This glossary contains terms you may run across on this site or in some other EHS context.
Best Available Control Measures (BACM): A term used to refer to the most effective measures for controlling small or dispersed particulates from sources such as roadway dust, soot and ash from woodstoves and open burning of rush, timber, grasslands, or trash.
Best Available Control Technology (BACT): An emission limitation based on the maximum degree of emission reduction that, considering energy, environmental, and economic impacts and other costs, is achievable through the application of production processes and available methods, systems, and techniques. In no event does BACT permit emissions in excess of those allowed under any applicable Clean Air Act provisions. Use of the BACT concept is allowable on a case-by-case basis for major new or modified emissions sources in attainment areas, and applies to each regulated pollutant.
Best Demonstrated Available Technology (BDAT): The most effective commercially available means of treating specific types of hazardous waste. The BDATs may change with advances in treatment technologies.
Best Management Practice (BMP): Methods that have been determined to be the most effective, practical means of preventing ore reducing pollution from nonpoint sources.
Bioassay: Using living organisms to measure the effect of a substance, factor, or condition by comparing before and after data. For more information, see the Bioassays and Biomonitoring topic page.
Biological Treatment: A treatment technology that uses bacteria to consume waste. This treatment breaks down organic materials.
Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD): The dissolved oxygen required to decompose organic matter in water; a numerical estimate of contamination in water expressed in milligrams per liter of dissolved oxygen.
Biomonitoring: 1: The use of living organisms to test the suitability of effluents for discharge into receiving waters and to test the quality of such waters downstream from the discharge. 2: Analysis of blood, urine, tissues, etc., to measure chemical exposure to humans. For more information, see the Bioassays and Biomonitoring topic page.
Bog: A type of wetlands that accumulates appreciable peat deposits. Bogs depend primarily on precipitation for their water source, and are usually acidic and rich in plant residue with a conspicuous mat of living green moss.
Brownfields: Abandoned, idled or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. For more information, see the Brownfields topic page.
By-product: Material, other than the principal product, that is generated as a consequence of an industrial process.
Cathodic Protection: A technique to prevent corrosion of a metal surface by making that surface the cathode of an electrochemical cell. Cathodic protection is generally known as a method of applying suppressed current or sacrificial anodes to underground tanks.
CFC: See Chlorofluorocarbon.
CFR: Code of Federal Regulations, the federal government’s official “books” for the publication of federal regulations. CFRs are numbered to correspond to a particular agency’s or department’s rules, for example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has most of its regulations in Title 40 of the CFR.
Characteristic: Any one of the four categories that are used in defining hazardous waste—ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity.
Characteristic Waste: A waste that is not on the hazardous waste lists, but that is regulated as hazardous because it displays one or more of the hazardous characteristics. For more information, see the Characteristic Waste topic page.
Chemical Treatment: Any one of a variety of technologies that use chemicals or a variety of chemical processes to treat waste.
Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC): Inert, nontoxic, and easily liquefied chemical used in air conditioning, refrigeration, solvents, packaging, insulation, and aerosol propellants that is being phased out because of the damage caused to the air’s upper ozone level. For more information, see the Air - Ozone Depleting Substances topic page.
Cleanup: Actions taken to deal with a release or threat of release of a hazardous substance that could affect human health and/or the environment. The term “cleanup” is sometimes used interchangeably with the terms remedial action, removal action, response action, or corrective action.
Closed-Loop Recycling: Reclaiming or reusing wastewater for non-potable purposes in an enclosed process. Also used in hazardous waste context as a process by which wastes are returned for use in the production process.
Coastal Zone: Lands and waters adjacent to the coast that exert an influence on the uses of the sea and its ecology, or inversely, whose uses and ecology are affected by the sea.
Code of Federal Regulations: See CFR.
Combined Sewers: A sewer system that carries both sewage and stormwater runoff. Normally, its entire flow goes to a waste treatment plant, but during a heavy storm, the volume of water may be so great as to cause overflows of untreated mixtures of stormwater and sewage into receiving waters. Stormwater runoff may also carry toxic chemicals from industrial areas or streets into the sewer system.
Comment Period: Time provided for the public to review and comment on a proposed governmental/regulatory action or rulemaking after publication in the Federal Register or a state register.
Community Water System: A public water system that serves at least 15 service connections used by year-round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents.
Compliance Schedule: A negotiated agreement between a pollution source and a government agency that specifies dates and procedures by which a source will reduce emissions and, thereby, comply with a regulation.
Conditionally Exempt Generator: A facility generating less than 100 kilograms (kg) (220 pounds) of hazardous waste a month, or 1 kg of acutely hazardous waste. Exempt from most regulation, they are required merely to determine whether their waste is hazardous, notify appropriate state or local agencies, and ship it by permitted facility for proper disposal. For more information, see the Hazardous Waste Generators
Consent Decree: A legal document, approved by a judge, that formalizes an agreement reached between EPA or a state agency and potentially responsible parties (PRP) through which PRPs will conduct all or part of a cleanup action at a Superfund site; cease or correct actions or processes that are polluting the environment; or otherwise comply with regulations where the PRP’s failure to comply caused EPA to initiate regulatory enforcement actions. The consent decree describes the actions PRPs will take and may be subject to a public comment period.
Contaminant: Any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter that has an adverse effect on air, water, or soil.
Contingency Plan: A document setting out an organized, planned, and coordinated course of action to be followed in case of a fire, explosion, or other accident that releases toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes, or radioactive materials that threaten human health or the environment. For more information, see the Contingency Plan topic page.
Conventional Pollutants: Statutorily listed pollutants that are understood well by scientists, including organic waste, sediment, acid, bacteria and viruses, nutrients, oil and grease, and heat.
Corrosion: The dissolution and wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction such as between water and pipes that the water contacts, chemicals touching a metal surface, or contact between two metals.
Cost Recovery: A legal process by which potentially responsible parties who contributed to contamination at a Superfund site can be required to reimburse the federal government for federal money spent during any cleanup actions.
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