Superfund Webinar to Cover New Remediation Approaches for PCBs, TCE, Phthalates

The Superfund Research Program (SRP) will present a webinar “TCE, PCBs, and Phthalates – Exposure, Mechanisms of Disease, and Clean-Up Remedies” from noon-2 p.m. CST Monday, Aug. 24.


The webinar is part of SRP’s Progress in Research webinar series which highlights promising research from two SRP Centers.


Researchers at the Northeastern University SRP Center are studying chlorinated solvents and phthalates, contaminants that could be linked to high preterm birthrates in Puerto Rico.


The University of Kentucky SRP Center explores how nutrition and exercise might offer protection from polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) toxicity and are developing new sustainable remediation approaches using nanotechnology.


An Updated Look at PCBs” was recently published by the Prairie Research Institute, stemming from a scientific workshop held on Sept. 17, 2014.

Water Expertise at U of I Gathered into New Information Hub

waterwheelSMThe Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) launched a new addition to their website on July 30 titled “Water at Illinois” to serve as an information hub for all the water-related research expertise available at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


This access point will also serve as a repository for opportunities in the water field, including grants, educational areas, and jobs. ISTC Director Kevin O’Brien is chairman of iSEE’s Water Council which helps to coordinate the Illinois Water Scholars group, including researchers at ISTC, who are working across a number of disciplines on water issues. Follow this link for more on the new resource.

Brother, Can You Spare Eleven Trillion Gallons?

11 Trillion Gallons is the estimated shortfall in California's water supply.
11 Trillion Gallons is the estimated shortfall in California’s water supply.



Our Center’s One Billion Gallon Water Challenge has asked Illinoisans  to think about innovations and behavior changes to cut our use of water significantly. It is not an easy goal. Eleven trillion gallons boggles the mind.


California’s 25 percent mandatory cut in water use supplied by local water agencies is, sadly, not an overreaction to the historic drought plaguing western states.


People tend to innovate best when forced to.


We should see innovations in technology, governance, law enforcement, industry, and human nature that may benefit us all if we let it.

Researcher Spotlight: Joy Scrogum

photo of Joy ScrogumJoy Scrogum has been a sustainability professional for over 13 years, with ISTC’s public engagement and technical assistance programs. Joy has provided support for the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) since 2001, particularly in the development and maintenance of online resource compilations (Topic Hubs and Sector Resources) on a wide variety of sustainability issues. GLRPPR is a US EPA-funded regional center in the national Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) network. Joy also played a key role in Greening Schools, a joint project between the IL EPA and ISTC which focused on making K-12 facilities & curricula more sustainable.


Joy’s most recent work with ISTC has centered around the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), for which she serves as coordinator. SEI is dedicated to the development and implementation of a more sustainable system for designing, producing, using, and managing electronic devices. She managed SEI’s International Sustainable Electronics Competition for college and university students; coordinates consortium meetings on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus related to sustainable electronics research, education, and operations; and taught a class in collaboration with the UI Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering (ENG/TE 498: Sustainable Technology: Environmental and Social Impacts of Innovations) which used electronic products as the framework for discussion. Joy also currently works on Zero Waste Illinois projects.


With a MS in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Joy says her education has prepared her for the complex considerations associated with sustainability. “It may seem strange for someone with a background in wildlife ecology to be talking about design and end-of-life management related to electronics, but I think that ecological perspective is exactly what’s needed. Whether you’re talking about the life cycle of an organism or a product, you have to consider interactions with the larger system when it comes to sustainable solutions. It’s useful to think of products, services—any human activity—in the context of the ecosystem which is constantly impacting, and being impacted by, us. Helping students develop that sort of worldview, regardless of their field of study, is my favorite part of my job. I feel education for sustainability is a critical part of the University’s role in today’s society.”


Joy’s other duties include writing grant proposals and reports, blog posts, and fact sheets; contributing to social media campaigns; project development; and presenting at professional and public events such as the Naturally Illinois Expo. She also enjoys reviewing applications for the annual Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards Program, the oldest continuously running environmental awards program in the US. She is a member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals, the Reuse Alliance, and the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition.


Connect with Joy on Twitter or LinkedIn.

No Need to Don a Gas Mask for Spring Cleaning

arm-hammer-baking-soda-454-grSpring cleaning is a happy tradition of opening every window and scrubbing the home down before bugs have opened their compound eyes.


You have a choice in the compounds you use for spring cleaning. Expensive commercial cleaning products allow you to fill your home with ammonia, alkyl ammonium chlorides, cationic and anionic solutions, chlorine, cresol, hydrochloric acid, isopropanol, lye, naphtha, nitrobenzene, oxalic acid, perchloroethylene, petroleum distillates, phenol, sodium bisulfate, sodium hypochlorite, and sulfuric acid.


For a lot less money, you can do the jobs with vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice, ISTC staffers Joy Scrogum and Laura Barnes remind us in a Tuesday story in The Daily Illini.


There we find that the University of Massachusetts Lowell Toxics Use Reduction Institute is a nice source of information about greening your spring cleaning.


The Cleveland Clinic has a checklist of hazardous ingredients you might find on your shelves.


The latest ISTC Report offers a cautionary tale of how one common cleaning chemical additive operates on the environment downstream of your drain.

Noon Extension Seminars Explore Planning for Climate Change

GAMEBOARDThe U of I Extension Webinar series begins tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 13, on the theme of “Planning for Climate Change.”

Don Fullerton, Gutgsell Professor of Finance and Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the U of I, will lead off the series with a discussion of how the “U.S. Clean Power Plan Provides Opportunity for Significant Cuts in Budget Deficits.”

The fall ISTC seminar series is now also viewable on-line at sustainability_seminars.cfm dealing with Sustainability Planning and Climate Change.

Together they promise a valuable resource for groups and organizations of all sizes to engineer society’s pivot toward a carbon-limited future.

Register for tomorrow’s Extension webinar at:
More highlights:
Tuesday, Feb. 17, Edith Makra, The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, “The Greenest Region Compact.”
Tuesday, March 10, Andy Robinson and Todd Rusk, Smart Energy Design Assistance Center, “Case Studies in Municipal Energy Conservation.”
Tuesday, April 14, Eliana Brown and Lisa Merrifield, IL-IN SeaGrant, “Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management.”

ISTC will announce its Spring Semester Sustainability Series shortly.

Previous ISTC sustainability planning webinars are available on-line:

University of Washington Offers Online Green Chemistry Certificate Program

A new certificate program from the University of Washington will help chemists, environmental and sustainability professionals, health and safety professionals and product managers make informed product decisions that take into account sustainability, toxicity and human health concerns. The certificate in Green Chemistry & Chemical Stewardship will be offered through the Professional and Continuing Education program at the University of Washington.


There will be three online courses in the certificate, and individuals can sign up for a single course on a space available basis:


The online certificate program is intended to give professionals working in chemicals management experience using comparative chemical hazard assessment tools for product selection. The classes will be offered sequentially, beginning in January, 2015, and concluding in August, 2015. Students will complete a capstone project requiring them to evaluate a chemical or product within a sustainability framework.


To learn more about the certificate program, see


To learn more about green chemistry, see the Green Chemistry Sector Resource on the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) web site.


For more sustainability and pollution prevention training opportunities, be sure to check the GLRPPR calendar.


Thanks to our colleague, Donna Walden, of the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) for sharing information about this training opportunity.

PCBs: Public Workshop Takes Fresh Look at Familiar Menace


The University of Illinois will present a free public workshop on PCBs, the synthetic molecule that is a poster child for a wonderful technical innovation that ends up being an environmental scourge (remember ice-nine?).

PCBs are still around and still must be destroyed or securely stored. Register for the 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17 workshop “PCBs and Their Impact on Illinois” here. You can choose to attend the live event at University of Illinois at Chicago, via live feed at ISTC’s conference room in Champaign, or on your own desktop.

U of I Library has come up with a brand new lib guide in time for this event. This executive summary of all things PCB is available on the library’s website.




PCBs Not Going to Clinton, But A Solution Still Needed

Village of Summit, a Chicago suburb
The Village of Summit, a Chicago suburb, is one of the Illinois communities in need of a permanent solution to PCB storage.

Now that the U.S. and Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies have rejected proposals for permanent PCB storage at the Clinton Landfill, the problem has not gone away.


Just what is to be done with the once common industrial chemical turned persistent hazard?


On Sept. 17, the University of Illinois is holding a day-long workshop to hear from academic and industry experts to bring the latest science to the policy table.


Register for the workshop being held at the U of I at Chicago campus by visiting: There are also plans to offer a live feed over the Internet.

Registration Open for Green Chemistry Conference

2014-logoRegistration is open for the The Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference: Innovating for Success in Cleveland on April 1–2, 2014.


The purpose of this conference is to show how innovations in green chemistry practices drive advances in business, academia, policy, and human health protection in the Great Lakes region, and how integration and collaboration in these areas is crucial for success.


The conference will include keynote presentations by John Warner, Warner-Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry; Julie Zimmerman, Center for Green Chemistry and Engineering at Yale; and Dennis McGavis, Global Sustainability Director at Goodyear Tire & Rubber along with plenary sessions, panel sessions, breakout sessions and a poster networking exchange.


This conference will be preceded by a half-day Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) meeting and followed by one-day training on the hazard assessment tool, the GreenScreen™ for Safer Chemicals..Separate registration is required for each event. Co-sponsors include the U of I, ISTC, and GLRPPR.