What are PFAS compounds and how can we test for them?


Water droplets pooling on blue surface treated with water resistant PFAS product


Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are part of a broad chemical group that were first developed in the 1940s. Since then, there have been nearly 5,000 different PFAS compounds that have found their way into commercial use. Some of these compounds are now being phased out due to toxicity concerns, however new fluorinated compounds like Gen X and ADONA are being developed to replace them.

PFAS are well known for their unique chemical properties that repel oil and water and resist temperature, chemicals, and fire. They also have electrical insulating properties. These are the attributes that make PFAS attractive and are why they are found in many durable industrial and everyday products and materials like non-stick surfaces, firefighting foam as a flame retardant, stain resistant materials, water repellent coatings and plating demisters to name a few.


PFAS chemicals are everywhere and they don’t break down. This is why PFAS chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they never go away.

The chemistry is complex because PFAS are not one chemical compound, they are a class of chemical compounds that share the common carbon-fluorine bond however they vary widely by their size, structure, toxicity, and mobility in the environment.

The carbon to fluorine bond is one of the strongest bonds in organic chemistry, making PFAS compounds particularly resistant to degradation. Since they do not break down and they were used in lots of materials, they are being found everywhere in the environment. States like Michigan have made the effort to test public and private potable water supplies for PFAS and have found them to be more widespread than previously thought.


A lot has yet to be learned about even the more commonly encountered of the PFAS compounds. Despite their size, these compounds have relatively high water solubility and are surprisingly mobile in the environment, especially in groundwater.

PFAS are resistant to treatment and degradation, and typically go through water and wastewater treatment plants untouched and end up in discharges to surface water and to the land. Since they persist and go largely untreated, they often cycle through the environment and create widespread impact as shown on the graphic from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

PFAS cycle showing the many different methods PFAS can enter a household through consumer products, food, and drinking water, and then into the environment.
This graphic describes the PFAS cycle and how PFAS can move from one location to multiple locations with the potential to impact communities. Source: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

The concern for human health is due to the PFAS compounds tendency to have long residency time in the human body, which is known as bioaccumulation. This combined with their largely unknown human health toxicity, means that we do not currently understand how big of a health concern this is at the moment. The lack of toxicity studies along with the fact that it is being found everywhere, poses a significant concern for regulators in charge of human health and the environment.

Currently, regulators are trying to establish criteria for PFAS compounds while at the same time scientist are trying to establish the different compound’s toxicities. The situation is very fluid and there will be a lot of changes to the science and regulations.


PFAS were used in a variety of industries. There may be PFAS contamination in the groundwater or soil at manufacturing sites of the following products:

  • Textiles and leather with coatings to repeal water, oil and stains
  • Paper products with surface coatings to repel grease and moisture
  • Metal plating to prevent corrosion, suppress fume and reduce wear
  • Wire manufacturing through the coating and insultation processes
  • Industrial surfactants with plastics, mold release coatings and flame retardants
  • Photolithography for anti-reflective coatings and wetting agents
  • Along with ski waxes, cookware, fabric softeners, pesticides, windshield wipers, medical products, personal care products and dental floss

Or businesses that use Class B firefighting foams, such as:

  • Airports
  • Military bases

Source: ITRC

To date, the majority of the PFAS cleanup sites have been at large chemical manufacturing plants and military properties where aqueous firefighting foams (AFFF) have been used.


It’s very difficult to remediate PFAS. PFAS compounds are very resistant to biological, chemical and heat degradation; therefore, many of the remediation techniques that are used for petroleum and chlorinated solvent sites are largely ineffective on PFAS. Since they cannot be easily degraded, they need to be removed.

Most remediation technologies to date have focused on pumping water from the ground and treating it through either reverse osmosis systems or filtration (carbon or ionic) media. However, this simply concentrates PFAS onto a different media that now needs disposal. Soil impacts are typically excavated and disposed of at off-site disposal facilities. As this issue comes to light, more disposal facilities may reject these waste streams.

Currently, there is a lot of on-going research on innovative methods to either remove or stabilize PFAS in the ground to decrease its mobility or to destroy it with thermal or chemical methods. These technologies are a long way from being proven and time tested. Like everything with PFAS this an ever-changing playing field.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has yet to define PFAS as a hazardous substance; therefore, it is not yet subject to all of the CERCLA regulations. This lack of hazardous substance designation also means that there is somewhat of a grey area for whether PFAS should be considered a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC) during real estate due diligence process. Buyers should be cautious when doing Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and should consider State designations and the most recent US EPA updates.

PFAS aren’t widely regulated yet in the United States on a Federal level. Some states like Michigan, Wisconsin and New Jersey have gotten out in front of the US EPA and have established state regulatory limits for a small number of the more commonly used compounds. At this moment, PFAS regulation is primarily state specific, so it’s important know what a state’s status is on PFAS regulations.

In late 2019, the US EPA established a PFAS Action Plan to study and formulate regulations ranging from adding PFAS to Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) toxic chemical list to recommendations for addressing contaminated groundwater and preliminary drinking water regulations for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). A more thorough examination of the Federal and State regulations can be found on the Interstates Technology Regulatory Counsel (ITRC) Basis of Regulations website.


For now, the US EPA has established a drinking water Health Advisory Limit for just two out of nearly 5,000 PFAS compounds but is deep into a long regulatory process of establishing enforceable limits. Some states have expanded on this and are regulating additional PFAS compounds.

The EPA has provided PFAs measurement methods, health advisories, state level-support, and regular updates on their website
The EPA has established PFAS measurement methods, issuing drink water health advisories, supporting site-specific challenges and providing tools and information so communities can better understand processes and procedures. Source: EPA PFAS Page

Testing for PFAS is a complicated proposition because:

  • The testing methods are still evolving (currently focused mainly on drinking water)
  • Laboratories are still investing in equipment and training to perform the testing
  • The detection limits established so far are very low (70 parts in a trillion parts or ppt)
  • These compounds can be found in a lot of background sources in both the field sampling equipment and the laboratory equipment (high potential for false positives)
  • Tests currently only look for a small number of the more common compounds

The most important thing to establish if a regulator asks you to sample for PFAS is which compounds are required and at what detection levels. Then discuss with your laboratory if they can detect those same compounds at those same low levels. It is very important to vet your lab’s experience with analyzing for this emerging contaminant. You will also want to be sure that your samplers have taken precautions to limit the potential for contamination of the samples from everyday products (plastics, coatings, sunscreens, stain proof fabrics). 


Michigan is one of the pioneering states in the race to test drinking water supplies for PFAS. They sampled over a thousand community water supply wells and non-community water supply wells and found that the drinking water had low levels of PFAS chemicals. They’ve also tested wastewater from treatment plants and streams.

As already mentioned, other states that are working hard to develop the regulations are Wisconsin and Minnesota.


In a lot of ways PFAS are the perfect storm of an emerging contaminant. They have widespread use, they are not easily treated, they persist in the environment, they bioaccumulate and they are thought to have health effects down in the low parts per trillion (ppt) levels.

The science and the regulations are evolving as we speak, and much will change in the next couple of years. If you are faced with the proposition of sampling your site for PFAS, take a deep breath and do not be in a rush to charge forward. Take time to understand what you are being asked to do and what are the applicable standards to which you will be held. What applies today may be very different from what applies tomorrow.

Contact us to learn more about environmental contaminants like PFAS.

Brad Lewis, CHMM, Principal Scientist at EnviroForensics

Brad Lewis is a detailed-oriented and collaborative leader with 30+ years of environmental consulting experience that covers a variety of projects ranging from due diligence, environmental compliance, landfill, Brownfields, underground storage tank, and chlorinated hydrocarbon investigations and cleanups. As Principal Scientist, he oversees investigations and cleanups. He helps project teams set the technical and regulatory strategies that will meet their client’s goals. Lewis has implemented many innovative site investigation strategies including the use of down-hole sensing equipment, mobile laboratory, and an immunoassay to characterize sites.

He has consulted on many high-profile projects dealing with petroleum hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, hexavalent chromium, chlorinated solvents, bedrock impacts, vapor intrusion investigations, and vapor mitigation.

Earth Day 2020: 9 leaders in the fight to save our planet


Picture of protest sign with the words one world on it

April 22, 2020 marks 50 years of celebrating Earth Day and promoting causes and movements to protect and preserve our celestial home. This year’s theme is Climate Action. The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a reminder that we need to take existential threats seriously before they escalate out of control. The same lesson can be applied to the impending climate crisis. 

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the last five years have been the warmest on record, and 2020 is already trending towards the top of the list. This consistent annual increase in global temperature is causing the polar ice caps to melt at an exponential rate, putting the safety of coastal populations and crucial ocean ecosystems at serious risk. Weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable causing mass destruction in the form of more intense hurricanes, more widespread tornado outbreaks, longer wildfire seasons, and more devastating droughts and water shortages. And, as the globe warms the potential for more pandemics like COVID-19 grows as mosquitoes carrying diseases like malaria, dengue fever, chikunguya and West Nile virus roam beyond their current habitats. 

The good news is that we have previously pulled ourselves out of similar environmental calamity. The first Earth Day demonstrations in 1970 were in response to a lack of rules and regulations on human-caused environmental impacts. Issues like oil spills, smog, acid rain, and rivers so polluted they literally caught fire were top of mind as 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest environmental damage and demand a new way forward.

Following that first Earth Day, the federal government passed landmark environmental legislation like the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts, and also created the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many countries followed our lead in adopting similar laws, and our country’s leadership on environmental issues peaked with the negotiation and passage of the Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day 2016.   

Earth Day is a special day at EnviroForensics. While we are an environmental consulting firm professionally, we are also a group of environmental allies who work together to provide solutions for environmental issues. We are also part of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) Indiana Partners for Pollution Prevention program which is a commitment to environmental stewardship in the workplace.

Check out our 6 ways to be an environmental steward in the workplace

Our mission is to clean up our corner of the world, and we support any effort that works towards a healthier environment for all. We support environmental initiatives put on by our Sustainability Council like our neighborhood cleanup program and our recycling initiative. And, we walk lockstep with our non-profit partner, Water for Empowerment, to help them champion environmental justice in the form of access to clean water and sanitation for women and families in Nicaragua. 

Luckily, there are environmental scientists, activists, and organizers from all parts of the world who are not going to let that happen without a fight. Here are a few leaders in the climate crisis that you should know more about:

Organization: School Strike for Climate
Over the past two years, the swedish teenager has become a household name. In 2018, she started skipping school to protest outside of Swedish Parliament and demand stronger climate action. Out of that small act of defiance, the “Fridays for Future” movement was born inspiring 13 million strikers across 228 countries worldwide. In 2019, Thunberg was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. She has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice.
headshot of greta thunberg


Organization: Fire Drill Fridays
The two-time Academy award-winner has devoted a significant chunk of her time and energy to activism. In the 1960s, she protested the Vietnam War. In the early 2000s, she was a vocal critic of the Iraq War. She has fought for decades to advance the causes of Women’s Rights, Native Rights, and Israeli-Palestinian peace. Fonda is now the leader of the Fire Drill Fridays Movement, which holds weekly protest rallies on Capitol Hill, to demand Congress: 1) Pass the Green New Deal, 2) Commit to a 50% reduction in fossil fuels within a decade, and 3) Phase-out of existing fossil fuel projects and into a renewable energy economy that provides environmental justice for all.
headshot of jane fonda

Organization: Little Miss Flint
The 12-year-old activist is best known by her nickname “Little Miss Flint.” She gained notoriety as an 8-year-old, raising awareness about Flint, Michigan’s ongoing water crisis. Since 2016, she has raised over $500k for bottled water, school supplies, toys, and bikes for the children of Flint. Her work has expanded to fundraising for communities with similar water issues across the country.
headshot of mari copeny

Organization: Earth Charter Indiana
Poysner is the Executive Director of Earth Charter Indiana, which is the only Earth Charter chapter in the U.S. The organization’s mission is to inspire and advance sustainable, just and peaceful living in Indiana. Their critical work starts early, supporting climate education of youth, and providing them with the tools to express themselves and make their voices heard. 
headshot of jim poysner

Organization: Clean Air Task Force
Cohen is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Clean Air Task Force which has been in operation since 1996. The Clean Air Task Force is a nonprofit environmental organization devoted to the development and scale of low-carbon and other climate-protecting energy technologies.
headshot of armond cohen

Organization: Earth Uprising
After suffering an asthma attack during a family trip to California during a massive wildfire, Villaseñor started researching climate change and how it impacts the severity of these fires. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, she began to skip school every Friday to protest outside the United Nations Headquarters. Her group, Earth Uprising is working on the following missions: 1) Local government lobbying, 2) Community presentations, educating others on the climate crisis, 3) Advocating for climate education in our school administrations and school boards, 4) Unique direct actions and protests, and 5) Participating in Fridays for Future and the global climate strikes.
headshot of alexandria villaseñor

Organization: People’s Climate Movement
Bastida was one of the major organizers of Fridays for Future New York City and has been a leading voice for indigenious and immigrant visibility in climate change. In 2015, her family was forced from their home in Mexico after extreme flooding. They moved to New York City where Bastida enrolled at the Beacon School, and started organizing students for climate activism. She led the school in the first major climate strike in New York City in 2019. She has leadership roles in the People’s Climate Movement, the Sunrise Movement, and the Extinction Rebellion.
headshot of xiye bastida

Organization: Navdanya Research Foundation
Dr. Shiva is the founder of the Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology in Dehadrun, India. She is known for her work in environmental justice and food security. She is motivated by the mission to bring light to the most marginalized victims of climate change and work to illustrate the importance of cultural and ecological diversity to the survival of our planet.
headshot of vandana shiva

Organization: The Climate Reality Project
The former Vice President has been one of the leading voices in climate activism in the 21st century. Gore’s 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was one of the first wide release documentaries to sound the alarm on the threat of climate change. The Climate Reality Project is an organization of activists, cultural leaders, organizers, scientists, and storytellers committed to promoting urgent climate action across every level of society.
headshot of al gore

 Join our environmentally conscious team. Visit our careers page.

Insurance archeology to the rescue: As seen in Fabricare Canada

Picture of open issue and front cover of Fabricare Canada

Jeff Carnahan talks about the value of a proactive insurance archeology strategy for drycleaners and how it can save drycleaners’ money in the cover story of Fabricare Canada’s April 2020 Environmental issue. In the article, Jeff discusses:

  1. The common misconception about Commercial General Liability (CGL) policies 
  2. The 3-step process of addressing environmental challenges before they break the bank
  3. The importance of assembling an experienced team of insurance archeologists and environmental attorneys 
  4. And the next steps drycleaners should take when looking for old insurance policies

Read Fabricare Canada’s “Document Archeology to the Rescue”. 

Our favorite national parks – Plus now you can enjoy them from home


Picture of Rocky Mountains with dark clouds in the sky

National Park Week is an annual celebration in mid-April to inspire Americans to either visit a national park or make plans to visit one. However, this year parks are either changing their schedules to promote safe social distancing practices, or shutting down altogether while the country works to slow the spread of COVID-19. Under these unique circumstances, the National Parks Service is going digital and bringing the beauty and splendor of our country’s most beloved natural landscapes to your home. 

Parks across the country will host a variety of special programs and events with a focus on digital experiences this year. There are dedicated days during the week to highlight the ways everyone can enjoy national parks:

Learn how your kids can become junior rangers and collect virtual badges

Check out the volunteer opportunities and get involved in protecting our national parks

Learn about the national military historical sites around the country, and the many ways the Parks Service supports active-duty military and veterans

Explore the links between the National Parks Service and transportation, from the railroads of the early Western expansion to the scenic roads and highways that snake through the national parks

Learn about the earth sciences, be a steward, and see how your kids can become Junior Explorers

Relive the magic of a national park visit. See how you can share old pictures on social media

See how becoming a Park Partner can help preserve a national park for future generations

Safely enjoy the healing power of nature and share your experience on social media

See how your four-legged friends can become a ranger and get an official badge

The National Parks Services is one of the most important cultural enrichment programs in the country. Since 1916, the Parks Service has been entrusted in protecting and preserving our most precious natural wonders and historical sites, and educating the more than 330 million visitors that walk through their gates every year.

By the numbers, the National Parks Service is a massive organization comprised of thousands of rangers, caretakers and volunteers safeguarding 419 parks, which cover 84 million acres of land across the continental United States, and extend into the US held territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. 

One of our foundational values as an environmental consulting firm is the protection and preservation of the environment. This dovetails with the National Parks Service’s mission to “preserve” the natural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”

National Parks hold historical significance on a national level and a personal one. Many of us have priceless memories of past trips taken to parks across the country. Here are a few of the images and stories from our favorite national parks: 


Picture of mountains in the Grand Teton National Park framed by a split rail fence
Take a virtual tour of Grand Teton National Park

“My favorite is Grand Teton National Park. I spent 10 summers out in Wyoming with family and friends volunteering at an American Indian Reservation. After our time volunteering, my family would spend a week exploring the national parks nearby. This particular spot holds a special place in my heart.

– Jackie Cabrera, Marketing Manager


Picture of Mount Hollywood with Hollywood sign in distance and split rail fence in foreground
Front facade of the Griffith Park Observatory
Take a virtual tour of Griffith Park

I just visited one of my favorite National Parks in February when I went to Los Angeles. After a few hours of touring Hollywood, we took a lyft up to the “Griffith Park Observatory” which is technically adjacent to the Santa Monica Mountains National Park. The Greek Revival, Art Deco structure is one of the most recognizable buildings in LA. It’s appeared in dozens of movies and television shows including “La La Land”, “Yes Man”, “The Terminator”, and “Back to the Future”, just to name a few. It also boasts some of the most breathtaking views of the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles Basin, and (of course) the iconic Hollywood sign. Behind the observatory is a network of miles-long hiking trails criss-crossing up the Hollywood hills. If you’re so bold, and have the time (and energy), there’s even a trail that leads behind the Hollywood sign.”

– Alex Miller, Marketing Specialist


Picture of shoreline at sunset with Chicago skyline in the distance taken from the Indiana Dunes National Lakefront
Take a virtual tour of the Indiana Dunes National Lakefront

“Visiting the Indiana Dunes National Lakefront is one of my favorite hobbies and holds a lot of my favorite memories. I spend most nights walking the beach, collecting beach glass, and taking nature photos. Fun fact – I have an Instagram account dedicated specifically to photos I’ve taken of the Indiana Dunes (@InTheDunes_61) and some of my photos have even been featured on different Instagram accounts to highlight this Indiana treasure. Above is a picture I took last week during a ‘social isolation’ walk.”

– Michele Murday, Northwest Indiana Regional Manager


Picture of glacial snow in the Rocky Mountain National Park
Take a virtual tour of the Rocky Mountain National Park

“My favorite National Park is the Rocky Mountain National Park, mainly because it’s where we have spent the most time. The hikes are amazing as is the drive up Trail Ridge Road. Hoping to get out there this summer.”

– Brad Lewis, CHMM, Director of Consulting Services


Picture of the sun rising behind silhouetted mountains and pine trees in Olympic National Park
Take a virtual tour of Olympic National Park

I went backpacking in Olympic National Park with a friend from my gym and one of my best friends a few years ago. I really tested myself physically and mentally on that trip. I also forever ruined my knees because of that trip, but I came out with a larger appreciation for nature and life than I did going in. This picture was sunrise on our second day, and I got to experience it by myself while my friends slept (I tried to wake them to watch it with me!) – but getting it all to myself made it that much more special.”

Dru Shields, Director of Accounts


Picture of a green valley between red rock mountains in Zion National Park
Take a virtual tour of Zion National Park

“For my wife and I, we instantly fell in love and awe of Zion National Park. It felt ancient, and so spiritual and unique. The hiking was limited, challenging, and rewarding. While it did not, literally, take my breath away like the Grand Canyon (one of only two places that has done that for me), it is a place we will return to when we need to feed our souls.”

– Greg Zumbaugh, PE, CHMM, Vice President of Personnel


Picture of glowing orange and red cloud turning into steam at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Take a virtual tour of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Big Island. I mean, volcanoes! The photo (doesn’t do it justice) is the steam column generated where the lava from Kilauea meets the Pacific.”

– Nick Hill, LPG, Senior Project Manager

Selfie of Joe Miller standing in front of hot lava at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

“Volcanoes National Park on Big Island, Hawaii: first and only time I’ve seen active lava close up!”

– Joe Miller, Account Executive


Picture of woman holding rock with older man holding arms up while standing on a rocky hill overlooking a body of water and trees in Acadia National Park
Take a virtual tour of Acadia National Park

I’m thankful that a Geology degree took me out west to see some beautiful parks, but I have some awesome memories of spending vacations at Acadia National Park in Maine in the summer with my family. I remember hiking with my dad, and rappelling down Otter Cliffs above the water!”

– Morgan Saltsgiver, LPG, Director of Brownfields and AgriBusiness


Picture of a tree-covered mountain with haze and sunlight in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Take a virtual tour of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

“As a kid growing up, if we weren’t driving down to Louisiana or Texas in our family station wagon to visit relatives, we were driving to the Smokey Mountains and into Pigeon Forge (long before Dollywood). I have very fond memories of this place and still love the Smokey Mountains. I do not have a picture to share at the moment. My brother has nearly all the slides from those vacation trips with the family. My Dad was big on using slides and then using an old projector to share them or view them. Yeah, back in the day!”

– Andrea Bryan, Reception and Administrative Support


To help protect and promote our National Parks donate to the National Parks Foundation.

How The US EPA and State Regulators are Responding to COVID-19

Published: April 13, 2020. Last Updated: May 6, 2020

On March 26th, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a memo outlining enforcement guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the guidance, the EPA temporarily relaxed their enforcement on noncompliance retroactively beginning on March 13, 2020 citing the need for this in the wake of work shortages, and travel and social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Read the full memo: COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program

While this guidance grants flexibility to companies and their emissions and pollution source reduction at this time, it does not serve as a structure for unfettered noncompliance, and reiterates the importance for those polluters to:

  1. Act responsibly
  2. Identify the specific nature and dates of the noncompliance
  3. Identify how COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance
  4. Return to compliance as soon as possible

Each business will need to check with their state’s regulatory agency to figure out how it’ll be regulated at this time. Given the rapidly changing environment, states are taking different response approaches to the pandemic. Below are the current guidances from all 50 states.


This map illustrates each state’s response to COVID-19. 

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has not indicated any changes to their enforcement policies in the wake of COVID-19.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) is following the EPA’s guidance until at least June and is asking regulated entities to self-report violations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) announced that it is aligning with the EPA’s memo, but will be issuing individual guidance to continue facility inspections and permit issuing.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment’s Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released a similar memo to the EPA’s. Their guidance is retroactive to March 17, 2020.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) released a statement that says their enforcement authority remains intact in spite of the EPA memo. CalEPA leadership said to Bloomberg Law, “CalEPA expects compliance with environmental obligations, especially where failure to follow the law creates an imminent threat or risk to public health.”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) does not appear to have a stated position on the EPA’s COVID-19 guidance. Their personnel are working remotely at this time, and appear to be conducting normal enforcement activity.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has a comprehensive COVID-19 response page on their website. They say they are “striving to continue to carry out (their) mission and provide services while keeping both the public and (their) workforce safe.”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) does not appear to have any direct response to the EPA’s guidance. All events have been canceled through May 15, 2020. Their offices remain open, but with limited services, and they are urging all applications to be submitted electronically.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has not made a public announcement about adhering to the EPA’s COVID-19 guidance. DEP has expanded its telework opportunities for certain employees, and appears to be conducting regular business.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD) is working remotely. According to this March 31, 2020 memo, they are adhering to US EPA guidance in regards to environmental noncompliance.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
Hawaii’s Office of Environmental Control (OEC) has not announced any changes to its normal enforcement duties.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is limiting routine activities to ensure they are not putting their employees, the public, or the regulated community at risk. However, they say they are making every effort to avoid unnecessarily disrupting regulated facilities while they respond to COVID-19.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has only shut down their vehicle emissions testing program in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. They are conducting normal business otherwise.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is following the EPA guidance on noncompliance. However, IDEM personnel are working remotely, and conducting normal business.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) appears to be following the EPA guidance on noncompliance. They say they are issuing this protocol in an effort to balance the need to protect the state’s natural resources against the need to protect people from infection.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment hasn’t made any public changes to their normal enforcement obligations.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet hasn’t made any public changes to their normal enforcement obligations.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) has not directly responded to the EPA’s noncompliance guidance, but they are offering some deadline relief to property owners and operators who feel like they can’t uphold their compliance obligations at this time.

Environmental Enforcement Status: No change in enforcement
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is maintaining its environmental enforcement obligations. “Protecting public health is the Department’s highest priority, and it is critical that members of the regulated community ensure their air emissions do not exacerbate the public health crisis.”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) has not announced an official response to the EPA’s COVID-19 noncompliance guidance. The Governor has extended the expiration window for state-issued licenses and permits 30 days following the end of the Emergency Declaration.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is working remotely. They direct people to contact their office about any environmental issues. They have not given any response to the EPA guidance.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is maintaining their normal environmental regulatory obligations. However, regulated entities who feel like they cannot fulfill their legal obligations can submit requests for regulatory flexibility to this dedicated inbox.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is maintaining their normal environmental regulatory obligations. However, regulated entities who feel they cannot fulfill their legal obligations can submit requests for regulatory flexibility to this dedicated inbox.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEP) has closed all of their offices, and is following the EPA’s guidance for regulatory noncompliance.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is maintaining their normal environmental regulatory obligations. However, regulated entities who feel they cannot fulfill their legal obligations can submit requests for regulatory flexibility to this dedicated inbox.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEP) has not issued a formal policy on compliance enforcement, and has not responded to EPA’s COVID-19 policy.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) in a March 27th message states they will, “provide as much flexibility and assistance as lawfully possible in these difficult times.”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (NDCNR) does not appear to be following the guidance issued by the EPA.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has shut down their offices to the public, but appear to be conducting business as usual.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is working remotely, but appears to be keeping up with all of their enforcement obligations. They don’t appear to be following the EPA guidance.

Update from May 6, 2020: Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 136 tolling several timeframes administered by DEP, as well as extending certain filing deadlines. Beginning on March 9, 2020, all timeframes governing public notice, review, or final action on applications for, or renewals of permits, registrations, plans, petitions, licenses, rates, and other approvals under the following statutes administered by DEP are tolled beginning on March 9, 2020:

  • N.J.S.A. 13:1D-32 (Construction Permits),
  • N.J.S.A. 13:19-8 (Coastal Area Facility Review Act Permits),
  • N.J.S.A. 48:3-7 (Utility Property Transactions), and
  • N.J.S.A. 58:16A-67 (Stream Cleaning Permit).

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The New Mexico Environment Department does not appear to be following the EPA guidance, and is conducting their normal regulatory business.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) working remotely. Conservation police officers are still working in the field. No confirmation of adherence to US EPA guidance.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) states in a press release that they, “will work with regulated entities to ensure they remain in compliance and in instances of non-compliance, pursue enforcement actions on a case-by-case basis.”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) does not appear to be following the EPA guidance, and is conducting their normal regulatory business.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) is maintaining their normal environmental regulatory obligations. However, regulated entities who feel they cannot fulfill their legal obligations can fill out a flexibility request form.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) appears to be following normal protocol outside of closing their buildings to the public. Although they say they’ll be “flexible as needed” they do not specify adherence to the EPA guidance.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
All applicable Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requirements remain in effect. However, it will exercise reasonable enforcement discretion within its authority when deciding whether to pursue potential violations caused by pandemic-related disruptions.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) temporarily suspended regulatory requirements and permit conditions “where strict compliance will prevent, hinder or delay necessary action in coping with the COVID-19 emergency.”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
Requests to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) for regulatory relief will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)  says “regulated entities should remain diligent in taking safe best efforts to maintain compliance. However, in the event that non-compliance is unavoidable directly due to impact from COVID-19 and/or related legal restrictions (federal/state/local declarations or orders), we are prepared to address such issues.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources appears to be doing normal business at this time. They have a comprehensive FAQ page for Water Quality regulation during COVID-19 social distancing.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is conducting normal business at this time. They have a dedicated webpage for their COVID-19 response, which includes their contingency plan for compliance activities that will be “undertaken remotely so those important activities continue to occur during this period.”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
Although not explicitly stated, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality seems to be following the lead of the US EPA. They have notified regulated entities that they will exercise enforcement discretion for events of noncompliance that are unavoidable due to impact from COVID-19.

They have also issued a policy that will extend the deadlines for the following reports:

  • Point source emissions inventories;
  • Stormwater general permit reports; and
  • Mass Emissions Cap and Trade (MECT) and Highly Reactive Volatile Organic Compound Emissions Cap and Trade (HECT) annual compliance reports.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (Utah DEQ) stated that they will adhere to the EPA’s COVID-19 policy and “will work with regulated communities on a case-by-case basis to determine reasonable exemptions to environmental rules.”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VDEC) appears to be operating normally as they work remotely.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
Despite a strongly worded response to the EPA’s guidance, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) are considering noncompliance issues on a “case-by-case basis, but by no means does this crisis equal a free pass for the regulated community.”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The Washington Department of Ecology has stated that they will “exercise reasonable discretion… when deciding whether to pursue potential violations that may be linked to the current COVID-19 pandemic”

Environmental Enforcement Status:
Following EPA guidance/Exercising flexibility
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) has stated that all rules, regulations and permitting requirements under their jurisdiction will remain in full effect. However, if the permittee finds certain compliance requirements “not reasonably practicable” under the current circumstances, they should contact the agency.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has a portion of personnel working remotely. All public events have been postponed until Friday, April 24th. They appear to be operating normal compliance enforcement.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No change in enforcement
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has made electronic document submittal available to the regulated community. They appear to be operating under normal discretion.

Environmental Enforcement Status:
No national change in enforcement
Canadian environmental regulators have not made nationwide changes to their enforcement, but like the US, individual provinces have released adjusted discretion guidances. On April 2nd, Alberta issued a stay of all enforcement activities except drinking-water facilities. Ontario followed shortly after with their own stay of enforcement.

If you are a member of the regulated community, we know that right now you are focused on maintaining the health of your employees, business, and customers rather than on the environmental investigation or remediation that you might be dealing with. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with pending technical demands during the COVID-19 crisis, please let us know what you need.

We’re here to provide advice as environmental experts and access to our extensive network of legal, technical, and regulatory experts to help guide you through these matters while your focus is elsewhere.

Contact us if you need any advice on how to respond to these new policies.

Reflections on the 2008 Recession



As I write this latest installment of The Environmental Corner in mid-March, we are all watching and participating in some pretty turbulent times related to COVID-19. Outside of the fears related to our personal health and our loved ones, the specter of looming economic instability over the coming months has added insult to injury. As I read the comments in the Cleaner & Launderer Community on Facebook, I see many owners and operators of drycleaning businesses concerned about reductions in customers, forced closures and the overall public response to a perceived inevitable recession. Like many of you, I’m concerned about an economic downturn; but also, like many of you, I remember what we went through back in 2008. Our team saw first-hand how a major recession impacted the environmental cleanup process, our clients, and ultimately our own business. This month, I want to share my reflections on what those economic impacts looked like. It’s not peaches and cream, but there is a glimmer of hope. 

The Great Recession of 2008, or the “Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis”, began completely differently than this new financial crisis, but the initial result will be the same: a period of high unemployment, unstable markets, and lower profitability. We are already hearing familiar talk of government bailouts and tax relief programs to bolster businesses during the inevitable downturn. Financial analysts are proposing that the next steps in the COVID-19 response will determine if the recovery from this next recession will be similar to the four-year climb we saw after 2008, or perhaps something shorter. Likewise, the level to which this next recession impacts your environmental cleanup plans, and how those considerations impact your business’ bottom line can be influenced by your attention to it now. It’s understandable that other business matters take priority during economically turbulent times, but that could be detrimental from what we learned in the years following the 2008 crisis should the predicted 2020 recession continue to take shape. 

Here are my three main takeaways for drycleaners from the 2008 recession.


If you are currently in the process of an environmental project, you can expect that the regulatory agency won’t back off during an economic downturn. To them it doesn’t matter whether or not you are having business problems. That seems harsh, but here’s how I’ve seen it play out. 

Government employees, such as those at the state or federal environmental agency, are like any other worker. When unemployment is increasing or at a high level, they get fearful for their job and they buckle down to be seen as high performers to their supervisors. Since they work for a regulatory agency, buckling down means increasing their level of regulation and oversight. We did see several hiring freezes with agencies, but we did not see layoffs. So, in fact, after 2008 we actually saw a net increase in regulatory demands. The result of the increased regulation was an increase in the annual cost of ongoing environmental projects. We also saw an increase in the number of fines and stipulated penalties being imposed upon our clients for lack of compliance with regulatory demands. One could surmise that this was an involuntary result of increased financial pressures within the regulatory agency, where fines and oversight fees are a source of income for them. I’m not suggesting that this was a calculated strategy by the agencies; but rather the net result, and that’s what we saw. 

The bottom line here is that you shouldn’t expect a reprieve from the need to continue your environmental investigation and cleanup process during a wide-spread economic crisis. 


As soon as the economy hit bottom after 2008, we saw an increase in the number of investors looking to capitalize on depressed real estate values. Initially, the focus was on properties that had been foreclosed upon by lending institutions after the owner was forced to default on the mortgage. Unfortunately, we did have clients who had lost their properties in that way. When business gets depressed, this can happen, of course. In addition to the foreclosed properties being bought up, we also saw an increase in the number of owners who were willing to sell their properties to investors at a discount to get cash back into their stressed businesses. 

Regardless of the reason, when there is a commercial property transaction, especially of a drycleaner property, the Phase I and Phase II due diligence process is performed, and environmental contamination issues come to light. While a truly motivated purchaser is typically willing to spend the money upfront to conduct the Phase I and Phase II assessments, the owner and/or operator of the drycleaner will be the identified responsible party for any impacts found. If the responsible party doesn’t have the financial means to address those impacts, the deal may fall through and the seller won’t get the benefit of the sale, or the buyer may use those impacts as leverage to lower the price to their advantage. In certain situations, we’ve seen properties sold for an extremely low price when the owner is seriously cash strapped. I’m sure that your current plans don’t include being in either of the categories mentioned here, but you never know how severe this next recession will be or how long it will last. 


Based on the multitude of factors discussed above, as well as the overall tendency to tighten belts during economic downturns, we saw an increase in the number of businesses looking for creative ways to offset losses or a decrease in profitability. We saw this a lot. One great example that we saw is delivery or transportation based businesses adding fuel surcharges to their base fees. We saw things like the technology surcharges that pop up on invoices from vendors who heavily utilize software in their services. We saw an overall increase in the granularity of invoices or bills from businesses who were attempting to look for any way possible to pass on costs to their customers. Mostly, this was in the business to business (B2B) space, and not so much in the business to consumer (B2C) space. Many drycleaners in the B2C world know how damaging it can be to pass costs on to their customers if not nuanced gently. The point here is that we saw our clients looking under the corner of every rug and behind every couch cushion to find that extra source of income or savings to help get them through until the market rebounded after 2008. 


There was one thing that we did not see change during the Great Recession of 2008 and its recovery that helped thousands of small businesses and drycleaners: old commercial general liability policies.  

Learn how old commercial general liability policies can help you.

This was a big deal for a lot of people because old insurance policies can be used as financial assets for businesses. Whether business owners were looking for help in fending off increases in regulatory demands, in maintaining the value of their real estate investments, or just looking for extra cash as a result of the financial crisis, they increased their desire and willingness to look for their old insurance policies. A lot of things are impacted by a sizeable recession, but one thing that is only rarely affected is case law. Your state’s case law requires insurance carriers to honor these old commercial general liability policies to the interpreted extent when a proper claim is filed. 

You may be wondering “Is it worth your time to look for your old commercial general liability policies now, before things get too wonky?” If you don’t have any luck, you can hire professional help to perform insurance archeology and hunt them down. Not only are old insurance policies important during tough times but being fully covered for current operations is important as well. While I’m not in the insurance business, we’ve all been saved by an insurance policy a time or two, either professionally or personally. Now is an important time to look at your old coverage and your current coverage, evaluate your deductibles and limits, and make a call to your current carrier if you feel like you wouldn’t be able to take a hit should an unforeseen event transpire. There are many dedicated agents and insurance companies that have supported the drycleaning industry through the years. I’m sure they would be happy to help you figure things out. 

As a final thought, the most important takeaway that we saw in the drycleaning industry during the last recession was that the industry came together to support each other and produce creative ways to weather the storm. Operators, vendors, suppliers, and allied trades worked side by side for the benefit of the industry. The time is now for a repeat performance on that track. We’re all in this together, no matter how trying the times ahead become.  

Do you have any questions? Send me an email at jcarnahan@enviroforensics.com or fill out our contact form. 

As seen in Cleaner & Launderer

Jeff Carnahan, President at EnviroForensics
Jeff Carnahan, LPG, has 20+ years of environmental consulting and remediation experience. His technical expertise focuses on the investigation and interpretation of subsurface releases of hazardous substances for the purpose of evaluating and controlling the risk and cost implications. He has focused on being a partner with the dry cleaning industry for the past decade, and he’s a frequent contributor to the national dry cleaning publication Cleaner & Launderer. He is an industry leader in understanding that environmental risk includes not only cleanup costs, but also known and unknown third-party liability.

Geologists’ Favorite Rocks and Minerals

Geology deals with the earth’s physical structure, substance, and the various processes that have led to the formation of the world we know today. The study of geology continues to lead us to monumental discoveries in the fields of astronomy, oceanography, meteorology, and countless others. On Geologists Day, we celebrate the curious minds that have contributed to this rich history of geological achievements.

The History of Geologists Day

Every year, on the first Sunday of April, Geologists Day is celebrated by shining a light on these individuals who pursue this essential discipline. In 1966, Geologists Day started in the former Soviet Union to observe the end of Winter and the beginning of the Spring and Summer mining seasons. It has since expanded across the globe and celebrates a variety of fields that employ geologists including the environmental consulting industry.

The Role of Geologists in Environmental Consulting

Geologists are incredibly important in the environmental consulting field. They are relied on for their expertise and knowledge of the different types of rocks and soils that make up the earth’s crust and how contaminated groundwater moves through the subsurface. Assessing the stratigraphy from soil cores or the fractures in bedrock cores, the geologist can map in 3-dimensions the subsurface conditions. This information, coupled with the aquifer pump tests results and the distribution of contaminants in groundwater collected from wells and borings, enables the geologist to determine the rate and direction contamination is migrating and how fast it is degrading. After geologists assess the soil and groundwater contamination, they help develop and implement remedial strategies designed to remove, degrade, and reduce the levels of contamination caused by a spill or release. 

EnviroForensics’ 10 Favorite Rocks and Minerals

Geologists understand the history of the formation of the earth and its components, and use that knowledge to observe and predict how water and environmental contaminants move through the earth. We asked our geologists for their favorite rocks and minerals. Check out some of the favorites!

1. Muscovite


Manufacturing of paint, asphalt roofing, cosmetics and glossy stock paper

What our geology experts say about Muscovite
“My favorite class of mineral is the silicates. My favorite silicate structure is the phyllosilicates, and my favorite of those minerals is muscovite. My favorite rock includes that, and is a garnet-mica-schist. When I first saw this rock in a formation in the Appalachians, I was blown away! I even have a phyllosilicate crystalline structure tattoo!”

– Jeff Carnahan, LPG, President

“Mica, specifically Muscovite, was used to make windows in the past. Large sheets of it can be mined in Russia. My wife and I love Mica so much that we named our son after it! That’s what happens when two geologists have children.”

– Rob Hoverman, PG, Northern Midwest Regional Director

2. Fluorite


Manufacturing of fluoride chemicals commonly found in toothpaste and drinking water to prevent tooth decay, non-stick cooking surfaces and microscopic lenses

What our geology experts say about Fluorite
“Fluorite is one of the fluorescent minerals that glows under UV light. Places like the Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum in Kentucky offer “night digs” where you actually get to go out with UV lights after dark to hunt for them. One of my goals is to have a bar or table filled with fluorescent minerals.”

– Michele Murday, Northwest Indiana Regional Manager 

3. Galena

Serves as an ore in most of the world’s lead production

What our geology experts say about Galena
“Galena is a lead sulfide mineral with a chemical composition of PbS. It has a perfect cleavage 90 degrees, and has a distinct silver color and a bright metallic luster. It resembles the “Mother Boxes” of the Justice League movies!”

– Joe Miller, Account Executive

4. Chert

Previously used to produce tools and weapons (arrowheads and flint rocks for firearms)

What our geology experts say about Chert
“Chert is a microcrystalline quartz (essentially). It’s really hard, and creates sparks when you hit it with a hammer. Flint is a type of chert (think flint and steel for starting fires, or flintlock pistols to create the spark to ignite gunpowder).

For Indiana University’s students who did their geology field work at the Judson Mead Geologic Field Station, there was only one formation in the entire profile that had chert in it. There were times you’d be wandering along, trying to map rocks and having no idea where you were in the stratigraphy, and then you’d see chert and you’d know exactly where you were. It was so reassuring to know 100% what you were looking at and mapping! There was a feeling of relief, and it could help solve all the other riddles posed by the outcrops you had been looking at (and it also let you know there might be rattlesnakes, as they seemed to like the same formation). Someone had written ‘chert is your friend’ on the bathroom wall, and it stuck with me to this day. It was like a friend in the field.”

– Roger Cohen, LPG, Project Manager, Due Diligence Manager

5. Obsidian

Surgical scalpel blades, jewelry and mirrors

What our geology experts say about Obsidian
“Obsidian is volcanic glass. It forms when highly viscous lava rapidly cools and hardens before crystal growth can occur. It is black and glossy, forms from lava, and it’s called obsidian. What could be any cooler than that? I’ve seen it used in jewelry and decorative pieces. It can also be used to make sharp blades for knives and has been tested out for scalpel blades.”

– Brianne Inman, LPG, Senior Project Manager

6. Rhodochrosite

Valuable gemstones

What our geology experts say about Rhodochrosite
“My favorite mineral is rhodochrosite, a manganese carbonite that is pink. I have a necklace pendant made of it. I also like it because you can pronounce it two different ways:  rho-do-CHRO-site or rho-DOC-hro-site. Pick your favorite, they’re both correct! Also, it is the state mineral of Colorado as it’s frequently found associated with silver ore deposits.”

Morgan Saltsgiver, LPG, Director of Brownfields and AgriBusiness

7. Septarian Nodules

There are no current uses for it commercially, however it’s a highly sought-after collector’s item.

What our geology experts say about Septarian Nodules
“When I was a college student we went on a spring break trip to southern Utah to hunt Septarian nodules. Back in the Cretaceous period (50-70 million years ago) the Gulf of Mexico reached far inland where volcanic activity reacted with decomposing sea life and sediment forming mud balls in the ocean currents. As the ocean receded, the mud balls cracked and dried. Calcite from decomposing sea shells formed crystals within the mud balls. A thin wall of calcite was transformed into aragonite, separating the calcite (yellow center) and aragonite (brown lines) from the bentonite clay (exterior). The name latin Septarian (seven) was given as the mud balls cracked with 7 points in every direction. Such unique conditions to form a beautiful rock.”

– Jennifer Hallgarth, LPG, Director of Technical Operations

8. Elbaite

Valuable gemstones and other jewelry

What our geology experts say about Elbaite
“One of my all-time favorite minerals is Elbaite, which is a species of the tourmaline group. Tourmaline is a cyclosilicate. It occurs as long, slender to thick prismatic and columnar crystals that are usually triangular to rounded-triangular in cross-section. Tourmaline is distinguished by its three-sided prisms; no other common mineral has three sides! Elbaite forms in igneous and metamorphic rocks, often in association is hydrothermal deposits, giving rise to fantastic chemical impurities (rich colors!). Elbaite is a beautiful gemstone; it is pleochroic and can often have a Cat’s eye effect in polished pieces.”

– Samantha Henderson, Project Manager

9. Halite

Roads to control accumulation of snow and ice and a popular food seasoning

What our geology experts say about Halite
“Halite is the mineral name for the substance that everyone knows as “salt.” Its chemical name is sodium chloride, and a rock composed primarily of halite is known as “rock salt.” Salt is an essential nutrient for humans, and a popular food seasoner. Could you imagine our world without salt!? Hot sauce just wouldn’t be the same. I’m getting sad just thinking about a world without it.”

– Jordan Goff, LPG, Senior Project Manager, Health & Safety Manager

10. Feldspar

Feldspars are a group of rock-forming tectosilicate minerals that make up about 41% of the Earth’s continental crust by weight.

What our geology experts say about Feldspar
“It’s cool because it plays an important role in the makeup of magma that is the origin of the granites and foliage’s metamorphic rocks.”

– Steve Henshaw, LPG, Principal

Geologists play an untold and crucial role in our daily lives. Whenever a stormfront moves over a body of water, a new rover lands on Mars, an earthquake is measured, or a sinkhole is predicted, geology is being used to provide valuable information to the public.

Geologists are everywhere; building roads, protecting the environment, designing buildings, studying ancient ruins, and making recommendations to farmers on how to increase their crop yields. Geologists have a huge impact, so if you know one, make sure to thank them for their work.

Interested in joining our team of environmental geologists? Check out our career opportunities.