Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

General Environmental FAQs

Where can I find information on pollution in the Great Lakes?

I'm a student doing a paper on pollution/hazardous waste/recycling/other environmental topics. Where can I find information on this topic?

Where can I find a copy of the Clean Water Act/Clean Air Act/other major environmental legislation?

Where can I find environmental information for teachers to use in the classroom?

Where can I find information on pollution prevention/clean technology/cleaner production in a specific industry?

Where can I find information on landfills/solid waste disposal/recycling?

How do I locate companies that recycle pallets/silver/batteries/other industrial wastes?

What do I do with old paint/household cleaners/pool chemicals/other household wastes?

Where can I find out which universities/schools offer environmental science/conservation/sustainability courses? Can I see copies of the course syllabi?

Where can I find information about toxics in my community?


Where can I find information on pollution in the Great Lakes?

U.S. EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office is a very good place to start when looking for information about the Great Lakes. They have many resources, including information about each lake. In particular, the Great Lakes Atlas provides comprehensive information about the history, ecosystem, environmental concerns, and joint management of the Lakes. Paper copies of the Atlas are also available.


I'm a student doing a paper on pollution/hazardous waste/recycling/other environmental topics. Where can I find information on this topic?

U.S. EPA's Student Center is a very good place to start when researching basic environmental topics. It includes information on environmental basics, air, water, conservation, ecosystems, human health, in your neighborhood, and waste and recycling. Also includes links to environmental laws, publications, an environmental dictionary, news, and information for teachers and kids.

U.S. EPA also maintains frequently asked questions collections on a variety of topics. You should be able to locate basic information with links to EPA resources from these documents.

If you're looking for information on toxicology and children's health, check out the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Kids, Parents, & Teachers Page. It includes lots of good information and links on this topic.

For a good discussion of current environmental issues with relevant links, see the Almanac of Policy Issues: Environment and the Natural Resources Defense Council.


Where can I find a copy of the Clean Water Act/Clean Air Act/other major environmental legislation?

U.S. EPA maintains a list of major environmental laws with links to full-text sources on the laws & regulations section of their web site. They also maintain a more comprehensive list (without links) as part of their Introduction to Laws and Regulations.

In addition, the National Library for the Environment maintains Summaries of Environmental Laws Administered by the EPA. Each summary includes background information and plain-English discussions of the provisions of the statutes that form the legal basis for EPA's programs.


Where can I find environmental information for teachers to use in the classroom?

The ISTC Clearinghouse has many publications that teachers can use in the classroom. In particular, the following ISTC publications are designed with classroom use in mind:

TN99- 031. Case, Laurie. PRODUCT LIFE-CYCLE ANALYSIS : Environmental activities for the classroom. Champaign, IL: Waste Management and Research Center, 1999.

SCH- 011. PAINT, PAINT EVERYWHERE [Champaign, IL: Illinois Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center], 1994. (Paper copy only. Contact the ISTC Library or call (217) 333-8940 to order a copy)

SCH- 014. KIDS CAN HELP TOO! : [Environmental Activity Booklet] / Blue, Carla -- Champaign, IL : Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center (HWRIC) , 1996. (Paper copy only. Contact the ISTC Library or call (217) 333-8940 to order a copy)

Recipes for a Safer Home Card Set. (Paper copy only. Contact the ISTC Library or call (217) 333-8940 to order a copy)

ISTC also distributes publications from other environmental agencies. Topic areas of particular interest to teachers include:

U.S. EPA's Environmental Education Center is designed specifically for teachers. It includes information on curriculum and resource activities, community service projects, grants, awards, workshops and conferences, and contacts and links.

If you're looking for information on toxicology and children's health, check out the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Kids, Parents, & Teachers Page. It includes lots of good information and links on this topic.

Another good resource is EE-Link: Environmental Education on the Internet. This site, maintained by the National Consortium for Environmental Education and Training, provides a wealth of resources for educators on environmental topics. It includes links to classroom resources, contacts, reference resources, regional information, and education and environment directories.

The National Library for the Environment's Environmental Education Programs and Resources page has links to many good resources, particularly for higher education. They also include a link to EE:Link.

The University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems (formerly the National Pollution Prevention Center for Higher Education) has developed Faculty Teaching and Research Materials that integrate pollution prevention concepts into various subject areas. Each compendium contains a resource list, selected readings, syllabi, and student assignments. The subjects covered include Accounting, Agriculture, Business Law, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Coastal Zone Management, Environmental Studies, Finance, Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Industrial Ecology, Marketing, and Strategic Environmental Management. There are also links to case studies and bibliographies.

Although it doesn't have specific curriculum guides, Benchmarks for Science Literacy is something that all teachers should read. A companion publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's project "Science for All Americans", it is a compendium of specific goals for science literacy in several key areas including the living environment. It is part of their Project 2061 program which promotes literacy in science, mathematics, and technology.


Where can I find information on pollution prevention/clean technology/cleaner production in a specific industry?

The ISTC Clearinghouse has many factsheets and technical research reports dealing with both general and specific pollution prevention topics. In addition, the Clearinghouse distributes both general pollution prevention and industry-specific publications from other agencies.

Another good place to find pollution prevention information for a specific industry is Envirosense. This site includes links to solvent substitution data systems; technical information, including publications and bibliographic databases; and compliance and enforcement information.

EPA also maintains a Business & Industry page, which includes links to industry sector notebooks, compliance assistance centers, small business information, enforcement data systems, publications, and other information. It also links to the Small Business Administration's U.S. Business Advisor.

U.S. EPA's Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse distributes and links to many, many pollution prevention publications, including industry-specific information. In addition, EPA's Pollution Prevention Home Page contains information about Agency initiatives, including the Design for the Environment Project, which targets specific industry sectors.


Where can I find information on landfills/solid waste disposal/recycling?

The U.S. EPA Concerned Citizen's Page has links to lots of information on these topics. In addition, the following EPA publications will be helpful:

Treat, Store, and Dispose of Waste
MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) Management
The Municipal Solid Waste Factbook
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Waste
The Consumer's Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste

U.S. EPA also maintains frequently asked questions collections on a variety of environmental subjects. Frequently Asked Questions About Waste answers commonly asked questions about recycling and waste.


How do I locate companies that recycle pallets/silver/batteries/other industrial wastes?

Waste exchanges bring companies looking for recyclable industrial wastes together with companies who are wanting to get rid of such wastes. Many states have materials exchange programs. The Illinois EPA runs the Industrial Material Exchange Service.

Recycler's World, a worldwide trading site for recyclable commodities, has a directory of companies who deal in recycled goods. The directory is subdivided by waste category and state.

The Southern Waste Information Exchange (SWIX) maintains a list of materials exchange services, as well as lists of materials wanted and materials available.


What do I do with old paint/household cleaners/pool chemicals/other household wastes?

The following ISTC publications answer some of these questions:

TN98- 047. LEAD PAINT - PAINT FACTSHEET #8 . Champaign, IL: Waste Management and Research Center, 1998.

TN98- 037. HOUSEHOLD PAINTING BASICS - PAINT FACTSHEET #2 Champaign, IL: Waste Management and Research Center, 1998.

Recipes for a Safer Home Card Set. (Paper copy only. Contact the ISTC Library or call (217) 333-8940 to order a copy)

The Clearinghouse also distributes household hazardous waste publications from other agencies.

Many states and local governments sponsor household hazardous waste collection days. In Illinois, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency organizes these events. To obtain a list of dates and locations, information about collections, or a list of what is and isn't accepted, visit their web site or call the IEPA Bureau of Land at (217) 785-8604.

If your community does not currently sponsor a collection day and you want to start one, U.S. EPA has published Household Hazardous Waste Management: A Manual for One-Day Community Collection Programs (EPA 530 R-92 002) (Paper copies available from U.S. EPA's RCRA Hotline at (800) 424-9346).

In addition, U.S. EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office has an online Guide to Household Waste Disposal, which provides information about many household toxics.


Where can I find out which universities/schools offer environmental science/conservation/sustainability courses? Can I see copies of the course syllabi?

The National Library for the Environment maintains a directory of schools that offer these types of courses.

Also check out the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems (formerly the National Pollution Prevention Center for Higher Education). They have developed curricula and resource lists to help faculty in many different disciplines incorporate pollution prevention into their courses.


Where can I find information about toxics in my community?

The Environmental Defense Fund's Scorecard site produces local reports by combining scientific, geographical, technical, and legal information from over 150 electronic databases. Local reports include contact information for legislators and decision makers.

Another good source is U.S. EPA's Envirofacts page. It's a single point of access for environmental data collected by the agency. EPA also offers a "search by zip code" feature on their Your Community page.

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