|
(Frank McNamara / Flickr)

In 2003, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had 1,265 employees. By 2018, that number had fallen to 639, according to a new report that a former IEPA director describes as “both a wake-up call and call to action.”

|
A Chicago Department of Public Health sign warns passersby about hazardous materials at a 67-acre property west of Wolf Lake at 126th Place and Avenue O. (Alex Ruppenthal / WTTW News)

A 67-acre Southeast Side site served as a dumping ground for Republic Steel for nearly 30 years. Inspection records show the property is contaminated with lead, cyanide, mercury and other potentially harmful pollutants. 

|
Rendering of the proposed Chicago zero-waste marketplace called Zaste. (Courtesy of Zaste)

Buying in bulk and hunting down package-free items can be a challenge that often requires trips to multiple stores. To make sustainable shopping more accessible, two Chicago sisters plan to open a zero-waste marketplace by spring 2020.

|
(Kevin Gessner / Flickr)

A team led by several Chicago-area researchers has developed a new method to “upcycle” single-use plastics into a number of commonly used products, such as motor oils, detergents and cosmetics. 

,
|
(Pixabay)

A group of 30 states and cities are taking legal action to defend the federal government’s authority to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants. 

,
|
General Iron Industries is a scrap metal recycling company that has operated along the north branch of the Chicago River near Cortland Street and Clybourn Avenue. (WTTW News)

A longtime scrap metal recycler reaches a deal with the city to close up shop at its location next to the Lincoln Yards site and move operations to the Southeast Side. But not everyone is happy about it.

|
PFAS foam in Van Ettan Lake in northeastern Michigan. (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr)

The National Wildlife Federation warns that pollution from PFAS chemicals – often called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down over time – could be one of the most serious threats facing the Great Lakes region. 

|
French children release balloons into the air during a D-Day remembrance ceremony at the United States Army Air Forces Transport Memorial in Picauville, France, June 1, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo / Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

Five U.S. states have passed laws regulating the intentional release of balloons amid growing concerns over the risk they pose to wildlife. Illinois could be one of the next states to take action.

,
|
General Iron’s scrap metal yard at 1909 N. Clifton Ave. in Lincoln Park. (Alex Ruppenthal / WTTW News)

New rules for a scrap metal yard on the city’s North Side require the facility to reduce emissions of potentially cancer-causing compounds after it violated federal air pollution standards last summer.

|
(SD-Pictures / Pixabay)

Living in areas with poor air quality increases one’s likelihood of suffering from depression, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses, according to a new study by University of Chicago researchers.

|
(a4gpa / Flickr)

Using satellite images and data on wildlife activity, scientists determined that artificial light levels found in more than a third of the city are altering the circadian rhythm and behaviors of animals throughout the city.

|
 In this Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 photo, a dead catfish floats along the bank of the Burns Ditch near the Portage Marina in Portage, Indiana. Some beaches along northwestern Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline are closed after authorities say a chemical spill in a tributary caused a fish kill. (John Luke / The Times via AP)

A steel company apologized for a spill of cyanide and ammonia that led to a fish kill and prompted the closure of beaches along Lake Michigan, saying it “accepts responsibility for the incident.”

|
(U.S. Department of Agriculture)

As urban agriculture programs expand in Chicago and other cities, a new project aims to unearth data on one of the biggest potential obstacles to city-based farming efforts: soil contamination.

|
(Richard Schneider / Flickr)

What lies below the surface of the Chicago River today is not what it was a century ago, but pollution is still a problem. A Chicago nonprofit aims to offer real-time water quality data to the public later this year.

|
(Pxhere.com)

A lawsuit filed Friday aims to stop a plan by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that would lower fines for automakers that fail to meet fuel-economy standards. 

,
|
Piles of coal ash after a 2008 spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee. (Brian Stansberry / Wikimedia Commons)

A new law in Illinois prohibits discharge of coal ash into the environment and establishes a regulatory framework to ensure that polluting companies finance the cleanup of coal ash waste, according to the Illinois Environmental Council.