Recyclemania, ‘Healthy’ Asian Carp, and the Best Barrier

1 – There’s another kind of March Madness.

The 14th annual Recyclemania tournament began this month. It pits colleges and universities against each other, competing to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The competition goes for eight weeks, running concurrently with the NCAA basketball tournament in March.

This year, students, faculty and staff at more than 461 schools are participating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, according to organizers.

Participating schools in Michigan include Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. As of Thursday morning, CMU was ranked 35th in the Competition Division, out of 86 schools.

Schools compete in any of 11 categories targeting commonly recycled or composted materials such as paper and paper-based packaging, aluminum, plastics bottles, electronics and food organics.

Ranking are published online, to allow schools to track their progress and standings against rival colleges.

Last year, 91 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered during the event.

For more information, see


Asian carp recycling? Credit: LouisvilleUSACE and

 2 – If we want to eat our way out of the Asian carp crisis, they’re not all that bad.

Researchers at the Prairie Research Institute in Illinois have found that overall, concentrations of arsenic, selenium, and mercury in bighead and silver carp from the lower Illinois River do not appear to be a health concern for a majority of human consumers.

Results of the study have been published in the journal Chemosphere.

Asian carp impact the ecosystem and fishing industry by out-competing native fish for resources.

Commercial harvest of bighead and silver Asian carp has been proposed to help contain the spread of the highly invasive fish, which are already in the Illinois River, which is connected to the Great Lakes via the Chicago Waterway System.

Researchers say the average mercury concentration in fillets of fish they studied was below U.S. screening values for recreational anglers. Overall, investigators say the carp are low in mercury in comparison to many other commercially available fish.

Arsenic and selenium concentrations in bighead and silver carp fillets examined also didn’t pose a risk to human consumers. MMM MMM Good.

3 – Speaking of Asian carp, another study says placing dam-like structures in Chicago waterways would be an almost foolproof method of preventing the fish from reaching Lake Michigan.

According to the research,  physically separating the lake from the Mississippi River watershed would prevent 95-100 percent of Asian carp incursions, while an electric barrier system would have a success rate of 85-95 percent. Using a combination of sounds, bubbles and strobe lights could prevent 75-95 percent of Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.

The study was conducted by the University of Notre Dame, the U.S. Forest Service and Resources for the Future, an independent research institution. Their conclusions were based on a survey of experts.

The news follows the January release of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report to Congress, which outlined eight possible scenarios for preventing Asian carp passage through the Chicago area waterway system.

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.


Mich Enviro Report: Hazardous Materials & the Backyard Campout

As heard on Delta College Q-90.1 FM, June 17, 2011 (recorded in my home studio this time, with a little too much echo) …


June 25 is the day to properly dispose of unwanted household hazardous materials in Bay County.

Some household hazardous materials can contaminate of groundwater, well water, or other water sources when spilled on the ground, poured down the drain, or placed in trash containers.

The county is holding a Household Hazardous Material Collection and Disposal Program on June 25. The program is free, and sponsored by the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation and the Bay County Health Department.

The collections will be held in Bay City and Pinconning. But you must call ahead first to schedule a drop-off. The number is 895-4006.

Acceptable items include battery acid, drain cleaner, weed killer and oil-based paint.

Some materials are not accepted. To schedule a time to drop off your materials, or for more information, call 895-4006.


June 25 also is time for the Great American Backyard Campout.

The National Wildlife Federation event encourages parents and kids to skip the TV or computer and spend a night under the stars.

Studies show that the Average American child spends more than seven hours per day in front of electronic media.

Studies also show that outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances creativity and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance, according to NWF.

For the event, you can camp in your backyard, organize a campout, or join other organized campouts.

You can log on to for more information. The site includes recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, campfire songs and games, nature activities and more.

— Photo by Kristin Johnson


Michigan Environment Report: Batteries, Mercury & Saginaw River Shipping

As heard on Friday Edition, Jan. 21, 2011, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College … 


Battery recycling broke records in 2010.

Close to 7 million pounds of rechargeable batteries were recycled last year in North America, a 10 percent increase from 2009.

According to Call2Recycle, a free battery collection program, the largest collections came from California, Texas and Florida.

Batteries contain a high amounts of heavy metals, and contamination of groundwater is more likely if they’re thrown into a landfill and not recycled.

Several stores in the Bay City area collect rechargeable batteries for recycling, including Radio Shack, Batteries Plus, Staples and The Home Depot.

You can find more listings of recycling centers at The guide includes information on recycling single-use batteries in Midland.


If you have teeth, listen up.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment has awarded a $270,000 grant to the Michigan Dental Association.

The money will go to assist member and nonmember dentists in Michigan with the installation of amalgam separators.

Many Michigan waste water treatment plants are required to reduce the levels of mercury discharged to lakes, rivers and streams under their permits.

Mercury amalgam from dentists has been identified as a significant source of mercury for some wastewater treatment plants.

A  2008 state law requires most dentists to install, operate, and maintain amalgam separators by Dec. 31, 2013.

State officials say the programs should result in a decrease in the amount of mercury sent to  landfill and discharged to state rivers and streams.


Commercial shipping on the Saginaw River declined for the fifth year in the row in 2010.

According to, which tracks vessel passages in the Saginaw River, the 2010 season lasted for 260 days, beginning March 31 and ending Dec. 15.

During that time, there were 145 commercial vessel passages by 29 different boats.  Compared to 2009, that’s 18 fewer passages and 8 fewer vessels.

The Wirt Stone dock in Saginaw saw the most traffic. Next in line was the Bay Aggregates dock in Bangor Township. Third on the list was the Wirt Stone dock in Bay City. But all of those docks saw less traffic than in 2009.

Two vessels made the most trips up and down the Saginaw River last year– the Olive L. Moore and Lewis J. Kuber were tied with 31 trips each. Those totals also were down from 36 trips by the same two boats in 2009.

— Battery recycling photo via Moria, Flickr.


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