Technical Glossary - F

Fabric Filter: A cloth device that catches dust particles from industrial emissions.

Facility Management: The provision of this service involves the management of all general and technical services for an industrial or service site.

Facultative Bacteria: Bacteria that can live under aerobic or anaerobic conditions.

Fahrenheit: A temperature scale in which the boiling point of water is 212 degrees and its freezing point is 32 degrees. To convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 32, multiply by 5, and divide the product by 9. For example: 100 degrees Fahrenheit - 32 = 68; 68 x 5 = 340; 340 / 9 = 37.77 degrees Celsius.

Fan Coil: A component of a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system containing a fan and heating or cooling coil, used to distribute heated or cooled air.

Feasibility Study: 1. Analysis of the practicability of a proposal; e.g., a description and analysis of potential cleanup alternatives for a site such as one on the National Priorities List. The feasibility study usually recommends selection of a cost-effective alternative. It usually starts as soon as the remedial investigation is underway; together, they are commonly referred to as the "RI/FS". 2. A small-scale investigation of a problem to ascertain whether a proposed research approach is likely to provide useful data.

Fecal Coliform Bacteria: Bacteria found in the intestinal tracts of mammals. Their presence in water or sludge is an indicator of pollution and possible contamination by pathogens.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): The federal agency in charge of disaster recovery in locations that have been declared disaster areas by a state's Governor and the President of the United States.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC): An independent regulatory commission within the U.S. Department of Energy that has jurisdiction over energy producers that sell or transport fuels for resale in interstate commerce; the authority to set oil and gas pipeline transportation rates and to set the value of oil and gas pipelines for rate making purposes; and regulates wholesale electric rates and hydroelectric plant licenses.

Federal Implementation Plan: Under current law, a federally implemented plan to achieve attainment of air quality standards, used when a state is unable to develop an adequate plan.

Federal Motor Vehicle Control Program: All federal actions aimed at controlling pollution from motor vehicles by such efforts as establishing and enforcing tailpipe and evaporative emission standards for new vehicles, testing methods development, and guidance to states operating inspection and maintenance programs. The federally designated area that is required to meet and maintain federal ambient air quality standards. May include nearby locations in the same state or nearby states that share common air pollution problems.

Feedlot: A confined area for the controlled feeding of animals. Tends to concentrate large amounts of animal waste that cannot be absorbed by the soil and, hence, may be carried to nearby streams or lakes by rainfall runoff.

Fen: A type of wetland that accumulates peat deposits. Fens are less acidic than bogs, deriving most of their water from groundwater rich in calcium and magnesium.

Ferrous Metals: Magnetic metals derived from iron or steel; products made from ferrous metals include appliances, furniture, containers, and packagings like steel drums and barrels. Recycled products include processing tin/steel cans, strapping, and metals from appliances into new products.

Fill: Man-made deposits of natural soils or rock products and waste materials.

Filling: Depositing dirt, mud or other materials into aquatic areas to create more dry land, usually for agricultural or commercial development purposes, often with ruinous ecological consequences.

Filter Strip: Strip or area of vegetation used for removing sediment, organic matter, and other pollutants from runoff and wastewater.

Filtration: A treatment process, under the control of qualified operators, for removing solid (particulate) matter from water by means of porous media such as sand or a man-made filter; often used to remove particles that contain pathogens.

Financial Assurance for Closure: Documentation or proof that an owner or operator of a facility such as a landfill or other waste repository is capable of paying the projected costs of closing the facility and monitoring it afterward as provided in RCRA regulations.

Finished Water: Water is "finished" when it has passed through all the processes in a water treatment plant and is ready to be delivered to consumers.

Firm Energy: Power supplies that are guaranteed to be delivered under terms defined by contract.

First Draw: The water that comes out when a tap is first opened, likely to have the highest level of lead contamination from plumbing materials.

Fission: A release of energy caused by the splitting of an atom's nucleus. This is the energy process used in conventional nuclear power plants to make the heat needed to run steam electric turbines.

Fissionable Material: A substance whose atoms can be split by slow neutrons. Uranium-235, plutonium-239 and uranium-233 are fissionable materials.

Fix a Sample: A sample is "fixed" in the field by adding chemicals that prevent water quality indicators of interest in the sample from changing before laboratory measurements are made.

Fixed-Location Monitoring: Sampling of an environmental or ambient medium for pollutant concentration at one location continuously or repeatedly.

Flammable: Any material that ignites easily and will burn rapidly.

Flare: A control device that burns hazardous materials to prevent their release into the environment; may operate continuously or intermittently, usually on top of a stack.

Flare Gas: Unwanted natural gas that is disposed of by burning as it is released from an oil field.

Flare Tower: A structure resembling a high chimney used for burning off petroleum by-products.

Flaring: The burning of methane emitted from collection pipes at a landfill.

Flash Point: The lowest temperature at which evaporation of a substance produces sufficient vapor to form an ignitable mixture with air.

Flat Plate: A device used to collect solar energy. It is a piece of metal painted black on the side facing the sun, to absorb the sun's heat.

Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV): A vehicle that can operate on either alcohol fuels (methanol or ethanol) or regular unleaded gasoline or any combination of the two from the same tank.

Floc: A clump of solids formed in sewage by biological or chemical action.

Flocculation: Process by which clumps of solids in water or sewage aggregate through biological or chemical action so they can be separated from water or sewage.

Floodplain: The flat or nearly flat land along a river or stream or in a tidal area that is covered by water during a flood.

Floor Sweep: Capture of heavier-than-air gasses that collect at floor level.

Flow Rate: The rate, expressed in gallons -or liters-per-hour, at which a fluid escapes from a hole or fissure in a tank. Such measurements are also made of liquid waste, effluent, and surface water movement.

Flowable: Pesticide and other formulations in which the active ingredients are finely ground insoluble solids suspended in a liquid. They are mixed with water for application.

Flowmeter: A gauge indicating the velocity of wastewater moving through a treatment plant or of any liquid moving through various industrial processes.

Flue Gas: The air coming out of a chimney after combustion in the burner it is venting. It can include nitrogen oxides, carbon oxides, water vapor, sulfur oxides, particles and many chemical pollutants.

Flue Gas Desulfurization: A technology that employs a sorbent, usually lime or limestone, to remove sulfur dioxide from the gasses produced by burning fossil fuels. Flue gas desulfurization is current state-of-the-art technology for major SO2 emitters, like power plants.

Flue Gas Treatment Residues: Incineration of municipal waste produces flue gasses that are chemically treated to reduce pollution. They become solid residues able to be collected. The treatment combines neutralization and filtration and can purify over 98% of municipal waste incineration flue gasses. Targeted pollutants include acid gasses and particulate matter, heavy metals, nitrogen oxides, and dioxins, which are treated using supplementary processes. Flue gas treatment residues that consist primarily of fly ash are stabilized before being disposed of in hazardous waste landfills.

Fluidized: A mass of solid particles that is made to flow like a liquid by injection of water or gas is said to have been fluidized. In water treatment, a bed of filter media is fluidized by backwashing water through the filter.

Fluidized Bed Combustion: A process for burning powdered coal that is poured in a liquid-like stream with air or gasses. The process reduces sulfur dioxide emissions from coal combustion.

Fluidized Bed Incinerator: An incinerator that uses a bed of hot sand or other granular material to transfer heat directly to waste. Used mainly for destroying municipal sludge.

Fluidized-Bed Incinerator: A type of incinerator in which the stoker grate is replaced by a bed of limestone or sand that can withstand high temperatures. The heating of the bed and the high air velocities used to cause the bed to bubble, which gives rise to the term fluidized.

Flume: A natural or man-made channel that diverts water.

Fluorescent Lamp: A tubular electric lamp that is coated on its inner surface with a phosphor and that contains mercury vapor whose bombardment by electrons from the cathode provides ultraviolet light which causes the phosphor to emit visible light either of a selected color or closely approximating daylight.

Fluoridation: The addition of a chemical to increase the concentration of fluoride ions in drinking water to reduce the incidence of tooth decay.

Fluorides: Gaseous, solid, or dissolved compounds containing fluorine that result from industrial processes. Excessive amounts of food can lead to fluorosis.

Fluorocarbons (FCs): Any of a number of organic compounds analogous to hydrocarbons in which one or more hydrogen atoms are replaced by fluorine. Once used in the United States as a propellant for domestic aerosols, they are now found mainly in coolants and some industrial processes. FCs containing chlorine are called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). They are believed to be modifying the ozone layer in the stratosphere, thereby allowing more harmful solar radiation to reach the Earth's surface.

Fluorocarbon: Non-flammable, heat-stable hydrocarbon liquid or gas, in which some or all hydrogen atoms have been replaced by fluorine atoms. As with CFC’s, fluorocarbons, traditionally used as propellants (spray cans), are classified as ozone-depleting substances.

Fluorocarbon Gases: Propellants used in aerosol products and refrigerants that are believed to be causing depletion of the earth's ozone shield.

Flush: 1. To open a cold-water tap to clear out all the water which may have been sitting for a long time in the pipes. In new homes, to flush a system means to send large volumes of water gushing through the unused pipes to remove loose particles of solder and flux. 2. To force large amounts of water through a system to clean out piping or tubing, and storage or process tanks.

Flux: 1. A flowing or flow. 2. A substance used to help metals fuse together.

Fly Ash: Non-combustible residual particles expelled by flue gas.

Fly Ash: Fine, non-combustible particulate primarily resulting from the combustion of coal in furnaces and kilns. Often used as a filler material in concrete to displace virgin raw materials.

Fogging: Applying a pesticide by rapidly heating the liquid chemical so that it forms very fine droplets that resemble smoke or fog. It is used to destroy mosquitoes, black flies, and similar pests.

Food Chain: A sequence of organisms, each of which uses the next, lower member of the sequence as a food source.

Food Processing Waste: Food residues produced during agricultural and industrial operations.

Food Waste: Uneaten food and food preparation wastes from residences and commercial establishments such as grocery stores, restaurants, and produce stands, institutional cafeterias and kitchens, and industrial sources like employee lunchrooms.

Food Web: The feeding relationships by which energy and nutrients are transferred from one species to another.

Footcandle: A unit of illuminance on a surface that is one foot from a uniform point source of light of one candle and is equal to one lumen per square foot.

Forced Air Unit (FAU): A central furnace equipped with a fan or blower that provides the primary means for circulation of air.

Formaldehyde: A colorless, pungent, and irritating gas, CH20, used chiefly as a disinfectant and preservative and in synthesizing other compounds like resins.

Formulation: The substances comprising all active and inert ingredients in a pesticide.

Fossil Fuel: Fuel derived from ancient organic remains; e.g. peat, coal, crude oil, and natural gas.

Fossil Fuels: Coal, Oil, and Gas are called "fossil fuels" because they have been formed from the fossilized remains of prehistoric plants and animals. They provide around 66% of the world's electrical power, and 95% of the world's total energy demands (including heating, transport, electricity generation and other uses).

Fractional Distillation: The process of refining crude oil into various oil products. The various products are separated out in the order of their boiling points.

Fracture: A break in a rock formation due to structural stresses; e.g. faults, shears, joints, and planes of fracture cleavage.

Free Product: A petroleum hydrocarbon in the liquid free or nonaqueous phase.

Freeboard: 1. The vertical distance from the normal water surface to the top of a confining wall. 2. The vertical distance from the sand surface to the underside of a trough in a sand filter.

Fresh Water: Water that generally contains less than 1,000 milligrams-per-litre of dissolved solids.

Frequency: The number of cycles which an alternating current moves through in each second. Standard electric utility frequency in the United States is 60 cycles per second or 60 Hertz.

Frequency: Much like radio signals, electric generators can be “tuned” to produce power that vibrates at different frequencies. In the United States, virtually all electricity is generated and transmitted at 60-hertz or 60 cycles. Motors and other electrical equipment in the U.S. are calibrated to run at 60Hz. As the frequency fluctuates, it can damage all manner of electrical equipment. Frequency can be affected by a variety of factors and must be monitored closely to make sure it doesn’t fluctuate.

Friable: Capable of being crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.

Friable Asbestos: Any material containing more than one-percent asbestos, and that can be crumbled or reduced to powder by hand pressure (May include previously non-friable material which becomes broken or damaged by mechanical force).

Fuel: A substance that can be used to produce heat.

Fuel Cell: A device or an electrochemical engine with no moving parts that converts the chemical energy of a fuel, such as a hydrogen, and an oxidant, such as oxygen, directly into electricity. The principal components of a fuel cell are catalytically activated electrodes for the fuel (anode) and the oxidant (cathode) and an electrolyte to conduct ions between the two electrodes, thus producing electricity.

Fuel Economy Standard: The Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standard (CAFE) effective in 1978. It enhanced the national fuel conservation effort imposing a miles-per-gallon floor for motor vehicles.

Fuel Efficiency: The proportion of energy released by fuel combustion that is converted into useful energy.

Fuel Gas: Synthetic gas used for heating or cooling. It has less energy content than pipeline-quality gas.

Fuel Oil: Petroleum products that are burned to produce heat or power.

Fuel Reprocessing (Nuclear): The means for obtaining usable, fissionable material from spent reactor fuel.

Fuel Rod (Nuclear): A long slender tube that holds fissionable material (fuel) for nuclear reactor use. Fuel rods are assembled into bundles called fuel elements or assemblies, which are loaded individually into the reactor core.

Fuel Switching: 1. A precombustion process whereby a low-sulfur coal is used in place of a higher sulfur coal in a power plant to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. 2. Illegally using leaded gasoline in a motor vehicle designed to use only unleaded.

Fugitive Emissions: Emissions not caught by a capture system.

Fume: Tiny particles trapped in vapor in a gas stream.

Fumigant: A pesticide vaporized to kill pests. Used in buildings and greenhouses.

Functional Equivalent: Term used to describe EPA's decision-making process and its relationship to the environmental review conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A review is considered functionally equivalent when it addresses the substantive components of a NEPA review.

Fungi: Typically filamentous, eukaryotic, nonchlorophyllic microorganisms. Fungi grow on dead or dying organic matter and may also grow on some building materials where excess moisture is present. Fungi can cause pungent odors, unsightly stains, and premature bio-deterioration of interior furnishings.

Fungicide: Pesticides which are used to control, deter, or destroy fungi.

Fungistat: A chemical that keeps fungi from growing.

Fungus (Fungi): Molds, mildews, yeasts, mushrooms, and puffballs, a group of organisms lacking in chlorophyll (i.e. are not photosynthetic) and which are usually non-mobile, filamentous, and multi-cellular. Some grow in soil; others attach themselves to decaying trees and other plants whence they obtain nutrients. Some are pathogens; others stabilize sewage and digest composted waste.

Furnace: This is the base of the incinerator, which is designed and built according to the volume and type of waste to be treated.

Furrow Irrigation: Irrigation method in which water travels through the field by means of small channels between each group of rows.

Fusion Energy: A power source, now under development, based on the release of energy that occurs when atoms are combined under the most extreme heat and pressure. It is the energy process of the sun and the stars.

Future Liability: Refers to potentially responsible parties' obligations to pay for additional response activities beyond those specified in the Record of Decision or Consent Decree.