A description of the major benefits of environmental tradeoffs of mtbe

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A description of the major benefits of environmental tradeoffs of mtbe

The fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether MTBE hasbeen used in an effort to improve air quality in the United States, butother undesirable effects, particularly the contamination of water re-sources, were eventually judged to outweigh any air quality benefits itmay have offered.

The experience with MTBE offers many lessons, in-cluding the need to evaluate potential positive and negative environmen-tal impacts associated with fuel choices using a comprehensive approachthat combines a product life-cycle perspective with the risk assessmentparadigm.

Such an approach, referred to as comprehensive environ-mental assessment CEAis illustrated here by highlighting some ofthe issues that might be considered in evaluating reformulated gasoline RFG produced with MTBE, ethanol, or no oxygenate.

Its use as an octane booster in the United States dates to the late s, whenit served as a substitute for tetraethyl lead in leaded gasoline. As an oxygenateadditive, MTBE came into greater use after the Amendments to theClean Air Act prescribed the addition of oxygen to unleaded gasoline to helpAddress for correspondence: C New York Academy of Sciences.

Although the Amendments did notspecifically require the use of MTBE, the additive was generally favored byrefiners for various reasons of cost, blending qualities, and other desirablecharacteristics. However, in recent years MTBE has attracted a considerableamount of unfavorable attention because of other properties associated firstwith consumer complaints about inhalation of MTBE vapors and later withcontamination of water resources.

The experience with MTBE illustrates the phenomenon of unintended en-vironmental consequences, that is, the creation of an unanticipated problemresulting from a technological application intended to address a different en-vironmental issue.

In the case of MTBE, the hope was that the addition ofoxygen to gasoline would help reduce ambient air levels of carbon monoxideand ozone as well as certain toxic air pollutants such as benzene.

A description of the major benefits of environmental tradeoffs of mtbe

Moreover,refiners found other beneficial features in MTBE. It could be produced withexcess isobutylene from the gasoline refining process.

In addition to increasingthe octane number of gasoline, it had other favorable blending characteristicsin terms of volatility, driveability parameters, and adding volume to fuel.

Thelast is especially noteworthy, given the close balance between refining capacityand consumer demand for gasoline in the United States. Concerns about health risks gained national attention whenthe winter oxyfuel program began in the fall offirst in Alaska and thenin other locales.

A major effort was made by the U. Environmental Protection Agency EPAthe Centers for Disease Control andPrevention, and other organizations to conduct studies, both field human andlaboratory human and animalto investigate these symptom complaints andexpand the database on MTBE exposure and health effects.

An RfC has been definedas an estimate with uncertainty spanning perhaps an order of magnitude of aninhalation exposure to the human population including susceptible subgroups that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of adverse health effects over alifetime.

Various health risk assessmentswere conducted in the mids, and generally they concluded that MTBEprobably did not constitute an imminent public health threat.

A subsequent study11of acute effects in self-described sensitive human volunteers under controlledconditions provided mixed results, and to date many questions and paradoxesabout the health issues surrounding MTBE remain unresolved.

More than ,confirmed releases of fuel from federally regulated underground fuel storagetanks UFST have been reported in the United States since ,13 with pos-sibly half of these leaking tanks containing gasoline blended with MTBE.

These propertiesmade MTBE stand out as a problem distinct from, and even greater than, thelong-standing issue of conventional gasoline leakage from UFSTs. Moreover,MTBE contamination was found in both subsurface and surface waters, withthe latter typically being associated with the presence of motorized watercraft.

Apart from any potential health concerns associated with such water contam-ination, a principal issue was the unpleasant odor and taste of MTBE in drinkingwater that was unacceptable for many people even at relatively low concentra-tions.

For one, a multimedia environmental perspectiveis crucial. It is unwise to focus on just one part of the environment, such asair, while ignoring the potential for impacts in other areas, such as water.

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Leg-islative, organizational, and other factors have contributed to this tendency,22but it is clear that the environmental impacts of large-scale applications oftechnology cannot be evaluated separately in the manner of the fabled blindpersons touching different parts of an elephant.

In the same vein, it is impor-tant to examine such issues from the perspective of the entire life cycle of aproduct.

From cradle to grave, the product life cycle encompasses variousstages in the manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal of a product and itsbyproducts.

In the case of MTBE, for many years the seeming advantages re-lated to the manufacturing and use of this additive overshadowed the problemsof leakage related to storage. Focusing exclusively on one facet of a productslife cycle, such as its use, can lead to unintended consequences just as focusingon a single environmental medium can.

Another lesson from the MTBE experience is the importance of recognizingnot only that every technology option has advantages and disadvantages butalso that these trade-offs need to be compared between different options.Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE); Advance Notice of Intent to Initiate Rulemaking Under the Toxic Substances Control Act to Eliminate or Limit the Use of MTBE as a Fuel Ad- ditive in Gasoline.

Fed. Regist. – A Description of the Major Benefits of Environmental Tradeoffs of MTBE PAGES 1. WORDS View Full Essay. More essays like this: methyl tertiart butyl ether, clean air act, benefits of environmental tradeoffs. Not sure what I'd do without @Kibin - Alfredo Alvarez, student @ Miami University.

A description of the major benefits of environmental tradeoffs of mtbe

Using Stakeholder Processes in Environmental Decisionmaking An Evaluation of Lessons Learned, Key Issues, stakeholder processes and contribute to obtaining more tangible benefits and outcomes.

Challenge 3: Engaging the scientific community in stakeholder environmental decisions of major institutions, including many . The widespread water contamination in California and elsewhere that resulted from using methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive, has emphasized the need for conducting comprehensive analyses of costs and benefits of fuel blends that have tradeoffs or .

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Moving Our Inventory to Better Serve You U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water. · Identify tradeoffs customers make between septic systems and connecting to sewer systems and their willingness to pay for third-party septic system management.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection introduced facility-wide permitting in , producing environmental benefits while giving facilities the flexibility they need to comply with environmental regulations and provide environmental protection while remaining competitive.

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