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toxic buildup
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News stories about "toxic buildup," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?toxic+buildup
Related Scary Tags:
contamination  ~ health impacts  ~ pesticide runoff  ~ heavy metals  ~ endocrine disruptor  ~ plastic problems  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ flame retardants  ~ airborne pollutants  ~ corporate farming  ~ coal issues  



Mon, Aug 17, 2015
from Gail at Wit:
Dispatch from the Endocene, #9
Following is the transcript from my segment on Extinction Radio which airs Sunday, August 16 ... The Dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is larger this summer than it has ever been, about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.... [Elsewhere,] "The toxic algae blooms in the Pacific Ocean stretching from southern California to Alaska -- already the largest ever recorded -- appear to have reached as far as the Aleutian Islands, scientists say. "The anecdotal evidence suggests we're having a major event," said Bruce Wright... "Insecticides that are sprayed in orchards and fields across North America may be more toxic to spiders than scientists previously believed"... "[T]he recent determination that cancer is almost entirely the result of exposure to various modern toxins"... "Every year over the last decade and a half, the U.S. Geological Survey has descended on Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in California to give 17,000 trees a physical. But in a growing number of cases, what's starting off as a check-up is turning into an autopsy."... "I used to call them 'the immortals,' because they just never seemed to die," he says. "In the fourth year of drought, they've started dying by the bucket-loads. So they're no longer the immortals." ...


If all this were really happening, I'd be hearing about it on the news. Because that's what they're giving us, right? News? What's really happening?

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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Sat, Mar 7, 2015
from Endocrine Society:
BPA harms dental enamel in young animals, mimicking human tooth defect
A tooth enamel abnormality in children, molar incisor hypomineralization (MIH), may result from exposure to the industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA), authors of a new study conclude after finding similar damage to the dental enamel of rats that received BPA. The study results will be presented Friday at the Endocrine Society's 97th annual meeting in San Diego. "Human enamel defects may be used as an early marker of exposure to BPA and similar-acting endocrine disruptors," Babajko said.... Recent published data show that MIH affects up to 18 percent of children ages 6 to 9 years. Although the cause is unclear, it appears to have an environmental origin, according to the study authors. ...


Rat teeth in the coal mine!

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Sat, Oct 18, 2014
from Wageningen University and Research Centre, via ScienceDaily:
Plastic nanoparticles also harm freshwater organisms
Organisms can be negatively affected by plastic nanoparticles, not just in the seas and oceans but in freshwater bodies too. These particles slow the growth of algae, cause deformities in water fleas and impede communication between small organisms and fish.... In the study into the effects of tiny plastic particles in freshwater, PhD candidate Ellen Besseling and student Bo Wang exposed water fleas to various nanoplastic concentrations. At higher concentrations, algae growth declined. Water fleas were also smaller following exposure to nanoplastics and their offspring malformed in various ways. 'These are the first malformations that have been seen in freshwater organisms and we do not yet know how big the problem really is', says Ellen Besseling. She believes that more research is needed into the sources, concentrations and effects of nanoplastic in water and on other organisms. ...


"Microparticles" ought only to produce "microconcerns." Instead, I'm seeing "macroconcerns." What's up with that?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 8, 2014
from Canadian Press:
Pesticides linked to bee deaths pose 'massive' ecological threat, watchdog warns
The widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides by Ontario farmers, which has been linked to the deaths of bees, could have a "massive impact" on our ecological system, the province's environment watchdog warned Tuesday. "All the science is not done, but everything that I have before me ... suggests to me that this is the biggest threat to the structure and ecological integrity of the ecosystem that I have ever encountered in my life, bigger than DDT, " said Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller as he released his annual report. Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane was banned in Canada in 1972 because of environmental and safety concerns, and even Environment Minister Glen Murray admitted the neonicotinoid class of pesticides is "much more toxic" than DDT. ...


So much for equivocation.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 5, 2014
from Common Dreams:
Canadian Beekeepers Launch Class Action Suit Against Pesticide Makers
Beekeepers in the Canadian province of Ontario have launched a class action lawsuit against makers of a class of pesticides linked to the decline of bees. The claim (pdf) filed Tuesday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice seeks $450 million in damages going back to 2006 for the "chronic effects of the use of the Neonicotinoids [...] felt by Canada's Beekeepers annually."... "Beekeepers have suffered, and will continue to suffer, devastating economic hardships as a result of the continued use of Neonicotinoids," it states. The damages they say are caused by these pesticides, also known as neonics, include: bee deaths; impaired reproduction; immune suppression; behavioral abnormalities resulting in hive loss ; reduced honey production; impacts on the quality of honey; contamination of hive equipment; loss of Queen Bees; breeding stock; and difficulties fulfilling honey product or pollination contracts. ...


The real question is, if the case is won, how do we shrink the currency so that it fits in their tiny little bee hands?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Aug 28, 2014
from Daily Kos :
Fire retardant chems, cancer, health problems
In a reckless, "hope-for-the-best" approach that puts us all at risk, U.S. policy allows the release of synthetic chemicals into the environment--before their potentially devastating impacts have been adequately evaluated. Multiple Senate bills to fix this toxic system over the past decade have been snuffed out. On July 24, 2014, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a bill, the "Protecting American Families from Toxic Chemicals Act" (S. 2656), which would ban a number of "persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic" synthetic chemicals such as brominated fire (or flame) retardants (BFRs).... BFRs enter our bodies mainly when we inhale or swallow dust. Various BFRs have been linked to cancer, thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, early puberty, and reduced fertility. Ironically, BFRs start "fires" in our bodies by causing inflammation. ...


BFRs: Big Effing Retardant!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jul 11, 2014
from Phys.org:
Leading scientists express rising concern about 'microplastics' in the ocean
Microplastics - microscopic particles of plastic debris - are of increasing concern because of their widespread presence in the oceans and the potential physical and toxicological risks they pose to organisms.... In an article published today in the journal Science, the two scientists have called for urgent action to "turn off the tap" and divert plastic waste away from the marine environment. Microplastics have now been documented in all five of the ocean's subtropical gyres - and have even been detected in Arctic sea ice - with some of the highest accumulations occurring thousands of miles from land. These plastic bits have been found in organisms ranging in size from small invertebrates to large mammals, and are known to concentrate toxic chemicals already present in seawater. This raises concern about the potential consequences to marine organisms.... ...


I know -- let's make the ocean acidic, so we can dissolve the microplastics!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jul 9, 2014
from Guardian:
Neonicotinoids linked to recent fall in farmland bird numbers
New research has identified the world's most widely used insecticides as the key factor in the recent reduction in numbers of farmland birds. The finding represents a significant escalation of the known dangers of the insecticides and follows an assessment in June that warned that pervasive pollution by these nerve agents was now threatening all food production. The neonicotinoid insecticides are believed to seriously harm bees and other pollinating insects, and a two-year EU suspension on three of the poisons began at the end of 2013. But the suspected knock-on effects on other species had not been demonstrated until now.... At least 95 percent of neonicotinoids applied to crops ends up in the wider environment, killing the insects the birds rely on for food, particularly when raising chicks. ...


But shouldn't pesticides only harm pests?

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jun 20, 2014
from Reuters:
U.S., stung by bee decline, sets plan to save pollinators
The White House on Friday announced a federal strategy to reverse a rapid decline in the number of honey bees and other pollinators in the United States that threatens the development of billions of dollars in crops. As part of the plan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $8 million in funding for farmers and ranchers in five states who establish new habitats for honey bee populations.... Over recent years, bees have been dying at a rate the U.S. government says is economically unsustainable. Honey bees pollinate plants that produce about a quarter of the food consumed by Americans, including apples, watermelons and beans.... The recent increased loss of honey bee colonies is thought to be caused by factors including a loss of natural forage and inadequate diets, mite infestations and diseases, loss of genetic diversity, and exposure to certain pesticides. ...


Exposure to certain?! Pesticides?!?! LIKE NEONICOTINOIDS?!?!? Oh, right, I forgot! Politics requires the pretense of complicated causation!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Apr 17, 2014
from Midwest Energy News:
Southeast Chicago residents take petcoke fight to the streets
Feeling that elected officials have betrayed them in the battle over piles of petroleum coke on the Southeast Side of Chicago, residents have vowed to take the fight to the streets and into their own hands... residents are furious that at the April 1 City Council meeting where the zoning committee was to vote on the ordinance, a substitute ordinance was introduced that allows continued increased petcoke storage provided the material is burned on-site... "I assure you over the next few months we'll get a lot more people involved," Esquivel said. "A lot of people still don't really know or care. But we've been educating ourselves, and hopefully we will be able to open their eyes and get them mad. We have to keep getting louder and louder and stronger and stronger. Because this is not a dumping ground, this is our home." ...


These folks are mad and they're not going to take it anymore!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 2, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Anti-Depressants In The Water Supply: 'Dramatic' Side-Effects Blight Aquatic Wildlife Fertility
Tiny quantities of anti-depressants are affecting the fertility of aquatic wildlife such as crustaceans and molluscs, a new study has shown. Scientists say they are becoming increasingly aware that drugs like Prozac and Sertraline, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, are having an impact on aquatic life. The new research has shown that lower than expected concentrations of the drugs in the water will affect the behaviour and biological make-up of these creatures, including changing colour, growing bigger and reproducing more. In some cases, a lower concentration affected them more than a higher dose. ...


Where's my Xanax!?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Mar 30, 2014
from Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, via PubMed:
Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: A comparison between 1995 and 2007.
Glyphosate and its degradation product, AMPA, were detected in ≥75 percent of air and rain samples in 2007, but were not measured in 1995. The 1995 seasonal wet depositional flux was dominated by methyl parathion (88 percent) and was >4.5 times the 2007 flux. Total herbicide flux in 2007 was slightly greater than in 1995, and was dominated by glyphosate. ...


When it rains, it Roundups.

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Sun, Jan 26, 2014
from DailyKos:
The News Just Keeps Getting Worse for West Virginia (and It Doesn't Stop There)
... And it gets worse - how about this article featuring a former WV coal miner Joe Stanley, who says: "I watched the coal industry poison our water for years. Now they're telling us not to drink the water? We've been dumping this stuff into unlined ponds and into old mines for years," he says. "This MCHM was just one of the chemicals we were told was highly toxic but that we dumped into old mine shafts and slurry ponds, and it's been seeping into the groundwater for years." It sounds bad even before Stanley explains that coal mines are constantly pumped to clear ground water, aquifers, and underground streams: "As soon as we're out of that mine it immediately fills with water. And where does it go from there? I don't know, your guess is as good as mine." Stanley says he hasn't drunk the water for years and that no one else should either.... How much longer will we let the coal industry play fast and loose with our water? From coal processing chemicals, to the toxics scrubbed while burning coal, to the coal ash left behind - the industry is poisoning an element necessary for all life: water. It's time to close these water pollution loopholes once and for all. ...


I'll pay whatever is necessary for my water. Does that make me a "desirable consumer"?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 12, 2014
from Ruhr University via EurekAlert:
Evidence of harmful effect of bisphenol A-based plastics
Function and regeneration of switch proteins impaired... Bisphenol A impairs the function of proteins that are vital for growth processes in cells. This finding has been reported by researchers from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the University of Wuppertal. The substance, short BPA, is contained in many plastic products and is suspected of being hazardous to health. To date, it had been assumed that bisphenol A produces a harmful effect by binding to hormone receptors. The chemist and biochemist team has discovered that the substance also affects the so-called small GTPases. They published their findings in the "Journal of Medicinal Chemistry".... Academic studies indicate that the substance may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, breast and prostate cancer as well as neuronal diseases. The researchers therefore recommend a restriction of bisphenol A-based plastic containers for food products. ...


For some, this is news. For others, it's 2008 onward all over again.

ApocaDoc
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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!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 23, 2013
from Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education:
New York City Bans Styrofoam Food Containers
The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education (COARE), applauds the New York City Council for its decision yesterday to ban food service expanded polystyrene (EPS) within city limits. EPS is commonly referred to as "styrofoam." ... With an overwhelming 51-0 unanimous vote, the City Council of New York made a clear statement making NYC the largest in the world to ban foam foodware. Comprising more than 8.3 million people, New York is the most populous city in the U.S., and an estimated 23,000 tons of foam is thrown away in New York City each year. ...


RIP EPS

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 4, 2013
from PLoS One:
Pesticides + Fungicides = Weak in the Bees
Pesticide exposure and pathogens may interact to have strong negative effects on managed honey bee colonies. Such findings are of great concern given the large numbers and high levels of pesticides found in honey bee colonies. Thus it is crucial to determine how field-relevant combinations and loads of pesticides affect bee health.... We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads. The insecticides esfenvalerate and phosmet were at a concentration higher than their median lethal dose in at least one pollen sample. While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to. ...


It's as if toxin + toxin = toxin2.

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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Mon, Aug 26, 2013
from University of Hawaii, via EurekAlert:
Ocean fish acquire more mercury at depth
Mercury--a common industrial toxin--is carried through the atmosphere before settling on the ocean and entering the marine food web.... predatory fish that feed at deeper depths in the open ocean, like opah and swordfish, have higher mercury concentrations than those that feed in waters near the surface, like mahi-mahi and yellowfin tuna... Bacteria in the oceans change atmospheric mercury into the organic monomethylmercury form that can accumulate in animal tissue. Large predatory fish contain high levels of methylmercury in part because they eat lots of smaller, mercury-containing fish. In 2009, researchers at UH Manoa determined that the depths at which a species feeds is nearly as important as its position in the food chain in determining how much methylmercury it contains.... The finding that mercury is being converted to its toxic, bioavailable form at depth is important in part because scientists expect mercury levels at intermediate depths in the North Pacific to rise in coming decades. "The implication is that predictions for increased mercury in deeper water will result in higher levels in fish," said Joel Blum of the University of Michigan, the lead author on the new paper and a professor in the department of earth and environmental sciences. "If we're going to effectively reduce the mercury concentrations in open-ocean fish, we're going to have to reduce global emissions of mercury, including emissions from places like China and India." ...


At least there's one place where the mercury is dropping!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jul 13, 2013
from All Alabama:
Renowned whale expert studying Deepwater Horizon's toxic effect on Gulf sperm whales
... By going to the top of the food chain, Payne and the research team aboard the 93-foot research vessel, the Odyssey, hope to discover the long-term impacts of the spill that loosed 4.9 million barrels of oil and more than 1 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit into the Gulf.... "Every step of the food chain you get about a 10 times increase in the concentration of a contaminant, so if you're dealing with an animal at the sixth level of the food chain, you get 10 to the sixth power," Payne said. "That's a million times the concentration, so when you get some of these contaminants, even though they're in fantastically low concentrations in the water, when you concentrate them up a million times, you're creating a real hazard in the animal." ...


Jeez, whales: toughen up!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jun 23, 2013
from Tampa Bay :
Indian River Lagoon mystery ailment killing dolphins, manatees, pelicans
Then, beginning last summer, manatees began dying. As of last week, 111 manatees from Indian River Lagoon had died under mysterious circumstances. Soon pelicans and dolphins began showing up dead too -- more than 300 pelicans and 46 dolphins so far. How bad is it? In the past week, a dolphin a day has turned up dead in the lagoon, said Megan Stolen, a research scientist at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. "When you lose the manatees, pelicans and dolphins, you know something is going on," said Marty Baum of Indian Riverkeeper, a nonprofit environmental group that tries to act as a steward for the lagoon and the Indian River that flows into it. Yet so far nobody can name the killer. Biologists have some suspicions but are baffled about any connection among the species' problems. The diets are different: Manatees are vegetarians, while pelicans and dolphins eat fish. The symptoms are different: The manatees' stomachs are stuffed, while the pelicans and dolphins are emaciated. ...


The mystery serial killer seems unlikely to be caught by Dexter.

ApocaDoc
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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.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Apr 28, 2013
from CNN:
Empty nets in Louisiana three years after the spill
There used to be two or three people working with him; now he's alone. The catch that's coming in is light, particularly for crabs. "Guys running five or six hundred traps are coming in with two to three boxes, if that," said Stander, 26.... "My fellow fishermen who fish crab and who fish fish, they're feeling the same thing," Barisich said. "You get a spike in production every now and then, but overall, it's off. Everybody's down. Everywhere there was dispersed oil and heavily oiled, the production is down."... "Things's changing, and we don't know what's happening yet," said oysterman Byron Encalade. ...


I didn't know Bob Dylan was an oysterman!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Apr 20, 2013
from Sustainable Pulse:
New Review Links Roundup to Diabetes, Autism, Infertility and Cancer
A new peer-reviewed scientific review paper has been released in the US stating that glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup are contributing to gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. The review paper states that "glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of... food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer's disease."... [Eighty percent] of genetically modified crops, particularly corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets and most recently alfalfa, are specifically targeted towards the introduction of genes resistant to glyphosate, the so-called "Roundup Ready® feature". ...


Here at Monsanto, we just want to make humans "RoundUp Ready®"!

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Sat, Apr 13, 2013
from Wired Science:
Pesticide Suspected in Bee Die-Offs Could Also Kill Birds
According to a report by the American Bird Conservancy, the dangers of neonicotinoid pesticides to birds, and also to stream- and soil-dwelling insects accidentally exposed to the chemicals, have been underestimated by regulators and downplayed by industry. "The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise environmental concerns that go well beyond bees," stated the report, which was co-authored by pesticide policy expert Cynthia Palmer and pesticide toxicologist Pierre Mineau, both from the American Bird Conservancy.... Insect-eating birds are indeed declining in the Netherlands and elsewhere, a trend that dates to the 1960s and is blamed on a variety of factors, including earlier generations of pesticides, habitat alteration and climate change. Neonicotinoids represent a fairly new threat, but van der Sluijs is not alone in his concerns. Ecotoxicologist Christy Morrissey of the University of Saskatchewan said there is "considerable circumstantial evidence that these chemicals are causing large-scale reductions in insect abundance. At the same time, we are observing serious declines in many species of birds in Canada, particularly aerial insectivores, swifts and swallows for example, that are highly dependent on insects to raise their young." ...


I thought "the birds and the bees" was a love story!

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.
Thu, Mar 28, 2013
from BBC:
Neonicotinoid pesticides 'damage brains of bees'
Commonly used pesticides are damaging honey bee brains, studies suggest. Scientists have found that two types of chemicals called neonicotinoids and coumaphos are interfering with the insect's ability to learn and remember. Experiments revealed that exposure was also lowering brain activity, especially when the two pesticides were used in combination.... Dr Christopher Connolly said: "We found neonicotinoids cause an immediate hyper-activation - so an epileptic type activity - this was proceeded by neuronal inactivation, where the brain goes quiet and cannot communicate any more. The same effects occur when we used organophosphates. "And if we used them together, the effect was additive, so they added to the toxicity: the effect was greater when both were present." ...


Jeez, it's not as if bees need to actually think.

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Sun, Mar 3, 2013
from Dave Weigel, in Slate:
"They're the Birthers of Fracking." A Conversation with Josh Fox.
... "I wouldn't blame a person for leasing if he's one mortgage payment away from foreclosure, and the lease can fix that," says Fox. "But these companies are exploitative. The government's not helping by providing a way out. These same people could lease their land for solar, we're one line change away in the solar power laws, to allow this. Instead, they're turning PA into Nigeria as we speak." Meaning: The fracking business is expanding faster than its affects can be studied. "The impacts of fracking go far beyond methane migration," says Fox. "Chemical migration has been confirmed by the industry. That's not surprising -- we're talking about wells up to three miles deep, with one inch of cement keeping the chemicals inside. We've seen industry documents saying 5 percent of wells fail immediately, and 50 percent to 60 percent fail over a 30-year period. And they have known about this problem for decades. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection did the same thing, they had video of cracking cement. they didn't publish for 16 months until Rendell said, you should do something." ...


It's obvious: those so-called "leases" were printed in Kenya!

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Fri, Feb 15, 2013
from Slate:
Why Beef Is Becoming More Like Chicken: Cheap, uniform, and bland.
A new cattle drug called Zilmax is being widely used in the industrial feedlots where most of America's beef comes from, but not because it produces a better sirloin. In fact, it has been shown to make steak less flavorful and juicy than beef from untreated cattle. Many feedlot owners, big meatpackers, and at least one prominent industry group resisted the drug, worrying that the beef industry would turn off consumers if it started churning out lower-quality steaks. So what accounts for the sudden popularity of Zilmax? Zilmax is a highly effective growth drug, and it makes cattle swell up with muscle in the final weeks of their lives. And despite concerns within the industry, the economics of modern beef production have made the rise of Zilmax all but inevitable.... The drought created a perfect opening for Zilmax. Now, drug salesmen are roving Middle America, pitching Zilmax as an antidote to hard times in cattle country. With Zilmax, a feedlot owner can get more meat from a cow without feeding it any additional grain or letting it drink any additional water. According to one Zilmax salesman, using the drug could help a feedlot owner make about $30 in additional profit per cow by adding about 33 pounds of extra meat to each carcass. ...


An extra bonus: those cows can hit home runs like crazy!

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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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Mon, Jan 14, 2013
from New York Times:
On Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing's Air Quality Tops 'Crazy Bad' at 755
That day the Air Quality Index, which uses standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, had crept above 500, which was supposed to be the top of the scale. So what phrase ["Crazy bad"] is appropriate to describe Saturday's jaw-dropping reading of 755 at 8 p.m., when all of Beijing looked like an airport smokers' lounge? Though an embassy spokesman said he did not immediately have comparative data, Beijing residents who follow the Twitter feed said the Saturday numbers appeared to be the highest recorded since the embassy began its monitoring system in 2008. ...


I just want one more, before it's too late.

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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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Thu, Jun 14, 2012
from New York Times, via Treehugger:
New York Fracking Proposal Creates Sacrificial Zones in Poor Counties
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration is pursuing a plan to limit the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing to portions of several struggling New York counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and to permit it only in communities that express support for the technology.... The strategy has not been made final and details could change, but it has been taking shape over several months. It would be contingent on hydraulic fracturing's receiving final approval from state regulators, a step that is not a foregone conclusion but is widely expected later this summer. Department of Environmental Conservation regulators last year signaled their initial support for the drilling process around the state, with exceptions for environmentally sensitive areas like New York City's upstate watershed.... "Sending a polluting industry into our most economically impoverished communities is a violation of environmental justice," Sandra Steingraber, the founder of an umbrella group called New Yorkers Against Fracking, said in a statement. "Partitioning our state into frack and no-frack zones based on economic desperation is a shameful idea." ...


Just make Mississippi, West Virginia, and Arkansas sacrificial zones. Problem solved!

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Tue, May 22, 2012
from CNN:
Research ship finds the world's oceans are 'plasticized'
A marine expedition of environmentalists has confirmed the bad news it feared -- the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" extends even further than previously known. Organized by two non-profit groups -- the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the 5 Gyres Institute -- the expedition is sailing from the Marshall Islands to Japan through a "synthetic soup" of plastic in the North Pacific Ocean on a 72-feet yacht called the Sea Dragon, provided by Pangaea Exploration. ...


Planet Garbage Patch!

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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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Fri, May 11, 2012
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Great Pacific Garbage Patch 'has increased 100-fold since the 1970s'
US scientists warned the killer soup of microplastic - particles smaller than five millimetres - threatened to alter the open ocean's natural environment. In the period 1972 to 1987, no microplastic was found in the majority of samples taken for testing, said the paper in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. Today, scientists estimate the swirling mass of waste known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is roughly the size of Texas. "The abundance of small human-produced plastic particles in the NPSG has increased by 100 times over the last four decades," said a statement on the findings of researchers from the University of California. The United Nations Environment Programme says around 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are found in every square kilometre of sea, but the problem is worst in the North Pacific. ...


I heard on FOX that the plastic is just natural variation, and will be solved by clouds.

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Fri, May 4, 2012
from The Sunbreak, via DesdemonaDespair:
'A Staggering Mess' as Tsunami Debris Hits Alaska Coast Early
In my opinion, this is the single greatest environmental pollution event that has ever hit the west coast of North America. The slow-motion aspects of it have fooled an unwitting public. It far exceeds the Santa Barbara or Exxon Valdez oil spills in gross tonnage and also geographic scope.... NOAA's latest estimate is that 1.5 million tons of largely plastic debris will hit the western United States coast. That is 30 billion pounds. We expect Alaska to get the largest percentage of that with much of it lodging on northern Gulf of Alaska beaches. Most of this will be plastic which is full of inherent toxic chemicals that will leach into the environment for generations. Possibly worse are the millions of containers full of anything from household chemicals to toxic industrial chemicals that are floating our way. They will eventually burst upon our shores... in sensitive inter-tidal spawning and rearing habitat, endangering shorebirds, marine mammals, fish and everything in between. ...


I hope we've learned the lesson to throw everything away before the tsunami hits.

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Thu, Apr 26, 2012
from ScienceDaily:
Wind Pushes Plastics Deeper Into Oceans, Driving Trash Estimates Up
After taking samples of water at a depth of 16 feet (5 meters), Proskurowski, a researcher at the University of Washington, discovered that wind was pushing the lightweight plastic particles below the surface. That meant that decades of research into how much plastic litters the ocean, conducted by skimming only the surface, may in some cases vastly underestimate the true amount of plastic debris in the oceans, Proskurowski said.... [D]ata collected from just the surface of the water commonly underestimates the total amount of plastic in the water by an average factor of 2.5. In high winds the volume of plastic could be underestimated by a factor of 27.... Proskurowski gathered data on a 2010 North Atlantic expedition where he and his team collected samples at the surface, plus an additional three or four depths down as far as 100 feet. "Almost every tow we did contained plastic regardless of the depth," he said. ...


That plastic could be the result of natural variation, couldn't it? Hunh?

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Tue, Apr 24, 2012
from New Yorker:
Silent Hives
Over the last few weeks, several new studies have come out linking neonicotinoids to bee decline. As it happens, the studies are appearing just as "Silent Spring," Rachel Carson's seminal study of the effect of pesticides on wildlife, is about to turn fifty: the work was first published as a three-part series in The New Yorker, in June, 1962. It's hard to avoid the sense that we have all been here before, and that lessons were incompletely learned the first time around. In the first of the new studies, published online in the journal Science, British scientists raised bumblebees on a diet of pollen, some of which had been treated with a widely used neonicotinoid called imidacloprid. Those colonies that had received the treated pollen suffered significantly reduced growth rates and produced dramatically fewer new queens. In the second, also published in Science, French researchers equipped honeybees with tiny radio-frequency tags. They fed some of the bees sucrose treated with thiamethoxan, another commonly used neonicotinoid. Then they let the bees loose to go foraging. The bees that had been exposed to thiamethoxan were much less likely to return to their hives. "We were quite surprised by the magnitude of the effect," said one of the study's authors, Mickael Henry, of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Avignon. In a third study, to be published soon in the Bulletin of Insectology, seemingly healthy honey colonies were fed high-fructose corn syrup that had been treated with imidacloprid. Within six months, fifteen out of the sixteen hives that had been given the treated syrup were dead. In commercial beekeeping operations, bees are routinely fed corn syrup, and corn is routinely treated with neonicotinoids. ...


Nicotinoids haven't yet been proven to cause lung cancer. And don't forget about farmers' rights.

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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

ApocaDoc
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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.

ApocaDoc
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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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Sun, Apr 1, 2012
from AFP, via Yahoo:
Scientists warn of 'emergency on global scale'
In a "State of the Planet" declaration issued after a four-day conference, the scientists said Earth was now facing unprecedented challenges, from water stress, pollution and species loss to spiralling demands for food. They called on the June 20-22 followup to the 1992 Earth Summit to overhaul governance of the environment and sweep away a fixation with GDP as the sole barometer of wellbeing. "The continuing function of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilisation in recent centuries is at risk," said the statement issued at the "Planet Under Pressure" conference. "These threats risk intensifying economic, ecological and social crises, creating the potential for a humanitarian emergency on a global scale." ...


Astonishingly, Lindsay Lohan still hasn't slept with Justin Bieber.

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Thu, Mar 29, 2012
from Science, via The Guardian:
Neonicotinoid Pesticides linked to honeybee decline
The new research strongly links the pesticides to the serious decline in honey bee numbers in the US and UK -- a drop of around 50 percent in the last 25 years. The losses pose a threat to food supplies as bees pollinate a third of the food we eat such as tomatoes, beans, apples and strawberries. Scientists found that bees consuming one pesticide suffered an 85 percent loss in the number of queens their nests produced, while another study showed a doubling in "disappeared" bees -- those that failed to return from food foraging trips. The significance of the new work, published Science, is that it is the first carried out in realistic, open-air conditions.... The pesticides investigated in the new studies - insect neurotoxins called neonicotinoids - are applied to seeds and flow through the plants' whole system. The environmental advantage of this is it reduces pesticide spraying but chemicals end up in the nectar and pollen on which bees feed. Goulson's group studied an extremely widely used type called imidacloprid, primarily manufactured by Bayer CropScience, and registered for use on over 140 crops in 120 countries.... "There was a staggering magnitude of effect," said Goulson. "This is likely to have a substantial population-level impact." ...


This stings.

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Fri, Mar 23, 2012
from CBC:
Don't ease fish protection rules, PM urged by 625 scientists
In a letter sent Thursday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield, a group of 625 scientists urged the government to abandon changes to the Fisheries Act outlined in an internal government document leaked late last week. The document suggested the act is to be revised so Ottawa would be responsible for fish, but not their surrounding habitat. The act currently requires projects such as oil pipeline and road culvert construction to show their plans will preserve fish habitat. "Removing those provisions … would basically give proponents of projects license to do anything they pleased," said David Schindler, the University of Alberta ecologist who is the lead author of the letter.... Schindler said the signatories of his letter include many national and international prize-winning scientists and the number of them supporting the letter indicates how important habitat protection is. ...


What? 625 billion fish want to sign the petition?

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Mon, Mar 19, 2012
from CTV:
Melting Arctic ice could poison ecosystem, experts say
Arctic sea ice that's been melting at a dramatic rate in the last few decades is releasing a chemical soup that could poison the food chain with mercury and other dangerous chemicals, a new study suggests.... Over the last 30 years, the amount ice that survives the summer melt and grows again in the winter is becoming significantly smaller (12 per cent per decade), resulting in a much thinner and more salty form of ice. When the "new" ice melts, it releases a higher concentration of the chemicals into the air that create the mercury, the study found.... Mercury is a toxic substance that can enter the food chain and eventually be ingested by humans through food consumption. "This is being concentrated in things like fish and it's working it way up the food chain," geochemist Norman Halden said in the report. ...


In the Arctic, the mercury is literally rising.

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Thu, Mar 15, 2012
from UNH, via PhysOrg:
UNH research adds to mounting evidence against popular pavement sealcoat
The research, detailed in a recent feature article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, has found that one type of pavement sealcoat, common on driveways and parking lots throughout the nation, has significant health and ecosystem implications. Alison Watts, research assistant professor of civil engineering at UNH, is a co-author of the article "Coal-Tar-Based Pavement Sealcoat and PAHs: Implications for the Environment, Human Health, and Stormwater Management." Sealcoat, a black surface applied over asphalt pavements that is marketed as improving appearance and enhancing pavement longevity, is made of either an asphalt emulsion or a refined coal-tar pitch emulsion. Although the two sealcoats are similar in appearance and cost, concentrations of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), a group of organic compounds known to be detrimental to human and ecosystem health, are about 1,000 times higher in coal-tar-based sealcoats than those based in asphalt.... Studies at the Columbia Center for Children's Health have found that PAHs in homes can contribute to delays in cognitive development, asthma and other respiratory symptoms, obesity and metabolic disorders, or changes at the molecular level that could increase children's cancer risk. Unlike many complex environmental issues, however, this one has a relatively painless fix: avoid coal-tar-based sealcoats in favor of asphalt-based ones, or no sealcoat at all. "Consumers generally can't tell the difference," Watts says. ...


I'm apPAHled.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Mar 2, 2012
from ScienceDaily:
Effects of Environmental Toxicants Reach Down Through Generations
A Washington State University researcher has demonstrated that a variety of environmental toxicants can have negative effects on not just an exposed animal but the next three generations of its offspring. The animal's DNA sequence remains unchanged, but the compounds change the way genes turn on and off -- the epigenetic effect studied at length by WSU molecular biologist Michael Skinner and expanded on in the current issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.... "We didn't expect them all to have transgenerational effects, but all of them did," Skinner told the technology website Gizmodo.... Researchers tested a pesticide mixture (permethrin and insect repellant DEET), a plastic mixture (bisphenol A and phthalates), dioxin (TCDD) and a hydrocarbon mixture (jet fuel, JP8).... The researchers saw females reaching puberty earlier, increased rates in the decay and death of sperm cells and lower numbers of ovarian follicles that later become eggs. ...


Apocaiku: Early puberty / infertile sperm and ova: / maybe no grandkids.

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Tue, Feb 14, 2012
from Washington Post:
Monsanto found liable for weedkiller poisoning in France
Memory loss. Headaches. Stammering. French farmer Paul Francois says he suffered all three neurological problems after inhaling a weedkiller made by biotech giant Monsanto in 2004. On Monday, a French court found Monsanto legally responsible for poisoning Francois and ordered the company to compensate him "entirely," Agence France-Presse reports. The decision could affect more than just Francois; it marks the first time a farmer has successfully sued the company over claims of the health problems caused by pesticides... Francois's suit accuses Monsanto of not providing adequate health warnings on the label of the weedkiller, Lasso, as well as keeping the product on the French market even though it had been banned in Canada, Britain and Belgium. ...


Seems Ă  propos to moi.

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Tue, Feb 14, 2012
from Tom Philpott, Mother Jones:
Dow and Monsanto Team Up on the Mother of All Herbicide Marketing Plans
Last summer, Roundup-resistant superweeds flourished in huge swathes of US farmland, forcing farmers to apply gushers of toxic herbicide cocktails and even resort to hand-weeding--not a fun thing to do on a huge farm. A recent article in the industrial-ag trade journal Delta Farm Press summed up the situation: "Days of Easy Weed Control Are Over."... Dow's new herbicide-resistant product promises to bring those days back. In its petition to the USDA to approve 2,4-D-resistant corn, the company explicitly pitched it as the answer to farmers' Roundup trouble. The 2,4-D trait will be "stacked" with Monsanto's Roundup trait to "generate commercial hybrids with multiple herbicide tolerances," the petition states. Note that the new product marks a point of collusion, not competition, between industry titans Dow and Monsanto--they plan to license the 2,4-D and Roundup traits to each other to form "stacked" hybrids.... The authors note that even by Dow and Monsanto's reckoning, a new stacked 2,4-D/Roundup-resistant product would immediately lead to an increase in herbicide use, because the companies have been advocating an herbicide program that combines current rates of Roundup use with a roughly equal amounts of 2,4-D. That's good for sales, but not so good for the environment.... [T]he advocacy group Beyond Pesticides points to both epidemiological and lab-based evidence linking it non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other cancers. It's also an endocrine disruptor, Beyond Pesticides reports, meaning it can "interfere with the body's hormone messaging system and can alter many essential processes."... ...


Corpetition between frenemies can't end well for the rest of us.

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Tue, Feb 14, 2012
from Wales News:
Dramatic changes to sea algae could have harmful effects for human health: Welsh academics
DRAMATIC changes to sea algae could have harmful knock-on effects for human health and the rest of the food chain, research from Welsh scientists has revealed. Findings published by academics from Swansea University have uncovered huge changes in the make-up of North Sea and North Atlantic Ocean algae in the space of five years. The changes seen in algal blooms -- shifting from dinoflagellate to diatom algaes -- could mean a build-up of toxins on feeder organisms.... Professor Graeme Hays, from Swansea's Department of Biosciences in the College of Science, and an author in the study, said: "Imagine looking at your garden one morning and finding that the grass had suddenly been replaced by bushes. This may sound far-fetched, but we have found changes of this magnitude in the biology of the North Atlantic, with a dramatic switch in the prevalence of dinoflagellates to diatoms -- two groups which include many of the microscopic planktonic plants forming the base of the ocean's food chain." ...


Doom & bloom.

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Mon, Feb 13, 2012
from AP, via HuffingtonPost:
Mystery Kidney Malady In Central America Killing Thousands
A mysterious epidemic is devastating the Pacific coast of Central America, killing more than 24,000 people in El Salvador and Nicaragua since 2000 and striking thousands of others with chronic kidney disease at rates unseen virtually anywhere else. Scientists say they have received reports of the phenomenon as far north as southern Mexico and as far south as Panama.... Many of the victims were manual laborers or worked in sugar cane fields that cover much of the coastal lowlands. Patients, local doctors and activists say they believe the culprit lurks among the agricultural chemicals workers have used for years with virtually none of the protections required in more developed countries. But a growing body of evidence supports a more complicated and counterintuitive hypothesis. ...


As long as it's complicated, there's nobody to blame!

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Sat, Feb 11, 2012
from PRwatch:
Atrazine: A Molecular Bull in the Endocrine Shop
Atrazine is an herbicide primarily manufactured by the multinational conglomerate Syngenta and commonly used on commodity crops, forests, and golf courses. Its potential harmful effects on human health have been documented since the 1990s. As a consequence, atrazine has been "unauthorized" in the European Union since 2004 (and in some European countries since 1991). However, it is one of the most heavily used herbicides in the United States.... Dr. Porter also believes that the EPA registration process is flawed because the EPA tests and registers the active ingredient rather than the chemical cocktail that is sold. He explained that the products sold to pesticide applicators and consumers consist of the active ingredient -- in this case atrazine -- combined with "solvents and surfactants that promote rapid penetration of the skin and the respiratory surfaces." This potentially exacerbates the impact of the active ingredient. "Once inside an organism," Porter says, what chemical product labels refer to as "inert" ingredients "promote rapid entry across all cell membranes, and access to every cell in the body, from gonads to brain and sex activity centers."... ...


You had me at "gonads."

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Thu, Feb 9, 2012
from DesdemonaDespair:
Map of All Mercury Emissions from U.S. Coal-fired Power Plants, November 2011
Number of U.S. water bodies impaired by mercury, a particularly toxic component of coal plant pollution: 3,781 Of the 50 U.S. states, number that have fish consumption advisories due to unsafe mercury pollution levels: 50 Factor by which one study found mercury concentrations in fish have increased from the 1930s to today: 10 Portion of U.S. women of childbearing age who have enough mercury in their bloodstream to put their offspring at risk of health effects: 1 in 6 Percentage of U.S. women of childbearing age that had inorganic mercury in their blood in 1999: 2 That percentage in 2006: 30... Amount of mercury released by U.S. coal-fired power plants in 2009: 134,365 pounds ...


Um... that mercury will biodegrade, right?

ApocaDoc
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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!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 30, 2012
from Earth Magazine:
Tracking plastic in the oceans
Despite worldwide efforts to curtail plastic use -- to ban plastic grocery bags, to switch to reusable water bottles instead of disposable plastic bottles, and to get rid of the microplastics in cosmetics, for example -- we still produce more than 260 million tons of plastic each year. Almost a third of that plastic goes into disposable, one-time-use items. Only about 1 percent of it is recycled globally, so much ends up in landfills. Worse still, some of the plastic winds up in the world's oceans. No one knows exactly how much plastic is in the ocean. Studies over the past few decades have suggested that millions of square kilometers of ocean surface may be covered with floating garbage "patches." And there are at least five known patches: three in the Pacific, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that floats near Hawaii, a patch near Baja California, and one near Chile; and two in the Atlantic, including one in the North Atlantic near Bermuda and one between South America and South Africa. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is perhaps the best known, estimated by some researchers to be roughly the size of Texas. ...


I'm just glad there's an "away" to throw it all!

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Fri, Jan 27, 2012
from Charlotte Observer:
Toxic metals found in water near coal plants
As the Environmental Protection Agency mulled the first federal ash-handling rules, which are still on hold, utilities and state agencies began looking for local problems. Duke Energy and Progress Energy sank test wells around their ash ponds several years ago and found tainted groundwater. N.C. officials told them in 2010 to sink more wells, farther from the ponds. That led to results the N.C. Division of Water Quality is now reporting. Iron, manganese and low pH, all in excess of what the state says is allowable, were found at all 14 plants. Duke and Progress each own seven. Sulfate, dissolved solids and chromium were found at seven plants. Boron was found at six, arsenic at three, and selenium, thallium and antimony at two. Chloride and nickel were each detected at one plant.... Techniques exist to "fingerprint" the source of elements that occur both in ash and naturally, said Avner Vengosh, a Duke University geochemist. While iron and manganese are commonly detected, he said, elements such as boron and strontium are more closely associated with ash. Power plant ash ponds also drain into the rivers and lakes the power plants use for cooling water. The three Duke power plants closest to Charlotte, Riverbend overlooking Mountain Island Lake, Allen on Lake Wylie and Marshall on Lake Norman, discharge 23 million gallons a day from their ponds. ...


(time + capital) x (desire + ignorance) = (bioaccumulation + extinction). We're kicking ass!

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Sat, Jan 14, 2012
from Grist, via Guardian:
Honeybee problem nearing a 'critical point'
Although news about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has died down, commercial beekeepers have seen average population losses of about 30 percent each year since 2006, said Paul Towers, of the Pesticide Action Network. Towers was one of the organizers of a conference that brought together beekeepers and environmental groups this week to tackle the challenges facing the beekeeping industry and the agricultural economy by proxy. "We are inching our way toward a critical tipping point," said Steve Ellis, secretary of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board (NHBAB) and a beekeeper for 35 years. Last year he had so many abnormal bee die-offs that he'll qualify for disaster relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).... "In the industry we believe pesticides play an important role in what's going on," said Dave Hackenberg, co-chair of the NHBAB and a beekeeper in Pennsylvania. Of particular concern is a group of pesticides, chemically similar to nicotine, called neonicotinoids (neonics for short), and one in particular called clothianidin. Instead of being sprayed, neonics are used to treat seeds, so that they're absorbed by the plant's vascular system, and then end up attacking the central nervous systems of bees that come to collect pollen. Virtually all of today's genetically engineered Bt corn is treated with neonics. The chemical industry alleges that bees don't like to collect corn pollen, but new research shows that not only do bees indeed forage in corn, but they also have multiple other routes of exposure to neonics. ...


Bee very afraid.

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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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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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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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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 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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Wed, Dec 14, 2011
from NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service via ScienceDaily:
Expanding Dead Zones Are Shrinking Tropical Blue Marlin Habitat
The science behind counting fish in the ocean to measure their abundance has never been simple. A new scientific paper authored by NOAA Fisheries biologist Eric Prince, Ph.D., and eight other scientists shows that expanding ocean dead zones -- driven by climate change -- have added a new wrinkle to that science. In the December 4 paper published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, these scientists sound an alarm that expanding ocean dead zones are shrinking the habitat for high value fish such as marlins in the tropical northeast Atlantic Ocean. ...


Marlins... marginalized!

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Mon, Nov 28, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
Atrazine in water tied to menstrual irregularities, low hormones
Women who drink water contaminated with low levels of the weed-killer atrazine may be more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles and low estrogen levels, scientists concluded in a new study. The most widely used herbicide in the United States, atrazine is frequently detected in surface and ground water, particularly in agricultural areas of the Midwest. Approximately 75 percent of all U.S. cornfields are treated with atrazine each year. The newest research, which compared women in Illinois to women in Vermont, adds to the growing scientific evidence linking atrazine to altered hormones....use of the herbicide continues to rise. In the first half of 2011 alone, Syngenta reported double-digit growth in sales, with atrazine as a high performer. ...


That's some mean atrazine!

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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 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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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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Sat, Oct 22, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Polar bears ill from accumulated environmental toxins
New doctoral thesis documents that industrial chemicals are transported from the industrialised world to the Arctic via air and sea currents. Here, the cocktail of environmental toxins is absorbed by the sea's food chains which are so rich in fats and of which the polar bear is the top predator.... The experiments showed that the damage seen in the polar bears was also evident in the groups of Arctic foxes and dogs which were fed environmental toxins, but not in the control groups. ...


If they're predators, why can't they just toughen up?

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Mon, Oct 17, 2011
from NHK:
Radioactive cesium found in plankton near Fukushima
High concentrations of radioactive cesium have been found in plankton from the sea near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Researchers from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology collected plankton in waters up to 60 kilometers from the coast of Iwaki City in July. They found 669 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in animal plankton from waters 3 kilometers offshore. They say a wide range of fish feed on animal plankton and that the contamination could accumulate in the food chain and have a more serious impact when it gets into relatively large fish. ...


That plankton might just have the glow of good health, y'know.

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Wed, Oct 12, 2011
from University of Illinois, via EurekAlert:
Which direction are herbicides heading?
2,4-D is coming back. What many might consider a "dinosaur" may be the best solution for growers fighting weed resistance today, said Dean Riechers, University of Illinois associate professor of weed physiology. "Farmers can't imagine going back to 2,4-D or other auxin herbicides," Riechers said. "But herbicide resistance is bad enough that companies are willing to bring it back. That illustrates how severe this problem is." In a recently published article in Weed Science, Riechers and his team of research colleagues suggest that tank-mixing auxinic herbicides with glyphosate may be the best short-term option available to farmers interested in broad-spectrum, postemergence weed control. "Resistance has become a big problem," Riechers said. "In 1997, researchers predicted that glyphosate resistance would not be a big issue in Round-Up Ready crops. For the most part, they were right. But they underestimated a few weed species and resistance mechanisms."... Ideally, chemical companies would come up with a new herbicide to fight these resistant weeds. But new herbicide development is expensive and time-consuming. Riechers said he does not know of any new compounds on the horizon. "If we don't find completely novel and new herbicides, our next best bet is to mix glyphosate and another herbicide with relatively minor resistance problems," Riechers said. "Auxin resistance is not considered a huge problem in the United States, particularly in corn, soybean and cotton. It has only occurred in isolated incidences." ...


It's two! two! two toxins in one!

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Fri, Sep 30, 2011
from Organic Gardening, via HuffingtonPost:
Are Herbicide Residues In Compost Damaging Plants?
Since 1999, gardeners have experienced serious problems with herbicides that do not readily break down in compost. Residential lawn trimmings, hay and straw, municipal green waste, and cow and horse manure are all common compost ingredients that have become vectors for delivering unwanted chemicals, causing plant damage in home gardens. The offending active ingredients--the part of an herbicide that actually kills weeds--include clopyralid, aninopyralid, and the newest, aminocyclopyrachlor. This last is now attracting attention as the active ingredient in DuPont's brand-named Imprelis.... Agroecologists and weed scientists are concerned about the potential misuse of these herbicides because of their relatively long persistence in the environment and potential for injury to nontargeted plants, says Ryan, adding that the companies that make and market them emphasize the products' safety to livestock but aren't doing enough in noting posttreatment problems among plants.... Ohio State University researchers found that when grass was treated with aminocyclopyrachlor and composted, it degraded by about 60 percent over 200 days, with plenty of the active ingredient remaining to do damage to susceptible crop plants--including beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes.... This past summer, additional problems were discovered as tree damage and death--mostly to shallow-rooted trees such as spruces and white pines--linked to Imprelis use were reported in more than 11 states from the Midwest to the East Coast. Still, DuPont and the Scotts MiracleGro Company are collaborating to develop and market to homeowners a new combination lawn fertilizer/herbicide containing aminocyclopyrachlor. Additional testing is being conducted, "so that we can provide the clearest guidance possible to consumers regarding the composting of grass clippings," says Lance Latham, spokesman for Scotts. ...


I don't think we need an Energizer herbicide.

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Thu, Sep 22, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
'Emerging Contaminants of Concern' Detected Throughout Narragansett Bay Watershed, U.S.
Rainer Lohmann, associate professor of chemical oceanography, and graduate student Victoria Sacks, with the help of 40 volunteers, tested for the presence of the chemicals in 27 locations. The compounds were found at every site.... The three compounds the researchers measured, which scientists refer to as "emerging contaminants of concern," are: triclosans, antibacterial agents found in many personal care products and which have been identified as posing risks to humans and the environment; alkylphenols, widely used as detergents and known to disrupt the reproductive system; and PBDEs, industrial products used as flame retardants on a wide variety of consumer products. PBDEs have been banned because they cause long-term adverse effects in humans and wildlife. PBDEs, methyltriclosan and triclosan were found in highest concentrations in the Blackstone River, Woonasquatucket River and in upper Narragansett Bay, while some detergents were detected at similar levels at nearly every site. ...


Let's just redefine these compounds as modern-day spices. Problem solved!

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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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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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Wed, Aug 31, 2011
from Gannett News Service:
House GOP to focus on EPA, labor regulations this fall
WASHINGTON - Scaling back environmental regulations on coal ash and power plant pollution will be a top priority for House Republicans when they return from summer recess next week, according to a memo that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent fellow Republicans on Monday. Several proposed or recently enacted Environmental Protection Agency rules addressing coal ash disposal and emissions from power plants number among Cantor's list of 10 "job-destroying regulations" that the GOP will seek to undo in the next few months, his memo said. ...


Back to the people's business of poisoning the planet!

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Tue, Aug 30, 2011
from BBC:
What is killing killer whales?
Marine experts are concerned about an invisible threat to the animals that has been building in our seas since World War II. That was when industries began extensively using chemical flame retardants, such as PCBs. These chemicals were later found to harm human health and the environment, and governments around the world banned their use in the 1970s. But their legacy lives on in the world's seas and oceans, say biologists, posing a modern threat to animals such as killer whales, also known as orcas.... As large mammals, killer whales consume a large amount of prey. But this position at the top of the food chain, as "apex predators", makes them particularly vulnerable to changes in their prey. That is because orca feed on fish that in turn eat polluted prey or absorb pollution from the water. So the orca ingest all of the pollution in the chain, in a process called "bioaccumulation".... Dr Jepson says this fat solubility is a considerable issue for female cetaceans such as killer whales who feed their young for up to a year on high fat milk to kick-start their development. "You get this huge maternal transfer. It's been calculated that in whales and dolphins about ninety percent or more of the mother's body burden of PCB can be offloaded, particularly to the first calf," he tells BBC Nature. ...


The top of the food chain is only as strong as its bioaccumulated links.

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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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Wed, Aug 10, 2011
from American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert:
Paper money worldwide contains bisphenol A
The cash register receipts that people place near paper money in billfolds, purses, and pockets has led to a worldwide contamination of paper money with bisphenol A (BPA) -- a potentially toxic substance found in some plastics, thermal paper and other products. The amounts of BPA on dollars, Euros, rubles, yuans, and other currencies, are higher than in house dust, but human intake from currency is at least 10 times less than those from house dust. That's the conclusion of a new study in the ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology. Kurunthachalam Kannan and Chunyang Liao point out that manufacturers use BPA to make polycarbonate plastics used in some consumer products, including water bottles, sports equipment, and household electronics. Studies indicate that BPA acts as an endocrine disruptor -- meaning it mimics the action of the sex hormone estrogen. Exposure to BPA has been linked to a variety of health problems. Although a recent study found traces of BPA in U.S. currency, nobody knew until now about BPA in paper money worldwide. The scientists' analysis of 156 pieces of paper money from 21 countries found that all contained traces of BPA.... "Although high levels of BPA were measured in paper currencies, human exposure through dermal [skin] absorption appears to be minor," the article notes. ...


Just think of it as a regressive tox.

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Fri, Aug 5, 2011
from London Daily Telegraph:
Was pollution responsible for mass stranding of pilot whales?
Scientists are probing whether pollution may have caused 70 pilot whales to strand in north west Scotland last month. The whales may have been poisoned by years of toxic waste. Experts have now asked the UK government for Ł20,000 to carry out the first such major diagnostic tests on a super pod in Scotland - which could show the legacy of decades of pouring toxic chemicals into the sea. No such link between strandings and pollution has ever been proved before - but scientists say they are now finding killer whales with toxic readings "hundreds" of times over the limit. There are growing fears that Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB's) - which are now banned - are so prevalent in the marine environment that over a period of time they have entered the food chain widely. ...


Turns out those so-called killer whales are softies.

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Tue, Aug 2, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
The Last Great Wilderness: Human Impact On the Deep Sea
The oceans cover 71 percent of our planet, with over half with a depth greater than 3000 m. Although our knowledge is still very limited, we know that the deep ocean contains a diversity of habitats and ecosystems, supports high biodiversity, and harbors important biological and mineral resources. Human activities are, however increasingly affecting deep-sea habitats, resulting in the potential for biodiversity loss and, with this, the loss of many goods and services provided by deep-sea ecosystems.... The impacts were grouped in three major categories: waste and litter dumping, resource exploitation, and climate change. The authors identified which deep-sea habitats are at highest risk in the short and mid-term, as well as what will be the main anthropogenic impacts affecting these areas, in a paper published in PLoS ONE on Aug. 1, 2011.... In particular, the accumulation of plastics on the deep seafloor, which degrade into microplastics, called mermaid tears, that can be ingested by the fauna, has consequences still unknown but predicted to be important. Moreover, there is increasing evidence of the accumulation of chemical pollutants of industrial origin, such as mercury, lead and persistent organic pollutants (e.g. dioxins, PCBs) in the sediment and fauna, including in species of commercial interest.... The main problem is that we still know very little of what we call the deep sea, making it difficult to evaluate accurately the real impact of industrial activities, litter accumulation and climate change in the deep sea habitats. ...


On the surface, everything looks just fine.

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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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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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Fri, Jul 15, 2011
from Daily Mail:
Victim of the great garbage patch: Turtle is just one of thousands left deformed or dead by Pacific Ocean plastic
Its shell constricted by a plastic band, this turtle is just one victim of the great garbage patch. But while the reptile may be deformed, it is more fortunate than many of the animals that come into contact with the huge sea of waste in the northern Pacific Ocean. Greenpeace workers have found countless dead seabirds, their stomachs laced with plastic items such as bottle tops, lighters and balloons.... Earlier this year, another operation in Hawaii discovered a dead turtle who had more than 1,000 items of plastic in his stomach. ...


It's zombie plastic! The undead return!

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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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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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Sun, Jul 10, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Is ocean garbage killing whales?
Millions of tonnes of plastic debris dumped each year in the world's oceans could pose a lethal threat to whales, according to a scientific assessment to be presented at a key international whaling forum this week. A review of research literature from the last two decades reveals hundreds of cases in which cetaceans -- an order including 80-odd species of whales, dolphins and porpoises -- have been sickened or killed by marine litter. Entanglement in plastic bags and fishing gear have long been identified as a threat to sea birds, turtles and smaller cetaceans. For large ocean-dwelling mammals, however, ingestion of such refuse is also emerging as a serious cause of disability and death, experts say. ...


We just need to invent an edible plastic!

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Wed, Jul 6, 2011
from TreeHugger:
'Agent Orange' Being Used to Clear the Amazon
Agent Orange is one of the most devastating weapons of modern warfare, a chemical which killed or injured an estimated 400,000 people during the Vietnam War -- and now it's being used against the Amazon rainforest. According to officials, ranchers in Brazil have begun spraying the highly toxic herbicide over patches of forest as a covert method to illegally clear foliage, more difficult to detect than chainsaws and tractors. In recent weeks, an aerial survey detected some 440 acres of rainforest that had been sprayed with the compound -- poisoning thousands of trees and an untold number of animals, potentially for generations.... Last week, in another part of the Amazon, an investigation conducted by the agency uncovered approximately four tons of the highly toxic herbal pesticides hidden in the forest awaiting dispension. If released, the chemicals could have potentially decimated some 7,500 acres of rainforest, killing all the wildlife that resides there and contaminating groundwater. In this case, the individual responsible was identified and now faces fines nearing $1.3 million. ...


Napalm might be more cost-effective.

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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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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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Thu, Jun 23, 2011
from ChronicleHerald:
Canada single-handedly keeps asbestos off UN hazardous chemicals list
Canada has single-handedly blocked listing chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical, the United Nations confirmed Wednesday, even as the Conservative government maintained its silence back home. At a summit in Switzerland, Canada's delegation ended days of silence and speculation by opposing the inclusion of asbestos on a UN treaty called the Rotterdam Convention. "Yes, I can confirm they intervened in the chemicals contact group meeting this afternoon and opposed listing," Michael Stanley-Jones of the UN Environment Program said in an email. Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan also initially opposed the listing. However, Stanley-Jones said one-by-one they switched positions after India announced it would support the listing. That left Canada as the lone voice against the listing. "All had consented when Canada announced its position opposing listing," Stanley-Jones said.... "The Conservative government is living in some other universe in which asbestos is safe, while we spend billions of dollars in Canada ripping it out of our homes." Until Wednesday, it appeared Canada's strategy was to abstain while other asbestos-exporting countries blocked the move. ...


O Conservatives, I single-fingeredly salute you.

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Wed, Jun 22, 2011
from BioCycle:
DuPont Herbicide Label Says 'Do Not Compost' Grass Clippings
So when Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont began aggressively marketing a new post-emergent broadleaf herbicide to landscapers, lawn maintenance professionals and turfgrass managers -- under the name Imprelis and containing the active ingredient aminocyclopyrachlor -- some organics recyclers became concerned.... The red flag wasn't so much that the active ingredient sounded to the ear very much like other chemicals that have plagued the industry in recent years (and is in fact quite similar chemically). It had more to do with an ominous label restriction, which states: "Do not use grass clippings from treated areas for mulching or compost, or allow for collection to compost facilities. Grass clippings must either be left on the treated area, or, if allowed by local yard waste regulations, disposed of in the trash. Applicators must give verbal or written notice to property owners/property managers/residents not to use grass clippings from treated turf for mulch or compost." ...


Is there an "away" that I can throw that trash?

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Wed, Jun 15, 2011
from Scientific American:
Mississippi Floods Could Mean Record Gulf 'Dead Zone'
This year's record Mississippi River floods are forecast to create the biggest Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" since systematic mapping began in 1985, U.S. scientists reported on Tuesday. Often created by farm chemical run-off carried to the Gulf by the Mississippi, the 2011 low-oxygen "dead zone" could measure 8,500 to 9,421 square miles (22,253 to 26,515 sq km), or an area roughly the size of New Hampshire, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement. This would be bigger than 2002's record-large hypoxic zone, which stretched over 8,400 square miles (21,750 sq km).... Excess nutrients from the farm chemicals in the water -- mostly nitrogen and phosphorous -- do the same thing in the Gulf that they do on agricultural fields: they encourage plant growth.... In the Gulf, they cause tiny marine plants called phytoplankton to bloom, decay, die and sink to the bottom, where bacteria eat their remains and use up oxygen in the water as they do so. ...


We need to give those nutrients a stern talking-to.

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Tue, Jun 14, 2011
from USA Today:
Apples top most pesticide-contaminated list
Apples are at the top of the list of produce most contaminated with pesticides in a report published today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a public health advocacy group. Its seventh annual report analyzed government data on 53 fruits and vegetables, identifying which have the most and least pesticides after washing and peeling. For produce found to be highest in pesticides, the group recommends buying organic. Apples moved up three spots from last year, replacing celery at the top of the most-contaminated list; 92 percent of apples contained two or more pesticides. ...


Living up to its tradition as the forbidden fruit!

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Mon, Jun 13, 2011
from PNAS, via EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Mercury rising in endangered Pacific seabirds
Using 120 years of feathers from natural history museums in the US, Harvard University researchers have been able to track increases in the neurotoxin methylmercury in the black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), an endangered seabird that forages extensively throughout the Pacific. The study shows that the observed increase in methylmercury levels, most likely from human-generated emissions, can be observed and tracked over broad time periods in organisms that live in the Pacific Ocean.... "Given both the high levels of methylmercury that we measured in our most recent samples and regional levels of emissions, mercury bioaccumulation and toxicity may undermine reproductive effort in this species and other long-lived, endangered seabirds."... "Methylmercury has no benefit to animal life and we are starting to find high levels in endangered and sensitive species across marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems, indicating that mercury pollution and its subsequent chemical reactions in the environment may be important factors in species population declines," says study co-author Michael Bank of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). ...


What do feathers have to do with my thermometer?

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Sun, Jun 12, 2011
from AP, via PhysOrg:
More than 600 sickened by lead poisoning in China
More than 600 people, including 103 children, have been sickened in China's latest case of mass lead poisoning, state media reported Sunday. China has suffered widespread problems in recent years from heavy metal contamination, with thousands of children affected by lead poisoning in several provinces in 2009 and 2010 because they lived near metal smelters or battery factories. The victims in the latest case were workers and their children in 25 family-run tinfoil processing workshops in Yangxunqiao town in Zhejiang province in eastern China, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.... Last month, 74 people were detained and production was suspended at hundreds of battery factories in the same province after dozens of people were sickened by lead and cadmium poisoning. ...


The free market works in mysterious ways.

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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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Fri, May 27, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
FDA finds BPA in nearly every item tested
The FDA has been under significant pressure to regulate Bisphenol-A, a chemical component in plastics and resins that has been linked to health problems ranging from hyperactivity and early puberty to infertility and cancer. 90 percent of all Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While the effects of the stuff have been fairly abundantly demonstrated, the mode of exposure has not been rigorously charted. Some FDA scientists decided to take the matter up themselves, testing the most popularly consumed canned foods. (Most cans of food are lined with resins that contain BPA.) They found BPA in virtually all of the items they tested -- including green beans, chile, pasta and fruit. But the amount of BPA in the items varied widely. One can of peas contained BPA at 113 times the concentration of another. Pasta, pork and beans, chile and soups tended to contain BPA at levels between 10 - 80 parts per billion. Both different types of resin and different chemical properties of the food likely account for the variety. ...


Spaghetti-oh-oh.

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Fri, May 27, 2011
from National Geographic:
Prozac Killing E. coli in the Great Lakes
Scientists in Erie, Pennsylvania, have found that minute concentrations of fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, are killing off microbial populations in the Great Lakes. Traces of antidepressants such as Prozac have been found in both drinking and recreational water supplies throughout the world, in quantities experts say are too dilute to affect humans but which have been found to damage the reproductive systems of mollusks and may even affect the brains of animals like fish.... Killing off bacteria might seem like a good thing. "Your immediate thought is, 'well, that's good, because they're not supposed to be there anyways," said Mercyhurst College microbiologist Steve Mauro, whose team found fluoxetine in low doses in water near Lake Erie's beaches. "But what about all the other bacteria that are supposed to be there and part of that ecosystem?" ...


Best of all, the E. coli don't even mind.

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Tue, May 24, 2011
from Fair Warning:
'Gender-Bending' Chemicals Found in Toys in China
Toy manufacturers are exposing children in China to high levels of industrial chemicals known as phthalates that the U.S. and European Union have banned from children's products, the environmental organization Greenpeace says. Phthalates, the best-known of which is DEHP, are used to soften plastic children's toys. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified them as probable human carcinogens. They have also been linked to "gender-bending." A 2005 study, for instance, suggested that phthalates could affect the genital development of boys, and other research has associated the chemicals with the early onset of puberty in girls. Congress passed a ban in 2008 after concluding that the chemicals posed a risk to children who chew on their toys. But there is no such ban in China and, according to Greenpeace, testing by an independent laboratory found phthalates in 21 out of 30 samples of children's products purchased in four Chinese cities. ...


That's one way to limit population growth in your country.

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Thu, May 19, 2011
from Grist:
Big Ag doesn't want you to care about pesticides
The produce lobby is livid that consumers might be concerned about pesticides. They are taking their fury out on the USDA for its annual report on pesticide use (via The Washington Post): "In a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, 18 produce trade associations complained that the data have "been subject to misinterpretation by activists, which publicize their distorted findings through national media outlets in a way that is misleading for consumers and can be highly detrimental to the growers of these commodities.... There are some organizations with agendas that do want to scare people away from fresh produce," said Kathy Means, a vice president at the Produce Marketing Association, a major industry group. "We don't want anyone eating unsafe foods, of course. But for those products that are grown legally and the science says [the pesticide] is safe, we don't want people turning away." ...


If they haven't regulated it, it must not be dangerous.

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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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Sat, May 14, 2011
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Deadly diet of marine plastic kills seabirds
Seabirds which forage in the Tasman Sea are mistaking plastic for food, eating it and perishing on Lord Howe Island. "The problem is here - in our backyard," a zoologist, Jennifer Lavers, said. Large amounts of plastic are being recovered from flesh-footed shearwaters on Lord Howe. In the latest survey, one bird's stomach contained more than 200 pieces and others held more than 50. The sharp-edged fragments tear internal organs and toxic substances bind to the plastic. Mercury, which is toxic to birds at four parts per million, was found in the shearwaters at up to 30,000 ppm, according to Dr Lavers. The bird's numbers are plummeting on Lord Howe, once an Australian stronghold. Dr Lavers, of the Tasmanian Museum, said in last month's survey 95 per cent of nesting shearwaters had some plastic in their stomachs and it was hard to find living chicks.... The shearwater population on Lord Howe has at least halved since the 1970s. Even so, in a good year 50 per cent of burrows contained chicks. "This year we checked more than 200 nests and we found six chicks - one of them dead," Dr Lavers said. "We have to ask: 'is this just a bad year, or is this population tanking?'." ...


Our society's challenge: How do we make plastic more nutritious?

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Fri, May 13, 2011
from Discovery News:
Lake Slime Loaded With Pollutants
Pesticides, plasticizers, pharmaceuticals and other hormone-disrupting chemicals soak into the slime that coats rocks at the bottom of lakes and streams, found a new study. Fish and aquatic insects then feed on those contaminated slimes, also known as biofilms. By documenting biofilms as covert hiding places for toxic chemicals, the study offers the potential for aquatic slimes to help remove pollution from wastewater effluents. For now, the findings also raise new concerns about how the chemicals in our drugs and personal care products work their way through food chains.... Concern has been building for years about the environmental effects of endocrine disrupters, a class of chemicals that can interrupt the hormonal systems of both people and animals that are exposed to them. These chemicals, which include hormones from birth control pills and ingredients of many plastics, end up in the discharge that flows out of wastewater treatment plants all over the developed world. ...


Slimant Green comes from people!

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Wed, May 11, 2011
from Postmedia News:
Pollutants taking toll on polar bears: researchers
Persistent organic pollutants used in industry are changing the genitals and bones of polar bears in East Greenland, says a Danish wildlife veterinarian and toxicologist. "Shrinking balls and degraded bones," linked to the presence of pesticides and flame retardants in the Arctic, are likely to affect the animals' fertility and reproductive success, said Christian Sonne at last week's conference on Arctic climate change and pollution in Copenhagen. These impacts are "not just" affecting polar bears, said Sonne who works at the National Environmental Research Institute of Denmark. People, as well as other animals, in Canada's Arctic may also be at risk of similar effects from these pollutants... ...


Just slip 'em some calcium supplements and viagra and they'll be fine.

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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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Mon, May 2, 2011
from Yale360:
Authors of 'No Noteworthy Risk' BPA Report Have Close Ties to Chemical Industry
Four authors of a new report that finds "no noteworthy risk" in human exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA) have ties either to the chemical industry or to companies and groups involved in the manufacture or promotion of BPA, according to a report by the non-profit investigative reporting group, California Watch. While the German Society for Toxicology report aimed to inject "an independent judgment" into the contentious debate over the safety of BPA, a synthetic chemical found in thousands of everyday plastics, the report discloses that one of the authors is employed by Europe's largest producer of BPA, and another has received funding from the industry group BPA Global. Two other authors describe themselves on their professional websites as consultants to the chemical industry. "They are simply protecting their product," said Frederick vom Saal, a biologist at the University of Missouri who has studied the health effects of BPA for a decade.... This week, however, Coca-Cola executives said they will not stop using BPA in the lining of its cans, saying there is insufficient scientific evidence to justify the change. ...


How can industry self-regulate if they don't have a few scientists in their pocket?

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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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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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Thu, Apr 21, 2011
from Scientific American:
Seafood At Risk: Dispersed Oil Poses a Long-Term Threat
After the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, more than 200 million gallons of oil flowed out of the Macondo well and into the Gulf of Mexico before the leak was finally plugged. Add to that the nearly 2 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit subsequently applied to the spill and it's no wonder that the government, scientists and the public alike are wondering what sort of effects this chemical cocktail will have on the Gulf ecosystem, and especially seafood. While the mainstream media has widely covered the debate over seafood safety, these stories do not delve into the science behind the issue, nor do they highlight the dangers that chemically dispersed oil poses to the marine food web. Not only is there concern about the current safety of Gulf seafood, but there are concerns about the long-term effects dispersed oil may have on fish populations, further jeopardizing Gulf fisheries in the future.... The current FDA risk assessment protocol is based on a 176-pound man eating four shrimp a week. That doesn't account for women or children, whose body weights are lower, let alone local seafood consumption along the Gulf coast. "Nobody in the Gulf really eats four shrimp a week, so it's unrealistic the way they are assessing risk of consumption," says Shaw.... Solomon reports that many people she talked to on the Gulf coast told her, "Four shrimp?! That's not even one po' boy!" ...


Long-term threats are tomorrow's problem.

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Tue, Apr 19, 2011
from PNAS, vai ScienceDaily:
Methylmercury on the Rise in Endangered Pacific Seabirds
Using 120 years of feathers from natural history museums in the United States, Harvard University researchers have been able to track increases in the neurotoxin methylmercury in the black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), an endangered seabird that forages extensively throughout the Pacific. The study shows that the observed increase in methylmercury levels, most likely from human-generated emissions, can be observed and tracked over broad time periods in organisms that live in the Pacific Ocean.... "Given both the high levels of methylmercury that we measured in our most recent samples and regional levels of emissions, mercury bioaccumulation and toxicity may undermine reproductive effort in this species and other long-lived, endangered seabirds." They found increasing levels of methylmercury that were generally consistent with historical global and recent regional increases in anthropogenic mercury emissions. ...


That's the Kool kind of mercury. I'm just Salem'.

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Tue, Apr 19, 2011
from Global Saskatoon:
Deadly bat-fungus shows up in Nova Scotia
The brown bat population in Nova Scotia is at risk of being wiped out if a lethal fungus spreads throughout the province. The Department of Natural Resources has reported its first case of white-nose syndrome, a fungus that can grow on the ears, nose and wings of hibernating bats. Nova Scotia is now the fourth province to see signs of the devastating illness.... Because the fungus thrives in the winter climate it disrupts the animal's seasonal sleeping patterns, causing them to exhibit irregular behavior. The bats wake up and search for food in daylight or in temperatures they're not acclimatized to, eventually starving to death. Only one bat has tested positive in for white-nose syndrome in Nova Scotia so far, in Hants County, but in neighbouring New Brunwick the disease has already led to 25 per cent of the brown bat population dying in one area. ...


So what, they can't play baseball? They still have hockey!

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Mon, Apr 18, 2011
from Sacramento Bee:
Potent new rat poisons killing California wildlife
Outside Palm Desert, a young bobcat dies mysteriously at a nature preserve. South of Nevada City, a farmer finds an owl dead near his decoy shed. In San Rafael, a red-shouldered hawk bleeds heavily from its mouth and nose before succumbing at an animal care center. Each of those incidents shares a link to a widely used toxin that is turning up at dangerous levels in wildlife across California: rat poison. Over the years, rat poison has spared state residents untold filth and disease. But a new generation of highly toxic, long-lasting poisons is killing not only rats, mice and ground squirrels, but whatever feeds on them, too.... "Rodenticides are the new DDT," said Maggie Sergio, director of advocacy at WildCare, a Bay Area wildlife rehabilitation center that has responded to dozens of poisoning cases. "It is an emergency, an environmental disaster. We are killing nature's own rodent control."... Around Bakersfield, 79 percent of endangered San Joaquin kit foxes tested have turned up positive for rodenticide. Near Los Angeles, 90 percent of bobcats sampled had rat poison in their blood. "Basically, when we look for it, we find it," McMillin said.... Two tongue-twisting toxins turn up most often in wildlife: brodifacoum and bromadio-lone. On store shelves, they go by such names as D-Con, Havoc, Talon, Tomcat Ultra and Just One Bite. ...


"Killing nature's own rodent control" is just good business. Think of all those future rat poison sales!

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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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Fri, Apr 1, 2011
from Science, via ScienceDaily:
Economic Importance of Bats in the 'Billions a Year' Range
Bats in North America are under a two-pronged attack but they are not the only victim -- so is the U.S. economy. Gary McCracken, head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, analyzed the economic impact of the loss of bats in North America in agriculture and found it to be in the $3.7 to $53 billion a year range.... Since 2006, more than a million bats have died due to a fungal disease called White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). At the same time, several migratory tree-dwelling species are being killed in unprecedented numbers by wind turbines. This hurts the economy because bats' diet of pest insects reduces the damage the insects cause to crops and decreases the need for pesticides. In fact, the researchers estimate the value of bats to the agricultural industry is roughly $22.9 billion a year, with the extremes ranging as low as $3.7 and $53 billion a year.... "These estimates include the reduced costs of pesticide applications that are not needed to suppress the insects consumed by bats. However, they do not include the downstream impacts of pesticides on humans, domestic and wild animals and our environment," said McCracken. "Without bats, crop yields are affected. Pesticide applications go up. Even if our estimates were quartered, they clearly show how bats have enormous potential to influence the economics of agriculture and forestry." ...


That's why bat researchers are finding funding so easily.

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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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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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Sun, Mar 20, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
A new clue in the case of the toxic strawberries
It was disappointing, if not downright strange, when California's Department of Pesticide Regulation decided in December to approve methyl iodide for use on the state's strawberry crops despite more than 50,000 letters of opposition -- the most DPR has ever gotten on any proposed rule. Was DPR head, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, in the pocket of the chemical industry? There's no smoking gun, but Warmerdam had been subject to aggressive lobbying by Arysta LifeScience, the largest privately held chemical manufacturer in the world and the maker of the profitable methyl iodide. Earlier this week, Warmerdam resigned her post, announcing she would be taking a job at chemical maker Clorox. (Clorox does not manufacture methyl iodide.) DPR's approval raised eyebrows because methyl iodide is known to cause cancer, nerve damage and late-term miscarriage.... "Due to the potent toxicity of methyl iodide, its transport in and ultimate fate in the environment, adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible."... California produces almost 90 percent of all strawberries grown in the U.S. ...


If I can pronounce a chemical's name, it can't be that bad, right?

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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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Sat, Mar 12, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Toxin found in dead sardines
Sardines that suffocated and died en masse this week in King Harbor have tested positive for a powerful neurotoxin that scientists believe may have distressed 1 million or more fish off the Los Angeles coastline and caused them to swim chaotically into the Redondo Beach marina. Researchers still believe critically low oxygen levels, not the toxin or an algae bloom, caused the fish to suddenly die Monday night in the Redondo Beach marina. But the discovery of domoic acid in dead fish -- reported Friday by USC biologists -- could help explain why millions of sardines swam into the harbor in the first place... Domoic acid is often found in the stomachs of fish that have been feeding on plankton on the ocean's surface during toxic algae blooms. The toxin has been linked to neurological disorders, illnesses and deaths of seabirds, sea lions, sea otters and whales. When it accumulates in edible fish and shellfish, it can sicken humans. ...


Arrrrr! We made these sardines walk the plankton.

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Wed, Mar 9, 2011
from BBC:
Adders, toads and lizards are disappearing from UK
The native adder is effectively disappearing from our landscape, a study has revealed. The first nationwide survey of UK amphibian and reptiles has found that Britain's most widespread snake, the adder, is in decline. Slow worms, common lizards and grass snakes are also becoming less widespread, as are the common toad, common frog and the great crested newt. The only species found to be increasing its range is the palmate newt.... "There is no single trend as different species are sensitive to different issues," explained Dr Wilkinson.... The main drive of amphibian and reptile decline is thought to be habitat fragmentation and development. ...


Just in time for St. Patrick's Day.

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Mon, Mar 7, 2011
from BBC:
Cancer rise and sperm quality fall 'due to chemicals'
Sperm quality significantly deteriorated and testicular cancers increased over recent years, a Finnish study says. The study in the International Journal of Andrology looked at men born between 1979 and 1987. The University of Turku research suggests environmental reasons, particularly exposure to industrial chemicals, may be behind both trends. A UK expert said chemicals may affect the development of male babies.... Total sperm counts were 227m for men born in 1979-81, 202m for those born in 1982-83 and 165m for men born in 1987, respectively. In addition, the researchers observed that there was a higher incidence of testicular cancer in men born around 1980 compared with men born around 1950. Writing in the journal, the researchers led by Professor Jorma Toppari, said: "These simultaneous and rapidly occurring adverse trends suggest that the underlying causes are environmental and, as such, preventable. "Our findings further necessitate the efforts to identify reasons for the adverse trends in reproductive health to make preventive measures possible." ...


That's hitting where it hurts.

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Mon, Mar 7, 2011
from Earth Times:
Bumblebees: Gone with the Wind? A Major Disappearance
Bumblebees, also known as Bombus terristris, are the pollinating cousins of wasps and hornets. They are the number one pollinator for wild growing plants as well as commercial agriculture; you may have seen them flitting around your Gran's tomato plants on summer evenings, busy at work. However, these popular and beloved buzzing insects that help bring us all kinds of food-- from coffee beans to fresh apples -- bring alarming news. In the past few decades scientific studies have found that increasing numbers of bumblebee colonies are disappearing. It's possible that Bombus affinis, one of the many bumblebee subspecies native to North America, have all but died out. Between 1976 and 2006, there was a huge loss in the number of wild bumblebee colonies; they are now almost completely gone. Not only North America is suffering from this bumblebee disappearance; in the UK, over the past 70 years 3 out of 24 native bumblebee species have gone extinct.... Scientific evidence strongly suggests that the combination of insecticides and disease from imported bees, bred in greenhouses, are two main causes of bee deaths. One highly dangerous group of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, have been used since the 90s in North America on a wide variety of crops.... Climate change, environmental stress, harmful chemicals- these are all human induced symptoms that are believed to be contributing to rapid bee extinction. ...


With a name like Bombus terristris, I think I'm glad we're wiping them out!

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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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Wed, Mar 2, 2011
from New York Times:
Distilled fracking wastewater residue can be sold as road salt without regulations
Under federal law, hydrofracking enjoys a number of important regulatory exemptions or exclusions that are not applicable to most other heavy industries. While it is not exempt from all federal environmental statutes, some of the rules in these laws do not apply to the industry. For example, the waste produced by hydrofracking is not categorized as hazardous material under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (R.C.R.A.), the law governing hazardous waste. This series of e-mails, sent between September 2009 and February 2010, concern this point. Industry representatives ask state regulators whether their waste would still be exempt if they distilled it and sold the resulting salts for road application. State and federal regulators confirm that, no matter how it is handled, waste from the oil and gas industry cannot be classified as hazardous material. Asked about this e-mail exchange, a spokesman for the E.P.A. said in an e-mail, "Yes, gas brine road salts are exempt under R.C.R.A., which was passed by Congress in the 1980s. Currently, wastewaters associated from exploration and production of natural gas are exempt from federal hazardous waste regulatory requirements under R.C.R.A. These wastewaters are regulated under state waste management programs. The federal exemption extends to salts derived from these wastewaters." Asked about the R.C.R.A. exemption, Jamie Legenos, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, declined to comment. ...


Just think of the possibilities!

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Sat, Feb 26, 2011
from Lavidalocavore:
New pathogen associated with RoundUp may be cause of rising animal miscarriages: Fascinating 'open letter' to Vilsack by emeritus professor
A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn--suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup.... This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm (see below). My colleagues and I are therefore moving our investigation forward with speed and discretion, and seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to identify the pathogen's source, prevalence, implications, and remedies.... For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency. ...


If this was suspected to be agricultural bioterrorism, it might be big news.

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Tue, Feb 22, 2011
from Yale360:
Unraveling the Mystery of the Bizarre Deformed Frogs
For the last two decades, strange things have been happening to frogs. Some frog populations have high rates of limb deformities, while others have high incidences of what is known as "intersex" -- traits associated with both males and females, such as male frogs whose testes contain eggs. David K. Skelly, professor of ecology at Yale University's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, set out to discover what was causing these deformities, which some researchers were attributing to an agricultural pesticide. His work has indeed implicated human activity, but not in the way many researchers had thought. Skelly says one thing is clear: The deformities showing up in frogs are almost certainly not caused by a single chemical, but rather by a whole suite of substances -- including medicines excreted by humans into the environment -- that act in concert to mimic hormones like estrogen or cause other ill effects. ...


That means there's no one to blame!

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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?

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Sun, Feb 20, 2011
from AP, via PhysOrg:
Scientist finds Gulf bottom still oily, dead
Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist's video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn't degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor. That report is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012. At a science conference in Washington Saturday, marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn't. "There's some sort of a bottleneck we have yet to identify for why this stuff doesn't seem to be degrading," Joye told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington. Her research and those of her colleagues contrasts with other studies that show a more optimistic outlook about the health of the gulf, saying microbes did great work munching the oil. "Magic microbes consumed maybe 10 percent of the total discharge, the rest of it we don't know," Joye said, later adding: "there's a lot of it out there." ...


Samantha is such a kill-Joye.

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Wed, Feb 2, 2011
from change.org:
Ban the use of Rozol (chlorophacinone) grain bait on prairie dogs (petition)
Urge your elected officials to pressure the the EPA to immediately ban the use of Rozol (chlorophacinone) grain bait to exterminate black-tailed prairie dogs. This poison is inhumane. Rozol causes internal bleeding to animals who ingest it, and their suffering can be prolonged over the course of several days to two weeks until death. Black-tailed prairie dogs have declined by up to 99 percent across their range in the Great Plains. These animals are keystone species who create habitat that benefits over 100 vertebrate species. Many of the animals who depend on black-tailed prairie dogs are also declining and imperiled. Any additional poison to kill prairie dogs will only hasten their decline toward extinction. Rozol is also particularly dangerous to non-target animals. Animals such as grassland birds and other rodents that eat grain and seeds are at risk to dying from Rozol-laced bait. Birds of prey and carnivores that eat prairie dogs are also at risk. Some of these animals include hawks, eagles, foxes, badgers, and endangered black-footed ferrets. By approving Rozol, the EPA has violated the Endangered Species Act. Use of the poison to exterminate black-tailed prairie dogs can harm species listed under the Act. These species include the black-footed ferret, the American burrowing beetle, and the whooping crane. ...


All we have to do is teach eagles, hawks, foxes, badgers, coyotes, and ferrets not to eat the Rozol-killed prairie dogs. How hard can that be?

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Thu, Jan 20, 2011
from GOOD:
Undercover Fish Testing Reveals Mercury at Three Times Federal Limits
California sushi eaters, watch out: San Francisco-based public awareness campaign Got Mercury? released the results from its most recent undercover fish testing operation earlier today. The data are pretty scary, and they're making news. But it's a little unclear whether the alarm is totally warranted, and--more importantly--what we should be doing about it. The campaign explains that they "randomly selected 41 grocery stores in California to purchase fresh and frozen samples of swordfish, ahi tuna or yellowfin tuna, and salmon," which they then submitted to laboratory analysis. Their findings include the startling fact that more than a third of the grocery store fish studied had levels of methylmercury in excess of the the FDA do-not-sell limit of 1 part per million, with swordfish being by far the worst offender. In fact, only 6 of the 32 swordfish samples analyzed came in below 1 part per million, and one fish, purchased at a Ralph's in Los Angeles, had 3 parts per million.... "The FDA's benchmark [...] was calculated with a significant buffer zone. That is, mercury levels are not harmful until they reach 10 parts per million--10 times the 1 part per million guideline." ... ...


Bioaccumulation seems to be on the rise, and sticking around.

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Thu, Jan 20, 2011
from The Independent, via DesdemonaDespair:
Bees facing a poisoned spring
A new generation of pesticides is making honeybees far more susceptible to disease, even at tiny doses, and may be a clue to the mysterious colony collapse disorder that has devastated bees across the world, the US government's leading bee researcher has found. Yet the discovery has remained unpublished for nearly two years since it was made by the US Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory.... Bayer, the German chemicals giant which developed the insecticides and makes most of them, insists that they are safe for bees if used properly, but they have already been widely linked to bee mortality. The US findings raise questions about the substance used in the bee lab's experiment, imidacloprid, which was Bayer's top-selling insecticide in 2009, earning the company Ł510m. The worry is that neonicotinoids, which are neurotoxins - that is, they attack the central nervous system - are also "systemic", meaning they are taken up into every part of the plant which is treated with them, including the pollen and nectar. This means that bees and other pollinating insects can absorb them and carry them back to their hives or nests - even if they are not the insecticide's target species.... The American study, led by Dr Jeffrey Pettis, research leader at the US government bee lab in Beltsville, Maryland, has demonstrated that the insects' vulnerability to infection is increased by the presence of imidacloprid, even at the most microscopic doses. Dr Pettis and his team found that increased disease infection happened even when the levels of the insecticide were so tiny that they could not subsequently be detected in the bees, although the researchers knew that they had been dosed with it. ...


Bee there, dead that.

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Sun, Jan 16, 2011
from The Independent:
Beekeepers fume at association's endorsement-for-cash of fatal insecticides
Britain's beekeepers are at war over their association's endorsement for money of four insecticides, all of them fatal to bees, made by major chemical companies. The British Beekeepers' Association has been selling its logo to four European pesticide producers and is believed to have received about 175,000 pounds in return. The active ingredient chemicals in the four pesticides the beekeepers endorsed are synthetic pyrethroids, which are among the most powerful of modern insect-killers. The deal was struck in secret by the beekeepers' association executive without the knowledge of the overwhelming majority of its members. After news of the deal emerged, some members expressed outrage and others resigned. ...


That executive's colony just collapsed.

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Fri, Jan 14, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Toxics found in virtually all pregnant U.S. women tested in UCSF study
Multiple chemicals, including some banned since the 1970s and others used in items such as nonstick cookware, furniture, processed foods and beauty products, were found in the blood and urine of pregnant U.S. women, according to a UCSF study being released today.... Of the 163 chemicals studied, 43 of them were found in virtually all 268 pregnant women in the study. They included polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, a prohibited chemical linked to cancer and other health problems; organochlorine pesticides; polybrominated diphenyl ethers, banned compounds used as flame retardants; and phthalates, which are shown to cause hormone disruption. Some of these chemicals were banned before many of the women were even born.... The chemicals found in 99 percent to 100 percent of the women included certain PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds, phenols, PBDEs, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and perchlorate. ...


Just think of it as vaccinating fetuses against future toxic buildup.

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Fri, Jan 7, 2011
from BBC:
Dioxin animal feed scare shuts German farms
More than 4,700 German farms have been closed after large amounts of animal feed were found to be contaminated with dioxin, a poisonous chemical.... Meanwhile, the EU has warned that eggs from farms affected by dioxin have entered the UK in processed products destined for human food.... The origin of the contamination has been traced to a distributor in the northern state of Schleswig Holstein, where oils intended for use in bio-fuels were accidentally distributed for animal feed.... Dioxins are toxins formed by industrial processes and waste burning. They have been shown to contribute to higher cancer rates and to affect pregnant women. ...


Dioxin-laced oils INTENDED FOR USE IN BIOFUELS?!?!

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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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Wed, Jan 5, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Dead Birds Fall From Sky In Sweden, Millions Of Dead Fish Found In Maryland, Brazil, New Zealand
Millions of dead fish surfaced in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay in the U.S., Tuesday, while similar unexplained mass fish deaths occurred across the world in Brazil and New Zealand. On Wednesday, 50 birds were found dead on a street in Sweden. The news come after recents reports of mysterious massive bird and fish deaths days prior in Arkansas and Louisiana.... ParanaOnline reports that 100 tons of sardines, croaker and catfish have washed up in Brazilian fishing towns since last Thursday. The cause of the deaths is unknown, with an imbalance in the environment, chemical pollution, or accidental release from a fishing boat all suggested by local officials. In New Zealand, hundreds of dead snapper fish washed up on Coromandel Peninsula beaches, many found with their eyes missing, The New Zealand Herald reports. A Department of Conservation official allegedly claims the fish were starving due to weather conditions. While all three events are likely unrelated, they come after recent reports of mysterious dead birds falling from the sky in both Arkansas and Louisiana. Thousands of dead birds were found in Beebe, Arkansas on New Year's Eve, and a few days later, around 500 of the same species were found 300 miles south in Louisiana. A Kentucky woman also reported finding dozens of dead birds scattered around her home. In the days prior to New Year's, nearly 100,000 fish surfaced in an Arkansas river 100 miles west of Beebe. ...


Let's hope this isn't Nature counting coup.

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Tue, Jan 4, 2011
from PNAS, via PhysOrg:
US sees massive drop in bumble bees: study
Weakened by inbreeding and disease, bumble bees have died off at an astonishing rate over the past 20 years, with some US populations diving more than 90 percent, according to a new study. The findings are of concern because bees play a crucial role in pollinating crops such as tomatoes, peppers and berries, said the findings of a three-year study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Similar declines have also been seen in Europe and Asia.... Researchers examined eight species of North American bumble bees and found that the "relative abundance of four species has dropped by more than 90 percent, suggesting die-offs further supported by shrinking geographic ranges," said the study. "Compared with species of relatively stable population sizes, the dwindling bee species had low genetic diversity, potentially rendering them prone to pathogens and environmental pressures." Their cousins, the honey bees, have also experienced catastrophic die-offs since 2006 in a phenomenon known as "colony collapse disorder," though the causes have yet to be fully determined. ...


The bumblebee may become bumblebeen.

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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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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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Sun, Dec 12, 2010
from TreeHugger, thru DesdemonaDespair:
Beekeepers, Activists Demand EPA Remove Pesticide Linked to Bee Deaths
Now US beekeepers are honing in on pesticides too, asking the EPA to remove one particular pesticide after a leaked study showed that field trials were severely flawed. According to PR newswire, a group of beekeepers and anti-pesticide activists are stepping up calls for the EPA to remove approval for clothianidin (product name "Poncho") after a leaked EPA memo dated November 2nd identifies a core study underpinning the registration of the insecticide as being unsound. The pesticide has been widely used on major crops across the country under a "conditional registration" while the manufacturer, Bayer Crop Science, was supposed to conduct a field study assessing the insecticide's threat to bee colony health.... "Among the neonicotinoids, clothianidin is among those most toxic for honey bees, and this combined with its systemic movement in plants has produced a troubling mix of scientific results pointing to its potential risk for honey bees through current agricultural practices. Our own research indicates that systemic pesticides occur in pollen and nectar in much greater quantities than has been previously thought, and that interactions among pesticides occurs often and should be of wide concern." ...


Heck, it's Bayer! It comes with a conditionally registered nature-back guarantee!

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Fri, Dec 10, 2010
from New York Times:
An Alert on Ocean Acidity
Carbon dioxide emissions from man-made sources are causing the acidity level of the world's oceans to rise at what is probably the fastest rate in 65 million years, threatening global fisheries that serve as an essential food source for billions of people, according to a new United Nations report.... The acidity of the oceans has grown 30 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. At current emission rates, ocean acidity could be 150 percent higher by the end of the century, the report states.... "No doubt different species of coral, coralline algae, plankton and mollusks will show different tolerances, and their capacity to calcify will decline at different rates," Dr. Veron wrote. "But as acidification progresses, they will all suffer from some form of coralline osteoporosis." "The result will be that corals will no longer be able to build reefs or maintain them against the forces of erosion," the article continues. "What were once thriving coral gardens that supported the greatest biodiversity of the marine realm will become red-black bacterial slime, and they will stay that way." ...


Quite apart from the massive die-off of nearly all marine ecosystems -- that bacterial slime will stink!

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Thu, Dec 9, 2010
from The ApocaDocs:
2010 Year in Review from the ApocaDocs
The shocking truth ripped from the headlines! An appalling sense of humor in full display! The TOP 100 STORIES selected from the 1600+ news items archived and bequipped by the ApocaDocs in 2010, our The Year in Review displays not just the most holy shit, death-spiral-ish stories of the year, but also many of our favorite quips ("holy shit" stories tend to bring out the quipsters in both of us). All displayed in staggering CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER to help recap the year. You'll find yourself asking "What, all this, and it's only June!?!" Groans, grimaces, and guffaws abound in this rollercoaster reprise of a most eventful year. ...


How could you keep it to only a hundred?

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Wed, Dec 8, 2010
from Consumers Union, through Mother Jones:
Mercury Tuna: Are the FDA's Recommendations Too High?
From the department of #butilovetunamelts comes this depressing news: The Consumers Union recently analyzed 42 samples of packaged tuna, and found that about half a can of white (albacore) tuna (which tends to have more mercury than light tuna) contains more mercury than the EPA's recommended daily limit for women of childbearing age. A few other nuggets from the study: * Every sample contained measurable levels of mercury, ranging from 0.018 to 0.774 parts per million. The FDA can take legal action to pull products containing 1 ppm or more from the market. (It never has, according to an FDA spokesman.) * Samples of light tuna had 0.018 to 0.176 ppm and averaged 0.071 ppm. At that average, a woman of childbearing age eating 2.5 ounces would get less than the EPA's limit, but for about half the tested samples, eating 5 ounces (about one can) would exceed the limit. ...


I think I'm sticking with the dolphin steak.

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Wed, Dec 8, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Till receipts coated in chemical linked to cancer: study
Cash register receipts and paper money have been found to contain high levels of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical linked to cancer, obesity and early puberty, a study published Wednesday says.... Holding the receipts for just 10 seconds caused up to 2.5 micrograms of BPA to transfer from the paper onto a person's fingers, and rubbing the receipts increased around 15-fold the amount of BPA transferred from the receipts onto fingers, the study said.... Last month, the World Health Organization said BPA does not accumulate in the body, but admitted that "recent experimental and epidemiological studies found associations between low BPA exposure levels and some adverse health outcomes."... "BPA on receipts, dollar bills and in many other products is a direct result of the absurdly lax controls on chemicals in the United States," he said, calling on the incoming Congress to reform "the failed 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act." From the fingers, the BPA transferred easily onto dollar bills: the researchers found the chemical on 21 of 22 bills tested, although in much lower levels than on the till receipts. ...


Congress has been wise in other matters -- surely they're remain so!

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Mon, Dec 6, 2010
from CBC:
Oil industry condemns Greenpeace satire
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says Greenpeace has gone too far in its latest attack on the oilsands industry. In an online contest posted on Facebook, Greenpeace is encouraging people to take aim at a CAPP ad campaign launched earlier this year that shows oilsands workers talking about land reclamation and environmental cleanup in the industry. Greenpeace is encouraging people to create mash-ups or remixes, using videos from CAPP's campaign. One spoof video posted to the group's Facebook page depicts a biologist saying she will probably die of cancer and her family will be paid money to keep quiet. CAPP spokesperson Janet Annesley said the ads go too far. "We're certainly open to have our ideas or the point of the ads challenged," she said. "If the activists don't believe our claims around environmental performance, let's talk about that ... in our view, that just makes it personal, and it distracts from what, in fact, we should be talking about, which is solutions." ...


I didn't know oil corporations had such a keen sense of humor!

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Thu, Nov 25, 2010
from Associated Press:
Groups sue EPA over lead ammo, tackle
Three environmental groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday to force it to prevent lead poisoning of wildlife from spent ammunition and lost fishing tackle. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the hunters group Project Gutpile. It comes after the EPA denied their petition to ban lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle, which the groups say kills 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals a year by lead poisoning...The groups' original petition cited nearly 500 peer-reviewed scientific articles that they said document the toxic effects of lead on wildlife, and the lawsuit argues that large amounts of lead continue to be deposited into the environment. According to the lawsuit, animals often mistake lead shotgun pellets and fishing tackle for food, grit or bone fragments, and avian scavengers are particularly vulnerable to lead in carcasses, gut piles and wounded prey species. ...


It might be easier to teach animals to stop eating lead than getting government to act.

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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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Mon, Nov 15, 2010
from London Independent:
None flew over the cuckoo's nest: A world without birds
...It is nearly 50 years since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, the book that warned of environmental damage the pesticide DDT was causing. Today, DDT use is banned except in exceptional circumstances, yet we still don't seem to have taken on board Carson's fundamental message. According to Henk Tennekes, a researcher at the Experimental Toxicology Services in Zutphen, the Netherlands, the threat of DDT has been superseded by a relatively new class of insecticide, known as the neonicotinoids. In his book The Systemic Insecticides: A Disaster in the Making, published this month, Tennekes draws all the evidence together, to make the case that neonicotinoids are causing a catastrophe in the insect world, which is having a knock-on effect for many of our birds. Already, in many areas, the skies are much quieter than they used to be. All over Europe, many species of bird have suffered a population crash. Spotting a house sparrow, common swift or a flock of starlings used to be unremarkable, but today they are a more of an unusual sight. Since 1977, Britain's house-sparrow population has shrunk by 68 per cent. ...


And the worms shall inherit the earth.

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Wed, Nov 10, 2010
from Al Jazeera:
BP blamed for symptoms of toxic overload in Gulf denizens
Increasing numbers of people across the Gulf Coast are suffering from symptoms that doctors and toxicologists are linking to chemicals from the BP oil disaster that began last summer when the blowout of the Macondo well gushed at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. BP responded by using at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersant to sink the oil.... Just speaking of air exposure, and there are scientific papers on this, if you release one molecule of toluene, at three metres above the ground, into a six kilometre wind, that molecule, uninterrupted, will travel 34 kilometres." Charter plane pilots who have conducted Gulf over-flights have reported having to wipe an oily, orange film from their plane afterwards. Following this, the skin on their hands peeled off. "The oil and dispersants are in the air and in the rain and are making people sick," Ott said. "These Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are there, and at dangerous levels." Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system (CNS) depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. The chemicals are also teratogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic. ...


OMG, the invisible hand of the marketplace stands revealed!!

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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 Huffington Post:
Beak Deformities On The Rise: Causes Unknown For Birds' Avian Keratin Disorder
Scientists have observed the highest rate of beak abnormalities ever recorded in wild bird populations in Alaska and the Northwest, a study by two federal scientists said. The U.S. Geological Survey study on beak deformities in northwestern crows in Alaska, Washington and British Columbia follows a trend found earlier in Alaska's black-capped chickadees. "The prevalence of these strange deformities is more than 10 times what is normally expected in a wild bird population," said research biologist Colleen Handel.... The cause of the deformity - called "avian keratin disorder" - hasn't been determined, Handel said. An estimated 17 percent of adult northwestern crows are affected by the disorder in coastal Alaska.... The abnormality sometimes is accompanied by elongated claws, abnormal skin or variations in feather color. Van Hemert said the disorder first was noticed in significant numbers around 1999. It has increased dramatically over the past decade, affecting 6.5 percent of adult black-capped chickadees in Alaska annually. Biologists have documented more than 2,100 affected individuals and increasing numbers of other species, such as nuthatches and woodpeckers, have been spotted with beak deformities.... In the past, large clusters of beak deformities have been associated with environmental pollutants such as organochlorines in the Great Lakes region and selenium from agricultural runoff in California.... The increasing occurrence of deformities in multiple bird species with broad geographic distribution suggests that avian keratin disorder is spreading, they said. ...


Scientists: we need a catchier name than avian keratin disorder for this meme to go viral.

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Wed, Nov 3, 2010
from Chicago Tribune:
Fragranced 'Green' Consumer Products Emit Hazardous Chemicals
Widely-used scented consumer products that claim to be "green," "organic" or "natural" emit just as many toxic chemicals as other fragranced products, new research shows. The study analyzed 25 scented products; about half carried green health claims. All the products emitted at least one chemical classified as toxic or hazardous. More than a third of the samples gave off one chemical classified as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the research, published in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review. The EPA has set no safe exposure level for possible carcinogens. Overall, the products tested emitted more than 420 chemicals, but virtually none were disclosed to consumers, said the study's lead author, Anne Steinemann, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington. "Products with 'organic fragrance,' 'natural fragrance,' and 'essential oils' emitted just as many toxic chemicals," she said. "Basically, if it had any kind of fragrance or scent, it emitted toxic chemicals." A single "fragrance" in a product can be a mixture of up to several hundred ingredients. But since manufacturers are not required to disclose all ingredients in cosmetics, cleaning supplies, air fresheners or laundry products, the majority of the chemicals are not listed on the labels. ...


Don't make us disclose "trade secrets." It might open us up to litigation!

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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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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 NSF/NCAR, via EurekAlert:
Drought may threaten much of globe within decades
The United States and many other heavily populated countries face a growing threat of severe and prolonged drought in coming decades, according to results of a new study by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Aiguo Dai. The detailed analysis concludes that warming temperatures associated with climate change will likely create increasingly dry conditions across much of the globe in the next 30 years. The drought may reach a scale in some regions by the end of the century that has rarely, if ever, been observed in modern times.... While regional climate projections are less certain than those for the globe as a whole, Dai's study indicates that most of the western two-thirds of the United States will be significantly drier by the 2030s.... "We are facing the possibility of widespread drought in the coming decades, but this has yet to be fully recognized by both the public and the climate change research community," Dai says. "If the projections in this study come even close to being realized, the consequences for society worldwide will be enormous." ...


Only this time, the great clouds of the dustbowl will be laced with unknown toxins from corporate farms.

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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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Fri, Sep 17, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Pesticides persist in Indian atmosphere
While residues of banned pesticides in the atmosphere are declining around the world India continues to have exceptionally high levels, a new study shows. Portable samplers using chemically treated resin and deployed at several sites on seven continents from 2005 to 2008 showed that 'organochlorine' or chlorine-containing pesticides such as DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane), chlordanes and endosuplhans (that also contains sulphur) are declining in most regions, suggesting the effect of worldwide bans. But levels of organochlorine pesticides in India remain "exceptionally high", researchers from the University of Toronto at Scarborough, Canada, reported in this month's (September 2010) issue of Journal of Environmental Monitoring, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.... An estimated 11 billion tonnes of pesticides are used each year worldwide. ...


Eleven billion tonnes of pesticides per year? How can we still have pests?

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Mon, Sep 6, 2010
from Miller-McCune:
Viewing Poisons at Our National Parks
America's national parks are heralded as pristine pockets of natural beauty, but that news hasn't stopped airborne pollutants from accumulating at alarmingly high rates in parks in the West. Eight years ago, spurred by reports of contaminants found in alpine and polar ecosystems far from where the pollutants originated, National Park Service leaders assembled an interdisciplinary team of researchers drawn from experts at several universities, government agencies and research groups.... The news wasn't good: • Of the 100 or more toxic substances tested for, 70 were found...• Many fish in parks have reached or exceeded the threshold level of contaminants for consumption by humans or other animals that eat them. ...


How do we know they aren't just tourist airborne pollutants?

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Mother Jones:
12 Most Toxic Fish (For Humans and the Planet)
1. King crab: Even though crab is abundant in some parts of the US, imports from Russia -- which aren't well regulated -- are much cheaper and more common. 2. Caviar, especially from beluga and other wild-caught sturgeon: Overfishing and poaching of this coveted species is very common. 3. Atlantic bluefin tuna: Extreme overfishing, plus concerns about mercury and PCB contamination. 4. Orange roughy: May contain mercury and "is particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to its long lifespan and slow maturation." 5. Atlantic flatfish (e.g. flounder, sole and halibut): Seriously overfished. 6. American eel: Concerns about mercury and PCBs. 7. Atlantic Cod: Overfished, and also has major bycatch problems. 8. Imported catfish: Much of it comes from Southeast Asia, "where use of chemicals and antibiotics is barely regulated." 9. Chilean seabass: Concerns about mercury, plus illegal fishing in Chile damages marine life and seabirds. 10. Shark: May contain mercury, also overfished. 11. Atlantic and farmed salmon: Concerns about contamination with PCB, pesticides, and antibiotics. Also, waste and germs from salmon farms often leaches out of the cages and can harm the surrounding marine life. 12. Imported shrimp: About 90 percent of it comes from countries where the seafood industry (waste control, chemical use, and labor) isn't well regulated. ...


What about FishStix™?

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from IOP, via EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Insecticide implicated in bee decline
Honeybees, bumblebees and many other insects are being slowly poisoned to death by persistent insecticides used to protect agricultural crops. Small doses of the toxic chemicals accumulate over time, meaning that there is no safe level of exposure. That's the conclusion from recent research looking at the long-term effects of a commonly used class of insecticides.... Neonicotinoid insecticides are widely used worldwide; they work by acting on the central nervous system of the insect. The chemicals have little affinity for vertebrate nervous systems, so they are much less toxic to mammals and birds.... In the case of honeybees, up to 6000 times less insecticide was required to kill them if it was administered in multiple tiny doses over a long time period.... Right now it still isn't possible to say if neonicotinoids are the sole cause of CCD in honeybees, but it seems likely that they play a significant role. "It explains the rapid increase in CCD since 2004, which coincides with the rapid growth in worldwide use of neonicotinoids - the most widely used class of insecticides," said van der Sluijs. ...


We bee in trouble.

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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from Center for Investigative Reporting:
Under fire from industry, scientific panel is 'gutted'
Five out of nine members of a scientific panel that advises the state on toxic chemicals have been fired in recent weeks, following disputes with the chemical industry and a conservative group that targets environmental laws... Among the dismissed members is panel chairman John Froines, who also heads the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA's School of Public Health. Froines has served on the panel since it was founded and has been its chairman since 1998. Froines says he learned of his dismissal July 22 in a two-sentence letter from Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles. Panel members, including Froines, have come under fire over the years when their designation of certain substances as toxic came at a cost to industry. ...


Given the toxic relationship between business and science, I'd suggest purchasing one of these.

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Sat, Aug 28, 2010
from BBC:
Anti-whaling NGOs warn of 'contaminated' whale meat
Environmental and animal-welfare groups are urging the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to persuade the World Health Organization (WHO) to act over fears about eating whale meat. The coalition of organisations wants the WHO to issue guidelines amid fears about the safety of the meat. The groups say whale meat is highly contaminated with mercury and should not be eaten. But whaling nations say they already have health guidelines in place.... They say dangerously high levels of mercury accumulate up the food chain. Small cetaceans, like tooth whales and pilot whales, are near the top of it and therefore a lot more toxic compounds tend to accumulate in these mammals' tissues than in smaller inhabitants of the marine world, warn the NGOs.... [Faroe Island whaling defender]: "It's true that pilot whales have very high levels of mercury in the meat and PCBs in the blubber and in 1998, the relevant health authorities at the Faroes issued a safety recommendation advising people on how much it was safe to eat. And people have taken that advice on board."... "If we don't have the whale meat and the blubber, what do we eat instead? We don't have meat production as such in the Faroes other than sheep and a limited amount of cattle that is kept mostly for milk. The sheep population is certainly not enough to serve the meat needs," [she continued].... Though the conservationists think it is rather unlikely for the IWC to extend the whaling ban to cover the small cetaceans, many hope that getting people to think about their health will do the trick. ...


I have the right to murder an intelligent mammal, because I want to eat its toxic fat and meat. How hard is that to understand?

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Sun, Aug 15, 2010
from InvestigateWest:
States struggle to curb pollution by cruise ships
In a single day, the federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates, passengers aboard a typical cruise ship will generate: * 21,000 gallons of sewage * One ton of garbage * 170,000 gallons of wastewater from sinks, showers and laundry * More than 25 pounds of batteries, fluorescent lights, medical wastes and expired chemicals * Up to 6,400 gallons of oily bilge water from engines * Four plastic bottles per passenger - about 8,500 bottles per day for the Carnival Spirit Cruise ships incinerate between 75 and 85 percent of their garbage, according to the EPA in its 2008 study, contributing to smog in coastal communities and on the ocean. They also release incinerator ash and sewage sludge into the ocean. They contribute nutrients, metals, ammonia, pharmaceutical waste, chemical cleaners and detergent to deep marine environments from sewage treatment systems that either don't work as planned or aren't able to remove such substances, according to tests in Washington and Alaska, interviews with state officials, the EPA study, and information provided by the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. It's legal to discharge untreated sewage in most areas of the United States farther than three miles from shore. ...


You cruise... you lose.

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from BBC:
Europe breaking electronic waste export ban
"We have an extraordinary amount of illegal shipment along the coast in Europe", says Karl-Heinz Florenz, a German member of the European Parliament who is working to update EU law. Traffickers trick the authorities by not labelling goods as electronics, by pretending they are for re-use, or by hiding them in the middle of a container. The containers that get through are shipped to West Africa - most commonly Ghana and Nigeria - and to South Asian countries including India and Pakistan. "The fundamental problem with electronics is that it's designed in a very bad way," says Kim Schoppink, a campaigner at the Dutch branch of Greenpeace who travelled to Ghana to look at the issue in 2008. "That makes it very expensive to recycle in Europe and therefore it's dumped in developing countries."... The e-waste contains valuable metals, which are extracted at informal recycling sites. But it also contains toxic heavy metals and hazardous chemicals that are handled by workers, some of them children. "They take some copper and aluminium and the rest they burn," says Ms Schoppink. "With this burning process a lot of toxic chemicals are released and these workers are exposed to that every day." ...


"Informal recycling" may produce "collateral damage." Or, "poverty-driven desperation" may "kill people."

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Tue, Aug 3, 2010
from AP, via PhysOrg:
La. fishermen wrinkle their noses at 'smell tests'
Even the people who make their living off the seafood-rich waters of Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish have a hard time swallowing the government's assurances that fish harvested in the shallow, muddy waters just offshore must be safe to eat because they don't smell too bad.... "If I put fish in a barrel of water and poured oil and Dove detergent over that, and mixed it up, would you eat that fish?" asked Graybill, a 28-year-old commercial oyster, blue crab and shrimp angler who grew up fishing the marshes of St. Bernard. "I wouldn't feed it to you or my family. I'm afraid someone's going to get sick."... "They capped the well, they stopped the oil, so now they're trying to hurry up and get us back working to where they can say everything's fine when it's not," he said. "It's not fine."... "It's nothing but a PR move," she said. "It's going to take years to know what damage they've done. It's just killed us all." ...


Something is rotten in the state of Louisiana.

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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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Fri, Jul 30, 2010
from CBC:
BPA found in cash register and ATM receipts
A senior scientist with Environmental Working Group says the reason for concern is the amount of BPA found on receipts. "The BPA is in much higher concentration in the receipt and much higher concentrations are available to be wiped off the receipts," Dave Andrews told CBC News. The University of Missouri laboratory did the analysis on 36 receipts gathered from automated teller machines, and major retailers such as McDonald's, KFC, Wal-Mart and Safeway. The total amount of BPA on receipts was 250 to 1,000 times the amount typically found in a food can or plastic bottle.... "It's a concern that retail workers who are handling receipts all day long would be exposed to higher amounts," he said.... People working in the retail sector had 30 per cent more BPA on average than other Americans.... It also warns not to use an alcohol based hand sanitizer after handling a receipt as it causes greater absorption of the chemical. ...


Does the fun never stop?

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Sun, Jul 25, 2010
from BBC:
UN may strike Baikal off World Heritage list
The UN may remove the world's deepest and oldest lake from the World Heritage list because of concerns over pollution by a Russian pulp and paper mill. Lake Baikal holds one fifth of the world's fresh water and is home to many unique plants and animals. At its 34th session about to kick off in Brazil, the World Heritage Committee will discuss the effect of the plant's wastewaters on the unique ecosystem. The plant produces bleached cellulose. It bleaches paper with chlorine and discharges the wastewaters into Baikal, dubbed the Pearl of Siberia - one of the cleanest lakes on Earth. Ecologists say the mill has been spewing thousands of tonnes of dioxins and other harmful by-products into Baikal. ...


The Pearl of Siberia is turning black.

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Sat, Jul 24, 2010
from London Independent:
Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah 'worse than Hiroshima'
Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study. Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents. Their claims have been supported by a survey showing a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s. Infant mortality in the city is more than four times higher than in neighbouring Jordan and eight times higher than in Kuwait. ...


Other than relieving the planet's population burden war is just awful on the environment.

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Tue, Jun 29, 2010
from Mount Sinai Hospital, via EurekAlert:
Lead poisoning among children living near Ugandan landfill 20X higher than US children
Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that children living near the Kiteezi landfill in Kampala, Uganda, have blood lead levels nearly 20 times as high as the typical lead level found in U.S. children.... Led by Leonardo Trasande, MD, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics and Co-Director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, researchers evaluated 163 children ages four to eight from nine schools located near the Kiteezi landfill, a site known to contain high levels of lead and other heavy metals. They found that 20.5 percent of the children had elevated blood lead levels (EBLL) greater than 10 micrograms, the level believed to cause developmental and intellectual impairment. "Exposure to such high levels of lead can seriously hinder brain development," said Dr. Trasande. "While the developing world has made great strides in reducing exposure by phasing out lead in gasoline and paint, our study shows that it is still pervasive in the environment."... "The results of our study are disturbing to say the least, and emphasize the importance of effective waste management strategies to curb the prevalence of lead in this population," said Dr. Trasande. "We hope to study this issue further, especially as it relates to the contamination of the water supply." ...


Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb Pb

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Mon, Jun 28, 2010
from AP:
Report: Toxins found in whales bode ill for humans
Sperm whales feeding even in the most remote reaches of Earth's oceans have built up stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals, according to American scientists who say the findings spell danger not only for marine life but for the millions of humans who depend on seafood. A report released Thursday noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. From polar areas to equatorial waters, the whales ingested pollutants that may have been produced by humans thousands of miles away, the researchers said.... The researchers found mercury as high as 16 parts per million in the whales. Fish high in mercury such as shark and swordfish -- the types health experts warn children and pregnant women to avoid -- typically have levels of about 1 part per million.... "The entire ocean life is just loaded with a series of contaminants, most of which have been released by human beings," Payne said in an interview on the sidelines of the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting. ...


Who would have expected toxin bioaccumulation to become an evolutionary force?

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Sun, Jun 27, 2010
from PhysOrg:
What is killing Argentina's right whales?
Fatal strandings of southern right whales around Argentina's Valdes Peninsula have soared in recent years, and worried scientists are not sure why, the International Whaling Commission heard Friday. From 1971, when systematic monitoring began, only a relative handful of whale deaths were reported over the next three decades. Starting in 2003, however, the mortality rate began to soar: from 31 that year, to 47 in 2005, 83 in 2007, 95 in 2008 and 79 last year, the IWC's scientific committee reported. "Over 90 percent of the deaths have been of first-year calves," the scientists said.... Three causes, possibly in combination, have been fingered as possible culprits. One is reduced availability of food for adult females, notably small crustaceans called copepods and krill. Poor feeding conditions lengthen the normally three-to-five year reproduction cycles, studies have shown. High concentrations of biotoxins and the spread of an infectious disease are also suspects.... Weakening might also explain "an extremely strange phenomenon": kelp gulls that alight on the backs of young whales at the water's surface and feed on their backs, creating lesions vulnerable to toxins or viruses. ...


I think the right whales just don't want to be the only things left.

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Tue, Jun 22, 2010
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Bee decline could be down to chemical cocktail interfering with brains
A cocktail of chemicals from pesticides could be damaging the brains of British bees, according to scientists about to embark on a study into why the populations of the insects have dropped so rapidly in recent decades. By affecting the way bees' brains work, the pesticides might be affecting the ability of bees to find food or communicate with others in their colonies.... Chris Connolly of Dundee University's Centre for Neuroscience has been awarded Ł1.5 m to lead the work on whether pesticides are having an affect on the brains of bees. Pesticides could be blocking the electrical and chemical signals between neurons, he said, and only subtle changes may be required to produce serious brain disorders. These problems might stop bees identifying the best sources of nectar, or it might affect their ability to navigate to nearby food source and back home again. Brain disorders in bees might also interfere with their ability to communicate with nest-mates using the "waggle dance", where bees come back to their hive and spread information about the food sources they have found. The IPI will bring together ecologists, molecular biologists, mathematicians and computer experts to study the decline of honeybees and other insect pollinators from a range of different angles. ...


Why would pesticides affect bugs that aren't pests?

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Tue, Jun 22, 2010
from UC Boulder, via EurekAlert:
After upgrade, wastewater more slowly changing the gender of fish
Male fish that used to be feminized after chemicals, such as the pharmaceutical ethinylestradiol, made it through the Boulder, Colo., Wastewater Treatment Plant and into Boulder Creek, are taking longer to become feminized after a plant upgrade to an activated sludge process, according to a new study.... They mimic estrogen and may disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system of both animals and humans, said the study's principal investigator, David Norris, PhD, an integrative physiology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Norris' team reported in 2006 that native male fish in Boulder Creek decreased in numbers with respect to females and numerous intersex fish were found downstream of the wastewater treatment plant. After a technology upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant in 2008, the reproductive disruption in the fish was far less pronounced. However, Norris said the study results should still concern people. "The fish are a wake-up call," Norris said. "Our bodies and those of the much more sensitive human fetus are being exposed everyday to a variety of chemicals that are capable of altering not only our development and physiology but that of future generations as well."... After the technology upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant in 2008, the effluent was considerably less estrogenic to the fish. After the treatment plant's upgrade, the minnows exhibited less intense loss of male sex characteristics, an initial analysis found. ...


Heck, the water tasted just fine.

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Tue, Jun 22, 2010
from AP:
Roundup resistant weeds pose environmental threat
But 34 years later, a few sturdy species of weed resistant to Roundup have evolved, forcing farmers to return to some of the less environmentally safe practices they abandoned decades ago. The situation is the worst in the South, where some farmers now walk fields with hoes, killing weeds in a way their great-grandfathers were happy to leave behind. And the problem is spreading quickly across the Corn Belt and beyond, with Roundup now proving unreliable in killing at least 10 weed species in at least 22 states. Some species, like Palmer amaranth in Arkansas and water hemp and marestail in Illinois, grow fast and big, producing tens of thousands of seeds.... Monsanto's introduction of seeds designed to survive Roundup made things even better for farmers because they could spray it on emerging crops to wipe out the weeds growing alongside them. Seeds containing Monsanto's Roundup Ready traits are now used to grow about 90 percent of the nation's soybeans and 70 percent of its corn and cotton.... St. Louis-based Monsanto maintains the resistance is often overstated, noting that most weeds show no sign of immunity.... Dicamba and 2,4-D both easily drift beyond the areas where they're sprayed, making them a threat to neighboring crops and wild plants, Mortensen said. That, in turn, could also threaten wildlife. ...


Who could have predicted that natural selection would occur in weeds?

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Sun, Jun 13, 2010
from New York Times:
Take Them to the Cleaners, Again and Again
MAN or woman, every one of us has experienced the frustration that drove Rick Siegel to become an inventor. He would be in his clothes closet, running late, wrestling with the plastic bags that encased -- and the twist ties that entangled -- his dry cleaning. Surely, he thought, those twist ties would drive him mad.... Ms. Nigrosh's father ran a cardboard recycling factory when she was growing up, so a trip to the closet made her stomach clench: Where did all this plastic go? Suddenly Mr. Siegel, who was once a Hollywood talent manager, and his wife, a marketing copywriter in the music industry, had an idea: a reusable bag to transport your clothes to and from the dry cleaner. After an initial investment of about $200,000, the Green Garmento was born. ...


And the more we can encourage cleaning clothes with toxic chemicals, the better for the planet.

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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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Tue, Jun 8, 2010
from TreeHugger:
The Pacific Trash Vortex Explained (Video)
What exactly is the Pacific Trash Vortex? Well, it's a huge floating mass of trash twice the size of Texas that has the dubious honor of being the largest landfill on the planet. 90 percent of this trash is plastic, 80 percent which originates on land with the other 20 percent coming from seafaring vessels and, eh hem, oil platforms.... Who's responsible for this mess? Humans, especially those in the developed world who are consuming, discarding and replacing mostly Chinese-made plastic crap at an ever-accelerating rate. The U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population but consumes 30 percent of the world's resources and creates 30 percent of the world's waste.... No-one knows exactly when Great Pacific Garbage Patch began to form but we do know plastic has been around for the past 144 years and except for the small amount that's been incinerated every bit of plastic ever made still exists. Given we're churning out about 60 billion tons of it, much of it disposable, it's no wonder monsters the like the Great Pacific Vortex have been created. ...


Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!

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Sat, Jun 5, 2010
from NOLA.com:
Formaldehyde causes cancer, EPA declares
The EPA has concluded that formaldehyde is carcinogenic when inhaled by humans, a finding that could lead to stringent new regulations of the widely used chemical. Used in the production of countless consumer products, formaldehyde attained a degree of national infamy after Hurricane Katrina when some of those living in the 120,000 trailers provided by FEMA as temporary housing for storm victims reported respiratory and other health problems after prolonged exposure to the chemical, which is contained in wood products in the trailers.... "There is sufficient evidence of a causal relationship between formaldehyde exposure and cancers of the upper respiratory tracts, with the strongest evidence for nasopharyngeal and sino-nasal cancers," the 1,043-page draft assessment concludes. "There is also sufficient evidence of a causal association between formaldehyde exposure and lymphohematopoietic cancers, with the strongest evidence of Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia, particularly myleloid leukemia." ...


That's probably why zombies are so pissed.

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Tue, Jun 1, 2010
from Scientific American:
Green Chemistry: Scientists Devise New "Benign by Design" Drugs, Paints, Pesticides and More
...The harmful side effects of industrialization--smoggy air, Superfund sites, mercury-tainted fish, and on and on--have often seemed a necessary trade-off. But in the early 1990s a small group of scientists began to think differently. Why, they asked, do we rely on hazardous substances for so many manufacturing processes? After all, chemical reactions happen continuously in nature, thousands of them within our own bodies, without any nasty by-products. Maybe, these scientists concluded, the problem was that chemists are not trained to think about the impacts of their inventions. Perhaps chemistry was toxic simply because no one had tried to make it otherwise. They called this new philosophy "green chemistry." ...


Dude, I've been dabbling in green chemistry for quite some time.

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Thu, May 13, 2010
from Reuters:
China scientists find use for cigarette butts
Chemical extracts from cigarette butts -- so toxic they kill fish -- can be used to protect steel pipes from rusting, a study in China has found. In a paper published in the American Chemical Society's bi-weekly journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, the scientists in China said they identified nine chemicals after immersing cigarette butts in water. They applied the extracts to N80, a type of steel used in oil pipes, and found that they protected the steel from rusting. ...


I'll smoke to that!

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Wed, May 12, 2010
from CBC:
Perfumes' chemical safety unknown: report
Top-selling fragrances contain chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions or disrupt hormones but are not listed on labels, according to a new report calling for changes in federal regulations. The report, released Wednesday by Environmental Defence in Canada and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in the U.S., assessed 17 fragrances bought in both countries that were tested by an independent laboratory in California. They included Britney Spears' Curious, Calvin Klein Eternity, Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce and Old Spice body spray. The tests found a dozen or more chemicals not listed on labels, multiple chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions or disrupt hormones, and substances that have not been assessed for safety by the beauty industry's self-policing review panels, the groups said.... An average of 10 sensitizing chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions such as headaches, wheezing, asthma, infant diarrhea and vomiting and reduced pulmonary function, were found in each product. * An average of four hormone-disrupting chemicals were found in each product. The chemicals may mimic the hormone estrogen. ...


Some perfumes just stink.

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Wed, Apr 28, 2010
from American Chemical Society:
Gypsy Moths Keep Fluttering
Nature gets a little out of control sometimes, and despite our best chemical efforts to level the playing field, we simply can't win. That's the case with the gypsy moth. This destructive insect pest has been plaguing the Northeast U.S. and parts of Canada for more than a century. A bevy of innovative chemical solutions has been devised over the years, but the moth continues to annually defoliate substantial tracts of forest and blemish suburban landscapes.... "The story of gypsy moth battles is an interesting one," Lance told C&EN. "It runs from spraying trees with heavy doses of lead arsenate a century ago to currently using relatively small amounts of a nontoxic sex pheromone to disrupt mating."... Another development in the gypsy moth war is the nucleopolyhedrosis virus (NPV), which infects only gypsy moth larvae, Lance told C&EN. NPV causes a "wilt" disease that is spread by larvae living in close quarters. The disease can reach epidemic proportions, killing up to 90 percent of the larvae in gypsy moth populations.... "That is why we had the symposium--to raise awareness for the need for better pheromones, pesticides, and pest-management tools. History shows us that the very act of discussing the problems, describing the needs, and visualizing the next level sets us on the path to developing it." ...


I bet nobody's tried high-volume Gypsy music, to make them dance themselves to death.

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Wed, Apr 21, 2010
from CBC:
Tuna mercury levels vary by species
Despite their findings about grocery store tuna, the researchers say their study shows that all species exceed or approach levels permissible by Canada, the EU, Japan, the U.S., and the World Health Organization. Mercury is a naturally occurring element and a serious health hazard. Chronic exposure can damage the brain, spinal cord, kidneys, liver and developing fetus. Exposure in the womb can lead to neuro-developmental problems in children. In general, mercury levels are significantly higher in lean fish because it has an affinity for muscle and not fatty tissue. That means higher levels in bluefin akami (sushi from lean, dark red tuna) and all bigeye tuna than in bluefin toro (sushi from fatty tuna) and yellowfin tuna akami. The researchers caution that there seem to be other factors involved. Although yellowfin tuna is very lean, it tends to have less mercury, likely because the fish are typically smaller than other tuna and are harvested at a younger age. In addition, yellowfin are tropical and don't need to eat as much as warm-blooded bigeye tuna and bluefin tuna to maintain their energy level. That could mean yellowfin tuna don't increase their level of toxins as quickly as other species. ...


When did heavy metals in our food become the new normal?

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Mon, Apr 19, 2010
from Gannnett:
"Polluter pays" tax sought to fund cleanup of Superfund sites
A former dye-making plant in Toms River is still on a list of highly contaminated Superfund sites, even after decades of cleanup work. But it's not the only Superfund site in New Jersey where cleanup has been complex and drawn out. Of the 112 New Jersey sites on the Superfund environmental cleanup program's National Priorities List, 50 have been on the list since 1983. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., both D-N.J., have introduced a bill to reinstate a controversial "polluter pays" tax on the chemical and petroleum industries to finance Superfund cleanups nationwide. Supporters of the proposal say reviving the tax, which expired in 1995, would pay to hasten cleanups of "orphan" sites whose former owners can't be located or have gone bankrupt. ...


The moribund Superfund may have found its superheroes!

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Sun, Apr 18, 2010
from Yale 360:
As Pharmaceutical Use Soars, Drugs Taint Water and Wildlife
In recent years, scientists have detected trace amounts of more than 150 different human and veterinary medicines in environments as far afield as the Arctic. Eighty percent of the U.S.'s streams and nearly a quarter of the nation's groundwater sampled by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been found to be contaminated with a variety of medications.... Drugging our bodies inevitably drugs our environment, too, as many medications can pass through our bodies and waste treatment facilities virtually intact. And it is difficult to predict where and how unexpectedly vulnerable creatures may accrue potentially toxic doses.... A large body of evidence has connected this contamination with excess feminization in fish. In one study, U.S. and Canadian government scientists purposely contaminated an experimental lake in Ontario with around 5 nanograms per liter of ethynyl estradiol, and studied the effects on the lake's fathead minnow population, a common species that fish like lake trout and northern pike feed on.... Exposed to ethynyl estradiol, the male minnows' testicular development was arrested and they started making early-stage eggs instead. That year's mating season was disastrous. Within two years, the minnow population crashed. ...


Hey, the world is sick. We do what we always do: medicate.

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Sat, Apr 17, 2010
from TIME:
Regulation of Toxic Chemicals Faces Tightening
But the [Toxic Substances Control Act] has remained stuck in the 1970s, an aging throwback that never gave Washington any real power to protect people from potentially toxic chemicals. It may finally be time to bring chemical regulation out of the polyester era. On April 15, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced new legislation that would overhaul the regulatory system, requiring manufacturers to prove the safety of chemicals before they could be sold. That represents a much needed change from the current system, in which the burden of proof falls on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to show that a chemical is dangerous to human health or the environment before the agency can regulate it. "America's system for regulating industrial chemicals is broken," said Lautenberg in a statement. "My Safe Chemicals Act will breathe new life into a long dead statute by empowering the EPA to get tough on toxic chemicals." ...


But ignorance of risk is much more profitable! Think of the economy!

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Fri, Apr 16, 2010
from Reuters, via DesdemonaDespair:
World marine debris totals 10 million pieces in 1-day cleanup
More than 10 million pieces of trash were plucked from the world's waterways in a single day last year. But for Philippe Cousteau, the beach sandals that washed up in the Norwegian arctic symbolized the global nature of the problem of marine debris. "We saw flip-flops washing ashore on these islands in far northern Norway near the Arctic Circle," Cousteau, a conservationist and grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, said in a telephone interview.... "People don't wear flip-flops in the Arctic, at least not if they're sane," Cousteau said. "I think people are starting ... to realize that this is a global problem." ... Last year, 10,239,538 pieces of junk were retrieved from shorelines on one day, September 19, 2009, by about half a million volunteers in the conservancy's annual international coastal cleanup. This year's cleanup day is September 25. ... Nearly 20 percent of the items collected threaten public health, including bacteria-laden medical waste, appliances, cars and chemical drums, the report said. Some debris is a threat to marine animals, which can become tangled in dumped fishing nets and line or ingest floating plastic junk. ...


Unfortunately, "sanity" has not been demonstrated to be held in high regard.

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Mon, Apr 12, 2010
from Michigan Public Radio:
Invasive Species and PCBs
New University of Michigan research finds invasive species are accelerating PCBs up the food chain. Recent dredging of the Saginaw River was intended to remove PCB contaminated soil. U of M fishery biologist David Jude says tests indicate the dredging worked. But he says walleyes are showing signs of increased PCB contamination. Jude traces the problem to two invasive species, zebra mussels and round gobies. "Zebra mussels filter a liter of water a day. They are removing a large amount of the algae out of that water," says Jude, "and as a result of that they are picking up a lot higher concentration of PCBs. There are some really outrageous high concentrations of PCBs in zebra mussels in the Saginaw River." Jude says as other aquatic life eats the invasive mussels, the PCBs move up the food chain. ...


Can we just call it unintended bioremediation?

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Mon, Apr 12, 2010
from Vancouver Sun:
Chemical used in everyday products raises concerns
The majority of liquid antibacterial soaps contain triclosan as an active ingredient to stop the growth of bacteria and to deodorize. It is also contained in toothpaste, facewash, deodorants and cosmetics. More recently, triclosan is also being added as a bacteria-killer to countertops, kitchenware, toys and clothes. The FDA told Massachusetts congressman Edward Markey the agency shares his "concern" over the potential effects of triclosan in disrupting the body's endocrine system, so the agency is taking another look at the chemical. "It is the FDA's opinion that existing data raise valid concerns about the effects of repetitive daily human exposure to these antiseptic ingredients."... Smith, who banished triclosan from his home years ago after reading studies identifying the antibacterial agent as a possible carcinogen and endocrine disrupter, saw the levels rise in his body by 2,900 times after using, over a two-day period, brand-name deodorant, toothpaste, anti-bacterial soap and shaving cream containing triclosan. ...


But I was so glad I used Dial!

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Mon, Apr 5, 2010
from Post-Tribune:
IDEM shuts down mercury monitors
In its latest cost-cutting move, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has shut down mercury monitors across the state, including at the Indiana Dunes. The cut would save the agency about $285,000 annually. But critics say it would impact the state's ability to assess whether regulation to reduce mercury pollution is working. The Indiana Dunes monitoring station has periodically registered one of the 10 highest mercury concentrations in the nation, said Martin Risch, a hydrologist and project chief with the U.S. Geological Survey in Indianapolis. Kim Ferraro, an attorney with the Legal Environmental Aid Foundation of Indiana, called removal of the mercury monitoring stations "devastating" to the state's ability to track mercury deposition. ...


How will I know if I can use a fish as a thermometer or not?

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Mon, Apr 5, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Study identifies hundreds of obscure - yet persistent - chemicals.
A new study suggests that hundreds of chemicals used commercially could persist and bioaccumulate, yet next to nothing is known about their actions and levels in the environment. Predicting exposures and if and how chemicals may pose a health threat is incredibly difficult. Now, researchers propose a unique way to screen and identify chemicals that may need further evaluation and monitoring...Maybe equally important is that researchers identified 13 silicone-based compounds. Presently, there is no reliable method to detect them in environmental samples, so there is no way to know if the chemicals are contaminating soil, air, water or organisms. There are significant concerns related to how chemicals are regulated under the existing Toxic Substances Control Act (TOSCA) implemented by the U.S. EPA. Concerns over the use of proprietary chemicals in consumer products -- that is, the identity of the chemical is unknown to the public -- has prompted some advocacy groups to challenge the efficacy of the TOSCA program. In addition, many argue that TOSCA does not fully evaluate a large enough spectrum of potential health effects as part of its testing program. ...


Maybe ingesting this cocktail of chemicals will make us sooooo smart, we'll figure everything out!

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Sun, Apr 4, 2010
from South Bend Tribune:
Local beekeepers worry about downward trend
Last winter, he lost more than half of his colonies. It's a trend noticed around the region and the country. "We're all losing bees, lots of bees," beekeeper Jerry Shaw said. Shaw's collection once topped 600 hives. Now he's down to 200. He suspects Colony Collapse Disorder is responsible for the population decline. "You'll generally have quite a bit of honey left, but there are no bees," Shaw said.... "We think the deaths are caused by viruses, parasitic mites, diseases and pesticide residue, or a combination of those things," said Michael Hansen of the Michigan Department of Agriculture. "The big problem is more colonies of bees are dying now than they did 10 or 20 years ago. " ...


These bees got the blues: they're leaving their honeys behind.

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Sat, Apr 3, 2010
from Political Economy Research Institute via Truthout:
Meet the Toxic 100 Corporate Air Polluters
Researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst today released the Toxic 100 Air Polluters, an updated list of the top corporate air polluters in the United States.... The Toxic 100 Air Polluters index is based on air releases of hundreds of chemicals from industrial facilities across the United States. The rankings take into account not only the quantity of releases, but also the toxicity of chemicals, transport factors such as prevailing winds and height of smokestacks, and the number of people exposed. The top five air polluters among large corporations are the Bayer Group, ExxonMobil, Sunoco, DuPont, and Arcelor Mittal. ...


We're gonna need, like, a whole extra planet to detox from all this poison.

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Thu, Apr 1, 2010
from NUVO Newsweekly:
Waste in our water: The coal ash problem
For the past thirty years Jeff Stant has gained a reputation around Indiana as a relentless and tenacious environmental defender. "I grew up in the woods in Zionville, springing animals from traps before trappers got them, I was in love with nature," he says. His current battle is to get coal ash, the by product of burning coal for power, deemed as a hazardous waste by the federal government, "It could be an epic move," says Stant. The push to regulate coal ash comes from those like Stant, who believe it to be harmful. Because coal contains traces of heavy metals, so will the ash that is left behind after coal is burned to produce electricity. Arsenic, lead, copper, mercury, nickel, selenium, zinc and many other metals are commonly left behind in coal ash....The EPA has waffled on the subject for 30 years, meandering through missed deadlines and lawsuits. But the coal ash problem is one that has lingered, refusing to go away. The EPA is now poised to make another ruling on the byproduct of burning coal. ...


Environmental Poised Agency

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Mar 28, 2010
from Pottstown Mercury:
Toxic plumes spreading into groundwater
Twin underground plumes of potentially carcinogenic chemicals from two industrial sites are merging and mingling with the groundwater beneath 47 homes, fouling their wells and posing health hazards for the residents there, state officials have confirmed. The source of the contamination is believed to be the Teleflex Inc. plant on South Limerick Road and the former Stanley Tool Works, on Lewis Road, said Lynda Rebarchak, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection... The chemicals found in the well water samples are familiar to those familiar with headlines in the region in recent years -- trichloroethylene, more commonly known by its call letters TCE; tetrachloroethylene, or PCE; 1,1-dichloroethylene, or DCE; 1,2 dichloroethene or Cis, as well as 1,4-dioxane. ...


Sounds like these folks are toastioxethylened.

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Sat, Mar 27, 2010
from GOOD, via DesdemonaDespair:
Infographic of the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre
Fabulous overview exploration of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the ocean cloud of plastic particles slowly turning, turning. "The sun breaks down plastic into smaller and smaller pieces, but can never break it down entirely. Unlike organic materials, which eventually biodegrade, the plastic breaks into ever smaller pieces while still remaining a polymer. As it breaks apart, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms... Plastic waste enters the food chain." ...


C'mon guys -- can't we invent a plastic magnet?

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Wed, Mar 24, 2010
from AP, via Yahoo:
Bees in more trouble than ever after bad winter
The mysterious 4-year-old crisis of disappearing honeybees is deepening. A quick federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-off this winter, while a new study shows honeybees' pollen and hives laden with pesticides. Two federal agencies along with regulators in California and Canada are scrambling to figure out what is behind this relatively recent threat, ordering new research on pesticides used in fields and orchards. Federal courts are even weighing in this month, ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overlooked a requirement when allowing a pesticide on the market.... Bees have been declining over decades from various causes. But in 2006 a new concern, "colony collapse disorder," was blamed for large, inexplicable die-offs. The disorder, which causes adult bees to abandon their hives and fly off to die, is likely a combination of many causes, including parasites, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition and pesticides, experts say. ...


Wait -- pesticides can affect bees?

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Tue, Feb 23, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Hazardous E-Waste Surging in Developing Countries
Sales of electronic products in countries like China and India and across continents such as Africa and Latin America are set to rise sharply in the next 10 years. And, unless action is stepped up to properly collect and recycle materials, many developing countries face the spectre of hazardous e-waste mountains with serious consequences for the environment and public health, according to UN experts in a landmark report released February 22 by UNEP.... Moreover, most e-waste in China is improperly handled, much of it incinerated by backyard recyclers to recover valuable metals like gold -- practices that release steady plumes of far-reaching toxic pollution and yield very low metal recovery rates compared to state-of-the-art industrial facilities. ...


I love the smell of toxics in the morning.

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Sun, Feb 21, 2010
from AFP, via PhysOrg:
Chemicals suspected in breast cancer, US experts want tests
"We're currently not identifying chemicals that could be contributing to the risk of breast cancer," said Megan Schwarzman, a physician and environmental health researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. According to Schwarzman, only a handful of the more than 200 chemicals in the environment linked to mammary tumors in lab animals have been regulated by the US authorities "on the basis of their ability to cause breast cancer."... As the incidence of the most common invasive cancer in women has skyrocketed in a generation, a flurry of studies have looked into the role of chemicals in breast cancer.... Only around a quarter of more than 186,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 were genetically predisposed to the disease, and other breast cancer risk factors, including the early onset puberty in girls, have been linked to chemicals. ...


Government oversight and regulation is a drag on the economy, right?

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Wed, Feb 17, 2010
from Omaha World-Herald:
Coal ash intentionally scattered over frozen Platte
A crop duster will drop about 86 tons of ash over about 10 spots along the river on Thursday, Berndt said. The ash comes from the Nebraska Public Power District coal plant near Hallam. The hope is that the dark ash will absorb the sun's energy and help "rot" the ice so it breaks up into smaller chunks and washes downstream, Berndt said. Larger ice chunks can jam together like a dam and send floodwaters washing over levees.... Marlin Petermann, assistant general manager of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, said ice on the Platte is averaging about 16.7 inches thick. That's in the range that can pose problems, he said. The cost of the dusting is expected to be less than $100,000 Berndt said. Petermann, who has spent much of his 35-year career watching the river, said it's money well spent. ...


Something tells me that they didn't buy the more expensive heavy-metal-free coal ash.

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Mon, Feb 8, 2010
from Der Spiegel:
Global Ocean Protection Measures Have Failed
Thousands of tons of trash are thrown into the sea each year, endangering humans and wildlife. A classified German government report obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE indicates that efforts by the United Nations and the European Union to clean up our oceans have failed entirely. Since the world's oceans are so massive, few people seem to have a problem with dumping waste into them. But plastics degrade at very a slow rate, and huge amounts of them are sloshing around in our oceans. Wildlife consumes small pieces causing many of them to die, since the plastics are full of poisons. And, as experts warn, we've reached a point where it's even getting dangerous for humans to consume seafood... Our oceans have devolved into vast garbage dumps. ...


That fills some need, doesn't it?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 1, 2010
from Jacksonville Times-Union:
Jacksonville sealcoat raises home health concern
A material that's spread on parking lots and driveways in Jacksonville and nationally may be causing buildups of cancer-causing dust inside some homes, government researchers say. The finding by scientists who normally investigate water pollution raises questions about a potential health hazard, especially for children. The material, known as sealcoat, is a shiny, black substance made from coal tar, a byproduct of some industrial coal uses. As much as half of coal tar's weight can come from a family of chemical compounds called PAHs -- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons -- that increase cancer risks for people.... The new study concludes that people walking across those lots are accidentally bringing home small amounts of PAHs. "We track in whatever is outdoors," said Barbara Mahler, a hydrologist who was the lead researcher on a study published last month in Environmental Science & Technology, a professional journal. "When we bring in little bits of that sealcoat inside our homes on the bottoms of our shoes, it ends up in our house dust." ...


Another reason to just stay home!

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Sat, Jan 30, 2010
from AP, via PhysOrg:
State to probe birth defects spike in Calif. town
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered two state agencies to investigate a rash of birth defects that have confounded impoverished Kettleman City for more than a year.... The birth defects became a rallying point last year for residents trying to stop the expansion plans of the West's largest hazardous waste facility by Chemical Waste Management Inc. Their stories of miscarriages and the photographs they carried of children with facial defects failed to convince the Kings County Board of Supervisors that the company's expansion plans should not go forward.... Officials of Waste Management said they welcome the investigation and are confident it will show their operation is not to blame for the facial defects in five of 20 children born there between September 2007 and November 2008. ...


It's just a fluke!

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Thu, Jan 28, 2010
from PhysOrg.com:
Study finds prenatal exposure to certain chemicals affects childhood neurodevelopment
A new study led by Mount Sinai researchers in collaboration with scientists from Cornell University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has found higher prenatal exposure to phthalates -- manmade chemicals that interfere with hormonal messaging -- to be connected with disruptive and problem behaviors in children between the ages of 4 and 9 years. The study, which is the first to examine the effects of prenatal phthalate exposure on child neurobehavioral development, will be published January 28, on the Environmental Health Perspectives website.... "There is increasing evidence that phthalate exposure is harmful to children at all stages of development," said Stephanie Engel, PhD, lead study author and Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "We found a striking pattern of associations between low molecular weight phthalates -- which are commonly found in personal care products -- and disruptive childhood behaviors, such as aggressiveness and other conduct issues, and problems with attention. These same behavioral problems are commonly found in children diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or Conduct Disorder." ...


WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I'M AGGRESSIVE??

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Thu, Jan 21, 2010
from Peninsula College, via EurekAlert:
Stain repellent chemical linked to thyroid disease in adults
A study by the University of Exeter and the Peninsula Medical School for the first time links thyroid disease with human exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA is a persistent organic chemical used in industrial and consumer goods including nonstick cookware and stain- and water-resistant coatings for carpets and fabrics.... PFOA is a very stable man-made chemical that excels at repelling heat, water, grease, and stains. It is used during the process of making common household and industrial items including nonstick pots and pans, flame-resistant and waterproof clothing, wire coatings, and chemical-resistant tubing. PFOA can also be formed by the break-down of certain other highly fluorinated chemicals used in oil and grease-resistant coatings on fast-food containers and wrappers and in stain-resistant carpets, fabrics, and paints. ...


That accusation will just slide right off the industry.

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Tue, Jan 19, 2010
from Columbia University, via EurekAlert:
Prenatal exposure to flame-retardant compounds affects neurodevelopment of young children
PBDEs are endocrine-disrupting chemicals and widely used flame-retardant compounds that are applied to a broad array of textiles and consumer products, including mattresses, upholstery, building materials, and electronic equipment. Because the compounds are additives rather than chemically bound to consumer products, they can be released into the environment. Human exposure may occur through dietary ingestion or through inhalation of dust containing PBDEs. The researchers found that children with higher concentrations of PBDEs in their umbilical cord blood at birth scored lower on tests of mental and physical development between the ages of one and six. Developmental effects were particularly evident at four years of age, when verbal and full IQ scores were reduced 5.5 to 8.0 points for those with the highest prenatal exposures.... "The findings are consistent with effects observed in animal studies and, if replicated in other North American populations, they could have important public health implications." ...


No burning mattresses, just a generation of stupid children.

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Tue, Jan 19, 2010
from IRIN News (UN):
Bangladesh: Pesticide poisoning takes its toll
An annual government survey of Bangladesh’s health situation has found that pesticide-related poisoning is a leading cause of death, underscoring a major health concern. The 2009 Health Bulletin, which compiles health statistics from 2008, recorded 7,438 pesticide-related poisoning deaths at more than 400 hospitals nationwide amongst men and women aged 15-49.... "Farmers apply pesticides on their crops without taking proper protective measures. They expose themselves to highly poisonous pesticides. They inhale substantial amounts of the pesticides they spray to kill insects in their crops," Faiz told IRIN.... According to the most recent government figures available, 37,712 tons of pesticide were sold in the country in 2007, an increase of 145.3 percent on the amount sold in 2001.... Illiterate farmers are also persuaded by unscrupulous traders and various incentive schemes to buy unregistered pesticide formulations that promise to protect crops against pest attacks and disease. ...


"We call our formulation BESTicide."

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Thu, Jan 14, 2010
from Scientific American:
What the EPA's 'Chemicals of Concern' Plans Really Mean
In an unusual exercise of its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on December 30 the establishment of a "chemicals of concern" list and action plans that could prompt restrictions on four types of synthetic chemicals used widely in manufacturing and consumer products, including phthalates used to make flexible plastics, often for toys, household products and medical equipment.... Of the compounds covered in the action plans -- which also include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) -- phthalates and PBDEs will be listed as "chemicals of concern." The PFCs and paraffins will be addressed under other TSCA provisions that could also result in restrictions. These four types of chemicals, the EPA said, raise "serious environmental or health concerns" and in some cases "may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment." ...


Those even sound concern-worthy.

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Wed, Jan 13, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Safety ignored in nanotech rush, warn experts
Developing countries have embarked on a nanotechnology spree in the absence of health and safety guidelines, experts have cautioned. Countries including China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam are intensively seeking to commercialise nanotechnology. But unlike the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States -- which have taken public concerns on board and developed preliminary guidance documents on the use of the technology -- developing countries are not engaging in public discourse, said experts at a workshop on nanotechnology governance and regulation held in Delhi, India, last week (8 January).... Advertisements promote shirts made from nanofibres and washing machines that use nanomaterial-coated components to better remove dirt and stains. "It turns out none of the companies has performed any toxicology tests," said Dhawan, because there is no stipulation that they should do so. ...


Of course I buy my grey goo from the lowest bidder.

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Sun, Jan 10, 2010
from London Independent:
Who will pay for Amazon's 'Chernobyl'?
A film released this week in Britain recounts the 16-year battle by Ecuadorians for damages against Chevron for oil pollution... the people of Lago Agrio and its surrounding area have been fighting back. Sixteen years ago, 30,000 Ecuadorians began legal action against the US oil company -- now owned by Chevron -- they hold responsible. Early this year, from the town's tiny courtroom, a lone judge will deliver a verdict on their class-action case. If the judge rules in favour of the Ecuadorians, Chevron could face damages of $27.3bn (ÂŁ17bn), making it the biggest environmental lawsuit in history. This week, while both sides await the verdict, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the case goes on release in Britain. Called Crude, it is directed by Joe Berlinger, whose movie Metallica: Some Kind of Monster charted the band's travails. ...


Now you 'mericans don't need worry your pretty little heads 'bout this.

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Sun, Jan 10, 2010
from Lincoln Journal Star:
Atrazine getting new scrutiny from EPA
Nebraska is corn country. It's also atrazine country. That means thousands of corn producers are keeping a watchful eye on a new round of EPA scrutiny of one of their cheapest and most effective weed-killing chemicals. News of what's described as a comprehensive evaluation emerged a few weeks ago. As soon as February, the federal environmental regulator expects to seek a scientific peer review of its proposed plan for adding new health studies into its atrazine risk assessment. Pulling the product off the market is always an option. Atrazine already is banned in Europe.... [Tyrone Hayes, a biologist at the University of California-Berkeley] has been studying mutating effects of atrazine on amphibians, which he said include male frogs developing female organs. He also cited EPA studies that show atrazine's impact as "an endocrine disrupter" that lowers fertility and inhibits puberty in lab rats. ...


By buying into this system, we essentially are screwing ourselves!

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Fri, Jan 8, 2010
from Discovery News:
Toxic Dust from Tar Travels into Homes
A widely used type of asphalt sealant derived from coal tar may be making its way into the house dust of homes, according to new research. Young children may actually be playing on coal-tar-sealed driveways and playgrounds, potentially raising their exposure to harmful chemicals. The findings, presented at a meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, concern a group of compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. Toxic compounds appear in the sealants, which are used to create an even, deep black pavement surface. And coal tar contains a high proportion of PAHs, with levels about 1,000 times higher than in the alternative, asphalt-based sealant. ...


Not another acronym to memorize!

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Fri, Jan 8, 2010
from Nature:
Oceans release DDT from decades ago
A computer simulation of the environmental fate of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) has revealed that substantial quantities of the pesticide are still being released from the world's oceans, despite widespread restrictions on its use during the 1970s. The calculations show that although remaining DDT use today tends to be in the southern hemisphere, its concentrations are actually growing in the northern hemisphere as it moves through the world's oceans and atmosphere. An estimated 1.5 million tonnes of DDT were used worldwide between the 1940s and 1970s, both as an agricultural insecticide and to control disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes – the chemical was a key weapon in the war against malaria, for example. But DDT is toxic to a wide range of aquatic life, and its eggshell-thinning effects also had a drastic impact on many bird species. ...


Dang oceans! Can't they just hold onto the stuff?

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Mon, Jan 4, 2010
from Washington Post:
Use of potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under law
Of the 84,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States -- from flame retardants in furniture to household cleaners -- nearly 20 percent are secret, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, their names and physical properties guarded from consumers and virtually all public officials under a little-known federal provision. The policy was designed 33 years ago to protect trade secrets in a highly competitive industry. But critics -- including the Obama administration -- say the secrecy has grown out of control, making it impossible for regulators to control potential dangers or for consumers to know which toxic substances they might be exposed to. ...


A little mystery so goes a long way.

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Thu, Dec 31, 2009
from London Guardian:
Shell must face Friends of the Earth Nigeria claim in Netherlands
A judge in the Netherlands has opened the door to a potential avalanche of legal cases against Shell over environmental degradation said to be caused by its oil operations in the Niger Delta. The oil group expressed "disappointment" tonight that a court in The Hague had agreed to allow Friends of the Earth Netherlands and four local Nigerian farmers to bring a compensation case in its backyard for the first time... Friends of the Earth claims the oil spills are not accidents but represent a pattern of systematic pollution and contempt for the rights of the local population that had been going on for decades, something denied by the oil group. Up until now compensation claims have been brought in Nigeria, but many have become bogged down in a congested court system. ...


Stay tuned... for the next couple of decades to see how this turns out.

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Wed, Dec 30, 2009
from Associated Press:
Scientists begin testing mussels for pollutants
SAN FRANCISCO -- California scientists hope studying 180 black mussels pried from algae-covered rocks in San Francisco Bay will provide clues into how many drugs and chemicals are polluting waters across the nation. Mussels filter water and store contaminants in their tissue, providing a record of pollution in the environment. The creatures are being culled from 80 sites in California as part of a pilot study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to see how pervasive the substances have become. "We haven't measured mussels for these compounds, so there's not a lot of data," Dominic Gregorio, a senior environmental scientist with the State Water Resources Control Board, said. "So this is really a first step to be proactive and get ahead of the curve on this." ...


What, pray tell, HAVE you scientists been doing???

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Sun, Dec 27, 2009
from Sarasota Herald Tribune:
Katrina survivors battle a new foe: drywall
It is fitting that the massive litigation moving forward on contaminated Chinese drywall should be heard in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina and its associated flooding killed more than 1,800 people, destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses and inflicted upwards of $81 billion in damages. Now, potentially thousands who returned to New Orleans and surrounding communities to rebuild their homes after Katrina are faced with having to do so all over again. The crisis of contaminated drywall may have first come to light in Florida, but as the Herald-Tribune first reported, records show that at least 60 million pounds of Chinese drywall came into the Port of New Orleans beginning in January 2006, enough to build 6,500 average-sized homes. ...


New Orleans: America's favorite guinea pig in the coalmine!

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Sun, Dec 27, 2009
from ProPublica:
New gas wells leave more chemicals in ground
Three company spokesmen and a regulatory official said in separate interviews with ProPublica that as much as 85 percent of the fluids used during hydraulic fracturing is being left underground after wells are drilled in the Marcellus Shale, the massive gas deposit that stretches from New York to Tennessee.... for each modern gas well drilled ... more than three million gallons of chemically tainted wastewater could be left in the ground forever. Drilling companies say that chemicals make up less than 1 percent of that fluid. But by volume, those chemicals alone still amount to 34,000 gallons in a typical well. These disclosures raise new questions about why the Safe Drinking Water Act, the federal law that regulates fluids injected underground so they don't contaminate drinking water aquifers, should not apply to hydraulic fracturing, and whether the thinking behind Congress' 2005 vote to shield drilling from regulation is still valid. When lawmakers approved that exemption it was generally accepted that only about 30 percent of the fluids stayed in the ground... Ninety percent of the nation's wells now rely on the process, ...


Doesn't "aquifer" translate to "hairy water"?

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Wed, Dec 23, 2009
from Environmental Health News:
EPA announces plan to require disclosure of secret pesticide ingredients
Reversing a decade-old decision, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that it plans to require pesticide manufacturers to disclose to the public the inert ingredients in their products. An inert ingredient is anything added to a pesticide that does not kill or control a pest. In some cases, those ingredients are toxic compounds, but companies do not identify them on pesticide labels. Nearly 4,000 inerts - including several hundred that are considered hazardous under other federal rules - are used in agricultural and residential pesticides. ...


Oh jeez I don't think I wanna know!

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Fri, Dec 18, 2009
from University of California - Berkeley via ScienceDaily:
Mammals May Be Nearly Half Way Toward Mass Extinction
If the planet is headed for another mass extinction like the previous five, each of which wiped out more than 75 percent of all species on the planet, then North American mammals are one-fifth to one-half the way there, according to a University of California, Berkeley, and Pennsylvania State University analysis. Many scientists warn that the perfect storm of global warming and environmental degradation -- both the result of human activity is leading to a sixth mass extinction equal to the "Big Five" that have occurred over the past 450 million years, the last of which killed off the dinosaurs 68 million years ago. Yet estimates of how dire the current loss of species is have been hampered by the inability to compare species diversity today with the past. ...


Is "equal to" the best we can do?

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Fri, Dec 18, 2009
from Associated Press:
Environmental groups ask EPA to fix Indiana water rules
INDIANAPOLIS — Three environmental groups asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday to review and correct what they call serious flaws in Indiana's water pollution control program, or to wrest control of it from the state... In a petition, the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center, the Hoosier Environmental Council and the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter asked the EPA to “evaluate the systematic failure” of Indiana to properly administer and enforce a federal water pollution program that issues wastewater permits to industrial, municipal and other facilities. ...


Right, the Environmental Procrastination Agency will get right on that.

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Wed, Dec 16, 2009
from GreenBuildingElements:
Unsafe Levels of Formaldehyde in New Homes
Today the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a study of indoor air quality in new homes. The report found that new homes have too little ventilation and too much formaldehyde. Ventilation in the majority of homes did not meet code.... Inadequate ventilation causes formaldehyde to concentrate inside homes. All homes in the study had unsafe levels of formaldehyde. "Nearly all homes had formaldehyde concentrations that exceeded guidelines for cancer and chronic irritation, while 59 percent exceeded guidelines for acute irritation." Formaldehyde causes asthma, bronchitis, sinus infections, and headaches. Formaldehyde is also a carcinogen, and it has been linked to leukemia. ...


But I feel well-preserved.

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Sun, Dec 13, 2009
from Than Nien News (Vietnam):
Pollution soon to render Dong Nai River unusable
The Dong Nai River supplies water to some 15 million people in southern Vietnam, but that has not stopped callous companies from dumping so much toxic sludge in the river that scientists say it will soon be too poisonous to use. "Tests since 2006 have found pollution near the Hoa An Pump Station has increased to serious levels with an especially high concentration of organic [toxic] substances," said Truong Khac Hoanh, vice director of Thu Duc Water Supply Company in Ho Chi Minh City. "With such an increase in pollution, this water supply will soon be unusable," he said. A top official at the Binh An Water Plant in HCMC also said the Dong Nai would soon be like its tributary the Thi Vai, where aquatic life can't survive due to the high levels of pollution. ...


Chwistmas Wish: widdle aqualungs for the widdle cweatures.

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Fri, Dec 11, 2009
from Christian Science Monitor:
Nuclear waste: Canada asks its towns if they'll give it a home
If they were to take out a classified ad, it would read something like this: "Wanted: safe, willing home for 40,000 metric tons of nuclear waste. Must be Canadian. Phone for details."... Canada, like the United States, is seeking a long-term solution for storing spent nuclear fuel, which will remain toxic for more than 10,000 years. But the Canadian approach to finding a central depository site has fundamental differences, most strikingly that potential host communities must volunteer. But, like the stalled US effort, its success or failure will bear on any decision to expand the country's nuclear power sector. ...


There goes the neighborhood.

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Wed, Dec 9, 2009
from University of Michigan, via EurekAlert:
Study reveals how Arctic food webs affect mercury in polar bears
Mercury is a naturally occurring element, but some 150 tons of it enter the environment each year from human-generated sources such as coal-burning power plants, incinerators and chlorine-producing plants. Deposited onto land or into water, mercury is picked up by microorganisms, which convert some of it to methylmercury, a highly toxic form that builds up in fish and the animals that eat them. As bigger animals eat smaller ones, the methylmercury is concentrated -- a process known as bioaccumulation. Sitting at the top of the food chain, polar bears amass high concentrations of the contaminant.... The study showed that polar bears that get most of their nutrition from phytoplankton-based food webs have greater mercury concentrations than those that participate primarily in ice algae-based webs. While it's tempting to speculate that declining sea ice, due to global warming, may force polar bears to depend more on phytoplankton-based webs, thus increasing their mercury exposure, the study doesn't directly address that issue. ...


Why, it's as if everything was interconnected!

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Tue, Dec 1, 2009
from Environmental Health News:
Mixture more imposing on brain messenger than lone chemicals
Scientists demonstrate that the effects of different environmental contaminants can add together to have a greater effect on an important signaling chemical in the brain. A mixture of different environmental contaminants can add up to a have a bigger effect on an important brain chemical called glutamate than any one of them alone. ...


Coldcocktailed!

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Fri, Nov 20, 2009
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Falluja's birth defect battles
"It was almost impossible during the '80s," he says. "Now, every day in my clinic or elsewhere in the hospital there are large numbers of congenital abnormalities or cases of chronic tumours." He pauses, his thoughts seemingly interrupted by the gravity of his words, then slowly continues. "Now, believe me, it's like we are treating patients immediately after Hiroshima."... After two years of anecdotal reports suggesting a rise in birth defects, more precise data is painting a picture of a deeply disturbing phenomenon.... The potentially toxic residue of precision munitions that rained on the city for up to two months in 2004 has left many medical professionals questioning the long-term impact of modern weaponry, although few are willing, so far, to directly blame the war. Doctors point to many factors that could contribute to the birth defects: malnutrition, the psychological status of the parents, drug use, chemicals or radiation. Even preliminary treatment for the most common defect requires life-threatening surgery -- a price too high for many parents. ...


It's all Saddam's fault.

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Mon, Nov 16, 2009
from University of Rochester, via EurekAlert:
Pilot study relates phthalate exposure to less-masculine play by boys
A study of 145 preschool children reports, for the first time, that when the concentrations of two common phthalates in mothers' prenatal urine are elevated their sons are less likely to play with male-typical toys and games, such as trucks and play fighting.... Because testosterone produces the masculine brain, researchers are concerned that fetal exposure to anti-androgens such as phthalates -- which are pervasive in the environment -- has the potential to alter masculine brain development... Phthalates are also found in vinyl and plastic tubing, household products, and many personal care products such as soaps and lotions. Phthalates are becoming more controversial as scientific research increasingly associates them with genital defects, metabolic abnormalities, and reduced testosterone in babies and adults. ...


Maybe this is how we wipe out war!

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Fri, Nov 13, 2009
from University of Granada, via EurekAlert:
Consumption of mercury-laden fish associated with poorer cognitive performance
Children who eat fish more than 3 times per week show a worse performance in the general cognitive, executive and perceptual-manipulative areas. Those with higher levels of exposure to mercury show a generalised delay in cognitive, memory and verbal areas. Mercury is a contaminant found especially in oily fish and canned fish and to a lesser extent in white fish.... Researchers warn that although environmental exposure levels found in children are low enough not to cause any obvious concern, they could have an impact on child development in the long-term, only appearing as symptoms many years after first exposure. Consequently, they explain, "whatever the extent of involvement of environmental exposures in the etiology of the disease, the simple fact of acting very early in life opens the door to a transcendental field in public health: the possibility of applying early prevention measures to minimize problems." ...


I not stupid. I only have heavy metal.

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Wed, Nov 11, 2009
from Mongabay:
Prime Minister of Kenya urged to ban lion-killing pesticide after child dies from ingestion
On Monday October 26th a three-year-old girl mistakenly ate the pesticide Furadan (also known as carbofuran) in western Kenya. Her father, a teacher at a primary school, said that he had no knowledge of how dangerous the pesticide was, which he had purchased to kill pests in his vegetable garden. This tragedy comes after the conservation organization WildlifeDirect has campaigned for two years for Furadan to be banned in Kenya. The pesticide, which is a potent neurotoxin, has been used to kill dozens of Kenya's lions and millions of birds both of which are considered pests to farmers and pastoralists. Now WildlifDirect is going directly to Prime Minister Ranila Odinga for support in the ban. Odinga recently adopted a lion under the Kenya Wildlife Service's (KWS) Wildlife Endowment Fund. ...


Lions and birds are such pests!

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Sat, Oct 31, 2009
from Melbourne Age:
Horrendous legacy
This is the horrendous legacy Bhopal is facing 25 years on from the world's worst industrial accident. The Bhopal gas disaster, as it became known, has been dubbed the "Hiroshima of the chemical industry." It happened shortly after midnight on December 3, 1984, when a cloud of poisonous gas escaped from a Union Carbide pesticide plant. The release of 42 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (known as MIC) from the factory exposed more than 500,000 people to toxic gas. Up to 10,000 are thought to have died within the first 72 hours after the leak. At least 25,000 people exposed to the gas have since died, and today in Bhopal tens of thousands more Indians suffer from a variety of debilitating gas-related illnesses such as respiratory and psychiatric problems, joint pains, menstrual irregularities, tuberculosis and cancers. Then there is the escalating number of birth defects, including cleft palates, webbed feet and hands, twisted limbs, brain damage and heart problems. ...


My God, what have we done?

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Sun, Oct 25, 2009
from McClatchy Newspapers:
EPA to limit mercury emissions from power plants by 2011
The Environmental Protection Agency will put controls on the emissions of hazardous pollutants such as mercury from coal-fired power plants for the first time by November 2011 , according to an agreement announced Friday to settle a lawsuit against the agency. Many other polluters were forced to reduce emissions of toxic material such as mercury, arsenic and lead after the Clean Air Act was strengthened in 1990. Power plants, however, the largest source of mercury pollution, aren't subject to nationwide rules. The tougher rules will clean up more than just heavy metals because some kinds of pollution controls -- scrubbers, for example -- also remove other pollutants, such as soot. ...


I propose coal fired plants be fired, period!

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Sat, Oct 10, 2009
from ChemicalWatch:
German institute stresses safety of bisphenol A in baby bottles and binkies
In response to recent questions concerning the safety of giving babies dummies that may contain bisphenol A, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has issued an updated FAQ paper to give its latest assessment of the concerns. In it, the BfR stands by the European Food Safety Authority assessment's recommended tolerable daily intake limits for bisphenol A and concludes: "BfR comes to the conclusion in its scientific assessment that the normal use of polycarbonate bottles does not lead to a health risk from bisphenol A for infants and small children". ...


Except for that... gender thing.

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Wed, Sep 23, 2009
from Johannesburg Business Report:
High level of toxins detected in shoes
High levels of toxic chemicals have been found in the shoes of well-known South African retailers, raising concern about the health hazards contained in these "throwaway items" the world over. In a study released last week, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) found high levels of a toxic chemical known as diethyl-hexyl phthalate (DEHP) in 17 out of 27 pairs of shoes manufactured in various countries including India, Indonesia, Tanzania, The Philippines, Sweden and South Africa. The chemical can cause cancer, severe damage to a developing foetus and the central nervous system. Following an analysis for different types of harmful chemicals, a pair of sandals from Woolworths (imported from Brazil) was found to contain the highest concentration of DEHP of all the shoes in the global sample, with the substance constituting 23 percent of the total weight of the shoe. ...


Walk a mile in my (toxic) shoes.

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Wed, Sep 23, 2009
from The Japan Times:
Mercury danger in dolphin meat
...Dolphin and whale meat is high in mercury, and [Tetsuya Endo, a professor at the Health Sciences University of Hokkaido], one of the world's foremost authorities on mercury levels in dolphins and whales caught off Japan's coastal waters, has discovered Taiji residents who eat the meat sold in local stores have extremely high concentrations in their bodies. "Between December 2007 and July 2008, myself and a team of scientists and researchers took hair samples from 30 male and 20 female residents of the Taiji area. In three cases, the levels of mercury present were more than 50 parts per million, high enough that it was possible nerve damage, like that seen in victims of Minamata disease, could occur," Endo told The Japan Times in an interview last week. ...


It would be rather ironic if these beasts are so toxic they are saved from the dinner table.

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Mon, Sep 14, 2009
from The Columbus Dispatch:
Poisons found in debris landfills
Ohio's 55 debris landfills offer a cheap, final resting place for the millions of tons of waste created at construction and demolition sites each year. But there's a price. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency found a lot more than old concrete, bricks and lumber at 30 landfills it inspected. The EPA says arsenic, benzene and vinyl chloride -- all suspected carcinogens -- and lead, which can damage the brain and nervous system, all are found in the water trickling through the rubble... At each of the surveyed landfills, including two in central Ohio, officials found as many as 29 pollutants at levels that exceed drinking-water health limits, pollution standards for streams, or both. ...


It's getting so a person can't even throw something away without somebody bitching!

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Mon, Sep 14, 2009
from Miller-McCune:
Divining the Secret of Deformed Roadkill
Hard as it is to be a voice in the wilderness, Judy Hoy has been sounding an alarm in southwestern Montana for more than 13 years. For years she's been documenting, through autopsies, photos, articles and scientific papers, changes -- mutations, really -- she's observed in various ungulate species in the valley. In particular, she's seen malformed genitalia among male white-tailed deer. Such observations are not unique. More and more scientists are documenting reproductive changes in male animals ranging from cricket frogs to polar bears. But the response from public health and governmental agencies has been underwhelming.... In 1996, the Hoys noticed something strange among the roadkill. "It started with Buck No. 9," Judy said. "We called him that because he was the ninth buck we had seen with malformed genitalia."... The next year, 25 of 49 males had anomalies in their genitals. Between 1998 and 2000, two-thirds of the bucks examined had abnormalities.... She described examining different endocrine-disrupting compounds, like a detective at a murder scene, eliminating suspects until she met up with chlorothalonil, a broad-spectrum fungicide. It had been the go-to fungicide in 1994 when neighboring farmers in Idaho were fighting potato blight. ...


Hmm... could endocrine disruptors could be used for good, rather than evil?

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Fri, Aug 28, 2009
from SciDev.net:
Nanoparticles killed women, study claims
Nanoparticles have been blamed for two deaths at a Chinese factory, in a report that claims to be the first to document human disease caused by the particles. The study -- published in the European Respiratory Journal — describes seven women who fell ill after working in a printing factory in China, two of whom later died. All had symptoms indicating that their immune systems could not remove foreign objects from their lungs and had large amounts of fluid in the lung linings.... Particles of around 30 nanometres in size were found in the women's lungs and also in the plastic paste and a broken ventilation shaft in the workroom. "It is obvious the disease is not due to microparticles or vapours because the pulmonary epithelial cells are full of nanoparticles," says Yuguo Song, lead author and clinical toxicologist at the Beijing Chaoyang Hospital. ...


I'm only worried a really, really, really, really tiny amount.

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Mon, Aug 24, 2009
from St. Paul Pioneer Press:
Massive cleanup of Washington County Landfill in Lake Elmo for PFCs is under way
Call it Lake Elmo's Big Dig. Beginning this summer, enough garbage will be removed from the Washington County Landfill to fill the Metrodome five times. "Look at this -- it's the size of a football stadium," shouted Jeffrey Lewis over the racket of bulldozers as he pointed to an enormous pit this month. "And this is only one-eighth of it." Lewis, who manages landfill cleanups for the state, is chasing an environmental bogeyman -- PFCs, or perfluorochemicals -- made by 3M Co. The clear, odorless PFCs are seeping into the soil from 2.5 million cubic yards of garbage. So Lewis is overseeing the effort to dig up the entire 60-acre site, install liners and replace the garbage. At $21 million, it easily will be the most expensive landfill cleanup in state history. ...


It's potty time for Lake Elmo!

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Wed, Aug 19, 2009
from Associated Press:
New gov't study shows mercury in fish widespread
No fish can escape mercury pollution. That's the take-home message from a federal study of mercury contamination released Wednesday that tested fish from nearly 300 streams across the country. The toxic substance was found in every fish sampled, a finding that underscores how widespread mercury pollution has become.... Mercury consumed by eating fish can damage the nervous system and cause learning disabilities in developing fetuses and young children. The main source of mercury to most of the streams tested, according to the researchers, is emissions from coal-fired power plants. The mercury released from smokestacks here and abroad rains down into waterways, where natural processes convert it into methylmercury — a form that allows the toxin to wind its way up the food chain into fish. ...


...and keep on winding its way up to us!

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Sat, Aug 8, 2009
from Mother Jones:
Corn Syrup's Mercury Surprise
In 2004, Renee Dufault, an environmental health researcher at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stumbled upon an obscure Environmental Protection Agency report on chemical plants' mercury emissions. Some chemical companies, she learned, make lye by pumping salt through large vats of mercury. Since lye is a key ingredient in making HFCS (it's used to separate corn starch from the kernel), Dufault wondered if mercury might be getting into the ubiquitous sweetener that makes up 1 out of every 10 calories Americans eat.... The corn-syrup industry claims that no HFCS manufacturers currently use mercury-grade lye, though it concedes some used to. (According to the EPA, four plants still use the technology.) It says that its own tests found no traces of mercury in HFCS samples from US manufacturers, including a number of samples from some of the same sources Dufault tested. But hundreds of foreign plants still use mercury to make lye -- which may then be used to make foods for export. Already, 11 percent of the sweeteners and candy on the US market are imported.... [A] report issued by the Minnesota-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy ... found low levels of mercury in 16 common food products, including certain brands of kid-favored foods, like grape jelly and chocolate milk. ...


Coke! It's the heavy thing!

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Fri, Aug 7, 2009
from New Scientist:
Video: Aftermath of a Japanese whale hunt
Baird's beaked whales are rare, but are exempt from whaling bans since they are still classified as small cetaceans. Around 60 Baird's a year are hunted commercially in northern Japan and sold in Japanese supermarkets. However, tests have revealed extremely high levels of mercury in the meat, which could pose a serious health risk. EIA campaigner Clare Perry says the Japanese government should act to stop the consumption of contaminated whale and dolphin products. "The cumulative effects of this toxin could be devastating," she says. ...


The cumulative effect of hunting sentient beings could be soul death, you barbarians.

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Thu, Aug 6, 2009
from Times Online (UK):
Environment Agency cracks down on organised crime in waste industry
Investigations by the Environment Agency have found that gangs are illegally dumping, burying and burning commercial rubbish and setting up waste businesses as a legitimate front for illegal activities, including drug trafficking.... Like the Mafia did in New York and the Camorra did in Naples, British criminals regard controlling the waste industry as a way to generate income and launder money. They are setting up bogus companies and running them in a seemingly professional manner, with business cards, logos and legitimate-sounding answering machine messages. They are undercutting legitimate waste companies on price, especially in the high-cost area of disposing of hazardous materials such as asbestos and engine oil. ...


Cheap toxic waste disposal? Now that's an offer you can't refuse.

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Sat, Jul 18, 2009
from St. Petersburg Times:
North Tampa residents win battle to stop chemical use at golf course
People who live around the Babe Zaharias Golf Course have won their battle to stop the Tampa Sports Authority from using a pesticide that some say has made them sick. But it wasn't the authority that gave in to the group's demands. Chemical giant Dow AgroSciences decided Thursday to cancel an application of the soil fumigant Curfew next week. "In light of strong protests and threatened actions of a vocal group of residents and activists, Dow AgroSciences will not place the applicator, itself, or the product in a volatile situation that could result in unfounded allegations, the unnecessary expenditure of regulatory resources or potential litigation," Dow officials told the authority in a written statement... Curfew is used to control nematodes and mole crickets. Its active ingredient is 1,3-dichloropropene. The warning label says its vapors can cause kidney, lung and liver damage and death if inhaled. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as a probable carcinogen. ...


Notice they don't even mention potential health effects: that's par for the course!

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Sat, Jul 18, 2009
from Wired:
Potential Neurotoxin Could Be in Our Food
One of the most comprehensive analyses yet of human exposure to PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, shows that the chemical -- long used in everything from computers to sleeping bags -- enters humans through their diets, not just their household. "The more you eat, the more PBDEs you have in your serum," said Alicia Fraser, an environmental health researcher at Boston University's School of Public Health who headed the new study, published this month in Environmental Health Perspectives. PBDEs are chemical cousins of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, which are known to cause birth defects and neurological impairments. PCBs were banned throughout the world by the mid-1970s, when PBDEs were gaining popularity as flame retardants. PBDEs were soon found in most plastic-containing household products. ...


PBDE: Peanut Butter & Deepfried Escargot.... Yum!!

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Mon, Jul 13, 2009
from Brisbane Times:
Three-headed fish found on Sunshine Coast
More mutant fish have been found at a Noosa fish hatchery, including mullet embryos with two and three heads. The discoveries come after seven mullet - four females and three males taken from the Noosa River, were given to the Sunland Freshwater Fish Hatchery at Boreen Point for breeding this month. Fifty per cent of embryos found during two separate spawning events on July 5 and 6 had some form of cell abnormality, including some with two heads. A single mullet fry was found with three heads. ...


Does each head sport a mullet? Now that's an entertaining mutation!

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Mon, Jul 6, 2009
from Lifespan, via EurekAlert:
Possible link between environmental nitrates and Alzheimer's, diabetes
A new study by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital have found a substantial link between increased levels of nitrates in our environment and food with increased deaths from diseases, including Alzheimer's, diabetes mellitus and Parkinson's.... "We have become a 'nitrosamine generation.' In essence, we have moved to a diet that is rich in amines and nitrates, which lead to increased nitrosamine production. We receive increased exposure through the abundant use of nitrate-containing fertilizers for agriculture." She continues, "Not only do we consume them in processed foods, but they get into our food supply by leeching from the soil and contaminating water supplies used for crop irrigation, food processing and drinking."... The findings indicate that while nitrogen-containing fertilizer consumption increased by 230 percent between 1955 and 2005, its usage doubled between 1960 and 1980, which just precedes the insulin-resistant epidemics the researchers found. They also found that sales from the fast food chain and the meat processing company increased more than 8-fold from 1970 to 2005, and grain consumption increased 5-fold. ...


Or, plastic wrapping. Or, heavy metals. Or, organochlorides. Or... um... what was I saying?

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Sun, Jul 5, 2009
from Associated Press:
SoCal Asian communities aim to weed out toxic fish
John Fallan's trained eye scans rows of iceboxes brimming with tiger fish and shrimp in a Vietnamese supermarket, searching for one pesky fish that threatens the health of seafood lovers. Authorities say the white croaker has become a popular catch in local Asian communities. But when reeled in off a stretch of California's coastline southwest of Los Angeles, the fish has been laced with cancer-causing toxins stored from decades of chemical dumps near the scenic shore. ...


They don't call it "the white croaker" for nothing!

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Sun, Jun 21, 2009
from MedIndia:
Agriculture Workers Most Vulnerable to Leukemia
The Centre for Public Health Research at the Massey University has just released the findings of a study started in 2003-04, when researchers interviewed 225 cancer patients aged 25-75 and 471 randomly selected participants from the general population. They found elevated leukaemia risk four or five times greater among market gardeners and nursery growers compared to the general population. Market farmers and crop growers, and field crop and vegetable growers, also all experienced varying degrees of elevated risk. The study builds on research published by the centre last year, which showed those working in plant nurseries were four times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, while vegetable growers and those in general horticulture production have a two-fold risk of developing that disease. ...


Damn you, plants!

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Sat, Jun 13, 2009
from Newark Star-Ledger:
High levels of lead found in mussels, clams, bait fish in Raritan Bay
Tests on mussels, clams and foraging fish near the Laurence Harbor Sea Wall in Old Bridge, have revealed high levels of lead, the Environmental Protection Agency reported today. The amount of lead found in ribbed mussels ranged from 3 to 8.6 parts per million. In softshell clams the amount ranged from 3.4 to 17 parts per million and hardshell clams from 1.7 to 3.1 parts per million. In foraging fish or bait fish the amount of lead found ranged from 0.49 to 0.92 parts per million. "This is very dangerous," said Peter Defur, a biologist and environmental consultant for Environmental Stewardship Concepts based in Richmond, Va., who works on contaminated sites. "I've never seen such high numbers in the 30 years I've been doing this." ...


Now I go fishing with magnets.

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Fri, Jun 5, 2009
from Environmental Working Group, via BoingBoing:
Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database
Skin Deep is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by researchers at the Environmental Working Group. Skin Deep pairs ingredients in more than 41,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind. Why did a small nonprofit take on such a big project? Because the FDA doesn't require companies to test their own products for safety. ...


"Leaving a beautiful corpse" ain't what it's cracked up to be.

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Fri, Jun 5, 2009
from New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, via EurekAlert:
Birth defect of the male urethra is not increasing in New York state
In recent decades, there have been periodic reports of a worldwide decline in sperm count and quality. Male infertility has ostensibly been on the rise, accompanied by increases in testicular cancer and hypospadias -- a congenital defect in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside, rather than at the end, of the penis. Taken together, these three conditions have been termed testicular dysgenesis syndrome. Environmental chemicals known as phthalates, some researchers say, may be the cause of the problem. Used in the manufacture of plastics, phthalates at sufficiently high levels have been seen to interfere with male fetal development. Some studies have found that hypospadias are more prevalent among male infants today than they were 30 years ago. Now, a team of researchers ... have taken a fresh look at the data and have found no rise in rates of hypospadias in New York State from 1992 to 2005. Similar findings have been reported by researchers looking at state-level data in Washington and California.... When combined with recent research showing that sperm counts are not declining, the current study suggests that testicular dysgenesis syndrome may not be a problem in humans, contrary to earlier concerns. ...


Thank goodness we humans have nothing to worry about! Fish, on the other hand...

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Fri, Jun 5, 2009
from CBC (Canada):
How much fertilizer can a river take?
Every year, some of P.E.I.'s rivers and streams end up starved of the oxygen marine animals need. Huge blooms of sea lettuce grow and then rot, sucking the oxygen out of the water, causing fish and other creatures to die in what's called anoxic conditions. Mike van den Heuvel of the Canadian Rivers Institute at UPEI has been looking at the example of the Wilmot River near Summerside, where the equivalent of several pickup trucks full of fertilizer is going into the water every day. Van den Heuvel, who is being consulted by the government, is one of the scientists trying to find that safe level of nitrates for Island rivers. While that level has not been established, he told CBC News Thursday too much is making its way into some rivers, and if changes aren't made, the consequences could be dire. "Ultimately it could have effects on economically important industries. For example, the mussel farming industry depends on the estuaries," said van den Heuvel. "Also tourism is also a very important industry for P.E.I., and smelly anoxic estuaries are not really a big draw for tourists." ...


This one is just gasping "less, and less, and less..."

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Thu, Jun 4, 2009
from Wiley-Blackwell via EurekAlert:
Association found between Parkinson's disease and pesticide exposure in French farm workers
Laboratory studies in rats have shown that injecting the insecticide rotenone leads to an animal model of PD and several epidemiological studies have shown an association between pesticides and PD, but most have not identified specific pesticides or studied the amount of exposure relating to the association. A new epidemiological study involving the exposure of French farm workers to pesticides found that professional exposure is associated with PD, especially for organochlorine insecticides.... The study found that PD patients had been exposed to pesticides through their work more frequently and for a greater number of years/hours than those without PD. Among the three main classes of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides), researchers found the largest difference for insecticides: men who had used insecticides had a two-fold increase in the risk of PD. ...


Poison is as poison does...?

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Thu, May 21, 2009
from Harvard School of Medicine, via EurekAlert:
BPA, chemical used to make plastics, found to leach from polycarbonate drinking bottles into humans
A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that participants who drank for a week from polycarbonate bottles, the popular, hard-plastic drinking bottles and baby bottles, showed a two-thirds increase in their urine of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Exposure to BPA, used in the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics, has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans. The study is the first to show that drinking from polycarbonate bottles increased the level of urinary BPA, and thus suggests that drinking containers made with BPA release the chemical into the liquid that people drink in sufficient amounts to increase the level of BPA excreted in human urine.... BPA is also found in dentistry composites and sealants and in the lining of aluminum food and beverage cans. (In bottles, polycarbonate can be identified by the recycling number 7.) Numerous studies have shown that it acts as an endocrine-disruptor in animals, including early onset of sexual maturation, altered development and tissue organization of the mammary gland and decreased sperm production in offspring. It may be most harmful in the stages of early development. ...


But BPA is everywhere. Surely it can't be bad for us.

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Thu, May 21, 2009
from Chemistry World:
Chemical pollution gets personal
In their book Slow death by rubber duck, the pair detail a weekend testing spree incorporating regular blood and urine sampling. Indoors for 12-hour shifts, they used typical amounts of personal care products and a plug-in air freshener, in a room with stain-repellent furnishings and carpets. 'We set only one ironclad rule: our efforts had to mimic real life,' says Smith. Of six different phthalates in the testing regime, rocketing levels of monoethyl phthalate (MEP) -- which the body metabolises from diethyl phthalate (DEP) the most common phthalate in cosmetics and personal care products -- were most stark. Levels in urine went from 64 to 1410ng/ml. According to the European Commission's Scientific Committee for Cosmetic Products (SCCP), traces of up to 100 ppm total or per substance pose no risk to health, although traces of banned phthalates are sometimes present due to other possible uses, such as in packaging. Phthalates are plasticising chemicals, linked to abnormal reproductive development.... Levels of bisphenol A -- an endocrine disruptor linked to breast and prostate cancer -- increased 7.5 times after eating canned foods from a microwavable, polycarbonate plastic container. ...


What if I am what I eat?

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Mon, May 11, 2009
from London Times:
River Jordan, the site of Jesus' baptism, a 'sewage pipe'
If Pope Benedict hoped to immerse himself yesterday in the waters of the River Jordan, where Jesus was said to have been baptised by his cousin John, he will have been disappointed: the river is now such a polluted, denuded shadow of its former self that bathing is prohibited in its sluggish, brown waters. A United Nations report described the biblical waterway as a "sewage pipe" made filthy by pollution from farming in Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley, by poorly managed sewage disposal from Palestinian cities in the West Bank and by waste water from Jordan and Syria. ...


Bet you could get a good craptism there.

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Sat, May 9, 2009
from The New York Times:
UN: Treaty Expanded by 9 More Dangerous Chemicals
A U.N.-sponsored treaty to combat highly dangerous chemicals has been expanded to include nine more substances that are used in pesticides, electronics and other products, U.N. officials said Saturday. The additions include one called PFOS worth billions of dollars in a wide range of uses from making semiconductor chips to fighting fires. Another is lindane, a pesticide widely used in combatting head lice. "These chemicals transit boundaries. They are found everywhere in the world," Donald Cooper, [executive secretary to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs] said. "They don't go away. They persist in the atmosphere, they persist in the soil, in the water for extremely long periods of time." ...


And, quite often, these chemicals have way too many syllables!!

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Sun, Apr 12, 2009
from The Australian:
When farm sprays go astray
When fisheries veterinarian Matthew Landos got his first look at the double-headed fish embryos in a Queensland hatchery, he had no idea he would soon team up with a Tasmanian doctor worried that the widespread use of agricultural and forestry chemicals was making her patients sick. "In hindsight it makes perfect sense. If exposure to agricultural chemicals could cause deformed and dying fish, as the evidence suggests, of course the chemicals had the potential to trigger serious health problems with other animals, including people," says Landos, who runs a [fisheries] consulting practice... Late last year hatchery owner Gwen Gilson hired Landos to find out why -- after years of healthy hatchings -- embryos and fish fry were dying in huge numbers, while others showed bizarre physical or behavioural abnormalities. His investigation suggested the problem was the result of a cocktail of chemicals sprayed on a nearby macadamia plantation.... "The same company that makes atrazine (as a herbicide) spun out a new company that makes an anti-breast cancer medication that blocks its action," he says, noting that the company involved has complained formally to UC administrators about his public pronouncements on the subject. ...


In most of the world, that kind of thing is called a "protection racket."

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Fri, Apr 10, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Algae genomes key to regulating carbon emissions
Scientists have decoded genomes of two strains of green algae, highlighting genes that allow them to capture carbon emissions and maintain the oceans' chemical balance, a study said Thursday. The strains' productivity as a significant source of marine food and their ability to capture carbon means the algae can influence the carbon flux and have an impact on climate change, according to the study published in Friday's edition of the journal Science. An international team of researchers sampled two isolates of Microminas, one of the smallest known eukaryotic algae -- complex cellular structures containing a nucleus and enclosed within a membrane. ...


Algae is our PAL-gae!

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Thu, Apr 9, 2009
from Daily World (Washington):
Chemical found in mussels on Twin Harbors
Testing sites at the Westport jetty and at Nahcotta in Willapa Bay are among those that showed evidence of toxic chemicals used in fire retardants, according to a report issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the public does not have to be alarmed about the chemical entering the food supply, said Gunnar Lauenstein, a program manager for NOAA and one of the report's authors. The administration issued the nationwide report last week, which documented levels of Polybrominated diphenyl ethers -- a chemical present in many household products, including flame retardants.... Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are common in household products such as mattresses, computers and televisions. The chemical is thought to affect brain development and reproduction in humans and animals. The chemical accumulates in the fatty tissue of mussels, and scientists use the tissue to gauge how much of the chemical is in an area of coastal water.... Lauenstein added that although evidence of the chemical has been found, mussels are still safe for the public to eat. ...


I guess it's lucky that vertebrates don't have any fatty tissues!

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Wed, Apr 1, 2009
from NOAA, via EurekAlert:
NOAA report calls flame retardants concern to US coastal ecosystems
NOAA scientists, in a first-of-its-kind report issued today, state that Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs), chemicals commonly used in commercial goods as flame retardants since the 1970s, are found in all United States coastal waters and the Great Lakes, with elevated levels near urban and industrial centers.... "This is a wake-up call for Americans concerned about the health of our coastal waters and their personal health," said John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator of the National Ocean Service. "Scientific evidence strongly documents that these contaminants impact the food web and action is needed to reduce the threats posed to aquatic resources and human health." ...


Hey scientists: I don't want my coastal waters burning.

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Thu, Mar 26, 2009
from Springer, via EurekAlert:
Hormone-mimics in plastic water bottles
In an analysis of commercially available mineral waters, the researchers found evidence of estrogenic compounds leaching out of the plastic packaging into the water. What's more, these chemicals are potent in vivo and result in an increased development of embryos in the New Zealand mud snail. These findings, which show for the first time that substances leaching out of plastic food packaging materials act as functional estrogens, are published in Springer's journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.... "We must have identified just the tip of the iceberg in that plastic packaging may be a major source of xenohormone contamination of many other edibles. Our findings provide an insight into the potential exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals due to unexpected sources of contamination." ...


I like my estrogenic compounds chilled.

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Wed, Mar 25, 2009
from American Society of Horticultural Science, via EurekAlert:
Effects of 'herbicide drift' on white oak
Herbicide drift, which occurs when [herbicides] "drift" from the targeted application area to a nearby non-targeted area, is a particular concern in Midwestern regions of the United States.... White oak, a popular landscape and forest species native to the eastern United States, has been suffering from an abnormality called "leaf tatters", which give the leaves a lacy appearance. Leaf tatters in white oak trees have been reported in states from Minnesota, south to Missouri, and east to Pennsylvania.... The researchers found that visual injury to white oak seedlings was dependent on year, herbicide treatment, concentration, growth stage, and rating date.... This research is the first to document leaf tatters injury from exposure of oaks to chloroacetanilide herbicides. ...


Startling: a chemical designed to kill plants, actually hurts plants.

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Fri, Mar 13, 2009
from Washington Post:
Probable Carcinogens Found in Baby Toiletries
More than half the baby shampoo, lotion and other infant care products analyzed by a health advocacy group were found to contain trace amounts of two chemicals that are believed to cause cancer, the organization said yesterday. Some of the biggest names on the market, including Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo and Baby Magic lotion, tested positive for 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde, or both, the nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported. The chemicals, which the Environmental Protection Agency has characterized as probable carcinogens, are not intentionally added to the products and are not listed among ingredients on labels. Instead, they appear to be byproducts of the manufacturing process. Formaldehyde is created when other chemicals in the product break down over time, while 1,4-dioxane is formed when foaming agents are combined with ethylene oxide or similar petrochemicals. ...


But it says, right there on the label, safe for babies.

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Wed, Mar 11, 2009
from Canada.com:
Homeowners fear hazards inside drywall from China
Thomas Martin, president of America's Watchdog, says that in the past two weeks about a dozen Lower Mainland callers have all reported experiencing the same nose bleeds, breathing problems and allergy-type symptoms that have affected homeowners across the U.S. Continued exposure could result in severe health problems, the group says. "This type of drywall was produced with materials that emit toxic hydrogen sulphide gas and other sulphide gases," says a copy of one home inspection report obtained Canwest News Service on an affected Florida home where Chinese drywall was installed. "These sulphide gases are also alleged to cause serious health conditions and illnesses, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, eye irritations and respiratory difficulties." "It's scary, it's a nightmare. We think we are looking at the worst case of sick houses in U.S. history," Martin said.... The drywall in question was imported from China between 2001 and 2007. ...


I can't smell any problem with my drywall.

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Fri, Mar 6, 2009
from Bloomberg News:
India Failing to Control Open Defecation Blunts Nation's Growth
Until May 2007, Meera Devi rose before dawn each day and walked a half mile to a vegetable patch outside the village of Kachpura to find a secluded place. Dodging leering men and stick-wielding farmers and avoiding spots that her neighbors had soiled, the mother of three pulled up her sari and defecated with the Taj Mahal in plain view. With that act, she added to the estimated 100,000 tons of human excrement that Indians leave each day in fields of potatoes, carrots and spinach, on banks that line rivers used for drinking and bathing and along roads jammed with scooters, trucks and pedestrians.... In the shadow of its new suburbs, torrid growth and 300-million-plus-strong middle class, India is struggling with a sanitation emergency. From the stream in Devi's village to the nation's holiest river, the Ganges, 75 percent of the country's surface water is contaminated by human and agricultural waste and industrial effluent. Everyone in Indian cities is at risk of consuming human feces, if they're not already, the Ministry of Urban Development concluded in September. ...


At least their shit is out in the open.

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Wed, Mar 4, 2009
from Environmental Health News:
Migrating vultures succumb to lead
An increasingly rare species of vulture that migrates from Mongolia to overwintering grounds in South Korea can pick up enough lead along the way to poison and kill them. Lead poisoning may be the reason a globally threatened species of vulture is frequently found dead in the wild. The vulture is native to Europe and Asia. One large population overwinters in South Korea near the demilitarized zone (DMZ). Researchers examined 20 dead birds found in the area. They analyzed the animals' kidneys, liver and bones for lead and other metals. They found very high levels of lead in these birds. Fourteen individuals had potentially toxic levels in their liver and kidneys.... The results also highlight that wildlife can transport toxic chemicals to new locations where it can then enter different food webs. The authors suggest that the birds may pick up the poisonous lead during their migration by feeding on other animals that are contaminated with the heavy metal. The lead might come from ammunition used for hunting. ...


And who, prey tell, will feed on the vulture?

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Thu, Feb 5, 2009
from US News and World Report:
Not Just HFCS and Peanut Butter: Here are 10 Other Risky Foods
1. Farmed Salmon. It's high in Polychlorinated Biphenyls, with 11 times more dioxins than wild salmon. 2. Conventionally Grown Bell Peppers. They require more pesticides than any other vegetable - with as many as 64 being found on a single sample of pepper in one study. 3. Non-Organic Strawberries. Some growers of strawberries irrigate their plants with Nutri-Sweet-laced water. The sugar substitute is a probable carcinogen. 4. Chilean Sea Bass. The fish is high in mercury, and if eaten consistently over time, can elevate the body's mercury levels to dangerous amounts. 5. Non-Organic Peaches. Pesticides easily penetrate their soft skins and permeate the fruit. 6. Genetically Modified Corn. We still don't know the long-term effects of genetically modified corn, but it's been tied to an increase in allergies for humans. 7. Bluefin Tuna. Not only is it high in mercury, but overfishing may drive the species to extinction. 8. Industrially Farmed Chicken. Arsenic has been found in conventional chickens, as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 9. Non-Organic Apples. When grown in humid Mid-Atlantic states, the crop uses more pesticides than California, Oregon and Washington states. 10. Cattle Treated with rBGH. Recombinant bovine growth hormone has been traced to breast cancer and hormonal disorders. ...


OMG: I've eaten all ten!

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Tue, Feb 3, 2009
from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Personal-care chemicals go on toxic list
The federal government is placing on its toxic substances list two silicone-based chemicals that are widely used in shampoos and conditioners, where they help give hair the silky, smooth feeling often played up in advertisements for these personal care products. It is the first time any country has taken such regulatory action against the substances, called D4 and D5 by the silicone industry, that are also in hundreds of personal-care products ranging from deodorants to skin moisturizers.... [Ottawa] decided to designate the substances as dangerous, based on fears that they were a threat to wildlife when they get into the environment from the disposal of consumer products and from industrial releases. ...


You mean poisoning the environment is dangerous? But what about business?

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Tue, Feb 3, 2009
from CBC News (Canada):
Mercury levels rising in caribou, contaminants program finds
Caribou in Canada's North are showing increasing levels of mercury, a contaminant that has drifted into the Arctic from other parts of the world, researchers have found. Mercury is one of two contaminants found in northern environments that are of great concern to scientists, said Mary Gamberg, project co-ordinator with federal Northern Contaminants Program in the Yukon. Gamberg said mercury "seems to be increasing in some [wildlife] populations all across the Arctic," she told CBC News in an interview Monday. "In marine mammals, in some populations, it's increasing. And in caribou, in some populations -- and particularly in female caribou -- it seems to be increasing, which is really interesting," she added. ...


Golly. Interesting. Even fascinating. How unexpected. Of scientific note only, no need to worry about implications, move along.

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Fri, Jan 30, 2009
from UCLA, via EurekAlert:
Household chemicals may be linked to infertility
[P]erfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs -- chemicals that are widely used in everyday items such as food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products -- may be associated with infertility in women.... In addition to being found in household goods, PFCs, the class of chemicals to which PFOS and PFOA belong, are used in manufacturing processes involving industrial surfactants and emulsifiers. They persist in the environment and in the body for decades.... The researchers say the biological mechanisms by which exposure to PFOS and PFOA might reduce fertility are unknown, but PFCs may interfere with hormones that are involved in reproduction. ...


It's the gift that keeps on taking!

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Thu, Jan 29, 2009
from Daily Record (NJ):
Bat plague fallout: More bugs, fewer crops?
The potential environmental impact of White Nose Syndrome, recently diagnosed for the first time in New Jersey in the Rockaway Township area, likely would be significant according to bat experts and advocates. "It's one of those experiments you never want to find the results of," said Merlin Tuttle, an internationally-known bat expert and founder of Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas. Since bats feed on insects, fewer bats would mean more mosquitoes. That could result in additional cases of West Nile Virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, in humans.... He said that Texas, for example, has a cave with 20 million bats credited with devouring 200 tons of insects per night. "You could only imagine what the impact could be on crops," Tuttle said. "Just like birds by day, bats have a huge impact in keeping the insect population in balance -- including some of the worst crop and back-yard pests," Tuttle said. ...


We'll have more cute little bugs? All the time!?

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Mon, Jan 26, 2009
from Science News:
Pacific Northwest salmon poisoning killer whales
Killer whales that feast on salmon in the Pacific Northwest are getting a heaping side of contaminants with each meal. The chinook salmon are heavily dosed with chemicals such as DDT and PCBs, nearly all of which the fish acquire in their years at sea, reports a new study in the January Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.... Salmon are known to deliver pollutants, especially PCBs, to coastal, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. PCBs are a kind of endocrine disruptor, known to interfere with development, meddle with immune system function and cause a host of other problems. . The Environmental Protection Agency banned most uses of PCBs in 1979; but the chemicals had been widely used in coolants, pesticides, plastics and other products and are extremely persistent in the environment, cycling through the food web for decades. ...


If only we could train these Free Willies to spray out the toxins.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 7, 2009
from New York Times:
Hundreds of Coal Ash Dumps Lack Regulation
The coal ash pond that ruptured and sent a billion gallons of toxic sludge across 300 acres of East Tennessee last month was only one of more than 1,300 similar dumps across the United States — most of them unregulated and unmonitored — that contain billions more gallons of fly ash and other byproducts of burning coal. Like the one in Tennessee, most of these dumps, which reach up to 1,500 acres, contain heavy metals like arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium, which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to be a threat to water supplies and human health. Yet they are not subject to any federal regulation, which experts say could have prevented the spill, and there is little monitoring of their effects on the surrounding environment. ...


Maybe Obama better appoint an Ash Czar!

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Sun, Jan 4, 2009
from Joplin Independent:
Tyson Foods is undisputed winner of OCWF award
The Golden Litter Award for 2008 goes to Tyson Foods, Inc. in recognition of attempts to cloud a U.S. Federal District Court lawsuit accusing Tyson and other poultry companies of water pollution. The award is presented by the Oklahoma Clean Water Forum (OCWF), a blog about water quality, the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake. In addition to the Golden Litter Award, Silver Squat Awards will go to Oklahoma television stations for non-coverage of Oklahoma's poultry lawsuit and poultry waste pollution of the Illinois River watershed. A newspaper and a public utility also are receiving Silver Squat Awards. "With only a few exceptions, TV stations did dismal "diddly squat: in coverage of Oklahoma’s clean water lawsuit and poultry waste pollution of the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake," said OCWF editors. "Because they did squat while raking in millions of poultry industry advertising dollars, they deserve squat." ...


Ignorance is advertising bliss -- how about a "Blind Acquiescence" award for media?

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Sat, Jan 3, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Paradise lost on Maldives' rubbish island
It may be known as a tropical paradise, an archipelago of 1,200 coral islands in the Indian Ocean. But the traditional image of the Maldives hides a dirty secret: the world's biggest rubbish island. A few miles and a short boat ride from the Maldivian capital, Malé, Thilafushi began life as a reclamation project in 1992. The artificial island was built to solve Malé's refuse problem. But today, with more than 10,000 tourists a week in the Maldives adding their waste, the rubbish island now covers 50 hectares (124 acres).... Environmentalists say that more than 330 tonnes of rubbish is brought to Thilafushi a day. Most of it comes from Malé, which is one of the world's most densely populated towns: 100,000 people cram into 2 square kilometres. Brought on ships, the rubbish is taken onshore and sifted by hand. Some of the waste is incinerated but most is buried in landfill sites. There is, say environmental campaigners, also an alarming rise in batteries and electronic waste being dumped in Thilafushi's lagoon. "We are seeing used batteries, asbestos, lead and other potentially hazardous waste mixed with the municipal solid wastes being put into the water...." ...


Actually, the continent of plastic in the Pacific likely holds that dubious prize.

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Sun, Dec 28, 2008
from Merrillville Post-Tribune:
IDEM stops giving fines, punishments
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has stopped issuing fines against other state agencies in Indiana that violate their environmental permits. For instance, the Indiana Department of Transportation violated wastewater permits for rest stops across the state more than 550 times over four years. It discharged sludge and ammonia into streams, causing algae blooms and potential damage to aquatic life. But INDOT got no fines. It got off with a legal slap on the wrist. Environmentalists are appalled, calling it a "creeping lack of accountability" and commitment to enforcing the law. ...


Ever had a slap on the wrist? It willy willy hurts!

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Wed, Dec 17, 2008
from Genetic Engineering News via EurekAlert:
Benefits of breastfeeding outweigh risk of infant exposure to environmental chemicals in breastmilk
A study comparing breastfed and formula fed infants across time showed that the known beneficial effects of breastfeeding are greater than the potential risks associated with infant exposure to chemicals such as dioxins that may be present in breastmilk, according to a report published in the December issue (Volume 3, Number 4) of Breastfeeding Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com) and the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. The paper is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/bfm.... [T]his study's findings, based on epidemiologic data, do not downplay the adverse effects of exposure to dioxins and other environmental toxins. However, the authors distinguish between the statistical significance of risk/benefit assessments in an individual compared to population effects. ...


Why in God's name are we even having to have such a study? What part of "Natural Systems Deficit Disorder" does this fall into?

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Tue, Dec 16, 2008
from SmashHits (India):
Fruit based drinks contaminated with pesticides
Fruit based soft drinks outside the US are highly contaminated with pesticides, especially in countries like Britain and Spain, says a new study.... They tested for pesticides such as carbendazim, thiabendazole, imazalil and malathion, which are applied to crops after harvest and can remain on fruits and vegetables during processing, according to a release of the American Chemical Society. They found relatively large concentrations of pesticides, in the micrograms per litre range, in most of the samples analysed. Samples from Spain and Britain had the highest levels of pesticides, while samples from the US and Russia were among the lowest. ...


Cui bono? That is, who benefits from this?

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Tue, Dec 16, 2008
from Forbes, via CBC:
Inside the world's superdumps
The largest garbage dump in the world is roughly twice the size of the continental U.S. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a continent-sized constellation of discarded shoes, bottles, bags, pacifiers, plastic wrappers, toothbrushes and every other type of trash imaginable, floating in the Pacific Ocean about halfway between Hawaii and San Francisco.... Truckloads of printers, fax machines, hard drives and all kinds of defunct electronics arrive daily in Guiyu from warehouses in the port of Nanhai, where the imported waste comes ashore in sea-going containers. Roughly half these computers and electronic components are recycled; the rest are dumped. Nobody knows for sure, but evidence suggests most of the discarded components are dumped locally, despite the substantial risk that the waste, laden with toxic lead, mercury and cadmium, will contaminate local soil and water supplies.... Old ships are, more often than not, chock full of toxic chemicals, like insulation with asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls in hoses, foam insulation and paint. In addition, most ships contain huge quantities of heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium. If ships are not properly dismantled, they contaminate the area where they are broken down. ...


Garbage? It's out of sight, out of mind, for me. Just toss it and forget it!

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Sat, Dec 6, 2008
from San Jose Mercury News:
Bug off! Green pest control methods
The seemingly endless bottles of pesticides that line the shelves of our nearest hardware store all contain warnings that the chemical compounds found within may be hazardous to our health. They advise us to avoid contact with eyes and skin and to keep out of reach of children and pets. These "precautions" do not exactly inspire confidence, but they are also studiously vague about the potential consequences of exposure. With this problem in mind, the Pesticide Action Network has created an online database rating 368,974 of the most common and uncommon pesticides, herbicides and fungicides according to the toxicity of their ingredients www.pesticideinfo.org. Searching the database for information about the toxic effects of many of the well-known brands is easy. For instance, according to the PAN database, Propoxur, one of the active ingredients in Raid, is known to be acutely toxic, neurotoxic and carcinogenic, as well as a groundwater contaminant. In other words, depending on the level of exposure, it can cause symptoms ranging from tremors, nausea and weakness to cancer, paralysis and death. That's not something I would like to unleash in my home. ...


Is knowledge power?

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Mon, Nov 17, 2008
from Fresno Bee:
Study bolsters link between Parkinson's, pesticide
For years, researchers have suspected commercial pesticides put people at risk for Parkinson's disease. Now evidence in the San Joaquin Valley suggests it's true. Researchers have found a strong connection between the debilitating neurological disease and long-term exposure to pesticides, particularly to a fungicide that is sprayed on thousands of acres of almonds, tree fruit and grapes in the Valley. The fungicide ziram -- the 20th most-used agricultural toxin in California in 2006 -- emerged as a common factor in a UCLA study of 400 people with Parkinson's in the Valley. ...


Who's the pest now?

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Sat, Nov 15, 2008
from Bloomberg News:
Wrinkle Fillers Linked to 'Serious' Side Effects
Some people who received wrinkle-fillers suffered "serious and unexpected" side effects such as the inability to control facial muscles, disfigurement and rare life-threatening allergic reactions, U.S. regulators said.... Non-surgical cosmetic procedures increased more than eightfold between 1997 and 2007, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. About 1.36 million women and 84,000 men received wrinkle-fillers last year, according to the plastic surgery group. ...


But I want to look like Joan Rivers!

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Fri, Nov 7, 2008
from Canadian Press:
Society spells out environmental links to cancer in online handbook
The Canadian Cancer Society has launched an online handbook that details the environmental substances known to or suspected of causing cancer and what people can do to limit their exposure. Entitled The Environment, Cancer and You, the handbook discusses asbestos, radon gas, electromagnetic fields, flame retardants, labelling of consumer products, phthalates in plastics, teflon and non-stick cookware, and water chlorination by-products. ...


Sounds like we're merde out of luck to me!

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Thu, Oct 30, 2008
from Science:
Farm chemicals can indirectly hammer frogs
Atrazine, the second-most widely used agricultural pesticide in America, can pose a toxic double whammy to tadpoles. The weed killer not only increases the likelihood that massive concentrations of flatworms will thrive in the amphibians’ ponds, a new study reports, but also diminishes the ability of larval frogs to fight infection with these parasites. Moreover, the new data show, runoff of phosphate fertilizer into pond water can amplify atrazine’s toxicity. The fertilizer does this by boosting the production of algae on which snails feed. Those snails serve as a primary, if temporary, host for the parasitic flatworms, which can sicken frogs. ...


Those snails! Nothing but traitors!

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Wed, Oct 29, 2008
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Killer whales disappearing off southern B.C.
There were early signs of starvation and then declining birth rates - now a growing number of adults and calves have vanished from a population of orcas found in the waters of southern British Columbia and northern Washington. Although no bodies have been found, it's thought that the whales, which rarely stray from the group, have died, perhaps tipping a key population toward extinction. And scientists say the worst is yet to come for the southern resident orcas and a second, separate population known as the northern residents, which are both heading into winter undernourished because there are so few salmon to feed on. ...


Mourn Willy.

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Wed, Oct 29, 2008
from BBC:
Earth on course for eco 'crunch'
The planet is headed for an ecological "credit crunch", according to a report issued by conservation groups. The document contends that our demands on natural resources overreach what the Earth can sustain by almost a third. The Living Planet Report is the work of WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network. It says that more than three quarters of the world's population lives in countries where consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal. ...


Maybe it's time for about 2 billion of us to check out the exciting new planet Mars!

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Tue, Oct 28, 2008
from Army Times:
Burn pit at Balad raises health concerns
An open-air "burn pit" at the largest U.S. base in Iraq may have exposed tens of thousands of troops, contractors and Iraqis to cancer-causing dioxins, poisons such as arsenic and carbon monoxide, and hazardous medical waste, documentation gathered by Military Times shows. The billowing black plume from the burn pit at 15-square-mile Joint Base Balad, the central logistics hub for U.S. forces in Iraq, wafts continually over living quarters and the base combat support hospital, sources say. ...


War is hell.

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Mon, Oct 27, 2008
from Independent Online (South Africa):
Locals ignorant of mercury threat
People are still eating fish from Inanda Dam, despite a precautionary warning from government officials that aquatic life in one of Durban's biggest drinking water reservoirs may be contaminated with poisonous levels of mercury pollution.... Medical council researchers also collected hair samples from more than 80 people living close to the dam. Nearly 20 percent had remnants of mercury pollution above WHO guidelines, suggesting they might be at risk from eating contaminated fish or vegetables. ...


Take your temperature by measuring your hair.

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Sun, Oct 26, 2008
from Science News:
Book Review: Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault On Our Children
The authors capture community efforts to connect clusters of disease to chemicals -- including TCE, phthalates, chromium 5 and Teflon -- and illuminate the underlying policy reasons for gaps in governmental oversight.... More than a hundred interviews with corporate researchers, public health leaders, government insiders and affected families support this cautionary tale of collusion that falls short of being alarmist. The authors ask readers to demand accountability and public health scrutiny for the benefit of future generations. ...


Like "you can't build a waste dump by a school" but you can build a school by an an existing waste dump. Go figure.

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Sun, Oct 26, 2008
from Myrtle Beach Online:
S.C. DHEC doesn't track AVX pollution
"It just continues to amaze me that all of this flew under the radar for so long and now that there has been a public outcry by the neighbors DHEC is finally taking some action," said Mary Henry, president of the homeowners association at Sterling Village I, which is near AVX.... The possible criminal investigation would focus on decades' worth of trichloroethylene, or TCE, contamination in groundwater at AVX. TCE is an industrial degreaser that has been linked with liver and other cancers. The contamination has spread from AVX to a roughly 10-block neighborhood adjacent to the manufacturer. ...


It's my factory! You can't tell me what to do! You're not the boss of me!

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Iraq scarred by war waste
Destroyed factories have become untended hazardous waste sites, leaking poison into the water and the soil. Forests in the north and palm groves in the south have been obliterated to remove the enemy's hiding places... Iraq is planted with 25 million land mines. Chemical weapons and depleted uranium munitions have created 105 contaminated areas, the minister said. Sewers need attention and more than 60 per cent of Iraq's fresh water is polluted. ...


But at least it's now free of that awful dictator.

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Wed, Oct 22, 2008
from Boston Globe:
The nature of cigarette butts
According to the American Littoral Society, cigarettes are the most common type of litter on earth. A study in the Journal of Tobacco Control reports smokers litter more than 4.5 trillion of them each year. Smoking's environmental impact (we won't go into the health woes here) is already atrocious: It emits 5.5 billion pounds of CO2 and more than 11 billion pounds of methane annually. Discarded butts add insult to injury, leaching hundreds of toxic chemicals (arsenic, lead, and benzene among them) into the water, air, and ground, killing birds, fish, and healthy microorganisms. ...


Hey, butt out.

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Thu, Oct 2, 2008
from Manila Bulletin:
81 drums of toxic endosulfan recovered from sunken ship
"US-based salvor firm Titan and its local partner Harbor Star have started retrieving the endosulfan from the wreck. As of 1 p.m. last Tuesday, 22 packs of endosulfan, out of 400, had been retrieved, Bautista said.... The divers and the personnel receiving the containers on the barge were wearing hazmat (hazardous material) suits. These are people trained on the handling of toxic substances.... After the chemicals and hydrocarbons are extracted, the bodies of the ferry passengers will be retrieved. ...


Diving in hazmat suits, extracting toxic chemicals, with corpses floating within the sunken ferry... this should be a movie!

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Wed, Sep 24, 2008
from Environmental Health News:
Northeastern, West Coast women have high mercury levels
Women in the Northeast are contaminated with the highest concentrations of mercury in the United States, with one of every five exceeding levels considered safe for fetuses, according to a new national study... Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that accumulates in fish and seafood. When babies are exposed to high concentrations of mercury in the womb, their brains may develop abnormally, impairing learning abilities and reducing IQ. ...


And if mom is on the cellphone complaining to the EPA, that's even worse for the fetus.

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Tue, Sep 16, 2008
from Engineer Live:
Studies confirm challenges of man-made pollutants in the environment
New evidence that chemical contaminants are finding their way into the deep-sea food web has been found in deep-sea squids and octopods, including the strange-looking 'vampire squid'. These species are food for deep-diving toothed whales and other predators. "It was surprising to find measurable and sometimes high amounts of toxic pollutants in such a deep and remote environment," Vecchione said. Among the chemicals detected were tributyltin (TBT), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs), and dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT). They are known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) because they don't degrade and persist in the environment for a very long time. ...


That's a whale of a problem, POP.

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Sat, Sep 13, 2008
from Daily Times (Pakistan):
Open dumping of garbage: Islamabad residents fear another epidemic outbreak
"The CDA has converted the sector into a filth depot causing air and water pollution -- a serious health hazard. Pollution is creating irritation, tension, headache and depression among the residents of the area besides increase in waterborne diseases," said Dr Rashid, an employee of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences and a resident of sector G-10/1. He strongly criticised the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) and CDA for dumping the waste in open. He said it would further pollute underground water. ...


We should just call open dumps "toxin centralization" and the complaints about it "inevitable whining."

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Sun, Sep 7, 2008
from London Independent:
Pollution can make you fat, study claims
Pollution can make children fat, startling new research shows. A groundbreaking Spanish study indicates that exposure to a range of common chemicals before birth sets up a baby to grow up stout, thus helping to drive the worldwide obesity epidemic.... The research, published in the current issue of the journal Acta Paediatrica, measured levels of hexachlorobenzene (HCB), a pesticide, in the umbilical cords of 403 children born on the Spanish island of Menorca, from before birth. It found that those with the highest levels were twice as likely to be obese when they reached the age of six and a half. ...


Hexachlorobenzene... I'd like some of that melted and spread on my french fries, please!

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Sun, Sep 7, 2008
from California Progress Report:
Californians Don't Need a Daily Serving of Toxic Perfluorinated Chemicals
You may find PFCs in anything that's made to repel grease, such as pizza, popcorn and French fry containers. A carcinogen, they now show up in more than 98 percent of Americans' blood, and in 100 percent of 293 newborns tested by scientists in a recent study. Worst of all, these compounds never break down -- they'll stay in our soil, our water and our bodies indefinitely. ...


"Indefinitely" is
a very very long time.

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Sat, Sep 6, 2008
from Bernama (Malaysia):
New Glue Ruling For Table Tennis
[A] player fainted while trying to glue her bat, apparently because of the toxic substance present in the gum. And so, world controlling body International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has decided that beginning with the 2008 Volkswagen Women's World Cup, currently underway at the Cheras Badminton Stadium, volatile organic component-based glue -- glue containing toxic composite -- would be banned. Only water-based glue would be allowed. ...


Finally!

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Sat, Aug 30, 2008
from LA Times (US):
Italy mobsters block efforts to clean up toxic trash heaps
The Naples-based Camorra controls the import, transport and disposal of millions of tons of rubbish, an extremely lucrative business in which the group follows its own rules, ignores regulations on toxic waste and contaminates once-fertile farmland, country fields, forests and rivers. Beyond the ugliness of it all, evidence now suggests that the garbage is poisoning the food chain and may be causing cancer, birth defects and other health problems.... Scientists continue to study the link between the refuse and health, but already point to alarming trends, according to the World Health Organization, including a rate exceeding regional or national norms for cancers of the stomach, kidney, liver and lung, as well as congenital malformations. In some areas between Naples and the city of Caserta, residents are two to three times more likely to get liver cancer than those in the rest of the country, according to Italy's National Research Council. ...


We're here... to provide...
protection.

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Wed, Aug 27, 2008
from Citizens Voice (PA):
Federal agency: Cancer cluster exists between Tamaqua, McAdoo
The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on Monday confirmed something that residents of an area at the intersections of Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne counties have felt sure of for many years -- that an unusually high number of people there are suffering from a rare blood cancer.... The report found three environmental similarities in common in the cluster areas: hazardous waste sites, air pollution and coal mining operations. ...


Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, eye of newt and hazardous brew.

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Fri, Aug 22, 2008
from Cape Cod Times:
Man-made chemicals tied to sick lobsters
A Woods Hole scientist believes he may have found a key culprit behind a mysterious disease linked to a dramatic drop in lobster populations from Buzzards Bay to Long Island. In research conducted this summer, Hans Laufer found that common man-made chemicals used in plastics, detergents and cosmetics had infiltrated the blood and tissue of lobsters, making them more vulnerable to a particularly virulent strain of shell disease." ...


Bet the buzzards don't mind.

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Tue, Aug 19, 2008
from Indiana University, via EurekAlert:
Chronic lead poisoning from urban soils
While acute lead poisoning from toys and direct ingestion of interior paint has received more publicity, these cases account for only a portion of children with lead poisoning. Many health officials are increasingly concerned with chronic lead poisoning, which occurs at lower levels of lead in the blood and are harder to diagnose. Babies and young children may develop chronic lead poisoning when playing in dirt yards or playgrounds or in areas with blowing dry soil tainted with the lead, which is ubiquitous in older urban areas.... As their neurons develop, the nervous system tries to use lead in place of calcium and the child's neural systems fail to form correctly. This impairs neural function leading to irreversibly decreased IQ and increased attention deficient issues. ...


I dont beleeve led is making us stoopid.
do you.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Aug 17, 2008
from South Florida Sun Sentinel:
Health questions linger after state study on Fort Lauderdale trash incinerator
"Fort Lauderdale - A state study that found few links between toxic ashes from the Wingate trash incinerator and health problems in nearby neighborhoods downplayed important data, according to several health experts who worked on the survey. One expert, University of Alabama at Birmingham epidemiologist Jeffrey Roseman, helped design the study and said state officials dismissed high rates of reported anemia, asthma and cancers in the northwestern Fort Lauderdale community around Wingate." ...


Is it so wrong to want to focus on the positive?

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Fri, Aug 15, 2008
from NaturalNews:
Fragrances in Common Household Products Contain Many Toxins
According to a study that was posted on the Environmental Impact Assessment Review and reported by CBS, there are many different kinds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in laundry detergents, air fresheners (in solid, spray and oil form), dryer sheets, and fabric softener. VOCs are small substances that evaporate into the air.... She was able to identify some of the VOCs, discovering that 10 of those that she found were considered toxic under the U.S. federal law. Furthermore, three out of ten of the VOCs were considered air pollutants: acetaldehyde, chloromethane, and 1,4 dioxane. ...


But I like Mountain Fresh Scent, Floral Bouquet, Blueberry Mist, and Fatal Attractor.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Aug 14, 2008
from Sacramento News and Reviews:
The chemistry of beauty
You know those 12 products women use daily? That adds up to some 168 chemical ingredients, and men's habits total about 85 ingredients. I deposit about 110 chemicals into my body every day.... [C]hronic illness and disease in the United States is on the rise, affecting almost one-half of the population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the use of synthetic chemicals post-World War II increased, so did infertility, birth defects in males, testicular cancer and learning disabilities. Breast cancer used to be relegated to post-menopausal women. Now young women in their 20s are afflicted.... This industry is the least regulated under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. ...


But heck, at least we'll leave
a beautiful corpse!

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Mon, Aug 11, 2008
from Society of Chemical Industry:
Organic Food Has No More Nutritional Value Than Food Grown With Pesticides, Study Shows
New research in the latest issue of the Society of Chemical Industry's (SCI) Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture shows there is no evidence to support the argument that organic food is better than food grown with the use of pesticides and chemicals. Many people pay more than a third more for organic food in the belief that it has more nutritional content than food grown with pesticides and chemicals.... "[T]he study does not support the belief that organically grown foodstuffs generally contain more major and trace elements than conventionally grown foodstuffs." ...


Actually, it's what I'm not ingesting -- or seeing as runoff and bykill -- that I pay more for:
those pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jul 31, 2008
from London Times:
Earthworm's plight is early warning of threat to man
"...Research carried out by scientists at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh, shows that even low levels of chemical pollutants in the soil caused fundamental changes in the lifecycle of earthworms, affecting their ability to reproduce. These findings raise fundamental questions about the effect of pollution in the soil and also raise concerns about the effect of human exposure to widely used chemicals." ...


We can only surmise that the fish and the early birds aren't going to be too happy about this news!

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Mon, Jul 28, 2008
from Bergen County Record:
Neighbors fear they won't survive legal fight with Ford
"Two-and-a-half years after they filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Ford Motor Co., Upper Ringwood residents are steeling themselves for a long battle - one that some believe they won't survive. "I'll be dead before I get any money," said Mickey Van Dunk, 37. He's had 17 surgeries to treat a rare autoimmune disorder that's left his face heavily scarred." ...


Where's Erin Brockovich when you need her?

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Wed, Jul 23, 2008
from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Fresh scent may hide toxic secret
Ten of the 100 volatile organic compounds identified qualified under federal rules as toxic or hazardous, and three of those -- 1,4-dioxane, acetaldehyde and chloromethane -- are "hazardous air pollutants" considered unsafe to breathe at any concentration, according to the study.... [A]s this UW study shows, it's disturbingly easy to find toxic chemicals in everyday products like these because companies don't have to say what's in their products." ...


But how else can I get the smell of faux nature in my sheets?

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Wed, Jul 23, 2008
from ANI, via MSN (India):
Allergy-causing sofas from China
Thousands of Brits have developed severe allergies after coming in contact with the toxic gas emitted by an anti-mould agent in their Chinese sofas. An increasing number of patients are being treated in hospitals for symptoms, which appeared to range from skin cancer, and chemical burns to severe eczema. The cases have been linked to an estimated 100,000 sofas... He added that it could take weeks or months to become hypersensitised to the chemical, which disguised the link to the furniture in many cases. Exposure to dimethyl fumarate can make a person more vulnerable to reactions to other chemicals. ...


So much for kicking back and watching the game.

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Mon, Jul 21, 2008
from The Durango Herald (Colorado):
Gasfield chemicals sicken nurse, state agency pushing for transparency
All the tests on Cathy Behr were negative. As the medical mystery deepened, her body began failing.... Finally, doctors ... diagnosed a chemical exposure that happened in their own emergency room, where Behr works 12-hour shifts as a nurse. She had treated a sick gas-field worker and breathed the fumes on his clothes from a chemical called ZetaFlow for five or 10 minutes.... ZetaFlow and similar chemicals are exempt from many federal and state environmental laws. ...


Wonder what the worker was sick from.

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Mon, Jul 14, 2008
from Vietnam News:
Poisoned rivers menace public health (Vietnam)
Trinh Thi Bien, 73, has lived her whole life along the Nhue River in Ha Tay Province’s Phu Xuyen District. "In the past, the river was full of fish and shrimp, and it was so clean that the villagers could even cook with its water. But this is gone now," she says sadly. "The river has become terribly dirty. My family has drilled three wells, but all the water we find is polluted by the nearby river," says the old woman, who lives in Minh Tan Commune. ...


What did she expect?
That's progress.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jul 4, 2008
from University of Florida, via EurekAlert:
New study points to agriculture in frog sexual abnormalities
In a study with wide implications for a longstanding debate over whether agricultural chemicals pose a threat to amphibians, UF zoologists have found that toads in suburban areas are less likely to suffer from reproductive system abnormalities than toads near farms -- where some had both testes and ovaries. "As you increase agriculture," said Lou Guillette, a distinguished professor of zoology, "you have an increasing number of abnormalities." ...


That said, the suburban toads have that hellacious commute.

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Tue, Jul 1, 2008
from Daily News (Sri Lanka):
Toxic waste export harder to control, despite Basel Convention
A meeting of the Basel Convention on hazardous wastes was told of the continuing transfer of wastes to developing countries, including the export of used condoms to Indonesia and electronic wastes dumped in China and Nigeria inside equipment such as computers and cell phones. African countries also recalled the immoral act of a Dutch-based shipping company that dumped toxic chemical wastes at Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, which killed three people and hospitalised 1,500. These incidents were cited by participants as signs that the problem of hazardous waste movement has not lessened and are more difficult to control, despite the Convention. ...


If only their lives were as important as ours. But, y'know, they don't value life as much
over there.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 30, 2008
from ABS CBN News Online (Philippines):
No 'significant' release of toxic chemical yet: experts
The 10 tons of the toxic insecticide, endosulfan, in the [sunken ferry] MV Princess of the Stars' hull is still in a not-so-soluble "solid flake" form, which explains why a chemical disaster hasn't happened in Romblon, a government chemist said.... He said this could explain why the divers have not tested positive for chemical poisoning and why there are yet no reports of fish kills near the sunken ferry.... "It’s really highly-toxic to marine life" ... "a "chemical disaster" would already have happened if the endosulfan was in its ready-to-mix form.... Endosulfan is a severely-restricted [endocrine disrupting] pesticide that can only be used by Del Monte and Dole for their pineapple plantations. Only these two institutional users are allowed to handle the chemical, according to Dr. Norlito Gicana, FPA executive director. ...


Only Del Monte and Dole?
How'd they get that dispensation? And how did this stuff get on a ferry with 800 people?

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Mon, Jun 23, 2008
from AsiaNews.it:
World toxic waste summit in Bali
The meeting, which opened today in Bali, Indonesia, has attracted about a thousand delegates from 170 countries, and will last until Thursday. Its focus will be on ways to better dispose of dangerous waste in emerging and developing nations in order to minimise its effect on human health and the environment. The Basel Convention of 1989 was designed to prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries which lack the infrastructure and know-how to guarantee eco-sustainable disposal or recycling. However the Convention has not been successful in stopping the flow of hazardous waste, especially e-waste, from industrialised countries to emerging nations like China and India that have become virtual dumps for the West. ...


Where else are we going to put it?
We can't have it here!

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Fri, Jun 20, 2008
from Bellevue Intelligencer (Canada):
Electronics wasteland: 91,000 tonnes of electronic waste in Ontario each year
Lead, flame retardants, mercury, cadmium, chromium, beryllium: many consumers would be surprised to learn that a desktop computer contains all of these potentially toxic substances. But ensuring your unwanted electronics are disposed of safely isn't always an easy task.... This means obsolete and unwanted electronics -- and all the associated toxic substances -- often end up in the dump for lack of an easy alternative. ...


All of 12 million people in Ontario.
That's about, oh, 2/3 of greater NYC..

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Tue, Jun 17, 2008
from Perth Now (Australia):
Housing plan at toxic waste dump
A toxic waste plant shut down after a shocking history of government cover-ups will become part of an eco-friendly residential development in Armadale. Almost five years after the closure of a toxic waste plant that was linked to residents' sickness, there are plans to build an residential development for 40,000 people incorporating land that contained big stockpiles of noxious chemicals and sludge with harmful pathogens. ...


Australia's population is so high-density, maybe they have no choice.

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Tue, Jun 10, 2008
from AFP, via Tehran Times (Iran):
Recycling boom adds to hazardous life of Cambodian children
Cambodia's growing demand for recyclables -- from bottles and cans to cardboard -- has seen a sharp rise in the number of child scavengers trawling through the capital's waste heaps, many of them press-ganged into what advocates say is one of the world's most hazardous forms of labor.... "They use neither gloves nor shoes, they inhale toxic fumes, eat out of garbage bins," he said, listing ailments he sees every day, from headaches and infected wounds to diarrhea and hacking coughs. ...


That sound you don't hear?
That's the hammer of justice
hitting the bell of commerce.

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Tue, Jun 10, 2008
from NOAA Fisheries Service:
Persistent Man-made Chemical Pollutants Found in Deep-sea Octopods and Squids
New evidence that chemical contaminants are finding their way into the deep-sea food web has been found in deep-sea squids and octopods.... These species are food for deep-diving toothed whales and other predators.... "It was surprising to find measurable and sometimes high amounts of toxic pollutants in such a deep and remote environment," Vecchione said. Among the chemicals detected were tributyltin (TBT), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs), and dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT). ...


Maybe we'll end up making the marine life
too toxic to eat before
we've scraped the ocean clean of them.

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Sun, Jun 8, 2008
from Detroit Free Press:
Mercury fillings are now said to pose risk for some
After years of asserting that mercury in fillings was safe, the Food and Drug Administration now says it may be harmful to pregnant women, children, fetuses and people who are sensitive to mercury exposure.... The American Dental Association said the settlement "in no way changes the federal agency's approach to or position on dental amalgam." Amalgam is "a safe, affordable and durable material that has been used in the teeth of more than 100 million Americans," the ADA said in a statement. ...


Maybe they should just simplify that list to "anyone with teeth."

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Fri, May 30, 2008
from Tehelka (India):
India's lone DDT manufacturing facility shows no signs of shutting down
The nauseating smell of DDT assaults the senses as one nears this industrial belt built around the once small villages of Eloor and Edayar. There are about 200-odd factories in the region but it is the DDT factory of the Hindustan Insecticides Limited (HIL), manufacturing DDT and Endosulfan since 1956, which has many of the area's 40,000 residents up in arms. There is by now sufficient evidence to show that water in the village’s wells has become unfit for drinking and that large tracts of land are turning uncultivable by the season.... A signatory to the Convention, India has banned the use of DDT in agriculture. HIL's DDT production is thus fully export-oriented: its client list has eight African countries, including Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. ...


Silent spring. And summer, and fall. Winter can't be far behind.

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Thu, May 22, 2008
from Chemical and Engineering News:
Groups Petition EPA To Ban Endosulfan
Widely used pesticide is an endocrine disrupter and neurotoxicant... EPA estimates that farmers use approximately 1.4 million lb of endosulfan each year in the U.S. The pesticide is used extensively on cotton, tomatoes, potatoes, and apples, but residues of it have been detected in numerous other foods, including cucumbers, green peppers, raisins, cantaloupe, spinach, and even butter, according to the petition. Endosulfan has been detected in humans and the environment, including remote areas such as the Arctic, where it is not used. ...


Let's see, which would I prefer: blemishes on my tomatoes, or blemishes in my brain function?

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Thu, May 15, 2008
from LawyersAndSettlements.com:
Botox Migration a Recipe for Disaster
The concern, which initially only circulated through medical journals but has since been widely reported in mainstream media, surrounds the potential migration of the neurotoxin from the initial injection site. A study by the Italian National Research Council discovered that Botox injected into the whisker muscles of rats, had migrated in trace amounts to the brain stem in as little as three days. A Canadian study achieved similar results. Last month the Journal of Biomechanics published the findings of Walter Herzog, a noted kinesiologist from the University of Calgary. While researching osteoarthritis and joint degeneration, he found that botulinum toxin injected into the supporting muscles of cats not only paralyzed the muscles into which the toxin was injected, but had spread into, and weakened all muscles in the area. ...


Surprise, surprise! What next, will we discover that silicone doesn't stay where it's injected?

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Thu, May 1, 2008
from Environmental Science & Technology:
DDT levels in Antarctic penguins present a complex mystery
"The use of DDT peaked several decades ago at more than 36,000 metric tons per year (t/yr). Today, less than 1000 t of the organochlorine pesticide -- banned in most countries since the 1980s -- is applied annually for mosquito control and farming, mainly in the Southern Hemisphere. Despite this drop, Adelie penguins in the Antarctic continue to have the same levels of total DDT in their bodies as they did 30 years ago. New research published in ES&T (DOI: 10.1021/es702919n) identifies Antarctic meltwater as the continued source of total DDT, and possibly other pollutants, in the southern continent's ecosystems." ...


Those penguin feet get less and less happy all the time.

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Sun, Apr 27, 2008
from New York Times:
Saddled With Legacy of Dioxin, Town Considers an Odd Ally: The Mushroom
"FORT BRAGG, Calif. -- On a warm April evening, 90 people crowded into the cafeteria of Redwood Elementary School here to meet with representatives of the State Department of Toxic Substances Control. The substance at issue was dioxin, a pollutant that infests the site of a former lumber mill in this town 130 miles north of San Francisco. And the method of cleanup being proposed was a novel one: mushrooms. Mushrooms have been used in the cleaning up of oil spills, a process called bioremediation, but they have not been used to treat dioxin." ...


We can think of LOTS of magic that can be associated with mushrooms.

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Fri, Apr 18, 2008
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
High levels of household chemicals found in pets
"We bred them to protect us and warn us of impending trouble. According to a new report, our pets are doing their job. The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental watchdog group, released a study Thursday showing that dogs and cats are carrying heavy burdens of many household chemicals - flame retardants, plasticizers and stain-resisting chemicals - in their blood and urine. ...


You mean my little mutt is a walking time bomb?

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Thu, Apr 17, 2008
from Environmental Science & Technology:
PFOS alters immune response at very low exposure levels
"Perfluorinated compounds previously in stain repellents may be affecting the human immune system, according to new research published in Toxicological Sciences (2008, DOI 10.1093/toxsci/kfn059). After studying mice orally exposed to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) daily for 28 days, a group of researchers observed that the animals' immune systems were affected at much lower levels than ever reported....PFOS is no longer being produced. Its manufacturer, 3M, agreed to phase out production by 2002. But it remains a persistent, global contaminant." ...


Those PFOS can be a mo-fo.

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Sun, Apr 13, 2008
from London Independent:
Russian town is so toxic even the mayor wants it closed down
"Harsh winters, polluted air, crumbling apartment blocks..." the residents of many Russian towns might feel that they have cause for complaint. But in Chapayevsk, a town of about 70,000 inhabitants in European Russia, the mayor himself has suggested a novel way of solving the town's problems ... abandon it. You can hardly blame him ... 96 per cent of all children there are deemed unhealthy." ...


Britney Spears is naked and drunk and has a car accident in this story! Sorry...we just really want you to read this article and will try anything.

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Sat, Apr 5, 2008
from The Free Lance-Star:
Tons of toxic substances released by area industry, military bases
Across the state, more than 400 entities filed reports based on their size and amounts of toxic materials released. The 2006 figures are the latest information available.... The toxic materials are among 650 on a federal list [of persistent bioaccumulative toxics, such as lead, mercury and dioxin-like compounds,] that can cause cancer or other adverse health effects at significant concentration levels beyond the facility boundaries, cause cancer in humans or harm the environment if found in large quantities.... There are no imminent health threats present in the report, which DEQ officials say is useful to communities, industry and regulators. ...


Nothing imminent, since those kinds of toxins gradually accumulate in nature, get passed from prey to predator, and
slowly screw life up...

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Thu, Mar 27, 2008
from BBC (UK):
Plastic and toxic magnetism
Studies suggest billions of microscopic plastic fragments drifting underwater are concentrating pollutants like DDT.... "We know that plastics in the marine environment will accumulate and concentrate toxic chemicals from the surrounding seawater and you can get concentrations several thousand times greater than in the surrounding water on the surface of the plastic."... According to Dr Thompson, the plastic particles "act as magnets for poisons in the ocean".... In a typical sample of sand, one-quarter of the total weight may be composed of plastic particles.... "The thing that's most worrisome about the plastic is its tenaciousness, its durability. It's not going to go away in my lifetime or my children's lifetimes. ...


How can plastic be a magnet for toxins? We've heard of "animal magnetism," but
"synthetic magnetism"?

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Tue, Mar 25, 2008
from Palm Beach Post:
Suit over limbless boy, 3, settled
"MIAMI — The Florida produce company Ag-Mart has settled a civil suit with two former tomato pickers who claimed their son was born without arms and legs because of the misuse of dangerous pesticides in farm fields by the agricultural firm. The child, Carlos Candelario Herrera, known as "Carlitos," was born Dec. 17, 2004. His mother, Francisca Herrera, then 19, originally from Mexico, had worked in Ag-Mart fields in both South Florida and North Carolina during her pregnancy. She said in a deposition that on repeated occasions pesticides sprayed in adjacent Ag-Mart fields had drifted and reached her. She also said she was forced to work in freshly sprayed fields, that her hands absorbed the wet chemicals and that she had suffered sore throat, burning eyes and headaches. Other former employees backed her claims. ...


Johnny got his gun, Carlos got his pesticides.

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Fri, Mar 14, 2008
from The Hindu:
Govt allows use of 66 pesticides banned outside in India
"New Delhi (PTI): The government on Friday said that there are 66 pesticides such as DDT and Endosulfan, which are either banned or severely restricted in other countries, but are permitted for use in India as these have been found to be harmless. "... use has been permitted only after thorough reviews and satisfying that the particular pesticide does not pose harmful effect under the conditions of use in our country," Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers B K Handique told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply." ...


Would you like some atrazine fries with that PCB burger?

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Fri, Mar 14, 2008
from Los Angeles Times:
Popular 'green' products test positive for toxicant
"New tests of 100 "natural" and "organic" soaps, shampoos and other consumer products show that nearly half of them contained a cancer-causing chemical that is a byproduct of petrochemicals used in manufacturing. Many items that tested positive for the carcinogen are well-known brands, including Kiss My Face, Alba, Seventh Generation and Nature's Gate products, sold in retail stores across the nation. The findings of the Organic Consumers Assn., a consumer advocacy group, are sending a jolt through the natural products industry. Gathering today in Anaheim for a national trade show, many leaders worry that the test results will taint the industry in the eyes of the public. Of the 100 products tested, 47 had detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane, which the Environmental Protection Agency has declared a probable human carcinogen because it causes cancer in lab animals." ...


What else besides a carcinogen would be able to wash a taint out of the eyes?

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Tue, Mar 4, 2008
from Chesapeake Bay Journal:
Study links agriculture to increase of intersex fish in Potomac basin
"Scientists have been perplexed for years as to why large numbers of male smallmouth bass in the Potomac River basin contain immature egg cells, but they offer some clues in a recent journal article. Results published in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health suggest that the high rate of "intersex" characteristics in smallmouth bass from the Shenandoah River and the South Branch of the Potomac appears to be linked to areas with large human populations or intense agricultural operations. ...


Apparently, whether you're an urban smallmouth bass or a rural smallmouth bass, you're screwed.

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Mon, Mar 3, 2008
from The Tribune, Chandigarh, India:
Toxins, sand mining threatens gharials
"Between December 2007 and February 2008, as many as 105 gharials have been reported dead. However, the reason for the decline in their numbers is attributed to possibility of nephro-toxin entering the food chain and loss of habitat due to illegal sand mining." ...


A nephro-toxin? Sand mining? Gharials have been around since the Cretaceous. Note: a nephrotoxin is something that ruins the liver. And yes, even gharials have livers.

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Sat, Feb 23, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
Chemicals In Our Waters Are Affecting Humans And Aquatic Life In Unanticipated Ways
"Substances that we use everyday are turning up in our lakes, rivers and ocean, where they can impact aquatic life and possibly ourselves. Now these contaminants are affecting aquatic environments and may be coming back to haunt us in unanticipated ways.... The researchers looked at mixtures of five common insecticides and found that some combinations were much more toxic to the juvenile salmon than any one of the chemicals acting alone." ...


What, I have to think about combinations of toxic chemicals? How can they label that?

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Sun, Feb 10, 2008
from Times Colonist:
Killer whales loaded with fire retardant
"They wow tourists and remind people of the mysteries and majesty of the ocean, but killer whales swimming around the waters of Vancouver Island are the most contaminated animals on Earth...Blubber studies on the two salmon-eating populations of resident killer whales -- the endangered southern residents with 88 members and the threatened northern residents with 230 members -- have found a significant buildup of toxins in their systems....A growing concern is the rapid buildup of PBDEs, the chemicals found in fire retardants..." ...


What's more "killer" than a killer whale? You guessed it: human-made chemicals!

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Sat, Dec 8, 2007
from Health Day News:
Environmental Toxin Collects in Breast Milk
"Scientists have discovered the mechanism by which a chemical known as perchlorate can collect in breast milk and cause cognitive and motor deficits in newborns." ...


Major score for Nestle's Baby Formula!
more on Perchlorate

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