11. The Environment

• In previous centuries environmental issues typically affected local areas and went untreated until they reached crisis proportions.

• The industrial revolution has provided us the new ability to overload the environment at a much faster rate and with greater damage. And, the results of the pollution are no longer contained in a local area.

• Most of the environmental problems arise because the products that are delivered back into nature are not in the forms they were in when originally extracted.

• The main sources of problems are,

1. extracting raw materials often results in damage to the environment.

2. purifying raw materials produces by-products, requires energy and other materials.

3. shaping materials into useful form also produces by-products, requires energy and other materials.

4. during the life of a product there is upkeep, maintenance and consumption.

5. at the end of a products life it must be discarded.

• There are three good strategies when dealing with the environment,

use less (eliminates 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)

reuse when possible (eliminates 1, 2, 5)

recycle (eliminates 1, 5)

• The most common sources of problems are emissions. Common types are,

Air based exhaust

Runoff to waterways

Stored toxic dump

Stored solids

• many countries and are starting or have already enacted laws aimed at reducing environmental problems.

Germany: requires manufacturers to accept back used products such as automobiles

California: a zero emissions law requires no emissions on new vehicle in future

• These issues are already being addressed as voluntary standards such as ISO 14000.

• There are a wide variety of agencies and organizations that influence environmental policies and practices.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

EPA (Environment Protection Agency)

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health)

UL (Underwriters Laboratory)

CSA (Canadian Safety Association)


• This agency was created when Nixon combined various health and regulatory agencies into the EPA.

• The EPA primarily verifies environmental practices and takes corrective actions.

• Corrective actions might include,





• The EPA also sets some policies that are intended to be guides for industry.

• Recently the role of the EPA has been changing to be less adversarial and more supportive for industry.

• Some of the chemicals that the EPA targets in toxic releases are,


Cadmium and compounds

Carbon Tetrachloride


Chromium and compounds


Dichloromethane (Methylene Chloride)

Lead and compounds

Mercury and compounds

Methyl Ethyl Ketone

Methyl Isobutyl Ketone

Nickel and compounds









• Legislation has been the most effective tool in causing environmental change.

• Much of the environmental legislation is criminal law.

• Keep in mind that while some legislation can be deal with in civil court, it does not prevent individuals from pursuing lawsuits that fall outside legislation.

• Well know legislation includes,

CAA (Clean Air Act) 1970: Allows EPA to police airborne pollution sources, lists pollution types. Amended over the years.

CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) 1980: amended RCRA, set up fund for site remediation and establishes liability responsibilities.

CWA (Clean Water Act) 1972: Empowered EPA to police discharges of wastes into waterways.

EPCRA (Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act) 1986: makes toxic releases public record with fines.

HSWA (Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments) 1984: national hazardous waste management.

PPA (Pollution Prevention Act) 1990: deals with sources of pollution and requires reporting of improvements.

RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) 1976: deals with waste disposal issues and hazardous waste controls.

TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) 1976: deals with toxic chemicals entering the marketplace.

• One significant impact is that when purchasing property the new owner assumes all liability for environmental problems. This means than now an environmental survey will be conducted before purchasing a property.

11.2.1 Clean Air Act (CAA) 1970

• Some chemicals on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) chemical list are given below. These are found in section 109 under section 40 of the CAA.

carbon dioxide


nitrogen oxides

suspended particulates

photochemical oxidants

sulfur oxides


• Some chemicals on the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) chemical list are given below. These are found in section 112 under section 40 of the CAA.




coke oven emissions


vinyl chloride

inorganic arsenic






zinc and zinc oxides


• Workers are often exposed to environments that are hazardous.

• To deal with this it was created by congress in 1970.

• It deals with,


indoor air quality

guards and safety equipment on machines

worker training and instruction

• The agency helps set policy and police problems.

• One example is the MSDS sheets that must be posted on all chemicals and be on file in public places. This was created under the Worker Right to Know Act.


Problem 11.1 Suggest 10 ways to redesign a car to lessen the life cycle impact it has on the environment.

Answer 11.1 lower weight to reduce fuel consumption

add emission controls

use more of the same materials to ease sorting

use removable materials

use materials that are easy to recycle

use materials that have been recycled

make the engine more fuel efficient

reduce fluids used

make the vehicle more durable


Problem 11.2 Which environmental factors will affect workers.

Answer 11.2 Most environmental considerations affect the performance of workers. There are different levels of influence. Some are barely noticeable, and have no tangible effects. Others are mild irritants. over long periods of time these can cause mental and physical stress. There are more severe irritants that will lead to discomfort or worse. These will reduce the effectiveness of the employee, to the point where the employee will be unable to work without aids and other support.

Problem 11.3 What factors would need to be considered when measuring noise in a manufacturing plant?

Answer 11.3 Noise levels in a plant are typically measured while the machine is in operation in the intended environment to obtain the worst case noise level. The noise levels near the machine will be slightly higher because of the direct sound transmission. Noise levels throughout the room will have a basic level based on the reverberant component and the sound absorption in the room.

Problem 11.4 Discuss the two main organizations that deal with environmental issues. Who do they serve? What are their main environmental concerns?