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Terms of Environment
Sacrifical Anode: An easily corroded material deliberately installed in a pipe or intake to give it up (sacrifice it) to corrosion while the rest of the water supply facility remains relatively corrosion-free.
Safe: Condition of exposure under which there is a practical certrainty that no harm will result to exposed indiviuals.
Safe Water: Water that does not contain harmful bacteria, toxic materials, or chemicals, and is considered safe for drinking even if it may have taste, odor, color, and certain mineral problems.
Safe Yield: The annual amount of water that can be taken from a source of supply over a period of years without depleting that source beyond its ability to be replenished naturally in "wet years."
Safener: A chemical added to a pesticide to keep it from injuring plants.
Salinity: The percentage of salt in water.
Salt Water Intrusion: The invasion of fresh surface or ground water by salt water. If it comes from the ocean it may be called sea water intrusion.
Salts: Minerals that water picks up as it passes through the air, over and under the ground, or from households and industry.
Salvage: The utilization of waste materials.
Sampling Frequency: The interval between the collection of successive samples.
Sanctions: Actions taken by the federal government for failure to provide or implement a State Implementation Plan (SIP). Such action may include withholding of highway funds and a ban on construction of new sources of potential pollution.
Sand Filters: Devices that remove some suspended solids from sewage. Air and bacteria decompose addi- tional wastes filtering through the sand so that cleaner water drains from the bed.
Sanitary Landfill: (See: landfills.)
Sanitary Sewers: Underground pipes that carry off only domestic or industrial waste, not storm water.
Sanitary Survey: An on-site review of the water sources, facilities, equipment, operation and maintenance of a public water system to evaluate the adequacy of those elements for producing and distributing safe drinking water.
Sanitary Water (Also known as gray water): Water discharged from sinks, showers, kitchens, or other non-industrial operations, but not from commodes.
Sanitation: Control of physical factors in the human environment that could harm development, health, or survival.
Saprolite: A soft, clay-rich, thoroughly decomposed rock formed in place by chemical weathering of igneous or metamorphic rock. Forms in humid, tropical, or subtropical climates.
Saprophytes: Organisms living on dead or decaying organic matter that help natural decomposition of organic matter in water.
Saturated Zone: The area below the water table where all open spaces are filled with water under pressure equal to or greater than that of the atmosphere.
Saturation: The condition of a liquid when it has taken into solution the maximum possible quantity of a given substance at a given temp-erature and pressure.
Science Advisory Board (SAB): A group of external scientists who advise EPA on science and policy.
Scrap: Materials discarded from manufacturing operations that may be suitable for reprocessing.
Scrap Metal Processor: Intermediate operating facility where recovered metal is sorted, cleaned of contaminants, and prepared for recycling.
Screening Risk Assessment: A risk assessment performed with few data and many assumptions to identify exposures that should be evaluated more carefully for potential risk.
Screening: Use of screens to remove coarse floating and suspended solids from sewage.
Scrubber: An air pollution device that uses a spray of water or reactant or a dry process to trap pollutants in emissions.
Secondary Drinking Water Regulations: Non-enforceable regulations applying to public water systems and specifying the maximum contamination levels that, in the judgment of EPA, are required to protect the public welfare. These regulations apply to any contaminants that may adversely affect the odor or ap- pearance of such water and consequently may cause people served by the system to discontinue its use.
Secondary Effect: Action of a stressor on supporting components of the ecosystem, which in turn impact the ecological component of concern. (See: primary effect.)
Secondary Materials: Materials that have been manufactured and used at least once and are to be used again.
Secondary Standards: National ambient air quality standards designed to protect welfare, including effects on soils, water, crops, vegetation, man-made (anthropogenic) materials, animals, wildlife, weather, visibili- ty, and climate; damage to property; transportation hazards; economic values, and personal comfort and well-being.
Secondary Treatment: The second step in most publicly owned waste treatment systems in which bacteria consume the organic parts of the waste. It is accomplished by bringing together waste, bacteria, and oxygen in trickling filters or in the activated sludge process. This treatment removes floating and settleable solids and about 90 percent of the oxygen-demanding substances and suspended solids. Disinfection is the final stage of secondary treatment. (See: primary, tertiary treatment.)
Secure Chemical Landfill: (See: landfills.)
Secure Maximum Contaminant Level: Maximum permissible level of a contaminant in water delivered to the free flowing outlet of the ultimate user, or of contamination resulting from corrosion of piping and plumbing caused by water quality.
Sediment Yield: The quantity of sediment arriving at a specific location.
Sedimentation: Letting solids settle out of wastewater by gravity during treatment.
Sedimentation Tanks: Wastewater tanks in which floating wastes are skimmed off and settled solids are removed for disposal.
Sediments: Soil, sand, and minerals washed from land into water, usually after rain. They pile up in reser- voirs, rivers and harbors, destroying fish and wildlife habitat, and clouding the water so that sunlight can- not reach aquatic plants. Careless farming, mining, and building activities will expose sediment materials, allowing them to wash off the land after rainfall.
Seed Protectant: A chemical applied before planting to protect seeds and seedlings from disease or insects.
Seepage: Percolation of water through the soil from unlined canals, ditches, laterals, watercourses, or water storage facilities.
Selective Pesticide: A chemical designed to affect only certain types of pests, leaving other plants and ani- mals unharmed.
Semi-Confined Aquifer: An aquifer partially confined by soil layers of low permeability through which re- charge and discharge can still occur.
Semivolatile Organic Compounds: Organic compounds that volatilize slowly at standard temperature (20 degrees C and 1 atm pressure).
Senescence: The aging process. Sometimes used to describe lakes or other bodies of water in advanced stages of eutrophication. Also used to describe plants and animals.
Septic System: An on-site system designed to treat and dispose of domestic sewage. A typical septic system consists of tank that receives waste from a residence or business amd a system of tile lines or a pit for disposal of the liquid effluent (sludge) that remains after decomposition of the solidis by bacteria in the tank and must be pumped out periodically.
Septic Tank: An underground storage tank for wastes from homes not connected to a sewer line. Waste goes directly from the home to the tank. (See: septic system.)
Service Connector: The pipe that carries tap water from a public water main to a building.
Service Line Sample: A one-liter sample of water that has been stnding for at least 6 hours in a service pipeline and is collected according to federal regulations.
Service Pipe: The pipeline extending from trhe water main to the building served or to the consumer's system.
Set-Back: Setting a thermometer to a lower temperature when the building is unoccupied to reduce consumption of heating energy. Also refers to setting the thermometer to a higher temperature during unoccupied periods in the cooling season.
Settleable Solids: Material heavy enough to sink to the bottom of a wastewater treatment tank.
Settling Chamber: A series of screens placed in the way of flue gases to slow the stream of air, thus helping gravity to pull particles into a collection device.
Settling Tank: A holding area for wastewater, where heavier particles sink to the bottom for removal and disposal.
7Q10: Seven-day, consecutive low flow with a ten year return frequency; the lowest stream flow for seven consecutive days that would be expected to occur once in ten years.
Sewage Lagoon: (See: lagoon.)
Sewage Sludge: Sludge produced at a Publicly Owned Treatment Works, the disposal of which is regulated under the Clean Water Act.
Sewage: The waste and wastewater produced by residential and commercial sources and discharged into sewers.
Sewer: A channel or conduit that carries wastewater and storm-water runoff from the source to a treatment plant or receiving stream. "Sanitary" sewers carry household, industrial, and commercial waste. "Storm" sewers carry runoff from rain or snow. "Combined" sewers handle both.
Sewerage: The entire system of sewage collection, treatment, and disposal.
Shading Coefficient: The amount of the sun's heat transmitted through a given window compared with that of a standard 1/8- inch-thick single pane of glass under the same conditions.
Sharps: Hypodermic needles, syringes (with or without the attached needle), Pasteur pipettes, scalpel blades, blood vials, needles with attached tubing, and culture dishes used in animal or human patient care or treatment, or in medical, research or industrial laboratories. Also included are other types of broken or unbroken glassware that were in contact with infectious agents, such as used slides and cover slips, and unused hypodermic and suture needles, syringes, and scalpel blades.
Shock Load: The arrival at a water treatment plant of raw water containing unusual amounts of algae, colloidal matter. color, suspended solids, turbidity, or other pollutants.
Short-Circuiting: When some of the water in tanks or basins flows faster than the rest; may result in shorter contact, reaction, or settling times than calculated or presumed.
Sick Building Syndrome: Building whose occupants experience acute health and/or comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent therein, but where no specific illness or cause can be identified. Complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may spread throughout the building. (See: building-related illness.)
Signal: The volume or product-level change produced by a leak in a tank.
Signal Words: The words used on a pesticide label--Danger, Warning, Caution--to indicate level of toxicity.
Significant Deterioration: Pollution resulting from a new source in previously "clean" areas. (See: prevention of significant deterioration.)
Significant Municipal Facilities: Those publicly owned sewage treatment plants that discharge a million gallons per day or more and are therefore considered by states to have the potential to substantially affect the quality of receiving waters.
Significant Non-Compliance: (See significant violations.)
Significant Potential Source of Contamination: A facility or activity that stores, uses, or produces compounds with potential for significant contaminating impact if released into the source water of a public water supply.
Significant Violations: Violations by point source dischargers of sufficient magnitude or duration to be a regulatory priority.
Silt: Sedimentary materials composed of fine or intermediate-sized mineral particles.
Silviculture: Management of forest land for timber.
Single-Breath Canister: Small one-liter canister designed to capture a single breath. Used in air pollutant ingestion research.
Sink: Place in the environment where a compound or material collects.
Sinking: Controlling oil spills by using an agent to trap the oil and sink it to the bottom of the body of water where the agent and the oil are biodegraded.
SIP Call: EPA action requiring a state to resubmit all or part of its State Implementation Plan to demonstrate attainment of the require national ambient air quality standards within the statutory deadline. A SIP Revision is a revision of a SIP altered at the request of EPA or on a state's initiative. (See: State Implementation Plan.)
Site: An area or place within the jurisdiction of the EPA and/or a state.
Site Assessment Program: A means of evaluating hazardous waste sites through preliminary assessments and site inspections to develop a Hazard Ranking System score.
Site Inspection: The collection of information from a Superfund site to determine the extent and severity of hazards posed by the site. It follows and is more extensive than a preliminary assessment. The purpose is to gather information necessary to score the site, using the Hazard Ranking System, and to determine if it presents an immediate threat requiring prompt removal.
Site Safety Plan: A crucial element in all removal actions, it includes information on equipment being used, precautions to be taken, and steps to take in the event of an on-site emergency.
Siting: The process of choosing a location for a facility.
Skimming: Using a machine to remove oil or scum from the surface of the water.
Slow Sand Filtration: Passage of raw water through a bed of sand at low velocity, resulting in substantial removal of chemical and biological contaminants.
Sludge: A semi-solid residue from any of a number of air or water treatment processes; can be a hazardous waste.
Sludge Digester: Tank in which complex organic substances like sewage sludges are biologically dredged. During these reactions, energy is released and much of the sewage is converted to methane, carbon dioxide, and water.
Slurry: A watery mixture of insoluble matter resulting from some pollution control techniques.
Small Quantity Generator (SQG-sometimes referred to as "Squeegee"): Persons or enterprises that produce 220-2200 pounds per month of hazardous waste; they are required to keep more records than conditionally exempt generators. The largest category of hazardous waste generators, SQGs, include automotive shops, dry cleaners, photographic developers, and many other small businesses. (See: conditionally exempt generators.)
Smelter: A facility that melts or fuses ore, often with an accompanying chemical change, to separate its metal content. Emissions cause pollution. "Smelting" is the process involved.
Smog: Air pollution typically associated with oxidants. (See: photochemical smog.)
Smoke: Particles suspended in air after incomplete combustion.
Soft Detergents: Cleaning agents that break down in nature.
Soft Water: Any water that does not contain a significant amount of dissolved minerals such as salts of calcium or magnesium.
Soil Adsorption Field: A sub-surface area containing a trench or bed with clean stones and a system of pip- ing through which treated sewage may seep into the surrounding soil for further treatment and disposal.
Soil and Water Conservation Practices: Control measures consisting of managerial, vegetative, and structural practices to reduce the loss of soil and water.
Soil Conditioner: An organic material like humus or compost that helps soil absorb water, build a bacterial community, and take up mineral nutrients.
Soil Erodibility: An indicator of a soil's susceptibility to raindrop impact, runoff, and other erosive processes.
Soil Gas: Gaseous elements and compounds in the small spaces between particles of the earth and soil. Such gases can be moved or driven out under pressure.
Soil Moisture: The water contained in the pore space of the unsaturated zone.
Soil Sterilant: A chemical that temporarily or permanently prevents the growth of all plants and animals,
Solder: Metallic compound used to seal joints between pipes. Until recently, most solder contained 50 percent lead. Use of solder containing more than 0.2 percent lead in pipes carrying drinking water is now prohibited.
Sole-Source Aquifer: An aquifer that supplies 50-percent or more of the drinking water of an area.
Solid Waste Disposal: The final placement of refuse that is not salvaged or recycled.
Solid Waste: Non-liquid, non-soluble materials ranging from municipal garbage to industrial wastes that contain complex and sometimes hazardous substances. Solid wastes also include sewage sludge, agricultural refuse, demolition wastes, and mining residues. Technically, solid waste also refers to liquids and gases in containers.
Solid Waste Management: Supervised handling of waste materials from their source through recovery processes to disposal.
Solidification and Stabilization: Removal of wastewater from a waste or changing it chemically to make it less permeable and susceptible to transport by water.
Solubility: The amount of mass of a compound that will dissolve in a unit volume of solution. Aqueous Solubility is the maximum concentration of a chemical that will dissolve in pure water at a reference temperature.
Soot: Carbon dust formed by incomplete combustion.
Sorption: The action of soaking up or attracting substances; process used in many pollution control systems.
Source Area: The location of liquid hydrocarbons or the zone of highest soil or groundwater concentrations, or both, of the chemical of concern.
Source Characterization Measurements: Measurements made to estimate the rate of release of pollutants into the environment from a source such as an incinerator, landfill, etc.
Source Reduction: Reducing the amount of materials entering the waste stream from a specific source by redesigning products or patterns of production or consumption (e.g., using returnable beverage containers). Synonymous with waste reduction.
Source Separation: Segregating various wastes at the point of generation (e.g., separation of paper, metal and glass from other wastes to make recycling simpler and more efficient).
Source-Water Protection Area: The area delineated by a state for a Public Water Supply or including numerous such suppliers, whether the source is ground water or surface water or both.
Sparge or Sparging: Injection of air below the water table to strip dissolved volatile organic compounds and/or oxygenate ground water to facilitate aerobic biodegradation of organic compounds.
Special Local-Needs Registration: Registration of a pesticide product by a state agency for a specific use that is not federally registered. However, the active ingredient must be federally registered for other uses. The special use is specific to that state and is often minor, thus may not warrant the additional cost of a full federal registration process. SLN registration cannot be issued for new active ingredients, food-use active ingredients without tolerances, or for a canceled registration. The products cannot be shipped across state lines.
Special Review: Formerly known as Rebuttable Presumption Against Registration (RPAR), this is the regulatory process through which existing pesticides suspected of posing unreasonable risks to human health, non-target organisms, or the environment are referred for review by EPA. Such review requires an intensive risk/benefit analysis with opportunity for public comment. If risk is found to outweigh social and economic benefits, regulatory actions can be initiated, ranging from label revisions and use-restriction to cancellation or suspended registration.
Special Waste: Items such as household hazardous waste, bulky wastes (refrigerators, pieces of furniture, etc.) tires, and used oil.
Species: 1. A reproductively isolated aggregate of interbreeding organisms having common attributes and usually designated by a common name.2. An organism belonging to belonging to such a category.
Specific Conductance: Rapid method of estimating the dissolved solid content of a water supply by testing its capacity to carry an electrical current.
Specific Yield: The amount of water a unit volume of saturated permeable rock will yield when drained by gravity.
Spill Prevention, Containment, and Countermeasures Plan (SPCP): Plan covering the release of hazardous substances as defined in the Clean Water Act.
Spoil: Dirt or rock removed from its original location--destroying the composition of the soil in the process--as in strip-mining, dredging, or construction.
Sprawl: Unplanned development of open land.
Spray Tower Scrubber: A device that sprays alkaline water into a chamber where acid gases are present to aid in neutralizing the gas.
Spring: Ground water seeping out of the earth where the water table intersects the ground surface.
Spring Melt/Thaw: The process whereby warm temperatures melt winter snow and ice. Because various forms of acid deposition may have been stored in the frozen water, the melt can result in abnormally large amounts of acidity entering streams and rivers, sometimes causing fish kills.
Stabilization: Conversion of the active organic matter in sludge into inert, harmless material.
Stabilization Ponds: (See: lagoon.)
Stable Air: A motionless mass of air that holds, instead of dispersing, pollutants.
Stack: A chimney, smokestack, or vertical pipe that discharges used air.
Stack Effect: Air, as in a chimney, that moves upward because it is warmer than the ambient atmosphere.
Stack Effect: Flow of air resulting from warm air rising, creating a positive pressure area at the top of a building and negative pressure area at the bottom. This effect can overpower the mechanical system and disrupt building ventilation and air circulation.
Stack Gas: (See: flue gas.)
Stage II Controls: Systems placed on service station gasoline pumps to control and capture gasoline vapors during refuelling.
Stagnation: Lack of motion in a mass of air or water that holds pollutants in place.
Stakeholder: Any organization, governmental entity, or individual that has a stake in or may be impacted by a given approach to environmental regulation, pollution prevention, energy conservation, etc.
Standard Sample: The part of finished drinking water that is examined for the presence of coliform bacteria.
Standards: Norms that impose limits on the amount of pollutants or emissions produced. EPA establishes minimum standards, but states are allowed to be stricter.
Start of a Response Action: The point in time when there is a guarantee or set-aside of funding by EPA, other federal agencies, states or Principal Responsible Parties in order to begin response actions at a Superfund site.
State Emergency Response Commission (SERC): Commission appointed by each state governor according to the requirements of SARA Title III. The SERCs designate emergency planning districts, appoint local emergency planning committees, and supervise and coordinate their activities.
State Environmental Goals and Indication Project: Program to assist state environmental agencies by providing technical and financial assistance in the development of environmental goals and indicators.
State Implementation Plans (SIP): EPA approved state plans for the establishment, regulation, and enforcement of air pollution standards.
State Management Plan: Under FIFRA, a state management plan required by EPA to allow states, tribes, and U.S. territories the flexibility to design and implement ways to protect ground water from the use of certain pesticides.
Static Water Depth: The vertical distance from the centerline of the pump discharge down to the surface level of the free pool while no water is being drawn from the pool or water table.
Static Water Level: 1. Elevation or level of the water table in a well when the pump is not operating. 2. The level or elevation to which water would rise in a tube connected to an artesian aquifer or basin in a conduit under pressure.
Stationary Source: A fixed-site producer of pollution, mainly power plants and other facilities using indus- trial combustion processes. (See: point source.)
Sterilization: The removal or destruction of all microorganisms, including pathogenic and other bacteria, vegetative forms, and spores.
Sterilizer: One of three groups of anti-microbials registered by EPA for public health uses. EPA considers an antimicrobial to be a sterilizer when it destroys or eliminates all forms of bacteria, viruses, and fungi and their spores. Because spores are considered the most difficult form of microorganism to destroy, EPA considers the term sporicide to be synonymous with sterilizer.
Storage: Temporary holding of waste pending treatment or disposal, as in containers, tanks, waste piles, and surface impoundments.
Storm Sewer: A system of pipes (separate from sanitary sewers) that carries water runoff from buildings and land surfaces.
Stratification: Separating into layers.
Stratigraphy: Study of the formation, composition, and sequence of sediments, whether consolidated or not.
Stratosphere: The portion of the atmosphere 10-to-25 miles above the earth's surface.
Stressors: Physical, chemical, or biological entities that can induce adverse effects on ecosystems or human health.
Strip-Cropping: Growing crops in a systematic arrangement of strips or bands that serve as barriers to wind and water erosion.
Strip-Mining: A process that uses machines to scrape soil or rock away from mineral deposits just under the earth's surface.
Structural Deformation: Distortion in walls of a tank after liquid has been added or removed.
Subchronic Exposure: Multiple or continuous exposures lasting for approximately ten percent of an experimental species lifetime, usually over a three-month period.
Subchronic: Of intermediate duration, usually used to describe studies or periods of exposure lasting between 5 and 90 days
Submerged Aquatic Vegetation: Vegetation that lives at or below the water surface; an important habitat for young fish and othr aquatic organisms.
Subwatershed: Topographic perimeter of the catchment area of a stream tributary. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2): A pungent, colorless, gasformed primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels; becomes a pollutant when present in large amounts.
Sump: A pit or tank that catches liquid runoff for drainage or disposal.
Superchlorination: Chlorination with doses that are deliberately selected to produce water free of combined residuals so large as to require dechlorination.
Supercritical Water: A type of thermal treatment using moderate temperatures and high pressures to enhance the ability of water to break down large organic molecules into smaller, less toxic ones. Oxygen injected during this process combines with simple organic compounds to form carbon dioxide and water. Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation (SITE) Program: EPA program to promote development and use of innovative treatment and site charachterization technologies in Superfund site cleanups.
Superfund: The program operated under the legislative authority of CERCLA and SARA that funds and carries out EPA solid waste emergency and long-term removal and remedial activities. These activities include establishing the National Priorities List, investigating sites for inclusion on the list, determining their priority, and conducting and/or supervising cleanup and other remedial actions.
Supplemental Registration: An arrangement whereby a registrant licenses another company to market its pesticide product under the second company's registration.
Supplier of Water: Any person who owns or operates a public water supply.
Surface Impoundment: Treatment, storage, or disposal of liquid hazardous wastes in ponds.
Surface Runoff: Precipitation, snow melt, or irrigation water in excess of what can infiltrate the soil surface and be stored in small surface depressions; a major transporter of non-point source pollutants in rivers, streams, and lakes..
Surface Uranium Mines: Strip mining operations for removal of uranium-bearing ore.
Surface Water: All water naturally open to the atmosphere (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams, impoundments, seas, estuaries, etc.)
Surface-Water Treatment Rule: Rule that specifies maximum contaminant level goals for Giardia lamblia, viruses, and Legionella and promulgates filtration and disinfection requirements for public water systems using surface-water or ground-water sources under the direct influence of surface water. The regulations also specify water quality, treatment, and watershed protection criteria under which filtration may be avoided.
Surfacing ACM: Asbestos-containing material that is sprayed or troweled on or otherwise applied to surfac- es, such as acoustical plaster on ceilings and fireproofing materials on structural members.
Surfacing Material: Material sprayed or troweled onto structural members (beams, columns, or decking) for fire protection; or on ceilings or walls for fireproofing, acoustical or decorative purposes. Includes textured plaster, and other textured wall and ceiling surfaces.
Surfactant: A detergent compound that promotes lathering.
Surrogate Data: Data from studies of test organisms or a test substance that are used to estimate the characteristics or effects on another organism or substance.
Surveillance System: A series of monitoring devices designed to check on environmental conditions.
Susceptibility Analysis: An analysis to determine whether a Public Water Supply is subject to significant pollution from known potential sources.
Suspect Material: Building material suspected of containing asbestos; e.g., surfacing material, floor tile, ceiling tile, thermal system insulation.
Suspended Loads: Specific sediment particles maintained in the water column by turbulence and carried with the flow of water.
Suspended Solids: Small particles of solid pollutants that float on the surface of, or are suspended in, sew- age or other liquids. They resist removal by conventional means.
Suspension Culture: Cells growing in a liquid nutrient medium.
Suspension: Suspending the use of a pesticide when EPA deems it necessary to prevent an imminent hazard resulting from its continued use. An emergency suspension takes effect immediately; under an ordinary sus- pension a registrant can request a hearing before the suspension goes into effect. Such a hearing process might take six months.
Swamp: A type of wetland dominated by woody vegetation but without appreciable peat deposits. Swamps may be fresh or salt water and tidal or non-tidal. (See: wetlands.)
Synergism: An interaction of two or more chemicals that results in an effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
Synthetic Organic Chemicals (SOCs): Man-made (anthropogenic) organic chemicals. Some SOCs are volatile; others tend to stay dissolved in water instead of evaporating.
System With a Single Service Connection: A system that supplies drinking water to consumers via a single service line.
Systemic Pesticide: A chemical absorbed by an organism that interacts with the organism and makes the organism toxic to pests.
SOURCE URL: http://www.epa.gov/OCEPAterms
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