April 19, 2012, from EcoWatch
Two years before the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP off-shore rig suffered a nearly identical blow-out, but BP concealed the first one from the U.S. regulators and Congress....
The witness, whose story is backed up by rig workers who were evacuated from BP's Caspian platform, said that had BP revealed the full story as required by industry practice, the eleven Gulf of Mexico workers "could have had a chance" of survival. But BP's insistence on using methods proven faulty sealed their fate.
One cause of the blow-outs was the same in both cases: the use of a money-saving technique--plugging holes with "quick-dry" cement.
By hiding the disastrous failure of its penny-pinching cement process in 2008, BP was able to continue to use the dangerous methods in the Gulf of Mexico--causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. April 20 marks the second anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster....
[This is an astonishing story. I was in Baku several times in the mid-90s, and it was a police state then, as it is now. The only industry bringing money into Azerbaijan is oil, and drastic measures like "disappearing" threats of any kind has become normalized, and the citizenry cowed.]
April 19, 2011, from Associated Press
It's hard to tell that just a year ago BP was reeling from financial havoc and an American public out for blood.
The oil giant at the center of one of the world's biggest environmental crises is making strong profits again, its stock has largely rebounded, and it is paying dividends to shareholders once more. It is also pursuing new ventures from the Arctic to India. It is even angling to explore again in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it holds more leases than any competitor.
April 19, 2011, from BBC
A mother's diet during pregnancy can alter the DNA of her child and increase the risk of obesity, according to researchers.
The study, to be published in the journal Diabetes, showed that eating low levels of carbohydrate changed bits of DNA.
It then showed children with these changes were fatter.
The British Heart Foundation called for better nutritional and lifestyle support for women.
It is thought that a developing baby tries to predict the environment it will be born into, taking cues from its mother and adjusting its DNA.
April 19, 2011, from Environmental Health News
Mexican American school children in California are contaminated with seven times more flame retardants than children in Mexico and three times more than their own mothers, according to a new study. The 7-year-olds in the Salinas Valley had more of the chemicals in their bodies than almost all other people tested worldwide. University of California scientists warn that the levels they found in the children "present a major public health challenge." Low income, rather than race or ethnicity, is probably the major factor in determining who is highly exposed to these chemicals. Household dust is likely the major source.
April 19, 2011, from PNAS, vai ScienceDaily
Using 120 years of feathers from natural history museums in the United States, Harvard University researchers have been able to track increases in the neurotoxin methylmercury in the black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), an endangered seabird that forages extensively throughout the Pacific.
The study shows that the observed increase in methylmercury levels, most likely from human-generated emissions, can be observed and tracked over broad time periods in organisms that live in the Pacific Ocean....
"Given both the high levels of methylmercury that we measured in our most recent samples and regional levels of emissions, mercury bioaccumulation and toxicity may undermine reproductive effort in this species and other long-lived, endangered seabirds."
They found increasing levels of methylmercury that were generally consistent with historical global and recent regional increases in anthropogenic mercury emissions.
April 19, 2009, from Associated Press
U.S. manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water — contamination the federal government has consistently overlooked, according to an Associated Press investigation.
Hundreds of active pharmaceutical ingredients are used in a variety of manufacturing, including drugmaking: For example, lithium is used to make ceramics and treat bipolar disorder; nitroglycerin is a heart drug and also used in explosives; copper shows up in everything from pipes to contraceptives... trace amounts of a wide range of pharmaceuticals -- including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones -- have been found in American drinking water supplies. Including recent findings in Dallas, Cleveland and Maryland's Prince George's and Montgomery counties, pharmaceuticals have been detected in the drinking water of at least 51 million Americans.
April 19, 2009, from Chapel Hill News
Nancy Holt bulldozed trees and blocked the path to the creek behind her house after her grandson and his friend went wading in the water and got staph infections.
Myra Dotson developed red bumps on her knees and forearms after gardening. When they became infected, a doctor diagnosed her with MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant "super bug."
Both women blame the infections on sewage sludge applied on nearby fields. Now an advisory board's concerns are raising questions the county had hoped to begin answering two years ago.
April 19, 2009, from Seattle Times
Even near death, tundra swans are graceful.
Snowy necks arch and flex as the birds -- victims of lead poisoning -- gasp for breath. Wings rise and fall in rhythmic sweeps, but the birds are too weak to take flight. Their cries are soft, trilling sounds.
Each spring, thousands of tundra swans stop in the marshes along the Coeur d'Alene River as they migrate north to breeding grounds in Alaska. Some never make it out of the marsh.
As they feed on roots and tubers, the swans swallow sediment polluted with heavy metals from mining waste. At high enough levels, the lead shuts down their digestive systems, causing the swans to gasp for air as food backs up into the esophagus and presses against the windpipe. The birds grow emaciated, starving to death on full bellies.
April 19, 2009, from Nature
The dust-storm season in northeast Asia is expected to hit its peak next week, and this week three of the countries hardest hit met in Beijing to coordinate their response.
The storms coat cars, bury railways and facilities, and destroy crops, with the thick dust often bringing visibility down to the hundreds-of-metres range. Whipped up to heights of up to 8 kilometres, dust sometimes makes it as far as the United States.
The dust originates from the Takla Makan Desert, the Gobi Desert and other arid regions of northern China and Mongolia. It is a natural phenomenon, but accelerating desertification, caused by soil degradation and overgrazing, has made it worse.
April 19, 2009, from Green Bay Press Gazette
...It has been 33 years since the DNR issued its first fish consumption advisory in response to studies by public health, water quality and fisheries experts. The warning was issued after it was learned that fish store PCBs in their fatty tissue.
The DNR recommends no more than one meal per month of most fish caught in the Fox River from Little Lake Buttes des Morts to the river's mouth in Green Bay and warns people not to eat any carp, catfish or white bass, or any walleye longer than 22 inches...
The warnings haven't stopped fishermen from plying their sport on the river despite the fish advisory that will probably remain in effect for several years. DNR warden Ben Treml said he thinks most people catch the fish for the sport or for mounting.
April 19, 2013, from Science Now
The main ingredient of wood, cellulose, is one of the most abundant organic compounds on Earth and a dream source of renewable fuel. Now, bioengineers suggest that it could feed the hungry as well. In a new study, researchers have found a way to turn cellulose into starch, the most common carbohydrate in the human diet....
For instance, every ton of harvested cereals is often accompanied by 2 to 3 tons of cellulose-rich scrap, most of which goes to waste....
Though the process works, it's expensive. Zhang estimates that, given the current price tag of the enzymes that his team used, it would cost about $1 million to turn 200 kilograms of crude cellulose into 20 kilograms of starch, about enough to feed one person's carbohydrate needs for 80 days. Still, after 5 to 10 years of further research, Zhang says companies could do the same thing for just $0.50 per person per day. "We do not see big obstacles to the commercialization of this process."
April 19, 2009, from Baltimore Sun
The number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay has increased significantly over the past year, Maryland and Virginia officials announced Friday, saying that harvest limits designed to combat steep declines in the population appear to be working.
Results of the 2008-2009 winter dredge survey show that the number of female crabs in the bay doubled in the past year. Catch restrictions were aimed at preserving females so they could survive to produce the next generation.
Overall, the number of crabs in the bay increased from 280 million in 2007-2008 to more than 418 million in 2008-2009, officials estimate, a rapid and surprising rebound. The survey showed that the number of baby crabs held steady at 175 million.