The Standard – September 2016

THE STANDARD – SEPTEMBER 2016


 

Perfluorinated Chemicals, What’s in a Name?

On May 25, 2016, US EPA published a Notice of Availability of Lifetime Health Advisories and Health Effects Support Documents for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), recommending a 0.07 μg/L combined limit for both compounds in drinking water. PFOA, PFOS and related compounds, often referred to as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), have been of concern to US EPA for more than a decade. As attention to PFCs has increased within the environmental community, the terminology used to refer to this diverse, loosely defined group of fluorinated compounds has been problematic.

Compounds with the prefix “perfluoro” are hydrocarbons wherein all C-H bonds have been replaced by C-F bonds. When it comes to the group of organofluorine compounds rapidly gaining notoriety due to their close relation to PFOA and PFOS, using the term “perfluorinated chemicals” or “PFCs” is inaccurate as both terms lack sufficient definition and exclude polyfluorinated chemicals in which some, but not all, C-H bonds have been replaced by C-F bonds. Further, the acronym PFC was also used for perfluorocarbons in official Kyoto Protocol documents (which have their own environmental concerns such as greenhouse gases). While perfluorocarbons are organofluorine compounds that contain only carbon and fluorine (with the formula CxFy), the group of fluorinated compounds of emerging concern do not have a simply definable chemical formula. They are actually a broad class of perfluoroalkyl substances and polyfluoroalkyl substances (with the common acronym, PFAS) that contain a perfluoroalkyl moiety (CnF2n+1–) and can contain a range of possible functional groups. In addition to PFOS and PFOA, other perfluorinated alkyl acids (PFAAs) have been targeted for environmental monitoring, but are not the only PFASs on the ever-growing list of possible chemicals of environmental concern.

Unlike many other categories of compounds (such as polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs]) that can be extracted and analyzed from a sample using a single technique; there may not be a single sample preparation and analytical technique that can capture all the PFCs/PFASs of possible concern due to their diverse nature. Several commercial laboratories perform analysis for select PFAAs utilizing liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis by either US EPA drinking water Method 537, or proprietary methodologies. The PFAAs analyzed by LC-MS/MS vary by laboratory, but generally contain the perfluoroalkyl moiety with varying lengths and structures (linear or branched) along with a carboxylic, sulfonic or sulfonamidoacetic acid functional group. Some laboratories only perform analysis strictly by US EPA drinking water Method 537. Other laboratories have modified the US EPA method or developed their own proprietary methodology and can analyze non-aqueous matrices. Even within the PFAA category, laboratories utilizing LC-MS/MS vary in their approach to the identification and quantitation of the possible mixtures of linear and branched PFAA isomers present in environmental matrices (in addition to the many other variables amongst the laboratories offering this analysis).

Other possible PFC/PFASs of interest beyond the typical PFAA list may include perfluorinated and polyfluorinated compounds such as:

  • perfluoroalkyl sulfonamido substances
  • perfluoroalkyl sulfinic, phosphonic, and/or phosphinic acids
  • perfluroalkane sulfonyl fluorides
  • perfluoroalkanoyl halides
  • perfluoroalkyl aldehydes and/or alde hyde hydrates
  • fluorotelomer carboxylic acids
  • fluorotelomer sulfonates/sulfonic acids
  • polyfluoroalkyl phosphoric acid esters
  • polyfluoropolyethers (e.g., ammonium 4, 8-dioxaa-3H-perfluorononanoate [ADONA])

The possibilities are really too numerous to list. Determining which of the PFCs/PFASs are of interest from an environmental standpoint is in the early stages and complicated by the fact that polyfluoroalkyl substances and larger “precursor” compounds (larger compounds and polymers that contain a perfluoroalkyl functional group) may degrade to PFOA and PFOS or other PFAAs of concern. Furthermore, additional PFCs/PFASs may also become of interest for source identification or to help illuminate conceptual site models and degradation pathways. The diverse nature of this group of compounds may lead to the need for multiple, varying extraction and analytical approaches to capture them.

Select commercial laboratories currently only offer analysis for a subset of the PFCs/PFASs of possible interest. Some laboratories offer analysis for PFAAs beyond the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) and US EPA Method 537 target lists. Several commercial laboratories have even expanded the list to include several fluorotelomer sulfonates and/or perfluoroalkyl sulfonamides and sulfonamido ethanols. A few laboratories are also starting to use alternative procedures for some PFCs/PFASs such as alternative extraction techniques (e.g., avoiding solid-phase extraction for perfluoroalkyl sulfonamides) or analysis techniques (e.g., high-resolution gas chromatography/mass spectrometry [HRGC/MS] for compounds such as perfluoroalkyl sulfonamide ethanols) for improved qualitative identification or quantitation. There are also analytical techniques being developed for PFC/PFAS analysis in research settings that eventually might be offered in a commercial setting; however, some research involves the use of instruments not typically found at commercial laboratories (e.g., fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry [FAB-MS] and high-resolution quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry [QTOF-MS] to elucidate chemical formulas for the fluorochemicals in aqueous film-forming foam [AFFF]) mixtures as described in “Identification of Novel Fluorochemicals in Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) Used by the US Military,” Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012 Jul 3; 46(13): 7120–7127.). While current LC-MS/MS methods are capable of screening for a wide range of PFCs/PFASs, Environmental Standards will continue to closely monitor for additional analytical developments.

Contact David R. Blye, CEAC, Principal Chemist, or Meg A. Michell, Senior Technical Chemist, M.S., at 610.935.5577 to discuss how Environmental Standards can assist your program needs for PFAS analysis. 


 

Gold King Mine a Year Later

August 5, 2016, was the 1-year anniversary of the Gold King Mine (GKM) Level 7 adit blowout which occurred while a US EPA contractor was performing steps in anticipation of sealing the collapsed portal. Ultimately, approximately 3 million gallons of mine water spilled into Cement Creek, leading to the Animas River and ultimately through Colorado, New Mexico and Lake Powell in Utah. Based on information from the Utah Division of Water Quality, the first traces of the mine waste reached Lake Powell 7 days after the blowout. The release made the national and international news, with pictures of kayakers in the orange stream being the showcase photos.

Since that event, the US EPA, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the New Mexico Environment Department and the Utah Division of Water Quality, among others, have been collecting samples and monitoring conditions along the path of the spill. In June 2016, the state of New Mexico announced its intent to sue the US EPA in federal district court, Albuquerque, for violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and declaratory judgment against all defendants under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Circa $7 million in damages for emergency response costs, and another $140 million in economic harm are alleged. Even more recently, the New Mexico Attorney General has filed a bill of complaint with the U.S. Supreme Court, against the state of Colorado.

At issue, are the long-term impacts to the watershed, including surface and groundwater, irrigation water, sediments and biota, all the way to Lake Powell. The GKM is located in the Silverton caldera with production starting in 1886 and continuing until 1923; a significant level of mining has also occurred adjacent to GKM with many adits and shafts in the area that then collected groundwater once operations ceased. The result is millions of gallons of water containing high levels of heavy metals, iron and aluminum under suboxic conditions. Sulfide ores including pyrite (Fe), galena (Pb) and sphalerite (Zn) are prevalent to the highly fractured and complex geology of the area, and natural sources of acidity and metals are found in addition to those from mining. The iron- and metals-rich water that built up in the adits and tunnels over the 100 plus years during and after mining was quickly released into a high-redox (oxygen rich) environment. Under these conditions F(II) is oxidized, resulting in significant acid production (pH 3-4), along with precipitation of Fe(III) which resulted in the orange color observed. With travel distance and time, pH rose, likely resulting in aluminum precipitation and Cu and Zn sorption at near-neutral pH levels. The iron and aluminum precipitate surfaces are known to be active sites for sorption of As, Pb, Cu and Zn. Suspended sediment is a key transport mechanism in surface water, with colloidal forms also being a potential source of transport into groundwater aquifer systems along the discharge path. The mineral jarosite (KFe3+3(OH)6(SO4)2) has been identified (Lucia Rodriguez-Freire, et al., University of New Mexico) in sediments using Mössbauer spectroscopy. These same sediments contained high levels of Pb, Cu and Zn indicating jarosite, which along with the biogeochemical conditions, likely will affect, if not control, contamination in the Animas River sediments along much of the reach. 


 

Ann Marie Gathright Named to the VOGA Board of Directors

Ann Marie Gathright, an Account Executive for Environmental Standards, Inc., in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been named to the Board of Directors of the Virginia Oil and Gas Association (VOGA). She began her 2-year term in June.

Ann Marie’s work with the public relations program for VOGA has resulted in a growing awareness and understanding of the oil and gas industry in the state, as well as a positive-shifting attitude toward the industry.

She will continue her efforts in the petroleum market as a member of the “inner-circle” in the mid-Atlantic regional oil and gas industry. 


 

Analytical Chemistry versus Food Fraud

Is your mozzarella cheese made from cow’s milk or “the good stuff,” which is to say water buffalo milk? Consumers are paying good money for water buffalo cheese, but sometimes they are being ripped off by manufacturers that fraudulently spike it with cow’s milk.

In 2007, Italian researchers reported using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to replicate (many times) a small fragment of DNA for detecting the offending milk. (R M Lopparelli et al., J. Agric. Food Chem., 2007, 55, 3429). Most samples, represented as water buffalo mozzarella, analyzed by this technique at the University of Padua showed traces of cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is less expensive than water buffalo milk; thus, the suppliers, and producers seek economic gain by adulterating the product with a cheaper substitute. This is classic food fraud.

Coffee is another product that has been marketed fraudulently. Arabica beans cost two to three times as much as Robusta beans, and are generally considered the superior bean for coffee. However, they are frequently subject to criminal misrepresentation. Arabica beans are used for more than 70% of the world’s coffee production. Pure Arabica beans are traditionally identified by chemical fingerprints of analytes such as fatty acids, sterols and total amino acids. Analytical techniques include gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) and Fourier transform infrared (IR) spectroscopy. PCR analysis and Lab-on-a-Chip® capillary electrophoresis promise improvements in speed, specificity, and eventually, cost.

Similar applications of steadily improving techniques, for analysis of peptides, proteins and fatty acids are emerging in a truly global effort to detect food fraud. For professionals charged with protecting product quality, there are also serious implications for food safety, given the potential for inclusion of allergens and toxic substitutions.

It’s a good thing the science is coming along, too. In 2012, Oceana reported that 39% of seafood species bought in New York City were mislabeled. The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention found that fish labeled “white tuna” and “butterfish” are often a fish called escolar, which is banned in Italy and Japan for its waxy esters, which can cause food poisoning. Monkfish is a pleasant sounding name, but some “monkfish” may really be mislabeled puffer fish, which has caused tetrodotoxin poisonings in the U.S.

Other substitutions found in the marketplace by talented analytical chemists include: hazelnut oil used to adulterate “extra virgin” olive oil; cow’s milk to adulterate sheep’s milk; corn syrup or sugar syrup used to adulterate honey and apple juice; and ground roasted twigs, corn, barley and parchment to adulterate coffee.

The scientists at Vitale Scientific Associates, LLC, hold certifications in food science, pharmaceutical good management practices, and environmental analytical chemistry. They are experienced with DNA analysis, analysis of proteins and amino acids, allergens and toxins. By applying that understanding of the analytical techniques involved, our scientists can advise you of each technique’s strengths and weaknesses in order to help you design, implement or improve your Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and supplier audit program.


 

Calculating Success – Computational Science Adds New Dimension to Service Offerings

Dr. Joe Golab has joined Environmental Standards, Inc. (Environmental Standards) and subsidiary, Vitale Scientific Associates (VSA), as Senior Advisor in Computational Sciences based out of Chicago, Illinois, to head up our efforts in this new service offering.

Dr. Golab was brought on board by Environmental Standards Principal, Dr. Mike Green. “Expanding to offer Computational Science is truly exciting!” said Dr. Green. Rock Vitale, CEO of Environmental Standards, agreed, “Dr. Golab’s computational science expertise will substantially complement the chemistry capabilities within Vitale Scientific and Environmental Standards.”

An unexpected catalyst

As an undergrad at Loyola University Chicago, Joe Golab had been fascinated by kinetics, and he worked closely with a kinetics professor on his honors research project. “There is an intimacy in chemical reactions. Those things we are able to see happening in a reaction are dependent on what’s going on at the molecular level – the different ways, in which, molecules interact with each other.” The kinetics professor saw Joe’s passion for that topic and suggested Joe work with chemistry on computers and study quantum mechanics. Joe had previously considered himself a laboratory man, but that conversation was the catalyst that sparked his interest and life-long work in computational science.

Dr. Golab’s interests focus on practical applications of computational science and engineering to problems of industrial interest. He is fluent in most commercial modeling and simulation programs and has extensive experience with computer hardware platforms as well as with modern programming and scripting languages.

Dr. Golab has served on several U.S. government panels that forecast and manage national scientific endeavors, especially for high-performance computing. He is an adjunct Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science and Letters at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and he is a trustee (and past president) of the Computer Aids for Chemical Engineering (CACHE) Corporation.

Before starting his industrial career at Amoco, Dr. Golab was a Research Scientist and Leader of the Computational Chemistry Group at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications. He studied the theoretical aspects of spectroscopy and chemical reaction dynamics, as a postdoctoral associate at Northwestern University. His dissertation work, completed at Texas A&M University, focused on bound-state quantum chemistry. He is a contributing author on over 35 refereed journal articles, several book chapters, a few patents, and one book. Dr. Golab has spoken on industrial applications of molecular modeling around the world.

The benefits of computational science

Computational science offers cost-effective and time-saving solutions for clients. Rather than spending fruitless months in a laboratory performing scores of experiments, various scenarios can be studied on the computer to prioritize potential solutions in a fraction of the time. Assumptions will be reviewed and operating conditions will be evaluated to identify a pattern that can then be used for a client’s benefit. “The possible applications are endless,” said Golab, “in the practical arena, computational science can be used to optimize the efficiency of a process – for example decreasing waste products, or even to innovate a whole new material.”

Some applications include:

  • Accelerating research and development by prioritizing and focusing experiments using technical data from modeling results
  • Improving catalytic product yields (e.g., propylene ammoxidation)
  • Identifying individual compounds in mixtures based on their molecular properties
  • Integrating chemistry modeling results into commercial-scale engineering simulations to discover optimal operating conditions
  • Mining data to find trends that lead to lower-cost and higher-performance products
  • Enhancing collaboration by the electronic acquisition, interpretation and storage of data
    “Computational science is built from a combination of experiment and theory. Once you have constructed a robust model, you can reproduce what is already known, and importantly, provide insight and knowledge about things that are not known, which may be difficult, expensive or impossible to learn about experimentally. Our service is about helping clients utilize this technology more effectively in their research and development programs.” said Dr. Green.

Computational Science is a game changer for many projects; Environmental Standards and VSA are excited to be able to offer their clients assistance with this new service offering. Dr. Golab can be reached at jgolab@www.envstd.com or at 630-336-0063.


 

PerimeterHAWK Incorporates Free Weather Data

As we approach the implementation dates delineated in the Refinery Sector Rule – Benzene Fenceline Monitoring (BFM), refineries are formulating their compliance strategy. The variation in strategies is almost as numerous as the number of refineries affected by the rule.

Some refineries are internally establishing sampling locations, while others look to consultants. Some are outsourcing sample collection, while others are training internal technicians. Some refinery networks are consolidating the analysis of the sorbent tubes to a single laboratory, while other networks are leaving the laboratory selection and contracting decision to each refinery. And some are planning to install a new meteorological station, while others have decided to take advantage of data available from a nearby airport.

Regardless of the approach, PerimeterHAWK has the ability to pull the data in and serve as a single repository for all or just one of the refineries in the network. Additionally, data are automatically pre-screened to help assure accuracy and completeness. Given the US EPA’s vision of making all of the BFM data available online including aerial views of the refinery with detailed data for each sampling location, the accuracy and traceability of these data are paramount. For more information on the features and benefits of PerimterHAWK as well as to request an online demonstration, please contact Kevin Renninger at krenninger@evnstd.com.


 

New Rule on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

In May of this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized the law extending its authority to regulate all tobacco products, including vaporizers, vape and hookah pens, e-cigarettes, e-pipes and all other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The FDA will now control the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale and distribution of ENDS to include components and parts of these delivery systems. These products are used during “vaping” which is the act of inhaling water vapor through a personal vaporizer that contains liquid nicotine, as well as varying compositions of flavorings, propylene glycol, glycerin and other ingredients.

The new rule will require companies to determine and monitor the components in their products, except for those products that have been on the market prior to February 15, 2007. It will also require companies to register with the FDA and include warning labels on their packages and in their advertisements. With the new regulations, people under the age of 18 will no longer be able to buy these products. Currently, not all states forbid sales to minors.

The new rule will have a significant financial impact on the companies that produce these products because each product must be registered through the Premarket Tobacco Application (PMTA) process – at a potential cost in the millions of dollars. On average, the FDA estimates the PMTA process will take 1,500 hours to complete and cost in the neighborhood of $300,000. This cost is per product, which includes all flavorings and each level of nicotine that is produced. Due to the cost, many companies will struggle to justify the expense and may potentially have to close their doors.

The new regulations took effect August of this year. The FDA recognizes that it could be difficult for manufacturer of these products to conform to the new regulations. Companies with products on the market now, including vape shops that mix their own liquids, will have 2 years to submit an application to the FDA for approval of a product. The product will then have temporary marketing authorization for a year while the agency reviews the application.

Be sure to check out our upcoming blog series on this topic in the near future. 


 

Whistleblower Awarded $300K in Lawsuit over Alleged Water Test Rigging

Court records indicate that Sparta Township in New Jersey recently agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee. Pumping Station Operator, Mark Nelson, claimed in the suit that he had been told to modify the method of treating the water supply for samples that would be submitted to the state for testing, in order to obtain more favorable copper and lead results.

Copies of the lawsuit and the “Confidential Settlement Agreement and General Release” were obtained by John Paff, Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project. Paff then posted the documents on his organization’s website,

In the 2013 lawsuit, Nelson claimed that in 2010, Municipal Utilities Director Philip Spaldi had ordered him to increase the lead and copper treatment dosage to be placed in the water just before the samples were taken for testing, in order to get “good,” or acceptable, sampling results for the lead and copper levels in the water. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection requires the testing every 3 years.

In the lawsuit, Nelson said he refused to alter the treatment and advised his direct supervisor, Michael Sportelli, that it would be improper to do so, adding that the water sample sent to the laboratory for testing should be consistent with the water being distributed to the public. After refusing to carry out those orders issued in 2010, Nelson claimed his superiors retaliated against him with multiple disciplinary actions and by removing him from water testing duties.

In the settlement, both sides agreed to tell any inquiries that the matter has been “amicably resolved.” The township rescinded all the disciplinary actions it had taken against Nelson, including final notices issued in 2013 and 2014 that included a 30-day suspension and a $10,000 reduction in pay. Neither party admits any wrongdoing or liability in the settlement. 


 

Laboratory News

Data Manipulated at USGS Laboratory

In the scientific world, integrity and data quality are of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, scientific misconduct can occur at even the most respected laboratory facilities.

In October 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Resources Program was informed of a serious data quality issue within the Inorganic Section of the Energy Geochemistry Laboratory (EGL) in Lakewood, Colorado. The issue was related to analyses conducted on an inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). This is the second major quality issue within EGL. The first incident began in 1996 and continued until 2008.

When the second incident was discovered, the USGS office of Science Quality and Integrity issued a stop work order and began an inquiry. The subsequent report concluded that the laboratory had a, “chronic pattern of scientific misconduct” and that, “data produced by the Inorganic Section were intentionally manipulated by the line-chemist in charge.”

A notice on the USGS website addresses the quality issue which occurred between 2008 and 2014. “During this time, frame, some data were manipulated both to correct for calibration failures and to improve results of standard reference materials and unknowns.” USGS cautions that trace element and rare earth concentrations reported from the ICP-MS analyses are considered suspect and should be used with caution. It then adds that, “any publications based on these data should be re-evaluated, and revised as needed.”

The Office of Inspector General (OIG)had conducted an investigation into the matter as well. The June 15, 2016 OIG report states that, “even though management discovered the incident in late 2014, employees had long suspected quality-related problems to be associated with the laboratory.”

Surely, the effects of this incident are enormous. In a June 15, 2016 letter to Suzette Kimball, Director of USGS, Mary Kendall, Deputy Inspector General of the OIG, wrote, “Our review revealed that the full extent of the impacts are not yet known but, nevertheless, that they will be serious and far ranging.”

The USGS laboratory’s Inorganic Section closed in February 2016, following the scientific integrity incident that occurred there. 

Report Says State Chemist was High on the Job for Years

According to a May 4, 2016 story in the Boston Globe, for the second time in recent years, prosecutors across Massachusetts are confronting the possibility that thousands of drug investigations may have been built on flawed scientific ground.

That potential emerged amid disclosures that a former chemist at a Department of Public Health laboratory in Amherst was regularly high on the job and dipped into the laboratory’s stash of drugs for her personal use. Those revelations have cast doubt upon tests performed at the now-shuttered laboratory.

Attorney General Maura Healey conducted the investigation. The chemist at the center of the probe, Sonja Farak, testified she was under the influence of illicit drugs during her 8 years working at the Amherst laboratory.

Additionally, the Healey inquiry identified potential systemic flaws in practices at the laboratory. Chemists would routinely identify prescription drugs by visual examination only, according to the report. And instead of purchasing certified drug samples (primary standards) for chemists to compare to unknown evidence samples, the laboratory manager acknowledged making his own reference drugs.

Thomas E. Workman Jr., a forensic scientist who teaches scientific evidence at University of Massachusetts Law School told the Boston Globe, “This is not a one-off, or a ‘bad apple’ issue, this is a problem with a procedure that invites this kind of misuse.”

“I can tell you right now I have a concern about every case that went through the Amherst lab,’’ he said, pointing to the totality of flaws found and not just Farak’s actions. “Based on what she did, but also the more recent revelations about what her co-workers engaged in, it’s very disturbing.’’ 

Pace Acquires TriMatrix Laboratories

Pace Analytical Services, Inc. (Pace) recently announced the acquisition of TriMatrix Laboratories (Trimatrix), a full-service environmental testing laboratory located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. TriMatrix is a testing source for environmental programs in the state of Michigan and the surrounding area. The acquisition supports Pace’s growth plan for the Great Lakes Region.

Steve Vanderboom, the CEO of Pace Analytical, commented, “We are excited to add the TriMatrix staff of professionals to the Pace team. The addition of this location and capabilities will strengthen our service offering to our clients in the Michigan market.”

TriMatrix is NELAP certified and has several state certifications, including Michigan Drinking Water certification. TriMatrix supports routine drinking water, wastewater, groundwater, surface water, soil, and sediment testing. The TriMatrix staff will continue to serve customers under the Pace banner going forward. 


 

The 2016 Food and Beverage Environmental Conference Serves up the Goods

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word, conference? PowerPoint® presentations with .001 fonts read by individuals with monotone voices? Bueller? Bueller?

Imagine the vision from the podium of the sea of bowed heads, illuminated by iPhones and other electronic devices, while the speaker looks for that one person with whom to make eye contact.

The struggle is real. Thankfully, not all conferences are made alike.

Ann Marie Gathright, Account Executive in Environmental Standards, Inc.’s Charlottesville, Virginia office, recently attended the Food and Beverage Environmental Conference (FBEC). The conference, which was held in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, this year, is attended by food and beverage environmental professionals from across the country. The atmosphere is collegial, and the content of the sessions is of the highest caliber. The conference was started in 1970 by a group of food processing managers looking to share best practices for environmental compliance. The FBEC is held at a different resort location each year and provides multiple opportunities for professional development and social gatherings where all attendees experience a true sense of professional community and engagement.

Ms. Gathright served as co-chair for the 2016 FBEC community outreach event. She chose the Post Falls Senior Center because, while organizations devoted to serving children and animals receive most of the focus, Ms. Gathright noted the disturbing fact that 10% of our seniors live below the poverty line and experience food insecurity.

On Tuesday, April 12, the two dozen volunteers, gathered at the Post Falls SeniorCenter to sort and package meals for the Center’s Meals on Wheels program, work in the thrift store and weed the vegetable gardens.

 

There is a familiar quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi that says, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Ms. Gathright believes this to be true. “While we were digging in the dirt, preparing meals, and sorting through clothes, I saw joy on the faces of my volunteer teammates. We joked, laughed together and took selfies, all while getting the jobs done. Some of us might have been strangers upon arrival, but we all left as friends. Our hearts grew a little bit bigger that day.”

Consider joining Ms. Gathright in Charleston, South Carolina, for the 2017 FBEC, which will be held March 26-30 at Wild Dunes. She would be pleased if you considered volunteering with her at the community outreach event.

And, if your work doesn’t align with the Food and Beverage Industry, you may still be able to implement a community outreach event at your next professional conference.

Ms. Gathright added, “There’s nothing wrong with business dinners followed by cocktails at the bar, but there is everything right with leaving the place a little better than you found it.”


 

PA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System : Proposed Rule on Applications and Program Updates

On May 18, 2016, the US EPA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to propose revisions to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to eliminate regulatory and application form inconsistencies; improve permit documentation, transparency, and oversight; clarify existing regulations; and remove outdated provisions. The 45-day comment period ended on July 18, 2016.

A summary to the 15 major categories can be found on our website.