Investigating Indoor Air Quality in Schools, Commenting on Chemicals, Plugging Old Brine Wells

For Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

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1 – About 150 old brine wells are being plugged in Midland, Gratiot and Isabella counties by the Dow Chemical Co. and the state’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

An old Dow postcard: Credit:  UpNorth Memories – Donald (Don) Harrison

The work began in the summer on the wells, which are no longer used. They are located mainly on private property, date back to 1892 and include some of the first-ever drilled by Dow.

The abundance of brine in the Midland area was the basis for the founding of The Dow Chemical Co., state officials say. Natural brines were extracted from wells installed in deep bedrock formations. 

Plugging the wells involves removing material and debris, filling the well with cement and adding a steel plate. 

The project is expected to take several years to complete.

2 – Public comments are being taken about chemicals and outdoor air quality. 

The state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy develops health-based air toxics screening levels for ambient, or outdoor, air to protect the public. 

These screening levels are used by state air quality engineers to evaluate new or modified industrial processes which may emit air toxics.

New or modified sources that emit a toxic air contaminant are required to obtain a Permit to Install from the agency. 

Health-based screening levels for two new chemicals are open for public comment

People can review information about the chemicals and submit comments by Nov. 17. 

3 – Speaking of air, school districts across Michigan are being urged to participate in a survey to assess the readiness of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to reduce the transmission of infectious aerosols within school buildings.

A new HVAC unit. Credit: erskinelibrary

The K-12 Public School HVAC program, launched with state and federal support, will identify potential improvements and work with schools to find licensed contractors and funding sources for recommended work.

Federal officials say many schools in the U.S. lack adequate ventilation and indoor levels of air pollutants can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. 

Schools that complete the survey are eligible to request free assistance with recommendations to reduce infectious aerosol transmission. 

At least $150,000 is expected to be available for the program. The maximum award is $15,000 per applicant.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard Friday mornings in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Public Radio 90.1 FM (streaming). Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

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