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Related Scary Tags:
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Mon, Jan 11, 2016
from Detroit Free Press:
State Police to deliver water door-to-door in Flint
Michigan State Police troopers and other state officials will start a door-to-door sweep of Flint on Tuesday to hand out bottled water and water filters... Flint's drinking water was contaminated with lead, and an unknown number of children were poisoned while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager in 2014 and 2015. The emergency manager, to cut costs, switched Flint's water supply source from Lake Huron, supplied by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, to the more polluted and corrosive Flint River. ...


Let them drink Flint.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 7, 2016
from The Guardian:
December 2015 was the wettest month ever recorded in UK
December was the wettest month ever recorded in the UK, with almost double the rain falling than average, according to data released by the Met Office on Tuesday. Last month saw widespread flooding which continued into the new year, with 21 flood alerts in England and Wales and four in Scotland in force on Tuesday morning. The record for the warmest December in the UK was also smashed last month, with an average temperature of 7.9C, 4.1C higher than the long-term average. ...


If this were a sport, Mother Nature would be killing it!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 7, 2015
from Washington Post:
Superbug known as 'phantom menace' on the rise in U.S.
...This superbug's strains belong to the family of bacteria known as CRE, which are difficult to treat because they are often resistant to most antibiotics. They are often deadly, too, in some instances killing up to 50 percent of patients who become infected, according to the CDC. Health officials have called CRE among the country's most urgent public health threats.... This type of CRE has had a lower profile because it's actually less antibiotic-resistant than other more common types of CRE. As a result, it hasn't been a frequent focus of testing and has largely escaped detection by health officials, prompting some researchers to dub it "the phantom menace." ...


As long as Natalie Portman is somehow involved, we'll be fine.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 29, 2015
from Rolling Stone:
What's Killing the Babies of Vernal, Utah?
...an alarming number of babies were dying in Vernal -- at least 10 in 2013 alone, what seemed to her a shockingly high infant mortality rate for such a small town... in Vernal, a town literally built by oil, raising questions about the safety of fracking will brand you a traitor and a target... Suspect One: the extraordinary levels of wintertime pollution plaguing the Basin since the vast new undertaking to frack the region's shale filled the air with toxins. ...


Stillborn: my new band name.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 29, 2015
from Reuters:
Pakistan morgues run out of space as heat wave kills more than 1,000
The worst heat wave to hit Pakistan's southern city of Karachi for nearly 35 years has killed more than 1,000 people, a charity said on Thursday, as morgues ran out of space and residents rushed to supply over-stretched public hospitals. ...


There are always rivers.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 29, 2015
from London Independent:
Society will collapse by 2040 due to catastrophic food shortages, says study
A scientific model has suggested that society will collapse in less than three decades due to catastrophic food shortages if policies do not change... "In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption." ...


But will I still be able to have it my way?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 4, 2015
from LA Times:
Ruptured pipeline was corroded, federal regulators say
Corrosion had eaten away nearly half of the metal wall of a pipeline that ruptured and spilled up to 101,000 gallons of crude oil along the Santa Barbara coast last month, federal regulators said Wednesday... The 10.6-mile pipeline had "extensive" external corrosion, and the thickness of the pipe's wall where it broke had degraded to an estimated one-sixteenth of an inch, the pipeline agency said. ...


There seems to be a problem with our infruckedstructure.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 4, 2015
from Beaver County Times:
Pitt study shows link between fracking, lower birth weights
University of Pittsburgh researchers say a groundbreaking study focusing on southwest Pennsylvania released Wednesday shows that pregnant women living near natural gas fracking wells are more likely to have babies with lower birth weights... The team determined that the mothers closest to wells with hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, were 34 percent more likely to have babies who were "small for gestational age" compared to mothers who lived farthest away from wells. ...


An easier fit on a crowded planet.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 20, 2015
from InsideClimate News:
In Heavily Fracked Ohio County, Unsafe Levels of Toxic Pollutants
Emissions generated by fracking operations may be exposing people to some toxic pollutants at levels higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for long-term exposure, according to scientists from Oregon State University and the University of Cincinnati... The team found chemicals released during oil and gas extraction that can raise people's risk of cancer and respiratory ailments. ...


Industry, why have you fracksaken me?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 3, 2015
from Mashable:
Seeds of war
Manmade global warming helped spark the brutal civil war in Syria by doubling to tripling the odds that a crippling drought in the Fertile Crescent would occur shortly before the fighting broke out, according to a groundbreaking new study published on March 2. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to attribute the drought in Syria in large part to global warming. In doing so, it provides powerful evidence backing up the Pentagon and intelligence community's assessments that climate change is likely to play the role of a "threat multiplier" in coming decades, pushing countries that are already vulnerable to upheaval over the edge and into open conflict. ...


Peace out

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 20, 2015
from Washington Post:
Think of Earth, not just your stomach, panel advises
The nation's top nutritional panel is recommending for the first time that Americans consider the impact on the environment when they are choosing what to eat, a move that defied a warning from Congress and, if enacted, could discourage people from eating red meat... the panel's findings, issued Thursday in the form of a 571-page report, recommended that Americans be kinder to the environment by eating more foods derived from plants and fewer foods that come from animals. Red meat is deemed particularly harmful because of, among other things, the amount of land and feed required in its production. ...


But I thought I was supposed to have it my way?

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 20, 2015
from LiveScience:
Utah Suicides Linked to Air Pollution
Suicide may be linked to air pollution, according to new research that finds spikes in completed suicides in the days following peak pollution levels. The research took place in Utah, part of the United States' western "suicide belt." Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States; in Utah, it is the eighth. Though the notion that suicide and air quality could be linked may not seem intuitive, similar studies in South Korea, Taiwan and Canada have also linked the two.... They found that suicide risk went up two to three days after levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide rose. ...


On a clear day, you can see forever.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 19, 2015
from Ensia:
What are we doing to our children's brains?
The numbers are startling. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.8 million more children in the U.S. were diagnosed with developmental disabilities between 2006 and 2008 than a decade earlier. During this time, the prevalence of autism climbed nearly 300 percent, while that of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder increased 33 percent. CDC figures also show that 10 to 15 percent of all babies born in the U.S. have some type of neurobehavorial development disorder. Still more are affected by neurological disorders that don't rise to the level of clinical diagnosis.... a significant and growing body of research suggests that exposure to environmental pollutants is implicated in the disturbing rise in children's neurological disorders. ...


The little ones need to toughen up.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 19, 2015
from LiveScience:
Chemical in Plastics May Alter Boys' Genitals Before Birth
Baby boys who are exposed in the womb to a chemical used in soft plastics may show small signs of altered genital development, according to new research published today. The study, which included more than 700 infants in four U.S. cities, is the largest of its kind to date. It confirms earlier findings in humans and animals that exposure to certain types of chemicals called phthalates may lead to changes in the way the male reproductive tract develops, said Dr. Russ Hauser, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, who was not involved in the new study. Phthalates are a large group of industrial chemicals used in a variety of consumer products, such as food packaging, flooring, perfumes and lotions. ...


I wasn't sure I would have the balls to face reading this story.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 10, 2014
from Associated Press:
As US cleans up, it's exporting more pollution
Heat-trapping pollution released into the atmosphere from rising exports of U.S. gasoline and diesel dwarfs the cuts made from fuel efficiency standards and other efforts to reduce global warming in the United States, according to a new Associated Press investigation. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. has reduced more carbon pollution from energy than any other nation, about 475 million tons between 2008 and 2013, according to U.S. Energy Department data. Less than one-fifth of that amount came from burning less gasoline and diesel fuel. Yet the U.S. is sending more fuel than ever to other parts of the world, where efforts to address resulting pollution are just getting underway, if advancing at all. U.S. exports of gasoline and diesel released roughly 1 billion tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere elsewhere during the same period, according to AP's analysis. This fossil fuel trade has helped President Barack Obama meet political goals to curb carbon dioxide at home, by taking it off America's pollution balance sheet. But that does not necessarily help the planet. ...


This is one of those good news/apocalyptic news type scenarios.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 10, 2014
from London Independent:
Organic farming can feed the world if done right, scientists claim
Organic farming is much more productive than previously thought, according to a new analysis of agricultural studies that challenges the conventional "biased" view that pesticide-free agriculture cannot feed the world. The study says that organic yields were only 19.2 per cent lower, on average, than those from conventional crops and that this gap could be reduced to just eight per cent if the pesticide-free crops were rotated more frequently. Furthermore, in some crops - especially leguminous plants such as beans, peas and lentils - there were no significant differences in yields, the researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found. ...


I don't need any Berkeley eggheads stating the obvious.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 10, 2014
from Reuters:
Big U.S. school districts plan switch to antibiotic-free chicken
Six of the largest U.S. school districts are switching to antibiotic-free chicken, officials said on Tuesday, pressuring the world's top meat companies to adjust production practices in the latest push against drugs used on farms. The move by districts in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County and Orlando County is intended to protect children's health amid concerns about the rise of so-called "superbugs," bacteria that gain resistance to conventional medicines, school officials said. However, the change may raise costs for schools because bird mortality rates are typically higher in flocks raised without antibiotics. The six districts, which served at least 2.6 million meals last year, hope to limit costs by combining their purchasing power, officials said. ...


This is your brain ... and this is your brain on superbugs.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 1, 2014
from Mother Jones:
That Takeout Coffee Cup May Be Messing With Your Hormones
Most people know that some plastics additives, such as bisphenol A (BPA), may be harmful to their health. But an upcoming study in the journal Environmental Health finds that entire classes of plastics--including the type commonly referred to as styrofoam and a type used in many baby products--may wreak havoc on your hormones regardless of what additives are in them... The new study suggests that sometimes the resins themselves are part of the problem, though additives such as dyes and antioxidants can make it worse. In the case of polystyrene, the resin used in styrofoam and similar products, the authors tested 11 samples and consistently found estrogen seepage after exposure to intense steam or ultraviolet rays. ...


And the androgynous will inherit the earth.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 26, 2014
from Bloomberg:
EPA Power Plant Mercury Rule Gets U.S. Supreme Court Review
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the Obama administration went too far with new power-plant pollution caps the government estimates will cost almost $10 billion a year. The justices today said they will hear industry and state contentions that the Environmental Protection Agency didn't adequately consider those costs when it limited mercury and other hazardous pollutants. ...


Our grandchildren are going to hate us.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 26, 2014
from Reuters:
Chemicals in sunscreen, aftershave may affect male fertility
A new study suggests chemicals in sunscreen may impair men's ability to father children, government scientists say, but other experts question whether the chemicals wound up in men's urine from sunscreen or through another route. The FDA has not authorized the substances - benzophenone-2, known as BP-2, and 4-hydroxybenzophenone, known as 4-OH-BP - for use in sunscreens. And BP-2 does show up as an ingredient in aftershaves, colognes, antiperspirant and other personal-care products. ...


A natural method for birth control.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 19, 2014
from New York Times:
Obesity Is Tied to Pollutants
Exposure to secondhand smoke and roadway traffic may be tied to increased body mass index in children and adolescents, a new study suggests. Researchers studied 3,318 children in 12 Southern California communities beginning at an average age of 10, and then followed them through age 18. They used parental questionnaires to establish exposure to smoking, and data on traffic volume and levels of nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulates to track pollution. ...


We thought it was junkfood, but now we think it's junklife.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 21, 2014
from London Daily Mail:
Chemicals in plastic 'are making women less interested in sex': Low libido linked to additives used to soften materials found in every home
Chemicals found in PVC flooring, plastic shower curtains, processed food and other trappings of modern life may be sapping women's interest in sex. A study has linked low libido with the additives used to soften plastics which are found in every home. Women with the highest levels of phthalates in their bodies were more than twice as likely to say 'not tonight dear' as those with the lowest amounts. ...


Why don't the petrochemicals in my cologne make her want me?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 14, 2014
from Environmental Health News:
BPA in the air: Manufacturing plants in Ohio, Indiana, Texas are top emitters
As concerns mount over people's exposure to the plasticizer bisphenol A in everyday products, it's also contaminating the air near manufacturing plants: U.S. companies emitted about 26 tons of the hormone-disrupting compound in 2013. Although research is sparse, experts warn that airborne BPA could be a potentially dangerous route of exposure for some people. Of the 72 factories reporting BPA emissions, the largest sources are in Ohio, Indiana and Texas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory. ...


Plasticizer is my band name!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 14, 2014
from MPRnews:
As Minnesota's climate changes, bad air and new disease risks follow
In the last century, Minnesota has generally grown warmer and wetter, changes that have big implications for human health. Some Minnesota counties are much more vulnerable than others to health problems associated with climate change, concludes the first county-by-county Minnesota Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. The Minnesota Department of Health report, released Monday, looks at which counties are most vulnerable to extreme heat, flash flooding and bad air quality. ...


Buncha micro managers.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 13, 2014
from InsideClimate News:
Shift to Low-Carbon Economy Could Free Up $1.8 Trillion, Study Says
A pair of new studies are part of a growing international effort to assess the costs and benefits of moving on from burning fossil fuels to clean energy.... One report finds that ridding our electricity and transportation systems of carbon could free up trillions of dollars for investment in green energy. Decarbonizing the electricity system, it finds, would save $1.8 trillion over the coming two decades by avoiding the high operating costs of using fossil fuels--coal and natural gas--to generate power. The lower operating costs of wind and solar electricity would offset the higher financing costs of renewables, as well as the write-offs of existing assets like coal plants that would have to be shut down. ...


If only we weren't calcified in coal.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 13, 2014
from Infectious Diseases Society of America:
College athletes in contact sports more likely to carry MRSA, study finds
Even if they don't show signs of infection, college athletes who play football, soccer and other contact sports are more likely to carry the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This puts them at higher risk for infection and increases the likelihood of spreading the bug, which can cause serious and even fatal infections. ... Contact sport athletes were more than twice as likely as non-contact athletes to be colonized with MRSA, meaning they carried the bug on their bodies, usually in their noses and throats. ...


Wouldn't MRSA make a cool mascot?

ApocaDoc
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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Tue, Oct 7, 2014
from St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Study: EPA carbon rules would save thousands of lives in Illinois and Missouri
A new study concludes that Missouri and Illinois would reap some of the largest public health benefits in the country from rules requiring utilities to cut back on carbon pollution. Researchers at Harvard, Boston and Syracuse universities found the two states could save thousands of lives from 2020 to 2030 if utilities implement carbon control measures at coal plants. Limiting carbon dioxide pollution from coal plants also leads to reduced soot and other pollutants that cause heart and respiratory problems. Under a scenario similar to the EPA's recently proposed carbon pollution rules, the researchers estimated Missouri could prevent 1,200 deaths between 2020 and 2030. In Illinois, about 2,100 lives could be saved. ...


I don't care about lives, I only care about my life.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Aug 29, 2014
from London Guardian:
Lack of toilets blights the lives of 2.5bn people, UN chief warns
The world's lack of progress in building toilets and ending open defecation is having a "staggering" effect on the health, safety, education, prosperity and dignity of 2.5 billion people, the UN deputy secretary general, Jan Eliasson, has warned.... According to the UN, 2.5 billion people still lack "improved sanitation facilities" - defined as ones that "hygienically separate human excreta from human contact", down only 7 percent since 1990, when 2.7 billion lacked access, and more than a billion people - most of whom live in rural areas - have to defecate in gutters, behind bushes or into water. More people have access to mobile phones than toilets, it says. ...


Is there an app for "improved sanitation facilities"?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 25, 2014
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
Cutting emissions pays for itself, study concludes
Health care savings can greatly defray costs of carbon-reduction policies, experts report. But just how large are the health benefits of cleaner air in comparison to the costs of reducing carbon emissions? Researchers looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the U.S., and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big -- in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation. ...


But that means Big Oil and Big Health profits decrease!!!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 12, 2014
from Scientific American:
BPA-Free Plastic Containers May Be Just as Hazardous
... recent research reveals that a common BPA replacement, bisphenol S (BPS), may be just as harmful. BPA is the starting material for making polycarbonate plastics. Any leftover BPA that is not consumed in the reaction used to make a plastic container can leach into its contents. From there it can enter the body. BPS was a favored replacement because it was thought to be more resistant to leaching.... Nearly 81 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine. And once it enters the body it can affect cells in ways that parallel BPA. A 2013 study by Cheryl Watson at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that even picomolar concentrations (less than one part per trillion) of BPS can disrupt a cell's normal functioning, which could potentially lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity, asthma, birth defects or even cancer. ...


From now on, I will only drink from the palm of my hands.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 12, 2014
from Center for Effective Government:
GAO Report Finds Problems with EPA Groundwater Protection Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately monitoring more than 172,000 wells used to enhance oil and gas drilling and dispose of drilling wastewater, according to a July 28 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report, based on two years of research, identified several significant problems with EPA's program to protect groundwater from drilling chemicals and wastes. Since millions get their drinking water from groundwater, these problems raise significant questions about how effectively and consistently we are protecting public drinking water. ...


Who cares? It's underground.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Aug 8, 2014
from The Register-Guard:
Goals for carbon reduction become law in Eugene
The Eugene City Council voted Monday to put some teeth into previously approved goals to reduce the city's fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. The so-called "climate recovery ordinance," which passed on a 6-2 vote, seeks to cut communitywide fossil fuel use by 50 percent by 2030, compared with 2010 usage. It also calls for city government operations to be entirely "carbon neutral" by 2020, either by reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions or by funding local emission reduction projects.... Mayor Kitty Piercy responded that "science" was the motivation for the ordinance. "What's the cost of not doing something?" she asked. ...


The scientific revolution, now hundreds of years in the making, continues.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 5, 2014
from Cliff Mass Weather Blog:
Will the Pacific Northwest be a Climate Refuge Under Global Warming?
As global warming takes hold later in the century, where will be the best place in the lower 48 states to escape its worst effects? A compelling case can be made that the Pacific Northwest will be one of the best places to live as the earth warms. A potential climate refuge. ...


Don't tell anyone.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 4, 2014
from Stanford School of Engineering:
Wildfires and other burns play bigger role in climate change
Research demonstrates that it isn't just the carbon dioxide from biomass burning that's the problem. Black carbon and brown carbon maximize the thermal impacts of such fires. They essentially allow biomass burning to cause much more global warming per unit weight than other human-associated carbon sources.... Biomass burning also includes the combustion of agricultural and lumber waste for energy production. Such power generation often is promoted as a "sustainable" alternative to burning fossil fuels. And that's partly true as far as it goes. It is sustainable, in the sense that the fuel can be grown, processed and converted to energy on a cyclic basis. But the thermal and pollution effects of its combustion -- in any form -- can't be discounted... ...


Biomassholes.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 4, 2014
from Washington Post:
As more male bass switch sex, a strange fish story expands
...In the latest study, smallmouth bass and white sucker fish captured at 16 sites in the Delaware, Ohio and Susquehanna rivers in Pennsylvania had crossed over into a category called intersex, an organism with two genders.... The previous studies detected abnormal levels of compounds from chemicals such as herbicides and veterinary pharmaceuticals from farms, and from sewage system overflows near smallmouth-bass nesting areas in the Potomac. Those endocrine-disrupting chemicals throw off functions that regulate hormones and the reproductive system. In the newest findings, at one polluted site in the Susquehanna near Hershey, Pa., 100 percent of male smallmouth bass that were sampled had eggs, ...


About time I got some help!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 4, 2014
from Associated Press:
Toledo's water crisis was a decade in the making from farms and sewage plants, experts say
The toxins that contaminated the drinking water supply of 400,000 people in northwest Ohio didn't just suddenly appear. Water plant operators along western Lake Erie have long been worried about this very scenario as a growing number of algae blooms have turned the water into a pea soup color in recent summers, leaving behind toxins that can sicken people and kill pets. In fact, the problems on the shallowest of the five Great Lakes brought on by farm runoff and sludge from sewage treatment plants have been building for more than a decade. ...


Who listens to experts?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jul 30, 2014
from London Daily Mail:
Do foam cups contain cancer-causing chemicals? Leading panel says styrene may be a 'human carcinogen'
A chemical used in foam cups and disposable food containers may cause cancer, scientists have warned. Styrene can be 'reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen', the National Research Council in the U.S. said yesterday. The conclusion was reached by a team of 10 experts in toxicology, chemistry and medicine. ...


I am reasonably unsurprised.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 28, 2014
from DeSmog Blog:
U.S. Becomes Biggest Oil Producer After Overtaking Saudi Arabia
Is President Obama's "all of the above" energy policy a success? Or a climate failure? A report issued recently by Bank of America declared the U.S. has now surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer. The daily output average for the first quarter of 2104 exceeded 11 million barrels, a significant increase from the previous quarters' (Sept-Dec 2013) average of 7 million barrels, according to the International Energy Agency. The expansion of domestic oil production in the U.S. has been significant under President Obama, supported by his "all of the above"--or rather the American Petroleum Institute's "all of the above"--energy strategy which has overseen a four-fold increase in drilling rigs under his administration. ...


President Oilbama.

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Tue, Jul 8, 2014
from Bloomberg News:
U.S. Seen as Biggest Oil Producer After Overtaking Saudi Arabia
The U.S. will remain the world's biggest oil producer this year after overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia as extraction of energy from shale rock spurs the nation's economic recovery, Bank of America Corp. said. U.S. production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter, the bank said in a report today. The country became the world's largest natural gas producer in 2010. The International Energy Agency said in June that the U.S. was the biggest producer of oil and natural gas liquids... The U.S., the world's largest oil consumer, still imported an average of 7.5 million barrels a day of crude in April, according to the Department of Energy's statistical arm. ...


Insatiable.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jun 8, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Will New Climate Regulations Destroy the Economy? (Hint: No.)
There is a long history of claims that new rules to protect the environment or human health will seriously harm the United States economy. These claims are political fodder, they are provocative, and they are always wrong. In fact, the evidence shows the opposite: environmental regulations consistently produce enormous net benefits to the economy and to human health. In 2008, for example, the United States' environmental technologies and services industry supported 1.7 million jobs. The industry at that time generated approximately $300 billion in revenues and exported goods and services worth $44 billion... Some polluting industries might suffer, but it is past time to unleash American ingenuity in the name of reducing the devastating threat of climate change. ...


We can have our cake and eat it, too?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 2, 2014
from The Hill:
Survey: Majority favor renewable energy over coal, despite costs
... a new survey from an environmentally-friendly business group finds a majority of people would support efforts to overhaul the nation's electric power grid to make room for more renewable forms of energy. The Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) survey found that two-thirds of people said it is a good idea to "modernize" the nation's power system, while three in four respondents said they would like to use electricity more efficiently in order to reduce the need for old power plants. But 58 percent of people believe say they would like to move from old power sources like coal to new renewable forms of energy like wind, solar, and hydropower, even if it costs more to do so. ...


Imagine the numbers when people realize renewable energy is cheaper!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 2, 2014
from Washington Post:
EPA to propose cutting carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants 30 percent by 2030
The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a regulation Monday that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, according to individuals who have been briefed on the plan.... Ever since a climate bill stalled in the Senate four years ago, environmental and public health activists have been pressing Obama to use his executive authority to impose carbon limits on the power sector, which accounts for 38 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions.... The American Wind Energy Association, which also supports a federal carbon cap on existing plants, recently published a study that found that consumer rates declined over the past five years in the 11 states that use the most wind, while rates increased collectively in all the other states during that same time period. ...


Let the wild rumpus start!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, May 31, 2014
from Associated Press:
Cow blamed for causing spill in North Dakota oil patch
A cow is suspected of causing a spill of natural gas liquids near a tributary of the Little Missouri River, prompting North Dakota regulators to warn energy companies to ensure their facilities are bovine-proof. State Environmental Health Chief Dave Glatt said Thursday that a cow might have rubbed against a tank valve two days earlier, spilling about 20 barrels of natural gas condensate near Sully Creek, south of Medora in western North Dakota. ...


Right. Blame it on the cow.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 27, 2014
from Alaska Dispatch:
Arctic sea ice littered with tiny bits of 'microplastic' pollution
Dartmouth scientist Rachel Obbard was looking at samples of Arctic sea ice for small organisms when something else caught her eye: Tiny, bright-colored bits and pieces and miniature string-like objects that did not seem to belong. Those small specks turned out to be a type of pollution known as microplastics. Their presence in sea ice collected from the central Arctic Ocean showed that some of the vast quantities of garbage and pollution floating in the world's seas has traveled to the northernmost waters.... sea ice holding the small bits of trash is thinning and likely to shed them back into the water, where they can be ingested by fish, birds and mammals... ...


At least it sounds kinda pretty.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 22, 2014
from American Society for Microbiology:
Harmful bacteria can linger on airplane seat-back pockets, armrests for days
Disease-causing bacteria can linger on surfaces commonly found in airplane cabins for days, even up to a week, according to research. In order for disease-causing bacteria to be transmitted from a cabin surface to a person, it must survive the environmental conditions in the airplane. In this study, MRSA lasted longest (168 hours) on material from the seat-back pocket while E. coli O157:H7 survived longest (96 hours) on the material from the armrest. ...


Fly the plague-filled skies.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 22, 2014
from Associated Press:
Probe finds scant oversight of chemical plants
The government has no way of fully knowing which U.S. chemical facilities stock ammonium nitrate, the substance that exploded last year at a Texas fertilizer plant and killed 14 people, congressional investigators say. Outdated federal policies, poor information sharing with states and a raft of industry exemptions point to scant federal oversight, says a new report obtained by The Associated Press. The report found regulatory gaps in environmental and worker protections and urged broad changes to U.S. safety rules. ...


Welcome to the United States of Ammonium(nitrate)

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 22, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Minnesota Becomes First State To Ban Antibacterial Chemical Triclosan From Soaps
It's widely used nationwide as a germ-killing ingredient in soaps, deodorants and even toothpaste, but it's being banned in Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday signed a bill to make Minnesota the first state to prohibit the use of triclosan in most retail consumer hygiene products. The Minnesota House and Senate passed it earlier last week because of health and environmental concerns about the chemical. ...


I'm gonna wash that germ right out of my soap!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 22, 2014
from Huffington Post:
53 Million Gallons Of Nuclear Waste May Soon Be Stored Right Next To The Great Lakes
A proposed Canadian nuclear waste site near the shores of Lake Huron is facing mounting criticism from Michigan lawmakers who say it's dangerous and called on the federal government to intervene.... "Building a nuclear waste dump less than a mile from one of the largest freshwater sources in the world is a reckless act that should be universally opposed," Michigan Rep. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway Township) said in a statement Monday. ...


Our relationship with Canada is getting ... rather awkward.

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Mon, May 12, 2014
from Guardian:
Antibiotic resistance: 6 diseases that may come back to haunt us
Diseases we thought were long gone, nothing to worry about, or easy to treat could come back with a vengeance, according to the recent World Health Organisation report on global antibiotic resistance.... Tuberculosis... Gonorrhoea... Klebsiella... Typhus... Syphillis... Diphtheria. ...


Will it do any good to say that antibiotic resistance is a natural outcome of God's will?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 12, 2014
from Associated Press:
Fed govt failed to inspect higher risk oil wells
The government has failed to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells it considers potentially high risks for water contamination and other environmental damage, congressional investigators say. The report, obtained by The Associated Press before its public release, highlights substantial gaps in oversight by the agency that manages oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands. Investigators said weak control by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management resulted from policies based on outdated science and from incomplete monitoring data. ...


All's not well that ends not well.

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Mon, May 5, 2014
from National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research:
Climate change threatens to worsen U.S. ozone pollution
Ozone pollution across the continental United States will become far more difficult to keep in check as temperatures rise, according to new research. The detailed study shows that Americans face the risk of a 70 percent increase in unhealthy summertime ozone levels by 2050. This is because warmer temperatures and other changes in the atmosphere related to a changing climate, including higher atmospheric levels of methane, spur chemical reactions that lead to ozone. ...


Where's the hole when you need it?

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Wed, Apr 30, 2014
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Climate change and health: drinking water in decline
... Water tainted by agricultural runoff is an old concern in rural Canada, but one that is becoming increasingly worrisome as the climate changes. Extreme weather events, such as sudden deluges and floods, increase the flow of pollutants into surface waters. Extended dry periods cause industrial and organic pollutants to build up on the land - then an intense rainstorm can wash it all at once into watersheds. Those storms also cause floods and erosion, which can overwhelm water-filtration systems. At the same time, river flows are declining and water is residing longer in lakes, concentrating pollutants. The results, being seen across Canada, are increasingly tainted aquifers and nutrient-enriched lakes or drinking reservoirs where toxic algae growth is occurring - even in once pristine water bodies such as those that supply Metro Vancouver. ...


Let them drink Coke.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Apr 29, 2014
from Al Jazeera:
Environment Second radioactive oil waste site found in North Dakota
North Dakota this week confirmed the discovery of a new radioactive dump of waste from oil drilling. And separately, a company hired to clean up similar waste found in February at another location said it had removed more than double the amount of radioactive material originally estimated to be there. The twin disclosures highlight a growing problem from North Dakota's booming Bakken oil development, and for other oil and gas operations across the country: the illegal disposal of radioactive material from drilling sites. Rocks deep in the earth contain naturally radioactive material, and when those rocks are drilled for oil and gas the drilling equipment and water can become slightly irradiated. As more drilling occurs across the nation, experts warn of a brewing crisis of leftover radioactive materials. ...


Clearly, the rocks are at fault here.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Apr 17, 2014
from University of Minnesota:
People of color live in neighborhoods with more air pollution than whites, groundbreaking U.S. study shows
A first-of-its-kind study has found that on average in the U.S., people of color are exposed to 38 percent higher levels of nitrogen dioxide outdoor air pollution compared to white people. The health impacts from the difference in levels between whites and nonwhites found in the study are substantial. For example, researchers estimate that if nonwhites breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites, it would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease alone among nonwhites each year. ...


Land of the free, brave and victimized.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Apr 17, 2014
from Huffington Post:
One Year After Texas Disaster, Report Looks At Schools Located Near Chemical Facilities
A new study released Wednesday finds there are almost 10,000 schools across the country located within a mile of a chemical facility. The research was released ahead of the April 17 anniversary of an explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, which killed 15 people and injured hundreds of others. The explosion left many people wondering why schools and homes were located so close to the plant. The report finds that 4.6 million children attend a school located within a mile of a facility that stores potentially risky chemicals. ...


An opportunity for hands-on learning!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Apr 10, 2014
from Indiana Daily Student:
Ind. rivers, streams have worst pollution in nation
The amount of pollution in Indiana's rivers and streams is greater than any other state's in the country, according to a study recently released by Environment America Research and Policy Center. Five states -- Indiana, Virginia, Nebraska, Texas and Georgia -- accounted for 40 percent of the total amount of toxic discharge to U.S. waterways in 2010, according to the study, which reported that 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways across the country... "America's waterways are a polluter's paradise right now," Shelley Vinyard, clean water advocate with Environment America... ...


If only toxins killed Asian carp.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Apr 6, 2014
from Grist:
Pennsylvania officials have no idea how to assess health threats of fracking
An alarming new study by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, published in the journal Reviews on Environmental Health, finds that current methods and tools used to measure harmful emissions from fracking wells don't accurately assess health threats - not even close, in fact.... Another method is to track hourly emissions over a given day or week. These might not capture rapid and brief increases in chemical exposure, which can cause real harm to bodily systems. SPEHP reports that emissions near drilling sites can fluctuate wildly, and toxic chemical particles can reach high levels of concentration in the air in a very short period of time - as little as a minute or two - and then drop back down. This can occur repeatedly throughout drilling, but might not be captured by the tools or methods customarily used to measure emissions. SPEHP researchers collected data on levels of four toxic chemicals in 14 households near fracking sites in southwestern Pennsylvania, and found that contamination was concentrated at peak levels - three times the median level of concentration - about 30 percent of the time, but in spurts. These short blasts of contamination can go undetected by tools customarily used to measure emissions. ...


Are you implying we have to pay attention all the time?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Mar 31, 2014
from New York Times:
Panel's Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come
Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world's oceans, scientists reported on Monday, and they warned that the problem was likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control... "Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel, said at a news conference here on Monday presenting the report. The report was among the most sobering yet issued by the scientific panel. ...


I'll drink to that!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Mar 27, 2014
from NBC News:
One in 25 Infected in U.S. Hospitals, Report Finds
One in 25 U.S. hospital patients has caught an infection while in the hospital, according to new federal data released on Wednesday. That adds up to more than 700,000 people infected in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It's a national crisis and although the numbers suggest there are some improvements, it's not nearly enough, the CDC's Dr. Michael Bell said. "You go to the hospital hoping to get better," Bell told reporters. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. ...


I go to the hospital hoping to not go broke.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 26, 2014
from NOAA:
Evidence Finds BP Gulf Oil Disaster Causing Widespread Deformities in Fish
Crude oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster causes severe defects in the developing hearts of bluefin and yellowfin tunas, according to a new study by a team of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and academic scientists. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, show how the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history may have affected tunas and other species that spawned in oiled offshore habitats in the northern Gulf of Mexico. ...


It broke our hearts.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Mar 24, 2014
from Mother Jones:
Scientists Condemn New FDA Study Saying BPA Is Safe: "It Borders on Scientific Misconduct"
In February, a group of Food and Drug Administration scientists published a study finding that low-level exposure to the common plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA) is safe. The media, the chemical industry, and FDA officials touted this as evidence that long-standing concerns about the health effects of BPA were unfounded. ("BPA Is A-Okay, Says FDA," read one Forbes headline.) But, behind the scenes, a dozen leading academic scientists who had been working with the FDA on a related project were fuming over the study's release--partly because they believed the agency had ​bungled the experiment... In contrast to the FDA's recent paper, roughly 1,000 published studies have found that low-level exposure to BPA--a synthetic estrogen that is also used in cash register receipts and the lining of tin cans--can lead to serious health problems, from cancer and insulin-resistant diabetes to obesity and attention-deficit disorder. ...


Safe must be a relative term.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Mar 24, 2014
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Convulsing sea lions along coast may hold clues to epilepsy
Sick and confused sea lions convulsing with seizures are being found in increasing numbers along the California coast, suffering from what Stanford University scientists say is a form of epilepsy similar to the kind that attacks humans. The culprit is a neurotoxin found in algae blooms, also known as red tides... The toxic blooms since then have generally occurred in the spring and summer, but researchers say they are now being detected at all times. ...


Doom & bloom.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Mar 7, 2014
from Reuters:
Groups sue EPA to force it to move on pesticide disclosures
Three environmental and public health groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, seeking to press it to move forward with rules that would require public disclosure of certain pesticide ingredients... The groups claimed there has been an "unreasonable delay" on the EPA's part in finalizing rules to require chemical manufacturers to disclose hazardous inert ingredients in their pesticide products. The groups said there are more than 350 inert pesticide ingredients that can be just as hazardous as active ingredients that are labeled and can comprise up to 99 percent of a pesticide's formulation. Of the common inert ingredients, many are classified as carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic or potentially toxic, the lawsuit said. ...


Instead of calling them inert we should call them ert.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 4, 2014
from New York Times:
Ash Spill Shows How Watchdog Was Defanged
Last June, state employees in charge of stopping water pollution were given updated marching orders on behalf of North Carolina's new Republican governor and conservative lawmakers... From now on, regulators were told, they must focus on customer service, meaning issuing environmental permits for businesses as quickly as possible. Big changes are coming, the official said, according to three people in the meeting, two of whom took notes. "If you don't like change, you'll be gone." But when the nation's largest utility, Duke Energy, spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in early February, those big changes were suddenly playing out in a different light. ...


How's that customer service working out for ya?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 27, 2014
from London Guardian:
China's toxic air pollution resembles nuclear winter, say scientists
Chinese scientists have warned that the country's toxic air pollution is now so bad that it resembles a nuclear winter, slowing photosynthesis in plants - and potentially wreaking havoc on the country's food supply. ...


To everything there is a season.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 20, 2014
from E&E Publishing:
How the spreading symptoms of climate change can be deadly
The hallmarks of a warming climate, heavier rains, more severe droughts, rising sea levels and longer growing seasons, are spreading a variety of pathogens throughout the world. Malaria is moving to the highlands. Lyme disease is spreading across the U.S. Northeast and eastern Canada. Outbreaks of cholera will increase with more unsafe water. Those are three of the diseases that are becoming part of a growth field in medical research amid concerns that tropical diseases are moving north and south and that progress made to improve health conditions in previous decades might be undone. ...


We deserve whatever we've got coming to us.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 20, 2014
from Associated Press:
Toxins leaking from 2nd pipe at NC coal ash dump
North Carolina officials said Tuesday that groundwater containing unsafe levels of arsenic apparently leaching from a Duke Energy coal ash dump is still pouring into the Dan River, which is already contaminated from a massive Feb. 2 spill. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered Duke to stop the flow of contaminated water coming out a pipe that runs under a huge coal ash dump at its Eden power plant. A nearby pipe at the same dump collapsed without warning two weeks ago, coating the bottom of the Dan River with toxic ash as far as 70 miles downstream. State regulators expressed concern five days ago that the second pipe could fail, triggering a new spill. The water coming out of that pipe contains poisonous arsenic at 14 times the level considered safe for human contact, according to test results released by the state on Tuesday. ...


It's like our own little Fukushima!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 17, 2014
from Reuters:
Train carrying Canadian oil derails, leaks in Pennsylvania
A 120-car Norfolk Southern Corp train carrying heavy Canadian crude oil derailed and spilled in western Pennsylvania on Thursday, adding to a string of recent accidents that have prompted calls for stronger safety standards... Nineteen of the derailed cars were carrying oil, four of which spilled between 3,000 and 4,000 gallons of oil, Norfolk Southern said. The leaks have since been plugged. The two other derailed tank cars held liquefied petroleum gas. ...


Why don't we build a leaky pipe instead.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 17, 2014
from Reuters:
Subpoena caps bad week for fossil fuel
Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the massive coal ash spill into North Carolina's Dan River, targeting both the energy company responsible for the ash pond that leaked and the state's environmental regulator. The subpoena of Duke Energy, the company at fault for the North Carolina spill, bookends a bad week for the U.S. fossil fuels industry, including a coal slurry spill in West Virginia and a fire at hydraulic fracturing well in Pennsylvania. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, pumps water and chemicals into the ground to release gas trapped in rock. The coal ash spilled in North Carolina is a byproduct of burning coal to make electricity and contains harmful chemicals, including arsenic. So far, authorities do not believe the spill poses a threat to drinking water, although the ash spiked arsenic levels in the river, turning it into a chalky gray soup. ...


Chalky gray soup is my favorite dish!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 12, 2014
from tcktcktck:
Extreme Weather Hits Hard Worldwide
From unprecedented storms and flooding in the UK to severe drought in California and Brazil, 2014 has kicked off with some exceptional and weird weather events. Scientists are increasingly able to link the upward trends in extreme weather to climate change--and these latest examples are giving them even more evidence. ...


We are colonized/by the extreme weather that/we have created

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 12, 2014
from CNN:
Officials: Coal slurry spill blackens 6 miles of West Virginia creek
Inspectors are looking into the cause of a coal slurry spill in West Virginia's eastern Kanawha County after it blackened six miles of a creek, officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday. More than 100,000 gallons of the coal slurry is believed to have flowed into Fields Creek, a tributary of the Kanawha River, officials said. Inspectors are testing the water to determine exactly how much leaked into the creek, the officials said. ...


Live by the sword; die by the sword.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 10, 2014
from Time Magazine:
Delhi's Air Has Become a Lethal Hazard and Nobody Seems to Know What to Do About It
...Delhi struggles to cope with an appalling smog that has hung over the Indian capital since the beginning of January. Three-quarters of the noxious miasma is generated by the city's almost 7.2 million vehicles. The rest comes from industrial emissions, construction work and the burning of agricultural waste. The pollution in Delhi is now so severe that by some measures it is worse than in Beijing, which has long enjoyed notoriety as the world's most polluted capital... A 2013 study found air pollution to be the fifth largest killer in India, causing more than 600,000 premature deaths -- up six times from 2000. The study cited Delhi as one of the major trouble spots. ...


Breathing is a risky behavior.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Feb 9, 2014
from InsideClimate News:
U.S. Keystone Report Relied Heavily on Alberta Govt-Funded Research
The analysis of greenhouse gas emissions presented by the State Department in its new environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL pipeline includes dozens of references to reports by Jacobs Consultancy, a group that is owned by a big tar sands developer and that was hired by the Alberta government--which strongly favors the project. ...


I am in a "state" of (not) shock!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Feb 8, 2014
from WFYI:
EPA: Harding Street Plant Responsible For Most Of County's Pollution
A new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says one Indianapolis power plant is responsible for most of Marion County's pollution. The Agency finds the Harding Street Power Plant caused 88 percent of toxic industrial pollution in the county in 2012. That ranks as one of the worst 100 polluters among electric utilities nationwide and Jodi Perras of the Sierra Club says it is evidence the facility needs to shut down. ...


I give Harding Street a B+ in spoiling our environment!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 4, 2014
from Edmonton Journal:
Pollution from oilsands greater than first believed, new research suggests
A new study released Monday suggests environmental assessments of oilsands projects have underestimated the impact of pollution, raising questions about the accuracy of data used as part of the approval process. Despite taking into account emissions from industry-related activities, researchers from the University of Toronto found estimates in environmental impact statements submitted to regulators were insufficient to explain existing contamination levels in northern Alberta... Examining the reported level of emissions, Wania and his team concluded that other significant sources of contamination need to be considered, including toxins from tailings ponds that are spread as they evaporate into the air. ...


Another blow to the oilsands industry.

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Tue, Feb 4, 2014
from Charlotte Observer:
Duke Energy plant reports coal-ash spill
Duke Energy said Monday that 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash and up to 27 million gallons of water were released from a pond at its retired power plant in Eden into the Dan River, and were still flowing... Ash was visible on the banks of the Dan River on Monday, and the water was tinted gray. ...


Paradise Losht.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 4, 2014
from Environmental Health News:
Canada river 'sweetened' by contaminants
Three artificial sweeteners have been found in a Great Lakes river at the highest concentrations found in surface waters worldwide, according to a new study. The study is one of the first to measure them in a river used for drinking water, and it adds to growing evidence that such compounds are making it past wastewater treatment. ...


Those Great Lakes aren't just great they're sweet!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 3, 2014
from Washington Post:
Five takeaways from State Department's review of the Keystone XL pipeline
The State Department has finished its massive environmental review of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, down to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would move on to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Bottom line: The report concludes that blocking or approving the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline would not have a "significant" impact on overall greenhouse-gas emissions and future tar-sands expansion. That's because, it argues, most of Alberta's oil will likely find a way to get to the market anyway -- if not by pipeline, then by rail. ...


Human conquest of Mother Earth is now complete.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 28, 2014
from Bloomberg News:
Pesticide DDT Linked to Heightened Alzheimer's Risk
The pesticide DDT, banned in the U.S. because of its toxic effects on wildlife and potential to harm human health, may raise the risk for Alzheimer's disease, according to the first study linking the chemical to the brain-ravaging illness. People with Alzheimer's disease had about four times the level of a DDT byproduct in their blood compared with those who didn't have the dementia, according to the research published yesterday in the journal JAMA Neurology. ...


Wish I could remember what DDT is.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 23, 2014
from McClatchy:
More oil spilled from trains in 2013 than in previous 4 decades
More crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail incidents last year than was spilled in the nearly four decades since the federal government began collecting data on such spills, an analysis of the data shows. Including major derailments in Alabama and North Dakota, more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars in 2013, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. By comparison, from 1975 to 2012, U.S. railroads spilled a combined 800,000 gallons of crude oil. The spike underscores new concerns about the safety of such shipments as rail has become the preferred mode for oil producers amid a North American energy boom. ...


Human beings: constantly improving our numbers!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 23, 2014
from High Plains Public Radio:
Study Links Natural Gas Drilling and Spills to Hormone Disrupting Chemicals
Chemicals used in gas drilling work against our endocrine system, a network of glands and cells that release hormones into our bodies. The chemical disrupters can effect fertility, sperm counts, cause breast and prostate cancer, compromise our immune system, and even contribute to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. ...


Drill fatty drill.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 22, 2014
from Texas A&M University :
Air Pollution from Asia Affecting World's Weather
Extreme air pollution in Asia is affecting the world's weather and climate patterns, according to a study by Texas A&M University and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers... Using climate models and data collected about aerosols and meteorology over the past 30 years, the researchers found that air pollution over Asia -- much of it coming from China -- is impacting global air circulations. ...


Gai-yuk

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 22, 2014
from Bergen Record:
Christie declines to sign bill requiring public notice of raw sewage overflows
Governor Christie declined to sign a bill that would have required public notification whenever sewer-outfall pipes dump raw sewage into local rivers and bays, legislation that had received overwhelming support by both parties in the state legislature. The bill also would have required outfall pipes to be clearly marked with signs for swimmers, fishermen, kayakers and other who use the water. Christie's office announced Tuesday that he let the bill expire without signing it - in effect a pocket veto. ...


Why do you suppose he wouldn't want shit to come up?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 22, 2014
from Wall Street Journal:
High-Tech Monitors Often Miss Oil Pipeline Leaks
Energy and pipeline companies like to point out they use high-tech sensors and remote-monitoring systems to automatically alert engineers when a pipeline starts to leak oil. However, most leaks usually aren't discovered that way, according to a review of four years of liquid pipeline accident records. The overwhelming majority of these pipeline spills, ruptures and leaks were discovered by somebody near the accident site, a Wall Street Journal review of a database of more than 1,400 accident reports collected by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration found. ...


Nothing quite packs the punch of someone shouting out ruuuunnnnnn!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 20, 2014
from Washington Post:
W.Va. chemical spill poses a new test for lawmakers
There are more than 80,000 chemicals in the United States catalogued by government regulators, and the health risks of most of them are unknown. This became glaringly obvious when, on Jan. 9, a clear, licorice-smelling chemical leaked from an old storage tank into the Elk River in West Virginia... The 15-page material safety data sheet for the chemical, which is manufactured by Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical, uses the phrase "no data available" 152 times. ...


No common sense available either.

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Sun, Jan 12, 2014
from Charleston Gazette:
Minimum 'several days' till safe water
... About 300,000 residents have been told to use water only for flushing toilets since a Thursday chemical spill contaminated the Elk River and the water supply of eight West Virginia counties, and part of a ninth. The chemical, "Crude MCHM," is used in coal processing and leaked out of a 35,000-gallon tank owned by Freedom Industries, a chemical distributor based in Charleston and Nitro. A retaining wall surrounding the tank, supposed to serve as a failsafe, was scheduled for $1 million in repairs. ...


Eek! River

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Thu, Jan 9, 2014
from Fargo Forum:
911 calls from Casselton train derailment show crew member first reported his train carried ethanol
Emergency 911 calls indicate at least one member of the crew involved in the Dec. 30 train derailment and explosion west of Casselton thought the train was carrying ethanol instead of highly combustible Bakken crude oil. Another railroad worker shortly after the accident told dispatchers he was worried the derailed cars could explode, and sought permission to decouple burning cars to prevent a chain reaction. ...


Asleep at the switch(grass).

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Thu, Jan 9, 2014
from The Hill:
EPA publishes emissions rule to GOP's dismay
The Environmental Protection Agency published its rule limiting carbon emissions from new power plants on Wednesday to the dismay of coal advocates and the GOP. The proposed rule, published nearly four months after EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced it, is a core element of President Obama's climate change agenda. Included in the new performance standards, the EPA pushes for new coal-fired power plants to be built with carbon capture technology, which Republicans argue is impossible since the technology isn't ready... Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) blasted the EPA for publishing the regulation on the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty. "The EPA just announced another regulation that will increase poverty in coal country," Barrasso said in a statement on Wednesday. ...


The war against mother earth, however, continues, unabated.

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Wed, Jan 8, 2014
from Associated Press:
4 states confirm water pollution from drilling
In at least four states that have nurtured the nation's energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen. ...


Regarding fracking, industry fribs.

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Tue, Jan 7, 2014
from Environmental Health News:
BPA exposure linked to prostate cancer
Exposure to low levels of bisphenol A during development may make men more susceptible to prostate cancer later in life, according to a new study published Tuesday. The study, which uses a new model of implanting human stem cells into mice, is the first to link early-life BPA exposure to human prostate cancer. It adds to a growing body of research that suggests exposure to low doses of the chemical alters cells and can lead to diseases later in life... Also, developmental BPA exposure was linked to breast cancer in rats last year by Tufts University researchers, but the data did not reach statistical significance, said Nicole Acevedo, a postdoctoral researcher at Tufts University and lead author of the study. The rats exposed to low doses of BPA all developed mammary lesions while none of the non-exposed did. ...


I'd suggest avoiding BPA, except for the little problem that you can't!

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Tue, Dec 31, 2013
from Reuters:
Special Report: Japan's homeless recruited for murky Fukushima clean-up
Seiji Sasa hits the train station in this northern Japanese city before dawn most mornings to prowl for homeless men. He isn't a social worker. He's a recruiter. The men in Sendai Station are potential laborers that Sasa can dispatch to contractors in Japan's nuclear disaster zone for a bounty of $100 a head. "This is how labor recruiters like me come in every day," Sasa says, as he strides past men sleeping on cardboard and clutching at their coats against the early winter cold. It's also how Japan finds people willing to accept minimum wage for one of the most undesirable jobs in the industrialized world: working on the $35 billion, taxpayer-funded effort to clean up radioactive fallout across an area of northern Japan larger than Hong Kong. ...


The Grapes of Wradiation.

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Mon, Dec 30, 2013
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Breast milk harbors environmental pollutants
It's advice that doctors impart to mothers over and over: Breast milk is the most nutritious, fortifying food they can feed their babies. But women may not be aware of the strong possibility that their milk is also less than pure, an unintended consequence of living in a developed nation. That's because their bodies are exposed to chemicals like pesticides, flame retardants, additives and other chemicals from household products, air, water and food. Breast milk's high fat and protein content tends to attract heavy metals and other contaminants that make their way into a woman's body from the environment, and are then passed on to newborns, albeit usually in minuscule amounts. ...


Udderly busted.

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Mon, Dec 30, 2013
from Huffington Post:
Millions Of Acres Of Chinese Farmland Too Polluted To Grow Food, Highlighting Growing Threat
More than 8 million acres of China's farmland is too polluted with heavy metals and other chemicals to use for growing food, a Cabinet official said Monday, highlighting a problem that is causing growing public concern. The threat from pollution to China's food supply has been overshadowed by public alarm at smog and water contamination but is gaining attention following scandals over tainted rice and other crops. The government triggered complaints in February when it refused to release results of a nationwide survey of soil pollution, declaring them a state secret. The figure given at a news conference by Wang Shiyuan, a deputy minister of the Ministry of Land and Resources, would be about 2 percent of China's 337 million acres of arable land. Some scientists have given higher estimates of as much as 60 million acres, or one-fifth of the total, though it is unclear how much of that would be too badly contaminated for farming. ...


Why don't we build factories on that otherwise useless farmland.

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Fri, Dec 27, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
High PCBs linked to lower testosterone in Mohawk boys.
A new study has linked PCBs exposure to lower testosterone in Native American boys on a reservation along the St. Lawrence River. Because they eat a lot of locally caught fish, the Akwesasne Mohawk, who live on territory between upstate New York, Ontario and Quebec, are highly exposed to banned industrial compounds called polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The higher the exposure, the lower the testosterone levels, according to the new study of 127 Mohawk boys between 10 and 17 years old. A 10 percent increase in exposure to PCBs was associated with a 5.6 percent reduction in testosterone... disruption of hormones during adolescence is considered worrisome because it may have long-term repercussions in adulthood, particularly for fertility and reproductive diseases. ...


Boys will not necessarily be boys.

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Fri, Dec 27, 2013
from Los Angeles Times:
An ecosystem of our own making could pose a threat
The plastisphere, a marine ecosystem that starts with bacteria on particles of discarded plastic, is drawing increasing attention. Scientists fear it might host pathogens and leach dangerous chemicals... The plastisphere was six decades in the making. It's a product of the discarded plastic -- flip-flops, margarine tubs, toys, toothbrushes -- that gets swept from urban sewer systems and river channels into the sea. When that debris washes into the ocean, it breaks down into bits that are colonized by microscopic organisms, many of them new to science. Researchers suspect that some of the denizens may be pathogens hitching long-distance rides on floating junk. Scientists also fear that creatures in the plastisphere break down chunks of polyethylene and polypropylene so completely that dangerous chemicals are leached into the environment. ...


I am a plastispherephobe!

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Fri, Dec 27, 2013
from Care2:
Tax Meat to Reduce Methane Emissions and Global Warming, Say Scientists
You've probably heard that methane from cows, sheep, goats and buffalo (that is, ruminant farts) has been linked to global warming. There are 50 percent more cows and similar animals today than half a century ago (3.6 billion) and methane released from their digestive systems is the biggest human-related source of this greenhouse gas. So, to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases cows and the like produce, we need to tax meat. That's what some scientists have recently proposed in an analysis in Nature Climate Change. Only by increasing the price of meat so people consume less can we cut down on the amount of methane emissions and halt the warming of the planet. ...


Why don't we tax the animals for farting?

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Mon, Dec 23, 2013
from University of Southern California :
Greek Economic Crisis Leads to Air Pollution Crisis
In the midst of a winter cold snap, a study from researchers in the United States and Greece reveals an overlooked side effect of economic crisis -- dangerous air quality caused by burning cheaper fuel for warmth. The researchers, led by Constantinos Sioutas of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, show that the concentration of fine air particles in one of Greece's economically hardest hit areas has risen 30 percent since the financial crisis began, leading to potential long-term health effects. ...


Let them burn cake.

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Sat, Dec 21, 2013
from Rolling Stone:
Obama and Climate Change: The Real Story
If you want to understand how people will remember the Obama climate legacy, a few facts tell the tale: By the time Obama leaves office, the U.S. will pass Saudi Arabia as the planet's biggest oil producer and Russia as the world's biggest producer of oil and gas combined. In the same years, even as we've begun to burn less coal at home, our coal exports have climbed to record highs. We are, despite slight declines in our domestic emissions, a global-warming machine: At the moment when physics tell us we should be jamming on the carbon brakes, America is revving the engine. ...


Bafrack Coalbama

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Tue, Dec 17, 2013
from Associated Press:
FDA: Anti-bacterial soaps may not curb bacteria
After more than 40 years of study, the U.S. government says it has found no evidence that common anti-bacterial soaps prevent the spread of germs, and regulators want the makers of Dawn, Dial and other household staples to prove that their products do not pose health risks to consumers. Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that they are revisiting the safety of triclosan and other sanitizing agents found in soap in countless kitchens and bathrooms. Recent studies suggest triclosan and similar substances can interfere with hormone levels in lab animals and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. The government's preliminary ruling lends new support to outside researchers who have long argued that the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health. ...


Vindication! I have always preferred rubbing my hands on my pant legs.

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Tue, Dec 17, 2013
from Washington Post:
White House delayed enacting rules ahead of 2012 election to avoid controversy
The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration officials... The Obama administration has repeatedly said that any delays until after the election were coincidental and that such decisions were made without regard to politics. But seven current and former administration officials told The Washington Post that the motives behind many of the delays were clearly political, as Obama's top aides focused on avoiding controversy before his reelection. ...


ObamaNoCare after all.

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Wed, Dec 11, 2013
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Stomach-churning CDC report on restaurant food safety
...About 48 million people a year in the United States come down with food-borne illnesses, and more than half of those illnesses can be traced to food from restaurants, delis, banquet halls and schools, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ...


Time to fast.

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Mon, Dec 9, 2013
from New York Times:
Eastern States Press Midwest to Improve Air
In a battle that pits the East Coast against the Midwest over the winds that carry dirty air from coal plants, the governors of eight Northeastern states plan to petition the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to force tighter air pollution regulations on nine Rust Belt and Appalachian states... governors have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states, including Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan, for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal-fired power plants, factories and tailpipes -- allowing those economies to profit from cheap energy while their belched soot and smog are carried on the prevailing winds that blow across the United States. ...


We need to build sky fences that go up to the heavens.

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Thu, Dec 5, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
New report: Unregulated contaminants common in drinking water
Traces of 18 unregulated chemicals were found in drinking water from more than one-third of U.S. water utilities in a nationwide sampling, according to new, unpublished research by federal scientists. Included are 11 perfluorinated compounds, an herbicide, two solvents, caffeine, an antibacterial compound, a metal and an antidepressant. "The good news is the concentrations are generally pretty low," said Dana Kolpin, a research hydrologist with the USGS who participated in the study. "But," he added, "there's still the unknown. Are there long-term consequences of low-level exposure to these chemicals?" ...


Isn't it wonderful to be experimented on every day?

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Wed, Dec 4, 2013
from Climate News Network:
James Hansen: 2C Temperature Rise Would Be "Disastrous"
Governments have set the wrong target to limit climate change. The goal at present -- to limit global warming to a maximum of two degree Celsius higher than the average for most of human history -- "would have consequences that can be described as disastrous," say 18 scientists in a review paper in the journal PLOS One. With a two degree Celsius increase, "sea level rise of several meters could be expected," they say. "Increased climate extremes, already apparent at 0.8 degrees Celsuis warming, would be more severe. Coral reefs and associated species, already stressed with current conditions, would be decimated by increased acidification, temperature and sea level rise.... Warming of one degree Celsius relative to 1880 -- 1920 keeps global temperature close to the Holocene range, but warming of two degree Celsius, could cause "major dislocations for civilization." ...


Take two aspirin, go to bed and don't get up!

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Wed, Dec 4, 2013
from London Guardian:
Mounting microplastic pollution harms 'earthworms of the sea' -- report
Tiny bits of plastic rubbish ingested by marine worms is significantly harming their health and will have wider impact on ocean ecosystems, scientists have found. Microplastic particles, measuring less than 5mm in size, have been accumulating in the oceans since the 1960s and are now the most abundant form of solid-waste pollution on Earth... Using the lugworm as an indicator species, the first study, from the University of Exeter, found that worms feeding in highly contaminated ocean sediment ate less and had lower energy levels. The second study, from Plymouth University, has established for the first time that ingesting microplastics can transfer pollutants and additives to worms, reducing health and biodiversity. ...


Ingesting plastic makes me invincible!

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Mon, Dec 2, 2013
from Scientific American:
Dandruff Shampoo Could Mess Up Waterways
Every time you wash your hair, a lot of shampoo goes down the drain. And if you're bothered by tiny white flakes, odds are you use a shampoo that deals with dandruff. Such medicinal shampoos often include a fungicide. A fair amount of fungicide thus ends up at the local wastewater treatment plant. Those industrial facilities remove a lot of stinky stuff. But they mostly fail to grab the drugs in soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, perfumes, sunscreen and other skincare products that our daily habits add to wastewater. Now a study has detected fungicides from anti-dandruff shampoos in the water. And even at concentrations as low as 0.5 micrograms per liter of H2O such fungicides can hurt many organisms, from tiny algae to big plants and fish. ...


Shame-poo on you!

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Fri, Nov 29, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
Only half of drugs, other newly emerging contaminants removed from sewage
...More than 1,400 wastewater treatment plants in the United States and Canada discharge 4.8 billion gallons of treated effluent into the Great Lakes basin every day, according to the study. The scientists reviewed 10 years of data from wastewater treatment plants worldwide to see how well they removed 42 compounds that are increasingly showing up in the Great Lakes. Six chemicals were detected frequently and had a low rate of removal in treated effluent: an herbicide, an anti-seizure drug, two antibiotic drugs, an antibacterial drug and an anti-inflammatory drug. Caffeine, acetaminophen and estriol (a natural estrogen) also were frequently detected in sewage but had high removal rates. ...


Whoa. Free drugs, dude!

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Tue, Nov 26, 2013
from On Earth:
Generation Toxic
We've known for years that lead seriously impairs early childhood development. Now scientists are finding that our kids' brains are at risk from a barrage of other common chemicals.... Every day, America's pregnant women and young children are exposed to a trifecta of suspected neurotoxicants in the form of pesticides (mostly via food and water but also home, lawn, and farm applications), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH (mostly via exposure to vehicle exhaust), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs (flame retardants, mostly in upholstered furniture and electronics). ...


Sounds like a poison party!

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Sat, Nov 23, 2013
from Muncie Star Press:
Insect killer misuse widespread in Indiana
A civil investigation by the state chemist's office last year revealed that Ecolab Pest Elimination had illegally sprayed insect killer inside dozens of restaurants, motels, nursing homes, a hospital, a resort, convenience stores and other buildings throughout the southern half of Indiana... The product is called Termidor, active ingredient fipronil, which is highly effective in controlling ants, termites, cockroaches and other pests. But the manufacturer, BASF Corp., warns on the label it is a violation of state and federal law to use Termidor indoors, because its use indoors has not been evaluated for human or environmental safety. ...


Might as well just nuke 'em.

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Thu, Nov 21, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
"Saudi Arabia of coal" Study says peak may already be past
It has often been said that the U.S. is the "Saudi Arabia of coal." However, a new report drawing on copious data from government agencies challenges that concept, noting that given global economic and energy trends, the amount of U.S. coal that will be economical to extract is much smaller than previously thought. ...


Hope has not peaked yet.

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Thu, Nov 21, 2013
from Time Magazine:
If You're Not Worried About Dengue Fever, Here's Why You Should Be
...The latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that annual transmissions of the disease may breach 390 million. This year, infections are breaking records all over Asia and Latin America -- from sweeping epidemics in Nicaragua to the worse outbreaks in six years in India, 20 years in Thailand and the first homegrown case in Western Australia in seven decades. Even temperate climates are now stalking grounds for dengue-carrying mosquitoes. Almost 3 billion people, or 40 percent of the world's population, live in areas where there is a risk of dengue transmission.... Mention dengue and most people will think of aches and chills. But the disease is far more dangerous than that. Dengue causes white-blood-cell counts to plummet, making the body susceptible to secondary infections; even more alarmingly, it has a similar effect to platelets, impairing blood's ability to clot. If left untreated, and particularly on a second infection, dengue hemorrhagic fever can take hold, and patients can suffer internal bleeding, shock and death. ...


Fear is my favorite epidemic.

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from New York Times:
Energy Dept. Is Told to Stop Collecting Fee for Nuclear Waste Disposal
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Energy Department must stop collecting fees of about $750 million a year that are paid by consumers and intended to fund a program for the disposal of nuclear waste. The reason, the court said, is that there is no such program. Congress passed a law that established the fee in the early 1980s, to be paid by customers who use electricity from reactors. But soon after President Obama took office, he made good on a campaign promise and stopped work on the disposal site selected by Congress, Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles from Las Vegas. ...


I wonder if I can get my money back?

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from London Guardian:
Arctic oil spill is certain if drilling goes ahead, says top scientist
A serious oil spill in the Arctic is a "dead cert" if drilling goes ahead, with potentially devastating consequences for the pristine region, according to a leading marine scientist who played a key role in analysis of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The warning came as Russia filed court orders this week to have Greenpeace activists and journalists kept in prison for a further three months in prison before their trial over a protest at Arctic oil dirlling. Concerns about the potentially dire consequences of drilling for oil in the region have intensified as the Russian government and others have begun exploration under the Arctic seas. In such a cold region, any spill would be much more troublesome, because the oil would not naturally disperse as it does in warmer waters, and because of the difficulty of mounting a clean-up operation in hostile weather conditions. ...


Imagine... A polar bear covered in oil.

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from The Hindu:
G77+China group walk out after stalemate on Loss and Damage modalities
The G77+China group of 133 countries walked out of negotiations on Loss and Damage at around 3:30 am on Wednesday morning after the rich countries refused to budge from the position that the subject should be discussed only after 2015. The U.S., Australia and Canada have been the most vocal and trenchant advocates against setting up a separate mechanism on Loss and Damage while the E.U., though not belligerent, has also played a part to make sure the mechanism does not materialise at the Warsaw meeting.... While poor countries look upon Loss and Damage reparation for the damage caused by inevitable climate change which any amount of adaptation cannot avoid, the developed countries desire that the issue be defanged from any kind of legal liability it may impose upon the key countries with highest historic emissions. ...


When you're rich you can afford to wait

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from GreenTech Media:
More Evidence That America May Have Reached "Peak Car"
...According to research from the Public Interest Research Group, young Americans between the ages of 16 and 34 are driving 23 percent less than they did in 2001. All Americans are driving less, but the decline is even steeper for Millennials. In study after study, the trend is stark. But researchers are still trying to figure out whether the decline in driving is due to a post-recession hangover, or caused by structural long-term changes that mean "peak car" has arrived.... "The findings of the present study indicate that the corresponding rates for fuel consumed also reached their maxima during [2003-2004]. Thus, the combined evidence from these three studies indicates that -- per person, per driver, and per household -- we now have fewer light-duty vehicles, we drive each of them less, and we consume less fuel than in the past," concluded Sivak. ...


This is bad news for the proposed car, the "Toyota Peak."

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Sun, Nov 17, 2013
from The Independent:
'Superbugs could erase a century of medical advances,' experts warn
Drug-resistant "superbugs" represent one of the gravest threats in the history of medicine, leading experts have warned. Routine operations could become deadly "in the very near future" as bacteria evolve to resist the drugs we use to combat them. This process could erase a century of medical advances, say government doctors in a special editorial in The Lancet health journal. Although the looming threat of antibiotic, or anti-microbial, resistance has been known about for years, the new warning reflects growing concern that the NHS and other national health systems, already under pressure from ageing populations, will struggle to cope with the rising cost of caring for people in the "post-antibiotic era". ...


Holy supershit!

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Sun, Nov 17, 2013
from Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel :
Ocean's Carbon Dioxide Uptake Can Impair Digestion in Marine Animal
Ocean acidification impairs digestion in marine organisms, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers from Sweden and Germany have studied the larval stage of green sea urchins Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. The results show that the animals have problems digesting food in acidified water. ...


I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

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Fri, Nov 15, 2013
from Huffington Post:
Texas Gas Pipeline Fire Near Milford Sends Flames Shooting Above Field
A liquid petroleum gas pipeline south of Dallas, Texas caught fire and exploded on Thursday. The fire from the 10-inch line has forced evacuations from the small town of Milford, CBS DFW reported. The explosion occurred at an active drill site after crews punctured the pipeline, according to The Dallas Morning News. The pipeline is owned by Chevron. There may also be a second pipeline at risk of explosion. The Milford fire chief said there are no known injuries, WFAA reported. ...


Pipelines blow so often we can't even keep track!

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Thu, Oct 31, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
Common insecticides may be linked to kids' behavior problems
Insecticides commonly used in households may be associated with kids' behavior problems, according to a new study by researchers in Quebec. The study is one of the first to investigate potential human health effects of pyrethroids, which are used in more than 3,500 commercial products, including flea bombs and roach sprays. ...


Pests will be pests.

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Thu, Oct 31, 2013
from Center for Public Integrity:
Coal industry's go-to law firm withheld evidence of black lung, at expense of sick miners
...Jackson Kelly, with offices throughout Appalachia, as well as in Denver and Washington, D.C., defends companies accused of polluting the environment, marketing dangerous drugs or discriminating against workers. It helps corporations avoid regulations, drafts bills and lobbies legislators. Its bailiwick, though, is mining. U.S. News & World Report recently named it the nation's top firm in mining law. Jackson Kelly's name is on the lips of clinic workers, miners and lawyers throughout Appalachia and is emblazoned atop an office overlooking the Monongahela River in Morgantown, W.Va. Now, with government scientists documenting a resurgence of black lung disease, the firm's legal strategy -- including, the Center for Public Integrity found, a record of withholding evidence -- could have significant consequences for sick miners and their families. ...


Coal is cheap and so, apparently, is human life.

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Thu, Oct 31, 2013
from Bloomberg:
North Dakota Oil Spill Spotlights Obama Delay on Rules
Three years after an oil pipeline rupture in Michigan spilled 843,000 gallons of sludge, government regulators still haven't produced promised rules to compel operators to detect leaks. An oil spill in North Dakota last month and the continued debate over construction of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)'s Keystone XL Pipeline have led to renewed criticism to the government's inaction on safety measures... The issue has entered the contentious debate over TransCanada's proposal to build the Keystone pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Supporters say pipelines are safer than shipping oil by train, truck or barge, and point to the July explosion of a runaway train carrying oil through Quebec that killed 47 people. Critics point to leaks or ruptures in Michigan, Arkansas and now North Dakota to say the lines aren't nearly as safe as proponents argue. ...


Fossil fuels ... just ain't safe.

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Mon, Oct 28, 2013
from Associated Press:
ND spills went unreported; state testing website
North Dakota, the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas, recorded nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in less than two years, state documents show. None was reported to the public, officials said. According to records obtained by The Associated Press, the pipeline spills -- many of them small -- are among some 750 "oil field incidents" that have occurred since January 2012 without public notification.... Dennis Fewless, director of water quality for the state Health Department, said regulators are reviewing the state's policies for when to publicly report such incidents after a massive spill was discovered last month in northwestern North Dakota by a wheat farmer. State and company officials kept it quiet for 11 days -- and only said something after the AP asked about it. ...


God hath given Man the Earth to Shitteth Upon.

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Wed, Oct 23, 2013
from Al Jazeera:
Gulf ecosystem in crisis after BP spill
Hundreds of kilograms of oily debris on beaches, declining seafood catches, and other troubling signs point towards an ecosystem in crisis in the wake of BP's 2010 oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. "It's disturbing what we're seeing," Louisiana Oyster Task Force member Brad Robin told Al Jazeera. "We don't have any more baby crabs, which is a bad sign. We're seeing things we've never seen before." Robin, a commercial oyster fisherman who is also a member of the Louisiana Government Advisory Board, said that of the sea ground where he has harvested oysters in the past, only 30 percent of it is productive now.... Louisiana's Republican Governor Bobby Jindal ... recently said, "Three and a half years later, BP is spending more money - I want you to hear this - they are spending more money on television commercials than they have on actually restoring the natural resources they impacted." ...


That may explain why, when I see oily beach debris, I think of puppies.

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Wed, Oct 23, 2013
from Huffington Post:
BP Oil Refinery Waste Stored At Koch Brothers-Owned Site Polluting Nearby Chicago Neighborhoods
Residents in several lower-income Chicago neighborhoods say a dirty oil byproduct from a nearby BP refinery is creating environmental and health hazards -- and no one is doing enough to stop it. "Us little people, we're not millionaires, we're working stiffs," East Side resident Frank Caporale, a Chicago garbage truck driver, told the Sun-Times. "We are being overcome by a super company that we don't have a say in, whether we want it here or not. It's like it came and we're stuck with it." Dust from petroleum coke or "petrocoke" is produced at the nearby BP refinery in Whiting, Ind. but the oil byproduct is stored in Chicago shipping yards on the city's South Side. ...


Beware the PetroKoch.

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Wed, Oct 23, 2013
from South China Morning Post:
Life grinds to a halt as dense smog descends on northern Chinese cities
Dense, choking smog blanketed several northern cities yesterday, with visibility in some areas reduced to less than 10 metres. Drivers complained they were unable to see traffic lights. Air pollution in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, rose above the highest point on the government's index for the second consecutive day. The city was forced to take the unprecedented step of closing kindergartens, primary and middle schools because of the smog. ...


And the children coughed in delight.

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Wed, Oct 23, 2013
from Springfield News-Leader:
Malfunction at power plant spews ash over SW Springfield
A malfunction at City Utilities' John Twitty Energy Center earlier today sent a cloud of ash billowing over the surrounding area. CU said in a news release that a piece of equipment at the power plant "experienced a brief malfunction" that "allowed fly-ash that is normally collected to be released into the atmosphere." "City Utilities has resolved the situation at the power plant and as required, the incident was reported to the proper authorities," the release said. CU said the fly-ash that was released "is not hazardous to people, animals, or vegetation and can be rinsed with water from most surfaces. CU recommends that residents who have vehicles that the ash has landed on to have them washed commercially." ...


Just put your head between your legs and close your eyes and everything will be all right.

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Mon, Oct 21, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
Why Is Exxon Taking Its Time Restarting Its Ruptured Dilbit Pipeline?
In the six months since an ExxonMobil pipeline unleashed Canadian oil in an Arkansas neighborhood, nearby residents have had much to endure -- the muck and stench of heavy crude, lengthy evacuations, sickness and economic loss... Exxon, meanwhile, is not pressing to restart the line. Even though the lengthy outage is costing the company as much as $450,000 a day in lost revenue -- totaling as much as $90 million so far -- Exxon is proceeding slowly, conducting additional tests and digging down to the pipeline in places to assess its condition. That caution could reflect fears that the Pegasus problems might be systemic and costly to solve. But analysts say Exxon also is mindful that additional leaks could sink its chances of salvaging the line for good and also undermine public support for new pipeline projects such as the controversial Keystone XL. ...


Perhaps they've been smoking that pipe.

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Thu, Oct 17, 2013
from Reuters:
UN agency calls outdoor air pollution leading cause of cancer
The air we breathe is laced with cancer-causing substances and should now be classified as carcinogenic to humans, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) cancer agency said on Thursday. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) cited data indicating that in 2010, 223,000 deaths from lung cancer worldwide resulted from air pollution, and said there was also convincing evidence it increases the risk of bladder cancer. ...


Too bad we can't quit the habit of breathing.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 14, 2013
from Climate News Network:
Ocean Deteriorating More Rapidly Than Thought
Marine scientists say the state of the world's oceans is deteriorating more rapidly than anyone had realized, and is worse than that described in last month's U.N. climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They say the rate, speed and impacts of ocean change are greater, faster and more imminent than previously thought -- and they expect summertime Arctic sea ice cover will have disappeared in around 25 years. ...


Seas the day.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 14, 2013
from Associated Press:
Lake Erie algae a threat to Ohio drinking water
Toxins from blobs of algae on western Lake Erie are infiltrating water treatment plants along the shoreline, forcing cities to spend a lot more money to make sure their drinking water is safe. It got so bad last month that one township told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps... The unsightly surface has scared away tourists, and toxins produced by the algae have contributed to oxygen-deprived dead zones where fish can't survive. The toxins also are a threat to the drinking water that the lake provides for 11 million people. ...


Let them drink Coke.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 14, 2013
from Washington Post:
Study links warmer water temperatures to greater levels of mercury in fish
...In a lab experiment, researchers adjusted temperatures in tanks, tainted the killifish's food with traces of methylmercury and watched as the fish stored high concentrations of the metal in their tissue. In a field experiment in nearby salt pools, they observed as killifish in warmer pools ate their natural food and stored metal in even higher concentrations, like some toxic condiment for larger fish that would later prey on them. The observation was part of a study showing how killifish at the bottom of the food chain will probably absorb higher levels of methylmercury in an era of global warming and pass it on to larger predator fish, such as the tuna stacked in shiny little cans in the cupboards of Americans and other people the world over. ...


It would seem our energy system exists solely to serve mercury.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 14, 2013
from Columbus Business First:
Southeast Ohio school districts bracing for AEP plant closing, with millions in tax revenue going away
Electric utilities giveth and they taketh away when it comes to providing tax revenue to Ohio school districts.... The Muskingum River plant sits in two school districts, Fort Frye and Wolf Creek, that rely heavily on revenue from the property taxes paid by AEP. School officials tell me their districts stand to lose around 10 percent of their general fund revenue once AEP closes and demolishes the plant. But it looks like Wolf Creek will be hit harder than Fort Frye because of nuances in how Ohio taxes electric utilities ...


Perhaps we should continue killing our children with fossil fuels after all.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 9, 2013
from University of Hawaii at Manoa:
Urgent New Time Frame for Climate Change Revealed by Massive Analysis
The seesaw variability of global temperatures often engenders debate over how seriously we should take climate change. But within 35 years, even the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we've experienced in the past 150 years, according to a new and massive analysis of all climate models. The tropics will be the first to exceed the limits of historical extremes and experience an unabated heat wave that threatens biodiversity and heavily populated countries with the fewest resources to adapt. ...


The tropics will be toast!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 8, 2013
from USA Today:
Researchers raise concerns about BPA and breast cancer
A growing number of health advocates are raising concerns about possible links between the estrogen-like chemical BPA and breast cancer. Consumer concern about BPA, or bisphenol A, has led manufacturers to remove it from baby bottles and infant formula packaging.... The report cites 60 animal and human studies, which link prenatal BPA exposure to an increased risk of a variety of health problems, from breast cancer and prostate cancer to decreased fertility, early puberty, neurological problems and immune system changes. ...


Hope those pink ribbons don't have BPA on 'em.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 7, 2013
from Grist:
It continues: Two Pennsylvania coal plants will close for good next week
The coal sector is in its death throes, thanks to cheaper alternatives and a growing distaste for what is the worst of the global-warming fuels. The latest casualties: two coal-burning power plants in Pennsylvania that will pump their last energy into the grid, and cough their last pollution in to the air, this weekend. ...


Bump, bump, bump, another one bites the dust!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 7, 2013
from Los Angeles Times:
Company fires scientist who warned of Hanford waste site problems
When senior scientist Walter Tamosaitis warned in 2011 about fundamental design flaws at the nation's largest facility to treat radioactive waste in Hanford, Wash., he was assigned to work in a basement room without office furniture or a telephone. On Wednesday, Tamosaitis, an employee of San Francisco-based URS Corp., was laid off from his job after 44 years with the company... The Hanford site is the nation's most contaminated property, holding 56 million gallons of highly radioactive sludge in underground tanks, some of which are leaking. The complex sits on a plateau above the Columbia River, which could be threatened if the cleanup fails to contain the tank waste. ...


Thank goodness he didn't complain about the toilet seat being left up!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 2, 2013
from Louisville Courier-Journal:
Sinkhole terrain will challenge pipeline developers
Even as landowners and officials battle the merits of the planned Bluegrass Pipeline, experts say that Kentucky's sinkhole and cavern-riddled geology poses major construction and operational challenges to its developers. One geologist said the potential problems are so significant that they need to be fully evaluated before any dirt gets turned on the plan to run about 150 miles of new 24-inch diameter pipeline through Kentucky. The pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from Pennsylvania to the Gulf Coast. ...


Those sinkholes could easily become stinkholes.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 2, 2013
from Duke University :
Streams Below Fracking Wastewater Treatment Show Elevated Salts, Metals, Radioactivity
Elevated levels of radioactivity, salts and metals have been found in river water and sediments at a site where treated water from oil and gas operations is discharged into a western Pennsylvania creek. "Radium levels were about 200 times greater in sediment samples collected where the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility discharges its treated wastewater into Blacklick Creek than in sediment samples collected just upstream of the plant," said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. ...


I'd hate to see what untreated wastewater is like.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 2, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
Chambers of Commerce want fracking oversight left to states
Calling shale gas a "great new resource of energy" that "creates millions of quality jobs," Chambers of Commerce in 20 states are calling on the EPA to leave fracking oversight to state regulators. In a letter sent to Administrator Gina McCarthy on September 20, the group points to Illinois as an example of states that have "passed legislative regulations ensuring that hydraulic fracturing is employed safely, transparently and with a continued commitment to environmental protection." ...


What could go wrong?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 30, 2013
from NewScientist:
Climate report: Lull in warming doesn't mean we're safe
Humanity's role in driving climate change is more certain than ever before, but the most extreme scenarios of future warming are looking less likely than a few years ago. This is the upshot of the latest scientific assessment from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published today.... The new report leaves no doubt that a storm is brewing. It is unequivocal -- temperatures are rising and human activity is to blame. Without drastic action to curb emissions, it says, the world faces a century of strong warming, in which glaciers and ice sheets melt, sea levels rise, the oceans acidify, weather systems shift and rainfall patterns change.... this stark warning will be sidelined by the scientific conundrum over the "missing heat" that should, according to most climate models, have been warming the atmosphere ever faster these past few decades. This may be a short-term blip -- perhaps a result of the oceans temporarily taking up more heat from the atmosphere, says one of the IPCC's lead authors, Myles Allen of the University of Oxford. The report underlines that, whatever is happening to the atmosphere, the oceans continue to warm dramatically. ...


Damn you, ocean, for trying to save us all.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 30, 2013
from Associated Press:
Big freighter traverses Northwest Passage for 1st time
A large freighter completed a voyage through the hazardous Arctic Northwest Passage for the first time this week, showing the potential for cutting shipment times and costs as global warming opens new routes. The 75,000 deadweight-ton Nordic Orion, built in 2011 by a Japanese shipyard, left the Canadian Pacific port of Vancouver in early September and is scheduled to arrive in the Finnish port of Pori on October 7, according to AIS shipping data.... As the ice continues to melt, some experts have estimated that shipping via the Arctic could account for a quarter of the cargo traffic between Europe and Asia by 2030. ...


Let the feeding frenzy begin...

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 30, 2013
from Bloomberg:
Credits to Spur Renewable Energy Sources Seen Set to End: Taxes
Tax credits for the production of wind power and other renewable energy sources face expiration at year's end amid few signs Congress will decide to continue them, tax lobbyists and other analysts say. Failure to extend the 16 tax credits could stymie the development of wind power and the other renewables by undercutting incentives to invest in them, Bloomberg BNA reported... In addition to the 2.3 cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for wind, geothermal and closed-loop biomass, other expiring energy incentives include a $1 per-gallon credit for biodiesel producers, a $1.01 per gallon credit for cellulosic ethanol and multiple credits for energy-efficient homes and appliances. ...


Dear God, please protect the tens of billions gifted to the fossil fuel industry each year...

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 24, 2013
from EarthWorks, via TruthOut:
Eco-Investigators Say Fracking Air Pollution Is Poisoning Families in Texas
In 2012, the Cernys and other residents filed a total of 30 air quality complaints with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), but, after the agency failed to provide them with an adequate response, the Cernys reached out to the environmental advocacy group Earthworks. The group's team of investigators, who had already investigated the health impacts of fracking in Pennsylvania, made some startling discoveries. Records requests filed by the investigators revealed that TCEQ field workers had visited facilities emitting pollution near the Cernys' home in 2012 on several occasions, and twice the officials evacuated themselves due to high levels of pollution in the air, according to a report released by Earthworks.... ...


"We can't test there -- it's dangerous!"

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 20, 2013
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Brain-eating amoeba rattles nerves in La. parish
While officials try to pin down the source of a deadly amoeba found in the water supply of a suburban New Orleans community, bottled water sales in St. Bernard Parish have skyrocketed and some people worry about washing their faces in the shower. That's despite experts who say the only danger is to people who manage to get the microscopic organism way up their noses. Its only entry to the brain is through minute openings in a bone about level with the top of the eyeball, said Dr. Raoult Ratard, Louisiana's state epidemiologist. ...


Rule #1: Don't snort water!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 19, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
Report: Social costs, if accounted for, make coal uneconomical
New research from a national environmental group finds that the cost of producing electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar is lower than that of conventional coal-fired generation when factoring for the adverse costs of climate change and human health impacts. That conclusion, derived from analysis on the "social cost of carbon," is at the heart of a study published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences... ...


Clearly these durn tree huggers don't care a whit about keeping the poor healthcare industry alive!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 19, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
Women living near pesticide-treated fields have smaller babies
Women in Northern California farm towns gave birth to smaller babies if they lived within three miles of strawberry fields and other crops treated with the pesticide methyl bromide, according to researchers. The soil fumigant, which is injected into the soil before planting, can volatize into the air, exposing nearby neighborhoods. Use of methyl bromide has been declining over the past decade under an international treaty that phases out chemicals that deplete the Earth's protective ozone layer. Strawberries and a few other crops are exempt under the ban because they are deemed "critical uses." ...


I have always considered babies to be pests.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 19, 2013
from Alternet:
How Chicken Is Killing the Planet
Earlier this month, while you were busy sneaking out of your empty office, hoping nobody would notice your starting the holiday weekend early, the USDA was also doing something it was hoping nobody would notice. It was green-lighting the sale of Chinese processed American chicken. As Politico explained, "U.S. officials have given the thumbs-up to four Chinese poultry plants, paving the way for the country to send processed chicken to American markets." But while, "eat first, China will only be able to process chicken that has been slaughtered in the U.S. or other certified countries," that should not be a comfort to fans of the McNugget, Campbell's chicken soup, or any other processed chicken product...Meat is already the No. 1 contributor to climate change. Don't expect shipping slaughtered chickens 7,000 miles to China and then bringing them back as processed food to lower that carbon footprint. And, of course, the Chinese poultry industry has its own dirty laundry, including a current bird flu outbreak, believed to have "evolved from migratory birds via waterfowl to poultry and into people," and already responsible for 44 deaths; the sale of 46- year-old chicken feet; and exporting tainted dog treats, sickening nearly a thousand American pets. ...


Let them eat drywall.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 17, 2013
from CNN:
CDC sets threat levels for drug-resistant bacteria
... For the first time, the CDC is categorizing antibiotic-resistant organisms by threat level. That's because, in their conservative estimates, more than 2 million people get antibiotic-resistant infections each year, and at least 23,000 die because current drugs no longer stop their infections.... So the CDC is ranking the worst drug-resistant bacteria according to how many people get sick, the number of hospitalizations and the number of deaths caused by each. They also took into account how many, if any, existing antibiotics still work on the bacteria. Instead of red, orange or yellow -- the levels once used to describe terrorism threats -- the CDC is using "urgent," "serious" and "concerning." ...


This serious issue of antibiotic resistance is not just concerning, but rather urgent.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 12, 2013
from E&E Publishing:
Warming climate begins to taint Europe's blood supplies
A whole new set of ungovernable pathogens are being loosed on the world's blood supplies. A warming climate has allowed blood-borne tropical diseases to flourish where once they were unheard of, and they're getting around.... Hospitals and blood banks now routinely screen potential donors for HIV and hepatitis in order to keep these diseases from accidentally finding their way into patients. But recent outbreaks of diseases such as West Nile fever, dengue fever and malaria -- all carried by mosquitoes -- have posed new problems for the health of European blood banks. ...


There will be (tainted) blood.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Sep 11, 2013
from Christian Science Monitor:
'50 dirtiest' US power plants emit more greenhouse gases than South Korea
Fifty US power plants emit more greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels than all but six nations, says a new report. The study by Environment America paints a bulls-eye on the nation's biggest coal-fired power plants, suggesting that reining in a relatively small share of America's 6,000 electric generating facilities could have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions.... The administration's goal is to have power plant emissions regulations in place by 2015, and the new study provides a window into which plants could face steep federal fines unless they slash emissions or close....The "50 dirtiest" power plants generated nearly 33 percent of the US power sector's carbon dioxide emissions in 2011 but only about 16 percent of its electricity. ...


Now that's what I call dirty.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 9, 2013
from Huffington Post:
EPA Quietly Withdraws Two Proposed Chemical Safety Rules
The Environmental Protection Agency this week quietly withdrew two draft rules dealing with the regulation of chemicals. The potential rules were in limbo at the Office of Management for several years. One of the rules was a proposal to add Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical included in many water bottles and other plastic products that has been linked to a number of potential health concerns, to the list of "chemicals of concern" that would be subject to more scrutiny. The EPA also proposed listing eight different types of phthalates, another group of chemicals often used in plastic products, and several types of flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).... A second rule that EPA withdrew would have forced companies to disclose to the public the chemicals used in products and the health and safety studies the companies have conducted on those chemicals -- much of which companies have been allowed to protect as "confidential business information." ...


So much for the "protection" promised by the EPA.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 9, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
Study supports nuclear waste disposal near Great Lakes
New geology research says radioactive wastes are unlikely to enter groundwater from a proposed Canadian disposal site less than a mile from Lake Huron. ...


Gradiation Lakes!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 3, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
New study suggests "universal fetal exposure" to BPA
A new study in California found bisphenol A in all samples of umbilical cord blood obtained from pregnant women, suggesting universal fetal exposure. More than one-third of the samples had levels comparable to or higher than levels associated with health effects in animals. All samples of umbilical cord blood obtained from pregnant women in California had detectable levels of bisphenol A, suggesting "universal fetal exposure," according to newly published research. The study is the first to show that second-trimester fetuses are widely exposed to relatively high levels of BPA, an estrogen-like substance found in polycarbonate plastic, food can liners and other commonplace consumer products. ...


"Universal"? Don't they mean planet-wide?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 2, 2013
from Reuters:
Warming helps crop pests spread north, south: study
Crop-damaging pests are moving towards the poles at a rate of more than 25 km (16 miles) a decade, aided by global warming and human transport, posing a potential threat to world food security, a study showed on Sunday. The spread of beetles, moths, bacteria, worms, funghi and other pests in a warming world may be quicker than for many types of wild animals and plants, perhaps because people are accidentally moving them with harvests, it said. ...


Who exactly are the pests here?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 2, 2013
from Wall Street Journal:
New Radiation Hotspots Found at Fukushima Daiichi
TOKYO -- The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex said over the weekend that its struggles to control highly radioactive water had suffered new setbacks. The company announced the discovery of contaminated spots in new parts of the compound where the water is stored, while radiation levels jumped to highly dangerous levels in another part of that area where readings were previously lower. ...


There is no "me" in Daiichi.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 21, 2013
from Climate Central:
July Adds To Globe's String of 341 Warm Months
The year-to-date has been the sixth warmest on record globally, and July was also the sixth warmest such month since global surface temperature records first began in 1880, according to new data released on Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The figures show that July 2013 was the 37th straight July, and the 341st straight month, with warmer-than-average global temperatures -- a more than 28-year timespan that reflects the significant warming observed worldwide since the 1970s. ...


There's no stopping us now!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 21, 2013
from Mother Jones:
The Solar Industry's New Dirty Secret
It's no secret that manufacturing solar panels often requires toxic heavy metals, explosive gases, and rare-earth elements that come from shoddy mines in war-torn republics. But here's a surprise: The solar industry is actually getting dirtier in some respects. The latest Solar Scorecard from the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC), released last week, reports that the industry has slipped on several key environmental metrics, with many solar-panel manufacturers now refusing to provide any information about their manufacturing practices at all. ...


The Sun: She never hides the truth.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 20, 2013
from Philadelphia Inquirer:
GreenSpace: Who's monitoring food additives?
About 10,000 chemicals are added to Americans' food to make it taste better or look better, to thicken it, preserve it, or otherwise improve it. That's an awful lot of chemicals for the federal Food and Drug Administration to monitor. How do they do it? It turns out that, often, they don't. According to the authors of a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine this month, the agency doesn't even know what all the food additive chemicals are. ...


Thank goodness GMOs are monitored!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 14, 2013
from Reuters:
Insight: After disaster, the deadliest part of Japan's nuclear clean-up
The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale. Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area. Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is already in a losing battle to stop radioactive water overflowing from another part of the facility, and experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully. ...


Oh Fukushima ... will the horrors ever end?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 7, 2013
from New York Times:
New Leaks Into Pacific at Japan Nuclear Plant
Tons of contaminated groundwater from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have overwhelmed an underground barrier and are emptying daily into the Pacific, creating what a top regulator has called a crisis. The water contains strontium and cesium, as well as tritium, which is considered less dangerous when released into the ocean. Despite increasing alarm among regulators in recent weeks, the plant's operator says it does not yet pose a health threat because levels of the contaminants are still very low in the open ocean, beyond the plant's man-made harbor -- a contention even critics support. But regulators and critics alike are worried because the company, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, has been unable to stop the flow of the contaminated water, which appears to have started between December and May. The company has also not yet conclusively identified the source of the contamination, compounding fears. ...


This is, like, a clusterfukushima!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 5, 2013
from BBC:
Rise in violence 'linked to climate change'
Shifts in climate are strongly linked to increases in violence around the world, a study suggests. US scientists found that even small changes in temperature or rainfall correlated with a rise in assaults, rapes and murders, as well as group conflicts and war. The team says with the current projected levels of climate change, the world is likely to become a more violent place. ...


Hi, I am Earth Vader.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jul 17, 2013
from MLive.com:
Another small leak found at Palisades nuclear plant July 10, says Nuclear Regulatory Commission
COVERT TOWNSHIP, MI -- Palisades Power Plant has had two more leaks since it shut down May 5 for more than a month to repair a leaking water storage tank, Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials said during a July 16 webinar with the public. The NRC will be conducting further investigation into at least one of the leaks, said Jack Geissner, branch chief of Region III, which oversees Palisades. The NRC is also investigating the May 5 incident, in which about 80 gallons of very diluted radioactive water leaked from the safety injection and refueling water tank (SIRW tank) into Lake Michigan. The NRC will be issuing its report in coming months, said Geissner. ...


Perfectly poisonous!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 15, 2013
from Agence France-Press:
Radioactivity found in Swiss lake near nuclear plant
GENEVA -- Scientists have discovered a radioactive substance in sediment under a Swiss lake used for drinking water and situated near a nuclear plant, the Le Matin Dimanche weekly reported Sunday. While scientists cited in the report stressed there was no danger to human health, the discovery raises concerns about safety practices and a lack of transparency at the Muehleberg nuclear plant in northwestern Switzerland. The plant is believed to have caused a spike in cesium 137 found in the sediment of Lake Biel and dating back to 2000 through the discharge of contaminated waste water into the Aar river that feeds into the lake, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) downstream, the weekly reported. Geologists from Geneva University happened upon the spike while working on an unrelated research project in 2010, and chemists in the northern canton of Basel recently verified the findings, it said. ...


Glad they got right on that.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 10, 2013
from New York Times:
After Drought, Rains Plaguing Midwest Farms
About this time last year, farmers were looking to the heavens, pleading for rain. Now, they are praying for the rain to stop. One of the worst droughts in this nation's history, a dry spell that persisted through the early part of this year, has ended with torrential rains this spring that have overwhelmed vast stretches of the country, including much of the farm belt. One result has been flooded acres that have drowned corn and soybean plants, stunted their growth or prevented them from being planted at all. ...


Dear God: just give me the weather I want!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 4, 2013
from Alternet:
Monsanto Mystery Wheat Appears in Oregon, No One Knows Why
How did genetically modified wheat produced by the agricultural corporation Monsanto end up in Oregon? That's the question many people want answered after the discovery of the wheat by a farmer in Oregon, according to a report in the New Scientist. Genetically modified wheat has not been cleared for commercial use anywhere in the world, though the Federal Drug Administration approved it as safe for human consumption in 2004. It was never put on the market in the U.S., though, since Monsanto dropped it after citing a lack of demand. The Associated Press reported that the wheat was also not developed because "wheat growers did not want to risk retaliation from their biggest export markets." ...


It's gone rogue!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 3, 2013
from Bloomberg:
TransCanada CEO says Keystone aids jobs and environment
TransCanada Corp. (TRP)'s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline would benefit U.S. employment and support efforts to tackle climate change, according to the company's Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling. ...


And smoking is good for you, too!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 29, 2013
from Time Magazine:
Study Links Exposure to Bug and Weed Killers to Higher Risk for Parkinson's
Who doesn't want a pristine lawn free of annoying weeds and bugs? But some of those pest-fighting strategies may come with a price -- to your health. A new study published in the journal Neurology found that pesticides, which have already been linked to a range of health complications from allergies to lower IQ levels, may also play a role in the development of Parkinson's. ...


Revenge of the Lawn

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 29, 2013
from Reuters:
Insight: Pork industry hunts for deadly pig virus
The sudden and widespread appearance of a swine virus deadly to young pigs - one never before seen in North America - is raising questions about the bio-security shield designed to protect the U.S. food supply. The swine-only virus, the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV), poses no danger to humans or other animals, and the meat from infected pigs is safe for people to eat. ...


Still, the word "diarrhea" ain't all that appetizing.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 29, 2013
from State Impact:
Gas Industry Building Database Of Water Test Results, But Won't Make It Public
More than two years ago the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas industry trade group, began building an electronic database to house information about the water quality in thousands of private wells across Pennsylvania. It's made up of "pre-drill" or baseline data critical information that helps establish whether drilling operations may have caused water contamination issues. The project is already up and running, but there are no plans to make it public. ...


Don't you worry your pretty little head!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 29, 2013
from Kansas City Star:
Wal-Mart pleads guilty in case involving pesticides sent to Missouri contractor
Retailer Wal-Mart resolved years of hazardous-waste complaints Tuesday with criminal guilty pleas in Missouri and California and the settlement of a civil lawsuit filed by federal environmental authorities. The day's admissions cost the company about $81.6 million in fines and penalties, an amount that the company said would "not be material to its financial position." ...


Chump change

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 27, 2013
from The Detroit News:
Canadian firm's nuclear waste plan near Lake Huron stirs Michigan fears
A Canadian company's plan to store nuclear waste near Lake Huron is alarming environmental groups and some Michigan lawmakers, who fear the project could eventually harm the Great Lakes. For years, Ontario Power Generation has pushed to construct a deep geologic repository -- a massive underground storage facility to handle low- to intermediate-level nuclear wastes -- on the grounds of its Bruce nuclear facility near Kincardine, Ont. The company wants to locate its storage facility 2,230 feet below the ground and three-quarters of a mile from the Lake Huron shore. ...


Makes me want to hur(l) on it.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 21, 2013
from Time Magazine:
Labs Fail to Detect Cases of Bacterial Food Contamination
Foodborne illnesses are a continuing problem in the U.S., but labs that are supposed to detect the presence of pathogens aren't up to snuff, according to a new report. The analysis, presented at the 113th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, revealed worrisome gaps in the ability of food laboratories to detect or rule out the presence of common disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter. ...


Maybe I'll avoid food altogether.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 21, 2013
from Center for Public Integrity:
'Upset' emissions: Flares in the air, worry on the ground
....unplanned emissions -- known in regulatory parlance as "upsets"¯ -- are occurring more often than industry admits or government knows, according to more than 50 interviews with regulators, activists, plant representatives, workers and residents, and an analysis of tens of thousands of records by the Center for Public Integrity. For many communities, these upsets have evolved into an invisible menace: They disrupt lives, yet offenders are rarely punished. ...


Whoops! I just had an unplanned emission!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 14, 2013
from Michigan Live:
Small crack found in tank at Palisades nuclear plant; inspection still ongoing, executives say
Eight days after Palisades Nuclear Power Plant shut down May 5, an inspection is still ongoing of the safety injection refueling water tank. Until that inspection is complete, residents of Southwest Michigan won't know what the permanent solution to repair the leaking tank will be. It will, however, have to pass muster with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph....So far, the inspection has turned up a crack about ½-inch-long around a nozzle... ...


A little crack goes a looooong way.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 13, 2013
from RT:
US approves new pesticides linked to mass bee deaths as EU enacts ban
In the wake of a massive US Department of Agriculture report highlighting the continuing large-scale death of honeybees, environmental groups are left wondering why the Environmental Protection Agency has decided to approve a "highly toxic" new pesticide.... One group, Beyond Pesticides, has called the EPA's recent green light for use of a new insecticide known as sulfoxaflor irresponsible in light of its "highly toxicā€¯ classification for honey bees. ...


Here in the US we expect our bees to toughen up.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 13, 2013
from Center for Public Integrity:
'Chemicals of Concern' list still wrapped in OMB red tape
For anyone anxious about toxic chemicals in the environment, Sunday marked a dubious milestone. It has been three years since the "chemicals of concernā€¯ list landed at the White House Office of Management and Budget. The list, which the Environmental Protection Agency wants to put out for public comment, includes bisphenol A, a chemical used in polycarbonate plastic water bottles and other products; eight phthalates, which are used in flexible plastics; and certain flame-retardant compounds called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs....The EPA proposal arrived at OIRA on May 12, 2010. There it remains -- a symbol, some say, of a broken regulatory system. ...


What's three years in the scheme of things?

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Tue, May 7, 2013
from Science News:
Toxic waste sites may cause health problems for millions
Living near a toxic waste site may represent as much of a health threat as some infectious diseases, a study in three developing countries finds. Researchers analyzed 373 toxic waste sites in India, Indonesia and the Philippines, where an estimated 8.6 million people are at risk of exposure to lead, asbestos, hexavalent chromium and other hazardous materials. Among those people at risk, the exposures could cause a loss of around 829,000 years of good health as a result of disease, disability or early death, the team reports May 4 in Environmental Health Perspectives. ...


What doesn't kill you ... really kills you.

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Tue, May 7, 2013
from Greenwire:
EPA to defend its greenhouse gas emission rules tomorrow
U.S. EPA will return to court tomorrow to defend its regulations for fighting climate change from multiple challenges by Texas and industry groups. At issue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are two cases that center on EPA's implementation of greenhouse gas air emissions standards under the Clean Air Act after the agency determined the emissions endangered public health. ...


Amazing that the health of the populace needs to be justified in some way.

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Mon, May 6, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
'Chemicals of high concern' found in thousands of children's products
Cobalt in plastic building blocks and baby bibs. Ethylene glycol in dolls. Methyl ethyl ketone in clothing. Antimony in high chairs and booster seats. Parabens in baby wipes. D4 in baby creams. An Environmental Health News analysis of thousands of reports from America's largest companies shows that toys and other children's products contain low levels of dozens of industrial chemicals, including some unexpected ingredients that will surprise a public concerned about exposure. The reports were filed by 59 large companies, including Gap, Mattel, Gymboree, Nike, H&M and Wal-Mart, to comply with an unprecedented state law. ...


Not totally sure the public gives a shit.

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Mon, May 6, 2013
from Detroit Free Press:
Palisades nuclear power plant shuts down after water leak
COVERT TOWNSHIP, MICH.-- Operators of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwestern have removed it from service because of a repeat water leak from a tank that caused seepage into the control room last year.... The plant is owned by New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. and has been under extra NRC scrutiny after numerous safety issues. There were four shutdowns last year and at least two this year. ...


This plant is a vewy vewy bad plant!

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Mon, May 6, 2013
from Reuters:
Low-key U.S. plan for each nation to set climate goals wins ground
A U.S.-led plan to let all countries set their own goals for fighting climate change is gaining grudging support at U.N. talks, even though the current level of pledges is far too low to limit rising temperatures substantially. The approach, being discussed this week at 160-nation talks in Bonn, Germany, would mean abandoning the blueprint of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set central goals for industrialized countries to cut emissions by 2012 and then let each work out national implementation. ...


That way we can blame everyone for planetary destruction.

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Wed, May 1, 2013
from International Herald Tribune:
Billions of Cellphones Polluting the World
Once considered a status symbol, cellphones have become ubiquitous. There are now 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, 800 million more than at the end of 2011. But mobile technology poses serious environmental challenges, both because of the raw materials needed to produce the hardware and the pollution associated with disposal. ...


6.8 billion? Population is 7.1 billion. Those 300,000,000 poor souls.

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Tue, Apr 30, 2013
from New York Times:
Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant
Two years after a triple meltdown that grew into the world's second worst nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is faced with a new crisis: a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain. Groundwater is pouring into the plant's ravaged reactor buildings at a rate of almost 75 gallons a minute. It becomes highly contaminated there, before being pumped out to keep from swamping a critical cooling system. A small army of workers has struggled to contain the continuous flow of radioactive wastewater, relying on hulking gray and silver storage tanks sprawling over 42 acres of parking lots and lawns. The tanks hold the equivalent of 112 Olympic-size pools. ...


This image of Fukushima is brought to you by Hieronymus Bosch.

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Tue, Apr 30, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
Chemicals on federal radar pervasive in Chicago air
On the brink of federal regulatory review, chemicals in deodorants, lotions and conditioners are showing up in Chicago's air at levels that scientists call alarming. The airborne compounds -- cyclic siloxanes -- are traveling to places as far as the Arctic, and can be toxic to aquatic life. "These chemicals are just everywhere,"¯ said Keri Hornbuckle, an engineering professor at the University of Iowa... But whether there are any risks from breathing the chemicals is unknown. There have been no studies to measure people's exposures or investigate potential health risks. ...


Cyclic Siloxanes is my new band's name!

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Tue, Apr 23, 2013
from New York Times:
In China, Breathing Becomes a Childhood Risk
... Levels of deadly pollutants up to 40 times the recommended exposure limit in Beijing and other cities have struck fear into parents and led them to take steps that are radically altering the nature of urban life for their children. Parents are confining sons and daughters to their homes, even if it means keeping them away from friends. Schools are canceling outdoor activities and field trips. Parents with means are choosing schools based on air-filtration systems, and some international schools have built gigantic, futuristic-looking domes over sports fields to ensure healthy breathing. ...


China: The Asphyxiated Giant.

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Tue, Apr 23, 2013
from Bloomberg News:
U.S. States Turn Against Renewable Energy as Gas Plunges
More than half the U.S. states with laws requiring utilities to buy renewable energy are considering ways to pare back those mandates after a plunge in natural gas prices brought on by technology that boosted supply. Sixteen of the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards are considering legislation that would reduce the need for wind and solar power, according to researchers backed by the U.S. Energy Department. North Carolina lawmakers may be among the first to move, followed by Colorado and Connecticut. The efforts could benefit U.S. utilities such as Duke Energy Corp (DUK). and PG&E Corp (PCG). as well as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)., the biggest U.S. oil producer, and Peabody Energy Corp (BTU)., the largest U.S. coal mining company. ...


A veritable rogue's gallery of profiteers.

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Tue, Apr 23, 2013
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
EPA settles with Wisconsin utilities on coal plant air pollution
Wisconsin Power & Light Co. and three other utilities will spend $1.2 billion to clean up coal-fired power plants and shut down older plants under a settlement announced Monday with federal regulators. Under a settlement filed in federal court in Madison on Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department will assess a civil penalty of $2.45 million for alleged violations of air pollution laws over the years.... Utility ratepayers won't have to pay for the civil penalties... But it's possible they could pay for the environmental mitigation costs. And over time they will be on the hook for paying for the construction of environmental controls at the coal boilers that will remain open. ...


Even though it's chump change for a utility, still we hope the chumps might change.

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Tue, Apr 16, 2013
from FuelFix.com:
Report: Seismic research on East Coast could harm 140,000 whales & dolphins
Nearly 140,000 whales and dolphins could be injured if the Obama administration allows energy companies to conduct seismic research aimed at identifying oil and gas along the Atlantic Coast, according to a new report issued Tuesday. The assessment by the conservation group Oceana shines a light on the potential casualties of seismic studies that energy companies use to map the ocean floor and the underground geology of a region. Air guns used in the process send off pulses of sound that penetrate through the ocean and under the seafloor before bouncing back with clues about what lies below. Along the way, Oceana said, the sound waves could devastate marine life, including some of the 500 critically endangered North Atlantic right whales estimated to still exist. Air gun blasts also could cause widespread whale displacement and disrupt loggerhead sea turtles along the Atlantic Coast, Oceana concluded. ...


Nature is that which is in the way of what we are doing.

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Tue, Apr 9, 2013
from Planet Ark:
Greens ask U.S. to delay Keystone decision after Arkansas leak
Environmental groups on Monday asked the Obama administration to extend the approval process of the Keystone XL pipeline, using last month's spill of heavy Canadian crude oil in Arkansas as their latest reason to delay the project. The Obama administration is deciding whether to approve the Canada-to-Nebraska leg of TransCanada Corp's proposed pipeline, which would link Canada's oil sands, the world's third richest crude oil deposit, to refineries in Texas. The State Department, which issued a draft environmental assessment of the $5.3 billion project on March 1, indicated then that a final decision could come by July or August. ...


Remember the Mayflower!

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Tue, Apr 9, 2013
from New York Times:
Ex-Regulator Says Reactors Are Flawed
All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday. Shutting them all down at once is not practical, he said, but he supports phasing them out rather than trying to extend their lives.... it is highly unusual for a former head of the nuclear commission to so bluntly criticize an industry whose safety he was previously in charge of ensuring....Dr. Jaczko cited a well-known characteristic of nuclear reactor fuel to continue to generate copious amounts of heat after a chain reaction is shut down. That "decay heat" is what led to the Fukushima meltdowns. ...


Our nukes are fuked!

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Mon, Apr 8, 2013
from Washington Post:
Crabs, supersized by carbon pollution, may upset Chesapeake's balance
It is the dawn of the super crab. Crabs are bulking up on carbon pollution that pours out of power plants, factories and vehicles and settles in the oceans, turning the tough crustaceans into even more fearsome predators. That presents a major problem for the Chesapeake Bay, where crabs eat oysters. In a life-isn't-fair twist, the same carbon that crabs absorb to grow bigger stymies the development of oysters. ...


Oy, this soooooo makes me crabby.

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Fri, Apr 5, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
Midwest Generation gets more time to clean up Illinois coal plants
The Illinois Pollution Control Board on Thursday granted Midwest Generation two extra years to meet a state multi-pollutant standard that would require they install emissions controls on their four Illinois plants by 2015 and 2016. ...


What's the hurry?

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Wed, Apr 3, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
At Oil Spill Cleanup in Arkansas, Exxon Running the Show, Not Federal Agencies
...The town of 2,000 people is now suddenly the focus of national attention in the divisive debate over whether President Obama should approve the Keystone XL, a $5 billion pipeline to ship Alberta's heavy crude to U.S. refineries along the Texas coast. The stakes are high and Exxon is running the show here, with federal agencies so far publicly invisible. ...


They'd just get in the way.

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Wed, Apr 3, 2013
from Associated Press:
Oil spill leaves sheen on Grand River in Lansing
Cleanup crews were working Tuesday to contain about 300 to 500 gallons of hydraulic fluid that spilled from a Lansing power plant and left a sheen on the Grand River. ...


My cup spilleth over.

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Wed, Apr 3, 2013
from Popular Science:
Over Time, Nuclear Power Would Kill Fewer People Than Petroleum
Using nuclear power for energy instead of coal has prevented almost 2 million pollution-related deaths around the world, and could save millions more lives in the future, according to a new paper. It's the latest publication from James Hansen, NASA's fiery climate change scientist, who is retiring on Wednesday after 46 years with the space agency. The paper argues that policymakers should increase nuclear power, rather than continuing dependence on fossil fuels. The 2011 disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant should not deter governments from expanding nuclear power... Nuclear power has already prevented 64 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions, and would prevent the equivalent of another 80 to 240 gigatons, again depending on which fuel it replaces. ...


This lesser of two evils still looks like a killer to me.

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Wed, Apr 3, 2013
from Associated Press:
Leak near Colo. plant highlights pipeline problems
Authorities are investigating after construction crews discovered a problem with a liquid gas pipeline that allowed a carcinogen to seep into the ground near a large creek that feeds into the Colorado River. The leak near an energy plant in Western Colorado was discovered largely by accident, even though several state and federal agencies are charged with monitoring gas pipelines in the state. "It's possible that we've narrowly dodged a bullet this time," said Michael Saul, with the National Wildlife Federation. The breach, however, should be a "wake-up call" for involved agencies, he said, underscoring concerns over the risk of a larger danger. ...


I think I would prefer remaining asleep.

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Wed, Apr 3, 2013
from Indiana Living Green:
Doctor/farmer/medicine man: Kevin Logan moves from pharm to farm
....growing numbers of patients have discovered Logan's mind-body-spirit approach to wellness--one that focuses less on treating symptoms and more on identifying their root cause. One of the biggest root causes of health problems is diet. "In cases of chronic illness, incorporating dietary changes into patients' lives really makes a world of difference in how they feel. I talk about food all day long with my patients, the things they should be eating, the things they should be avoiding. I see things that you wouldn't even expect would be food-related.ā€¯ ...


Aw, man, I thought this story was going to be about a dude who grows pills.

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Mon, Apr 1, 2013
from Washington Post:
Exxon Mobil pipeline leaks "a few thousand" barrels of crude oil in Arkansas
Exxon Mobil said that one of its pipelines leaked "a few thousandā€¯ barrels of Canadian heavy crude oil near Mayflower, Ark., prompting the evacuation of 22 homes and reinforcing concerns many critics have raised about the Keystone XL pipeline that is awaiting State Department approval. The pipeline breach took place late Friday, Exxon said, in the 20-inch diameter, 95,000-barrel-a-day Pegasus pipeline, which originates in Patoka, Ill., and carries crude oil to the Texas Gulf Coast, the country's main refining center. Mayflower is about 25 miles north of Little Rock. ...


What's the problem? It's just Arkansas.

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Tue, Mar 26, 2013
from London Guardian:
One in five French bottled waters 'contain drugs or pesticides'
They are sold as being cleaner, healthier and purer than the water that spouts from the average French tap. Now, however, an investigation has discovered traces of pesticides and prescription drugs -- including a medicine used to treat breast cancer -- in almost one in five brands of bottled water on the shelves of France's supermarkets. While scientists say the contamination is minuscule and the water remains safe, consumer groups are warning of a "potential cocktail effect" for drinkers, and say the findings raise serious environmental concerns. ...


Sacre bleu!

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Mon, Mar 25, 2013
from Reuters:
Reef-building corals lose out to softer cousins due warming
Climate change is likely to make reef-building stony corals lose out to softer cousins in a damaging shift for many types of fish that use reefs as hideaways and nurseries for their young, a study showed. Soft corals such as mushroom-shaped yellow leather coral, which lack a hard outer skeleton, were far more abundant than hard corals off Iwotorishima, an island off south Japan where volcanic vents make the waters slightly acidic, it said. A build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is turning the oceans more acidic in a process likely to hamper the ability of creatures such as lobsters, crabs, mussels or stony corals to build protective outer layers. ...


Climate change will turn us all into a bunch of softies.

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Mon, Mar 25, 2013
from Associated Press:
Chevron fuel spill in Utah much worse than thought
A Chevron fuel spill near a northern Utah bird refuge is much worse than originally thought as up to 27,000 gallons might have leaked, authorities said. A split in a pipeline that runs from Salt Lake City to Spokane, Wash., is suspected of releasing diesel fuel into soil and marshes at Willard Bay State Park ... Initial reports pegged the spill at up to 6,000 gallons, and Chevron later revised that to some 8,100 gallons. ...


Just once could we read a story with the headline: Spill much better than thought?

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Tue, Mar 19, 2013
from Associated Press:
Crippled Japanese nuclear plant suffers blackout
A power failure at Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear plant on Monday night has left three fuel storage pools without fresh cooling water for hours, the plant's operator said. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the power failure at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was brief at its command center but continued for hours at three of the seven fuel storage pools and at several other facilities, including one that treats water contaminated with radioactivity. ...


In the post-Apocalyptic future, "Fukushima" will be synonymous with "cursed."

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Mon, Mar 11, 2013
from Associated Press:
2,800 pigs dumped in Shanghai river raises concern
BEIJING--A surge in the dumping of dead pigs upstream from Shanghai--with more than 2,800 carcasses floating into the financial hub through Monday--has followed a police campaign to curb the illicit trade in sick pig parts. The effort to keep infected pork off dinner tables may be fueling new health fears, as Shanghai residents and local media fret over the possibility of contamination to the city's water supply, though authorities say no contamination has been detected. Authorities have been pulling out the swollen and rotting pigs, some with their internal organs visible, since Friday--and revolting images of the carcasses in news reports and online blogs have raised public ire against local officials. ...


Rivers... quiet, giant floating trashcans...

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Mon, Mar 11, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
Report: A "ripped safety net" at Midwest nuclear plants
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has a "ripped nuclear safety net,ā€¯ according to a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The report, by nuclear engineer Dave Lochbaum, details 14 incidents in 2012 where the NRC did special inspections at reactors and considered that the likelihood of a core meltdown had increased at least 10-fold over normal circumstances. In the past three years, 40 of the nation's 104 reactors logged such incidents. ...


That net isn't just "ripped," it's in tatters!

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Wed, Mar 6, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
Critical Part of Keystone Report Done by Firms with Deep Oil Industry Ties
The State Department's recent conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline "is unlikely to have a substantial impact" on the rate of Canada's oil sands development was based on analysis provided by two consulting firms with ties to oil and pipeline companies that could benefit from the proposed project. EnSys Energy has worked with ExxonMobil, BP and Koch Industries, which own oil sands production facilities and refineries in the Midwest that process heavy Canadian crude oil. Imperial Oil, one of Canada's largest oil sands producers, is a subsidiary of Exxon. ICF International works with pipeline and oil companies but doesn't list specific clients on its website. It declined to comment on the Keystone, referring questions to the State Department. ...


That fox we hired to guard hen house? He's eating all the hens!

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Tue, Mar 5, 2013
from Associated Press:
Women's Lifespan Declining For Some In US, Says Study
A new study offers more compelling evidence that life expectancy for some U.S. women is actually falling, a disturbing trend that experts can't explain. The latest research found that women age 75 and younger are dying at higher rates than previous years in nearly half of the nation's counties -- many of them rural and in the South and West. Curiously, for men, life expectancy has held steady or improved in nearly all counties. The study is the latest to spot this pattern, especially among disadvantaged white women. Some leading theories blame higher smoking rates, obesity and less education, but several experts said they simply don't know why. ...


Men

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Mon, Mar 4, 2013
from Associated Press:
Climate-change activists jeer as U.S. report says Keystone XL pipeline would have no major environmental impacts
A new U.S. State Department report is the latest evidence that the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada should be approved, supporters say. The draft report, issued Friday, finds there would be no significant environmental impact to most resources along the proposed route from western Canada to refineries in Texas. The report also said other options to get the oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries are worse for climate change.... The State Department analysis for the first time evaluated two options using rail: shipping the oil on trains to existing pipelines or to oil tankers. The report shows that those other methods would release more greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming than the pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline, according to the report, would release annually the same amount of global warming pollution as 626,000 passenger cars. ...


Pity the antiquated thinking of our so-called leaders.

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Thu, Feb 21, 2013
from London Guardian:
Halve meat consumption, scientists urge rich world
People in the rich world should become "demitarians" -- eating half as much meat as usual, while stopping short of giving it up -- in order to avoid severe environmental damage, scientists have urged, in the clearest picture yet of how farming practices are destroying the natural world.... The quest for ever cheaper meat in the past few decades -- most people even in rich countries ate significantly less meat one and two generations ago -- has resulted in a massive expansion of intensively farmed livestock. This has diverted vast quantities of grain from human to animal consumption, requiring intensive use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides and, according to the Unep report, "caused a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health". The run-off from these chemicals is creating dead zones in the seas, causing toxic algal blooms and killing fish, while some are threatening bees, amphibians and sensitive ecosystems. ...


All I did was order a cheeseburger!

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Thu, Feb 21, 2013
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Toxic nap mats draw suit in Oakland
An Oakland watchdog group said Tuesday it is suing major manufacturers and retailers, including Target and Amazon.com, for selling nap mats made with a toxic flame retardant that is also a known carcinogen.... Many foam nap mats, which are widely used at places like day care centers, are doused with flame retardants linked to obesity, hormone disruption and infertility, according to the lawsuit. One of those flame retardants is chlorinated Tris, a carcinogen that was banned more than 30 years ago from children's pajamas, the group says. These chemicals are released into the air that infants and toddlers inhale as they doze on the mats, said Caroline Cox, the center's research director. ...


This just ... makes me ... sleepy.

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Tue, Feb 19, 2013
from Umea University:
Fish Become Bolder and More Gluttonous from Mood-Altering Drug Residue in Water
Anxiety-moderating drugs that reach waterways via wastewater create fearless and asocial fish that eat more quickly than normal. These behavioral changes can have serious ecological consequences. ...


They've got the munchies.

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Tue, Feb 12, 2013
from Center for Public Integrity:
U.S. report urges deeper look into breast cancer's environmental links
A new federal advisory panel report makes a forceful case for more research into environmental causes of breast cancer, which was diagnosed in 227,000 women, killed 40,000 and cost more than $17 billion to treat in the United States last year. Compiled by the congressionally mandated Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee, the report notes that most cases of breast cancer "occur in people with no family history," suggesting that "environmental factors -- broadly defined -- must play a major role in the etiology of the disease." Yet only a fraction of federal research funding has gone toward examining links between breast cancer and ubiquitous chemicals such as the plastic hardening agent bisphenol A; the herbicide atrazine; and dioxin, a byproduct of plastics manufacturing and burning... ...


Race for the truth!

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Mon, Feb 11, 2013
from Climate Central:
Canadian Doctors Urged to Fight Climate Change
Scientists began talking seriously about some dangers of climate change more than 30 years ago -- rising seas, changing weather patterns, more rain in rainy places and more drought in dry places, and more. But the risks that lie outside their areas of expertise have taken longer to draw attention -- especially in the area of human health. That has started to change, however, as medical professionals have begun to understand how a changing climate could lead to all sorts public health problems -- increased mortality as heat waves become more intense and more common; a rising incidence of allergies; the spread of infectious diseases into new areas; and more. The latest evidence of this growing awareness: an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that lays out the facts and urges doctors to become more vocal in demanding action against climate change. ...


Why should they be more vocal? Climate change = more patients = more profit!

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Mon, Feb 4, 2013
from NPR:
Are Mini-Reactors The Future Of Nuclear Power?
The U.S. government is investing millions of dollars in what it considers a promising new industry for American manufacturing: nuclear reactors. The plan is to build hundreds of mini-reactors, dot them around the U.S. and export them overseas. Development of these reactors are already in the works, and at one office park in Lynchburg, Va., where one of these reactors is being assembled, the traditional signs of nuclear reactors are nowhere to be found. There are no cooling towers that look like smoke stacks, no clouds of steam over the buildings -- just a research building and a tower about nine stories tall. ...


In fact, I've got one in my pocket and boy am I happy to see you!

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Sat, Feb 2, 2013
from Yale Environment 300:
Mercury's Silent Toll On the World's Wildlife
This month, delegates from over 140 countries gathered in Geneva and finalized the first international treaty to reduce emissions of mercury. The treaty -- four years in the works and scheduled for signing in October -- aims to protect human health from this very serious neurotoxin. But barely considered during the long deliberations, according to those involved in the treaty process, was the harm that mercury inflicts on wildlife ... Lately, though, Hopkins and others have uncovered mercury in reptiles, amphibians, insects, spiders, terrestrial songbirds, and a wider variety of mammals than expected.. ...


Newsflash: Earth to be renamed Mercury2.

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Tue, Jan 29, 2013
from Reuters:
Beijing shuts factories, removes cars, but pollution stays high
Beijing temporarily shut down 103 heavily polluting factories and took 30 percent of government vehicles off roads to combat dangerously high air pollution, state media reported on Tuesday, but the capital's air remained hazardous despite the measures. Air quality in Beijing has mostly stayed above "very unhealthy" and "hazardous" levels for about two weeks. On Tuesday, it hit 517 on an index maintained by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, which described the pollution as "Beyond Index". ...


I am beyond caring.

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Tue, Jan 29, 2013
from Nature:
Minor oil spills are often bigger than reported
By analysing satellite images, oceanographers have found that small oil spills in the heavily drilled northern Gulf of Mexico are often much larger than reported. The researchers presented their results last week at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. ...


Another report from the Department of Duh.

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Mon, Jan 28, 2013
from Reuters:
Crude oil spills into Mississippi River after oil barges crash
Two oil barges pushed by a tugboat slammed into a railroad bridge in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on Sunday, causing one to leak crude oil into the Mississippi River, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Officials used an "absorbent boom" to contain the undetermined amount of oil that leaked into the river after the collision, which occurred shortly after midnight and damaged both barges, Lieutenant Ryan Gomez said. The barge that is leaking was holding 80,000 gallons of light crude oil, he said....No one was injured in the accident. ...


No one was injured except for Ole Man River!

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Wed, Jan 23, 2013
from Associated Press:
Indy utility plans $511M in power plant upgrades
An Indiana power company plans to spend more than a half-billion dollars to reduce its mercury emissions to comply with new federal regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. Indianapolis Power & Light Co. said Tuesday the $511 million in upgrades at plants in Indianapolis and in Petersburg in southwestern Indiana are part of its effort to meet EPA rules designed to curb toxic emissions from oil- and coal-fired power plants, which are the largest remaining sources of manmade mercury in the environment. The EPA rules are expected to be fully implemented by 2016. ...


Death by mercury might be more merciful than death by fossil-fuel fueled climate chaos.

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Mon, Jan 21, 2013
from EcoWatch:
How Factory Farming Contributes to Global Warming
... Today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, are crammed into CAFOs ... CAFOs contribute directly to global warming by releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere -- more than the entire global transportation industry. The air at some factory farm test sites in the U.S. is dirtier than in America's most polluted cities, according to the Environmental Integrity Project. According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth's atmosphere than CO2... Nitrous oxide pollution is even worse than methane -- 200 times more damaging per ton than CO2. And just as animal waste leaches antibiotics and hormones into ground and water, pesticides and fertilizers also eventually find their way into our waterways, further damaging the environment. ...


That is, like, almost 10 animals per human!

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Mon, Jan 21, 2013
from Boston Globe:
New illness, transmitted by same tick that carries Lyme, is discovered in Northeast
Researchers have discovered a new human disease in the Northeast transmitted by the same common deer tick that can infect people with Lyme disease. The bacterial illness causes flu-like symptoms, the researchers from Tufts, Yale, and other institutions reported Wednesday, but they also described the case of an 80-year-old woman who became confused and withdrawn, lost weight, and developed hearing difficulty and a wobbly gait. ...


That poor tick is workin' overtime

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Tue, Jan 15, 2013
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Rising temps could change landscape of Midwest
Algae blooms on Lake Superior, the disappearance of birch trees from Minnesota and more heat-related complications for human health are all likely without significant action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the warmer climate they are causing. Those are among the conclusions of a new national report from the U.S. Global Change Research Project that is expected to help shape federal climate policy over the coming decade.... The report is scheduled to go to Obama in March 2014, after a public comment period and administration policymakers sign off on its conclusions. ...


Why hurry?

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Tue, Jan 15, 2013
from The Times of India:
Thought Beijing air was bad? Delhi's no better
Beijing's air pollution made international news over the weekend when fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the city air rose to an 'out-of-index' level of 755 mg/cu m. Pictures showed Beijing residents wearing masks amid advisories that they should stay indoors. Meanwhile, it was business as usual in Delhi on Monday when despite a clear windy day, the PM2.5 levels ranged from 130 to 565 mg/cu m. According to World Health Organization, the safe level of PM2.5 is 20 mg/cu m. The Indian standard for this pollutant -- that can cause respiratory illnesses and worsen heart ailments -- is 60 mg/cu m. On Monday, the highest value of 565 mg/cu m -- considered very hazardous -- was recorded at R K Puram for about two hours. ...


So. Beijing still "wins."

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Tue, Jan 15, 2013
from ClimateWire:
Ontario Phases Out Coal-Fired Power
By the end of the year, Ontario will become the first jurisdiction in North America to shut down almost its entire coal fleet. Yesterday, the province announced that its last two large coal units will close before 2014, making more than 99 percent of the province's electricity generated from non-coal sources. It is a major shift for Ontario, which fired 25 percent of its grid from coal a decade ago. ...


Ontario, u da man!

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Mon, Jan 14, 2013
from London Independent:
Made in Britain: The toxic tetraethyl lead used in fuel sold to world's poorest
A British company convicted of bribing foreign officials to maintain sales of a poisonous lead fuel additive is continuing to sell the chemical abroad to unstable countries, despite mounting evidence that it is responsible for long- term damage to human health and may be linked to violent crime. ...


In America, we call that trickle-down.

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Wed, Jan 9, 2013
from E&E Publishing:
Harmful algae blooms increase as water warms in the world's major lakes
The warming waters of one of central Europe's most popular holiday destinations, Switzerland's Lake Zurich, have created an ideal environment for a population explosion of algae including Planktothrix rubescens, a toxic cyanobacterium. It has the potential to harm humans, animals and the tourism that pumps up the economies of lake districts. Although harmful algal blooms have been documented for more than a century, recently the number and frequency of cases have drastically increased. According to research published in leading scientific journals, Lake Zurich is by no means alone. Cyanobacteria now threaten the ecological well-being of some of the world's largest water bodies, including Lake Victoria in Africa, Lake Erie in the United States and Canada, Lake Taihu in China, the Baltic Sea in northern Europe, and the Caspian Sea in west Asia. ...


Seems like a lake of fire would be an attraction for some tourists.

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Mon, Jan 7, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
The Year Ahead in Keystone XL: Climate Worry Introduces Big Unknown
After years of protests and lobbying, the Obama administration is expected to decide within months on the fate of the 1,200-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline. The State Department is finalizing a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the project, which would ship tar sands oil from Canada, through America's heartland, and to the Gulf Coast via other pipelines.... For most of 2012, climate disappeared from the political agenda -- including from the administration's discussions of the Keystone XL -- but the issue unexpectedly gained the national spotlight post-Sandy. It remains unclear how, or whether, global warming will be addressed in the forthcoming SEIS and, more generally, by Obama in his second term. ...


Let's hope for another disaster! Oh, wait...

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Mon, Jan 7, 2013
from Associated Press:
EPA fracking study may dodge some tough questions
An ongoing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study on natural gas drilling and its potential for groundwater contamination has gotten tentative praise so far from both industry and environmental groups. Glenn Paulson, the EPA's science adviser, describes the project as "one of the most aggressive public outreach programs in EPA history." The final report won't come out until late 2014. But a 275-page progress report was released in December and, for all its details, shows that the EPA doesn't plan to address one contentious issue -- how often drinking water contamination might occur ... for example, once every 100,000 wells or once every 1,000. ...


I've never really cared much for numbers anyway.

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Mon, Jan 7, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
Study finds insecticide in Costa Rican children near banana and plantain plantations
Children living near traditional plantations in Costa Rica are exposed to twice as much of the insecticide chlorpyrifos compared to children living near organic plantations, a study reports. More than half of the 140 studied children -- mostly indigenous Ngabe and Bribri -- had higher daily exposures than what is considered safe by U.S. standards. Residential use of the pesticide, which has been linked to neurological effects in children, is banned in the United States, although it is still permitted on some crops. Costa Rica's banana and plantain plantations export products to U.S. and European markets. ...


Yeah, but kids near organic plantations are exposed to arrogance.

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Tue, Jan 1, 2013
from London Guardian:
2012: the year we did our best to abandon the natural world
It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half-century. Three weeks before the minimum occurred, the melting of the Arctic's sea ice broke the previous record. Remnants of the global megafauna -- such as rhinos and bluefin tuna -- were shoved violently towards extinction. Novel tree diseases raged across continents. Bird and insect numbers continued to plummet, coral reefs retreated, marine life dwindled. And those charged with protecting us and the world in which we live pretended that none of it was happening. ...


Who'd want to be in charge of this ecotastrophe?

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Mon, Dec 31, 2012
from Morning Edition, NPR:
A Busy And Head-Scratching 2012 Hurricane Season
Superstorm Sandy is what most people will remember from the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. But Sandy was just one of 10 hurricanes this year -- a hurricane season that was both busy and strange .... the largest and strangest storm of the year: Hurricane Sandy. Almost everything about Sandy was unusual. It turned left where most storms turned right. It started out as a hurricane and then became an equally powerful winter superstorm. It brought heavy snow to the Appalachians. ...


The androgynously named Sandy was also transtormual!

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Mon, Dec 31, 2012
from St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
One in five kids in parts of St. Louis area struggles with asthma
...Nationwide, about 1 in 10 children has asthma. But in some of the poorest areas in north St. Louis and St. Louis County, a staggering 1 in 5 has the chronic disease, recent studies have found. Asthma is a lung disease that causes episodes of breathing difficulty. But most people can live symptom-free if they receive medical care, use medications properly and limit triggers in their environment. Yet four children under age 15 died from asthma in the city and county in 2009 and 2010, the latest numbers available. ...


Poverty is suffocating.

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Thu, Dec 27, 2012
from New York Times:
EPA Chief to Step Down, With Climate Still Low Priority
Lisa P. Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change and other environmental ills but ended with a series of rear-guard actions to defend the agency against challenges from industry, Republicans in Congress and, at times, the Obama White House... She informed the E.P.A. staff of her decision on Thursday morning and issued a brief statement saying that she was confident "the ship is sailing in the right direction." ...


I would counter the ship is sinking!

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Wed, Dec 26, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
Components of air pollution may increase the risk of stillbirth
Pregnant women exposed to higher levels of air pollution had a small increase in risk of stillbirth as compared to pregnant women exposed to lower levels of air pollution, found a study from New Jersey. Some of the air pollution components appeared to be more important risk factors early in pregnancy and some of the components appeared to be more important risk factors later in pregnancy. This study contributes to a small number of studies looking at air pollution and stillbirth, although not all studies have observed similar adverse associations. In the United States, about 1 in 160 pregnancies (26,000 per year) ends in stillbirth, defined as fetal death after the 20th week of gestation. Rates of stillbirth are higher in the United States than in many other developed countries. ...


Stillbirth ... stillbereft

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Wed, Dec 26, 2012
from China Daily:
Beijing continues to scrap polluting cars
The capital's initiative to rid the city of polluting vehicles has taken 458,000 old cars off the road, and the government is providing more benefits to local motorists to encourage them to scrap aging vehicles. "The campaign has not only boosted the local car market to some extent, which had been stagnant, but has also substantially improved the capital's air quality," Li Kunsheng, director of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau's department of motor vehicles, said at a news conference on Tuesday. ...


Sometimes, a dictatorship is a good thing.

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Thu, Dec 20, 2012
from The Hill:
Obama: Climate change among top three priorities for second term
President Obama has identified climate change as one of his top three priorities in his second term after coming under fire from environmentalists for giving the issue short shrift during the campaign. The president, in an interview for TIME's Person of the Year award, said the economy, immigration, climate change and energy would be at the top of his agenda for the next four years. The interview took place before the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, an incident that had pushed gun control to a top spot on Obama's agenda. Obama said his daughters have influenced his thinking about the need to tackle climate change. ...


Wait. Ain't that four things???

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Wed, Dec 19, 2012
from E&E Daily:
Agencies paralyzed by fiscal cliff, endless succession of CRs
So far this year, U.S. EPA has frozen hiring, delayed contracts and sharply curtailed travel, all to deal with the uncertainty of its future budget. It's not only the so-called fiscal cliff -- with its scheduled across-the-board budget cuts -- that has hampered EPA's operations. Instead, it is an action that has become so routine in recent years that all federal agencies have become experts in handling it: the continuing resolution. And this year, lawmakers seem likely to take it a step further, passing a CR for the entire fiscal year, thanks to fiscal cliff negotiations and a slew of other priorities that have moved the budget to the back burner. ...


Environmental Paralyzed Agency

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Tue, Dec 18, 2012
from London Guardian:
Pollution from car emissions killing millions in China and India
An explosion of car use has made fast-growing Asian cities the epicentre of global air pollution and become, along with obesity, the world's fastest growing cause of death according to a major study of global diseases. In 2010, more than 2.1m people in Asia died prematurely from air pollution, mostly from the minute particles of diesel soot and gasses emitted from cars and lorries. Other causes of air pollution include construction and industry. Of these deaths, says the study published in The Lancet, 1.2 million were in east Asia and China, and 712,000 in south Asia, including India. ...


Eat my exhaust.

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Tue, Dec 18, 2012
from The Daily Climate:
Extreme heat contributes to rare childhood blindness
Women pregnant during heat waves face a higher risk of giving birth to babies with a rare defect causing blindness, according to new research. The study, surveying 15 years of birth defect records in New York state, offers troubling implications for a warmer climate. In the first study to explore a link between extreme heat and birth defects, researchers from the New York Department of Health and The State University of New York at Albany found that even a five-degree increase in temperature during crucial developmental stages in pregnancy increased the odds of an infant developing congenital cataracts. ...


Arguably, none of us will want to see what's truly happening to our planet.

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Mon, Dec 10, 2012
from INFORUM:
North Dakota ranchers say oil harming herd
Jacki Schilke likes to say her black angus cattle live in harmony with the cats and dogs on her rural Williston ranch. But recently, Schilke's ranch has not been in harmony with oil development expanding around her 160 acres. Five cows, one bull, two dogs and as many as two dozen farm cats have died in the past two years, and Schilke worries the dozens of oil wells within three miles of her ranch could be to blame....They had four cattle that lost the ends of their tails before they either died or were shot by her husband to end their suffering. ...


You can complain about cheap energy until the cows' tails fall off.

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Mon, Dec 10, 2012
from Midwest Energy News:
Will Ohio legislation reveal secret fracking chemicals?
Each year, tanker trucks carrying fracking fluid or fracking wastewater log hundreds of miles on Ohio's rural roads. What if one crashes into a car and tips, injuring and spilling fracking fluid on the car's passenger? ... Would doctors treating the accident victims know what they'd been exposed to? Under a 2012 Ohio fracking law, maybe not, says Melissa English, development director of Ohio Citizen Action, a Columbus-based ratepayer and environmental advocacy group (and a member of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News). English is among a group of environmentalists and health professionals who say the law makes it nearly impossible for doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians to get the chemical information they need in time to protect patients. ...


That's why I support prophylactic antibiotics.

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Mon, Dec 10, 2012
from Food safety news:
Brazil Kept Mad Cow Secret for Two Years
Enough beef to feed one million Americans for a year has been imported from Brazil without the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) mitigations that are supposed to be applied to countries where BSE is known to exist. That's because for the past two years, USDA was operating under the assumption that Brazil had not experienced any BSE, or Mad Cow disease as it's commonly known. But Brazil -- the world's biggest beef exporting country -- was keeping a secret for the past two years. A secret that if known might well have seen its beef banned from the U.S., or at the very least, subjected its beef to BSE controls. That's because while the U.S. was importing 67 million pounds of beef from Brazil, South America's biggest country was keeping a Mad Cow secret. ...


This is crazy!

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Tue, Dec 4, 2012
from InsideClimate News:
First Study of Its Kind Detects 44 Hazardous Air Pollutants at Gas Drilling Sites
For years, the controversy over natural gas drilling has focused on the water and air quality problems linked to hydraulic fracturing, the process where chemicals are blasted deep underground to release tightly bound natural gas deposits. But a new study reports that a set of chemicals called non-methane hydrocarbons, or NMHCs, is found in the air near drilling sites even when fracking isn't in progress. According to a peer-reviewed study in the journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, more than 50 NMHCs were found near gas wells in rural Colorado, including 35 that affect the brain and nervous system. Some were detected at levels high enough to potentially harm children who are exposed to them before birth. ...


I've always thought fracking might make me want to frart.

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Mon, Dec 3, 2012
from The Telegraph:
Pesticide exposure harms memory
A review of 14 separate studies has shown that chemicals can reduce memory and the ability to process information quickly. The findings, by researchers at University College London and the Open University, are the most comprehensive evidence yet that organophosphates can harm human health at low levels...."The weight of evidence is that low level exposure is harmful. It targets memory, information processing speed, the ability to plan and have abstract thoughts." ...


Just when we needed our wits most ... we are witless!

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Fri, Nov 30, 2012
from Live Science:
US Birth Rate Hits New Low
The rate of babies born in the United States hit a record low in 2011, a new analysis shows. Researchers say the drastic drop in the birth rate among immigrants has greatly contributed to the overall decrease. Based on preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Pew Research Center calculated that the overall birth rate -- the annual number of births per 1,000 women between 15 to 44 -- was 63.2 last year. That's the lowest since such reliable record collection began in 1920 and close to half the birth rate in 1957, amid the Baby Boom years. ...


From baby boom to baby bust.

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Thu, Nov 29, 2012
from London Guardian:
Siberia's pesticide dumps may prove a bigger hazard than nuclear waste
...All over the former Soviet Union, nearly 250,000 tonnes of pesticides and farm chemicals have been stored in ramshackle warehouses, land-filled or dumped. After the USSR splintered the authorities lost the thread, so no one knows exactly where this toxic waste is ... such dumps may be a bigger hazard than even nuclear waste because of the confusion surrounding them. ...


Nuke the dumps!

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Tue, Nov 27, 2012
from Daily Beast:
Chemicals in the Environment Interfere With Pregnancy
There's no shortage of obstacles for couples trying to get pregnant, and a recent study by the National Institutes of Heath (NIH) has found yet another barrier: chemicals that you've most likely already been exposed to, and can't do much about. Using blood and urine samples from 501 couples trying to get pregnant, the study found 4 chemicals in women and 9 chemicals in men associated with a longer time to pregnancy, after adjusting for other factors that affect fertility like smoking and age. The chemicals were associated with a 20 percent reduction in odds of achieving pregnancy each menstrual cycle.... The chemicals, which include PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), are not found in factories or FDA-banned products're in meat, fish, and dairy. ...


That means we'll just have try 20 percent harder!

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Mon, Nov 26, 2012
from Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies :
Maple Syrup, Moose, and the Impacts of Climate Change in the North
In the northern hardwood forest, climate change is poised to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry, spread wildlife diseases and tree pests, and change timber resources. And, according to a new BioScience paper just released by twenty-one scientists, without long-term studies at the local scale -- we will be ill-prepared to predict and manage these effects. ...


You saying my pancakes are in danger?

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Mon, Nov 19, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
Slowing cargo ships cuts pollution near ports by more than half, study finds.
Slowing cargo vessels near coastlines by 10 to 15 miles per hour could dramatically cut ships' air pollution, according to a new study. But only a few U.S. ports have initiated such efforts. A speed limit of 14 mph, down from the current cruising speeds of 25 to 29 mph, would cut nitrogen oxides -- a main ingredient of smog -- by 55 percent and soot by almost 70 percent. It also would reduce carbon dioxide -- a potent greenhouse gas and key contributor to climate change -- by 60 percent. With 100,000 ships carrying 90 percent of the world's cargo, air pollution is a heavy burden for people living near ports, so slowing ships could improve their health, researchers say. ...


Are you suggesting my crap not get to me in a timely manner??

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Mon, Nov 19, 2012
from Youngstown Vindicator:
City seeks input on fracking in Youngstown parks
The city doesn't have plans to lease park land to companies for oil and gas drilling, but its parks and recreation commission will take comments from the public about the issue.... City council gave the board of control approval Oct. 17 to move ahead with a plan to solicit offers from companies to lease city-owned land for fracking. The proceeds are to be used for neighborhood improvement work, primarily demolitions.... "Right now, I wouldn't be in favor of any fracking in parks," said Mayor Charles Sammarone. "But if the city has the chance to make a zillion dollars, we'd have to re-evaluate." ...


Hey, for a zillion dollars, I'd wreck the entire planet!

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Tue, Nov 13, 2012
from The Telegraph:
'Old bangers' and classic cars to be banned from Paris
Under proposals presented to the city council on Monday, Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoa intends to outlaw by September 2014 the use of cars and utility vehicles more than 17 years old and lorries or buses more than 18 years old... Philippe Goujon, head of the Right-wing opposition UMP federation in the Paris council criticised the move as "anti-social, anti-surbuban and anti-motorist." ...


I'm good with two out of three.

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Mon, Nov 5, 2012
from Postmedia News:
Federal scientists muzzled on oilsands
Environment Canada scientists have confirmed results published by researchers from the University of Alberta showing contaminants accumulating in the snow near oilsands operations, an internal federal document has revealed. Testing by the Environment Canada scientists also found contaminants in precipitation in the region. But the federal researchers were discouraged from speaking to reporters about their findings, presented at a November 2011 conference in Boston of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, says the document, released to Postmedia News through access to information. ...


Science bites.

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Tue, Oct 23, 2012
from Reuters:
Insight: In vulnerable Greece, mosquitoes bite back
Just when it seems things couldn't get any worse for Greece, the exhausted and indebted country has a new threat to deal with: mosquito-borne diseases. Species of the blood-sucking insects that can carry exotic-sounding tropical infections like malaria, West Nile Virus, chikungunya and dengue fever are enjoying the extra bit of warmth climate change is bringing to parts of southern Europe. And with austerity budgets, a collapsing health system, political infighting and rising xenophobia all conspiring to allow pest and disease control measures here to slip through the net, the mosquitoes are biting back. ...


They started civilization, they might as well end it.

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Tue, Oct 23, 2012
from Agence France-Press:
California to vote on GM food labeling
California could become the first US state to enforce labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods, in a vote next month pitting agro-chemical giants against opponents of so-called "Frankenfoods." The western state will vote on November 6 -- the day of the White House election -- on Proposition 37, which backers claim would simply let consumers know what they are eating, but critics say will pander to unjustified fears....The prospect is not to the taste of agro-chemical and agro-food giants like Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, DuPont, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Kellogg and Heinz, who have spent millions of dollars on advertising to defeat the ballot initiative. ...


Could I get me some Dracudrinks to go with them Frankenfoods?

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Mon, Oct 22, 2012
from Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council:
Combined Pesticide Exposure Affects Bumblebee Colony Success
Individual worker behaviour and colony success are both affected when bees are exposed to a combination of pesticides, according to research conducted by Dr Richard Gill and Dr Nigel Raine at Royal Holloway, University of London. This research, published in Nature, investigated social bumblebee colonies which rely on the collective performance of numerous individual worker bees. It showed that chronic exposure to two commonly-used pesticides (a neonicotinoid and a pyrethroid), at concentrations approximating field-level exposure, impaired natural foraging behaviour and increased worker mortality. This led to significant reductions in colony success, and increased rates of colony failure. ...


It never ceases to amaze me that pesticides could be harmful to insects.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 16, 2012
from E&E Publishing:
Avian malaria found spreading in local Alaska birds
A tropical plague is spreading among birds in America's northernmost state in part due to a changing climate, according to new research. Malaria, a scourge that haunts many parts of humanity, also afflicts our feathered friends. The avian version of the disease does not harm people, but it can serve as an analogue for future infection patterns in humans as the climate changes. ...


Are you implying these birds are, um, canaries in the coal mine?

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Tue, Oct 16, 2012
from EcoWatch:
New Report Confirms Fracking is Reckless
A new report1 on shale resources and hydraulic fracturing from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) -- an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress -- concludes that fracking poses serious risks to health and the environment. The report, which reviewed studies from state agencies overseeing fracking as well as scientific reports, found that the extent of the risks has not yet been fully quantified and that there are many unanswered questions and a lack of scientific data. Major reports and studies were also released in Europe the past two months, all of which came to the conclusion that fracking poses serious risks to water, public health, and the environment, and that additional scientific study is necessary. Meanwhile, in NY hundreds of doctors, scientists, and medical organizations have renewed calls for an independent, comprehensive health impact assessment and additional scientific research. ...


This is getting quite fractious!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 15, 2012
from Midwest Energy News:
Indiana coal controversy prompts push for more transparency in utility planning
For the first time in 17 years, Indiana's public utility commission is rewriting the state's rule governing how utilities develop long-term plans to meet electricity demand. The new rule could force the state's five investor-owned utilities to face more public scrutiny in developing their plans, and perhaps move more quickly than they might otherwise toward reducing carbon emissions. But the utilities are pushing back, saying that since they have the most skin in the game, they should have the most say over their plans. ...


They have skin in the game we only have lungs.

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Tue, Oct 9, 2012
from Reuters:
More US coal plants to retire due to green rules: study
More U.S. coal-fired power plants could retire due to environmental regulations and weaker-than-expected electric demand, costing the industry up to $144 billion, economists at consultancy Brattle Group said. In a new study, Brattle's economists forecast 59,000 to 77,000 megawatts (MW) of coal plant capacity would likely retire over the next five years. That was about 25,000 MW more than the firm had estimated in 2010, Brattle said in a release. There is about 317,000 MW of coal-fired capacity now in the United States. ...


The golf courses are going to be full!

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Mon, Oct 8, 2012
from Washington Post:
U.S. runs out of funds to battle wildfires
In the worst wildfire season on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service ran out of money to pay for firefighters, fire trucks and aircraft that dump retardant on monstrous flames. So officials did about the only thing they could: take money from other forest management programs. But many of the programs were aimed at preventing giant fires in the first place, and raiding their budgets meant putting off the removal of dried brush and dead wood over vast stretches of land -- the things that fuel eye-popping blazes, threatening property and lives. ...


I fear this will fuel a fiery feedback loop!

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Mon, Oct 8, 2012
from Midwest Energy News:
Q&A: Is Midwest coal destined for Asia?
As coal-fired power plants are closing down across the U.S. -- the result of competition from cheap natural gas and tougher pollution rules -- coal companies are looking to ramp up their exports overseas. Coal exports from the U.S. have already increased significantly in the past few years. The U.S. has long exported coal for power plants and steel-making (thermal and metallurgical, respectively) to Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. But now companies are looking to build new ports or expand existing ports in the Pacific Northwest and on the East and Gulf coasts. ...


(singing) Coal! Coal will bring us together!

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Tue, Oct 2, 2012
from Reuters:
Pesticide use ramping up as GMO crop technology backfires: study
U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides to fight weeds and insects due largely to heavy adoption of genetically modified crop technologies that are sparking a rise of "superweeds" and hard-to-kill insects, according to a newly released study. Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011, according to the report by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.... in recent years, more than two dozen weed species have become resistant to Roundup's chief ingredient glyphosate, causing farmers to use increasing amounts both of glyphosate and other weedkilling chemicals to try to control the so-called "superweeds." ...


GMO no mo'

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Tue, Sep 25, 2012
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Criminal investigation at Chevron refinery for Detoured Pollutants
Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of Chevron after discovering that the company detoured pollutants around monitoring equipment at its Richmond refinery for four years and burned them off into the atmosphere, in possible violation of a federal court order, The Chronicle has learned. Air quality officials say Chevron fashioned a pipe inside its refinery that routed hydrocarbon gases around monitoring equipment and allowed them to be burned off without officials knowing about it. Some of the gases escaped into the air, but because the company didn't record them, investigators have no way of being certain of the level of pollution exposure to thousands of people who live downwind from the plant.... "They were routing gas through that pipe to the flare that they were not monitoring," said Jack Broadbent.... ...


That's the beauty of self-policing!

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Mon, Sep 24, 2012
from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution :
Nuclear industry slowed by its own waste
Just as the nuclear industry is starting to build reactors after a 30-year drought, it faces another dry spell. The industry thought it had what it needed for its rebirth: federal loan guarantees; a uniform reactor design; a streamlined licensing process. The nightmares from the 1979 partial meltdown at Three Mile Island, 1,000 new safety regulations and cost overruns would be left in the past, industry officials believed. But what never came together was a long-term plan for how to store the used radioactive fuel. As a result, judges and regulators have slammed the brakes on new reactor projects -- with two exceptions, one of those in Georgia. ...


This is the central story of human civilization: Not knowing what to do with our waste.

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Mon, Sep 24, 2012
from Reuters:
Breathing European air shortens lives -report
Microscopic particles, among the most harmful forms of air pollution, are still found at dangerous levels in Europe, although law has cut some toxins from exhaust fumes and chimneys, a European Environmental Agency (EEA) report said. On average, air pollution is cutting human lives by roughly eight months and by about two years in the worst affected regions, such as industrial parts of eastern Europe, because it causes diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular problems. ...


I've always wanted to die in Paris.

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Mon, Sep 17, 2012
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Pesticides Firm Hit With Record Fine
Scotts Miracle-Gro will pay the largest criminal fine --$4 million--and the largest civil penalty--$6 million--ever assessed for violations of the federal pesticides law. A major producer of pesticides for lawn and garden use that also sells wild bird food, Scotts agreed to the fines as part of a criminal plea agreement in a federal court case and a civil settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency. Both deals were finalized on Sept. 7. In the criminal case, court papers show that the company pleaded guilty to 11 charges, including creating phony pesticide registration documents... Scotts has admitted to having treated stored wild bird food with two insecticides not authorized for this use, including one labeled as toxic to birds, the court documents say. ...


An actual fine? It's a miracle!

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Mon, Sep 17, 2012
from ClimateWire:
Sagging economy, doubts about coal prompt power companies to sell more plants
Dominion Resources' plan to shed 4,000 megawatts from its merchant power portfolio by next year illustrates just how dramatically electricity markets have changed in an era of tightening regulation, volatile fuel prices and a sluggish economy... Mike King, head of the energy, environment and network industries practice at NERA Economic Consulting, said the electric power sector is weathering major disruptions caused by technology, policy, regulatory and market forces. Among these are low gas prices sparked by the technological advancements in oil and gas drilling, and government policies promoting renewables and energy efficiency. Finally, new regulations targeting coal-fired power plant emissions have required significant upgrades in coal plants, making it difficult for their owners to make money. ...


Viva la disruptions!

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Tue, Sep 4, 2012
from Marin Independent Journal:
Pot growers' mess a threat to Peninsula reservoir
You can't swim or boat in Crystal Springs Reservoir because it's the drinking water source for more than a million people, yet illegal pot farms in the rugged land above the water might be a bigger threat than skinny-dippers. Last week authorities pulled 7,200 pounds of trash left behind by illicit marijuana growers off the steep hillsides that funnel rain and creek water into the reservoir. Among the car batteries and black plastic irrigation tubes authorities carted out by helicopter were toxic pesticides that have been banned from the United States. ...


Dude, where's my conscience.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 4, 2012
from Columbus Dispatch:
'Fracking' brine | Gas-well waste full of radium
Millions of barrels of wastewater trucked into Ohio from shale-gas wells in Pennsylvania might be highly radioactive, according to a government study. Radium in one sample of Marcellus shale wastewater, also called brine, that Pennsylvania officials collected in 2009 was 3,609 times more radioactive than a federal safety limit for drinking water. It was 300 times higher than a Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for industrial discharges to water. The December 2011 study, compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, also found that the median levels of radium in brine from Marcellus shale wells was more than three times higher than brine collected from conventional oil and gas wells. ...


Arrrrr! Is that radium in your brine or are you just happy to see me!

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Mon, Sep 3, 2012
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Romney To Focus On Fossil Fuels
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wants to significantly boost U.S. fossil-fuel production while ending federal subsidies and loan guarantees for most forms of alternative energy, such as solar and wind power. Romney's energy plan, which the former Massachusetts governor outlined on Aug. 23, sets an ambitious goal for the U.S. of reaching energy independence by 2020 through increased production of oil, natural gas, and coal, accompanied by reduced regulation. The plan does not mention climate change. "Three million jobs come back to this country by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet," Romney said at a campaign stop in New Mexico. "That's oil and gas and coal." ...


Also underneath our feet... our graves.

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Mon, Sep 3, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
Exposure to PCE-tainted water before birth to age 5 affects color vision decades later
Adults exposed to higher levels of the commercial solvent PCE from before birth to age 5 were less able to see contrast and distinguish colors years after the exposures were reduced. While not life-threatening, the ability to tell light from dark and yellow from green affects visual perception and quality of life. The findings are part of a larger, ongoing study assessing the long-term health effects of exposure during early development to PCE-contaminated drinking water in communities near Cape Cod, Mass. Exposure to PCE at work has been linked to impaired color vision. This is the first study to show similar kinds of vision deficits decades after the original exposures. ...


Is this why everything looks rose-colored to me?

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Fri, Aug 31, 2012
from Chicago Tribune:
Closure of Chicago's Crawford, Fisk electric plants ends coal era
The Fisk power plant, in service since 1903, burned its final batch of coal Thursday while its sister plant Crawford shut down by Wednesday, ending Chicago's run as the only major U.S. city with two coal plants operating in its borders. Their closings, confirmed by owner Midwest Generation, eliminate Chicago's two biggest industrial sources of carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming. At their peak the plants supplied power to roughly 1 million homes. ...


I'm already feeling nostalgic.

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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
from Shanghai Daily:
City plans to phase out dirty old clunkers
SHANGHAI will gradually limit and finally eliminate use of heavily polluting vehicles starting next month to reduce air contaminants. The owners will get subsidies from the government... The vehicles, mostly older models that do not meet national emission requirements, are easily identifiable by a yellow sticker on the window. There are 230,000 such vehicles registered in Shanghai, about 12 percent of total vehicles with local plates, according to environmental protection authorities. But they contribute more than half of all vehicle emissions, said officials. The vehicles usually emit five to 10 times more than others.... The city is expected to get rid of 200,000 high-pollution vehicles by the end of 2015. ...


You might say these clunkers are about to be Shanghaied.

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Mon, Aug 27, 2012
from New York Times:
Fires Still Burning in Aftermath of Deadly Venezuela Blast
Scenes of destruction extended for blocks through the working-class neighborhood near the Amuay oil refinery on Sunday, as firefighters struggled to control blazes still burning in the plant's huge fuel storage tanks after an explosion early Saturday that has killed at least 41 people. ...


It's not been a shining year for oil refineries.

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Wed, Aug 22, 2012
from University of Missouri, via EurekAlert:
Super-strong, high-tech material found to be toxic to aquatic animals
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are some of the strongest materials on Earth and are used to strengthen composite materials, such as those used in high-performance tennis rackets. CNTs have potential uses in everything from medicine to electronics to construction. However, CNTs are not without risks. A joint study by the University of Missouri and United States Geological Survey found that they can be toxic to aquatic animals.... "One of the greatest possibilities of contamination of the environment by CNTs comes during the manufacture of composite materials," said Hao Li, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at MU. "Good waste management and handling procedures can minimize this risk. Also, to control long-term risks, we need to understand what happens when these composite materials break down." ...


You don't think I'm safe either? But I'm a land animal!

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Tue, Aug 21, 2012
from CBS News, via kbzk:
West Nile virus outbreak: How to protect yourself
Dallas planes took to the skies Friday to spray insecticides to combat the worst West Nile virus outbreak the United States has seen this year. Thus far, 10 people have been killed and at least 230 others have been sickened in the Dallas County area. Nearly half of all West Nile cases in the U.S. so far this year are in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the trend continues, 2012 will be the worst West Nile year in state history.... The good news is about 80 percent of people who are infected with the virus won't show any symptoms at all. Up to 20 percent, however, may develop a fever, headache, body aches, vomiting, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash.... But about one in 150 people will develop a severe illness, in which they may have a high fever, neck stiffness, convulsions, vision loss, paralysis, coma or other neurological effects that may be permanent. ...


I simply surround myself with a constant cloud of DEET.

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Wed, Aug 15, 2012
from Reuters:
Dallas mayor declares emergency over West Nile virus
The mayor of Dallas declared a state of emergency in the ninth largest U.S. city on Wednesday to combat the spread of West Nile virus infections, which have been more prevalent than usual in Texas and other states this year. There have been more cases of West Nile virus reported so far this year than any year since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control said on its website. Nearly half of the 693 human cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus infections reported this year to the CDC have been in Texas, along with 14 of the 26 deaths confirmed by the federal agency as of Tuesday. ...


Not to be overshadowed by drought, wildfires and other extreme weather, the tiny mosquito rises to the challenge.

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Wed, Aug 15, 2012
from Charlotte Observer:
Father's occupation can affect health of newborn
It has long been known that the behavior and environment of the mother during pregnancy can affect a newborn's health. But new research suggests that a father's behavior is important, too. Scientists at UNC Chapel Hill have found that different parental occupations may bring increased risk of birth defects. For example, photographers seem to have a greater risk of having a child with eye defects. The children of landscapers have a greater risk for gastrointestinal defects. ...


And children of despots have a greater risk for arrogance.

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Thu, Aug 9, 2012
from Nature:
Demand for water outstrips supply
Almost one-quarter of the world's population lives in regions where groundwater is being used up faster than it can be replenished, concludes a comprehensive global analysis of groundwater depletion, published this week in Nature. Across the world, human civilizations depend largely on tapping vast reservoirs of water that have been stored for up to thousands of years in sand, clay and rock deep underground. These massive aquifers -- which in some cases stretch across multiple states and country borders -- provide water for drinking and crop irrigation, as well as to support ecosystems such as forests and fisheries. Yet in most of the world's major agricultural regions, including the Central Valley in California, the Nile delta region of Egypt, and the Upper Ganges in India and Pakistan, demand exceeds these reservoirs' capacity for renewal. ...


Let them drink cake.

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Thu, Aug 9, 2012
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Refinery damage may take months to repair
The damage caused by a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond will take months to repair and will hobble one of the West Coast's biggest sources of fuel, industry experts said Wednesday. And while panic buying appears to have prompted a jump in wholesale gasoline prices after Monday night's fire, analysts say, the longer-term effect on California drivers may not be as dire as initially feared. ...


Thank goodness drivers will be spared!

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Thu, Aug 9, 2012
from University of Colorado at Boulder :
New Atmospheric Compound Tied to Climate Change, Human Health
An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Helsinki has discovered a surprising new chemical compound in Earth's atmosphere that reacts with sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric acid, which is known to have significant impacts on climate and health. The new compound, a type of carbonyl oxide, is formed from the reaction of ozone with alkenes, which are a family of hydrocarbons with both natural and human-made sources, said Roy "Lee" Mauldin III, a research associate in CU-Boulder's atmospheric and oceanic sciences department and lead study author. The study charts a previously unknown chemical pathway for the formation of sulfuric acid, which can result both in increased acid rain and cloud formation as well as negative respiratory effects on humans. ...


Send in the clouds.

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Tue, Aug 7, 2012
from San Jose Mercury News:
Massive fire at Chevron refinery in Richmond fully contained; shelter in place lifted
Officials have fully contained a huge fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond that sent thick black smoke wafting across the Bay Area, raising health concerns and prompting shelter-in-place warnings for thousands of residents.... The plume from the fire was an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 feet above ground level, officials said at a news conference late Monday. "The plume is still high above and not touching down into the community," said Trisha Asunción, a hazardous materials specialist with the county. ...


The sunsets will be sooooo beautiful.

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Tue, Aug 7, 2012
from Discover Magazine:
'Whooping cough' new-infection rates in WA: 13X last year
The plot is by week, so you can see the 2011 numbers slowly growing across the year; then this year's numbers suddenly taking a huge leap upward. They are reporting the new rate as 13 times larger than last year.... Why would this be? Well, it so happens that the antivaccination movement is quite strong in Washington state, and it also so happens that parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children in higher numbers there than the rest of the nation. ...


Whoops!

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Wed, Aug 1, 2012
from Charleston Gazette:
EPA mine water-pollution guidelines thrown out
Dealing another blow to the Obama administration's crackdown on mountaintop removal, a federal judge on Tuesday threw out new federal guidance that aimed to reduce water pollution from Appalachian coal mining operations. U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority under federal water protection and strip mining laws when it issued the water quality guidance. ...


Humans: 1, Mountaintops: 0

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Mon, Jul 30, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
Plastics chemicals linked to diabetes in women; blacks and Hispanics most exposed
A group of chemicals found in household plastics and medical supplies is linked to higher rates of diabetes in women -- up to double the rate for women with the highest levels, according to new research led by Harvard scientists. Blacks and Mexican Americans and women living in poverty are exposed to the highest levels of some of these compounds, called phthalates. "It's extremely likely that phthalates and other chemical contaminants will turn out to be a big part of the obesity and diabetes epidemic, but at this point we really don't know how these chemicals are interacting with each other, or with the human body," said Richard Stahlhut, a university of Rochester scientist who co-authored the study. ...


Phthis is bullphthit!

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Mon, Jul 23, 2012
from Climate Central:
As Climate Change Worsens, Elderly Face Deadly Heat
The summer of 2012 isn't even half over, and already the U.S. has been hit with two crushing heat waves, and in both cases, the searing temperatures have literally been lethal. Public health-workers know all too well that whenever the mercury soars, people die -- especially the elderly, whose bodies are less resilient to stress than those of younger folks. Climate change is only going to make things worse: as the planet warms over the coming century, climatologists project that heat waves will only get worse. That's on top of a population that continues to age overall, expanding the number of likely victims. ...


Help! I'm on fire and I can't get up!

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Mon, Jul 23, 2012
from Center for Public Integrity:
U.S. issues fines, orders upgrades at coal-fired power plants
In the latest settlement targeting toxic emissions from power plants, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department have issued a $950,000 fine and ordered millions in pollution control technology at three coal-fired power plants in Wisconsin. Plant operator Dairyland Power Cooperative will pay the civil penalty, invest $150 million in pollution control technology and spend $5 million on environmental mitigation projects, the EPA said in a Clean Air Act pact announced June 29. "This settlement will improve air quality in Wisconsin and downwind areas by significantly reducing releases of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other harmful pollutants,ā€¯ Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, said in a statement. ...


On behalf of The Downwind Coalition, I thank you.

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Mon, Jul 23, 2012
from Reuters:
Bacteria outbreak in Northern Europe due to ocean warming, study says
Manmade climate change is the main driver behind the unexpected emergence of a group of bacteria in northern Europe which can cause gastroenteritis, new research by a group of international experts shows. The paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday, provided some of the first firm evidence that the warming patterns of the Baltic Sea have coincided with the emergence of Vibrio infections in northern Europe. Vibrios is a group of bacteria which usually grow in warm and tropical marine environments. The bacteria can cause various infections in humans, ranging from cholera to gastroenteritis-like symptoms from eating raw or undercooked shellfish or from exposure to seawater. ...


Blessed are bacteria, for they shall inherit the earth.

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Tue, Jul 17, 2012
from Associated Press:
FDA says controversial plastic chemical BPA no longer allowed in baby bottles and sippy cups
The federal government announced Tuesday that baby bottles and sippy cups can no longer contain the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA. The U.S. chemical industry's chief association, the American Chemistry Council, had asked the Food and Drug Administration to phase out rules allowing BPA in those products in October, after determining that all manufacturers of bottles and sippy cups had already abandoned the chemical due to safety concerns.... BPA is found in hundreds of plastic items from water bottles to CDs to dental sealants. Some researchers say ingesting the chemical can interfere with development of the reproductive and nervous systems in babies and young children. ...


Waaaahhh!

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Mon, Jul 16, 2012
from London Guardian:
Olympic athletes could be impaired by London pollution, experts warn
Olympic runners, cyclists, swimmers and even sailors arriving in London on Monday could be taken ill or see their performances impaired by air pollution, health experts have warned. According to Keith Prowse, respiratory consultant and medical adviser to the British Lung Foundation, a summer smog like any of the five already experienced this year in the capital could lead to some athletes needing medication and experiencing chest pains, sore throats and shortness of breath. ...


No medals for these wussies!

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Tue, Jul 10, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
New evidence for flame retardant's role in autism
A mother's exposure to a flame retardant before, during and after pregnancy interacted with a known genetic mutation to impair learning and memory and decrease social behaviors in her offspring, a study with mice has found. Female mice were more sensitive to the exposure, which altered the on/off switches in the epigenetic code. This is the first study to link genetic, epigenetic and behavioral changes to a flame retardant chemical in females with a high genetic risk for autism spectrum disorders. The study is important because it focused on a specific gene mutation linked to Rett's syndrome -- a condition on the autism spectrum that primarily affects females. The results suggest that genetic risk for social deficits can interact with an environmental chemical to tip the balance toward exacerbated autistic behaviors. An individual with genetic risks for other health-related problems or diseases may also be more sensitive to these environmental chemicals than the overall general population. During the past 25 years, brominated flame retardants -- including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) -- have been used in home furnishings and electronics to slow their burning during a fire. PBDEs are routinely detected in household dust, food and air. ...


Mice... have mothers?

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Tue, Jul 10, 2012
from ProPublica:
New Study: Fluids From Marcellus Shale Likely Seeping Into PA Drinking Water
New research has concluded that salty, mineral-rich fluids deep beneath Pennsylvania's natural gas fields are likely seeping upward thousands of feet into drinking water supplies. Though the fluids were natural and not the byproduct of drilling or hydraulic fracturing, the finding further stokes the red-hot controversy over fracking in the Marcellus Shale, suggesting that drilling waste and chemicals could migrate in ways previously thought to be impossible... The study is the second in recent months to find that the geology surrounding the Marcellus Shale could allow contaminants to move more freely than expected. ...


Fluids: a most magical elixir!

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Mon, Jul 9, 2012
from MIami Herald:
Cholera reportedly kills 15, sickens hundreds in eastern Cuba
The first cholera outbreak in Cuba in a century has left at least 15 dead and sent hundreds to hospitals all but sealed off by security agents bent on keeping a lid on the news, according to reports Friday. "There are 1,000-plus cases" in the southeastern province of Granma, said Yoandris Montoya, who lives in Bayamo, the provincial capital ... Cuba's Public Health Ministry, which rarely makes public any information that could give the island a negative image, declared Tuesday it had "controlled" an outbreak of cholera that had killed three people and affected 50 others in Granma province. But unofficial reports from the region Friday indicated the disease was continuing to spread, with hundreds more suspected cases jamming hospitals in Manzanillo and Bayamo. Montoya said more cases were reported in nearby Niquero and Pilan. ...


I shan't breathe a word. In fact, I shan't breathe.

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Thu, Jul 5, 2012
from Reuters:
Diseases from animals hit over two billion people a year
A global study mapping human diseases that come from animals like tuberculosis, AIDS, bird flu or Rift Valley fever has found that just 13 such diseases are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths a year. The vast majority of infections and deaths from so-called zoonotic diseases are in poor or middle-income countries, but "hotspots" are also cropping up in the United States and Europe where diseases are newly infecting humans, becoming particularly virulent, or are developing drug resistance. And exploding global demand for livestock products means the problem is likely to get worse, researchers said. ...


We need to kill all animals before they kill us!

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Tue, Jul 3, 2012
from Environmental Health Perspectives:
What Do We Know about Obesogens? with Bruce Blumberg
Human beings, as a species, are putting on weight. Obesity rates are rising in rich and poor countries alike for a variety of reasons, from changing dietary habits and activity levels to exposure to artificial nighttime light. Mounting evidence from over the past decade suggests that certain chemicals may be playing a role as well. For some people, so-called obesogens may be altering their metabolism and fat cell development, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight. ...


Clearly, we need to create a line of skinnygens.

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Tue, Jul 3, 2012
from Yale Environment 300:
Oh Canada: The Government's Broad Assault on Environment
...Canada's pristine image -- and more importantly its environment -- is not likely to recover from what critics across the political spectrum say is an unprecedented assault by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on environmental regulation, oversight, and scientific research. Harper, who came to power in 2006 unapologetic for once describing the Kyoto climate accords as "essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations," has steadily been weakening environmental enforcement, monitoring, and research, while at the same time boosting controversial tar sands development, backing major pipeline construction, and increasing energy industry subsidies. ...


Copycat.

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Tue, Jun 12, 2012
from Agence France-Press:
China's Wuhan city covered in mysterious haze
Young and old residents of the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan were advised to stay indoors on Monday after a thick haze blanketed the city of nine million people, official media said. Described by residents as opaque with yellowish and greenish tinges, the fug descended suddenly in the morning, prompting people to rush to put on face masks, witnesses told AFP. The official Xinhua news agency quoted the environmental protection department of Hubei province saying in a statement: "Children, the elderly and people with heart or respiratory diseases are advised to stay indoors." ...


Undoubtedly, that thick haze is repressive Communism.

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Tue, Jun 12, 2012
from Associated Press:
WHO's cancer agency reclassifies diesel fumes as carcinogenic, same as arsenic, UV rays
Diesel exhaust causes cancer, the World Health Organization's cancer agency declared Tuesday, a ruling it said could make exhaust as important a public health threat as secondhand smoke. The risk of getting cancer from diesel fumes is small, but since so many people breathe in the fumes in some way, the science panel said raising the status of diesel exhaust to carcinogen from "probable carcinogen" was an important shift. ...


It's like changing the status of "death" to "certain death."

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Mon, Jun 11, 2012
from InsideClimate News:
2010 Oil Spill in Michigan Far Larger Than Official Estimates, Evidence Shows
The 2010 pipeline spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River was far larger than the pipeline operator has reported, according to accumulating evidence and documents recently released by federal investigators. The estimate that Enbridge Inc., the pipeline's Canadian operator, has used since a couple months after the spill is 20,082 barrels, or 843,444 gallons. The estimate used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is larger -- 1 million gallons -- but the documented sources indicate that estimate may also be low, by a significant degree. ...


If they ever get one of these oil spill estimates right it will be by sheer accident!

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Mon, Jun 11, 2012
from PhysOrg:
Nanoparticles in polluted air, smoke and nanotechnology products have serious impact on health
Environmental pollution including carbon particles emitted by car exhaust, smoking and long term inhalation of dust of various origins have been recognised as risk factors causing chronic inflammation of the lungs. The link between smoking and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis has also been established. This new research now raises serious concerns in relation to similar risks caused by nanotechnology products which if not handled appropriately may contribute to the generation of new types of airborne pollutants causing risks to global health.... The result was clear and convincing: all types of nanoparticles in both the TCD and US study were causing an identical response in human cells and in the lungs of mice, manifesting in the specific transformation of the amino acid arginine into the molecule called citrulline which can lead to the development of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. ...


We have to invent NanoJanitor™, stat!

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Wed, Jun 6, 2012
from CNN:
WHO: Sexually-transmitted superbug could be major crisis
Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are among the countries reporting cases of gonorrhea that does not respond to cephalosporin antibiotics, which is the last treatment option against gonorrhea. These are developed countries with good health care systems, meaning countries less well off may be even more at risk for a crisis. "If the resistence is there, what we think is that we're sitting at a tip of an iceberg," Lusti-Narasimhan said. "For places in many other parts of the world where there are much less both human and financial resources, it's very difficult to know the extent of the data." ...


What's the sound of one iceberg Clapping?

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Tue, Jun 5, 2012
from E&E Publishing:
Exotic diseases from warmer climates gain foothold in the U.S.
Diseases once thought to be rare or exotic in the United States are gaining a presence and getting new attention from medical researchers who are probing how immigration, limited access to care and the impacts of climate change are influencing their spread. Illnesses like schistosomiasis, Chagas disease and dengue are endemic in warmer, wetter and poorer areas of the world, often closer to the equator. According to the World Health Organization, almost 1 billion people are afflicted with more than one tropical disease. ...


Weird. My cats' names are Schistosomiasis, Chagas and Dengue!

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Tue, Jun 5, 2012
from Associated Press:
China Tells US to Stop Reporting Beijing's Bad Air
China told foreign embassies Tuesday to stop publishing their own reports on air quality in the country, escalating its objections to a popular U.S. Embassy Twitter feed that tracks pollution in smoggy Beijing. Only the Chinese government is authorized to monitor and publish air quality information and data from other sources may not be standardized or rigorous, Wu Xiaoqing, a vice environmental minister, told reporters ...


Data from other sources might be too truthful.

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Mon, Jun 4, 2012
from Center for Public Integrity:
OSHA rules on workplace toxics stalled
...The federal standard in place to protect workers like Revers from beryllium is based on an Atomic Energy Commission calculation crafted by an industrial hygienist and a physician in the back of a taxi in 1949. For the last 12 years, an effort to update that standard has been mired in delay. A plan to address another toxic hazard -- silica, a mineral that also damages the lungs -- has been tied up even longer: 15 years. ...


Stalled? More like paralyzed!

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Tue, May 29, 2012
from Associated Press:
Sequoia National Park: Worst air pollution
On a clear day, the view from Beetle Rock in Sequoia National Park extends west for 105 miles across the patchwork of crops in California's agricultural heartland to the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean beyond. The problem is there are few clear days, even at 6,200 feet. The Sierra Nevada forest that is home to the biggest living things on earth - the giant Sequoia redwoods - also suffers a dubious distinction. It has the worst air pollution of any national park in the country. Mountaintops that should offer awe-inspiring views of California's geologic grandeur often are muddled by a disorienting gray soup of smog. ...


Ranger Mung has lost his lung.

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Tue, May 22, 2012
from UPI:
High mercury levels found in wild dolphins
A study has found higher levels of toxic mercury in dolphins downwind of power plants than in captive dolphins, U.S. researchers say. Scientists from The Johns Hopkins University and The National Aquarium said they compared levels of the chemical in captive dolphins fed a controlled diet with dolphins found in the wild that dine on marine life that may carry more of the toxic metal. Levels of mercury were lower in the captive animals compared to wild dolphins tested off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida, a state that is in the path of mercury-laden fumes from power plants, they reported Monday. ...


And the conclusion is... Capture and cage all dolphins!

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Tue, May 22, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
WWII Chemical Exposure Spurs Obesity, Autism, Researcher Says
The World War II generation may have passed down to their grandchildren the effects of chemical exposure in the 1940s, possibly explaining current rates of obesity, autism and mental illness, according to one researcher. David Crews, professor of psychology and zoology at the University of Texas at Austin, theorized that the rise in these diseases may be linked to environmental effects passed on through generations. His research showed that descendants of rats exposed to a crop fungicide were less sociable, more obese and more anxious than offspring of the unexposed. ...


The Greatest (Toxic) Generation

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Thu, May 17, 2012
from New Scientist:
Chikungunya virus loves warm New York winters
Warmer New York winters have a sting in the tail. The mosquito that carries chikungunya, a virus that causes joint pain, but isn't fatal, is flocking to the city in increasing numbers. The virus, which originates in Africa, is carried by the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and could become endemic in New York within a few years. Until now the bitter winters have kept mosquito numbers down, says Laura Harrington at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Harrington estimates there is one Asian tiger mosquito for every five New Yorkers. Once that ratio flips to five insects per person, her model suggests that someone arriving in New York carrying the virus would have a 38 per cent chance of passing it on to another person through mosquito bites. The disease could become entrenched in the city at that level of infection, Harrington told the Inside Cornell event in New York City last week. ...


Chikungunya bites the Big Apple.

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Tue, May 15, 2012
from NPR:
Sick From Fracking? Doctors, Patients Seek Answers
...People living near gas well drilling around the country are reporting similar problems, plus headaches, rashes, wheezing, aches and pains and other symptoms... patients and doctors don't have a lot of options. In western Pennsylvania, a lot of them are referred to Charles Werntz at West Virginia University. Werntz, an occupational medicine specialist, is used to dealing with chemical exposures. Lately, he's seeing more people who live near the drilling. But for now, he says he can't really do much more than offer basic advice: Drink bottled water, air out the house, leave your shoes outside. If it's still too bad, move -- if possible. ...


These poor frolks are frucked.

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Tue, May 15, 2012
from Chicago Tribune:
American livestock get extra dose of antibiotics from spent ethanol grain, report says
As the battle wages on over the safety of feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth promotion, a new report reveals yet another source of unregulated antibiotics in American animal feed--spent ethanol grain... When the Food and Drug Administration discovered the antibiotic residues in the grain in 2008, it started requiring ethanol/distiller grain producers to get approval for their presence as a food additive. But the IATP report claims that the antibiotic companies are skirting this rule by relying on their self affirmed GRAS status as approval enough. GRAS (generally recognized as safe) approval requires only that a company proves to itself that its product is safe. It can voluntarily report those findings to the FDA as well. ...


Our ass is GRAS.

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Tue, May 8, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
Drug-Defying Germs From India Speed Post-Antibiotic Era
...Poor hygiene has spread resistant germs into India's drains, sewers and drinking water, putting millions at risk of drug-defying infections. Antibiotic residues from drug manufacturing, livestock treatment and medical waste have entered water and sanitation systems, exacerbating the problem. As the superbacteria take up residence in hospitals, they're compromising patient care and tarnishing India's image as a medical tourism destination. ...


Superbacteria sounds like a tourism destination to me!

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Tue, May 8, 2012
from Chronicle of Higher Education:
As Beef Cattle Become Behemoths, Who Are Animal Scientists Serving?
Scores of animal scientists employed by public universities have helped pharmaceutical companies persuade farmers and ranchers to use antibiotics, hormones, and drugs like Zilmax to make their cattle grow bigger ever faster. With the use of these products, the average weight of a fattened steer sold to a packing plant is now roughly 1,300 pounds--up from 1,000 pounds in 1975. It's been a profitable venture for the drug companies, as well as for the professors and their universities. ...


You could call it a cash cow.

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Tue, May 8, 2012
from Huffington Post:
Air Pollution, Asthma Burden Unevenly Shared Among U.S. Children
...Disadvantaged kids not only breathe disproportionate amounts bad air, but they also can be more vulnerable to the ill effects of that bad air. As The Huffington Post reported in March, asthma is likely the most notorious of these ailments. Nearly one in four Hispanic and Puerto Rican kids living in poverty in the U.S. has been diagnosed with the condition that can cause wheezing, coughing, breathlessness and chest tightness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That compares with about one in 13 middle-class or wealthy white children. (The agency also reports similar disparities in exposures to air pollution.)... Just why lower income families more commonly reside in places with dirty air is not clear... ...


Part of the trickle-down effect, is my guess.

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Wed, May 2, 2012
from Planet Ark:
Exxon Mobil Shuts Louisiana Oil Pipeline After Leak
Exxon Mobil Corp has shut the 160,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) North Line crude oil pipeline in Louisiana after a leak spilled 1,900 barrels of crude oil in a rural area over the weekend, affecting a conduit that supplies the nation's third-largest refinery. The 22-inch line originates in St. James, Louisiana, and provides shippers with access to oil from the giant Louisiana Offshore Oil Port and crude from offshore platforms, according to Exxon's website.... A spate of recent leaks and incidents has heightened local concerns and prompted calls for tougher scrutiny from regulators. Last July, Exxon' Silvertip pipeline spilled about 1,000 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana, an accident that the company said cost it about $135 million. ...


Leaks happen

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Wed, May 2, 2012
from BBC:
Peru examines deaths of more than 500 pelicans
The government of Peru is investigating the deaths of more than 500 pelicans along a 70km (40-mile) stretch of the country's northern coast. Officials say most appeared to have died on shore over the past few days. Scientists have also found the carcasses of 54 boobies, several sea lions and a turtle. They were found in the same region where some 800 dolphins washed ashore earlier this year. The cause of their death is still being investigated. The Peruvian government said it was "deeply worried". A preliminary report said that there was no evidence to show the pelicans had died at sea, but rather on the beach where they were found. ...


I must say I am most concerned about the boobies.

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Tue, May 1, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
Exposures to Pesticide in Utero Linked to Brain Abnormalities
Babies exposed in the womb to a commonly used insecticide have brain abnormalities after birth, according to a study that looked at children born before the U.S. limited the chemical's use. Magnetic resonance imaging of elementary school-aged children with the highest exposure to chlorpyrifos, used mostly in agricultural settings now, showed structural changes in the brain compared with those who had the lowest exposure, research online today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found. Some parts of the brain were overgrown, while other regions were smaller, the scientists found. The study is the first to use imaging scans to show that prenatal exposure to the chemical, included in Dow Chemical Co.'s pesticide Dursban, is linked to structural changes in the brain five to 10 years after exposure... ...


Perhaps it makes these children more resistant to pests.

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Fri, Apr 20, 2012
from ABC News:
USDA to Let Industry Self-Inspect Chicken
Chicken is the top-selling meat in the United States. The average American eats 84 pounds a year, more chicken than beef or pork. Sorry red meat, chicken is what's for dinner. And now the USDA is proposing a fundamental change in the way that poultry makes it to the American dinner table. As early as next week, the government will end debate on a cost-cutting, modernization proposal it hopes to fully implement by the end of the year. A plan that is setting off alarm bells among food science watchdogs because it turns over most of the chicken inspection duties to the companies that produce the birds for sale. The USDA hopes to save $85 million over three years by laying off 1,000 government inspectors and turning over their duties to company monitors who will staff the poultry processing lines in plants across the country. ...


The foxes of industry shall watch over the henhouse of chickens.

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Wed, Apr 18, 2012
from London Daily Mail:
Prenatal exposure to inner-city air pollution is linked to childhood obesity, claims study
A study of pregnant women and their children in New York City has provided clinical evidence that links environmental pollution with childhood obesity. The most up-to-date statistics show that 17 per cent of children in the U.S. are obese, and that figure rises to 25 per cent in built-up, inner-city neighborhoods. While poor diet and lack of exercise are still the major contributors to the national epidemic, this new evidence suggest that air pollution can play a role. Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health conducted the study of expecting mothers in New York, and found that those exposed to higher concentrations of airborne chemicals were more than twice as likely to have children who were obese by the age of seven. ...


That's just bad mothering.

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Wed, Apr 18, 2012
from Charleston Gazette:
Special panel links C8 to kidney, testicular cancer
A team of experts revealed Monday that it has found a "probable link" between C8 and human cancers, rebuffing DuPont Co.'s longstanding contention that exposure to the chemical is harmless. The three-person C8 Science Panel said it is "more probable than not" that exposure to C8 put residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley at a greater risk of kidney and testicular cancers....In West Virginia, DuPont has used C8 since the 1950s as a processing agent to make Teflon and other nonstick products, oil-resistant paper packaging and stain-resistant textiles. ...


Let's hope this sticks!

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Mon, Apr 16, 2012
from Wall Street Journal:
Grappling With a Garbage Glut
Each week, we push our trash to the curb, and it seemingly disappears. But where does it all go: the spent cartons of milk, the computer keyboard fried by spilled coffee, those empty dog food cans? A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided to find out. In 2009, they began attaching transmitter chips to thousands of pieces of ordinary garbage. They tossed this "smart trash" into the bin, sat back and watched the tortuous, disturbing path that our garbage often takes: the meanderings of electronic waste as it headed for distant shores, of ratty old sneakers that ran the equivalent of a dozen marathons, of printer cartridges that traversed the continent not once but twice on the road to recycling.... the average American tosses out 4.4 pounds of trash a day, with about a third getting recycled and the rest going to landfills. ...


The United States of Wastrels

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Wed, Apr 11, 2012
from Associated Press:
AZ House OKs secrecy for environmental reports
Mining companies and other businesses will be allowed to keep environmental studies secret, even if they detail possible pollution problems, under industry-backed legislation that gained final House approval Monday. Under the measure headed to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, environmental audits generally could not be used as evidence in civil cases. ...


A pox upon this House.

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Wed, Apr 11, 2012
from Associated Press:
California finds dangerous chemicals in nail polishes advertised as nontoxic
Some nail polishes commonly found in California salons and advertised as free of a so-called "toxic trio" of chemicals actually have high levels of agents linked to birth defects, state regulators said Tuesday. A Department of Toxic Substances Control report determined that the mislabeled nail products have the potential to harm thousands of workers in more than 48,000 nail salons in California, and their customers. ...


Thank goodness my lipstick is pristine.

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Wed, Apr 11, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
EPA cancels $20-million green chemistry grant program, gives no explanation
In an announcement that stunned scientists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cancelled grant applications for what was supposed to be a $20-million, four-year green chemistry program. The mysterious cancellation comes less than three weeks before the deadline for the proposals. The grants, which were supposed to fund four new centers, would have been a major new source of funding for green chemistry, a field that seeks to design environmentally friendly chemicals and processes that can replace toxic substances. The requests for proposals may be reissued, the EPA said. But the program's sudden halt and uncertain future -- and lack of explanation -- have left scientists disheartened. "My reaction is shock that it happened and total dismay that what appeared to be a novel program was cancelled without warning or explanation," said Eric Beckman, a chemical engineer at the University of Pittsburgh. ...


Environmental Partypooper Agency

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Sat, Apr 7, 2012
from New York Times:
Arsenic, Cipro, Benadryl, Caffeine, Tylenol in Factory Farmed Chicken Feed
[M]y topic today is a pair of new scientific studies suggesting that poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and even arsenic. "We were kind of floored," said Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author of both studies and a scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future. "It's unbelievable what we found."... [They found that] feather meal routinely contained a banned class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. These antibiotics (such as Cipro), are illegal in poultry production because they can breed antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that harm humans. Already, antibiotic-resistant infections kill more Americans annually than AIDS, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The same study also found that one-third of feather-meal samples contained an antihistamine that is the active ingredient of Benadryl. The great majority of feather meal contained acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. And feather-meal samples from China contained an antidepressant that is the active ingredient in Prozac. ...


They threw in the chicken sink.

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Tue, Apr 3, 2012
from Mother Jones:
America's Top 10 Most-Polluted Waterways
If you are a fly-fisher, a rafter, or heck, just a person who drinks water, here is some troubling news: Our waterways are in rough shape. An eye-opening new report (PDF) from Environment America Research and Policy Center finds that industry discharged 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals into America's rivers and streams in 2010. The pollution included dead-zone-producing nitrates from food processors, mercury and other heavy metals from steel plants, and toxic chemicals from various kinds of refineries. Within the overall waste, the researchers identified 1.5 million pounds of carcinogens, 626,000 pounds of chemicals linked to developmental disorders and 354,000 pounds of those associated with reproductive problems. ...


A (shitty) river runs through it.

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Mon, Apr 2, 2012
from Windsor Star:
New chemicals piling up in environment
New flame retardants meant to replace their toxic predecessors are showing up in the air around the Great Lakes in increasing concentrations and travelling as far north as the Arctic. These new findings raise a red flag that these chemicals need to be more closely examined to see if they accumulate in the environment and animals, according to Hayley Hung, a research scientist at Environment Canada, who found concentrations of tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) and tetrabromophthalate (TBPH) in both Canada's High Arctic and the Tibetan Plateau. "It's not just a localized problem," Hung said. "(They) could become a global pollutant." ...


We are not very bright at making retardants.

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Mon, Apr 2, 2012
from The Daily Climate:
Military sees threats, worry in climate change
...Making the SEALs into a leaner, greener tactical force is one of many such steps being taken by all branches as the U.S. military reduces its environmental footprint. The Army is targeting net-zero energy use at several bases, and the Navy and Air Force are experimenting with running jets on biofuels that use wood waste and algae and less petroleum. In Afghanistan, patrols now carry eco-friendly solar blankets and LED lamps. Connecting the military's fossil-fuel and overall energy use with risks to our national security hasn't been easy in this political environment, especially with the presidential election looming. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly questioned and criticized the Armed Forces' new-energy strategies, portraying initiatives as political favors to clean-energy businesses. But current and retired military leaders insist the policies are essential. The efforts protect soldiers and help them carry out missions. They also help curb climate change and its potential to intensify military conflicts. ...


I have an idea. Let's stop fighting other countries and start fighting Republicans.

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Wed, Mar 28, 2012
from Associated Press:
Japan reactor has fatally high radiation, no water
One of Japan's crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and hardly any water to cool it, according to an internal examination Tuesday that renews doubts about the plant's stability. A tool equipped with a tiny video camera, a thermometer, a dosimeter and a water gauge was used to assess damage inside the No. 2 reactor's containment chamber for the second time since the tsunami swept into the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant a year ago. The probe done in January failed to find the water surface and provided only images showing steam, unidentified parts and rusty metal surfaces scarred by exposure to radiation, heat and humidity. The data collected from the probes showed the damage from the disaster was so severe, the plant operator will have to develop special equipment and technology to tolerate the harsh environment and decommission the plant, a process expected to last decades. ...


Some nightmares just never seem to end.

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Thu, Mar 22, 2012
from ABC News:
Prenatal Pollutants Linked to Later Behavioral Ills
Inner-city women who breathe powerful airborne pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons while pregnant are more likely to have children who develop behavioral problems by the time they reach school age, researchers report. The findings bolster what's known about the influence of prenatal conditions on later health. In recent years, scientists have found that in utero exposure to a host of toxins including pesticides, outdoor air pollutantss, secondhand tobacco smoke and prescription drugs influence a child's susceptibility to many conditions for years to come. ...


Prenatal pollutants? I'm preconcerned about this!

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Wed, Mar 21, 2012
from Politico:
Greens see politics in EPA rule delays
The Environmental Protection Agency's silence on a slew of pending rulemakings is worrying some supporters, who fear the regulations will remain trapped in the White House when an election-year window for new announcements slams shut. Administrators have repeatedly assured interest groups and lawmakers that the EPA is preparing to release numerous proposed and final rules for greenhouse gases, coal ash, sulfur in gasoline and particulate matter. But in reality, few are moving, and announced deadlines are passing. And as the presidential election season hits full tilt, gasoline prices rise and the summer driving season approaches, it becomes less politically advantageous for the Obama administration to move on many regulations -- especially with the race focusing increasingly on energy. ...


Environmental Procrastination Agency

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Wed, Mar 21, 2012
from Reuters:
Smoking deaths triple over decade: tobacco report
Tobacco-related deaths have nearly tripled in the past decade and big tobacco firms are undermining public efforts that could save millions, a report led by the health campaign group the World Lung Foundation (WLF) said on Wednesday. In the report, marking the tenth anniversary of its first Tobacco Atlas, the WLF and the American Cancer Society said if current trends continue, a billion people will die from tobacco use and exposure this century - one person every six seconds. ...


That's one way to reduce population!

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Fri, Mar 16, 2012
from Scientific American:
Low Doses of Hormonelike Chemicals May Have Big Effects
In the new report, researchers led by Tufts University's Laura Vandenberg concluded after examining hundreds of studies that health effects "are remarkably common" when people or animals are exposed to low doses of endocrine-disrupting compounds. As examples, they provide evidence for several controversial chemicals, including bisphenol A, found in polycarbonate plastic, canned foods and paper receipts, and the pesticide atrazine, used in large volumes mainly on corn. The scientists concluded that scientific evidence "clearly indicates that low doses cannot be ignored." They cited evidence of a wide range of health effects in people - from fetuses to aging adults - including links to infertility, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer and other disorders. "Whether low doses of endocrine-disrupting compounds influence human disorders is no longer conjecture, as epidemiological studies show that environmental exposures are associated with human diseases and disabilities," they wrote. ...


So the solution to pollution may not be dilution.

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Fri, Mar 16, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
Cadmium in diet is linked to higher breast cancer risk
In a finding that strengthens the link between environmental pollutants and rising rates of breast cancer, new research finds that women whose diets contain higher levels of cadmium are at greater risk of developing breast cancer than those who ingest less of the industrial chemical in their food. Cadmium, a heavy metal long identified as a carcinogen, leaches into crops from fertilizers and when rainfall or sewage sludge deposit it onto farmland. Whole grains, potatoes, other vegetables and shellfish are key dietary sources of cadmium, which also becomes airborne as a pollutant when fossil fuels are burned, and is likely inhaled as well as ingested. ...


When it comes to breasts there's almost always a cad involved.

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Tue, Mar 13, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
Water Pollution From Farming Is Worsening, Costing Billions
Water pollution from agriculture is costing billions of dollars a year in developed countries and is set to rise in China and India as farmers race to increase food production, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said. "Pollution from farm pesticides and fertilizers is often diffuse, making it hard to pin down exactly where it's coming from,ā€¯ Kevin Parris, author of a report by the Paris-based organization, said in an interview in Marseille. "In some big agricultural countries in Europe, like parts of France, Spain and the U.K., the situation is deteriorating.ā€¯ ...


If only people ate pollution.

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Tue, Mar 13, 2012
from NPR:
Death By Bacon? Study Finds Eating Meat Is Risky
Bacon has been called the gateway meat, luring vegetarians back to meat. And hot dogs are a staple at many a backyard BBQ. But a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that daily consumption of red meat -- particularly processed meat -- may be riskier than carnivores realize. "The statistics are staggering," study author Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public health, told us. "The increased risk is really substantial." He found that people who consumed about one serving of red meat (beef, pork or lamb) per day had a 13 percent increased risk of mortality, compared with those who were eating very little meat. And processed meats raised the risk higher, to about a 20 percent increased risk of death from diseases including cancer and heart disease. ...


And the pigs shall inherit the earth.

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Mon, Mar 12, 2012
from Bergen County Record:
Exotic grass could help clean lead from soild
A subtropical grass might one day be grown in yards across North Jersey as an affordable way to deal with a lingering childhood health concern -- lead contamination. Dibs Sarkar, a local scientist, is studying how the long roots of the grass can absorb lead from the soil and store it. Tests in a greenhouse have so far been successful; the lead contamination was consumed by the plant so fast that the soil met federal standards in about two years. "We're confident this will work fantastically," said Sarkar, a researcher at Montclair State University. ...


Exotic, invasive grass: What could go wrong??

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Thu, Mar 8, 2012
from ProPublica:
What the Frack is in That Water?
Environmentalists have repeatedly pressed regulators to compel oil and gas companies to report what chemicals they use in the drilling and fracking process. Drilling companies add these chemicals to perform particular functions (for example, to prevent corrosion or give the fluid the right consistency), or leave them in because they're too expensive to remove. According to a 2011 congressional report, many of the chemicals used can pose a serious health risk. No one knows the exact makeup of the frack mixture, drilling muds and other stuff used at well sites (which change from well to well), but this list breaks down the main ingredients revealed so far. Click on the chemical name for more detailed information. ...


Your one-stop-spot to grok the frack.

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Thu, Mar 8, 2012
from New York Daily News:
Mercury found in lotions and cosmetics, says FDA
Women are being warned to stay away from beauty products that contain a toxic ingredient -- mercury. The ingredient has been found in skin-care products, soaps and cosmetics in stores that tend to cater to Latino, African-American, Asian and Middle Eastern communities. The FDA has counted 35 potentially poisonous products, which include goods made by the brands Diana, Stillman's, Lusco and Crema Aguamary, that are manufactured abroad and sold illegally in the U.S. They may claim to lighten skin, cure acne and reduce wrinkles. Exposure to mercury can cause real bodily harm, say doctors. ...


I guess a caucasian beauty like me needn't worry her pretty little head.

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Wed, Mar 7, 2012
from New York Times:
Shark Fins Are Loaded With a Neurotoxin, Study Finds
Shark fins contain high levels of a potent neurotoxin that scientists have linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, according to a recent study published in the journal Marine Drugs.... The study provides another reason not to eat shark fins or shark fin soup, an expensive delicacy prized in Asia for its taste and supposed health benefits. Growing demand for the product drives a global hunt that kills an estimated 73 million sharks a year; the animals are often brutally definned and tossed back into the water to slowly die. Several species are on the brink of extinction, and the loss of so many sharks spells trouble for marine ecosystems. ...


I myself have always avoided shark fins.

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Mon, Mar 5, 2012
from Reuters:
China's missed pollution goals show failure to change -NDRC
China's continuing reliance on heavy industry meant it failed to meet its own targets for cleaning its air and water in 2011, the head of the top planning agency told journalists on Monday. China, which is increasingly dependent on imported energy and suffers from soil, water and air pollution that is damaging public health, wants to use energy more efficiently, and cut emissions. But it missed about half the targets set by Beijing for 2011, including energy intensity, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, and a measure of water pollution. ...


Nobody's perfect!

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Mon, Mar 5, 2012
from The Tyee:
Spill from Hell: Diluted Bitumen
On a July morning in 2010 in rural Michigan, a 30-inch pipeline owned by Calgary-based Enbridge Energy Partners burst and disgorged an estimated 843,000 gallons of thick crude into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. This was no ordinary crude -- it was the first ever major spill into water of diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands. The cleanup challenges and health impacts around Kalamazoo were unlike anything the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had ever dealt with, and raise serious questions about the preparedness in British Columbia to respond to such a disaster on the B.C. coast -- or the Vancouver harbour. ...


I am bitter, man, about this spill.

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Mon, Mar 5, 2012
from Center for Public Integrity:
Venezuela emerges as new source of "conflict" minerals
Black-market coltan likely making its way to high-tech manufacturers' supply; it's used in everything from smart phones to smart bombs... consumer-driven demand for everyday electronics may be supporting criminal gangs and organized crime in an illicit market for valuable minerals in South America. In Colombia, for example, police recently confiscated 83 tons of coltan and other minerals from an operation reportedly run by smugglers who, according to U.S. law enforcement officials, also supply cocaine to Mexico's powerful Sinaloa drug cartel. ...


Just say no to everyday electronics!

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Tue, Feb 28, 2012
from The Denver Post:
Hickenlooper's spiel in oil, gas ad irks environmentalists
Environmental groups on Monday urged Gov. John Hickenlooper to yank ads paid for by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association in which he claims there has been no contamination of groundwater associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Hickenlooper's office declined to address that request, but COGA issued a statement saying it stands by "our Public Service Announcements." ...


This cozy relationship between government and business is fascistnating.

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Tue, Feb 28, 2012
from Forbes:
Economist: Clean Air Regs Cost U.S. $21 Billion A Year But Produce $100 Billion In Benefits
Clean air regulations cost the United States about $21 billion per year in lost productivity, a University of Chicago economist said this afternoon. But the benefits of environmental regulation --improved health, reduced infant mortality, increased property values--are typically estimated at more than $100 billion, said Chad Syverson, professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. "It looks like -- you've got $21 billion on this side, $100-something billion over here --the scale is actually suggesting that the marginal benefit of regulation is quite a bit bigger than the marginal cost, at least over the sample," Syverson told about 40 people gathered in a campus lecture hall. ...


Who's gonna believe that liberal rag, Forbes?

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Mon, Feb 27, 2012
from Knoxville News Sentinel:
Elevated mercury found in fish in Poplar Creek, Clinch River
East Fork Poplar Creek has been posted as a hazard for decades because of mercury discharges from the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, where the creek originates.... Sampling by Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists and environmental staff has documented the elevated presence of mercury in fish in Poplar Creek -- downstream of the point where East Fork enters it -- and into the Clinch River and the upper part of Watts Bar Reservoir. ...


Beware of floating mercury bombs!

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Mon, Feb 27, 2012
from Washington Post:
Americans love the beach, but should watch out for bacteria
From sea to shining sea, Americans love the beach. The average citizen hangs out on an ocean shore, Great Lake or river about 10 days a year, according to a federal estimate. And the money they spend is crazy, nearly $6 trillion in 2007, 85 percent of all tourism revenue, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But money doesn't always buy happiness at the beach. About 3.5 million people each year get sick enough to throw up or get diarrhea after splashing in water containing harmful bacteria, according to an Environmental Protection Agency estimate. This is why environmentalists are criticizing the Obama administration's proposal this month to cut all funding for states to monitor contamination at beaches starting in 2013. ...


Rust never sleeps and bacteria never vacations.

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Wed, Feb 22, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
Infertile couples have higher exposure to phthalates
Infertile couples are exposed to three to five times higher levels of phthalates compared to fertile couples who have naturally conceived a child, finds a study from Italy. The couples had higher levels of four different classes of phthalates in their urine, including the phthalate compound most commonly used in plastics and the compound most commonly used in cosmetics. Phthalates can act as endocrine disrupting chemicals, mimicking or interfering with the actions of natural hormones like estrogen. Prior research shows phthalates can cause problems such as pregnancy loss and reduced litter size in rodents, though animals in these studies were exposed to levels about 100 times greater than the general population. ...


Phthat's godawphul!

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Tue, Feb 21, 2012
from London Independent:
Experts fear diseases 'impossible to treat'
Britain is facing a "massive" rise in antibiotic-resistant blood poisoning caused by the bacterium E.coli -- bringing closer the spectre of diseases that are impossible to treat. Experts say the growth of antibiotic resistance now poses as great a threat to global health as the emergence of new diseases such as Aids and pandemic flu. Professor Peter Hawkey, a clinical microbiologist and chair of the Government's antibiotic-resistance working group, said that antibiotic resistance had become medicine's equivalent of climate change. ...


Don't tell me: I'll bet it's a perfect storm.

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Thu, Feb 16, 2012
from 100 Reporters:
EPA Oversight: Weighing the Parts, Ignoring the Whole
Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives the green light for a score of agricultural chemicals to come to market. But the chemicals the EPA registers for use have little connection with the frequently more toxic substances sold by the millions of pounds to unsuspecting American consumers. Dr. Warren Porter, a professor of zoology and environmental toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, likens the EPA's process for registering chemicals to "bait and switch -- sales tactics. Pesticide makers win approval for specific active ingredients, and then mix those chemicals with a number of other ingredients. The result is a far different formulation that has bypassed government safety reviews and is then sold to the public. "It's like releasing molecular bulls in a china shop," Porter said. "Virtually no pesticide is registered by the EPA. The EPA only registers the active ingredient." ...


More like bullshit in a china shop!

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Tue, Feb 14, 2012
from Chicago Tribune:
Study points to dangers of children's exposure to coal tar sealants
Children living next to driveways or parking lots coated with coal tar are exposed to significantly higher doses of cancer-causing chemicals than those living near untreated asphalt, according to a study that raises new questions about commonly used pavement sealants. Researchers from Baylor University and the U.S. Geological Survey also found that children living near areas treated with coal tar-based sealants ingest twice as many polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, from contaminated dust tracked into their homes than they do from food. ...


What doesn't kill you... makes you sick.

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Tue, Feb 14, 2012
from Reuters:
Air pollution tied to stroke, memory loss
Living in a crowded city or near a busy highway may be tied to a higher chance of having a stroke or losing your memory, new research suggests. A study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine found a higher risk of stroke after "moderate" compared to "good" air quality days in Boston-area residents, especially when traffic-related pollution was high. ...


Imagine the impact when the air quality is at "sucks" level.

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Fri, Feb 10, 2012
from The Hill:
Religious right bashes green evangelicals for supporting EPA rules
Religious-right leaders are slamming a green evangelical group for casting support for Environmental Protection Agency rules to cut power plant mercury emissions as a "pro-life" position. In a lengthy statement, religious leaders including Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, officials with Focus on the Family and other groups that oppose abortion rights take aim at the Evangelical Environmental Network's ad campaign in favor of EPA's rules. ...


Dontcha just love a good, juicy holy war?

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Tue, Feb 7, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
Childhood obesity linked to phthalate exposure.
Overweight children tend to have higher levels of certain phthalate metabolites in their urine, according to a year-long study of minority populations in New York City. The trend was not seen in normal weight children. The researchers found the relationship only with one kind of phthalate known as MEP. More specifically, they report that a 10-fold increase in MEP concentrations was associated with subsequent increases in body mass index (BMI) and waist size. This is the first study to examine the association between phthalate exposure and body weight measures in children. Prior studies in teens and women find a similar association between the same phthalate -- MEP -- and the same two body measures. ...


Phatthalates!

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Mon, Feb 6, 2012
from Center for Public Integrity:
Landmark diesel exhaust study stalled amid industry and congressional objections
Publication of a landmark government study probing whether diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in miners -- already 20 years in the making -- has been delayed by industry and congressional insistence on seeing study data and documents before the public does. A federal judge has affirmed the right of an industry group and a House committee to review the materials and has held the Department of Health and Human Services in contempt for not producing all of them. ...


This study is stalled... hopefully with the engine turned off!

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Wed, Feb 1, 2012
from Australia ABC News:
Learn from climate history: epidemiologist
The decline of the Mayan empire; the Black Death and the Great Famine in medieval Europe and the collapse of the Ming Dynasty; what's the link? The ANU's Professor Tony McMichael says it's climate change. He argues that whether the temperature goes up or down, or it rains less or more, civilisation is threatened thanks to reduced food production, more disease, wars and displacement. The professor of population health at the ANU's Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health has looked at the climate record going back 7,000 years. ...


He's more like an epidoomiologist.

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Wed, Feb 1, 2012
from New York Times:
India's Air the World's Unhealthiest, Study Says
India's has the worst air pollution in the entire world, beating China, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, according to a study released during this year's World Economic Forum in Davos. Of 132 countries whose environments were surveyed, India ranks dead last in the 'Air (effects on human health)' ranking. The annual study, the Environmental Performance Index, is conducted and written by environmental research centers at Yale and Columbia universities with assistance from dozens of outside scientists. The study uses satellite data to measure air pollution concentrations. ...


Indiaaaack!

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Thu, Jan 26, 2012
from New York Times:
With Prevalence of Nanomaterials Rising, Panel Urges Review of Risks
Tiny substances called nanomaterials have moved into the marketplace over the last decade, in products as varied as cosmetics, clothing and paint. But not enough is known about their potential health and environmental risks, which should be studied further, an expert panel of the National Academy of Sciences said on Wednesday. Nanoscale forms of substances like silver, carbon, zinc and aluminum have many useful properties. Nano zinc oxide sunscreen goes on smoothly, for example, and nano carbon is lighter and stronger than its everyday or "bulk" form. But researchers say these products and others can also be ingested, inhaled or possibly absorbed through the skin. And they can seep into the environment during manufacturing or disposal. ...


Those little teeny tiny worry warts.

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Tue, Jan 24, 2012
from New York Times:
Mercury's Harmful Reach Has Grown, Study Suggests
The strict new federal standards limiting pollution from power plants are meant to safeguard human health. But they should have an important side benefit, according to a study being released on Tuesday: protecting a broad array of wildlife that has been harmed by mercury emissions.... Methylmercury, the most toxic form of the heavy metal, was found to be widespread throughout the Northeast -- not just in lakes and rivers, as had already been known, but also in forests, on mountaintops and in bogs and marshes that are home to birds long thought to be at minimal risk. ...


I'll bring the pitchfork.

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Mon, Jan 23, 2012
from Environmental Health News:
Pessimistically, lead may taint your outlook
Lead exposure over a lifetime may lead to a darker outlook, which can in turn increase risk of depression, reports a study on aging men. The lead levels in the men were associated with increased pessimism even after the researchers considered the low socioeconomic factors that also are linked to pessimism. The results are published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Previous studies had shown that lead exposure may be associated with pessimism, but these studies were limited in their ability to consider important factors such as socioeconomic factors in childhood and adulthood. ...


Encouraging old men to "get the lead out" takes on new meaning.

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Mon, Jan 23, 2012
from Wired Science:
New Schmallenberg Animal Virus Takes Northern Europe by Surprise
The virus, provisionally named "Schmallenberg virus" after the German town from which the first positive samples came, was detected in November in dairy cows that had shown signs of infection with fever and a drastic reduction in milk production. Now it has also been detected in sheep and goats, and it has shown up at dozens of farms in neighboring Netherlands and in Belgium as well. According to the European Commission's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, cases have been detected on 20 farms in Germany, 52 in the Netherlands, and 14 in Belgium. Many more suspected cases are being investigated. "A lot of lambs are stillborn or have serious malformations, "Wim van der Poel of the Dutch Central Veterinary Institute in Lelystad says. "This is a serious threat to animal health in Europe." "We are taking this very, very seriously," adds Thomas Mettenleiter, head of the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI), the German federal animal health lab located on the island of Riems. The virus appears to be transmitted by midges (Culicoides spp.), and infections likely occurred in summer and autumn of last year, but fetuses that were exposed to the virus in the womb are only now being born. The first cases of lambs with congenital malformations such as hydrancephaly -- where parts of the brain are replaced by sacs filled with fluid -- and scoliosis (a curved spine) appeared before Christmas. "Now, in some herds 20 percent to 50 percent of lambs show such malformations," Mettenleiter says. "And most of these animals are born dead." ...


Schmall things can have big consequences.

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Fri, Jan 20, 2012
from American Chemical Society via ScienceDaily:
First Link Between Potentially Toxic PFCs in Office Air and in Office Workers' Blood
In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists are reporting that the indoor air in offices is an important source of worker exposure to potentially toxic substances released by carpeting, furniture, paint and other items. Their report, which documents a link between levels of these so-called polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in office air and in the blood of workers, appears in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology. ...


I've always suspected my job was ruining my blood!

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Tue, Jan 17, 2012
from Discovery Channel:
Antibiotics Breed Drug-Resistant Bacteria in Pigs
After giving pigs a low-dose of antibiotics for just two weeks, researchers detected a drastic rise in the number of E. coli bacteria in the guts of the animals. And those bacteria showed a large jump in resistance to antibiotics. The particular strain of E. coli detected in the study was not pathogenic to pigs or humans. But the results add to concerns that regular use of antibiotics in farm animals could spread dangerous and drug-resistant varieties of bacteria throughout the environment and into our food and water... "This is an exciting study because it goes beyond what anyone else has done and looks at the whole ecology of the animal's intestinal tract," said microbiologist Stuart Levy, director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at Tufts University in Boston. "It shows that a low-dose of antibiotic can have a broad effect on the flora of animals," he said... ...


When pigs jump!

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Tue, Jan 17, 2012
from Akron Beacon Journal:
Three years after drilling, feds say natural gas in Medina County well water is potentially explosive
A federal health agency says potentially explosive levels of natural gas at two houses in eastern Medina County are a public health threat. The problems in the two drinking water wells appear linked to the nearby drilling of two natural gas wells in 2008, says the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That news contradicts repeated statements from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on the connection between the drilling and problems at the two houses at State and Remsen roads. "We are the victims of fracking ... and natural gas drilling gone wrong," said Mark Mangan, one of the affected homeowners. ...


These poor frolkes are fracked!

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Tue, Jan 17, 2012
from London Guardian:
NGOs upbeat over China's environmental transparency progress
Green activists applauded steady progress on environmental transparency in China after public campaigns forced major players, including Apple and the Beijing government, to release sensitive information on pollution and its origins. A survey on openness and accountability released Monday showed that, while the overall situation remains poor, an increasingly informed public is putting greater pressure on companies and local authorities to clean up. The upbeat assessment was made in the third annual report on Pollution Information Transparency by Chinese NGOs and the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council, just days after two major steps in the campaign to improve environmental transparency in China. ...


You know you're in trouble when you can be "upbeat" about a situation that "remains poor."

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Mon, Jan 16, 2012
from News Solutions, via Internet Archive:
Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health
Two cases involving beef cattle farms inadvertently provided control and experimental groups. In one case, a creek into which wastewater was allegedly dumped was the source of water for 60 head, with the remaining 36 head in the herd kept in other pastures without access to the creek. Of the 60 head that were exposed to the creek water, 21 died and 16 failed to produce calves the following spring. Of the 36 that were not exposed, no health problems were observed, and only one cow failed to breed. At another farm, 140 head were exposed when the liner of a wastewater impoundment was allegedly slit, as reported by the farmer, and the fluid drained into the pasture and the pond used as a source of water for the cows. Of those 140 head exposed to the wastewater, approximately 70 died and there was a high incidence of stillborn and stunted calves. The remainder of the herd (60 head) was held in another pasture and did not have access to the wastewater; they showed no health or growth problems. These cases approach the design of a controlled experiment, and strongly implicate wastewater exposure in the death, failure to breed, and reduced growth rate of cattle. ...


You might say the cows anecdotally died.

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Mon, Jan 16, 2012
from Columbus Dispatch:
Most 'brine' is from out of state
The industry uses the terms brine or produced waters to describe the salty waste fluid that constantly percolates out of wells drilled to tap oil and natural gas. For decades, the best way for Ohio oil and gas companies to get rid of the stuff was to send it back underground. It's the sole purpose of a network of 177 disposal wells that state regulators have overseen since the 1980s. State records show that nearly 60 percent of the brine that's injected into Ohio disposal wells these days doesn't come from Ohio. It's trucked in from shale gas wells drilled in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Though this flood of brine has been linked to a series of earthquakes in Youngstown, state regulators and industry officials say they have no ability to stop it. ...


That brine ain't mine.

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Mon, Jan 16, 2012
from London Daily Mail:
Captured by Nasa space satellite: Thick blanket of pollution covering much of China
An image showing the shocking extent of pollution in China has been released by the space agency Nasa. The image was taken on January 10 and captures a haze taking over most of the North China Plain. Visibility on the day was down to just over 200 yards and the airport in Beijing had to cancel 43 flights with a further 80 take-offs being delayed. ...


The Chinese are smoking way too much pot.

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Sat, Jan 14, 2012
from Medical News Today:
Deodorant Preservative Found In Breast Tissue From Cancer Patients
A new study led by the University of Reading in the UK that examined breast tissue samples from 40 women who underwent mastectomies for breast cancer, found they contained widespread traces of parabens, preservatives commonly used in deodorants, make-up, body lotions, moisturisers and many other cosmetic products. Although the study does not prove that parabens cause or even contribute to the development of breast cancer, it raises questions about their use.... "These results are of concern because parabens have been shown to mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen and oestrogen can drive the growth of human breast tumours."... "Many of the concentrations of the parabens measured in these breast tissues would be sufficient to drive the growth of oestrogen-dependent human breast cancer cells in the laboratory." ...


Thank goodness my deodorant used psuedobens and quasibens, instead of those nasty parabens.

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Thu, Jan 12, 2012
from Associated Press:
EPA: Power plants main global warming culprits
The most detailed data yet on emissions of heat-trapping gases show that U.S. power plants are responsible for the bulk of the pollution blamed for global warming. Power plants released 72 percent of the greenhouse gases reported to the Environmental Protection Agency for 2010, according to information released Wednesday that was the first catalog of global warming pollution by facility. The data include more than 6,700 of the largest industrial sources of greenhouse gases, or about 80 percent of total U.S. emissions. ...


If I be wicked, coal unto me...

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Tue, Jan 10, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
Fracking Moratorium Urged as Doctors Call for Health Study
The U.S. should declare a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in populated areas until the health effects are better understood, doctors said at a conference on the drilling process.... "We've got to push the pause button, and maybe we've got to push the stop button" on fracking, said Adam Law, an endocrinologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, in an interview at a conference in Arlington, Virginia that's the first to examine criteria for studying the process. ...


Precautionary kooks!
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Tue, Jan 10, 2012
from Center for Public Integrity:
EPA's Toxics Release Inventory doesn't offer full picture of pollution
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled its analysis of the 2010 Toxics Release Inventory, a database containing information on the disposal or release of 650 potentially dangerous chemicals used by almost 21,000 facilities....But, as the EPA acknowledged, the database provides only a snapshot of the pollution produced by American industry. "Users of TRI data should be aware that 'it does not cover all toxic chemicals or all sectors of the U.S. economy,' the analysis warned. "Furthermore, the quantities of chemicals reported to TRI are self-reported by facilities and are often estimates." ...


That's Really Idiotic!

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Mon, Jan 9, 2012
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Smashed boat leaking oil off WA coast
Rough conditions at Christmas Island have left authorities on the foreshore watching a broken-up cargo ship leak oil and phosphate on to the coastline this afternoon. General cargo vessel the MV Tycoon, branded as Panamanian, was loading phosphate from Christmas Island late on Sunday on an offshore mooring point when it hit the seawall, Australian Maritime Safety Association general manager Toby Stone said.... Authorities have estimated about 102 tonnes of intermediate fuel oil, 11,000 litres of lubricant oil, 32 tonnes of diesel oil and approximately 260 tonnes of phosphate onboard the vessel. ...


Merry Christmas.

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Mon, Jan 9, 2012
from Reuters:
Hong Kong air pollution at worst levels ever: report
Air pollution levels in Hong Kong were the worst ever last year, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday, a finding that may further undermine the city's role as an Asian financial centre as business executives relocate because of health concerns. Worsening air quality in Hong Kong caused by vehicle emissions and industrial pollution from the neighboring Pearl River Delta is already forcing many in the financial community to move to Singapore. ...


I'm going to take my polluting business and go pollute elsewhere!

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Wed, Jan 4, 2012
from International Business Times:
FDA Withdraws Longstanding Petition to Regulate Antibiotics in Livestock Feed
The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration announced only days before Christmas that it has decided to back off a 34-year attempt to regulate the use of antibiotics in livestock feed for animals intended for human consumption, despite mounting scientific evidence that has linked the practice to the development of potentially fatal antibiotic-resistant superbugs in humans. With no other notice aside from an obscure posting in the Federal Register on Dec. 22, the FDA declared it will now focus on encouraging "voluntary reform" within the industry instead of enforcing actual regulatory action, in addition to the "promotion of the judicious use of antimicrobials in the interest of public health." ...


Livestock: volunteer to not be pumped full of antibiotics by raising your hoof!

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Wed, Jan 4, 2012
from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News via ScienceDaily:
Keeping Our Beaches Safe from Fecal Contamination
Fecal contamination of public beaches caused by sewage overflow is both dangerous for swimmers and costly for state and local economies. Current methods to detect Escherichia coli, a bacterium highly indicative of the presence of fecal matter in water, typically require 24-48 hours to produce a result. A new, accurate, and economical sensor-based device capable of measuring E. coli levels in water samples in less than 1-8 hours could serve as a valuable early warning tool and is described in an article in Environmental Engineering Science, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ...


Shit's up! ... I mean surf's up!

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Tue, Jan 3, 2012
from Baltimore Sun:
Bay group says cleanup to create more than 230,000 jobs
Federal regulations intended to clean the Chesapeake Bay will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in construction and monitoring, according to a report to be released Tuesday by a leading environmental group. Spending on sewage and storm-water treatment alone could support about 230,000 jobs in the region over the next 14 years, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation report found. That spending will be necessary to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements to reduce pollution in the bay.... "Clean air and clean water creates jobs," said William C. Baker, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's president, who said the argument that environmental regulations add to joblessness is "nothing less than absurd." ...


Creates jobs... and tastes good, too!

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Thu, Dec 29, 2011
from Slate:
What the Frack?
The recent press about the potential of shale gas would have you believe that America is now sitting on a 100-year supply of natural gas. It's a "game-changer." A "golden age of gas" awaits, one in which the United States will be energy independent, even exporting gas to the rest of the world, upending our current energy-importing situation. The data, however, tell a very different story. Between the demonstrable gas reserves, and the potential resources blared in the headlines, lies an enormous gulf of uncertainty.... Assuming that the United States continues to use about 24 tcf per annum, then, only an 11-year supply of natural gas is certain. The other 89 years' worth has not yet been shown to exist or to be recoverable. ...


Damn you, data!

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Thu, Dec 29, 2011
from ProPublica:
Oh, Canada's Become a Home for Record Fracking
Early last year, deep in the forests of northern British Columbia, workers for Apache Corp. performed what the company proclaimed was the biggest hydraulic fracturing operation ever. The project used 259 million gallons of water and 50,000 tons of sand to frack 16 gas wells side by side. It was "nearly four times larger than any project of its nature in North America," Apache boasted. The record didn't stand for long. By the end of the year, Apache and its partner, Encana, topped it by half at a neighboring site. ...


Come on baby light my faucet...

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Wed, Dec 28, 2011
from PBS News Hour:
In Peru, Gold Rush Leads to Mercury Contamination Concerns
Now, major environmental concerns over mercury contamination at extensive gold mining operations in the remote regions of the Peruvian Amazon... These miners are part of the biggest gold rush the world has ever seen. Recent spikes in gold prices have lured 10 to 15 million people worldwide into the business of small-scale gold mining. But rising global demand for gold has also fueled demand for a far less prized metal, mercury. The toxic metal is used by millions of miners every day to separate and collect gold from rocks and soil. Miners say mercury is easy to use, readily available, and cheap. ...


There's mercury in them thar hills.

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Tue, Dec 27, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Oil from 2007 spill surprisingly toxic to fish, scientists report
Thick, tarry fuel oil disgorged into San Francisco Bay from a damaged cargo ship in 2007 was surprisingly toxic to fish embryos, devastating the herring population that feeds seabirds, whales and the bay's last commercial fishery, scientists reported Monday. Although the bay's herring spawning grounds are now free of toxic oil, studies have found that the moderate-size spill of 54,000 gallons had an unexpectedly large and lethal effect. ...


What's not to like about disgorged, thick, tarry fuel?

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Fri, Dec 23, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
The Coal Age Is Nearer to Its End
After burning coal to light up Cincinnati for six decades, the Walter C. Beckjord Generating Station will go dark soon -- a fate that will be shared by dozens of aging coal-fired power plants across the U.S. in coming years. Their owners cite a raft of new air-pollution regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, including a rule released Wednesday that limits mercury and other emissions, for the shut-downs. But energy experts say there is an even bigger reason coal plants are losing out: cheap and abundant natural gas, which is booming thanks to a surge in production from shale-rock formations... ...


RIP: Rest In Particulates

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Wed, Dec 21, 2011
from National Journal:
EPA Unveils Long-Awaited Mercury Rule
Appearing at Washington's Children's Hospital with public health leaders at her side, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday unveiled the nation's first-ever national standards for mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants. The sweeping regulations -- mandated by Congress in 1990 and delayed by prolonged litigation, lobbying, and legislative battles --will require utilities to cut at least 90 percent of their emissions of mercury, a neurotoxin known to cause brain damage and other health problems, particularly in developing fetuses and young children...EPA says the rule will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and prevent thousands of respiratory illnesses, which could translate into $90 billion in health and economic benefits a year. ...


What will we do with all this extra health and money!? Squander it, mindlessly, I suppose...

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Tue, Dec 20, 2011
from Greenwire:
With federal green light, Shell hits the gas on Arctic plans
In a sign that the Obama administration is willing to clear the regulatory decks for oil drilling in Alaska's remote Arctic waters, the Interior Department on Friday gave a conditional green light allowing Royal Dutch Shell PLC to explore for oil this summer in Alaska's Chukchi Sea. More than 20 years after sinking its first exploratory well in the Chukchi, only to later abandon the project, Shell is seeking to reopen drilling in the nation's northern-most federal waters. The campaign has already had a colossal price tag. So far, Shell officials say they have sunk $4 billion in the project, including $350 million to build two of their own ice-breaking ships. If exploration is successful, it will take 10-12 years before Shell can begin producing oil. During that time, the company would have to build a new ice-resistant drilling facility, install 100 miles of subsea pipeline from the pumping rig to the tiny community of Wainwright and construct a 500-mile pipeline from the shoreline to the beginning of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in Prudhoe Bay. ...


It will be worth all the work, if we can indeed destroy the planet!

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Tue, Dec 20, 2011
from Associated Press:
Thousands of residents protest Chinese town's planned coal power plant, clash with police
Thousands of people besieged a government office in a southern Chinese town Tuesday and blocked a highway to demand a halt to a planned coal-fired power plant because of concerns about pollution, protesters said. Riot police used tear gas in an attempt to disperse the protesters at the highway in the town of Haimen in Guangdong province, and the demonstrators hurled rocks, water bottles and bricks in return... ...


In the US, only the cancellation of a beloved TV show would engender such protest.

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Tue, Dec 20, 2011
from Greenwire:
40 percent of state drilling regulators have industry ties
...More than 40 percent of officials regulating oil and gas production in the top drilling states, records show, come from the industry they are charged with policing. It is a degree of self-regulation enjoyed by few other industries, if any. And it heightens suspicion among critics of the nation's drilling boom that companies are allowed to damage the environment with impunity. Supporters of the industry, and the regulators themselves, say it simply makes sense to have technical experts deciding technical issues. ...


That's the fox drilling the henhouse.

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Tue, Dec 20, 2011
from Science News:
BPA sends false signals to female hearts
Bisphenol A toys with the female heart, a new study finds. And under the right conditions, its authors worry, this near-ubiquitous pollutant might even prove deadly. BPA is a building block of clear hard plastics, dental sealants and the resins lining food cans. Studies have shown that throughout the industrial world, nearly everyone regularly encounters the compound, albeit at trace concentrations. ...


BPA sounds just like my man.

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Tue, Dec 20, 2011
from Press Asociation:
Stray showers of mercury getting into food chain
Earth is being showered with mercury that can land anywhere and enter the food chain, a study has shown. The poisonous metal is released as a vapour by burning fuel then falls back to Earth and is easily absorbed by the aquatic ecosystem. Thousands of tonnes of mercury vapour are pumped into the air each year. Scientists discovered that in time mercury is oxidised it can then be deposited back on Earth, either in rain or snow. Bacteria transform the oxidised mercury into methyl mercury, which easily enters the food chain. US scientist Dr Seth Lyman, who led the research while at the University of Washington Bothell, said: "Much of the emitted mercury is deposited far from its original sources.["] ...


Mercury... ubiquitous messenger of doom.

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Tue, Dec 13, 2011
from CBS News:
Pollution from China alters weather in U.S. West
A U.N. conference on climate change ended Sunday without a major deal to cut toxic emissions. No country emits more carbon dioxide than China -- a byproduct of its booming economy. And, as CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports, those Chinese emissions are having a big impact in the U.S. Chinese officials insist the murky air over Beijing this month is just fog. But measurements taken at the U.S. embassy there show dangerously high levels of air pollution -- so bad that traffic has been disrupted and flights have been delayed or cancelled. "It's no longer just their problem; it's our problem," said Kim Prather of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Prather studies atmospheric chemistry. CBS News met her at a scientific conference in San Francisco, where she was presenting research that shows what's in the air over China can affect the weather in America. ...


Sheesh, you'd think, given our flat earth, that pollution would just fall off into space.

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Tue, Dec 13, 2011
from London Independent:
Shock as retreat of Arctic sea ice releases deadly greenhouse gas
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane -- a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide -- have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region. The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.... "Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing," Dr Semiletov said. "I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them." ...


You know you're trouble when scientists freak out!

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Tue, Dec 13, 2011
from Associated Press:
Canada pulls out of Kyoto Protocol
Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change Monday, saying the accord won't help solve the climate crisis. It dealt a blow to the anti-global warming treaty, which has not been formally renounced by any other country. Environment Minister Peter Kent said that Canada is invoking its legal right to withdraw and said Kyoto doesn't represent the way forward for Canada or the world... "The Kyoto Protocol does not cover the world's largest two emitters, United States and China, and therefore cannot work," Kent said. "It's now clear that Kyoto is not the path forward to a global solution to climate change. If anything it's an impediment." ...


More like CANTada!

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Fri, Dec 9, 2011
from Scientific American:
Climate Negotiations Fail to Keep Pace with Science
DURBAN, South Africa-- By 2020, human activity could produce some 55 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases per year, up from roughly 36 billion metric tons currently. All the accumulating gas is enough to raise the global average temperatures by more than 3 degrees Celsius by century's end -- more than triple the amount of warming that has already occurred.... The latest science suggests that international negotiations are proceeding far too slowly to have any significant impact on global warming and may well dawdle too long to prevent catastrophic climate change. ...


Somebody wake me from this nightmare.

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Thu, Dec 8, 2011
from Reuters:
"Big Three" polluters oppose binding climate deal
The world's three biggest polluters China, the United States and India refused to move toward a new legal commitment to curb their carbon emissions Tuesday, increasing the risk that climate talks will fail to clinch a meaningful deal this week. The European Union is leading efforts to keep alive the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only legal pact to tackle climate change, with a conditional promise to sign a global deal that would force big emitters to change their ways. ...


Three biggest babies, more like.

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Wed, Dec 7, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Chinese angry over pollution
Millions of Chinese went online on Tuesday to vent their anger over the thick smog that has blanketed Beijing in recent days, raising health fears and causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled. Sales of facemasks were reported to have surged as residents of China's heavily polluted capital sought to protect themselves from the air, which US embassy figures ranked "very unhealthy". Beijing's main airport cancelled hundreds of flight due to the poor visibility on Sunday and Monday, angering passengers at the world's second-busiest airport. ...


In cyberspace no one can hear you scream.

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Wed, Dec 7, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Japan baby formula shows radiation taint
Radiation contamination has been found in a leading brand of Japanese baby formula, most likely fallout from the country's crippled nuclear plant, its manufacturer said on Tuesday. Meiji, a major producer of milk, confectionery and pharmaceuticals, said it was recalling some 400,000 cans of "Meiji Step" formula that contained a small amount of radioactive caesium-134 and ceasium-137... The formula was produced at a factory in Saitama prefecture, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where reactors were sent into meltdown in the aftermath of the March 11 quake and tsunami. ...


This aftermath is incalculable.

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Thu, Dec 1, 2011
from E&E Daily:
Supercommittee failure portends yearlong limbo for energy, environment programs
After four months of pressure campaigns and prognostication, the failure of the so-called congressional "supercommittee" to agree on $1.2 trillion in long-term spending cuts leaves energy and environmental programs in much the same position that they were after the August debt-limit deal: an uneasy limbo. The flameout of the 12-member panel, created in the hopes of surmounting political acrimony to slash both parties' prized programs, puts domestic discretionary agencies -- such as U.S. EPA and the Energy Department -- in line for two rounds of automatic cuts, both potentially punishing. The first would come about three months into the 2013 fiscal year, when an estimated $39 billion sequester of already-approved spending would hit all agencies in equal proportions. The second would take the form of lower budget caps until 2021. ...


Why aren't the automatic cuts in CO2 emissions?

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Tue, Nov 29, 2011
from Reuters:
Laptop Wi-Fi said to nuke sperm, but caveats abound
The digital age has left men's nether parts in a squeeze, if you believe the latest science on semen, laptops and wireless connections. In a report in the venerable medical journal Fertility and Sterility, Argentinian scientists describe how they got semen samples from 29 healthy men, placed a few drops under a laptop connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi and then hit download. Four hours later, the semen was, eh, well-done. A quarter of the sperm were no longer swimming around, for instance, compared to just 14 percent from semen samples stored at the same temperature away from the computer. And nine percent of the sperm showed DNA damage, three-fold more than the comparison samples. The culprit? Electromagnetic radiation generated during wireless communication... ...


Wi-Fi = Jizz-Fizz

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Mon, Nov 28, 2011
from Associated Press:
A quarter of world's farmlands highly degraded, says UN
The United Nations has completed the first-ever global assessment of the state of the planet's land resources, finding in a report today that a quarter of all farmland is highly degraded and warning the trend must be reversed if the world's growing population is to be fed. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that farmers will have to produce 70 per cent more food by 2050 to meet the needs of the world's expected nine billion-strong population. That amounts to 1 billion tonnes more wheat, rice and other cereals and 200 million more tons of cow and other livestock. But as it is, most available farmland is already being farmed, and in ways that actually decrease its productivity through practices that lead to soil erosion and wasting of water. ...


Cropalypse!

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Fri, Nov 25, 2011
from Bloomberg News:
Renewable Power Trumps Fossils for First Time as UN Talks Stall
Renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments, shaking off setbacks from the financial crisis and an impasse at the United Nations global warming talks. Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass attracted $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the most recent data. Accelerating installations of solar and wind power led to lower equipment prices, making clean energy more competitive with coal. "The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable," United Nations Environment Program Executive Secretary Achim Steiner said in an interview. "You have record investment in the midst of an economic and financial crisis." The findings indicate the world is shifting toward consuming more renewable energy even without a global agreement on limiting greenhouse gases. ...


Durban be damned; leaders be let go; renewables rule!

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Thu, Nov 24, 2011
from Associated Press:
Brazil suspends Chevron's drilling permission
Chevron was banned from drilling for oil in Brazil until an investigation into an offshore oil leak at one of the U.S.-based oil company's well sites is completed, regulators said Wednesday. The board of Brazil's National Petroleum Agency met and "ordered the suspension of drilling activities" until it can identify the causes and who is responsible for the leak of more than 110,000 gallons of oil into the Atlantic ocean off the nation's southeastern coast. "This resolution suspends all drilling activity for Chevron Brasil Ltda. in national territory," the statement read. It was not clear how long the suspension would last. Chevron said in an emailed statement that it would "follow all the rules and regulations of the Government of Brazil and its agencies." ...


Chevron, you've been a bad, bad oil boy.

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Mon, Nov 21, 2011
from London Guardian:
Rich nations 'give up' on new climate treaty until 2020
Governments of the world's richest countries have given up on forging a new treaty on climate change to take effect this decade, with potentially disastrous consequences for the environment through global warming. Ahead of critical talks starting next week, most of the world's leading economies now privately admit that no new global climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest, and that even if it were negotiated by then, they would stipulate it could not come into force until 2020. The eight-year delay is the worst contemplated by world governments during 20 years of tortuous negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions, and comes despite intensifying warnings from scientists and economists about the rapidly increasing dangers of putting off prompt action. ...


Given the lack of enthusiasm among our leaders, it's time to Occupy Mother Earth.

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Mon, Nov 21, 2011
from New York Times:
New Delhi, Now More Polluted Than Beijing
India has recently pulled far ahead of China on one dubious development marker -- air pollution in the country's capital. The air quality in New Delhi on Monday afternoon was significantly worse than the air quality in Beijing, according to real-time air monitors run by the Indian and U.S. governments in both cities. New Delhi, a landlocked, fast-growing metropolis of more than 16 million people, is regularly shrouded by haze and smog (sometimes euphemistically referred to as fog) in winter months, as barometric pressure and cooler air mix with construction dust, smoke from cow dung fires and car exhaust, which then hover over the city for days. ...


This charming elixir of dust, exhaust and cow dung smoke is a real tourism draw.

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Mon, Nov 21, 2011
from The Epoch Times:
Yangtze River Pollution Imperils Hundreds of Millions
The banks of China's Yangtze River are crowded with chemical factories, which dump massive amounts of toxic waste water into the river, affecting hundreds of millions of people who rely on the river for drinking water. Nevertheless, a Chinese official recently stated that the Yangtze's water quality "overall is good and can be used safely." According to a recent Economics Information Daily report, latest data from the Yangtze River Water Resources Protection Bureau says that the total polluted water discharged into the Yangtze exceeded 33.9 billion tons this year and is increasing at a rate of 2 percent per year. Data released by the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection last December said there are over 400 thousand chemical factories, five major steel manufacturing centers, and seven major oil refineries along the banks of the Yangtze. ...


I imagine "Yangtze," loosely translated, means Shit.

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Fri, Nov 18, 2011
from Reuters:
J&J to nix baby-product contaminant within 2 years
Johnson & Johnson, responding to complaints about a potentially carcinogenic chemical in its baby shampoos, said it plans within two years to eliminate formaldehyde-releasing preservatives from hundreds of its baby products. Chief Executive William Weldon made the pledge on Wednesday in a letter to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a consumer group which earlier this month urged J&J to remove from its baby shampoo a preservative called quaternium-15. The chemical is considered by the government to be a possible trigger for some cancers and skin allergies. It is added to many cosmetic products to prevent spoiling and contamination, and works by releasing formaldehyde to kill bacteria. ...


Whatsa couple more years of contaminatin' babies?

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Thu, Nov 17, 2011
from BBC:
UN warns of staple crop virus 'epidemic'
UN scientists are warning that a virus attacking the cassava plant is nearing an epidemic in parts of Africa. Cassava is one of the world's most important crops providing up to a third of the calorie intake for many people. The food and agriculture organisation of the UN says the situation is urgent and are calling for an increase in funding for surveillance. None of the varieties of cassava being distributed to farmers in Africa appears to be resistant to the virus. Cassava is a global food source of particular importance in Africa as it does well on poor soils with low rainfall.... The scientists say the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) is on the verge of becoming an epidemic. It first appeared in Uganda in 2006 but in the past few months has been found in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo for the first time. ...


Who'd want to eat a wrinkly root, anyway?

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Tue, Nov 15, 2011
from Center for Public Integrity:
In polluted Pennsylvania suburb, a Republican takes on state regulators
From his 13th-floor office in the Berks County Services Center, Commissioner Mark Scott fields constituent complaints about suffocating odors from an old battery recycling plant in the working-class borough of Laureldale, a northern suburb of this city. Scott, a Republican, reacts to these calls in a way that might seem blasphemous to GOP hard-liners. As he sees it, regulators aren't doing enough. ...


The revolution will be regulated.

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Tue, Nov 15, 2011
from BBC:
Study links Parkinson's disease to industrial solvent
Researchers found a six-fold increase in the risk of developing Parkinson's in individuals exposed in the workplace to trichloroethylene (TCE). Although many uses for TCE have been banned around the world, the chemical is still used as a degreasing agent. The research was based on analysis of 99 pairs of twins selected from US data records.... The study also adjudged exposure to two other solvents, perchloroethylene (PERC) and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), "tended towards significant risk of developing the disease".... "Our findings, as well as prior case reports, suggest a lag time of up to 40 years between TCE exposure and onset of Parkinson's.... Groundwater contamination by TCE is widespread, with studies estimating up to 30 percent of US drinking water supplies are contaminated with TCE.... PERC, like TCE, is used as a dry-cleaning agent and degreasing agent, and is found in many household products. ...


Solvent? Madge, you're soaking in it.

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Tue, Nov 8, 2011
from Earth Policy Institute:
U.S. Carbon Emissions Down 7 Percent in Four Years: Even Bigger Drops Coming
Between 2007 and 2011, carbon emissions from coal use in the United States dropped 10 percent. During the same period, emissions from oil use dropped 11 percent. In contrast, carbon emissions from natural gas use increased by 6 percent. The net effect of these trends was that U.S. carbon emissions dropped 7 percent in four years. And this is only the beginning. The initial fall in coal and oil use was triggered by the economic downturn, but now powerful new forces are reducing the use of both... In August, the American Economic Review -- the country's most prestigious economics journal -- published an article that can only be described as an epitaph for the coal industry. The authors conclude that the economic damage caused by air pollutants from coal burning exceeds the value of the electricity produced by coal-fired power plants. Coal fails the cost-benefit analysis even before the costs of climate change are tallied. ...


RIP ... Rest In Pollution

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Tue, Nov 8, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
The Hidden Toll of Traffic Jams
Congested cities are fast becoming test tubes for scientists studying the impact of traffic fumes on the brain. As roadways choke on traffic, researchers suspect that the tailpipe exhaust from cars and trucks -- especially tiny carbon particles already implicated in heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments -- may also injure brain cells and synapses key to learning and memory. New public-health studies and laboratory experiments suggest that, at every stage of life, traffic fumes exact a measurable toll on mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability. ...


On the plus side, with all my extra time in the car, I'm perfecting my macrame skills!

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Mon, Nov 7, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
PG&E pipe ruptures, causing I-280 landslide
A Pacific Gas and Electric Co. natural gas pipeline ruptured Sunday afternoon during a high-pressure water test that ripped a hole in a Peninsula hillside, sending a deluge of mud and rocks onto Interstate 280 and partially closing the freeway for four hours. The pipeline is the same one that exploded in San Bruno last year, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. ...


Thank goodness the Keystone XL Pipeline will be indestructible!

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Mon, Nov 7, 2011
from Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
Corporate funding of Marcellus Shale studies at universities raises alarms
As development of the Marcellus Shale spreads across Pennsylvania, Penn State University has taken a central role in doing research about the industry, from its economic impact to its geological properties. Some of the research is paid for by companies extracting the gas, according to petroleum geologists who do the work. But the state-related university, which took in $214 million in taxpayer funding last year, declined to say how much individual companies spend or what the money pays for. Universities welcome the money and say there's no impact on their research, but critics are concerned that the lack of transparency is dangerous to independence. ...


So that's what they mean by the trickle-down effect.

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Mon, Nov 7, 2011
from Center for Public Integrity:
Many Americans left behind in the quest for cleaner air
...Americans might expect the government to protect them from unsafe air. That hasn't happened. Insidious forms of toxic air pollution -- deemed so harmful to human health that a Democratic Congress and a Republican president sought to bring emissions under control more than two decades ago -- persist in hundreds of communities across the United States, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News and NPR shows. Congress targeted nearly 200 chemicals in 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, which the first Bush administration promised would lead to sharp reductions in cancer, birth defects and other serious ailments. But the agencies that were supposed to protect the public instead have left millions of people from California to Maine exposed to known risks -- sometimes for years. ...


News flash... the government doesn't give a shit.

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Fri, Nov 4, 2011
from Washington Post:
Bill to ban phantom EPA dust rule approved by House panel
Earlier this year, Republicans found what they saw as an ideal talking point to illustrate a federal bureaucracy gone batty. The Environmental Protection Agency, they warned, was trying to regulate something only God could control: the dust in the wind. "Now, here comes my favorite of the crazy regulatory acts. The EPA is now proposing rules to regulate dust," Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.) said on the House floor. He said Texas is full of dusty roads: "The EPA is now saying you can be fined for driving home every night on your gravel road." There was just one flaw in this argument: It was not true. The EPA's new dust rule did not exist. It never did. ...


Don't cha just love those quixotic Republicans!

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Tue, Nov 1, 2011
from New York Times:
Turkey: Sandblasting Jeans for "Distressed" Look Proved Harmful for Textile Workers
Sandblasting new blue jeans to make them look "distressed" killed a number of young Turkish textile workers before the practice was outlawed, a new study has found. The study, published in Chest, a medical journal for lung specialists, was done by doctors at a hospital for thoracic diseases in Istanbul. They followed 32 male textile workers who came to their hospital with breathing problems between 2001 and 2009. That year, after news reports of a "silicosis epidemic,ā€¯ Turkish health authorities banned sandblasting denim. ...


Does my guilt make my butt look big?

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Tue, Nov 1, 2011
from Associated Press:
APNewsbreak: Future holds more extreme weather
For a world already weary of weather catastrophes, the latest warning from top climate scientists paints a grim future: More floods, more heat waves, more droughts and greater costs to deal with them. A draft summary of an international scientific report obtained by The Associated Press says the extremes caused by global warming could eventually grow so severe that some locations become "increasingly marginal as places to live." ...


It's always more, more, more with these climate scientists!

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Tue, Nov 1, 2011
from Live Science:
7 billion and counting: Should the world adopt a 'one-child' policy?
The world population has hit a whopping 7 billion, and researchers suggest it could reach 10 billion within the next century. On the one hand, this means we're a great success -- after all, the goal of any species is to expand and conquer. But, on the other hand, all that expansion means more mouths to feed, which requires more space and energy, which increases the demand on resources and the environment, perhaps too large a demand for Earth to support. So Life's Little Mysteries asks: How can we curb this growth? Should there be a global one-child policy, like the one enforced in China? ...


More like "half a child" policy.

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Tue, Nov 1, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Beijing air pollution 'hazardous': US embassy
Air pollution in Beijing reached "hazardous" levels on Monday, the US embassy said, as thick smog blanketed the city for the third day running, forcing the closure of highways and cancellation of flights. The Chinese capital is one of the most polluted cities in the world, mainly due to its growing energy consumption -- much of which is still fuelled by coal-fired power stations -- and the high number of cars on the road. A "hazardous" rating by the US embassy, whose evaluation of the city's air quality often differs markedly from the official Chinese rating, is the worst on a six-point scale and indicates the whole population is likely to be affected....By contrast, China's environment ministry said Beijing's air was just "slightly polluted"... ...


I like to think of it as "deliciously viscous."

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Tue, Nov 1, 2011
from New York Times:
Concerns Are Raised About Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes
These mosquitoes are genetically engineered to kill -- their own children. Researchers on Sunday reported initial signs of success from the first release into the environment of mosquitoes engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, killing them before they reach adulthood. The results, and other work elsewhere, could herald an age in which genetically modified insects will be used to help control agricultural pests and insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria. ...


Are we playing God ... or playing Devil?

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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
Farmed salmon diet fattens mice
A study with mice provides more evidence that a diet high in farmed salmon contaminated by persistent organic pollutants - POPs - contributes to weight gain and increases the risk of diabetes. The results are consistent with a growing body of research on people, linking POPs exposure to type 2 diabetes... Like all fish, farmed salmon contain environmental contaminants. Among these are persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs are a large and varied group of chemical compounds that share certain traits, including persistence, toxicity to health and an ability to accumulate in tissues and fat. POPs were made and used in a variety of industrial and consumer applications. They are also byproducts of industrial processes. ...


POPs: Promoting Our 'Pocalypse

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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from Yale Environment 300:
A Rise in Fungal Diseases is Taking Growing Toll on Wildlife
In an increasingly interconnected world, fungal diseases are spreading at an alarming rate and have led to deadly outbreaks in amphibian, bat, and bee populations. And in the last decade, researchers note, some of the most virulent strains have infected people. On the southeastern outskirts of Washington, D.C., inside the Smithsonian Institution's cavernous Museum Support Center, one can see some frogs that no longer exist. Alcohol-filled glass jars hold preserved specimens of Incilius periglenes, the Monte Verde golden toad; the Honduran frog Craugastor chrysozetetes, which in life was olive-brown with purple palms and soles; its Costa Rican cousin, Craugastor escoces; and Atelopus ignescens, a black toad not seen in the wild for decades. All of these extinct species are likely victims of the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which attacks the outer skin layers of amphibians, disrupting their water and electrolyte intake so severely that infected animals can die of cardiac arrest. ...


The fungus among us is ruinous.

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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from The Daily Climate:
Yukon delivers a plug of mercury in response to a changing climate
The Yukon River is delivering upwards of five tons of mercury a year to the Arctic environment, likely in response to a warming climate, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday... Permafrost in the Yukon basin has been absorbing naturally occurring mercury - chiefly from volcanoes - since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. Now those soils, as a result of changing climate conditions, are thawing at increased rates. That could be releasing a substantial reservoir of the metal into the marshes and streams feeding the Yukon River, the world's 19th largest river. More recently, industrial pollution has coated the basin. Prevailing winds from Europe and Asia funnel industrial pollution, including mercury, directly to interior Alaska and the Yukon River drainage, [USGS hydrologist Paul] Schuster said. "If we had funding, we could prove this. We could determine whether this comes from coal or volcanoes. But that's very expensive," he said. ...


Maybe they can raise the money by selling the mercury.

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Tue, Oct 18, 2011
from Associated Press:
7 billion humans and rising rapidly
As of Oct. 31, according to the U.N. Population Fund, there will be 7 billion people sharing Earth's land and resources. In Western Europe, Japan and Russia, it will be an ironic milestone amid worries about low birthrates and aging populations. In China and India, the two most populous nations, it's an occasion to reassess policies that have already slowed once-rapid growth. But in Burundi, Uganda and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, the demographic news is mostly sobering as the region staggers under the double burden of the world's highest birthrates and deepest poverty. The regional population of nearly 900 million could reach 2 billion in 40 years at current rates, accounting for about half of the projected global population growth over that span. ...


At least 4 billion of them will be in costume.

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Thu, Oct 13, 2011
from Associated Press:
Groups sue Obama for scrapping stricter smog limit
Environmental groups sued the Obama administration Tuesday for scrapping a stricter limit for smog-forming pollution, saying the decision violated the law and put politics ahead of protecting public health...."EPA assured us repeatedly that they were going to finalize action on that proposal to strengthen the standard," said David Baron, managing attorney for Earthjustice, which sued on behalf of the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Appalachian Mountain Club and Natural Resources Defense Council. "Then all of a sudden, the Obama administration abruptly reversed course and said they weren't going to strengthen the standards after all." ...


Glubulup hyshbibble miboo!

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Tue, Oct 11, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
A GOP assault on environmental regulations
Republicans in the House are best known for their inflexible opposition to tax hikes and government spending, but that's nothing new for the GOP; what marks this group as different is that it is perhaps the most anti-environment Congress in history. So far, that hasn't had much impact because Republicans control only one house, and Democrats in the Senate have blocked their most extreme attempts to gut the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. But recent legislative moves in the House provide a preview of what's to come in 2013 if the balance of power shifts further in favor of a GOP that is more united than ever in opposition to environmental regulation. ...


Does Mother Earth get a vote?

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Mon, Oct 10, 2011
from Associated Press:
Foreign insects, diseases got into US
Dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases slipped undetected into the United States in the years after 9/11, when authorities were so focused on preventing another attack that they overlooked a pest explosion that threatened the quality of the nation's food supply. At the time, hundreds of agricultural scientists responsible for stopping invasive species at the border were reassigned to anti-terrorism duties in the newly formed Homeland Security Department -- a move that scientists say cost billions of dollars in crop damage and eradication efforts from California vineyards to Florida citrus groves. The consequences come home to consumers in the form of higher grocery prices, substandard produce and the risk of environmental damage from chemicals needed to combat the pests. ...


The terrorists won, after all.

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Mon, Oct 10, 2011
from BBC:
Car-free Sunday for smog-struck Milan
The northern Italian city of Milan banned all traffic from its streets for 10 hours on Sunday in an attempt to reduce smog. The measure, first imposed on a trial basis in 2007, is triggered whenever pollution exceeds the statutory limit for 12 consecutive days. Satellite imagery shows Milan to be one of the most polluted cities in Europe. An estimated 120,000 vehicles will be affected by the move, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper. The most polluting vehicles have been banned from driving through the city centre since Thursday. But on Sunday, there was no traffic between 0800 and 1800 local time (06:00-16:00 GMT). ...


Sounds like a slice of heaven to me.

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Mon, Oct 10, 2011
from Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Factory farms rarely cited for polluting
Acting on a tip, state environmental inspectors in February paid a surprise visit to a dairy farm in Eatonton. They found the owner pumping gallon upon gallon of liquefied cow manure into a freshwater pond. From there the toxic brew leached into neighboring streams, the inspectors said. Seven months later, the farmer signed a consent order agreeing to bring his farm up to regulations, update some equipment and take classes on managing the huge amounts of manure his cows generate. (A single dairy cow may produce an astonishing 140 pounds of manure a day.) The Georgia Environmental Protection Division chose not to fine the Eatonton farmer. ...


140 pounds of manure per day? Holy shit!

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Fri, Oct 7, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Disaster in the Gulf Continues
In the Gulf, new information is confirming fears that fish and wildlife -- and millions of people on the Coast -- are being seriously impacted by the 4.9 million barrels of BP oil spewed from the ocean deep last year. A new report from the Waterkeeper Alliance shows the BP disaster is still unfolding. The report points to ongoing public health problems, long-term damages to the environment, and a growing need for environmental monitoring and restoration programs to fight decades of petroleum industry assaults and the growing impacts of climate change.... Scientists are finding disturbing evidence that the fragile Gulf ecosystem has been dealt a serious blow by the millions of gallons of oil that leeched into fertile wildlife breeding grounds and wetland areas critical to coastal fisheries. As Times-Picayune outdoors writer Bob Marshall reported recently, scientists are concerned that low levels of toxic compounds could be damaging fish species like the marsh-dwelling killifish, a key species of the gulf ecosystem.... "We're talking about a diverse group of chemicals, polcyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), that interact with each other," said Dr. Patricia Williams. "They are powerful carcinogens and powerful reproductive toxins.... I've interviewed tar ball workers and what we're finding is that any problem we're seeing in wildlife, we're seeing in humans, with reproductive and neurological problems. ...


PAHnic in PAHradise.

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Wed, Oct 5, 2011
from Epoch Times:
Birth Defects in China Jump 70 Percent in 15 Years
In China the birth defect rate has jumped from 8.77 per 1,000 in 1996, to 15 per 1,000 in 2010, according to Report on Women and Children's Health Development published on Sept. 21. Experts attributed the 70.9 percent surge to environmental pollution. According to the Jinghua Times, the top five inborn defects in hospital tests in 2010 were congenital heart disease, extra toes or fingers, cleft lip, congenital hydrocephalus ("water in the brain"), and neural tube defect (exposure of the brain or spinal cord at birth); congenital heart disease was ranked number one. ...


At least they're not just poisoning our children!

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Fri, Sep 30, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Dengue fever infects over 12,000 in Pakistan
Already cursed by floods and suicide bombings, Pakistan now faces a new menace from an unprecedented outbreak of the deadly tropical disease dengue fever. In less than a month, 126 people have died and more than 12,000 have been diagnosed with the virus, which has spread rapidly among both rich and poor in Pakistan's cultural capital Lahore. Dengue affects between 50 and 100 million people in the tropics and subtropics each year, resulting in fever, muscle and joint ache. But it can also be fatal, developing into haemorrhagic fever and shock syndrome, which is characterised by bleeding and a loss of blood pressure. Caused by four strains of virus spread by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, there is no vaccine -- which is why prevention methods focus on mosquito control. ...


At least it's an equal opportunity disease!

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Wed, Sep 28, 2011
from Washington Post:
No regs are good regs: Single senator blocks pipeline safety bill on principle
A senator who opposes federal regulation on philosophical grounds is single-handedly blocking legislation that would strengthen safety rules for oil and gas pipelines, a bill that even the pipeline industry and companies in his own state support. Republican Sen. Rand Paul's opposition to the bill hasn't wavered even after a gas pipeline rupture last week shook people awake in three counties in his home state of Kentucky. Paul, a tea party ally who shares with his father, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a desire to shrink the role of the federal government, won't discuss his role in stymieing the bill. But industry lobbyists, safety advocates and Senate aides said he is the only senator who is refusing to agree to procedures that would permit swift passage of the measure. ...


This is appaulling!

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Wed, Sep 28, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians
You've decided to help your health and the environment by riding your bike to work. Good for you! Sorry to have to deliver the bad news: you may be inhaling more soot. The amount might be more than twice as much as urban pedestrians, says a pilot study presented Sunday at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress. The study involved five cyclists who regularly biked to work and five pedestrians from London. They ranged in age from 18 to 40 and were healthy nonsmokers. Researchers analyzed airway microphage cells from the participants' sputum samples. Airway microphage cells guard the body against foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria. The cyclists were found to have 2.3 times the amount of black carbon in their lungs compared with the pedestrians. ...


My lungs might be blacker but my legs are prettier!

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Tue, Sep 27, 2011
from University of California - Los Angeles via ScienceDaily:
Scientists Find H1N1 Flu Virus Prevalent in Animals in Africa
UCLA life scientists and their colleagues have discovered the first evidence of the H1N1 virus in animals in Africa. In one village in northern Cameroon, a staggering 89 percent of the pigs studied had been exposed to the H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu. "I was amazed that virtually every pig in this village was exposed," said Thomas B. Smith, director of UCLA's Center for Tropical Research and the senior author of the research. "Africa is ground zero for a new pandemic. Many people are in poor health there, and disease can spread very rapidly without authorities knowing about it." ...


When pigs flu.

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Tue, Sep 27, 2011
from Associated Press:
Kansas agencies assessing algae's impact in lakes
State parks officials are assessing the impact of large-scale, blue-green algae blooms at Kansas lakes and reservoirs that kept people and animals out of the lakes this summer. Dangerous levels of the toxic algae prompted Kansas health officials to post advisories and warnings since May. Ron Kaufman, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said the algae blooms, along with weather conditions, prompted numerous cancellations at state cabins and campsites... The algae conditions occurred as many people were looking to spend their scarce leisure dollars staying closer to home enjoying Kansas parks and lakes. ...


From vacation to staycation to algaecation.

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Tue, Sep 27, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
Organic farming reduces antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria were less common on chicken farms that had recently switched to organic farming practices when compared to those that continued to use conventional farming practices, finds a study of organic poultry farms in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The results are published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The results show that reducing nontherapeutic use of antibiotics also reduces antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chickens and their waste materials. It is one of the first to examine the changes on farms in the United States. The findings agree with prior studies from Europe and Asia that report similar results: less antibiotic use means fewer resistant bacteria in the animals and food products. In conventional chicken farming, antibiotic use goes beyond just treating sick chickens. The drugs are often added to feed to promote the growth of chickens living in crowded poultry houses. Antibiotics use increased during the 1990s and a large portion of that increase was due to these so-called nontherapeutic uses. However, this kind of overuse can increase antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the facilities. The bacteria can then spread to people by either direct contact with the animals, through the handling and eating of meat products and via manure spread on crops and farmland. ...


The sky is still falling, just not as bacterially!

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Fri, Sep 23, 2011
from UCLA, via EurekAlert:
UCLA scientists find H1N1 flu virus prevalent in animals in Africa
UCLA life scientists and their colleagues have discovered the first evidence of the H1N1 virus in animals in Africa. In one village in northern Cameroon, a staggering 89 percent of the pigs studied had been exposed to the H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu. "I was amazed that virtually every pig in this village was exposed," said Thomas B. Smith, director of UCLA's Center for Tropical Research and the senior author of the research. "Africa is ground zero for a new pandemic. Many people are in poor health there, and disease can spread very rapidly without authorities knowing about it." H1N1 triggered a human pandemic in the spring of 2009, infecting people in more than 200 countries. In the U.S., it led to an estimated 60 million illnesses, 270,000 hospitalizations and 12,500 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The virus, known scientifically as Influenza A (H1N1), is made up of genetic elements of swine, avian and human influenza viruses. The pigs in Cameroon, the researchers say, were infected by humans. ...


At least it's only prevalent in animals, and not humans.

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Tue, Sep 20, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
China closes solar-panel plant after protests
Authorities ordered a solar-panel manufacturing plant in eastern China to close after four days of protests by hundreds of villagers who have accused the facility of causing air and water pollution, Chinese media reported Monday. The decision is an indication of the growing power of environmental protesters to sway government policy in China. As many as 500 villagers participated in the protests near Haining, an industrial city of 640,000 in coastal Zhejiang province. The plant's operator, JinkoSolar, a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, issued a public apology Monday. ...


Iconoclastic renegade Americans could learn a thing or two from the docile Chinese.

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Tue, Sep 20, 2011
from London Independent:
Antibiotics losing the fight against deadly bacteria
Our last line of defence against bacterial infections is fast becoming weakened by a growing number of deadly strains that are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics, according to new figures given to The Independent on Sunday by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). The disturbing statistics reveal an explosion in cases of super-resistant strains of bacteria such as E.coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, a cause of pneumonia and urinary tract infections, in less than five years.... Years of over-prescribing antibiotics, bought over the counter in some countries, and their intensive use in animals, enabling resistant bacteria to enter the food chain, are among the factors behind the global spread...In a statement issued during a WHO conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, last week, the organisation warned that doctors and scientists throughout Europe fear the "reckless use of antibiotics" risks a "return to a pre-antibiotic era where simple infections do not respond to treatment, and routine operations and interventions become life-threatening." ...


Just so we have more than fireflies to light our operating rooms.

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Thu, Sep 15, 2011
from IUPUI:
Carbon Nanoparticles Break Barriers--and That May Not Be Good
A study by researchers from the schools of science and medicine at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis examines the effects of carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) on living cells. This work is among the first to study concentrations of these tiny particles that are low enough to mimic the actual exposure of an ordinary individual...The research, published in the September 2011 issue of the journal Nanotoxicology, focuses on the effect of low concentration CNP exposure on the cells that line the renal nephron, a tubular structure inside the kidney that makes urine. The investigators found the role of the CNPs in this part of the body to be significant and potentially worrisome....["]We found that these minute particles cause leakage in the cellular lining of the renal nephron," said study first author Bonnie Blazer-Yost, Ph.D. ..."Breaching this biological barrier concerns us because things that should be retained in the forming urine can leak back into the blood stream and things in the blood can leak into the urine. Normal biological substances as well as waste products are dangerous if they go where they are not supposed to be," Blazer-Yost said. ...


"Taking a leak" now has a whole new meaning.

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Wed, Sep 14, 2011
from The Denver Post:
Four oil and gas companies responsible for 350 spills named "outstanding operators" by regulators
As gas and oil drilling accelerates along Colorado's heavily-populated Front Range, state regulators named four companies to be "Outstanding Operators" and lauded them for environmental excellence. But the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulators' records show that those companies are responsible for more than 350 spills since January 2010. One of them, Andarko subsidiary Kerr-McGee, released cancer-causing benzene and other chemicals three times last month in Weld County -- contaminating land and water. The awards given by the COGCC exemplified a collaborative regulatory approach that Colorado relies on to protect its environment with a record-high 45,793 wells and companies drilling about eight more a day. A Denver Post analysis in progress has found that spills are happening at the rate of seven a week - releasing more than 2 million gallons this year of diesel, oil, drilling wastewater and chemicals. ...


If these are the "outstanding operators" I'd hate to run into the "offending operators."

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Wed, Sep 14, 2011
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Chemicals Of Concern
The White House is under pressure from two democratic senators to release a list of chemicals the Environmental Protection Agency says could endanger human health or the environment. This so-called chemicals of concern list would include eight phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and bisphenol A. The chemical industry has attempted to block release of EPA's proposed list over the past year. Congress granted EPA the authority to create such a list in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was signed into law in 1976. But EPA hasn't attempted to use this authority until now. ...


If it endangers human health it endangers the environment -- and vice versa!

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Tue, Sep 13, 2011
from Georgetown University:
High Levels of Carcinogens in Dry-Cleaning, Study Shows
Georgetown researchers have found that perchloroethylene (PCE), a potentially carcinogenic dry cleaning solvent, is retained in dry-cleaned clothes made of polyester, cotton or wool. The levels increase with repeat cleanings, according to the researchers, whose work appeared Aug. 30 online in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry.... "The question is, can the levels of PCE we find be absorbed through the skin or inhaled in quantities large enough to harm people," says Georgetown professor Paul Roepe, who supervised the study. "We don't have the complete answers to those questions, but I think we know enough to suggest that more studies should be done very quickly."... They found that polyester, cotton and wool (but not silk) are most prone to retaining high levels of PCE. "At the end of the day, nobody - I mean nobody - has previously done this simple thing - gone out there to several different drycleaners and tested different types of cloth for retained PCE," says Roepe, also co-director of Georgetown's Center for Infectious Disease. ...


That crisp, fresh look is worth it!

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Wed, Sep 7, 2011
from BBC:
Somalia famine: UN warns of 750,000 deaths
As many as 750,000 people could die as Somalia's drought worsens in the coming months, the UN has warned, declaring a famine in a new area. The UN says tens of thousands of people have died after what is said to be East Africa's worst drought for 60 years. Bay becomes the sixth area to be officially declared a famine zone - mostly in parts of southern Somalia controlled by the Islamist al-Shabab. Some 12 million people across the region need food aid, the UN says. The situation in the Bay region was worse than anything previously recorded, said senior UN's technical adviser Grainne Moloney. "The rate of malnutrition [among children] in Bay region is 58 percent. This is a record rate of acute malnutrition," she told journalists in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. ...


This is one sad cirque du Somalia.

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Wed, Sep 7, 2011
from The Ecologist:
China exports its environmental problems as consumer culture booms
Despite its well publicised investment in green technology, China today has an unenviable list of ecological problems; its reliance on coal has left it with 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world; the north of the country is prone to frequent water shortages which have created hundreds of thousands of "environmental refugees"; and the dumping of chemicals into the Yangtze and other rivers means half the Chinese population drink water contaminated with human and animal excrement. In a new book, 'As China Goes, So Goes the World', Oxford professor Karl Gerth, claims that many of these problems have been directly caused by China's move towards a more consumerist society. ...


Consumers consume. That's what we do.

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Mon, Sep 5, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
Common plasticizer alters an important memory system in male rat brains.
An ingredient widely-used to soften plastic containers and toys changed brain development in growing male rats when exposure occurs during a sensitive phase. The same exposure did not affect female rats, report researchers in the journal Neuroscience. The animal study shows that the phthalate DEHP can disrupt the normal development of the hippocampus in young male rats by reducing the number of cells and nerve connections that form. The hippocampus is important to learning as it is involved in the formation of long-term memories. The rat hippocampus matures in the first few weeks after birth while in people, the hippocampus largely develops before birth during the third trimester. This is the first research to connect phthalate exposure at a critical time of development with these cell and nerve effects in the hippocampus. ...


this explains plenty/
regarding disputes between/
me and my sweetheart

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Mon, Sep 5, 2011
from New York Times:
A Debate Arises on Job Creation and Environment
Do environmental regulations kill jobs? Republicans and business groups say yes, arguing that environmental protection is simply too expensive for a battered economy. They were quick to claim victory Friday after the Obama administration abandoned stricter ozone pollution standards. Many economists agree that regulation comes with undeniable costs that can affect workers. Factories may close because of the high cost of cleanup, or owners may relocate to countries with weaker regulations. ...


My job is to die prematurely due to toxic pollution.

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Sat, Sep 3, 2011
from The Ecologist:
Chemical warfare: the horrific birth defects linked to tomato pesticides
Carlitos, as they called him, was born with an extremely rare condition called tetra-amelia syndrome, which left him with neither arms nor legs.... Jesus had Pierre Robin Sequence, a deformity of the lower jaw. As a result, his tongue was in constant danger of falling back into his throat, putting him at risk of choking to death. The baby had to be fed through a plastic tube. Two days after Jesus was born, Maria Meza gave birth to Jorge. He had one ear, no nose, a cleft palate, one kidney, no anus, and no visible sexual organs. A couple hours later, following a detailed examination, the doctors determined that Jorge was in fact a girl. Her parents renamed her Violeta. Her birth defects were so severe that she survived for only three days.... In addition to living within one hundred yards of each other, Herrera, Maceda, and Meza had one other thing in common. They all worked for the same company, Ag-Mart Produce, Inc., and in the same vast tomato field. Consumers know Ag-Mart mainly through its trademarked UglyRipe heirloom-style tomatoes and Santa Sweets grape tomatoes, sold in plastic clamshell containers adorned with three smiling, dancing tomato characters named Tom, Matt, and Otto. 'Kids love to snack on this nutritious treat,' says the company's advertising.... A sign at the entry warned that the field had been sprayed by no fewer than thirty-one different chemicals during the growing season. Many of them were rated 'highly toxic,' and at least three, the herbicide metribuzin, the fungicide mancozeb, and the insecticide avermectin, are known to be 'developmental and reproductive toxins,' according to Pesticide Action Network. They are teratogenic, meaning they can cause birth defects. ...


But the tomatoes are blemish-free!

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Thu, Sep 1, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
USC study tackles pesticide-prostate cancer link
Researchers at USC have found an increased prevalence of prostate cancer among older men exposed to certain pesticides in Central Valley neighborhoods. The authors used the state cancer registry to recruit 173 white and Latino seniors in Tulare, Fresno and Kern counties who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between August 2005 and July 2006. They compared them with 162 men without prostate cancer, found through Medicare and tax records. Researchers then traced where the men lived and worked from 1974 to 1999 and compared those locations with state records of pesticide application. Those who lived within 500 meters of places where methyl bromide, captan and eight other organochlorine pesticides had been applied, they found, were more likely to have developed prostate cancer. ...


O Captan! My Captan!... Fallen cold and dead

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Wed, Aug 31, 2011
from California Watch:
State officials ignored scientists in approving pesticide
California's former top pesticide regulatory official dismissed safety guidelines suggested by her own staff scientists on the grounds that they were "excessive" and too onerous for the pesticide manufacturer, recently released internal documents show... In one of the documents, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, who led the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation until this year, weighs a recommendation from her staff that farm workers be exposed to no more than a trace amount of methyl iodide per day. The recommendation -- intended to protect farm workers from cancer and miscarriage -- is "excessive and difficult to enforce," Warmerdam wrote in April 2010, about two weeks before the department made its recommendation that California approve methyl iodide. If the restrictions on methyl iodide were approved, she wrote, the pesticide manufacturer might find the recommendations "unacceptable, due to economic viability." ...


Scientists should be neither seen nor heard.

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Tue, Aug 30, 2011
from Wired Science:
Antibiotics: Killing Off Beneficial Bacteria ... for Good?
But implicit in that concept is the expectation that, after a while -- after a course of antibiotics ends -- the gut flora repopulate and their natural balance returns. What if that expectation were wrong? In a provocative editorial published this week in Nature, Martin Blaser of New York University's Langone Medical Center argues that antibiotics' impact on gut bacteria is permanent -- and so serious in its long-term consequences that medicine should consider whether to restrict antibiotic prescribing to pregnant women and young children. Early evidence from my lab and others hints that, sometimes, our friendly flora never fully recover. These long-term changes to the beneficial bacteria within people's bodies may even increase our susceptibility to infections and disease. Overuse of antibiotics could be fuelling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations.... Among the findings he cites in support: The population-level observation that the incidence of infection with H. pylori, the bacterial cause of gastric ulcers, has declined over decades just as the incidence of esophageal cancer has risen. In addition, he offers his own research group's observation that children who don't acquire H. pylori are at greater risk of developing allergy and asthma, and their findings that eradicating H. pylori affects the production of the two hormones, ghrelin and leptin, that play a role in weight gain. ...


I say, kill 'em all, and let evolution sort 'em out.

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Wed, Aug 24, 2011
from NorthWest Herald:
NW Illinois mosquito batch tests positive for West Nile
McHenry County Department of Health officials have confirmed that the West Nile virus is in the area. A trap of mosquitoes in Woodstock tested positive for the virus, the health department said in a news release. The last positive test for West Nile virus in McHenry County was last year. The health department has tested 103 mosquito pools this year, but previously none had tested positive, the department said. Twelve other counties in the state have reported positive mosquito batches and birds for West Nile. ...


West Nile is a river in Egypt.

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Tue, Aug 23, 2011
from Brown University, via EurekAlert:
Nickel nanoparticles may contribute to lung cancer
All the excitement about nanotechnology comes down to this: Structures of materials at the scale of billionths of a meter take on unusual properties. Technologists often focus on the happier among these newfound capabilities, but new research by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at Brown University finds that nanoparticles of nickel activate a cellular pathway that contributes to cancer in human lung cells.... Nickel nanoparticles had already been shown to be harmful, but not in terms of cancer. Kane and her team of pathologists, engineers and chemists found evidence that ions on the surface of the particles are released inside human epithelial lung cells to jumpstart a pathway called HIF-1 alpha. Normally the pathway helps trigger genes that support a cell in times of low oxygen supply, a problem called hypoxia, but it is also known to encourage tumor cell growth. "Nickel exploits this pathway, in that it tricks the cell into thinking there's hypoxia but it's really a nickel ion that activates this pathway," said Kane, whose work is supported by a National Institues of Health Superfund Research Program Grant. "By activating this pathway it may give premalignant tumor cells a head start." ...


Nanothelioma? Nicko-nano-carcinoma? At least we'll know the tumors will be small!

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Tue, Aug 23, 2011
from Muncie Star Press:
Selma woman says crop duster soaked her
Sheri Stewart didn't know what to do when a crop duster soaked her and her home with pesticide recently. "What she should have done was call us immediately," said Dave Scott, manager of the pesticide program at the state chemist's office. "If they get sprayed, they should take their clothing off, stick it in a clean garbage bag, take a shower and call us. The bottom line is, it's OK for crop dusters to be out there, but every product says you can't spray people or drift onto people. If you get sprayed, that's the greatest likelihood of absorbing the stuff." Scott's office, which received a record 24 complaints of aerial agricultural pesticide applications drifting onto Indiana residences last year, didn't investigate Stewart's complaint because she didn't call. ...


Those pesticide people sound a little perverted.

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Sun, Aug 21, 2011
from Huffington Post:
You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So!
When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply. But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn't going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie.... The determination of whether GM foods were safe to eat was placed entirely in the hands of the companies that made them -- companies like Monsanto, which told us that the PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange were safe. GMOs were rushed onto our plates in 1996. Over the next nine years, multiple chronic illnesses in the US nearly doubled -- from 7 percent to 13 percent. Allergy-related emergency room visits doubled between 1997 and 2002 while food allergies, especially among children, skyrocketed. We also witnessed a dramatic rise in asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and certain cancers.... That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist. This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. What have we done? ...


Self-regulation by industry is so much cheaper than the alternative!

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Tue, Aug 16, 2011
from Washington Post:
White House mulls stricter smog standards
The White House is engaged in an intense debate over how much it should tighten national smog standards, an issue that has sparked a battle between business and public health groups. On Friday the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would "shortly" issue the final rules, which were delayed three times last year and again late last month. As the Office of Management and Budget reviews the agency's final proposal, which was submitted July 11, business groups have joined many state and local officials in launching a concerted push to delay any new standards until 2013...While the most polluted areas would have up to 20 years to meet the new standards, business leaders suggest it could delay the permitting of not only new industrial facilities but the expansion of existing ones. ...


These darn standards are in the way of us ruining the planet!

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Mon, Aug 15, 2011
from Huffington Post:
New Shellfish Poison Found In U.S. Waters Caused By Algal Bloom
The bright red skull-and-crossbones signs are hard to miss and increasingly common on Pacific Northwest beaches. A whole new fleet just popped up along the shores of a small bay between the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound. On Friday, Washington State health officials reported the first U.S. illnesses linked to one particular strain of toxin triggered by an algal bloom. Three people came down with Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) after eating mussels from Sequim Bay, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The bay is now closed to shellfish harvesting.... Although the culprit biotoxin hadn't been previously detected at unsafe levels in U.S. shellfish, thousands of people in Europe, Asia and South America have reportedly suffered its unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms in recent years.... Excess nutrients entering the waterway, including fertilizers, pet waste and sewage, might also contribute to the proliferation of the microscopic marine plants. "A heavy rainfall could produce the last slug of nutrients for algae to start blooming in mass," said Moore. ...


Can't we just dump algaecide into the waters? How hard is that?

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Sat, Aug 13, 2011
from Associated Press:
Federal judge throws out Obama drilling rules
A judge on Friday threw out Obama administration rules that sought to slow down expedited environmental review of oil and gas drilling on federal land. U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled in favor of a petroleum industry group, the Western Energy Alliance, in its lawsuit against the federal government, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The ruling reinstates Bush-era expedited oil and gas drilling under provisions called categorical exclusions on federal lands nationwide, Freudenthal said... "Western Energy has demonstrated through its members recognizable injury," she said. "Those injuries are supported by the administrative record." ...


Poor poor put-upon oil and gas companies!

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Tue, Aug 9, 2011
from McClatchy Newspapers:
Officials set to miss latest deadline for rules on ozone
The Obama administration, facing withering criticism from business that onerous environmental rules are behind the stalled economy, looks poised to miss another key deadline for new standards to clean up smog, according to lobbyists and environmentalists. After agreeing to work with environmentalists who had sued the administration over the standards, the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed issuing rules on low-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, four times since 2010. ...


You are in the Obama Ozone Zone.

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Tue, Jul 26, 2011
from Solve Climate News:
Climate Change Forcing Buried Toxics Back Into Atmosphere, Scientists Say
During the industrial boom of the mid-twentieth century thousands of man-made chemicals were created to make chemical processes and products stronger and more durable. The substances became useful in pest control and crop production, but it wasn't long before they also proved deadly, causing cancers, birth defects and other health problems. Known as persistent organic pollutants (or POPs), this group of the world's most toxic compounds takes decades to degrade as they circulate through Earth's oceans and the atmosphere, gradually accumulating in the fatty tissues of humans and wildlife.... Climatologists at Environment Canada, the Canadian environmental agency, found that as climate change heats up oceans and melts sea ice and snow, the buried pollutants, known as legacy POPs, are being re-released back into the atmosphere. ...


What goes around comes around... and kills us.

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Tue, Jul 26, 2011
from The Tennessean:
Coal ash taints groundwater at TVA sites, report finds
A new report says groundwater contamination from coal ash has been found at Gallatin and eight of the nine other Tennessee Valley Authority fossil power plant sites where testing is being done. Levels of toxic substances found at the Gallatin plant site in Sumner County and at the Cumberland site, 50 miles northwest of Nashville, are high enough that they could create a health hazard, the report says. Beryllium, cadmium and nickel levels are above drinking water standards at Gallatin, as are arsenic, selenium and vanadium at Cumberland. One major surprise also showed up in the review by TVA's Office of Inspector General: For more than a decade, the TVA had been finding substances in groundwater at its Allen coal-fired plant in Memphis that indicated toxic metals could be leaking from a coal ash pond there. ...


How shocking that a toxic pollutant would taint groundwater!

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Thu, Jul 21, 2011
from Reuters:
Ohio leads list of top 20 states with toxic air
People living in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida are most at risk in the United States from toxic emissions spewing from coal and oil-fired power plants, two leading American enviromental groups said in a report on Wednesday. Electricity generation and chemical processing were the top culprits for dangerous emissions, which can lead to or worsen ailments such as asthma and cancer, according to the report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility... "Power plants are the biggest industrial toxic air polluters in our country, putting children and families at risk by dumping deadly and dangerous poisons into the air we breathe," said Dan Lashof, director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council...The findings underline the need for strong action by the Environmental Protection Agency to spur industry to clean up the emissions, Lashof said. ...


Or, we can just consider this outrage as acceptable casualties.

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Wed, Jul 20, 2011
from Texas A&M University via ScienceDaily:
2011 Gulf of Mexico 'Dead Zone' Could Be Biggest Ever
Researchers from Texas A&M University have returned from a trip to examine the scope and size of this year's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico and have measured it currently to be about 3,300 square miles, or roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, but some researchers anticipate it becoming much larger...During the past five years, the dead zone has averaged about 5,800 square miles and has been predicted to exceed 9,400 square miles this year, which would make it one of the largest ever recorded, according to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Hypoxia occurs when oxygen levels in seawater drop to dangerously low levels, and severe hypoxia can potentially result in fish kills and harm marine life, thereby creating a "dead zone" of life in that particular area. ...


If I eva have another child I'm gonna name her Hypoxia.

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Tue, Jul 19, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Meat Eater's Guide ranks foods by environmental, health effects
Lamb, beef and cheese generate the most greenhouse gases of 20 popular meat, fish, dairy and vegetable proteins, according to a new study from the Environmental Working Group. The Meat Eater's Guide, released by the Washington-based environmental research firm, used a cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment to determine each food's rank, including the amount of fertilizer used to grow animal feed, as well as data on each food's processing, transportation and disposal... The guide considers the effects of meat, fish, dairy and vegetable consumption on the environment and the climate, as well as human health and animal welfare. Ruminant livestock, such as sheep and cows, "release substantial amounts of methane," a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, according to the guide. In the U.S., 149 million acres of cropland, 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer are used just to grow livestock feed; U.S. livestock generate around 500 million tons of manure annually, which contributes to groundwater and air pollution, the guide said. ...


This heartburn is breaking my heart.

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Tue, Jul 19, 2011
from CNN:
Study: Changes to ocean expected to damage shellfish around world
Massive global greenhouse gas pollution is changing the chemistry of the world's oceans so much that scientists now predict it could severely damage shellfish populations and the nations that depend on the harvests if significant action isn't taken. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts shows that ocean acidification is becoming a very serious problem. The study was published in July online in the journal Fish and Fisheries....Ocean acidification, or the changing chemical make-up of seawater, has occurred since the industrial revolution as ocean waters absorbed too much carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of human industrial activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels. The Woods Hole study found that many marine animals like mollusks and corals that build hard shells and skeletons are most at risk from this. ...


Seems the shelflife of shellfish is deteriorating.

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Tue, Jul 19, 2011
from Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
Pa. wind turbines deadly to bats, costly to farmers
...The 420 wind turbines now in use across Pennsylvania killed more than 10,000 bats last year -- mostly in the late summer months, according to the state Game Commission. That's an average of 25 bats per turbine per year, and the Nature Conservancy predicts as many as 2,900 turbines will be set up across the state by 2030... Bat populations go down, bug populations go up and farmers are left with the bill for more pesticide and crops...If one turbine kills 25 bats in a year, that means one turbine accounted for about 17 million uneaten bugs in 2010. ...


Do THIS math: If I don't have electricity I don't have TV!

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Thu, Jul 14, 2011
from Riverside Press-Enterprise:
Air pollution linked to depression, forgetfulness
Feeling a bit slow and depressed? It just might be the Inland area's foul air. Neuroscientists at Ohio State University have linked fine-particle air pollution to slow thinking, bad memory and depressive-like behaviors in mice. The exposed animals also were found to have abnormal brain cells, inhibiting the flow of electrical impulses that transmit information. The research appears to break new ground on what's known about the health effects of air pollution. Most of the hundreds of past studies have focused on how bad air impairs respiratory or cardiac health and on how death rates increase on polluted days. ...


Look at me! I'm happy!

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Thu, Jul 14, 2011
from The Daily Climate:
Economists find flaws in federal estimate of climate damage
Uncle Sam's estimate of the damage caused by each ton of carbon dioxide is fundamentally flawed and "grossly understates" the potential impacts of climate change, according to an analysis released Tuesday by a group of economists. The study found the true cost of those emissions to be far beyond the $21 per ton derived by the federal government. The figure, commonly known as the "social cost of carbon," is used by federal agencies when weighing the costs and benefits of emissions-cutting regulations, such as air conditioner efficiency standards and greenhouse gas emissions limits for light trucks. A truer value, according to the Economics for Equity and the Environment Network, an organization of economists who advocate for environmental protection, could be as high as $900 per ton - equivalent to adding $9 to each gallon of gas. Viewed another way, with the United States emitting the equivalent of close to 6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, the higher figure suggests that avoiding those emissions could save the nation $5.3 trillion annually, one-third of the nation's economic output. ...


Uncle Sam is sure a funny uncle.

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Wed, Jul 13, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Nike, Adidas, Puma 'using suppliers pouring toxic chemicals into China's rivers'
In a year-long investigation, undercover activists collected water samples from discharge pipes at factories belonging to two of China's largest textile manufacturers which tested positive for dangerous chemicals, including hormone-disrupting alkylphenols that are banned in Europe.... The samples of filthy water were sent for testing in Exeter and the Netherlands which found a cocktail of chemicals, including hormone-distruptors, heavy metals and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that are heavily restricted in Europe. Greenpeace said the brands named in the report had confirmed they did have business relationships with one or other of the two investigated suppliers, but said they made no use of the "wet" processes which had caused the pollution.... "We take the problem which Greenpeace raised seriously and we will work with Greenpeace to find a solution." ...


Impossible is nothing. Just do it.

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Tue, Jul 12, 2011
from VietNamNet:
Pollution threatens HCM City water supply
The pollution on Sai Gon River has become worse over the years as increasing industrialisation along the river bank threatens the main water source of HCM City. The river flows through 40 industrial parks in Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh provinces and HCM City. Only 21 of them have an industrial waste treatment system. Most of the treated water released from facilities does not meet the quality required by environmental authorities. The Sai Gon River also is polluted by industrial and agricultural waste water from small-sized enterprises operating along the river, amounting to 65,000 cubic metres a day. In addition, every day the river receives over 748,000 cubic metres of waste water, discharged from residential areas in localities, with more than 90 per cent of the waste water coming from HCM City...An expert said that with the limited number of waste water treatment plants, less than 20 per cent of household waste water was collected and treated, with the rest discharged directly into the river. ...


These poor folks are deep in shit!

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Fri, Jul 8, 2011
from London Daily Mail:
Could scented candles kill you?
...They're many women's favourite indulgence - but their fumes are as toxic as cigarettes... Since they are often lit in poorly ventilated rooms, such as bathrooms, or during the evening when windows are likely to be closed, the release of chemicals can cause indoor pollution that is potent enough to raise the risk of asthma, eczema and skin complaints. Sales of scented candles have soared in recent years as they have come to represent the ultimate fulfilment of "me" time. More expensive varieties made from beeswax and soy rarely cause problems, but the majority of those sold in the UK are cheap imports made from paraffin wax, a by-product of the petroleum industry. These have been shown to release an alarming range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), substances that can be problematic to health. ...


Some things are worth the risk.

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Fri, Jul 8, 2011
from Toronto Sun:
Study downplaying cellphone risks funded by manufacturers
OTTAWA - An international study which debunks research linking cellphones to cancer risks received major funding from wireless manufacturers. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radio frequency emitted by wireless devices as possibly carcinogenic, but a panel of international scientists recently published a study challenging these findings. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection - composed of scientists from Britain, the United States and Sweden - said evidence is mounting against the hypothesis cellphones may cause cancer despite the findings of IARC. But in the study's conflict of interest disclaimer, the panel acknowledged it received support from the wireless industry to conduct the research. ...


Investigative journalism is a luxury we can not afford.

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Fri, Jul 8, 2011
from New York Times:
E.P.A. Issues Tougher Rules for Power Plants
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday issued new standards for power plants in 28 states that would sharply cut emissions of chemicals that have polluted forests, farms, lakes and streams across the Eastern United States for decades. The agency said the regulations, which will take effect in 2012, would reduce emissions of compounds that cause soot, smog and acid rain from hundreds of power plants by millions of tons at an additional cost to utilities of less than $1 billion a year. The E.P.A. said the cleaner air would prevent as many as 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks and hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma and other respiratory ailments every year. ...


But... the healthier people are, the longer they live and the more electricity they'll need.

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Wed, Jul 6, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
Scientists warn that chemicals may be altering breast development
Exposure to chemicals early in life may alter how breast tissue develops and raise the risks of breast cancer and lactation problems later in life, scientists concluded in a set of reports published Wednesday. The scientists are urging federal officials to add new tests for industrial chemicals and pesticides to identify ones that might disrupt breast development. In some cases, they said, mammary glands are more sensitive to effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals than any other part of the body, so low levels of exposure may be causing breast changes. ...


Just so they're getting bigger.

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Wed, Jul 6, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
UCSF, Stanford autism study shows surprises
Environmental factors play a more important role in causing autism than previously assumed and, surprisingly, an even larger role than genetics, according to a new study out of UCSF and Stanford that could force a dramatic swing in the focus of research into the developmental disorder. The study, published in Monday's issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, looked at 192 pairs of twins in California and, using a mathematical model, found that genetics account for about 38 percent of the risk of autism, and environmental factors account for about 62 percent. ...


Mother nurture... is a bitch.

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Mon, Jul 4, 2011
from Mother Jones:
Persistent pollutants linked to diabetes?
But another culprit may be contributing, too: exposure to certain pesticides and other toxic chemicals. A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Diabetes Care found a strong link between diabetes onset and blood levels of a group of harsh industrial chemicals charmingly known as "persistent organic pollutants" (POPs), most of which have been banned in the United States for years but still end up in our food (hence the "persistent" bit--they degrade very slowly). The ones with the largest effect were PCBs, a class of highly toxic chemicals widely used as industrial coolants before being banished in 1979. Interestingly, the main US maker of PCBs, Monsanto, apparently knew about and tried to cover up their health-ruining effects long before the ban went into place. Organochlorine pesticides, another once-ubiquitous, now largely banned chemical group, also showed a significant influence on diabetes rates.... How are these awful chemicals sticking around and still causing trouble decades after being banned? POPs accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals--and transfer to the animals that eat them, including humans who eat meat and fish. In industrial animal farming, livestock are often given feed that includes animal fat, which helps POPs hang around in the food chain. "We feed the cow fat to the pigs and the chickens, and we feed the pig and chicken fat to the cows".... Farmed salmon, too, carry significant levels of these dodgy chemicals, especially PCBs. ...


POP goes the food chain!

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Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from New York Times:
Greatest Threat to Caribou Herd in Canada Isn't From Wolves
Humans are a much bigger problem than wolves for a caribou herd in the oil sands area of Alberta, Canada, scientists reported last week in Frontiers in Ecology. Studies of scat of moose, caribou and wolves in the area showed that caribou accounted for only 10 percent of the animals consumed by wolves. Eighty percent of the wolves' diet was deer, with moose making up the remainder. Wolves' preference for deer, the researchers conclude, draws them away from the areas where caribou thrive. But the oil sands contain the second largest reserve of petroleum in the world, and so they face a heavy human presence as they are developed. And by looking at hormone levels in caribou scat, the scientists found that when humans were most active in an area, caribou nutrition was poorest and psychological stress highest. When oil crews left, the animals relaxed and nutrition improved.... The scientists reported that removing wolves, favored by government and industry, could do serious damage to the ecosystem, and fails to help preserve the caribou. (The study was paid for by Statoil Canada, an energy company with oil leases in the area.) The scientists said if development trends continue, within 30 years the caribou herd on the east side of the Athabasca River will be no more. ...


Government and industry have such a herd mentality.

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Thu, Jun 23, 2011
from Discover:
Are Toxins in Seafood Causing ALS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's?
The cause of ALS is unknown. Though of little solace to the afflicted, Stommel used to offer one comforting fact: ALS was rare, randomly striking just two of 100,000 people a year. Then, a couple of years ago, in an effort to gain more insight into the disease, Stommel enlisted students to punch the street addresses of about 200 of his ALS patients into Google Earth. The distribution of cases that emerged on the computer-generated map of New England shocked him. In numbers far higher than national statistics predicted, his current and deceased patients' homes were clustered around lakes and other bodies of water.... "I started thinking maybe there was something in the water," Stommel says. That "something," he now suspects, could be the environmental toxin beta-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA. This compound 
is produced by cyanobacteria, the blue-green algae that live in soil, lakes, and oceans. Cyanobacteria are consumed by fish and other aquatic creatures. Recent studies have found BMAA in seafood, suggesting that certain diets and locations may put people at particular risk. More worrisome, blooms of cyanobacteria are becoming increasingly common, fueling fears that their toxic by-product may be quietly fomenting an upsurge in ALS--and possibly other neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's as well. ...


We can start calling them "TFC" illnesses: Top of the Food Chain.

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Wed, Jun 15, 2011
from Associated Press:
Government lists formaldehyde as cancer causer
The strong-smelling chemical formaldehyde causes cancer, while styrene, a second industrial chemical that's used worldwide in the manufacture of fiberglass and food containers, may cause cancer, the National Institutes of Health says. The NIH said Friday that people with higher measures of exposure to formaldehyde are at increased risk for certain types of rare cancers, including those affecting the upper part of the throat behind the nose. The chemical is widely used to make resins for household items, including paper product coatings, plastics and textile finishes. It also is commonly used as a preservative in medical laboratories, mortuaries and consumer products including some hair straightening products. ...


Why on earth would people want to straighten their hair?

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Tue, Jun 14, 2011
from Associated Press:
Dead Sea threatened both by shrinking and flooding
The Dead Sea is dying, goes the conventional wisdom: The water level of the fabled salty lake is dropping nearly 4 feet a year. Less well known: Part of the lake is actually overflowing, threatening one of Israel's key tourism destinations. Israel is feverishly campaigning to have the Dead Sea -- the lowest point on earth and repository of precious minerals -- named one of the natural wonders of the world. At the same time, it's racing to stabilize what it calls "the world's largest natural spa" so hotels on its southern end aren't swamped and tourists can continue to soak in the lake's therapeutic waters. ...


I find this news story both upsetting and comforting.

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Thu, Jun 9, 2011
from Taipei Times:
Banned chemical found in antibiotic
Major hospitals yesterday temporarily suspended use of the prescription antibiotic Augmentin, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, following reports that tests had confirmed the presence of a banned chemical. The news came after a TV news station recently sent samples of the antibiotic, which is produced and packaged in the UK, for laboratory testing, where it was discovered that the medicine tested positive for diisodecyl phthalate, or DIDP, at levels of between 14.8 parts per million (ppm) and 18.1ppm. ...


Guess the Augmentin was too augmented.

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Thu, Jun 9, 2011
from Associated Press:
EPA plans to ban some rodent poisons
The government is moving to ban the sale of some popular rat and mouse poisons such as D-Con and Hot Shot in an effort to protect children and pets. The Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it is taking the step to reduce the thousands of accidental exposures of children that occur every year from rodent-control products. ...


That hissing sound you hear is celebrating rats.

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Thu, Jun 9, 2011
from TIME:
The Bacterium That Ate a Continent: What E. Coli Is Doing to the E.U.
No one yet knows what vegetable or fruit is the ultimate source of the outbreak of a deadly form of E. coli in Europe. Nor do officials know at what point the contamination occurred: on the farm, as agricultural workers handled the produce, as a result of packaging, in the midst of transport or at some other point in the chain of supply? What is clear is that, even after the health hazards are contained, questions will have to be asked about how well the E.U.'s food-safety system works. ...


It's sorta nice to know the U.S. isn't the only food fuck-up.

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Wed, Jun 8, 2011
from Associated Press:
China Acid Spill Knocks Out Water to Half Million
A toxic chemical spilled into a river that supplies drinking water to the scenic city of Hangzhou in eastern China, knocking out supplies to more than half a million people and creating a run on bottled water. A tanker truck carrying 20 tons of carbolic acid overturned late Saturday night. The chemical, also known as phenol, was washed by rain into the Xin'an River about 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Hangzhou, the city said in a report on its website. ...


Think if the tanker had run into a truck full of chickens, too!

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Wed, Jun 8, 2011
from New York Times:
In Update on Sperm, Data Show No Decline
It is one of the most fraught topics in environmental health. Are men becoming less fertile, with declining sperm counts and diminishing sperm quality? If they are, then sperm might be an early warning sign of environmental dangers. And the prime suspects have been substances like plastics and pesticides that can have weak estrogenlike effects on cells. But now 15 years of data from 18-year-old Danish men taking their military physicals show no decline in sperm counts, after all. ...


Danes? They studied Danes?? Danes' sperm is indestructible!

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Tue, Jun 7, 2011
from Stanford University via ScienceDaily:
Climate Scientists Forecast Permanently Hotter Summers
The tropics and much of the Northern Hemisphere are likely to experience an irreversible rise in summer temperatures within the next 20 to 60 years if atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase, according to a new climate study by Stanford University scientists... "According to our projections, large areas of the globe are likely to warm up so quickly that, by the middle of this century, even the coolest summers will be hotter than the hottest summers of the past 50 years," said the study's lead author, Noah Diffenbaugh... ...


Just so the winters are bone-chillin' frigid!

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Mon, Jun 6, 2011
from The Denver Post:
E. coli outbreak blamed on German veggie sprouts
The terrifying E. coli outbreak in Europe appears to have been caused by vegetable sprouts grown on an organic farm in Germany, an agriculture official said Sunday as the toll climbed to at least 22 dead and more than 2,200 sickened. Preliminary tests found that bean sprouts and other sprout varieties from the farm in the Uelzen area, between the northern cities of Hamburg and Hannover, could be traced to infections in five German states, Lower Saxony Agriculture Minister Gert Lindemann said. ...


I can finally go back to eating red meat!

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Mon, Jun 6, 2011
from Scientific American:
New MRSA Strain Found In Dairy Cattle and Humans
A new form of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been found in dairy cows and humans in the U.K. and Denmark, providing more evidence that animals could be passing this superbug on to people--not just the other way around. The new methicillin-resistant bacterial strain was found in tests of raw milk by a team looking for another infection among the herds. Pasteurization kills off the bacteria, making milk products--even from a cow infected with this antibiotic-resistant strain--safe for consumers, the researchers explain. ...


I can't see how this blame game is helping any.

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Thu, Jun 2, 2011
from Chicago Tribune:
USDA testing finds 30-plus unapproved pesticides on the herb cilantro
Just in time for cookout season, some unsettling news arrives for guacamole and salsa lovers: Federal testing turned up a wide array of unapproved pesticides on the herb cilantro -- to an extent that surprises and concerns government scientists. At least 34 unapproved pesticides showed up on cilantro samples analyzed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the agency's routine testing of a rotating selection of produce. Cilantro was the first fresh herb to be tested in the 20-year-old program. "We are not really sure why the cilantro came up with these residues," said Chris Pappas, a chemist who oversees the Virginia-based USDA pesticide testing. ...


Somehow it's a comfort to know there are approved pesticides.

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Thu, Jun 2, 2011
from New York Times:
Cellphone Radiation May Cause Cancer, Advisory Panel Says
A World Health Organization panel has concluded that cellphones are "possibly carcinogenic," putting the popular devices in the same category as certain dry cleaning chemicals and pesticides, as a potential threat to human health...The W.H.O. panel ruled only that cellphones be classified as Category 2B, meaning they are possibly carcinogenic to humans, a designation the panel has given to 240 other agents, including the pesticide DDT, engine exhaust, lead and various industrial chemicals. Also on the list are two familiar foods, pickled vegetables and coffee, which the cellphone industry was quick to point out. ...


I suggest you don't hold pickled vegetables up to your ear.

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Tue, May 31, 2011
from Huffington Post:
NDM-1 Superbug Acquired In Canada
Canadian researchers have identified what appears to be the first domestically acquired case of an NDM-1 superbug. An 86-year-old Ontario man was found to be carrying bacteria resistant to most antibiotics because of NDM-1, or New Delhi metallo-1, an enzyme that alters the DNA of various types of bacteria. NDM-1 is endemic in India and Pakistan and has spread worldwide due to global travel. But the patient, who was admitted to hospital and then a rehabilitation centre after suffering a stroke last October, had not travelled outside southwestern Ontario for the last decade. None of the man's family members or other close contacts were carrying the superbug, nor had any been to parts of the world where NDM-1 is widespread. ...


When did E. coli steal our genetic modification technologies??

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Thu, May 19, 2011
from Washington Times:
Raw milk activists protest arrest of farmer, milk cow on the Hill
A resounding theme of yesterdays Rally for Food and Farm Freedom on the Hill was that the FDAs recent arrest of Amish farmer Dan Allgyer for selling raw milk was not about food safety; it was about economics and keeping control of the food supply in the hands of big business, instead of giving power to the consumer. Organizers took power -- and sustenance -- into their own hands by creating an impressive showing at the rally in Upper Senate Park, and by drinking the controversial liquid, milked fresh onsite from Morgan the cow, who was trailered in from a Maryland dairy farm. ...


I prefer my milk cooked.

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Wed, May 18, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
Commuters less able to take a deep breath
Breathing traffic air pollution while commuting during rush hour affects airway function in drivers and bus riders but not bikers, report researchers in the journal Epidemiology. Even though the bikers inhaled more air - and more particulates - during their two-hour commutes, they didn't experience the airflow declines seen in the bus and car riders. Researchers found the vehicle commuters who inhaled more particulates did worse on the breathing tests: they exhaled less volume of air with higher levels of nitrogen oxide. These measures indicate restricted and inflamed airways. The breathing effects were associated with the short-term exposure to particulate matter (PM10) and soot. ...


Still, it's worth it, driving, I mean... isn't it?

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Wed, May 18, 2011
from Associated Press:
Chemical-infused watermelons explode in China
Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state media called fields of "land mines." About 20 farmers around Danyang city in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres of melon, China Central Television said in an investigative report. Prices over the past year prompted many farmers to jump into the watermelon market. All of those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron, though it has been widely available for some time, CCTV said. Chinese regulations don't forbid the drug, and it is allowed in the U.S. on kiwi fruit and grapes. But the report underscores how farmers in China are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals, with many farms misusing pesticides and fertilizers. ...


Destruction cometh by the smite of exploding melons.

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Tue, May 17, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Extreme makeover: are humans reshaping Earth?
If alien geologists were to visit our planet 10 million years from now, would they discern a distinct human fingerprint in Earth's accumulating layers of rock and sediment? Will homo sapiens, in other words, define a geological period in the way dinosaurs -- and their vanishing act -- helped mark the Jurassic and the Cretaceous? A growing number of scientists, some gathered at a one-day symposium this week at the British Geological Society in London, say "yes"... For the first time in Earth's 4.7 billion year history, a single species has not only radically changed Earth's morphology, chemistry and biology, it is now aware of having done so. ...


Pimp my planet!

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Tue, May 17, 2011
from London Guardian:
Vast Mongolian shantytown now home to quarter of country's population
It is a supreme irony in a country once known as the land without fences. Stretching north from the capital, Ulan Bator, an endless succession of dilapidated boundary markers criss-cross away into the distance. They demarcate a vast shantytown that sprawls for miles and is now estimated to be home to a quarter of the entire population of Mongolia. More than 700,000 people have crowded into the area in the past two decades. Many are ex-herders and their families whose livelihoods have been destroyed by bitter winters that can last more than half the year; many more are victims of desertification caused by global warming and overgrazing; the United Nations Development Programme estimates that up to 90 percent of the country is now fragile dryland. ...


My shantytown is shabby chic.

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Thu, May 12, 2011
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Fraser River sockeye face chemical soup of 200 contaminants
Sockeye salmon are exposed to a soup of chemicals in the Fraser River, and some of the ingredients are accumulating to potentially lethal levels in eggs, while others may be disrupting the sexual function of fish, according to a scientific review conducted for the Cohen Commission... While it is unlikely that contaminants are "the sole cause" of sockeye population declines, the report says there is "a strong possibility that exposure to contaminants of concern, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and/or contaminants of emerging concern has contributed to the decline of sockeye salmon." ...


Coldcocking the sockeye!

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Thu, May 12, 2011
from Science News:
Idling jets pollute more than thought
Airports can pose a far bigger threat to local air than previously recognized, thanks to the transformative power of sunlight. In the first on-tarmac measurements of their kind, researchers have shown that oil droplets spewed by idling jet engines can turn into particles tiny enough to readily penetrate the lungs and brain. Allen Robinson of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his team collected the pollution spewed from a plane powered by one of the most common types of commercial jet engines as it operated at different loads... Sunlight's oxidation of the exhaust emitted at idling can generate 35 times more particles than the engine originally emitted and 10 times what computer models have typically predicted, the researchers report online May 5 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Robinson says he found these new data "unbelievable. It sort of blew our minds." ...


Apparently, it blows one's mind AND one's brain (and lungs).

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Thu, May 12, 2011
from ABC Good Morning America:
Mississippi River Flooding: Pollution, Fertilizers, Sewage in the Flood Waters; ABC News Does its Own Testing
The great Mississippi River flood of 2011, cresting south of Memphis today, carries a mix of fertilizer, oil, pesticides, trash and farm runoff as it flows toward the Gulf of Mexico, say public health officials. Some of it is nasty stuff, and officials say people are wise to be careful. They urge people not to touch the water unless they're wearing rubber boots and gloves, and wash thoroughly if they get wet. "There could be a lot of untreated sewage coming downstream," said Wilma Subra, an environmental scientist and activist in Louisiana who has tangled with oil and chemical companies. "People need to be aware." ...


All that shit is going to kill the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Wed, May 11, 2011
from Philadelphia Inquirer:
Duke study finds methane in well water near gas drilling sites
A Duke University study has found that methane levels in private water wells are, on average, 17 times higher when within 1,000 yards of a natural gas drilling site. Of 60 wells that the researchers tested for methane in northeastern Pennsylvania and New York, they found the gas in 85 percent. When they fingerprinted the methane - comparing the chemistry of the methane in the wells with that from natural gas wells in the region - "the signatures matched," said Robert Jackson, a professor at Duke and a study author. "At least some homeowners who claim that their wells were contaminated by shale gas extraction appear to be right," he said. ...


Methinks methane is metoxic.

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Tue, May 10, 2011
from New York Times:
Barring Cars to Clear the Air
Cruising through cities in cars has been a part of urban life for decades. But for some European drivers, that pastime could be coming to an end where the authorities want to bar the most polluting vehicles. "The future in city centers belongs to small cars and electric vehicles," Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the French minister for ecology and transport, told a French newspaper, Le Parisien, last month. Ms. Kosciusko-Morizet was announcing plans for eight of the largest French cities, including Paris and Nice, to restrict or bar access by passenger cars made before 1997, when stricter emissions standards took effect in Europe. ...


Friggin' French always fouling up our fun.

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Tue, May 10, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Ecologists raise alarm over Russia's Olympics
With just over 1,000 days left before the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia is pulling out all the stops to get ready in a drive activists say is leaving a devastating toll on the environment... "In general, environmental damage in Sochi is much worse than what we expected in the early stages of construction planning," said Suren Gazaryan of the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus....A mudslide from an illegal dump up the hill tore through the park and filled the river's banks with debris from tunnel construction and other waste in January. "Clearly leaving thousands of tons of waste on a steep hillside is not a good idea, but its convenient, and it can't be stopped," Gazaryan said as he picked off a chunk of the black substance for testing. ...


Maybe they ought to hold the ApocOlympics instead.

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Fri, May 6, 2011
from Chicago Tribune:
Aging Indiana power plant to shut down, cutting Chicago-area air pollution
One of the nation's dirtiest power plants is shutting down, a move that will scrap a major source of lung- and heart-damaging air pollution in the Chicago area. Facing a federal complaint, more stringent pollution limits and smaller profit margins, Virginia-based Dominion Resources is writing off the State Line Power Station, an aging coal-fired generator sandwiched between Lake Michigan and the Chicago Skyway at the Illinois-Indiana border. In a recent conference call with financial analysts, Dominion executives announced they had decided it isn't worth upgrading the plant to comply with the federal Clean Air Act. ...


Farewell old faithful and foul friend.

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Thu, May 5, 2011
from Beijing Global Times:
Sandstorm covers Shanghai in dust
The eastern coast of China has borne the environmental brunt of a massive sandstorm that has swept across a large swath of the country, causing air quality in Shanghai to plummet to its worst level in years. The sandstorm originated in the Southern Xinjiang Basin and has been traveling all the way east to the coastal regions since Thursday, blasting Shanghai and other cities in the Yangtze River Delta with sand and dust. Statistics from the State Forestry Administration show the sandstorm has swept through 10 provinces and regions in the north and west of China, affecting an area of 2.3 million square kilometers and a population of 90 million. Beijing was hit by the sandstorm Saturday. ...


That's not just a sandstorm, it's a tsandami!

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Thu, May 5, 2011
from New York Times:
Asthma Rate Rises Sharply in U.S., Government Says
Americans are suffering from asthma in record numbers, according to a study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in 10 children and almost one in 12 Americans of all ages now has asthma, government researchers said. According to the report, from 2001 to 2009 the prevalence of asthma increased among all demographic groups studied... Researchers are investigating several potential causes for the increase in asthma, including exposure to various allergens, traffic exhaust fumes, pesticides and certain plastics, as well as factors like obesity and diet that may play a role... ...


Could be that needing to breathe is the biggest problem of all.

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Thu, May 5, 2011
from Greenwire:
'Anti-Environmental' House Freshman Leads Charge Against Obama's Clean Water Agenda
Just months into his first term, Rep. Bob Gibbs admits he has much to learn. But the Ohio Republican holds strong reservations about environmental regulation in general... Republicans across the United States capitalized in the last election on a similar business-now, environment-later message, stoking an anti-incumbent mood among voters still smarting from the recession with hopeful promises of business-friendly, job-creating policies. Few in the GOP capitalized as much as this 56-year-old political unknown from rural southeastern Ohio. This white-haired Midwestern farmer has since emerged as critic-in-chief of a top Obama administration priority: strengthening clean water protections. ...


Because who needs clean water when we can be making some dirty money?

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Wed, May 4, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
China pays price for world's rare earths addiction
Peasant farmer Wang Tao used to grow corn, potatoes and wheat within a stone's throw of a dumping ground for rare earths waste until toxic chemicals leaked into the water supply and poisoned his land. Farmers living near the 10-square-kilometre expanse in northern China say they have lost teeth and their hair has turned white while tests show the soil and water contain high levels of cancer-causing radioactive materials. "We are victims. The tailings dam has contaminated us," Wang, 60, told AFP at his home near Baotou city in Inner Mongolia, home to the world's largest deposits of rare earths, which are vital in making many high-tech products... China produces more than 95 percent of the world's rare earths -- 17 elements used in the manufacture of products ranging from iPods to flat-screen televisions and electric cars. ...


iPoisoned

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Thu, Apr 28, 2011
from USA Today:
Metro areas with dirtiest air get cleaner
Most U.S. cities with the dirtiest air are getting cleaner, but about half of Americans still live in areas where it's often difficult to breathe, the American Lung Association reports today. The group's 12th annual "State of the Air" report comes amid congressional efforts to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions....EPA's 2009 data, released last week, shows total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions -- primarily carbon dioxide -- fell 6.1 percent from 2008, the largest decline in at least five years. The agency, which began a multiyear plan to regulate these emissions in January, attributed the drop to less polluting fuels and lower energy consumption because of the recession. ...


The United States of Airborne Particulates

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Thu, Apr 28, 2011
from Houston Chronicle:
Congress puts limits on lead in cross hairs
Aiming squarely at guarding the rights of sportsmen and America's ammo, bait and tackle shops, a powerful group of congressmen is pushing back against environmentalists and any federal regulation that would restrict the use of lead in outdoor gear... The bill's sponsors have drawn support from the nearly 300-strong Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, created to serve as "the sportsmen's ally and first line of defense in Washington promoting and protecting the rights of hunters, trappers and anglers." Environmentalists see it differently; they say residual deposits of lead left by hunters and fisherman are being ingested by waterfowl, raptors and mammals, killing eagles, swans, cranes, endangered California condors and countless other wild animals. ...


Animals dying before you have a chance to shoot 'em just kinda takes the sport out of hunting.

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Wed, Apr 27, 2011
from London Guardian:
Forest fires around Chernobyl could release radiation, scientists warn
A consortium of Ukrainian and international scientists is making an urgent call for a $13.5m (Ā£8.28m) programme to prevent potentially catastrophic wildfires inside the exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl's ruined nuclear power plant. The fear is that fires in the zone could release clouds of radioactive particles that are, at the moment, locked up in trees, held mainly in the needles and bark of Scots pines....If there is a catastrophic or "crown" fire (a high-intensity wildfire affecting a large part of the CEZ) radionuclides could be dispersed over a wide area; a big fire could send radioactivity as far as Britain. ...


Smokey the Russian Bear says Only YOU can prevent nuclear radiation.

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Tue, Apr 26, 2011
from Indiana University:
IU study finds flame retardants at high levels in pet dogs
Indiana University scientists have found chemical flame retardants in the blood of pet dogs at concentrations five to 10 times higher than in humans, but lower than levels found in a previous study of cats. Their study, "Flame Retardants in the Serum of Pet Dogs and in their Food," appears this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Authors are Marta Venier, an assistant research scientist in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Ronald Hites, a Distinguished Professor in SPEA. Venier and Hites explore whether pets could serve as "biosentinels" for monitoring human exposure to compounds present in the households that they share. Dogs may be better proxies than cats, they say, because a dog's metabolism is better equipped to break down the chemicals. ...


It always comes down to cats vs. dogs, doesn't it?

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Tue, Apr 26, 2011
from London Guardian:
London Olympics pollution on course to land Britain hefty fine from IOC
Britain could be fined up to Ā£175m by the International Olympic Committee if it continues to break air pollution laws by the time the Games begin next August. The prospect of the air pollution penalty is becoming a major source of embarrassment to the government and Olympic organisers who set a goal of making the Games "the greenest ever" but have already watered down green measures planned for the event. To meet the legally binding agreement, London may have to reduce traffic levels by more than 30 percent over a period of nearly a month, raising the possibility of draconian measures such as banning cars with number plates ending in odd and even numbers on alternate days. ...


Then I'll just buy an additional car.

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Mon, Apr 25, 2011
from University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute via ScienceDaily:
Brown Recluse Spider: Range Could Expand in N. America With Changing Climate
One of the most feared spiders in North America is the subject a new study that aims to predict its distribution and how that distribution may be affected by climate changes...The researchers concluded that the range may expand northward, potentially invading previously unaffected regions. Newly influenced areas may include parts of Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, South Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. ...


Now I am truly terrified by climate change!

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Fri, Apr 22, 2011
from Reuters:
GOP Begins New Push to Delay EPA Rules on Toxic Power Plant Emissions
Under pressure from industry, Congressional Republicans are urging the U.S. EPA to further delay long-overdue rules that would limit more than 80 air toxics emitted by coal-burning power plants, barely a month after the agency announced them. At least one lawmaker, Rep. Edward Whitfield of Kentucky -- a state which gets more than 90 percent of its power from coal -- has said he will soon introduce legislation to postpone implementation of the regulations... According to EPA, the mercury and air toxics standards alone would prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks each year. Utilities and business groups say the anti-pollution rules would be too costly to implement and would force early shutdowns of power plants, threatening jobs and economic recovery. ...


I know I'd rather die than watch a poor power plant shut down.

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Wed, Apr 20, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Conservation groups sue for sea turtle protection
Conservation groups sued the Obama administration Tuesday over the fate of the endangered leatherback sea turtle, accusing federal officials of ignoring a legal deadline to protect a huge expanse of Pacific coastal waters as critical habitat for the reptiles. The National Marine Fisheries Service settled an earlier lawsuit by proposing in January 2010 to designate 70,600 square miles of offshore waters, from Southern California to northern Washington, as a safety zone for the leatherbacks and the jellyfish they consume, the groups said in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The agency was required to publish a final rule a year later but failed to do so, the suit said. ...


I wonder why ... this process is all going ... sooooo slowly...

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Wed, Apr 20, 2011
from Discovery News:
As Gold Prices Go Up, Forests Are Coming Down
A worldwide growth in the price of gold has accelerated the pace of deforestation in some of the most pristine parts of the Peruvian Amazon, where miners are cutting down trees in order to extract the valuable natural resource. From 2003 to 2009, found a new study, the rate of deforestation in two gold-mining areas increased six-fold alongside record-setting leaps in the international price of gold. During one two-year period, as gold prices climbed steadily, forests disappeared at a rate of 4.5 American football fields a day from one of the two sites. Alongside the accelerating paces of both mining and deforestation, the study found, there has also been an exponential rise in the use of mercury, which helps miners extract gold from the Earth. ...


Someday soon we'll realize these trees were worth their weight in gold.

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Wed, Apr 20, 2011
from Associated Press:
AP Enterprise: BP is looking strong a year later
It's hard to tell that just a year ago BP was reeling from financial havoc and an American public out for blood. The oil giant at the center of one of the world's biggest environmental crises is making strong profits again, its stock has largely rebounded, and it is paying dividends to shareholders once more. It is also pursuing new ventures from the Arctic to India. It is even angling to explore again in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it holds more leases than any competitor. ...


Oil is thicker than blood.

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Wed, Apr 20, 2011
from BBC:
Mother's diet during pregnancy alters baby's DNA
A mother's diet during pregnancy can alter the DNA of her child and increase the risk of obesity, according to researchers. The study, to be published in the journal Diabetes, showed that eating low levels of carbohydrate changed bits of DNA. It then showed children with these changes were fatter. The British Heart Foundation called for better nutritional and lifestyle support for women. It is thought that a developing baby tries to predict the environment it will be born into, taking cues from its mother and adjusting its DNA. ...


That developing baby might be best off just staying in the womb.

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Wed, Apr 20, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
California's poor, Mexican American kids have among world's highest levels of flame retardants
Mexican American school children in California are contaminated with seven times more flame retardants than children in Mexico and three times more than their own mothers, according to a new study. The 7-year-olds in the Salinas Valley had more of the chemicals in their bodies than almost all other people tested worldwide. University of California scientists warn that the levels they found in the children "present a major public health challenge." Low income, rather than race or ethnicity, is probably the major factor in determining who is highly exposed to these chemicals. Household dust is likely the major source. ...


These kids may be poor but at least they won't catch on fire easily.

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Thu, Apr 14, 2011
from Chemical & Engineering News:
EPA Targets Diisocyanates
Diisocyantes, which are ingredients in polyurethane plastics, face Environmental Protection Agency regulation due to concerns about health effects, the agency announced on April 13. The main focus of EPA's efforts is do-it-yourself consumer products such as spray foam insulation, concrete sealers, adhesives, and floor finishes. These polyurethane products may contain uncured diisocyanates, according to the agency. This contrasts with cured products, such as polyurethane foam in mattresses, which are not of concern, EPA says. Diisocyantes can cause breathing and skin problems, the agency says. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration limits exposure to diisocyanates in the workplace. These chemicals are the leading cause of work-related asthma. Consumer exposure to the substances, however, is unregulated. ...


Don't you diis my diisocyanates!

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Wed, Apr 13, 2011
from Bloomberg Businessweek:
Graves of Diseased Animals Spur Shift to Evian in S. Korea
More than 1,000 kilometers from Tokyo, Seoul is having its very own crisis of faith in tap water, and radiation isn't to blame. In South Korea, the carcasses of 9.7 million cattle, pigs and poultry were buried in mass graves across the frozen countryside after outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and bird- flu last winter. That's raised concerns that pollutants may enter groundwater now that the soil has thawed, said Jun Kwan Soo, a professor of environmental engineering at Yeungnam University. ...


Ten million buried cattle, pigs and poultry? What could go wrong?

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Sat, Apr 9, 2011
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Backyards disguise toxic dumps
TONNES of hazardous waste have been secretly buried on private properties, hidden by layers of spray-on grass in Wollondilly, an important Sydney water-catchment area. Residents have revealed that organised illegal dumping has been big business in the area for years, with some property owners filling unwanted gullies and dams with waste and being paid about $100 a truckload to take it. The residents also said the dumps were often quickly disguised with a layer of top soil and spray-on lawn. ...


NIMTBY: Not in MY Toxic Backyard!

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Fri, Apr 8, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Freeway air pollution linked to brain damage in mice
It is well known that air pollution from cars and trucks on Southern California freeways -- a combination of soot, pavement dust and other toxic substances -- can cause respiratory disease, heart attacks, cancer and premature death. Now, exposure to pollution particles roughly one-thousandth the width of a human hair has been linked to brain damage in mice, including signs associated with memory loss and Alzheimer's disease, according to a USC study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. ...


What are mice doing driving on our highways!

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Fri, Apr 8, 2011
from St. Petersburg Times:
USF study concludes that common fungicide is deadly to frogs
Two years ago some University of South Florida researchers began studying the effects of the most widely used fungicide in the country to see if it might kill more than just fungus. Turns out it's also a pretty effective frog-icide... The fungicide, chlorothalonil, sold under such names as Bravo, Echo and Daconil, is used to treat farmers' fields, lawns and golf courses and is an ingredient in mold-suppressing paint. It's part of the same chemical family, organochlorines, as the banned pesticide DDT. It is known to cause severe eye and skin irritation in humans if handled improperly. ...


Bravo, indeed, for our unending creativity when it comes to the mindless destruction of the habitat!

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Thu, Apr 7, 2011
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Trade Secret Anxiety
The chemical industry is on edge over the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to make public some of the information companies claim as proprietary in submissions on commercial chemicals to EPA. That nervousness was a significant theme running through the industry's annual global chemical regulation conference, which was held last month in Baltimore. Companies are anxious about the agency revealing to the public the identity of proprietary chemicals, components of secret formulations, or the name of the business that makes them. This confidential business information is included in submissions required by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). ...


Can't the chemical industry just create a chemical that makes us stop caring? OH... they already did!

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Thu, Apr 7, 2011
from Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
Pollution rules could be eased despite increase in asthma
Students in the South Allegheny School District, downwind of U.S. Steel Corp.'s Clairton Coke Works, have asthma rates 300 to 400 percent higher than national rates, convincing district officials to install air filtration systems in school buildings.... a study released Wednesday by Health Care Without Harm, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and the National Association of School Nurses, said the already staggering human and financial toll of asthma in the United States "is likely to increase" if Congress carries through with its threat to weaken the Clean Air Act and block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from tightening air pollution regulations. Congressional action could include blocking the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. ...


Whaddaya want? The government to actually protect us?

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Thu, Apr 7, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in New Delhi Public Water Supply
Disease-causing bacteria carrying the new genetic resistance to antibiotics, NDM-1, have been discovered in New Delhi's drinking water supply. A Cardiff University-led team found new strains of resistant bacteria in the Indian capital, including species which cause cholera and dysentery. The findings are the first evidence of the environmental spread of NDM-1, which had previously only been found in hospitals. The scientists are calling for urgent action by health authorities worldwide to tackle the new strains and prevent their global spread.... While most patients with the bacteria have recently been hospitalised in India, some cases have occurred there without recent hospital treatment, prompting the team to test the wider environment. Samples were taken in New Delhi from public water taps and from waste seepage, such as water pools in the street. Resistant bacteria were found in 4 per cent of the water supplies and 30 per cent of the seepage sites. The researchers identified 11 new species of bacteria carrying the NDM-1 gene, including strains which cause cholera and dysentry. Antibiotics are used to reduce excretion of bacteria in cholera patients, and to reduce the duration and severity of dysentery. Worryingly, the identified Shigella isolate, which can carry dysentery, is resistant to all appropriate antibiotics.... The research team also believes that temperatures and monsoon flooding make New Delhi ideal for the spread of NDM-1. ...


What happens when we see NDM-2, the Sequel?

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Tue, Apr 5, 2011
from ProPublica:
Deteriorating Oil and Gas Wells Threaten Drinking Water, Homes Across the Country
In the last 150 years, prospectors and energy companies have drilled as many as 12 million holes across the United States in search of oil and gas. Many of those holes were plugged after they dried up. But hundreds of thousands were simply abandoned and forgotten, often leaving no records of their existence. Government reports have warned for decades that abandoned wells can provide pathways for oil, gas or brine-laden water to contaminate groundwater supplies or to travel up to the surface. Abandoned wells have polluted the drinking water source for Fort Knox, Ky. [2], and leaked oil into water wells in Ohio and Michigan. Similar problems have occurred in Texas, New York, Colorado and other states where drilling has occurred.... The task of finding, plugging and monitoring old wells is daunting to cash-strapped state governments. A shallow well in good condition can sometimes be plugged with cement for a few thousand dollars. But costs typically run into the tens of thousands, and a price tag of $100,000 or more isn't unusual.... The vents and alarms are just part of life in Versailles. The mayor, James Fleckenstein, recently bought a house with two vents on the property and an alarm in the kitchen. "We've been living with this problem forever," Fleckenstein said. "People would have a vent in their yard burning 24 hours a day all year long, a one-inch pipe sticking out of the ground. People would put a coffee can and light it and it would just burn all the time." ...


Oh, right! We forgot to factor in time!

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Sat, Apr 2, 2011
from Scientific American:
Antibiotic Resistance Is Taking Out 'Last-Resort' Drugs Used to Combat Worrisome Category of Germs
There are so many news stories about antibiotic resistance these days that you may be tempted to ignore them all just to preserve your sanity. But there is a kind of hierarchy of danger when it comes to figuring out which stories are most deserving of your attention. Anytime you hear that a particular bacterium has become resistant to a "drug of last resort," that is bad. Drugs of last resort--such as vancomycin for Staphylococcus infections--are usually the last line of safe, dependable defense for certain kinds of infections. Drug companies can try to come up with new medications to replace the outpaced meds, but that takes time and does not bring in a lot of money, so we are fast running out of drugs of last resort.... As Maryn McKenna explains in "The Enemy Within," antibiotic resistance in the gram-negative bacteria is particularly worrisome because Gram-negative germs are more likely than Gram-positive ones to share the genes responsible for drug resistance across species. Her story is doubly alarming because it provides a detailed look at how resistance has developed in the U.S. against drugs of last resort (really bad) in Gram-negative bacteria (really, really bad). As if that were not bad enough, clinicians are now starting to see drug resistance in whole new categories of pathogens--such as fungi. Perhaps the worst news of all, however, is that even if antibiotics are used correctly, they may be contributing to the drug-resistance problem. Because even proper use of antibiotics creates an environment in which microbes with resistance genes are favored to survive. ...


Can't we just define germs as "asymmetric terrorists" and declare a war?

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Thu, Mar 31, 2011
from NRDC:
Disease Clusters Spotlight the Need to Protect People from Toxic Chemicals
An unusually large number of people sickened by a disease in a certain place and time is known as a 'disease cluster'. Clusters of cancer, birth defects, and other chronic illnesses have sometimes been linked to chemicals or other toxic pollutants in local communities, although these links can be controversial. There is a need for better documentation and investigation of disease clusters to identify and address possible causes. Meanwhile, toxic chemicals should be identified and controlled through reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), so these chemicals don't pollute communities and sicken people. Due to a lack of resources, the limited statistical power in doing investigations of small communities or rare diseases, and a lack of knowledge about exposures, it has been difficult for state and federal agencies to shed light on most disease clusters and their causes. There is a need for better documentation and investigation of disease clusters and their causes.... Thirteen states -- Texas, California, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Delaware, Louisiana, Montana, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas -- were chosen for analysis based on the occurrence of known clusters in the state, geographic diversity, or community concerns about a disease cluster in their area. ...


I just trust industry self-regulation, since they have more lawyers than I do.

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Thu, Mar 31, 2011
from American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert:
US troops exposed to polluted air in Iraq, researchers report
Military personnel and contractors stationed in Iraq risk not only enemy gunfire, suicide bombers, and roadside bombs, but the very air they breathe often is polluted with dust and other particles of a size and composition that could pose immediate and long-term health threats, scientists reported today at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.... "Our preliminary results show that the fine particulate matter concentrations frequently exceed military exposure guidelines and those individual constituents, such as lead, exceed U.S. ambient air quality standards designed to protect human health," said Jennifer M. Bell, a member of the research team. In some instances, military personnel breathe in fine particulates at levels almost 10 times higher than the desirable levels in U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards.... "We are especially concerned about fine airborne particles that originate from motor vehicles, factories, open burning of trash in pits, and other sources," Bell said. Iraq does not enforce air pollution controls, and domestic motor vehicles burn the leaded gasoline was phased out in the United States in the mid-1990s. Those particulates contain potentially toxic heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium, she noted. ...


I love the smell of heavy metals in the morning.

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Thu, Mar 31, 2011
from Healthfinder.gov:
Two Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's Disease, in Study
People who use the pesticides rotenone and paraquat have a 2.5 times increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, a new study finds. U.S. researchers compared 110 people with Parkinson's disease and 358 people without the nervous system disorder. All of the participants were enrolled in the Farming and Movement Evaluation Study involving licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses. "Rotenone directly inhibits the function of the mitochondria, the structure responsible for making energy in the cell," study co-author Freya Kamel, a researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said in an institute news release.... "These findings help us to understand the biologic changes underlying Parkinson's disease. This may have important implications for the treatment and ultimately the prevention of Parkinson's disease...". "Paraquat increases production of certain oxygen derivatives that may harm cellular structures," she added. "People who used these pesticides or others with a similar mechanism of action were more likely to develop Parkinson's disease." ...


Are you implying that there might be a cost for blemish-free produce?

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Mon, Mar 28, 2011
from Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio poised to take center stage in natural gas drilling debate as it considers tapping park lands
...geologists, energy experts and gas well drillers fully believe Ohio might be sitting atop a gold mine of natural gas embedded in the long-known, but only recently accessible shale deposit. They also are hopeful that those riches will soon be more available now that Ohio Gov. John Kasich favors and the legislature is considering allowing drilling companies on state park land to reach those deposits... The drilling and fracking questions are particularly acute in Ohio right now because of the state's financial woes and the promise that leasing of land for drilling could net untold millions of dollars, some of which could help cover a $500 million backlog in maintenance and repairs in the parks themselves. ...


I prefer we frack the wealthiest two percent instead.

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Thu, Mar 24, 2011
from London Daily Mail:
The European invader that's after your blood: Ticks from continent discovered in UK
A breed of blood-sucking tick normally found on the continent has been discovered in Britain for the first time. Scientists say that climate change has brought the parasite to the UK - and warned that it may have brought with it new strains of disease from Europe. The researchers, from the University of Bristol, also found that the number of pet dogs infested with ticks was far higher than previously thought. This increases the risk thatdiseases carried by the foreign tick - Dermacentor reticulatus - will spread quickly to people and animals in this country, they cautioned. ...


Foreign ticks... work harder than domestic ones!

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Thu, Mar 24, 2011
from Forbes:
Salazar opens 750M tons of Wyo. coal to mining
nterior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans Tuesday to auction off vast coal reserves in Wyoming over the next five months, unleashing a significant but controversial power source amid uncertainty about clean and safe energy development. ...


Salazar = Salaczar

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Wed, Mar 23, 2011
from AlaskaDispatch:
Warmer Arctic could increase threat of disease for caribou, other foods
Climate change in the Arctic could change the balance of power between humans, animals and the germs or pathogens that make them both sick, according to a paper by University of Alaska Fairbanks microbiologist Karsten Hueffer.... The rates of predicted climate change for the Arctic could spell disaster for this longstanding host-pathogen balance. A warmer Arctic could increase survival of organisms that carry disease and decrease survival of the animals they infect - including animals used as subsistence food by people living in the Arctic. "What happens when a caribou has its calf on ground warm enough to have pathogens the calf cannot fight off?" said Hueffer. "The same issue could face bears giving birth in dens." Muskoxen are affected by a lung worm known to develop much faster when it's warmer. "The faster the worm grows the more generations are born, which increases the disease pressure on the muskoxen," said Hueffer. Humans are at risk as well. A warmer Arctic and the prospect of an ice-free Northwest Passage is expected to drive an increase in development and other human activity in the North, all of which will increase contact among wildlife, humans and domesticated animals. ...


Caribou, muskox, and bears -- they die!

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Wed, Mar 23, 2011
from London Independent:
Shipwreck threatens island penguins
A wrecked ship is threatening to cause an environmental disaster on an island which is home to endangered penguins, conservationists warned today. The vessel has grounded on Nightingale Island, part of the Tristan da Cunha UK overseas territory in the South Atlantic, causing an oil slick around the island which is home to nearly half the world's population of northern rockhopper penguins. ...


Sticky Feet

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Wed, Mar 23, 2011
from New York Times:
Japan Extended Reactor's Life, Despite Warning
Just a month before a powerful earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi plant at the center of Japan's nuclear crisis, government regulators approved a 10-year extension for the oldest of the six reactors at the power station despite warnings about its safety. ...


What a relief! I thought this kind of stupidity only happened in the US.

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Tue, Mar 22, 2011
from Scientific American:
The Enemy Within: A New Pattern of Antibiotic Resistance
A new pattern of resistance has emerged among a particularly challenging group of bacteria called the gram-negatives; it threatens to make many common infections untreatable.... The bacterial genes responsible confer resistance to the carbapenems, a group of so-called last-resort antibiotics. Two of the most important resistance genes are dubbed NDM-1 and KPC. Carbapenem resistance in gram-negative bacteria is especially worrisome because these germs are ubiquitous and share genes easily. Plus, no new drugs for these bugs are being developed. This confluence of factors means many people in hospitals and in the wider community could die of newly untreatable infections of the urinary tract, blood and other tissues. ...


Carbapenem resistance? Carpe diem.

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Tue, Mar 22, 2011
from PhysOrg:
Portable solar device creates potable water
By harnessing the power of the sun, a Monash University graduate has designed a simple, sustainable and affordable water-purification device, which has the potential to help eradicate disease and save lives. The Solarball, developed as Mr Jonathan Liow's final year project during his Bachelor of Industrial Design, can produce up to three litres of clean water every day. The spherical unit absorbs sunlight and causes dirty water contained inside to evaporate. As evaporation occurs, contaminants are separated from the water, generating drinkable condensation. The condensation is collected and stored, ready for drinking. Liow's design was driven by a need to help the 900 million people around the world who lack access to safe drinking water. Over two million children die annually from preventable causes, triggered largely by contaminated water. It is an increasing problem in developing nations due to rapid urbanisation and population growth. Mr Liow's simple but effective design is user-friendly and durable, with a weather-resistant construction, making it well suited to people in hot, wet, tropical climates with limited access to resources. ...


There's something a little fishy about a beautiful, clever, cheap device that improves people's lives.

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Tue, Mar 22, 2011
from Discover:
Made in China: Our Toxic, Imported Air Pollution
Mercury, sulfates, ozone, black carbon, flu-laced desert dust. Even as America tightens emission standards, the fast-growing economies of Asia are filling the air with hazardous components that circumnavigate the globe. "There is no place called away." It is a statement worthy of Gertrude Stein, but University of Washington atmospheric chemist Dan Jaffe says it with conviction: None of the contamination we pump into the air just disappears. It might get diluted, blended, or chemically transformed, but it has to go somewhere. And when it comes to pollutants produced by the booming economies of East Asia, that somewhere often means right here, the mainland of the United States. ...


What goes around ... comes around.

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Sat, Mar 19, 2011
from The Vancouver Sun:
Ocean garbage: Floating landmines
No matter where you travel on the B.C. coast, no matter how remote or seemingly untrammelled and pristine the fiord or inlet, a piece of plastic, Styrofoam or other garbage has been there before you. God knows how it got there: Dumped recklessly off a vessel, swept down a river or through a storm drain, blown by the wind off the land, or brought in by the ocean currents flowing across the vast North Pacific - including debris from the Japanese tsunami, which could start arriving on our coast in two years. What we do know is that marine garbage is ubiquitous and wreaking havoc at every level of the marine environment. A new B.C. study estimates there are 36,000 pieces of "synthetic marine debris" -garbage the size of fists to fridges -floating around the coastline, from remote inland fiords to 150 kilometres offshore. ...


We are the only species that shits where it sleeps and pisses into the wind.

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Fri, Mar 18, 2011
from Twin Falls Times-News:
Dairy industry pushes CAFO secrecy bill
BOISE -- An Idaho House committee supported Wednesday a move to seal off more data related to confined-animal feeding operations from the public eye, making it harder for the public to tell if state regulations are enforced. A bill proposed by Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, would put all dairy nutrient management plans -- and related proprietary business information -- out of the public's eye. The plans essentially detail what becomes of animal waste produced at the dairies, which if not properly disposed of can pollute groundwater and soils. ...


I'd prefer they hide their shit... so it doesn't get in my eye.

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Wed, Mar 16, 2011
from New York Times:
E.P.A. Proposes New Emission Standards for Power Plants
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first national standard for emissions of mercury and other toxins from coal-burning power plants on Wednesday, a rule that could lead to the early closing of dozens of generating stations and is certain to be challenged by the utility industry and Republicans in Congress. Lisa P. Jackson, the agency's administrator, unveiled the new rule with fanfare at agency headquarters, saying control of dozens of poisonous substances emitted by power plants was two decades overdue and would prevent thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of cases of disease a year. ...


Apparently, the utility industry and Republicans in Congress are impervious to death and disease.

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Tue, Mar 15, 2011
from TEDX:
What you need to know about natural gas exploration
An astonishing 48 minutes of Dr. Theo Colborn, on the mechanics, engineering, resource use, health impacts, and environmental impacts of fracking and the natural-gas process. Wordy, nerdy, factual, but utterly straightforward. A natural-gas version of "An Inconvenient Truth." Scarier, in many ways, than GasLand, the Oscar-nominated documentary. ...


Toxic from top to bottom, side to side, inside and out. What's left?

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Tue, Mar 15, 2011
from Science News:
Better by Design
...Many of today's chemicals -- in packaging, cleaning products, furniture and elsewhere -- go where they should not go and do more than they were designed to do. Bisphenol A, a common ingredient in polycarbonate plastics, has made headlines for getting into the body and interfering with tissue development and function (SN: 7/18/09, p. 5). Flame retardants new and old persist in the environment, contaminating soil, waterways and wildlife (SN: 4/24/10, p. 12). And a new analysis, reported online January 14 in Environmental Health Perspectives, finds that the blood and urine of 99 percent of pregnant American women tested contain a laundry list of chemical interlopers, including various PCBs, pesticides, PFCs, PBDEs, phthalates and the rocket-fuel ingredient perchlorate. Unless there is a fundamental shift in the way that chemicals are created from the outset, the next generation of compounds will probably be just as meddlesome... Currently more than 30 million metric tons of chemicals are produced in or imported to the United States each day, a quantity that would fill a line of tanker trucks 10,000 miles long. And industrial chemical production is expected to double in the next quarter century, outpacing population growth. ...


This is why my wife and I are gonna buy an android child!

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Mon, Mar 14, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
Smoke from wood fireplaces, stoves raises new health concerns
Smoke curling from the chimney of the Clair Tappaan Lodge is a welcome sight to chilly snowshoers and cross-country skiers in California's Sierra Nevada. Guests at this landmark Sierra Club hostel relax in the warmth and aroma of the crackling log fire. Those same woodsy scents waft across the wintry north, as millions of fireplaces and wood stoves are lit by people seeking an environmentally friendly heating source. But recent research raises new concerns over the toxic substances borne aloft in wood smoke. Scientists say the tiny airborne specks of pollution carry carcinogenic chemicals deep into lungs and trigger DNA damage and gene changes comparable to the hazards of cigarette smoke and car exhaust. ...


I'll give up my car, my cigarettes, my mass produced appliances and food... but please don't take my fireplace away!

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Sat, Mar 12, 2011
from National Geographic News:
Is That a Banana in Your Water?
Banana peels are no longer just for composting or comedy shows: New science shows they can pull heavy metal contamination from river water. Metals such as lead and copper are introduced to waterways from a variety of sources, including agricultural runoff and industrial wastes. Once there, heavy metals can contaminate soils and pose health risks to humans and other species. Lead is known to affect the brain and nervous system... ...


Just so the fish don't slip on 'em.

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Fri, Mar 11, 2011
from Minnesota Public Radio News:
Study: Pharmaceutical chemicals widespread in Minn. streams
Potentially harmful chemicals and pharmaceuticals are widespread in Minnesota streams, state scientists found in a new study. The study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency also shows fish have genetic changes when exposed to the mix of chemicals.... Among the substances scientists most often found are the antibiotic sulfamethoxazole and carbamazepine, a drug used to treat atentionl deficit hyperactivity disorder, agency scientist Mark Ferrey said. They also found the antibiotic trimethoprim and anti-depressant compounds. Other commonly found chemicals include components of detergent, bisphenol A, which is found in plastics, and contraceptive hormones. ...


Public radio did this report? What do you wanna bet they only studied liberal fish and streams.

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Fri, Mar 11, 2011
from ABC News:
Residents near nuclear plant told to evacuate
Authorities have urged 2,000 residents living near a nuclear power plant in Fukushima to evacuate after the biggest earthquake in Japan's history hit the region. The prefectural government issued the evacuation advice for residents in a two-kilometre radius of the No. 2 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Kyodo News reported earlier that an emergency core-cooling unit had been activated at the plant after a power failure. ...


Something tells me they probably don't need to be urged.

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Fri, Mar 11, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Small fish are ingesting plastic in Pacific garbage gyre
Southern California researchers have found evidence of widespread ingestion of plastic among small fish in the northern Pacific Ocean in a study they say shows the widespread impact of floating litter on the food chain. About 35 percent of the fish collected on a 2008 research expedition off the U.S. West Coast had plastic in their stomachs, according to a study to be presented Friday by the Long Beach-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. The fish, on average, ingested two pieces of plastic, but scientists who dissected hundreds of plankton-eating lantern fish found as many as 83 plastic fragments in a single fish. ...


Ingesting plastic gives me such a satisfying feeling a fullness.

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Mon, Mar 7, 2011
from DesdemonaDespair:
Depression, anxiety, despair flow in wake of BP Gulf oil spill: Study finds widespread trauma
According to Scott Coffey, PhD, professor and director of the Division of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Mississippi, Jackson, there is a clear upswing in stress. "The oil spill occurred in a population that was already struggling with the effects of Katrina. They were severely impacted. Add to that the negative economy that is stressing everyone, the national issues, the global issues, and these folks are getting hit hard."... Very little of the money that BP is said to have paid out to help people affected by the spill is actually reaching those who really need it. Or so it seems to the people whose claims have been denied.... "They make it such a maze that it gets to be an impossible task to follow through. We serve some people who maybe have filed a claim or they want to file a claim, but they're being told they have to do additional paper work and it has to be filed online and they don't have a computer. So they go to the library, where there's only 1 computer. Or the librarian has to show them how to fill out the forms." ...


Poor people's misery is only about three-fifths as important as mine.

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Sun, Mar 6, 2011
from The Vancouver Sun:
Alberta dairy cow tests positive for BSE
A dairy cow from Alberta has tested positive for mad cow disease, the first Canadian case in more than a year. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the six-and-a-half year old cow, from an undisclosed location in the province, was discovered with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, on Feb. 18. No part of the cow's carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems, the agency said, and the discovery should not affect exports of Canadian cattle or beef. It also said the age and location of the infected cow are consistent with previous cases detected in Canada. The agency would not release the details about the location or farm, citing privacy reasons. ...


Indeed we must respect the privacy of this poor cow's relations.

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Sun, Mar 6, 2011
from The Vancouver Sun:
Researchers find more plastic in the guts of Arctic seabirds
When biologist Jennifer Provencher headed to the Arctic, she signed on to help assess how seabird diets are changing as temperatures climb in the North. She never expected to find plastics on the menu. But she and her colleagues at the Canadian Wildlife Service are pulling remarkable amounts of trash from birds in some of the remotest spots on Earth. Fulmars are strong flyers that skim the surface swallowing tasty tidbits, and 84 per cent of the ones the researchers examined from two Arctic colonies had plastics in their guts. One had swallowed the mangled remains of a red bottle lid, with a striking resemblance to a Coke cap, along with 20 other bits of plastic. "It's hard to believe a bird could have that much plastic," said Provencher, who has been combing through the stomach contents for her graduate work at the University of Victoria. "That's the equivalent of a human being having a baseball-sized chunk of plastic in your stomach." ...


If these birds enjoy ingesting plastic, there's an entire planet to feast on.

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Sat, Mar 5, 2011
from Grist:
How bicycling will save the economy (if we let it)
Imagine getting a $3,000 to $12,000 tax rebate this year. Now imagine it coming again and again. Every year it grows by around a thousand dollars. Imagine how this would change your daily life. Sounds like a teabagger's wet dream, but it's actually a conservative estimate of how much you'd save by ditching your car, or even just one of your cars -- and getting on a bicycle instead. ...


One teabagger's wet dream is another teabagger's swollen prostate.

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Fri, Mar 4, 2011
from Washington Post:
Scientists want to help regulators decide safety of chemicals
Groups representing 40,000 researchers and clinicians are urging federal agencies responsible for the safety of chemicals to examine the subtle impact a chemical might have on the human body rather than simply ask whether it is toxic. In an open letter to the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to be published Friday in the journal Science, the scientists say the regulatory agencies need to tap into genetics, developmental biology, endocrinology and other disciplines when they analyze the safety of chemicals used in everyday products. "Although chemical testing and risk assessment have long been the domain of toxicologists, it is clear that the development of improved testing guidelines and better methods of assessing risks posed by common chemicals to which all Americans are exposed requires the expertise of a broad range of scientific and clinical disciplines," said the letter, which was signed by eight scientific societies.... "We're talking about picking the best geneticists, endocrinologists, reproductive biologists to consider new ways of testing these chemicals for safety," Hunt said. "The old toxicology paradigm doesn't work anymore." ...


We'd better check with industry before flying off the handle and bringing science into this.

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Tue, Mar 1, 2011
from Center for Public Integrity:
Equipment Failure at Refinery Leads to Toxic HF Release
A hydrofluoric acid leak from an oil refinery in Ohio last week sent a worker to the hospital and required the use of a "water cannon" to disperse the poisonous gas, underscoring the potentially perilous nature of a chemical used at 50 refineries across the country. The Marathon Oil Corp. refinery in Canton, Ohio, has estimated in a report to the U.S. Coast Guard's National Response Center that 145 pounds of the acid, known as HF, escaped during the Feb. 23 incident. The company blamed equipment failure. Workers were evacuated....The refining industry is experiencing a rash of fires, explosions and mechanical breakdowns, putting workers at risk. Such incidents may signify weaknesses that could lead to a calamity. Over the last five years, the Ohio refinery has been cited more often than all but three other refineries using HF for failing to manage hazardous processes. ...


The more we deregulate, the more our equipment will magically cease to fail.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 28, 2011
from The Bay View Compass:
Female mice disabled by parents'pesticide intake
A white mouse is placed in the center of a maze. She is hungry because she hasn't eaten all night. As soon as the gate is raised she takes off in search of her breakfast, scurrying down the channels. She quickly realizes that turning left at every point in the maze gets her food. A few minutes later, a second mouse is set down in the center of the maze. She looks the same as the first mouse, but when the gate is raised she just sits there and seems afraid to move. Slowly and hesitantly she starts moving and eventually finds a piece of food. She continues slowly down the maze but doesn't seem to have learned or remember that taking left turns leads to food. You might call her a slow learner.... Why is it hard for the second mouse to learn? Three months earlier when she was growing in her mother's womb, her mother was exposed to a pesticide called chlorpyrifos at levels comparable to what humans encounter in the environment. ...


Is this why I can't find my way out of my garage most mornings?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Feb 27, 2011
from Topeka Capital-Journal:
House seeks to choke EPA regs
Nearly every member of the Kansas House is convinced air-quality regulators at the federal Environmental Protection Agency are spewing toxic rules. Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, took the lead on pushing through a resolution declaring convergence of EPA carbon-limiting edicts, tied to anxiety about greenhouse gases and global warming, should be likened to a runaway railroad engine screaming down the tracks toward certain disaster... 116 members of the House voted for a resolution urging Congress to prohibit EPA by any means necessary -- such as stripping funding from the federal agency -- to block regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. ...


Kansans have a proud history of undermining their own existence.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Feb 27, 2011
from New York Times:
Regulation Lax as Gas Wells' Tainted Water Hits Rivers
The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century's gold rush -- for natural gas.... energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners. Environmentalists say using natural gas will help slow climate change because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil. Lawmakers hail the gas as a source of jobs. They also see it as a way to wean the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil.... thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood. ...


Seems we've been bio-fooled again.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Feb 26, 2011
from ProPublica:
Hydrofracked? One Man's Mystery Leads to a Backlash Against Natural Gas Drilling
But in the spring of 2005, Meeks' water had turned fetid. His tap ran cloudy, and the water shimmered with rainbow swirls across a filmy top. The scent was sharp, like gasoline... In that process, called hydraulic fracturing, a brew of chemicals is injected deep into the earth to lubricate the fracturing and work its way into the rock. How far it goes and where it ends up, no one really knows. Meeks wondered if that wasn't what ruined his well. Meeks couldn't have foreseen it when he began raising questions about his water, but hydraulic fracturing was about to revolutionize the global energy industry and herald one of the biggest expansions in U.S. energy exploration in a century.... As a result, drilling was about to happen in states not typically known for oil and gas exploration, including Michigan, New York and even Maryland. It would go from rural, sparsely populated outposts like Pavillion to urban areas outside Dallas, Denver and Pittsburgh. Along the way, a string of calamitous accidents and suspicious environmental problems would eventually make hydraulic fracturing so controversial that it would monopolize congressional hearings, draw hundreds in protests and inspire an Academy-Award-nominated documentary produced for Hollywood. Louis Meeks, unintentionally, would be a part of that fight from the very beginning. His personal fight began with something simple: the energy industry's insistence that fracturing couldn't contaminate water. ...


That well-water smells just fine to me.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 22, 2011
from Ghana Business News:
Indoor air pollutants cause 50 percent of illnesses globally
Mr Ebenezer Fiahagbe, a Senior Programme Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has said indoor pollution has been as among the top five environmental risks to public health which also contributes to an annual 8.5 million deaths globally. He said this at a seminar organized by the Environmental Science Student's Association (ENSSA) of the University of Cape Coast, as part of its annual week celebration on the theme "Our Environment, Our Life, Our Responsibility". Mr. Fiahagbe said some indoor pollutants like carpets, detergent, asbestos ceiling, lead paints, stoves, disinfectants, dust and mites causes lung related illnesses like asthma, bronchitis, coughing, respiratory infections and cancer. ...


Are there any other options besides the pollutants of indoors and the toxins of outdoors?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 22, 2011
from Albany Times Union:
An assault on the environment
The new House Republican majority likes to say that the American people spoke last year. If the GOP's spending bill is any indication, it seems the American people are clamoring for more mercury in their fish, oil on their coasts and pollution in their drinking water. Those would be just some of the environmental highlights of a House spending bill to keep the government running through Sept. 30. Or perhaps anti-environmental highlights would be more apt. Anti-health, too. ...


It's simply ... anti-life.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 22, 2011
from The Daily Climate:
Sniffle, snort, achoo! Allergy season is extending, scientists find.
Bad news for - achoo! - those who sniffle, er suffer their way through ragweed - sniff, snort, itch - season: A team of researchers has found that increased warming, particularly in the northern half of North America, has added weeks to the fall pollen season. It's enough to make you grab a tissue: Minneapolis has tacked 16 days to the ragweed pollen season since 1995; LaCrosse, Wisc. has added 13 days, Winnipeg and Saskatoon in Canada have added 25 and 27 days, respectively. The new research, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds the longer pollen seasons correlate with the disproportionate warming happening around the planet and attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. ...


I think I'm allergic to climate change...

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 17, 2011
from Harvard, via FastCompany:
Coal Costs the U.S. $500 Billion Annually in Health, Economic, Environmental Impacts
A report from Harvard researchers in this month's Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences will reveal that coal use costs the U.S. between a third and over half a trillion dollars each year in health, economic, and environmental impacts.... The report, written by Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, examines the life cycle of coal production to find "hidden costs," or costs that occur "when the activity of one agent affects the well-being of another agent outside of any type of market mechanism." These costs include damages from climate change (like weather events and rising seas, public health damages from toxins released during electricity generation, deaths from rail accidents during coal transport, public health problems in coal-mining regions (in Appalachia, mountaintop removal contaminates surface and groundwater with carcinogens and heavy metals), government subsidies, and lost value of abandoned mine areas. In Appalachian communities alone, public health burdens from coal mining cost $74.6 billion each year. Air pollutant emissions cost $187.5 billion, mercury emission impacts reach $29.3 billion, and greenhouse gas emissions (and accompanying climate change effects) from coal-fired plants costs between between $61.7 and $205.8 billion. And then there are the smaller costs--between $2.2 and $10 billion in impacts from land disturbances, and impacts from toxic spills, declines in property values, tourism loss, and crop damage. ...


Well, sure, but think of the jobs!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 16, 2011
from PhysOrg:
China rice laced with heavy metals: report
Up to 10 percent of rice grown in China is contaminated with harmful heavy metals but little has been done to highlight the possible public health risks, a report said. This week's edition of the New Century magazine cited studies showing that large amounts of Chinese rice have been tainted with heavy metals like cadmium due to years of pollution stemming from the nation's rapid economic growth. "During China's fast-paced industrialisation, activities such as mining have sprung up everywhere, releasing into the environment chemical elements like cadmium, arsenic, mercury and other harmful heavy metals," the report said. "These harmful heavy metals have spread through the air and water, polluting a rather large area of China's land... a complete chain of food contamination has existed for years."... Most at risk from high cadmium levels were subsistence farmers in polluted areas who mainly live on the rice they grow, Pan said. ...


Could that be why they're all moving to the cities?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 14, 2011
from The Columbus Dispatch:
Ohio EPA tries to limit brine dumps in rivers
Fast-growing interest in natural-gas drilling could create a flood of cash for Ohio cities eager to treat wastewater used to coax the gas from deep inside Utica and Marcellus shale. But what's good for the cities might be bad for the state. The process could pollute Ohio streams and rivers, environmental officials say.... With the new drilling technique, called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," drillers shoot millions of gallons of water laced with industrial chemicals down the wells to break the shale and release the gas. About 15 percent of the water shot down the well comes back up, tainted with salt and hazardous metals that can include barium, cadmium and chromium. After the initial surge of "flow back" water, wells continue to produce brine that contains even higher concentrations of salt, metals and minerals. ...


Brine sounds like a goldmine.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 14, 2011
from PhysOrg:
Study links pesticides to Parkinson's disease
US researchers said Friday they have found that people who used two specific varieties of pesticide were 2.5 times as likely to develop Parkinson's disease. The pesticides, paraquat and rotenone, are not approved for house and garden use. Previous research on animals has linked paraquat to Parkinson's disease, so it is restricted to use by certified applicators. Rotenone is approved only for use in killing invasive fish species. "Rotenone directly inhibits the function of the mitochondria, the structure responsible for making energy in the cell," said study co-author Freya Kamel, a researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "Paraquat increases production of certain oxygen derivatives that may harm cellular structures. People who used these pesticides or others with a similar mechanism of action were more likely to develop Parkinson's disease." The study examined 110 people with Parkinson's disease and 358 people who served as a control group from the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME) Study. ...


It's as if spraying poisons around might actually be bad for us.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Feb 13, 2011
from slashdot:
Science Programs Hit Hard By Proposed Budget
"The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has released a list of proposed spending cuts for the US Federal Government. The proposed cuts include reductions in spending on many science organizations and funds such as NASA, NOAA, nuclear energy research, fossil fuel energy research, clean coal research, the CDC, the NIH, and numerous EPA programs. There are also quite a few cuts proposed on domestic services, such as Americorps and high speed rail research. The House Appropriations Chairman, Hal Rogers, acknowledges that the cuts go deep, and would hurt every district across the country. But they are still deemed necessary to rein in Congressional spending. Notoriously absent from the proposed budget cuts are two of the largest spending sinks in the federal budget: the Department of Defense and Social Security." ...


I'm not feelin' that cut in "clean coal research."

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 11, 2011
from ecohearth:
Abandoned Oil Wells: The Coming Environmental Disaster of Epic Proportions
Failed gas and oil well capping technology and lax oversight make tens of millions of abandoned oil and gas wells ecological landmines. A three-month EcoHearth.com investigation has revealed this developing environmental catastrophe that almost no one is paying attention to and which gravely threatens ecosystems worldwide. There are at minimum 2.5 million abandoned oil and gas wells, none permanently capped, littering the US, and an estimated 20-30 million globally. There is no known technology for securely sealing these tens of millions of abandoned wells. Many--likely hundreds of thousands--are already hemorrhaging oil, brine and greenhouse gases into the environment. Habitats are being fundamentally altered. Aquifers are being destroyed. Some of these abandoned wells are explosive, capable of building-leveling, toxin-spreading detonations. And thanks to primitive capping technologies, virtually all are leaking now--or will be. Largely ignored by both industry and governments, this problem has been growing for 150 years--since the first oil wells were drilled. Each abandoned well is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. The triggers include accidents, earthquakes, natural erosion, re-pressurization (either spontaneous or precipitated by fracking) and, simply, time. ...


I'm sure the oil companies are on it.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 9, 2011
from Associated Press:
Global warming heats up Republican attacks on EPA
Vowing to curb the authority and the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, congressional Republicans are attacking the agency to a degree not seen since President Richard Nixon created it 40 years ago. The EPA's effort to tackle the latest and perhaps most challenging environmental problem -- global warming -- has made it a central target of the new Republican leadership's anti-regulatory agenda. Having failed last year to enact new legislation to curb global warming, the administration is left to use existing law -- the Clean Air Act -- to start reducing the pollution causing the planet's temperature to rise. During a hearing on Wednesday, GOP members of a House subcommittee contended that such actions will only raise electricity prices and penalize industries that otherwise could be creating jobs. ...


...ack...

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 8, 2011
from Associated Press:
Study: Global obesity rates double since 1980
The world is becoming a heavier place, especially in the West. Obesity rates worldwide have doubled in the last three decades even as blood pressure and cholesterol levels have dropped, according to three new studies... In 1980, about 5 percent of men and 8 percent of women worldwide were obese. By 2008, the rates were nearly 10 percent for men and 14 percent for women. That means 205 million men and 297 million women weighed in as obese. Another 1.5 billion adults were overweight, according to the obesity study...Experts warned the increasing numbers of obese people could lead to a "global tsunami of cardiovascular disease." ...


Let's call it a global fatsunami.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 8, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Bill would exempt municipal fireworks displays from Coastal Act regulation
Describing seaside fireworks displays as wholesome and patriotic, an Orange County legislator wants to prevent the California Coastal Commission from snuffing them out. State Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) introduced a bill last month that would exempt municipal fireworks displays from regulation under the state Coastal Act by declaring they do not constitute "development." The bill comes in response to increasing pressure from environmental groups to clamp down on fireworks. Environmentalists say the noise and explosive debris generated by the displays threatens wildlife and degrades water quality. ...


But it's patriotic to threaten wildlife and degrade the environment!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 4, 2011
from SciDev.net:
Threat of urban epidemics looms
An unprecedented alliance of urban planners, doctors and scientists is needed to better prepare for "the looming threat of explosive urban epidemics" in an increasingly urbanised world, according to a review paper in The Lancet. The world's urban population will double by 2050 and most of this increase will be in developing countries, according to UN estimates. But how this will affect infectious diseases is poorly understood. Better research, surveillance, urban planning and policy are needed.... Millions of people live in slums with no access to clean water and regular rubbish disposal. They "build their own dwellings from flimsy, scrounged materials and with no concern for vector hygiene," the paper says. And high population density in cities means there is a "looming threat of explosive urban [disease] epidemics", including Ebola, chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue, according to the paper. "Urban epidemics can reach unprecedented scales and quickly become uncontrollable," especially in African cities where disease surveillance is weak. ...


Aren't you being a little high-falutin' with your vector hygiene? Soap and water's good enough for me.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 2, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Chevron files RICO suit in Ecuador case
Using a law written to prosecute the Mafia, Chevron Corp. on Tuesday filed a racketeering lawsuit against a team of lawyers who have been fighting the company over oil field pollution in Ecuador. Chevron accused the lawyers - as well as their clients and their spokeswoman - of conspiring to extort up to $113 billion from the oil company, based in San Ramon.... As a verdict in the marathon lawsuit nears, Chevron has tried to prove corruption among the lawyers and Ecuadoran officials involved in the case. Last year, Chevron persuaded judges in the United States to grant the company access to many of the lawyers' private documents, arguing that they could provide evidence of fraud. Chevron also won access to outtakes from a documentary film about the lawsuit, despite the objections of the filmmaker and many media companies (including Hearst Corp., which owns The Chronicle). ...


In a case like this it's hard to tell who's Mafia and who's not.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 31, 2011
from AlJazeera, via Perry:
Hunger and despair in Sri Lanka
Recent flooding in eastern Sri Lanka destroyed thousands of homes, devastated the rice crop and drowned thousands of livestock. A million people, 40 per cent of them children, are at risk of serious hunger as a result. Some of the worst-affected areas were only just recovering from decades of conflict and the tsunami when the floods hit, and the people who live there are facing their third humanitarian emergency in less than 10 years.... Among those at risk of the impending food crisis is Pakyarani, a 32-year-old farmer's wife and mother of four.... The rain started on January 6. It didn't stop for days - there was thunder and lightning, and the wind was blowing extremely hard. I was sure there would be a cyclone. Eventually we were warned that the rivers and lakes were about to burst their banks. We were afraid that we would be caught in the flood, so we decided to leave.... All the rice in our field has been ruined by the floods. It will be May before we can sow new rice seeds, and July before we can harvest. We have no savings to buy food, let alone to repair our house. It's not safe to live like this; the area is full of snakes, and if my children get bitten we have no transport to take them to the nearest hospital, which is 10 kilometres away. ...


Just laugh at the clouds / so dark up above / put a song in your heart / you're ready for love!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 27, 2011
from Kyodo News:
Miyazaki starts 410,000-chicken containment cull
The Miyazaki Prefectural Government stepped up its latest bird flu fight Monday after infections were confirmed at a second poultry farm, triggering the culling of about 410,000 chickens in the town of Shintomi late the previous day. To prevent the highly pathogenic avian flu from spreading further, it asked the Ground Self-Defense Force for disaster relief assistance and received a team of 170 troops from a camp based in the prefecture to help bury the carcasses and perform other work Tuesday. While it is expected to take several days to kill all the birds and bury them, about 10,000 chickens already culled at a nearby farm in the prefectural capital Miyazaki, where the flu first broke out, are slated to be burned by Monday evening. ...


For these poor chickens the sky hath already fallen.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 26, 2011
from New York Times:
Industry Group's Self-Depiction Raises Eyebrows
At first glance, the Waters Advocacy Coalition could be mistaken for a typical environmental group. The home page of its Web site, protectmywater.org, features a banner reading "Protect the Clean Water Act" across a photo slide show of flowing streams and clear mountain lakes. On Facebook and Twitter, where the group's handle is @ProtectCWA, its bio reads: "Our coalition is made up of diverse organizations that have an interest in and actively protect our nation's waters and wetlands resources." ...As it turns out... the Waters Advocacy Council is not an environmental organization, but a lobbying outfit for some of the nation's largest industrial and agricultural concerns, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Industrial Sand Association and the National Mining Association. ...


Protect is the new destroy.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 25, 2011
from Frederick News-Post:
American Farm Bureau files suit to stop Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts
The American Farm Bureau Federation has filed a lawsuit in federal court to halt the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to regulate pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman announced the lawsuit Jan. 10 at the AFBF's 92nd annual meeting in Atlanta. "We all want a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay," Stallman said in a recent news release. "This lawsuit is about how we get there. Farm Bureau believes EPA's 'diet' for the Chesapeake is dangerous and unlawful." ...


Bob Stall-man... now THERE'S an aptly-named impediment to environmental restoration.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 23, 2011
from London Independent:
Home fires: The world's most lethal pollution
The world's deadliest pollution does not come from factories billowing smoke, industries tainting water supplies or chemicals seeping into farm land. It comes from within people's own homes. Smoke from domestic fires kills nearly two million people each year and sickens millions more, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). A new UN project has now been set up to try to reduce this appalling toll. It aims, over the next nine years, to put 100 million clean cooking stoves into homes in the developing world. The WHO ranks the problem as one of the worst health risks facing the poor. In low-income countries, such as those in Africa and Asia, indoor smoke from cooking has become the sixth biggest killer. Globally, it kills more people than malaria, and nearly as many as Aids -- and far more insidiously than either. ...


We have met the enemy ... and he is poverty.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jan 22, 2011
from London Independent:
2.4 billion extra people, no more land: how will we feed the world in 2050?
The finite resources of the Earth will be be stretched as never before in the coming 40 years because of the unprecedented challenge of feeding the world in 2050, leading scientists have concluded in a report to be published next week. Food production will have to increase by between 70 and 100 per cent, while the area of land given over to agriculture will remain static, or even decrease as a result of land degradation and climate change. Meanwhile the global population is expected to rise from 6.8 billion at present to about 9.2 billion by mid-century. ...


Too many people, too little food... solution seems rather obvious to me!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 21, 2011
from The Australian:
Engineer's emails reveal Wivenhoe Dam releases too little, too late
LEAKED email communications from a Wivenhoe Dam engineering officer underline concerns that the Brisbane River flood was mostly caused by massive releases from the dam after it had held on to water too long over a crucial 72 hours before the severe rainfall that hit the region last week. The emails, which become increasingly urgent in tone as the situation became critical as the dam's levels rise rapidly, were provided to The Australian by a source who said the stream of data had convinced him the river flood of Brisbane could have been largely avoided if the dam's operators had taken action much earlier....According to figures from Wivenhoe's operator, SEQWater, the dam's capacity went from 106 per cent full on the morning of Friday, January 7, to 148 per cent full on the morning of Monday, January 10, due to the limited weekend releases. ...


I know when my weekend releases are limited, I tend to burst!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 21, 2011
from Chicago Tribune:
Seeking permission to pollute
A monitor at George Washington High School on the Southeast Side shows that air in the neighborhood has the distinction of containing the state's highest levels of toxic heavy metals, chromium and cadmium, as well as sulfates, which can trigger asthma attacks and increase the risk of heart disease. The school sits across from a long-shuttered industrial site where Leucadia National Corp. plans to build a $3 billion coal-to-gas plant that would add even more pollution to one of the nation's most polluted areas. Two hurdles remain for the plant to become reality. Gov. Pat Quinn only needs to sign a bill that muscled its way through the General Assembly during the recent lame-duck session. And the state Pollution Control Board must decide whether the owners of the industrial site can sell their permission to pollute to New York-based Leucadia. ...


You certainly have my permission to let rich people get richer while ruining the environment.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 21, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Why Bedbugs Won't Die
The first comprehensive genetic study of bedbugs, the irritating pests that have enjoyed a world-wide resurgence in recent years, indicates they are quickly evolving to withstand the pesticides used to combat them. The new findings from entomologists at Ohio State University, reported Wednesday online in PLoS One, show that bedbugs may have boosted their natural defenses by generating higher levels of enzymes that can cleanse them of poisons. In New York City, bedbugs now are 250 times more resistant to the standard pesticide than bedbugs in Florida... Bedbugs today appear to have nerve cells better able to withstand the chemical effects, higher levels of enzymes that detoxify the lethal substances, and thicker shells that can block insecticides. ...


If only humans were so advanced.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 20, 2011
from Reuters:
EU delays tackling air pollution to 2012 or later
The European Union's executive has agreed to delay new laws forcing industry to take costly steps to tackle air pollutants that are blamed for respiratory problems and premature deaths in cities. Most soot particles or airborne acid pollution comes from diesel cars, ships and power stations. No action is seen until 2012 or 2013 when a whole string of related legislation can be overhauled simultaneously, a source at the European Commission, which initiates EU law, said on Wednesday. ...


Are the Republicans running Europe, too?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 19, 2011
from Politico:
More mountaintop mining decisions loom
The Obama administration is facing a string of politically difficult decisions over one of the country's most contentious environmental issues: mountaintop removal coal mining. Few issues can generate equivalent outrage among the administration's environmentalist allies as does mountaintop removal, a mining technique common in West Virginia and other Appalachian states where operators use explosives to open mountaintops and access coal seams, and then dump the resulting waste in adjacent streams. Green groups say the practice is among the worst abuses of the fossil fuel industry, saying it is ruining Appalachia's ecosystems and poisoning its drinking water supplies. But Appalachia's mining industry calls itself the economic lifeline to one of the country's poorest regions. ...


Perhaps we can agree to call it an economic deathline.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 19, 2011
from MSNBC:
Weight loss may send pollutants into bloodstream
Weight loss may have an unwanted side effect, according to a new study in the journal Nature: It may send a flood of environmental pollutants into the bloodstream. Body fat stores certain pollutants, including such pesticides as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). If a person loses weight and significant amounts of body fat are broken down, these chemical compounds, known as persistent organic pollutants, are released and can lead to disease, said researchers from Kyungpook National University in Daegu, South Korea. ...


We have painted ourselves into a fat corner.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 14, 2011
from New Scientist:
Prion disease can spread through air
You catch flu by inhaling germs - now it seems you can catch prion diseases that way too. Prions are misshapen proteins that cause brain degeneration in conditions such as mad cow disease and scrapie in animals, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. They can get into you if you eat infected meat or receive infected blood, but it was thought they couldn't spread through air. Now Adriano Aguzzi of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich reports that mice exposed for 10 minutes to aerosols containing as little as 2.5 per cent brain tissue from mice with scrapie all developed the disease within months. The prions didn't need processing by the immune system first, as some other research has suggested, but entered the brain directly through nasal nerves. "We were amazed at how efficiently they spread," says Aguzzi. He warns that this doesn't mean animals or people with prion diseases actually transmit them through the air: there have been no unexplained cases of disease transmission which suggested this. But workers in mills that process potentially infected carcasses may need more respiratory protection. ...


Another vector just itchin' for optimization by evolution!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 13, 2011
from Rice, via EurekAlert:
Virus killer gets supercharged on the cheap
A simple technique to make a common virus-killing material significantly more effective is a breakthrough from the Rice University labs of Andrew Barron and Qilin Li. Rather than trying to turn the process into profit, the researchers have put it into the public domain. They hope wide adoption will save time, money and perhaps even lives.... adding silicone to titanium dioxide, a common disinfectant, dramatically increases its ability to degrade aerosol- and water-borne viruses.... "We chose the Yangtze River as our baseline for testing, because it's considered the most polluted river in the world, with the highest viral content," he said. "Even at that level of viral contamination, we're getting complete destruction of the viruses in water that matches the level of pollution in the Yangtze." Using a smaller amount of treated P25 takes longer but works just as well, he said. "Either way, it's green and it's cheap." ...


"Green and cheap" is no way to restart the economy.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 13, 2011
from Montreal Gazette:
Quebec forest fires cast wide pall
When lightning sparks a fire in a Quebec forest, people living as far as 1,000 kilometres away can end up breathing polluted air. A new study has found air pollution levels in northern New York state jumped last summer as more than 50 forest fires burned around La Tuque, about 300 kilometres northeast of Montreal. Researchers at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., found the amount of fine particulate matter, one component of air pollution, jumped to 18 times its normal level because of smoke blown south from Quebec. Fine particulate matter is about one-30th the diameter of a human hair, and is linked to premature death from heart and lung disease, as well as heart attacks, respiratory problems, asthma attacks and bronchiolitis. ...


Keep your bloody Canadian smoke out of my airspace!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 13, 2011
from New York Times:
Stress, Pollution and Poverty: A Vicious Cycle?
The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $7 million in grants to researchers to study the cumulative health impact of pollutants like mercury and lead and social factors like stress and poor nutrition in several low-income communities, the agency said Tuesday... But a growing body of research suggests that cumulative exposure to multiple pollutants, and nonchemical factors like stress, poverty and poor diet, can amplify the negative effects of a single toxic substance. ...


I think we should pay more attention to rich people.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 11, 2011
from McClatchy Newspapers:
Climate change reveals disease as national security threat
One of the most worrisome national security threats of climate change is the spread of disease, among both people and animals, U.S. intelligence and health officials say. But more than a decade after such concerns were first raised by U.S. intelligence agencies, significant gaps remain in the health surveillance and response network -- not just in developing nations, but in the United States as well, according to those officials and a review of federal documents and reports. And those gaps, they say, undermine the ability of the U.S. and world health officials to respond to disease outbreaks before they become national security threats. ...


I bet we don't understand the language.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 6, 2011
from The Daily Green:
EPA: 19 Potentially Toxic Chemicals Down (Watchdogs: 83,981 to Go)
President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency administrator has made good on something she calls a top priority: Testing chemicals used widely in the U.S. that have never been assessed for the risks they might pose to human health or the environment. It's the same priority, in essence, that Congress set in 1976 when it passed the Toxic Substances Control Act, but 35 years later that act is "widely considered a failure" by watchdogs who note that the law exempted 62,000 chemicals already on the market in 1976, and another 22,000 have since been introduced without first undergoing rigorous testing for health and environmental risks... Which is why those watchdogs are expressing only reserved praise for Jackson's announcement this week that the EPA would require companies to test 19 "high production volume" chemicals... ...


Don't look a toxic fight horse in its poisonous mouth.

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Fri, Dec 31, 2010
from Earth Institute:
'Erin Brockovich' Hexavalent Chromium Found in Tap Water of 31 U.S. Cities
The carcinogenic chemical chromium-6 (or hexavalent chromium) has been found in the drinking water of 31 of 35 U.S. cities analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which released results of its tests on December 20. Chromium-6 is the chemical made infamous in the movie "Erin Brockovich," about the residents of Hinkley, California, who won $333 million in damages in 1996 from Pacific Gas and Electric for polluting their drinking water with chromium-6. Chromium-6 is highly toxic and has been found to cause allergic dermatitis, and stomach and gastrointestinal cancer in animals and humans. Used in the manufacture of stainless steel, textiles, anticorrosion coatings, and in leather tanning, it gets into drinking water through industrial pollution. It is also present naturally in some minerals.... In its tests, EWG found that 25 of the cities tested had levels of chromium-6 higher than California's proposed limit. Norman, OK's level at 12.9 ppb was 200 times the California limit; Honolulu, HA's chromium-6 measured 2.00 ppb; Riverside, CA's was 1.69 ppb; Madison, WI's was 1.58 ppb; and San Jose, CA had 1.34 ppb. The utilities that service the 31 cities whose tap water contained chromium-6 provide water to over 26 million people. ...


All that chromium makes my insides so bright and shiny!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 29, 2010
from Washington Post:
U.S., D.C. schedule bedbug summits
In keeping with the best of government traditions, the Federal Bed Bug Work Group is hosting its second national summit Feb. 1-2 in Washington to brainstorm about solutions to the resurgence of the tiny bloodsuckers that have made such an itch-inducing comeback in recent years. The summit will be open to the public, officials said, and will focus on ways the federal government and others can work together to manage and control the pests, which have been showing up in apartment buildings, college dorms, luxury hotels, movie theaters, Manhattan retail stores and increasingly, in office buildings, according to officials and pest management companies. ...


A bedbug summit? That sounds positively scandalous!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 29, 2010
from Postmedia News:
Canadians in denial about air pollution impact: Study
The average Canadian is in denial about the impact of air pollution on human health, assuming that it is either a long-term threat or a risk factor for vulnerable parts of the population, says a newly-released federal report. The study, conducted for Health Canada by Environics Research Group, found that most Canadians acknowledge some health risks associated with poor air quality, but are divided on whether an advisory warning is a serious threat to all unless they have personally suffered from an illness such as asthma. ...


Join the bone-headed club.

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Mon, Dec 27, 2010
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Six months after Pakistan floods, seven million remain without shelter
...he biggest disaster in Pakistan's history inflicted its deadliest wrath in these northern reaches, as summer monsoons ripped down the valleys, devouring land, people and entire villages. The brown torrent killed almost 2,000 people, but that number hardly begins to encompass the months of misery that followed, those who died of malnutrition or disease as they fled the rising water. Now, as winter blows into the mountains, an estimated seven million people remain without proper shelter. Villagers scrabble in the earth, trying to build homes that will keep them warm among the snow drifts. ...


If any of you are having trouble visualizing our post-Apocalyptic future, look no further.

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Thu, Dec 23, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
Bunnies Are in Deep Doo-Doo When They 'Go Nuclear' at Hanford
The little pellets that government contractors found near a building here in October looked like any other pile of rabbit droppings. A Geiger counter told a different story. The scat was radioactive, and that could only mean one thing: There was a cottontail on the loose with access to sensitive nuclear material...Sleuthing for atomic flora and fauna is serious work at Hanford, which once had nine nuclear reactors and produced plutonium for the Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. Since 1989, Hanford has been the site of a cleanup that's cost over $30 billion. Most of that work is decommissioning reactors, demolishing tainted buildings and burying waste. But animals tend to root around contaminated areas at the 586-square-mile site, so federal contractors closely monitor plants and critters to curb the spread of radiation. ...


Isn't radioactive bunny poop one of the Seven Signs of the Apocalypse?

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Wed, Dec 22, 2010
from AolNews:
Risky Business: EPA Builds List of Potentially Dangerous Chemicals
As the rates of learning disabilities, autism and related conditions rise, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release a roster of the pollutants likely to contribute to these or other neurological disorders. In an ongoing, three-year effort, an EPA team has determined which developmental neurotoxicants -- chemicals that damage a fetal and infant brain -- may pose the biggest risk to the American public. Some compounds on the EPA's list are ubiquitous in household products, drinking water, medicine, and within the environment. They range from cadmium, used to etch colorful cartoons onto children's glasses, to flame retardants used to fireproof upholstered furniture. ...


I'd rather not know!

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Wed, Dec 22, 2010
from Guardian:
The day my innocence bit the dust
On the tour, the environmental director pointed out all the buggies spraying water on the track - this was to keep the coal dust under control. Dust rising from the mine and drifting in the wind was blamed by local communities for lung problems and environmental damage.... "See, all this fuss about coal dust. Look, there really isn't any." I looked across the pit and had to admit that he was right - the air seemed fairly clean.... The cab driver asked if he could take a friend along for the long drive. About five minutes into the journey the friend turned around from the front seat and said: "Were you the visitors to the mine today?" "Yes," I said. "I thought so. I work there, with the cutting machinery," said the passenger. "I just wanted to tell you something. Just before you arrived at the viewpoint we received an order to turn off the cutting machines. And after you left, we were instructed to switch them back on again."... What interested me most was the reaction of my local colleague, a lawyer who had been working on these issues for some time. She was utterly unsurprised. In her world, big multinational, and smaller national, companies lie and deceive as a matter of course to get their way in the world and to make a quicker buck. ...


Corporations might lie just to make more money, even if it endangers lives??

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Tue, Dec 21, 2010
from Deutsche Welle:
Campaigners target sandblasted jeans on health grounds
Consumers looking for a pair of jeans with that special worn look might want to check the label, according to campaigners. The group Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is calling for a global ban on the practice of sandblasting, in which denim is sprayed with sand at high pressure to give the material a distressed look. Sandblasting is associated with the disease silicosis - a lung disease caused by fine particles of sand thrown into the air during the process. Turkey was a major producer of sandblasted garments before a ban on the process was implemented in 2009. ...


Then I'll just have to sandblast 'em myself!

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Tue, Dec 21, 2010
from Dallas Morning News:
EPA's rule enforcement on pollution has dropped
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has warned that the Environmental Protection Agency is punishing Texas by rejecting a state clean-air permitting program and advancing a scheme to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. But new data shows that EPA enforcement of existing regulations under the Obama administration has fallen by several key measures. In Texas, the amount of pollution that companies agreed to reduce - as a result of enforcement cases - fell 74 percent in 2009-10 from 2007-08. Nationwide, it fell 57 percent. Furthermore, the amount that polluters agreed to spend nationwide to upgrade controls and cleanup fell to $17.4 billion in 2009-10, from $22.3 billion in 2007-08. ...


Are we being jacked by Jackson?

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Sun, Dec 19, 2010
from Washington Post:
Probable carcinogen hexavalent chromium found in drinking water of 31 U.S. cities
An environmental group that analyzed the drinking water in 35 cities across the United States, including Bethesda and Washington, found that most contained hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen that was made famous by the film "Erin Brockovich." The study, which will be released Monday by the Environmental Working Group, is the first nationwide analysis of hexavalent chromium in drinking water to be made public. It comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to set a limit for hexavalent chromium in tap water. The agency is reviewing the chemical after the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, deemed it a "probable carcinogen" in 2008. ...


The EPA should review the film as well.

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Fri, Dec 17, 2010
from BBC:
Poisoning drives vulture decline in Masai Mara, Kenya
Vulture populations in one of Africa's most important wildlife reserves have declined by 60 percent, say scientists. The researchers suggest that the decline of vultures in Kenya's Masai Mara is being driven by poisoning. The US-based Peregrine Fund says farmers occasionally lace the bodies of dead cattle or goats with a toxic pesticide called furadan. This appears to be aimed at carnivores that kill the livestock, but one carcass can poison up to 150 vultures.... "People may think of vultures as ugly and disgusting, but the birds are essential for the ecosystem," he says. Their taste for carrion actually makes them the landscape's clean-up team - ensuring the region is not littered with bodies, helping contain the spread of disease and recycling nutrients.... The terrible consequences of a vulture population crash have already been demonstrated during a case that became known as the Asian vulture crisis.... "If we lost the vultures," says Dr Murani, "tourists would have to travel around the reserve with face masks on, because the stench from rotting wildebeest carcasses would be unbearable." ...


"Ugly and disgusting," yes, but less so than a landscape littered with rotting wildebeest carcasses.

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Wed, Dec 15, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
Livestock in U.S. gobble up the antibiotics
The U.S.-raised animals we eat consumed about 29 million pounds of antibiotics in the last year alone, according to a first-ever Food and Drug Administration accounting of antimicrobial drug use by the American livestock industry... Farmers feed these medications to the animals they raise for market in an effort to prevent disease from spreading among flocks of poultry and herds of livestock living in crowded and often unsanitary conditions. The medications also promote faster growth in many animals. The ubiquitous use of these medications is controversial because they are used to counter the effects of raising livestock in conditions that are unhealthy and widely considered cruel. But they represent a major public health concern too: the widespread administration of antibiotics to prevent infections in animals has made those same antibiotics less effective in fighting off disease in animals and in humans. That is because, when under constant bombardment by existing antibiotic medications, the viruses that cause disease evolve at an accelerated rate just to stay alive. The results: new viruses that are resistant to existing antibiotics, and a population that is is increasingly vulnerable to them. ...


If I were a cow I'd be mad as hell about this!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 15, 2010
from Associated Press:
Environmentalists sue ExxonMobil over air laws
The largest oil refinery in the United States released more than 8 million pounds of illegal pollution in the past five years, violating the federal Clean Air Act thousands of times, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by environmental groups in Texas. The lawsuit against ExxonMobil is the latest by Sierra Club and Environment Texas as part of their campaign to rein in what they call "illegal emissions" by dozens of refineries and chemical plants that operate in the Texas Gulf Coast. In recent months, the groups have reached multimillion-dollar, out-of-court settlements with Shell and Chevron Phillips after filing similar suits. ExxonMobil denied the allegations and said it would fight the lawsuit... Texas has more oil refineries, chemical plants and coal-fired power plants that any other state and is the nation's leader in greenhouse gases. The state produces more than 20 percent of the nation's oil and one-third of the country's gas is refined along the Texas Gulf Coast. ...


Oil is the lifeblood of Uhmerica and it's the heart of Texas that pumps it.

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Tue, Dec 14, 2010
from London Guardian:
Chernobyl: now open to tourists
...the heavily contaminated area around the Chernobyl power plant will be officially open to tourists with an interest in post-apocalyptic vistas, late-period Soviet history, or both. Ukraine's emergency situations ministry said today that visitors would be offered tours inside the 30-mile exclusion zone set up after reactor four at the plant exploded on 26 April 1986, showering northern Europe in radioactive fallout. The disaster killed an unknown number of people - estimates for deaths from radiation exposure range from dozens to thousands - and forced around 350,000 people to leave their homes forever. While the area remains heavily contaminated, a ministry spokeswoman said, tourism routes had been drawn up which would cover the main sights while steering clear of the dangerous spots. ...


I'm only going if they serve hot pretzels on site.

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Mon, Dec 13, 2010
from Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
'Clusters' of death
In many places around Western Pennsylvania residents see clusters of death and clusters of people sickened by cancer or heart and lung diseases. And, like Lee Lasich, a Clairton resident, they're frustrated that government health and environmental agencies don't see them too, don't do something about the problems and don't take a tougher stance on enforcement of air pollution regulations. Ms. Lasich, whose husband worked in U.S. Steel Corp.'s Clairton Coke Works and died after suffering from lung, prostate and throat cancers in 2004 when he was 53, is typical. She uses all the fingers of her right hand to tick off the names of friends who have died from brain cancer in her Constitution Circle neighborhood. She uses her left hand to count "a whole family that's got pancreatic cancers." ...


Maybe death is just a new trend.

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Sat, Dec 11, 2010
from Associated Press:
Feds dismiss need to recall lead drinking glasses
A federal agency reversed itself Friday and said lead-laced Wizard of Oz and superhero drinking glasses are, in fact, for adults -- not children's products subject to a previously announced recall. The stunning about-face came after the Consumer Product Safety Commission said last month the glasses were children's products and thus subject to strict federal lead limits. Lab testing by The Associated Press found lead in the colored decorations up to 1,000 times the federal maximum for children's products. The CPSC has no limits on lead content on the outside of adult drinking glasses. "A premature statement was made regarding two sets of glasses identified in (AP's) story that has now been determined to be inaccurate," said agency spokesman Scott Wolfson. It was Wolfson who said the day after the AP published its investigation Nov. 21 that the two sets of four glasses each -- one featuring characters including Superman and Wonder Woman, the other Dorothy and other characters from the classic Oz movie -- were children's products and that the agency would investigate them. ...


I can't get through a day without a stiff drink in my Wonder Woman glass.

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Thu, Dec 9, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
EPA Again Delays Tighter Ozone Restrictions
The Obama administration is delaying a decision on whether to tighten limits on ground-level ozone, the third time in less than a year that it has put off the potentially costly environmental rule in the face of congressional and industry pressure. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that it won't be prepared to decide until next July whether to tighten a national air-quality standard for ozone. That would be nearly a year after the agency's original self-imposed deadline for settling the matter. Ground-level ozone is a primary ingredient in smog linked to respiratory illnesses. As recently as last Thursday, the agency said it remained committed to finalizing the new standards by the end of the year. The agency has said tightening the standard could save as many as 12,000 lives a year and yield health benefits worth as much as $100 billion annually in 2020. ...


To keep our economy robust, I'd say 12,000 dead a year is an acceptable loss.

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Tue, Dec 7, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Study: Flame retardant found in small butter sample
A stick of butter purchased at a Dallas grocery story contained high levels of a flame retardant used in electronics, according to environmental scientists at the University of Texas School of Public Health. The butter was contaminated with a chemical called polybrominated diphenyl ether, or PBDE. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of U.S. butter contaminated with PBDEs," said lead research Arnold Schecter, whose study was published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The butter was purchased last year as part of a small research project to test for contaminates. The butter stick's wrapper contained even higher amounts of PBDEs. The source of the contamination remains a mystery. ...


Maybe it's the first time anyone's looked.

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Tue, Dec 7, 2010
from McClatchy Newspapers:
American urban lake pollution traced to parking lot seal coat
A black sealant sprayed on parking lots, driveways and playgrounds turns out to be the largest contributor to the rise of a toxic pollutant in urban lakes and reservoirs across America, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. Scientists saw concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) going up rapidly in the 1990s in areas of urban sprawl. PAHs have been known as a probable human carcinogen since the 19th century, when cancer struck chimney sweeps, said Peter Van Metre, a USGS scientist and a principal author of the report. PAHs also are toxic to fish and other aquatic plant and animal life. ...


PAH, humbug!

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Superantigens could be behind several illnesses
Superantigens, the toxins produced by staphylococcus bacteria, are more complex than previously believed, reveals a team of researchers from the University of Gothenburg in an article published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications. Their discovery shows that the body's immune system can cause more illnesses than realised. "Superantigens have a real talent for disrupting the body's immune system," says Karin Lindkvist from the University of Gothenburg's Department of Cell- and Molecular Biology, one of the authors of the article. "If you're infected with bacteria that secrete superantigens, your immune system will respond so strongly that it'll make you ill. Our study shows that superantigens activate the immune system in more ways than previously thought."... The toxins produced by staphylococci are also known as superantigens. A normal viral infection will trigger the activation of around 0.0001 percent of the body's natural killer cells (T cells), which is enough to destroy the virus. However, contracting bacteria that secrete superantigens leads to the activation of 5-20 percent of the body's T cells. Such a strong immune response will often result in illness, which generally involves fever and extreme nausea. Superantigens are also well-known for causing toxic symptoms, as in toxic shock syndrome. There is also some speculation as to whether superantigens can cause autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. ...


Can't we just develop a kryptonite serum for these superantigens?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 2, 2010
from Discovery News:
BPA May Inhibit Pregnancy
Even as women choose to have babies later in life, more are having trouble conceiving, and the chemical BPA might be partly to blame, suggests a new study. Mice that were exposed to tiny amounts of the common chemical in the womb and shortly after birth had no problems getting pregnant early in their reproductive lives, the study found. But the animals were less likely to get pregnant as they aged compared to animals that had not been exposed to BPA, and they gave birth to smaller litters as time wore on. People come in contact with BPA, also known as bisphenol A, through cash register receipts, canned foods and beverages, hard plastic bottles, kitchenware, DVDs and many other sources. Just about all of us have BPA in our bodies, where it can interfere with the action of estrogen and other hormones. ...


Actually smaller litters of humans might not be such a bad thing.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 2, 2010
from Agence France-Press:
Quarter of HK people 'want to move over bad air'
About 25 percent of Hong Kong's population wants to leave the city to escape its notoriously polluted air, which has been described as a health crisis, said a survey released Monday. The report by public policy think tank Civic Exchange found that one in four people living in the teeming financial hub are considering emigrating over fears that its bad air could affect their health. That was an increase from the one in five people who wanted to leave Hong Kong in a similar survey two years ago, the study said. ...


Only problem is: where to go?

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Mon, Nov 29, 2010
from Center for Public Integrity:
Big Polluters Freed from Environmental Oversight by Stimulus
In the name of job creation and clean energy, the Obama administration has doled out billions of dollars in stimulus money to some of the nation's biggest polluters and granted them sweeping exemptions from the most basic form of environmental oversight, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found. The administration has awarded more than 179,000 "categorical exclusions" to stimulus projects funded by federal agencies, freeing those projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Coal-burning utilities like Westar Energy and Duke Energy, chemical manufacturer DuPont, and ethanol maker Didion Milling are among the firms with histories of serious environmental violations that have won blanket NEPA exemptions...Agency officials who granted the exemptions told the Center that they do not have time in most cases to review the environmental compliance records of stimulus recipients, and do not believe past violations should affect polluters' chances of winning stimulus money or the NEPA exclusions. ...


Unfortunately, we DO have time to breathe... drink... eat...

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Nov 27, 2010
from Nature:
Lab animals and pets face obesity epidemic
It's not just people that are getting fatter. A statistical analysis of more than 20,000 animals suggests that the obesity epidemic is spreading to family pets, wild animals living in close proximity to humans, and animals housed in research centres -- perhaps indicating that environmental factors beyond diet and exercise are at least partly to blame for expanding waistlines. ...


Does this new study make my butt look big?

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Nov 26, 2010
from Louisville Courier-Journal:
City pollution reports eyed
All but the largest sources of Louisville air pollution would get a break on reporting their emissions under a rewrite of the city's toxic air reduction program. And that sounds good to Charlie Miller, owner of Miller Oil, a petroleum distribution company. He said he'd welcome any red-tape relief officials can offer. With its variety of regulations, the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District has "made it difficult for the small-business person," Miller said....District officials say they want to make life easier on businesses, as well as their staff, while retaining the core requirements of the 2005 program that was adopted after studies confirmed excessive levels of certain chemicals in the city's air. ...


To hell with those of us who breathe.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Nov 22, 2010
from Associated Press:
AP IMPACT: Cadmium, lead found in drinking glasses
Drinking glasses depicting comic book and movie characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman and the Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz" exceed federal limits for lead in children's products by up to 1,000 times, according to laboratory testing commissioned by The Associated Press. The decorative enamel on the superhero and Oz sets -- made in China and purchased at a Warner Brothers Studios store in Burbank -- contained between 16 percent and 30.2 percent lead. The federal limit on children's products is 0.03 percent. The same glasses also contained relatively high levels of the even-more-dangerous cadmium, though there are no federal limits on that toxic metal in design surfaces. ...


Everybody knows lead protects you from Kryptonite.

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Fri, Nov 19, 2010
from Huffington Post:
U.S. Embassy: Beijing Air Quality Is 'Crazy Bad'
Pollution in Beijing was so bad Friday the U.S. Embassy, which has been independently monitoring air quality, ran out of conventional adjectives to describe it, at one point saying it was "crazy bad." The embassy later deleted the phrase, saying it was an "incorrect" description and it would revise the language to use when the air quality index goes above 500, its highest point and a level considered hazardous for all people by U.S. standards. The hazardous haze has forced schools to stop outdoor exercises, and health experts asked residents, especially those with respiratory problems, the elderly and children, to stay indoors. "We've canceled 10 days worth of games since August," said David Niven, chief operating officer of China ClubFootball, which runs extensive youth and adult football leagues in Beijing. "If the air is above 240, some of the schools will ask us to move football games indoors or cancel them altogether. Because of the bad air this year, we've had to cancel more games than ever before." ...


In the language revision race, Fundamentally Toxic is neck-n-neck with Incredibly Awful, Stunningly Poisonous, and Nearly Lethal.

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Thu, Nov 18, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Wind whisks lead across the Pacific Ocean to California
A new study finds lead from Asia in California air samples, providing evidence that wind can transport airborne pollutants across continents and oceans. This new research is further proof that air pollution is a global issue and needs international cooperation to reduce environmental and health impacts. Approximately one-third of the lead found in the air samples taken from sites in the San Francisco Bay area originated in Asia, but the fraction varied by season and weather patterns. It is likely that other contaminants originating in Asia may reach the U.S. in the same way. ...


Beware ... the whisking wind.

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Sun, Nov 14, 2010
from The Tampa Tribune:
Investigation shows elevated levels of lead in grocery bags
Publix officials will revamp their lineup of re-usable grocery bags sold in their stores after a Tampa Tribune investigation found elevated levels of lead in material of some bags. Tribune tests showed certain bags from Winn-Dixie and Publix stores had levels of lead that concerned health officials. And some bags had enough lead that they could be considered hazardous waste if residents put them in their household trash. This follows a similar issue that led the Northern grocer Wegmans to voluntarily exchange thousands of their bags. Publix officials stress that their bags comply with current federal laws regarding lead content. But given the Tribune findings, and lower thresholds due next year, Publix is asking bag suppliers to find ways to make bags with less lead...over time lab experts note the bags wear down and paint can flake off, and eventually re-usable bags would accumulate in landfills, presenting another ecological issue.. ...


Worst of all the lead makes the bags a lot heavier!

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Sat, Nov 13, 2010
from London Guardian:
McDonald's and PepsiCo to help write UK health policy
The Department of Health is putting the fast food companies McDonald's and KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg's, Unilever, Mars and Diageo at the heart of writing government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease, the Guardian has learned. In an overhaul of public health, said by campaign groups to be the equivalent of handing smoking policy over to the tobacco industry, health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five "responsibility deal" networks with business, co-chaired by ministers, to come up with policies. Some of these are expected to be used in the public health white paper due in the next month. ...


I thought this sort of thing only happened in the good ol' USA.

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Tue, Nov 9, 2010
from University of Toronto:
Dangerous chemicals in food wrappers likely migrating to humans
U of T scientists have found that chemicals used to line junk food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags are migrating into food and being ingested by people where they are contributing to chemical contamination observed in blood. Perfluorinated carboxylic acids or PFCAs are the breakdown products of chemicals used to make non-stick and water- and stain-repellant products ranging from kitchen pans to clothing to food packaging. PFCAs, the best known of which is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are found in humans all around the world. "We suspected that a major source of human PFCA exposure may be the consumption and metabolism of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters or PAPs," said Jessica D'eon, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry. "PAPs are applied as greaseproofing agents to paper food contact packaging such as fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags."... "In this study we clearly demonstrate that the current use of PAPs in food contact applications does result in human exposure to PFCAs, including PFOA. We cannot tell whether PAPs are the sole source of human PFOA exposure or even the most important, but we can say unequivocally that PAPs are a source and the evidence from this study suggests this could be significant." ...


What a lot of PAP.

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Tue, Nov 9, 2010
from CBC News:
Bisphenol A linked to sterility in roundworms
The controversial chemical bisphenol A can render roundworms sterile, kill their embryos, and damage their chromosomes, according to a new lab study. The findings are sure to re-ignite debate over the health safety of the chemical commonly known as BPA, which is widely used in such consumer products as hard plastic toys, bottles and food container linings. Geneticists at the Harvard Medical School found that in roundworms exposed to BPA, some DNA repair processes were impaired in the very cells that are essential for the formation of sperm and eggs. Exposure to the chemical also damaged chromosomal integrity and led to cell death, the authors found. While chromosomes in the control group of roundworms appeared normal, the chromosomes in the group exposed to BPA were frayed and fragmented. That led to embryo death and less fertile worms. ...


Don't you dare stick a roundworm into my square worldview.

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Mon, Nov 8, 2010
from Environmental Health Perspectives:
Chemicals in cosmetics, moisturizers linked to DNA damage in human sperm.
One type of paraben preservative -- butyl paraben (BP) -- was linked to DNA damage in men's sperm, according to a study that compared the levels of this compound to several reproductive measures in men. DNA damage in sperm cells can have negative effects on men's reproductive potential. The findings indicate that the higher the BP levels, the more DNA damage the sperm had. The relationship was even stronger when BP and bisphenol-A (BPA) levels were considered together. This is the first study to look at the relationship between paraben levels in men and sperm health. A prior study found that the late stages of sperm production were affected in mice fed BP. The results warrant further investigation into effects of parabens on men's sperm health as well as their effects on female reproductive systems and pregnancy and birth measures, given that women typically have higher levels of parabens than men. Parabens are a group of antimicrobial chemicals often used to preserve cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and sometimes food. They are added to numerous personal care products -- including make-up, shaving gels, lotions and creams -- and some food and drinks. ...


That my shaving gel may make me less manly just flies in the face reason!

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Sun, Nov 7, 2010
from Pittsburg KDKA TV:
Obesogens May Cause Weight Gain
If you try to lose weight and it just doesn't work, could chemicals in your food be to blame? Some people believe chemical compounds called obesogens could be a major factor in making people fat. "Obesogens are chemicals that occur in nature or artificially that mess with our metabolism and basically cause unnatural weight gain," said Stephen Perrine, author of "The New American Diet." Obesogens include agricultural pesticides, hormones used in the meat industry, and chemicals used in plastics. Perrine says regular fruits and vegetables are a problem because studies show a link between pesticide exposure and waist measurements. ...


If we start calling obesogens slimogens, would that help?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 3, 2010
from UK NHS:
New clue to fighting viruses
In the study, researchers found that antibodies that attached themselves to a virus were able to follow it into cells and help to destroy the virus before it started to reproduce. This is in contrast to the previous understanding that antibodies did not enter cells and were only effective at fighting infection before viruses invade cells. This study provides an interesting insight into how viruses and antibodies behave in the body, and uncovers mechanisms that could be targeted by future treatments or therapies. It is not known, however, how quickly or successfully this knowledge will result in remedies or treatments becoming available. This would require development and testing of new drugs, an uncertain process that usually takes a number of years. ...


Good work! Now, can we figure out antibodies for BPA, pthalates, endocrine disruptors, and nanobodies?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Oct 31, 2010
from The Missoulian:
Milltown sediment spread near Opportunity won't grow grass
OPPORTUNITY - Milltown Reservoir's exiled dirt won't behave in its new home. The 2.5 million cubic yards of fine-grained sediment dredged from the former reservoir east of Missoula has been spread 2 feet thick over more than 600 acres of wasteland between Anaconda and its satellite community of Opportunity. But it won't grow grass. "This would have been the first year we wanted to see vegetation everywhere," said Charlie Coleman, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Anaconda site project manager. "But the vegetation never took off." ...


How will we geo-engineer our way out of global warming if we can't even grow grass in dirt?

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Fri, Oct 29, 2010
from TIME:
Flame Retardants in Everyday Products May Be a Health Hazard, Scientists Say
Here's a fact to brighten your Thursday: you have a much smaller chance than your grandparents of bursting into flames. That's because brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (BFR and CFR) -- classes of chemicals that inhibit fire ignition -- have become common ingredients in everything from clothes to couches to computers. (You can thank safety-conscious California for that; the state's tough laws on flame retardants led to their wide-scale use by manufacturers around the country.) But fire safety has come with a cost. The chemicals used to prevent fires have repeatedly been shown to cause damage to human health. First polychlorinated binphenyls (PCBs) were found to be severely toxic to people and the environment, and the chemicals were banned in 1977. Next came polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), another class of chemicals used as flame retardants; over the years PBDEs have been found to accumulate in organic tissues and in the environment -- even in human breast milk -- and they are hormones disruptors, with links to thyroid and other health problems. PentaBDE and OctaBDE have been banned by the European Union and withdrawn from production by the only U.S. manufacturer; one other chemical, DecaBDE, is still in wide production but is restricted in the European Union and will be voluntarily withdrawn from the U.S. in 2013. ... Other BFRs and CFRs have emerged as substitutes for restricted flame retardants, but it turns out that they, too, may be linked to health problems. ... CFRs and BFRs contain compounds that are carcinogens, reproductive and neurological toxins and endocrine disruptors. And like their predecessors, once these chemicals come into contact with the human body, they can hang around for a long time, accumulating in greater proportions. ...


Better Freakin' Rethink! Chemical Follies Ricochet.

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Wed, Oct 27, 2010
from CNN:
Everyday chemicals may be harming kids, panel told
Of the 84,000 chemicals on the market today -- many of which are in objects that people come into contact with every day -- only about 1 percent of them have been studied for safety, Sen. Frank Lautenberg said Tuesday. Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, told a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health that such little oversight means that children in the United States are virtual "guinea pigs in an uncontrolled experiment."... Lautenberg has introduced legislation that would require chemical manufacturers to prove the safety of their products before they're released into the market. He said the current law -- the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 -- is too lax, resulting in the banning of five chemicals in the past 34 years. ...


I'm gonna name my next kid, Petri.

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Tue, Oct 26, 2010
from New York Times:
When Hormone Creams Expose Others to Risks
Veterinarians around the country are reporting a strange phenomenon: spayed dogs and cats, even some puppies and kittens, are suddenly becoming hormonal. In female pets, the symptoms resemble heat: swollen genitals, bloody discharge and behavioral problems. Male animals are showing up with swollen breast tissue and hair loss. Standard treatments and even repeated operations have had no effect. Now vets have identified the culprit. The pets were all owned by women who used hormone creams on their hands, arms and legs to counter symptoms of menopause. Animals who licked or cuddled their owners, or rubbed up against their legs, were being inadvertently exposed to doses of hormone drugs. ...


I call that second-hand hormones.

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Tue, Oct 26, 2010
from BBC:
Heavy smokers 'at increased risk of dementia'
Heavy smokers with a 40-a-day habit face a much higher risk of two common forms of dementia, a large study shows. The risk of Alzheimer's is more than doubled in people smoking at least two packs of cigarettes a day in their mid-life. The risk of vascular dementia, linked to problems in blood vessels supplying the brain, also rose significantly. The US study, looking at over 21,000 people's records, is published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. ...


You have to be pretty demented to smoke that much anyway.

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Sun, Oct 24, 2010
from New Scientist:
Vaccines could help elephantiasis spread
PARASITIC worms can adjust their survival strategy based on their host's immune response. This means potential vaccines against elephantiasis might make the infection spread more easily through communities. Elephantiasis infects 120 million people a year in Africa and Asia. Tiny filaria worms carried by mosquitoes block the lymph vessels that normally drain fluid from limbs or genitals, which then swell to grotesque proportions. The only prevention is a yearly dose of worming drugs, but fewer than half the people at risk receive them. Work is under way on a vaccine, but Simon Babayan at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and colleagues, have discovered that some vaccines may make the worms worse. When filaria worms in mice sense that the mouse is mounting a strong immune reaction, they change their life cycle, producing more offspring in the blood earlier. This helps the worm ensure that it will be picked up and transmitted by another mosquito despite the immune attack. ...


Isn't evolution just amazing?

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Fri, Oct 22, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Pesticides taint one-fifth of kids' food
More than one-quarter of the food eaten by a small number of U.S. children contained pesticides, confirming again that food is a source of chemical exposures for youngsters. Researchers measured 14 varieties of pesticides in the fruits, vegetables and juices tested. While many studies have measured levels of pesticides in various foodstuffs on grocery shelves and a few have looked at levels excreted from the body, little has been known about the level of pesticides found in the food that children actually consume. This study attempted to capture the pesticide levels of foods just as they were prepared and in the amounts eaten by the children. It has long been known that pesticide exposure presents a health risk to infants and children. Food is one of the main sources of exposure. ...


What. You'd rather they eat bugs?

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Fri, Oct 22, 2010
from Scientific American:
Sequencing the "Exposome": Researchers Take a Cue from Genomics to Decipher Environmental Exposure's Links to Disease
Anxious about BPA? Petrified of pesticides? Plenty of scientific literature shows that concerns about certain chemicals' potential to up the risk for chronic disease are justified. And although genetics can predispose a person to many ills, more than half of disease risk -- and possibly as much as 90 percent -- likely stem from environmental factors, according to recent epidemiological research. Hard data -- of the quality now gleaned from genetic studies -- however, has been lacking in the environmental field. And if there is to be any hope of untangling the complex web of risks behind chronic diseases, many scientists argue, researchers need to develop an "exposome," a highly detailed map of environmental exposures that might occur throughout a lifetime, which can be mapped onto the etiology (the study of causes) of major illnesses, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. ...


But I don't want to know!

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Tue, Oct 19, 2010
from CBC:
David Suzuki targets 'dirty dozen' toxic ingredients
The David Suzuki Foundation took aim Tuesday at a "dirty dozen" chemicals that are found in 80 per cent of the most common cosmetic products and urged better labelling laws to help consumers avoid them. In a report on a chemical survey, the foundation said it got 6,200 volunteers to check the ingredients listed on 12,550 everyday cosmetic products, including shampoo, toothpaste, lipstick and skin cleanser. When the results came in, four out of five products on the list of 12, 550 were found to contain at least one of the 12 chemicals, said Lisa Gue, the group's health policy analyst.... 1 - BHA and BHT. Used in moisturizers as preservatives, the suspected endocrine disruptors may cause cancer and are known to be harmful to fish and other wildlife 2 - Coal-tar dyes such as p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as CI followed by five digits. Used in some hair dyes, may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain. 3 - DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA. Used in some creamy and foaming moisturizers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. Harmful to fish and other wildlife. 4 - Dibuytl phthalate. Used as a plasticizer in some nail-care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. Harmful to fish and other wildlife. 5 - Formaldehyde releasing preservatives such as DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quarternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.... ...


I want make sure I leave a beautiful corpse.

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Sat, Oct 16, 2010
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Another scary study on low-dose chemical exposure
New research being presented at an American Heart Association conference this week contributes to the body of evidence suggesting that organophosphates are dangerous even at low doses. The research focuses on sarin, a chemical warfare agent, and demonstrates that mice exposed to low doses of the stuff suffer permanent damage to the heart. Researchers injected the mice with doses too low to produce visible symptoms and found that after 10 weeks, their hearts had become malformed and dysfunctional. Sadly, the results resembled those in humans and point to low-level exposure to sarin as the cause of the mysterious illness suffered by veterans of the first Gulf War. But because sarin is an organophosphate, a class which includes many herbicides and pesticides, the study also points to the serious health effects that can result from low-grade exposure to compounds commonly used in industrial farming. ...


But it has "organo" in its name. Isn't that the same as "natural"?

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Tue, Oct 12, 2010
from National Geographic News:
Plane Exhaust Kills More People Than Plane Crashes
There's a new fear of flying: You're more likely to die from exposure to toxic pollutants in plane exhaust than in a plane crash, a new study suggests. In recent years, airplane crashes have killed about a thousand people annually, whereas plane emissions kill about ten thousand people each year, researchers say. Earlier studies had assumed that people were harmed only by the emissions from planes while taking off and landing. The new research is the first to give a comprehensive estimate of the number of premature deaths from all airline emissions. ...


Either way, doze planes, dey gonna git you.

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Tue, Oct 12, 2010
from Associated Press:
A toxic legacy: Eastern Europe dotted with disasters in waiting
Abandoned mines in Romania leach waters contaminated by heavy metals into rivers. A Hungarian chemical plant produces more than 100,000 tons of toxic substances a year. Soil in eastern Slovakia is contaminated with cancer-producing PCBs. The flood of toxic sludge in Hungary is but one of the ecological horrors that lurk in Eastern Europe 20 years after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, serving as a reminder that the region is dotted with disasters waiting to happen. ...


Sounds JUST like my body.

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Fri, Oct 8, 2010
from Reuters:
Prenatal arsenic exposure quintuples infant death risk
Babies born to mothers with high levels of arsenic exposure are five times more likely to die before their first birthday than infants whose mothers had the least exposure to the toxic mineral, new research shows. "We observed clear evidence of an association between arsenic exposure and infant mortality," Dr. Anisur Rahman of Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden and colleagues state in the November issue of Epidemiology. And the fact that death risk increased as exposure rose, they add, "is supportive of a causal relationship."... To address these issues, the researchers followed 2,924 pregnant women who provided urine samples for arsenic testing, all when they were eight weeks pregnant, and some later in pregnancy. ...


This takes stalking to a whole new level.

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Fri, Oct 8, 2010
from Louisville Courier-Journal:
Environmentalists claim Kentucky coal mines faked water data
Robert Kennedy Jr. and other environmentalists claim three surface coal mining operations in Eastern Kentucky falsified pollution data, failed to submit reports or exceeded permit limits on more than 20,000 occasions in the last two years. The groups have taken the first step towards filing suit under the Clean Water Act regarding operations of ICG Knott County, ICG Hazard, and Frasure Creek Mining in seven Kentucky counties: Leslie, Perry, Knott, Breathitt, Floyd, Pike and Magoffin. The groups want the companies to be fined as much as $740 million and criminal prosecution of anyone who might have falsified the reports. International Coal Group called the allegations "scurrilous," while officials identified in public records as representing Frasure Creek Mining did not return phone calls. ...


I'll bet all that pollution is hard on the poor scurrils.

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Thu, Oct 7, 2010
from Associated Press:
Hungary: Toxic red sludge has reached the Danube
The toxic red sludge that burst out of a Hungarian factory's reservoir reached the mighty Danube on Thursday after wreaking havoc on smaller rivers and creeks, and downstream nations rushed to test their waters. The European Union and environmental officials fear an environmental catastrophe affecting half a dozen nations if the red sludge, a waste product of making aluminum, contaminates the Danube, Europe's second-longest river. ...


I just lost my appetite.

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Thu, Oct 7, 2010
from Science News:
Pesticide in womb may promote obesity, study finds
One-quarter of babies born to women who had relatively high concentrations of a DDT-breakdown product in their blood grew unusually fast for at least the first year of life, a study finds. Not only is this prevalence of accelerated growth unusually high, but it's also a worrisome trend since such rapid growth during early infancy has -- in other studies -- put children on track to become obese. Affected babies in the new study weighed no more than normal at birth, so growth in the womb was unaffected. Their moms were also normal weight -- which is significant because babies born to overweight and obese women sometimes undergo rapid growth. ...


They may be obese, but at least they're pest-free.

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Mon, Oct 4, 2010
from Business Ethics:
Controversial Chemical Poses Disclosure Challenge for Colgate-Palmolive
The current squeeze on Colgate stems from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision this year to train its microscopes more closely on triclosan, a chemical with antibacterial properties that in recent decades has been added to scores of products, but now is under new scrutiny because of studies that suggest it may harm both human health and the environment. And while the FDA conducts its review - and critics of triclosan mount their arguments to curtail its use by consumers - Colgate and other product manufacturers have to decide what they can and should say to the marketplace, not to mention when and how to convey it. The hurdle the company faces is clear: a core ingredient of its top-selling Colgate Total toothpaste is suddenly the heart of a public health tempest, but regulators have neither banned the chemical nor deemed it unsafe. There is no well-tested playbook for the scenario, says David Nash, partner at McMahon DeGulis, an environmental law firm based in Cleveland. "The dilemma becomes, what kind of legal, moral, or socially responsible duty do they have to stakeholders to go beyond where the regulatory agency has already gone?" he asks. "In this fast-moving field, I would be hard-pressed to say [there is a] consensus on best practices."... The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported several years ago that it found triclosan in the urine of three-quarters of participants in a 2,500-person health survey. ...


The worst "best practice": secrecy.

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Tue, Sep 28, 2010
from Associated Press:
Peabody looks to expand southern Ill. coal mine
Peabody Energy Corp. said Monday it expects to spend $175 million to expand one of its southern Illinois coal mines by 40 percent, extending by 16 years the life of a site that environmental critics believe has no business getting bigger... "We are expanding Gateway [Mine] to serve one of the fastest-growing markets in the United States," said Gregory Boyce, chairman and chief executive at Peabody, which fuels roughly one-tenth of all U.S. electricity generation and more than 2 percent worldwide. The Sierra Club's Illinois chapter worries that broadening Gateway could fan pollution of the area's water and air. But the group's Joyce Blumenshine said challenging Peabody's push beyond just a public hearing could be a David-vs.-Goliath scenario the cost-conscious agency may not be able to afford. ...


Wait a minute. Doesn't David win?

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Tue, Sep 28, 2010
from London Independent:
GM maize 'has polluted rivers across the United States'
An insecticide used in genetically modified (GM) crops grown extensively in the United States and other parts of the world has leached into the water of the surrounding environment. The insecticide is the product of a bacterial gene inserted into GM maize and other cereal crops to protect them against insects such as the European corn borer beetle. Scientists have detected the insecticide in a significant number of streams draining the great corn belt of the American mid-West. The researchers detected the bacterial protein in the plant detritus that was washed off the corn fields into streams up to 500 metres away. They are not yet able to determine how significant this is in terms of the risk to either human health or the wider environment. ...


We will never find a way out of our polluted labyrinth.

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Mon, Sep 27, 2010
from AolNews:
Diesel Dangers: Mining Companies Get First Look at Government Cancer Study
A long-delayed government epidemiological study of possible ties between diesel exhaust and lung cancer in miners may finally be published this fall -- but only after a mining industry group, represented by the Washington lobbying powerhouse Patton Boggs, finishes a pre-publication review of the study's drafts. Eighteen years in the making and eagerly awaited by public health officials, the cancer study evaluates more than 12,000 current and former workers from eight mines that produce commodities other than coal. Its goal is to determine whether ultrafine diesel particulate matter -- a component of exhaust from diesel-powered machinery -- poses a serious hazard to miners in confined spaces. ...


They just want to dot a few "i" and cross a few "t"s!

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Thu, Sep 23, 2010
from NIH, via ScienceDaily:
Higher Than Predicted Human Exposure to the Toxic Chemical Bisphenol A or BPA, New Study Indicates
Researchers have discovered that women, female monkeys and female mice have major similarities when it comes to how bisphenol A (BPA) is metabolized, and they have renewed their call for governmental regulation when it comes to the estrogen-like chemical found in many everyday products.... "This study provides convincing evidence that BPA is dangerous to our health at current levels of human exposure," said Fredrick vom Saal, Curators' professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri. "The new results clearly demonstrate that rodent data on the health effects of BPA are relevant to predictions regarding the health effects of human exposure to BPA. Further evidence of human harm should not be required for regulatory action to reduce human exposure to BPA." BPA is one of the world's highest production-volume chemicals, with more than 8 billion pounds made per year. It can be found in a wide variety of consumer products, including hard plastic items such as baby bottles and food-storage containers, the plastic lining of food and beverage cans, thermal paper used for receipts, and dental sealants. The findings in the current study suggest that human exposure to BPA is much higher than some prior estimates and is likely to be from many still-unknown sources, indicating the need for governmental agencies to require the chemical industry to identify all products that contain BPA. ...


Sounds to me like further studies are needed. Wouldn't wanna go off half-cocked, now would we?

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Mon, Sep 20, 2010
from Irish Times:
Study finds danger in GM herbicide Glyphosate
Herbicides frequently used in conjunction with genetically modified soya are highly toxic and can cause damage to human health, a summary of scientific studies has claimed. Glyphosate, a chemical found in herbicides commonly used on GM crops, damages human embryonic cells and placental cells when exposed to concentrations below those recommended for agricultural use, according to the study which was published in Brussels last week. Most GM crops are engineered to tolerate glyphosate - the most common formulation of which is Roundup - a herbicide manufactured by US multinational Monsanto.... [The study] also found that mice, rabbits and rats fed genetically modified soya beans suffered serious health side affects including liver, kidney, heart and reproduction problems. ...


I didn't realize we'd have to GM everything to be RoundUp-Ready.

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Sat, Sep 18, 2010
from New Scientist:
Antibiotics play hell with gut flora
Antibiotics can cause long-lasting changes in the bacteria living in the human gut. As changes in gut flora could increase the risk of some chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel syndrome, each course of antibiotics may represent a trade-off between short-term benefit and long-term risk. Les Dethlefsen and David Relman of Stanford University in California collected more than 50 stool samples from three people over a 10-month period that included two courses of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin. They used gene sequencing to identify the microbial strains present in each sample. They found that each person had a unique set of microbial flora, the composition of which fluctuated around an equilibrium which was disrupted by each course of drugs. In most cases, the composition quickly returned to its previous state, but in a few, bacterial species present before treatment were replaced by related species. One person completely lost a common genus of bacteria, which did not return for the duration of the study ...


Who could have predicted that antibiotics would anti my biota?

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Thu, Sep 16, 2010
from CWRU, via EurekAlert:
Case Western Reserve researcher discovers new 'anti-pathogenic' drugs to treat MRSA
Menachem Shoham, PhD ... has identified new anti-pathogenic drugs that, without killing the bacteria, render Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) harmless by preventing the production of toxins that cause disease.... Dr. Shoham identified a bacterial protein, known as AgrA, as the key molecule responsible for the release of toxins. AgrA, however, needs to be activated to induce toxin production. His goal was to block the activation of AgrA with a drug, thus preventing the cascade of toxin release into the blood that can lead to serious infections throughout the body.... "It is possible to inhibit virulence of MRSA without killing the bacteria," continued Dr. Shoham. "Such anti-pathogenic drugs may be used for prophylaxis or therapy by themselves or in combination with an antibiotic." ...


Excellent! So it's only Mostly Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus!

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Mon, Sep 13, 2010
from Moscow News:
Radiation scare for Moscow parks
Levels of radiation on Moscow's streets have reached a level so high that the authorities are about to spend 4.7 billion roubles to get rid of it. The $153 million clean-up will run from 2011-2013 amid reports of no fewer than 18 dangerous radioactive objects within the capital. And they can be found in heavily built-up areas like Kuzminki, or on slopes vulnerable to landslips close to the Moskva river... During the intensive work with nuclear energy in 1950s a lot of radioactive material was moved beyond the city borders. "The used minerals and radioactive materials were simply taken out in cars and dumped into ravines outside the city," the head of radiation control laboratory of the institute of city ecology Gennady Akulkin said. "It was acceptable then. But Moscow grew, and the ravines outside the city limits became part of it. Now the radioactive waste needs to be removed." ...


Let's hope they at least washed their hands afterward!

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Wed, Sep 8, 2010
from Uppsala University, via EurekAlert:
Turning a new page on antibiotic resistance
For 70 years the world has mismanaged the common good of antibiotics. The result is a growing global burden of antibiotic resistance, threatening to take health care back to an era where ordinary infections might once again become fatal. At a historic three day conference at Uppsala University, Sweden, 190 delegates representing 45 countries and many leading stake holders - civil society, academia, industry, governments, authorities, supranational organizations - agreed on Wednesday to turn a new page and move towards concerted action on antibiotic resistance.... * A shared conviction that antibiotic resistance is a universal problem. Like global warming, it requires joint action, not least by governmental alliances. * A strong recommendation to all stakeholders to speed up the efforts to limit unnecessary use of antibiotics, while at the same time making the medicines affordable and accessible in developing countries. * A global network of surveillance will require common methods, and is crucial for both prudent use and needs driven development of new agents.... ...


Let's hope that Uppsala doesn't become another Copenhagen.

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Tue, Sep 7, 2010
from Jakarta Globe:
Feces, Arsenic Pervade Water Supply, Sickening Half a Nation
Water contaminated by feces and harmful chemicals may be responsible for making almost half of all Indonesians sick, health experts say. World Bank data shows that in 2006, 42 percent of Indonesians suffered from diarrhea caused by waterborne diseases, up from 28 percent in 1996. A study two years ago by the Ministry of Health showed that in addition to bacteria that cause the more common infectious diseases, many of Indonesia's sources of water also contained unacceptably high levels of toxic chemicals that could lead to more serious illnesses such as cancer and anemia. ...


Water contaminated by feces that creates diarrhea sounds like a vicious, shitty cycle.

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Mon, Sep 6, 2010
from Inter Press Service:
After the floods
...Information from the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) reveals that approximately 25,234,144 people have been affected by floods in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The lack of medical care means that the province could suffer more in the aftermath of the floods than it did during the initial disaster. Statistics reveal that 172,868 people -- 32 per cent of the population in areas affected by floods in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa -- need food on an immediate basis. 270,472 people do not have access to clean drinking water while 162,017 people lack hygiene facilities...Flood victims may have another disaster to contend with soon if this situation continues much longer -- an outbreak of cholera. Cholera is a deadly intestinal infection that can cause death if left untreated. According to an update released by the NDMA on August 26, only 149 cholera kits have been distributed in one province -- the Punjab. ...


Lord, here comes the flood / We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood...

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Sat, Sep 4, 2010
from Chemical and Engineering News:
Accumulating Contaminants Kick Off Concerns
Certain members of a class of compounds used in personal-care and cleaning products have been steadily growing in the waters around Manhattan, delivered through shower drains and passing relatively unscathed through wastewater treatment plants into the environment. Now researchers report that levels of at least one of these contaminants have increased exponentially over the past decade... Rarely studied, these quaternary ammonium compounds--known as QACs or "quacks"--are cationic surfactants used in household cleaners, fabric softeners, shampoos, and other personal care products. Various compounds from this chemical family have been reported in watery sediments in Europe and the U.S., at concentrations sometimes as high as micrograms per gram. But long-term trends have remained unreported. ...


Hey, Cationic Surfactants is the name of my surf rock band, dude! How weird!

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from IRIN:
New strains of HIV spreading in Ugandan fishing communities
A study of HIV-positive people in fishing communities on the shores of Lake Victoria in central Uganda has found that more than a quarter have "recombinant" viruses that might threaten both treatment and prevention efforts. Of the numerous sub-types of HIV circulating worldwide, A and D are the most common in Uganda and were found in most of the 117 men and women surveyed from five fishing communities in the two districts of Masaka and Wakiso. But the study also found that 29 percent had "recombinant" forms of HIV called A/D and D/A - evidence that re-infection has occurred. Some of the recombinant strains may have been the result of "superinfection" which occurs when an HIV-positive person is re-infected with another strain of HIV and can increase the likelihood of drug resistance to antiretroviral (ARV) therapy if a resistant virus is transmitted and could also speed up disease progression. ...


I'm being superinfected with recombinant worry.

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Wed, Aug 25, 2010
from New York Times:
Egg Industry Faces New Scrutiny After Outbreak
As it reeled from the recall of half a billion eggs for possible salmonella infection, the American egg industry was already battling a movement to outlaw its methods as cruel and unsafe, and adapting to the Obama administration's drive to bolster health rules and inspections. The cause of the infections at two giant farms in Iowa has not been pinpointed, Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Monday in a television interview. But "there is no question that these farms that are involved in the recall were not operating with the standards of practice that we consider responsible," Ms. Hamburg said in the strongest official indication yet that lax procedures may be to blame. ...


Um, something tells me someone named "Hamburg" ... might have some expertise in corporate farming.

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Tue, Aug 24, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Herbicide Atrazine Causes Prostate Inflammation in Male Rats and Delays Puberty
A new study shows that male rats prenatally exposed to low doses of atrazine, a widely used herbicide, are more likely to develop prostate inflammation and to go through puberty later than non-exposed animals. The research adds to a growing body of literature on atrazine, an herbicide predominantly used to control weeds and grasses in crops such as corn and sugar cane. Atrazine and its byproducts are known to be relatively persistent in the environment, potentially finding their way into water supplies.... The doses of atrazine mixture given to the rats during the last five days of their pregnancy are close to the regulated levels in drinking water sources. The current maximum contamination level of atrazine allowed in drinking water is 3 parts per billion. The doses given to the animals were 0.09 (or 2.5 parts per million), 0.87, or 8.73 milligrams per kilogram body weight.... "We didn't expect to see these kinds of effects at such low levels," Fenton said. She adds that this is the second paper to show low dose effects of atrazine metabolite mixtures. ...


I'm just thrilled there's something to counteract the stuff speeding up puberty.

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Wed, Aug 18, 2010
from Grist:
Risk to kids from toxic pesticides may be underestimated, study finds
But evidence is building that the way we think about pesticide risk, especially in children, is all wrong. A few years ago, scientists at Emory and the University of Washington showed that when children switched to organic fruits and vegetables, pesticide residue in their bodies (as measured in their urine) dropped significantly within days. But what wasn't clear at the time was the pesticide load in a typical kid's diet, since the scientists in the organic study had themselves established the diet given to the kids.... The researchers analyzed the fruit-and-veg consumption of two groups of kids, one from Washington state and one from Georgia. They found, as expected, a witch's brew of organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides -- both of which are endocrine disruptors and have suspected neurological effects -- on the fresh fruit and vegetables the study participants ate. Organophosphates, by the way, are the direct descendants of VX and Sarin nerve gases and were recently linked to the development of ADHD in kids.... What this study is telling us is that we're seriously underestimating how much of these dangerous pesticides -- chemicals that can affect kids' growing brains and bodies -- our kids are getting at any one time. For policy makers, the challenge is to create incentives for farmers to move away from poisons as a pest-control strategy. ...


An apple a day keeps the ADHD at play.

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Mon, Aug 16, 2010
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Statscan survey finds BPA present in 91 per cent of Canadians
The vast majority of Canadians - more than nine out of 10 - have detectable levels of bisphenol A in their urine, according to the first large-scale survey to track the amount of the estrogen-mimicking chemical in the population. The results, contained in the Canadian Health Measures Survey conducted by Statistics Canada and released Monday, found that the highest concentration of the chemical, used to make polycarbonate plastic, were in teens aged 12 to 19. Young children aged 6 to 11 also had higher levels than adults aged 40 to 79. The average level found in the population was 1.16 parts per billion, an exceedingly small amount, but still about a thousand times higher than natural levels of estrogen found in the human body. The survey was conducted nationally from 2007 to 2009. ...


The other 9 percent better get with the program!

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Sun, Aug 15, 2010
from Miami Herald:
Tiny toxic town takes on a corporate Goliath
A Florida hamlet where parts for nuclear weapons were made is fighting both an environmental calamity and a major defense contractor... Environmental contamination threatens to destroy this historic black town and its heritage. In one of the nation's most emotional environmental divides, the residents find themselves pitted against giant defense contractor Lockheed Martin, Manatee County, and the state of Florida. The divide takes root at the former American Beryllium Company plant, anchoring five acres at 1600 Tallevast Road across from a community church. Opened in 1961 and shuttered in 1996, the plant manufactured machine parts for nuclear weapons using beryllium-containing metals. Workers inhaled hazardous dust and handled a toxic degreaser that cleaned machine parts. ...


They better have some bad-ass slingshots.

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Wed, Aug 11, 2010
from Chicago Tribune:
Poised on History's Doorstep: Super Salmon or Frankenfish?
...With global population pressing against food supplies and vast areas of the ocean already swept clean of fish, tiny AquaBounty Technologies of Waltham, Mass., has developed a variety of salmon that reaches market weight in half the time of other salmon. What's more, AquaBounty not only promises to slash the ready-for-market time - and production costs -- on a hugely popular, nutritious fish that currently commands near-record prices, it plans to avoid the pollution, disease and other problems associated with today's salt-water fish farms by having its salmon raised inland. But there's a catch: AquaBounty's salmon is genetically engineered. Indeed, it aspires to be the nation's first genetically-modified food animal of any kind. That means the Food and Drug Administration must approve it. It also means the company and its salmon must withstand vociferous opposition from environmental and other advocacy groups, win over skeptical producers and -- possibly most difficult of all - overcome potential consumer resistance to genetic tinkering with food. ...


Long as it tastes like chicken I'm good with it!

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Tue, Aug 10, 2010
from McClatchy Newspapers:
EPA requires cleanup of mercury from cement plants
The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced the nation's first limits on mercury emissions from cement plants. The decision also will require reductions of other harmful pollutants from cement plants, including soot, also known as particle pollution, which is linked to asthma, heart attacks and premature deaths for people with heart and lung diseases. The rules are part of a broader EPA air-cleanup plan. Next year the agency will put the first nationwide controls on mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from a much larger source, coal-fired power plants. The federal government presently doesn't require power plants to control mercury and other toxics. Coal-fired power plants are the source of 51 percent of the manmade mercury emissions in the U.S, followed by industrial and other boilers, at 15 percent. Cement kilns are third, with 7 percent, according to the EPA. ...


If they ain't careful, the EPA might find themselves wearing some cement shoes.

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Tue, Aug 10, 2010
from New Scientist:
Early puberty in girls doubles in a decade
Twice as many white girls in the US reach puberty aged 7 as a decade ago. No one is sure why this should be the case, but obesity and exposure to chemicals that mimic the female hormone oestrogen are the prime suspects. The figures come from a study of 1200 girls in three US cities. Of the girls studied, 10.4 per cent of white 7-year-olds had breast development consistent with the onset of puberty, compared to 5 per cent in a 1997 study.... "To find the girls are starting breast development earlier and earlier is extremely concerning," she says. "To have that much change in such a short time, it has to be the environment." It appears that the proportion of black 8-year-olds entering puberty has dropped from 48 per cent in 1997 to 43 per cent today. Frank Biro of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, head of the new study, suggests this might be a sign that the numbers of black girls experiencing early puberty may finally be levelling off, while the percentage of white girls affected is still rising. ...


Who could have expected a flood of endocrine disruptors to disrupt endocrine systems?

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Tue, Aug 10, 2010
from Shanghai Daily News:
Baby milk in new scare
PARENTS are facing a new baby formula scare which will bring back memories of the Sanlu scandal in 2008 when 300,000 babies were affected by melamine-tainted milk. Shanghai industrial and commercial watchdogs said yesterday they were paying close attention to the local market after China-produced Synitra baby formula was reported as causing unusually early sexual development in infants in several provinces on the Chinese mainland. Synitra baby formula is not on the shelf at local major supermarkets but is available on e-commerce websites... Last month at Wuhan Children's Hospital, a 15-month-old girl was found to have the estrogen levels of a grown woman. Doctors suggested the parents stop feeding her Synitra formula immediately. ...


My understanding is Synitra translates to "puts hair on one's chest."

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Mon, Aug 2, 2010
from Center for Science in the Public Interest:
CSPI Says Food Dyes Pose Rainbow of Risks
Food dyes--used in everything from M&Ms to Manischewitz Matzo Balls to Kraft salad dressings--pose risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies, and should be banned, according to a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. A top government scientist agrees, and says that food dyes present unnecessary risks to the public. The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens, says CSPI. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply. Despite those concerns, each year manufacturers pour about 15 million pounds of eight synthetic dyes into our foods. Per capita consumption of dyes has increased five-fold since 1955, thanks in part to the proliferation of brightly colored breakfast cereals, fruit drinks, and candies pitched to children. "These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, but trigger behavior problems in children and, possibly, cancer in anybody," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, co-author of the 58-page report, "Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks." "The Food and Drug Administration should ban dyes, which would force industry to color foods with real food ingredients, not toxic petrochemicals." ...


But without artificial dyes, how shall we get "Cheet-O-range"?

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Sun, Aug 1, 2010
from DaijiWorld (India):
Toxic Cancer-Causing Dyes Found in China Garments
Toxic dyes that can cause cancer have been detected in some garments in China, creating concern that buyers may also be exposed to health hazards. Beijing's municipal bureau of industry and commerce said in a latest quality test report that 65 clothing brands in the country have failed to meet quality standards, the Global Times reported. Coats produced by a Beijing-based company were found to contain decomposable aromatic amine, a cancer-causing textile dye that was banned by authorities in 2006. The poisonous dye cannot be washed out of the fabric and is easily absorbed by human skin, which can cause cancer over long-term exposure, the China Textile News said.... "Wearing a T-shirt could lead to cancer? It sounds like nonsense. But since the authorities have found something, we'd better not wear such clothes any more," she said. ...


The race to "cheap" can be so expensive.

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Wed, Jul 28, 2010
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Scientists say soot a key factor in warming
Soot from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and burning wood is a bigger cause of global warming than previously thought, and is the major cause of the rapid melting of the Arctic's sea ice, Stanford climate experts say. The evidence of mounting pollution by carbon particles in soot has been inadequately counted in international government debates over policies to cope with the warming problem, according to Stanford's Mark Z. Jacobson, leader of the university's Atmosphere and Energy program and a professor of civil and environmental engineering. ...


Soot?? What are we, trapped in a Dickens novel?

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Wed, Jul 28, 2010
from Bloomberg:
China's Environment Accidents Double as Growth Takes Toll
China, the world's largest polluter, said the number of environmental accidents rose 98 percent in the first six months of the year, as demand for energy and minerals lead to poisoned rivers and oil spills. "Fast economic development is leading to increasing conflicts with the capacity of the environment to absorb" demands, the environmental protection ministry said in a faxed statement in response to Bloomberg questions. ...


But... but... growth is good isn't it?

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Tue, Jul 27, 2010
from Detroit News:
Report: Children's exposure to toxic chemicals costs Michigan billions
Michigan could save billions annually by protecting children from exposure to environmental hazards, according to a study released today. The report released by an Ann Arbor-based coalition of health and environmental groups examined direct and indirect costs of four childhood diseases linked to environmental toxicants: lead poisoning, asthma, pediatric cancer and neurodevelopmental disorders. The study found treating those disorders costs Michigan an average of $5.85 billion each year. If all diseases with an environmental link were included, the number would be higher. ...


Well... I guess to save money ... we can help out the little brats.

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Tue, Jul 27, 2010
from Reuters:
Toxic fish could help Obama hit 2020 climate goal
A proposed rule on mercury, a pollutant bad for fish and the people who eat too many of them, could help the Obama administration get near its short-term climate goal -- even if Congress fails this year or next to pass a bill tackling greenhouse gases directly... The EPA has begun to take steps on regulating greenhouse gases from autos, power plants and factories. But it is the agency's looming rules on mainstream pollutants, those that can cause diseases, that may limit carbon dioxide emissions the most. ...


This is sure something to cheer about! Isn't it?

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Mon, Jul 26, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Urban air pollutants may damage IQs before baby's first breath, scientists say
In a sweltering summer in New York City back in 1999, Yolanda Baldwin was eight months pregnant with her first child. She lived across the street from a busy intersection and often wondered what the fumes might be doing to her unborn child. Now Baldwin and several hundred other mothers whose sons and daughters have been monitored for a decade have an answer: Before children even take their first breath, common air pollutants breathed by their mothers may reduce their IQs. A pair of studies involving more than 400 pregnant women in two cities has found that 5-year-olds exposed in the womb to above-average levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, score lower on IQ tests. The compounds, created by the burning of fossil fuels, are ubiquitous in urban environments. Columbia University scientists say their findings in Poland, published in April, bolster New York City data because they found the same effect in different conditions, in different parts of the world. This "adds to a growing literature implicating exposures to environmental toxicants with stunting of children's intellectual abilities," said Bruce Lanphear of Simon Fraser University. ...


"Street smarts" takes on a new, melancholic meaning.

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Mon, Jul 19, 2010
from Chicago Tribune:
Meat with antibiotics off the menu at some hospitals
The evening's menu featured grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef over pasta, fresh seasonal vegetables and fresh organic peaches -- items right at home in the city's finest restaurants. Instead, the dishes were prepared for visitors, staff and bed-bound patients at Swedish Covenant Hospital. The Northwest Side hospital is one of 300 across the nation that have pledged to improve the quality and sustainability of the food they serve, not just for the health of their patients but, they say, the health of the environment and the U.S. population. ...


Hospitals being about health? What'll they think of next!

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Mon, Jul 19, 2010
from Christian Science Monitor:
Gulf oil spill: Fouling air as well as water?
Questions about air pollution related to the BP oil spill may get some clearer answers this coming week, as university researchers and a Louisiana environmental group release initial findings of their independent analysis of the Gulf region's air quality. Last week, the EPA said that residents of two hard hit coastal communities in Louisiana -- Grand Isle and Venice -- face a "moderate health riskā€¯ due to hydrocarbon fumes. In Terrebonne Parish, residents of the town of Cocodrie and the surrounding area are also reporting strong odors of petroleum. For months since BP's Deepwater Horizon oil well blew, residents along the Gulf Coast, including many in New Orleans and other metro regions miles away from the shore, have said they smell fumes from the oil spill. Some have reported symptoms ranging from red eyes and runny noses to sinus infections and flu-like symptoms. ...


Water and air...somehow interconnected?Inexplicable!

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Sat, Jul 17, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Diabetes linked to traffic air pollution; risk increases with Inflammation
German researchers report more evidence of another risk factor for developing type II diabetes: traffic related air pollution. After following a group of middle-aged women for 16 years, the authors find that exposure to high levels of air pollution is associated with an increased risk of type II diabetes in later years.... The study is one of the first to follow participants over many years in order to look at whether traffic-related air pollution might be linked to the risk of developing diabetes later in life. It agrees with a handful of prior human and animal studies that have suggested a link between the two. As the world becomes increasingly urban and megacities emerge, traffic-related air pollution is an increasingly serious problem. It poses environmental, ecological and human health risks, including well-documented respiratory illnesses such as asthma and lung cancer. ...


I'll ponder this as I sit idling in gridlock eating fructose fast food.

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Sat, Jul 17, 2010
from China Daily:
Contaminated waters that kill
Fishermen, residents reel from toxic waste that leaked into river. Wei Tian, Hu Meidong and Zhu Xingxin in Fujian, and He Na in Beijing report. Qiu Yonglu knew something was wrong when his fish refused to eat and kept circling their pool. Ten days later, they began dying. On July 12, almost a month later, he finally discovered what had poisoned his fishery when environmental authorities in Fujian province confirmed that toxic waste from Zijinshan Copper Mine had leaked into the Tingjiang River. By that time, Qiu and his neighboring farmers in Shanghang county lost at least 1,890 tons of fish. ...


Bet heads will roll on this one.

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Fri, Jul 16, 2010
from Fresno Bee:
Shower of toxic particles threatens Valley air
A mysterious shower of microscopic chemicals near a Fresno shopping center could be the first evidence of a broad, undetected assault on the lungs of San Joaquin Valley residents. If confirmed in other Valley cities, it means many thousands of people are daily breathing these cocktails of chemicals -- known as ultra-fine particles -- that corrode and damage lungs... Sensitive, expensive equipment is needed to detect and study ultrafine pollution. Science is only now defining the possible problem...[and trying to] determine the source and extent of the plume. ...


I'll bet it's aliens!

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Wed, Jul 14, 2010
from Associated Press:
Another cadmium jewelry recall _ 137K Tween pieces
About 137,000 pieces of imported children's jewelry sold at two stores popular with preteen girls -- Justice and Limited Too -- were recalled Tuesday for high levels of cadmium, the latest in a series of recalls involving the toxic metal. The voluntary recall, announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, was the sixth callback since The Associated Press first released findings of an investigation into cadmium in children's jewelry. The recalls, which started in January with children's jewelry sold at Walmart stores, have included about 12 million "Shrek" movie-themed drinking glasses distributed by McDonald's restaurants. The other recalls targeted at least 200,000 pieces of jewelry, mostly for children. ...


Yet another ding for the bling.

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Wed, Jul 14, 2010
from New York Times:
Hydrocarbons in Cereal Stoke New Debate Over Food Safety
When Kellogg Co. pulled about 28 million cereal boxes from store shelves last month, the company said only that an "off-flavor and smell" coming from the packaging could cause nausea and diarrhea. But the culprit behind the recall is a class of chemicals now making news in the Gulf of Mexico: hydrocarbons, a byproduct of oil. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported yesterday that the hydrocarbon methylnaphthalene, which the government has yet to evaluate for human carcinogenicity, was behind the recall. For EWG and other public-health advocacy groups, the appearance of a chemical missing consistent risk data in popular products such as Apple Jacks strengthens the case for food safety reform -- an issue that remains stalled in the Senate. ...


"Methylnaphthalene Loops" or "Methylnaphthalene Jacks" just doesn't sound very appetizing to me.

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Tue, Jul 13, 2010
from Monterey County Herald:
Condors: The next generation
When biologists first spied captive-bred California condors eating a dead sea lion that had washed up on the Big Sur coast, they were thrilled. "They were foraging on their own, which was a big step in the right direction for recovery of this species," said Joe Burnett, senior wildlife biologist with Ventana Wildlife Society.... what they didn't count on was that, along with nutrients and energy, condors would ingest harmful levels of marine contaminants. Now, preliminary reports suggest that these contaminants -- including residues from the banned insecticide DDT -- are affecting the already tenuous reproductive success of the flock. ...


Sheesh.. they'd be better off eating Big Macs!

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Tue, Jul 13, 2010
from Reuters:
Climate-related farmer suicides surging in eastern Kenya
Eastern Kenya is seeing a surge in suicides after farmers hit by unusual weather and unable to repay loans are taking their lives, police say. As many as 2,000 people in Kenya's Eastern Province, many of them farmers, have committed suicide in the past year, up from a normal suicide rate of 300 per year in the area, Kenyan police records show. The deaths come as eastern Kenya has experienced extremely poor crop harvests as result of prolonged drought and unusual rainfall at harvest time, which has led to contamination of maize harvests with aflatoxins, produced by fungus that grows in wet grain. ...


As our habitat deteriorates, voluntary exit will become all the rage.

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Tue, Jul 13, 2010
from Seattle Times:
Puget Sound waters now more corrosive
The waters in Puget Sound's main basin are acidifying as fast as those along the Washington Coast, where wild oysters have not reproduced since 2005. And in parts of Hood Canal, home to much of the region's shellfish industry, water-chemistry problems are significantly worse than the rest of Puget Sound. Scientists from the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned Monday that the changing pH of the seas is hitting Puget Sound harder and faster than many other marine waters. That increasingly corrosive water -- a byproduct of carbon-dioxide releases from industries, power plants and vehicles -- is probably already harming shellfish, and over time it could reverberate through the marine food chain. ...


Plus, it will burn your swim suit right off your body!

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Tue, Jul 13, 2010
from The Daily Climate:
Climate change can be hazardous to your health
Extreme weather induced by climate change has dire public health consequences, as heat waves threaten the vulnerable, storm runoff overwhelms city sewage systems and hotter summer days bake more pollution into asthma-inducing smog, scientists say. The United States - to say nothing of the developed world - is unprepared for such conditions predicted by myriad climate models and already being seen today, warn climate researchers and public health officials... Last week, as the East Coast stewed its way through the first heat wave of the summer, researchers at Stanford University published a study suggesting exceptionally long heat waves and extreme temperatures could be commonplace in the United States within 30 years - sooner than expected. ...


Sooner than expected, but still time to blow it off!

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Thu, Jul 8, 2010
from Huffington Post Investigative Fund:
Weighing Safety of Weed Killer in Drinking Water, EPA Relies Heavily on Industry-Backed Studies
Companies with a financial interest in a weed-killer sometimes found in drinking water paid for thousands of studies federal regulators are using to assess the herbicide's health risks, records of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show. Many of these industry-funded studies, which largely support atrazine's safety, have never been published or subjected to an independent scientific peer review. Meanwhile, some independent studies documenting potentially harmful effects on animals and humans are not included in the body of research the EPA deems relevant to its safety review, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund has found...at least half of the 6,611 studies the agency is reviewing to help make its decision were conducted by scientists and organizations with a financial stake in atrazine, including Syngenta or its affiliated companies and research contractors. ...


Industry, like father, knows best!

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Wed, Jul 7, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Traffic air pollution near school associated with onset of asthma
Children who breathe traffic-related air pollution at school are more likely to develop asthma, even after taking into account levels of air pollution at their homes, report researchers in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. This study adds to the small, but growing, body of research implicating traffic-related air pollution in the development of asthma. In addition, this study suggests that places away from home where children spend time play an important role in their health. Asthma is one of the most common childhood diseases in the United States. Rates among school-aged children continue to rise, leading to increased absences, more health care and lower quality of life. Asthma is a lung disease with symptoms that include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. ...


Score one for homeschooling.

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Sun, Jul 4, 2010
from Sydney Daily Telegraph:
The poison fed to our babies
The chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), is found in plastic packaging. Latest research in the US says it may harm brain development and the prostate gland. Australian stores last week began a voluntary phase-out of plastic baby bottles containing the substance, but Food Standards Australia New Zealand has long declared it safe. A draft report to Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mark Butler includes comments indicating that the agency considered covering up international concerns. "Maybe too sensitive for the Minister to see," one comment says. Another comment, on industry moves to phase out products containing BPA, warns: "Would delete this - we do not want to be encouraging withdrawal of something we deem safe." ...


We call these sorts of spineless bureaucrats bisphenol Assholes.

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Tue, Jun 15, 2010
from Scientific American:
Terror in a Vial
When it comes to countering the threat of biological weapons, most governments, including that of the U.S., are still mired in a decades-old nuclear-arms model geared toward preventing hostile nations from acquiring closely guarded weapons-making materials. It is an approach unsuited to the modern reality wherein nonstate actors are more likely than states to use biological warfare agents and the growth of biotechnology is only making those weapons easier to come by. Security experts have long warned that would-be terrorists no longer need to steal deadly pathogens when commonplace genetic engineering techniques could turn a benign microbe into a killer or synthetic biology tools might be used to build a virus from scratch.... Ken Coleman and Raymond A. Zilinskas point to a proliferation of international counterfeiters cashing in on the craze for the wrinkle-smoothing drug Botox, whose active ingredient botulinum neurotoxin is one of the deadliest poisons on earth. Many of the sales take place through Web sites, and most of the counterfeits contain real toxin, meaning that basement brewers may already be cultivating lethal toxin-making bacteria to satisfy avid consumer demand. The authors ask, What is to stop those criminals from simply selling pure toxin to terrorists instead? In fact, what is to stop terrorists themselves from getting into the bootleg Botox business, for profit and easy access to toxin? ...


Hey, I've been ingesting BPA, pthalates, and heavy metals all my life. Think I'm afraid of a little Botox?

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Fri, Jun 11, 2010
from Reuters:
Waiter, there's a potential carcinogen in my soup
What Sprague didn't realize is that BPA, or bisphenol A, is ubiquitous. Simply put, just about anything you eat that comes out of a can -- from Campbell's Chicken Soup and SpaghettiOs to Diet Coke and BumbleBee Tuna -- contains the same exact chemical. The exposure to BPA from canned food "is far more extensive" than from plastic bottles, said Shanna Swan, a professor and researcher at the University of Rochester in New York. "It's particularly concerning when it's lining infant formula cans." BPA is the key compound in epoxy resin linings that keep food fresher longer and prevents it from interacting with metal and altering the taste. It has been linked in some studies of rats and mice to not only cancer but also obesity, diabetes and heart disease.... What is clear, however, is that unlike the case with plastic, there are no economically viable alternatives to the chemical in epoxy resins right now.... Because BPA has been presumed to be safe without question for so long, very little research has been undertaken to find commercially viable substitutes in canned goods. ...


If it's canned in a Mason Jar, it's more likely BPA-free.

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Thu, Jun 10, 2010
from Nature Conservancy:
New Research Finds 472 Million People Worldwide Have Potentially Been Negatively Affected by Dams
Published in a special issue of the Water Alternatives journal recognizing the 10th anniversary of the World Commission on Dams, the findings reveal that at least 472 million people have potentially experienced negative consequences to their incomes and livelihoods. "There are many places where dams have undeniably provided economic benefits such as flood protection, irrigation, and hydropower, but as this report shows they have also caused serious consequences for some of the world's most vulnerable people," said Brian Richter, The Nature Conservancy's Global Freshwater Program Director and lead author of the report. "At a time when global dam-building is rampant, we need to be smarter about planning for and operating dams in ways that alleviate harmful human and ecological impacts."... On the Kafue River in Zambia, 50 percent of the fish catch once consisted of the commercially-important three spotted tilapia, but after the Kafue Gorge and Itezhitezhi Dams were built, this figure was reduced to only 3 percent.... In the Mun River in Thailand, the Pak Mun Dam has caused a 60-80 percent decrease in fish catch, and 50 fish species have disappeared entirely.... The paper’s authors point out that pragmatic, scientifically-sound and well-demonstrated approaches and solutions are already available and can be utilized today, not only at the dam planning phase but also retroactively, to adjust the operations of an existing dam. "It is unacceptable that half a billion people have been essentially ignored".... ...


That's only 472 million poor people, right?

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Thu, Jun 3, 2010
from CNN:
Toxic chemicals finding their way into the womb
A growing number of studies are finding hundreds of toxic chemicals in mothers' and, subsequently, their babies' bodies when they are born. While there is no science yet that demonstrates conclusive cause and effect between this mix of toxic chemicals children are born with and particular health problems, a range of studies are finding associations between elevated levels of chemicals in a baby's body and their development. ...


That's why I call my youngest Li'l Guinea Pig.

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Thu, Jun 3, 2010
from USA Today:
There's no place like home for babies to pick up toxins
...Infants may take in two to five times as much household dust as adults, even though they weigh only one-eighth as much, says Alan Greene, a pediatrician at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. Because of that dust, babies are more likely to be exposed to pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals inside the home than outside, he says. Children younger than 2 are also more vulnerable to toxins than adults because they're still developing, Greene says. On average, children that age who are exposed to a carcinogen are 10 times more likely than an adult to develop cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. ...


That's why I call my youngest Li'l Dust Bunny.

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Thu, Jun 3, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Flame retardants linked to longer time to get pregnant, finds California study
Chemicals widely used to prevent fires in household products like furniture and electronics may contribute to fertility problems by lengthening the time it takes for a woman to get pregnant, according to study of low-income, mostly Mexican-American women living in California. The study is one of the first to examine if PBDEs can affect human fertility. Animal studies show that PBDEs can alter behavior, delay the onset of puberty and impact sex hormones and thyroid hormones. These, in turn, may influence ovulation, menstrual cycle regularity and fertility. ...


Think of the money we can save on sex ed!

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Tue, Jun 1, 2010
from CNN:
'Dirty dozen' produce carries more pesticide residue, group says
If you're eating non-organic celery today, you may be ingesting 67 pesticides with it, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group. The group, a nonprofit focused on public health, scoured nearly 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine what fruits and vegetables we eat have the highest, and lowest, amounts of chemical residue. Most alarming are the fruits and vegetables dubbed the "Dirty Dozen," which contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving. These foods are believed to be most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides. ...


Ya gotta wonder if we're better off eating the pests.

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Sun, May 30, 2010
from NPR:
New Ebola Drug 100 Percent Effective In Monkeys
The Ebola virus first emerged in 1976, striking fear with the uncontrollable bleeding it causes and mortality rates up to 90 percent. Ever since then, scientists have been struggling to find a way to treat the infection or protect against it. There has been progress, but nothing quite like the report in the May 28 issue of the scientific journal The Lancet. A team led by Thomas Geisbert of Boston University has used an experimental drug to protect monkeys from death after injecting them with massive doses of the most lethal strain of Ebola. "We were stunned," Geisbert says. "I've been working with this virus for my whole career -- 23 or 24 years -- and we've had some mild successes where maybe we could go up to 50 percent protection," he said. "But I was really shocked that we got complete protection."... "I think this will most likely also work for other related viral hemorrhagic fevers," Feldmann said, such as Marburg, Lassa and Crimean-Congo fever. All are deadly to one degree or another and cause outbreaks in Africa and elsewhere. ...


"Hemorrhagic" will never be misspelled again!

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Sat, May 29, 2010
from CBC News:
Disposable diapers: Are they dangerous?
...diaper manufacturers are not obligated by law to disclose the component parts of their diapers -- via documents such as material safety data sheets -- even though in many cases they share the same ingredients as cosmetics and personal-care products, which do list their ingredients... In the study conducted on mice, scientists found that "diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity," according to lead author Rosalind Anderson, a physiologist. She found that the mice suffered asthma-like symptoms when exposed to a variety of diaper brands. It was noted that xylene and ethyl benzene were emitted by the diapers, chemicals that are suspected endocrine, neurological and respiratory toxins; along with styrene, a chemical linked to cancer and isopropylene, a neurotoxin. Diapers contain a variety of plastics, adhesives, glues, elastics and lubricants, some of which can cause irritation. ...


Whatcha gonna do? Let 'em poop and pee on the floor?!?

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Fri, May 28, 2010
from Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Texas agency gave inaccurate air pollution test results to Fort Worth
The state agency in charge of testing for air pollution gave inaccurate test results to the city of Fort Worth about toxic emissions from gas wells in January, and when it realized what it had done, it failed to notify the city or the public for weeks, according to an audit made public this week....At issue is a series of tests that the agency conducted in December in Fort Worth after activists raised questions about the amounts of benzene and other toxic compounds released from natural gas wells. Sadlier presented the results to the Fort Worth City Council on Jan. 12, saying, "Based on this study, the air is safe." Sadlier said the samples showed that none of the sites exceeded either the long-term or short-term screening levels for 22 airborne toxic compounds. However, state officials later discovered that the tests had been done with equipment that wasn't sensitive enough to measure some of the compounds at the long-term levels. ...


We are s'oh! sorry we bullshitted you!

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Tue, May 25, 2010
from Kansas City Star:
Cancer panel warning: Babies born pre-polluted
Toxic chemicals - some known to cause cancer - are in our bodies and in our newborns as well. Researchers have found some 300 contaminants - industrial chemicals, consumer product ingredients, pesticides and pollutants from burning fossil fuels - in umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, rendering our babies 'pre-polluted' according to the esteemed scientists and medical experts of the President's Cancer Panel... Some 80,000 chemicals are produced and used in the U.S. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been able to require testing on just 200 and only five have been regulated under the Toxics Substances Control Act. Even asbestos, known to cause lung cancer, has not been entirely banned from use in commercial products because of flaws in the law. ...


They need my new product: Foetal respirators!

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Mon, May 24, 2010
from Philadelphia Inquirer:
Trade center crews now suffering loss of smell
At first, Mike Greene thought it might just be a bad allergy. But when his sense of smell didn't come back for months, the paramedic suspected it was caused by polluted air he'd breathed at the most harrowing job site of his career: the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Turns out he is not alone. A significant portion of those on duty at the twin towers suffered long-term damage to their sense of smell and their ability to detect harmful irritants through the nose, Philadelphia researchers reported in a new study last week. Far from being just an inconvenience, this chronic condition represents a breakdown in the body's defense against toxic substances, said lead author Pamela Dalton, an experimental psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. In a sample of 102 workers in construction, emergency services, and other fields, 22 percent had an impaired sense of smell more than two years after exposure at the twin towers site, and 74 percent had a reduced ability to detect irritants. ...


Sometimes the nose just doesn't want to know.

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Sun, May 23, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Prenatal Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Linked to Breast Cancer
A study in mice reveals that prenatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, like bisphenol-A (BPA) and diethylstilbestrol (DES), may program a fetus for life. Therefore, adult women who were exposed prenatally to BPA or DES could be at increased risk of breast cancer, according to a new study accepted for publication in Hormones & Cancer, a journal of The Endocrine Society.... "BPA is a weak estrogen and DES is a strong estrogen, yet our study shows both have a profound effect on gene expression in the mammary gland (breast) throughout life," said Hugh Taylor, MD, of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. and lead author of the study. "All estrogens, even 'weak' ones can alter the development of the breast and ultimately place adult women who were exposed to them prenatally at risk of breast cancer." ...


Bad news, if you're a mouse. Or maybe if you were ever in utero.

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Tue, May 18, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Rat study shows stress worsens air pollution health effects
Two distinct exposures - one environmental and one social - can act on rats to significantly alter the immune system and increase respiratory problems where one of them alone would not, researchers report. The animal study found that higher exposures to traffic-related air pollution were associated with a rapid, shallow breathing pattern only among chronically stressed rats. This is the first toxicological study to examine how chronic stress modifies the effect of fine particle air pollution on respiratory function. The findings suggest that changes in the immune and inflammatory responses of stressed rats may play a role in making them more susceptible to effects of air pollution. The results are consistent with human studies that report stronger health effects of air pollution among those who experience higher levels of social stressors, such as exposure to violence. This work may shed insight on existing health disparities since lower income populations often experience higher levels of environmental exposures and social stressors. ...


Rats stress me out and so do the studies that use them!

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Thu, May 13, 2010
from Post-Tribune:
Feds: State pollution regulations too soft
MERRILLVILLE -- The state of Indiana is too lax in its proposed rules for when polluters can discharge more pollution into Lake Michigan and other lakes and rivers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. In some circumstances, revamped state rules would allow up to 2.5 times more pollution than federal law allows, the EPA says. By request from environmentalists, the agency has intervened to require the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to change the rules to make them acceptable. ...


Hoosiers tend to be 2.5 times more resilient than average Americans.

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Sun, May 9, 2010
from Reuters:
U.S. schools add fresh food without busting budgets
Thousands of U.S. public school districts are teaming up with local farmers to put more fresh fruits and vegetables on lunchroom menus, without breaking budgets or getting any help from celebrity chefs. The schools are taking early steps toward adding more fresh and homemade foods as advocated by British chef Jamie Oliver, who led a campaign to improve school lunch in his country. But inexpensive, processed foods still dominate U.S. school menus. Proponents including U.S. President Barack Obama are pushing for a bigger investment in school meals that feed some of the country's neediest children. The aim is to establish healthier eating habits and curb obesity rates that are driving nearly $150 billion in medical costs each year. Nearly a third of U.S. children are obese or overweight and public health experts are warning that this generation of youth may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents. The problem is so severe it has caught the attention of the U.S. military. Last month, two retired generals said in a Washington Post column that being overweight or obese was now the top medical reason recruits were turned down for military service, and that obesity rates were threatening the future strength of the military. ...


How skinny do you have to be to push a button and launch a drone missile?

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Thu, May 6, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
President's Cancer Panel: Environmentally caused cancers are 'grossly underestimated' and 'needlessly devastate American lives.'
The President's Cancer Panel on Thursday reported that "the true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated" and strongly urged action to reduce people's widespread exposure to carcinogens. The panel advised President Obama "to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation's productivity, and devastate American lives." The 240-page report by the President's Cancer Panel is the first to focus on environmental causes of cancer. The panel, created by an act of Congress in 1971, is charged with monitoring the multi-billion-dollar National Cancer Program and reports directly to the President every year. ...


Another report from the Department of Duh.

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Sun, May 2, 2010
from Hindustan Times:
India's wastelands endanger 5m poor
At sunset, the sky above Ram Ganga river in Moradabad, 200 km from Delhi, turns black with smog. Tiny chimneys belch smoke, the result of hundreds of small waste processing plants that residents have opened in their homes. A huge waste processing accident in Delhi, where one person died and seven were taken ill after radiation exposure, has caught the media's attention. But far from the media glare, five million of the country's poorest are exposed to hazardous waste -- including radioactive -- every day as India turns into the wasteland of the world. In the last three years, India's hazardous waste import spiked 48 per cent. Last year, the developed world dumped 64 lakh tonnes of waste in India, adding to the 59 lakh tonnes produced domestically. ...


Maybe they can take on all this leaking oil from the Gulf!

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Sun, May 2, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Treated fabrics exposed to faux sweat release silver nanoparticles
Researchers find that fabrics laced with silver nanoparticles designed to limit bacterial growth release those particles when the fabric is exposed to artificial human sweat... This is the first study to use faux sweat to mimic conditions of human skin; it determined that silver nanoparticles can migrate out of fabric after exposure to the simulated perspiration. It is not known if the silver materials in sweat would be absorbed through human skin...There is concern that the the tiny particles may be more toxic than other, larger-sized and more traditional types of silver compounds, as the smaller particles could be more easily absorbed and distributed throughout the body. ...


No-no-technology.

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Sun, May 2, 2010
from Mobile Press-Register:
Gulf of Mexico oil spill 2010: The worst-case scenario
The worst-case scenario for the broken and leaking well gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico would be the loss of the wellhead currently restricting the flow to 5,000 barrels -- or 210,000 gallons per day. If the wellhead is lost, oil could leave the well at a much greater rate, perhaps up to 150,000 barrels -- or more than 6 million gallons per day -- based on government data showing daily production at another deepwater Gulf well. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill was 11 million gallons total. The Gulf spill could end up dumping the equivalent of 4 Exxon Valdez spills per week. ...


If you like shrimp, eat your last today.

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Sat, May 1, 2010
from Environmental Health Perspectives:
Human Exposure to PBDEs, with Heather Stapleton
...Flame retardant chemicals can be found in everything from kids' car seats to the cushions in your old living room couch. The bad news is that they can probably also be found in you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PBDEs--or polybrominated diphenyl ethers--show up in the bodies of almost 100 percent of the U.S. population,1 and they may be negatively affecting human health and development... A PBDE is a man-made--anthropogenic--chemical, and they are produced by companies throughout the world and then sold to manufacturers of certain products that require flame retardants. So as you have increasing temperatures with fire, what happens is that the bond that keeps the bromine to the molecule breaks; it decomposes and releases bromine to the surrounding environment and to the atmosphere. And bromine is a very effective scavenger of free radicals. So by scavenging these free radicals, you're basically reducing the potential of the fire to propagate, so it basically smolders out. And so that's how these PBDEs, when they're present in such products as foam in your furniture or in your plastic for your electronics, helps to reduce their inherent flammability. ...


We 'Docs kind of fancy ourselves "scavengers of free radicals."

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Fri, Apr 30, 2010
from NUVO Newsweekly:
Oil disaster as metaphor
Some are calling it a "river of oil" now, instead of an oil spill. "Spill" makes it sound like the oil rig exploded, then "spilled" some oil, which is now creeping toward the coast. Instead, the broken rig is pouring 210,000 gallons of oil into the sea each day, and might continue, according to estimates, for two months or more. I could weep, I could scream, I could wax holy as I did not use petroleum products to get to work today. Except for all I know the asphalt I rode my bicycle on -- as well as parts of the bicycle itself (and my helmet), were made of petroleum. Or the keyboard I type on. But I don't want to go there. I want to see this event as larger, as a metaphor. Think of it this way. We humans are the initial explosion. ...




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Mon, Apr 26, 2010
from Raleigh News and Observer:
Scientists flag possible risks from soy
Recent research has raised concern about chemicals in plastic that mimic hormones and might pose risks for infants, but a similar concern is now emerging in a common food - soy. Animal studies indicate that natural substances in soy have the same hormone-mimicking qualities as some plastic additives, and a debate is unfolding among scientists about how seriously to take the threat.... studies in lab animals have found a link between estrogen-like substances in soy - natural compounds called isoflavones - and developmental harm in offspring. Animal studies suggest that fetal or newborn exposure to genistein, a major isoflavone in soy formula, may cause early puberty and other problems later in life. ...


S'oy!

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Mon, Apr 26, 2010
from London Independent:
Out for the count: Why levels of sperm in men are falling
...Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the WHO conference where a Danish scientist first alerted the world to the fact that Western men are suffering an infertility crisis... Experts in human reproductive biology were astonished by the Danish study. The declining trend seemed to indicate that men were on a path to becoming completely infertile within a few generations... There is now an emerging consensus among some experts that whatever it is that is exacerbating the problems of male infertility, it probably starts in the womb. It is not the lifestyle of men that is problem, but that of their mothers. ...


Men are nothing but a bunch of oedipussies.

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Fri, Apr 23, 2010
from London Daily Telegraph:
Mobile phones, cancer and Alzheimer's disease: the ultimate study is launched
More than 250,000 people in five different countries will take part in the research which is expected to last more than 30 years and cost millions of pounds. Experts hope the investigation will help settle once and for all the ongoing debate about the safety of mobile phones. Dr Mireille Toledano, one of the principal investigators from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "This is the largest study to date worldwide on mobile phones and health and will be monitoring a large number of mobile phone users over a long time. "It will be the gold standard." Unlike earlier studies which relied on people who develop illnesses recalling their mobile phone usage, the study will pick up diseases and symptoms as they arise. Between 90,000 and 100,000 people are expected to participate in the UK, with others joining from Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. ...


30 years??? The 1200 or so people still left on the planet will find the results of this study quite edifying.

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Thu, Apr 22, 2010
from London Guardian:
'Toxic stew' of chemicals causing male fish to carry eggs in testes
More than 80 percent of the male bass fish in Washington's major river are now exhibiting female traits such as egg production because of a "toxic stew" of pollutants, scientists and campaigners reported yesterday. Intersex fish probably result from drugs, such as the contraceptive pill, and other chemicals being flushed into the water and have been