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DocWatch
toxic water
Twitterit?
News stories about "toxic water," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?toxic+water
Related Scary Tags:
contamination  ~ health impacts  ~ water issues  ~ pesticide runoff  ~ endocrine disruptor  ~ fracking  ~ oil issues  ~ heavy metals  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ pharmwater  ~ corporate malfeasance  



Mon, Jun 13, 2016
from Phys.org:
Researchers predict average-sized 'dead zone' for Gulf of Mexico in 2016
A University of Michigan researcher and colleagues from several institutions are forecasting an average but still large "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this year. The forecast calls for an oxygen-depleted, or hypoxic, region of 5,898 square miles, an area roughly the size of Connecticut and similar to the past several years. The forecast was released today by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which sponsors the work. Farmland runoff containing fertilizers and livestock waste, much of it from as far away as the Corn Belt, is the main source of the nitrogen and phosphorus that cause the annual Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, which is also known as a dead zone. The gulf contains diverse marine life, including nationally important commercial and recreational fisheries. Organisms unable to leave the low-oxygen dead zone become stressed and can die of suffocation. ...


That's like determining the average monthly Christmas presents, based on December.

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


Let them drink Flint.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 11, 2014
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Traces of radiation from Fukushima detected off California
The first faint traces of radioactivity in the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear disaster have been detected 100 miles off Eureka, a scientist who has been monitoring radiation levels across the Pacific reported Monday. The levels of the radioactive element Cesium-134 were far lower than any radiation that would pose a threat to human or marine life, said Ken Buesseler, a nuclear chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod. The radioactivity was detected in samples of ocean water volunteers aboard a research vessel from the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory in Monterey County collected last August. The samples were sent for analysis to Buesseler's lab at Woods Hole.... No federal government agency finances efforts to track radioactivity in ocean water, so Buesseler has created a volunteer organization of coastal residents to collect water samples periodically and send them to his lab at Woods Hole. He has volunteers collecting water samples along the coast from San Diego to Canada and around Hawaii. ...


That's right -- saving the world will require crowdsourcing!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 20, 2014
from The Conversation, via TruthOut:
The Way the Wind Blows May Not Be Enough to Prevent Ocean "Dead Zones" From Growing
The world's oceans are plagued with the problem of "dead zones", areas of high nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) in which plankton blooms cause a major reduction of oxygen levels in the water. Sea creatures need oxygen to breathe just as we do, and if oxygen levels fall low enough marine animals can suffocate. This commonly happens around coastlines where fertilisers are washed from fields into rivers and the sea, but also mid-ocean, where currents trap waters in gyres (large systems of rotating ocean currents). To date most studies have shown that these dead zones have been growing with global warming. But a recent study published in Science by Curtis Deutsch and colleagues suggests that the ocean's largest anoxic zone - where there has been a total depletion of oxygen - in the eastern tropical North Pacific, may in fact shrink due to weakening trade winds caused by global warming.... Warming also encourages water stratification, where the water separates into layers based on temperature or salinity, creating a physical barrier that prevents oxygen reaching deeper waters. Previous studies have predicted a weakening of trade winds in tropical areas, but have also forecasted changes to low-pressure weather fronts over coastlines that would lead to stronger winds, sufficient to replace any upwelling effect lost by weaker trade winds. ...


Well, generally, caloric upwelling is 'generally well' and well displayed (but alas not comprehensive). Next question?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Aug 17, 2014
from PhysOrg:
Mexico acid leak leaves orange river, toxic water
Yesenia is one of 20,000 people left without water since a massive sulfuric acid leak last week at the Buenavista copper mine in northwestern Mexico, one of the largest in the world. She waited in the sweltering heat with her mother and two daughters for water brought into the town of Arizpe by a tanker truck, but left empty-handed after the truck ran dry, unable to meet the demand from the seven affected towns.... An estimated 40,000 cubic meters (10.6 million gallons) of sulfuric acid, which is used to dissolve copper from ore for processing ,leaked out of a holding tank at the mine, owned by leading Latin American mining company Grupo Mexico. The spill happened on August 6, but the authorities say the company only informed them 24 hours later.... Juan Rebolledo, Grupo Mexico's vice president for international relations, downplayed the impact. "The content of these acids is not toxic in itself," he said on radio network Formula. "There's no problem, nor any serious consequence for the population, as long as we take adequate precautions and the company pours lime into the river, as it is currently doing." The mine has dumped 100 tonnes of lime into the Sonora to neutralize the acidity, according to the state government. ...


We've carefully calibrated our response to ensure that neither overalkalinity or overacidity results. There is no problem.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 13, 2014
from Los Angeles Times:
Oil companies fracking into drinking water sources, new research shows
Energy companies are fracking for oil and gas at far shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water, according to research released Tuesday by Stanford University scientists.... "Thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and millions of gallons of fluids containing numerous inorganic and organic additives were injected directly into these two formations during hundreds of stimulation events," concluded Dominic DiGiulio and Robert Jackson of Stanford's School of Earth Sciences... they point out that there is no way of knowing the effects of fracking into groundwater resources because regulators have not assessed the scope and impact of the activity. ...


It's only water!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Aug 7, 2014
from CBC:
Tailings pond breach in BC threatens pristine deepwater lake system, sockeye salmon; state of emergency declared
A local state of emergency has been declared in an area where a B.C. tailings pond wall collapsed, sending millions of cubic metres of mine waste water and metals-laden sand into local waterways.... The breach sent 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals-laden sand out into local waterways, scouring away the banks of Hazeltine Creek and sending debris flowing into Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake, which rose 1.5 metres.... A summary of the material dumped into the tailings pond last year was filed with Environment Canada. It said there was 326 tonnes of nickel, over 400,000 kilograms of arsenic, 177,000 kilograms of lead and 18,400 tonnes of copper and its compounds placed in the pond last year. ...


That was last year. Old news. What's done is done, so let's just move forward in trying to reestablish trust.

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


Who listens to experts?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jul 27, 2014
from The Independent (UK):
Drug-resistant bacteria: Sewage-treatment plants described as giant 'mixing vessels' after scientists discover mutated microbes in British river
Superbugs resistant to some of the most powerful antibiotics in the medical arsenal have been found for the first time in a British river - with scientists pinpointing a local sewage-treatment plant as the most likely source. Scientists discovered the drug-resistant bacteria in sediment samples taken downstream of the sewerage plant on the River Sowe near Coventry. The microbes contained mutated genes that confer resistance to the latest generation of antibiotics. The researchers believe the discovery shows how antibiotic resistance has become widespread in the environment, with sewage-treatment plants now acting as giant "mixing vessels" where antibiotic resistance can spread between different microbes. ...


I prefer to pretend that I simply do not produce anything that could be classified as "sewage."

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


All's not well that ends not well.

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


Let them drink Coke.

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


If only toxins killed Asian carp.

ApocaDoc
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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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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
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Mon, Feb 10, 2014
from Al Jazeera:
NC authorities say river has elevated arsenic from coal ash spill
North Carolina's environmental agency says it was wrong to declare the arsenic levels in the Dan River safe for people after a massive coal ash spill. An environmental group had said Friday that its tests indicated the water's chemical levels were high. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Sunday a water sample taken two days after the spill was four times higher than the maximum level for people to have prolonged contact, such as swimming... Critics charge that Duke Energy and the state government are too closely aligned, and that helped the company avoid regulation. Over the last year, environmental groups have tried three times to use the federal Clean Water Act to force Duke Energy to clear out leaky coal ash dumps like the one that ruptured last week, spewing enough toxic sludge into a North Carolina river to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools. Each time, they say, their efforts have been stymied -- by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. ...


In the U.S. the fox often guards the hen house.

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


Regarding fracking, industry fribs.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 3, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Mercury Levels In Alberta Oilsands 16 Times Higher Than Normal: Environment Canada Scientists
Mercury levels around the Alberta oilsands are 16 times higher than background loads, with contamination taking on the shape of a 'bull's-eye' over the region, say Environment Canada scientists. Speaking at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference in Nashville, Environment Canada researchers Jane Kirk and Derek Muir said mercury levels are at their highest concentration in the immediate area of oilsands operations but extend out to cover a 19,000-square-kilometre area, Postmedia reports. "Here we have a direct source of methyl mercury being emitted in this region and deposited to the landscapes and water bodies," Kirk told Postmedia. "So come snowmelt that methyl mercury is now going to enter lakes and rivers where potentially it could be taken up directly by organisms and then bioaccumulated and biomagnified though food webs." ...


Now we know how the Tar Sands folks found that sweet spot!

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


Boys will not necessarily be boys.

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


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

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


Ingesting plastic makes me invincible!

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


Shame-poo on you!

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


Whoa. Free drugs, dude!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 7, 2013
from Canadian Press, via HuffingtonPost:
Starfish Deaths Alarm Vancouver Scientists
Last month, a diver alerted Vancouver Aquarium staff that he had found a number of dead and decaying sunflower sea stars in the cold Pacific waters of a popular dive spot just off the shore of West Vancouver. Within weeks, the tentacled orange sea stars had all but disappeared in Howe Sound and Vancouver Harbour, disintegrating where they sat on the ocean floor.... "Where the population density had been highest in summer of 2012, on the western shore of Hutt Island, all the sunflower sea stars are gone from that area, with rivers of ossicles (a hard body part) filling ledges and crevices," Marliave wrote in his blog.... The Howe Sound research team have heard from veterinarians and other marine experts that similar die-offs have taken place in Florida and California.... In July, researchers at the University of Rhode Island reported that sea stars were dying in a similar way from New Jersey to Maine, and the university was working with colleagues at Brown and Roger Williams universities to figure out the cause. ...


I didn't know the Ebola virus could jump phyla!

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


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

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


Rule #1: Don't snort water!

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


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

ApocaDoc
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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.
Wed, Sep 18, 2013
from Reuters:
Holy water in Austria unsafe to drink: researchers
Holy water at religious shrines and churches in Austria is often contaminated with fecal matter and bacteria, researchers have found, advising the faithful not to drink it, especially in hospital chapels. Scientists at Vienna University medical school's Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology came to the conclusion after analyzing the water quality at 21 "holy" springs and 18 fonts at churches and chapels at various times of year. Only 14 percent of the water samples from holy sources showed no fecal contamination, and none of the springs could be recommended as a source of drinking water, the study presented to a conference in Vienna this week found. ...


You'd pretty much have to call that holy shit water.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Sep 15, 2013
from Seattle Sun-Times:
Actual journalism on ocean acidification
Imagine every person on Earth tossing a hunk of CO2 as heavy as a bowling ball into the sea. That's what we do to the oceans every day.... Scientists once considered that entirely good news, since it removed CO2 from the sky. Some even proposed piping more emissions to the sea. But all that CO2 is changing the chemistry of the ocean faster than at any time in human history. Now the phenomenon known as ocean acidification -- the lesser-known twin of climate change -- is helping push the seas toward a great unraveling that threatens to scramble marine life on a scale almost too big to fathom, and far faster than first expected.... "There's a train wreck coming and we are in a position to slow that down and make it not so bad," said Stephen Palumbi, a professor of evolutionary and marine biology at Stanford University. "But if we don't start now the wreck will be enormous."... Roughly a quarter of organisms studied by researchers actually do better in high CO2. Another quarter seem unaffected. But entire marine systems are built around the remaining half of susceptible plants and animals.... [T]he winners will mostly be the weeds."... The pace of change has caught everyone off guard. ...


... the weeds, the vermin, the generalists that reproduce quickly. Plague of rats, weeds, and insects, anyone?

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


Gradiation Lakes!

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


There is no "me" in Daiichi.

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Tue, Apr 9, 2013
from Great Lakes Echo:
Toxic chemicals turn up in Great Lakes plastic pollution
Toxic chemicals clinging to plastics could cause health problems for fish and other organisms in the Great Lakes. They were discovered in samples from the first-ever Great Lakes plastic survey in Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Superior last summer, Lorena Rios Mendoza, an assistant chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin -- Superior, announced Monday. And instead of just sitting in sediments as some scientists previously thought, those pollutants might be traveling with plastics to other parts of the Great Lakes. ...


Buncha hitchhikers.

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Thu, Mar 28, 2013
from Guardian:
Peru declares environmental state of emergency in its rainforest
Peru has declared an environmental state of emergency in a remote part of its northern Amazon rainforest, home for decades to one of the country's biggest oil fields, currently operated by the Argentinian company Pluspetrol. Achuar and Kichwa indigenous people living in the Pastaza river basin near Peru's border with Ecuador have complained for decades about the pollution, while successive governments have failed to deal with it. Officials indicate that for years the state lacked the required environmental quality standards.... In declaring the state of emergency, Peru's environment ministry said tests in February and March found high levels of barium, lead, chrome and petroleum-related compounds at different points in the Pastaza valley. Pluspetrol, the biggest oil and natural gas producer in Peru, has operated the oil fields since 2001. It took over from Occidental Petroleum, which began drilling in 1971, and, according to the government, had not cleaned up contamination either. ...


Can we extend the boundaries of that emergency? Like, to "everywhere"?

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Tue, Mar 26, 2013
from Agence France-Press:
Dead ducks in Chinese river as swine flow eases
SHANGHAI -- At least 1000 dead ducks were found floating in a Chinese river, state media reported Monday, after Shanghai said it had almost finished recovering thousands of deceased pigs from its main waterway. The ducks were fished out of a section of river by authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, the official Xinhua news agency said. They were then buried in plastic bags three meters underground, the report added. It did not specify how the ducks had died. The report came after Shanghai officials said a clean-up was close to ending after an embarrassing pollution case which saw dead pigs floating down the city's main river, with the total number recovered standing at more than 16,000. ...


I don't think I'll be swimming in that river any time soon!

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Tue, Mar 19, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
Fish lose sense of smell in polluted waters
Fish in lakes tainted with metals are losing their sense of smell, stoking concern among experts that the problem could devastate populations. But if the fish can just get into cleaner water -- even if they've been exposed to pollutants their whole life -- they start sniffing things properly again, according to new research out of Canada. Fish use their sense of smell to find mates and food, and to avoid getting eaten. It helps them navigate their often murky world, and it is necessary for their growth and survival. But when metals contact fish nostrils, the neurons shut down to protect the brain. "We've tested everything from leeches to water fleas to several species of fish,” said Canadian scientist Greg Pyle. "Every species and every metal we've observed has had effects at low, environmentally relevant concentrations.” ...


Bet their eyesight becomes super acute.

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Sun, Mar 10, 2013
from San Francisco Chronicle:
BP warns of rising costs from spill settlement
BP is warning investors that the price tag will be "significantly higher" than it initially estimated for its multibillion-dollar settlement with businesses and residents who claim the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico cost them money. The London-based oil giant estimated last year that it would spend roughly $7.8 billion to resolve tens of thousands of claims covered by the settlement agreement. But in a regulatory filing this week, BP PLC said businesses' claims have been paid at much higher average amounts than it had anticipated. The company also said it can't reliably estimate how much it will pay for unresolved business claims following a ruling Tuesday by the federal judge supervising the uncapped settlement. U.S District Judge Carl Barbier rejected BP's interpretation of certain settlement provisions.... BP already had revised its estimate for the total cost of the settlement before Barbier's ruling, saying earlier this year that it expected to pay $8.5 billion instead of the $7.8 billion it estimated when it first cut the deal. ...


A few billion? A trillion? A jillion? Or equal to the price of damaging an ecosystem for a few thousand years?

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


All I did was order a cheeseburger!

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Mon, Feb 4, 2013
from Nature:
Terrestrial pesticide exposure of amphibians: An underestimated cause of global decline?
Amphibians, a class of animals in global decline, are present in agricultural landscapes characterized by agrochemical inputs. Effects of pesticides on terrestrial life stages of amphibians such as juvenile and adult frogs, toads and newts are little understood and a specific risk assessment for pesticide exposure, mandatory for other vertebrate groups, is currently not conducted. We studied the effects of seven pesticide products on juvenile European common frogs (Rana temporaria) in an agricultural overspray scenario. Mortality ranged from 100 percent after one hour to 40 percent after seven days at the recommended label rate of currently registered products. The demonstrated toxicity is alarming and a large-scale negative effect of terrestrial pesticide exposure on amphibian populations seems likely. Terrestrial pesticide exposure might be underestimated as a driver of their decline calling for more attention in conservation efforts and the risk assessment procedures in place do not protect this vanishing animal group. ...


Should we be blamed if amphibians are a little thin-skinned?

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


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

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


I've never really cared much for numbers anyway.

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Thu, Dec 13, 2012
from ProPublica:
Poisoning the Well: How the Feds Let Industry Pollute the Nation's Underground Water Supply
Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation's drinking water. In many cases, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted these so-called aquifer exemptions in Western states now stricken by drought and increasingly desperate for water.... The recent surge in domestic drilling and rush for uranium has brought a spike in exemption applications, as well as political pressure not to block or delay them, EPA officials told ProPublica. "The energy policy in the U.S is keeping this from happening because right now nobody -- nobody -- wants to interfere with the development of oil and gas or uranium," said a senior EPA employee who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject. "The political pressure is huge not to slow that down." ...


Water, water everywhere....

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Tue, Oct 9, 2012
from Associated Press:
Hog farm to plant trees, pay fine in fish kill
RIDGEVILLE, Ind. -- An eastern Indiana hog farm tied to a large fish kill would plant more than 500 trees as an air emissions buffer and pay a $5,000 fine under a settlement proposed by the state environmental agency. State officials say Aaron Chalfant Farms sprayed 200,000 gallons of hog manure onto a field upstream of the June 2010 fish kill near the Randolph County town of Ridgeville. An estimated nearly 108,000 fish died in the Mississinewa (mis-ih-SIHN'-uh-wah) River and a tributary. ...


Not sure how trees are going to comfort the bereaved families of the dead fish.

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Tue, Oct 9, 2012
from Charleston Daily Mail:
Natural gas wells proposed on Capital High grounds
Kanawha County Schools officials say natural gas wells might be drilled on Capital High School property. School officials said Friday no plans are finalized and there would be no risks to students associated with drilling on the large property. Instead, they believe it could provide much needed savings and revenue to the school system for years to come. "Any relief to the taxpayers is always welcome," said board President Pete Thaw. ...


What could possibly go wrong?

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Mon, Sep 24, 2012
from Midwest Energy News:
Minnesota scientists develop bacteria to clean up fracking water
A new biotechnology developed by a team of University of Minnesota scientists could help clean up wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, preventing contamination of rivers, streams, lakes, and even drinking water with toxic chemicals from coal and shale beds. The new method employs chemical-eating bacteria encased in a silica gel. The contaminants from the fracking wastewater slip inside the gel, where they are destroyed by enzymes in the bacteria. The bacteria remain encapsulated and do not contaminate the wastewater themselves... ...


Bacteria ... has our back!

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


Dude, where's my conscience.

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


Is this why everything looks rose-colored to me?

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Mon, Aug 6, 2012
from Wall Street Journal:
Hong Kong Cleans Up Massive Plastic Spill
A snowy winter scene isn't exactly standard summer fare, but that's the sight that greeted beach-goers in Hong Kong over the weekend. Millions of tiny white plastic pellets have been washing up on the city's shores for the past two weeks, since the city was struck by the worst typhoon in over a decade last month. The storm knocked six containers containing 150 tons of plastic pellets off a ship just south of Hong Kong, sending a tide of white confetti pouring into the waters, which swiftly began washing up on Hong Kong's shores.... Typically measuring just a few millimeters in diameter, the white plastic pellets--also known as "nurdles"--are used as the raw material to produce other plastic products. Experts say that while the pellets aren't toxic themselves, they absorb chemicals and other pollutants from the environment, and could threaten fish or other marine life that consume them. ...


Nurdles sound like such a delicious snack food!

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


A (shitty) river runs through it.

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


You might say the cows anecdotally died.

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Mon, Dec 19, 2011
from Brown University via ScienceDaily:
Novel Device Removes Heavy Metals from Water
Engineers at Brown University have developed a system that cleanly and efficiently removes trace heavy metals from water. In experiments, the researchers showed the system reduced cadmium, copper, and nickel concentrations, returning contaminated water to near or below federally acceptable standards. The technique is scalable and has viable commercial applications, especially in the environmental remediation and metal recovery fields. ...


Bet it can't remove smoke on the water.

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


140 pounds of manure per day? Holy shit!

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Fri, Oct 7, 2011
from Stuart Smith:
Coming up Empty: Shrimp Catches Are Down 99 Percent in Areas Hard Hit by Gulf Oil Spill
This year's white shrimp season off the coast of Louisiana looks like a bust, despite the fact that state fishery experts had predicted a bumper crop. But that was before the BP oil spill hit last April - just as the white shrimp were beginning to spawn. The timing couldn't have been worse. Today, the reality out on the water, according to Louisiana Shrimp Association President Clint Guidry, is that catches are down some 80 percent across the board. Areas hardest hit by last year's 200-million-gallon spill are yielding next to nothing. Many shrimpers, who have trawled the waters off Grand Isle for many years, are now being forced to move to more fertile grounds.... The low harvest is impacting businesses farther inland, too, such as Doran Seafood, a shrimp processing plant in Independence. "We have done zero this year," said Randy Pearce, the plant's owner-operator. "We have not peeled one Louisiana white shrimp." ...


But I bet the 1 percent are as fat and happy as Wall Street bankers!

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Fri, Oct 7, 2011
from KSAX:
DNR Chemically Treats Zebra Mussel Infested Water in Otter Tail County
FRAZEE, Minn. (KSAX) - The Department of Natural Resources took an aggressive step to stop the spread of zebra mussels in Rose Lake in Otter Tail County Thursday. For the first time in the state the DNR attempted to control a small population of zebra mussels by chemically treating the infested body of water with copper sulfate. The pesticide commonly used to kill algae, has not been effective in killing large, established mussel populations, but DNR Invasive Species Specialist, Nathan Olson said the population in Rose Lake is juvenile and contained and has a much better chance or working.... The 10 acre area costs the DNR approximately $14,000 to treat. Although the price is high, Becker County Coalition of Lake Associations Vice President, Terry Kalil said it will cost the community much more if the spread isn't controlled. "We're not going to have a tourism industry left; it's that simple," Kalil said, "Our property value is going to plummet. There's not going to be people coming to the lakes." ...


What's black and white and copper sulfated all over?

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Sat, Sep 10, 2011
from GDACC:
Pennsylvania Groups Express Concerns over Fracking Fluids in Flood Water
As tropical storm Lee continues to dump massive amounts of rain throughout Pennsylvania, concerns are growing over natural gas drilling pits overflowing and spilling their toxic contents into flooded creeks, streams and rivers. There are no currently safeguards in place by the State of Pennsylvania to prevent natural gas drilling and the placing of open pits containing toxic fracking fluids in flood plains.... "While the industry mouths rhetoric about 'safe and responsible' drilling, they do the absolute opposite in fact, storing hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic flowback fluid in open frack pits, now flowing into floodwaters," said Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters. "Fracking fluid chemicals, and even worse, the radioactive materials, arsenic and other deadly contaminants brought up from the deep shale, should never come into contact with air, water or earth. But here they are flowing with flood waters irreversibly into our ecosystem. This is a public health disaster in the making. Not one more fracking permit should be issued. All open frack pits must be permanently abolished and life-cycle cumulative impact studies done." ...


Who could have predicted that every day wouldn't be sunny and bright!?

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Tue, Sep 6, 2011
from Miami Herald:
Wall of saltwater snaking up South Florida's coast
South Florida's lakes, marshes and rivers pump fresh, crystal clear water across the state like veins carry blood through the body. But cities along South Florida's coast are running out of water as drinking wells are taken over by the sea. Hallandale Beach has abandoned six of its eight drinking water wells because saltwater has advanced underground across two-thirds of the city. "The saltwater line is moving west and there's very little that can be done about it,” said Keith London, a city commissioner for Hallandale Beach, who has worked on water conservation and reuse for the last decade. A wall of saltwater is inching inland into the Biscayne Aquifer -- the primary source of drinking water for 4.5 million people in South Florida. ...


Cue musical theme from "Salty Jaws."

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Wed, Aug 17, 2011
from Guardian:
Mekong River dolphin population on the brink of extinction - WWF ‎
The Irrawaddy dolphin population in the Mekong River is at high risk of extinction, with numbers estimated at 85 and the survival of new calves very low, WWF said on Wednesday. Fishing gear, especially gill nets, and illegal fishing methods involving explosions, poison and electricity all appear to be taking a toll, with surveys conducted from 2007 to 2010 showing the dolphin population slowly declining. "Evidence is strong that very few young animals survive to adulthood, as older dolphins die off and are not replaced," said Li Lifeng, director of WWR's freshwater programme. "This tiny population is at risk by its small size alone. With the added pressure of gill net entanglement and high calf mortality, we are really worried for the future of dolphins." The Irrawaddy dolphins live in a 190km (118mile) section of the Mekong between Kratie, Cambodia and the Khone Falls, which are on the border with Laos. Research also shows that the population of dolphins in a small transboundary pool on the Cambodia-Laos border may be as few as seven or eight, WWF added, despite the fact that Irrawaddy dolphins are protected by law in both nations. ...


Explosions, poison, and electricity would take a toll on me, too!

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Fri, Aug 12, 2011
from The Coast, Nova Scotia:
The fracking truth
Here's a rundown of the process, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council: First, clear a couple of hectares of land for each natural gas well. Drill down a few hundred (or thousand) metres and slice around underneath the shale, blast in at least nine million litres of water, plenty of sand and a variety of chemicals (many of which are known or possible human carcinogens, air pollutants or cause other chronic health problems) in order to access the gas. Bonuses include heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and radioactive elements. Score for the environment! Life might just be that easy if it wasn't for annoying Cornell professors like Robert Howarth, who likes to pee on clean-air parades by looking at the "big picture," the impacts of natural gas beyond just how it burns. Howarth found that the harvesting, transport, processing and use of natural gas leaks so much methane (which fudges the climate 72 times worse than carbon dioxide) that you can't really call it significantly greener than coal, and it's worse than oil. That's going only on reported leakages. The reality is worse, "big picture" wise. ...


And your concern is...? I mean really, isn't this normal?

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


Impossible is nothing. Just do it.

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Thu, Jul 7, 2011
from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Pennsylvania fracking water being disposed in Ohio
Pennsylvania's waste is becoming Ohio's million-dollar treasure. Marcellus shale drillers are shipping more fracking waste to the Buckeye State, on pace for Ohio to bank nearly $1 million in fees this year from out-of-state drillers pumping hazardous fluids deep under Ohio. The amount of wastewater Ohio accepted from out-of-state drillers jumped 25 percent in the first quarter, compared to the last quarter of 2010, likely in part because Pennsylvania officials this year increased pressure on drillers to keep fracking waste out of surface water, said Tom Tomastik of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Drillers "have to do something with this waste," said Pam Melott, manager at WTC Gas Field Services in Indiana County, one of several haulers newly registered to ship to Ohio. "There's a lot of prospective customers. Our customers have called me and they want to know, 'What are we going to do?' ... So, yes, they're very interested in this."... More haulers are registering to carry shipments to Ohio, and one developer is considering a rail line covering several hundred miles, Tomastik said.... Drillers were taking some of it to plants that treated it, then dumped it into rivers. The Pennsylvania DEP in August set stricter standards for the amount of solids those plants could allow in treated water. This spring, the agency asked drillers to stop taking Marcellus water to those plants, sparking the search for options.... Some water used in shale gas drilling won't be recycled, usually because there's no place to use it or no convenient place to recycle it. That water is distilled into a highly concentrated brine and that goes to underground disposal wells, said Matt Pitzarella, spokesman for Texas-based Range Resources, which has offices in Cecil.... In the second half of last year, drillers produced almost as much liquid waste -- 5.3 million barrels -- and started sending more than 6.6 percent of their waste to injection disposal wells, all in Ohio. ...


Injection wells kick ass, in the race to the bottom.

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Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from EcoHearth:
Eerily Silent Summer Nights: Dead Crickets and Poisoned California Water
I remembered recently reading an article about the top pesticide source that is disrupting aquatic life in the Sacramento San Joaquim Delta, which supplies water to 23 million Californians. The culprits are Pyrethroids, a common synthetic pesticide that researchers first suspected entered the water cycle with agricultural runoff. But the largest quantities actually flow from urban Sacramento and cities in surrounding counties, either from an excessive use of shampoos to eliminate lice and fleas, or from people pouring leftover household pesticides down their drains. Pyrethroids are linked to neurological and thyroid damage as well as hormonal disruption, and they're extremely harmful to beneficial insects, including bees.... ... Borneo where, in the 1950s, the World Health Organization had sprayed roofs with DDT to eradicate malaria. This eliminated mosquitoes as well as the wasps that kept the thatch-eating caterpillars in check, which then thrived and ate the thatched roofs. So the government replaced the roofs with sheet metal, but the pounding rains kept people awake at night. The DDT-killed bugs were eaten by geckos, which were eaten by cats that also eventually died. Then the rats multiplied. Finally, the government had to commission Singapore's Royal Air Force to parachute cats into the country.... Lovins told this story to illustrate how everything is connected. Or as John Muir said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." ...


I'm loathe to accept that everything's connected, if that means that I'm responsible for what I do.

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Sun, Jun 26, 2011
from AP, via PhysOrg:
Sportsmen monitor gas drilling in Marcellus Shale
A new coalition of outdoors groups is emerging as a potent force in the debate over natural gas drilling. The Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation isn't against the process of fracking for gas, but its members want to make sure the rush to cash in on the valuable resource doesn't damage streams, forests, and the various creatures that call those places home. The movement grew out of grass-roots anger as passionate outdoorsmen found their questions about drilling and wildlife brought few answers from local or state officials. "Either we didn't get a response or the answer we got didn't seem feasible or acceptable. It didn't seem like the people who were in charge had their pulse on what was actually happening," said Ken Dufalla of Clarksville, Pa.... Already, preliminary water testing by sportsmen is showing consistently high levels of bromides and total dissolved solids in some streams near fracking operations, Dufalla said. Bromide is a salt that reacts with the chlorine disinfectants used by drinking water systems and creates trihalomethanes.... Dufalla stands alongside Whiteley Creek, a little mountain stream in Greene County. But something is wrong. The grass is lush and the woods are green, but the water is cloudy and dead-looking. "It used to be a nice stream," teeming with minnows, crawfish and other aquatic life, he told The Associated Press. No more, said Dufalla, a former deputy game and fish warden for Pennsylvania. He's worried that nearby gas drilling has damaged the creek, either from improper discharges of waters used in fracking, or from extensive withdrawals of water. ...


Fracking makes strange Earthfellows.

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Sat, Jun 25, 2011
from SightlineDaily:
Trouble on the Half Shell
Four summers ago, Sue Cudd couldn't keep a baby oyster alive. She'd start with hundreds of millions of oyster larvae in the tanks at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Netarts, Oregon. Only a handful would make it.... A hatchery that has supplied seafood businesses for three decades had virtually nothing to sell for months, said Cudd, who owns the hatchery. "They would just sort of fade away... It was really devastating. We're kind of the independent growers' hatchery, and we had always been reliable up until that point. People were just shocked. I heard a lot of times how it was ruining people's businesses." It's tough to say with scientific certainty that ocean acidification is the sole cause of the die-offs that have plagued two of the Northwest's three major oyster hatcheries in the last few years. But this much seems clear: young oysters have a hard time surviving in conditions that will only become more widespread as carbon dioxide from cars, coal plants and other industries cause the fundamental chemistry of the ocean to become more acidic. ...


Thankfully, there's news about the Royal Couple I can focus on!

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Mon, Jun 20, 2011
from BBC:
World's oceans in 'shocking' decline
The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists. In a new report, they warn that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history". They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised. The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity.... "The findings are shocking," said Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University. "As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised. "We've sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we're seeing, and we've ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we're seeing changes that are happening faster than we'd thought, or in ways that we didn't expect to see for hundreds of years." ...


I hear Britney is showing off plenty of skin on her new "Femme Fatale" tour!

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


Coldcocking the sockeye!

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


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

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


Methinks methane is metoxic.

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Mon, Apr 18, 2011
from St. Petersburg Times:
USF study concludes that common fungicide is deadly to frogs
Two years ago some University of South Florida researchers began studying the effects of the most widely used fungicide in the country to see if it might kill more than just fungus. Turns out it's also a pretty effective frog-icide. "We were completely surprised to see it basically killed everything," said Taegan McMahon, the lead researcher on the study, which was published this week in a scientific journal called Environmental Health Perspectives. Frogs on farms with treated fields, frogs in ponds on golf courses, frogs in the back yard -- the fungicide could be lethal to any of them, the study suggests. "We don't know what the effect on humans could be," she added. "And we use it heavily in Florida." The fungicide, chlorothalonil, sold under such names as Bravo, Echo and Daconil, is used to treat farmers' fields, lawns and golf courses and is an ingredient in mold-suppressing paint. It's part of the same chemical family, organochlorines, as the banned pesticide DDT. It is known to cause severe eye and skin irritation in humans if handled improperly. Chlorothalonil kills mold and fungi by disrupting the respiratory functions of the cells, explained Jason Rohr, an assistant professor who co-authored the study and heads up USF's Rohr Ecology Lab. At this point the researchers don't know if that's how it kills frogs, too, he said. They just know it's lethal. ...


On Silent Pond.

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Thu, Apr 14, 2011
from TreeHugger:
Oil Company Document Instructs Agents to Mislead Landowners About Drilling Dangers
Entitled 'Talking Points for Selling and Gas Lease Rights', the document implores its 'Field Agents' to mislead people about the risks of drilling, to omit important facts, and even, on occasion, to outright lie. Again, it's important to note that TreeHugger has not confirmed the authenticity of the document, nor have we identified which oil company it belongs to.... "Oil and Gas exploration and drilling is meeting increasing resistance from local community groups, so it is essential to contact land holders and acquire signatures before sentiment by environmental and other public organizations limits our ability to obtain access to private land for oil and gas development.... "Tell the landowner that all their neighbors have signed. Even if the neighbors have not, this often will push an undecided landowner in favor of signing.... ENSURE you tell the landowner that we use NO RADIOACTIVE materials. The radioactivity comes from natural sources in the ground and is released by the process, but don't tell them this. Most landowners will not know." ...


What they don't know, won't hurt 'em.

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


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

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Fri, Apr 8, 2011
from Reuters:
Biodiversity vital to streams as extinctions rise
As Earth enters a period of mass extinction, a study released on Wednesday offers a new reason to preserve biodiversity: it's an effective, natural pollution scrubber in streams. Environmental activists have long warned that waning biodiversity means the loss of such ecological services as stream-cleaning, control of pests and diseases and increased productivity in fisheries. The latest study, published in the journal Nature, shows how this works, demonstrating that streams that contain more species have better water quality than streams that have fewer. The species being discussed are microorganisms such as algae that incorporate elements of pollution into their bodies. The more types of algae there are in a stream, each with a minutely different habitat, the better they are collectively at filtering pollution out of the water. ...


Can't we just bioengineer a quicker picker-upper?

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Wed, Apr 6, 2011
from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute:
10,000 shipping containers per year in ocean
Each year, an estimated 10,000 shipping containers fall off container ships at sea. Although many of these containers float at the surface for months, most eventually sink to the seafloor. No one knows what happens to these containers once they reach the deep seafloor.... Shortly after midnight on February 26, [2004], when the Med Taipei was directly offshore of Monterey Bay, stacks of containers began to break free of their lashings and topple sideways. Fifteen of the 40-foot-long containers fell overboard into the churning sea. Yet the ship continued south. By the time the ship reached the Port of Los Angeles, nine more containers had fallen overboard, and another 21 lay crumpled on deck. You would have thought a disaster like this would have made the national news. But no one was hurt, and there is no legal requirement for shipping companies to report such losses. No government officials knew about this debacle except perhaps a few customs inspectors. ...


We prefer to think of them as "time capsules for the future."

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


Oh, right! We forgot to factor in time!

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Wed, Mar 30, 2011
from Life Science News, via EurekAlert:
Whale and dolphin death toll during Deepwater disaster may have been greatly underestimated
The team focused their research on 14 species of cetacean, an order of mammals including whales and dolphins. While the number of recovered carcasses has been assumed to equal the number of deaths, the team argues that marine conditions and the fact that many deaths will have occurred far from shore mean recovered carcasses will only account for a small proportion of deaths.... The team's analysis suggests that only 2 percent of cetacean carcasses were ever historically recovered after their [natural] deaths in this region, meaning that the true death toll from the Deepwater Horizon disaster could be 50 times higher than the number of deaths currently estimated.... "While we did not conduct a study to estimate the actual number of deaths from the oil spill, our research reveals that the accepted figures are a grave underestimation," concluded Dr. Williams. "We now urge methodological development to develop appropriate multipliers so that we discover the true cost of this tragedy." ...


If you'll forgive the expression.

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Thu, Mar 24, 2011
from The Spokesman-Review:
Flooding spiked lead levels in Lake Coeur d'Alene
An estimated 352,000 pounds of lead washed into Lake Coeur d'Alene on Jan. 18 after flooding related to a rain-on-snow event. That's the weight equivalent of 70 Dodge Ram 1500 pickups - and the highest volume of lead recorded in a 24-hour period since major flooding in February 1996. Greg Clark, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist, attributed high lead concentrations to a rapid rise in the Coeur d'Alene River caused by pounding rains and melting snow. ...


Could you please translate that into how many Mini Coopers?

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


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

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


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

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


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

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Thu, Mar 10, 2011
from CBC:
Monitoring of oilsands impact inadequate: panel
The province must do a better job of monitoring the impact of oilsands mining on water quality in northeastern Alberta, concludes a scientific panel. Environment Minister Rob Renner appointed the six-member panel in September 2010 after a University of Alberta study concluded industry was responsible for increased levels of toxins in the Athabasca River, a claim contradicted by government scientists.... It found industry and government monitoring is inadequate in determining the amount of toxins entering the environment.... "It's not just that we have to have more monitoring, but we have to have a more coordinated system for monitoring." NDP critic Rachel Notley said Renner has known for years that the current system was lacking but did nothing about it. "The minister can try to rewrite history, but the record shows that while the Tories barged ahead on development, their commitment to environmental protection was in spin only," said Notley. ...


So get 'em some more flatscreens! Jeez, problem solved!

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Thu, Mar 10, 2011
from CBC:
Great Lakes phosphorus levels rising, report warns
A mysterious resurgence of phosphorus in the Great Lakes is endangering the aquatic food chain and human health, says a binational agency that advises Canada and the U.S. Fifteen years after the last programs to control phosphorus runoff ended, the International Joint Commission urged on Wednesday a renewed effort to get the oxygen-depleting chemical out of the water.... "We don't know where the phosphorous is coming from," Bill Bowerman, chair of the IJC's science advisory board and a wildlife ecologist at South Carolina's Clemson University, said during Wednesday's IJC news conference. "Some of our monitoring programs that would allow us to understand this either are under threat or have disappeared over the past 15 years."... The report suggests key factors likely include inadequate municipal wastewater and residential septic systems, agricultural runoff, industrial livestock operations and the impacts of climate change, which causes more frequent and intense rainstorms.... [M]uch of the lake is back to being coated with slimy green algal blooms in the summer, as it was in the 1960s and early '70s. "They said, 'Well, we have this one fixed.' Well, we don't have this one fixed," she said. ...


Why monitor what you don't want to know?

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Wed, Mar 9, 2011
from ProPublica:
Former Bush EPA Official Says Fracking Exemption Went Too Far; Congress Should Revisit
When Benjamin Grumbles was assistant administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency in the George W. Bush administration, he oversaw the release of a 2004 EPA report that determined that hydraulic fracturing was safe for drinking water. Then he watched as Congress used those findings to bolster the case for passing a law that prohibited the EPA from regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act.... Whether it's hydraulic fracturing or any other type of practice that can have an impact on the environment, one single report shouldn't be the basis for a perpetual, never-ending policy decision. It wasn't meant to be a bill of health saying 'well, this practice is fine. Exempt it in all respects from any regulation.' I'm sure that wasn't the intent of the panel of experts, and EPA never viewed it that way. That's one reason why we were urging Congress to say 'look, if you are going to issue an exemption, ensure that it is not perpetual.' ...


The novelty of selective science to justify lucrative destruction has worn off.

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Tue, Mar 8, 2011
from Montreal Gazette:
Fracking will cause 'irreversible harm'
A geological engineering professor whose specialty is rock mechanics and hydrogeology says hydraulic fracturing to free natural gas from shale rock formations will cause "irreversible harm" lasting thousands of years. And the gas companies will be long gone, leaving behind costly remediation, Marc Durand said in an interview, suggesting the gas producers should be forced to establish a reserve fund. "The billions required would be much more than all the profits beckoning now," said the retired Universite du Quebec a Montreal professor. The circulating gas left behind will threaten the water Quebecers drink and could jeopardize agriculture, he said. The Utica shale field gas deposits between Montreal and Quebec City lie under some of the best farmland in the province.... The rock formations shattered by fracking will be "thousands of times more permeable," allowing the remaining 80 per cent of shale gas and underground water, 10 times more salty than sea water, to continue circulating, bubbling to the surface through the disused gas wells. Over time, methane could leak into the groundwater and gas leaks could gush, uncontrolled, into the air. ...


Why should we believe someone who's retired? If he's so smart, why isn't he rich? And besides, the economy.

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Tue, Mar 8, 2011
from SEED Daily, on DesdemonaDespair:
Unregulated pesticide use in Asia destroys ecosystems and threatens resistant 'pest storms'
The unbridled manufacture and use of pesticides in Asia is raising the spectre of "pest storms" devastating the region's rice farms and threatening food security, scientists have warned. Increased production of cheap pesticides in China and India, lax regulation and inadequate farmer education are destroying ecosystems around paddies, allowing pests to thrive and multiply, they said. The problem has emerged over the last decade and -- if left unchecked -- pests could lay waste to vast tracts of Asia's rice farms, according to scientists who took part in a workshop in Singapore last week.... "There are big outbreaks of pests or what they are calling in China 'pest storms' as a result of the over-application of pesticides," Lukacs said.... The problem is compounded by indiscriminate application, which has destroyed the ecosystem surrounding the paddies, including the predators such as spiders and dragonflies that would normally keep pest numbers down. ...


If pesticides kill more than just pests, why don't they call it something else, like "poison"?

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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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Fri, Mar 4, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Natural Gas Industry Dumping More Wastewater Into Rivers Than A Year Ago
Pennsylvania's natural gas drillers are still flushing vast quantities of contaminated wastewater into rivers that supply drinking water, despite major progress by the industry over the past year in curtailing the practice. Under pressure from environmentalists and state officials, energy companies that have been drilling thousands of gas wells in the state's countryside spent part of 2010 overhauling the way they handle the chemically tainted and sometimes radioactive water that gushes from the ground after a drilling technique known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.... But drilling in the vast, gas-rich rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale is growing so explosively that some of those gains are being erased by operators that still send their waste to plants that discharge into rivers.... By comparison, some 3.6 million barrels were sent to those same plants during the 12-month period that ended on June 30. That means that even with the recycling effort ramping up tremendously, more tainted wastewater is being dumped into rivers now than was the case a year ago. A total of 1,386 new gas wells were drilled in the state last year, up from 768 a year earlier. Thousands more well permits have been approved. ...


Is there any evidence that contaminants have been making us smarter?

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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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Wed, Mar 2, 2011
from The Independent:
Oil spill link suspected as dead dolphins wash ashore
The dead dolphins began appearing in mid-January along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the United States. Although none of the carcasses appeared to show outward signs of oil contamination, all were being examined as possible casualties of the petrochemicals that fouled the sea water and sea bed after BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded last April.... nearly five billion barrels of crude oil before it was capped in July.... The remains of 77 animals - nearly all bottlenose dolphins - have been discovered on islands, in marshes and on beaches along 200 miles of coastline. This figure is more than 10 times the number normally found washed up around this time of year, which is calving season for some 2,000 to 5,000 dolphins in the region.... One of the more disturbing aspects of the deaths is that nearly half - 36 animals so far - have been newborn or stillborn dolphin calves. In January 2009 and 2010, there were no reports of stranded calves, and because this is the first calving season since the BP disaster, scientists are concerned that the spill may be a cause. ...


Maybe it's everything Mom ate.

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


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

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Sat, Feb 26, 2011
from AP, via PhysOrg:
Scientists scrutinize rise in baby dolphin deaths
Scientists are trying to figure out what killed 53 bottlenose dolphins - many of them babies - so far this year in the Gulf of Mexico, as five more of their carcasses washed up Thursday in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It's likely to be months before they get back lab work showing what caused the spontaneous abortions, premature births, deaths shortly after birth and adult deaths said Blair Mase, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's stranding coordinator for the Gulf Coast. "It's not like CSI where the very next day they have the results in. It doesn't work that way, unfortunately," she said.... Solangi said he'd never seen anything like the calf deaths, or found word of anything like it in 30 years of records from his area - Alabama, Mississippi and east Louisiana.... "We've collected tissues and sent them off to various laboratories for pathology and toxicology," he said. "All we can tell is some of them may have been premature, some of them were stillborn and others may have just survived for a day or two and died." Dolphins usually calve in March and April, he said. ...


I can't see what toxic Gulf of Mexico event could possibly be causing so many premature births. The spill ended months ago.

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


That well-water smells just fine to me.

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Mon, Feb 14, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Support for fast-tracked bio-cremation bill dissolves under scientific scrutiny, but a revival is brewing
Assemblyman Jeff Miller needed one more vote last spring on his bill to legalize "bio-cremation," a chemical process that he called a water-based alternative to incineration... As it turns out, dissolving corpses in chemicals may not be so green. According to one analysis, the process can warp plumbing and singe crematorium workers....The process was developed in Europe in the 1990s as a method of disposing of cows infected with mad-cow disease. Funeral homes would place corpses in a pressurized chamber filled with water and lye and heat the chamber to 370 degrees. After about three hours, all that remains is bone in a soup of salt and amino acids. The fragments can be ground into ash and the thick, coffee-colored liquid poured down the drain. "There are no recognizable body parts in the discharged effluent," an executive from Matthews International, a leading manufacturer of cremation equipment, assured lawmakers in an informational packet. ...


Ashes to ashes.... effluent to effluent.

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Mon, Feb 7, 2011
from United Nations University, via EurekAlert:
Pollutants in aquifers may threaten future of Mexico's fast-growing 'Riviera Maya'
Pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs, shampoo, toothpaste, pesticides, chemical run-off from highways and many other pollutants infiltrate the giant aquifer under Mexico's "Riviera Maya," research shows. The wastes contaminate a vast labyrinth of water-filled caves under the popular tourist destination on the Yucatan Peninsula. The polluted water flows through the caves and into the Caribbean Sea. Land-sourced pollution may have contributed, along with overfishing, coral diseases, and climate change, to the loss since 1990 of up to 50 percent of corals on the reefs off the region's coast. And, with a 10-fold increase in population through 2030 expected, the problems are likely to worsen, according to research published today in the journal Environmental Pollution.... While the levels of pollution found are not considered a health threat today, "the data provided in this study raise some concerns about the potential for human exposure from the consumption of contaminated drinking water." ...


I thought we flushed that shit away.

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Fri, Feb 4, 2011
from Bloomberg:
EPA Sets First Standard for Perchlorate in Water, Reversing Bush Decision
The Obama administration will set the first U.S. standard for perchlorate in drinking water, reversing a Bush-era decision against regulating the chemical that may impair the human thyroid. The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a rule for perchlorate, a toxic rocket-fuel ingredient used to make fireworks and explosive devices, the EPA said today in an e- mailed statement. The EPA also said it will craft a rule to protect people from as many as 16 chemicals found in drinking water that may cause cancer. The agency under President Barack Obama set aside about one-third, or $3.3 billion, of its proposed fiscal 2011 budget for drinking and wastewater projects, almost double the total approved in the final year of the Bush administration. Bush's EPA declined to establish rules for perchlorate.... More than 4 percent of public U.S. water systems have detected perchlorate and 5 million to 17 million people may drink water containing the chemical, according to the EPA, citing monitoring data. The agency said its has received almost 39,000 comments about regulating perchlorate. ...


They monitor chemicals they don't even regulate? That's gotta change.

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Thu, Feb 3, 2011
from AIBS, via EurekAlert:
Oysters at risk: Gastronomes' delight disappearing globally
A new, wide-ranging survey that compares the past and present condition of oyster reefs around the globe finds that more than 90 percent of former reefs have been lost in most of the "bays" and ecoregions where the prized molluscs were formerly abundant. In many places, such as the Wadden Sea in Europe and Narragansett Bay, oysters are rated "functionally extinct," with fewer than 1 percent of former reefs persisting. The declines are in most cases a result of over-harvesting of wild populations and disease, often exacerbated by the introduction of non-native species.... Beck's team examined oyster reefs across 144 bays and 44 ecoregions. It also studied historical records as well as national catch statistics.... The survey team argues for improved mapping efforts and the removal of incentives to over-exploitation. It also recommends that harvesting and further reef destruction should not be allowed wherever oysters are at less than 10 percent of their former abundance, unless it can be shown that these activities do not substantially affect reef recovery. ...


"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,/ "You've had a pleasant run!/ Shall we be trotting home again?'/ But answer came there none--/ And this was scarcely odd, because/ They'd eaten every one.

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Tue, Feb 1, 2011
from Reuters:
U.S. fracking firms may have broken enviromental law: probe
Several energy companies may have violated environmental rules by injecting diesel into the ground without permits as part of a controversial natural gas drilling technique, according to findings from Congressional probe released on Monday. The probe of diesel use in hydraulic fracturing, a practice that has allowed drillers to tap abundant shale gas, found that oil services firms such as Halliburton and BJ Services, which was bought by Baker Hughes Inc, injected millions of gallons of fluids containing the fuel into wells between 2005 and 2009. A total of 12 companies were cited in the probe for using diesel without proper permits.... Halliburton said there are currently no federal requirements that companies obtain permits for the use of diesel in fracking and therefore it does not believe its "activities have resulted in a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act or any other federal environmental law." ...


Just call it "carbon sequestration," guys, and then you'll get a tax break!

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Sun, Jan 16, 2011
from Slate, via DesdemonaDespair:
The Chinese Eco-Disaster
He had traveled 100,000 miles crisscrossing China, from Tibet to the deserts of Inner Mongolia, and everywhere he went, he discovered that the Chinese state had embarked on a massive program of ecological destruction. It has turned whole rivers poisonous to the touch, rendered entire areas cancer-ridden, transformed a fertile area almost twice the size of Britain into desert--and perhaps even triggered the worst earthquake in living memory. In his extraordinary book When a Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind--or Destroy It, Watts warns: "The planet's problems were not made in China, but they are sliding past the point of no return there." The ber-capitalist Communists now have the highest emissions of global-warming gases in the world (although the average Chinese person generates one-seventh the emissions the average American does). We are all trapped in a greenhouse together: Environmental destruction in China becomes environmental destruction where you live. This story will become your story. ...


We may be looking at a Cultural Devolution.

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Wed, Jan 12, 2011
from Reuters, via Desdemona:
Floods threaten Australia's Great Barrier Reef
Australia's devastating floods are flushing toxic, pesticide-laden sediment into the Great Barrier Reef, and could threaten fragile corals and marine life in the world's largest living organism, environmentalists said on Monday. Flood plumes from the swollen Fitzroy and Burnett rivers in Queensland state had muddied reef waters as far as the Keppel Island Group, about 40 km (24 miles) offshore, at the southern end of the World Heritage-listed reef. "Toxic pollution from flooded farms and towns along the Queensland coast will have a disastrous impact on the Great Barrier Reefs corals and will likely have a significant impact on dugongs, turtles and other marine life," the World Wild Life Fund (WWF) said in a statement.... The damage to the Great Barrier Reef would be exacerbated because the floods are "bigger, dirtier and more dangerous due to excessive tree clearing, overgrazing and soil compaction", the WWF said. Experts expect the reef to recover, but depending on the coral resilience, that could take up to 100 years. ...


If God didn't want those toxins in the coral, He wouldn't have let us use them in the first place.

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


All that chromium makes my insides so bright and shiny!

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Mon, Dec 27, 2010
from National Science Foundation via ScienceDaily:
Global Rivers Emit Three Times IPCC Estimates of Greenhouse Gas Nitrous Oxide
...Human-caused nitrogen loading to river networks is a potentially important source of nitrous oxide emission to the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and stratospheric ozone destruction. It happens via a microbial process called denitrification, which converts nitrogen to nitrous oxide and an inert gas called dinitrogen. When summed across the globe, scientists report this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), river and stream networks are the source of at least 10 percent of human-caused nitrous oxide emissions to the atmosphere. That's three times the amount estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ...


I thought denitrification was when I got my teeth fixed up.

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Mon, Dec 20, 2010
from ProPublica:
Med Schools Flunk at Keeping Faculty Off Pharma Speaking Circuit
As medical schools wrestle with how to keep drug companies from corrupting their faculties, Stanford University is often lauded for its tough stance. The school was one of the first to stop sales representatives from roaming its halls in 2006 [1]. It cut off the flow of free lunches and trinkets emblazoned with drug names. And last year, in a blow to its physicians' wallets, Stanford banned them from giving paid promotional talks for pharmaceutical companies. One thing it didn't do was make sure its faculty followed that rule. A ProPublica investigation found that more than a dozen of the school's doctors were paid speakers in apparent violation of its policy--two of them earning six figures since last year. ...


Money... is the sweetest drug of all.

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Sun, Dec 19, 2010
from Washington Post:
Probable carcinogen hexavalent chromium found in drinking water of 31 U.S. cities
An environmental group that analyzed the drinking water in 35 cities across the United States, including Bethesda and Washington, found that most contained hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen that was made famous by the film "Erin Brockovich." The study, which will be released Monday by the Environmental Working Group, is the first nationwide analysis of hexavalent chromium in drinking water to be made public. It comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to set a limit for hexavalent chromium in tap water. The agency is reviewing the chemical after the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, deemed it a "probable carcinogen" in 2008. ...


The EPA should review the film as well.

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Tue, Dec 7, 2010
from McClatchy Newspapers:
American urban lake pollution traced to parking lot seal coat
A black sealant sprayed on parking lots, driveways and playgrounds turns out to be the largest contributor to the rise of a toxic pollutant in urban lakes and reservoirs across America, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. Scientists saw concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) going up rapidly in the 1990s in areas of urban sprawl. PAHs have been known as a probable human carcinogen since the 19th century, when cancer struck chimney sweeps, said Peter Van Metre, a USGS scientist and a principal author of the report. PAHs also are toxic to fish and other aquatic plant and animal life. ...


PAH, humbug!

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Thu, Nov 25, 2010
from Scripps Howard:
Rural residents say natural gas drilling has tainted their drinking water
Wetzel County, W. Va. -- When the horses stopped drinking, residents here became convinced of their worst suspicions. The water had gone bad. Bonnie Hall's eight horses take a lot of water. Fifteen gallons a day, each. Hall was puzzled the November 2008 day the horses left their water bucket untouched... the horses' drinking water -- drawn from a 300-foot well -- smells like an industrial-strength cleaning solvent... At the center of their grievance is a natural gas-drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." It uses millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, to blast open underground rock formations that contain natural gas. Drilling companies insist that the fluids they use stay securely underground or are captured cleanly when they come back up through the well. But Hall and her neighbors are convinced otherwise. ...


You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink it if it's fracked up!

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Fri, Nov 12, 2010
from Annie Leonard, YouTube:
Annie Leonard: The Story of Electronics
...


Hey, when I throw something away, it goes away.

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Fri, Nov 12, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Antimicrobials murderous in nature
When released into waterways from wastewater treatment plants, the antimicrobial triclosan continues to do what it was designed to do -- kill bacteria -- and starts doing what it was not designed to do -- interfere with photosynthesis in algae. The results from a study in Spain suggest that triclosan carries a high environmental risk and warrants concern about its presence in waterways. The findings agree with prior studies that find the antimicrobial is toxic to bacteria at levels measured in water. However, this is one of just a few published studies to report that triclosan can reduce photosynthesis in a type of algae known as diatoms. Through photosynthesis, diatoms produce oxygen and food that other aquatic organisms rely upon. It is estimated that 80 percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere comes from diatoms, making these microscopic organisms essential for life on earth. Triclosan is an anti-microbial chemical widely used in personal care products, like toothpaste and anti-bacterial hand soap. It is added to cleaning products and is applied to many items, including clothing, toys, shower curtains and kitchenware. ...


Die, diatoms, die!

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Wed, Nov 10, 2010
from Scientific American:
A warming Earth could mean stronger toxins
Global warming may be making pesticide residues, heavy metals and household chemicals more dangerous to fish, wildlife and, ultimately, humans, scientists warn. At the North American branch of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry's 31st annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, on 8 November, environmental chemists warned that complex interactions between chemistry and climate change might be making chemicals more toxic and the environment more susceptible to damage.... climate change will cause differences in the movement, quality and distribution of water that could affect stream acidity all over the world. This would alter the toxicity of chemicals such as pharmaceuticals, which make their way into these streams when they are excreted into waster water and flushed down the toilet. Drugs are designed so that small changes in acidity alter their bioavailability, helping to route them to the bodily tissues where they are needed. But when they reach the environment, says Valenti, "it's the same thing. I've seen upwards of 10- to 20-fold differences in toxicity at pH 9 compared with pH 6".... Goss studied Daphnia magna, a tiny freshwater crustacean used in many aquatic toxicity studies. "We saw greater sensitivity to lead at higher temperatures," she said. ...


That would be true only if you believe in toxicity.

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Sat, Nov 6, 2010
from CBC:
Coral damage related to BP oil spill: scientists
U.S. scientists have found damage to deep sea coral and other marine life on the ocean floor several kilometres from the blown-out BP well in the Gulf of Mexico. The discovery made by a government-funded expedition is a strong indication that damage from the spill could be significantly greater than officials had previously acknowledged. Tests are needed to verify that the coral died from oil that spewed into the Gulf after BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April, but the chief scientist who led the expedition said Friday he was convinced it was related.... "There is an abundance of circumstantial data that suggests that what happened is related to the recent oil spill."... Fisher described the soft and hard coral they found 11 kilometres southwest of the well as an underwater graveyard. He said oil probably passed over the coral and killed it. The coral has "been dying for months," he said. "What we are looking at is a combination of dead gooey tissues and sediment. Gunk is a good word for what it is." Eric Cordes, a Temple University marine scientist on the expedition, said his colleagues have identified about 25 other sites in the vicinity of the well where similar damage may have occurred. An expedition is planned for next month to explore those sites. ...


The coral is being dispersed to the spirit world.

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Wed, Oct 27, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Uranium in Groundwater? 'Fracking' Mobilizes Uranium in Marcellus Shale
Scientific and political disputes over drilling Marcellus shale for natural gas have focused primarily on the environmental effects of pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep underground to blast through rocks to release the natural gas. But University at Buffalo researchers have now found that that process -- called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking"-- also causes uranium that is naturally trapped inside Marcellus shale to be released, raising additional environmental concerns.... "Marcellus shale naturally traps metals such as uranium and at levels higher than usually found naturally, but lower than manmade contamination levels," says Tracy Bank, PhD, assistant professor of geology in UB's College of Arts and Sciences and lead researcher. "My question was, if they start drilling and pumping millions of gallons of water into these underground rocks, will that force the uranium into the soluble phase and mobilize it? Will uranium then show up in groundwater?" ...


Oh, Cassandra, will you fracking shut up?

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Thu, Oct 21, 2010
from CBC:
Canada's marine ecosystems face threat: report
A multi-year study by the federal government has produced a troubling report card on the health of Canada's marine environments, with major changes detected in all three oceans. Vanishing sea species, warming water temperatures and a new wave of contaminants have struck Canada's marine ecosystems, according to the document from the federal Fisheries Department. The 38-page report was released, without fanfare, this summer.... "What we do know, from a biodiversity trend perspective, is that things have been getting worse -- much worse," said Dalhousie University's Jeff Hutchings, who reviewed a draft of the report card for Environment Canada. "What we don't know, to be fair, is what the consequences of those reductions will always be. But we have reasonable evidence in some instances to know that they're not going to be good."... Overfishing has caused numerous commercial fish stocks to plummet. For example, the report said that one Pacific herring stock is "at record low levels of abundance." In the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, warming ocean temperatures have decimated ivory gull populations by more than 80 per cent since the 1980s. ...


They told me Canada would benefit from global warming.

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Tue, Oct 12, 2010
from Associated Press:
A toxic legacy: Eastern Europe dotted with disasters in waiting
Abandoned mines in Romania leach waters contaminated by heavy metals into rivers. A Hungarian chemical plant produces more than 100,000 tons of toxic substances a year. Soil in eastern Slovakia is contaminated with cancer-producing PCBs. The flood of toxic sludge in Hungary is but one of the ecological horrors that lurk in Eastern Europe 20 years after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, serving as a reminder that the region is dotted with disasters waiting to happen. ...


Sounds JUST like my body.

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Fri, Oct 8, 2010
from Reuters:
Prenatal arsenic exposure quintuples infant death risk
Babies born to mothers with high levels of arsenic exposure are five times more likely to die before their first birthday than infants whose mothers had the least exposure to the toxic mineral, new research shows. "We observed clear evidence of an association between arsenic exposure and infant mortality," Dr. Anisur Rahman of Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden and colleagues state in the November issue of Epidemiology. And the fact that death risk increased as exposure rose, they add, "is supportive of a causal relationship."... To address these issues, the researchers followed 2,924 pregnant women who provided urine samples for arsenic testing, all when they were eight weeks pregnant, and some later in pregnancy. ...


This takes stalking to a whole new level.

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Sun, Oct 3, 2010
from Huffington Post:
EPA Seeks To Regulate Toxic Chemical, Perchlorate, Under Safe Drinking Water Act, Reversing Bush Administration Decision
The Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel that has contaminated drinking water supplies, reversing a decision made under the Bush administration. A government official briefed by the EPA told The Associated Press on Thursday night that the agency has proposed that the chemical, perchlorate, be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The official, who did not want to be named because a final decision has not been made, said the plan is now under interagency review. Perchlorate has been found in drinking water in at least 35 states at levels high enough to interfere with thyroid function and pose developmental problems in humans, particularly for babies and fetuses. The Defense Department used perchlorate for decades in testing rockets and missiles, and most perchlorate contamination stems from defense and aerospace activities. In 2008, under President George W. Bush, the EPA decided against regulating the chemical, saying that setting a federal standard would do little to reduce risks to public health. That decision angered environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers. ...


If we remove all the drinking water contaminants, what will motivate us to sustain the bottled-water economy?

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Mon, Sep 20, 2010
from The Independent:
Shucks!: Why British oysters are off the menu
Yet, after all that, the British oyster industry is now teetering on the brink of a new crisis. A new virus, which has never before been seen in Britain, has wiped out more than eight million oysters at a farm in Whitstable. The OsHV-1 virus is, ironically enough for a disease which attacks a foodstuff that has for centuries been regarded as an aphrodisiac, a form of herpes.... Though the disease has no effect on humans, it has an 80 per cent death-rate among oysters and no known cure. "It is catastrophic," according to John Bayes, who runs a farm at the centre of the infected area, Seasalter Shellfish, which last year produced 14,000 tons of oysters worth 30m. He fears a "total wipe-out" of the significant investment he has made in seeding new oyster beds.... "All living organisms have herpes, some people say, but it only presents itself when they are in poor condition," says Richard Green.... "It's quite different from salmon farming where you introduce intensive amounts of feed and antibiotics into the water. All oysters need is good clean water. An oyster is only as good as the water in which it grows. An oyster is a barometer of water quality." ...


It's tough to use a barometer if it's dying.

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Fri, Sep 17, 2010
from CBC:
Oilsands deforming, poisoning fish, say scientists, fishermen
Fish with tumours, deformities and signs of disease or infection were collected from the lower Athabasca River, Athabasca Delta and Lake Athabasca, downstream from the oilsands. University of Alberta ecologist David Schindler says the National Pollutant Release Inventory, Canada's legislated, publicly accessible record of pollutant releases and transfers, is proof of the harm caused by oilsands' toxins going into the water. "Embryos of fish exposed to oilsands' water and sediment have very high rates of mortality, and among the survivors, there are very high rates of deformities," Schindler said. "I think most of you will agree they aren't things you'd like to find on your plate when you go to a restaurant."... First Nations fishermen from Fort Chipewyan and Fort MacKay say deformed fish are becoming more and more common. ...


What you call "deformed," I call "ready-2-eat!"

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Thu, Sep 16, 2010
from BBC:
Massive Louisiana fish deaths raise oil spill questions
Officials in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish have called for an investigation after finding hundreds of thousands of dead fish near the Mississippi River. The Plaquemines Parish Inland Waterways Strike Force claims oil was spotted in pictures of the dead fish. The group is now attempting to find if the BP oil spill was connected to the incident, known as a "fish kill". The cause of the fish kill has not been determined, but such events typically happen due to depleted oxygen levels.... "We can't continue to see these fish kills. We need some additional tests to find out why these fish are dying in large numbers. If it is low oxygen, we need to identify the cause," said Mr Nungesser.... The Plaquemines Parish area was heavily affected by the [BP] spill. ...


Let's not jump to conclusions. Massive fish die-offs like this happen naturally every.... um... sometimes!

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Tue, Sep 7, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Rising tide of acid mine water threatens Johannesburg
A toxic tide of acid mine water is rising steadily beneath Johannesburg which, if left unchecked, could cause earth tremors, power blackouts and even cancer among residents, experts have warned. The water is currently around 600 metres below the city's surface but is rising at a rate of between 0.4 and 0.9 metres per day, meaning it could overflow onto the streets in just under a year and a half. Because it would take 13 months to build a pumping station to clear the water, a legacy of 120 years of mining around Johannesburg, the state has just four months to find the millions of pounds needed to fund it. It is currently locked in negotiations with multinational mining firms who have profited from the area's rich natural resources over who should pay and how much. ...


I just don't think we'll be decreasing quarterly earnings to pay for your problem.

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from CBC:
Oilsands water toxins natural, monitor says
Pollutants in Alberta's Athabasca River system are natural, the joint oilsands industry-government group responsible for monitoring the region's water maintains. "We do find elevated levels of things in [our] study area," said Fred Kuzmic on behalf of the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), a joint industry-government group. "Those are generally associated with naturally occurring compounds." Kuzmic, who heads a research and reclamation team for Shell Albian Sands, was responding to a study [that] linked high levels of toxins to oilsands mining. Concentrations of pollutants like mercury and cadmium were higher downstream from oilsands mining than upstream, the researchers found. They did not find the same difference between water upstream and downstream of undeveloped oilsands deposits. ...


Sure, we found elevated levels of... carnage in the chicken coop. But blood and poultry intestines are associated with naturally occurring compounds.

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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from Globe and Mail:
Elevated levels of toxins found in Oil Sands' Athabasca River
A study set to be published on Monday has found elevated levels of mercury, lead and eleven other toxic elements in the oil sands' main fresh water source, the Athabasca River, refuting long-standing government and industry claims that water quality there hasn't been affected by oil sands development. The author of the study, University of Alberta biological scientist David Schindler, criticized the province and industry for an "absurd" system that obfuscates or fails to discover essential data about the river. "I think they [the findings] are significant enough that they should trigger some interest in a better monitoring program than we have," he said.... The study, to be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found the oil industry "releases" all 13 of the United States' Environmental Protection Agency's so-called priority pollutants, including mercury and lead, into the Athabasca at concentrations that are higher near industry during the summer. In winter, before a melt, only levels of mercury, nickel and thallium were elevated near industry Overall levels of seven elements - mercury, lead, cadmium, copper, nickel, silver and zinc - exceed those recommended by Alberta or Canada for the protection of aquatic life, it said, concluding the "oil sands industry substantially increases loadings" of toxins into the river. ...


Good thing that water goes away somewhere!

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Tue, Aug 24, 2010
from Alabama Press-Register, via DesdemonaDespair:
Mysterious material washing ashore in Alabama not oil, scientists say
Scientists are intrigued by the heavy sheen and persistent clouds of dingy brown water washing up in pockets from Perdido Pass to Petit Bois Island since July.... The residue is not oil, according to chemical analysis. But it probably used to be.... "It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen. It's got some hydrocarbons in it, but it does not match the oil from the Deepwater Horizon," Overton said, adding that he has received samples collected by federal officials in other places that appear similar. "I have to think it is biological in origin."... "At some level, somebody better define oil. This three letter word is starting to get pretty complicated," Graham said. "Are we looking at the remnants of oil, of oil that has been worked over by the microbial community? The microbes take what they can, then just leave the parts they can't eat. That's likely happening out there on a microscopic level. I'd speculate that's what we are seeing." ...


What comes out of you when there's something you can't digest?

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Thu, Aug 19, 2010
from Scientific American:
Silver Beware: Antimicrobial Nanoparticles in Soil May Harm Plant Life
A new study finds that the popular microbicidal silver nanomaterial negatively impacts the growth of plants as well as kills the soil microbes that sustain them.... When it is nanosize--between one and 100 nanometers, which is smaller than many viruses (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter)--silver is even more effective at killing microbes. This antimicrobial potency has prompted manufacturers to include silver nanoparticles in a wide variety of consumer products, such as odor-resistant clothing, hand sanitizers, water treatment systems and even microbe-proof teddy bears.... In order to examine silver nanoparticles' ecosystemic impact the researchers prepared series of outdoor "mesocosms"--intermediate-sized "fields" of plants growing in rubber tubs. They applied 0.2 kilograms of biosolid to each tub, amending the fertilizer with 11 milligrams of silver nanoparticles per tub. This concentration is within the range that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported finding in a recent survey of biosolids from water treatment plants.... The nanoparticles reduced the growth of one of the tested plant species by 22 percent as compared with silver-free biosolid treatment. Similarly, microbial biomass was reduced by 20 percent. Colman presented the findings August 4 at the 95th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. ...


Given the uncertainty, I suggest an uncontrolled experiment on the real environment.

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Tue, Aug 10, 2010
from New Scientist:
Early puberty in girls doubles in a decade
Twice as many white girls in the US reach puberty aged 7 as a decade ago. No one is sure why this should be the case, but obesity and exposure to chemicals that mimic the female hormone oestrogen are the prime suspects. The figures come from a study of 1200 girls in three US cities. Of the girls studied, 10.4 per cent of white 7-year-olds had breast development consistent with the onset of puberty, compared to 5 per cent in a 1997 study.... "To find the girls are starting breast development earlier and earlier is extremely concerning," she says. "To have that much change in such a short time, it has to be the environment." It appears that the proportion of black 8-year-olds entering puberty has dropped from 48 per cent in 1997 to 43 per cent today. Frank Biro of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, head of the new study, suggests this might be a sign that the numbers of black girls experiencing early puberty may finally be levelling off, while the percentage of white girls affected is still rising. ...


Who could have expected a flood of endocrine disruptors to disrupt endocrine systems?

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from New Scientist:
Oil spill dispersant could damage coral populations
Coral populations in the Gulf of Mexico could fall because of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster - from contact not with oil but with the dispersant that's supposed to get rid of it. Laboratory tests suggest that Corexit 9500A, the dispersant used by BP to tackle the largest offshore oil spill in US history, stops coral larvae latching onto the surfaces where they usually mature. The larvae, often the size of a pinhead, float in the sea before latching onto surfaces such as rocks on the sea floor, cliff faces or old oil rigs. It takes hundreds of years for a mature colony to develop.... Preliminary and as yet unpublished results show [coral] larvae in the oil-water mix are able to latch onto the discs, whereas those in beakers containing the dispersant remained suspended in the water.... "You should test each [coral species] individually, but of course we can't usually do that," says Steve Ross, a zoologist and deep-sea coral specialist at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. "I think we can assume that if there's a negative impact on one type of coral... there will be a negative impact on another." ...


But thank God there's no oil on the surface!

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Sun, Aug 1, 2010
from Huffington Post:
Scientists Find Evidence That Oil And Dispersant Mix Is Making Its Way Into The Foodchain
Marine biologists started finding orange blobs under the translucent shells of crab larvae in May, and have continued to find them "in almost all" of the larvae they collect, all the way from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Pensacola, Fla. -- more than 300 miles of coastline -- said Harriet Perry, a biologist with the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. And now, a team of researchers from Tulane University using infrared spectrometry to determine the chemical makeup of the blobs has detected the signature for Corexit, the dispersant BP used so widely in the Deepwater Horizon "It does appear that there is a Corexit sort of fingerprint in the blob samples that we ran," Erin Gray, a Tulane biologist, told the Huffington Post Thursday. Two independent tests are being run to confirm those findings, "so don't say that we're 100 percent sure yet," Gray said.... "There are so many animals that eat those little larvae," said Robert J. Diaz, a marine scientist at the College of William and Mary.... ...


... oh me oh my oh / son of a gun, there ain't no fun / on the bayou.

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Fri, Jul 30, 2010
from New York Times:
Oil Dispersants Shifting Ecosystem Impacts in Gulf, Scientists Warn
"This is a management decision, to use dispersants," College of William and Mary marine science professor Robert Diaz said yesterday. "It doesn't make the oil go away, it just puts it from one part of the ecosystem to another." That dispersed oil now hovers, diluted in the water column, posing a challenge for scientists to track and measure the subsea plumes. Mapping the long-term effects of the nearly 2 million gallons of dispersant used by BP PLC may well be equally difficult, given the array of unanswered questions that surround the products' rapid breakdown of oil droplets and their chronic toxicity. In other words, while dispersants may have helped spare the Gulf's birds, the chemicals are likely shifting dangers to other species lower in the food chain. The National Research Council described dispersant use in 2005 as "a conscious decision" to direct hydrocarbons to one part of the marine ecosystem, "decreasing the risk to water surface and shoreline habitats while increasing the potential risk to organisms in the water column and on the seafloor."... ...


BP wouldn't want to just make it seem gone. C'mon, they're a member of the planet too!

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Thu, Jul 29, 2010
from BBC:
Floods wash barrels of chemicals into China river
Rescue teams in north-east China are working to retrieve 3,000 barrels of chemicals washed into a major river, state media say. Severe floods washed the barrels, from two chemical storage facilities, into the Songhua river in Jilin city. Around 400 barrels have been recovered so far by workers at eight stations on the river. Water quality was being checked and no chemicals had yet been found in the water, state media said. Several parts of China have been hit by flooding in recent weeks, amid the worst seasonal rains in a decade. Elsewhere in Jilin, 30,000 people in the town of Kouqian were said to be trapped by floodwaters after a reservoir and two rivers burst its banks.... The remaining 3,000 contained flammable chemicals, it said. Water supplies in the city of 4.5 million people were briefly suspended and panic-buying reported as residents stocked up on bottled water. ...


Something tells me that any catastrophic flood would have flooded the river with lots of chemicals.

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Tue, Jul 6, 2010
from CNN, via DailyKos:
'Whale' oil barge sucks up whopping 32 gallons per minute
CHERNOFF (voice-over): That so-called product, crude oil floating in the sea, hasn't been concentrated enough according to BP for "A Whale" to skim effectively, even though it appears the ship has been surrounded by pools of oil just a few miles from the gusher. WILCOX: We've got oil coming up from over a mile below the surface. And it doesn't always come up in one spot. CHERNOFF: "A Whale" may still prove itself, but the vessel will have to do so before BP officially hires it to join the cleanup fleet. And if that's to happen, the sea will need to cooperate. HANK GARCIA (BP): When you've got seas, six foot, eight-foot seas, it's not going to lend itself to a good capture of the oil. CHERNOFF: As crude continues gushing into the gulf, skimming has been scant. Only 1,100 barrels of oil were skimmed in a 24-hour period, from Sunday to Monday, less than the amount pouring out of the blown-out well in an hour using the most conservative estimate. ...


The conditions weren't ideal.

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Fri, Jul 2, 2010
from Imperial College, via EurekAlert:
Oil spills raise arsenic levels in the ocean, says new research
Oil spills can increase levels of toxic arsenic in the ocean, creating an additional long-term threat to the marine ecosystem, according to research published today in the journal Water Research. Arsenic is a poisonous chemical element found in minerals and it is present in oil. High levels of arsenic in seawater can enable the toxin to enter the food chain. It can disrupt the photosynthesis process in marine plants and increase the chances of genetic alterations that can cause birth defects and behavioural changes in aquatic life. It can also kill animals such as birds that feed on sea creatures affected by arsenic.... However, the real danger lies in arsenic's ability to accumulate, which means that each subsequent spill raises the levels of this pollutant in seawater. Our study is a timely reminder that oil spills could create a toxic ticking time bomb, which could threaten the fabric of the marine ecosystem in the future." ...


That "threatened fabric" might be called Arsenic 'n' Oil Lace?

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Fri, Jun 25, 2010
from IRIN:
Millions of Bangladeshis poisoned by arsenic-laced water
A fifth of all deaths in Bangladesh are linked to drinking water contaminated by arsenic, while up to 77 million people - half the population - have been chronically exposed to the poisonous metalloid, according to a new study published in the Lancet medical journal. Researchers tracked 12,000 people over a period of 10 years, taking urine samples every two years and analysing water from 6,000 wells to detect arsenic, confirming what the World Health Organization warned of a decade ago when it predicted "a major increase in the number of cases of diseases caused by arsenic if the population continues to drink arsenic-contaminated water". A decades-old programme of digging tube wells to reach what was thought to be clean drinking water is being cited as the cause of the mass poisoning, says the report ...


The water of life turns out to have unintended consequences.

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Wed, Jun 23, 2010
from Huffington Post:
Oil Spill Forces Animals To Flee To Shallow Water Off Coast, Scientists Warn Of 'Mass Die-Off'
Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water just off the Florida coast. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into marshes, never to be seen again. Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some strange phenomena. Fish and other wildlife seem to be fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering in cleaner waters along the coast in a trend that some researchers see as a potentially troubling sign. The animals' presence close to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted, and the crowding could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen. Also, the animals could easily be devoured by predators.... Researchers say there are several reasons for the relatively small death toll: The vast nature of the spill means scientists are able to locate only a small fraction of the dead animals.... "Their ability to avoid it may be limited in the long term, especially if in near-shore refuges they're crowding in close to shore, and oil continues to come in. At some point they'll get trapped," said Crowder, expert in marine ecology and fisheries. "It could lead to die-offs." ...


It's as if they think there's some sort of Ark waiting to take them out of the deluge.

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Tue, Jun 22, 2010
from CBC:
Scientist apologizes to oilsands researchers
A scientist who works for the Alberta government has apologized to two scientists for calling their research "a lie." Dr. Preston McEachern, an environmental effects biologist who works for the government of Alberta, issued a letter of apology and retraction to Kevin Timoney, a researcher with Treeline Ecological Research, and Peter Lee, executive director with Global Forest Watch Canada. Timoney's and Lee's lawyer had contacted him after he said in a presentation at the University of Alberta in March that the two "chose to remove data" from a study about the environmental impact of the oilsands, and called their findings a "lie." "You did not lie," McEachern wrote. "You did not choose to remove data from your study. You did not actually remove data from 1985, 2003 and 2004. The statements in my presentation that you did these things were false and I regret very much that I made these statements. I unequivocally retract them."... Timoney and Lee published the study "Does the Alberta Tar Sands Industry Pollute? The Scientific Evidence," which suggested the physical and ecological changes that result from oilsands industrial activities are detectable. One of the conclusions in the study is that the ecological and health effects of these activities deserve immediate and systematic study.... "The government of Alberta seems more concerned about the reputation of the tarsands industry than it is about learning about the destructive and dangerous impacts this industry has." ...


With such a controversial conclusion -- "more study is needed" -- it's no surprise that the tar sands industry freaked.

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Tue, Jun 15, 2010
from Seattle PI, via DesdemonaDespair:
'Surprisingly large amount of microplastics in the environment'
While scientists have documented the effects of large plastic flotsam in the oceans for decades - turtles trapped in fishing nets, albatrosses swallowing plastic cigarette lighters - very little research has focused on what happens when those bigger pieces break down into tiny specks, called microplastics.... Baker said microscopic fragments are floating in the ocean and washing up on shores, but the exact consequences for marine organisms are still unknown. His project is developing methods to measure how much microplastics are in seawater and sediments, as a first step to answering those questions. They're sampling the waters of Puget Sound and using citizen scientists to help collect plastics that wash up on beaches.... "What's the impact? Frankly, we have no idea," said Baker, science director of the new Center for Urban Waters in Tacoma. "The one thing we know for sure is that it doesn't break down." ...


If they don't break down, Mr. SmartyPants, then how did they become microplastics?

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Sun, May 23, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
BP refuses EPA order to switch to less-toxic oil dispersant
BP has rebuffed demands from government officials and environmentalists to use a less-toxic dispersant to break up the oil from its massive offshore spill, saying that the chemical product it is now using continues to be "the best option for subsea application." On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the London-based company 72 hours to replace the dispersant Corexit 9500 or to describe in detail why other dispersants fail to meet environmental standards. The agency on Saturday released a 12-page document from BP, representing only a portion of the company's full response. Along with several dispersant manufacturers, BP claimed that releasing its full evaluation of alternatives would violate its legal right to keep confidential business information private.... Dispersants break oil into droplets that decompose more quickly. But scientists worry that extensive use of the chemicals in the BP spill is increasing marine life's exposure to the toxins in oil. But that alternative product, Sea Brat #4, according to BP, contains a chemical that could degrade into an endocrine disruptor, a substance that creates hormonal changes in living creatures, and could persist in the environment for years. ...


In America, we call refusal on those grounds "executive privilege."

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Thu, May 20, 2010
from AP, via DesdemonaDespair:
Whale shark, world's biggest fish, very vulnerable to oil spill
The world's biggest fish may be highly vulnerable to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and one of its favorite feeding grounds is in the area of the spill. Whale sharks feed on the surface, sucking plankton, fish eggs and small fish into their mouths. Surface oil could clog the cartilage filter pads that direct food to the back of their throat, and could coat their gills while they feed, said Eric Hoffmayer, a researcher at the University of Southern Mississippi who has been studying whale sharks in the northern Gulf since 2002. "If it did get their gills coated, I can only imagine they would suffocate relatively quickly," he said. More than one-third of all whale shark sightings in the northern Gulf since 2002 have been off the mouth of the Mississippi River, Hoffmayer said. "The mouth of the river is the primary area where these things show up. Year after year after year," he said. "This is a prime feeding area for them." ...


Just one more nomenclature confusion removed from our lexicon!

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Sat, May 15, 2010
from PhysOrg.com:
Rivers closest to Toronto have highest concentrations of PCBs, other chemicals: study
A University of Toronto study of the concentrations of PCBs and other chemicals in the rivers running into Lake Ontario reveals significantly higher concentrations in areas closest to the centre of Toronto, an indication of the profound effects the city has on water quality.... The team looked specifically at concentrations of chemicals that have been strongly associated with human health problems: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a banned industrial chemical from the 1970s; polycyclic musks, a common fragrance compound used in a range of personal care products; polybrominated diphenyl ethers, a recently banned flame retardant; and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a toxic byproduct of fossil fuel combustion in the rivers. They also measured the concentration of these chemicals in air, soil and rain. "In the Humber River watershed we saw an almost 100-fold increase in concentrations of polycyclic musks in the river water in the downtown area around Old Mill compared with parts of the river north of the city," said Matthew Robson, a research fellow in the Department of Geography and Program in Planning. "We saw similar increases in concentrations for all of the other chemicals in air, rain and soil...." ...


I'm sure Milwaukee is different. And Des Moines. Or LA. Or Houston. Or Nairobi! Those silly Canadians.

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Wed, May 12, 2010
from HousingWatch:
Gulf Coast Real Estate Threatened by Oil Spill
Five years after the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, real estate players are predicting that BP's oil spill has the potential to hinder the Gulf Coast more severely than that epic storm. "This will be 100 times worse," says Christine Weber, a real estate agent near Biloxi, Miss., who says she can already smell the fumes from her house five miles from the shoreline. "It is not something that can be cleaned up like a hurricane where you can replace a roof. You can't remove oil from the sand or the water."... "We won't have anything around here," she adds. "It will be desolate."... It is still not possible to really know for sure just how costly this debacle will prove to be to both the region's and nation's economy: It is a tragedy that is still very much unfolding--or, in this case, flowing. Often, initial guesstimates of economic damage from natural (or man made) disasters prove to be wildly overstated. But why do I have a feeling that, in this case, the initial estimates will prove to be largely understated? ...


On the bright side, it saves the hassle of dealing with sea level rise.

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Sat, May 8, 2010
from ThinkProgress:
Gulf Coast Wildlife: 'All Bets Are Off'
As Nancy Rabalais, a scientist who heads the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, said, "The magnitude and the potential for ecological damage is probably more great than anything we've ever seen in the Gulf of Mexico."... ThinkProgress' Brad Johnson was blogging from the Gulf Coast and spoke with Gulf Coast marine scientists who all agreed that the "unfolding oil disaster could mean devastation beyond human comprehension" and "all bets are off."... "I can't imagine we're not going to have some mass casualties" among birds in the Gulf region, predicted Michael Parr of the American Bird Conservancy.... At least 38 endangered sea turtles "have washed up dead on beaches along the Gulf of Mexico,"... Comyns told Johnson that he found blue fin tuna larvae "right in the vicinity" of the oil rig's discharge. Even the dispersant BP is using -- Corexit 9500 -- has a "toxicity to early life stages of fish, crustaceans and mollusks" four times greater than petroleum.... Officials shut down additional fishing grounds, effectively putting out of work hundreds more in an industry that is the lifeblood of the region, as well as the Breton National Wildlife Sanctuary. Out in the gulf, birds dove into oily water, dolphins coughed and sharks swam in weird patterns, said marine specialists who have been out on the water tracking the disaster." ...


Thank you, BP, for using the lowest bidder and thereby saving each of us a trillionth of a cent.

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Wed, May 5, 2010
from Freakanomics author Dubner, in the NYT:
Will the Gulf Oil Spill Be This Generation's Three Mile Island?
Does anyone have the sense that the recent BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico may come to be seen as a Three Mile Island moment, at least for the prospects of U.S. offshore drilling? President Obama has called the spill a "potentially unprecedented environmental disaster" -- just weeks after he endorsed an increase in offshore drilling, to the deep chagrin of a broad swath of his supporters and environmentalists.... That said, could the Gulf disaster be just the kind of tragic, visible, easy-to-comprehend event that crystallizes the already-growing rush to de-petroleum our economy? As with TMI, it won't do much to change the facts on the ground about how energy is made. But as we've seen before, public sentiment can generate an awful lot of energy on its own, for better or worse. ...


I'm afraid TMI will be that generation's "proto-Deepwater Horizon event."

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Wed, Apr 28, 2010
from GOOD:
On Fracking and Human Folly
The [Columbia Natural Gas] man described how they would get through the Devonian shale beneath Ingraffea's 70 acres using a method called hydraulic fracturing, and that it was very safe and the impact on the surface of his land would be minimal. Ingraffea didn't buy the woods with the small trout stream for the Devonian shale or natural gas reserves, so he was surprised--but not for the reasons the man at his door that day might have thought. Ingraffea has his Ph.D. in rock fracture mechanics and knows all about Devonion shale. He also knows all about hydraulic fracturing: He's been teaching courses on fracture mechanics at Cornell since 1977.... When fracking knocked on his front door that day, he knew it was also coming to his neighbors' doors, to his whole community around Ithaca. "I looked at my situation and said: Crap, I know a lot about what's going on here and I know that what's being told to the public is not the complete story. If I don't say something, I'm just like one of my bad examples." So, like a true professor, he made a PowerPoint lecture about it. In fracking, the actual splitting of the rock is only one part of a very large, very complex process. Ingraffea uses that word throughout his lecture: "large" (also "big," "huge," "immense," "giant"). Focusing on the fracking itself to determine the safety of a given mining operation, he says, is like looking at a generator to find out if an engine is good or bad. Yeah, it's a key part of the process, but it's also just that: one part of a very (you guessed it) big process. In order to hydraulically fracture, a company has to use certain chemicals--hydrochloric and citric acid, ammonium persulfate, dimethylformamide, petroleum distillate, potassium chloride..... Rather, Ingraffea suggests we use natural gas as a way to wean ourselves off coal, the dirtiest fuel we burn. But this, he says, points to the largest myth of all, the myth that "somebody's in control." We have, he says, "No national energy strategy, no oversight to maintain the standard of living while decreasing our impact on the environment, which should be the cornerstone of any energy policy." ...


I'm reasonably sure the Holy Ghost of the Invisible Hand is "in control."

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Sun, Apr 25, 2010
from Sacramento Bee:
Bee exclusive: Livestock waste found to foul Sierra waters
...parts of the high Sierra are not nearly as pristine as they look. Nowhere is the water dirtier, [Robert Derlet] discovered, than on U.S. Forest Service land, including wilderness areas, where beef cattle and commercial pack stock - horses and mules - graze during the summer months. There, bacterial contamination was easily high enough to sicken hikers with Giardia, E. coli and other diseases. In places, slimy, pea-green algae also blossomed in the bacteria-laden water. That contrast has prompted Derlet and Charles Goldman, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Research Center, to mount a publicity campaign calling for dramatic management change in the Sierra. Cattle, they say, should be moved to lower elevations. And Forest Service areas where they now graze should be turned into national parks. "At one time, cattle were important for developing civilization here," said Derlet. "But now, with 40 million people in California, the Sierra is not for cattle. It's for water. We need water more than Big Macs." ...


I call that... McWisdom.

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Wed, Apr 21, 2010
from Great Falls Tribune:
FWP: Monsanto knew paint was harmful
Property owners are teaming with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to try to force Monsanto Chemical Co. to pay millions to clean up chemicals contaminating a blue-ribbon trout stream here, but the company says the contamination is FWP's fault. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, a long-lasting pollutant, have tainted waters downstream from the Big Spring Trout Hatchery five miles south of here. The PCBs were contained in the paint FWP used since the 1960s to paint raceways at the hatchery. Paint chips eventually made it into the creek, contaminating fish downstream. The hatchery's raceways are concrete, rectangular-shaped pools where fish are reared... Monsanto attorney Thomas Carney disputed Oaas' allegations. He also said Monsanto "didn't have anything to do with putting paint chips in to the creek." ...


We call that The Monsanto Clause.

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Wed, Apr 21, 2010
from Associated Press:
International Court of Justice backs paper mill, says Uruguay and Argentina must cooperate
A U.N. court rejected Argentina's claims Tuesday that a Uruguayan pulp mill is pumping dangerous pollution into the river on their mutual border, angering Argentine protesters who have waged a three-year campaign against the mill. The dispute over the mills has soured normally friendly relations between the countries, with Argentine protesters blockading a key bridge over the river. Uruguayans hoped that the court ruling would lead quickly to the reopening of the international bridge between Guayleguachu, Argentina, and Fray Bentos, Uruguay. But activists blocking the bridge Tuesday reacted angrily to the verdict and vowed not to give up their fight, raising the possibility of a violent confrontation if Argentine police intervene. Watching on a big screen beside their roadblock, many shouted and cried, complaining that the court let them down. ...


Father, why have you forsaken us?

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Mon, Apr 19, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Modified plant clears up deadly cyanobacteria water toxin
A team at St George's Medical School, part of the UK-based University of London, has modified tobacco plants to secrete antibodies from the roots that then bind to microcystin-LR -- the most common cyanobacteria toxin in water -- rendering it harmless. "A toxin that is bound to antibodies should be easier to remove from the environment and also is likely to be less harmful," said Pascal Drake, a biotechnology researcher at St George's Centre for Infection. The antibodies could also be used in simple and cheap tests to see if toxins are present in water supplies, he said. Tobacco plants, grown hydroponically in the lab, were chosen for the first phase of this research, reported last month (March) in The FASEB Journal, because "they are easy to work with and genetically engineer", said Drake. The next step will be to try and modify aquatic plants, which will be more suitable for large-scale treatment of water. Drake anticipated that this "wouldn't be too problematic". ...


Antibody beautiful. Or just Anti-Body, depending.

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Thu, Apr 8, 2010
from Bloomberg:
Kalamazoo Cleanup Delayed After Lyondell Bankruptcy
Environmentalist Jeff Spoelstra says an 80-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River that runs through toxin-laced land in southwestern Michigan was on its way to becoming safe again. The area, once home to Potawatomi Indians and Dutch celery farmers, was finally on the verge of getting cleaned up. Then, in January 2009, Lyondell Chemical Co. filed for bankruptcy protection. The Houston-based petrochemical giant argued in court that as it reorganized, it could avoid what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said were about $2.5 billion in cleanup costs for the river, which flows into Lake Michigan, and another $2.5 billion in liabilities at 10 other polluted spots across the country.... If a company has to pay the billions the U.S. seeks for cleanups, its debt investors can end up getting pennies on the dollar. If the decision goes the other way, the costs can fall on taxpayers. "It's a no-win situation," says Evan D. Flaschen, a bankruptcy lawyer at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, who isn't involved in cases mentioned in this story. "If the debtor can walk, the toxins keep boiling, often getting worse with time. If the debtor has to pay billions for a cleanup, they might go out of business, losing thousands of jobs. Pick your poison."... Companies in bankruptcy can argue that environmental liabilities are just like other claims -- and that they can ditch them to get a fresh start.... "It's the most-maddening thing," McKinney says. "It's the community that's going to lose." ...


That smell of toxic bullshit? Lyondell says it "smells like money."

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Mon, Apr 5, 2010
from Guardian:
BP fights to limit controls on shale gas drilling
BP is lobbying on Capitol Hill against a federal US environmental agency being given jurisdiction over the use of a controversial method of extracting gas from shale deposits, ahead of an important meeting this week. The London-based oil company wants decisions on drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing - which uses high-pressure liquids to force fissures - to be taken at state level, rather than being left to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose specialist committee meets on Wednesday to discuss its concerns. BP is also opposed to the public disclosure of the chemicals used in fracturing, on the basis that the information is commercially sensitive - something that will anger environmentalists, who are highly suspicious of the process. ...


This is no frackin' surprise.

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Mon, Mar 29, 2010
from HuffingtonPost:
EPA Launching Major Investigation Into BPA
The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it will investigate the impact of the chemical Bisphenol-A on the U.S. water supply and other parts of the environment. Federal regulators have been ramping up their scrutiny of the controversial plastic-hardener at the behest of scientists and activists who say it can interfere with infant growth and development. The EPA said in a statement it will begin measuring levels of BPA in drinking and ground water. More than 1 million pounds of BPA are released into the environment each year, according to the agency.... Dozens of animal studies have linked the chemical to abnormal growths and cancerous tumors, but those results have never been confirmed in humans. The FDA and has set aside $30 million to study BPA's safety over the next 18 to 24 months. ...


I thank the heavens every day that humans aren't animals.

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Wed, Mar 24, 2010
from Wired:
Chemical From Plastic Water Bottles Found Throughout Oceans
A survey of 200 sites in 20 countries around the world has found that bisphenol A, a synthetic compound that mimics estrogen and is linked to developmental disorders, is ubiquitous in Earth's oceans. Bisphenol A, or BPA, is found mostly in shatter-proof plastics and epoxy resins. Most people have trace amounts in their bodies, likely absorbed from food containers. Its hormone-mimicking properties make it a potent endocrine system disruptor. In recent years, scientists have moved from studying BPA's damaging effects in laboratory animals to linking it to heart disease, sterility and altered childhood development in humans. In their new findings, they showed that BPA-containing hard plastics can break down too, and found BPA in ocean water and sand at concentrations ranging from .01 to .50 parts per million. ...


This story seems to imply that humans have some responsibility. What about the natural variation of BPA in the ocean?

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Wed, Mar 24, 2010
from Laura Bassett, via HuffingtonPost:
Even The Cows Have Cancer: EPA Weighs Tougher Regulation of Toxic Coal Ash
Young has no doubt about what she believes is causing all the cancer: coal. For the past 10 years she's lived in Meigs County, Ohio, home to four coal-fired power plants within an 11-mile radius, and has become an environmental activist. "There isn't a house on this road that hasn't been touched by cancer... I had melanoma and I currently have two more precancerous conditions for breast and thyroid cancer, none of which are in my family," said Young, 47. "My dog died of cancer, my best friend died of cancer and her dog died of lymphoma. I just gave up a dog because I couldn't afford to take him into the vet. He was getting lumps on him."... John Wathen, an environmental investigator and clean water advocate for Perry County, says the toxic ash is being very sloppily handled at its new site. "Literally within 100 feet of people's homes, they're dumping coal ash on the ground, allowing it to blow around," Wathen said.... Wathen said that anyone who claims that coal waste is non-hazardous hasn't had to stand near it. "I'm a healthy man and I literally break down and throw up every time I'm exposed to it," he said. ...


But it's only poor people who live near coal ash, right? Do they count as much?

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Tue, Mar 23, 2010
from Reuters, via DesdemonaDespair:
Uganda says pollution of Lake Victoria worsening
Pollution in parts of Lake Victoria is worsening so fast that soon it may be impossible to treat its waters enough to provide drinking water for the Ugandan capital, a senior official said Monday. The lake, east Africa's largest by area, also supplies water to millions in neighboring Kenya and Tanzania, and supports fishing communities in all three countries.... "The water has become so thick from effluent that is being discharged directly into the lake because the wetlands that used to filter it have all been destroyed by developers." Fisheries experts say heavy concentrations of pollutants are killing certain fish species. "As more algal blooms, phosphates, nitrates, heavy metals and fecal matter all pile into the lake, it's going to be harder and harder to clean the water," Sawula said. ...


The Queen Mum would not be pleased.

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Mon, Mar 22, 2010
from Reuters:
Waste water kills mlns of children, pollutes sea
Human beings are flushing millions of tonnes of solid waste into rivers and oceans every day, poisoning marine life and spreading diseases that kill millions of children annually, the U.N. said on Monday. "The sheer scale of dirty water means more people now die from contaminated and polluted water than from all forms of violence including wars," the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said. In a report entitled "Sick Water" for World Water Day, UNEP said the two million tonnes of waste, which contaminates over two billion tonnes of water daily, had left huge "dead zones" that choke coral reefs and fish. It consists mostly of sewage, industrial pollution, pesticides from agriculture and animal waste ...


This is where scatology meets eschatology.

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Fri, Mar 19, 2010
from Columbia, via EurekAlert:
Pesticide chlorpyrifos is linked to childhood developmental delays
Exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos--which is banned for use in U.S. households but is still widely used throughout the agricultural industry--is associated with early childhood developmental delays, according to a study... "Although this pesticide has been banned for residential use in the United States, chlorpyrifos and other organophosphorus insecticides are still commonly used for a variety of agricultural purposes," said study co-author Virginia Rauh, ScD, professor of clinical population and family health, and co-deputy director for the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. "We hope that the results of this study, further demonstrating the neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos under a range of community conditions, may inform public health professionals and policy-makers about the potential hazards of exposure to this chemical for pregnant women and young children." ...


Just think how stupid the pests are getting!

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Tue, Mar 9, 2010
from AP, via PhysOrg.com:
GE: Limit PCB contamination during Hudson dredging
General Electric Co. on Monday proposed a halting further dredging of the Hudson River if PCBs churned up by the work spread too much pollution downriver during the second phase of an ongoing cleanup. GE made the proposal as the company and the federal Environmental Protection Agency were set to release separate reports assessing the dredging in 2009 of PCB "hot spots" north of Albany. The EPA had yet to release its report Monday afternoon, but the agency has been much more upbeat in its assessments of the dredging than GE, which is paying for the cleanup.... Crews working the river last summer found contamination of the river bed was deeper than expected and the work took longer. GE said PCBs kicked up into the water during dredging presented a serious problem. So the company proposed setting a "hard cap" on the amount of PCBs that would be allowed to flow downstream during Phase 2. Crews would start by targeting the contaminated areas that otherwise would be most likely to pollute fish downriver. "(T)o send more PCBs downriver than would happen without dredging eliminates the benefits of the remedy identified by EPA," the GE report said.... PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are considered probable carcinogens. GE plants in Fort Edward and neighboring Hudson Falls discharged wastewater containing PCBs for decades before the lubricant and coolant was banned in 1977. ...


PCBs -- our favorite "forever" toxin.

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Wed, Mar 3, 2010
from Gatehouse News Service, via Winchester Star:
Markey issues statement on safe drinking water
U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Energy and Environment Subcommittee and the author of a bill to establish a federal ban on the chemical Bisphenol A in all food and beverage containers, issued the following statement recently at a hearing titled "Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Drinking Water: Risks to Human Health and the Environment."... "Lately, not a day goes by where the public is not reminded of the presence of toxic chemicals in the air we breathe and the water we drink, and the potential harmful effects that these chemicals can have on public health and the environment. "Just last week a local newspaper warned that the Potomac River and other mid-Atlantic rivers are laced with toxins that may be responsible for bizarre deformities in fish, frogs and other wildlife that come in contact with the contaminated water. This includes male fish that have begun growing female sexual organs, and female fish that can no longer reproduce. "W.C. Fields once said, 'I never drink water because of the disgusting things fish do in it.'..." ...


A deformed little chickadee told me.

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Tue, Mar 2, 2010
from Purdue, via EurekAlert:
Popular nanoparticle causes toxicity in fish, study shows
... [N]anosilver suspended in solution proved toxic and even lethal to the minnows. When the nanosilver was allowed to settle, the solution became several times less toxic but still caused malformations in the minnows. "Silver nitrate is a lot more toxic than nanosilver, but when nanosilver was sonicated, or suspended, its toxicity increased tenfold," said Maria Sepulveda, an assistant professor of forestry and natural resources whose findings were published in the journal Ecotoxicology. "There is reason to be concerned."... "These nanosilver particles are so small they are able to cross the egg membranes and move into the fish embryos in less than a day," Sepulveda said. "They had a potentially high dose of silver in them." ...


Only a really tiny reason to be concerned!

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Mon, Mar 1, 2010
from New York Times:
Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Foiling EPA
Thousands of the nation's largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act's reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators. As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising. Companies that have spilled oil, carcinogens and dangerous bacteria into lakes, rivers and other waters are not being prosecuted, according to Environmental Protection Agency regulators working on those cases, who estimate that more than 1,500 major pollution investigations have been discontinued or shelved in the last four years. ...


Supreme fiddling while Home turns.

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Sat, Feb 27, 2010
from Science, via DesdemonaDespair:
Pacific Northwest 'dead zone' hypoxic events unprecedented
A review of all available ocean data records concludes that the low-oxygen events which have plagued the Pacific Northwest coast since 2002 are unprecedented in the five decades prior to that, and may well be linked to the stronger, persistent winds that are expected to occur with global warming. In a new study to be published Friday in the journal Science, researchers from Oregon State University outline a "potential for rapid reorganization" in basic marine ecosystems and the climatic forces that drive them, and suggest that these low-oxygen, or "hypoxic" events are now more likely to be the rule rather than the exception. "In this part of the marine environment, we may have crossed a tipping point," said Jane Lubchenco... The rapid and disturbing shift of ocean conditions in what has traditionally been one of the world's more productive marine areas -- what's called the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem -- has garnered much attention in recent years, also raising questions about whether it has happened before, and what is causing it.... "At this point, Id be surprised if this trend towards hypoxic events didnt continue," Barth said... ...


Maybe the fish are just hyperventilating and using up the oxygen.

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Fri, Feb 26, 2010
from Oregon Environmental News:
Warning: Fish from Columbia Slough tainted with PCBs, heavy metals
A swarm of fish inhabit the body of water from the mouth of Fairview Lake to the Willamette River and many of them are tainted with toxins, said Ken Kauffman, an environmental health specialist. Tests have turned up pesticide residuals, chlordane, mercury and heavy metals in the fish that live in the slough, including carp, black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass and sunfish. But the biggest threat comes from polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, which are long-lasting chemicals that can harm a babys brain or nervous system. Health officials are most concerned about children and infants, along with pregnant women and women who could become pregnant. ...


I love that special "chlordane tang" flavor.

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Fri, Feb 26, 2010
from Barnstable Patriot:
Cape faces 'daunting challenges' on household chemicals in groundwater
The problem of pharmaceutical and personal care product (PPCP) pollution is an issue that is especially dangerous to Cape Cod's water supply, said Dr. Laurel Schaider, staff scientist at the Silent Spring Institute. The Cape's unique combination of reliance on septic systems and almost exclusive use of groundwater, she said, makes it easier for contaminants of concern (COCs) to infiltrate wastewater. Silent Spring Institute maintains a list of potentially hazardous chemicals that includes human and pet prescriptions, cosmetics, caffeine and "endocrine disruptors" such as hormones. In 2005, said Schaider, a U.S. Geological Survey study found 13 such chemicals in Cape groundwater supplies, including antibiotics, a dry-cleaning solvent, an anti-convulsant prescription and acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. "Everything that goes down your drains and your toilets, that's in the wastewater," she explained. ...


I thought when I flushed, it stopped existing.

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Thu, Feb 25, 2010
from FASAB, via EurekAlert:
Why BPA leached from 'safe' plastics may damage health of female offspring
New research published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) suggests that exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy leads to epigenetic changes that may cause permanent reproduction problems for female offspring. BPA, a common component of plastics used to contain food, is a type of estrogen that is ubiquitous in the environment.... BPA has been widely used in plastics and other materials. Examples include use in water bottles, baby bottles, epoxy resins used to coat food cans, and dental sealants.... "We need to better identify the effects of environmental contaminants on not just crude measures such as birth defects, but also their effect in causing more subtle developmental errors."... These epigenetic changes caused the mice to over-respond to estrogen throughout adulthood, long after the BPA exposure. This suggests that early exposure to BPA genetically "programmed" the uterus to be hyper-responsive to estrogen. Extreme estrogen sensitivity can lead to fertility problems, advanced puberty, altered mammary development and reproductive function, as well as a variety of hormone-related cancers. BPA has been widely used in plastics and other materials. Examples include use in water bottles, baby bottles, epoxy resins used to coat food cans, and dental sealants. ...


Are you implying that one can extrapolate that effect to other mammals?

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Thu, Feb 25, 2010
from University of Iowa, via EurekAlert:
UIowa study measures levels of PCBs flowing from Indiana canal to air and water
"We have analyzed PCBs in surficial sediment, water, suspended particles and air and examined the potential for chemical movement in the harbor system," Hornbuckle said. "We have shown that the system is currently a significant source of PCBs to the air and to Lake Michigan, even under quiescent conditions."... "We were not surprised to discover that PCBs were continuously emitted from the sediments of the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal. However, without our study, there was no way to determine how much was being released. Now we better understand the magnitude of the PCB release to Lake Michigan and to the air over the harbor and canal," Hornbuckle said. "We have found that this tributary releases more PCBs to Lake Michigan than any other known direct discharge of PCBs to the lake." ...


PCBs -- the gift that just keeps on giving.

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Wed, Feb 24, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
New floating garbage patch found in Atlantic Ocean
Researchers have found a high concentration of plastic debris is floating in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Caribbean, months after concerns were raised over a vast patch of rubbish floating in the Pacific Ocean. The study's principal investigator said that the findings were based on more than 64,000 tiny bits of plastic collected over more than 22 years by Sea Education Association undergraduates. Researchers believe surface currents carry the debris to the area between 22 and 38 degrees north latitude and that waves also deliver trash to a spot between Hawaii and California known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.... The Great Pacific Garbage patch was originally discovered in 1997 by Captain Charles Moore. Roughtly the size of Texas, the patch is characterised by exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastic, chemical sludge, and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. ...


Now kids -- no competing. You're both big enough as it is.

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Sat, Feb 20, 2010
from Dredging Today, via DesdemonaDespair:
A more toxic picture of TVA coal ash spill, cleanup works estimated at $1 billion
The disastrous coal ash spill that occurred a year ago at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston power plant in eastern Tennessee dumped a whopping 2.66 million pounds of 10 toxic pollutants into the nearby Emory and Clinch rivers -- more than all the surface-water discharges from all U.S. power plants in 2007. That's one of the findings of a new report from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project based on toxics release inventory data filed by TVA with the Environmental Protection Agency. The 10 pollutants are arsenic, barium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, vanadium and zinc -- chemicals that have been linked to cancer, neurological disorders and other serious health problems. The report's release came in time for the hearing scheduled for today by the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment on the progress of the ash spill's cleanup. "We believe the data makes a very strong case for EPA action on coal ash ponds," EIP Director Eric Schaeffer said during a telephone press conference held yesterday to announce the findings. ...


Psst. TVA -- just call it an "act of God" and you won't have to pay for it.

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Thu, Feb 18, 2010
from New York Daily News:
Probers unearth toxin shock in Greenpoint groundwater
Investigators probing a toxic underground chemical plume in Greenpoint have discovered groundwater with levels of a cancer-causing cleaning solvent more than 14 million times the state standard. "We got hit in the face with it before we got our gear on," said state Department of Environmental Conservation project manager David Harrington, adding that water contaminated with PCE splashed out while his crew was doing repair work. "It smelled like White-Out times a thousand with a lot of sugar thrown in for a couple seconds until my nasal lining burned out," he said. "That's pure product." The contamination hot spot at the corner of Norman and Kingsland Aves. was the site of the now-shuttered Spic and Span drycleaners, one of five businesses accused of dumping the solvents PCE and TCE.... A study released by the National Academy of Sciences last week found that PCE can cause cancer. It also has been linked to birth defects and infertility. The groundwater was 73 percent PCE - more than 14 million times the state standard of 5 parts per billion. ...


Fourteen million times the state standard must be a record.

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Wed, Feb 17, 2010
from CBC:
Fundy lobster deaths blamed on pesticide
Dead lobsters first appeared last November in Grand Manan's Seal Cove, and five days later a fisherman 50 kilometres away in Pocologan found more dead lobsters in his traps. Soon after that discovery, another 816 kilograms of weak or dead lobster were discovered in Deer Island's Fairhaven Harbour. "I've been around lobsters all my life. And I never seen lobsters in that state," said fisherman Reid Brown said. Environment Canada has launched two investigations into the lobster kills on Grand Manan and Deer Island. Tests found that the lobsters were exposed to Cypermethrin, a pesticide that's illegal to use in marine environments and toxic to lobsters. Environment Canada found no evidence about how the pesticide got into the Bay of Fundy. There are few if any farms near the Fundy coast that could be a source for the Cypermethrin found in the bay. ...


Look on the bright side: the lobsters will be pest-free!

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Fri, Feb 12, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
China considering green tax as extent of pollution is revealed
The national survey, which took 570,000 staff two years to complete, also revealed China's intensive farming practices were almost equally to blame for pollution as its many factories and coal-fired power stations. Announcing the results of China's first official nationwide pollution survey China's vice minister of environmental protection, Zhang Lijun, said that ministries were now studying the possibility of environmental taxes on polluters.... Pollution has become a major source of discontent and social unrest in China with almost daily protests about lead and other chemical pollution, fumes from rubbish incinerators and run-off from landfill sites. ...


Clearly, there's no Chinese Tea Party.

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Mon, Feb 1, 2010
from Mongabay:
Russian police raid environmental group working to protect Lake Baikal
Russian police have raided the Baikal Environmental Wave organization reports the Moscow Times. Police seized several computers, citing the reason for the raid to uncover the use of unlicensed software. A member of the group, however, linked the raid to its public stance against reopening the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mills on Lake Baikal, which closed due to pollution concerns two years ago. "All of our programs are licensed. They confiscated the computers without checking the license documents, saying they didn't have experts to look at them," Galina Kulebyakina, a member of Baikal Environmental Wave, told The Moscow Times. The re-opening of the mills was recently announced by Vladimir Putin after he visited the bottom of Lake Baikal in a submarine, claiming he could see no sign of environmental damage. ...


Damage? What damage? It looks exactly the way it looks!

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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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Sat, Jan 30, 2010
from Orange County Register:
MTBE cleanup starts now, San Juan says
The city said it has detected the additive MtBE in "all of its wells," constituting an emergency condition. The report says an emergency condition exists if the city must act to "safeguard life, health or property." The city has been in talks with Chevron for about two years to decide on the cleanup of MtBE from city groundwater. Chevron has proposed a solution that would require the company to access city land, but the city has refused access over disagreements about how the cleanup should proceed. MtBE spilled into city soil years ago from two Chevron gas stations. The additive was discovered two years ago in city groundwater. The city's groundwater-recovery plant has been hobbled by the council's decision not to pump water from wells that contain MtBE. The city has been supplementing its water supply by purchasing water from the Metropolitan Water District.... Mayor Lon Uso said, "Chevron has not stepped up and been responsible." Chevron spokesman Sean Comey said the groundwater is safe to drink. ...


Chevron? Not taking responsibility? How unusual.

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Tue, Jan 26, 2010
from Newport News Daily Press:
Virginia scraps its annual water pollution monitoring program
Tasteless, odorless and nearly as clear as water, polychlorinated biphenyls are among the most dangerous toxic chemicals in Virginia's waterways. Every year, state officials monitor the chemicals, known as PCBs, by testing fish from selected river basins. Fish advisories follow. Not this year. Facing a $5 million funding cut, the state Department of Environmental Quality last summer scrapped the $365,000 PCB monitoring program. "There won't be any new advisories in Virginia because there's no new data," said Rob Hale, a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, which was under contract to do the work. ...


I've seen their state motto: "Virginia, where health comes last!"

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Sun, Jan 24, 2010
from Agence France-Presse:
Indians keep faith with Ganges despite pollution
For India's devout Hindus, the sacred River Ganges is always clean and always pure -- even if its waters are a toxic stew of human sewage, discarded garbage and factory waste. The belief that the Ganges washes away sin entices millions of Hindus into the river each year, and huge crowds of pilgrims are currently passing through the town of Haridwar for the three-month Kumbh Mela bathing festival. But concern over pollution along the length of the 2,500 kilometre (1,500 mile) river is growing, and the city of Kanpur -- 800 kilometres downstream of Haridwar -- is the site of one of the worst stretches of all... Worshippers like Ram Sharma, who regularly wades in the water for an early morning bath with only a cloth tied around his waist, are proof that for many Indians faith outweighs science. "How can you call this water dirty?" asked Sharma incredulously. "For us it is holy water," he said as he dipped his cupped hands in the river and took a slurp. ...


Just like me in Indiana, breathing its sacred, coal-plant polluted air... every day.

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Mon, Jan 11, 2010
from Indian Express:
Cities choking, only 8 treating 50 percent sewage: CPCB
Thirty five cities in India are pumping as much as 7,604 million litres of sewage daily straight into rivers, notably the Ganga, and the sea. A new report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on water consumption and sewage disposal patterns shows that the biggest cities in India are only treating 50 per cent of the sewage they generate. Not only is the rest going back to rivers, the source of drinking water, but it is also polluting the sea.... While the current state of sewage disposal poses a massive health problem, it is also a waste of resources. "Sewage water has nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. The nutrient value of this water is between Rs 75 per hectare per annum to Rs 400 per hectare per annum. The only way out is to set up systems wherein this water is used for irrigation and fertilisation in fields and horticultural areas," said a senior scientist from CPCB. ...


We need to go all Rumpelstiltskin-like and turn that shit into gold!

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Mon, Dec 14, 2009
from Desdemona Despair:
Brazil's river of death
The once free-flowing Manaquiri River, which runs through the state of Amazonas in northwest Brazil, is in the fight of its life against a spell of dry weather - and it appears to be losing the battle. Thousands of dead fish are rotting on the river banks and hundreds more float on its surface, turning the area into a toxic cesspool. Vultures circle overhead, picking away at the rotting carcasses. Even an alligator - one of the fiercest reptiles of the Amazon - floats belly up in the river. Local fishermen say it has not rained in more than 25 days, leaving the large surrounding rivers in recession. This has in turn choked off the tributaries that provide fresh water to the Manaquiri. ...


Sorry, fish.

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Mon, Dec 14, 2009
from PhysOrg.com:
Decades-old dioxins pollute river, divide US community
If he catches a fish that swims here year round he tosses it back. But if he hooks a walleye -- only an occasional visitor to the river and has lower dioxin levels than the year-rounders -- then it's time for dinner. "I don't think it's as big a concern as what people are saying it is," said Mitchell, 51, as he sat on a pail on the muddy bank and cast his line out into the water. "I can remember when the rivers never froze in the winters and now they're freezing over, so the pollution in the rivers has got to be a lot less than it was." The Tittabawassee may be clean enough to freeze now, but it remains one of the most contaminated waterways in the United States and a key example of the nation's struggle to deal with its industrial past.... Dioxins are chemicals so toxic they get measured in trillionths of a gram. They linger for years in both the environment and the body and pose a host of health risks from cancer to birth defects. For most of the last century, Dow Chemical Company dumped waste from the sprawling complex near its Midland, Michigan headquarters right into the Tittabawassee and burned it in unfiltered incinerators. ...


Dioxins? I call those human nutrients that strengthen the species.

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Tue, Nov 24, 2009
from Washington Post:
Six years later, gender-bending fish in our water supply remain a mystery
What's the problem with the Potomac River -- and could whatever it is spell problems for those of us who drink its water? In 2003, scientists discovered something startling in the Potomac, from which at least 3 million Washington area residents get their drinking water: Male fish were growing eggs. But six years later, a government-led research effort still hasn't answered those two questions. Scientists say they still aren't sure which pollutants are altering the fish, or whether the discovery poses any threat to people's health. The job is not easy: Scientists are looking for wisps of hormone-mimicking pollutants in the Potomac's vast, moving soup. ...


I would imagine these intersex fish are a mystery to themselves.

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Mon, Nov 23, 2009
from New York Times:
Sewers at Capacity, Waste Poisons Waterways
A little after 1 a.m., with a harder rain falling, Owls Head reached its capacity and workers started shutting the intake gates. That caused a rising tide throughout Brooklyn's sewers, and untreated feces and industrial waste started spilling from emergency relief valves into the Upper New York Bay and Gowanus Canal. "It happens anytime you get a hard rainfall," said Bob Connaughton, one the plant's engineers. "Sometimes all it takes is 20 minutes of rain, and you've got overflows across Brooklyn."... In the last three years alone, more than 9,400 of the nation's 25,000 sewage systems -- including those in major cities -- have reported violating the law by dumping untreated or partly treated human waste, chemicals and other hazardous materials into rivers and lakes and elsewhere, according to data from state environmental agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency. But fewer than one in five sewage systems that broke the law were ever fined or otherwise sanctioned by state or federal regulators, the Times analysis shows. ...


What are oceans, lakes, and streams for, if not to dump our shit in?

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Fri, Nov 20, 2009
from Discovery News:
Toxic Butts
Even with a small amount of unburnt tobacco clinging to it, a single cigarette butt soaked for a day is enough to turn a liter of water a sickly yellow brown and kill 50 percent of fish swimming in it. Without tobacco, it takes about 4 smoked filters to do the same job. That's a lot of butts in a small area, and the research team that conducted the laboratory study, led by Elli Slaughter of San Diego State University, is quick to point out that no research has been done yet to test how much poison leaches from butts into ponds, lakes, streams and the ocean... According to one estimate, some 4.5 trillion filters from spent smokes make their way into the environment every year. When immersed in water, each one becomes a time-released capsule of compounds like nicotine, cancer-causing benzenes, heavy metals and other dangerous compounds.... "You might as well have small vials of toxins -- trillions of them -- in the water." ...


But I thought nicotine was a nutrient.

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Tue, Nov 10, 2009
from New York Times:
Afloat in the Ocean, Expanding Islands of Trash
Light bulbs, bottle caps, toothbrushes, Popsicle sticks and tiny pieces of plastic, each the size of a grain of rice, inhabit the Pacific garbage patch, an area of widely dispersed trash that doubles in size every decade and is now believed to be roughly twice the size of Texas. But one research organization estimates that the garbage now actually pervades the Pacific, though most of it is caught in what oceanographers call a gyre like this one -- an area of heavy currents and slack winds that keep the trash swirling in a giant whirlpool.... PCBs, DDT and other toxic chemicals cannot dissolve in water, but the plastic absorbs them like a sponge. Fish that feed on plankton ingest the tiny plastic particles. Scientists from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation say that fish tissues contain some of the same chemicals as the plastic. The scientists speculate that toxic chemicals are leaching into fish tissue from the plastic they eat. ...


What's that? You want to turn back time?

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Mon, Nov 2, 2009
from Parkersburg News and Sentinel:
Ohio River leads nation in toxic discharge
A national environmental group has released a study indicating two area rivers are among the top 10 waterways for total toxic discharge... The bulk of the New River's 14 million pounds of toxic discharge is largely the result of the U.S. Army Radford Army Ammunition plant in Radford, Va. The study claims the plant is responsible for more than 13.6 million pounds of toxic pollutants into the New River. Calls to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection office in Parkersburg were referred to Charleston. After several days of leaving messages, officials in Charleston referred questions to Melyssa Savage, Title III program manager for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. Savage was out of the office. ...


Maybe everybody's gone fishing.

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Sun, Nov 1, 2009
from Greenpeace, via Mongabay:
China's Pearl River suffers from 'almost impossible to remove' pollution
A new study by Greenpeace has found high volumes of heavy metals and organic chemicals in China's Pearl River, which provides drinking water for 47 million people. In June 2009, Greenpeace took 25 samples from manufacturing facilities' discharge points into the river. They found heavy metals like beryllium, a known carcinogen; manganese which has been linked to brain damage; alkyl phenols which disrupts hormones; and a number of hazardous organic chemicals.... While many of the hazardous pollutants found in the river are not regulated by China, samples from the discharge sites of Kingboard Fogang facility contained beryllium at 25 times the levels allowed by local Chinese regulation, while samples from Wing Fung Printed Circuit Board Ltd. contained 12 times the level of allowed copper. Both companies produce printed circuit boards for the global market. ...


It's just consumer capitalism's way of dealing with overpopulation.

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Mon, Oct 19, 2009
from Voice of America:
Fish Kills Linked to Water Pollutants
Since 2002 thousands of fish in the United States have died and continue to die in many rivers, most in the rivers of the southern east coast. Researchers have found what they call "the feminization of fish" or the presence of immature eggs in male fish. They have also found different levels of water contamination all related to human activity. The government says twenty percent of male black bass in river basins across the country have immature egg cells in their sexual organs....Scientists have found contaminants such as herbicides, pesticides, estrogen and birth control chemicals in the river. Higher concentrations were found where farming is intense and human population dense. In general, water treatment plants do not remove all chemicals before dumping water back into rivers. So called endocrine disruptors are especially worrisome because they can change sexual behavior. ...


Her/him/maphrodite phish.

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Mon, Oct 19, 2009
from Vietnam News:
Contaminated wells threaten 2 million people in Ha Noi
The preliminary results from Ha Noi’s 2009 census, reported that over two million Hanoians are using drilled well water, while a series of surveys have stated that many of the drilled wells in the city are contaminated with arsenic... The census also reported that 22.5 per cent of the 6 million people in the city are using untreated water from pools, lakes, rivers, and other sources. It also stated that 38.5 per cent are using untreated well-water and the remaining 39 per cent have access to clean water. Viet Nam has more than 1 million drilled wells. Of the reported wells, an estimated 25 per cent are contaminated with arsenic. The levels of arsenic in the water are approximately 20-25 times higher than the permitted level in those areas. ...


Vietnam: pushing the envelope of population control innovations.

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Fri, Oct 16, 2009
from Independent Online (South Africa):
Playing roulette with our water
South Africa's water crisis lies in the country's persistent denial that there is a problem, says Dr Anthony Turton, water expert. "It lies in the pitiful fact that we are dooming future generations to the misery of poverty by failing to recognise that what we have done thus far can no longer be done in the future, simply because the assumptions on which previous solutions were based are no longer valid," he said.... Turton told the Sunday Independent that the water crisis was "way bigger than any ordinary person will ever realise".... We have simply failed to translate what scientists have known for decades... so now we have no solutions and are left at the vagaries of nature... It is Russian Roulette and soon the loaded round will be in the chamber when we pull the trigger," said Turton. ...


That loaded round is just a theory.

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Wed, Oct 14, 2009
from NCBI, via DKGreenroots.com:
First human-caused extinction of a cetacean species?
An intensive six-week multi-vessel visual and acoustic survey carried out in November-December 2006, covering the entire historical range of the baiji in the main Yangtze channel, failed to find any evidence that the species survives. We are forced to conclude that the baiji is now likely to be extinct, probably due to unsustainable by-catch in local fisheries. This represents the first global extinction of a large vertebrate for over 50 years, only the fourth disappearance of an entire mammal family since AD 1500, and the first cetacean species to be driven to extinction by human activity. Immediate and extreme measures may be necessary to prevent the extinction of other endangered cetaceans, including the sympatric Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis). ...


Hey, we're getting really good at this.

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Fri, Oct 9, 2009
from New Scientist:
Melting glaciers bring 1980s pollution revival
The flow of pollutants into the lake peaked in the 1970s, mainly due to the production of plastics, electronics, pesticides and fragrances. The levels declined during the 1980s and 1990s when people realised that these compounds were toxic and they were banned. However, they found that banned chemicals, such as pesticides that have been linked with Parkinson's disease, have been pouring into the lake at an increasing rate since the 1990s.... Bogdal reckons that a glacier feeding the lake has been storing these chemicals for decades, and is releasing them as it melts. This process could be dramatically sped up by global warming, he warns. The problem isn't limited to Alpine glaciers. Since these chemicals would have been transported great distances via the atmosphere before they were frozen into ice, many other glaciers around the world may be contaminated. Toxic chemicals have previously been found in polar regions -- putting arctic wildlife at risk. ...


Reruns from the seventies and eighties should only be on Hulu.

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Thu, Oct 1, 2009
from US News and World Report:
Common Weed Killer Impacts Wildlife
An analysis of more than 100 scientific studies conducted on atrazine, one of the world's most common and controversial weed killers, reveals the chemical's consistent ill effects on the development, behavior, immune, hormone and reproductive systems of amphibians and freshwater fish, USF researchers have concluded in a new study.... [T]he body of scientific research on the chemical shows that while atrazine typically does not directly kill amphibians and fish, there is consistent scientific evidence that it is negatively impacting their biology. The authors conclude that these non-lethal effects must be weighed against the benefit of using the weed killer.... "The weight-of-evidence, however, suggests that atrazine regularly causes reproductive abnormalities and is an endocrine disruptor." ...


Thank goodness we have so little in common with amphibians and fish!

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Wed, Sep 30, 2009
from Royal Gazette (Bermuda):
Expert warns against eating sickly fish
Dr. Vogelbein said: "It's always the big question, 'are the fish safe to eat?' I think common sense should be used. People who fish know what a healthy fish looks like. "Those are safe to eat. But a fish which has ulcers on it [such as a lack of scales and blood on the skin] should not be." ... But he said the die-off was concerning as it shed light on a variety of environmental factors, as well an infection, that appeared to be causing the die-off. ... He said there seemed to be environmental factors leading to the death of the fish but added: "Some of the fish are showing skin ulcers and some of the fish are also showing signs of infections in their gills. "There appears to be an organism playing a role. We have been able to isolate some bacterial organism." Dr. Vogelbein also said that a weakened immune system due to high water temperatures could be causing fish to react negatively to bacteria regularly found in the ocean. ...


Talk to me, buddy. Are you sick?

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Tue, Sep 29, 2009
from Independent.co.uk, in DesdemonaDespair:
Skulls found on Mafia ship laden with radioactive waste
Pressure is growing on the Italian government to act over revelations that 30 or more ships with radioactive cargoes, deliberately sunk by the Mafia, may be polluting the Mediterranean.... Mr Greco added that "the entire Mediterranean, from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian sea and from the Strait of Sicily to the Aegean" could be threatened by sunken waste ships. "Cleaning and removing the load will be particularly complex in terms of cost, given the vast area involved," he said.... The possibility of a murder inquiry also arose last night after it emerged that cameras sent down to investigate the Cunsky appeared to show human remains aboard. ...


Davy Jones got an offer he couldn't refuse.

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Tue, Sep 29, 2009
from Florida Today:
Cocoa Beach plans sewage injection well
The city plans to inject up to 6 million gallons of treated sewage per day about 1,400 feet underground, then pump it back up later to water its golf course and residents' lawns. Officials say the well will enable the city to store more reclaimed water and no longer have to discharge the excess -- an estimated 300 million gallons per year -- into the Banana River.... Officials insist that the so-called "aquifer storage and recovery" wells are the safest, most affordable way to keep the nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich remnants of sewage from the Indian River Lagoon, where it can trigger excess algae and fish kills. But some environmentalists say pumping that kind of water underground threatens surrounding groundwater with viruses, endocrine disruptors and other trace contaminants that can linger after the sewage treatment process. ...


Come on, you "environmentalists." We have to put our shit somewhere.

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Sat, Sep 26, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Rivers made famous in Wind and the Willows and Winnie the Pooh fail ecological test
The famous stretches of river failed to meet new European standards for water quality that judge not only the chemicals in the water but the health of fish stocks and level of wildlife. Conservationists said the state of rivers made famous in literature reflects the wider problem of pollution and called on the Government to be more ambitious in their clean-up programme. The Environment Agency has disclosed that just 26 per cent of the country's 6,000 rivers are judged to be a "good" ecological status under the EU rules. ...


What's next, Huckleberry's Mississippi? Oh... right.

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Wed, Sep 16, 2009
from New York Times:
Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering
Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system. "How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?" said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state's largest banks.... When Mrs. Hall-Massey and 264 neighbors sued nine nearby coal companies, accusing them of putting dangerous waste into local water supplies, their lawyer did not have to look far for evidence. As required by state law, some of the companies had disclosed in reports to regulators that they were pumping into the ground illegal concentrations of chemicals -- the same pollutants that flowed from residents' taps. But state regulators never fined or punished those companies for breaking those pollution laws. ...


What's a few heavy metals, between friends?

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Sun, Sep 13, 2009
from Minneapolis Star Tribune, Karen Youso:
Plastic elastic and other confessions of a plastic sinner who tried, for a few days, to go without.
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean floats a mass of plastic waste twice the size of Texas. Acres of bobbing bottles, bags and Barbie shoes, it's where plastic trash comes to rest in the ocean. Actually, it doesn't rest. Despite what we've heard -- that plastic lasts a thousand years -- it doesn't. A recent study reveals that plastic breaks down a lot faster than that, but into toxic elements. To what end, nobody yet knows. Long before it's trash, however, plastic leaches toxins into our bodies (a premise strongly objected to by the FDA and the plastics industry), and nobody knows the long-term consequences of that, either.... I think I hate plastic. I'm going to forgo plastic for six days, a plastic mini-Lent, it might be called, and learn a new way of living. Split with plastic, and worries about the health effects, recycling and pollution all go away. ...


Six days without plastic is like a month without sunshine.

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Sat, Sep 12, 2009
from AP, via NYT:
Dangerous Staph Germs Found at West Coast Beaches
Dangerous staph bacteria have been found in sand and water for the first time at five public beaches along the coast of Washington, and scientists think the state is not the only one with this problem. The germ is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus -- a hard-to-treat bug once rarely seen outside of hospitals but that increasingly is spreading in ordinary community settings such as schools, locker rooms and gyms. The germ causes nasty skin infections as well as pneumonia and other life-threatening problems. It spreads mostly through human contact. Little is known about environmental sources that also may harbor the germ.... In the new study, researchers tested 10 beaches in Washington along the West Coast and in Puget Sound from February to September 2008. Staph bacteria were found at nine of them, including five with MRSA. The strains resembled the highly resistant ones usually seen in hospitals, rather than the milder strains acquired in community settings, Roberts said.... "Make sure you get all the sand off," and cover any open cuts or scrapes before playing in the sand, Roberts added. ...


We all know how easy getting beach sand off is!

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Sun, Sep 6, 2009
from Bloomington Alternative:
Our PCBs: Forgotten but not gone
Six PCB Superfund sites lie within 20 miles of the Courthouse Square. And PCBs cause cancer, neurologic disorders, endocrine system disruption, reproductive problems and birth defects in people and nonhuman animals. Often associated with PCBs are other chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as dioxin and furans. Dioxin is the most powerful chemical carcinogen known. It's second only to radiation as the most potent carcinogen discovered to date. It was used in the Vietnam War as a defoliant called Agent Orange.... The Westinghouse Corp. (now CBS) manufactured PCB-filled electrical capacitors in Bloomington for about 30 years. The PCBs, manufactured by Monsanto under the trade name Innerteen, were used as insulating fluid. In 1975 a Bloomington newspaper reporter discovered that since about 1958, Westinghouse had routinely poured PCBs into the Bloomington sewer system and dumping defective, PCB-filled capacitors at eight locations: Lemon Lane Landfill, Neal's Landfill, Neal's Dump, Bennett's Quarry, the Winston Thomas Sewage Treatment Plant, the Anderson Road Landfill, Fell Iron and Metal (a salvage yard) and the Westinghouse property. The first four are on the National Priorities List, a list of contaminated sites commonly referred to as Superfund sites. ...


You can be sure... if it's Westinghouse.

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Fri, Sep 4, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Herring season canceled
State wildlife regulators canceled the San Francisco Bay herring fishing season for the first time Thursday, hoping to rebuild a population that has plunged dangerously low.... The drop is blamed on environmental factors, not on overfishing. But John Mello, a senior biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, said the herring population has now "reached a point where any fishing mortality inhibits the rebuilding of the stock." Fishers are primarily interested in herring roe [eggs], which is prized as a delicacy in Japan. Herring are also an important part of the food chain, supporting birds, larger fish and marine mammals. ...


Guess the Japanese will have to shift to "paté of scientifically slaughtered whale"

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Thu, Sep 3, 2009
from AlterNet:
How Farm-Raised Salmon Are Turning Our Oceans Into Dangerous and Polluted Feedlots
As it turns out, farmed salmon comes with its own set of environmental and health issues -- threatening wild salmon populations, becoming harbingers of disease, and contaminating the oceans with antibiotics and toxic chemicals. And if you're eating salmon in the U.S., the chances are very good that it's farm raised. Only about 10 percent of salmon on the market in the U.S. is actually wild these days Alex Trent, executive director of the industry group Salmon of the Americas, told the New York Times.... While salmon "farming" conjures an agrarian image, the industry is more akin to CAFOs -- the concentrated animal feeding operations -- used by the industrial meat industry that is responsible for most of the chicken, burgers and pork that Americans consume. They're also responsible for a lot of waste and pollution that comes with raising a whole bunch of creatures in a confined space. ...


Wanting Omega-3 might produce the omega point for the ocean?

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Fri, Aug 28, 2009
from NSF, via EurekAlert:
Scientists explore 'great Pacific Ocean garbage patch'
Scientists have just completed an unprecedented journey into the vast and little-explored "Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch." On the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (SEAPLEX), researchers got the first detailed view of plastic debris floating in a remote ocean region.... Team members began 24-hour sampling periods using a variety of tow nets to collect debris at several ocean depths. "We targeted the highest plastic-containing areas so we could begin to understand the scope of the problem," said Miriam Goldstein of SIO, chief scientist of the expedition. "We also studied everything from phytoplankton to zooplankton to small midwater fish."... "Finding so much plastic there was shocking," said Goldstein. "How could there be this much plastic floating in a random patch of ocean--a thousand miles from land?" ...


Plastic, plastic, everywhere, and not a drop to recycle.

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Mon, Aug 24, 2009
from Huffington Post:
EPA Fails To Inform Public About Weed-Killer In Drinking Water
Records that tracked the amount of the weed-killer atrazine in about 150 watersheds from 2003 through 2008 were obtained by the Huffington Post Investigative Fund under the Freedom of Information Act. An analysis found that yearly average levels of atrazine in drinking water violated the federal standard at least ten times in communities in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, all states where farmers rely heavily on the herbicide. In addition, more than 40 water systems in those states showed spikes in atrazine levels that normally would have triggered automatic notification of customers. In none of those cases were residents alerted.... In recent years atrazine has been the subject of intensive debate among scientists about its effects on the reproductive systems of frogs and other vertebrate animals. In some studies, male frogs that were exposed to high levels of atrazine have been documented to grow eggs. ...


It tastes just the same as pthalates or PCBs -- so nobody noticed!

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Fri, Aug 21, 2009
from Mongabay:
Plastic Vortexes Leaching Chemicals into World's Oceans
While scientists have acknowledged the existence of billions of pounds of plastic containers, Styrofoam, and similar waste have created massive oceanic trash vortexes (floating islands of garbage), little is known of the effects of the dissolution of these materials into the water. Recent studies have found that under certain climate conditions, ocean plastic can decompose in under a year, leaching potentially toxic chemicals into the water.... "Most people in the world believe that this plastic is indestructible for a very long time. We are now concerned that plastic pollution is caused by invisible materials. This will have a great effect on marine life." ...


"Invisible materials" like endocrine disruptors, pthalates, methylmercury, or the other heavy metals? Or PCBs?
C'mon, what?

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Thu, Aug 20, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
French transport workers threaten to pollute river Seine
Angry lorry drivers at Serta, a struggling transportation company, are threatening to pour more than 8,000 litres of toxic fuel additive into the Seine if their demands for redundancy pay-offs are not met. Acknowledging the "dramatic" effect this could have on the river's fish population, they insist they will not be dissuaded unless their bosses give in. "It's less dramatic than ... people being made redundant and sacrificed," Jean-Pierre Villemin from the CFDT union told French radio. "It's the only means we have of getting what we want." Around 50 workers at the distribution site at La Vaupaliere near Rouen are demanding severance packages of 15,000 euros after Serta, which went into administration a year ago, announced job cuts. The transportation company, which has suffered badly in the financial crisis, has already cut around 80 jobs since the start of the year. ...


We do not negotiate with environmental terrorists.

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Wed, Aug 19, 2009
from American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert:
Homes pollute: Linked to 50 percent more water pollution than previously believed
In the study, Lorence Oki, Darren Haver and colleagues explain that runoff results from rainfall and watering of lawns and gardens, which winds up in municipal storm drains. The runoff washes fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into storm drains, and they eventually appear in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.... Preliminary results of the study suggest that current models may underestimate the amount of pollution contributed by homes by up to 50 percent. That's because past estimates focused on rain-based runoff during the wet season. "Use of pesticides, however, increases noticeably during the dry season due to gardening, and our data contains greater resolution than previous studies," Oki says. ...


If it's that way in California, imagine 123 Maple Street, Anytown, USA.

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Wed, Aug 19, 2009
from Press-Enterprise (CA):
10 million to 15 million fish die in Lake Elsinore
An estimated 10 million to 15 million tiny baitfish went belly up at Lake Elsinore last weekend, the worst fish die-off since 2002, officials said. Piles of dead threadfin shad still clogged the lake's shoreline Tuesday. In some spots, the stench was overpowering for drivers who had the misfortune of rolling down their windows down near the lake. Mass fish die-offs have been a historic problem at Lake Elsinore, more so than at other Inland lakes. A shallow, naturally occurring lake about 20 miles northwest of Temecula, Lake Elsinore is replenished by runoff and recycled water, unlike other area lakes that are actually man-made reservoirs and have water imported through aqueducts.... [T]he deaths appeared to come from a combination of the seasonal shrinking of the lake due to evaporation, an increase in water temperature to about 80 degrees and possibly an algae bloom. ...


Not apocalyptic... unless you're a shad in Lake Elsinore.

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Sat, Aug 15, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Chinese villagers dying from chemical factory's illegal pollution
Underfoot, the earth has been poisoned to a depth of 20cm (8in). The water in the wells is undrinkable. The plight of Shuangqiao ... where three people have died and 509 are sick from poisoning by the heavy metals cadmium and indium, produced by a nearby factory, has drawn widespread attention since residents took to the internet to air their grievances. "We wouldn't be here today if the Government had paid attention to us in 2006 when we first told them the factory in our village was spreading pollution," said one villager, who gave his name only as Li, for fear of official retribution. "Now it's the responsibility of the factory and the Government that ignored us to help us." ... Waste water and earth from the processing of the heavy metals have been dumped into a narrow valley at the back of the plant. The stream runs into a river 500m away that feeds into the main Xiang River, which provides drinking water for 20 million people. The factory was supposed to produce the feed additive zinc sulphate. Instead, it illegally processed ore from zinc production to extract cadmium and rare indium, a key material in liquid crystal display screens and solar panels. The price of indium soared from less than $600 (360) a kilogram in 2003 to $1,000 by 2006. China now meets 30 per cent of world demand and at its peak the Xianghe factory produced 300kg of indium a month. ...


LALALALALA... I need to go watch that Discovery special on solar panels, on my hi-def TV.

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Wed, Aug 12, 2009
from University of Minnesota, via EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
University of Minnesota researchers discover high levels of estrogens in some industrial wastewater
In a groundbreaking study, civil engineering researchers in the University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology have discovered that certain industries may be a significant source of plant-based estrogens, called phytoestrogens, in surface water. They also revealed that some of these phytoestrogens can be removed through standard wastewater treatment, but in some cases, the compounds remain at levels that may be damaging to fish.... They found very high concentrations of these hormone-mimicking phytoestrogens -- up to 250 times higher than the level at which feminization of fish has been seen in other research -- in the wastewater discharged from eight industrial sites, including biodiesel plants, a soy milk factory, a barbecue meat processing facility and a dairy. They also detected high concentrations of phytoestrogens in the water discharged by some municipal wastewater treatment plants. The good news is that the researchers revealed that phytoestrogens can be removed from water as it goes through standard treatment. In fact, they saw more than 90 percent removal of these compounds from the water. Unfortunately, sometimes 99 percent removal is needed to reach levels that are considered harmless to fish. ...


Oh, poor Alex... um, Alexandra.... uh, Sasha!

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Wed, Aug 12, 2009
from Environment Canada:
Canada moves towards ban on tributyltins
Given the hazardous properties, as well as the potential for persistence and biocaccumulation and the continuing uses of tributyltins and tetrabutyltin, it is recommended that these substances be added to the Schedule I of CEPA 1999. As such, a proposed order to add tributyltins and tetrabutyltins to the List of Toxic substances (Schedule I of CEPA 1999) will be released for a 60-day public comment period.... [from Environment Canada: "The pesticide tributyltin (TBT) is a highly toxic chemical used as a general lumber preservative and slimicide (a chemical toxic to bacteria and fungi). However, the use of tributyltin in antifouling paints on the hulls of ships and boats poses one of the greatest environmental concerns, leading to regulatory aftion in a number of countries, including Canada."] ...


Pesticide and slimicide? How about just calling it a "Gaiacide"?

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Thu, Aug 6, 2009
from New Scientist:
Arctic Ocean may be polluted soup by 2070
Within 60 years the Arctic Ocean could be a stagnant, polluted soup. Without drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions, the Transpolar Drift, one of the Arctic's most powerful currents and a key disperser of pollutants, is likely to disappear because of global warming. The Transpolar Drift is a cold surface current that travels right across the Arctic Ocean from central Siberia to Greenland, and eventually out into the Atlantic. It was first discovered in 1893 by the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who tried unsuccessfully to use the current to sail to the North Pole. Together with the Beaufort Gyre, the Transpolar Drift keeps Arctic waters well mixed and ensures that pollution never lingers there for long.... In a "business-as-usual" scenario, in which atmospheric carbon dioxide levels double by 2070, Johannessen and his colleagues found that the Transpolar Drift stops and the Beaufort Gyre, Greenland Current and Gulf Stream weaken considerably.... One reason for this sluggish behaviour is a change in wind patterns driven by global warming and rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice. As a result, pollution takes much longer to disperse in this scenario. Much of this pollution would congregate along the non-European coastlines of the Arctic Ocean, the model suggests. ...


Maybe the jellyfish and algae would just eat up all the pollution in that Arctic soup.

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Tue, Jul 28, 2009
from New York Times:
Dead Zone in Gulf Is Smaller Than Forecast but More Concentrated in Parts
Scientists said Monday that the region of oxygen-starved water in the northern Gulf of Mexico this summer was smaller than forecast, which means less disruption of shrimp, crabs and other marine species, and of the fisheries that depend on them. But researchers found that although the so-called dead zone along the Texas and Louisiana coasts was smaller about 3,000 square miles compared with a prediction of about 8,000 square miles -- the actual volume of low-oxygen, or hypoxic, water may be higher, as the layer is deeper and thicker in some parts of the gulf than normal. And the five-year average size of the dead zone is still considered far too big, about three times a target of 2,000 square miles set for 2015 by an intergovernmental task force.... She said unusual winds and currents this spring had driven much of the hypoxic water to the east, reducing the size of the zone but concentrating it. "In actuality we found quite a severe area that was large in volume," she said. "Organisms were obviously stressed." ...


I'll tell ya -- this organism is feeling pretty stressed.

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Sun, Jul 5, 2009
from Oakland Tribune:
Worried scientists find sea otter numbers continue to decline
The three-year average sea otter population on California's coast declined for the first time in more than a decade, according to a U.S. Geological Survey. Officials from the survey counted 2,654 otters this spring along the coast from Point Concepcion in the Santa Barbara area to Half Moon Bay. The count includes a colony of otters around the Channel Islands. It was the lowest single-year total since 2003, when about 2,200 were counted. But more alarming, said officials at the Otter Project, an otter advocacy group in Monterey, is that the running three-year average, which the USGS uses for the official population count, dropped for the first time since the late 1990s. "We've always identified the sea otter as the canary in the coal mine of the marine system," said Allison Ford, the new executive director of the Otter Project. "I hope this can be a wake-up call."... "A lot of this is stuff we've known is a problem in terms of water quality," Ford said. The otter population's status is generally considered a strong indicator of the overall health of the waters off California's coast, Ford said. "Their population is a little more delicate than that of the sea lion," she said. "When there is something wrong with otters, there is something wrong with the ecosystem." ...


O, you wee, poor, tim'rous, toxified beastie.

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Wed, Jun 10, 2009
from Associated Press:
Pollution experts: Save fish from drugs in water
Pollution experts on Tuesday pressed a congressional panel for stronger action to keep pharmaceuticals and other contaminants out of the water, saying they are hurting fish and may threaten human health. Thomas P. Fote, a New Jersey conservationist who sits on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, said the pollutants are damaging commercial fisheries. He told congressmen not to "study a problem to death and never do anything." Fote appeared in a lineup of witnesses Tuesday before the subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife of the House Natural Resources Committee. The witnesses pointed to research showing damage to fish and other aquatic species from pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other industrial chemicals, especially those that alter growth-regulating endocrine systems. Some scientists worry about the potential of similar harm to humans. ...


These fish need a "just say no" campaign.

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Fri, May 22, 2009
from Mongabay:
85 percent of oyster reefs gone
The first global report on the state of shellfish was released today at the International Marine Conservation Congress in Washington, DC. Painting a dire picture for shellfish worldwide, the report found that 85 percent of oyster reefs have vanished.... "We're seeing an unprecedented and alarming decline in the condition of oyster reefs, a critically important habitat in the world's bays and estuaries," said Mike Beck, senior marine scientist at The Nature Conservancy and lead author of the report. Oyster reefs in North America, Europe, and Australia are particularly hard-hit with many of the reef systems considered functionally extinct. Still the majority of wild oysters come from the east coast of North America, where even these productive reefs are in decline. ...


Thank goodness I don't even like oysters.

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Wed, May 20, 2009
from Marine Biological Laboratory, via:
Scientists link influenza A (H1N1) susceptibility to common levels of arsenic exposure
The ability to mount an immune response to influenza A (H1N1) infection is significantly compromised by a low level of arsenic exposure that commonly occurs through drinking contaminated well water, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and Dartmouth Medical School have found.... However, in mice that had ingested 100 ppb (parts per billion) arsenic in their drinking water for five weeks, the immune response to H1N1 infection was initially feeble, and when a response finally did kick in days later, it was "too robust and too late," Hamilton says. "There was a massive infiltration of immune cells to the lungs and a massive inflammatory response, which led to bleeding and damage in the lung." Morbidity over the course of the infection was significantly higher for the arsenic-exposed animals than the normal animals.... "One thing that did strike us, when we heard about the recent H1N1 outbreak, is Mexico has large areas of very high arsenic in their well water, including the areas where the flu first cropped up. We don't know that the Mexicans who got the flu were drinking high levels of arsenic, but it's an intriguing notion that this may have contributed," Hamilton says. ...


Next they'll discover that "old lace" is a catalyst for the black plague.

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Wed, May 20, 2009
from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, via EurekAlert:
Contaminants in marine mammals' brains
The most extensive study of pollutants in marine mammals' brains reveals that these animals are exposed to a hazardous cocktail of pesticides such as DDTs and PCBs, as well as emerging contaminants such as brominated flame retardants.... The chemicals studied include pesticides like DDT, which has been shown to cause cancer and reproductive toxicity, and PCBs, which are neurotoxicants known to disrupt the thyroid hormone system. The study also quantifies concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs (a particular class of flame retardants), which are neurotoxicants that impair the development of motor activity and cognition. This work is the first to quantify concentrations of PBDEs in the brains of marine mammals. The results revealed that concentration of one contaminant was surprisingly high. According to Montie, "The biggest wakeup was that we found parts per million concentrations of hydroxylated PCBs in the cerebrospinal fluid of a gray seal. That is so worrisome for me. You rarely find parts per million levels of anything in the brain." ...


Now, why would marine mammals need flame retardants?

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Mon, May 18, 2009
from Osservatorio Balcani:
Erin Brockovich in Greece
Erin Brockovich arrived in Greece to save the Asopus river, contaminated with high levels of hexavalent chrome, the same heavy metal that the American legal assistant had fought against in California.... Now, the hexavalent chrome and other heavy metals such as nickel have been detected in quantities as 100 times higher than the legal limit in the Asopus river in Boeotia, in central Greece. The river, once suitable for swimming and fishing, springs up on the slopes of Kitheronas Mountains, believed by the ancient Greeks to be the motherland of the Muses. The river provides drinking water to tens of thousands of people in its high stream areas, but its groundwater also reaches millions of residents of Athens.... The pollution of the clear waters of Asopus began back in 1969, when the colonels' dictatorship declared the area an "industrial park" and permitted many companies to discharge unfiltered waste in the river. The results are visible today. In September 2007, the first big alarm came from the agricultural faculty at the University Athens after an analysis of the groundwater that arrives from Boeotia to Attica, an area of Athens. A recent inspection by the parliamentary environmental commission shamefully found the Asopus river to be "completely pure": clearly the factories were given time to do their "spring cleaning". ...


Let's greenlight it: "Erin Brockovich" meets "Z."

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Sat, May 2, 2009
from Environmental Health News:
Big increase in ocean mercury found; study predicts more human threat from fish
Mercury levels in the Pacific Ocean will rise by 50 percent within the next few decades as emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources increase, scientists reported Friday. The researchers, led by scientists from Harvard University and the U.S. Geological Survey, found that the ocean's mercury levels have already risen about 30 percent over the last 20 years. Combined, the findings mean the Pacific Ocean will be twice as contaminated with mercury in 2050 as it was in 1995 if the emission rates continue. As a result, people around the globe will be increasingly exposed to mercury from eating fish and other seafood. Methylmercury, a neurotoxin, can alter brain development of fetuses and has been linked with learning problems and reduced IQs in some children. ...


The stupider these kids, the less chance they'll figure out we're to blame for ruining their earth.

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Sun, Mar 29, 2009
from London Guardian:
Shampoo in the water supply triggers growth of deadly drug-resistant bugs
Fabric softeners, disinfectants, shampoos and other household products are spreading drug-resistant bacteria around Britain, scientists have warned. Detergents used in factories and mills are also increasing the odds that some medicines will no longer be able to combat dangerous diseases. The warning has been made by Birmingham and Warwick university scientists, who say disinfectants and other products washed into sewers and rivers are triggering the growth of drug-resistant microbes. Soil samples from many areas have been found to contain high levels of bacteria with antibiotic-resistant genes, the scientists have discovered -- raising fears that these may have already been picked up by humans. ...


Those are acceptable consequences for me smelling clean and fresh!

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Mon, Mar 16, 2009
from Inter Press Service:
Blessed and Cursed by Water
In 2008, the United Nations (U.N.) International Year of Sanitation, it is estimated that 2.16 billion people in developing countries lack that most basic of amenities - a proper toilet. They do not have water conveniently pumped in and out of their homes for use in flush toilets. Many have no choice but to relieve themselves in ditches, behind the house, down the road, or at any other 'convenient' location. The result: "widespread damage to human health and child survival prospects; social misery especially for women, the elderly and infirm; depressed economic productivity and human development; pollution to the living environment and water resources," according to the U.N. report 'Tackling a global crisis'. Of course, water is not only a question of sanitation. This year is also part of the U.N's international decade for water, titled 'Water for Life'. Some more statistics: about 700 million people in 43 countries are affected by water scarcity, according to the U.N. In 2025 the number could be 3 billion. Around 1.1 billion people are said to have no access to safe drinking water. ...


Turns out that
the "real thing"...
is water.

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Mon, Mar 16, 2009
from Queen's University, via EurekAlert:
Cleaning up oil spills can kill more fish than spills themselves
A new Queen's University study shows that detergents used to clean up spills of diesel oil actually increase its toxicity to fish, making it more harmful. "The detergents may be the best way to treat spills in the long term because the dispersed oil is diluted and degraded," says Biology professor Peter Hodson. "But in the short term, they increase the bioavailability and toxicity of the fuel to rainbow trout by 100-fold." ... [The dispersion] increases the transfer of hydrocarbons from oil to water, Dr. Hodson explains. The hydrocarbons pass easily from water into tissues and are deadly to fish in the early stages of life. "This could seriously impair the health of fish populations, resulting in long-term reductions in economic returns to fisheries," he says. ...


Jeez, you mean adding more shit won't fix the stew?

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Tue, Mar 10, 2009
from Mobile Press-Register:
EPA: Leave mercury in north Mobile County swamp
Federal scientists were unsparing in their criticism of a new EPA plan to leave high levels of mercury on the bottom of Cold Creek Swamp and hope the Mobile River covers it over with a layer of mud as the years go by. Those scientists said the mercury from the north Mobile County swamp may have been spreading to fish and wildlife in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and Mobile Bay for decades. In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan to remove or contain the bulk of the contamination at the Stauffer Chemical Superfund site. The company released mercury into the swamp between 1966 and 1974 as a waste product from chlorine production. But the plan was never implemented. Now the EPA has proposed a much more limited cleanup that calls for leaving most of the mercury in the swamp and monitoring it "long term." ...The latest plan ... calls for covering up the mercury in the most contaminated 25-acre area with a layer of clay and monitoring mercury levels in the rest of the swamp. ...


I know when I ignore MY problems, they go away!

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Tue, Mar 3, 2009
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
More lake fish contain former 3M chemical
A former 3M chemical has been found in fish taken from more metro area lakes, including Cedar, Calhoun and Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. The compound, known as PFOS, was measured at levels of concern in 13 of 22 lakes, mostly in bluegills, black crappies and largemouth bass. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) released the data Monday from fish tested in 2008, the agency's third year of checking fish. Pat McCann, research scientist for the Minnesota Department of Health, said that the data are being reviewed and that the department may issue advice about eating fish less often from some of the lakes. ...


I'll bet PFOS are especially hard on po' folks.

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Sun, Mar 1, 2009
from PressTV (Iran):
Persian Gulf faces possible environmental crisis
The Persian Gulf has been polluted by more than 5,000 cubic meters of toxic industrial waste including heavy metals. The waste material from Mobin Petrochemical Company, located in Assaluyeh in southern Iran, has been discharged into the Persian Gulf without being treated, Iran's Environmental News Agency reported. The news report added that the petrochemical company's waste materials are toxic and replete with hazardous industrial materials.... According to the latest studies, the level of the pollution in The Persian Gulf as a semi-closed sea is 47 times more than the open seas and the water in eastern coast of the area contains more pollutants. ...


Surely the petrochemical companies have inadvertently been releasing those petrochemicals.

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Sun, Mar 1, 2009
from Tribune Democrat (PA):
Pollution pinches Chesapeake crabs
The blue crab population is at an all-time low, and two factors are to blame: Pollution and overfishing. There are six sub-basins of the 444-mile Susquehanna that feed the bay. Acid-mine drainage is blamed for pollution from this region, while farm runoff is the main culprit to the east. There is less crab food, less crab habitat and too much catching of fish the crabs feed on. In 2007, watermen suffered the worst crab harvest since Chesapeake Bay recordkeeping began in 1945. Last year was even worse in Virginia, and only slightly better in Maryland, causing more than $640 million in losses, reports show. ...


Even with all that armor, they're still going the way of the trilobite.

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Fri, Feb 27, 2009
from Forbes:
25 more Oklahoma wells tested in E. coli probe
At least 25 more private water wells have been tested near a northeastern Oklahoma town where an E. coli outbreak last summer killed one man and sickened hundreds more, the state's Department of Environmental Quality said.... But earlier this month, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson suggested that it could have been the result of contamination from nearby poultry farms. He released a report concluding that the well at the Country Cottage "is, and has been, contaminated with poultry waste and associated bacteria, including E. coli." The report also noted 49 poultry houses within a six-mile radius of Locust Grove that have the capacity to produce 10,000 tons of waste a year. The poultry industry has denied these claims, saying the DEQ testing did not identify "any link between bacteria in water wells and poultry." ...


Gosh. How could thousands of tons of chickenshit possibly get into wells?

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Wed, Feb 25, 2009
from Courier-Mail (Australia):
Human activity seen as a threat to marine echinoderms
CREATURES are falling victim to human activities, and scientists say it could interfere with the evolutionary process and lead to extinctions. Known as echinoderms, the species are essential for keeping ecosystems healthy and if their populations either crash or multiply, degraded seascapes may result.... "Each of these 28 cases was experiencing difficulties because of human activity, including over-fishing, nutrient run-off from the land, species introductions and climate change," Dr Uthicke said. "We suggest that human-induced disturbance, through its influence on changes to echinoderm population densities, may go beyond present ecosystems impacts and alter future evolutionary trends." In the Caribbean, sea urchins have died off and on the Great Barrier Reef an over-fished sea cucumber area closed six years ago has not recovered. ...


Starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, even sea cucumbers -- all the cute sea critters. Time for a save-the-echinoderms campaign?

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Wed, Feb 18, 2009
from University of Georgia, via EurekAlert:
Link between unexploded munitions in oceans and cancer-causing toxins determined
During a research trip to Puerto Rico, ecologist James Porter took samples from underwater nuclear bomb target USS Killen, expecting to find evidence of radioactive matter -- instead he found a link to cancer. Data revealed that the closer corals and marine life were to unexploded bombs from the World War II vessel and the surrounding target range, the higher the rates of carcinogenic materials. "Unexploded bombs are in the ocean for a variety of reasons -- some were duds that did not explode, others were dumped in the ocean as a means of disposal," said Porter. "And we now know that these munitions are leaking cancer-causing materials and endangering sea life." ... According to research conducted in Vieques, residents here have a 23 percent higher cancer rate than do Puerto Rican mainlanders. Porter said a future step will be "to determine the link from unexploded munitions to marine life to the dinner plate." ...


The death industry just keeps giving and giving.

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Tue, Feb 17, 2009
from University of Cincinnati, via EurekAlert:
Estrogen found to increase growth of the most common childhood brain tumor
CINCINNATI -- University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers have discovered that estrogen receptors are present in medulloblastoma -- the most common type of pediatric brain tumor -- leading them to believe that anti-estrogen drug treatments may be beneficial in limiting tumor progression and improving patients' overall outcome. ...


As a toxically feminized male, I have a headache.

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Tue, Feb 17, 2009
from Mount Holyoke News:
Toxic BPA found in everyday products
Epidemiological studies have shown that endocrine disruptors like BPA and other foreign chemicals, also known as xenobiotics, can influence the onset of precocious puberty, increase infertility and accelerate the progression of breast, vaginal, prostate and uterine cancer.... Recently, there has been a number of controversial discussions about safe levels of BPA exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA currently warn against no more than 50 [micrograms] of BPA per kilogram of body weight per day. Recent research shows evidence that many of the abnormalities observed were at far lower concentration levels of BPA. ...


Luckily, I'm a man, and so am impervious to danger.

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Sun, Feb 15, 2009
from Stanford University, via EurekAlert:
When fish farms are built along the coast, where does the waste go?
All those fish penned up together consume massive amounts of commercial feed, some of which drifts off uneaten in the currents. And the crowded fish, naturally, defecate and urinate by the tens of thousands, creating yet another unpleasant waste stream. The wastes can carry disease, causing damage directly. Or the phosphate and nitrates in the mix may feed an algae bloom that sucks the oxygen from the water, leaving it uninhabitable, a phenomenon long associated with fertilizer runoff. It has been widely assumed that the effluent from pens would be benignly diluted by the sea if the pens were kept a reasonable distance from shore, said Jeffrey Koseff, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director of Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment. But early results from a new Stanford computer simulation based on sophisticated fluid dynamics show that the icky stuff from the pens will travel farther, and in higher concentrations, than had been generally assumed, Koseff said. ...


"It has been widely assumed" that such assumptions are asstupid.

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
from Wilmington News Journal:
DuPont gets more time to test PFOA
DuPont Co. has been given a last-minute pass on a federal deadline to complete testing on products thought to be a source of a controversial chemical in the environment. The Environmental Appeals Board has given the company another three years to finish the testing, the second federal action taken in the waning days of the Bush administration on perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a DuPont-made chemical used in Teflon and other products. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency also set provisional guidelines on drinking-water exposure to PFOA at a level that was more lax than state guidelines in New Jersey and elsewhere. "There's no science supporting either of these decisions. They're purely political gifts from the Bush administration," said Richard Wiles, executive director of Environmental Working Group, one of the first groups to sound the alarm on PFOA. Growing evidence of the chemical's harmful health effects calls for a sharper response from the federal government, Wiles said. ...


We should know by now: Most Acronyms are Bad for You (MABY)!

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Sat, Feb 7, 2009
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Probe: Did 3M firefighting foam contaminate water?
Minnesota health officials are launching a major investigation into whether drinking water in 15 Minnesota cities is contaminated with chemicals formerly manufactured by 3M Co. and used in municipal fire-fighting foam. The tests, set to begin next month, will be important to residents and fire officials in communities across the country where a 3M firefighting foam has been used for years in training exercises, often on city-owned property adjacent to municipal wells. The foam is flushed into storm sewers or left to seep into the ground, raising the possibility that drinking water has been affected. "This could have national significance," said Doug Wetzstein, supervisor in the superfund section at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Firefighters virtually everywhere have used the foam for decades, he said, at city practice areas, community college training courses, and especially at military bases, airports and refineries where jet fuel and other petroleum-based fires are a major concern. ...


Next thing... you're gonna tell me I shouldn't have eaten all that scotch tape!

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Sat, Jan 31, 2009
from The Herald News (MA):
Flowing medicine cabinet
PATANCHERU, India -- When researchers analyzed vials of treated wastewater taken from a plant where about 90 Indian drug factories dump their residues, they were shocked. Enough of a single, powerful antibiotic was being spewed into one stream each day to treat every person in a city of 90,000. And it wasn't just ciprofloxacin being detected. The supposedly cleaned water was a floating medicine cabinet -- a soup of 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment, researchers say. Those Indian factories produce drugs for much of the world, including many Americans. The result: Some of India's poor are unwittingly consuming an array of chemicals that may be harmful, and could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.... "I'll tell you, I've never seen concentrations this high before. And they definitely ... are having some biological impact, at least in the effluent," said Dan Schlenk, an ecotoxicologist from the University of California, Riverside, who was not involved in the India research. ...


Boy, am I glad we're not responsible. We only buy the drugs from their factories.

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Wed, Jan 28, 2009
from ACS, via EurekAlert:
Substantial work ahead for water issues, say scientists at ACS' Final Report briefing
Scientists and engineers will face a host of obstacles over the next decade in providing clean water to millions of people caught up in a water shortage crisis, a panel of scientists and engineers said today... Although Edwards stressed the importance of water conservation in meeting those, he also cited unintended consequences of such efforts. He noted, for instance, that reduced-flush toilets and other water conservation methods are allowing water to remain in household pipes longer. As it stagnates in pipes, the water could develop undesirable characteristics and have unwanted effects on household plumbing.... For instance, hypoxic zones in the Bay -- large areas of low oxygen levels where most animals can't live -- are still growing despite lacking the nutrients they need for expansion. "We don't fully understood why that is so," Ball said. "There's a lot to be learned yet about what locations and causes lead to that phenomenon, whether there are carbon sources coming in from the shallows into the deep that current models and understanding don't capture."... For example, the use of sensors to detect potentially toxic substances in water could provide general benefits for safety. Cost-effective, low maintenance sensors are a Holy Grail, Haas said, but difficult to develop. He warned that over-sensitive sensors could be counterproductive. ...


It was so easy getting into this mess. Why isn't it easier to get out?

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Sun, Jan 25, 2009
from Calgary Herald (Canada):
More plastic than plankton in Pacific Ocean
At least 80 per cent of the plastic in the ocean originated from the land. Thousands of cargo containers fall overboard in stormy seas each year. In 2002, 33,000 blue-and-white Nike basketball shoes were spilled off the coast of Washington. Plastic in the ocean acts like sponges attracting neuro-toxins like mercury and pyrethroids, insecticides, carcinogens such as PCBs, DDT and PBDE (the backbone of flame retardants), and man-made hormones like progesterone and estrogen that at high levels induce both male and female reproductive parts on a single animal. Japanese scientists found [plastic nuggets] with concentrations of poisons listed above as high as one million times their concentrations in the water as free-floating substances. Each year, a million sea birds and 100,000 sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales die from eating plastic.... Currently, there is six times more plastic than plankton floating in the middle of the Pacific. ...


Twice as much I could handle, even three times, but gosh, six times as much plastic as plankton? Maybe I should start getting worried?

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Thu, Jan 22, 2009
from Tucson Citizen:
UA lab to check for emerging contaminants such as Prozac, estrogen
The Arizona Laboratory for Emerging Contaminants, known as ALEC, uses super-sensitive instruments to test water, soil and tissue for minute amounts of substances such as uranium, heavy metals and organic compounds, including pharmaceuticals, said Jon Chorover, co-director of the lab.... Emerging contaminants are substances -- including Viagra, estrogen and Prozac that are raising alarms as potential hazards when found in water or foods containing or grown with contaminated water. These contaminants are a growing concern in Arizona, where water is a precious resource. ...


But what happens if they find these contaminants? Is there a market for recycled Viagra?

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Fri, Jan 16, 2009
from TIME:
E-Waste Not, E-Want Not
Every day Americans throw out more than 350,000 cell phones and 130,000 computers, making electronic waste the fastest-growing part of the U.S. garbage stream. Improperly disposed of, the lead, mercury and other toxic materials inside e-waste can leak from landfills.... A lot of exported e-waste ends up in Guiyu, China, a recycling hub where peasants heat circuit boards over coal fires to recover lead, while others use acid to burn off bits of gold. According to reports from nearby Shantou University, Guiyu has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world and elevated rates of miscarriages. "You see women sitting by the fireplace burning laptop adapters, with rivers of ash pouring out of houses," says Jim Puckett, founder of Basel Action Network (BAN), an e-waste watchdog. "We're dumping on the rest of the world." ...


Money talks, e-waste walks.

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Wed, Dec 31, 2008
from Forbes:
Idaho miners won't have to restore groundwater
Monsanto Co., Agrium Inc., and J.R. Simplot Co. will be able to mine phosphate without being forced to restore groundwater beneath their operations to its natural condition, according to a new rule awaiting approval by the 2009 Legislature.... "We have never asked for the right to mess up someone else's beneficial use of the groundwater," [lobbyist for Idaho Mining Association] Lyman told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "The department came up with a rule they think is workable, without putting our industry into a difficult situation where we'd be unable to comply." The rule is backed by industry but opposed by environmentalists including the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Idaho Conservation League, who say it gives mining companies near the Idaho-Wyoming border license to pollute forever. ...


"Unable to comply" with a livable future, that is.

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Sat, Dec 27, 2008
from New York Times:
Tennessee Ash Flood Larger Than Initial Estimate
A coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee that experts were already calling the largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States is more than three times as large as initially estimated, according to an updated survey by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Officials at the authority initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant, about 40 miles west of Knoxville, gave way on Monday. But on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep. ...


Somebody made an awfully big boo-boo!

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Wed, Dec 24, 2008
from University of California - Davis via ScienceDaily:
Baby Fish In Polluted San Francisco Estuarian Waters Are Stunted And Deformed
Striped bass in the San Francisco Estuary are contaminated before birth with a toxic mix of pesticides, industrial chemicals and flame retardants that their mothers acquire from estuary waters and food sources and pass on to their eggs, say UC Davis researchers. Using new analytical techniques, the researchers found that offspring of estuary fish had underdeveloped brains, inadequate energy supplies and dysfunctional livers. They grew slower and were smaller than offspring of hatchery fish raised in clean water. ...


As long as everyone is deformed it will all even out.

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Mon, Dec 15, 2008
from The Bracebridge Examiner and Gravenhurst Banner:
Muskoka's lakes face new environmental threat: report
According to the study, long-term consequences of calcium decline could result in areas where forests won't grow back well. Lakes could also start to lose calcium-rich organisms. A type of water flea, Daphnia, was the aquatic creature studied in the report, said Yan. The water flea is a crustacean, like little tiny shrimp, not an insect, he said.... "We are kind of likening these water fleas to canaries in the coal mine," Yan explained. "So if one calcium-rich animal is in trouble, then we darn well better find out about all the other calcium-rich animals, like crayfish and snails."... In the industrial age, minerals in the soil were leached through acid rain and logging. "What takes the minerals away is six decades of acid rain and then logging, followed by forest regrowth," said Yan. ...


It's the decline of the wee ones that make me weep.

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Fri, Dec 5, 2008
from New York Times:
Mountaintop Mining Rule Approved
The White House on Tuesday approved a final rule that will make it easier for coal companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into nearby streams and valleys. The rule is one of the most contentious of all the regulations emerging from the White House in President Bush's last weeks in office.... "This is unmistakably a fire sale of epic size for coal and the entire fossil fuel industry, with flagrant disregard for human health, the environment or the rule of law," said Vickie Patton, deputy general counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund. ...


Coming soon: the great West Virginia plateau.

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Tue, Nov 25, 2008
from Associated Press:
One-third of China's Yellow River heavily polluted with industrial discharge
BEIJING (AP) _ Newly released scientific results show one-third of the famed Yellow River, which supplies water to millions of people in northern China, is heavily polluted by industrial waste and unsafe for any use. The Yellow River, the second-longest in China, has seen its water quality deteriorate rapidly in the last few years, as discharge from factories increases and water levels drop because of diversion for booming cities. The river supplies a region chronically short of water but rich in industry. The Yellow River Conservancy Committee said 33.8 percent of the river's water sampled registered worse than level 5, meaning it's unfit for drinking, aquaculture, industrial use and even agriculture, according to criteria used by the United Nations Environmental Program. ...


The Yellow River: Livin' up to its name!

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Tue, Nov 25, 2008
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Fox River's dredging for PCBs starts soon
Green Bay - The workhorse in the biggest and most expensive phase to clean up the Fox River is a massive building rising from the banks of the river. Operating like a factory, the 242,000-square-foot facility will extract chemical compounds from river sediments for an estimated seven years and send them away in scores of dump trucks every day. After years of jockeying and extensive planning, the actual processing of the contaminated sediments starts in May - making the Fox and the Hudson River in New York the largest remediation projects in the country. The Fox is the largest single source of polychlorinated biphenyls on Lake Michigan. ...


Ideally it will be done in a fair and balanced way!

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Mon, Nov 24, 2008
from Honolulu Injury Board:
Breast Cancer Risk in Hawaii Linked to Pesticides in Drinking Water and Indoor Air
Pesticides leach into the Hawaii ground water system and end up in our drinking water. The warm tropical sun causes the pesticides to evaporate and enter the building through gaps in the foundation and infect breathing spaces inside the homes and schools and office buildings. Not only cancer but many respiratory diseases are caused by pesticides. Controlling insects with pesticides is a huge risk to drinking water and indoor air quality in Hawaii, and ultimately to matters of life and death to the public in Hawaii.... "Emerging evidence on endocrine disruption suggests that environmental chemicals may play a role in the development of breast cancer. Agricultural chemicals, including endocrine disruptors, have been used intensively in Hawaii's island ecosystem over the past 40 years leaching into groundwater, and leading to unusually widespread occupational and general population exposures." ...


That toxical Paradise, Hawaii.

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Mon, Nov 17, 2008
from USGS, via EurekAlert:
Acid soils in Slovakia tell somber tale
Increasing levels of nitrogen deposition associated with industry and agriculture can drive soils toward a toxic level of acidification, reducing plant growth and polluting surface waters, according to a new study published online in Nature Geoscience.... On the basis of these results, the authors warn that the high levels of nitrogen deposited in Europe and North America over the past half century already may have left many soils susceptible to this new stage of acidification. The results of this further acidification, wrote the authors, are highly reduced soil fertility and leaching of acids and toxic metals into surface waters. ...


lalalala I can't hear our past gaining on us lalala...

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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, Nov 6, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
Why frogs are croaking
In the quest to find out why frog species have been declining so dramatically, various researchers have blamed climate change, disease, pollution, and increases in ultraviolet light from the sun reaching the surface. If two new studies are any indication, the answer increasingly appears to be: all of the above. ...


Damn. Now we have to fix everything.

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Mon, Nov 3, 2008
from Associated Press:
Mexico City's 'water monster' nears extinction
MEXICO CITY-- Beneath the tourist gondolas in the remains of a great Aztec lake lives a creature that resembles a monster - and a Muppet - with its slimy tail, plumage-like gills and mouth that curls into an odd smile. The axolotl, also known as the "water monster" and the "Mexican walking fish," was a key part of Aztec legend and diet. Against all odds, it survived until now amid Mexico City's urban sprawl in the polluted canals of Lake Xochimilco, now a Venice-style destination for revelers poled along by Mexican gondoliers, or trajineros, in brightly painted party boats. But scientists are racing to save the foot-long salamander from extinction, a victim of the draining of its lake habitat and deteriorating water quality. In what may be the final blow, nonnative fish introduced into the canals are eating its lunch - and its babies. ...


Like an ax to the axolotl.

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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 Inter Press Service:
Worst Forms of Pollution Killing Millions
Gold mining and recycling car batteries are two of the world's Top 10 most dangerous pollution problems, and the least known, according a new report. The health of hundreds of millions of people is affected and millions die because of preventable pollution problems like toxic waste, air pollution, ground and surface water contamination, metal smelting and processing, used car battery recycling and artisanal gold mining, the "Top Ten" report found....In previous years, the Blacksmith Institute has released a Top Ten list of toxic sites. The Institute continues to compile a detailed database with over 600 toxic sites and will release the world's first detailed global inventory in a couple of years. However, this year, rather than focus on places, it wants to bring specific pollution issues to world attention. And in particular highlight the health impacts -- a 2007 Cornell University study that 40 percent of all deaths worldwide are directly attributable to pollution, he said. ...


Great news for the hazmat and respirator industries!

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from Springer News:
Fertilizers -- a growing threat to sea life
She highlights how population growth, agricultural expansion, and urbanization have released nitrogen from the land and moved it to Chesapeake Bay, where it has accumulated and degraded both the natural wildlife and water quality. The combination of the increasing use of fertilizers, deforestation and the draining of wetlands and floodplains to provide more land for crops, has led to an imbalance in the nitrogen cycle, in particular reduced opportunities for the natural removal of nitrogen. As a result, there is an excess of nitrogen in the estuary, also known as eutrophication. This in turn has led to the deterioration of the local ecosystem through reduced concentrations of oxygen in the bay, affecting both the water quality and the fish populations. ...


Those scientists always talk about "systems" and "interactions" and "correlations" and "causation." Don't they understand that fertilizers fertilize?

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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from USGS, via American Society of Agronomy:
Pesticide Concentrations Decreasing
Over the years, frequent research has detected pesticides in ground water around the country, including in aquifers used for drinking-water supply. Over the past few decades, the use of some pesticides has been restricted or banned, while new pesticides have been introduced. One goal of the study was to track the retention of various types of contaminants that would be found in the different pesticides used over the years.... The results of this study are encouraging for the future state of the nations ground-water quality with respect to pesticides," said Laura Bexfield, who conducted the data analysis. "Despite sustained use of many popular pesticides and the introduction of new ones, results as a whole did not indicate increasing detection rates or concentrations in shallow or drinking-water resources over the 10 years studied." ...


RoundUp is now guilt-free!

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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from Timmins Daily Press (Canada):
Toxic chemicals found in Ottawa River: Memo
Not only is raw sewage flowing into the Ottawa River, so are toxic chemicals. In a memo sent to city councillors last week deputy manager for infrastructure services Nancy Schepers stated that recent testing found at least 10 chemicals, some of them toxic, in the river that serves as the city's main source of drinking water. At least one chemical, perfluorobutane sulfonate, can result in birth or developmental effects, affect the brain and nervous system, cause cancer and affect reproduction and fertility. Raw river water samples taken in April 2008 showed 10 compounds from a list of 51 compounds the city tested for.... "In the long run we may conclude there are health effects or that there are no significant health effects," said Levy. ...


That long run is pretty short, I'm afraid.

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Sat, Oct 4, 2008
from Azerbaijan Press Agency:
Tartar River water banned for using because Armenians poison it
Local residents said the river became very turbid and they found dead bodies of fishes and other river inhabitants. Armenians began to clean silt layer in Sarsang reservoir with the support of Russian company. The process was shown on Armenian TV channels broadcasted to Nagorno Karabakh. They shed slops from Sarsang and other reservoirs into Tartar River. Experts of the Azerbaijan Water Problems Institute found out that 90 per cent of the river water is useless. ...


Hey! That's my water your slops poison.

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Sat, Oct 4, 2008
from Washington Post (US):
Shrinking Oyster Population Focus of River Summit
"When I got out of the Army in 1970, . . . you could make a good living," Smith said. But the number of oyster boats has dwindled, as have the shucking operations throughout the Chesapeake Bay area. Although state and federal oyster restoration efforts have cost nearly $60 million since 1994, the number of oysters has declined, according to a recent Environmental Protection Agency estimate. Experts say the oyster population in the bay is at 1 percent of historic highs in the 1880s. ...


One percent!? That means the oyster beds are 99 percent pure emptiness.

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Tue, Sep 30, 2008
from TravelVideo.tv:
Dubai warns beachgoers to stay out of sea
Dubai authorities and doctors have warned beachgoers to stay out of the sea as illegally dumped sewage has contaminated parts of the emirates shoreline, according to published reports. The sewage has blackened the waters surrounding Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, close to Jumeirah Open Beach, and further up the coast in the same area.... Keith Mutch, general manager of Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, which has had to suspend its operations for the past two weeks, said that the area had been completely ruined by the sewage. "It's become like a big toilet, with black colored water floating all around. A number of our members have developed skin rashes, eye and ear infections after coming into contact with the waters," he said. ...


Dubai, jewel of the commode.

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Mon, Sep 29, 2008
from USA Today:
No driveway carwashes, Wash. state says
Along with wild salmon and steelhead trout, the Pacific Northwest soon may have another endangered species -- the driveway carwash. Washing your car or boat in the driveway or street is a residential ritual as American as backyard barbecues. But the state of Washington is telling its local governments they must prohibit home car washing unless residents divert the wash water away from storm drains, where they say it causes water pollution. ...


Now that's what I call sacrifice!

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Mon, Sep 22, 2008
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Atrazine found in lakes far from farm sources
The widely used weed-killer atrazine is showing up in pristine lakes in northern Minnesota far from farm country, and scientists believe the chemical is falling out of the sky. In the first statewide study of pesticides in Minnesota lakes, government scientists discovered small amounts of atrazine in nine out of 10 lakes sampled, including some in or near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. ...


To paraphrase that great philosopher, Chicken Little, the sky is falling and it's full of atrazine.

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Sun, Sep 21, 2008
from Charleston Post and Courier:
Depleted striper stock sends rumors swirling
As the prized striped bass mysteriously disappeared from the Marion-Moultrie lakes, a rumor whispered from fisherman to fisherman: tributyltin. A disastrous spill of the chemical in 2000 from a tin plant near Lexington killed all the animals and plants nearby in a creek that feeds the Congaree River in Columbia. Later that same year, the same chemical was spilled from another plant into the river upstream. Within two years, state biologists were confronting the depletion of the catch in the lakes downstream. ...


The fishermen must whisper it because it's too dangerous to say outloud.

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Mon, Sep 15, 2008
from Associated Press:
Health facilities flush estimated 250M pounds of drugs a year
U.S. hospitals and long-term care facilities annually flush millions of pounds of unused pharmaceuticals down the drain, pumping contaminants into America's drinking water... These discarded medications are expired, spoiled, over-prescribed or unneeded... Few of the country's 5,700 hospitals and 45,000 long-term care homes keep data on the pharmaceutical waste they generate. Based on a small sample, though, the AP was able to project an annual national estimate of at least 250 million pounds of pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging, with no way to separate out the drug volume. ...


As long as there's plenty of Prozac in there... who's to worry?

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Mon, Sep 15, 2008
from Connecticut Post:
What's killing off our salt marshes?
Up and down the Eastern Seaboard, the coastal wetlands are dying, and no one knows for sure why this is happening. First observed in the Florida panhandle in 1990, the shoreline degradation, called sudden wetland dieback, has been observed in hundreds of locations from Louisiana to Maine. Scientists say that while it's normal for coastal marsh vegetation to have its bad years, they have never seen marsh grass die and not recover, until now.... Researchers agree that solving the marsh dieback puzzle is important -- not only for the Sound, but for the Earth as well. "The salt marsh is the second most productive ecosystem on the planet -- only the tropical rainforest will produce more biomass per square kilometer," Elmer said. "It also serves as a home for many organisms. ...


I think the answer is simple:
we are.

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Wed, Sep 10, 2008
from Associated Press:
Freshwater fish in N. America in peril, study says
About four out of 10 freshwater fish species in North America are in peril, according to a major study by U.S., Canadian and Mexican scientists. And the number of subspecies of fish populations in trouble has nearly doubled since 1989, the new report says. One biologist called it "silent extinctions" because few people notice the dramatic dwindling of certain populations deep in American lakes, rivers and streams. ...


In the water
no one can hear you scream.

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Tue, Sep 9, 2008
from US Geologic Survey:
Silent Streams? Escalating Endangerment for North American Freshwater Fish
Nearly 40 percent of fish species in North American streams, rivers and lakes are now in jeopardy, according to the most detailed evaluation of the conservation status of freshwater fishes in the last 20 years. The 700 fishes now listed represent a staggering 92 percent increase over the 364 listed as "imperiled" in the previous 1989 study published by the American Fisheries Society. Researchers classified each of the 700 fishes listed as either vulnerable (230), threatened (190), or endangered (280). In addition, 61 fishes are presumed extinct. ...


This, from that radical fringe group,
The US Geologic Survey.

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Wed, Sep 3, 2008
from World Wildlife Fund via ScienceDaily:
Baltic States Failing To Protect Most Damaged Sea
Nine Baltic sea states all scored failing grades in an annual WWF evaluation of their performance in protecting and restoring the worlds most damaged sea... The best grade (an F for just 46 per cent) was received by Germany, followed by Denmark (41 per cent) and the worst were Poland (25 per cent) and Russia (26 per cent). ...


Couldn't they have graded on a curve?

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Mon, Sep 1, 2008
from Gant Daily (PA):
Deep-well Natural Gas Drilling a Concern for State's Water Quality
Scientists have known for years the gas was there, but it wasn't until new drilling technology was developed that it could be extracted. This method uses hydraulic pressure to fracture the shale layer so trapped gas can escape. "Fracking, as they call it, can require several million gallons of water for each gas well, and some wells may be fracked more than once during their active life, which might span more than a decade," Swistock explained.... In other states, fracking water has been found to contain numerous hazardous and toxic substances, including formaldehyde, benzene and chromates. ...


We're fracking ourselves up. Again!

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Thu, Aug 28, 2008
from Western Morning News (UK):
'Barmy' pesticides ban blasted
Ministers are to step up pressure on the European Parliament not to press ahead with "barmy plans" to ban three-quarters of pesticides used by farmers.... The opposition has to come from across the continent to ensure that it is "not just Britain whingeing", he said.... The controversy centres on the types of chemicals which Brussels wants to remove. They include banning substances which have "endocrine disrupting properties" that could cause adverse effect in humans. However, the public is already exposed to such substances through prescribed drugs, meat, peas and beans and products like soya milk. ...


Oi, guv'nor. Wot rubbish.

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Tue, Aug 26, 2008
from NaturalNews:
Canada's Oil Sands Declared "Most Destructive Project on Earth" as Eco Disaster Looms
The report accuses the Canadian government of allowing the Tar Sands Project to emit levels of greenhouse gases that far outstrip any reductions made in other areas. "Ottawa is letting the Tar Sands hold Canadians hostage on global warming," said Program Manager Matt Price.... The group also says that the project has contaminated rivers and groundwater with toxic chemicals, caused an increase in acid rain and created "health sacrifice zones" in the surrounding region. ...


"Health sacrifice zones" sound a lot like "collateral damage" to me.

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Sat, Aug 23, 2008
from Chemistry World:
Chinese sewage plant study raises concerns
Many water treatment facilities in China are failing to remove toxic organic chemicals and levels of some chemicals are actually increasing during treatment, according to researchers from Nankai University, Tianjin.... One of the chemicals monitored by Sun's team is nonylphenol, released during the breakdown of nonylphenol polyethoxylate detergents. Nonylphenol is an endocrine disrupter... [T]he sewage treatment works only removed 60-70 per cent of nonylphenol polyethoxylate from water... To make matters worse, nonylphenol polyethoxylate degrades into smaller metabolites, such as nonylphenol, which could be 70 times more toxic than their precursors. ...


"To make matters worse," indeed.

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Fri, Aug 22, 2008
from The Capital, Annapolis, MD:
Fish kill hits Magothy
Thousands of dead fish and crabs floated to the surface of the Magothy River this week, suffocated by low oxygen levels in the water..... To Paul Spadaro of Severna Park, president of the Magothy River Association, the fish kill is yet another sign that we need to do more to clean up area waterways. Rapid development, overuse of fertilizers and leaky septic systems all take their toll on the water, and in turn, the aquatic life. "What the poor fish have to deal with is our doing," he said. ...


Yeah, but what a boon to maggots and microbes!

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Wed, Aug 20, 2008
from Edmonton Journal:
Fish with double jaw sparks eco interest
"CALGARY - A northern First Nations band which displayed a deformed, two-jawed fish at a weekend water conference says the grotesque specimen has spurred efforts to collect evidence to show that Alberta's oilsands are poisoning both wildlife and people. George Poitras, a spokesman for the Mikisew Cree, said the band is determining what to do with the large goldeye, which was found last week by children playing in the waters of Lake Athabasca, downstream from the oilsands." ...


Those kids better not've made fun of it!

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Wed, Aug 20, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
New sea change forecasts present a slimy picture
Earth's oceans are on the brink of massive change. You see it in such details as the hordes of Pacific mollusks that researchers have identified as ready to invade the North Atlantic as a thawing Arctic Ocean opens the way. You also see it in broad trends: A new overview warns that such relentless human impacts as overfishing or agricultural pollution -- as well as global warming -- threaten mass extinctions of marine life. Jeremy Jackson at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who made that overview, notes that this is "not a happy picture." He says that "the only way to keep one's sanity and try to achieve real success is to carve out sectors of the problem that can be addressed in effective terms and get on with it as quickly as possible." ...


Other ways to keep one's sanity:
denial, rose colored glasses, blaming the victim, changing the subject.

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Mon, Aug 18, 2008
from Reuters India:
"Toxic" Indian festivals poison waterways
"MUMBAI (Reuters) - Toxic chemicals from thousands of idols of Hindu gods immersed in rivers and lakes across India are causing pollution which is killing fish and contaminating food crops, experts and environmentalists said on Monday... Elaborately painted and decorated idols are worshipped before they are taken during mass processions to rivers, lakes and the sea, where they are immersed in accordance with Hindu faith. Environmentalists say the idols are often made from non-biodegradable materials such as plastic, cement and plaster of Paris and painted with toxic dyes." ...


And here I thought only in America were idols screwing everything up!

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Thu, Aug 14, 2008
from Telegraph-Journal (Canada):
Lake Utopia's toxic algal bloom
The blue-green algae, he said, is caused by increased nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which come from a variety of sources. Fox said the increase could be an accumulation of many factors, including the flow from a canal that flows from the man-made headpond created by a power dam, automatic dishwater soap flowing into the water, the Cooke Aquaculture hatchery located on the lake, fertilizers people are using to grow grass on their lawns, leaky sewage systems and recreational boating.... Cleary advised that drinking the water could result in a "pretty nasty effect" of nausea and diarrhea and possibly death... The doctor explained that while humans probably wouldn't choose to swim in the scummy areas of the water or swallow it, animals don't know any better and should not be permitted to swim in the lake. ...


Ouch. We can no longer drink from
the waters of Utopia.

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Wed, Aug 13, 2008
from IndiaInteracts:
Powerful Friends of Posco and Sterlite
In today's world, where the real wealthy are the corporate tycoons, it is hardly surprising that they are using their wealth not just to win friends but also to buy loyalty. The brazen manner in which the Posco and the Vedanta (Sterlite) have bought the friendship of Naveen Patnaik administration in Orissa and the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre is a testimony to the bourgeoning influence of the money power.... And what has the plant done to the people? Although the refinery is not yet in full operation, it is already damaging local life. Filmmaker S.Josson spoke to the people of the area in March 2008. Sample one quote: Mukta a woman living in the vicinity of the refinery says: "The water has become bad. When we bathe the skin itches. When we drink we get sores in our mouth. Our hair is falling rapidly. The air quality has also become terrible. It is difficult to breathe. We get sores in our throat. The body itches at night. Our cattle are dying"... And this is how Naveen Patnaik and Manmohan Singh are bringing the experience of modern living for the tribal people of Orissa. ...


That's the itch of modernity! Scratch it!

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Thu, Aug 7, 2008
from The Register-Guard:
Agency: Chemicals a danger to salmon
"Three insecticides in common use around Oregon homes and farms pose a serious threat to endangered salmon and have been found extensively in Oregon watersheds. The insecticides chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon as they have been commonly used are likely to lead to the extinction of more than two dozen salmon or steelhead runs in California, Oregon and Washington, according to a draft biological opinion by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the federal agency that functions as a watchdog for ocean-going species." ...


Chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon -- the Three Stooges of Insecticides.

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Wed, Aug 6, 2008
from The London Times:
Polluted Ganges must be cleaned, gurus demand
"A coalition of gurus has issued an ultimatum to India's fragile Government: purify the chronically polluted Ganges, the river revered by Hindus, or face protests and political ruin. Ganga Raksha Manch, a newly formed alliance of celebrity holy men, is demanding urgent action to cleanse the holy waterway, which has become a noxious cocktail of human and industrial waste, before a general election that must be held before May." ...


Once that coalition of gurus is empowered, the sky's the limit!

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Sun, Jul 27, 2008
from Des Moines Register:
Floods foul Iowa environment
"The scope of environmental damage in the wake of this spring's massive flooding is just starting to come into focus. The early findings: Iowa is awash in bacteria, plagued with pesticides, and doused in oil and dangerous compounds, but at concentrations that don't pose an immediate risk to aquatic life or human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collected 169,836 stray computers, appliances, televisions and containers as of July 17, most in Linn County." ...


There is no ark that can save us from this flood.

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Fri, Jul 25, 2008
from Downey Patriot:
Getting rid of your TV and a tsunami of waste
[T]he biggest loser to the great HDTV switchover could be our environment. Solid waste managers worry that consumers will opt for HDTV en masse, consigning perfectly good analog TVs to the U.S. waste stream. Eighty to 200 million televisions could be discarded over the next 30 months.... Picture tubes hold up to eight pounds of toxic lead, while television plastic casings contain cancer-causing flame retardants. Other TV toxins can include cadmium, mercury, chromium, beryllium and arsenic. If not recycled, toxic TVs can poison people, soils and groundwater. ...


But hey, we'll be able to watch the devolution in high def!

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Wed, Jul 16, 2008
from World Wildlife Fund via ScienceDaily:
Cruise-liner Sewage Adds To Baltic Decline
"Most international cruise ship companies operating in the Baltic Sea have refused to co-operate with a plea from WWF to stop dumping their sewage straight into the water. The Baltic, an inland sea, is one of the most polluted seas in the world, so much so that the countries on its northern European shores have recently joined together to form the Baltic Sea Action Plan in an attempt to reverse its decline." ...


Everybody knows that bacchanal sewage from cruise ships is especially noxious.

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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 Provinces 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.

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Thu, Jul 3, 2008
from Barrie Examiner:
Massive fish deaths a puzzle for officials: carp washing ashore across Lake Simcoe
"I was down off De Grassi Point to fish for bass and I ran into three of them about 100 yards offshore. I thought it was a rock or something," he said yesterday. He dragged the near-metre long fish behind his boat in the event the Ministry of Natural Resources or some other agency wanted to run tests on the carcass, prompting another nearby angler to ask him what his big catch was. So far, the carp die-off is being monitored by the MNR in lakes Simcoe and Couchiching and is reaching up as far as Sparrow Lake near Washago. ...


Too bad carp are so ugly, or we'd be seeing bake sales to "save the carp."

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Thu, Jun 26, 2008
from ABC News:
U.N.: Toxic Waste Exports on the Rise
Many poor countries accept toxic waste from abroad, such as old computers, rusted ships and pesticides, in a shortsighted bid to lift themselves out of poverty, despite the dangers to human health and the environment, a U.N. rights official said Thursday.... "Is it worth the short term monetary gain? Is it worth people falling sick ... precious water sources contaminated permanently?" he asked. "I believe that we need to think of a better solution to generate income and development." ...


The market forces say:
Yes.

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Thu, Jun 26, 2008
from Herald Online (South Africa):
Pollution fears as prawns die in thousands
THOUSANDS of pink prawns have washed up dead on the banks of the Swartkops estuary, apparently as a result of pollution from the Markman canal.... "The whole river was pink. We feel fairly certain there was a connection between this swarming, the die-off and what we saw and smelt coming out of the Markman canal last week." ...


Swarming prawns, pink river.
A wedding, or a funeral?

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Wed, Jun 25, 2008
from MetroWest Daily News:
Tests to begin for Nyanza underground cleanup
Long gone are a 12,000-ton vault that oozed chemicals and the infamous green and purple sludge lagoons atop Megunko Hill. But one last known piece of contamination from the former dye company site still lingers deep underground in Ashland. Federal contractors plan to return to town this summer to start designing the cleanup of dense chemicals that have sunk below the water table to the bedrock beneath, causing a plume of contaminated groundwater.... Nyanza operated from 1917 to 1978, also polluting the Sudbury River with mercury that is being eyed in a separate EPA cleanup process. ...


There's gonna to be
a whole lot of cleanin' goin' on
in the next decade.

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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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Sun, Jun 22, 2008
from Grist:
Why are sperm counts so low in Missouri?
Are the region's titanic annual lashings of agrichemicals -- synthetic and mined fertilizers, as well as poisons designed to kill bugs, weeds, and mold -- leaching into drinking water and doing creepy things to the state's citizens? And what about manure from the stunning concentration of concentrated-animal feedlot operations (CAFOs)...? Greaney cites an Environmental Health Perspectives study showing that men in Columbia have sharply lower average sperm counts.... [T]wo pesticides -- diazinon and metolachlor -- have shown up in samples from Missouri men with low sperm counts. Neither is currently regulated by the EPA as a drinking-water contaminant. ...


Why would the EPA regulate it?
It's just a farm chemical after all.
Isn't that USDA?

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Sat, Jun 21, 2008
from CBC (Canada):
Dumping mining waste into lakes 'more responsible': fisheries minister
Tailing waste produced by mining companies is best stored in water, the federal fisheries minister said Tuesday, defending a planned move by bureaucrats to reclassify 16 Canadian lakes as toxic dump sites.... "It is much more responsible to store them in water," Hearn said. "Any damage done in relation to fish or fish habitat has to be mitigated where there is no net loss to either fish or fish habitat. There is a major environmental study done before any go-ahead is given," he said, adding that "every aspect is covered" before anybody could be in a position to damage the environment. ...


Clearly a graduate of the
GWB School of Public Speeching.

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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 17, 2008
from CBC (Canada):
Lakes across Canada face being turned into mine dump sites
CBC News has learned that 16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly "reclassified" as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland. Environmentalists say the process amounts to a "hidden subsidy" to mining companies, allowing them to get around laws against the destruction of fish habitat. Under the Fisheries Act, it's illegal to put harmful substances into fish-bearing waters. But, under a little-known subsection known as Schedule Two of the mining effluent regulations, federal bureaucrats can redefine lakes as "tailings impoundment areas." ...


That is some fine print!

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Sun, Jun 15, 2008
from Dhaka Daily Star in Bangladesh:
Rivers void of life forms
"The level of pollution in the Buriganga and most parts of Turag and Norai flowing around the capital is so high that no living organism can survive in the waters of these rivers, researchers say. A three-year research finds that some invertebrates and small organisms come into being in these rivers when water flow increases during rains. But these life forms completely disappear in the dry season, they add. ...


Sounds like the kind of river you could light with a match.

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Sat, Jun 14, 2008
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Pesticide Mixtures Hurt Salmon
"Mixtures of pesticides at concentrations found in the environment can wreck a salmon's sense of smell, according to a new study. Salmon use their sense of smell to find food and mates, detect predators, and migrate seasonally from rivers to oceans. The new findings suggest that the effects of pesticides in rivers on olfaction may be at least partially responsible for declining salmon stocks, which led to this year's ban on commercial fishing for wild salmon along the U.S. Pacific Coast." ...


Perhaps their other senses can learn to compensate.

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Tue, Jun 10, 2008
from OPB News:
Commercial Waste Disposal At Hanford Raises Some Eyebrows
The commercial low level waste dump at Hanford is a disgrace to the state of Washington. It is a massive unlined set of ditches that are leaking contamination that threatens the Columbia River. And its an embarrassment that we are dumping radioactive waste, some of it extremely radioactive, in unlined ditches." ...


Embarrassing, indeed.
Is my face glowing.

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Mon, Jun 9, 2008
from NewScientist:
Pesticides blamed for plummeting salmon stocks
A weak mix of pesticides in river water dampens a salmon's sense of smell, say researchers. In experiments, Steelhead rainbow trout exposed to low levels of 10 common agricultural pesticides could not perceive changes in levels of a predator's scent.... A depressed sense of smell might also keep fish from finding mates and food. Trout are closely related to salmon, and, though the theory is unproven, pesticides may be a cause of plummeting salmon stocks in Canada and the US, Tierney says. ...


Something stinks -- and even the salmon can smell it.

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Wed, Jun 4, 2008
from Stabroek News (Guyana):
Quartz Hill mining highlights environment threat
Breaches of the mining regulations were evident during a recent visit to Quartz Hill and nearby areas, resulting in pollution and fouling of waterways even as the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) strives to enforce the rules and advocate self-regulation.... Meanwhile, unsafe use of mercury, breached tailings ponds and mining activities close to water courses were some of the infringements.... As a result of the breached tailings ponds, a section of the Omai Creek was heavily discoloured with a yellow sludge, which made its way to the Essequibo River. ...


We've noticed that when the profit motive is involved, self-regulation is appealing only to the profiteers.

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Fri, May 30, 2008
from BlueRidgeNow (Times-News):
Unknown toxin kills fish in Davidson River
PISGAH FOREST - State officials on Thursday were investigating the cause of a mile-long fish kill on the lower Davidson River, while Transylvania County officials urged residents to avoid contact with the water in the Davidson and downstream on the French Broad River.... a preliminary report with the DWQ office in Black Mountain listed as a possible source a 22,000 gallon tank of "black liquor," a concentration of organic byproducts of the paper-making process.... The Davidson is famous for its trout fishing, both along the private section downstream of U.S. 64/276 and through Pisgah National Forest upstream. ...


"Black liquor" even sounds toxic.

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Tue, May 27, 2008
from London Daily Telegraph:
Oil crisis triggers fevered scramble for the world's seabed
"A fevered scramble for control of the world's seabed is going on - mostly in secret - at a little known office of the United Nations in New York. Bemused officials are watching with a mixture of awe and suspicion as Britain and France stake out legal claims to oil and mineral wealth as far as 350 nautical miles around each of their scattered islands across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans... Not to be left out, Australia and New Zealand are carving up the Antarctic seas." ...


You made your bed ... now drown in it.

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Sat, May 17, 2008
from Apapa Vanguard:
NAFDAC bans 30 agrochemical products
"THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has banned the sale and supply of 30 different agrochemical products in the country. NAFDAC Director-General, Professor Dora Akunyili, explained in Abuja that the ban became necessary when it was discovered that the pesticides were causing food poisoning that had resulted in the death of many after they consumed food crops preserved with the chemicals... "Samples were again taken to our laboratory and it was discovered that the foodstuffs contained outrageously high levels of lindane, an organochlorinated pesticide commonly called gammallin that affects the nervous system, producing a range of symptoms from nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness to seizure, convulsion and death," she said." ...


We're better off eating pests.

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Thu, May 15, 2008
from NewsDaily:
Research links common chemicals to obesity
Exposure in the womb to common chemicals used to make everything from plastic bottles to pizza box liners may program a person to become obese later in life, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.... Previous studies have linked these chemicals -- also found in water pipes -- to cancer and reproductive problems, prompting a number of countries and U.S. states to consider potential bans or limits of the compounds, the researchers said. One of the chemicals is called Bisphenol A, found in polycarbonate plastics. Past research has suggested it leaches from plastic food and drink containers. ...


Cancer and reproductive problems are one thing. But if it makes us fat? That changes everything!

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Thu, May 8, 2008
from Environmental Science and Technology:
Metal pollution is toxic for endangered eels
"One of the world's most bizarre creatures is vanishing. Freshwater eel populations began crashing worldwide in the 1980s. The decline has been rapid, and scientists think eels are probably succumbing to a variety of ills, including overfishing, habitat loss, pollution, and eel-chewing hydropower turbines." ...


The wh/eels are coming off this species.

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Thu, May 8, 2008
from Environmental Expert (UK):
British company fined for polluting National Trust beauty spot
Thames Water was ordered to pay more than 40,000 after admitting destroying the ecology of a high-quality stream and lake after a burst pipe churned raw sewage out onto National Trust land. Thousands of fish, including notable species of brook lamprey, brown trout, bullhead, and native crayfish were left dead as the sewage caused oxygen levels to plummet and ammonia to rocket... "When I first arrived at the Penwood Stream I was struck by the smell of raw sewage. The water had turned a cloudy orange colour and the stream bed was covered in slimy sewage fungus; thousands of fish, including some important and rare species, where dead or in distress, gasping at the surface of the water..." In February 2007 Environment Agency officers were called out after Thames Water reported the same pipe had burst again, just 15 metres from the previous incident. ...


Gosh, forty thousand pounds -- that's about eighty thousand US dollars. Talk about punitive fines. I'm sure that'll make them think once.

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Fri, May 2, 2008
from AP, via CNN:
Pharmaceuticals in reservoir causing troubling problems to fish, wildlife
A five-month Associated Press investigation has determined that trace amounts of many of the pharmaceuticals we take to stay healthy are seeping into drinking water supplies, and a growing body of research indicates that this could harm humans. But people aren't the only ones who consume that water. There is more and more evidence that some animals that live in or drink from streams and lakes are seriously affected.... Pharmaceuticals in the water are being blamed for severe reproductive problems in many types of fish: The endangered razorback sucker and male fathead minnow have been found with lower sperm counts and damaged sperm; some walleyes and male carp have become what are called feminized fish, producing egg yolk proteins typically made only by females. Meanwhile, female fish have developed male genital organs. Also, there are skewed sex ratios in some aquatic populations, and sexually abnormal bass that produce cells for both sperm and eggs. ...


No doubt those fish throw some wild parties!

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Thu, Apr 10, 2008
from News-Enterprise (KY):
Report: A dozen Hardin County water sources polluted
A dozen Hardin County streams and the headwaters of one popular lake are considered unhealthy for aquatic life, fish consumption or both, according to a draft report released this week by Kentuckys Division of Water.... Thirty-four streams in surrounding counties also are considered too polluted to fully sustain aquatic life or fully provide healthy recreational opportunities, according to the draft report. ...


The solution to pollution is not dilution.

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Fri, Apr 4, 2008
from Kenniwick Tri-City Herald:
Hanford workers position 'umbrella' over contamination
"Hanford workers have finished installing a 70,000-square-foot "umbrella" over soil contaminated by what may have been the largest leak of radioactive waste from Hanford's underground tanks. The cap is a temporary measure to keep rain and snow melt from driving contamination deeper into the ground. But eventually, as leak-prone tanks are emptied of radioactive waste, the Department of Energy is expected to identify a way to clean up or otherwise permanently protect the public and environment from the remains of the spill. ...


I'm SINGING in the toxic rain, I'm singing in the toxic RAIN, what a poisonous FEEling, groundwater fouled aGAIN....

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Sat, Mar 15, 2008
from Green Bay Press-Gazette:
Blocked study draws attention to PCBs
"It has been almost 20 years since the National Wildlife Federation issued its first fish consumption warning, drawing the public's attention to the effects of PCBs and mercury on Great Lakes fish. Back then, it was met with strong opposition from sport and commercial fishermen, among others. The debate continues to rage today. A 400-page study on health and environmental hazards in the Great Lakes was blocked from publication by the CDC last year. Part of the report draws attention to the health risks associated with eating fish from the Lower Fox River and Green Bay." ...


This is a Biome Breach scenario in two ways: 1) the presence of PCBs and 2) the public's right to know the truth has been breached by enforced secrecy.

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Mon, Mar 10, 2008
from mlive.com:
Great Lakes fish soak in new poison
"Toxic flame retardants commonly used in computers, televisions and textiles have accumulated dramatically in Great Lakes fish over the past two decades, prompting legislative efforts to ban the compounds. The state Legislature in 2004 banned two types of the flame retardants, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. Michigan was one of several states to ban the manufacture, use or distribution of penta-BDE and octa-BDE. But a third type of the chemical, deca-BDE, is still widely used and can break down into the more toxic forms of PBDEs. Environmental activists and some scientists are pushing for a ban on deca-BDE, a persistent toxin that accumulates in the food chain....The Michigan Chemistry Council and the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs oppose banning deca-BDE. "Right now, we feel that the science has not justified the banning of deca-BDE," said Jerry Howell, chief executive officer of the Michigan Chemistry Council. ...


Client: "Flame Retardant?!" Madge: "You're soaking in it!"

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Fri, Mar 7, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
Chemicals In Our Waters Are Affecting Humans And Aquatic Life In Unanticipated Ways
Derek Muir of Environment Canada and colleagues have determined that of the 30,000 or so chemicals used commercially in the United States and Canada, about 400 resist breaking down in the environment and can accumulate in fish and wildlife. These researchers estimate that of this 400, only 4 percent are routinely analyzed and about 75 percent have not been studied.... found that some combinations were much more toxic to the juvenile salmon than any one of the chemicals acting alone... ...


Willya quit ganging up on them?

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Tue, Feb 26, 2008
from Jackson Hole Star Tribune:
Embattled ag undersecretary makes no apologies for timber policies
"He overhauled federal forest policy to cut more trees -- and became a lightning rod for environmentalists who say he is intent on logging every tree in his reach. After nearly seven years in office, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey still has a long to-do list. Near the top: Persuade a federal judge to keep him out of jail ... A Montana judge, accusing Rey of deliberately skirting the law so the Forest Service can keep fighting wildfires with a flame retardant that kills fish, has threatened to put him behind bars." ...


Rey's main accomplishment is the 2003 Healthy Forests Restoration Act. If he does go to jail, let's call it the 2008 Celebrating Freedom Act.

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Fri, Feb 15, 2008
from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Scientists fear Tipping Point for Pacific Ocean
"Where scientists previously found a sea bottom abounding with life, two years ago they discovered the rotting carcasses of crabs, starfish and sea worms, swooshing from side to side in the current. Most fish had fled -- and those that didn't or couldn't joined the deathfest on the sea floor. Extraordinarily low oxygen levels were to blame -- swept up from the deep ocean into normally productive waters just off the Pacific Northwest coast by uncharacteristically strong winds....It looks like the Pacific has reached a "tipping point," a threshold where low-oxygen levels are becoming the rule, researchers said." ...


The scientists conclude the ocean may be "poised for significant reorganization" -- sciencespeak for "we're screwed."

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Thu, Feb 14, 2008
from Associated Press:
Study says people impact all oceans
"Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop pristine, might be the lament of today's Ancient Mariner. Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the planet, and every single spot has been affected by people in some way. Researchers studying 17 different activities ranging from fishing to pollution compiled a new map showing how and where people have impacted the seas. Our results show that when these and other individual impacts are summed up, the big picture looks much worse than I imagine most people expected. It was certainly a surprise to me," said lead author Ben Halpern, an assistant research scientist at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara." ...


Oh, those scientists....always the last to know.

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Mon, Dec 17, 2007
from New York Times (US):
LA Reservoirs Closed After Carcinogen Is Found
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plans to drain 600 million gallons from the reservoirs, the Elysian and the Silver Lake, early next year, said a water department spokesman, Joseph Ramallo. The reservoirs will be out of use for three to four months amid drought conditions. High levels of the carcinogen bromate were found in early October by a commercial customer who ran a laboratory test, officials said. The utility confirmed the finding, immediately removed the reservoirs from service and notified the Department of Public Health. Officials emphasized that the chemical is dangerous only after long-term consumption. ...


Great, Hollywood can't drink local bottled water, can't drink the tap water, and there's a drought in the region. Guess we'll just have to keep on shipping that Fiji Water thousands of miles. For now.

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