Advancing PostApocology Studies in Climate Chaos, Resource Depletion,
Plague/Virus, Species Collapse, Biology Breach, Recovery, and more.
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The Biology Breach Scenario
Biomes -- the interconnected systems of plants and animals in a region -- evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, based on local weather patterns and land structures. Predator/prey relationships, pollination mechanisms, seeding and birthing scheduling, and many other delicate interrelationships maintain stability in a biome.

Unfortunately, human activities over the last century have been dramatically disrupting these stable systems. The plastics we dump into the ocean break down into tiny little plastic particles, but never fully dissolve -- and they clog the gill and digestive systems of fish, birds, and sea mammals. The mercury we pump out of our coal plants into the air settles onto multiple biomes, which accrete in predator species, and kill them. The prescription drugs we urinate into our sewers and streams produce endocrine system disruptions in most vertebrates. The fertilizer we pump onto our fields leach into rivers and bays, which overfeeds algae, leading to anaerobic "dead zones" in the ocean of hundreds of square miles.

When it comes to the concept of invasive species, it can be argued that humans are the most invasive species of all. From our origins on the African continent, we proceeded to invade the entire planet -- in the most dramatic diaspora imaginable. No other species has spread so far, and made so many alterations in the environment. The list of those alterations is without end -- the Project can only hope to tickle the very tip that quickly melting iceberg.

Ultimately, everything humans have introduced into the environment, intentionally or unintentionally -- pollution, cane toads, rats, zebra mussels, kudzu, pathogens, estrogens, billboards, GM foods, etc. -- can be considered an introduction of non-indigenous factors. We can think of but a few breaches that can't be blamed on humans: volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Of course, a meteor slamming into the planet is the Mother of all Biology Breaches. But we consider those of a different ilk.

This apocalypse is something of a catch-all of human intrusions into the living world. Our warming of the oceans is breaching the stability of the coral systems. Our strip-farming of the Midwest has wiped out the stability of the grasslands and the topsoil. Our sewer systems concentrate the hormones we urinate, which disrupt the endocrine systems of the fish in our rivers, and the other animals which feed on them. The acidic rain that falls on forests disrupts the balances within the soil, damaging the health of every tree within it.

Understanding this apocalypse requires requires systemic thinking, at which humans are notoriously poor. We kill the wolves, because we don't want them eating our sheep -- and then we wonder why there are so many deer munching our gardens. We cut down the hillside trees to build condos, and then wonder why we have landslides when it rains hard. We stripmine the ocean with driftnets, and then wonder why the Northern cod has disappeared.

We are projecting, over the next ten years, using mostly pessimistic predictions, the following scenario:

  • Immune and reproductive systems of many animals will be compromised because of humanly-produced toxins (endocrine disrupters, heavy metals, etc.)
  • Invasive species -- such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle currently chewing on the maple trees in North America -- will cause dramatic impacts on existing biome balances.
  • Unexpected results from genetically engineered plants will cause dramatic disruptions in multiple biosystems.
  • Overwhelmed by carbon dioxide, oceans acidify, producing massive die-offs of coral reef and other key marine life.
  • Coastal areas will be breached, according to some estimates, by more than a meter by the end of the century, but with storm surges in the next decade that wash away much economically valuable coastland.
  • Warming climates create shorter hibernation cycles -- or these mammals don't hibernate at all -- putting entire species at risk of starvation
  • The so-called Eighth Continent, the North Pacific gyre where a massive island of trash now floats, grows beyond its current range of "twice the size of Texas"
  • Environmental toxins create early onset puberty in young mammals, including human boys and girls, disrupting normal growth and development
  • Giant dust clouds assist in the transcontinental dispersion of influenza, SARS, heavy metals, fungi, bacteria, and other unpleasant elements
  • Desperate to sustain current lifestyles and energy needs, humans continue to exploit existing natural resources, thus accellerating all current crises
  • We anticipate tremendous economic disruption because of unanticipated consequences. Surprises like giant oxygen-free areas of the ocean, because of our effluent; a dramatic rise in infertility across mammals, because we pump out fake hormones through our plastic; basic crops increasingly produce allergic reactions in many humans, because invasive artificial genes have drifted; etc.
  • Politicians will blather on about a war on terrorism, and free markets, and the economy, and treat each breach instance as an isolated oddity -- because understanding complexity is almost as hard as communicating it.

Many of these breaches are not solvable within a human lifetime, because of the accumulated toxic reach of our actions over five generations. Others, like unintended consequences of genetic modification, may be impossible to repair. But clearly we need to return to living lightly on the earth, and making decisions with the seventh (or even third?) coming generation in mind.

Recent Biology Breach News
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Fri, Mar 6, 2009: from Bloomberg News:
India Failing to Control Open Defecation Blunts Nation’s Growth
Until May 2007, Meera Devi rose before dawn each day and walked a half mile to a vegetable patch outside the village of Kachpura to find a secluded place. Dodging leering men and stick-wielding farmers and avoiding spots that her neighbors had soiled, the mother of three pulled up her sari and defecated with the Taj Mahal in plain view. With that act, she added to the estimated 100,000 tons of human excrement that Indians leave each day in fields of potatoes, carrots and spinach, on banks that line rivers used for drinking and bathing and along roads jammed with scooters, trucks and pedestrians.... In the shadow of its new suburbs, torrid growth and 300- ­million-plus-strong middle class, India is struggling with a sanitation emergency. From the stream in Devi’s village to the nation’s holiest river, the Ganges, 75 percent of the country’s surface water is contaminated by human and agricultural waste and industrial effluent. Everyone in Indian cities is at risk of consuming human feces, if they’re not already, the Ministry of Urban Development concluded in September.
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Thu, Mar 5, 2009: from LA Weekly:
San Fernando Valley's Galaxy of Chemical Goo
West Hills resident Bonnie Klea is vivacious and no-nonsense. She won a battle over a rare bladder cancer diagnosed in 1995, and has long suspected the toxins that taint a big piece of land near her home -- land on which, if Los Angeles planners get their way, more building will soon be allowed. "I had surgery and was in the hospital nine times in nine months," Klea says. Of the cancer itself, Klea says, "It’s in the neighborhood. On my little street alone, I have two neighbors who have had bladder cancer." Sixteen cancers have afflicted residents in 15 homes on Klea’s block. A 1990 state health department survey of cancer records showed elevated levels of bladder cancer in west San Fernando Valley census tracts, including tract 1132, where Klea lives. Klea is in a fight that she began 14 years ago, battling Los Angeles city planners and state Department of Toxic Substances Control bureaucrats over a proposed development at "Corporate Pointe at West Hills" in Canoga Park, where a well-known West Valley landmark, the former DeVry University, stands. The expanse of land is riddled with heavy metal, chemical and radiological contamination.
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Thu, Mar 5, 2009: from Charleston Gazette:
C8 might damage sperm, study says
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Men with higher levels of C8 and similar chemicals in their blood have lower sperm counts and fewer normal sperm, according to a new scientific study published this week. The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is believed to be the first to link exposure to perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, to problems with human semen quality. Authors of the study say the findings might "contribute to the otherwise unexplained low semen quality often seen in young men," but added that more research is needed. The study also adds to the growing body of science about the potential dangers of exposure to C8, which also is known as perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. In January, another study found that women with higher levels of these chemicals in their blood took longer to become pregnant than women with lower levels. Scientists in Demark produced the study, based on blood and semen samples from more than 100 men examined in 2003. The data was collected as part of a program through which such samples are provided when men report for Denmark's military draft. They found that men with high combined levels of PFOA and a related chemical, PFOS, had a median of 6.2 million normal sperm in their ejaculate, compared to 15.5 million normal sperm among men with lower levels of the chemicals.
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Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
More lake fish contain former 3M chemical
A former 3M chemical has been found in fish taken from more metro area lakes, including Cedar, Calhoun and Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. The compound, known as PFOS, was measured at levels of concern in 13 of 22 lakes, mostly in bluegills, black crappies and largemouth bass. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) released the data Monday from fish tested in 2008, the agency's third year of checking fish. Pat McCann, research scientist for the Minnesota Department of Health, said that the data are being reviewed and that the department may issue advice about eating fish less often from some of the lakes.
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Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from Associated Press:
Study: Combining pesticides makes them more deadly for fish
Common agricultural pesticides that attack the nervous systems of salmon can turn more deadly when they combine with other pesticides, researchers have found. Scientists from the NOAA Fisheries Service and Washington State University were expecting that the harmful effects would add up as they accumulated in the water. They were surprised to find a deadly synergy occurred with some combinations, which made the mix more harmful and at lower levels of exposure than the sum of the parts. The study looked at five common pesticides: diazinon, malathion, chlorpyrifos, carbaryl and carbofuran, all of which suppress an enzyme necessary for nerves to function properly. The findings suggest that the current practice of testing pesticides - one at a time to see how much is needed to kill a fish - fails to show the true risks, especially for fish protected by the Endangered Species Act, the authors concluded in the study published Monday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
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Mon, Mar 2, 2009: from Baltimore Sun:
Indoor air can be risk for kids with asthma
Parents have long known that the polluted, pollinated air outdoors can bring on asthma attacks in their children. Now it turns out that many asthmatic inner-city kids are under assault inside their homes - where cigarette smoke, dust mites, mold and even cooking smells can make them sicker than car exhaust or ragweed. Researchers are finding a direct link between the air children breathe at home and the asthma attacks that are the source of hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits in the U.S. every year. The latest study, published last month by Johns Hopkins researchers, quantified the increase in asthma symptoms for every increase in air pollution particles inside Baltimore homes. Such findings have begun a movement of health professionals who are going door to door to educate families about the potential dangers of indoor air and helping them clean up their homes. Their goal is to reduce childhood asthma by 50 percent by 2012.
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Sun, Mar 1, 2009: from PressTV (Iran):
Persian Gulf faces possible environmental crisis
The Persian Gulf has been polluted by more than 5,000 cubic meters of toxic industrial waste including heavy metals. The waste material from Mobin Petrochemical Company, located in Assaluyeh in southern Iran, has been discharged into the Persian Gulf without being treated, Iran's Environmental News Agency reported. The news report added that the petrochemical company's waste materials are toxic and replete with hazardous industrial materials.... According to the latest studies, the level of the pollution in The Persian Gulf as a semi-closed sea is 47 times more than the open seas and the water in eastern coast of the area contains more pollutants.
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Sun, Mar 1, 2009: from Tribune Democrat (PA):
Pollution pinches Chesapeake crabs
The blue crab population is at an all-time low, and two factors are to blame: Pollution and overfishing. There are six sub-basins of the 444-mile Susquehanna that feed the bay. Acid-mine drainage is blamed for pollution from this region, while farm runoff is the main culprit to the east. There is less crab food, less crab habitat and too much catching of fish the crabs feed on. In 2007, watermen suffered the worst crab harvest since Chesapeake Bay recordkeeping began in 1945. Last year was even worse in Virginia, and only slightly better in Maryland, causing more than $640 million in losses, reports show.
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Sun, Mar 1, 2009: from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
States' patchwork ballast rules has a few holes
A battle to force overseas ships to stop dumping biological pollution in the Great Lakes is taking shape in the harbors of Wisconsin. The state Department of Natural Resources recently released a proposed set of ballast water discharge rules for oceangoing vessels that is far stricter than anything that has been adopted by any other Great Lakes state except New York. Ballast water is used to steady less-than-full cargo ships and is a problem for the Great Lakes because oceangoing vessels traveling from distant countries can arrive with tanks teeming with unwanted organisms. Those foreign species can wreak havoc on the environment when the ballast is flushed as cargo is loaded. Congress has been talking about a uniform national ballast law for the better part of a decade, with little to show for it.
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Fri, Feb 27, 2009: from Scientific American:
The Great Garbage Patch
In 1997 Captain Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, set sail from Hawaii and discovered, in a remote part of the North Pacific, an island -- made of plastic. Moore measured about 300,000 tiny pieces of plastic per square kilometer back then, but a decade later there are approximately 2.3 million pieces of plastic per square kilometer. What is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now the size of the United States, according to Moore.... The plastic never degrades, but sunlight and wave friction break it into tiny particles, smaller than five millimeters, that remain suspended in the water. Holly Bamford, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says it's likely that filter feeders like clams or jellyfish are eating the plastic, which may prove dangerous all the way up the food chain. Ongoing studies will try to determine the patch's impact.
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Fri, Feb 27, 2009: from Forbes:
25 more Oklahoma wells tested in E. coli probe
At least 25 more private water wells have been tested near a northeastern Oklahoma town where an E. coli outbreak last summer killed one man and sickened hundreds more, the state's Department of Environmental Quality said.... But earlier this month, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson suggested that it could have been the result of contamination from nearby poultry farms. He released a report concluding that the well at the Country Cottage "is, and has been, contaminated with poultry waste and associated bacteria, including E. coli." The report also noted 49 poultry houses within a six-mile radius of Locust Grove that have the capacity to produce 10,000 tons of waste a year. The poultry industry has denied these claims, saying the DEQ testing did not identify "any link between bacteria in water wells and poultry."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Tue, Feb 24, 2009: from London Daily Mail:
Social websites harm children's brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist
Social networking websites are causing alarming changes in the brains of young users, an eminent scientist has warned. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo are said to shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centred. The claims from neuroscientist Susan Greenfield will make disturbing reading for the millions whose social lives depend on logging on to their favourite websites each day. Baroness Greenfield, an Oxford University neuroscientist and director of the Royal Institution, believes repeated exposure could effectively 'rewire' the brain. "We know how small babies need constant reassurance that they exist," she told the Mail yesterday. 'My fear is that these technologies are infantilising the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment."
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Tue, Feb 24, 2009: from New York Times:
Many Plans to Curtail Use of Plastic Bags, but Not Much Action
SEATTLE -- Last summer, city officials here became the first in the nation to approve a fee on paper and plastic shopping bags in many retail stores. The 20-cent charge was intended to reduce pollution by encouraging reusable bags. But a petition drive financed by the plastic-bag industry delayed the plan. Now a far broader segment of Seattle's bag carriers -- its voters -- will decide the matter in an election in August. Even in a city that likes to be environmentally conscious, the outcome is uncertain. "You have to be really tone-deaf to what's going on to think that the economic climate is not going to affect people," said Rob Gala, a legislative aide to the city councilman who first sponsored the bill for the 20-cent fee.
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Mon, Feb 23, 2009: from The Louisville Courier-Journal:
Indiana ash ponds pollute bird habitat, drinking water
The ash ponds at the nation's third-largest coal plant near here have contaminated a new wildlife sanctuary for endangered birds and the drinking water of a neighboring community. And while a federal agency and the company that owns the Gibson plant, Duke Energy, have taken steps to alleviate both problems, advocates say the situation underscores the need for a fresh look at the hazards of coal combustion waste. Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promised such a review following the 1.1billion-gallon ash slide in Tennessee in December that smothered several hundred acres. The House Natural Resources Committee is weighing national standards for ash impoundments, and the new EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, has promised to study whether national standards are needed to prevent toxic contaminants in ash from polluting water.
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Mon, Feb 23, 2009: from Environmental Health News:
A worldwide pollutant may cause gene loss
A new study suggests that long term exposure to a common water pollutant reduced the genetic diversity of the midge - a common water insect. Aquatic insects are the foundation of healthy waterways. Other insects, invertebrates and fish depend on the tiny creatures for food. A loss of their genetics is a loss for ecosystem diversity. The pollutant, called tributyltin (TBT), is a widely used pesticide. While TBT affected the growth, survival and reproduction of the midge insect, the greatest effects were found in the genes. TBT-exposed insects lost gene diversity two times greater than non-exposed insects.... Most toxicity studies look at high dose, single generation effects. But, in reality, organisms -- including humans -- are exposed to low-levels of chemicals over long periods, sometimes for many generations. Little is known about how these types of exposures may affect health. In this study, scientists exposed the midge to TBT at levels found in the environment for 12 generations. They monitored growth, weight, mortality and genetic diversity, which was determined by studying DNA sequences known as microsatellites.
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Sun, Feb 22, 2009: from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Great Lakes scourge infects West
...Zebra and quagga mussels have been making a particular mess of the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy since they were discovered in the late 1980s. The filter-feeding machines have cost this region billions of dollars by plugging industrial water intake pipes, starving fish populations and spawning noxious algae outbreaks that have trashed some of the Midwest's most prized shoreline. For nearly two decades the western U.S. was spared this havoc. No more. The first quagga mussel west of the Continental Divide was discovered on Jan. 6, 2007. It was likely a stowaway hiding on the hull or in the bilge water of a Midwestern pleasure boat pulled across the Great Plains, over the Rockies and down a boat ramp at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, where a marina worker found some suspicious shells clinging to an anchor.... What took decades to unfold in the Great Lakes has played out in a matter of months in Lake Mead. Quaggas can lay eggs six or seven times a year in the warmer water, compared with once or twice a year in the Great Lakes. If you drained Lake Mead above Hoover Dam, says National Park Service biologist Bryan Moore, it would reveal that brown canyon walls that were mussel-free just two years ago are now black with quaggas at densities of up to 55,000 per square meter.
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Sun, Feb 22, 2009: from The Center for Public Integrity:
Coal Ash: The Hidden Story
...For decades, the dangers of coal ash had largely been hidden from public view. That all changed in December 2008, when an earthen dam holding a billion gallons of coal ash in a pond collapsed in eastern Tennessee, deluging 300 acres in gray muck, destroying houses and water supplies, and dirtying a river. But what happened in the Volunteer State represents just a small slice of the potential threat from coal ash. In many states -- at ponds, landfills, and pits where coal ash gets dumped -- a slow seepage of the ash's metals has poisoned water supplies, damaged ecosystems, and jeopardized citizens' health. In July 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified 63 "proven or potential damage cases" in 23 states where coal ash has tarnished groundwater and harmed ecology. Additional cases of contamination have since surfaced in states as far-flung as Maryland, New Mexico, Indiana, and Virginia. And in some locations, like Colstrip, the contamination has resulted in multimillion-dollar payouts to residents enduring the devastation. Despite the litany of damage, there's no meaningful federal regulation of coal ash on the books; indeed, oversight of ash disposal -- much of it stunningly casual -- is largely left to the states.
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Sat, Feb 21, 2009: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
French-fry chemical may go on toxic list
Worries that Canadians might be inadvertently ingesting too much cancer-causing acrylamide from French fries, potato chips and other processed foods has prompted Health Canada to recommend adding the chemical to the country's toxic substances list. Acrylamide is an industrial chemical that isn't naturally found in foods, but is produced accidentally when sugars and other items in potatoes and grains are exposed to high cooking temperatures. It has also been detected in breakfast cereals, pastries, cookies, breads, rolls, toast, cocoa products and coffee, although at levels far below those in fried potato products.... The toxic announcement was greeted positively by environmentalists, who have been arguing that potentially dangerous chemicals in consumer goods need to be limited.
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Fri, Feb 20, 2009: from New Scientist:
Ban on mountaintop mining overturned
Even as public opinion in the US turns against coal, judges have overturned a ban on blasting away mountaintops to get at seams. In the central Appalachians, including West Virginia, mining companies have lopped up to 300 metres off hundreds of mountains, destroying biologically diverse hardwood forest. The debris is often dumped into valleys, sometimes burying streams in the process. A lawsuit filed by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) based in Huntington, West Virginia, argued that such valley fills violate the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and a US district court ruled in their favour in March 2007. But on 13 February, a Court of Appeals panel voted 2:1 to reverse the decision.
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Thu, Feb 19, 2009: from San Jose Mercury News:
At least 500,000 gallons spewed in Sausalito sewage spill
A broken pipe gushed at least 500,000 gallons of partially treated sewage into San Francisco Bay by Wednesday afternoon as Sausalito sanitary plant officials worked to get the spill capped more than 24 hours after it was spotted.... Workers in wetsuits placed a metal "saddle" around the 24-inch-wide pressure pipeline resting along the shore below the Fort Baker treatment plant to redirect wastewater back into the plant.... After several hours of unsuccessful attempts to plug the 2 1/2-inch hole before being submerged, the leak was allowed to continue overnight until work continued Wednesday morning.... [The Councilman] blamed the problem on "an incredibly leaky, neglected collection system" and "small banana-republic sewer districts" afraid to do anything because of rate increases.
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Wed, Feb 18, 2009: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Giant oil slick heading for British shores
The slick, which covers nearly nine square miles, is thought to have been leaked into the Celtic Sea when a Russian warship was refuelling. Environmentalists said it is the biggest oil spill in waters around the British Isles since the Sea Empress ran aground off Milford Haven in 1996, causing widespread damage to the Pembrokeshire coast. They warned that damage to marine life, including breeding birds, seals and dolphins, is likely to be devastating when the slick begins washing up on Welsh and Irish coasts within two weeks.
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Wed, Feb 18, 2009: from University of Georgia, via EurekAlert:
Link between unexploded munitions in oceans and cancer-causing toxins determined
During a research trip to Puerto Rico, ecologist James Porter took samples from underwater nuclear bomb target USS Killen, expecting to find evidence of radioactive matter -- instead he found a link to cancer. Data revealed that the closer corals and marine life were to unexploded bombs from the World War II vessel and the surrounding target range, the higher the rates of carcinogenic materials. "Unexploded bombs are in the ocean for a variety of reasons -- some were duds that did not explode, others were dumped in the ocean as a means of disposal," said Porter. "And we now know that these munitions are leaking cancer-causing materials and endangering sea life." ... According to research conducted in Vieques, residents here have a 23 percent higher cancer rate than do Puerto Rican mainlanders. Porter said a future step will be "to determine the link from unexploded munitions to marine life to the dinner plate."
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Tue, Feb 17, 2009: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Astronomer devises giant sun shield to reverse global warming
Professor Roger Angel thinks he can diffract the power of the sun by placing trillions of lenses in space and creating a 100,000-square-mile sunshade. Each lens will have a diffraction pattern etched onto it which will cause the sun's rays to change direction. He intends to use electromagnetic propulsion to get the lenses into space. If work was started immediately Prof Angel thinks the sunshield could be operation by 2040. He said: "Things that take a few decades are not that futuristic."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Tue, Feb 17, 2009: from Mother Jones:
What Invasive Species Are Trying to Tell Us
Nowadays when species obey the commandment to "be fruitful and multiply, to fill the waters in the seas, to let the birds multiply on the Earth," all is decidedly not good. Proliferation on a biblical scale generally signals biological apocalypse, what scientists call invasion—the establishment and spread of introduced species in places they've never lived before. Species have always been on the move. But they've also been held in check by Earth's geographical barriers, like mountains and oceans. Today the rate of invasions has skyrocketed because of our barrier-hopping technology—jets, ships, trains, cars, which transport everything from mammals to microorganisms far beyond their natural ranges. The process is further accelerated by global climate change, that enormous human experiment unwittingly redistricting the natural world. The results devastate both planetary and human health—most disease organisms, from influenza to malaria, are invaders over most of their range -- and few invasions can be stopped once they're successfully established. Biological invasions are now second only to habitat loss as a cause of extinction -- the leading cause of the extinction of birds and the second-leading cause of the extinction of fish. Twenty percent of vertebrate species facing extinction are doing so because of pressures from invasive predators or competitors. In a classic example, brown tree snakes arrived in Guam (snakeless but for a worm-sized insectivore) sometime after World War II and systematically ate 15 bird species into extinction while consuming enough small reptiles and mammals to redesign the food web. They also began traveling an expanding network of power lines, electrocuting themselves and causing about 200 power failures annually. In all, invasive species are estimated to cost $1.4 trillion each year.
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Tue, Feb 17, 2009: from University of Cincinnati, via EurekAlert:
Estrogen found to increase growth of the most common childhood brain tumor
CINCINNATI -- University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers have discovered that estrogen receptors are present in medulloblastoma -- the most common type of pediatric brain tumor -- leading them to believe that anti-estrogen drug treatments may be beneficial in limiting tumor progression and improving patients' overall outcome.
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Tue, Feb 17, 2009: from Mount Holyoke News:
Toxic BPA found in everyday products
Epidemiological studies have shown that endocrine disruptors like BPA and other foreign chemicals, also known as xenobiotics, can influence the onset of precocious puberty, increase infertility and accelerate the progression of breast, vaginal, prostate and uterine cancer.... Recently, there has been a number of controversial discussions about safe levels of BPA exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA currently warn against no more than 50 [micrograms] of BPA per kilogram of body weight per day. Recent research shows evidence that many of the abnormalities observed were at far lower concentration levels of BPA.
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Tue, Feb 17, 2009: from New York Times:
The Unintended Consequences of Changing Nature's Balance
In 1985, Australian scientists kicked off an ambitious plan: to kill off non-native cats that had been prowling the island's slopes since the early 19th century. The program began out of apparent necessity -- the cats were preying on native burrowing birds. Twenty-four years later, a team of scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division and the University of Tasmania reports that the cat removal unexpectedly wreaked havoc on the island ecosystem. With the cats gone, the island's rabbits (also non-native) began to breed out of control, ravaging native plants and sending ripple effects throughout the ecosystem. The findings were published in the Journal of Applied Ecology online in January.
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Mon, Feb 16, 2009: from Associated Press:
British, French nuclear subs collide in Atlantic
LONDON -- Nuclear submarines from Britain and France collided deep in the Atlantic Ocean this month, authorities said Monday in the first acknowledgment of a highly unusual accident that one expert called the gravest in nearly a decade. Officials said the low-speed crash did not damage the vessels' nuclear reactors or missiles or cause radiation to leak. But anti-nuclear groups said it was still a frightening reminder of the risks posed by submarines prowling the oceans powered by radioactive material and bristling with nuclear weapons. The first public indication of a mishap came when France reported in a little-noticed Feb. 6 statement that one of its submarine had struck a submerged object -- perhaps a shipping container. But confirmation of the accident only came after British media reported it. France's defense ministry said Monday that the sub Le Triomphant and the HMS Vanguard, the oldest vessel in Britain's nuclear-armed submarine fleet, were on routine patrol when they collided in the Atlantic this month. It did not say exactly when, where or how the accident occurred.
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Sun, Feb 15, 2009: from Stanford University, via EurekAlert:
When fish farms are built along the coast, where does the waste go?
All those fish penned up together consume massive amounts of commercial feed, some of which drifts off uneaten in the currents. And the crowded fish, naturally, defecate and urinate by the tens of thousands, creating yet another unpleasant waste stream. The wastes can carry disease, causing damage directly. Or the phosphate and nitrates in the mix may feed an algae bloom that sucks the oxygen from the water, leaving it uninhabitable, a phenomenon long associated with fertilizer runoff. It has been widely assumed that the effluent from pens would be benignly diluted by the sea if the pens were kept a reasonable distance from shore, said Jeffrey Koseff, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director of Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment. But early results from a new Stanford computer simulation based on sophisticated fluid dynamics show that the icky stuff from the pens will travel farther, and in higher concentrations, than had been generally assumed, Koseff said.
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Sat, Feb 14, 2009: from London Independent:
Toxic waste blamed for birth defects
Families of children born fingerless or with webbed hands and feet are to go to court on Monday to try to secure a multimillion-pound payout for birth defects which they claim were caused by a council's mismanagement of toxic waste dumps. The case is being compared to the thalidomide scandal of the 1960s and 1970s, when parents brought claims arising from their children's severe birth defects caused by having taken the drug for morning sickness. In the new case, mothers allege that during their pregnancies in the 1980s and 1990s they were exposed to contamination from waste sites left over from the clean-up of Northamptonshire's former steel industry based in Corby. Toxicology and medical experts have told the families that the rate of upper and lower-limb abnormality in Corby is 10 times higher than the national average. Des Collins, the solicitor running the case, said he had medical evidence that would prove the children's deformities are linked to the toxic waste dumps left by the former steel industry. He said: "We have now got medical reports that rule out alternative explanations for what caused the limb deformities in these children."
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Fri, Feb 13, 2009: from Forbes:
Secondhand Smoke Linked to Dementia
People exposed to secondhand smoke may face as much as a 44 percent increased risk of developing dementia, a new study suggests. While previous research has established a connection between smoking and increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer's disease, this new study is the largest review to date showing a link between secondhand smoke and the threat of dementia, the authors said. "There is an association between cognitive function, which is often but not necessarily a precursor of dementia, and exposure to passive smoking," said lead researcher Iain Lang, a research fellow in the Public Health and Epidemiology Group at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England. What's more, Lang said, the risk of impaired cognitive function increases with the amount of exposure to secondhand smoke, the findings suggest. "For people at the highest levels of exposure, the risk is probably higher," he said.
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Fri, Feb 13, 2009: from Latin America Press:
Farming chemicals cause kidney failure
More than 3,000 workers at a sugar plant owned by Nicaragua's most powerful company have died from chronic renal failure since 1990 and a victims' group says another 5,000 workers have since developed the condition for the company's use of agrochemicals. The San Antonio Refinery is owned by the Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited, a part of Grupo Pellas, which produces Flor de Cana rum as well as ethanol and runs an electricity generator in Chichigalpa in the northern León department... Grupo Pellas denies any wrongdoing, accuses the sick workers of being alcoholics or drug addicts, and says that the illness is provoked by other causes. But a 2006 study by the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, cited by Artoni, found that 95 percent of the 26 wells that serve the northwest of the country and close to 96 percent of the small family-only use wells are contaminated with feces, herbicides, bacteria and agrochemicals. According to a recent investigation by the university, there is a possible cause-effect relation between the laborers' work and kidney failure. Dr. Cecilia Torres, an occupational health researcher at the university told the Latin American Regional Office of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations that environmental neurotoxins, such as heavy metals -- arsenic, cadmium and lead -- and agrochemicals such as aldrin, chlorothalonil, maneb, copper sulfate, endrin and Nemagon, are major causes of chronic kidney failure in Nicaragua.
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Thu, Feb 12, 2009: from Reuters:
U.S. and Russia track satellite crash debris
Space officials in Russia and the United States were on Thursday tracking hundreds of pieces of debris that were spewed into space when a U.S. satellite collided with a defunct Russian military satellite. The crash, which Russian officials said took place on Tuesday at about 1700 GMT (12:00 p.m. EST) above northern Siberia, is the first publicly known satellite collision and has raised concerns about the safety of the manned International Space Station. The collision happened in an orbit heavily used by satellites and other spacecraft and the U.S. Strategic Command, the arm of the Pentagon that handles space, said countries might have to maneuver their craft to avoid the debris. "The collision of these two space apparatuses happened by chance and these two apparatuses have been destroyed," Major-General Alexander Yakushin, first deputy commander of Russia's Space Forces, told Reuters. "The fragments pose no danger whatsoever to Russian space objects," he said. When asked if the debris posed a danger to other nations' space craft, he said: "As for foreign ones, it is not for me say as it is not in my competency."
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Thu, Feb 12, 2009: from Associated Press:
Africanized bees found in Utah for the first time
Africanized honey bees have been found for the first time in the Beehive State. The bees, long the subject of lore as "killer bees," were recently discovered in Utah's Washington and Kane counties, the state Department of Agriculture said Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that seven hives — three in the wild and four managed by private beekeepers — contained Africanized bees. The hives have since been destroyed. The bees in Utah do not appear to be widespread and no injuries to people or animals have been reported. State and local officials have been anticipating the bees' arrival since they showed up in Mesquite, Nev., in 1999, just a few miles from the Utah line.
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Wed, Feb 11, 2009: from Wilmington News Journal:
DuPont gets more time to test PFOA
DuPont Co. has been given a last-minute pass on a federal deadline to complete testing on products thought to be a source of a controversial chemical in the environment. The Environmental Appeals Board has given the company another three years to finish the testing, the second federal action taken in the waning days of the Bush administration on perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a DuPont-made chemical used in Teflon and other products. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency also set provisional guidelines on drinking-water exposure to PFOA at a level that was more lax than state guidelines in New Jersey and elsewhere. "There's no science supporting either of these decisions. They're purely political gifts from the Bush administration," said Richard Wiles, executive director of Environmental Working Group, one of the first groups to sound the alarm on PFOA. Growing evidence of the chemical's harmful health effects calls for a sharper response from the federal government, Wiles said.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
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Wed, Feb 11, 2009: from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Road salt spreading into our water
Rain and melting snow in the Twin Cities have flushed away road salt residue from hundreds of streets and tens of thousands of cars. But that might not be a good thing. Now a University of Minnesota study estimates that 70 percent of the deicing salt used on metro-area roadways does not travel far when it drains off the pavement. It gushes into area wetlands and lakes and seeps into groundwater, and it is making them saltier with each successive year. About 30 percent goes to the Mississippi River.
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Tue, Feb 10, 2009: from Associated Press:
US relies on states for food safety inspections
The U.S. government has increasingly relied on food-safety inspections performed by states, where budgets for inspections in many cases have remained stagnant and where overburdened officials are trained less than their federal counterparts and perform skimpier reviews, an Associated Press investigation has found. The thoroughness of inspections performed by states has emerged as a key issue in the investigation of the national salmonella outbreak traced to a peanut processing plant in Blakely, Ga. The outbreak, which has highlighted weaknesses in the nation's food-safety system, is blamed for 600 illnesses and at least eight deaths in 44 states.... State investigators performed more than half the Food and Drug Administration's food inspections in 2007, according to an AP analysis of FDA data. That represents a dramatic rise from a decade ago, when FDA investigators performed three out of four of the federal government's inspections.
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Tue, Feb 10, 2009: from New York Times:
Oil Contaminates Des Plaines River
ROCKDALE, Ill. (AP)-- A holding tank at a Caterpillar facility in southwest suburban Chicago broke open early Sunday morning, spilling about 65,000 gallons of oil sludge and contaminating a three-mile section of the Des Plaines River, officials said. "It is being contained, and there is no evidence of a fish kill or harm to water fowl," Maggie Carson, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said by e-mail.
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Mon, Feb 9, 2009: from Agence France-Presse:
Pollution preferable to unemployment for Romanian town
COPSA MICA, Romania (AFP)-- For the residents of Copsa Mica, a tiny town in central Romania, the closure of its local smelting plant is a worse catastrophe than having a reputation as the most polluted place in Europe. "I know the plant was a threat to our health, but at least people had a job," said Diana Roman, a 22-year-old woman who sells potatoes and carrots on the market square of Copsa Mica, which has a population of 5,500 and is situated 250 kilometres (155 miles) northwest of Bucharest. Roman's husband is one of the 820 workers being laid off -- out of a total workforce of 1,050 -- at the Sometra smelting plant, Copsa Mica's biggest employer... [Copsa Mica's mayor, Tudor] Mihalache acknowledged the heavy pollution caused by Sometra, making the air "unbreathable", despite investments to curb the emissions of sulphur dioxide and heavy metals such as lead, zinc and cadmium.
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Mon, Feb 9, 2009: from London Times:
MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism
THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found. Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients' data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition. The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children's conditions.... Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper's impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92 percent to below 80 percent.
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Sun, Feb 8, 2009: from Associated Press:
DEP uncertain if coal slurry injection is safe
Two years after it was charged to do so, and 13 months after its original deadline, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection remains unable to answer a question that worries thousands in the southern coalfields: Are water supplies and human health at risk when a chemical soup from the cleaning of coal is pumped into worked-out underground mines? "We have some concerns, to be quite honest with you," DEP Director Randy Huffman told The Associated Press about coal slurry injection. "We have questions we're trying to get some answers to, to make sure it's safe." Yet coal operators are still permitted to inject slurry at 15 locations. The DEP cannot say precisely what's in that waste, how much is injected annually, or whether and where it migrates. Nor is it under any pressure to do so: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hasn't studied the practice in a decade and said in 2002 its existing rules were adequate to protect groundwater.
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Sun, Feb 8, 2009: from London Independent:
New nuclear plants will produce far more radiation
New nuclear reactors planned for Britain will produce many times more radiation than previous reactors that could be rapidly released in an accident, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. The revelations -- based on information buried deep in documents produced by the nuclear industry itself -- calls into doubt repeated assertions that the new European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) will be safer than the old atomic power stations they replace. Instead they suggest that a reactor or nuclear waste accident, [sic] althouguh less likely to happen, could have even more devastating consequences in future; one study suggests that nearly twice as many people could die.
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Sat, Feb 7, 2009: from Reuters Health:
Testosterone-blocking chemicals found in wastewater
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Testosterone-inhibiting chemicals appear to be finding their way into UK rivers, possibly helping to "feminize" male fish -- and raising questions about what the effects on human health might be, according to researchers. In tests of treated sewage wastewater flowing into 51 UK rivers, the researchers found that almost all of the samples contained anti-androgen chemicals -- substances that block the action of the male sex hormone testosterone. What's more, when the researchers studied fish taken from the rivers, they found that exposure to anti-androgens seemed to be contributing to the feminization of some male fish - male fish with feminized ducts or germ cells. What this means for humans is not clear. But the findings raise the possibility of effects on male fertility, the investigators report in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Past studies have suggested that estrogen-disrupting pollutants -- from sources like industrial chemicals and birth-control pills -- may be leading to the feminization of some wild fish. Researchers have discovered river-dwelling male fish with female characteristics, including eggs in their testes. There have been doubts about whether the findings are relevant to men's fertility, however, since the presumed culprit chemicals in fish do not disrupt testosterone. But now these latest findings implicate anti-androgens in the feminization of fish as well.
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Sat, Feb 7, 2009: from New York Times:
Fallout Widens as Buyers Shun Peanut Butter
Many consumers, apparently disregarding the fine print of the salmonella outbreak and food recall caused by a Georgia peanut plant, are swearing off all brands of peanut butter, driving down sales by nearly 25 percent. The drop-off is so striking that brands like Jif are taking the unusual step of buying ads to tell shoppers that their products are not affected, and giving them a coupon to make sure they do not learn to live without a staple that almost every child loves -- and more than a few of their parents, too.
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Sat, Feb 7, 2009: from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Probe: Did 3M firefighting foam contaminate water?
Minnesota health officials are launching a major investigation into whether drinking water in 15 Minnesota cities is contaminated with chemicals formerly manufactured by 3M Co. and used in municipal fire-fighting foam. The tests, set to begin next month, will be important to residents and fire officials in communities across the country where a 3M firefighting foam has been used for years in training exercises, often on city-owned property adjacent to municipal wells. The foam is flushed into storm sewers or left to seep into the ground, raising the possibility that drinking water has been affected. "This could have national significance," said Doug Wetzstein, supervisor in the superfund section at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Firefighters virtually everywhere have used the foam for decades, he said, at city practice areas, community college training courses, and especially at military bases, airports and refineries where jet fuel and other petroleum-based fires are a major concern.
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Fri, Feb 6, 2009: from MedPage Today:
Bisphenol A Mimics Estrogen, Phthalates Target Testosterone
Although they have been linked to reproductive problems in both sexes, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates -- common chemicals found in household plastics -- have gender-specific effects.... "BPA looks like estrogen," Dr. Taylor, whose research focuses on uterine development and endocrine disruption, said of its chemical structure. "By itself it is a very weak estrogen." ... Mice that were exposed to BPA as fetuses developed abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus, and vagina, Dr. Taylor said. Other murine studies found genetic abnormalities in eggs, an increased risk of mammary cancers, and early puberty in females.... Phthalates, on the other hand, have antiandrogenic effects, Dr. Taylor said. Studies in male animals have found reduced sperm production, undescended testes, hypospadias, decreased testosterone production, and reduced anogenital distance.
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Thu, Feb 5, 2009: from US News and World Report:
Not Just HFCS and Peanut Butter: Here are 10 Other Risky Foods
1. Farmed Salmon. It's high in Polychlorinated Biphenyls, with 11 times more dioxins than wild salmon. 2. Conventionally Grown Bell Peppers. They require more pesticides than any other vegetable - with as many as 64 being found on a single sample of pepper in one study. 3. Non-Organic Strawberries. Some growers of strawberries irrigate their plants with Nutri-Sweet-laced water. The sugar substitute is a probable carcinogen. 4. Chilean Sea Bass. The fish is high in mercury, and if eaten consistently over time, can elevate the body's mercury levels to dangerous amounts. 5. Non-Organic Peaches. Pesticides easily penetrate their soft skins and permeate the fruit. 6. Genetically Modified Corn. We still don't know the long-term effects of genetically modified corn, but it's been tied to an increase in allergies for humans. 7. Bluefin Tuna. Not only is it high in mercury, but overfishing may drive the species to extinction. 8. Industrially Farmed Chicken. Arsenic has been found in conventional chickens, as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 9. Non-Organic Apples. When grown in humid Mid-Atlantic states, the crop uses more pesticides than California, Oregon and Washington states. 10. Cattle Treated with rBGH. Recombinant bovine growth hormone has been traced to breast cancer and hormonal disorders.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Tue, Feb 3, 2009: from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Personal-care chemicals go on toxic list
The federal government is placing on its toxic substances list two silicone-based chemicals that are widely used in shampoos and conditioners, where they help give hair the silky, smooth feeling often played up in advertisements for these personal care products. It is the first time any country has taken such regulatory action against the substances, called D4 and D5 by the silicone industry, that are also in hundreds of personal-care products ranging from deodorants to skin moisturizers.... [Ottawa] decided to designate the substances as dangerous, based on fears that they were a threat to wildlife when they get into the environment from the disposal of consumer products and from industrial releases.
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Tue, Feb 3, 2009: from CBC News (Canada):
Mercury levels rising in caribou, contaminants program finds
Caribou in Canada's North are showing increasing levels of mercury, a contaminant that has drifted into the Arctic from other parts of the world, researchers have found. Mercury is one of two contaminants found in northern environments that are of great concern to scientists, said Mary Gamberg, project co-ordinator with federal Northern Contaminants Program in the Yukon. Gamberg said mercury "seems to be increasing in some [wildlife] populations all across the Arctic," she told CBC News in an interview Monday. "In marine mammals, in some populations, it's increasing. And in caribou, in some populations -- and particularly in female caribou -- it seems to be increasing, which is really interesting," she added.
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Mon, Feb 2, 2009: from Reuters:
Asian plantation workers face weedkiller health threat
Malaysian plantation worker Rajam Murugasu became blind in one eye after she slipped and accidentally sprayed the weedkiller paraquat in her face. "It was raining. I fell down and the chemical shot straight into my eye," said Murugasu, a 40-year-old mother of four. "I was in and out of hospital for a whole year," she told Reuters at Teluk Intan town in northwestern Malaysia. Paraquat, a herbicide that protects crop yields by killing weeds that compete for water, nutrients, and light, is banned in the European Union and restricted to licenced users in the United States, New Zealand and parts of Latin America. Yet it is widely used in China, India, the Philippines as well as Malaysia, where the government reversed a ban in 2006 after growers demanded they be allowed to use the cheap herbicide...."It is banned in all of the EU, so why are people in Asia putting up with this? Why such double standards? Are our lives of less value than theirs?"
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Sun, Feb 1, 2009: from Brisbane Times:
Fungicide maker in child defect storm
THE chemical linked with fish abnormalities and a possible cancer cluster on the Sunshine Coast has been at the centre of a storm over genetic defects in children born overseas. Manufacturer DuPont withdrew its fungicide Benlate from the US market in 2001 after it was forced to defend hundreds of law suits over the product's link with serious health issues, including a child who was born without eyes. In 2000, DuPont was ordered to pay Ecuadorian shrimp farmers more than $US10 million after Benlate run-off from banana plantations contaminated water supplies and poisoned shrimp stocks. Benomyl, the active ingredient in Benlate products, breaks down when sprayed and produces a fungicide, carbendazim, which Sunshine Coast macadamia farmers use. The hatchery, owned by Gwen Gilson, has a macadamia plantation on three sides. Ms Gilson said fish larvae at the Sunland Fish Hatchery, Noosaville, began convulsing and dying four years ago. In August, 90 per cent of fish larvae spawned at the hatchery from brood stock taken from the Noosa River had two heads.
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Sat, Jan 31, 2009: from China Daily:
Birth defects soar due to pollution
Every 30 seconds, a baby is born with physical defects in China, all thanks to the country's degrading environment, an official of the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC) has said. "The number of newborns with birth defects is constantly increasing in both urban and rural areas," Jiang Fan, vice-minister of the NPFPC said at a conference in Beijing recently. "And the rather alarming increase has forced us to kick off a high-level prevention plan." She said that "more than half" of the pregnancies in the country had benefited from the commission's scientific guidance since 2007. A free pre-pregnant examination program has covered eight provinces with the highest rate of birth defects, she said, refusing to divulge further details. "The government must take measures to prevent birth defects," Li Bin, minister of the NPFPC said.
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Sat, Jan 31, 2009: from The Herald News (MA):
Flowing medicine cabinet
PATANCHERU, India -- When researchers analyzed vials of treated wastewater taken from a plant where about 90 Indian drug factories dump their residues, they were shocked. Enough of a single, powerful antibiotic was being spewed into one stream each day to treat every person in a city of 90,000. And it wasn't just ciprofloxacin being detected. The supposedly cleaned water was a floating medicine cabinet -- a soup of 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment, researchers say. Those Indian factories produce drugs for much of the world, including many Americans. The result: Some of India's poor are unwittingly consuming an array of chemicals that may be harmful, and could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.... "I'll tell you, I've never seen concentrations this high before. And they definitely ... are having some biological impact, at least in the effluent," said Dan Schlenk, an ecotoxicologist from the University of California, Riverside, who was not involved in the India research.
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Fri, Jan 30, 2009: from UCLA, via EurekAlert:
Household chemicals may be linked to infertility
[P]erfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs -- chemicals that are widely used in everyday items such as food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products -- may be associated with infertility in women.... In addition to being found in household goods, PFCs, the class of chemicals to which PFOS and PFOA belong, are used in manufacturing processes involving industrial surfactants and emulsifiers. They persist in the environment and in the body for decades.... The researchers say the biological mechanisms by which exposure to PFOS and PFOA might reduce fertility are unknown, but PFCs may interfere with hormones that are involved in reproduction.
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Fri, Jan 30, 2009: from MauiTime Weekly (HI):
The great garbage swirl
This dry, windless area is dominated by the Northern Pacific Gyre, a wind current that encircles an area twice the size of the continental United States. This ribbon of wind traps floating debris, mostly plastic, in a perpetual clockwise swirl. Part of this massive patch sits between Hawaii and the Mainland. Rich Owen of the Environmental Cleanup Coalition, a Maui-based organization that is launching the beginnings of a cleanup effort for the area, said he first heard of the gyre from a friend. "Literally my stomach just started getting in knots," the scuba instructor says. "I felt ill."... "I actually saw a fish shit a piece of plastic when I was in Bali," he says.... Yet you can't see it in satellite photos, according to Algalita.com, the Web site of the organization for which Moore conducts research, because the debris is more "soup" than continent. Instead of forming a trash island, a literal wasteland on the surface, plastic fragments permeate the sea to great depths. And researchers say it doubles in size every time they go out there, which is on average every two years.
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Wed, Jan 28, 2009: from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
BPA lingers in body, study finds
A study released today finds that bisphenol A, a chemical widely used to make plastic and suspected of causing cancer, stays in the body much longer than previously thought. The findings are significant because the longer the chemical lingers in the body, the greater chance it has of doing harm, scientists say. Researchers from the University of Rochester in New York also say the chemical may get into the body from sources such as plastic water pipes or dust from carbonless paper and not only from food containers that leach the chemical when heated. The study results, published today in Environmental Health Perspectives, have sparked a flurry of concern and renewed calls for regulation... BPA, used to make baby bottles, dental sealants, food storage containers and thousands of other household products, was found in 93 percent of Americans tested.
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Tue, Jan 27, 2009: from Chicago Tribune:
Mercury in corn syrup?
A swig of soda or a bite of a candy bar might be sweet, but a new study suggests that food made with corn syrup also could be delivering tiny doses of toxic mercury. For the first time, researchers say they have detected traces of the silvery metal in samples of high-fructose corn syrup, a widely used sweetener that has replaced sugar in many processed foods. The study was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health. Eating high-mercury fish is the chief source of exposure for most people. The new study raises concerns about a previously unknown dietary source of mercury, which has been linked to learning disabilities in children and heart disease in adults. The source of the metal appears to be caustic soda and hydrochloric acid, which manufacturers of corn syrup use to help convert corn kernels into the food additive.
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Tue, Jan 27, 2009: from Telegraph.co.uk:
'Immortal' jellyfish swarming across the world
The Turritopsis Nutricula is able to revert back to a juvenile form once it mates after becoming sexually mature. Marine biologists say the jellyfish numbers are rocketing because they need not die. Dr Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute said: "We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion."... The jellyfish are originally from the Caribbean but have spread all over the world.
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Mon, Jan 26, 2009: from Science News:
Pacific Northwest salmon poisoning killer whales
Killer whales that feast on salmon in the Pacific Northwest are getting a heaping side of contaminants with each meal. The chinook salmon are heavily dosed with chemicals such as DDT and PCBs, nearly all of which the fish acquire in their years at sea, reports a new study in the January Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.... Salmon are known to deliver pollutants, especially PCBs, to coastal, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. PCBs are a kind of endocrine disruptor, known to interfere with development, meddle with immune system function and cause a host of other problems. . The Environmental Protection Agency banned most uses of PCBs in 1979; but the chemicals had been widely used in coolants, pesticides, plastics and other products and are extremely persistent in the environment, cycling through the food web for decades.
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Mon, Jan 26, 2009: from New Scientist:
US prepares to block influx of GM food
After a decade of exporting its genetically modified crops all over the world, the US is preparing to block foreign GM foods from entering the country -- if they are deemed to threaten its agriculture, environment or citizens' health, that is. The warning was given to the US Department of Agriculture, which polices agricultural imports, by its own auditor, the Office of Inspector General (OIG): "Unless international developments in transgenic plants and animals are closely monitored, USDA could be unaware of potential threats that particular new transgenic plants or animals might pose to the nation's food supply."
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Sun, Jan 25, 2009: from Calgary Herald (Canada):
More plastic than plankton in Pacific Ocean
At least 80 per cent of the plastic in the ocean originated from the land. Thousands of cargo containers fall overboard in stormy seas each year. In 2002, 33,000 blue-and-white Nike basketball shoes were spilled off the coast of Washington. Plastic in the ocean acts like sponges attracting neuro-toxins like mercury and pyrethroids, insecticides, carcinogens such as PCBs, DDT and PBDE (the backbone of flame retardants), and man-made hormones like progesterone and estrogen that at high levels induce both male and female reproductive parts on a single animal. Japanese scientists found [plastic nuggets] with concentrations of poisons listed above as high as one million times their concentrations in the water as free-floating substances. Each year, a million sea birds and 100,000 sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales die from eating plastic.... Currently, there is six times more plastic than plankton floating in the middle of the Pacific.
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Sat, Jan 24, 2009: from Associated Press:
TVA memo spins environmental impact of coal ash disaster
The massive coal ash spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant last month wasn't so much "catastrophic" as it was a "sudden, accidental release." That's according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press that was prepared by TVA's 50-member public relations staff for briefing news media the day after the disaster at the Kingston Fossil Plant, about 40 miles west of Knoxville. The nation's largest public utility has been accused by environmentalists and affected residents of soft-pedaling the seriousness of the flood of toxin-laden ash that filled inlets of the Emory River and swept away or damaged lakeside homes.
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Sat, Jan 24, 2009: from The Sacramento Bee:
Federal raid heightens concerns about fake organic fertilizer
Federal agents this week searched a major producer of fertilizer for California's organic farmers, widening concern about the use of synthetic chemicals in the industry. The raid Thursday targeted Port Organic Products Ltd. of Bakersfield. Industry sources estimate the company produced up to half of the liquid fertilizer used on the state's organic farms in recent years. The Bee reported in December on a state investigation that caught another large organic fertilizer maker spiking its product with synthetic nitrogen, which is cheap, difficult to detect – and banned from organic farms. Since then, the organic industry and state officials have taken several steps to catch violators in California, which produces nearly 60 percent of the U.S. harvest of organic fruits, nuts and vegetables... As Thursday's raid indicates, work remains to improve a patchwork regulatory system that presumes manufacturers tell the truth about their products. On Thursday at the Eco-Farm Conference in Monterey, frustrated farmers and fertilizer makers alike called for stronger oversight.
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Sat, Jan 24, 2009: from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
EPA a failure on chemicals, audit finds
The Environmental Protection Agency's ability to assess toxic chemicals is as broken as the nation's financial markets and needs a total overhaul, a congressional audit has found. The Government Accountability Office has released a report saying the EPA lacks even basic information to say whether chemicals pose substantial health risks to the public. It says actions are needed to streamline and increase the transparency of the EPA's registry of chemicals. And it calls for measures to enhance the agency's ability to obtain health and safety information from the chemical industry...."This just shows that the EPA is not any better able to protect Americans from risky chemicals than FEMA was to save New Orleans or the SEC was to cope with the financial collapse," said John Peterson Myers, a scientist and author who has been writing about chemical risks to human health for more than three decades. For the EPA to be compared to the collapsed financial markets dramatically underscores the need for a complete overhaul of the regulation of toxic chemicals, said Richard Wiles, executive director of Environmental Working Group, a health watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C. "The EPA joins the hall of shame of failed government programs," Wiles said.
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Thu, Jan 22, 2009: from Guardian (UK):
New research on common chemical raises concerns
More doubts have been raised over the safety of a common chemical found in hard plastic food containers and bottles, and metal cans. High levels of the chemical, called bisphenol A, appear to be linked to heart problems and type 2 diabetes, a new study has found.... Researchers have now done a study looking at 1,455 American adults, to see whether high levels of BPA in people's bodies could be linked to health problems.... The results showed that people with higher concentrations of BPA in their urine were also more likely to have heart problems or type 2 diabetes. They also had a higher chance of having chemical changes in their body, which suggested their livers might not be working as well as they should.
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Tue, Jan 20, 2009: from Union Democrat:
Sierra Pacific defends use of forest chemicals
Sierra Pacific Industries is defending its use of chemicals on forested land after a report from the San Francisco-based environmental group ForestEthics claimed their use is affecting wildlife and drinking water. The report said SPI, which owns about 1.7 million acres in the state, has used more than 770,000 pounds of pesticides from 1995 to 2007 on its land -- which SPI doesn't deny. Those chemicals are affecting wildlife adversely, like the sexual development and immune systems of male frogs, said Tyrone Hayes, a professor in the department of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's causing male frogs to grow ovaries," said Josh Buswell, the Sierra campaigner with ForestEthics. "That seems a little questionable." One of the chemicals used by SPI is atrazine, which is the second most detected pesticide in drinking water wells, according to an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency national survey. Another is imazapyr, which has been shown to increase brain and thyroid cancers in male rats.
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Tue, Jan 20, 2009: from Business Mirror:
Dumping of banned toys from US feared
A waste and pollution watchdog on Monday called on the government, particularly the Bureau of Customs, to prevent the entry of banned toys from the United States which may be dumped into the country. At the same time, the group urged lawmakers to enact a law, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to come up with ways to guarantee consumer safety in the country, particularly against toxic contamination in various local and imported products. EcoWaste Coalition made the call saying the impending implementation of far-reaching safety regulations for toys and other children’s products in the US might result in the massive recall of proscribed items that could find their way to the Philippines, which has less stringent requirements.
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Mon, Jan 19, 2009: from London Independent:
River pollutants linked to male infertility
The rise in male infertility and the decline in human sperm counts could be linked with chemicals in the environment known as anti-androgens which block the action of the male sex-hormone testosterone, a study has found. Scientists have identified a group of river pollutants that are able to stop testosterone from working. These anti-androgens have been linked with the feminisation of fish in British rivers and could be affecting the development of male reproductive organs in humans, it found. The study has established a link between anti-androgens released into rivers from sewage outflows and abnormalities in wild fish where males develop female reproductive organs. It is the first time that anti-androgens and hermaphrodite fish have been linked in this way.
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Sun, Jan 18, 2009: from London Guardian:
Stop scattering ashes, families are told
So many people want to scatter the ashes of family and friends in beauty spots that the government has been forced to step in with anti-pollution rules. Last month, staff at the Jane Austen House Museum in Hampshire discovered piles of human ashes scattered around the novelist's home and gardens, and football grounds, rivers, parks, golf courses, lakes, rivers and mountain tops have all become favourite remembrance spots. Until 1960, only about one in three people in Britain chose cremation and it was uncommon for anyone to ask to have their ashes scattered. But, says the Cremation Society, there are now more than 420,000 cremations a year, 70 percent of all deaths. Most families want to sprinkle the ashes in places meaningful to the deceased. In the 1970s, about 12 percent of ashes were taken away from the crematorium - now it is nearer two-thirds.
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Sun, Jan 18, 2009: from Dhaka Daily Star:
Industrial pollution chokes people, crops alike
Ammonia mixed toxic gas and urea dust emitted from Jamuna Fertiliser Factory (JFF) in Jamalpur have allegedly been wreaking havoc on the local environment and causing debilitating illnesses among the locals. The toxic gas of the largest urea producing factory, at Tarandani of Sarishabari upazila in Tangail, has also been harming crops, trees, livestock, poultry and fish resources for the last 17 years. Many trees around the factory do not have a single leaf....Since its inception the JFF has been producing 1,700 tonnes of urea per day, 5,60,000 tonnes a year. Urea is produced from ammonia and carbon dioxide gas. Chemical formaldehyde is also mixed with the urea to make it hard. Formaldehyde acts as a disinfectant and it kills most bacteria and fungi (including their spores).
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Sat, Jan 17, 2009: from Science News:
Livestock manure stinks for infant health
The manure generated by thousands of cows or pigs doesn’t just stink — it may seriously affect human health. New research examining two decades’ worth of livestock production data finds a positive relationship between increased production at industrial farms and infant death rates in the counties where the farms reside. The study reported in the February American Journal of Agricultural Economics implicates air pollution and suggests that Clean Air Act regulations need to be revamped to address livestock production of noxious gases. The new work is in line with several studies documenting the ill effects of megafarms, which typically have thousands of animals packed into small areas, comments Peter Thorne, director of the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Higher rates of lung disease have been found in workers at large poultry and swine operations and respiratory problems increase in communities when these large-scale farms move in, Thorne notes. “This study is a very important contribution,” says Thorne. “This is an industry we really need — it provides food and a lot of jobs — the answer isn’t for everyone to become vegetarians.”
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Sat, Jan 17, 2009: from Chicago Tribune:
U.S. warns of Teflon chemical in water
Less than a week before the Bush administration leaves office, federal environmental regulators are issuing a controversial health advisory on drinking water contaminated with a toxic chemical used to make Teflon and other non-stick coatings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is advising people to reduce consumption of water containing more than 0.4 parts per billion of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA -- a level critics say is not strict enough. Studies have shown the chemical, which is linked to cancer, liver damage and birth defects, has built up in human blood throughout the world. It is unclear how many cities might exceed the new limit because the EPA doesn't require water treatment plants to test for PFOA... Critics called the EPA's advisory a last-minute gift from the Bush administration to DuPont and a handful of other companies that make PFOA. Some scientists have proposed limits as low as 0.02 parts per billion.
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Fri, Jan 16, 2009: from TIME:
E-Waste Not, E-Want Not
Every day Americans throw out more than 350,000 cell phones and 130,000 computers, making electronic waste the fastest-growing part of the U.S. garbage stream. Improperly disposed of, the lead, mercury and other toxic materials inside e-waste can leak from landfills.... A lot of exported e-waste ends up in Guiyu, China, a recycling hub where peasants heat circuit boards over coal fires to recover lead, while others use acid to burn off bits of gold. According to reports from nearby Shantou University, Guiyu has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world and elevated rates of miscarriages. "You see women sitting by the fireplace burning laptop adapters, with rivers of ash pouring out of houses," says Jim Puckett, founder of Basel Action Network (BAN), an e-waste watchdog. "We're dumping on the rest of the world."
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Fri, Jan 16, 2009: from LA Times:
Mercury levels higher in women in Northeast, coastal areas
Health officials have warned consumers for several years to avoid consuming too much of any type of fish that tends to be high in mercury. High blood mercury levels can cause serious health problems and are particularly dangerous for pregnant women because the toxin may harm the fetus. ... Researchers used data from a large, national nutrition survey collected from 1999 to 2004 and found that women in the Northeast were the most likely to have blood mercury concentrations above 3.5 micrograms per liter. Almost 1 in 5 women in the Northeast had levels that are considered too high. More than 16 percent of women living in counties that bordered an ocean or the Gulf of Mexico had levels that are considered too high. Nationwide, about 10 percent of women had levels at or greater than 3.5 micrograms per liter.
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Wed, Jan 14, 2009: from Los Angeles Times:
Herbal medicine sales up in sour economy; consumers seek cheaper, but often unproven, options
CHICAGO (AP)-- The choice between $75 prescription sleeping pills or a $5 herbal alternative is a no-brainer for Cathy and Bernard Birleffi, whose insurance costs have skyrocketed along with the nation's financial woes. The Calistoga, Calif., couple seem to reflect a trend. With many Americans putting off routine doctor visits and self-medicating to save money, use of alternative treatments is on the rise — even though evidence is often lacking on their safety and effectiveness. Climbing sales of herbal medicines have paralleled the tanking economy, according to an Associated Press review of recent data from market-watchers and retailers.
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Wed, Jan 14, 2009: from ProPublica:
Jackson to Be Asked About Regulating Perchlorate in Drinking Water
In the latest volley of a years-long battle involving the Environmental Protection Agency, the military and the White House, the EPA announced last week that it will delay its decision [1] on whether to set a drinking water standard for perchlorate, a chemical in rocket fuel that has been found at harmful levels in drinking water across the country. The announcement that the EPA won't act until it receives advice from the National Academy of Sciences puts the contentious decision onto the already-heavy regulatory agenda awaiting Lisa Jackson, President-elect Barack Obama's pick to head the EPA.
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Tue, Jan 13, 2009: from Associated Press:
Removing cats to protect birds backfires on island
BANGKOK, Thailand -- It seemed like a good idea at the time: Remove all the feral cats from a famous Australian island to save the native seabirds. But the decision to eradicate the felines from Macquarie island allowed the rabbit population to explode and, in turn, destroy much of its fragile vegetation that birds depend on for cover, researchers said Tuesday. Removing the cats from Macquarie "caused environmental devastation" that will cost authorities 24 million Australian dollars ($16.2 million) to remedy, Dana Bergstrom of the Australian Antarctic Division and her colleagues wrote in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology.
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Tue, Jan 13, 2009: from New York Times:
Research Ties Human Acts to Harmful Rates of Species Evolution
Human actions are increasing the rate of evolutionary change in plants and animals in ways that may hurt their long-term prospects for survival, scientists are reporting. Hunting, commercial fishing and some conservation regulations, like minimum size limits on fish, may all work against species health... Based on an analysis of earlier studies of 29 species — mostly fish, but also a few animals and plants like bighorn sheep and ginseng — researchers from several Canadian and American universities found that rates of evolutionary change were three times higher in species subject to “harvest selection” than in other species. Writing in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say the data they analyzed suggested that size at reproductive maturity in the species under pressure had shrunk in 30 years or so by 20 percent, and that organisms were reaching reproductive age about 25 percent sooner.
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Tue, Jan 13, 2009: from Brisbane Courier-Mail:
Two-headed fish larvae blamed on farm chemicals in Noosa River
CHEMICAL contamination from farm runoff has been blamed after millions of fish larvae in the Noosa River were found to have grown two heads. The disfigured larvae are thought to have been affected by one of two popular farm chemicals, either the insecticide endosulphan or the fungicide carbendazim. Former NSW fisheries scientist and aquaculture veterinarian Matt Landos yesterday called on the Federal Government to ban the chemicals and urgently find replacements. Dr Landos said about 90 per cent of larvae spawned at the Sunland Fish Hatchery from bass taken from the river were deformed and all died within 48 hours.
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Tue, Jan 13, 2009: from USDA Forest Service:
Top 5 invasive plants threatening Southern forests in 2009
U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Ecologist Jim Miller, Ph.D., one of the foremost authorities on nonnative plants in the South, today identified the invasive plant species he believes pose the biggest threats to southern forest ecosystems in 2009. "Cogongrass, tallowtree, and Japanese climbing fern are among the fastest moving and most destructive nonnative plant species facing many southern landowners this year," said Miller. "Rounding out the top five invasive species that I'm very concerned about would be tree-of-heaven and nonnative privets. While our forests are besieged by numerous invasive plants, these and other nonnative species present serious financial and ecological threats to the South and its forests in 2009."
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Mon, Jan 12, 2009: from Chicago Tribune:
Studies show SE. Ind. site high in mercury levels
INDIANAPOLIS - Rain and snow that fall near a cluster of coal-burning power plants in southeastern Indiana are laced with some of the highest concentrations of atmospheric mercury in the nation, a new federal study has found. The U.S. Geological Survey research found the elevated levels of the toxic metal near Madison, Ind., adding to evidence that mercury spewed by power plants can end up in high concentrations in rain and snow that falls nearby. The findings, along with a study that found the most toxic form of the metal in more than 80 percent of samples taken from streams statewide, document the legacy of one pollutant from modern industry, the researchers say. "Everywhere we looked in Indiana we found mercury, and it's not the same everywhere, nor is it the same year to year or season to season," said Martin Risch, a USGS scientist who authored both papers.
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Sun, Jan 11, 2009: from Reuters:
Obese Americans now outweigh the merely overweight
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of obese American adults outweighs the number of those who are merely overweight, according to the latest statistics from the federal government. Numbers posted by the National Center for Health Statistics show that more than 34 percent of Americans are obese, compared to 32.7 percent who are overweight. It said just under 6 percent are "extremely" obese. "More than one-third of adults, or over 72 million people, were obese in 2005-2006, the NCHS said in its report.
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Sun, Jan 11, 2009: from Associated Press:
Nation's largest utility grapples with 2 spills
STEVENSON, Ala. (AP) — Standing on a porch near the Widows Creek power plant Saturday, Charlie Cookston took a drag off a cigarette and ticked off the reasons he distrusts the Tennessee Valley Authority. Dead mussels in the mighty, meandering Tennessee River. Dwindling numbers of fish. Big, black piles of coal ash that seem to get larger every day. As nearby residents await lab tests on the safety of drinking water, tempers are unsettled. Electric rates at the nation's largest utility have soared. A dike burst in Tennessee destroyed several homes, and on Friday, as much as 10,000 gallons of waste spilled into Widows Creek in northwestern Alabama. The nation's largest utility, once was viewed as a savior to the region, bringing lights, thousands of jobs and progress since its creation as a New Deal program in 1933, has had a rocky few months.
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Fri, Jan 9, 2009: from The Tennessean:
Second TVA spill reported in Alabama
TVA is investigating a leak from a gypsum pond at its Widows Creek coal-burning power plant in northeastern Alabama, a spokesman said at about 10:45 a.m. Central Time. The leak, discovered before 6 a.m. has been stopped, according to John Moulton, with the Tennessee Valley Authority. "Some materials flowed into Widows Creek, although most of the leakage remained in the settling pond," he said.
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Thu, Jan 8, 2009: from Associated Press:
TVA ratepayers may be stuck with ash cleanup bill
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The tab for a toxin-laden ash flood at a coal-fired power plant in Tennessee could reach hundreds of millions of dollars, and ratepayers for the nation's largest public utility will probably be stuck with the bill. The total cost of cleaning up last month's accident isn't yet clear, but the bill will be staggering. Extra workers, overtime, heavy machinery, housing and supplies for families chased from their homes and lawsuits are among the costs that are piling up. And with few other places for the Tennessee Valley Authority to turn to cover the costs, the utility's 9 million customers in Tennessee and six surrounding states will bear the brunt in higher electricity rate hikes in the future, TVA Chairman Bill Sansom told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "This is going to get into (electric) rates sooner or later," Sansom said. "We haven't even thought about going to Washington for it." When a dike broke Dec. 22 at the Kingston Fossil Plant, some 1.1 billion gallons of sludge was released from a 40-acre settlement pond, blanketing nearly 300 acres in a rural neighborhood up to 9 feet deep in grayish muck and spilling into the Emory River threatening drinking water.
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Wed, Jan 7, 2009: from New Scientist:
Rise of the garage genome hackers
The competition is part of a do-it-yourself movement that hopes to spark a revolution in biotechnology. It is based on the emerging field of synthetic biology, which uses genes and other cell components as the building blocks for new organisms or devices. The movement is trying to open up this field to anyone with a passion for tweaking DNA in their spare time -- from biologists to software engineers to people who just like it as a hobby. The hope is that encouraging a wider mix of people to take part could lead to advances that would not happen otherwise, just as tinkering by the Homebrew Computer Club hackers of the 1970s spawned the first personal computers. "Biology is becoming less of a science and more of a technology," says Mackenzie Cowell, co-founder of the group DIYbio, which aims to be an "Institution for the Amateur", providing scientists with resources akin to those found in academia or industry. "There will be more opportunity for people who didn't spend up to seven years getting a PhD in the field," he says.
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Wed, Jan 7, 2009: from New York Times:
Hundreds of Coal Ash Dumps Lack Regulation
The coal ash pond that ruptured and sent a billion gallons of toxic sludge across 300 acres of East Tennessee last month was only one of more than 1,300 similar dumps across the United States — most of them unregulated and unmonitored — that contain billions more gallons of fly ash and other byproducts of burning coal. Like the one in Tennessee, most of these dumps, which reach up to 1,500 acres, contain heavy metals like arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium, which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to be a threat to water supplies and human health. Yet they are not subject to any federal regulation, which experts say could have prevented the spill, and there is little monitoring of their effects on the surrounding environment.
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Tue, Jan 6, 2009: from CNNMoney:
Your house can make you sick
(Money Magazine) -- You're sniffling and wheezing your way through another winter. A run of bad luck with germs? Sure, but it also may be the result of something more insidious: toxins. Chemicals found in common home furnishings can cause asthma and flu-like symptoms, and your basement or bathroom may be harboring allergy-inducing mold. You could even be experiencing a reaction to a more dangerous substance that could cause kidney damage or cancer.... Banishing toxins from your home isn't an exciting improvement, but it's a crucial one, since many states counsel home buyers to do environmental checks before closing on a home. Below you'll find five of the most dangerous and common toxins to watch for, along with the most wallet-friendly ways to nip them in the bud.
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Tue, Jan 6, 2009: from Environmental Health News:
Mercury-laden whale meat may foster heart disease
Eating mercury contaminated seafood increases the risk of heart disease in men, reports this unique study that examined Faroese whalers. The risk of heart disease increases in men who eat mercury contaminated seafood -- in this case whale meat. The results support previous findings with other human populations that show higher exposures to methylmercury can promote heart disease. Methylmercury is an environmental pollutant found in fish and seafood. It is at particularly high levels in some top level predators that eat smaller prey, such as tuna and other large fish and marine mammals. People who eat enough mercury-laden food to increase their body levels may suffer from well known and adverse health effects, including reproductive and neurological problems and an increased risk of death from heart attacks. This unique study looked at a group of 42 Faroese whalingmen aged 30-70 years old. More than half (26 (or 63 percent of the men) ate "3 or more whale meals per month." The researchers investigated if long-term exposure to mercury by eating pilot whale meat led to adverse heart related health effects, such as heart attacks....The researchers found a clearly significant correlation of increased blood pressure and arterial thickness with higher mercury levels found in their bodies.
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Tue, Jan 6, 2009: from Inter Press Service:
PERU: Open-Pit Mine Continues to Swallow City
CERRO DE PASCO, Peru, Jan 5 (IPS) - An immense open-pit mine located 4380 metres above sea level is swallowing up the centre of the city of Cerro de Pasco in Peru's central highlands, while the damages, in the form of toxic waste, spread to nearby villages. The government just signed a new law to relocate part of the local population, who for decades have suffered from the lead dust, dynamite explosions and toxic gases generated by the mining of zinc, lead and silver. The open-pit mine now operated by Volcan, a Peruvian company, in this city of 70,000 -- which is the capital of the province of Pasco -- is now 1.8 kilometres long. Neighbourhoods stretch all around its edges. The shabby houses located a few metres from the edge show cracks from the detonations, and children with blood lead levels far above the acceptable limits play next to vast heaps of slag. And in villages near the city, local peasant farmers watch their livestock die because of a lack of water, and contaminated grass.
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Tue, Jan 6, 2009: from Environmental Health News:
Crops absorb livestock antibiotics, new science shows
For half a century, meat producers have fed antibiotics to farm animals to increase their growth and stave off infections. Now scientists have discovered that those drugs are sprouting up in unexpected places. Vegetables such as corn, potatoes and lettuce absorb antibiotics when grown in soil fertilized with livestock manure, according to tests conducted at the University of Minnesota. Today, close to 70 percent of all antibiotics and related drugs used in the United States are routinely fed to cattle, pigs and poultry, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Although this practice sustains a growing demand for meat, it also generates public health fears associated with the expanding presence of antibiotics in the food chain.
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Mon, Jan 5, 2009: from London Daily Mail:
Orange drinks with 300 times more pesticide than tap water
Fizzy drinks sold by Coca-Cola in Britain have been found to contain pesticides at up to 300 times the level allowed in tap or bottled water. A worldwide study found pesticide levels in orange and lemon drinks sold under the Fanta brand, which is popular with children, were at their highest in the UK. The research team called on the Government, the industry and the company to act to remove the chemicals and called for new safety standards to regulate the soft drinks market. The industry denies children are at risk and insists that the levels found by researchers based at the University of Jaen in southern Spain are not harmful... The chemicals detected included carbendazim, thiabendazole, imazalil, prochloraz, malathion and iprodione.
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Sun, Jan 4, 2009: from Associated Press:
Lead for car batteries poisons an African town
THIAROYE SUR MER, Senegal -- First, it took the animals. Goats fell silent and refused to stand up. Chickens died in handfuls, then en masse. Street dogs disappeared. Then it took the children. Toddlers stopped talking and their legs gave out. Women birthed stillborns. Infants withered and died. Some said the houses were cursed. Others said the families were cursed. The mysterious illness killed 18 children in this town on the fringes of Dakar, Senegal's capital, before anyone in the outside world noticed. When they did - when the TV news aired parents' angry pleas for an investigation, when the doctors ordered more tests, when the West sent health experts - they did not find malaria, or polio or AIDS, or any of the diseases that kill the poor of Africa. They found lead. The dirt here is laced with lead left over from years of extracting it from old car batteries. So when the price of lead quadrupled over five years, residents started digging up the earth to get at it.
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Sun, Jan 4, 2009: from Huffington Post:
Tennessee's Toxic Nightmare: Arsenic Levels 35 to 300 Times EPA Standard for Drinking Water
Just-released independent water sampling data from the Tennessee coal ash disaster has shown alarmingly high levels of arsenic and seven other heavy metals, including cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and thallium. "I've never seen levels this high," said Dr. Shea Tuberty, Assistant Professor of Biology at the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Lab at Appalachian State University. "These levels would knock out fish reproduction ... the ecosystems around Kingston and Harriman are going to be in trouble ... maybe for generations."
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Sun, Jan 4, 2009: from Joplin Independent:
Tyson Foods is undisputed winner of OCWF award
The Golden Litter Award for 2008 goes to Tyson Foods, Inc. in recognition of attempts to cloud a U.S. Federal District Court lawsuit accusing Tyson and other poultry companies of water pollution. The award is presented by the Oklahoma Clean Water Forum (OCWF), a blog about water quality, the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake. In addition to the Golden Litter Award, Silver Squat Awards will go to Oklahoma television stations for non-coverage of Oklahoma's poultry lawsuit and poultry waste pollution of the Illinois River watershed. A newspaper and a public utility also are receiving Silver Squat Awards. "With only a few exceptions, TV stations did dismal "diddly squat: in coverage of Oklahoma’s clean water lawsuit and poultry waste pollution of the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake," said OCWF editors. "Because they did squat while raking in millions of poultry industry advertising dollars, they deserve squat."
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Wed, Dec 31, 2008: from The Arizona Republic:
Asthma's links to air pollution stir worry
The bits of dust and dirt so common in Phoenix's air may be causing more problems for asthmatic children than experts previously believed. A new study released Tuesday found that asthma attacks and symptoms in children ages 5 through 18 increased by 14 percent on the days Valley skies were plagued by high levels of particulate pollution. The study, conducted by researchers at Arizona State University, is thought to be the first in the state to quantify a tie between poor air quality and children's health. It also reveals that children are affected by coarse pollutants at levels below the federal government's health standard.
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Wed, Dec 31, 2008: from The Economist:
A sea of troubles -- an ocean wrapup
The worries begin at the surface, where an atmosphere newly laden with man-made carbon dioxide interacts with the briny. The sea has thus become more acidic, making life difficult, if not impossible, for marine organisms with calcium-carbonate shells or skeletons. These are not all as familiar as shrimps and lobsters, yet species like krill, tiny shrimp-like creatures, play a crucial part in the food chain: kill them off, and you may kill off their predators, whose predators may be the ones you enjoy served fried, grilled or with sauce tartare. Worse, you may destabilise an entire ecosystem.... And then there are the red tides of algal blooms, the plagues of jellyfish and the dead zones where only simple organisms thrive. All of these are increasing in intensity, frequency and extent. All of these, too, seem to be associated with various stresses man inflicts on marine ecosystems: overfishing, global warming, fertilisers running from land into rivers and estuaries, often the whole lot in concatenation.
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Tue, Dec 30, 2008: from Indo-Asian News Service:
Jan 31 deadline to remove Bhopal gas waste unlikely to be met
Bhopal, Dec 30 (IANS) It has been 24 years since over 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) spewed out of the now defunct Union Carbide's pesticide plant here, killing thousands of people instantly and maiming many for life. But the state government is still grappling with ways to dispose of the toxic waste left behind that poses grave health hazards to people living nearby. The world's worst man-made disaster - the Bhopal gas tragedy - occurred on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, and the Madhya Pradesh High Court had set a Jan 31, 2009, deadline to remove the poisonous waste from the plant site, but this seems to be a tough task....According to medical experts, the site is a virtual storehouse of deadly chemicals including lead, mercury and chlorinated naphthalene that can cause cancer, affect the growth of children and lead to other health disorders. But more than 25,000 people living in 14 colonies around the factory have no option but to continue drinking the contaminated water.
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Tue, Dec 30, 2008: from Bloomberg News:
Texaco Toxic Past Haunts Chevron as $27 Billion Judgment Looms
Bolivar Cevallos walks around the farm where his family once lived amid the oil fields of Ecuador's Amazon rain forest. His boots sink ankle deep in tar. Everywhere he steps, oily muck seeps from the ground. A gasolinelike smell hangs in the sweltering jungle air. The mess is a remnant of oil drilling in a 120-mile-long swath of the tropical jungle in northeastern Ecuador where Texaco Inc. and Ecuador's state-run oil company, PetroEcuador, have pumped billions of barrels of crude from the ground during the past 40 years. The ruined land around Cevallos's home is part of one of the worst environmental and human health disasters in the Amazon basin, which stretches across nine countries and, at 1.9 billion acres (800 million hectares), is about the size of Australia. And depending on how an Ecuadorean judge rules in a lawsuit over the pollution, it may become the costliest corporate ecological catastrophe in world history. If the judge follows the recommendation of a court-appointed panel of experts, he could order Chevron Corp., which now owns Texaco, to pay as much as $27 billion in damages.
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Tue, Dec 30, 2008: from New York Times:
At Plant in Coal Ash Spill, Toxic Deposits by the Ton
In a single year, a coal-fired electric plant deposited more than 2.2 million pounds of toxic materials in a holding pond that failed last week, flooding 300 acres in East Tennessee, according to a 2007 inventory filed with the Environmental Protection Agency. The inventory, disclosed by the Tennessee Valley Authority on Monday at the request of The New York Times, showed that in just one year, the plant's byproducts included 45,000 pounds of arsenic, 49,000 pounds of lead, 1.4 million pounds of barium, 91,000 pounds of chromium and 140,000 pounds of manganese. Those metals can cause cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems. And the holding pond, at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a T.V.A. plant 40 miles west of Knoxville, contained many decades' worth of these deposits.
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Mon, Dec 29, 2008: from San Francisco Chronicle:
Drillers eye oil reserves off California coast
The federal government is taking steps that may open California's fabled coast to oil drilling in as few as three years, an action that could place dozens of platforms off the Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt coasts, and raises the specter of spills, air pollution and increased ship traffic into San Francisco Bay. Millions of acres of oil deposits, mapped in the 1980s when then-Interior Secretary James Watt and Energy Secretary Donald Hodel pushed for California exploration, lie a few miles from the forested North Coast and near the mouth of the Russian River, as well as off Malibu, Santa Monica and La Jolla in Southern California. "These are the targets," said Richard Charter, a lobbyist for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund who worked for three decades to win congressional bans on offshore drilling. "You couldn't design a better formula to create adverse impacts on California's coastal-dependent economy."
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Sun, Dec 28, 2008: from Merrillville Post-Tribune:
IDEM stops giving fines, punishments
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has stopped issuing fines against other state agencies in Indiana that violate their environmental permits. For instance, the Indiana Department of Transportation violated wastewater permits for rest stops across the state more than 550 times over four years. It discharged sludge and ammonia into streams, causing algae blooms and potential damage to aquatic life. But INDOT got no fines. It got off with a legal slap on the wrist. Environmentalists are appalled, calling it a "creeping lack of accountability" and commitment to enforcing the law.
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Sat, Dec 27, 2008: from New York Times:
Tennessee Ash Flood Larger Than Initial Estimate
A coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee that experts were already calling the largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States is more than three times as large as initially estimated, according to an updated survey by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Officials at the authority initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant, about 40 miles west of Knoxville, gave way on Monday. But on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep.
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Sat, Dec 27, 2008: from Reuters:
Pollution at home often lurks unrecognized
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many people may be surprised by the number of chemicals they are exposed to through everyday household products, a small study finds, suggesting, researchers say, that consumers need to learn more about sources of indoor pollution. In interviews with 25 women who'd had their homes and bodies tested for various environmental pollutants, researchers found that most were surprised and perplexed by the number of chemicals to which they'd been exposed.... The term "fragrance" on household-product labels can signal the presence of potentially harmful chemicals. One of the uses of phthalates, for example, is to stabilize fragrances.
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Fri, Dec 26, 2008: from Associated Press:
Amateurs are trying genetic engineering at home
The Apple computer was invented in a garage. Same with the Google search engine. Now, tinkerers are working at home with the basic building blocks of life itself. Using homemade lab equipment and the wealth of scientific knowledge available online, these hobbyists are trying to create new life forms through genetic engineering -- a field long dominated by Ph.D.s toiling in university and corporate laboratories.
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Fri, Dec 26, 2008: from Washington Post:
Report: Alberta Mines Imperil Birds
About half of America's migratory birds fly from destinations as far-flung as Chile to nest in Canada's boreal forest. In Alberta, that forest lies above tar sands that contain oil reserves second only to Saudi Arabia's. The excavation of the tar sands -- projected to pump $2.4 trillion into Canada's economy between 2010 and 2030 -- could reduce the region's migratory-bird population by almost half, according to a peer-reviewed study released Dec. 2 by U.S. and Canadian environmental groups.... The study estimates that over 30 to 50 years, tar sands excavation will reduce bird populations by anywhere from 6 million to 166 million, including several endangered and threatened species.
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Fri, Dec 26, 2008: from Discovery Channel:
Tenn. Sludge Spill Challenges 'Clean Coal' Future
When an earthen wall holding back 525 million gallons of ash slurry gave way at the coal-fired Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee in the wee hours of Monday morning, the resultant flood ruined a picturesque rural landscape, inundated more than a dozen houses, and blanketed as much as 400 acres of land with potentially toxic muck.... But the mud has done much more than just sully a countryside. Americans' energy consumption habits are a top-tier political issue, and as we look for new ways to curtail global warming, wean ourselves from oil, and find sources of clean energy, coal's role is still unclear. So the accident raises a serious question: Is there such a thing as "clean coal"?
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Fri, Dec 26, 2008: from National Research Council:
EPA Should Pursue Cumulative Risk Assessment of Phthalates
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should examine whether combined exposures to chemicals known as phthalates could cause adverse health effects in humans, says a new report from the National Research Council. In addition, this analysis, called a cumulative risk assessment, should consider other chemicals that could potentially cause the same health effects as phthalates, instead of focusing on chemicals that are similar in structure, which is EPA's current practice. Furthermore, EPA should consider using the recommended approach for future cumulative risk assessments on other kinds of chemicals.... Currently when conducting cumulative risk assessments, EPA often considers only chemicals that are structurally related, on the assumption that they have the same chain of reactions that lead to a final health outcome. That practice ignores how exposures to different chemicals may result in the same health effects. The conceptual approach taken for phthalates -- to consider chemicals that cause similar health effects -- should also be applied when completing any cumulative risk assessment, the committee said. For instance, EPA could evaluate the risk of combined exposures to lead, methylmercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls because all contribute to cognitive deficits consistent with IQ reduction in children.
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Wed, Dec 24, 2008: from University of California - Davis via ScienceDaily:
Baby Fish In Polluted San Francisco Estuarian Waters Are Stunted And Deformed
Striped bass in the San Francisco Estuary are contaminated before birth with a toxic mix of pesticides, industrial chemicals and flame retardants that their mothers acquire from estuary waters and food sources and pass on to their eggs, say UC Davis researchers. Using new analytical techniques, the researchers found that offspring of estuary fish had underdeveloped brains, inadequate energy supplies and dysfunctional livers. They grew slower and were smaller than offspring of hatchery fish raised in clean water.
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Tue, Dec 23, 2008: from Nashville Tennessean:
Flood of sludge breaks TVA dike
HARRIMAN, Tenn. — Millions of yards of ashy sludge broke through a dike at TVA's Kingston coal-fired plant Monday, covering hundreds of acres, knocking one home off its foundation and putting environmentalists on edge about toxic chemicals that may be seeping into the ground and flowing downriver. One neighboring family said the disaster was no surprise because they have watched the 1960s-era ash pond's mini-blowouts off and on for years. About 2.6 million cubic yards of slurry — enough to fill 798 Olympic-size swimming pools — rolled out of the pond Monday, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cleanup will take at least several weeks, or, in a worst-case scenario, years.
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Tue, Dec 23, 2008: from Associated Press:
More than 100 million Americans breathe sooty air
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 100 million people living in 46 metro areas are breathing air that has gotten too full of soot on some days, and now those cities have to clean up their air, the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday. The EPA added 15 cities to the sooty air list, mostly in states not usually thought of as pollution-prone, such as Alaska, Utah, Idaho and Wisconsin. That's probably because of the prevalence of wood stoves in western and northern regions, a top EPA official said. But environmentalists said the EPA was only doing half its job on soot-laden areas, letting some southern cities with long-term soot problems — such as Houston — off the hook.
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Mon, Dec 22, 2008: from The Times-Picayune:
Report sounds alarm on dead zone in the Gulf
After years of piecemeal efforts to reduce Mississippi River pollution that leads to the Gulf of Mexico's annual "dead zone" disturbance, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Agriculture Department need to take quick action in pinpointing and reducing the source of the problem, says a new report from the National Research Council. Agricultural practices in the nation's Heartland are a major contributor to the dead zone problem, and the report points out that EPA and USDA have not effectively coordinated upstream pollution-control measures to tackle the problem: a lifeless, oxygen-depleted swath of Gulf waters nearly the size of New Jersey. Even with a more robust program to reduce river pollution, the report notes that it could take decades to reverse the damage.
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Mon, Dec 22, 2008: from Chemical & Engineering News:
Beetle Epidemic Escalates
...Colorado is among the hardest hit areas in what entomologists are calling one of the largest insect infestations in North America's recorded history. Stretching from British Columbia to as far south as New Mexico, millions of acres worth of pine trees have been killed by mountain pine beetles (Dendroctonus ponderosae) over the past few years. The trees' deaths pose ecological, social, and economic challenges. The threat of fire ranks among the biggest concerns, particularly as the rice-grain-sized beetles migrate from trees in sparsely populated higher altitudes to forests surrounding residential neighborhoods. This species of bark beetle is native to Western North America and infests trees as part of a natural cycle. Entomologists and chemical ecologists say several factors have contributed to the insect's recent population boom, including a 10-year drought that weakened the pines' natural defenses and winters warm enough that more of the beetle larvae can now survive. In areas where mountain pine beetle numbers equate to an epidemic, many trees are already dead. Simply removing the beetle-riddled arboreal carcasses is one of the only remaining options for controlling the epidemic, scientists say. Meanwhile, researchers are studying how the combination of other forestry management techniques and chemical tools may help save remaining trees from massacre by beetles.
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Sun, Dec 21, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
Tribune investigation prompts stores to pull food items
Chicago-area supermarkets, gourmet shops and bakeries routinely sell mislabeled products that pose a danger to those with food allergies, according to Tribune testing and a comprehensive check of grocery aisles. When informed of the findings, more than a dozen food companies said they would remove products from shelves or fix labels to properly disclose all ingredients. In one of the nation's largest examinations of undisclosed ingredients in food, the Tribune reviewed thousands of items at more than 60 locations, finding dozens of products obviously mislabeled. The newspaper also conducted 50 laboratory tests—more than the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration combined over the last several years—to try to determine precise ingredients.
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Sun, Dec 21, 2008: from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
EPA veils hazardous substances
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency routinely allows companies to keep new information about their chemicals secret, including compounds that have been shown to cause cancer and respiratory problems, the Journal Sentinel has found. The newspaper examined more than 2,000 filings in the EPA's registry of dangerous chemicals for the past three years. In more than half the cases, the EPA agreed to keep the chemical name a secret. In hundreds of other cases, it allowed the company filing the report to keep its name and address confidential. This is despite a federal law calling for public notice of any new information through the EPA's program monitoring chemicals that pose substantial risk. The whole idea of the program is to warn the public of newfound dangers. The EPA's rules are supposed to allow confidentiality only "under very limited circumstances."
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Sat, Dec 20, 2008: from Reuters:
Chromosomal changes seen in long-term airline pilots
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - New research suggests that airline pilots with long-term flying experience may be exposed to higher than average levels of radiation, resulting in more chromosomal translocations than usually seen. Further studies with longer follow-up and more subjects, however, will be needed to determine if these pilots are at increased risk for cancer, according to the report in the online issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Chromosomal translocations occur when a chromosome fragment breaks off and attaches to another. This can lead to a range of medical problems, such as leukemia, breast cancer, schizophrenia or muscular dystrophy, depending on were [sic] the fragments reattach.
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Sat, Dec 20, 2008: from Norfolk Daily Eastern Press:
Pesticides ban to hit farmers and prices
Families will be hit by even higher basic food prices following a drastic European-led ban on pesticides that could change the face of farming in East Anglian. Farmers' leaders have condemned a European Parliament deal to outlaw 22 chemicals that they say could mean a 20 to 25 per cent drop in yields for staple East Anglian produce such as potatoes, carrots and peas - and inevitably lead to increased prices in the shops. They fear that if the plan goes ahead, following a vote next month, many of the corner-stone crops currently grown in the region will become unviable. But groups in favour of the ban say it is justified because of evidence that the pesticides in question can trigger cancer or cause neural, hormonal or genetic damage.
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Sat, Dec 20, 2008: from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
X-rayed venison is on its way to food shelves
Minnesota officials are all but finished X-raying donated venison for lead bullet fragments, and meat found to be lead-free is now being shipped to food shelves around the state. Of about 10,000 packages of venison tested, 560 -- or 5.9 percent -- tested positive for lead, officials said. That meat -- about 1,100 pounds -- will be destroyed after it is tested further to determine lead levels. About 18,000 pounds of venison that showed no detectable lead have been released to food shelves.
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Thu, Dec 18, 2008: from Nature:
Drinking water contamination mapped
The most comprehensive survey so far has found a slew of drugs, personal care products, pesticides and other contaminants in drinking water being delivered to millions of people across the United States. None of the compounds appeared at levels thought to be immediately harmful to human health. But the researchers were surprised to find widespread traces of a pesticide, used largely in corn (maize) growing, that has, at higher levels, been linked to cancer and other problems.
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Wed, Dec 17, 2008: from Genetic Engineering News via EurekAlert:
Benefits of breastfeeding outweigh risk of infant exposure to environmental chemicals in breastmilk
A study comparing breastfed and formula fed infants across time showed that the known beneficial effects of breastfeeding are greater than the potential risks associated with infant exposure to chemicals such as dioxins that may be present in breastmilk, according to a report published in the December issue (Volume 3, Number 4) of Breastfeeding Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com) and the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. The paper is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/bfm.... [T]his study's findings, based on epidemiologic data, do not downplay the adverse effects of exposure to dioxins and other environmental toxins. However, the authors distinguish between the statistical significance of risk/benefit assessments in an individual compared to population effects.
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Wed, Dec 17, 2008: from Cafe Sendito:
Flawed International Farm Seed Rules Establish Permanent Spread of Patented GM Brands
The Canadian courts ruled that the individual farmer had to shoulder the burden of ferreting out any instance of "contamination" of his crop by pollen from nearby genetically-modified (GM) planting, as Monsanto held a patent on the seeds. The farmer, and those who support his claims, argue that there is no means by which anyone can prevent cross-pollination from GM plants.... The group warned that due to the strict rules regarding harvesting, seed storage and repurchase, the system established by the marketing of patented GM seeds could force poor farmers onto "an expensive treadmill of dependence on the firms' seeds and chemicals".... "Because our rapeseed is contaminated with GMOs the economic effect has been disastrous for farmers, as we can no longer sell rapeseed to many countries in the world. The price of rapeseed has dropped almost in half."
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Tue, Dec 16, 2008: from SmashHits (India):
Fruit based drinks contaminated with pesticides
Fruit based soft drinks outside the US are highly contaminated with pesticides, especially in countries like Britain and Spain, says a new study.... They tested for pesticides such as carbendazim, thiabendazole, imazalil and malathion, which are applied to crops after harvest and can remain on fruits and vegetables during processing, according to a release of the American Chemical Society. They found relatively large concentrations of pesticides, in the micrograms per litre range, in most of the samples analysed. Samples from Spain and Britain had the highest levels of pesticides, while samples from the US and Russia were among the lowest.
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Tue, Dec 16, 2008: from Forbes, via CBC:
Inside the world's superdumps
The largest garbage dump in the world is roughly twice the size of the continental U.S. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a continent-sized constellation of discarded shoes, bottles, bags, pacifiers, plastic wrappers, toothbrushes and every other type of trash imaginable, floating in the Pacific Ocean about halfway between Hawaii and San Francisco.... Truckloads of printers, fax machines, hard drives and all kinds of defunct electronics arrive daily in Guiyu from warehouses in the port of Nanhai, where the imported waste comes ashore in sea-going containers. Roughly half these computers and electronic components are recycled; the rest are dumped. Nobody knows for sure, but evidence suggests most of the discarded components are dumped locally, despite the substantial risk that the waste, laden with toxic lead, mercury and cadmium, will contaminate local soil and water supplies.... Old ships are, more often than not, chock full of toxic chemicals, like insulation with asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls in hoses, foam insulation and paint. In addition, most ships contain huge quantities of heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium. If ships are not properly dismantled, they contaminate the area where they are broken down.
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Mon, Dec 15, 2008: from The Bracebridge Examiner and Gravenhurst Banner:
Muskoka's lakes face new environmental threat: report
According to the study, long-term consequences of calcium decline could result in areas where forests won't grow back well. Lakes could also start to lose calcium-rich organisms. A type of water flea, Daphnia, was the aquatic creature studied in the report, said Yan. The water flea is a crustacean, like little tiny shrimp, not an insect, he said.... "We are kind of likening these water fleas to canaries in the coal mine," Yan explained. "So if one calcium-rich animal is in trouble, then we darn well better find out about all the other calcium-rich animals, like crayfish and snails."... In the industrial age, minerals in the soil were leached through acid rain and logging. "What takes the minerals away is six decades of acid rain and then logging, followed by forest regrowth," said Yan.
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Sun, Dec 14, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
Mercury-tainted fish on FDA menu
In the waning days of the Bush presidency, the Food and Drug Administration is pushing to scuttle the government's advice about mercury-contaminated seafood, a dramatic policy change that would encourage women and children to eat more fish despite growing concerns about the toxic metal. The FDA's recommendations, sent recently to the White House Office of Management and Budget for approval, prompted a sharp rebuke from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency who, in memos circulated earlier this month, described them as "scientifically flawed and inadequate." A joint advisory issued by the two agencies in 2004 cautions women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and young children to limit seafood consumption to 12 ounces a week. But in a draft version of the FDA's new report, the agency says its own modeling shows that children can benefit from eating more fish, not less.
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Sun, Dec 14, 2008: from Infection Control Today:
Antibacterial Personal Hygiene Products May Not Be Worth Potential Risks
A recent study by UC Davis researchers calls into question the widespread use of two active ingredients -- triclocarban and triclosan -- in personal hygiene products, including antibacterial bar and liquid soaps. Using human and animal cell lines, researchers found that triclocarban disrupts reproductive hormone activity and triclosan interferes with a type of cell signaling that occurs in brain, heart and other cells.... "We decided to take a look at triclocarban and triclosan because these compounds appeared to be building up in the environment," said Bruce Hammock, a Superfund Basic Research Program investigator and professor of entomology. The compounds are also increasingly being detected in human breast milk and urine, he said.... Because of feedback loops in the body, amplification of these hormones could have the effect of depressing natural estrogen and androgen production, potentially impacting fertility and other hormone-dependent processes.
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Sat, Dec 13, 2008: from National Research Council:
Federal Plan to Study Risks Posed by Nanomaterials Is Inadequate
A new report from the National Research Council finds serious weaknesses in the government's plan for research on the potential health and environmental risks posed by nanomaterials, which are increasingly being used in consumer goods and industry. An effective national plan for identifying and managing potential risks is essential to the successful development and public acceptance of nanotechnology-enabled products, emphasized the committee that wrote the report.... [T]he plan fails to identify some important areas that should to be investigated; for example, "Nanomaterials and Human Health" should include a more comprehensive evaluation of how nanomaterials are absorbed and metabolized by the body and how toxic they are at realistic exposure levels.
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Thu, Dec 11, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
The Environmental Protection Agency's 'Most Wanted' list
Importing autos that did not meet standards: 2. Pumping toxic waste secretly into Mississippi: 1. Dumping tonnes of oil-contaminated grain into ocean: 1. Dumping fuel into river: 1. Dumping hazmat and acidic chemwaste into sewer: 1. Importing 105 cylinders of ozone-killing contraband: 1. Illegal disposal of mercury-tainted soil: 1. Illegal discharge into ocean: 1. One count of illegal asbestos removal: 1.
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Thu, Dec 11, 2008: from Reuters:
China "cancer village" pays ultimate price for growth
XIDITOU COUNTY, China (Reuters) - Once an isolated haven, the Chinese village of Liukuaizhuang is now a tainted hell, surrounded by scores of low-tech factories that are poisoning its water and air, and the health of many villagers. One in fifty people there and in a neighboring hamlet have been diagnosed with cancer over the last decade, local residents say, well over ten times the national rate given in a health ministry survey earlier this year.
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Tue, Dec 9, 2008: from UC Davis, via EurekAlert:
Baby fish in polluted San Francisco estuary waters are stunted and deformed
Striped bass in the San Francisco Estuary are contaminated before birth with a toxic mix of pesticides, industrial chemicals and flame retardants that their mothers acquire from estuary waters and food sources and pass on to their eggs, say UC Davis researchers. Using new analytical techniques, the researchers found that offspring of estuary fish had underdeveloped brains, inadequate energy supplies and dysfunctional livers. They grew slower and were smaller than offspring of hatchery fish raised in clean water. "This is one of the first studies examining the effects of real-world contaminant mixtures on growth and development in wildlife," said study lead author David Ostrach, a research scientist at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. He said the findings have implications far beyond fish, because the estuary is the water source for two-thirds of the people and most of the farms in California. "If the fish living in this water are not healthy and are passing on contaminants to their young, what is happening to the people who use the water, are exposed to the same chemicals or eat the fish?" Ostrach said.
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Tue, Dec 9, 2008: from San Francisco Chronicle:
Diesel truckers at cancer risk from exhaust
Trucking company workers who have been regularly exposed to diesel exhaust from vehicles on highways, city streets and loading docks have a higher risk of lung cancer than other workers, according to a new national study. The study, based on 31,135 worker records, found that drivers who do short-haul pickups and deliveries, including loading and unloading containers at ports and working at freight-delivery companies, had the highest rate of deaths and disease. Dockworkers were also at a higher risk, according to the report by researchers at UC Berkeley and Harvard. California's Air Resources Board will consider the study's findings when it meets Friday to vote on a landmark regulation to reduce risk to the general public from 1 million diesel trucks in the state.
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Tue, Dec 9, 2008: from Canwest News Service:
Toxic chemicals found in three-quarters of soft plastic toys in Canada
Despite a decade-old voluntary ban in North America, Health Canada tests found three-quarters of soft plastic toys and items for young children for sale in Canada contained toxic chemical additives known to cause reproductive harm in children. Phthalates, used to soften plastic toys, were present at elevated levels in the department's sampling of 54 of 72 products for children ages three and under made of the widely used plastic known as polyvinyl chloride. They included toys that are likely to be mouthed, like bath toys, and items designed for infants to help in feeding and sleeping.
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Mon, Dec 8, 2008: from Yale University, via EurekAlert:
Nanotechnology 'culture war' possible, says Yale study
Rather than infer that nanotechnology is safe, members of the public who learn about this novel science tend to become sharply polarized along cultural lines, according to a study conducted by the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School in collaboration with the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. The report is published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.... When shown balanced information about the risks and benefits of nanotechnology, study participants became highly divided on its safety compared to a group not shown such information. The determining factor in how people responded was their cultural values, according to Dan Kahan, the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor at Yale Law School and lead author of the study. "People who had more individualistic, pro-commerce values, tended to infer that nanotechnology is safe," said Kahan, "while people who are more worried about economic inequality read the same information as implying that nanotechnology is likely to be dangerous."
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Mon, Dec 8, 2008: from USA Today:
Health risks stack up for students near industrial plants
ADDYSTON, Ohio — The growl of air-monitoring equipment has replaced the chatter of children at Meredith Hitchens Elementary School in this Cincinnati suburb along the Ohio River. School district officials pulled all students from Hitchens three years ago, after air samples outside the building showed high levels of chemicals coming from the plastics plant across the street. The levels were so dangerous that the Ohio EPA concluded the risk of getting cancer there was 50 times higher than what the state considers acceptable. The air outside 435 other schools — from Maine to California — appears to be even worse, and the threats to the health of students at those locations may be even greater.
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Sun, Dec 7, 2008: from New York Times:
Groups Battle Exotic Species in Texas
AUSTIN, Tex. (AP)-- There was a time when horned frogs were not confined to Texas Christian University. The real-life version of the university's mascot, actually a kind of lizard, roamed Texas by the thousands until imported red fire ants marauded through the state, displacing the ants that served as the lizard's food. Today, university researchers blame the fire ant invasion and pesticides for devastating the horned toad population. The fate of the lizard is part of a larger story about invasive species -- a rogues' gallery of weeds, grasses, insects, fish and animals that are reshaping and in many cases destroying the natural order in Texas, and in many parts of the country.
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Sun, Dec 7, 2008: from London Independent:
It's official: Men really are the weaker sex
The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals. The research – to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published – shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people. Backed by some of the world's leading scientists, who say that it "waves a red flag" for humanity and shows that evolution itself is being disrupted, the report comes out at a particularly sensitive time for ministers. On Wednesday, Britain will lead opposition to proposed new European controls on pesticides, many of which have been found to have "gender-bending" effects.
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Fri, Dec 5, 2008: from New York Times:
Mountaintop Mining Rule Approved
The White House on Tuesday approved a final rule that will make it easier for coal companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into nearby streams and valleys. The rule is one of the most contentious of all the regulations emerging from the White House in President Bush's last weeks in office.... "This is unmistakably a fire sale of epic size for coal and the entire fossil fuel industry, with flagrant disregard for human health, the environment or the rule of law," said Vickie Patton, deputy general counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund.
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Fri, Dec 5, 2008: from New Richmond News:
Invasive 'jumping carp' found in Mississippi River near La Crosse
This is the first confirmed identification of a silver carp upstream of Clinton, Iowa, and the first identified in Wisconsin waters. Fisheries supervisor Ron Benjamin of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said a single silver carp was among three species of invasive Asian carp discovered late last week in a commercial fishing net deployed in the Mississippi River near La Crosse. It was not immediately identified. Two grass carp and one or two bighead carp were also pulled from the net.... "Aquatic invasive species are detrimental to native aquatic ecosystems."
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Thu, Dec 4, 2008: from Reuters:
Man-made noise in world's seas threatens wildlife
ROME (Reuters) - Man-made noise in the world's seas and oceans is becoming an increasing threat to whales, dolphins and turtles who use sound to communicate, forage for food and find mates, wildlife experts said on Wednesday. Rumbling ship engines, seismic surveys by oil and gas companies, and intrusive military sonars are triggering an "acoustic fog and cacophony of sounds" underwater, scaring marine animals and affecting their behavior. "There is now evidence linking loud underwater noises with some major strandings of marine mammals, especially deep diving beaked whales," Mark Simmonds, Science Director of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, told a news conference in Rome... According to "Ocean Noise: Turn It Down," a new report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the distance over which blue whales can communicate has been cut by 90 percent as a result of higher noise levels.
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Thu, Dec 4, 2008: from Canwest News Service:
Ice cleaners can make hockey players sick, doctor warns
A Quebec public health doctor says hockey-loving communities across the country should be wary of air poisoning related to the use of ice-surfacing machines after dozens of people became ill after attending hockey games last Sunday. Some 35 people either checked into hospitals or saw doctors after suffering form symptoms of nitrogen poisoning related to a faulty ice-surfacing machine at Saint-Ubalde arena, west of Quebec City.... Participants of a garage league tournament Sunday evening started feeling ill hours after playing, said Dr. Henri Prud'homme of the Quebec City-area public health agency. One of the players was still reported to be in intensive care Wednesday.
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Thu, Dec 4, 2008: from Environmental Science and Technology:
EPA perchlorate decision flawed, say advisers
The U.S. EPA’s preliminary decision not to regulate perchlorate in drinking water has elicited an outpouring of critical comments, including a plea from the agency’s own Science Advisory Board (SAB) for more scientific transparency and a stinging critique from the agency’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC). The committee faulted EPA for failing to take advantage of the best new science and for using a biological model that has not been peer-reviewed. The furor marks the latest episode in an almost decadelong controversy surrounding the potential health effects of long-term, low-level exposure to perchlorate. The latest round pits many state and federal environmental protection risk assessors, environmental groups, and thyroid patient advocates against U.S. Department of Defense risk assessors, assessment consultants, and many respected thyroid specialists. Perchlorate, a major component of rocket fuel, contaminates groundwater at many Department of Defense and NASA sites and those of their contractors. The chemical has also entered groundwater and the food chain in large quantities, in part through the past use of Chilean nitrate fertilizer.
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Mon, Dec 1, 2008: from Bioscience, via EurekAlert:
Persistent pollutant may promote obesity
Tributyltin, a ubiquitous pollutant that has a potent effect on gene activity, could be promoting obesity, according to an article in the December issue of BioScience. The chemical is used in antifouling paints for boats, as a wood and textile preservative, and as a pesticide on high-value food crops, among many other applications.... The rise in obesity in humans over the past 40 years parallels the increased use of industrial chemicals over the same period. Iguchi and Katsu maintain that it is "plausible and provocative" to associate the obesity epidemic to chemical triggers present in the modern environment. Several other ubiquitous pollutants with strong biological effects, including environmental estrogens such as bisphenol A and nonylphenol, have been shown to stimulate the growth of fat storage cells in mice. The role that tributyltin and similar persistent pollutants may play in the obesity epidemic is now under scrutiny.
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Sun, Nov 30, 2008: from Albany Times Union:
Mercury a concern in eagles
Bald eagles have been making a soaring comeback in New York, becoming more common along lakes and rivers. But eagles living in the Catskills face a hidden danger carried on the wind from distant coal-fired power plants. Eagles here contain more toxic mercury than those anywhere else in the state, according to a recent study from the Maine-based BioDiversity Research Institute and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. One out of every four eaglets had elevated blood mercury levels from a diet of tainted fish, raising the possibility the birds could be at risk for reproductive or developmental problems.
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Sun, Nov 30, 2008: from London Independent:
Pregnant women warned off make-up
...Growing concerns over the exposure of pregnant women to chemicals that may lead to birth defects have prompted calls for a new EU-wide cosmetics labelling system which would mark out some products as off-limits to mothers-to-be. The move follows the publication of a study which found that women exposed to high levels of hairspray during pregnancy were twice as likely to have babies born with hypospadias, a condition in which the urinary tract grows on the underside of the penis. The Imperial College London study suggested that the birth defects were linked to chemicals in hairspray shown to disrupt the hormonal systems in the body and affect reproductive development.
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Sat, Nov 29, 2008: from Queen:
Biologists Find New Environmental Threat In North American Lakes
A new and insidious environmental threat has been detected in North American lakes by researchers from Queen's and York universities. Along with scientists from several Canadian government laboratories, the team has documented biological damage caused by declining levels of calcium in many temperate, soft-water lakes. Calling the phenomenon "aquatic osteoporosis," Queen's PhD candidate Adam Jeziorski, lead author of the study, notes that calcium is an essential nutrient for many lake-dwelling organisms.
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Fri, Nov 28, 2008: from Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Environmental groups warn against dumping TV sets
The big switch to digital television has people scrambling to make decisions: Cable or converter box? New TV? Satellite? As the deadline approaches, and with the holiday shopping season in full swing, environmental groups are warning consumers about an unseen consequence of their purchases: the impact on the environment halfway around the world. TVs and other electronics shipped overseas are frequently recycled under dangerously primitive conditions. Lead is melted over open coal fires. Wires are burned to expose the metal core. Gold and other metals are recovered in vats of acid. The resulting waste, much of it toxic, is dumped haphazardly. The groups are worried that the problem will be exacerbated in the run-up to the digital switch, scheduled for Feb. 18.
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Thu, Nov 27, 2008: from Toronto Star:
Poorest areas also most polluted, report shows
Many of Toronto's poorest residents live near industries that spew the highest levels of toxic chemicals and pollutants into the air, a groundbreaking report has found. Low-income families, many already facing diminished health from stress, bad nutrition, diabetes and poor dental care, are placed at further risk because they breathe air contaminated with pollutants suspected of causing cancer and reproductive disorders, say the authors of the report. The study, a two-year research project by Toronto-based PollutionWatch, is one of the most comprehensive examinations ever of an issue that has largely gone unnoticed in Canada.
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Wed, Nov 26, 2008: from Science News:
Antidepressants make for sad fish
...Tons of medicine ends up in the environment each year. Much has been excreted by patients. Leftover pills may also have been flushed down the toilet. Because water treatment plants were never designed to remove pharmaceuticals, water released into rivers by these plants generally carries a broad and diverse array of drug residues.... Fish exposed as embryos or hatchlings to trace concentrations of the antidepressant venlafaxine, marketed as Effexor, didn't react as quickly as normal to stimuli signaling a possible predator. This laid-back reaction could prove to be a "death sentence"...
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Wed, Nov 26, 2008: from London Guardian:
FDA finds traces of melamine in US infant formula
Traces of the industrial chemical melamine have been detected in samples of top-selling U.S. infant formula, but federal regulators insist the products are safe. The Food and Drug Administration said last month it was unable to identify any melamine exposure level as safe for infants, but a top official said it would be a "dangerous overreaction" for parents to stop feeding infant formula to babies who depend on it.... Previously undisclosed tests, obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the FDA has detected melamine in a sample of one popular formula and the presence of cyanuric acid, a chemical relative of melamine, in the formula of a second manufacturer. Separately, a third major formula maker told AP that in-house tests had detected trace levels of melamine in its infant formula. The three firms -- Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Mead Johnson -- manufacture more than 90 percent of all infant formula produced in the United States.
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Tue, Nov 25, 2008: from Associated Press:
One-third of China's Yellow River heavily polluted with industrial discharge
BEIJING (AP) _ Newly released scientific results show one-third of the famed Yellow River, which supplies water to millions of people in northern China, is heavily polluted by industrial waste and unsafe for any use. The Yellow River, the second-longest in China, has seen its water quality deteriorate rapidly in the last few years, as discharge from factories increases and water levels drop because of diversion for booming cities. The river supplies a region chronically short of water but rich in industry. The Yellow River Conservancy Committee said 33.8 percent of the river's water sampled registered worse than level 5, meaning it's unfit for drinking, aquaculture, industrial use and even agriculture, according to criteria used by the United Nations Environmental Program.
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Mon, Nov 24, 2008: from Texas A&M, via EurekAlert:
Nutrients in water may be a bonus for agriculture
Drs. John Sij, Cristine Morgan and Paul DeLaune have studied nitrate levels in irrigation water from the Seymour Aquifer for the past three years, and have found nitrates can be as high as 40 parts per million. Though unacceptable for drinking, the water would benefit agricultural producers who use it for irrigation. This high concentration of nitrates is a concern because it exceeds the federal safe drinking water standards as the aquifer is used as a municipal water source for the communities of Vernon, Burkburnett and Electra, as well as some rural families, Sij said. "When you get more than 10 parts per million, it exceeds the federal limit," he said. "Our water at Chillicothe is around 20 parts per million, so we don't give it to the babies, but adults can drink it."... "At nearly a $1 per pound for fertilizer nitrogen these days, 55 'free' pounds of nitrogen can add up to significant cost savings, about $55 per acre or more, for producers who irrigate their crops with high nitrate ground water," DeLaune said.
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Mon, Nov 24, 2008: from Honolulu Injury Board:
Breast Cancer Risk in Hawaii Linked to Pesticides in Drinking Water and Indoor Air
Pesticides leach into the Hawaii ground water system and end up in our drinking water. The warm tropical sun causes the pesticides to evaporate and enter the building through gaps in the foundation and infect breathing spaces inside the homes and schools and office buildings. Not only cancer but many respiratory diseases are caused by pesticides. Controlling insects with pesticides is a huge risk to drinking water and indoor air quality in Hawaii, and ultimately to matters of life and death to the public in Hawaii.... "Emerging evidence on endocrine disruption suggests that environmental chemicals may play a role in the development of breast cancer. Agricultural chemicals, including endocrine disruptors, have been used intensively in Hawaii's island ecosystem over the past 40 years leaching into groundwater, and leading to unusually widespread occupational and general population exposures."
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Sun, Nov 23, 2008: from London Independent:
Invasion of the Aliens
British waters are being invaded by a wave of species making their way in from the sea, according to a new study. While foreign varieties of barnacles, brown seaweed and kelp may not sound dramatic, they are, in effect, slipping in under the radar, their progress hastened by climate change, according to Dr Nova Mieszkowska from the Marine Biological Association. Their arrival will add to pressure on native species already under siege by a range of marine invaders to Britain's shores such as the American red signal crayfish and the Pacific oyster. Some have arrived as a result of climate change, while others have made their way here on ships' hulls, in ballast water or through the global trade in aquaculture.
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Sun, Nov 23, 2008: from Science News:
Is Your Fish Oil Polluted?
Diets rich in fish oil offer a number of health benefits, from fighting heart disease to boosting immunity. However, many noxious contaminants preferentially accumulate in fat. These include pesticides, brominated flame retardants, dioxins, and some related compounds known as polychlorinated biphenyls. So there's been some concern that if a fish was pulled from polluted waters, its fat might be polluted too. And those pollutants could end up an unwanted bonus in commercial fish-oil supplements. A new survey of some 154 different fish-oil capsules sold by 45 different companies now confirms that some supplements are remarkably dirty and others quite pure. In general, PCBs and a breakdown product of DDT were the major pollutants in fish-oil supplements.
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Sat, Nov 22, 2008: from Scientific American:
Fact or Fiction?: Cell Phones Can Cause Brain Cancer
This summer, Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, sent a memo to staffers warning them to limit their cell phone use and to use hands-free sets in the wake of "growing evidence that we should reduce exposure" to cell phone radiation. Among the possible consequences: an increased risk of brain cancer. Five months later, a top official at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) told a congressional panel that published scientific data indicates cell phones are safe. So what's the deal? Do cell phones cause cancer -- or not?
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Sat, Nov 22, 2008: from Los Angeles Times:
Are pill-popping turkeys a danger?
Turkeys, like any other animal, get sick. And while few would dispute that they should be treated when that happens, many scientists, medical professionals and animal experts are concerned that too much medicine is being given to too many turkeys -- and to too many food animals in general... The potential for danger from antibiotic use in farm animals comes in two forms, experts say: The antibiotics could remain in meat when people eat it. They could also contribute to the development of resistant bacteria.
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Fri, Nov 21, 2008: from Indianapolis Star:
Indiana lands on group's Top 50 list of mercury emitters
Three Indiana power plants have landed on an environmental group's tally of the 50 facilities in the nation that emit the greatest amount of poisonous mercury into the air and water. Together, the 50 plants last year released about 20 tons of mercury, which can cause permanent damage to brains, kidneys and developing fetuses, according to a report from the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit that advocates for stricter enforcement of environmental regulations.... Indiana has no restrictions specifically addressing mercury emissions from power plants.... Environmental activists would like the state to do more to reduce emissions from power plants.
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Fri, Nov 21, 2008: from Imperial College, via EurekAlert:
Hairspray is linked to common genital birth defect, says study
Women who are exposed to hairspray in the workplace during pregnancy have more than double the risk of having a son with the genital birth defect hypospadias, according to a new study published today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The study is the first to show a significant link between hairspray and hypospadias, one of the most common birth defects of the male genitalia, where the urinary opening is displaced to the underside of the penis. The causes of the condition are poorly understood.... The study suggests that hairspray and hypospadias may be linked because of chemicals in hairspray known as phthalates. Previous studies have proposed that phthalates may disrupt the hormonal systems in the body and affect reproductive development.
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Thu, Nov 20, 2008: from London Guardian:
President for 60 more days, Bush tearing apart protection for America's wilderness
George Bush is working at a breakneck pace to dismantle at least 10 major environmental safeguards protecting America's wildlife, national parks and rivers before he leaves office in January. With barely 60 days to go until Bush hands over to Barack Obama, his White House is working methodically to weaken or reverse an array of regulations that protect America's wilderness from logging or mining operations, and compel factory farms to clean up dangerous waste. In the latest such move this week, Bush opened up some 800,000 hectares (2m acres) of land in Rocky Mountain states for the development of oil shale, one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet. The law goes into effect on January 17, three days before Obama takes office. The timing is crucial. Most regulations take effect 60 days after publication, and Bush wants the new rules in place before he leaves the White House on January 20. That will make it more difficult for Obama to undo them.
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Thu, Nov 20, 2008: from The Epoch Times:
'Recyclers' Illegally Exporting Electronic Waste
It contains toxic components such as lead, mercury and cadmium, and Canada generates about 140,000 tons of it each year. The United States generates three million tons yearly. It is electronic waste, and disposing of it in an environmentally friendly way is proving complicated and open to abuse. With the astronomical growth of e-waste in the last decade, the number of recyclers of the ever-growing tidal wave of discarded computers, monitors, printers and cell phones has exploded in North America.
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Wed, Nov 19, 2008: from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Bug bombs don't just kill pests: People, pets also sickened by foggers
...Last month, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study the agency says is the first look at pesticide poisoning incidents related to bug bombs. Using the records of eight states where such incidents are tracked most carefully, including Washington, they documented 466 cases of injuries or illness from 2001 to 2006. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency responded this month by launching an effort to re-examine bug bombs' labels and packaging. The agency is also trying to figure out how to make consumers more aware of the need to read directions carefully....
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Tue, Nov 18, 2008: from New York Times:
Bark Beetles Kill Millions of Acres of Trees in West
...From New Mexico to British Columbia, the region's signature pine forests are succumbing to a huge infestation of mountain pine beetles that are turning a blanket of green forest into a blanket of rust red. Montana has lost a million acres of trees to the beetles, and in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming the situation is worse....In Wyoming and Colorado in 2006 there were a million acres of dead trees. Last year it was 1.5 million. This year it is expected to total over two million. In the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, the problem is most severe. It is the largest known insect infestation in the history of North America, officials said.
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Tue, Nov 18, 2008: from Canwest News:
Continents of garbage adrift in oceans
Scientists are growing alarmed about massive floating dumps that are believed to be building up in centres of nearly all of the world's oceans. The best-known patch, known by some as the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, consists of an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic debris that has accumulated inside a circular vortex of currents known as the North Pacific gyre. Environmentalists call it the Pacific Trash Vortex....An estimated 100,000 marine mammals die each year from eating or being entangled in debris -- mostly plastic -- in the North Pacific alone. Hence the vortex's other nickname: the Plastic Killing Fields.
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Tue, Nov 18, 2008: from Environmental Health News:
Future hazy for cleaner school buses
...While pollution-fighting technologies are widely available, fledgling efforts to clean up the nation's aging fleet of half a million school buses may stall as budget revenues plummet... About 24 million American children spend an average of an hour and a half every weekday riding school buses, nearly all of them powered by diesel fuel. Scientists say diesel exhaust contains carcinogens, and that its fine particles can sink deep into lungs, triggering respiratory infections, asthma attacks and heart attacks, and reducing lung capacity.
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Mon, Nov 17, 2008: from USGS, via EurekAlert:
Acid soils in Slovakia tell somber tale
Increasing levels of nitrogen deposition associated with industry and agriculture can drive soils toward a toxic level of acidification, reducing plant growth and polluting surface waters, according to a new study published online in Nature Geoscience.... On the basis of these results, the authors warn that the high levels of nitrogen deposited in Europe and North America over the past half century already may have left many soils susceptible to this new stage of acidification. The results of this further acidification, wrote the authors, are highly reduced soil fertility and leaching of acids and toxic metals into surface waters.
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Mon, Nov 17, 2008: from Los Angeles Times:
Cellphones in Yellowstone?
Reporting from Yellowstone National Park -- Natural forces over millennia created the geysers, peaks and canyons that fascinate visitors here. But a newer feature is emerging on this stunning landscape -- cellphone towers... After years of complaints from environmental groups about the proliferation of cellphone towers in national parks, officials here and across the country are asking: How wired do we want our wilderness?
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Mon, Nov 17, 2008: from Fresno Bee:
Study bolsters link between Parkinson's, pesticide
For years, researchers have suspected commercial pesticides put people at risk for Parkinson's disease. Now evidence in the San Joaquin Valley suggests it's true. Researchers have found a strong connection between the debilitating neurological disease and long-term exposure to pesticides, particularly to a fungicide that is sprayed on thousands of acres of almonds, tree fruit and grapes in the Valley. The fungicide ziram -- the 20th most-used agricultural toxin in California in 2006 -- emerged as a common factor in a UCLA study of 400 people with Parkinson's in the Valley.
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Sun, Nov 16, 2008: from Khaleej Times Online:
Dead Fish Raise a Stink on Beaches in Fujairah
Dibba-Al Fujairah and Dibba Al Hesn municipalities have stepped up their efforts to remove the huge collection of dead fish from their shores due to the red tide phenomenon. The residents of Dibba-Fujairah and Dibba-Al Hesn have been complaining of the stench arising out of the situation. The red tide phenomenon occurs when there is higher than normal concentration of microscopic algae Karenia brevis in an area. The organism produces a toxin that affects the central nervous system of fish.
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Sun, Nov 16, 2008: from Fredericton Times and Transcript:
Hazardous chemical spill forces residents, nearby businesses not to use water for anything but flushing toilet
An estimated 2,700 litres of chromium trioxide acid spilled from a location occupied by Custom Machine and Hardchrome Inc. on Melissa Street in the industrial park just outside Fredericton's city limits. The well on site has been contaminated with high levels of chromium. One of four monitoring wells drilled around the contaminated well has also shown higher levels of chromium, but consultants believe contaminated groundwater is being carried away from homes in the area.... Officials have said the incident was caused by human error.
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Sat, Nov 15, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Campaigner wins seven-year battle to force rethink on use of pesticides
An environmental campaigner yesterday won a landmark victory against the government in a long-running legal battle over the use of pesticides. The high court ruled that Georgina Downs, who runs the UK Pesticides Campaign, had produced "solid evidence" that people exposed to chemicals used to spray crops had suffered harm. The court said the government had failed to comply with a European directive designed to protect rural communities from exposure to the toxins. It said the environment department, Defra, must reassess its policy and investigate the risks to people who are exposed. Defra had argued that its approach to the regulation and control of pesticides was "reasonable, logical and lawful".
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Sat, Nov 15, 2008: from Bloomberg News:
Wrinkle Fillers Linked to 'Serious' Side Effects
Some people who received wrinkle-fillers suffered "serious and unexpected" side effects such as the inability to control facial muscles, disfigurement and rare life-threatening allergic reactions, U.S. regulators said.... Non-surgical cosmetic procedures increased more than eightfold between 1997 and 2007, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. About 1.36 million women and 84,000 men received wrinkle-fillers last year, according to the plastic surgery group.
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Thu, Nov 13, 2008: from London Daily Telegraph:
Victoria's Secret sued after bra 'made women ill'
Several women have claimed that underwear from the leading lingerie firm, which uses supermodels including Giselle Bundchen and Heidi Klum, made them ill. One woman even claims to have been left permanently scarred after wearing the Angels Secret Embrace bra...A US medical Web site was flooded with complaints against the underwear company.
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Thu, Nov 13, 2008: from Nature:
Modified genes spread to local maize
Transgenes from genetically modified (GM) maize (corn) crops have been found in traditional 'landrace' maize in the Mexican heartland, a study says. The work largely confirms a similar, controversial result published in Nature in 2001 and may reignite the debate in Mexico over GM crops.
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Thu, Nov 13, 2008: from LA Times:
California economy loses $28 billion yearly to health effects of pollution
The California economy loses about $28 billion annually due to premature deaths and illnesses linked to ozone and particulates spewed from hundreds of locations in the South Coast and San Joaquin air basins, according to findings released Wednesday by a Cal State Fullerton research team. Most of those costs, about $25 billion, are connected to roughly 3,000 smog-related deaths each year, but additional factors include work and school absences, emergency room visits, and asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses, said team leader Jane Hall, a professor of economics and co-director of the university's Institute for Economics and Environment Studies.
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Wed, Nov 12, 2008: from London Daily Telegraph:
Submarine in worst nuclear leak since 80s
The Royal Navy is facing serious questions about why it kept quiet for four days about one of the worst radioactive spillages in recent years. More than 61 gallons (280 litres) of toxic coolant poured into a river from a burst hose as it was being pumped from the nuclear submarine HMS Trafalgar on November 7. But the Navy has only now admitted to the spill of the liquid, which contained tritium, a substance which can cause burns, cancer and DNA mutations as it breaks down.
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Tue, Nov 11, 2008: from Bloomberg News:
Radioactive Beer Kegs Menace Public, Boost Costs for Recyclers
French authorities made headlines last month when they said as many as 500 sets of radioactive buttons had been installed in elevators around the country. It wasn't an isolated case. Improper disposal of industrial equipment and medical scanners containing radioactive materials is letting nuclear waste trickle into scrap smelters, contaminating consumer goods, threatening the $140 billion trade in recycled metal and spurring the United Nations to call for increased screening.
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Sun, Nov 9, 2008: from Wired:
Plastic Additives in Common Lab Gear Could Contaminate Critical Research
Highly reactive chemicals can easily leak from plastic lab equipment used by scientists worldwide, interfering with results and potentially contaminating everything from basic biological research to drug development.... The best-known plastic additive is bisphenol A, a hard plastic ingredient that has drawn headlines for its hormone-disrupting effects in animals and, perhaps, humans.... Holt then tested his lab's pipette tips and microplates; once again, they found additives. When he told other researchers in his department, three of 20 teams reported evidence of interference, including a colleague working on the GABA neurotransmitter, key to the central nervous system and a target of tranquilizer drugs.
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Sat, Nov 8, 2008: from New York Times:
U.S. to Open Public Land Near Parks for Drilling
The Bureau of Land Management has expanded its oil and gas lease program in eastern Utah to include tens of thousands of acres on or near the boundaries of three national parks, according to revised maps published this week. National Park Service officials say that the decision to open lands close to Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument and within eyeshot of Canyonlands National Park was made without the kind of consultation that had previously been routine.
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Fri, Nov 7, 2008: from Canadian Press:
Society spells out environmental links to cancer in online handbook
The Canadian Cancer Society has launched an online handbook that details the environmental substances known to or suspected of causing cancer and what people can do to limit their exposure. Entitled The Environment, Cancer and You, the handbook discusses asbestos, radon gas, electromagnetic fields, flame retardants, labelling of consumer products, phthalates in plastics, teflon and non-stick cookware, and water chlorination by-products.
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Thu, Nov 6, 2008: from SciDev.net:
China's GM ambition raises biosafety concerns
China's recent roll-out of a a US$3.7 billion research programme to develop genetically modified (GM) crops, particularly rice, has been hailed by supporters as the means to feed the country's swelling population. But opposition remains strong due to concerns ranging from the health and environmental risks to regulation loopholes, writes Jane Qiu in Nature.... Others warn that GM technology safeguards could be undermined by the monoculture of rice and lack of adjacent refuges, which would encourage resistant pests; the absence of effective labelling of GM seeds; and the illegal release of GM varieties from laboratories. Worryingly, many stakeholders are being excluded from the agriculture ministry's biosafety evaluation process.
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Tue, Nov 4, 2008: from Portland Oregonian:
Can rain + TV watching = autism?
After his son's autism spectrum disorder was diagnosed, Michael Waldman began to wonder whether television viewing might play a triggering role. The question so obsessed the Cornell University economist that he enlisted several colleagues to pursue the answer by means of an unlikely strategy: studying rainfall records in Oregon, Washington and California. Kids cooped up indoors on rainy days, they figured, probably watch more television. To the surprise of autism experts, the economists found that the disorder indeed appears significantly more often among children living in counties with more rain and snow.
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Sat, Nov 1, 2008: from New York Times:
Fears on Animal Feed Widen Food Inquiry in China
SHANGHAI -- Chinese regulators said Friday that they were widening their investigation into contaminated food amid growing signs that the toxic industrial chemical melamine has leached into the nation's animal feed supplies, posing health risks to consumers throughout the world. The announcement came after food safety tests earlier this week found that eggs produced in three provinces in China were contaminated with melamine, which is blamed for causing kidney stones and renal failure in infants.
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Sat, Nov 1, 2008: from USA Today:
Advisers: FDA decision on safety of BPA 'flawed'
A Food and Drug Administration advisory board voted Friday to say that the agency ignored critical evidence suggesting that a controversial plastic chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, could harm children. The FDA's science board, a group of outside experts, voted unanimously to endorse a report that found major flaws in the agency's decision to declare BPA safe.... The science board agreed with the finding that that the FDA was wrong to base its August decision that BPA is safe only on studies funded by the chemical industry.
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Fri, Oct 31, 2008: from WTHR-13:
What's Floating in the River
Indianapolis - It's a rainy fall morning and the White River looks particularly murky. There's good reason. The dark, sludgy stuff that's floating down the river is coming straight from someone's toilet. Dirty little secret? No. Indianapolis and more than 100 other Indiana towns openly admit they dump human waste into scenic rivers and streams.
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Thu, Oct 30, 2008: from Tucson Weekly:
Grim Tally
...On Oct. 22, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva released a report, compiled by his staff and subtly titled, "The Bush Administration Assaults on Our National Parks, Forests and Public Lands (A Partial List)."...Grijalva said he expects a slew of last-ditch efforts to gut environmental regulations in the administration's final days.
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Thu, Oct 30, 2008: from Science:
Farm chemicals can indirectly hammer frogs
Atrazine, the second-most widely used agricultural pesticide in America, can pose a toxic double whammy to tadpoles. The weed killer not only increases the likelihood that massive concentrations of flatworms will thrive in the amphibians’ ponds, a new study reports, but also diminishes the ability of larval frogs to fight infection with these parasites. Moreover, the new data show, runoff of phosphate fertilizer into pond water can amplify atrazine’s toxicity. The fertilizer does this by boosting the production of algae on which snails feed. Those snails serve as a primary, if temporary, host for the parasitic flatworms, which can sicken frogs.
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Wed, Oct 29, 2008: from Portland Oregonian:
Fact or fiction: Is Oregon killing you?
Like many people, Joyce Young thinks Oregon is special. But not in a good way. A naturopathic doctor, Young moved to Oregon in 1997, attracted by the state's healthy reputation for organic foods, outdoor recreation and environmental awareness. By last year, she was convinced the state was slowly killing her. She was constantly stuffy, hoarse and suffering aches and pains. In her practice, she saw lots of people coping with diseases, including multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. Digging into statistics, Young noticed high rates of those ailments and diseases such as skin cancer and strokes she thought would be rare in a cloudy, healthy state.
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Tue, Oct 28, 2008: from Honolulu KHNL:
Researcher warns: "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" is out of control
An environmental warning tonight from the man who discovered a vortex of plastic trash floating in the Pacific Ocean. It's twice the size of Texas, and still growing... Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997 while sailing in the Trans Pacific Yacht Race to Hawaii. Since then, the sea captain says the plastic pollution pit has more than quadrupled.... Moore says the plastic problem has become so severe, there's 46 times more plastic as there is plankton.
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Tue, Oct 28, 2008: from Army Times:
Burn pit at Balad raises health concerns
An open-air “burn pit” at the largest U.S. base in Iraq may have exposed tens of thousands of troops, contractors and Iraqis to cancer-causing dioxins, poisons such as arsenic and carbon monoxide, and hazardous medical waste, documentation gathered by Military Times shows. The billowing black plume from the burn pit at 15-square-mile Joint Base Balad, the central logistics hub for U.S. forces in Iraq, wafts continually over living quarters and the base combat support hospital, sources say.
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Mon, Oct 27, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Endangered birds tracked by conservationists are found poisoned
The birds, northern bald ibis, are thought to have fallen victim to poisons left out by farmers to kill rats.... The species numbered more than 6,000 in Turkey and Syria 50 years ago but development and the use of the farm chemical DDT is thought to have caused the collapse in numbers. It is thought that many of the young birds who disappear without trace fall victim to poisoning.
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Mon, Oct 27, 2008: from Charleston Post and Courier:
Effects on wildlife studied
Frogs and other amphibians are experiencing a mysterious and dramatic decline across the world. Pollution is one suspect, he said. Climate change and disease are others. But his particular interest is coal-combustion waste, which he said is a complex brew of arsenic, selenium, chromium, mercury and other contaminants. More and more research is showing that these wastes are affecting wildlife.
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Mon, Oct 27, 2008: from Independent Online (South Africa):
Locals ignorant of mercury threat
People are still eating fish from Inanda Dam, despite a precautionary warning from government officials that aquatic life in one of Durban's biggest drinking water reservoirs may be contaminated with poisonous levels of mercury pollution.... Medical council researchers also collected hair samples from more than 80 people living close to the dam. Nearly 20 percent had remnants of mercury pollution above WHO guidelines, suggesting they might be at risk from eating contaminated fish or vegetables.
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Sun, Oct 26, 2008: from St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Wild hogs overrun Missouri
...The feral hog population exploded in the early 1990s when state conservation officials believe some began releasing the pigs for recreational hunting. More than 10,000 are rooting around 20 counties, mostly in the southern part of the state....The swine are ecological wrecking balls, ruining crops, pastures, hayfields and stock ponds. They eat almost anything, including salamanders, young quail, turkey and even small fawns.
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Sun, Oct 26, 2008: from New Scientist:
New roads could bring pollution to Yellowstone
Some of the US's pristine forests could soon be criss-crossed with roads for logging and mining as the federal government once again relaxes conservation rules -- this time in Idaho. US national parks are still protected, but at threat are so-called "roadless" areas of national forests. These cover more than 230,000 square kilometres -- an area nearly as large as the UK. Bill Clinton banned virtually all development in these areas just before leaving office in January 2001. The Bush administration scrapped this policy in 2005, working out rules on a state-by-state basis instead.
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Sun, Oct 26, 2008: from Science News:
Book Review: Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault On Our Children
The authors capture community efforts to connect clusters of disease to chemicals -- including TCE, phthalates, chromium 5 and Teflon -- and illuminate the underlying policy reasons for gaps in governmental oversight.... More than a hundred interviews with corporate researchers, public health leaders, government insiders and affected families support this cautionary tale of collusion that falls short of being alarmist. The authors ask readers to demand accountability and public health scrutiny for the benefit of future generations.
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Sun, Oct 26, 2008: from Myrtle Beach Online:
S.C. DHEC doesn't track AVX pollution
"It just continues to amaze me that all of this flew under the radar for so long and now that there has been a public outcry by the neighbors DHEC is finally taking some action," said Mary Henry, president of the homeowners association at Sterling Village I, which is near AVX.... The possible criminal investigation would focus on decades' worth of trichloroethylene, or TCE, contamination in groundwater at AVX. TCE is an industrial degreaser that has been linked with liver and other cancers. The contamination has spread from AVX to a roughly 10-block neighborhood adjacent to the manufacturer.
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Sat, Oct 25, 2008: from Infoshop News:
Ivory Coast: Two Underlings Jailed for Toxic Dumping, But Oil Company Bosses Still Free
Yesterday Ugborugbo, the Nigerian owner of an Ivorian waste-disposal firm called Tommy, was handed 20 years in jail for directing an operation to dump chemicals from the tanker throughout the Ivorian port city of Abidjan in 2006. A shipping agent named Desire Kouao was sentenced to five years in jail for "complicity." Executives and Directors of Trafigura aren't going to jail. The company paid off the Ivory Coast and they didn't even have to face any criminal charges.... As usual the crime bosses get a get out of jail card, while their [underlings] serve time for them.
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Fri, Oct 24, 2008: from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Iraq scarred by war waste
Destroyed factories have become untended hazardous waste sites, leaking poison into the water and the soil. Forests in the north and palm groves in the south have been obliterated to remove the enemy's hiding places... Iraq is planted with 25 million land mines. Chemical weapons and depleted uranium munitions have created 105 contaminated areas, the minister said. Sewers need attention and more than 60 per cent of Iraq's fresh water is polluted.
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Fri, Oct 24, 2008: from Inter Press Service:
Worst Forms of Pollution Killing Millions
Gold mining and recycling car batteries are two of the world's Top 10 most dangerous pollution problems, and the least known, according a new report. The health of hundreds of millions of people is affected and millions die because of preventable pollution problems like toxic waste, air pollution, ground and surface water contamination, metal smelting and processing, used car battery recycling and artisanal gold mining, the "Top Ten" report found....In previous years, the Blacksmith Institute has released a Top Ten list of toxic sites. The Institute continues to compile a detailed database with over 600 toxic sites and will release the world's first detailed global inventory in a couple of years. However, this year, rather than focus on places, it wants to bring specific pollution issues to world attention. And in particular highlight the health impacts -- a 2007 Cornell University study that 40 percent of all deaths worldwide are directly attributable to pollution, he said.
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Fri, Oct 24, 2008: from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Critics slam chemical report
Lawmakers, scientists and advocacy groups intensified their criticism Thursday of a government report declaring bisphenol A to be safe....The Journal Sentinel reported Thursday that the draft was done primarily by representatives of the plastics industry and those with an interest in downplaying concerns about the chemical. Bisphenol A, used in baby bottles and other hard plastic, has been detected in the urine of 93 percent of Americans tested. Hundreds of studies have found it to cause health problems in laboratory animals, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hyperactivity, autism and reproductive failure.
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Fri, Oct 24, 2008: from McClatchy Newspapers:
EPA weakens new lead rule after White House objects
After the White House intervened, the Environmental Protection Agency last week weakened a rule on airborne lead standards at the last minute so that fewer known polluters would have their emissions monitored. The EPA on Oct. 16 announced that it would dramatically reduce the highest acceptable amount of airborne lead from 1.5 micrograms of lead per cubic meter to 0.15 micrograms. It was the first revision of the standard since EPA set it 30 years ago. However, a close look at documents publicly available, including e-mails from the EPA to the White House Office of Management and Budget, reveal that the OMB objected to the way the EPA had determined which lead-emitting battery recycling plants and other facilities would have to be monitored. EPA documents show that until the afternoon of Oct. 15, a court-imposed deadline for issuing the revised standard, the EPA proposed to require a monitor for any facility that emitted half a ton of lead or more a year. The e-mails indicate that the White House objected, and in the early evening of Oct. 15 the EPA set the level at 1 ton a year instead.
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Fri, Oct 24, 2008: from Farmers Weekly:
Parliament climbdown could save key weedkillers and fungicides
In the parliament's first reading of the controversial pesticides approval legislation, MEPs voted for a proposal that would remove any pesticide that triggered any of the three criteria (persistence, bio-accumulation and long-distance environmental transfer) for an active ingredient to be termed a "persistent organic pollutant" (POP). By contrast, the European Commission and EU agricultural minister both say a substance will be called a POP only if it meets all three criteria.
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Wed, Oct 22, 2008: from Boston Globe:
The nature of cigarette butts
According to the American Littoral Society, cigarettes are the most common type of litter on earth. A study in the Journal of Tobacco Control reports smokers litter more than 4.5 trillion of them each year. Smoking's environmental impact (we won't go into the health woes here) is already atrocious: It emits 5.5 billion pounds of CO2 and more than 11 billion pounds of methane annually. Discarded butts add insult to injury, leaching hundreds of toxic chemicals (arsenic, lead, and benzene among them) into the water, air, and ground, killing birds, fish, and healthy microorganisms.
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Tue, Oct 21, 2008: from Springer News:
Fertilizers -- a growing threat to sea life
She highlights how population growth, agricultural expansion, and urbanization have released nitrogen from the land and moved it to Chesapeake Bay, where it has accumulated and degraded both the natural wildlife and water quality. The combination of the increasing use of fertilizers, deforestation and the draining of wetlands and floodplains to provide more land for crops, has led to an imbalance in the nitrogen cycle, in particular reduced opportunities for the natural removal of nitrogen. As a result, there is an excess of nitrogen in the estuary, also known as eutrophication. This in turn has led to the deterioration of the local ecosystem through reduced concentrations of oxygen in the bay, affecting both the water quality and the fish populations.
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008: from The Sydney Morning Herald:
Dramatic drop in Kiwi sperm quality
The quality of New Zealand men's sperm has halved in two decades - the most dramatic drop of any western country. New research presented to a gathering of international fertility researchers in Brisbane today was told that the sperm volume carried by the average New Zealand man decreased from about 110 million to 50 million per millilitre between 1987 and 2007.
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008: from University of Deleware:
When under attack, plants can signal microbial friends for help
Researchers at the University of Delaware have discovered that when the leaf of a plant is under attack by a pathogen, it can send out an S.O.S. to the roots for help, and the roots will respond by secreting an acid that brings beneficial bacteria to the rescue.... "Plants are a lot smarter than we give them credit for," says Bais from his laboratory at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008: from Timmins Daily Press (Canada):
Toxic chemicals found in Ottawa River: Memo
Not only is raw sewage flowing into the Ottawa River, so are toxic chemicals. In a memo sent to city councillors last week deputy manager for infrastructure services Nancy Schepers stated that recent testing found at least 10 chemicals, some of them toxic, in the river that serves as the city's main source of drinking water. At least one chemical, perfluorobutane sulfonate, can result in birth or developmental effects, affect the brain and nervous system, cause cancer and affect reproduction and fertility. Raw river water samples taken in April 2008 showed 10 compounds from a list of 51 compounds the city tested for.... "In the long run we may conclude there are health effects or that there are no significant health effects," said Levy.
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Sat, Oct 18, 2008: from Natural News:
Cell Phones May be Wiping out Bees and Affecting Health of Humans
But one of the most popular theories is that electromagnetic radiation given off by cell phones and other hi-tech gadgets is causing this worrying phenomenon. The theory is that radiation interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing them from finding their way back to the hive, which is a hallmark trait of bees. And there is actual evidence to back this up. German research has long shown that bees change their natural patterns of behavior near power lines. In addition, a study at Landau University has found that bees do not go back to their hives when cell phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause. [Editor's note: from International Herald Tribune: "Good story for sure, except that the study in question had nothing to do with mobile phones and was actually investigating the influence of electromagnetic fields, especially those used by cordless phones that work on fixed-line networks, on the learning ability of bees. The small study, according to the researchers who carried it out too small for the results to be considered significant, found that the electromagnetic fields similar to those used by cordless phones may interrupt the innate ability of bees to find the way back to their hive."] (Thanks, Bud)
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Fri, Oct 17, 2008: from Associated Press:
Armyworms attacking pastures, wheat in Texas
Texas farmers are once again battling armyworms and the voracious creatures are attacking fields and pastures in formidable numbers.... The armyworm, which is actually the caterpillar or larva of the night-flying moth, do the most damage in the fall, when they're at their peak, nearly fully grown at about an inch-and-a-half long. They'll chomp on any plant, but prefer grasses, especially the lush and well-fertilized hay meadows and pastures in North, East and Central Texas.
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Fri, Oct 17, 2008: from Courier-Mail (Australia):
Narangba toxic waste still unknown, admits company
A company treating dangerous toxic waste admits it does not know exactly what chemicals are stored on its site at the Narangba Industrial Estate. A cleanup of previous contamination at the BCD Technologies plant is still months away from being completed, despite the spill being discovered late last year.... The Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that an audit it conducted found drums of unidentified material left by the previous owner of the company. Some drums were later found to contain carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
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Thu, Oct 16, 2008: from Brown University, via ScienceDaily:
Coastal Dead Zones May Benefit Some Species, Scientist Finds
Coastal dead zones, an increasing concern to ecologists, the fishing industry and the public, may not be as devoid of life after all. A Brown scientist has found that dead zones do indeed support marine life, and that at least one commercially valuable clam actually benefits from oxygen-depleted waters.... The reasons appear to be twofold: The quahogs' natural ability to withstand oxygen-starved waters, coupled with their predators' inability to survive in dead zones. The result: The quahog can not only survive, but in the absence of predators, can actually thrive.
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Thu, Oct 16, 2008: from Portland Business Journal:
Businesses cite high costs in toxic-regulation plan
A state proposal that would more strongly regulate the disposal of toxic products has unnerved many Oregon businesses. The "product stewardship" rules, drafted primarily by Oregon’s Department of Environment Quality, seek to better regulate disposal of such goods as rechargeable batteries, certain paint types, carpet and items containing mercury. Oregon lawmakers could consider the new rules during the 2009 legislative session.
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Wed, Oct 15, 2008: from San Francisco Chronicle:
Some bottled water toxicity shown to exceed law
Bottled water brands do not always maintain the consistency of quality touted in ads featuring alpine peaks and crystalline lakes and, in some cases, contain toxic byproducts that exceed state safety standards, tests show. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization with offices in Oakland, tested 10 brands of bottled water and found that Wal-Mart's Sam's Choice contained chemical levels that exceeded legal limits in California and the voluntary standards adopted by the industry.
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Tue, Oct 14, 2008: from Digital Journal:
Is Toxic Waste Behind Somali Piracy ?
Somali pirates are accusing European firms of dumping toxic waste off the coast of Somalia and this is why they are holding a ship for ransom. European firms are being accused of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast. This is the claim that the Somalia pirates, who are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukrainian ship, are making. The pirates say the money will go towards cleaning up the waste... Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia said there is "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off the Somali coastline.
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Mon, Oct 13, 2008: from CNN International:
Illegal marijuana growing pollutes U.S. national parks
Weed and bug sprays, some long banned in the U.S., have been smuggled to the marijuana farms. Plant growth hormones have been dumped into streams, and the water has then been diverted for miles in PVC pipes. Rat poison has been sprinkled over the landscape to keep animals away from tender plants. And many sites are strewn with the carcasses of deer and bears poached by workers during the five-month growing season that is now ending. "What's going on on public lands is a crisis at every level," said Forest Service agent Ron Pugh.... "People light up a joint, and they have no idea the amount of environmental damage associated with it," said Cicely Muldoon, deputy regional director of the Pacific West Region of the National Park Service.
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Mon, Oct 13, 2008: from JAMA, via EurekAlert:
Research shows link between bisphenol A and disease in adults
A research team from the Peninsula Medical School, the University of Exeter, the University of Plymouth and the University of Iowa, have found evidence linking Bisphenol A (BPA) to diabetes and heart disease in adults.... BPA is used in polycarbonate plastic products such as refillable drinks containers, compact disks, some plastic eating utensils and many other products in everyday use. It is one of the world's highest production volume chemicals, with over 2.2 million tonnes (6.4 billion pounds) produced in 2003, with an annual growth in demand of between six and 10 per cent each year.
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Sun, Oct 12, 2008: from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Donation raises questions for head of FDA's bisphenol A panel
A retired medical supply manufacturer who considers bisphenol A to be "perfectly safe" gave $5 million to the research center of Martin Philbert, chairman of the Food and Drug Association panel about to make a pivotal ruling on the chemical's safety. Philbert did not disclose the donation, which is nearly 50 times larger than the $210,000 annual budget of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center, where he is founder and co-director.
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Sun, Oct 12, 2008: from McClatchy Newspapers:
U.S. taps Canada's oil sands -- but at an environmental cost
...While oil supplies are dwindling in some places, or disrupted by hurricanes, threatened by terrorist attacks or controlled by hostile governments, Alberta's oil sands -- a patch of forest about the size of Florida with a sea of oil beneath it -- produce more crude than all the wells in Texas or Alaska...The sands contain a form of crude oil called bitumen that's as thick as peanut butter. To remove the sand and clay to turn the bitumen into heavy crude that can flow to refineries takes a lot of energy.
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Fri, Oct 10, 2008: from London Times:
Research raises health fears over energy-saving light bulbs
Reading or working near to an energy-saving light bulb could be harmful to your health, experts have cautioned. Certain types of fluorescent light bulbs - where the shape of the coil is clearly visible - may emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can damage the skin, new research suggests. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) issued a “precautionary” warning that the bulbs should not be used for long periods at distances closer than 30cm (one foot) away, such as in a desk or bedside lamp.
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Wed, Oct 8, 2008: from Union of Concerned Scientists:
Invasive Species are Costing Ohio, Report Finds
From the emerald ash borer to zebra mussels, invasive species are damaging Ohio's environment and economy, according to a new report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The report says state and federal policies both need to be much stronger in order to prevent new species invasions and reduce the impact of harmful species that have already established themselves in the state.... Ohio is particularly susceptible to new species invasions because so many international products (on which insects and other pests can "hitchhike") are transported into the state on trucks and ships. The report documents existing data on federal and state spending on invasive species in the state and region, as well as on the damage done to economic activity.
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Wed, Oct 8, 2008: from Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News:
Bisphenol A linked to chemotherapy resistance
Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments, say University of Cincinnati (UC) scientists. The research study, led by UC's Nira Ben-Jonathan, PhD, says that BPA -- a man-made chemical found in a number of plastic products, including drinking bottles and the lining of food cans -- actually induces a group of proteins that protect cancer cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy.
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Tue, Oct 7, 2008: from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Chicago's electric carp barrier hits a snag
It's supposed to be the last chance to keep the Great Lakes from turning into the Great Carp Ponds, but the federal government's new electric fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal is not doing the job. The $9 million contraption designed to repel the jumbo - and jumping - Asian carp was finished nearly 2 1/2 years ago. It was conceived in a desperate attempt to stop the fish that have already infested the middle of the continent from gobbling their way up a canal that is an artificial link between the Mississippi River basin and the Great Lakes.
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Tue, Oct 7, 2008: from Columbian.com:
Lichens may be canaries in the coal mine
Samples were sent to a University of Minnesota laboratory for analysis of their nitrogen and sulfur content. The results set off alarms. "Lichens indicating nitrogen-enriched environments were abundant," Geiser wrote in a 2007 article published in the journal Environmental Pollution. "The atmospheric deposition levels detected likely threaten gorge ecosystems and cultural resources" such as Native American petroglyphs and pictographs rock art, she wrote.
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Fri, Oct 3, 2008: from USA Today:
Exposure to chemical may affect the genitals of baby boys.
Baby boys are more likely to have changes in their genitals — such as undescended testicles and smaller penises — if their mothers were exposed to high levels of a controversial chemical during pregnancy, a new study shows. Virtually everyone has been exposed to the chemicals, called phthalates, which are used in countless plastic products and are found in everything from drinking water to breast milk to household dust, according to the study, published in the current issue of Environmental Research.
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Thu, Oct 2, 2008: from Environmental Research, via EurekAlert:
Six environmental research studies reveal critical health risks from plastic
Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates and flame retardants (PBDEs) are strongly associated with adverse health effects on humans and laboratory animals. A special section in the October 2008 issue of Environmental Research, "A Plastic World," provides critical new research on environmental contaminants and adverse reproductive and behavioral effects. Plastic products contain "endocrine disrupting chemicals" that can block the production of the male sex hormone testosterone (phthalates used in PVC plastic), mimic the action of the sex hormone estrogen (bisphenol A or BPA used in polycarbonate plastic), and interfere with thyroid hormone (brominated flame retardants or PBDEs used in many types of plastic).
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Thu, Oct 2, 2008: from Manila Bulletin:
81 drums of toxic endosulfan recovered from sunken ship
"US-based salvor firm Titan and its local partner Harbor Star have started retrieving the endosulfan from the wreck. As of 1 p.m. last Tuesday, 22 packs of endosulfan, out of 400, had been retrieved, Bautista said.... The divers and the personnel receiving the containers on the barge were wearing hazmat (hazardous material) suits. These are people trained on the handling of toxic substances.... After the chemicals and hydrocarbons are extracted, the bodies of the ferry passengers will be retrieved.
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Wed, Oct 1, 2008: from Science:
Acidic Oceans Getting Noisy, Too
The ocean is becoming a noisier place. As seawater turns more acidic, due to absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) building up in the atmosphere, it allows sound waves to travel farther, according to new research. That's potentially bad news for a host of marine animals, including whales and dolphins, that rely on sound for hunting and communication--and that are easily stressed by background noise from ship traffic and military sonar.
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Tue, Sep 30, 2008: from University of Rochester, via EurekAlert:
When particles are so small that they seep right through skin
... [S]ome nanoparticles are so small that they can actually seep through skin, especially when the skin has been damaged. The health implications of nanoparticles in the body are uncertain, said DeLouise, an assistant professor of Dermatology and Biomedical Engineering and an expert on the properties of nanoparticles. Other scientists have found that the particles can accumulate in the lymph system, the liver, the nervous system, and in other areas of the body. In her study, she found that the particles accumulate around the hair follicles and in tiny skin folds.
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Tue, Sep 30, 2008: from TravelVideo.tv:
Dubai warns beachgoers to stay out of sea
Dubai authorities and doctors have warned beachgoers to stay out of the sea as illegally dumped sewage has contaminated parts of the emirate’s shoreline, according to published reports. The sewage has blackened the waters surrounding Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, close to Jumeirah Open Beach, and further up the coast in the same area.... Keith Mutch, general manager of Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, which has had to suspend its operations for the past two weeks, said that the area had been completely ruined by the sewage. "It's become like a big toilet, with black colored water floating all around. A number of our members have developed skin rashes, eye and ear infections after coming into contact with the waters," he said.
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Mon, Sep 29, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
Chicago's toxic air
People living in Chicago and nearby suburbs face some of the highest risks in the nation for cancer, lung disease and other health problems linked to toxic chemicals pouring from industry smokestacks, according to a Tribune analysis of federal data.... the Tribune is posting the information on its Web site, where users can easily find nearby polluters and the chemicals going into their air... The Tribune also found Chicago was among the 10 worst cities in the U.S.
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Mon, Sep 29, 2008: from McGill Daily (Canada):
Plastic poison resists regulation
It runs in the blood of almost every person in the world. The chemical is Bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen that has been used in plastics for decades and interferes with fetal development. In mice it can change the structure of genitalia, reverse sexual differences in the brain, and increase susceptibility to prostate and breast cancers. And although it may cause heart disease and diabetes in humans, few seem to care.... Canada labelled BPA as toxic earlier this year, a designation that allows ministers to regulate its use. Baby bottles containing BPA were banned, and many drink companies took bottles containing BPA off the shelves. So far, no other country has followed suit.
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Mon, Sep 29, 2008: from Bandon Western World (OR):
Mussels and scallops harvesting closure
People hoping to gather mussels and scallops on the South Coast will have to wait until the Oregon Department of Agriculture ends a harvesting closure. The ODA put a closure into effect last Thursday for recreational mussel harvesting from the California border north to, and including, Bastendorff Beach, due to elevated levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning. The ban is for mussels on all beaches, rocks, jetties and at the entrances to bays, a press release said. Coastal scallops also are included in the closure. Only the adductor muscle should be eaten from scallops harvested on the coast. Crabs are not impacted by this level of toxin and are safe to eat.
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Sat, Sep 27, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
Citing cost, USDA kills pesticide-testing program
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has abruptly halted a government program that tests the levels of pesticides in fruits, vegetables and field crops, arguing that the $8 million-a-year program is too expensive --a decision critics say could make it harder to protect consumers from chemicals in their food. Data from the 18-year-old Agricultural Chemical Usage Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture were collected until this year, and the Environmental Protection Agency used the data to set safe levels of pesticides in food.
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Fri, Sep 26, 2008: from Daily Green:
Sixteen Hormone Disrupting Chemicals Found in Teen Girls
Laboratory tests reveal adolescent girls across America are contaminated with chemicals commonly used in cosmetics and body care products. Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected 16 chemicals from 4 chemical families -- phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks -- in blood and urine samples from 20 teen girls aged 14-19. Studies link these chemicals to potential health effects including cancer and hormone disruption. These tests feature first-ever exposure data for parabens in teens, and indicate that young women are widely exposed to this common class of cosmetic preservatives, with 2 parabens, methylparaben and propylparaben, detected in every single girl tested.
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Fri, Sep 26, 2008: from University of the Basque Country:
Bisexual fish in the Urdaibai estuary
Chemical compounds contaminating water can alter the sexual development of aquatic organisms, giving rise to hermaphrodite creatures with both masculine and feminine gametes. This was the conclusion of a research team from the University of the Basque Country alter analysing mussels and grey mullet in Urdaibai.... [N]umerous chemical compounds in water influence the growth, behaviour, reproduction and the immune function of organisms, due to interference with the endocrine system. This is why these compounds are known as 'endocrine disruptors'. Basically they are alkylphenols (amongst others, breakdown derivatives of domestic detergents and cosmetics), pesticides, plastifiers, petroleum derivatives and synthetic hormones. On occasions, they influence the organisms themselves; otherwise the consequences may appear in the second or third generation.
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Thu, Sep 25, 2008: from National Science Foundation:
Pine Bark beetles affecting more than forests
Scientists suspect they are also altering local weather patterns and air quality. A new international field project, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., is exploring how trees and other vegetation influence rainfall, temperatures, smog and other aspects of the atmosphere.... "Forests help control the atmosphere, and there's a big difference between the impacts of a living forest and a dead forest," says NCAR scientist Alex Guenther, a principal investigator on the project. "With a dead forest, we may get different rainfall patterns, for example."
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Wed, Sep 24, 2008: from New York Times:
Fast Food Hits Mediterranean; a Diet Succumbs
KASTELI, Greece -- Dr. Michalis Stagourakis has seen a transformation of his pediatric practice here over the past three years. The usual sniffles and stomachaches of childhood are now interspersed with far more serious conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. A changing diet, he says, has produced an epidemic of obesity and related maladies. Small towns like this one in western Crete, considered the birthplace of the famously healthful Mediterranean diet ďż˝ emphasizing olive oil, fresh produce and fish -- are now overflowing with chocolate shops, pizza places, ice cream parlors, soda machines and fast-food joints.
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Wed, Sep 24, 2008: from Environmental Health News:
Northeastern, West Coast women have high mercury levels
Women in the Northeast are contaminated with the highest concentrations of mercury in the United States, with one of every five exceeding levels considered safe for fetuses, according to a new national study... Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that accumulates in fish and seafood. When babies are exposed to high concentrations of mercury in the womb, their brains may develop abnormally, impairing learning abilities and reducing IQ.
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Mon, Sep 22, 2008: from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Atrazine found in lakes far from farm sources
The widely used weed-killer atrazine is showing up in pristine lakes in northern Minnesota far from farm country, and scientists believe the chemical is falling out of the sky. In the first statewide study of pesticides in Minnesota lakes, government scientists discovered small amounts of atrazine in nine out of 10 lakes sampled, including some in or near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
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Sun, Sep 21, 2008: from National Academy of Sciences via ScienceDaily:
Marine Debris Will Likely Worsen In The 21st Century
Current measures to prevent and reduce marine debris are inadequate, and the problem will likely worsen, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council... Marine debris, man-made materials that intentionally or accidentally enter and pollute the ocean, can cause significant harm. For instance, birds, fish, and marine mammals ingest debris, especially plastics, which can lead to digestive problems and uptake of toxic compounds.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sun, Sep 21, 2008: from London Independent:
Mobile phone use 'raises children's risk of brain cancer fivefold'
Children and teenagers are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use mobile phones, startling new research indicates. The study, experts say, raises fears that today's young people may suffer an "epidemic" of the disease in later life. At least nine out of 10 British 16-year-olds have their own handset, as do more than 40 per cent of primary schoolchildren.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sun, Sep 21, 2008: from Charleston Post and Courier:
Depleted striper stock sends rumors swirling
As the prized striped bass mysteriously disappeared from the Marion-Moultrie lakes, a rumor whispered from fisherman to fisherman: tributyltin. A disastrous spill of the chemical in 2000 from a tin plant near Lexington killed all the animals and plants nearby in a creek that feeds the Congaree River in Columbia. Later that same year, the same chemical was spilled from another plant into the river upstream. Within two years, state biologists were confronting the depletion of the catch in the lakes downstream.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sat, Sep 20, 2008: from AP News:
Scientists monitor growing Lake Erie algae bloom
Giant floating fields of algae are back in strength this year on Lake Erie and scientists are trying to figure out why. The blooms of the pea-soup colored algae -- so big they've been showing on satellite photos -- are toxic to fish and small animals and irritating to humans. The lake once notorious for its pollution is cleaner than ever, yet the algae continues to thrive.... "It's now blooming in the proportions that it was in the bad old days of the 1960s and early '70s," Bridgeman said. "There's a mystery to it because the lake seemed to be getting cleaner, but now the algal blooms are worse."
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Sat, Sep 20, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Humanity at risk: Are the males going first?
Something is happening to today's boys and men: Fewer are being born compared with girls, they're having more trouble in school, virility and fertility are down and testicular cancer rates are up. Now, scientists say these 'fragile males' may be more vulnerable than females to pollutants, affecting their development as early as the womb. If so, writes Martin Mittelstaedt, it could be a bigger threat to our future than global warming...
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Fri, Sep 19, 2008: from National Research Council, via EurekAlert:
Marine debris will likely worsen in the 21st century
Current measures to prevent and reduce marine debris are inadequate, and the problem will likely worsen, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. The United States and the international maritime community should adopt a goal of "zero discharge" of waste into the marine environment, and a system to assess the effectiveness of existing and future marine debris prevention and reduction actions should be implemented. In addition, better leadership, coordination, and integration of mandates and resources are needed, as responsibilities for preventing and mitigating marine debris are scattered across federal organizations and management regimes.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Fri, Sep 19, 2008: from Purdue University, via EurekAlert:
'Buckyballs' have high potential to accumulate in living tissue
Research at Purdue University suggests synthetic carbon molecules called fullerenes, or buckyballs, have a high potential of being accumulated in animal tissue, but the molecules also appear to break down in sunlight, perhaps reducing their possible environmental dangers.... Findings indicated buckyballs have a greater chance of partitioning into fatty tissues than the banned pesticide DDT. However, while DDT is toxic to wildlife, buckyballs currently have no documented toxic effects, Jafvert said.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, Sep 18, 2008: from American Society of Agronomy:
Nitrate Concentrations of Ground Water Increasing in Many Areas of the United States
Nitrate is the most common chemical contaminant in the world's ground water, including in aquifers used for drinking-water supply. Nitrate in drinking water of the United States is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) because of concerns related to infant health and possible cancer risks. Use of man-made synthetic fertilizers has steadily increased since World War II, raising the potential for increased nitrate contamination of the nation's ground water, despite efforts in recent decades to improve land-management practices.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, Sep 18, 2008: from Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research:
Significant increase in alien plants in Europe
The number of alien plant species has more than tripled over the last 25 years. This is the finding of a study by European scientists who evaluated the data from 48 European countries and regions. 5789 plant species were classified as alien. 2843 originating outside of Europe, according to the researchers and their publication in the journal Preslia. By contrast, in 1980 only 1568 alien species were registered. Of these, 580 had come from outside Europe.... New species that bring about long-term changes to ecosystems by e.g. competing with native species, are regarded as one of the greatest threats to biodiversity.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, Sep 18, 2008: from Marketwatch:
Nationwide Consumer Class Action Lawsuit Filed in Georgia Against Baby Bottle Manufacturers
On September 12, 2008, Rights For America attorneys... filed a consumer class action complaint on behalf of four Georgia families against the top four polycarbonate plastic baby bottle manufacturers for their use of the synthetic hormone known as Bisphenol-A (BPA) as a chemical component in their plastic baby bottles and toddler training cups. Bisphenol-A, also referred to as "BPA" was developed in the 1930s as a synthetic estrogen, but instead gained wide usage beginning in the 1950s for its rigid and shatterproof qualities in scores of plastic products, including baby bottles and children's training cups. Unfortunately, over 150 independent peer reviewed studies by the world's leading scientists and researchers in this area have repeated shown that BPA can activate estrogen receptors that lead to the same effects as the body's own estrogens.
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Thu, Sep 18, 2008: from Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
Contaminated milk crisis worsens in China
The contaminated milk powder crisis in China continues to worsen and drag New Zealand's dairy company Fonterra into the scandal. More than 6000 babies are sick, three have died and 150 have serious kidney failure after drinking milk powder that had been deliberately contaminated with melamine, a toxic substance used in plastics. The Chinese Government has admitted its dairy market is "chaotic" and has ordered a national testing program.
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Tue, Sep 16, 2008: from US News and World Report:
Heart Disease, Diabetes Linked to Chemical in Plastics
It turns out, though, that adults may be at risk, too. A landmark study of more than 1,400 people ages 18 to 74, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that those with the largest amount of BPA in their urine had nearly three times the risk of heart disease and more than twice the risk of diabetes as those who had the lowest levels. "Even those with the highest BPA levels still had levels way below the currently established 'safe' level," says David Melzer, an epidemiologist at the University of Exeter in England and coauthor of the study. Other researchers say there's enough evidence from previous animal studies to suggest that BPA is harmful to adults.
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Tue, Sep 16, 2008: from Engineer Live:
Studies confirm challenges of man-made pollutants in the environment
New evidence that chemical contaminants are finding their way into the deep-sea food web has been found in deep-sea squids and octopods, including the strange-looking 'vampire squid'. These species are food for deep-diving toothed whales and other predators. "It was surprising to find measurable and sometimes high amounts of toxic pollutants in such a deep and remote environment," Vecchione said. Among the chemicals detected were tributyltin (TBT), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs), and dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT). They are known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) because they don't degrade and persist in the environment for a very long time.
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Mon, Sep 15, 2008: from Associated Press:
Health facilities flush estimated 250M pounds of drugs a year
U.S. hospitals and long-term care facilities annually flush millions of pounds of unused pharmaceuticals down the drain, pumping contaminants into America's drinking water... These discarded medications are expired, spoiled, over-prescribed or unneeded... Few of the country's 5,700 hospitals and 45,000 long-term care homes keep data on the pharmaceutical waste they generate. Based on a small sample, though, the AP was able to project an annual national estimate of at least 250 million pounds of pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging, with no way to separate out the drug volume.
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Mon, Sep 15, 2008: from Connecticut Post:
What's killing off our salt marshes?
Up and down the Eastern Seaboard, the coastal wetlands are dying, and no one knows for sure why this is happening. First observed in the Florida panhandle in 1990, the shoreline degradation, called sudden wetland dieback, has been observed in hundreds of locations from Louisiana to Maine. Scientists say that while it's normal for coastal marsh vegetation to have its bad years, they have never seen marsh grass die and not recover, until now.... Researchers agree that solving the marsh dieback puzzle is important -- not only for the Sound, but for the Earth as well. "The salt marsh is the second most productive ecosystem on the planet -- only the tropical rainforest will produce more biomass per square kilometer," Elmer said. "It also serves as a home for many organisms.
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Mon, Sep 15, 2008: from NewsInferno:
Even More Americans Affected by Pharmaceuticals in Water Than First Believed
After a five-month-long inquiry conducted by the AP earlier this year, it found many communities do not test for drugs in drinking water and those that do often fail to tell customers they have found medications, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones. At that time, medications were found in drinking water supplies in 24 major metropolitan areas. Water providers are not required to test for pharmaceuticals and the EPA's budget for the testing of endocrine disruptors in America's waterways was cut by 35 percent.
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Sun, Sep 14, 2008: from NaturalNews.com:
Ocean Dead Zones Now Top 400
An ocean "dead zone" can be compared to a living creature because both will waste away when deprived of nutrients and adequate oxygen. Marine life is becoming nonexistent in certain areas in our oceans and these areas are growing steadily. There were 405 dead zones that were accounted for in 2007. This is a 33 percent increase over a 1995 survey. The number of dead zones has essentially doubled every decade since the 1960s.
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Sun, Sep 14, 2008: from The Province (Canada):
World's oceans could become 'soupy swill': expert
Our seas are suffocating under a layer of slime. That slime -- algae feasting on pollutants and fertilizers and starving the ocean of oxygen - is growing rapaciously and killing off sea life at an alarming rate.... A new study published in August reveals the world's dead zones have doubled in size every decade since 1960. Coastal waters with once rich marine life -- Chesapeake Bay, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and off Peru, Chile and Namibia -- are rapidly losing species.
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Fri, Sep 12, 2008: from Muskegon Chronicle:
Soot-spewing ships pollute environment
Ocean freighters spew twice as much soot into the air as previously believed and tugboats are among the worst maritime offenders when it comes to air pollution, according to a new government study. Soot is comprised of tiny particles of black carbon, which become airborne during the burning of diesel and other fossil fuels, wildfires and the burning of vegetation for agricultural purposes. Soot can settle in human lungs, causing asthma and premature deaths; researchers also believe soot emissions may contribute to global warming.
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Thu, Sep 11, 2008: from San Diego Reader:
Plague of the Urban Tumbleweeds
Put it this way: the average plastic bag has an estimated life of from 20 to 1000 years, depending on the bag and whom you talk to. So if William the Conqueror had buried his dog's doodoo in a plastic bag after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the bag'd be wasting away just about now. We don't need to be creating history like that. A plastic bag's useful lifespan is, what, 20 or 30 minutes? However long it takes to get from the supermarket to home. Thereafter, it launches into a second career filling our landfills and clogging our streams, storm drains, oceans, fishes' bellies. And from there, perhaps, to our bellies. How bad is the problem? Green think tanks have had a field day conjuring up original ways to express the horror.
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Thu, Sep 11, 2008: from Raleigh News & Observer:
Ag-Mart workers testify
Nearly four years ago, Francisca Herrera bore a son who had no arms or legs, triggering the largest pesticide prosecution in state history. On Wednesday, she and the boy's father said they were repeatedly exposed to pesticides while working on a North Carolina tomato farm run by Ag-Mart. Herrera was pregnant at the time. "It happened morning, noon and evening," Herrera said at a Wednesday state Pesticide Board hearing. Sprayers "would pass by close to where we were working. They didn't care if we were eating."
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Wed, Sep 10, 2008: from Great Falls Connection:
Lake Marmota Reaches "Tipping Point"
[Amy Stephan] said she could tell a number of neighbors and upstream homeowners had taken advantage of beautiful weather one weekend earlier in the season and had fertilized their lawns, because by Thursday, there were four inches of algae on the pond. When it dies, she said, the algae can create dead zones lacking oxygen and also smother life on the floor of the lake. The bacteria that feed on dead algae can use up all the oxygen in the water where they are present.
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Tue, Sep 9, 2008: from London Times:
How carbon capture and storage (CCS) could make coal the fuel of the future
It has been condemned as one of the main causes of global warming but is coal about to enjoy an extraordinary rebirth as the fuel of the future? The first power plant in the world that will take the toxic emissions from coal and bury them deep in the ground opens today, carrying with it the hopes of scientists and environmentalists around the world. If the power station in Spremberg, eastern Germany, is able to produce affordable electricity without polluting the atmosphere, it could mark the start of a new era for a fossil fuel whose days appeared numbered.
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Tue, Sep 9, 2008: from New York Times:
Friendly Invaders
...It sounds like the makings of an ecological disaster: an epidemic of invasive species that wipes out the delicate native species in its path. But in a paper published in August in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dov Sax, an ecologist at Brown University, and Steven D. Gaines, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, point out that the invasion has not led to a mass extinction of native plants. The number of documented extinctions of native New Zealand plant species is a grand total of three.
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Mon, Sep 8, 2008: from The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Certain flame retardants may make us sick
A common group of flame retardants used since the 1970s and credited with saving lives is proving to be a pervasive contaminant in the environment that may be harmful to human health. The chemicals were added to textiles, couches, carpet pads, mattresses, and the hard plastics in TVs, computers, and other electronic devices.... Health studies suggest that they may, at high levels of exposure, cause cancer.
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Mon, Sep 8, 2008: from The Australian:
Ergon Energy uniforms 'making workers sick'
ENERGY workers are breaking out in blisters and vomiting after wearing potentially toxic uniforms. At least 143 Ergon Energy workers in Queensland have suffered severe allergic reactions to the flame-retardant uniforms recently rolled out to the state's 3400-strong workforce at a cost of about $3.5 million.... Workers also claim the Chinese-made uniforms release a yellow, bubbling substance when ironed that causes nausea and vomiting.
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Mon, Sep 8, 2008: from Chattanooga Times Free Press:
Testing for drugs in Tennessee River system under way
Caffeine was found in more than 93 percent of about 160 test samples of river water... [as well as] at least 12 other common drugs, including several antibiotics, antidepressants and substances designed to lower human cholesterol levels. While the amount of drugs in the water is tiny by human standards, they one day may have a serious impact on the environment -- and on humans, as well, he said.... "If you're taking all these drugs at once, in really low concentrations, for your entire life, does that sound like a good thing? I don't think so," he said.
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Sun, Sep 7, 2008: from London Independent:
Pollution can make you fat, study claims
Pollution can make children fat, startling new research shows. A groundbreaking Spanish study indicates that exposure to a range of common chemicals before birth sets up a baby to grow up stout, thus helping to drive the worldwide obesity epidemic.... The research, published in the current issue of the journal Acta Paediatrica, measured levels of hexachlorobenzene (HCB), a pesticide, in the umbilical cords of 403 children born on the Spanish island of Menorca, from before birth. It found that those with the highest levels were twice as likely to be obese when they reached the age of six and a half.
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Sun, Sep 7, 2008: from California Progress Report:
Californians Don't Need a Daily Serving of Toxic Perfluorinated Chemicals
You may find PFCs in anything that's made to repel grease, such as pizza, popcorn and French fry containers. A carcinogen, they now show up in more than 98 percent of Americans' blood, and in 100 percent of 293 newborns tested by scientists in a recent study. Worst of all, these compounds never break down -- they'll stay in our soil, our water and our bodies indefinitely.
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Sat, Sep 6, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Oil refineries underestimate release of emissions, study says
A study by the Alberta Research Council that investigated the plume of contaminants emanating from a Canadian oil refinery using high-tech sniffing equipment found the facility dramatically underestimated its releases of dangerous air pollutants... Based on the study, funded by the federal, Alberta and Ontario governments, it is likely that all refineries in Canada and the United States are seriously undercounting emissions because they follow an estimating protocol developed by the Washington-based American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Under the protocol, refineries don't calculate their actual emissions, but try to reach approximate figures using technical assumptions and mathematical equations.
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Sat, Sep 6, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Risking Armageddon for Cold, Hard Cash
India and the United States, along with deep-pocketed corporations, have been steadily pushing along a lucrative and dangerous new nuclear pact, the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement.... The pact will gut global efforts to contain the spread of nuclear materials and encourage other countries to flout the NPT that India is now being rewarded for failing to sign. The U.S.-India deal will divert billions of dollars away from India's real development needs in sustainable agriculture, education, health care, housing, sanitation and roads. It will also distract India from developing clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power, and from reducing emissions from its many coal plants. Instead, the pact will focus the nation's efforts on an energy source that will, under the rosiest of projections, contribute a mere 8 percent of India's total energy needs -- and won't even do that until 2030.
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Fri, Sep 5, 2008: from University of Cincinnati, via EurekAlert:
Bisphenol A linked to metabolic syndrome in human tissue
New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) implicates the primary chemical used to produce hard plastics -- bisphenol A (BPA) -- as a risk factor for metabolic syndrome and its consequences. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of risk factors that include lower responsiveness to insulin and higher blood levels of sugar and lipids. According to the American Heart Association, about 25 percent of Americans have metabolic syndrome. Left untreated, the disorder can lead to life-threatening health problems such as coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
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Wed, Sep 3, 2008: from AFP:
Ivory Coast's toxic waste trial to start September 29
The trial of 12 people charged with involvement in the 2006 toxic waste pollution scandal in the Ivory Coast is set to go ahead on September 29, according to court documents released Tuesday. The 12 are charged with "poisoning or complicity to poison" in the illicit dumping of 500 tonnes of caustic soda and petroleum residues across more than a dozen open-air rubbish tips around the commercial capital Abidjan. The toxic sludge, brought into Ivory Coast by Dutch-based multinational trading company Trafigura, killed 16 people and caused an estimated 95,000 people to seek medical attention.
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Tue, Sep 2, 2008: from FoodConsumer.org:
Plastic chemical may raise risk of heart attack, diabetes
A new study suggests that bisphenol A could be more harmful than thought. It has found that the chemical at the level found commonly found in humans' blood can suppress a hormone that protects people from heart attacks and type 2 disease. The study appeared online in Environmental Health Perspectives August 14, a day before the Food and Drug Administration claimed that bisphenol A is safe at current exposure levels.
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Mon, Sep 1, 2008: from Gant Daily (PA):
Deep-well Natural Gas Drilling a Concern for State's Water Quality
Scientists have known for years the gas was there, but it wasn't until new drilling technology was developed that it could be extracted. This method uses hydraulic pressure to fracture the shale layer so trapped gas can escape. "Fracking, as they call it, can require several million gallons of water for each gas well, and some wells may be fracked more than once during their active life, which might span more than a decade," Swistock explained.... In other states, fracking water has been found to contain numerous hazardous and toxic substances, including formaldehyde, benzene and chromates.
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Sun, Aug 31, 2008: from McClatchy Newspapers:
Scientists fear impact of Asian pollutants on U.S.
"From 500 miles in space, satellites track brown clouds of dust, soot and other toxic pollutants from China and elsewhere in Asia as they stream across the Pacific and take dead aim at the western U.S... By some estimates more than 10 billion pounds of airborne pollutants from Asia - ranging from soot to mercury to carbon dioxide to ozone - reach the U.S. annually. The problem is only expected to worsen: Some Chinese officials have warned that pollution in their country could quadruple in the next 15 years."
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Sat, Aug 30, 2008: from NaturalNews.com:
Broken Compact Fluorescent Lights Release Mercury Into the Air: Over 100 Times the EPA Limit
"Compact fluorescent light bulbs can release dangerous amounts of mercury into the air when they break and must be disposed of very carefully, according to a report by the state of Maine. Compact fluorescent bulbs, which consume only about a quarter as much energy as traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer, all use mercury to produce light."
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Sat, Aug 30, 2008: from LA Times (US):
Italy mobsters block efforts to clean up toxic trash heaps
The Naples-based Camorra controls the import, transport and disposal of millions of tons of rubbish, an extremely lucrative business in which the group follows its own rules, ignores regulations on toxic waste and contaminates once-fertile farmland, country fields, forests and rivers. Beyond the ugliness of it all, evidence now suggests that the garbage is poisoning the food chain and may be causing cancer, birth defects and other health problems.... Scientists continue to study the link between the refuse and health, but already point to alarming trends, according to the World Health Organization, including a rate exceeding regional or national norms for cancers of the stomach, kidney, liver and lung, as well as congenital malformations. In some areas between Naples and the city of Caserta, residents are two to three times more likely to get liver cancer than those in the rest of the country, according to Italy's National Research Council.
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Fri, Aug 29, 2008: from Wenachee World:
Investigators identify toxic goo, still looking for who dumped it
Nearly all of the 2,353 barrels contained industrial paint solvents and sludge, though more than half of the containers had deteriorated and spilled most or all of their contents. Some held medical waste and two barrels tested positive for low levels of radioactive materials.... Aquifers under the dump tested positive for high levels of organic compounds, metals, petroleum products, solvents, pesticides and other chemicals.... Officials believed the contamination was coming from the 55-gallon barrels, which were brought to the unlined landfill by a transport company in August 1975 and buried. But no records of what the barrels contained could be found. The [transport] company paid $2 per barrel — about $4,700 in all — to bury the toxins.
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Thu, Aug 28, 2008: from ABC News:
Future Storms, Global Warming Could Devastate Louisiana Coast
Louisiana's 15,000 square miles of coastal wetlands traditionally act as natural buffers from storm surges. For centuries, the fresh floodwaters of the Mississippi River replenished the wetlands with sediment, building them up and flushing out the saltwater blown in by hurricanes. But when levees were built in the 1930s to control the flooding of the river, saltwater flowing in from the gulf was left unchecked, killing habitats for freshwater wildlife and eating away at the coastline. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources estimates that every 38 minutes the area loses an area of coastline about the size of a football field. "And they say over the next 20, 25 years we'll lose another thousand miles," Jindal said.
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Thu, Aug 28, 2008: from Western Morning News (UK):
'Barmy' pesticides ban blasted
Ministers are to step up pressure on the European Parliament not to press ahead with "barmy plans" to ban three-quarters of pesticides used by farmers.... The opposition has to come from across the continent to ensure that it is "not just Britain whingeing", he said.... The controversy centres on the types of chemicals which Brussels wants to remove. They include banning substances which have "endocrine disrupting properties" that could cause adverse effect in humans. However, the public is already exposed to such substances through prescribed drugs, meat, peas and beans and products like soya milk.
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Wed, Aug 27, 2008: from Popular Science:
New research finds higher-than-expected levels of pesticides in hives
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates agricultural pesticide use, but this regulation does not account for the interaction of these chemicals that inevitably takes place through the bees' pollination processes. Some of these combinations of pesticides have been found to have a synergistic effect hundreds of times more toxic than any of the pesticides individually, says James L. Frazier, professor of entomology at Penn State.... These changes include immune system blocks and disorientation, which may help to explain the CCD crisis of late.
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Wed, Aug 27, 2008: from Citizens Voice (PA):
Federal agency: Cancer cluster exists between Tamaqua, McAdoo
The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on Monday confirmed something that residents of an area at the intersections of Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne counties have felt sure of for many years -- that an unusually high number of people there are suffering from a rare blood cancer.... The report found three environmental similarities in common in the cluster areas: hazardous waste sites, air pollution and coal mining operations.
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Tue, Aug 26, 2008: from NaturalNews:
Canada's Oil Sands Declared "Most Destructive Project on Earth" as Eco Disaster Looms
The report accuses the Canadian government of allowing the Tar Sands Project to emit levels of greenhouse gases that far outstrip any reductions made in other areas. "Ottawa is letting the Tar Sands hold Canadians hostage on global warming," said Program Manager Matt Price.... The group also says that the project has contaminated rivers and groundwater with toxic chemicals, caused an increase in acid rain and created "health sacrifice zones" in the surrounding region.
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Mon, Aug 25, 2008: from University of New South Wales, via EurekAlert:
Heavy metal link to mutations, low growth and fertility among crustaceans in Sydney Harbor tributary
Heavy metal pollutants are linked to genetic mutations, stunted growth and declining fertility among small crustaceans in the Parramatta River, the main tributary of Sydney Harbour, new research shows. The finding adds to mounting evidence that toxic sediments and seaweeds in Sydney Harbour are a deadly diet for many sea creatures.... Earlier this year, UNSW scientists revealed that copper-contaminated seaweeds in Sydney Harbour were killing 75 percent of the offspring of small crustaceans that feed on a common brown seaweed.
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Sun, Aug 24, 2008: from London Independent:
Nuclear waste containers likely to fail, warns 'devastating' report
"Thousands of containers of lethal nuclear waste are likely to fail before being safely sealed away underground, a devastating official report concludes. The unpublicised report is by the Environment Agency, which has to approve any proposals for getting rid of the waste that remains deadly for tens of thousands of years. The document effectively destroys Britain's already shaky disposal plans just as ministers are preparing an expansion of nuclear power."
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Sat, Aug 23, 2008: from New Scientist:
Superfood rice bran contains arsenic
"Rice bran – a so-called "superfood" – might contain dangerous amounts of a natural poison. A new study suggests that rice bran, the shavings left over after brown rice is polished to produce white rice grains, contains "inappropriate" levels of arsenic. Andrew Meharg at the University of Aberdeen, UK, and colleagues found that the levels of arsenic in rice bran products available on the internet and used in food-aid programmes funded by the US government would be illegal in China – the only country in the world to have standards for how much arsenic is permissible in food."
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Sat, Aug 23, 2008: from Chemistry World:
Chinese sewage plant study raises concerns
Many water treatment facilities in China are failing to remove toxic organic chemicals and levels of some chemicals are actually increasing during treatment, according to researchers from Nankai University, Tianjin.... One of the chemicals monitored by Sun's team is nonylphenol, released during the breakdown of nonylphenol polyethoxylate detergents. Nonylphenol is an endocrine disrupter... [T]he sewage treatment works only removed 60-70 per cent of nonylphenol polyethoxylate from water... To make matters worse, nonylphenol polyethoxylate degrades into smaller metabolites, such as nonylphenol, which could be 70 times more toxic than their precursors.
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Sat, Aug 23, 2008: from WiredPRnews:
Where no cruise ship will ever go: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
In the North Pacific Ocean, in a remote area known as the North Pacific Gyre, are two giant floating "islands," each the size of Texas. They are not made of organic materials. They are made of plastic. The "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" or "Trash Vortex" is at least 20 years of accumulated junk cast off by humans, 90 percent of it plastics. Only 20 percent comes from ships and oil platforms at sea; 80 percent comes from land. Ocean currents carry debris from the east coast of Asia to the center of the gyre in a year or less, and debris from the west coast of North America in about five years.
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Fri, Aug 22, 2008: from Cape Cod Times:
Man-made chemicals tied to sick lobsters
A Woods Hole scientist believes he may have found a key culprit behind a mysterious disease linked to a dramatic drop in lobster populations from Buzzards Bay to Long Island. In research conducted this summer, Hans Laufer found that common man-made chemicals used in plastics, detergents and cosmetics had infiltrated the blood and tissue of lobsters, making them more vulnerable to a particularly virulent strain of shell disease."
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Fri, Aug 22, 2008: from New Scientist:
Penguins dumping arsenic in Antarctica
"Penguin guano isn't usually considered an environmental hazard. Yet, according to new research, it is the main source of arsenic accumulation in Antarctic soil. Zhouqing Xie of the Institute of Polar Environment at the University of Science and Technology of China and colleagues looked at how much arsenic was found in the droppings of three bird species and two seal species that live on Ardley Island, off the Antarctic peninsular. The droppings of the gentoo penguin contained far more than those of the other species - nearly twice as much as the droppings of the southern giant petrel and up to three times more than the local seals."
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Fri, Aug 22, 2008: from The Capital, Annapolis, MD:
Fish kill hits Magothy
Thousands of dead fish and crabs floated to the surface of the Magothy River this week, suffocated by low oxygen levels in the water..... To Paul Spadaro of Severna Park, president of the Magothy River Association, the fish kill is yet another sign that we need to do more to clean up area waterways. Rapid development, overuse of fertilizers and leaky septic systems all take their toll on the water, and in turn, the aquatic life. "What the poor fish have to deal with is our doing," he said.
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Wed, Aug 20, 2008: from Edmonton Journal:
Fish with double jaw sparks eco interest
"CALGARY - A northern First Nations band which displayed a deformed, two-jawed fish at a weekend water conference says the grotesque specimen has spurred efforts to collect evidence to show that Alberta's oilsands are poisoning both wildlife and people. George Poitras, a spokesman for the Mikisew Cree, said the band is determining what to do with the large goldeye, which was found last week by children playing in the waters of Lake Athabasca, downstream from the oilsands."
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Wed, Aug 20, 2008: from Christian Science Monitor:
New sea change forecasts present a slimy picture
Earth's oceans are on the brink of massive change. You see it in such details as the hordes of Pacific mollusks that researchers have identified as ready to invade the North Atlantic as a thawing Arctic Ocean opens the way. You also see it in broad trends: A new overview warns that such relentless human impacts as overfishing or agricultural pollution -- as well as global warming -- threaten mass extinctions of marine life. Jeremy Jackson at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who made that overview, notes that this is "not a happy picture." He says that "the only way to keep one's sanity and try to achieve real success is to carve out sectors of the problem that can be addressed in effective terms and get on with it as quickly as possible."
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Tue, Aug 19, 2008: from Indiana University, via EurekAlert:
Chronic lead poisoning from urban soils
While acute lead poisoning from toys and direct ingestion of interior paint has received more publicity, these cases account for only a portion of children with lead poisoning. Many health officials are increasingly concerned with chronic lead poisoning, which occurs at lower levels of lead in the blood and are harder to diagnose. Babies and young children may develop chronic lead poisoning when playing in dirt yards or playgrounds or in areas with blowing dry soil tainted with the lead, which is ubiquitous in older urban areas.... As their neurons develop, the nervous system tries to use lead in place of calcium and the child's neural systems fail to form correctly. This impairs neural function leading to irreversibly decreased IQ and increased attention deficient issues.
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Tue, Aug 19, 2008: from Science News:
Carcinogens from car exhaust can linger
"The daily exposure to free radicals from car exhaust, smokestacks and even your neighbors' barbecue could be as harmful as smoking, according to a new study. Many combustion processes, such as those in a car, create tiny particles that may act as brewing pots and carriers for free radicals -- chemicals believed to cause lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases."
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Mon, Aug 18, 2008: from London Independent:
Jellyfish invasion: Britain to fight them on the beaches
"The growing threat from swarms of jellyfish around Britain's coast is to be investigated for the first time by British and Irish scientists. Using the latest technology, researchers are planning to tag jellyfish to explore their life cycles and movement in a project known as Ecojel."
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Mon, Aug 18, 2008: from Reuters India:
"Toxic" Indian festivals poison waterways
"MUMBAI (Reuters) - Toxic chemicals from thousands of idols of Hindu gods immersed in rivers and lakes across India are causing pollution which is killing fish and contaminating food crops, experts and environmentalists said on Monday... Elaborately painted and decorated idols are worshipped before they are taken during mass processions to rivers, lakes and the sea, where they are immersed in accordance with Hindu faith. Environmentalists say the idols are often made from non-biodegradable materials such as plastic, cement and plaster of Paris and painted with toxic dyes."
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Sun, Aug 17, 2008: from South Florida Sun Sentinel:
Health questions linger after state study on Fort Lauderdale trash incinerator
"FORT LAUDERDALE - A state study that found few links between toxic ashes from the Wingate trash incinerator and health problems in nearby neighborhoods downplayed important data, according to several health experts who worked on the survey. One expert, University of Alabama at Birmingham epidemiologist Jeffrey Roseman, helped design the study and said state officials dismissed high rates of reported anemia, asthma and cancers in the northwestern Fort Lauderdale community around Wingate."
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Sat, Aug 16, 2008: from London Independent:
Fattest children to be taken away from their parents
"Dangerously overweight children will have to be taken from their parents and put into care because of Britain's worsening "obesity epidemic", council leaders have warned. One million children will be clinically obese within four years on current trends, storing up future problems from heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure and diabetes. The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 400 councils in England and Wales, predicted social services teams would have to take drastic action to improve the health of seriously overweight children."
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Sat, Aug 16, 2008: from Associated Press:
Worrying invasive snail found in Lake Michigan
"CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Scientists worry that a rapidly reproducing, tiny invasive snail recently found in Lake Michigan could hurt the lake's ecosystem. The New Zealand mud snail joins a long and growing list of nonnative species moving into the Great Lakes, threatening to disrupt the food chain and change the local environment."
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Fri, Aug 15, 2008: from NaturalNews:
Fragrances in Common Household Products Contain Many Toxins
According to a study that was posted on the Environmental Impact Assessment Review and reported by CBS, there are many different kinds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in laundry detergents, air fresheners (in solid, spray and oil form), dryer sheets, and fabric softener. VOCs are small substances that evaporate into the air.... She was able to identify some of the VOCs, discovering that 10 of those that she found were considered toxic under the U.S. federal law. Furthermore, three out of ten of the VOCs were considered air pollutants: acetaldehyde, chloromethane, and 1,4 dioxane.
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Fri, Aug 15, 2008: from Virginia Institute of Marine Science, via ScienceDaily:
Study Shows Continued Spread Of 'Dead Zones'; Lack Of Oxygen Now A Key Stressor On Marine Ecosystems
A global study led by Professor Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, shows that the number of "dead zones" -- areas of seafloor with too little oxygen for most marine life -- has increased by a third between 1995 and 2007.... The study, which appears in the August 15 issue of the journal Science, tallies 405 dead zones in coastal waters worldwide, affecting an area of 95,000 square miles, about the size of New Zealand. The largest dead zone in the U.S., at the mouth of the Mississippi, covers more than 8,500 square miles, roughly the size of New Jersey.
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Thu, Aug 14, 2008: from KOMO TV news (WA):
Three pesticides singled out in report as threat to salmon
"Overwhelming evidence" suggests the pesticides are interfering with the ability of salmon to swim, find food, reproduce and escape bigger fish trying to eat them, says the evaluation issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service.... Chloripyrifos. Also known by trade names that include Dursban and Lorsban, it is used on more than three dozen crops, including asparagus, alfalfa, cherries, broccoli, onions, pears and peaches, as well as for industrial uses and to control mosquitoes and fire ants. Diazinon. Also known as Knox Out, Spectracide and other brand names, diazinon is used on about 50 crops, including almonds, apples, blueberries, carrots, grapes, spinach and strawberries. Malathion is used on more than 100 crops, including avocados, cauliflower, corn, mangoes, rice, sweet potatoes and watermelon. For homes, it is registered for use on lawns, flowering plants, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, shrubs and other trees.
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Thu, Aug 14, 2008: from Telegraph-Journal (Canada):
Lake Utopia's toxic algal bloom
The blue-green algae, he said, is caused by increased nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which come from a variety of sources. Fox said the increase could be an accumulation of many factors, including the flow from a canal that flows from the man-made headpond created by a power dam, automatic dishwater soap flowing into the water, the Cooke Aquaculture hatchery located on the lake, fertilizers people are using to grow grass on their lawns, leaky sewage systems and recreational boating.... Cleary advised that drinking the water could result in a "pretty nasty effect" of nausea and diarrhea and possibly death... The doctor explained that while humans probably wouldn't choose to swim in the scummy areas of the water or swallow it, animals don't know any better and should not be permitted to swim in the lake.
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Thu, Aug 14, 2008: from Sacramento News and Reviews:
The chemistry of beauty
You know those 12 products women use daily? That adds up to some 168 chemical ingredients, and men's habits total about 85 ingredients. I deposit about 110 chemicals into my body every day.... [C]hronic illness and disease in the United States is on the rise, affecting almost one-half of the population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the use of synthetic chemicals post-World War II increased, so did infertility, birth defects in males, testicular cancer and learning disabilities. Breast cancer used to be relegated to post-menopausal women. Now young women in their 20s are afflicted.... This industry is the least regulated under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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Wed, Aug 13, 2008: from Associated Press:
Venomous lionfish prowls fragile Caribbean waters
"SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A maroon-striped marauder with venomous spikes is rapidly multiplying in the Caribbean's warm waters, swallowing native species, stinging divers and generally wreaking havoc on an ecologically delicate region. The red lionfish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans that probably escaped from a Florida fish tank, is showing up everywhere -- from the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola to Little Cayman's pristine Bloody Bay Wall, one of the region's prime destinations for divers. Wherever it appears, the adaptable predator corners fish and crustaceans up to half its size with its billowy fins and sucks them down in one violent gulp."
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Wed, Aug 13, 2008: from Blue Ridge Times-News:
Files Show Governor Intervened With Court regarding DuPont Judgment
When Gov. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia filed a friend-of-the-court brief in June arguing that the State Supreme Court should review a $382 million judgment against the DuPont Company, he said he was not taking sides, but acting in the interest of due process. Documents from the governor's office, however, show that Mr. Manchin had consulted with the company before filing the brief, and DuPont officials say the governor even asked them to provide him with a draft brief. The case involves thousands of residents in and around Spelter, W.Va., where DuPont operated a zinc-smelting plant. Last October, a jury in Harrison County ruled that DuPont deliberately endangered those residents by dumping toxic arsenic, cadmium and lead at the plant... The revelations of Mr. Manchin’s involvement in the DuPont case come against a backdrop of larger concerns raised recently about the independence of the state's legal system. In the last year, two Supreme Court justices have come under scrutiny for ties to company executives that had cases pending before the court.
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Wed, Aug 13, 2008: from IndiaInteracts:
Powerful Friends of Posco and Sterlite
In today's world, where the real wealthy are the corporate tycoons, it is hardly surprising that they are using their wealth not just to win friends but also to buy loyalty. The brazen manner in which the Posco and the Vedanta (Sterlite) have bought the friendship of Naveen Patnaik administration in Orissa and the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre is a testimony to the bourgeoning influence of the money power.... And what has the plant done to the people? Although the refinery is not yet in full operation, it is already damaging local life. Filmmaker S.Josson spoke to the people of the area in March 2008. Sample one quote: Mukta a woman living in the vicinity of the refinery says: "The water has become bad. When we bathe the skin itches. When we drink we get sores in our mouth. Our hair is falling rapidly. The air quality has also become terrible. It is difficult to breathe. We get sores in our throat. The body itches at night. Our cattle are dying"... And this is how Naveen Patnaik and Manmohan Singh are bringing the experience of modern living for the tribal people of Orissa.
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Mon, Aug 11, 2008: from AP, via the Munster Times (Indiana):
Researchers study mercury in the Great Salt Lake
[F]or reasons scientists cannot explain, [the Great Salt Lake] is heavily laden with toxic mercury.... Three years ago, in an alarming finding, U.S. Geological Survey tests showed the lake had some of the highest mercury readings ever recorded in a body of water in the United States.... Each year, more than 9 million birds stop by, many on their annual treks between Canada or South America and parts between, making the Great Salt Lake "sort of the Delta airplane hub of the West in terms of migration," Aldrich said.
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Sat, Aug 9, 2008: from Farmers Weekly (UK):
Save Our Sprays: EU Pesticide Ban -- Your Questions Answered
Proposed EU pesticide legislation could remove key products from the market. Mike Abram explains the background, what the current position is, and what happens next.... "Among the many casualties would be virtually all insecticides, strobilurin fungicides, chlorothalonil, mesosulfuron-methyl (as in Atlantis), and metazachlor. It is probably easier to write a list of what would be left."
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Sat, Aug 9, 2008: from The Daily Green:
Junk Mail Produces as Much CO2 as 7 States Combined
"A report by the group ForestEthics estimates that destroying forests to make paper for junk mail releases as much greenhouse gas pollution as 9 million cars. Another way to look at it: Junk mail produces as much pollution as seven U.S. states combined, or as much as heating 13 million homes each winter. While the estimates may or may not be accurate, the point is indisputable: Junk mail is a waste."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
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Sat, Aug 9, 2008: from Baltimore Sun (US):
Algal Bloom: Crabs suffocating in Middle River
John Neukam has been catching crabs in pots near the Middle River for decades. But this year, the crabs have been dying in the water, suffocated by a bright green algae bloom that is choking off oxygen and worrying watermen and recreational boaters. "You crab all week, you get a bushel and a half in your live box, and they die," said Neukam, after checking his pots yesterday morning. "I've been here all my life -- 64 years -- and we've only had this one other time, when fertilizer from a farm seeped into the cove."
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Sat, Aug 9, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
No matter what flame retardant is used, it shows up in the environment
"Another chapter has been added to the troubled history of flame retardants. The latest compounds used to reduce the risk of fire have been found in household dust for the first time. First, there were polychlorinated biphenyls, which were banned in the 1970s when it became clear that they were highly toxic and were accumulating in people and wildlife. PCBs were replaced by PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), which were used in a wide array of consumer products, including televisions and baby clothing. But then those also showed up in wildlife, including whales in the Arctic."
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Sat, Aug 9, 2008: from London Daily Telegraph:
Amazonian Chernobyl -- Ecuador's oil environment disaster
"Once it was pristine rainforest. Now it has been described as an Amazonian Chernobyl. Millions of gallons of crude oil and toxic waste -- the legacy of an oil extraction programme -- has blighted 1,700 hectares of land and poisoned the rivers and streams in Sucumbios in the north-east corner of Ecuador... Indigenous Indian people blame the pollution on the US oil giant Chevron -- formerly Texaco -- and say it has caused a catalogue of health problems including severe birth defects, spontaneous miscarriages and cancers."
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Fri, Aug 8, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Invasion of the New Zealand mud snails
"They are only a few millimetres long, hard-shelled and humble. But the New Zealand mud snails have laid siege to four of the five Great Lakes and are threatening to invade rivers and streams, too. A Penn State research team says these foreign-intruder species that have long been a problem in the western United States could have the ability to change ecosystems in the East."
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Fri, Aug 8, 2008: from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
'Alarming' elevated cancer risk in South Seattle linked to air pollution
"Residents of a broad swath of South Seattle from Seward Park to West Seattle face elevated cancer risks because of air pollution, according to a soon-to-be released government study... The risks are significantly elevated in pockets of industrial pollution -- and skyrocket within about 200 yards of highways, says the long-awaited study by state and federal scientists."
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Wed, Aug 6, 2008: from London Guardian:
Rockies wilderness at risk from latest dash for gas
"...Somewhere in the workings of the British Columbia government, an application from global energy company BP is working its way around civil servants' desks. In it, the firm outlines a proposal that has horrified local environmentalists: the installation of up to 1,500 gas wells covering an area of 500 sq km (310 sq miles) amid the lush 1,580 sq km wilderness of the Flathead.... The Flathead valley connects the protected areas, allowing hundreds of bears and thousands of moose to roam between the parks. "
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Tue, Aug 5, 2008: from USA Today:
Toxic plastic toys could go the way of dinosaurs
"Children's advocates say they hope a sweeping consumer protection law passed by Congress last week will begin a broad national effort to shield youngsters from dangerous chemicals. The bill, which is expected to be signed by the president, will require that toys be tested for safety before they're sold. The law would ban several types of phthalates, ingredients in plastic linked to reproductive problems."
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Mon, Aug 4, 2008: from Associated Press:
Invasive species bills stuck in Congress
"Tiny foreign mussels assault drinking water sources in California and Nevada. A deadly fish virus spreads swiftly through the Great Lakes and beyond. Japanese shore crabs make a home for themselves in Long Island Sound, more than 6,000 miles away. These are no exotic seafood delicacies. They're a menace to U.S. drinking water supplies, native plants and animals, and they cost billions to contain. Yet Congress is moving to address the problem at the pace of a plain old garden snail. With time for passing laws rapidly diminishing in this election year, two powerful Senate committee chairmen are at loggerheads over legislation to set the first federal clean-up standards for the large oceangoing ships on which aquatic invasive species hitch a ride to U.S. shores."
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Sun, Aug 3, 2008: from American Sociological Association, via EurekAlert:
Toxic drugs, toxic system: Sociologist predicts drug disasters
Americans are likely to be exposed to unacceptable side effects of FDA-approved drugs such as Vioxx in the future because of fatal flaws in the way new drugs are tested and marketed, according to research to be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA). "Drug disasters are literally built into the current system of drug testing and approvals in the United States," said Donald Light.... "Recent changes in the system have only increased the proportion of new drugs with serious risks."
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Sun, Aug 3, 2008: from Durango Herald (Colorado):
State regulators knew nothing about the gas-field chemical spill
... that ended with a Durango nurse's illness because it happened on tribal land... Behr removed Marshall's boots, which she said were damp. She and other nurses noticed a strong chemical smell when Marshall walked into the hospital. "If (he) didn't have any chemical on (him), what the heck were we smelling?" Behr said. Behr fell ill a few days later, and within a week she was fighting for her life in the intensive care unit.... Delayed symptoms are common after phosphate exposures, said Theo Colburn, president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a Paonia nonprofit agency that has been critical of the chemicals used in gas drilling. Phosphate "has the ability to shut down the body's ability to produce steroids," Colburn said. This can lead to immune-system failure. Behr began to recover after her doctor treated her with steroids.
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Sun, Aug 3, 2008: from Enews 2.0:
Settlement Will Reduce Cancer-Causing Chemical In Potato Chips
Attorney General Jerry Brown filed lawsuits in 2005 against H.J. Heinz, Frito-Lay, Lance Inc and Kettle Foods, together with Procter and Gamble PG.N and four fast-food chains: McDonald's, KFC, Burger King and Wendy's for selling food containing high levels of acrylamide, a chemical compound that is produced when foods, particularly potatoes, are cooked at high temperatures. According to Brown's statement, the corporations have reached an agreement to decrease the levels of the chemical that causes cancer and is found in their product.
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Sat, Aug 2, 2008: from The Daily Green:
Evidence That Pesticides Are Seriously Messing Up Our Honey Bees
"...They've found some incredible numbers taken from samples taken last year - one bee, a single, solitary bee, had 25 different insecticides hidden within her tiny body. And she wasn't even dead. The cleanest bee they found had only five insecticides. Only."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
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Fri, Aug 1, 2008: from Raleigh WRAL News:
Hurricanes feed environmental fears about hog lagoons
"The destruction wrought on hog lagoons by Hurricane Floyd in 1999 prompted North Carolina's governor to vow to eliminate them. However, ten years later, more than 3,800 hog lagoons still operate and are, increasingly, the target of environmental activists. Flooding killed hundreds of swine and caused hog lagoons to overflow, contaminating nearby water supplies."
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Fri, Aug 1, 2008: from Environmental Health Perspectives:
The Global Sweep Of Pollution: Satellite Snapshots Capture Long-Distance Movement
"Towering smokestacks were a popular mid-twentieth-century "remedy" for industrial emissions. Pump the stuff high enough into the air, went the thinking, and the problem would go away. But evidence collected since then has strongly suggested that tall smokestacks are not sufficient to mitigate the effects of pollution -- those pollutants eventually came down somewhere, dozens or thousands of miles away."
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Thu, Jul 31, 2008: from New York Times via Reuters:
Prenatal Cell Phone Exposure Tied to Behavior
"Children whose mothers used cell phones frequently during pregnancy and who are themselves cell phone users are more likely to have behavior problems, new research shows... After the researchers adjusted for factors that could influence the results, such as a mother's psychiatric problems and socioeconomic factors, children with both prenatal and postnatal cell phone exposure were 80 percent more likely to have abnormal or borderline scores on tests evaluating emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, or problems with peers."
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Thu, Jul 31, 2008: from Environmental Science and Technology:
Government pesticide and fertilizer data dropped
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has eliminated the only federal program that tracks the use of pesticides and fertilizers on American farms. The move has left scientists, industry groups, and public advocates surprised and confused about how to carry on their work without this free information. The canceled program was the only one to make freely available to the public nationwide data on the amount of pesticides and fertilizers applied to U.S. farms."
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Thu, Jul 31, 2008: from London Times:
Earthworm's plight is early warning of threat to man
"...Research carried out by scientists at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh, shows that even low levels of chemical pollutants in the soil caused fundamental changes in the lifecycle of earthworms, affecting their ability to reproduce. These findings raise fundamental questions about the effect of pollution in the soil and also raise concerns about the effect of human exposure to widely used chemicals."
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Wed, Jul 30, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
Underwater, a disturbing new world
"In just a few years, the gravel and white boulders that for centuries covered the bottom of Lake Michigan between Chicago and the Door County, Wis., peninsula have disappeared under a carpet of mussels and primitive plant life... In the last three years or so, scientists say, invasive species have upended the ecology of the lakes, shifting distribution of species and starving familiar fish of their usual food supply."
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Tue, Jul 29, 2008: from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health via ScienceDaily:
Study Suggests 86 Percent Of Americans Could Be Overweight Or Obese By 2030
"Most adults in the U.S. will be overweight or obese by 2030, with related health care spending projected to be as much as $956.9 billion, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Their results are published in the July 2008 online issue of Obesity."
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Mon, Jul 28, 2008: from Houston Chronicle:
Scientists find soot has an even darker side
"Soot is one of mankind's oldest pollutants. Cavemen blackened their walls with it. During the Industrial Revolution, soot so thoroughly coated the English countryside that white moths died out and were largely replaced by black-bodied descendants to preserve their camouflaging abilities. Despite its long history, however, soot remained one of the least understood components of our air. But now, a raft of new studies is beginning to make clear how soot may play a critical role in everything from human health to global warming to whether it will rain tomorrow in Houston."
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Mon, Jul 28, 2008: from Bergen County Record:
Neighbors fear they won't survive legal fight with Ford
"Two-and-a-half years after they filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Ford Motor Co., Upper Ringwood residents are steeling themselves for a long battle - one that some believe they won't survive. "I'll be dead before I get any money," said Mickey Van Dunk, 37. He's had 17 surgeries to treat a rare autoimmune disorder that's left his face heavily scarred."
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Sun, Jul 27, 2008: from Birmingham Sunday Mercury:
Human sewage used on crops in the Midlands
"FARMERS are using treated human sewage as crop fertiliser on almost 3,000 Midland fields. Severn Trent Water says demand for the waste has soared because it is now just a fifth of the cost of conventional animal-based fertiliser, which is closely linked to the price of oil. The treated human sewage, known as sludge, is being used on fields to grow crops including maize, corn and oats."
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Sun, Jul 27, 2008: from Des Moines Register:
Floods foul Iowa environment
"The scope of environmental damage in the wake of this spring's massive flooding is just starting to come into focus. The early findings: Iowa is awash in bacteria, plagued with pesticides, and doused in oil and dangerous compounds, but at concentrations that don't pose an immediate risk to aquatic life or human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collected 169,836 stray computers, appliances, televisions and containers as of July 17, most in Linn County."
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Sat, Jul 26, 2008: from Newsweek:
Beetlemania
"After ravaging 22 million acres of pine trees in Canada over the last 12 years, the rice-sized insects have been feasting their way southward. Their favorite meal: the majestic lodgepole pine, which makes up 8 percent of Colorado's 22 million acres of forests. Before landing in Beaver Creek, the pine beetles tore through neighboring Vail, Winter Park, Breckenridge and several areas around Steamboat Springs. So far, say state foresters, the beetles have eaten through 1.5 million acres, about 70 percent of the all the state's lodgepole pines. The tree's entire population will be wiped out in the next few years, Colorado state foresters predict, leaving behind a deforested area about the size of Rhode Island."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
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Fri, Jul 25, 2008: from Wall Street Journal:
It's all about the lighting
"Around the world, the night sky is vanishing in a fog of artificial light, which a coalition of naturalists, astronomers and medical researchers consider one of the fastest growing forms of pollution, with consequences for wildlife, people's health -- and the human spirit. About two-thirds of the world's population, including almost everyone in the continental U.S. and Europe, no longer see a starry sky where they live."
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Fri, Jul 25, 2008: from Natural News:
Chemical Causes of Diabetes: Overeating Is Not the Only Problem
Medical science has discovered how sensitive the insulin receptor sites are to chemical poisoning. Metals such as cadmium, mercury, arsenic, lead, fluoride and possibly aluminum may play a role in the actual destruction of beta cells through stimulating an auto-immune reaction to them after they have bonded to these cells in the pancreas.
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Fri, Jul 25, 2008: from Downey Patriot:
Getting rid of your TV and a tsunami of waste
[T]he biggest loser to the great HDTV switchover could be our environment. Solid waste managers worry that consumers will opt for HDTV en masse, consigning perfectly good analog TVs to the U.S. waste stream. Eighty to 200 million televisions could be discarded over the next 30 months.... Picture tubes hold up to eight pounds of toxic lead, while television plastic casings contain cancer-causing flame retardants. Other TV toxins can include cadmium, mercury, chromium, beryllium and arsenic. If not recycled, toxic TVs can poison people, soils and groundwater.
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Thu, Jul 24, 2008: from Chicago Sun-Times:
Global warming may boost kitten population
"Global warming and kittens. While it may seem hard to see the connection between the two -- a climate phenomenon that melts glaciers and acidifies oceans, and cuddly, 4-ounce balls of fur -- experts say there could be one. Each spring, the onset of warm weather and longer days drives female cats into heat, resulting in a few months of booming kitten populations known as "kitten season." ... What shelter officials and veterinarians have begun noticing, however, is that kitten season is starting to begin earlier and last longer."
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Thu, Jul 24, 2008: from Albany Times-Union:
Mercury release wasn't stopped
Federal environmental officials failed to stop cement plants from releasing unsafe levels of toxic mercury despite repeatedly being sued by environmentalists for disobeying federal law, according to report issued Wednesday. Such lawsuits led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reveal this year that cement plants sent nearly 23,000 pounds of mercury into the air nationwide -- more than double what the agency had reported just two years earlier.... Mercury that drifts back to earth enters the food chain mostly through water.... One-seventieth of a teaspoon of mercury is enough to taint a 25-acre lake.
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Thu, Jul 24, 2008: from EUobserver.com:
EU clears baby bottle chemical despite Canada ban
The levels of bisphenol A, or BPA, found in such items is safe for infants in small amounts, according to a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)scientific opinion issued on Wednesday (23 July), which stated that the substance "provides a sufficient margin of safety for the protection of the consumer, including fetuses and newborns." ... "The scientists also concluded that newborns are similarly able to metabolise and eliminate BPA at doses below 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight per day."
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Wed, Jul 23, 2008: from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Fresh scent may hide toxic secret
Ten of the 100 volatile organic compounds identified qualified under federal rules as toxic or hazardous, and three of those -- 1,4-dioxane, acetaldehyde and chloromethane -- are "hazardous air pollutants" considered unsafe to breathe at any concentration, according to the study.... [A]s this UW study shows, it's disturbingly easy to find toxic chemicals in everyday products like these because companies don't have to say what's in their products."
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Wed, Jul 23, 2008: from ANI, via MSN (India):
Allergy-causing sofas from China
Thousands of Brits have developed severe allergies after coming in contact with the toxic gas emitted by an anti-mould agent in their Chinese sofas. An increasing number of patients are being treated in hospitals for symptoms, which appeared to range from skin cancer, and chemical burns to severe eczema. The cases have been linked to an estimated 100,000 sofas... He added that it could take weeks or months to become hypersensitised to the chemical, which disguised the link to the furniture in many cases. Exposure to dimethyl fumarate can make a person more vulnerable to reactions to other chemicals.
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Tue, Jul 22, 2008: from Scientific American:
Happy Fish Go Hungry?
"...Toxicologists at Clemson University in South Carolina have found that hybrid striped bass exposed to the antidepressant fluoxetine (the generic name for Eli Lilly's Prozac) were markedly less interested in feeding than other fish. The more fluoxetine ingested, the less the appetite. The fish also did things that could lead to life-shortening events -- like failing to take usual precautions around predators and making them easier prey."
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Tue, Jul 22, 2008: from Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, via EurekAlert:
Study reveals air pollution is causing widespread and serious impacts to ecosystems
[A]ir pollution is degrading every major ecosystem type in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States.... "Deposited pollutants have tangible human impacts. Mercury contamination results in fish that are unsafe to eat. Acidification kills fish and strips nutrients from soils. Excess nitrogen pollutes estuaries, to the detriment of coastal fisheries. And ground-level ozone reduces plant growth, a threat to forestry and agriculture."
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Mon, Jul 21, 2008: from The Durango Herald (Colorado):
Gasfield chemicals sicken nurse, state agency pushing for transparency
All the tests on Cathy Behr were negative. As the medical mystery deepened, her body began failing.... Finally, doctors ... diagnosed a chemical exposure that happened in their own emergency room, where Behr works 12-hour shifts as a nurse. She had treated a sick gas-field worker and breathed the fumes on his clothes from a chemical called ZetaFlow for five or 10 minutes.... ZetaFlow and similar chemicals are exempt from many federal and state environmental laws.
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Sun, Jul 20, 2008: from The Quad-City Times:
States, localities cracking down on idling engines
"A billion gallons of diesel fuel are burned every year by idling long-haul trucks and locomotives, pushing 11 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That doesn’t even count public buses, school buses and millions of cars across the country. Increasingly, though, it appears some states and localities see engine idling as an area in need of closer inspection."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sat, Jul 19, 2008: from NaturalNews.com:
Greenpeace Ranks Eco-Friendliness of Electronics Manufacturers; Nintendo Dead Last
"In the most recent version of the Greenpeace Guide to Consumer Electronics, Nintendo became the first brand to ever score a zero out of 10 possible points. In the quarterly report, Greenpeace ranks a variety of electronics manufacturers on the extent to which they have eliminated toxic materials from their products (five categories) and on the nature of their product takeback and recycling policies (four categories)."
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Sat, Jul 19, 2008: from Miller-McCune:
Environment Becomes Heredity
"Advances in the field of epigenetics show that environmental contaminants can turn genes “on” and “off,” triggering serious diseases that are handed down through generations. But there’s also a more heartening prospect: The same diseases may be treated by relatively simple changes in nourishment and lifestyle."
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Fri, Jul 18, 2008: from Economist:
Up to their necks in it
"Despite good laws and even better intentions, India causes as much pollution as any rapidly industrialising poor country... By official estimates, India has facilities to treat 18 percent of the 33,200m litres of sewage its cities produce every day. In fact, it treats only 13 percent, because of shortages of power, water and technical expertise in its sewage plants. These figures may underestimate the problem: measuring the output of 700m Indians who have no access to a toilet is tricky... In the words of Sunita Narain, a prominent environmentalist, mocking the tourist ministry's slogan: "Incredible India, drowning in its excreta."
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Fri, Jul 18, 2008: from University of Michigan via ScienceDaily:
Record-setting Dead Zones Predicted For Gulf Of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay
"Record-setting "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay appear likely this summer, according to new forecasts from a University of Michigan researcher... Given recent massive flooding of cities and farms in the Mississippi River basin, the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Area Forecast is for the dead zone to cover between 21,500 and 22,500 square kilometers (8,400-8,800 square miles) of bottom waters along the Louisiana-Texas coast. If the prediction bears out, it will be the largest on record."
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Thu, Jul 17, 2008: from New York Times:
Interior Dept. Opens 2.6 Million Alaskan Acres for Oil Exploration
"The Interior Department on Wednesday made 2.6 million acres of potentially oil-rich territory in northern Alaska available for energy exploration... The decision will open up for drilling much of the northeast section of the Northeast National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, holding an estimated 3.7 billion barrels of oil, Tom Lonnie, Alaska state director for the Bureau of Land Management, said in a conference call with reporters."
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Thu, Jul 17, 2008: from Baltimore Sun:
Color Me Concerned
"...New research indicates [synthetic dye] chemicals can disrupt some children's behavior, and activists and consumer groups are asking for bans or limits on the dyes. A prestigious British medical journal recommended that doctors use dye-free diets as a first-line treatment for some behavior disorders; British regulators are pressuring companies to stop using the dyes, and some are complying."
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Thu, Jul 17, 2008: from Discover:
Ocean Acidification: A Global Case of Osteoporosis
"It all seemed so convenient: As our smokestacks and automobile tailpipes spewed ever more carbon dioxide into the air, the oceans absorbed the excess. Like a vast global vacuum cleaner, the world's seas sucked CO2 right out of the atmosphere, mitigating the dire consequences of global warming and forestalling the melting of glaciers, the submergence of coastlines, and extremes of weather from floods to droughts... The problem was that, having swallowed hundreds of billions of tons of greenhouse gases since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the oceans were becoming more acidic. And not just in a few spots. Now the chemistry of the entire ocean was shifting, imperiling coral reefs, marine creatures at the bottom of the food chain, and ultimately the planet's fisheries."
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Wed, Jul 16, 2008: from World Wildlife Fund via ScienceDaily:
Cruise-liner Sewage Adds To Baltic Decline
"Most international cruise ship companies operating in the Baltic Sea have refused to co-operate with a plea from WWF to stop dumping their sewage straight into the water. The Baltic, an inland sea, is one of the most polluted seas in the world, so much so that the countries on its northern European shores have recently joined together to form the Baltic Sea Action Plan in an attempt to reverse its decline."
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Tue, Jul 15, 2008: from Muskegon Chronicle:
Zebra, quagga mussels cross Continental Divide
The Great Lakes' mussel pain has gone nationwide. European zebra and quagga mussels imported to the lakes by ocean freighters in the mid-1980s have crossed the Continental Divide and spread to California. This comes as the population of quagga mussels has multiplied dramatically in the Great Lakes in recent years, disrupting the fish food chain, fueling algae blooms that soil beaches and botulism outbreaks that have killed more than 70,000 fish-eating birds.
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Tue, Jul 15, 2008: from Columbia University, via EurekAlert:
Closing a coal-burning power plant leads to improved cognitive development in children
Closing coal-fired power plants can have a direct, positive impact on children's cognitive development and health... The study allowed researchers to track and compare the development of two groups of children born in Tongliang, a city in China's Chongqing Municipality -- one in utero while a coal-fired power plant was operating in the city and one in utero after the Chinese government had closed the plant. Among the first group of children, prenatal exposure to coal-burning emissions was associated with significantly lower average developmental scores and reduced motor development at age two. In the second unexposed group, these adverse effects were no longer observed; and the frequency of delayed motor developmental was significantly reduced.
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Mon, Jul 14, 2008: from Australian Associated Press:
Global warming 'will multiply pests'
"Global warming will allow exotic plants and animals to invade vulnerable Australian ecosystems, the WWF conservation group has warned. Warmer temperatures will allow feral animals and invasive weeds to gain access to cooler and higher areas where they have not previously been able to exist, according to WWF's Invasive Species Policy Officer Julie Kirkwood."
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Mon, Jul 14, 2008: from Vietnam News:
Poisoned rivers menace public health (Vietnam)
Trinh Thi Bien, 73, has lived her whole life along the Nhue River in Ha Tay Province’s Phu Xuyen District. "In the past, the river was full of fish and shrimp, and it was so clean that the villagers could even cook with its water. But this is gone now," she says sadly. "The river has become terribly dirty. My family has drilled three wells, but all the water we find is polluted by the nearby river," says the old woman, who lives in Minh Tan Commune.
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Sun, Jul 13, 2008: from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Hazardous flame retardant found in household objects
"A flame retardant that was taken out of children's pajamas more than 30 years ago after it was found to cause cancer is being used with increasing regularity in furniture, paint -- even baby carriers and bassinets -- and manufacturers are under no obligation to let the public know about it... [The EPA] Web site lists 16 studies that each conclude the chemical does not harm people. The Journal Sentinel examined those studies and found that all were funded by chemical-makers..."
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Sun, Jul 13, 2008: from The Independent (UK):
Sewage threatens to turn flamingo breeding site into cesspool
In one of the world's great wildlife spectacles, tens of thousands of lesser flamingos gather at a South African wetland –- but it is a spectacle now gravely threatened by pollution.... The dam is being used to dump raw sewage from a malfunctioning treatment plant owned by the Sol Plaatje Municipality. "Without urgent action, the dam will become a polluted cesspool devoid of birdlife," said Duncan Pritchard, of BirdLife South Africa.
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Sat, Jul 12, 2008: from KOMO News:
Increasingly popular caviar raises health concerns
"...As demand for paddlefish caviar has grown, health officials have become as uneasy ... about a variety of toxins found in the eggs, including mercury, chlordane and cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. But advocates say the level of contaminants is below federal safety standards and that most consumers don't eat enough of it to suffer any ill effects... Washington chef and restaurant owner Nora Pouillon said she doesn't serve paddlefish caviar. "I can't with a clear conscience poison my customers," she said.
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Sat, Jul 12, 2008: from BBC:
Leak closes French nuclear plant
"France's nuclear safety watchdog has ordered a plant in the country's south to temporarily close after a uranium leak polluted the local water supply... Waste containing unenriched uranium leaked into two rivers at the Tricastin plant at Bollene, 40km (25 miles) from the popular tourist city of Avignon."
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Fri, Jul 11, 2008: from The Japan Times:
Musky hormone disrupter residue found in breast milk
"A minute residue of synthetic musk fragrances, feared to block hormones, has been found in a limited number of sampled breast milk and fat tissues of Japanese women, according to a recent joint study by researchers from three Japanese universities. While there have been findings of the synthetic compounds -- known as HHCB and AHTN -- in breast milk in the United States and Europe, this was the first study that reported their detection in people in Japan."
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Thu, Jul 10, 2008: from Forbes:
Dirty Driving: Top 10 Worst Polluters
"The Hummer H2 might be an obvious target for environmentalists, but unless it's caked in mud, the hulking sport utility vehicle isn't the filthiest ride on the road. That distinction goes to another SUV: the Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI."
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Wed, Jul 9, 2008: from New York Times:
Corals, Already in Danger, Are Facing New Threat From Farmed Algae
Corals are being covered and smothered to death by a bushy seaweed that is so tough even algae-grazing fish avoid it. It settles in the reef's crevices that fish once called home, driving them away.... [I]ntroduced in the past three decades to 20 countries around the world from Tonga to Zanzibar and the result in most of them has been failure or worse. The alga K. alvarezii invaded the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve in south India a decade after commercial cultivation began in nearby Panban. "No part of the coral reef was visible in most of the invaded sites, where it doomed entire colonies," the journal Current Science has reported.
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Tue, Jul 8, 2008: from Los Angeles Times:
A climate threat from flat TVs, microchips
"A synthetic chemical widely used in the manufacture of computers and flat-screen televisions is a potent greenhouse gas, with 17,000 times the global warming effect of carbon dioxide, but its measure in the atmosphere has never been taken, nor is it regulated by international treaty."
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Mon, Jul 7, 2008: from NineMSN (Australia):
Yarra River fish deaths worry protesters
The dredging of millions of tonnes of toxic sludge from Melbourne's Yarra River should stop until an investigation determines why fish are dying, protesters say.... "We're talking about exactly the same area and this is where they're dredging up that black toxic stuff which is full of heavy metals and who knows what else".... Almost three million cubic metres of toxic silt is being dredged from the Yarra River area and deposited in a containment "bund" in Port Phillip Bay as part of a $1 billion project to make way for larger ships.
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Sun, Jul 6, 2008: from KTLA (California):
Fireworks Leave Tons of Pollutants For Months
When the rockets and the bombs burst in the air tonight, spectators will experience more than a spectacular show celebrating America's birthday. When their blends of black powder, metals, oxidizers, fuels and other toxic ingredients are ignited, traces wind up in the environment, often spreading long distances and lasting for days, even months. Although pyrotechnic experts are developing environmentally friendly fireworks, Fourth of July revelers this year will be watching essentially the same high-polluting technology that their grandparents experienced decades ago.
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Fri, Jul 4, 2008: from University of Florida, via EurekAlert:
New study points to agriculture in frog sexual abnormalities
In a study with wide implications for a longstanding debate over whether agricultural chemicals pose a threat to amphibians, UF zoologists have found that toads in suburban areas are less likely to suffer from reproductive system abnormalities than toads near farms -- where some had both testes and ovaries. "As you increase agriculture," said Lou Guillette, a distinguished professor of zoology, "you have an increasing number of abnormalities."
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Thu, Jul 3, 2008: from Barrie Examiner:
Massive fish deaths a puzzle for officials: carp washing ashore across Lake Simcoe
"I was down off De Grassi Point to fish for bass and I ran into three of them about 100 yards offshore. I thought it was a rock or something," he said yesterday. He dragged the near-metre long fish behind his boat in the event the Ministry of Natural Resources or some other agency wanted to run tests on the carcass, prompting another nearby angler to ask him what his big catch was. So far, the carp die-off is being monitored by the MNR in lakes Simcoe and Couchiching and is reaching up as far as Sparrow Lake near Washago.
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Wed, Jul 2, 2008: from University of Washington, via ScienceDaily:
Penguins Setting Off Sirens Over Health Of World's Oceans
[T]he culprit isn't only climate change, says a University of Washington conservation biologist. Oil pollution, depletion of fisheries and rampant coastline development that threatens breeding habitat for many penguin species, along with Earth's warming climate, are leading to rapid population declines among penguins, said Dee Boersma, a University of Washington biology professor and an authority on the flightless birds. "Penguins are among those species that show us that we are making fundamental changes to our world," she said.
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Tue, Jul 1, 2008: from Central Chronicle (India):
40 metric tons of toxic waste removed from Bhopal Union Carbide plant
"About 40 metric ton chemical waste and clay (lime sludge) was transported from Union Carbide Plant premises on June 27 to Pithampur. The work was executed under the eyes of experts and officials", said JT Ekka, Director, Gas Disaster & Relief Department on Tuesday.... Since the [Bhopal gas] tragedy, many NGOs ... have urged the State and Union Government to fulfil the demands of survivors [for] clean water in the gas-affected localities, and health care to the victims of gas tragedy. Now the [NGOs] have begun questioning the State Government over the removal of toxic waste and its disposal in Pithampur. "The entire dumping operation was carried under the cover of darkness. It's a big question that in what manner hazardous toxic waste was removed, transported and disposed in Pithampur plant", said Abdul Jabbar, convenor Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS).
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Tue, Jul 1, 2008: from ABS CBN News Online (Philippines):
Toxic chemical leak will have int'l repercussions: expert
One cargo in the sunken M/V Princess of the Stars off Romblon can very well be a ticking time-bomb.... Quijano rejects claims endosulfan in its raw form poses no immediate threat of contamination. "The technical grade 92 percent (in the sunken ferry) endosulfan is a highly-concentrated form of the pesticide, so it doesn't need activation before it can be toxic. It is toxic by itself, and as soon as it gets out of the compartment, animals and humans are exposed to immediate and long-term danger of toxicity even in very small amounts," he said. "The level toxic to fish is .03 parts per billion. Assuming the container broke and all 10 tons spread, there can be sufficient concentration to kill fish within a 100 kilometer radius, even humans exposed to acute toxicity."
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Tue, Jul 1, 2008: from Daily News (Sri Lanka):
Toxic waste export harder to control, despite Basel Convention
A meeting of the Basel Convention on hazardous wastes was told of the continuing transfer of wastes to developing countries, including the export of used condoms to Indonesia and electronic wastes dumped in China and Nigeria inside equipment such as computers and cell phones. African countries also recalled the immoral act of a Dutch-based shipping company that dumped toxic chemical wastes at Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, which killed three people and hospitalised 1,500. These incidents were cited by participants as signs that the problem of hazardous waste movement has not lessened and are more difficult to control, despite the Convention.
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Mon, Jun 30, 2008: from ABS CBN News Online (Philippines):
No 'significant' release of toxic chemical yet: experts
The 10 tons of the toxic insecticide, endosulfan, in the [sunken ferry] MV Princess of the Stars' hull is still in a not-so-soluble "solid flake" form, which explains why a chemical disaster hasn't happened in Romblon, a government chemist said.... He said this could explain why the divers have not tested positive for chemical poisoning and why there are yet no reports of fish kills near the sunken ferry.... "It’s really highly-toxic to marine life" ... "a "chemical disaster" would already have happened if the endosulfan was in its ready-to-mix form.... Endosulfan is a severely-restricted [endocrine disrupting] pesticide that can only be used by Del Monte and Dole for their pineapple plantations. Only these two institutional users are allowed to handle the chemical, according to Dr. Norlito Gicana, FPA executive director.
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Mon, Jun 30, 2008: from Universitat Autňnoma de Barcelona:
An Impossible Coexistence: Transgenic and Organic Agriculture
The cultivation of genetically modified maize has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivation of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible. This is the main conclusion reached in one of the first field studies in Europe... The author's analysis reveals a social confrontation between proponents and opponents of GM technology regarding the consequences it can have and the measures to be taken in regulating and taking responsibility for any cases of admixture... Many farmers who could sue for damages prefer not to do so in order to avoid any local confrontations in small villages.
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Mon, Jun 30, 2008: from MSNBC (US):
Pentagon fights EPA on pollution cleanup
The Defense Department, the nation's biggest polluter, is resisting orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up Fort Meade and two other military bases where the EPA says dumped chemicals pose "imminent and substantial" dangers to public health and the environment. The Pentagon has also declined to sign agreements required by law that cover 12 other military sites on the Superfund list of the most polluted places in the country. The contracts would spell out a remediation plan, set schedules, and allow the EPA to oversee the work and assess penalties if milestones are missed.
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Sat, Jun 28, 2008: from Stuff.co.nz (New Zealand):
Algal sludge greets Olympic sailors
... in Qingdao, the 2008 Olympic sailing venue, this week for a training camp only to find the sailing course blighted by tonnes of the algae.... Astonishing photos taken by coaching staff show conditions that create the illusion the sailors -- world No 1 men's pair Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page and women's crew Tessa Parkinson and Elise Rechichi -- are training on a lush green lawn instead of open blue water.... "We're not exactly sure what sort of algae it is, but it's not kelp -- it's very fluffy and spongy. It looks like the guys are sailing on grass." ... "This week, their boat's called Dead Calm -- quite appropriate, really, given the circumstances," Browne joked.
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Fri, Jun 27, 2008: from ThaiIndian News:
'Mild' malaria strain is more deadly, says study
The new research has shown that P. vivax is far from benign, and is responsible for a significant illness with high rates of severe disease and death. The paper also shows that in many cases, victims are infected with a mixture of both parasites and that this results in an even higher risk of severe disease than infection with a single parasite.... But P. vivax accounts for 400 million cases every year in Asia, with about 300 cases reported annually in patients returning to Australia from malaria endemic countries. In Indonesia, the parasite has developed resistance to standard treatments.
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Fri, Jun 27, 2008: from Indian Catholic (India):
Radioactive wastes contaminate Jharkhand’s water
Record level of rains this year has ironically contaminated the water sources of villages near Turamdih uranium mines in Jharkahnd state.... The overflowing waste ponds have contaminated the water sources. The villagers fearing death have reportedly stopped fetching water from their wells and ponds.
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Thu, Jun 26, 2008: from ABC News:
U.N.: Toxic Waste Exports on the Rise
Many poor countries accept toxic waste from abroad, such as old computers, rusted ships and pesticides, in a shortsighted bid to lift themselves out of poverty, despite the dangers to human health and the environment, a U.N. rights official said Thursday.... "Is it worth the short term monetary gain? Is it worth people falling sick ... precious water sources contaminated permanently?" he asked. "I believe that we need to think of a better solution to generate income and development."
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Thu, Jun 26, 2008: from Herald Online (South Africa):
Pollution fears as prawns die in thousands
THOUSANDS of pink prawns have washed up dead on the banks of the Swartkops estuary, apparently as a result of pollution from the Markman canal.... "The whole river was pink. We feel fairly certain there was a connection between this swarming, the die-off and what we saw and smelt coming out of the Markman canal last week."
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Wed, Jun 25, 2008: from McClatchy Washington:
No bigger than a thumbnail, yet this mussel is a huge pain
With no natural predators and a high reproductive rate, the quagga mussel has become a growing worry throughout the United States, clogging municipal water pipes, taking food from native species and possibly stimulating the growth of the deadly bacteria that cause botulism.... The quagga — which is even hardier than its better-known cousin, the zebra mussel — started out in the Caspian or Black Sea, reached the Great Lakes in the ballast of ships, and in early 2007 hitched its way West on industrial and recreational boat hulls. The mussels, in densities of up to thousands per square yard, cling to boats, docks and even other shellfish... Scientists are especially concerned with the quagga's potential ability to invigorate toxic botulinum bacteria. The quagga mussels deplete oxygen from the water, creating ideal conditions for the bacterial spore, which exists naturally in the water, to vegetate and become dangerous.
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Wed, Jun 25, 2008: from Business Standard (India):
Genetic panel to decide on Doritos corn chips today
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the environment ministry is likely to consider tomorrow whether Doritos corn chips of PepsiCo USA should be allowed to be sold in the Indian market. The hearing comes in the wake of a complaint by Greenpeace India that the tests on the chips have confirmed the presence of GM Mon 863 and NK 603, both of which are Monsanto's genetically-modified (GM) corn varieties.... Meanwhile, PepsiCo India, in a statement, said: "While Doritos is a PepsiCo brand, the product in question is not manufactured in India, and we neither import it nor authorise others to do so."
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Wed, Jun 25, 2008: from MetroWest Daily News:
Tests to begin for Nyanza underground cleanup
Long gone are a 12,000-ton vault that oozed chemicals and the infamous green and purple sludge lagoons atop Megunko Hill. But one last known piece of contamination from the former dye company site still lingers deep underground in Ashland. Federal contractors plan to return to town this summer to start designing the cleanup of dense chemicals that have sunk below the water table to the bedrock beneath, causing a plume of contaminated groundwater.... Nyanza operated from 1917 to 1978, also polluting the Sudbury River with mercury that is being eyed in a separate EPA cleanup process.
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Tue, Jun 24, 2008: from Globe and Mail (Canada):
First nations join pool of Fisheries petitioners
"The government has often used economics to rationalize wiping out or eradicating a particular species, or wiping out habitat for a species. They rationalize it with this thing called 'no net loss'," he said. "In other words they are arrogant enough to think that man is able and capable of making a decision on wiping out habitat, God's creation, and replacing it with some man-made habitat. And I don't think it's possible. "That's one of the policies I'd like the Auditor-General to look at, that goofy policy called 'no net loss'.
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Mon, Jun 23, 2008: from Environment News Service:
Toxic Algae Poisons Klamath River and Two Reservoirs
In 2004, the Karuk Tribe determined that the massive blooms of blue-green algae behind PacifiCorp's Iron Gate and Copco dams was the toxic algae Microcystis aeruginosa. This algae secretes a potent liver toxin known as microcystin. Since the discovery, tests of these reservoirs have shown some of the highest recorded levels of the toxic algae in the world ... can exceed water quality standards set by the World Health Organization by as much as 4,000 times.
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Sun, Jun 22, 2008: from Grist:
Why are sperm counts so low in Missouri?
Are the region's titanic annual lashings of agrichemicals -- synthetic and mined fertilizers, as well as poisons designed to kill bugs, weeds, and mold -- leaching into drinking water and doing creepy things to the state's citizens? And what about manure from the stunning concentration of concentrated-animal feedlot operations (CAFOs)...? Greaney cites an Environmental Health Perspectives study showing that men in Columbia have sharply lower average sperm counts.... [T]wo pesticides -- diazinon and metolachlor -- have shown up in samples from Missouri men with low sperm counts. Neither is currently regulated by the EPA as a drinking-water contaminant.
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Sat, Jun 21, 2008: from CBC (Canada):
Dumping mining waste into lakes 'more responsible': fisheries minister
Tailing waste produced by mining companies is best stored in water, the federal fisheries minister said Tuesday, defending a planned move by bureaucrats to reclassify 16 Canadian lakes as toxic dump sites.... "It is much more responsible to store them in water," Hearn said. "Any damage done in relation to fish or fish habitat has to be mitigated where there is no net loss to either fish or fish habitat. There is a major environmental study done before any go-ahead is given," he said, adding that "every aspect is covered" before anybody could be in a position to damage the environment.
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Fri, Jun 20, 2008: from Bellevue Intelligencer (Canada):
Electronics wasteland: 91,000 tonnes of electronic waste in Ontario each year
Lead, flame retardants, mercury, cadmium, chromium, beryllium: many consumers would be surprised to learn that a desktop computer contains all of these potentially toxic substances. But ensuring your unwanted electronics are disposed of safely isn't always an easy task.... This means obsolete and unwanted electronics -- and all the associated toxic substances -- often end up in the dump for lack of an easy alternative.
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Thu, Jun 19, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
Fish die-off near Milwaukee signals latest lakes invader may be advancing on Chicago shores
"When thousands of bloody, hemorrhaging fish recently turned up on the Lake Michigan shore south of Milwaukee, it confirmed the worst fears of scientists worried that an Ebola-like virus stalking Great Lakes fish would strike closer to Chicago. The dead fish were round gobies, a small invasive species that many feel is better off dead. But unlike many other diseases that tend to hit one or two types of fish, this viral strain has led to large fish kills involving more than 30 species, including valuable sport fish such as salmon, trout, walleye, muskie, bass and perch."
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Wed, Jun 18, 2008: from Intelligencer-Journal, via RedOrbit:
Old Landfill Gunk Fouls Trail At Park
... A vegetation-free area extends for about 25 feet across the embankment... [The sign lists] a host of pollutants that might be present at various levels, including iron, nickel, mercury, zinc, arsenic, chloroethane and benzene... Jim Warner, executive director of the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, said leachates are an old story with old landfills. There were no environmental safeguards, he said. Still, he noted, over many years, the sites do tend to flush themselves clean.
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Tue, Jun 17, 2008: from New York Times:
Tiny, Clingy and Destructive, Mussel Makes Its Way West
"...The mussel-coated debris is unmistakable evidence of an event occurring silently and largely out of sight — the colonization of the Colorado River by the quagga mussel, a fingernail-size Eurasian bivalve with an astonishing sex drive and a nasty reputation for causing economic and ecological havoc. Like the closely related zebra mussel, the quagga can cling tenaciously to hard surfaces, like the equipment of the many hydroelectric and water-supply plants along the lower Colorado.
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Tue, Jun 17, 2008: from Perth Now (Australia):
Housing plan at toxic waste dump
A toxic waste plant shut down after a shocking history of government cover-ups will become part of an eco-friendly residential development in Armadale. Almost five years after the closure of a toxic waste plant that was linked to residents' sickness, there are plans to build an residential development for 40,000 people incorporating land that contained big stockpiles of noxious chemicals and sludge with harmful pathogens.
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Tue, Jun 17, 2008: from CBC (Canada):
Lakes across Canada face being turned into mine dump sites
CBC News has learned that 16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly "reclassified" as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland. Environmentalists say the process amounts to a "hidden subsidy" to mining companies, allowing them to get around laws against the destruction of fish habitat. Under the Fisheries Act, it's illegal to put harmful substances into fish-bearing waters. But, under a little-known subsection known as Schedule Two of the mining effluent regulations, federal bureaucrats can redefine lakes as "tailings impoundment areas."
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Mon, Jun 16, 2008: from Metro News (Canada):
Contaminants poison First Nation reserves
The Aamjiwnaang First Nation reserve near Sarnia is located in the heart of petrochemical manufacturing country. Its soil and water has been found to be contaminated with dioxins, PCBs, pesticides, and metals. The Aamjiwnaang people have to put up with odours, are unable to swim or fish in their rivers and have high rates of asthma in children.... [a]t the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, two girls were born for every boy and it is hypothesized that endocrine disrupters were to blame for this.
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Mon, Jun 16, 2008: from Herald Tribune (FL):
Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' to grow to record
Researchers predict a "dead zone" of oxygen-depleted waters off the Louisiana and Texas coasts could grow this summer to 10,084 square miles, making it the largest such expanse in at least 23 years. If the preliminary forecast holds, the researchers say, the size of the so-called "dead zone" would be 17-21 percent larger than at anytime since the mapping began in 1985 — and about as large as the state of Massachusetts. Another forecast is planned next month. The report Monday ... is based on May nitrate loads on the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge.
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Mon, Jun 16, 2008: from Post-Searchlight (Georgia):
DNR: Sucker fish kill unusual
In a case that has stumped the Georgia Department of Natural Resources fisheries division, last weekend boaters discovered approximately 200 dead spotted sucker fish on Spring Creek.... "We don't get stumped too often," Weller said. "I've worked with the department for 12 years, and this is the most mysterious fish kill I've ever encountered" ... Fisheries experts are awaiting lab results they hope will provide clues in determining the cause of the fish kill.
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Sun, Jun 15, 2008: from Dhaka Daily Star in Bangladesh:
Rivers void of life forms
"The level of pollution in the Buriganga and most parts of Turag and Norai flowing around the capital is so high that no living organism can survive in the waters of these rivers, researchers say. A three-year research finds that some invertebrates and small organisms come into being in these rivers when water flow increases during rains. But these life forms completely disappear in the dry season, they add.
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Sat, Jun 14, 2008: from London Times:
Scientists find bugs that eat waste and excrete petrol
"Silicon Valley is experimenting with bacteria that have been genetically altered to provide 'renewable petroleum'... To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs -- very, very small ones -- so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil."
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Sat, Jun 14, 2008: from San Francisco Chronicle:
Sunscreen's a bleach for aquatic life
"Plopping down on the beach slathered from head to toe with sunscreen may help with the carcinoma, but the inevitable cooling dip in the ocean won't be good for the coral. The creams that sunbathers use to ward off cancer-causing ultraviolet rays cause bleaching in coral reefs and seem to accumulate in fish and other aquatic life, according to recent studies."
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Thu, Jun 12, 2008: from Daily Pilot:
Toxins up cost of bay project
Sediment and urban runoff containing nasty chemicals like those found in common ant and roach killers find their way from upstream into the harbor. The presence of insecticides in the local waters containing a type of natural chemical compounds called pyrethrins mean costly federal environmental approvals before the city can begin dredging, said Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff. The chemicals kill tiny organisms at the bottom of the food chain and need proper — and expensive — federally-approved disposal methods, Kiff said.
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Thu, Jun 12, 2008: from Baltimore Sun:
High levels of formaldehyde found in baby furniture
"A number of cribs and changing tables commonly sold at retail outlets contain unhealthy levels of formaldehyde, a consumer advocacy group reported yesterday... Six of 21 cribs and other nursery products gave off formaldehyde at levels that increase the risk of asthma and respiratory problems, the group reported."
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Tue, Jun 10, 2008: from OPB News:
Commercial Waste Disposal At Hanford Raises Some Eyebrows
The commercial low level waste dump at Hanford is a disgrace to the state of Washington. It is a massive unlined set of ditches that are leaking contamination that threatens the Columbia River. And it’s an embarrassment that we are dumping radioactive waste, some of it extremely radioactive, in unlined ditches."
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Tue, Jun 10, 2008: from NOAA Fisheries Service:
Persistent Man-made Chemical Pollutants Found in Deep-sea Octopods and Squids
New evidence that chemical contaminants are finding their way into the deep-sea food web has been found in deep-sea squids and octopods.... These species are food for deep-diving toothed whales and other predators.... "It was surprising to find measurable and sometimes high amounts of toxic pollutants in such a deep and remote environment," Vecchione said. Among the chemicals detected were tributyltin (TBT), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs), and dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT).
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Mon, Jun 9, 2008: from Pensacola News-Journal (FL):
University researchers, attorneys eye PCBs in Escambia Bay while state health officials mum
High levels of a cancer-causing chemical in several fish found in the middle of Escambia Bay indicate that a health advisory about fish in the lower Escambia River may not go far enough.... One of UWF's four mullet samples measured 1,580 nanograms per gram of PCBs, compared to the federal threshold of 20 nanograms per gram and the state threshold of 50 nanograms per gram. All of the mullet samples were higher than state and federal limits.
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Mon, Jun 9, 2008: from NewScientist:
Pesticides blamed for plummeting salmon stocks
A weak mix of pesticides in river water dampens a salmon's sense of smell, say researchers. In experiments, Steelhead rainbow trout exposed to low levels of 10 common agricultural pesticides could not perceive changes in levels of a predator's scent.... A depressed sense of smell might also keep fish from finding mates and food. Trout are closely related to salmon, and, though the theory is unproven, pesticides may be a cause of plummeting salmon stocks in Canada and the US, Tierney says.
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Sun, Jun 8, 2008: from Detroit Free Press:
Mercury fillings are now said to pose risk for some
After years of asserting that mercury in fillings was safe, the Food and Drug Administration now says it may be harmful to pregnant women, children, fetuses and people who are sensitive to mercury exposure.... The American Dental Association said the settlement "in no way changes the federal agency's approach to or position on dental amalgam." Amalgam is "a safe, affordable and durable material that has been used in the teeth of more than 100 million Americans," the ADA said in a statement.
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Sat, Jun 7, 2008: from Sydney Morning Herald (Australia):
Putting sea life to the acid test
"A new report by the Antarctic research centre, released at the Hobart meeting, says that about half the fossil fuel carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by humans has now dissolved into the oceans. If we keep pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at the current projections, by 2100 the ocean acidification will be three times that experienced at the end of the glacial period, 15,000 years ago."
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Fri, Jun 6, 2008: from NIH, via EurekAlert:
Long-term pesticide exposure may increase risk of diabetes
Licensed pesticide applicators who used chlorinated pesticides on more than 100 days in their lifetime were at greater risk of diabetes, according to researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The associations between specific pesticides and incident diabetes ranged from a 20 percent to a 200 percent increase in risk.... "Although the amount of diabetes explained by pesticides is small, these new findings may extend beyond the pesticide applicators in the study," Sandler said.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, Jun 5, 2008: from Environmental Research Web:
Geoengineering could lead to droughts
Geoengineering schemes to cut the amount of sunlight reaching the earth have been proposed as a measure to reduce temperature rises brought about by increased levels of greenhouse gases. But now a team of researchers in the US has shown that such a move would decrease mean global precipitation, potentially leading to drought. "Global mean rainfall changes are more sensitive to solar forcing than to carbon dioxide forcing," Govindasamy Bala of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, US, told environmentalresearchweb. "Therefore, if you turn down the sun to counter carbon dioxide effects, you will end up with less rainfall and droughts."
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Wed, Jun 4, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
UN report: Coastal communities face disaster
Entire marine ecosystems are threatened because of human mismanagement, according to the UN academic study. It warns of a looming, potentially "terminal" disaster in several coastal areas unless they are given better care.... In the past 50 years bays and estuaries, sea grasses, and mangroves and wetlands have all suffered dramatically because of human activity, the report states. Shorelines have hardened, channels and harbours have been dredged, soil dumped, submerged and emergent land moved, and patterns of water flow changed.
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Wed, Jun 4, 2008: from Stabroek News (Guyana):
Quartz Hill mining highlights environment threat
Breaches of the mining regulations were evident during a recent visit to Quartz Hill and nearby areas, resulting in pollution and fouling of waterways even as the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) strives to enforce the rules and advocate self-regulation.... Meanwhile, unsafe use of mercury, breached tailings ponds and mining activities close to water courses were some of the infringements.... As a result of the breached tailings ponds, a section of the Omai Creek was heavily discoloured with a yellow sludge, which made its way to the Essequibo River.
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Tue, Jun 3, 2008: from Daily Galaxy:
Is There a Solution to the "Continent of Plastic" that Pollutes the Pacific?
Are there really 'continents', or massive floating garbage patches residing in the Pacific? [T]hese unsightly patches are reportedly killing marine life and releasing poisons that enter the human food chain, as well. [T]hese plastic patches certainly aren't solid surfaced islands that you could build a house on... Ocean currents have collected massive amounts of garbage into a sort of plastic "soup" where countless bits of discarded plastic float intertwined just beneath the surface.... The enormous Texas-sized plastic patch is estimated to weigh over 3 million tons.
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Tue, Jun 3, 2008: from NewsInferno:
BPA Found in Canned Foods
According to recent testing, canned foods sold in Canada have been found to contain BPA concentrations as high as double the levels that prompted many to stop using BPA-laced plastic baby and water bottles. Less than half a cup of tomato sauce or a cup of chicken noodle soup would exceed the lowest dose found in recent research to have an adverse effect on animals. Bisphenol-A�or BPA�is a fairly ubiquitous chemical that mimics the hormone, estrogen, and is used in polycarbonate plastic products, including baby bottles and metal can coatings and could be linked to a range of hormonal problems. In the lab, BPA is linked to sex-hormone-imbalances, including breast and prostate cancer, early puberty, miscarriage, low sperm count, and immune-system changes.
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Mon, Jun 2, 2008: from Annals of Neurology, via Science Daily:
Even Low Levels Of Air Pollution May Pose Stroke Risk
These findings support the hypotheses that recent exposure to fine particulate matter may increase the risk of ischemic cerebrovascular events specifically. There is experimental evidence that particulate air pollution is associated with acute artery vasoconstriction and with increases in plasma viscosity (thickening of the blood) which may enhance the potential for blood clots, although this requires further study.
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Sun, Jun 1, 2008: from Daily Mail:
Chlorine in tap water 'nearly doubles the risk of birth defects'
"Pregnant women living in areas where tap water is heavily disinfected with chlorine nearly double their risk of having children with heart problems, a cleft palate or major brain defects, a new study has found. Scientists say expectant mothers can expose themselves to the higher risk by drinking the water, taking a bath or shower, or even by standing close to a boiling kettle."
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Sun, Jun 1, 2008: from In These Times, in AlterNet:
Will the Toxic Sludge Industry Be Held Accountable for Human Health Risks?
"... and we have precocious puberty, little girls developing breasts at 5 or 6 years old, little boys developing armpit hair. And that is something that people don't want to talk about," Holt says. "They will talk about their thyroid glands, their cancers, but they will not talk about early puberty. We are on a true toxic tilt." For the first time since she became involved in the sludge issue, Holt is guardedly hopeful that her concerns will finally be addressed, and that the sulphurous alliance between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), municipal sewer authorities and Synagro Technologies (the nation's largest sludge disposal firm, which was recently bought by the Carlyle Group) -- will be exposed for the blight it is. In April, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, announced that her committee will hold hearings on the issue this summer. The catalyst is a confluence of recent news reports about sludge-related scandals.
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Sat, May 31, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Safety Studies on Nanoparticles Lag Behind Technology
One issue is that the explosion of products using nanomaterials has outpaced the research into what happens when the particles escape into the environment or the human body. "Safety studies are dribbling in, but new consumer products are pouring in... The system is backwards"... Silver, one of the most widely used nanomaterials, has potent antibacterial properties, "which can be a good thing or a bad thing"... When nanosilver and ionic silver reach wastewater treatment plants, they could kill beneficial bacteria used to remove impurities; if the particles get back into waterways, they could also harm fish and algae. Leftover sewage sludge is also used as agricultural fertilizer; nanosilver remaining there could damage soil used to grow food.
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Fri, May 30, 2008: from DailyTech:
Buckyballs Versus Cell Membranes
The group, from the University of Calgary, used the computing power of WestGrid to run their simulations, which involved buckyball clusters interacting with lipid cell membranes. Their simulations found that the molecules were able to dissolve into the cell membrane, passing through it without causing mechanical damage, and reform in the cell's interior. Once inside the cell, the buckyballs could cause damage to the cells. Peter Tieleman, one of the study's leaders, explains "buckyballs are already being made on a commercial scale for use in coatings and materials but we have not determined their toxicity. There are studies showing that they can cross the blood-brain barrier and alter cell functions, which raises a lot of questions about their toxicity and what impact they may have if released into the environment."
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Fri, May 30, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
A study in the May 27 issue of PLoS Medicine is the first empirical evidence that elevated blood lead levels, both in the pregnant mother and in the child, are associated with criminal behavior in young adulthood. "I never would have thought that we would be seeing these effects into the later 20s," said study co-author Kim Dietrich, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. "I'm actually quite astounded and quite worried about this. Although lead levels have been going down in this country, a large proportion of the population now in their 20s and 30s had blood levels in this neurotoxic range."
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Fri, May 30, 2008: from BlueRidgeNow (Times-News):
Unknown toxin kills fish in Davidson River
PISGAH FOREST - State officials on Thursday were investigating the cause of a mile-long fish kill on the lower Davidson River, while Transylvania County officials urged residents to avoid contact with the water in the Davidson and downstream on the French Broad River.... a preliminary report with the DWQ office in Black Mountain listed as a possible source a 22,000 gallon tank of "black liquor," a concentration of organic byproducts of the paper-making process.... The Davidson is famous for its trout fishing, both along the private section downstream of U.S. 64/276 and through Pisgah National Forest upstream.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Fri, May 30, 2008: from EuroNews:
Toxic fish scare in France sparks national enquiry
There is new concern over a pollution scare in France. People living along the Rhone river, and regular eaters of fish caught in it, have tested positive for dangerously high levels of a carcinogenic chemical in their blood. Some exhibited four to five times the so-called 'safe' level of PCBs, or polychlorobiphenyles.... Despite being banned from sale for industrial use in France for more than 20 years, PCB was used in glues, paints and even paper. The startling results of this limited study have now prompted a two year national enquiry to find out just how dangerous France's rivers are.
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Thu, May 29, 2008: from Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement, via EurekAlert:
Reforestation using exotic plants can disturb the fertility of tropical soils
In Burkina Faso, controlled experiments showed that the development of E. camaldulensis, the eucalyptus species most often planted in the world, outside its area of origin, significantly reduced the diversity of the mycorrhizal fungi communities essential for the healthy functioning of the ecosystem. ... also found in the soil of a Senegalese plantation ... where, scarcely a few months after its introduction, the soil’s microbial characteristics had completely changed. ... The soil sampled from areas surrounding the A. holosericea plantation had a balanced distribution of mycorrhizal fungi species, whereas [inside showed] a strong imbalance in the composition of the mycorrhizal fungi community... there is a risk that the Australian acacia might create a new ecosystem whose physical, chemical and biological characteristics will not necessarily be favourable to a recolonization of the habitat by native species.
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Wed, May 28, 2008: from American Chemical Society via ScienceDaily:
Melting Glaciers May Release DDT And Contaminate Antarctic Environment
"In an unexpected consequence of climate change, scientists are raising the possibility that glacial melting is releasing large amounts of the banned pesticide DDT, which is contaminating the environment in Antarctica."
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Mon, May 26, 2008: from Chemical & Engineering News:
Nanotube Inflammation
"RIGID MULTIWALLED carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) longer than 20 µm elicit the same toxic response in mice that asbestos does, according to two new studies. The results suggest that in humans nanotubes could lead to mesothelioma, the hallmark cancer of asbestos exposure, if sufficient quantities of the material are able to reach the lungs by inhalation."
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Sun, May 25, 2008: from London Independent:
Coca-Cola to phase out use of controversial additive after DNA damage claim
"Coca-Cola, the world's biggest soft drinks company, is phasing out a controversial additive that may cause hyperactivity and DNA damage. By August, no cans of Diet Coke should contain the preservative sodium benzoate."
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Sun, May 25, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
Haven for birds still harbors traces of chemical poison
"Some of Illinois' rarest and most imperiled birds return each spring to marshes on Chicago's Southeast Side, where they weave nests of loose reeds, start the season's courtship rituals and, scientists believe, resume ingesting a poison most people thought was gone a generation ago. Researchers studying the state's endangered population of black-crowned night herons reported this year that the birds contain remnants of the insecticide DDT, a contaminant popularly imagined to have faded into America's hazy chemical past, but which scientists say has lingered in a persistent form almost everywhere in the world nonetheless."
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Sat, May 24, 2008: from University of Florida via ScienceDaily:
Invasion Of Gigantic Burmese Pythons In South Florida Appears To Be Rapidly Expanding
"The invasion of gigantic Burmese pythons in South Florida appears to be rapidly expanding, according to a new report from a University of Florida researcher who’s been chasing the snakes since 2005."
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Thu, May 22, 2008: from Associated Press:
USDA axes the sole national survey to chart pesticide use
"Consumers lost a key source of information about what's sprayed on their food on Wednesday, the last day the government published a long-standing national survey that tracks the amount of pesticides used on everything from corn to apples. Despite opposition from prominent scientists, the nation's largest farming organizations and environmental groups, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Wednesday it plans to do away the program."
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Thu, May 22, 2008: from Chemical and Engineering News:
Groups Petition EPA To Ban Endosulfan
Widely used pesticide is an endocrine disrupter and neurotoxicant... EPA estimates that farmers use approximately 1.4 million lb of endosulfan each year in the U.S. The pesticide is used extensively on cotton, tomatoes, potatoes, and apples, but residues of it have been detected in numerous other foods, including cucumbers, green peppers, raisins, cantaloupe, spinach, and even butter, according to the petition. Endosulfan has been detected in humans and the environment, including remote areas such as the Arctic, where it is not used.
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Wed, May 21, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Effects of Nanotubes May Lead to Cancer, Study Says
Microscopic, high-tech "nanotubes" that are being made for use in a wide variety of consumer products cause the same kind of damage in the body as asbestos does, according to a study in mice that is raising alarms among workplace safety experts and others. Within days of being injected into mice, the nanotubes -- which are increasingly used in electronic components, sporting goods and dozens of other products -- triggered a kind of cellular reaction that over a period of years typically leads to mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer, researchers said.
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Tue, May 20, 2008: from London Times:
Obesity fuels growing ‘boy-boob’ problem
"Obesity has been blamed for the growing problem of “boy-boobs” – cases of teenage boys with breasts so well developed that surgery is needed to reduce them. Doctors at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool say that they are seeing dozens of teenagers every year with gynaecomastia, the condition in which males develop breasts."
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Mon, May 19, 2008: from Associated Press:
Recycling options lag the compact fluorescent push
"It's a message being drummed into the heads of homeowners everywhere: Swap out those incandescent lights with longer-lasting compact fluorescent bulbs and cut your electric use. Governments, utilities, environmentalists and, of course, retailers everywhere are spreading the word. Few, however, are volunteering to collect the mercury-laced bulbs for recycling — despite what public officials and others say is a potential health hazard if the hundreds of millions of them being sold are tossed in the trash and end up in landfills and incinerators."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Mon, May 19, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
A sea of synthetic trash
"...The United Nations estimates that each square kilometre of ocean carries 13,000 pieces of debris, but this area in the north Pacific has something like 330,000 pieces per square kilometre. Now, armed with proof that the plastic is making its way into the human food chain, experts warn the existence of the garbage patch and its far-reaching implications could be just as imminent as the worldwide food shortage and the effects of global warming."
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Sun, May 18, 2008: from Kalamazoo Gazette:
CAFOs in conflict: Huge farms increase efficiency but create environmental concerns
"...Concentrated-animal-feeding operations, or CAFOs. What's not to love about 'em? Supporters call them technological models of efficiency and energy conservation that protect animals from predators and disease, manage manure wastes that were once scattered across fields and streams, and create cheap food and full-time employment."
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Sun, May 18, 2008: from London Independent:
Warning: Using a mobile phone while pregnant can seriously damage your baby
"Women who use mobile phones when pregnant are more likely to give birth to children with behavioural problems, according to authoritative research. A giant study, which surveyed more than 13,000 children, found that using the handsets just two or three times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions and relationships by the time they reached school age. And it adds that the likelihood is even greater if the children themselves used the phones before the age of seven."
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Sat, May 17, 2008: from Apapa Vanguard:
NAFDAC bans 30 agrochemical products
"THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has banned the sale and supply of 30 different agrochemical products in the country. NAFDAC Director-General, Professor Dora Akunyili, explained in Abuja that the ban became necessary when it was discovered that the pesticides were causing food poisoning that had resulted in the death of many after they consumed food crops preserved with the chemicals... "Samples were again taken to our laboratory and it was discovered that the foodstuffs contained outrageously high levels of lindane, an organochlorinated pesticide commonly called gammallin that affects the nervous system, producing a range of symptoms from nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness to seizure, convulsion and death," she said."
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Sat, May 17, 2008: from China Post (Taiwan):
Hazardous chemical discovered in detergents
Three local brands of common household detergents contain hazardous endocrine disrupters potentially harmful to health and environment, a consumers' protection group claimed yesterday.... Results of a survey of 20 brand name household laundry detergents found in the market, conducted by the Consumers' Foundation showed that 15 percent contain nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEO).... NPEO compounds break down into a group of toxic and persistent byproducts, such as nonylphenol (NP).
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Fri, May 16, 2008: from ASU, via EurekAlert:
New study links fate of personal care products to environmental pollution and human health concerns
Two closely related antimicrobials, triclosan and triclocarban, are at the center of the debacle. Whereas triclosan (TCS) has long captured the attention of toxicologists due to its structural resemblance to dioxin (the Times Beach and Love Canal poison), triclocarban (TCC) has ski-rocketed in 2004 from an unknown and presumably harmless consumer product additive to one of today’s top ten pharmaceuticals and personal care products most frequently found in the environment and in U.S. drinking water resources.... [the] antimicrobial ingredients used a half a century ago, by our parents and grandparents, are still present today at parts-per-million concentrations in estuarine sediments.... "This extreme environmental persistence by itself is a concern, and it is only amplified by recent studies that show both triclosan and triclocarban to function as endocrine disruptors in mammalian cell cultures and in animal models."
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Fri, May 16, 2008: from Science, via EurekAlert:
Atmosphere threatened by pollutants entering ocean, prof says
Human-caused atmospheric nitrogen compounds are carried by wind and deposited into the ocean, where they act as a fertilizer and lead to increased production of marine plant life. The increase in plant life causes more carbon dioxide to be drawn from the atmosphere into the ocean. This process results in the removal of about 10 percent of the human-caused carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus potentially reducing the climate warming potential, according to the team's paper.... However, some of the nitrogen deposited in the ocean is re-processed to form another nitrogen compound called nitrous oxide, which is then released back into the atmosphere from the ocean. Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas itself – about 300 times more powerful per molecule than carbon dioxide – thus cancelling out about two-thirds of the apparent gain from the carbon dioxide removal, Duce explained. "But of course, the whole system is so complex that we're still rather unsure about what some of the other impacts might be within the ocean," he said.
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Fri, May 16, 2008: from Ottowa Citizen (Canada):
Silicone gel implants may lose approval
Health Canada is expected to announce Friday its plans for synthetic chemicals found in silicone fluids as part of a risk assessment of 200 chemical substances, identified as top priorities for action because they are potentially harmful to human health or the environment. It has already written to industry, explaining that "in the absence of additional relevant information," the government is "predisposed to conclude, based on a screening assessment, that this substance satisfies the definition of toxic (under the) Canadian Environmental Protection Act"... A toxic declaration about the Cyclohexasiloxane family, also known as D4, D5, D6, would start a process that could lead to a ban in certain products, as with bisphenol A in baby bottles.
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Thu, May 15, 2008: from LawyersAndSettlements.com:
Botox Migration a Recipe for Disaster
The concern, which initially only circulated through medical journals but has since been widely reported in mainstream media, surrounds the potential migration of the neurotoxin from the initial injection site. A study by the Italian National Research Council discovered that Botox injected into the whisker muscles of rats, had migrated in trace amounts to the brain stem in as little as three days. A Canadian study achieved similar results. Last month the Journal of Biomechanics published the findings of Walter Herzog, a noted kinesiologist from the University of Calgary. While researching osteoarthritis and joint degeneration, he found that botulinum toxin injected into the supporting muscles of cats not only paralyzed the muscles into which the toxin was injected, but had spread into, and weakened all muscles in the area.
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Thu, May 15, 2008: from NewsDaily:
Research links common chemicals to obesity
Exposure in the womb to common chemicals used to make everything from plastic bottles to pizza box liners may program a person to become obese later in life, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.... Previous studies have linked these chemicals -- also found in water pipes -- to cancer and reproductive problems, prompting a number of countries and U.S. states to consider potential bans or limits of the compounds, the researchers said. One of the chemicals is called Bisphenol A, found in polycarbonate plastics. Past research has suggested it leaches from plastic food and drink containers.
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Wed, May 14, 2008: from Ecological Society of America, via Eurekalert:
Restoring fish populations leads to tough choice for Great Lakes Gulls
You might think that stocking the Great Lakes with things like trout and salmon would be good for the herring gull. The birds often eat from the water, so it would be natural to assume that more fish would mean better dining. But a new report says that the addition of species such as exotic salmon and trout to the area has not been good for the birds, demonstrating that fishery management actions can sometimes have very unexpected outcomes.
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Wed, May 14, 2008: from The Dickinson Press vis Associated Press:
Idaho raptor group: Study confirms lead fragments in venison
"An Idaho raptor group working to eliminate lead from ammunition has released findings it says shows 80 percent of ground venison from deer killed with high-velocity lead bullets contains metal fragments. The Peregrine Fund, based in Boise, and researchers from Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., say the study released Tuesday is further evidence people who eat meat from game animals shot with lead bullets risk exposure to the toxic metal."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Tue, May 13, 2008: from Washington Post:
Firms Seek Patents on 'Climate Ready' Altered Crops
"A handful of the world's largest agricultural biotechnology companies are seeking hundreds of patents on gene-altered crops designed to withstand drought and other environmental stresses, part of a race for dominance in the potentially lucrative market for crops that can handle global warming, according to a report being released today. Three companies -- BASF of Germany, Syngenta of Switzerland and Monsanto of St. Louis -- have filed applications to control nearly two-thirds of the climate-related gene families submitted to patent offices worldwide..."
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Mon, May 12, 2008: from Yonhap News (South Korea):
S. Korea to ban import of Japanese potatoes
South Korea will expand its existing ban on Japanese potatoes to cover products grown on the main island of Honshu, the government said Monday. The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS) said the measure that goes into effect on Wednesday is in response to the discovery of Globodera rostochiensis, or yellow potato cyst nematodes. The nematodes are insects that are classified as a serious threat to the plant roots of both potatoes and tomatoes, with most countries banning imports from a country if an outbreak is reported.
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Sat, May 10, 2008: from The Asian Pacific Post:
Everest turning into world's highest cesspool
"A deadly peril lurks on Mount Everest, the highest summit in the world. It is far more dangerous than the freezing cold, gale winds and recently posted security forces who are empowered to shoot at the sight of political activities. The new hazard comes from hundreds of tonnes of human waste scattered along the mountain slopes... While conscientious mountaineers have been trying to clear the garbage left on the mountains, nothing has been done to treat the human waste."
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Sat, May 10, 2008: from Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Contamination is linked to dust from TV sets
"Common household dust has long been known to carry pesticides, allergens and other irritants.... Now, a study by researchers at Boston University's School of Public Health appears to have pinpointed the largest source of chemical flame retardants as the dust on television sets.
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Fri, May 9, 2008: from UCSF, via ScienceDaily:
Common Herbicide Disrupts Human Hormone Activity In Cell Studies
A common weedkiller in the U.S., already suspected of causing sexual abnormalities in frogs and fish, has now been found to alter hormonal signaling in human cells, scientists from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) report. The herbicide atrazine is the second most widely used weedkiller in the U.S., applied to corn and sorghum fields throughout the Midwest and also spread on suburban lawns and gardens.
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Thu, May 8, 2008: from San Francisco Chronicle:
Flame retardant found in peregrine falcon eggs
"The eggs of peregrine falcons living in California's big cities contain some of the highest levels ever found in wildlife of a flame retardant used in consumer products, a new study has found. Studies of peregrine falcon eggs and chicks by state scientists reveal that the birds hunting in San Francisco, Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego are ingesting the flame retardant called PBDEs, believed to leach out of foam mattresses, synthetic fabrics, plastic casings of televisions, electronics and other products. The research shows that the indoor chemicals can contaminate the outdoors and even humans."
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Thu, May 8, 2008: from Environmental Expert (UK):
British company fined for polluting National Trust beauty spot
Thames Water was ordered to pay more than Ł40,000 after admitting destroying the ecology of a high-quality stream and lake after a burst pipe churned raw sewage out onto National Trust land. Thousands of fish, including notable species of brook lamprey, brown trout, bullhead, and native crayfish were left dead as the sewage caused oxygen levels to plummet and ammonia to rocket... "When I first arrived at the Penwood Stream I was struck by the smell of raw sewage. The water had turned a cloudy orange colour and the stream bed was covered in slimy sewage fungus; thousands of fish, including some important and rare species, where dead or in distress, gasping at the surface of the water..." In February 2007 Environment Agency officers were called out after Thames Water reported the same pipe had burst again, just 15 metres from the previous incident.
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Wed, May 7, 2008: from Associated Press:
EPA might not act to limit rocket fuel in drinking water
"An EPA official said Tuesday there's a "distinct possibility" the agency won't take action to rid drinking water of a toxic rocket fuel ingredient that has contaminated public water supplies around the country... The toxin interferes with thyroid function and poses developmental health risks, particularly to fetuses."
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Tue, May 6, 2008: from Planet Ark via Reuters:
Alberta Puts C$55 Million Into Pine Beetle Fight
"VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Alberta will spend C$55 million ($54 million) this year to stem the spread of pine beetles, which have ravaged forests in neighbouring British Columbia, the Alberta government said Monday."
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Tue, May 6, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Breeding toxins from dead PCs
Thousands of discarded computers from western Europe and the US arrive in the ports of west Africa every day, ending up in massive toxic dumps where children burn and pull them apart to extract metals for cash.... "We filmed children as young as six searching for metal scraps in the earth, which was littered with the toxic waste from thousands of shattered cathode ray tubes," said Benjamin Holst, co-founder of DanWatch. "A whole community is virtually living and working in this highly toxic environment, which is growing every day."
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Mon, May 5, 2008: from The Globe and Mail (Canada):
Comfy stilettos? Give em the needle.
We keep beating down the flesh at the bottom of our feet, and with age we lose the fat pads. This can result in burning and pain, especially on the balls of the foot. But, as with many symptoms of aging, help is but a needle away. Dr. Suzanne Levine, a New York-based "podiatrist to the stars," has pioneered a treatment using injectables that creates the feeling of "pillows in your feet." "It's biodegradable hyaluronic acid and Sephadex [sugar glucose beads], which stimulates your own soft tissue to produce more collagen," Chelin explains. "We're just replacing what nature takes away." Results can last up to 18 months, he says, although "many high-heel devotees get treated about a week before their big glam outings."
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Sun, May 4, 2008: from London Daily Telegraph:
Pollution sends men bald
"Men living in polluted areas are more likely to go bald than those breathing cleaner air, a new study suggests. The ground breaking research, by academics at the University of London, has linked the onset of male pattern baldness, to environmental factors, such as air pollution and smoking."
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Sun, May 4, 2008: from The Charleston Gazette via Environmental Science and Technology:
Breast milk contains C8, study concludes
"C8 and related chemicals used in nonstick pans and stain-resistant fabrics have been found in human breast milk, according to the first major U.S. study to examine breast-feeding as a possible exposure route. Perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, were found in all of the 45 human breast milk samples tested in the new study."
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Sat, May 3, 2008: from Time Magazine:
Lowe Eyes the Everglades
"Lowe's, the home improvement chain, wants to move the border [of Miami-Dade County's Urban Development Boundary (UBD] so it can erect a new store on more than 20 acres of the wetlands; further south, developers want to hop the line to build a commercial park and thousands of new homes. Protesters, including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, gathered to denounce the plans last week -- but on Thursday the Miami-Dade County Commission approved the Lowe's and the office developments."
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Sat, May 3, 2008: from Georgia Institute of Technology, via EurekAlert:
Environmental fate of nanoparticles depends on properties of water carrying them
The fate of carbon-based nanoparticles spilled into groundwater -- and the ability of municipal filtration systems to remove the nanoparticles from drinking water -- depend on subtle differences in the solution properties of the water carrying the particles, a new study has found. In slightly salty water, for example, clusters of Carbon 60 (C60) would tend to adhere tightly to soil or filtration system particles. But where natural organic compounds or chemical surfactants serve as stabilizers in water, the C60 fullerene particles would tend to flow as easily as the water carrying them. "In some cases, the nanoparticles move very little and you would get complete retention in the soil," said Kurt Pennell, a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "But in different solution conditions or in the presence of a stabilizing agent, they can travel just like water. The movement of these nanoparticles is very sensitive to the solution conditions."
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Fri, May 2, 2008: from AP, via CNN:
Pharmaceuticals in reservoir causing troubling problems to fish, wildlife
A five-month Associated Press investigation has determined that trace amounts of many of the pharmaceuticals we take to stay healthy are seeping into drinking water supplies, and a growing body of research indicates that this could harm humans. But people aren't the only ones who consume that water. There is more and more evidence that some animals that live in or drink from streams and lakes are seriously affected.... Pharmaceuticals in the water are being blamed for severe reproductive problems in many types of fish: The endangered razorback sucker and male fathead minnow have been found with lower sperm counts and damaged sperm; some walleyes and male carp have become what are called feminized fish, producing egg yolk proteins typically made only by females. Meanwhile, female fish have developed male genital organs. Also, there are skewed sex ratios in some aquatic populations, and sexually abnormal bass that produce cells for both sperm and eggs.
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Fri, May 2, 2008: from LA Times:
Antibiotics in our livestock
Not just a cure for infection anymore, antibiotics are routinely given to livestock to prevent disease in crowded pens and stockyards and to promote growth. The report says farms can buy these drugs without a prescription or veterinary permission, so it's no surprise that half of all the antibiotics worldwide are used in food production. The ubiquitous use of animal antibiotics saves consumers $5 to $10 a year on their meat and poultry bill, the National Academy of Sciences estimated in 1999. Even that relative pittance is a pseudo-saving, though, because the United States spends more than $4 billion a year to combat [antibiotic-]resistant infections, which kill 90,000 people a year in this country. Experience elsewhere shows that meat producers can use far less medication. In 1998, Denmark banned antibiotic use in livestock except to treat illness. Four years later, a World Health Organization study found that the ban was already helping to reduce the potential for resistant bacteria, at minimal cost to meat producers and without significantly affecting the health of the livestock. Two years ago, the European Union banned the use of all growth-enhancing antibiotics.
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Thu, May 1, 2008: from Environmental Science & Technology:
DDT levels in Antarctic penguins present a complex mystery
"The use of DDT peaked several decades ago at more than 36,000 metric tons per year (t/yr). Today, less than 1000 t of the organochlorine pesticide -- banned in most countries since the 1980s -- is applied annually for mosquito control and farming, mainly in the Southern Hemisphere. Despite this drop, Adelie penguins in the Antarctic continue to have the same levels of total DDT in their bodies as they did 30 years ago. New research published in ES&T (DOI: 10.1021/es702919n) identifies Antarctic meltwater as the continued source of total DDT, and possibly other pollutants, in the southern continent's ecosystems."
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Wed, Apr 30, 2008: from University of Missouri-Columbia, via EurekAlert:
Too much technology may be killing beneficial bacteria
For years, scientists have known about silver's ability to kill harmful bacteria and, recently, have used this knowledge to create consumer products containing silver nanoparticles. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that silver nanoparticles also may destroy benign bacteria that are used to remove ammonia from wastewater treatment systems.... Several products containing silver nanoparticles already are on the market, including socks containing silver nanoparticles designed to inhibit odor-causing bacteria and high-tech, energy-efficient washing machines that disinfect clothes by generating the tiny particles. The positive effects of that technology may be overshadowed by the potential negative environmental impact... "We found that silver nanoparticles are extremely toxic. The nanoparticles destroy the benign species of bacteria that are used for wastewater treatment. It basically halts the reproduction activity of the good bacteria."
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Wed, Apr 30, 2008: from Africa Science News:
Egypt allows for commercialisation of GM maize
Egypt's Minister of Agriculture has approved the decisions made by the National Biosafety Committee (NBC) and Seed Registration Committee allowing the commercialization of a Bt corn variety. This marks the first genetically modified (GM) crop approved for domestic planting in the country. The approval is highlighted in a recent Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) report by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). During last year's growing season, field trials were conducted and assessed. A local seed company, acting as an agent of a multi-national life science company, plans to import GM seeds for propagation and production from South Africa. The GM corn will be planted in 10 governates throughout Egypt.
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Tue, Apr 29, 2008: from Uro Today:
Human Exposure to Endocrine Disrupters and Semen Quality
We propose that environmental factors, including exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, may be represented in this idiopathic category of diagnosis. Endocrine disrupters are proposed to modulate or dysregulate the endogenous endocrine system via competitive or non-competitive binding at steroid hormone receptors, changes to synthesis, metabolism or transport of hormones or by changes in gene expression. Significant laboratory evidence supports endocrine disruption as a mechanism of action for several types of chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), bisphenol A (BPA), 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), p,p’-DDE (p,p'-dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene)- the major breakdown product of DDT and mixtures such as pesticides. Though there is a relative paucity of population-based studies examining the effects of exposure to endocrine disrupters on human semen quality, it may be cautiously interpreted that endocrine disruption due to organochlorine exposures may be manifested as reduced sperm motility and morphology.
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Mon, Apr 28, 2008: from PERI, University of Massachussetts, Amherst:
The Toxic 100: The Top Corporate Air Polluters in the U.S.
The Toxic 100 index identifies the top U.S. air polluters among the world's largest corporations. The index relies on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Risk Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) project. The starting point for the RSEI is the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which reports on releases of toxic chemicals at facilities across the United States.... [Toxic 100 Top Ten:] E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., Nissan Motor, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bayer Group, Dow Chemical, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, Arcelor Mittal, U.S. Steel, ExxonMobil. [And 90 others.]
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Sun, Apr 27, 2008: from Wenatchee World:
Jumbo squid invade waters off Pacific coast
"They aren't your normal calamari. But the jumbo squid now lurking off the Pacific Northwest coast could threaten salmon runs and signal yet another change in the oceans brought on by global warming. The squid, which can reach seven feet long and weigh up to 110 pounds, are aggressive, thought to hunt in packs and can move at speeds of up to 15 mph. In Mexico, they're known as diablos rojos, or red devils. They reportedly will attack divers when they feel threatened.
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Sun, Apr 27, 2008: from Discover:
How Much Do Chemicals Affect Our Health?
"Philip Landrigan [is] a Harvard-trained physician who has fought the world’s most powerful corporations and bullied bureaucrats to protect the public from poisonous pollutants for nearly 30 years...the 65-year-old scientist is gearing up for his most ambitious project yet: the National Children’s Study, a landmark field investigation that will follow 100,000 American children from as soon as possible after conception to age 21. He hopes the research will identify factors in the environment—cultural, genetic, social, physical, and chemical—that make us more susceptible to disease. He also hopes it will shed light on why rates of birth defects, childhood cancers, asthma, obesity, violence, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities are skyrocketing."
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Sat, Apr 26, 2008: from The Star (Malaysia):
Cost remains a factor in recycling industrial waste
Much dumping of industrial wastes was due to the high cost of recycling, even though such wastes had reusable materials. With the problems of climate change and pollution increasing, Yeoh said it was a challenge for corporations to translate the economies of waste management into the daily processes of its business operations.
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Fri, Apr 25, 2008: from Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, via EurekAlert:
New nanotech products hitting the market at the rate of 3-4 per week
The number of consumer products using nanotechnology has grown from 212 to 609 since PEN launched the world’s first online inventory of manufacturer-identified nanotech goods in March 2006. Health and fitness items, which includes cosmetics and sunscreens, represent 60 percent of inventory products.... Despite a 2006 worldwide investment of $12.4 billion in nanotech R&D, comparatively little was spent on examining nanotechnology's potential environmental, health and safety risks. "Public trust is the 'dark horse' in nanotechnology's future," says Rejeski in his testimony. "If government and industry do not work to build public confidence in nanotechnology, consumers may reach for the 'No-Nano' label in the future and investors will put their money elsewhere."
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Wed, Apr 23, 2008: from The Post (Pakistan):
Villagers protest against chemical factory owners
SHEIKHUPURA: The residents of Amoki on Wednesday took out a protest rally against the administration of a local chemical factory. The villagers told The Post that the chemical factory located near their village was emitting poisonous gases in the air. As a result, three buffaloes of a villager Muhammad Latif died due to poisonous gases, besides the inhabitants were suffering from fatal diseases due to the toxic waste and smoke of the factory.
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Tue, Apr 22, 2008: from Miami Herald:
Forecast of rising waters paints bleak future for S. Fla. coasts
"Under conservative predictions of a three-foot rise in sea level, high tide would wash daily into downtown Miami, South Beach and Hollywood by century's end. At five feet, the sea would swallow much of the Everglades and cover pavement from Fort Lauderdale across to Naples.
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Sun, Apr 20, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Mercury In River Moves Into Terrestrial Food Chain Through Spiders Fed To Baby Birds
Songbirds feeding near the contaminated South River are showing high levels of mercury, even though they aren't eating food from the river itself, according to a paper published by William and Mary researchers in the journal Science.... one of the first, if not the first, to offer scientific documentation of the infiltration of mercury from a contaminated body of water into a purely terrestrial ecosystem. "In bodies of water affected by mercury, it's always been assumed that only birds or wildlife that ate fish would be in danger," said Cristol, an associate professor in William and Mary's Department of Biology. "But we’ve now opened up the possibility that mercury levels could be very high in the surrounding terrestrial habitat, as well."
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Sat, Apr 19, 2008: from Tufts University:
Early Exposure To Common Weed Killer Impairs Amphibian Development
"Tadpoles develop deformed hearts and impaired kidneys and digestive systems when exposed to the widely used herbicide atrazine in their early stages of life, according to research by Tufts University biologists. The results present a more comprehensive picture of how this common weed killer -- once thought to be harmless to animals -- disrupts growth of vital organs in amphibians during multiple growth periods."
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Fri, Apr 18, 2008: from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
High levels of household chemicals found in pets
"We bred them to protect us and warn us of impending trouble. According to a new report, our pets are doing their job. The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental watchdog group, released a study Thursday showing that dogs and cats are carrying heavy burdens of many household chemicals - flame retardants, plasticizers and stain-resisting chemicals - in their blood and urine.
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Thu, Apr 17, 2008: from Environmental Science & Technology:
PFOS alters immune response at very low exposure levels
"Perfluorinated compounds previously in stain repellents may be affecting the human immune system, according to new research published in Toxicological Sciences (2008, DOI 10.1093/toxsci/kfn059). After studying mice orally exposed to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) daily for 28 days, a group of researchers observed that the animals’ immune systems were affected at much lower levels than ever reported....PFOS is no longer being produced. Its manufacturer, 3M, agreed to phase out production by 2002. But it remains a persistent, global contaminant."
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Wed, Apr 16, 2008: from Associated Press:
World beaches strewn with 6 million pounds of garbage
"The world's beaches and shores are anything but pristine. Volunteers scoured 33,000 miles of shoreline worldwide and found 6 million pounds of debris from cigarette butts and food wrappers to abandoned fishing lines and plastic bags that threaten seabirds and marine mammals. A report by the Ocean Conservancy, to be released today, catalogues nearly 7.2 million items that were collected by volunteers on a single day last September as they combed beaches and rocky shorelines in 76 countries from Bahrain to Bangladesh and in 45 states from Southern California to the rocky coast of Maine."
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Mon, Apr 14, 2008: from Associated Press:
Sludge Fertilizer Program Spurs Concerns
"BALTIMORE - Scientists using federal grants spread fertilizer made from human and industrial wastes on yards in poor, black neighborhoods to test whether it might protect children from lead poisoning in the soil. Families were assured the sludge was safe and were never told about any harmful ingredients. Nine low-income families in Baltimore row houses agreed to let researchers till the sewage sludge into their yards and plant new grass. In exchange, they were given food coupons as well as the free lawns as part of a study published in 2005 and funded by the Housing and Urban Development Department."
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Sun, Apr 13, 2008: from Contra Costa Times:
Bill to keep mussels out of lakes
"California, where water and recreation often mix, is struggling to devise a plan to defend its lakes and rivers from invasions by tiny quagga and zebra mussels, which threaten to wreak havoc on the environment and water delivery systems. An East Bay lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require lake and reservoir operators to develop plans to prevent boaters from inadvertently infecting new water bodies in California with nonnative mussels. The invasive mollusks can stow away in boats hauled from one reservoir to another. In a little more than a year, the mussels have infested the Colorado River and 17 reservoirs and aqueducts, mostly in Southern California but one in San Benito County."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sun, Apr 13, 2008: from London Independent:
Russian town is so toxic even the mayor wants it closed down
"Harsh winters, polluted air, crumbling apartment blocks..." the residents of many Russian towns might feel that they have cause for complaint. But in Chapayevsk, a town of about 70,000 inhabitants in European Russia, the mayor himself has suggested a novel way of solving the town's problems ... abandon it. You can hardly blame him ... 96 per cent of all children there are deemed unhealthy."
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sat, Apr 12, 2008: from London Daily Telegraph:
Pollution is making flowers smell less
"Air pollution from power plants and cars is destroying the fragrance and thereby inhibiting the ability of pollinating insects to follow scent trails to their source, a new University of Virginia study indicates. This could partially explain why wild populations of some pollinators, particularly bees - which need nectar for food - are declining in areas around the world, from California to the Netherlands.... The result, potentially, is a vicious cycle where pollinators struggle to find enough food to sustain their populations, and populations of flowering plants, in turn, do not get pollinated sufficiently to proliferate and diversify."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sat, Apr 12, 2008: from Associated Press:
EPA advisors slam new smog rule
"An advisory panel of scientists told the Environmental Protection Agency that its new air quality standard for smog fails to protect public health as required by law and should be strengthened. In a stern letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, the advisors expressed frustration that their unanimous recommendation for a more stringent standard was ignored when Johnson set the new smog requirements last month."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, Apr 10, 2008: from News-Enterprise (KY):
Report: A dozen Hardin County water sources polluted
A dozen Hardin County streams and the headwaters of one popular lake are considered unhealthy for aquatic life, fish consumption or both, according to a draft report released this week by Kentucky’s Division of Water.... Thirty-four streams in surrounding counties also are considered too polluted to fully sustain aquatic life or fully provide healthy recreational opportunities, according to the draft report.
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Tue, Apr 8, 2008: from New York Times:
Hermaphrodite Frogs Found in Suburban Ponds
"Just as frogs' mating season arrives, a study by a Yale professor raises a troubling issue. How many frogs will be clear on their role in the annual springtime ritual? Common frogs that make their homes in suburban areas are more likely than their rural counterparts to develop the reproductive abnormalities previously found in fish in the Potomac and Mississippi Rivers, according to the study by David Skelly, a professor of ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Dr. Skelly's research found that 21 percent of male green frogs, Rana clamitans, taken from suburban Connecticut ponds are hermaphrodites, with immature eggs growing in their testes. The study is the latest in a decade's worth of research that has found intersex characteristics in water-dwelling species like sharp-tooth catfish in South Africa, small-mouth bass on the Potomac and shovelnose sturgeon in the Mississippi.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Mon, Apr 7, 2008: from Vancouver Tyee:
Big Worries About Micro Particles
"The next "it" product is here. Some of you sleep on it. Some of you slap it on cuts. Some of you clean with it. Some babies suck on it. A few people study it, wondering if "it" will be an environmental and health disaster. Silver nanoparticles lace the insides of mattresses, bandages, washing machines, baby soothers, teddy bears and socks. Long known for its antimicrobial properties, silver is more effective at the nano-scale, particles a billionth of a metre in diameter. It's effective enough that the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States will consider it a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. Over 500 consumer products in North America hype their nano-sized composition, with silver the nano-star of the moment....The question of toxicity and human-engineered nanomaterials is one scientists and regulators struggle to understand. And one that consumers barely know about."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Mon, Apr 7, 2008: from San Francisco Chronicle:
Health problems reported after aerial spraying
"On a clear night in September, the Wilcox family got ready for the airplane that would soon fly overhead and spray a pesticide to fight an invasive moth discovered on the Monterey Peninsula. They shut the windows and stayed indoors. "I didn't think much of it. We thought it wouldn't be harmful," said Air Force Maj. Timothy Wilcox, who's enrolled in the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey. The very next day, the Wilcoxes' 11-month-old son, Jack, started wheezing. It got so bad, his eyes rolled back in his head, the boy's father said. The baby spent his first birthday in the hospital on oxygen and medication."
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Sun, Apr 6, 2008: from Indianapolis Star:
'Toxic trailers' raise fears about RVs
"When Shelly Higdon went camping in her new 27-foot travel trailer, she didn't expect to get a headache and sore throat or lose her voice, or her 8-year-old son to get a nosebleed. After she got home, she and her family had the trailer tested. They were shocked: Airborne formaldehyde in the travel trailer was seven times the amount considered acceptable by scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency....At issue is the urea formaldehyde put in glue used to make plywood and particle board that is fashioned into furniture, cupboards and floors. As an RV or camper cabin warms up, formaldehyde slowly seeps from the glue as a colorless gas."
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Sun, Apr 6, 2008: from Yale University:
Study shows why synthetic estrogens wreak havoc on reproductive system
Researchers at Yale School of Medicine now have a clearer understanding of why synthetic estrogens such as those found in many widely-used plastics have a detrimental effect on a developing fetus, cause fertility problems, as well as vaginal and breast cancers.... exposure to DES and similar substances results in lasting genetic memory, known as "imprinting."
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Sat, Apr 5, 2008: from Cosmetics Design-Europe:
Botox rat study shows toxins migrate to the brain
A new scientific study on rats suggests that the anti-wrinkle treatment Botox may be able to move from the skin into the brain, degrading proteins and acting on nerves.... Although the study findings might have some positive applications for research into the treatment of overactive brain neurons, the findings may turn out to have less positive repercussions for individuals seeking the treatment for cosmetic reasons.
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Sat, Apr 5, 2008: from The Free Lance-Star:
Tons of toxic substances released by area industry, military bases
Across the state, more than 400 entities filed reports based on their size and amounts of toxic materials released. The 2006 figures are the latest information available.... The toxic materials are among 650 on a federal list [of persistent bioaccumulative toxics, such as lead, mercury and dioxin-like compounds,] that can cause cancer or other adverse health effects at significant concentration levels beyond the facility boundaries, cause cancer in humans or harm the environment if found in large quantities.... There are no imminent health threats present in the report, which DEQ officials say is useful to communities, industry and regulators.
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Fri, Apr 4, 2008: from Kenniwick Tri-City Herald:
Hanford workers position 'umbrella' over contamination
"Hanford workers have finished installing a 70,000-square-foot "umbrella" over soil contaminated by what may have been the largest leak of radioactive waste from Hanford's underground tanks. The cap is a temporary measure to keep rain and snow melt from driving contamination deeper into the ground. But eventually, as leak-prone tanks are emptied of radioactive waste, the Department of Energy is expected to identify a way to clean up or otherwise permanently protect the public and environment from the remains of the spill.
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Thu, Apr 3, 2008: from Nature:
EPA feels heat over flame retardant
"A much-anticipated report on the health hazards of a ubiquitous flame retardant has been delayed amid controversy over the removal of a respected toxicologist from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advisory panel reviewing the report. The report, which was due last week, is expected to mount pressure on the chemical industry to ban decabrominated diphenyl ether (deca-BDE), which is used as a flame retardant in furniture, carpets, and televisions and other electronic goods. The EPA has delayed its release by a month and experts tracking the issue expect further delays."
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Wed, Apr 2, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Elevated Concentrations Of Toxic Metals In China
Ming H. Wong and colleagues collected dust samples from roads adjacent to e-waste processing workshops in Guiya, China, to find that lead levels were 330 and 371 times higher than non e-waste sites located 5 miles and 19 miles away. Copper levels were 106 and 155 times higher. "Currently, there are no guidelines or regulations for heavy metals in dust. It is hoped that the results can serve as a case study for similar e-waste activities in countries such as Africa, India and Vietnam where e-waste is becoming a growing problem, so that the same mistakes could be prevented."
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Sun, Mar 30, 2008: from The London Independent:
Mobile phones
"Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation. The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks. Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimise handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced."
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Thu, Mar 27, 2008: from BBC (UK):
Plastic and toxic magnetism
Studies suggest billions of microscopic plastic fragments drifting underwater are concentrating pollutants like DDT.... "We know that plastics in the marine environment will accumulate and concentrate toxic chemicals from the surrounding seawater and you can get concentrations several thousand times greater than in the surrounding water on the surface of the plastic."... According to Dr Thompson, the plastic particles "act as magnets for poisons in the ocean".... In a typical sample of sand, one-quarter of the total weight may be composed of plastic particles.... "The thing that's most worrisome about the plastic is its tenaciousness, its durability. It's not going to go away in my lifetime or my children's lifetimes.
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Thu, Mar 27, 2008: from Pittsfield Berkshire Eagle:
Plan would leave PCB risk
"KENT, Conn. — General Electric's proposed cleanup of the Housatonic River would leave fish inedible in many stretches of the river, unsafe for human consumption because of high PCB levels. GE presented its cleanup proposal at a public meeting in the Town Hall here last night. Its plan covers the river south of where the east and west branches meet, just below the Fred Garner River Park on Pomeroy Avenue in Pittsfield. The company will hold another public session at 5:30 p.m. today at the Lee Middle and High School. Addressing an audience of about 40 people, GE representatives said its plan would strike a balance among removing PCBs from the ecosystem, protecting the environment from an invasive cleanup, and keeping costs low. But its predictions made clear that the enough PCBs would be left behind to present a health risk to some animals and to anyone who ate a steady diet of fish from some parts of the Housatonic.
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Tue, Mar 25, 2008: from Palm Beach Post:
Suit over limbless boy, 3, settled
"MIAMI — The Florida produce company Ag-Mart has settled a civil suit with two former tomato pickers who claimed their son was born without arms and legs because of the misuse of dangerous pesticides in farm fields by the agricultural firm. The child, Carlos Candelario Herrera, known as "Carlitos," was born Dec. 17, 2004. His mother, Francisca Herrera, then 19, originally from Mexico, had worked in Ag-Mart fields in both South Florida and North Carolina during her pregnancy. She said in a deposition that on repeated occasions pesticides sprayed in adjacent Ag-Mart fields had drifted and reached her. She also said she was forced to work in freshly sprayed fields, that her hands absorbed the wet chemicals and that she had suffered sore throat, burning eyes and headaches. Other former employees backed her claims.
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Sun, Mar 23, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
The Big Picture of Biology Breach
Rivers of dead fish, 100-acre rubbish dumps, smog-filled skies – are these the world's worst environmental black spots? Eight photos of how we're overwhelming the earth.
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Sat, Mar 22, 2008: from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
FDA relied on industry studies to judge safety
"Ignoring hundreds of government and academic studies showing a chemical commonly found in plastic can be harmful to lab animals at low doses, the Food and Drug Administration determined the chemical was safe based on just two industry-funded studies that didn't find harm. In response to a congressional inquiry, Stephen Mason, the FDA's acting assistant commissioner for legislation, wrote in a letter that his agency's claim relied on two pivotal studies sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry, a subsidiary of the American Chemistry Council.
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Tue, Mar 18, 2008: from Associated Press:
Dioxin cleanup near Dow Chemical plant remains on slow track
"More than a century after Dow Chemical Co. began dumping dioxins into a river flowing past its mid-Michigan plant, the company and regulators are still debating how to cleanse a swath of waters and wetlands that now reaches 50 miles to Lake Huron. Dow acknowledges tainting the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, their floodplains, portions of the city of Midland and Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay with dioxins -- chemical byproducts believed to cause cancer and damage reproductive and immune systems. But the company says it must finish measuring how much pollution exists -- and where -- before devising a cleanup plan. Government officials are pushing Dow to move faster, as some local residents forge ahead with a lawsuit against the chemical giant."
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Sat, Mar 15, 2008: from Green Bay Press-Gazette:
Blocked study draws attention to PCBs
"It has been almost 20 years since the National Wildlife Federation issued its first fish consumption warning, drawing the public's attention to the effects of PCBs and mercury on Great Lakes fish. Back then, it was met with strong opposition from sport and commercial fishermen, among others. The debate continues to rage today. A 400-page study on health and environmental hazards in the Great Lakes was blocked from publication by the CDC last year. Part of the report draws attention to the health risks associated with eating fish from the Lower Fox River and Green Bay."
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Sat, Mar 15, 2008: from Scientific American:
Fertilizer Runoff Overwhelms Streams and Rivers--Creating Vast "Dead Zones"
"The water in brooks, streams and creeks from Michigan to Puerto Rico carries a heavy load of pollutants, particularly nitrates from fertilizers. These nitrogen and oxygen molecules that crops need to grow eventually make their way into rivers, lakes and oceans, fertilizing blooms of algae that deplete oxygen and leave vast "dead zones" in their wake. There, no fish or typical sea life can survive. And scientists warn that a federal mandate to produce more biofuel may make the situation even worse."
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Fri, Mar 14, 2008: from The Hindu:
Govt allows use of 66 pesticides banned outside in India
"New Delhi (PTI): The government on Friday said that there are 66 pesticides such as DDT and Endosulfan, which are either banned or severely restricted in other countries, but are permitted for use in India as these have been found to be harmless. "... use has been permitted only after thorough reviews and satisfying that the particular pesticide does not pose harmful effect under the conditions of use in our country," Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers B K Handique told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply."
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Fri, Mar 14, 2008: from Los Angeles Times:
Popular 'green' products test positive for toxicant
"New tests of 100 "natural" and "organic" soaps, shampoos and other consumer products show that nearly half of them contained a cancer-causing chemical that is a byproduct of petrochemicals used in manufacturing. Many items that tested positive for the carcinogen are well-known brands, including Kiss My Face, Alba, Seventh Generation and Nature's Gate products, sold in retail stores across the nation. The findings of the Organic Consumers Assn., a consumer advocacy group, are sending a jolt through the natural products industry. Gathering today in Anaheim for a national trade show, many leaders worry that the test results will taint the industry in the eyes of the public. Of the 100 products tested, 47 had detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane, which the Environmental Protection Agency has declared a probable human carcinogen because it causes cancer in lab animals."
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Thu, Mar 13, 2008: from Arkansas Democrat Gazette:
Judge backs off comment on litter
"TULSA -- U. S. District Court Judge Gregory Frizzell backed away Tuesday from his March 3 comment that poultry litter is “solid waste” under federal law. Frizzell, who's overseeing a hearing on a preliminary injunction request to ban the spreading of poultry litter on farm fields in the Illinois River watershed, explained his switch on the last day of witness testimony. Attorneys are scheduled to give their closing arguments on the injunction at 1:30 p.m. today."
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Thu, Mar 13, 2008: from The Canadian Press:
Public warned not to consume certain juices for toddlers that may contain arsenic
"OTTAWA - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Loblaws Inc. have warned the public not to consume certain pear juices for toddlers that may be contaminated with arsenic. The CFIA says in a news release that there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of the products. The two products listed in the warning are the one-litre President's Choice Organics Pear Juice from Concentrate for Toddlers and the 128-millilitre Beech Nut Pear Juice from concentrate with Vitamin C added. The products have been distributed across the country, the agency says."
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Tue, Mar 11, 2008: from The Washington Post (US):
Solar Energy Firms Leave Waste Behind in China
With the prices of oil and coal soaring, policymakers around the world are looking at massive solar farms to heat water and generate electricity. For the past four years, however, the world has been suffering from a shortage of polysilicon -- the key component of sunlight-capturing wafers -- driving up prices of solar energy technology and creating a barrier to its adoption. With the price of polysilicon soaring from $20 per kilogram to $300 per kilogram in the past five years, Chinese companies are eager to fill the gap.... But Chinese companies' methods for dealing with waste haven't been perfected.... the byproduct of polysilicon production -- silicon tetrachloride -- is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards.... For each ton of polysilicon produced, the process generates at least four tons of silicon tetrachloride liquid waste....
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Mon, Mar 10, 2008: from Associated Press:
AP probe finds drugs in drinking water
"A vast array of pharmaceuticals -- including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones -- have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows. To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe. But the presence of so many prescription drugs -- and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen -- in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health."
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Mon, Mar 10, 2008: from mlive.com:
Great Lakes fish soak in new poison
"Toxic flame retardants commonly used in computers, televisions and textiles have accumulated dramatically in Great Lakes fish over the past two decades, prompting legislative efforts to ban the compounds. The state Legislature in 2004 banned two types of the flame retardants, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. Michigan was one of several states to ban the manufacture, use or distribution of penta-BDE and octa-BDE. But a third type of the chemical, deca-BDE, is still widely used and can break down into the more toxic forms of PBDEs. Environmental activists and some scientists are pushing for a ban on deca-BDE, a persistent toxin that accumulates in the food chain....The Michigan Chemistry Council and the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs oppose banning deca-BDE. "Right now, we feel that the science has not justified the banning of deca-BDE," said Jerry Howell, chief executive officer of the Michigan Chemistry Council.
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Sat, Mar 8, 2008: from The Independent:
Invasion of the giant oysters
"The Pacific oyster was introduced to European coasts in the 1970s from Japan and British Columbia following the virtual collapse of the Continent's native oyster industry. The Pacific oyster was not introduced to Sylt, which boasted a formidable pre-war oyster industry, until 1986, and then only as a product that would be carefully farmed in an environment controlled partly by man....In 1995 the feral Pacific oyster population was about one oyster per square metre of tidal sand flat on Sylt. By 2004 the figure had leapt to nearly 500 per square metre. By 2007 the island's feral Pacific oyster count jumped to a staggering 2,000 per square metre. "What we are now experiencing is exponential growth of the wild oyster population," says Dr Reise. "We don't yet know where the process will end."
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Fri, Mar 7, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Chemicals In Our Waters Are Affecting Humans And Aquatic Life In Unanticipated Ways
Derek Muir of Environment Canada and colleagues have determined that of the 30,000 or so chemicals used commercially in the United States and Canada, about 400 resist breaking down in the environment and can accumulate in fish and wildlife. These researchers estimate that of this 400, only 4 percent are routinely analyzed and about 75 percent have not been studied.... found that some combinations were much more toxic to the juvenile salmon than any one of the chemicals acting alone...
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Wed, Mar 5, 2008: from Associated Press:
Industry trying to block smog cleanup
"WASHINGTON -- Big industries are waging an intense lobbying effort to block new, tougher limits on air pollution that is blamed for hundreds of heart attacks, deaths and cases of asthma, bronchitis and other breathing problems. The Environmental Protection Agency is to decide within weeks whether to reduce the allowable amount of ozone -- commonly referred to as smog -- in the air. A tougher standard would require hundreds of counties across the country to find new ways to reduce smog-causing emissions of nitrogen oxides and chemical compounds from tailpipes and smokestacks. Groups representing manufacturers, automakers, electric utilities, grocers and cement makers met with White House officials recently in a last-ditch effort to keep the health standard unchanged. They argued that tightening it would be costly and harm the economy in areas that will have to find additional air pollution controls."
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Wed, Mar 5, 2008: from ABC (Australia):
GM Canola the new cane toad
"It's like a wild mustard, it's a weed, it just grows spontaneously everywhere," she said. "In Japan there's also evidence in this report of it just growing wild on the dockside and on the road. "They don't even grow any GM crops in Japan and GM canola is a problem [there] as a noxious weed."
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Tue, Mar 4, 2008: from Chesapeake Bay Journal:
Study links agriculture to increase of intersex fish in Potomac basin
"Scientists have been perplexed for years as to why large numbers of male smallmouth bass in the Potomac River basin contain immature egg cells, but they offer some clues in a recent journal article. Results published in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health suggest that the high rate of "intersex" characteristics in smallmouth bass from the Shenandoah River and the South Branch of the Potomac appears to be linked to areas with large human populations or intense agricultural operations.
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Tue, Mar 4, 2008: from Arkansas Democrat Gazette:
Judge suggests he'll treat litter as 'solid waste'
"TULSA -- Poultry litter should be viewed as solid waste as defined by federal law, U. S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell said Monday afternoon. Frizzell said he's been considering how poultry litter fits into the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, legislated in 1976. Oklahoma seeks a preliminary injunction banning farmers from spreading poultry litter on farm fields in the Illinois River watershed. The state must prove that spreading litter is a threat to human health and that litter is "solid waste" under federal law. "Under RCRA [the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ], this is likely solid waste," Frizzell said.
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Mon, Mar 3, 2008: from Tropical Conservation Science, via Mongabay.com:
China's tropical rainforests decline 67 percent in 30 years
Tropical rainforest cover in southern Yunnan decreased 67 percent in the past 30 years, mostly due to the establishment of rubber plantations, according to a new assessment of tropical forests in southwestern China.
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Sun, Mar 2, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Scientists warn of new plague of jellyfish in Spain
"The problem seen on the beaches is not the main concern for scientists," said Professor Gili, "For us the major worry is the global disequilibrium in the sea caused by over-fishing." As a result of over-fishing, the jellyfish do not have to face their usual predators and competitors, which usually regulate population growth. Numbers of large fish such as swordfish and red tuna, which eat jellyfish, have been drastically reduced by bad fishing practices, as have the smaller fish, such as sardines and whitebait, which compete for food with the stingers.... "Spectacular growth has been found in jellyfish populations in Japan, Namibia, Alaska, Venezuela, Peru, Australia ... this is an international ecological problem," Gili said.
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Thu, Feb 28, 2008: from United Press International:
Polluted prey affects wild birds
"Welsh scientists have found brain and behavioral changes in wild birds after the birds forage on invertebrates contaminated with environmental pollutants. Katherine Buchanan and colleagues at Cardiff University studied male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) foraging at a sewage treatment works and analyzed the earthworms that constitute their prey. The researchers found birds exposed to environmentally relevant levels of synthetic and natural estrogen developed longer and more complex songs compared with males in a control group...The researchers also found female starlings prefer the song of males exposed to the mixture of endocrine disrupting chemicals, suggesting the potential for population level effects on reproductive success."
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Tue, Feb 26, 2008: from The Gazette:
Colorado's getting dustier
"The amount of dust blowing into Colorado from the west has increased 500 percent since humans settled the region, a dust bowl effect that could impact snowpack and human health, a study has found. A team of researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder analyzed soil samples at two remote lakes high in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, and found dust levels five to seven times higher than at any time in the past 5,000 years.
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Tue, Feb 26, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Male Fertility May Be Harmed By Mix of Endocrine Disrupters
"...pregnant rats were exposed to a cocktail consisting of three chemicals that all inhibit the effect of the male sex hormone testosterone: The drug flutamide and the pesticides vinclozolin and procymidone. The three chemicals were administered in doses which are harmless individually. Concurrent exposure to the three substances did, however, show significant cocktail effects. The male rats did, among other things, develop female characteristics in the form of retained nipples and severely malformed external sexual organs. Sixty per cent of the male rats were, for example, born with hypospadias [an open urethra]."
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Sun, Feb 24, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Exxon Oil Spill Case May Get Closure
"When a federal jury in Alaska in 1994 ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion to thousands of people who had their lives disrupted by the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, an appeal of the nation's largest punitive damages award was inevitable. But almost no one could have predicted the incredible round of legal ping-pong that only this month lands at the Supreme Court."
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Sun, Feb 24, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
First Documented Case Of Pest Resistance To Biotech Cotton
"Bt-resistant populations of bollworm, Helicoverpa zea, were found in more than a dozen crop fields in Mississippi and Arkansas between 2003 and 2006.... "What we're seeing is evolution in action," said lead researcher Bruce Tabashnik. "This is the first documented case of field-evolved resistance to a Bt crop.""
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Sat, Feb 23, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Chemicals In Our Waters Are Affecting Humans And Aquatic Life In Unanticipated Ways
"Substances that we use everyday are turning up in our lakes, rivers and ocean, where they can impact aquatic life and possibly ourselves. Now these contaminants are affecting aquatic environments and may be coming back to haunt us in unanticipated ways.... The researchers looked at mixtures of five common insecticides and found that some combinations were much more toxic to the juvenile salmon than any one of the chemicals acting alone."
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Sat, Feb 23, 2008: from National Geographic:
Rat Invasions Causing Seabird Decline Worldwide
"The global analysis found that non-native rats have been observed preying on roughly a quarter of all seabird species, often with disastrous consequences.... Now 102 of 328 recognized seabird species are considered threatened or endangered by the World Conservation Union, with predation by invasive species ranking among the top dangers."
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Fri, Feb 22, 2008: from American Chemical Society:
Translation: Earthworms and transmission of toxins
"Earthworms are an important link in transporting environmental contaminants from soil to other organisms in terrestrial food webs. Large molecules (>0.95 nm), such as PBDEs, are thought to not readily cross membranes, and thus do not accumulate in organisms. However, earthworms have been shown to accumulate contaminants of considerable size (8), including significant bioaccumulation from sludge-amended soils with mean biota-soil accumulation factors (BSAFs) of 4-8 for BDE-47, -99, and -100 (7). Similarly, studies of the aquatic worm, Lumbriculus variegatus, in PBDE-spiked sediments gave BSAFs of 3 for BDE-47 and -99 (9)."
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Thu, Feb 21, 2008: from Environmental Science and Technology:
Worms bear sludge load
"Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) end up in the tons of solid sludge left behind by wastewater treatment processes. Those so-called biosolids are often repackaged and sold as fertilizers for both industrial and small-scale agriculture. In a new survey, published in ES&T (DOI: 10.1021/es702304c), researchers show for the first time that those compounds can turn up in earthworms ... Bioaccumulation of PPCPs by worms is not entirely a surprise, according to Stockholm University's Cynthia De Wit, who points to her own work looking at PBDEs and other persistent compounds in earthworms. However, the new research underscores that worms could serve as monitoring organisms, she says. Because the worms seem to concentrate compounds that may be present at undetectable levels in the soils, they can be "a sort of sentinel, or magnifying glass of what's in the soil," she adds."
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Wed, Feb 20, 2008: from National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (UCSB):
A Global Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems
The goal of the research presented here is to estimate and visualize, for the first time, the global impact humans are having on the ocean's ecosystems. Our analysis, published in Science, February 15, 2008, shows that over 40 percent of the world's oceans are heavily affected by human activities and few if any areas remain untouched.
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Wed, Feb 20, 2008: from Terra Daily:
Fish Devastated By Sex-Changing Chemicals In Municipal Wastewater
"While most people understand the dangers of flushing toxic chemicals into the ecosystem through municipal sewer systems, one potentially devastating threat to wild fish populations comes from an unlikely source: estrogen. After an exhaustive seven-year research effort, Canadian biologists found that miniscule amounts of estrogen present in municipal wastewater discharges can decimate wild fish populations living downstream ... Male fish exposed to estrogen become feminized, producing egg protein normally synthesized by females."
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Wed, Feb 20, 2008: from The Asahi Shimbun:
Pesticide dichlorvos detected in sliced frozen mackerel imported from China
"TAKAMATSU--The pesticide dichlorvos, which had contaminated gyoza dumplings imported from China, was detected in sliced frozen mackerel processed in an area of China that handles a large volume of farm produce. The fish was sold in Japan by Kouzai Bussan Co., based in Sanuki city, east of here, company officials said Monday. They said 0.14 parts per million (ppm) of the organophosphorus pesticide was found in the product called Aburi Toro Shimesaba Suraisu, a package of 20 slices weighing about 200 grams."
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Tue, Feb 19, 2008: from The Guardian:
Consequences of GM crop contamination
"The consequences of contamination between GM crops and non-GM varieties will be much more serious with the next generation of GM crops, an influential group of US scientists has warned. Mixing between GM and non-GM varieties has already caused serious economic losses for producers in lost sales and exports. But the consequences of mixing will be much more serious with new crops that are altered to produce pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals, the scientists argue. The crops could harm human health and be toxic to wild animals."
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Tue, Feb 19, 2008: from The Star Press:
Activists fear new list could harm river cleanup efforts
"INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A shift in how Indiana compiles a federally mandated list of its polluted waterways has removed about 800 stretches of rivers and streams from that list, leaving environmentalists worried that it could hamper watershed restoration efforts. State officials contend the new methodology has produced a more accurate picture of Indiana’s “impaired” waterways, and will allow them to focus on cleaning up those most tainted with mercury, PCBs and other contaminants. But environmentalists say Indiana’s new approach is problematic because it’s “de-listed” parts of rivers and streams simply because it doesn’t have data on whether they are polluted."
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Tue, Feb 19, 2008: from Los Angeles Times:
Huge beef recall issued
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the largest beef recall in its history Sunday, calling for the destruction of 143 million pounds of raw and frozen beef produced by a Chino slaughterhouse that has been accused of inhumane practices. However, the USDA said the vast majority of the meat involved in the recall -- including 37 million pounds that went mostly to schools -- probably has been eaten already. Officials emphasized that danger to consumers was minimal."
A blog post is available on this story
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Sun, Feb 17, 2008: from SeaReport, via Youtube:
Plastic in the Ocean video, from 2001

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Sun, Feb 17, 2008: from Friends of the Earth, via Business Week:
Report Raises Alarm Over Superweeds
"As more acres of "Roundup Ready" crops are planted, the use of the pesticide has increased. The increased application has led some weeds to develop a resistance to glyphosate, the generic term for the chemical in Roundup. And, in turn, farmers have had to apply stronger doses of pesticide to kill the superweeds.... According to the report, the amount of weed-killing herbicides used by farmers has exploded, rising fifteenfold since biotech crops were first planted. The report lists eight weeds in the U.S. -- among them horseweed, common waterhemp, and hairy fleabane -- that have developed resistance to glyphosate, the most commonly applied pesticide."
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Thu, Feb 14, 2008: from Environmental Science and Technology:
Perchlorate in food
"Food is the primary source of perchlorate for most Americans, and U.S. toddlers on average are being exposed to more than half of the U.S. EPA's safe dose from food alone, according to a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) diet survey designed to provide perchlorate and iodine intake averages from food for the entire U.S. Even though the new study is silent on intake by highly exposed populations, several lawmakers and environmental advocates renew their calls for a national perchlorate drinking-water standard, EPA is not divulging its plans. The agency, which has been waiting for the results from the FDA study to help it decide whether to set a national drinking-water standard for perchlorate, intends to issue a preliminary determination on whether to regulate the substance soon, according to Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Water."
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Thu, Feb 14, 2008: from Associated Press:
Study says people impact all oceans
"Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop pristine, might be the lament of today's Ancient Mariner. Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the planet, and every single spot has been affected by people in some way. Researchers studying 17 different activities ranging from fishing to pollution compiled a new map showing how and where people have impacted the seas. Our results show that when these and other individual impacts are summed up, the big picture looks much worse than I imagine most people expected. It was certainly a surprise to me," said lead author Ben Halpern, an assistant research scientist at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara."
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Tue, Feb 12, 2008: from Globe and Mail:
Salmon farms killing wild stocks: study
"VANCOUVER -- Salmon farms are having a negative impact on wild stocks globally, in many cases causing survival rates to drop by more than 50 per cent per generation, according to a new study being released today... It compared the marine survival of wild salmon in areas with salmon farming to adjacent areas that didn't have farms - and it found wild stocks are suffering wherever they are in contact with salmon farms....Studies have clearly shown that escaped farm salmon breed with wild populations to the detriment of the wild stocks, and that diseases and parasites are passed from farm to wild salmon."
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Tue, Feb 12, 2008: from The Independent:
Insect explosion
"Food crops could be ravaged this century by an explosion in the numbers of insect pests caused by rising global temperatures, according to scientists who have carried out an exhaustive survey of plant damage when the earth last experienced major climate change. Researchers found that the numbers of leaf-eating insects are likely to surge as a result of rising levels of CO2, at a time when crop production will have to be boosted to feed an extra three billion people living at the end of 21st century."
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Mon, Feb 11, 2008: from Cambridge News:
Killer ladybirds are invading the area
"It may look like the delicate insect that has graced the nation's gardens for centuries. But the Asian harlequin ladybird is nothing like our gentle native species. It is a brutal killer which is set to wipe out Britain's 46 native species of ladybird due to its voracious appetite. Dr Mike Majerus, an academic at Cambridge University ... said: "The harlequin is very large, aggressive and out-competes our native species for food. And when it can't find aphids to eat, it will devour other ladybirds, as well as lacewing, butterflies and hoverflies."
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Mon, Feb 11, 2008: from Behavioral Neuroscience:
Saccharin may lead to weight gain
"Casting doubt on the benefit of low-calorie sweeteners, research released Sunday reported that rats on diets containing saccharin gained more weight than rats given sugary food. The study in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience found that the calorie-free artificial sweetener appeared to break the physiological connection between sweet tastes and calories, driving the rats to overeat. Lyn M. Steffen, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, who was not involved in the latest report, said the study offered a possible explanation for the unexpected association between obesity and diet soda found in recent human studies."
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Sun, Feb 10, 2008: from Times Colonist:
Killer whales loaded with fire retardant
"They wow tourists and remind people of the mysteries and majesty of the ocean, but killer whales swimming around the waters of Vancouver Island are the most contaminated animals on Earth...Blubber studies on the two salmon-eating populations of resident killer whales -- the endangered southern residents with 88 members and the threatened northern residents with 230 members -- have found a significant buildup of toxins in their systems....A growing concern is the rapid buildup of PBDEs, the chemicals found in fire retardants..."
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Sat, Feb 9, 2008: from The Telegraph (UK):
Killer jellyfish population explosion warning
"It could easily have been the role model for the terrifying creature in the film 'Alien'. A perfect toxin-loaded killing machine, there is no creature on earth that can dispatch a human being so easily or so quickly. The box jellyfish is so packed with venom that the briefest of touches can bring agonising death within 180 seconds. And if comes under sustained attack it responds by sending its compatriots into a super-breeding frenzy in which millions of replacements are created. The really bad news is that the box jellyfish and another equally poisonous species, Irukandji, are on the move. Scientists are warning that their populations are exploding and will pose a monumental problem unless they are stopped."
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Thu, Feb 7, 2008: from Thaindian News:
Environmental toxins may be linked to early onset of puberty in girls
"A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Pisa in Italy has suggested a link between environmental toxins and early onset of puberty in girls. The paper suggests that certain environmental toxins, such as the mycoestrogen zearalenone (ZEA) produced by the Fusarium fungus species, might disrupt the normal growth and hormonal development of girls."
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Wed, Feb 6, 2008: from The Washington Post:
Dust Storms Overseas Carry Contaminants to U.S.
"...with NASA satellites and sampling by researchers around the world, scientists know that great billowing clouds of dust waft over the oceans in the upper atmosphere, arriving in North America from deserts in Africa and Asia. Scientists are beginning to look at these dust clouds as possible suspects in transcontinental movement of diseases such as influenza and SARS in humans, or foot-and-mouth disease in livestock. Until recently, epidemiologists had looked at people, animals and products as carriers of the diseases."
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Tue, Jan 29, 2008: from National Geographic News:
Flame Retardants Found in Rare Tasmanian Devils
"Flame retardants that are suspected carcinogens have been found in some of Australia's Tasmanian devils, researchers announced last week. The find triggered local media reports suggesting that the chemicals might be linked to the mysterious cancer that has been killing the rare marsupials for more than a decade. A study conducted by the Australian government's National Measurement Institute ... found "high" levels of hexabromobiphenyl ether and "reasonably high" levels of decabromobiphenyl ether�chemicals used to treat electronics, textiles, and furniture."
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Tue, Jan 29, 2008: from The Guardian:
Bush opens 3m acres of Alaskan forest to logging
"The US government has announced plans to open more than 3m acres (about 5,000 square miles) of Alaskan wilderness to logging, mining and road building, angering environmental campaigners who say it will devastate the region. Supporters say the plan for the Tongass National Forest, a refuge for grizzly and black bears, wolves, eagles and wild salmon, will revive the state's timber industry. The Bush administration plan for the forest, the largest in the US at nearly 17m acres, would open 3.4m acres to logging, road building and other development, including about 2.4m acres that are currently remote and without roads. About 663,000 acres are in areas considered most valuable for timber production."
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Tue, Jan 29, 2008: from University of Leicester:
Man-made Changes Bring About New Epoch In Earth
"Geologists from the University of Leicester propose that humankind has so altered the Earth that it has brought about an end to one epoch of Earth's history and marked the start of a new epoch ... they suggest humans have so changed the Earth that on the planet the Holocene epoch has ended and we have entered a new epoch - the Anthropocene."
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Thu, Jan 17, 2008: from Associated Press:
Zebra mussel discovered in California
"HOLLISTER, Calif. - State wildlife officials say a destructive species known as the zebra mussel has been discovered in California for the first time. Department of Fish and Game spokeswoman Alexia Retallack says a fisherman found the mollusks while fishing in the San Justo Reservoir in San Benito County. State officials plan to conduct further surveys to determine the extent of the infestation and develop a plan to stop its spread."
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Wed, Jan 16, 2008: from Emerging Infectious Diseases:
High Degree Of Antibiotic Resistance Found In Wild Arctic Birds
"Swedish researchers report that birds captured in the hyperboreal tundra, in connection with the tundra expedition "Beringia 2005," were carriers of antibiotics-resistant bacteria. These findings indicate that resistance to antibiotics has spread into nature, which is an alarming prospect for future health care. "We were extremely surprised," says Bjorn Olsen, professor of infectious diseases at Uppsala University and at the Laboratory for Zoonosis Research at the University of Kalmar. "We took samples from birds living far out on the tundra and had no contact with people. This further confirms that resistance to antibiotics has become a global phenomenon and that virtually no region of the earth, with the possible exception of the Antarctic, is unaffected."
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Tue, Jan 15, 2008: from Associated Press:
Beetles may wipe out Colo. lodgepoles
"DENVER - Strands of distressed, red pine trees across northern Colorado and the Front Range are a visible testament to the bark beetle infestation that officials said will kill most of the state's lodgepole pine trees within 5 years. The infestation that was first detected in 1996 grew by half-million acres last year, bringing the total number of acres attacked by bark beetles to 1.5 million, state and federal forestry officials said Monday. "This is an unprecedented event," said Rick Cables, Rocky Mountain regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service."
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Mon, Jan 14, 2008: from UPI:
Hordes of rats ravaging Indian state
"CALCUTTA, India, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The Indian state of Mizoram saw its crops ravaged by hordes of hungry rats last year, leading to the loss of nearly 40,000 tons of rice. Mizoram agriculture official James Lalsiamliana said the state's flowering bamboo crops drew in large numbers of the rodents, which went on to eat up much of the crop supply in 2007, the BBC reported Saturday. Lalsiamliana said that among the other crops decimated by the rodent invasion were the state's watermelon, chilli, banana, pumpkin and papaya supplies."
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Mon, Jan 14, 2008: from UPI:
Invasive beetle attacks redbay trees
"Tallahassee, Fla. A beetle imported from Asia is spreading around the southeast United States, leaving dead and dying redbay trees in its wake. The redbay ambrosia beetle is believed to have entered the country through Savannah, Ga., in 2002, probably in a wood pallet or packing case. It has spread into the Carolinas and south to Florida, where it was spotted for the first time last summer in Brevard County in central Florida, Florida Today reports. The beetle produces a fungus that spreads throughout a tree, eventually killing it. The fungus nourishes more generations of beetles."
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Tue, Jan 8, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Naples rubbish threatens environment disaster
"Five thousands tonnes of stinking rubbish have piled up as a result of closed incineration plants and misused public funds. Incompetent management, crooked politicians and above all, the Neapolitan mafia, have been blamed for the crisis. But the result is not in doubt. The southern region's 6m people are now threatened by rising levels of the poisons, which experts warn could remain in the food chain for decades."
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Sun, Dec 23, 2007: from British Medical Journal:
Humor Develops From Aggression Caused By Male Hormones, Professor Says
"Humour appears to develop from aggression caused by male hormones, according to a study published in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal....Particularly interesting for the evolution of humour is, [Professor Shuster] says, the observations that initial aggressive intent seems to become channeled into a verbal response which pushes it into a contrived, but more subtle and sophisticated joke, so the aggression is hidden by wit. The two then eventually split as the wit takes on an independent life of its own."
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Mon, Dec 10, 2007: from The Daily Star (Bangladesh):
Natural calamities and Bangladesh growth potential
Apart from natural calamities we are facing two other disasters in Bangladesh: (a) our agricultural land is reducing, almost 1 percent per annum. As a result, we would not be able to increase the production of food grains beyond the limits supported currently available by high yield varieties, (b) the high growth of population is hindering all our development plans. If we could control the population growth from the time of our independence, there would not be any people below poverty level at this point in time.
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Sat, Dec 8, 2007: from Health Day News:
Environmental Toxin Collects in Breast Milk
"Scientists have discovered the mechanism by which a chemical known as perchlorate can collect in breast milk and cause cognitive and motor deficits in newborns."
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