CTE

Career & Technical Education

Environmental Quality

A Technology Content Organizer (TCO)

Broadly defined as: Dealing with environmental consequences of past, present and future activities

Background

Critical technologies in the environmental quality category fall into three general areas--monitoring and assessment; remediation and restoration; and pollution avoidance and control. Technologies in the Monitoring and Assessment area include integrated environmental monitoring and remote assessment of biosystems. The former contribute to such national goals as the health of the U.S. population, job creation and economic growth, the efficiency of the physical infrastructure, and the ability for ecosystem management and ex-post monitoring and evaluation to understand how humans interact with the environment. These technologies also contribute to national security and war fighting capabilities by, for example, helping to assure non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and by providing accurate information about battlefield environments, thus increasing troop effectiveness and reducing casualties. Within this area, Russia is behind the United States in remote sensing technologies; the United States leads in satellite-based, multi-spectral data processing technology capability, followed by Russia (based on military capability), France, and Japan; and in the specific area of qualitative risk assessment tools, Europe lags the United States, with Japan further behind.

Development of timely and cost-effective remediation and restoration technologies is critical, both to reduce costs to the U.S. economy in addressing indigenous contamination problems and to promote U.S. competitiveness in global remediation markets. These technologies can contribute to job creation and economic growth, both by creating new jobs and by helping reduce clean-up cost liabilities faced by many manufacturers and can contribute to the health of the U.S. population by reducing risks associated with contaminants in the environment. There is general parity between the United States and Europe in bioremediation technology--the United States has conducted more basic research in this area, but Europe has successfully used U.S. technology for relatively large-scale, on-site remediation efforts. While Japanese firms are capable of being major players in bioremediation technology, they appear to lag slightly in actual demonstration of this capability. In nuclear wastes storage and disposal, Europe is slightly ahead of the United States in technologies for decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear reactors, with Japanese firms at about the same technology level as U.S. firms.

Pollution avoidance and control technologies contribute to the security of food, water, and air, to lowering costs of research and development activities, and to the health of the population. Foreign firms are slightly behind U.S. firms in separation technologies, although Europe is ahead in nuclear applications because of the policy decision to manage waste as it is produced rather than to accumulate it for future treatment. In non-nuclear separation technologies, European firms are behind U.S. firms, who have superior technology. Japanese firms are behind U.S. firms in both nuclear and non-nuclear separation technologies. Overall, although the United States is currently a leader in many technologies in this category, trends indicate that other countries are making progress in attaining the same level of technology. (NCT Report 1995)

Technology Areas

Monitoring and Assessment
Pollution Control
Remediation and Restoration

Resources

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Last Updated: March 17, 2011