Sustainability at Tufts

sustainability.tufts.edu

Category: Water (page 2 of 4)

Chemicals and Gasoline contaminating 3-5 gallon water bottles?

Report put out byGREENUVM: “BURLINGTON – Vermont health officials are advising anyone who has purchased either 3-gallon or 5-gallon drinking water bottles since November 1, 2012 to open and check for gasoline odor before using the water.

Clean water is odorless. If you smell gasoline or chemical fumes, do not drink or use the water.

This precaution is being urged following reports from Massachusetts that plastic water bottles of these sizes may have become contaminated by being used to store fuel and then recycled back to drinking water bottlers.

Only 3-gallon or 5-gallon size bottled water containers are affected.

If you find a water bottle with an odor, notify the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation at 802-585-4912, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, after Super Storm Sandy struck the eastern seaboard in October, some gasoline shortages were reported in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and some residents used empty containers such as large water bottles to transport gasoline. Laboratory tests conducted by Massachusetts state officials on a sample taken from a 5-gallon container of Poland Springs bottled drinking water showed the presence of small amounts of chemicals including benzene. This indicates gasoline contamination.

Other bottled water suppliers who use refillable plastic bottles could also be affected by this event.

In the past three months, bottled water companies have had an increased number of returned water bottles found to contain gasoline residue or fumes. Despite disinfection and sanitation efforts, a small number of contaminated bottles are believed to have recycled back to consumers, based on a number of consumer complaints.

Neither the Vermont Department of Health nor the Department of Environmental Conservation, which regulates public drinking water supplies in the state, have received reports of contaminated bottled water.

The possible health effects of consuming water contaminated with these chemicals will depend on the amount of exposure. If you can smell chemicals, you can assume contamination. If you have health concerns, contact your health care provider.

If you use refillable bottled water containers for anything other than drinking water, for the protection of everyone, do not recycle back to the water supplier. “

TSC holds Fall Sustainability Roundtable

TSC's Fall Roundtable drew members from the CSC working groups and various sustainability-related organizations around campus

Tufts Sustainability Collective, the active umbrella organization for environmental groups on campus, has been very busy the past two weeks! The student-run group hosted two successful events, a Sustainability Roundtable and a Sustainability Dinner at Dewick. Both of these events have become staples each semester, so if you missed them this time around, look for their reappearance in the spring!

This fall’s Sustainability Roundtable featured the Campus Sustainability Council‘s three working groups for Energy and Emissions, Waste, and Water. Each group presented their goals for the university and their progress since convening earlier this year, pursuing a dialog with members of the Tufts community, from students to the head of Facilities.

Energy and Emissions team-members noted the achievement of meeting the standards set by Kyoto protocol by 2012 and mechanisms for decreasing the university’s carbon footprint, such as increased efficiency and switching fuels to natural gas or to distributors with renewable sources. In order to reduce energy consumption as the community continues to grow, however, a university-wide effort is called for, and the educational aspect of this goal is where the Office of Sustainability comes in!

The Waste working group focused on reducing outputs to the landfills during new construction projects and building rehabilitation. They mentioned many waste-reduction goals and plans to collaborate with Tufts Facilities in particular to “use less, reuse and recycle more” before anything is dumped in the trash.

The Water team had great news to present, including some concrete actions already in motion on the Tufts campus! Projects so far have included water reuse systems for machinery in laboratories and elsewhere, reducing the water coming in by hundreds of thousands of gallons already, and the recent construction of a university rain garden near the lower campus dorms. Rain gardens are both visually appealing and ecologically sound, ensuring rainwater is infiltrated into the soil, cleaned naturally, and returned to the groundwater rather than sent with pollutants down the storm drains. The Water working group also discussed plans to enter the EPA’s RainWorks Challenge, a national infrastructure design competition, and to look into porous pavement and gray water systems.

Read more about what was discussed at the roundtable in Tufts Daily’s news article.

-written by Anne Elise Stratton

Campus Sustainability Council Fall 2012 Update

During the summer, the Tufts Sustainability Council’s various working groups met to discuss goals for Tufts in the areas of water, waste and energy/emissions reductions.

The Water Working Group envisioned Tufts having an integrated water management approach that reduces consumption, promotes reuse, and minimizes impacts on the environment enabling Tufts to become a leader in campus water management in higher education.

To reach this goal, the Water Working Group recommends that Tufts meets and exceeds federal, state and local regulations regarding runoff, sanitation, and sewer systems; implements LEED standards for water use and quality; and ensures that Tufts students, faculty, and staff are knowledgeable of how their actions impact water use and quality and know how to mitigate negative impacts on their watersheds.

The Waste Working Group’s primary goal as discussed during their Summer meetings is an overall reduction of waste at Tufts by 3% a year through source reduction, improved waste management strategies, and a general culture change on campus with regards to waste.

Part of the Waste Working Group’s proposed strategies involves improved purchasing practices to ensure that an increased percentage of environmentally responsible products are purchased by the university.

The Energy and Emissions Working Group discussed ways for Tufts to demonstrate leadership in responsible climate action through energy efficiency, emissions reduction and adaptation. Under the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action plan, the Energy and Emissions group is committed to seeing Tufts reduce emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and reducing emissions to 75-85% below the 2001 levels by 2050.

To do this, the Energy and Emissions group is developing a laundry list of energy efficiency measures and is committed to supporting a transition away from fossil fuels and teaching the Tufts community about the importance of energy efficiency, reduced energy consumption, and reduced emissions.

The groups stressed a need for reporting, feedback, and community outreach to ensure that all of Tufts sustainability efforts and goals can be reached.

Over the remainder of the semester, the Water, Waste, and Energy/Emissions groups will be meeting to discuss progress towards these goals, ongoing sustainability efforts, and additional strategies the university could use to meet their goals. A draft report will be available on February 1st, 2013 for comments. The comment period will end on March 1st and a final report will be prepared for the end of the academic year.

– by Robert R. Lynch, Campus Sustainability Council Administrative Intern

Oct. 1-15: EcoChallenge 2012

The EcoChallenge is an opportunity to change your life for good. For two weeks, October 1-15, we challenge you to change one habit for Earth. You choose your challenge, we connect you with other EcoChallengers, and collectively we prove that small actions create real change.

Participating is simple:

1. Choose your EcoChallenge category and actions (October 1-15): water, energy, food, transportation, trash or choose-your-ownLooking for inspiration? We’ve got suggestions and success stories in each category to get you started.

2. Register for the EcoChallenge.

3. Decide whether you’re going to take on the Challenge individually or as part of a team

  • To start your own team, select “start a team,” and we’ll help you invite friends and coworkers to join.
  • To join an existing team, select “join a team”.
  • To participate individually and raise pledges to support NWEI’s sustainability eduction programs, select “participate as an EcoChallenge Fundraiser,” and set your fundraising goal. Remember: everyone who raises at least $50 is entered into the EcoChallenge raffle!
  • To participate individually without raising pledges, select “join a team” and join the “NWEI Community Team”.

4. Create your EcoChallenge profile page. You can start your page during the registration process and Log In at any time to add or edit.

5. Share your challenge with friends and family—and while you’re at it, invite them to take the EcoChallenge, too!

6. On October 1st, start working toward your challenge goals and Check In on the website daily to log your progress. Connect with other EcoChallengers online and share your progress on your personal EcoChallenge blog.

Whether the EcoChallenge is your first step toward a lower impact lifestyle, or you’ve been around the environmental block many times, we invite you to Challenge yourself this October 1 – 15. Register today, and join a growing community of people who are taking action on behalf of the planet!

Oct. 12: The Future of Water Symposium

Cloudy with a Chance of Solutions:
The Future of Water

Friday, October 12, 2012 | 9 am – 5 pm

 

Radcliffe Gymnasium, 10 Garden Street, Radcliffe Yard
Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Radcliffe Institute’s annual science symposium will focus on the important and challenging topic of water. Water is a theme that encompasses issues as varied as environmental contamination, public health, agricultural shortages, and geopolitical disputes. “Cloudy with a Chance of Solutions: The Future of Water” will focus on the ecological and human health hazards of environmental contaminants, the threats to drinking water of fracking, the promise of new technologies for water treatment, the need for national water policy, and the role of urban and other areas in conservation. The majority of the talks will focus on the “hard science” of water-related issues; others will offer the perspectives of experts from the policy, business, or urban-planning worlds to put the scientific discussions in a broader context and to link them thematically.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.  

For more information and to register, please visit www.radcliffe.harvard.edu or call 617-495-8600.

Register Now!

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