the implications of such terms.
REC: Recognized Environmental Condition. This is an indicator of environmental liabilities that may be associated with a property or site. Like saying, “The finding may not be entirely bad, but it’s generally not something you want.”
Down-gradient: In the path of contamination travel should contamination exist. Up-gradient and cross-gradient are safer zones.
Plume: Contamination zone. Usually in the shape of a skewed, deflating hot air balloon.
Vadose zone: Unsaturated zone of the ground above the water table.
Screen: Determination made by taking known contamination information and assessing its proximity and likelihood of affection onto a property or site, i.e. vapor encroachment screen, without actually taking and analyzing samples.
Railroad Ties: Beams soaked in tar’s cousin, creosote. Probably carcinogenic to humans per IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Coal ash and cinder: Loaded with toxins like lead and arsenic. Think about it. Mother nature didn’t exactly set out to make toxin-free coal when she was compressing billions of pounds of organic matter.
1978: The year paint got the lead out. As well as the year the motion picture Animal House was released. So all in all, a good year.
1980: Pac-Man was released and when new homes built no longer contained asbestos-containing materials. Take that, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.
Heavy Metal: Not just a music genre of youth rebellion, but compounds regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Top offenders are known the RCRA 8: Arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium and silver.
Old Thermostats: Mercury harbors.
Ready-mix concrete plants: Can shove the pH of water runoff to sometimes harmful levels.
LUST: Bad for monogamy, even worse for groundwater. Stands for Leaking Underground Storage Tank.
LAST: The easier-to-spot version of LUST. Stands for Leaking ABOVEGROUND Storage Tank.
SOx: Professional baseball teams and, to a more harmful extent, sulfur oxide emissions. And yes, SOx emissions have a cap unlike the salary of major league baseball teams.
Fireworks Displays: Perchlorate groundwater contamination waiting to happen if not adequately covered.
PAHs: Not the latest social media acronym (Party at Hal’s, Please Allow Hours until response). They are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Geometrically, flat PAH molecules can slip right into the rungs of the DNA ladder, causing mutations and malignant tumors.
Dry Cleaners (Processing facilities): Let’s just put it this way, dry cleaning facilities with the chemical perchloroethylene, PCE, are lumped together with landfills as far as environmental implications.
Chlorinated: Anything chlorinated (or otherwise halogenated) typically ratchets up the regulation, effects and fines. Halogens are very chemically reactive and effective at turning perfectly safe chemicals into fire-breathing monstrosities for the environment.
Hypoxic Zone: The oxygen-depleted “dead” zone of a body of water. Usually created from the effects of too much fertilizer or plant nutrient in runoff. Hypoxic zones cannot sustain most aquatic life.
Contact PE2 today for a better understanding of the environmental liabilities existing in your industry, and how to address or avoid them.