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Glossary of Terms
Acronyms are listed prior to definitions.
As provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and several other sources. This database will continue to grow with your contributions.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 


DAPSS— Document and Personnel Security System (IMD)
DBP— Disinfection By-Product
DCI— Data Call-In
DCO— Delayed Compliance Order
DCO— Document Control Officer
DDT— DichloroDiphenylTrichloroethane
DERs— Data Evaluation Records
DES— Diethylstilbesterol
DfE— Design for the Environment
DI— Diagnostic Inspection
DMR— Discharge Monitoring Report
DNA— Deoxyribonucleic acid
DNAPL— Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid
DO— Dissolved Oxygen
DOW— Defenders Of Wildlife
DPA— Deepwater Ports Act
DPD— Method of Measuring Chlorine Residual in Water
DQO— Data Quality Objective
DRE— Destruction and Removal Efficiency
DRES— Dietary Risk Evaluation System
DRMS— Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service
DRR— Data Review Record
DS— Dichotomous Sampler
DSAP— Data Self Auditing Program
DSCF— Dry Standard Cubic Feet
DSCM— Dry Standard Cubic Meter
DSS— Decision Support System; Domestic Sewage Study
DT— Detectors (radon) damaged or lost; Detention Time
DU— Decision Unit. Ducks Unlimited; Dobson Unit
DUC— Decision Unit Coordinator
DWEL— Drinking Water Equivalent Level
DWS— Drinking Water Standard
DWSRF— Drinking Water State Revolving Fund

DDT— The first chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide chemical name— Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane. It has a half-life of 15 years and can collect in fatty tissues of certain animals. EPA banned registration and interstate sale of DDT for virtually all but emergency uses in the United States in 1972 because of its persistence in the environment and accumulation in the food chain.

Dead End— The end of a water main which is not connected to other parts of the distribution system.

Deadmen— Anchors drilled or cemented into the ground to provide additional reactive mass.

Decant— To draw off the upper layer of liquid after the heaviest material (a solid or another liquid) has settled.

Decay Products— Degraded radioactive materials, often referred to as “daughters” or “progeny”; radon decay products of most concern from a public health standpoint are polonium-214 and polonium-218.

Dechlorination— Removal of chlorine from a substance.

Decomposition— The breakdown of matter by bacteria and fungi, changing the chemical makeup and physical appearance of materials.

Decontamination— Removal of harmful substances such as noxious chemicals, harmful bacteria or other organisms, or radioactive material from exposed individuals, rooms and furnishings in buildings, or the exterior environment.

Deep-Well Injection— Deposition of raw or treated, filtered hazardous waste by pumping it into deep wells, where it is contained in the pores of permeable subsurface rock.

Deflocculating Agent— A material added to a suspension to prevent settling.

Defluoridation— The removal of excess flouride in drinking water to prevent the staining of teeth.

Defoliant— An herbicide that removes leaves from trees and growing plants.

Degasification— A water treatment that removes dissolved gases from the water.

Degree-Day— A rough measure used to estimate the amount of heating required in a given area; is defined as the difference between the mean daily temperature and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Degree-days are also calculated to estimate cooling requirements.

Delegated State— A state (or other governmental entity such as a tribal government) that has received authority to administer an environmental regulatory program in lieu of a federal counterpart. As used in connection with NPDES, UIC, and PWS programs, the term does not connote any transfer of federal authority to a state.

Delist— Use of the petition process to have a facility’s toxic designation rescinded.

Demand-side Waste Management— Prices whereby consumers use purchasing decisions to communicate to product manufacturers that they prefer environmentally sound products packaged with the least amount of waste, made from recycled or recyclable materials, and containing no hazardous substances.

Demineralization— A treatment process that removes dissolved minerals from water.

Denitrification— The biological reduction of nitrate to nitrogen gas by denitrifying bacteria in soil.

Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (DNAPL)— Non-aqueous phase liquids such as chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents or petroleum fractions with a specific gravity greater than 1.0 that sink through the water column until they reach a confining layer. Because they are at the bottom of aquifers instead of floating on the water table, typical monitoring wells do not indicate their presence.

Density— A measure of how heavy a specific volume of a solid, liquid, or gas is in comparison to water. depending on the chemical.

Depletion Curve— In hydraulics, a graphical representation of water depletion from storage-stream channels, surface soil, and groundwater. A depletion curve can be drawn for base flow, direct runoff, or total flow.

Depressurization— A condition that occurs when the air pressure inside a structure is lower that the air pressure outdoors. Depressurization can occur when household appliances such as fireplaces or furnaces, that consume or exhaust house air, are not supplied with enough makeup air. Radon may be drawn into a house more rapidly under depressurized conditions.

Dermal Absorption/Penetration— Process by which a chemical penetrates the skin and enters the body as an internal dose.

Dermal Exposure— Contact between a chemical and the skin.

Dermal Toxicity— The ability of a pesticide or toxic chemical to poison people or animals by contact with the skin.

DES— A synthetic estrogen, diethylstilbestrol is used as a growth stimulant in food animals. Residues in meat are thought to be carcinogenic.

Desalination— [Desalinization] (1) Removing salts from ocean or brackish water by using various technologies. (2) Removal of salts from soil by artificial means, usually leaching.

Desiccant— A chemical agent that absorbs moisture; some desiccants are capable of drying out plants or insects, causing death.

Design Capacity— The average daily flow that a treatment plant or other facility is designed to accommodate.

Design Value— The monitored reading used by EPA to determine an area’s air quality status; e.g., for ozone, the fourth highest reading measured over the most recent three years is the design value.

Designated Pollutant— An air pollutant which is neither a criteria nor hazardous pollutant, as described in the Clean Air Act, but for which new source performance standards exist. The Clean Air Act does require states to control these pollutants, which include acid mist, total reduced sulfur (TRS), and fluorides.

Designated Uses— Those water uses identified in state water quality standards that must be achieved and maintained as required under the Clean Water Act. Uses can include cold water fisheries, public water supply, and irrigation.

Designer Bugs— Popular term for microbes developed through biotechnology that can degrade specific toxic chemicals at their source in toxic waste dumps or in ground water.

Destination Facility— The facility to which regulated medical waste is shipped for treatment and destruction, incineration, and/or disposal.

Destratification— Vertical mixing within a lake or reservoir to totally or partially eliminate separate layers of temperature, plant, or animal life.

Destroyed Medical Waste— Regulated medical waste that has been ruined, torn apart, or mutilated through thermal treatment, melting, shredding, grinding, tearing, or breaking, so that it is no longer generally recognized as medical waste, but has not yet been treated (excludes compacted regulated medical waste).

Destruction and Removal Efficiency (DRE)— A percentage that represents the number of molecules of a compound removed or destroyed in an incinerator relative to the number of molecules entering the system (e.g. a DRE of 99.99 percent means that 9,999 molecules are destroyed for every 10,000 that enter; 99.99 percent is known as “four nines.” For some pollutants, the RCRA removal requirement may be as stringent as “six nines”).

Destruction Facility— A facility that destroys regulated medical waste.

Desulfurization— Removal of sulfur from fossil fuels to reduce pollution.

Detectable Leak Rate— The smallest leak (from a storage tank), expressed in terms of gallons- or liters-per-hour, that a test can reliably discern with a certain probability of detection or false alarm.

Detection Criterion— A predetermined rule to ascertain whether a tank is leaking or not. Most volumetric tests use a threshold value as the detection criterion.

Detection Limit— The lowest concentration of a chemical that can reliably be distinguished from a zero concentration.

Detention Time— 1. The theoretical calculated time required for a small amount of water to pass through a tank at a given rate of flow. 2. The actual time that a small amount of water is in a settling basin, flocculating basin, or rapid-mix chamber. 3. In storage reservoirs, the length of time water will be held before being used.

Detergent— Synthetic washing agent that helps to remove dirt and oil. Some contain compounds which kill useful bacteria and encourage algae growth when they are in wastewater that reaches receiving waters.

Development Effects— Adverse effects such as altered growth, structural abnormality, functional deficiency, or death observed in a developing organism.

Dewater— 1. Remove or separate a portion of the water in a sludge or slurry to dry the sludge so it can be handled and disposed of. 2. Remove or drain the water from a tank or trench.

Diatomaceous Earth (Diatomite)— A chalk-like material (fossilized diatoms) used to filter out solid waste in wastewater treatment plants; also used as an active ingredient in some powdered pesticides.

Diazinon— An insecticide. In 1986, EPA banned its use on open areas such as sod farms and golf courses because it posed a danger to migratory birds. The ban did not apply to agricultural, home lawn or commercial establishment uses.

Dibenzofurans— A group of organic compounds, some of which are toxic.

Dicofol— A pesticide used on citrus fruits.

Diffused Air— A type of aeration that forces oxygen into sewage by pumping air through perforated pipes inside a holding tank.

Diffusion— The movement of suspended or dissolved particles (or molecules) from a more concentrated to a less concentrated area. The process tends to distribute the particles or molecules more uniformly.

Digester— In wastewater treatment, a closed tank; in solid-waste conversion, a unit in which bacterial action is induced and accelerated in order to break down organic matter and establish the proper carbon to nitrogen ratio.

Digestion— The biochemical decomposition of organic matter, resulting in partial gasification, liquefaction, and mineralization of pollutants.

Dike— A low wall that can act as a barrier to prevent a spill from spreading.

Diluent— Any liquid or solid material used to dilute or carry an active ingredient.

Dilution Ratio— The relationship between the volume of water in a stream and the volume of incoming water. It affects the ability of the stream to assimilate waste.

Dimictic— Lakes and reservoirs that freeze over and normally go through two stratifications and two mixing cycles a year.

Dinocap— A fungicide used primarily by apple growers to control summer diseases. EPA proposed restrictions on its use in 1986 when laboratory tests found it caused birth defects in rabbits.

Dinoseb— A herbicide that is also used as a fungicide and insecticide. It was banned by EPA in 1986 because it posed the risk of birth defects and sterility.

Dioxin— Any of a family of compounds known chemically as dibenzo-p-dioxins. Concern about them arises from their potential toxicity as contaminants in commercial products. Tests on laboratory animals indicate that it is one of the more toxic anthropogenic (man-made) compounds.

Direct Discharger— A municipal or industrial facility which introduces pollution through a defined conveyance or system such as outlet pipes; a point source.

Direct Filtration— A method of treating water which consists of the addition of coagulent chemicals, flash mixing, coagulation, minimal flocculation, and filtration. Sedimentation is not uses.

Direct Push— Technology used for performing subsurface investigations by driving, pushing, and/or vibrating small-diameter hollow steel rods into the ground/ Also known as direct drive, drive point, or push technology.

Direct Runoff— Water that flows over the ground surface or through the ground directly into streams, rivers, and lakes.

Discharge— Flow of surface water in a stream or canal or the outflow of ground water from a flowing artesian well, ditch, or spring. Can also apply tp discharge of liquid effluent from a facility or to chemical emissions into the air through designated venting mechanisms.

Disinfectant— A chemical or physical process that kills pathogenic organisms in water, air, or on surfaces. Chlorine is often used to disinfect sewage treatment effluent, water supplies, wells, and swimming pools.

Disinfectant By-Product— A compound formed by the reaction of a disinfenctant such as chlorine with organic material in the water supply; a chemical byproduct of the disinfection process.

Disinfectant Time— The time it takes water to move from the point of disinfectant application (or the previous point of residual disinfectant measurement) to a point before or at the point where the residual disinfectant is measured. In pipelines, the time is calculated by dividing the internal volume of the pipe by he maximum hourly flow rate; within mixing basins and storage reservoirs it is determined by tracer studies of an equivalent demonstration.

Dispersant— A chemical agent used to break up concentrations of organic material such as spilled oil.

Displacement Savings— Saving realized by displacing purchases of natural gas or electricity from a local utility by using landfill gas for power and heat.

Disposables— Consumer products, other items, and packaging used once or a few times and discarded.

Disposal— Final placement or destruction of toxic, radioactive, or other wastes; surplus or banned pesticides or other chemicals; polluted soils; and drums containing hazardous materials from removal actions or accidental releases. Disposal may be accomplished through use of approved secure landfills, surface impoundments, land farming, deep-well injection, ocean dumping, or incineration.

Disposal Facilities— Repositories for solid waste, including landfills and combustors intended for permanent containment or destruction of waste materials. Excludes transfer stations and composting facilities.

Dissolved Oxygen (DO)— The oxygen freely available in water, vital to fish and other aquatic life and for the prevention of odors. DO levels are considered a most important indicator of a water body’s ability to support desirable aquatic life. Secondary and advanced waste treatment are generally designed to ensure adequate DO in waste-receiving waters.

Dissolved Solids— Disintegrated organic and inorganic material in water. Excessive amounts make water unfit to drink or use in industrial processes.

Distillation— The act of purifying liquids through boiling, so that the steam or gaseous vapors condense to a pure liquid. Pollutants and contaminants may remain in a concentrated residue.

Disturbance— Any event or series of events that disrupt ecosystem, community, or population structure and alters the physical environment.

Diversion— 1. Use of part of a stream flow as water supply. 2. A channel with a supporting ridge on the lower side constructed across a slope to divert water at a non-erosive velocity to sites where it can be used and disposed of.

Diversion Rate— The percentage of waste materials diverted from traditional disposal such as landfilling or incineration to be recycled, composted, or re-used.

DNA Hybridization— Use of a segment of DNA, called a DNA probe, to identify its complementary DNA; used to detect specific genes.

Dobson Unit (DU)— Units of ozone level measurement. measurement of ozone levels. If, for example, 100 DU of ozone were brought to the earth’s surface they would form a layer one millimeter thick. Ozone levels vary geographically, even in the absence of ozone depletion.

Domestic Application— Pesticide application in and around houses, office buildings, motels, and other living or working areas.

Dosage/Dose— 1. The actual quantity of a chemical administered to an organism or to which it is exposed. 2. The amount of a substance that reaches a specific tissue (e.g. the liver). 3. The amount of a substance available for interaction with metabolic processes after crossing the outer boundary of an organism.

Dose Equivalent— The product of the absorbed dose from ionizing radiation and such factors as account for biological differences due to the type of radiation and its distribution in the body in the body.

Dose Rate— In exposure assessment, dose per time unit (e.g. mg/day), sometimes also called dosage.

Dose Response— Shifts in toxicological responses of an individual (such as alterations in severity) or populations (such as alterations in incidence) that are related to changes in the dose of any given substance.

Dose Response Curve— Graphical representation of the relationship between the dose of a stressor and the biological response thereto.

Dose-Response Assessment— 1. Estimating the potency of a chemical. 2. In exposure assessment, the process of determining the relationship between the dose of a stressor and a specific biological response. 3. Evaluating the quantitative relationship between dose and toxicological responses.

Dose-Response Relationship— The quantitative relationship between the amount of exposure to a substance and the extent of toxic injury or disease produced.

Dosimeter— An instrument to measure dosage; many so-called dosimeters actually measure exposure rather than dosage. Dosimetry is the process or technology of measuring and/or estimating dosage.

DOT Reportable Quantity— The quantity of a substance specified in a U.S. Department of Transportation regulation that triggers labeling, packaging and other requirements related to shipping such substances.

Downgradient— The direction that groundwater flows; similar to “downstream” for surface water.

Downstream Processors— Industries dependent on crop production (e.g. canneries and food processors).

DP Hole— Hole in the ground made with DP equipment.

Draft— 1. The act of drawing or removing water from a tank or reservoir. 2. The water which is drawn or removed.

Draft Permit— A preliminary permit drafted and published by EPA; subject to public review and comment before final action on the application.

Drainage— Improving the productivity of agricultural land by removing excess water from the soil by such means as ditches or subsurface drainage tiles.

Drainage Basin— The area of land that drains water, sediment, and dissolved materials to a common outlet at some point along a stream channel.

Drainage Well— A well drilled to carry excess water off agricultural fields. Because they act as a funnel from the surface to the groundwater below. Drainage wells can contribute to groundwater pollution.

Drawdown— 1. The drop in the water table or level of water in the ground when water is being pumped from a well. 2. The amount of water used from a tank or reservoir. 3. The drop in the water level of a tank or reservoir.

Dredging— Removal of mud from the bottom of water bodies. This can disturb the ecosystem and causes silting that kills aquatic life. Dredging of contaminated muds can expose biota to heavy metals and other toxics. Dredging activities may be subject to regulation under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

Drilling Fluid— Fluid used to lubricate the bit and convey drill cuttings to the surface with rotary drilling equipment. Usually composed of bentonite slurry or muddy water. Can become contaminated, leading to cross contamination, and may require special disposal. Not used with DP methods

Drinking Water Equivalent Level— Protective level of exposure related to potentially non-carcinogenic effects of chemicals that are also known to cause cancer.

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund— The Fund provides capitalization grants to states to develop drinking water revolving loan funds to help finance system infrastructure improvements, assure source-water protection, enhance operation and management of drinking-water systems, and otherwise promote local water-system compliance and protection of public health.

Drive Casing— Heavy duty steel casing driven along with the sampling tool in cased DP systems. Keeps the hole open between sampling runs and is not removed until last sample has been collected.

Drive Point Profiler— An exposed groundwater DP system used to collect multiple depth-discrete groundwater samples. Ports in the tip of the probe connect to an internal stainless steel or teflon tube that extends to the surface. Samples are collected via suction or airlift methods. Deionized water is pumped down through the ports to prevent plugging while driving the tool to the next sampling depth.

Drop-off— Recyclable materials collection method in which individuals bring them to a designated collection site.

Dual-Phase Extraction— Active withdrawal of both liquid and gas phases from a well usually involving the use of a vacuum pump.

Dump— A site used to dispose of solid waste without environmental controls.

Duplicate— A second aliquot or sample that is treated the same as the original sample in order to determine the precision of the analytical method.

Dustfall Jar— An open container used to collect large particles from the air for measurement and analysis.

Dynamometer. A device used to place a load on an engine and measure its performance.

Dystrophic Lakes— Acidic, shallow bodies of water that contain much humus and/or other organic matter; contain many plants but few fish.