Technical Glossary - P

Packed Bed Scrubber: An air pollution control device in which emissions pass through alkaline water to neutralize hydrogen chloride gas.

Packed Tower: A pollution control device that forces dirty air through a tower packed with crushed rock or wood chips while liquid is sprayed over the packing material. The pollutants in the air stream either dissolve or chemically react with the liquid.

Packer: An inflatable gland, or balloon, used to create a temporary seal in a borehole, probe hole, well, or drive casing. It is made of rubber or non-reactive materials.

Palatable Water: Water, at a desirable temperature, that is free from objectionable tastes, odors, colors, and turbidity.

Pandemic: A widespread epidemic throughout an area, nation or the world.

Paper: In the recycling business, refers to products and materials, including newspapers, magazines, office papers, corrugated containers, bags and some paperboard packaging that can be recycled into new paper products.

Paper Processor/Plastics Processor: The intermediate facility where recovered paper or plastic products and materials are sorted, decontaminated, and prepared for final recycling.

Parallel grid mode: This is where the Cogeneration unit runs in parallel with the grid

Parallel Path Flow: As defined by NERC, this refers to the flow of electric power on an electric system's transmission facilities resulting from scheduled electric power transfers between two other electric systems. (Electric power flows on all interconnected parallel paths in amounts inversely proportional to each path's resistance.)

Parameter: A variable, measurable property whose value is a determinant of the characteristics of a system; e.g. temperature, pressure, and density are parameters of the atmosphere.

Paraquat: A standard herbicide used to kill various types of crops, including marijuana. Causes lung damage if smoke from the crop is inhaled.

Parshall Flume: Device used to measure the flow of water in an open channel.

Partial Load: An electrical demand that uses only part of the electrical power available.

Particle Count: Results of a microscopic examination of treated water with a special "particle counter" that classifies suspended particles by number and size.

Particulate: Fine solid particles of dust, spore, pollen, dander, skin flakes, mite allergens, cell debris, mold, mildew, mineral fibers or solids escaping from combustion processes that are small enough to become suspended in the air, and in some cases, small enough to be inhaled.

Particulate Loading: The mass of particulates per unit volume of air or water.

Particulate Matter (PM): Unburned fuel particles that form smoke or soot and stick to lung tissue when inhaled. A chief component of exhaust emissions from heavy-duty diesel engines.

Particulates: 1. Fine liquid or solid particles such as dust, smoke, mist, fumes, or smog, found in air or emissions. 2. Very small solids suspended in water; they can vary in size, shape, density and electrical charge and can be gathered together by coagulation and flocculation.

Partition Coefficient: Measure of the sorption phenomenon, whereby a pesticide is divided between the soil and water phase; also referred to as adsorption partition coefficient.

Parts Per Billion (ppb)/Parts Per Million (ppm): Units commonly used to express contamination ratios, as in establishing the maximum permissible amount of a contaminant in water, land, or air.

Passive Solar Energy: Use of the sun to help meet a building's energy needs by means of architectural design (such as the arrangement of windows) and materials (such as floors that store heat, or other thermal mass).

Passive Solar System:
A solar heating or cooling system that uses no external mechanical power to move the collected solar heat.

Passive Treatment Walls: Technology in which a chemical reaction takes place when contaminated ground water comes in contact with a barrier such as a limestone or a wall containing iron filings.

Pathogens: Microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, viruses, or parasites) that can cause disease in humans, animals, and plants.

Pathway: The physical course a chemical or pollutant takes from its source to the exposed organism.

Pay-As-You-Throw/Unit-Based Pricing: Systems under which residents pay for municipal waste management and disposal services by weight or volume collected, not a fixed fee.

PBR - Performance-Based Regulation: Any rate-setting mechanism which attempts to link rewards (generally profits) to desired results or targets. PBR sets rates, or components of rates, for a period of time-based on external indices rather than a utility's cost-of-service. Other definitions include light-handed regulation which is less costly and less subject to debate and litigation. A form of rate regulation which provides utilities with better incentives to reduce their costs than does cost-of-service regulation.

PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls): A group of organic compounds used in the manufacture of plastics and formerly used as a coolant in electric transformers. In the environment, PCBs are highly toxic to aquatic life. They persist in the environment for long periods of time and are biologically accumulative.

Peak Electricity Demand: The maximum electricity used to meet the cooling load of a building or buildings in a given area.

Peak Levels: Levels of airborne pollutant contaminants much higher than average or occurring for short periods of time in response to sudden releases.

Peak Load: The highest electrical demand within a particular period of time. Daily electric peaks on weekdays occur in late afternoon and early evening. Annual peaks occur on hot summer days.

Peak Load or Peak Demand: The electric load that corresponds to a maximum level of electric demand in a specified time period.

Peak Load Power Plant: A power generating station that is normally used to produce extra electricity during peak load times.

Peaker: A nickname for a power generating station that is normally used to produce extra electricity during peak load times.

Peaking Unit: A power generator used by a utility to produce extra electricity during peak load times.

Peat: A heterogeneous mixture of partly decomposed organic matter that has accumulated in a water saturated environment over a very long period of time. Peat geologically is considered a very young form of coal and has a heating value of 6,600 Btu/pound in situ. California has minor peat resources.

Percent Saturation: The amount of a substance that is dissolved in a solution compared to the amount that could be dissolved in it.

Perched Water: Zone of unpressurized water held above the water table by impermeable rock or sediment.

Percolating Water: Water that passes through rocks or soil under the force of gravity.

Percolation: 1. The movement of water downward and radially through subsurface soil layers, usually continuing downward to ground water. Can also involve the upward movement of water. 2. Slow seepage of water through a filter.

Performance Bond:
Cash or securities deposited before a landfill operating permit is issued, which are held to ensure that all requirements for operating ad subsequently closing the landfill are faithful performed. The money is returned to the owner after the proper closure of the landfill is completed. If contamination or other problems appear at any time during operation, or upon closure, and are not addressed, the owner must forfeit all or part of the bond which is then used to cover clean-up costs.

Performance Standards:
1. Regulatory requirements limiting the concentrations of designated organic compounds, particulate matter, and hydrogen chloride in emissions from incinerators. 2. Operating standards established by EPA for various permitted pollution control systems, asbestos inspections, and various program operations and maintenance requirements.

Periphyton: Microscopic underwater plants and animals that are firmly attached to solid surfaces such as rocks, logs, and pilings.

Perm: The measurement of water vapor through different materials measured in perm-inch (mass of water vapor moving through a unit area in unit time).

Permeability: The rate at which liquids pass through soil or other materials in a specified direction.

Permit: An authorization, license, or equivalent control document issued by EPA or an approved state agency to implement the requirements of an environmental regulation; e.g. a permit to operate a wastewater treatment plant or to operate a facility that may generate harmful emissions.

Persistence: Refers to the length of time a compound stays in the environment, once introduced. A compound may persist for less than a second or indefinitely.

Persistent Pesticides: Pesticides that do not break down chemically or break down very slowly and remain in the environment after a growing season.

Pest: An insect, rodent, nematode, fungus, weed or another form of terrestrial or aquatic plant or animal life that is injurious to health or the environment.

Pest Control Operator: Person or company that applies pesticides as a business (e.g. exterminator); usually describes household services, not agricultural applications.

Pesticide: Substances or mixture there of intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Also, any substance or mixture intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.

Pesticide Tolerance:
The amount of pesticide residue allowed by law to remain in or on a harvested crop. EPA sets these levels well below the point where the compounds might be harmful to consumers.

Chemicals made from oil.

Petrodollars: Money paid to other countries for oil imported to the United States.

Petroleum: Oil as finding it its natural state under the ground.

Petroleum: Crude oil or any fraction thereof that is liquid under normal conditions of temperature and pressure. The term includes petroleum-based substances comprising a complex blend of hydrocarbons derived from crude oil through the process of separation, conversion, upgrading, and finishing, such as motor fuel, jet oil, lubricants, petroleum solvents, and used oil.

Petroleum Derivatives:
Chemicals formed when gasoline breaks down in contact with ground water.

pH: An expression of the intensity of the basic or acid condition of a liquid; may range from 0 to 14, where 0 is the most acid and 7 is neutral. Natural waters usually have a pH between 6.5 and 8.5.

Pharmacokinetics: The study of the way that drugs move through the body after they are swallowed or injected.

Phenolphthalein Alkalinity: The alkalinity in a water sample measured by the amount of standard acid needed to lower the pH to a level of 8.3 as indicated by the change of color of the phenolphthalein from pink to clear.

Organic compounds that are by-products of petroleum refining, tanning, and textile, dye, and resin manufacturing. Low concentrations cause taste and odor problems in water; higher concentrations can kill aquatic life and humans.

Phosphates: Certain chemical compounds containing phosphorus.

Phosphogypsum Piles (Stacks): Principal by-product generated in the production of phosphoric acid from phosphate rock. These piles may generate radioactive radon gas.

An essential chemical food element that can contribute to the eutrophication of lakes and other water bodies. Increased phosphorus levels result from discharge of phosphorus-containing materials into surface waters.

Phosphorus Plants: Facilities using electric furnaces to produce elemental phosphorous for commercial use, such as high-grade phosphoric acid, phosphate-based detergent, and organic chemicals use.

Photocell: A device that produces an electric reaction to visible radiant energy (light).

Photochemical Oxidants:
Air pollutants formed by the action of sunlight on oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons.

Photochemical Smog:
Air pollution caused by chemical reactions of various pollutants emitted from different sources.

The manufacture by plants of carbohydrates and oxygen from carbon dioxide mediated by chlorophyll in the presence of sunlight.

A process by which green plants change carbon dioxide into oxygen and organic materials. The energy for this process comes from sunlight.

Photovoltaic Cell:
A semiconductor that converts light directly into electricity.

Physical and Chemical Treatment: Processes generally used in large-scale wastewater treatment facilities. Physical processes may include air-stripping or filtration. Chemical treatment includes coagulation, chlorination, or ozonation. The term can also refer to treatment of toxic materials in surface and ground waters, oil spills, and some methods of dealing with hazardous materials on or in the ground.

Phytoplankton: That portion of the plankton community comprised of tiny plants; e.g. algae, diatoms.

Phytoremediation: Low-cost remediation option for sites with widely dispersed contamination at low concentrations.

Harmful to plants.

Phytotreatment: The cultivation of specialized plants that absorb specific contaminants from the soil through their roots or foliage. This reduces the concentration of contaminants in the soil but incorporates them into biomass that may be released back into the environment when the plant dies or is harvested.

Piezometer: A non-pumping well, generally of small diameter, for measuring the elevation of a water table.

Pilot Tests:
Testing a cleanup technology under actual site conditions to identify potential problems prior to full-scale implementation.

Pipeline: A line of pipe with pumping machinery and apparatus (including valves, compressor units, metering stations, regulator stations, etc.) for conveying a liquid or gas.

Plankton: Tiny plants and animals that live in water.

Plasma Arc Reactors: devices that use an electric arc to thermally decompose organic and inorganic materials at ultra-high temperatures into gasses and a vitrified slag residue. A plasma arc reactor can operate as any of the following:

• integral component of chemical, fuel, or electricity production systems, processing high or medium value organic compounds into a synthetic gas used as a fuel

• materials recovery device, processing scrap to recover metal from the slag

• destruction or incineration system, processing waste materials into slag and gasses ignited inside of a secondary combustion chamber that follows the reactor

Plasmid: A circular piece of DNA that exists apart from the chromosome and replicates independently of it. Bacterial plasmids carry information that renders the bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Plasmids are often used in genetic engineering to carry desired genes into organisms.

Any various organic compounds produced by polymerization, capable of being molded, extruded, cast into various shapes and films or drawn into filaments used as textile fibers.

Plastics: Non-metallic chemoreactive compounds molded into rigid or pliable construction materials, fabrics, etc.

Plate Tower Scrubber:
An air pollution control device that neutralizes hydrogen chloride gas by bubbling alkaline water through holes in a series of metal plates.

Plug Flow: Type of flow that occurs in tanks, basins, or reactors when a slug of water moves through without ever dispersing or mixing with the rest of the water flowing through.

Act or process of stopping the flow of water, oil, or gas into or out of a formation through a borehole or well penetrating that formation.

Plume: 1. A visible or measurable discharge of a contaminant from a given point of origin. It can be visible or thermal in water, or visible in the air as, for example, a plume of smoke. 2 The area of radiation leaking from a damaged reactor. 3. Area downwind within which a release could be dangerous for those exposed to leaking fumes.

Plutonium: A radioactive metallic element chemically similar to uranium.

Point Source: A stationary location or fixed facility from which pollutants are discharged; any single identifiable source of pollution; e.g. a pipe, ditch, ship, ore pit, factory smokestack.

Point Source Pollution: Pollution that originates from specific, known sources such as municipal and industrial facilities, by passes and overflows from municipal sewage systems, non-permitted and illegal dischargers and water that is generated through oil and gas operations.

Point-of-Contact Measurement of Exposure: Estimating exposure by measuring concentrations over time (while the exposure is taking place) at or near the place where it is occurring.

Point-of-Disinfectant Application: The point where disinfectant is applied and water downstream of that point is not subject to recontamination by surface water runoff.

Point-of-Use Treatment Device: Treatment device applied to a single tap to reduce contaminants in the drinking water at the one faucet.

Pollen: The fertilizing element of flowering plants; background air pollutant.

Pollutant: Generally, any substance introduced into the environment that adversely affects the usefulness of a resource or the health of humans, animals, or ecosystems.

Pollutant Pathways: Avenues for distribution of pollutants. In most buildings, for example, HVAC systems are the primary pathways although all building components can interact to affect how air movement distributes pollutants.

Pollution: Generally, the presence of a substance in the environment that because of its chemical composition or quantity prevents the functioning of natural processes and produces undesirable environmental and health effects. Under the Clean Water Act, for example, the term has been defined as the man-made or man-induced alteration of the physical, biological, chemical, and radiological integrity of water and other media.

Pollution Prevention: 1. Identifying areas, processes, and activities which create excessive waste products or pollutants in order to reduce or prevent them through, alteration, or eliminating a process. Such activities, consistent with the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, are conducted across all EPA programs and can involve cooperative efforts with such agencies as the Departments of Agriculture and Energy. 2. EPA has initiated a number of voluntary programs in which industrial, or commercial or "partners" join with EPA in promoting activities that conserve energy, conserve and protect the water supply, reduce emissions or find ways of utilizing them as energy resources, and reduce the waste stream. Among these are Agstar, to reduce methane emissions through manure management; Climate Wise, to lower industrial greenhouse-gas emissions and energy costs. Coal bed Methane Outreach, to boost methane recovery at coal mines. Design for the Environment, to foster including environmental considerations in product design and processes. Energy Star programs, to promote energy efficiency in commercial and residential buildings, office equipment, transformers, computers, office equipment, and home appliances. Environmental Accounting, to help businesses identify environmental costs and factor them into management decision making. Green Chemistry, to promote and recognize cost-effective breakthroughs in chemistry that prevent pollution. Green Lights, to spread the use of energy-efficient lighting technologies. Indoor Environments, to reduce risks from indoor-air pollution. Landfill Methane Outreach, to develop landfill gas-to-energy projects. Natural Gas Star, to reduce methane emissions from the natural gas industry. Ruminant Livestock Methane, to reduce methane emissions from ruminant livestock. Transportation Partners, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector. Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership, to reduce perfluorocarbon emissions from the primary aluminum industry. WAVE, to promote efficient water use in the lodging industry. Waste-wise, to reduce business-generated solid waste through prevention, reuse, and recycling.

Polonium: A radioactive element that occurs in pitchblende and other uranium-containing ores.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls:
A group of toxic, persistent chemicals used in electrical transformers and capacitors for insulating purposes, and in gas pipeline systems as a lubricant. The sale and new use of these chemicals, also known as PCBs, were banned by law in 1979.

Polyelectrolytes: Synthetic chemicals that help solids to clump during sewage treatment.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE):
Thermoplastic material used in plastic soft drink and rigid containers. A thermoplastic material that is clear, tough and has good gas and moisture barrier properties.

Polylactic Acid (PLA): A biodegradable thermoplastic derived from the lactic acid in corn; resembles clear polystyrene. PLA can be used in a number of industrial products including textiles.

Polymer: A natural or synthetic chemical structure where two or more like molecules are joined to form a more complex molecular structure (e.g. polyethylene in plastic).

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): A tough, environmentally indestructible plastic that releases hydrochloric acid when burned. Synthetic thermoplastic polymer made from vinyl chloride.

Poolco: Poolco refers to a specialized, centrally dispatched spot market power pool that functions as a short-term market. It establishes the short-term market clearing price and provides a system of long-term transmission compensation contracts. It is regulated to provide open access, comparable service, and cost recovery. A poolco would make ancillary generation services, including load following, spinning reserve, backup power, and reactive power, available to all market participants on comparable terms. In addition, the Poolco provides settlement mechanisms when differences in contracted volumes exist between buyers and sellers of energy and capacity.

A group of interbreeding organisms occupying a particular space; the number of humans or other living creatures in a designated area.

Population at Risk: A population subgroup that is more likely to be exposed to a chemical, or is more sensitive to the chemical, than is the general population.

Porosity: Degree to which soil, gravel, sediment, or rock is permeated with pores or cavities through which water or air can move.

Portal-of-Entry Effect:
A local effect produced in the tissue or organ of the first contact between a toxicant and the biological system.

Portfolio Management:
The functions of resource planning and procurement under a traditional utility structure. Portfolio management can also be defined as the aggregation and management of a diverse portfolio of supply (and demand-reduction) resources which will act as a hedge against various risks that may affect specific resources (i.e., fuel price fluctuations and certainty of supply, common mode failures, operational reliability, changes in environmental regulations, and the risk of health, safety, and environmental damages that may occur as a result of operating some supply resources). Under a more market-driven power sector with a "power-pool" or POOLCO wholesale market structure, a portfolio manager would: aggregate and manage a diverse portfolio of spot-market purchases, contracts-for-differences, futures contracts and other market-hedging-type contracts and mechanisms.

Post-Chlorination: Addition of chlorine to plant effluent for disinfectant purposes after the effluent has been treated.

Post-Closure: The time period following the shutdown of a waste management or manufacturing facility; for monitoring purposes, often considered to be 30 years.

Post-Closure: The period of time after a landfill is certified as closed by a state regulatory agency until WMI has no further monitoring responsibility. Environmental and other regulations require the owner of the closed landfill to continue monitoring activities and general maintenance of the site for a specific period of time (generally 30 years).

Post-Consumer Materials/Waste: Materials or finished products that have served their intended use and have been diverted or recovered from waste destined for disposal, having completed their lives as consumer items. Postconsumer materials are part of the broader category of recovered materials.

Post-Consumer Recycled Content:
Material that has been recovered after its intended use as a consumer product. Examples include reclaimed carpet tiles (for new tile backing).

Post-Consumer Recycling:
Use of materials generated from residential and consumer waste for new or similar purposes; e.g. converting wastepaper from offices into corrugated boxes or newsprint.

Potable Water:
Water that is safe for drinking and cooking.

The ability of one chemical to increase the effect of another chemical.

Potentiometric Surface: The surface to which water in an aquifer can rise by hydrostatic pressure.

Power: Electricity for use as energy.

Power Authorities:
Quasi-governmental agencies that perform all or some of the functions of a public utility.

Power Plant:
A central station generating facility that produces energy.

Power Pool:
An entity established to coordinate short-term operations to maintain system stability and achieve least-cost dispatch. The dispatch provides backup supplies, short-term excess sales, reactive power support, and spinning reserve. Historically, some of these services were provided on an unpriced basis as part of the members' utility franchise obligations. Coordinating short-term operations includes the aggregation and firming of power from various generators, arranging exchanges between generators, and establishing (or enforcing) the rules of conduct for wholesale transactions. The pool may own, manage and/or operate the transmission lines ("wires") or be an independent entity that manages the transactions between entities. Often, the power pool is not meant to provide transmission access and pricing, or settlement mechanisms if differences between contracted volumes among buyers and sellers exist.

Power Pool: Two or more interconnected utilities that plan and operate to supply electricity in the most reliable, economical way to meet their combined load.

Power Purchase Agreement (PPA):
A contract entered into by an independent power producer and an electric utility. The power purchase agreement specifies the terms and conditions under which electric power will be generated and purchased. Power purchase agreements require the independent power producer to supply power at a specified price for the life of the agreement.

PPM (Parts Per Million): The unit commonly used to represent the degree of pollutant concentration where the concentrations are small.

Pre-Consumer Materials/Materials Waste: Generated in manufacturing and converting processes such as manufacturing scrap and trimmings and cuttings. Includes print overruns, overissue publications, and obsolete inventories.

Pre-Consumer Recycled Content: Material that has been recovered from the manufacturing waste stream before it has served its intended purpose.

Preferred Day-Ahead Schedule: A Scheduling Coordinator's preferred schedule for the ISO day-ahead scheduling process.

Preferred Hour-Ahead Schedule: A Scheduling Coordinator's preferred schedule for the ISO hour-ahead scheduling process.

Preferred Schedule: The initial schedule produced by a Scheduling Coordinator that represents its preferred mix of generation to meet demand. The schedule includes the quantity of output (generators) and consumption (loads), details of any adjustment bids, and the location of each generator and load. The schedule also specifies the quantities and location of trades between the Scheduling Coordinator and all other Scheduling Coordinators and is balanced with respect to generation, transmission losses, load, and trades.

Pre-Harvest Interval: The time between the last pesticide application and harvest of the treated crops.

Prechlorination: The addition of chlorine at the headworks of a treatment plant prior to other treatment processes. Done mainly for disinfection and control of tastes, odors, and aquatic growths, and to aid in coagulation and settling,

Precipitate: A substance separated from a solution or suspension by the chemical or physical change.

Precipitation: Removal of hazardous solids from liquid waste to permit safe disposal; removal of particles from airborne emissions as in rain (e.g. acid precipitation).

Precipitator: Pollution control device that collects particles from an air stream.

Precursor: In photochemistry, a compound antecedent to a pollutant. For example, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitric oxides of nitrogen react in sunlight to form ozone or other photochemical oxidants. As such, VOCs and oxides of nitrogen are precursors.

Preliminary Assessment: The process of collecting and reviewing available information about a known or suspected waste site or release.

Prescriptive: Water rights which are acquired by diverting water and putting it to use in accordance with specified procedures; e.g. filing a request with a state agency to use unused water in a stream, river, or lake.

Pressed Wood Products:
Materials used in building and furniture construction that are made from wood veneers, particles, or fibers bonded together with an adhesive under heat and pressure.

Pressure Sewers:
A system of pipes in which water, wastewater, or other liquid is pumped to a higher elevation.

Pressure, Static:
In flowing air, the total pressure minus velocity pressure, pushing equally in all directions.

Pressure, Total: In flowing air, the sum of the static and velocity pressures.

Pressure, Velocity:
In flowing air, the pressure due to velocity and density of air.

Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR): A nuclear power unit cooled by water that is pressurized to keep it from boiling when it reaches high temperatures.

Pretreatment: Processes used to reduce, eliminate, or alter the nature of wastewater pollutants from non-domestic sources before they are discharged into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs).

Prevalent Level Samples: Air samples taken under normal conditions (also known as ambient background samples).

Prevalent Levels: Levels of airborne contaminant occurring under normal conditions.

Primary Effect: An effect where the stressor acts directly on the ecological component of interest, not on other parts of the ecosystem.

Primary Fuel: Fuel consumed in the original production of energy, before the conversion takes place.

Primary Material:
A commercial material produced from virgin materials used for manufacturing basic products. Examples include wood pulp, iron ore, and silica sand.

Primary Treatment:
First stage of wastewater treatment in which solids are removed by screening and settling.

Primary Waste Treatment: First steps in wastewater treatment; screens and sedimentation tanks are used to remove most materials that float or will settle. Primary treatment removes about 30 percent of carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand from domestic sewage.

Principal Organic Hazardous Constituents (POHCs):
Hazardous compounds monitored during an incinerator's trial burn, selected for high concentration in the waste feed and difficulty of combustion.

Prions: Microscopic particles made of protein that can cause disease.

Prior Appropriation:
A doctrine of water law that allocates the rights to use water on a first-come, first-served basis.

Probability of Detection: The likelihood, expressed as a percentage, that a test method will correctly identify a leaking tank.

Process Variable: A physical or chemical quantity which is usually measured and controlled in the operation of a water treatment plant or industrial plant.

Process Verification:
Verifying that process raw materials, water usage, waste treatment processes, production rate and other facts relative to quantity and quality of pollutants contained in discharges are substantially described in the permit application and the issued permit.

Process Wastewater:
Any water that comes into contact with any raw material, product, by-product, or waste.

Process Weight: Total weight of all materials, including fuel, used in a manufacturing process; used to calculate the allowable particulate emission rate.

Processing: Preparing MSW materials for subsequent use or management, using processes such as baling, magnetic separation, crushing, and shredding. The term is also sometimes used to mean separation of recyclables from mixed MSW.

Producer Responsibility: A system in which a producer of products or services takes responsibility for the waste that results from the products or services marketed, by reducing materials used in production, making repairable or recyclable goods, and/ or reducing packaging.

Plants that perform photosynthesis and provide food to consumers.

Product Level:
The level of a product in a storage tank.

Product Stewardship: The responsible and ethical management of the health, safety and environmental aspects of a product throughout its life cycle.

Product Water: Water that has passed through a water treatment plant and is ready to be delivered to consumers.

Products of Incomplete Combustion (PICs):
Organic compounds formed by combustion. Usually generated in small amounts and sometimes toxic, PICs are heat-altered versions of the original material fed into the incinerator (e.g. charcoal is a P.I.C. from burning wood).

Programmable Controller: A device that controls the operation of electrical equipment (such as air conditioning units and lights) according to a preset time schedule.

Propane: A gas that is both presents in natural gas and refined from crude oil. It is used for heating, lighting and industrial applications.

Propellant: Liquid in a self-pressurized pesticide product that expels the active ingredient from its container.

Proportionate Mortality Ratio (PMR):
The number of deaths from a specific cause in a specific period of time per 100 deaths from all causes in the same time period.

Proteins: Complex nitrogenous organic compounds of high molecular weight made of amino acids; essential for growth and repair of animal tissue. Many, but not all, proteins are enzymes.

Protocol: A series of formal steps for conducting a test.

Protoplast: A membrane-bound cell from which the outer wall has been partially or completely removed. The term often is applied to plant cells.

Protozoa: One-celled animals that are larger and more complex than bacteria. It may cause disease.

Provider Of Last Resort: A legal obligation(traditionally given to utilities) to provide service to a customer where competitors have decided they do not want that customer's business.

Public Adviser:
An appointee of the governor who attends all meetings of the Energy Commission and provides assistance to members of the public and interveners in cases before the Commission.

Public Interest Goals: Public interest goals of electric utility regulation include: 1) inter-and intra-class and intergenerational equity); 2) the equal treatment of equals (horizontal equity); 3) balancing long- and short-term goals that have the potential to affect intergenerational balance; 4) protecting against the abuse of monopoly power; and 5) general protection of the health and welfare of the citizens of the state, nation, and the world. Environmental and other types of social costs are subsumed under the equity and health and welfare responsibilities.

PUHCA: The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. This act prohibits acquisition of any wholesale or retail electric business through a holding company unless that business forms part of an integrated public utility system when combined with the utility's other electric business. The legislation also restricts ownership of an electric business by non-utility corporations.

Pumped Hydroelectric Storage:
 The commercial method used for large-scale storage of power. During off-peak times, excess power is used to pump water to a reservoir. During peak times, the reservoir releases water to operate hydroelectric generators.

Pumping Station:
 The mechanical device installed in sewer or water system or other liquid-carrying pipelines to move the liquids to a higher level.

Pumping Test:
A test conducted to determine aquifer or well characteristics.

Purging: Removing stagnant air or water from sampling zone or equipment prior to sample collection.

PURPA: The Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978. Among other things, this federal legislation requires utilities to buy electric power from private "qualifying facilities," at an avoided cost rate. This avoided cost rate is equivalent to what it would have otherwise cost the utility to generate or purchase that power themselves. Utilities must further provide customers who choose to self-generate a reasonably priced back-up supply of electricity.

PURPA: The Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) is implemented by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Under PURPA each electric utility is required to offer to purchase available electric energy from cogeneration and small power production facilities.

Biological decomposition of organic matter; associated with anaerobic conditions.

Subject to decomposition or decay. Usually used in reference to food wastes and other organic wastes that decay quickly.

Putrescible: Able to rot quickly enough to cause odors and attract flies.

Decomposition of a chemical by extreme heat.

Pyrolysis: Chemical decomposition of a substance by heat in the absence of oxygen, resulting in various hydrocarbon gasses and carbon-like residue.

PX Load:
Load that has been scheduled by the PX, and which is received through the use of transmission or distribution facilities owned by participating transmission owners.

PX Participant: An entity that is authorized to buy or sell energy or ancillary services through the PX, and any agent authorized to act on behalf of such an entity.