Benzotriazoles: History, Environmental Distribution, and Potential Ecological Effects

Benzotriazoles are a class of organic compound that have been used as metal anticorrosive and ultraviolet stabilizer additives in a wide range of commercial and industrial applications. These chemicals have been in commercial production and use since the late 1950s with many compounds being produced at volumes exceeding a half a million kilograms annually. Some benzotriazole compounds exhibit behavior characteristic of persistence organic pollutants (POPs), with emerging evidence indicating long term preservation and persistence in sediments is occurring. Other benzotriazoles associated with anticorrosion applications appear to be highly resistant to degradation, relatively water soluble and toxic to aquatic organisms. A significant number of benzotriazoles have been discovered in different environmental compartments at levels justifying further study for fate, transport, environmental persistence, and potential adverse effects. Consequently, benzotriazoles should be considered contaminants of emerging concern in the environment with POP-like characteristics.

Screening Methodologies to Support Risk and Technology Reviews (RTR): A Case Study Analysis

The Clean Air Act establishes a two-stage regulatory process for addressing emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from stationary sources. In the first stage, the Act requires the EPA to develop technology-based standards for categories of industrial sources. We have largely completed the required ?Maximum Achievable Control Technology? (MACT) standards. In the second stage of the regulatory process, EPA must review each MACT standard at least every eight years and revise them as necessary, ?taking into account developments in practices, processes and control technologies.? We call this requirement the ?technology review.? EPA is also required to complete a one-time assessment of the health and environmental risks that remain after sources come into compliance with MACT. This residual risk review also must be done within 8 years of setting the initial MACT standard. If additional risk reductions are necessary to protect public health with an ample margin of safety or to prevent adverse environmental effects, EPA must develop standards to address these remaining risks. Because the risk review is an important component of the RTR process, EPA is seeking SAB input on the scientific credibility of specific enhancements made to our risk assessment methodologies, particularly with respect to screening methodologies (see Tentative Charge below), since the last SAB review was completed in 2010. These enhancements to our risk methodologies are outlined in the document titled: ?Screening Methodologies to Support Risk and Technology Reviews (RTR): A Case Study Analysis?

Nutrient pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus reduces streams’ ability to support aquatic life

Leaves and wood in a stream

Nutrient pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus in streams has long been known to increase carbon production by algae, often causing nuisance and harmful algal blooms.

But according to results of a new study, nutrient pollution can also result in the loss of forest-derived carbon–leaves and twigs–from stream ecosystems, reducing the ability of streams to support aquatic life.

“Most people think of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in streams as contributing to algae

More at

This is an NSF News item.

2015/03/05 Twenty-five Teams From Around the World to Participate in DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals


The international robotics community has turned out in force for the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals, a competition of robots and their human supervisors to be held June 5-6, 2015, at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., outside of Los Angeles. In this demonstration event, robots will be tested on capabilities that could enable them to provide assistance in future natural and man-made disasters. Fourteen new teams from Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the People’s Republic of China, South Korea, and the United States qualified to join 11 previously announced teams. In total, 25 teams will now vie for a chance to win one of three cash prizes totaling $3.5 million at the DRC Finals.

Astronaut Scott Kelly Preparing for Launch on One-Year Mission

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is seen inside a Soyuz simulator at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC), Wednesday, March 4, 2015 in Star City, Russia. Kelly, along with Expedition 43 Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos were at GCTC for the second day of qualification exams in preparation for their launch to the International Space Station onboard a Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 p.m. EST, March 27 (March 28, Kazakh time). As the one-year crew, Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth on Soyuz TMA-18M in March 2016.Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Eastern Missouri Learning Center Reaches 4,000 Students, Adults

More than 4,000 visitors—including school groups, law school students, Boy and Girl Scouts, judges and international dignitaries—visited the St. Louis-based Judicial Learning Center in 2014, according to a report on the center.

The Learning Center, one of a small but growing number of public education facilities in the federal court system, is housed in the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse. “It’s doing a fantastic job,” said Catherine D. Perry, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. “It’s doing exactly what we wanted, which is being a place where the public can come, and especially where school groups on field trips can come.”

The center was honored last year by the American Bar Association for its Law Day program, which focused on voting rights.

“Our Law Day 2014 programming included a school outreach portion, during which representatives from the courts visited classrooms to lead activities on voting rights.  Select high school students attended an interactive courthouse field trip on May 1,” said Rachel Marshall, an education specialist for the federal courts in the Eagleton courthouse.

“Having a learning center in the courthouse helps us connect with students and teachers,” Marshall added. “For many, the learning center is the hook which gets them to the building. Once they are here, they can experience the center and also witness the judicial process first hand.”

According to the report, 149 groups, totaling 4,244 visitors, came to the Judicial Learning Center in 2014. The majority of visitors are students in Grades 4-12 who are studying civics and government. In addition to local school students and Scout groups, visitors included adult community groups, law students from Saint Louis and Washington University, Eighth Circuit district judges, and Brazilian judges under the Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program.

More information is available at the Judicial Learning Center’s website, or at this U.S. Courts video. The Center, opened in 2009, was a gift to the court and public from St. Louis lawyers, who formed not-for-profit corporation to create the center.

Some examples of learning centers and educational exhibits include:

The Anthony M. Kennedy Library and Learning Center, located in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Branch Library in Sacramento, Calif.
the  Bell Room Historical Gallery in Kansas City, Mo.;
an exhibit in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on the history and function of federal courts in the Eastern District of Missouri;
exhibits in the Albuquerque and Las Cruces, N.M., courthouses about judicial independence, jury trials, and the history of federal and territorial courthouses in New Mexico.

Research partnership explores how to best harness solar-power

(PhysOrg) A University of Cincinnati research partnership is reporting advances on how to one day make solar cells stronger, lighter, more flexible and less expensive when compared with the current silicon or germanium technology on the market…The partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, is exploring how to improve the performance of carbon-based synthetic polymers, with the ultimate goal of making them commercially competitive…3/2

Mobile UC Gains Momentum

(FedTech) …’In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to buy a separate device for work,’ says Travis Howerton, deputy director of the IT Services Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which has a BYOD policy. ‘Employees don’t want to carry two.’…2/24

Signs of a Breakthrough: House Science Committee Hearing on NSF Grant Making Policies and Procedures

(AIP) A 14-minute exchange between National Science Foundation Director France Cordova, National Science Board Chairman Dan Arvizu, the Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and a subcommittee Ranking Member indicates that the lengthy impasse between key members of the committee and the foundation regarding its grant making policies and procedures apparently has been broken…3/4