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Glossary of Environmental Terms
AA:
Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (used to analyze lead)
ACCURACY*:
Agreement between the measured value and the true value.
ACL:
Alternate Concentration Limit
ACS:
American Chemical Society
ACTION LEVEL*:
The concentration limit of toxicants in water, fish, and other food commodities that should be avoided. The laws in many countries require that food commodities are seized and drinking water sources closed that contain chemicals exceeding action levels.
ACTIVE INGREDIENT*:
Chemical substance in a pesticide formulation that provides the desired biological activity.
ADI*:
Acceptable Daily Intake. Estimate of the amount of a chemical in food or drinking water which can be ingested daily over a lifetime of humans without appreciable health risk. It is expressed in milligrams per kilogram of body weight. When the ADI has passed through EPA's internal review process, it is called a Reference Dose (RfD).
ADJUVANT*:
Substance without significant pesticidal properties added to a pesticide formulation to enhance the effectiveness, such as drift control agent, emulsifier, synergist, wetting agent, but not generally the carrier.
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROLS:
Those controls that protect personnel by reducing or eliminating overexposure through information and procedures.
ADSORPTION/DESORPTION*:
Dynamic process in which molecules are continually exchanged between the physically bound state at a solid surface and the freely dissolved state in a liquid or gas phase.
AIHA:
American Industrial Hygiene Association
ALJ:
Administrative Law Judge
ANAEROBIC:
Oxygen free or very low oxygen content environment.
ANPR:
Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
ANWR:
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
AO:
Administrative Order. An order by EPA or OSHA regulators or Administrative Law Judges is their employment.
APA:
Administrative Procedures Act
APHA:
American Public Health Association
AQUIFER:
A body of rock, sand, or gravel that is sufficiently permeable to conduct ground water and to yield significant quantities of water to wells or springs.
ARAR:
Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirement (for environmental cleanups)
ATSDR:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
AWQC:
Ambient Water-Quality Criteria, specify concentrations of water constituents which, if not exceeded, are expected to support an organic ecosystem suitable for the higher uses of water.
AWWA:
American Water Works Association
BAT:
Best Available Technology
BCF:
Bioconcentration factor in fish, etc.
BIOAVAILABILITY*:
Extent to which a pesticide residue can be taken up into an organism from the total amount present in its food and environment, and the rate at which this occurs.
BIOCONCENTRATION FACTOR (BCF)*:
Ratio between the concentration of a synthetic chemical organism or tissue and the concentration in the environmental matrix (usually water) at apparent equilibrium during the uptake phase. Expresses the degree a chemical residue bioconcentrates in an organism or tissue.
BIODEGRADATION*:
Breakdown of a pesticide catalysed by enzymes in vitro or in vivo. For hazard assessment, categories of chemical of chemical transformation include: 1) Primary - loss of specific activity; 2) Environmentally acceptable - loss of any undesirable activity (including any more toxic metabolites); 3) Ultimate - complete breakdown to small molecules such as water and CO2.
BLM:
Bureau of Land Management
BOUND RESIDUE*:
Chemical species in plant or soil originating from a pesticide, used according to good agricultural practice, that are unextracted by a defined method such as Soxhlet solvent extraction, which does not significantly change the chemical nature of the residues. These unextractable residues are considered to exclude fragments recycled through metabolic pathways to natural products.
BMPs:
Best Management Practices
BROWNFIELDS:
Abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facility where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.
BOM:
Bureau of Mines
CAA:
Clean Air Act
CADD:
Computer aided drafting and design
CAMU:
Corrective Action Management Unit
CAPA:
Critical Aquifer Protection Area (Sole Source Aquifer)
CBC:
Complete blood count
CEQA:
California Environmental Quality Act
CERCLA:
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (the Superfund law for abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites).
CERCLIS:
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System (a list of potential NPL/Superfund sites).
CFM:
Cubic feet per minute (a flow rate)
CFR:
Code of Federal Regulations
CFS:
Cubic feet per second (a flow rate)
CHRONIC TOXICITY*:
Adverse effects of a pesticide which arise from chronic exposure or which persist or appear long after short term exposure.
CIH:
Certified Industrial Hygienist
CLP:
Contract Laboratory Program
CM3:
Cubic centimeters
CM/S:
Centimeters per second (velocity)
CNS:
Central nervous system
CO:
Compliance order
COE:
Corps of Engineers (Army) - has key responsibility in wetland protection.
COEFFICIENT OF VARIATION*:
Measure of the reproducibility or repeatability of a method. It is the standard deviation expressed as a percentage of the mean. The term is synonymous with relative standard deviation.
COMPOSITE SAMPLE*:
Combined primary samples, or combined replicate samples, or combined samples from replicate trials.
CSPI:
Center for Science in the Public Interest
CWA:
Clean Water Act
CWMB:
California Waste Management Board
CZMA:
Coastal Zone Management Act
DAF:
Dilution/Attenuation Factors (under RCRA, for characterizing leachate concentrations)
DE FACTO:
Existing, regardless of legal consideration.
DEIR:
Draft Environmental Impact Report
DEIS:
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
DISLODGEABLE RESIDUE*:
Portion of a pesticide residue on treated vegetation that is readily removeable and may present a hazard to farm workers. Generally measured by the residue removed when leaf discs are shaken briefly in water or a weak solvent.
DL:
Detection Limit (for lab studies)
DNR:
Department of Natural Resource
DO:
Dissolved Oxygen
DOD:
Department of Defense
DOE:
Department of Ecology (also used for U.S. Dept. of Energy)
DOT:
Department of Transportation
DQO:
Data Quality Objectives (for designing monitoring studies)
EA:
Environmental Assessment
EC:
Environment Canada
EC50*:
See median effective concentration.
ECAO:
Environmental Criteria and Assessment Office (EPA)
ECOSYSTEM*:
Assemblage of populations of different species (often interdependent on and interacting with each other) interacting with their surroundings within a specified physical location and forming a functional entity.
ECRA:
Environmental Cleanup Responsibility Act
EDF:
Environmental Defense Fund
EDTA:
Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (a lead chelater)
EHS:
Extremely Hazardous Substance
EIA:
Environmental Impact Assessment
EIR:
Environmental Impact Report
EIS:
Environmental Impact Statement
Employee:
In the eyes of OSHA, this is the same as a worker: anyone in a workplace who takes direction and derives a benefit, even if the benefit is not monetary.
Engineering Controls:
Controls such as ventilation systems, separate enclosures and construction renovations which protect personnel by reducing exposure.
EPA:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPCRA:
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (also known as SARA Title III)
EPHEMERAL STREAM:
A stream that flows only during times of surface runoff.
ESA:
Endangered Species Act
ESA:
Environmental Site Assessment
ESTIMATED ENVIRONMENTAL CONCENTRATION (EEC)*:
Predicted concentration of a pesticide within an environmental compartment based on estimates of quantities released, discharge patterns and substance inherent properties (fate and distribution) as well as the nature of the specific receiving ecosystems.
FEIR:
Final Environmental Impact Report
FEIS:
Final Environmental Impact Statement
FOE:
Friends of the Earth
FOIA:
Freedom of Information Act
FONSI:
Finding of No Significant Impact
FR:
Federal Register
FWS:
Fish and Wildlife Service
GIS:
Geographic Information Systems
GOOD LABORATORY PRACTICE (GLP)*:
The formalized process and conditions under which laboratory studies on pesticides are planned, performed, monitored, recorded, reported and audited. Studies performed under GLP are based on the national regulations of a country and are designed to assure the reliability and integrity of the studies and associated data. In the U.S., GLP requirements are specified in Title 40, Part 160 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
GPM:
Gallons Per Minute
GROUND WATER*:
Water present in the saturated subsurface zone of the soil profile, where all open spaces/pores in the sediment and rock are filled with water.
HALF-LIFE*:
Time taken for the concentration of a pesticide in a compartment to decline by one half. Usually an estimate based on observed dissipation over several half-lives as described by a mathematical expression (e.g. first order kinetics).
HAP:
Hazardous Air Pollutant
HASP:
Health and Safety Plan
HAZARDOUS WASTE:
Under RCRA, any solid waste that is listed in the statute, listed in the regulations, or meets the characteristics described in 40 CFR Part 261. For firing ranges, the lead and arsenic determination would be made according to their leaching characteristics.
HEALTH ADVISORY LEVEL (HAL)*:
Upper limit of a toxicant concentration in drinking water that can be consumed for a lifetime without adverse effects. HALs generally do not have formal legal significance.
HEPA FILTER:
High Efficiency Particulate Air filter - used in indoor firing ranges and elsewhere.
HMTA:
Hazardous Materials Transportation Act
HRS:
Hazard Ranking System - used for scoring hazardous waste sites for inclusion on the NPL.
HSWA:
Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to RCRA
HYDRIC SOILS:
Soils that are saturated, flooded, or ponded long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in the upper part.
HYDROLOGY:
Science that deals with all aspects of water as it relates to the earth and the atmosphere.
HYDROLYSIS*:
Reaction in which a chemical bond is cleaved and a new bond formed with the oxygen atom of a molecule of water.
HYDROPHYTIC VEGETATION:
Macrophytic plant life growing in water, soil, or on a substrate that is at least periodically deficient in oxygen as a result of excess water content.
ICAP:
Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma (for analyzing lead)
ICP:
Inductively Coupled Plasma
ICP-AES:
Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectrophotometry
IDL:
Instrument Detection Limit
IDLH:
Immediately Dangerous to Life & Health
INTERMITTENT STREAM:
A stream that flows only part of the year when the water table is above the stream bed.
KOC (SOIL ORGANIC ADSORPTION COEFFICIENT)*:
Ratio of a chemical concentration adsorbed in the organic matter component of soil or sediment to that in the aqueous phase at equilibrium. The KOC is calculated by dividing the Kd value by the percent organic carbon present in the soil or sediment. Alternatively, the Kom may be calculated by substitution with organic matter content.
L, l:
Liter (slightly more than one quart).
LC50:
Lethal Concentration (that kills 50% of the test species)
LD50:
Lethal Dose (that kills 50% of the test species)
LOAEL:
Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level
MANIFEST:
Form used for shipping hazardous materials for offsite disposal.
M3:
Cubic meter (1 m3 contains 1,000 liters)
MATC:
Maximum Allowable Toxicant Concentration
MCL:
Maximum Contaminant Level
MCLG:
Maximum Contaminant Level Goal
MDL:
Method Detection Limit
MEDIAN EFFECTIVE CONCENTRATION (EC50)*:
Statistically derived concentration of a pesticide in an environmental medium expected to produce a certain effect in 50% of the test organisms in a given population under defined conditions.
MEDIAN LETHAL CONCENTRATION (LC50)*:
Statistically derived concentration of a pesticide in an environmental medium expected to kill 50% of test organisms in a given population under defined conditions.
MG:
Million gallons per day
MG/KG:
Milligrams per kilogram, one thousandth of a gram of one substance per one thousand grams of another, usually soil.
MG/L:
Micrograms per liter, one millionth of a gram of a substance per one liter of another, usually water.
MG/L:
Milligrams per liter
MPL:
Maximum Permissible Limit
MSDS:
Material Safety Data Sheet
MOBILITY:
The movement of a contaminant in the environment, e.g., the extent to which lead leaches through soil.
MODEL*:
Experimental or mathematical simulation of chemical behavior in a specific environment.
MULTIRESIDUE METHOD*:
Analytical method which measures a number of pesticide residues simultaneously.
NAAQS:
National Ambient Air Quality Standards
NAS:
National Academy of Sciences
NCA:
Noise Control Act
ND:
Non-detect
NEPA:
National Environmental Policy Act
NIH:
National Institutes of Health
NIMBY:
"Not in my back yard" (a cry of citizen opponents).
NIOSH:
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
NOAA:
No Observed Adverse Effect Level
NPDES:
National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (for discharge of pollutants or contaminated water to waters of the U.S.).
NPDWS:
National Primary Drinking Water Standards
NPL:
National Priorities List (under CERCLA) - priority sites for cleanup.
NPS:
Non-Point Source
NRC
National Research Council (part of NAS)
NRCS:
Natural Resources Conservation Service - a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (formerly the Soil Conservation Service).
NTIS:
National Technical Information Service
OSHA:
Occupational Safety and Health Act or Administration (Dept. Labor)
OSW:
EPA Office of Solid Waste
OSWER:
EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
OXIDATION:
The process whereby iron rusts and energy is produced from glucose in our bodies.
PAHs:
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - the same as PNAs (see below).
PARTICULATE:
In the form of atoms or minute particles.
PB:
The chemist's shorthand notation for lead.
PEL:
Permissible Exposure Limit, the OSHA regulatory level of a substance in air below which no respiratory protection is required.
PERENNIAL STREAM:
A stream that flows constantly, i.e., the water table is always above the stream bed.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT:
Items such as hard hats, gloves, steel-toed shoes, coveralls, chemical-resistent clothing, air purifying respirators, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that protect personnel from exposure to certain types of chemicals.
PH:
A measure of acidity used by chemists. A pH of 7 (pure water) is neutral; lower numbers are acidic and higher numbers are alkaline.
PIRG:
Public Interest Research Group - a citizen activist group.
PNAs:
Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons - these are among the components of pitch used to make "clay" targets.
PPB:
Parts per billion
PPM:
Parts per million
PPT:
Parts per trillion
POINT SOURCE:
Any discernible, confined, and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, etc.
PQL:
Practical Quantitation Limit
PRECISION*:
Agreement among a series of measurements, commonly expressed as the standard deviation or CV of the mean. Compare with accuracy.
PREFERENTIAL FLOW*:
Leaching phenomenon whereby water and a dissolved chemical percolating down through the soil profile move more rapidly through soil macropores or sand/gravel lens than through the network of smaller pores in the bulk soil.
PRP:
Potentially Responsible Party
QA:
Quality Assurance
QC:
Quality Control
RCRA:
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
RECHARGE:
the process involved in the addition and absorption of water to a zone of saturation.
RFD:
Reference Dose (usual units: mg contaminant/kg body wt./day)
RISK:
The probability that harm will be caused or that a regulatory concentration of a chemical will be exceeded. Risk is dependent on toxicity and exposure.
ROD:
Record of Decision (under CERCLA)
RWQCB:
Regional Water Quality Control Board (California)
SAMPLING*:
Process of selecting a representative portion of material from a larger body of material.
SARA:
Superfund Amendments and Reauthorizatioin Act
SATURATED:
A condition where all cracks and pores in soil and rock are filled with water.
SDWA:
Safe Drinking Water Act
SPLP:
Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure
SWDA:
Solid Waste Disposal Act
TCLP:
Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure - a lab test used to determine whether a solid waste is hazardous.
TDS:
Total Dissolved Solids
TRANSPIRATION:
the process by which water is absorbed by plants.
TRI:
Toxic Release Inventory
TSCA:
Toxic Substances Control Act
TSS:
Total Suspended Solids
TWA:
Time Weighted Average, the concentration of a chemical to which a worker may be exposed for eight hours a day over a five day work week, without suffering ill effects.
29 CFR 1910.134:
OSHA respiratory protection regulation.
29 CFR 1910.1025:
OSHA lead standard for general industry.
29 CFR 1926.62:
OSHA regulation of lead exposure due to construction work.
USATHAMA:
United States Army Toxic and Hazardous Materials Agency
USCS:
Unified Soil Classification System
USDA:
United States Department of Agriculture
USDOI:
United States Department of the Interior
USEPA:
United States Environmental Protection Agency
USFS:
United States Forest Service
USGS:
United States Geological Survey
VOCs:
Volatile Organic Compounds
WETLANDS:
Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.
WORK PRACTICES:
Those practices that protect personnel through information and training regarding proper procedures and techniques associated with personal protective equipment, hygiene practices, and maintenance requirements.
WORKER:
See "employee."

* These entries were either copied or adapted from P. Holland