Glossary of Terms (M-P)

A-D  |  E-H  |  I-L  |  M-P  |  Q-T  |  U-Z


Meat-Free Mondays
The idea of reducing meat consumption (and hence methane gases) by not buying or eating meat on one set day of the week.

Gas produced by cows, meat production and the decomposition of organic waste.

Measurable goal

A numerical, achievable target or objective selected by a municipality, project manager, or the community that guides and measures the success of the selection, design, and operation or maintenance of a storm water management measure.

Minimum Recycled Content Laws

Laws requiring a product or type of packaging to contain a certain percentage of recycled material.

Made with Organic Ingredients

Must contain at least 70% organic ingredients.

Mobile Sources:

Motor vehicles and other moving objects that release pollution. Mobile sources are divided into two groups: road vehicles, which includes cars, trucks, and buses; and non-road vehicles, which includes trains, planes, and lawn mowers.


Mercury is one of the most toxic yet widely used metals in the production of electronic appliances, appearing in batteries, some switches and thermostats, and fluorescent lamps. It is a toxic heavy metal that bio-accumulates causing brain and liver damage if ingested or inhaled.



Non Toxic
A natural or synthetic substance that is not poisonous.

Something that has not been modified by humans.

Natural Gas
Gas produced without human interference or chemical re-modelling.

Neo-Classical Economics
This theory uses 19th century physics to postulate the existence of a perfect world in which all humans behave rationally.

Natural Capitalism
Natural Capitalism is a critique of traditional "Industrial Capitalism", saying that the traditional system of capitalism "does not fully conform to its own accounting principles. It liquidates its capital and calls it income. It neglects to assign any value to the largest stocks of capital it employs- the natural resources and living systems, as well as the social and cultural systems that are the basis of human capital.

Natural Phenomenon
An environmental event that is unrelated to human activity. Today, all global weather changes and most disasters are results of human activity. This almost cancels out the term, or the legitimate use of it.

Nature of Human-UNkind
An EXPEDITION Project theory, which proposes that rapid modernization and instant gratification has made people callous and indifferent.

Conservation ethic in relation to preserving natural ecosystems. Also a religion based on the belief that people are united to all of nature.

Nuclear Power
A synthetic energy produced by heating and cooling uranium.

Non-Profit Organisation (NPO)
An organisation that operates to benefit others rather than generate profit.

Non-Government Organisation (NGO)
An organisation that addresses social needs although it is not affiliated with the government (e.g. development, health, education).

Natural Barrier:

An area that does not have flammable material (such as a stream) and can help keep wildfires from spreading.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

A provision of the Clean Water Act that prohibits discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States unless a special permit is issued by the EPA, a state, or (where delegated) a tribal government or an Indian reservation.

Natural buffer

A variable width area maintained with natural vegetation between a pollutant source and a water body that provides natural filtration and other forms of protection.

Natural Dye

Pigment dye used in clothes processing made from natural substances, such as berries, vegetables, and bugs.

Natural Fibers

Substances found in nature, such as cotton, wool, and silk.


National ambient air quality standards. Ambient standards developed by EPA that must be attained and maintained to protect public health. NAAQS exist for specific matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon dioxide, and lead.

Nitrogen Oxides (NOx):

Nitrogen oxides are produced from burning fuels, including gasoline and coal. They react with volatile organic compounds to form smog, and become air pollutants included in acid rain.

Nonrenewable resource

A natural resource that can’t be replenished because the rate of formation is slower than the rate of consumption. Fossil fuels, metals, minerals, and groundwater are nonrenewable.

Nuclear energy

Energy from the nucleus (core) of an atom. ([Click here] to learn more about renewable energy).



Organic Food
Foods that are produced without genetic modification or synthetic chemical intervention (e.g. pesticides, fertilizers) and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

Ozone Layer
A layer of the Earth's atmosphere which contains relatively high concentrations of ozone (O3). This layer absorbs 97–99% of the sun's high frequency ultraviolet light, which is damaging to life on the planet.


A gas which is a variety of oxygen. Ozone occurs in nature; it produces the sharp smell you notice near a lightning strike. High concentrations of ozone gas are found in a layer of the atmosphere: the stratosphere - high above the Earth. Stratospheric ozone shields the Earth against harmful rays from the sun, particularly ultraviolet B. It is also the main component of smog.

Almost all oils burn in aerosol form, generating heat that can be used directly or converted into other fuels. Mineral oils, found in porous rocks underground, originate from organic material, such as dead plankton, accumulated on the seafloor in prehistoric times. Geochemical processes are used to convert this material into fuels like petroleum.


The point of discharge from a river, pipe, drain, etc. to a receiving body of water.

100% Organic

All ingredients - the final product and anything used in processing - were grown and harvested according to USDA organic standards.


A way of growing and processing food and fibers that avoids the use of artificial ingredients, preservatives, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, or irradiation. Products labeled “organic” must contain at least 95% organic ingredients, according to USDA regulations, and include the name of the certifying agency.


Ozone Depletion

A steady decline (4% per decade) in the total amount of ozone in the Earth’s stratosphere.



The single landmass that existed before the continents drifted apart.

Prescribed Fire:

Using fire as a forest management tool for a particular purpose in a defined area to accomplish a specific task such as improving forage and habitat conditions for wildlife, or to reduce hazardous buildup of fire fuels.

Polluted runoff

Rainwater or snow melt that picks up pollutants and debris as it runs off roads, highways, parking lots, lawns, , and other land-use activities that can generate pollutants.

Porous pavement and pavers

Porous pavement often appears the same as traditional asphalt or concrete but is manufactured without "fine" materials, and instead incorporates void spaces that allow for infiltration. Runoff is thereby infiltrated directly into the soil and receives some water quality treatment.

Post Consumer Material

Any household or commercial product which has served its original, intended use.


Food grown without the use of synthetic pesticides. This doesn’t mean that the food is completely free of pesticides: organic pesticides could have been used, or synthetic pesticide residue from neighboring farms could have blown onto crops.

PLU Code

Price look-up code. It contains four to five digits and is used to help cashiers in the grocery store price items that are sold loose or bunched, like bananas. It can also help you identify organic products. If a product’s PLU code begins with an eight, it is genetically modified; if it begins with a nine, it is organic.

Particulates/Particulate Matter:

Particulate matter includes dust, soot, and other tiny bits of solid materials that are released into and move around in the air. Particulates are produced by many sources, including burning of diesel fuels by trucks and buses, incineration of garbage, mixing and application of fertilizers and pesticides, road construction, industrial processes such as steel making, mining operations, agricultural burning (field and slash burning), and operation of fireplaces and wood stoves. Particulate pollution can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation and other health problems.

Pollutants (pollution):

Unwanted chemicals or other materials found in the air, water, and/or ground. Pollutants can harm health, the environment and property. Many air pollutants occur as gases or vapors, but some are very tiny solid particles: dust, smoke, or soot.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a class of organic compounds used in a variety of applications, including dielectric fluids for capacitors and transformers, heat transfer fluids and as additives in adhesives and plastics. PCBs have been shown to cause cancer in animals and a number of serious health effects, including affecting the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. Due to the high lipid solubility and slow metabolism rate of these chemicals, PCBs accumulate in the fat-rich tissues of almost all organisms (bioaccumulation) and are persistent in the environment. the use of PCBs is prohibited in OECD countries. However, due to its wide use in the past, it can still be found in electrical waste.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the most widely-used plastic, contained in electronics and appliances, household items, pipes, upholstery etc. PVC is hazardous because contains up to 56 % chlorine which when burned produces large quantities of hydrogen chloride gas that forms hydrochloric acid which is dangerous because when inhaled, it leads to respiratory problems.

A-D  |  E-H  |  I-L  |  M-P  |  Q-T  |  U-Z

Web presence created with sweetness from jf