July 09, 2018
As climate change continues to push summer temperatures ever higher, the increased use of air conditioning in buildings could add to the problems of a warming world by further degrading air quality and compounding the toll of air pollution on human health, according to a new study.
Writing in a special climate change issue of the journal Public Library of Science (PLOS) Medicine
, a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison forecasts as many as a thousand additional deaths annually in the Eastern United States alone due to elevated levels of air pollution driven by the increased use of fossil fuels to cool the buildings where humans live and work.
"What we found is that air pollution will get worse," explains David Abel, the lead author of the new report and a UW-Madison graduate student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies' Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. "There are consequences for adapting to future climate change."
The analysis combines projections from five different models to forecast increased summer energy use in a warmer world and how that would affect power consumption from fossil fuels, air quality and, consequently, human health just a few decades into the future.
In hot summer weather, and as heat waves are projected to increase in frequency and intensity with climate change, there is no question that air conditioning does and will save lives, says Jonathan Patz, a senior author of the study and a UW-Madison professor of environmental studies and population health sciences.
However, he cautions that if the increased use of air conditioning due to climate change depends on power derived from fossil fuels, there will be an air quality and human health tradeoff. "We're trading problems," says Patz, an expert on climate change and human health. "Heat waves are increasing and increasing in intensity. We will have more cooling demand requiring more electricity. But if our nation continues to rely on coal-fired power plants for some of our electricity, each time we turn on the air conditioning we'll be fouling the air, causing more sickness and even deaths."
Another senior author of the new PLOS Medicine report, air quality expert Tracey Holloway, a UW-Madison professor of environmental studies as well as atmospheric and oceanic sciences, says the study adds to our understanding of the effects of adapting to climate change by simulating the scope of fossil fuel use to cool buildings under future climate change scenarios. Buildings, she notes, are the biggest energy sinks in the United States, responsible for more than 60% of power demand in the Eastern United States, the geographic scope of the study. Air conditioning, she says, is a significant component of that electrical demand.
"Air quality is a big issue for public health," she explains, noting that increases in ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter in the air - byproducts of burning fossil fuels and known hazards to human health - will be one result of adding to fossil-fuel power consumption.
The study forecasts an additional 13,000 human deaths annually caused by higher summer levels of fine particulate matter and 3,000 caused by ozone in the Eastern U.S. by mid-century. Most of those deaths will be attributable to natural processes like atmospheric chemistry and natural emissions, which are affected by rising temperatures. However, about 1,000 of those deaths each year would occur because of increased air conditioning powered by fossil fuel. "Climate change is here and we're going to need to adapt," says Abel. "But air conditioning and the way we use energy is going to provide a feedback that will exacerbate air pollution as temperatures continue to get warmer."
The results of the new study, according to the Wisconsin team, underscore the need to change to more sustainable sources of energy such as wind and solar power, and to deploy more energy-efficient air conditioning equipment. "The answer is clean energy," says Abel. "That is something we can control that will help both climate change and future air pollution. If we change nothing, both are going to get worse."
Hazardous Waste Training
Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations. Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training
is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training
, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on a new Amazon Fire HD10 tablet.
When Oil and Water Mix
Hydraulic fracturing of organic-rich shales has become a major industry. The commonly used term for this extraction of hydrocarbons -- fracking -- is especially intriguing. Not only does it convey the process of breaking apart rocks, but the dividing of public opinion. Fracking is simultaneously hyped as a boon to the economy and a disaster to the environment.
The geoscience community lies at ground zero for discussions of fracking. This broad and diverse group of people on the one hand understands commonalities in basic earth science, but on the other hand includes the fascinating juxtaposition of individuals propelling development and extraction, and individuals monitoring and constraining deleterious impacts. As a consequence, an acknowledged problem amongst many in the geosciences has been the lack of balanced discussions on the merits and demerits of fracking.
In their new paper for GSA Today
, Daniel J. Soeder and Douglas B. Kent bridge chasms in discussions of fracking by providing a current paper summarizing environmental impacts of shale development. The article is open access, adheres to science and policy, and presents a complex problem such that even non-geoscientists can appreciate the issues. The paper provides an excellent understanding and a platform of how various potential impacts of fracking are being addressed.
China Recycling Shift an Opportunity for Minnesota
China’s recent shift in policy regarding recyclable material has many state and local governments reexamining how they manage a growing influx of plastics, glass, and other recyclables. But in Minnesota, the situation is not as dire; in 2016, nearly 2.5 million tons of recyclable materials were collected in the state. State and local regulations prohibit material collected for recycling to be put in landfills, and Minnesota is not landfilling recyclables now.
In the past, China and other foreign markets took in about 40% of the United States’ recycled material. China is now restricting these imports. Consequently, domestic markets are flooded with materials that can't be sold overseas, and prices haves plummeted.
U.S. recycling programs can no longer look to foreign countries as major buyers of our recyclables and must develop domestic markets for these materials. Minnesota has an opportunity to be a leader in such markets, as we are seeking to increase the number of businesses that use recycled materials.
Minnesota's public and private sectors have made strategic investments in recycling over the past 30-plus years. Public-sector grants and loans go to companies that use recycled materials to manufacture products. Minnesota facilities that process recycled materials have prioritized state-of-the-art sorting equipment. Focusing on local use of materials in manufacturing wherever possible has created economic development opportunities around the state.
Recycling is not just a feel-good thing; it has an economic impact. More than 260 Minnesota companies use recycled materials to manufacture their products. They employ about 18,000 people and generate approximately $3.2 billion in wages and $665 million in federal and local tax revenue.
Minnesotans wondering about shifting world markets need to stay the course — keep recycling but recycle right. While Minnesotans do better than most parts of the country at proper recycling, unrecyclable materials in recycling containers is still a huge problem. Recycled materials that are contaminated with trash and the like create inefficiencies and reduce profitability for recycling facilities.
How can you help?
- Avoid wish-cycling — only include materials your hauler will accept in your bin. Don’t just throw it in and assume a processing facility will sort it out!
- Check with your city, county or waste hauler on which items are acceptable.
- Don't put plastic bags, garden hoses, toys, syringes, or diapers in your recycling container.
- Do not use your recycling bin as a garbage overflow.
For more recycling tips for residents and businesses, visit the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Recycle More webpage
Nature's Antifreeze Inspires Revolutionary Bacteria Cryopreservation Technique
The survival mechanisms of polar fish have led scientists at the University of Warwick to develop of a revolutionary approach to 'freeze' bacteria
. The new technique could radically improve the work to store and transport human tissue.
Researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Warwick Medical School have established a way to cryopreserve (or freeze) a broad range of bacteria using synthetic reproductions of the natural antifreeze proteins found in polar organisms.
They found that adding the protein mimics slows ice crystal growth and stops them destroying the bacteria cells. The revolutionary method has potential applications within the food industry, organ transportation and medicine - as well as in laboratory research.
Bacteria are used in a vast range of processes including food technology (e.g., in yogurt and probiotics), pharmaceutical manufacturing (e.g., insulin) and enzyme production (e.g., for washing powders) and they are routinely used in research labs to study infection and the fundamentals of living processes.
The traditional approach to preserve bacteria used in nearly every laboratory worldwide is to add glycerol to the bacteria to reduce cold-induced damage during freezing. However, not all the bacteria recover after thawing and the glycerol needs to be removed from the bacteria to enable their growth and usefulness. The Warwick team, led by Professor Matthew I. Gibson, has developed a new method for cryopreservation, inspired by the process by which organisms known as extremophiles, survive in some of the coldest regions on earth.
The group has a particular interest in polar fish species which produce antifreeze proteins. The research team has demonstrated that synthetic polymers which mimic the protein from these fish are effective in doing the same job.
By combining two polymers to slow ice growth during cryopreservation, the researchers were able to recover more bacteria after freezing than using conventional methods. They also used less total additives, in some cases using just 1 % of weight (compared to 20 % typically used in traditional methods).
The team believes this will transform how micro-organisms are cryopreserved and will build on their previous research into storing human cells.
Professor Matthew Gibson, from Warwick's Department of Chemistry and Warwick Medical School, said, “Bacteria underpin a vast amount of basic biosciences and health research, but their storage and transport is based on an old method. Our bio-inspired solutions, which we have also used for mammalian cell storage, provide a new platform to hopefully improve the availability and quality of bacteria, but with an easy-to-use approach which does not involve researchers or industries significantly adjusting their laboratory procedures."
MATS Rule Electronic Reporting Delayed
EPA has extended
the period during which certain electronic reports required by the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) may be submitted as portable document format (PDF) files using the Emissions Collection and Monitoring Plan System (ECMPS) Client Tool.
The compliance date for reporting via ECMPS has been extended from June 30, 2018, to July 1,2020. According to EPA, the extension was necessary because the electronic reporting system that owners or operators of affected MATS sources will be required to use when PDF filing is no longer allowed will not be available by June 30, 2018. The extension does not alter the responsibility of owners or operators of affected MATS sources to comply with the applicable MATS and report their compliance information to the appropriate authority. In addition, this extension ensures that the compliance information can be submitted in a timely manner and made available to the public.
MFA Fined $850,000 for RMP Violations
The U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA have entered into a consent decree with MFA Incorporated, headquartered in Columbia, Missouri, and its wholly owned subsidiary MFA Enterprises, Incorporated (MFA), to address alleged chemical accident prevention and preparedness violations under the Risk Management Program of the Clean Air Act. The alleged violations relate to the companies’ management of anhydrous ammonia at nine Missouri facilities, which have a combined inventory of more than 4.3 million pounds of the chemical. Under the settlement agreement, MFA will assure that its accident prevention program complies with all applicable Clean Air Act requirements, will install emergency shutoff equipment at 53 facilities, and will pay a civil monetary penalty of $850,000.
“This settlement will protect the communities surrounding MFA facilities by helping to prevent releases of harmful chemicals,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “By bringing MFA facilities into compliance with the Clean Air Act, this agreement will also substantially improve the maintenance and emergency systems that keep MFA workers safe.”
“Accidental releases of anhydrous ammonia fertilizers can be extremely dangerous. When it is used and stored properly, it helps the local agriculture industry meet the needs of our communities, and be competitive in the marketplace,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “This settlement ensures the rule of law is being followed by MFA, and that it is working responsibly to protect the communities and its workers where each of these facilities is located.”
In 2007, MFA pleaded guilty to one criminal misdemeanor violation of the Clean Air Act’s accident prevention provision and admitted that it was negligent in failing to inspect, detect wear, and replace a valve on an ammonia storage tank where a release from that valve had hospitalized a worker. As part of the 2007 plea agreement, MFA agreed to come into compliance with applicable industry standards and safety requirements for the storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia. Beginning in 2012, EPA Region 7 conducted inspections and evaluated MFA’s compliance at facilities in Missouri and found that, despite the 2007 plea, numerous facilities did not conform to applicable industry standards. EPA also discovered several unreported ammonia releases that had injured workers.
The Complaint alleges numerous violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requirements at nine MFA facilities. Among MFA’s most common alleged violations, it failed to: implement procedures to maintain its equipment; properly conduct hazard reviews and address any hazards found in a timely manner; develop and implement written operating procedures that provide clear instructions for safely conducting activities; and disclose in its Risk Management Program submissions all incidents of accidental chemical releases that injured MFA employees.
Under the proposed settlement, MFA must create and implement corporate policies and engineering specifications for the storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia and a corporate-wide inventory maintenance system. It must also inspect and remedy any problems found within certain parts of its process equipment. Additionally, MFA must update the information it provides to EPA on accidental releases, and it must create and maintain a publicly available portion of its website listing accidents and releases that occur after the Consent Decree is lodged with the court. Finally, the Consent Decree requires MFA to hire an independent third-party auditor to conduct Risk Management Program audits at twenty facilities to identify and correct any potential violations of its risk management program under the Clean Air Act.
Also, as a part of the agreement, MFA will install emergency electronic shutoff systems at no fewer than 53 of its facilities. The electronic shutoff systems must include emergency stop buttons and a remote stop transmitter, which can be worn by an employee to reduce response time to a potential release. The systems are designed to close all shutoff valves and shut down liquid and vapor pumps facility-wide. The estimated cost to implement these systems is about $400,000.
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
Pathway to Environmental Careers Now Open
Washington State’s Department of Ecology is now recruiting for 300 environmental positions
across the state in the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC).
The full-time AmeriCorps
positions offer young adults and military veterans a range of opportunities to gain hands-on experience in environmental restoration, education projects and disaster response services for communities throughout the state.
WCC is seeking young adults ages 18 to 25 as well as Gulf War Era II veterans, reservists and dependents with no age restrictions. Members will begin their 11-month service term on October 1, 2018. “Service in the WCC is a great launching point for environmental careers and it is a joy watching our members grow into skilled, confident leaders,” said WCC Program Director Nick Mott. “Our program offers valuable training and crucial field experience, and graduating members become highly desirable candidates for government entities and non-profit organizations looking for experienced, dedicated employees with a passion for environmental stewardship.”
Typical projects include planting native trees and shrubs along rivers and streams, building and repairing bridges or back country trails, and responding to local or national disasters. To apply, go to www.ecology.wa.gov/wcc
. To experience the variety of projects WCC members support, check out pictures and stories on Facebook
In addition to career experience, WCC members who complete 11 months and 1,700 hours of service earn a $5,920 AmeriCorps Education Award. Full-time members also are eligible for education loan forbearance, interest payments, health insurance and biweekly paychecks equivalent to the state minimum wage.
In May, dozens of WCC AmeriCorps members were deployed in Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties to help communities prepare for the worst spring flooding the region had faced in more than 40 years. WCC members filled and placed tens of thousands of protective sandbags around homes and other structures.
Last fall and winter, members went to Texas, Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to assist communities affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. These disaster response assignments included managing donations and volunteers, performing and documenting home damage assessments and needed repairs, removing debris from homeowner’s yards and installing tarps on damaged roofs.
WCC AmeriCorps members join more than 70,000 AmeriCorps members serving in 21,000 locations across the nation. Members help communities tackle pressing problems while mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. Since it was formed in 1994, more than a million people have served in AmeriCorps, providing more than 1.4 billion hours of service and earning more than $3.3 billion in education scholarships.
New Jersey Seeks Nominations to Honor Recyclers
Nominations are being accepted for the Department of Environmental Protection’s annual recycling awards program that honors individuals, businesses and governments for excellence in recycling, and inspires others to do the same, Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced.
The DEP, in conjunction with the Association of New Jersey Recyclers, annually recognizes excellence in recycling to highlight program successes achieved by agencies, businesses, individuals and others in keeping New Jersey communities clean and healthy.
“All across the state, there are many great things happening in recycling and waste reduction,” Commissioner McCabe said. “This awards program recognizes these achievements, which help New Jersey remain a national leader in recycling.”
Nominations for the program are due Friday, July 27 and awardees will be notified in September. Award winners will be honored at the Association of New Jersey Recyclers Symposium and Awards Luncheon on October 17 in Neptune, Monmouth County.
“We encourage nominations that recognize people and organizations that make recycling a priority and are committed to keeping our environment clean and healthy,” Assistant Commissioner for Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability Paul Baldauf said. “The results of their efforts should be highlighted to demonstrate to others how they are making a difference across the state.”
Nominations may be submitted in 10 categories:
- Retail Merchant
- Rising Star
- Outstanding Education/Educational Program
- Recycling Industry
- Source Reduction/Resource/Management/Sustainability
- Volunteer Citizen
The 2017 awardees included a diverse group of individuals, businesses and organizations. Among them were a vocational technical school in West Caldwell, Essex County; a government recycling program in Perth Amboy, Middlesex County; and a pharmaceutical company in Titusville, Mercer County.
New Jersey has a proud legacy of leadership in recycling, becoming the first state to require recycling by passing the New Jersey Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act in April 1987. The Murphy Administration is continuing development of policies to further increase recycling rates, clean up the recycling stream, and to adapt recycling strategies to match current lifestyles.
The Association of New Jersey Recyclers is a nonprofit, nonpartisan network representing the public and private sectors that works to promote sustainability by encouraging sound resource management and recycling strategies through education, advocacy and enhancing professional standards. To learn more, visit www.anjr.com/
Printing with Plants
A scalable processing technique developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses plant-based materials for 3D printing and offers a promising additional revenue stream for biorefineries. Scientists created a new material with excellent printability
and performance by tapping into lignin—a key component of plant cell walls that provides sturdiness.
Lignin is a current byproduct of the biofuels process that could become a valuable coproduct with this new use. The method combines lignin, rubber, carbon fiber and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS—commonly used in plastic toys—to 3D print structures with 100% improved weld strength between the layers over ABS alone. “To achieve this, we are building on our experience with lignin during the last five years,” said ORNL’s Amit Naskar. “We will continue fine tuning the material’s composition to make it even stronger.” The research team published
details about the patent-pending process in Applied Materials Today
Oil and Gas Web-based Reporting in California
In 2017, The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities
regulation to control methane emissions at all oil and gas facilities in California. The regulation requires facilities to either permit or register equipment with their local air district or report equipment to CARB, perform emissions testing, and comply with emission standards. As a part of the regulation, crude oil and natural gas facilities that operate uncontrolled crude oil and natural gas separator and tank systems must comply with emissions testing, and systems that exceed the emissions standard must comply with emission control requirements.
Currently, CARB staff is working with a contractor to develop a web-based reporting tool. This will allow owners and operators to report future information, and to update current information, required pursuant to CARB’s “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities” regulation (Oil & Gas Regulation).
As a first step, if you are a designated representative of an owner or operator of a facility subject to CARB’s Oil & Gas Regulation, you should register yourself, so you can use the web-based reporting tool, Cal e-GGRT.
The following categories of facilities are subject to CARB’s Oil & Gas Regulation:
- Onshore and offshore crude oil or natural gas production; and,
- Crude oil, condensate, and produced water separation and storage; and,
- Natural gas underground storage; and,
- Natural gas gathering and boosting stations; and,
- Natural gas processing plants; and,
- Natural gas transmission compressor stations.
To register yourself so you can use the web-based reporting tool, e-mail your name, e-mail address, and list of facilities for which you will be reporting and their addresses, to Ms. Joelle Howe
. The next step will be to watch your e-mail inbox for further instructions on how to log into Cal e-GGRT.
For owners and operators currently registered with the Cal e-GGRT tool for the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulation (MRR), please provide the information requested above. This Oil and Gas web-based reporting tool registration is unique and separate from MRR.
If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Joelle Howe
IRIS Assessment Plan for Naphthalene
EPA's IRIS Program is a human health assessment program that evaluates quantitative and qualitative risk information on effects that may result from exposure to chemicals found in the environment. The Agency has announced a 30-day public comment period for its draft IRIS Assessment Plan (IAP) for naphthalene
. The IAP communicates information on the scoping needs identified by EPA and the IRIS Program's initial problem formulation activities. The assessment plan outlines the objectives of the assessment and the type of evidence considered most pertinent to address the scoping needs. EPA has released this draft IRIS Assessment Plan for public comment at least 30 days in advance of a public science webinar planned on August 23, 2018.
In order to allow for public input, EPA will hold a public webinar to discuss the draft IRIS Assessment Plan for naphthalene on August 23, 2018. Teleconference and webinar information regarding this public meeting will be provided through the IRIS website (https://www.epa.gov/iris
) and via EPA's Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) and IRIS listservs.
The 30-day public comment period began July 5, 2018 and will end August 6, 2018. For information on the public comment period, contact the ORD Docket at the EPA Headquarters Docket Center: 202-566-1752; or email: Docket_ORD@epa.gov
. For technical information on the draft IRIS Assessment Plan for naphthalene, contact Dr. James Avery, NCEA: 202-564-1494; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cabras Marine Required to Control Stormwater
EPA has reached an agreement
with Cabras Marine Corp. to reduce discharges of oil, metals and other contaminants into Apra Harbor, Guam.
“All facilities must control pollutants and keep them from damaging surrounding ecosystems and communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “This settlement will help protect and preserve water quality and coastal resources in Apra Harbor.”
In March 2017, EPA conducted an inspection of the Cabras Marine facility and found multiple violations of the Clean Water Act. Those violations included discharge of industrial stormwater without a permit, failure to properly maintain containment berms, failure to control sandblast grit and paint particles, improper storage of used oil, and inadequate controls for leaking oil.
Cabras Marine’s operations include boat, chassis and engine repair, fabrication, sandblasting, and material storage and disposal.
Under the administrative order on consent with EPA, Cabras Marine will:
- Obtain required authorization for industrial stormwater discharges;
- Improve controls for pollutants including sandblast grit, paint particles, paint aerosols and oily waste;
- Install a media filtration unit to treat industrial stormwater prior to discharge into Apra Harbor; and
- Build a permanent facility for the storage of used oil.
Cabras Marine will file a final report with EPA documenting completion of the work required under the settlement.
Lawsuit Against DNREC Challenging Delaware’s Participation in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Dismissed
Delaware Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes has dismissed
a lawsuit that challenged Delaware’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative program among nine states that reduces carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and funds energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in RGGI states, including Delaware.
The lawsuit, Stevenson, et al. v. Delaware Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Control, et al., was brought in December 2013 by David T. Stevenson, R. Christian Hudson, and John A. Moore, who claimed that the state’s participation in the program caused an increase in their electric bills. Judge Stokes issued his decision dismissing the suit June 26, stating that the plaintiffs, after more than four years of litigation, had failed to demonstrate that RGGI affected their electric bills.
“We are pleased the Court’s decision allows Delaware to continue with this market-based, environmentally-conscious and cost-effective collaboration that reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions and supports a clean energy economy,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “RGGI is vital in supporting energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation programs that save Delawareans energy and money. RGGI helps us provide for our energy needs while reducing our contributions to climate change.
“DNREC is pleased to continue our involvement with RGGI, and also to be the state agency that directs the benefits this landmark regional initiative brings to the people of Delaware,” Secretary Garvin said.
Delaware has participated in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative since its inception in 2008, and is one of nine current member states along with Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. RGGI sets a cap on overall carbon dioxide emissions, and sells emissions allowances to electricity generators through a competitive auction.
In June 2008, the Delaware General Assembly approved Delaware’s participation in RGGI through Senate Bill 263, which also mandated that Delaware use RGGI proceeds to fund programs that promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and low-income programs. These programs help residents, businesses, local governments, and non-profits lower their energy use and costs, support cleaner air quality, and through rebates and incentives also have helped over 750 Delaware drivers in buying electric vehicles for their transportation needs.
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