BP Oil Spill in Lake Michigan


Photo by Gloson; Flickr

Workers at the Whiting refinery reported an oil sheen on the water this past Monday.

Mike Beslow, the EPA’s emergency response coordinator, said there appeared to be no negative effects on Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for 7 million people in Chicago and the suburbs.

To learn more, head over to the Chicago Tribune.

UI study finds high concentrations of compounds in Chicago’s air


Photo by Mastery of Maps, Flickr.
Photo by Mastery of Maps, Flickr.

A study out of the University of Iowa finds high levels of the compounds D4 and D5 in Chicago’s air.

D4 and D5 are compounds found in many personal care products including deodorants, soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners.

The study found that concentrations of the compounds were 10 times higher in Chicago than West Branch, IA and four times higher than Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

There is no evidence that high concentrations of D5 pose health concerns to people. However, not much is currently understood about the compound.

D4 is toxic to wildlife, and caused tumors, reproductive problems and altered organ size in studies of lab animals.

Read more here.

On the Radio: Railway plans stalled


Photo by elviskennedy, Flickr.
Photo by elviskennedy, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s segment discusses the uncertain future of a proposed passenger train that would connect Chicago to Omaha.

A proposed passenger train that would connect Chicago to Omaha would create jobs, aid transportation and help the environment in Iowa.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Continue reading

Chicago prepares for climate change


Photo by Gravitywave, Flickr

The New York Times is reporting that the Windy City is gearing up for a hotter, wetter climate.

Climate scientists found that current trends will eventually lead Chicago toward weather that is more commonly found down south.  The city is responding by repaving using pereable pavement, changing up the trees being planted and considering installing air conditions in all of its public schools.

Read part of the Times‘ coverage below:

The Windy City is preparing for a heat wave — a permanent one.

Climate scientists have told city planners that based on current trends, Chicago will feel more like Baton Rouge than a Northern metropolis before the end of this century.

So, Chicago is getting ready for a wetter, steamier future. Public alleyways are being repaved with materials that are permeable to water. The white oak, the state tree of Illinois, has been banned from city planting lists, and swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South have been given new priority. Thermal radar is being used to map the city’s hottest spots, which are then targets for pavement removal and the addition of vegetation to roofs. And air-conditioners are being considered for all 750 public schools, which until now have been heated but rarely cooled.

“Cities adapt or they go away,” said Aaron N. Durnbaugh, deputy commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Environment. “Climate change is happening in both real and dramatic ways, but also in slow, pervasive ways. We can handle it, but we do need to acknowledge it. We are on a 50-year cycle, but we need to get going.” Continue reading