Tag Archives | Chemicals

Washington, D.C.’s Potomac River Is So Polluted That Fish Change Sex (What About Our Politicians?)

90 percent of the drinking water in Washington, D.C. comes from this river, seems like an issue the politicians there themselves would want to address. Suzanne Goldenberg writes in the Guardian:
Three Eyed Fish

More than 80% of the male bass fish in Washington’s major river are now exhibiting female traits such as egg production because of a “toxic stew” of pollutants, scientists and campaigners reported yesterday.

Intersex fish probably result from drugs, such as the contraceptive pill, and other chemicals being flushed into the water and have been found right across the US.

The Potomac Conservancy, which focuses on Washington DC’s river, called for new research to determine what was causing male smallmouth bass to carry immature eggs in their testes. “We have not been able to identify one particular chemical or one particular source,” said Vicki Blazer, a fish biologist with the US geological survey. “We are still trying to get a handle on what chemicals are important.”

But she said early evidence pointed to a mix of chemicals — commonly used at home as well as those used in large-scale farming operations — causing the deformities.

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Which Veggie Burgers Were Made With a Neurotoxin?

This story has raised a lot of controversy last week on the internets … here’s a post on it from Kiera Butler in Mother Jones:
Veggie Burger

UPDATE: Veggie burger rumors are flying! Some readers and other news organizations have alleged that the study I wrote about was funded by the pro-meat, anti-soy group the Weston A. Price Foundation.

But this morning, I spoke with Cornucopia Institute director Mark Kastel, who said that the Weston A. Price Foundation did not contribute any funding to the “Behind the Bean” (pdf) study. More here.

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[Last] Monday, I wrote about a recent study by the Cornucopia Institute that found that many popular veggie burgers are made with hexane, an EPA-registered air pollutant and a neurotoxin. Commenters had lots of interesting discussions and good questions, many of which require far more knowledge of the subject than I have to answer. So I called up Charlotte Vallaeys, the lead researcher on the Cornucopia Institute’s soy study “Behind the Bean” (pdf) to talk about some of the issues readers have raised.

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Cigarettes Contain Radioactive Polonium

This is an article from 2006 that I found while trying to research the actual ingredients in cigarettes. Robert N. Proctor writes in the New York Times: Nuclear Pack
When the former KGB agent Alexander V. Litvinenko was found to have been poisoned by radioactive polonium 210, there was one group that must have been particularly horrified: the tobacco industry. The industry has been aware at least since the 1960s that cigarettes contain significant levels of polonium. Exactly how it gets into tobacco is not entirely understood, but uranium “daughter products” naturally present in soils seem to be selectively absorbed by the tobacco plant, where they decay into radioactive polonium. High-phosphate fertilizers may worsen the problem, since uranium tends to associate with phosphates. In 1975, Philip Morris scientists wondered whether the secret to tobacco growers’ longevity in the Caucasus might be that farmers there avoided phosphate fertilizers. How much polonium is in tobacco? In 1968, the American Tobacco Company began a secret research effort to find out. Using precision analytic techniques, the researchers found that smokers inhale an average of about .04 picocuries of polonium 210 per cigarette. The company also found, no doubt to its dismay, that the filters being considered to help trap the isotope were not terribly effective. (Disclosure: I’ve served as a witness in litigation against the tobacco industry.)
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Pepsi Scientists Solve Obesity Crisis With Potato Chips

Lay's Potato ChipsNow here’s corporate thinking to believe in, gotta please those shareholders. As the author of the article says, eating fewer chips potato chips is not an option. Hamilton Nolan writes on Gawker:

Health food manufacturer and exponentially dimensionalized fulcrum of universal gravity PepsiCo is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to make America healthier, with things like “designer” salt crystals for Lay’s potato chips. What else could they do?

Because of inherent concern about the health of you, the consumer, PepsiCo spent more than $400 million in product development costs last year, all with an eye towards developing products that will kill Americans more slowly. “What we want to do with our ‘fun for you’ products is to make them the healthiest ‘fun for you’ products,” said PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi, emphasizing PepsiCo’s dual commitment to health and to providing a nonstop party in your mouth.

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$650m Compensation Settlement for Heroes of September 11

Nico Hines writes on the Times:

Rescue and recovery workers who were exposed to a toxic brew of smoke and dust in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks have been awarded $650 million in a compensation deal struck in New York.

Thousands of 9/11 heroes, including firefighters, police officers, construction experts and emergency workers, have filed lawsuits since 2003 but last night’s agreement is expected to put an end to years of legal battles.

The settlement, worth up to $657.5 million (£434 million), was reached after negotiations between lawyers representing more than 10,000 people exposed to the debris from the World Trade Center and New York City’s federally financed insurer.

Some workers are likely to receive payments of only a few thousand dollars. Others could be in line to get more than $1 million, depending on their injuries.

Read More in the Times

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Scientists Have Discovered Booze That Won’t Give You A Hangover

Yeltsin and ClintonTim Barribeau writes on io9.com:

Booze, for all its magical wonder, still has big drawbacks: You can’t sober up quickly, and you often get a hangover. Now Korean researchers have found a way of tweaking booze to limit the fallout — without cutting its strength.

Doctors Kwang-il Kwon and Hye Gwang Jeong of Chungnam National University studied the properties of oxygenated alcohol — booze with oxygen bubbles added — which is a popular concoction in their country. In these drinks, oxygen is added the way carbonation is usually added to soda, and the scientists wanted to know if these oxygenated beverages affected people differently than non-oxygenated ones. The answer was a resounding yes.

They ran three experiments using 19.5% alcohol drinks, and measured the speed at which people’s blood alcohol dropped to 0.000%. In other words: How fast did they sober up?

Read More on io9.com

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Birth Defects on the Rise in Fallujah

Via the Daily Mail:

Fallujah

A Fallujah mother holds her little girl, who was born without a left forearm and hand.

A high number of children are being born with birth defects in an Iraqi city where U.S. forces may have used chemical weapons during a fierce battle in 2004.

Children in Fallujah are being born with limb, head, heart and nervous system defects.

There is even a claim that a baby was born with three heads. The number of heart defects among newborn babies is said to be 13 times higher than the rate in Europe.

The city, 40 miles west of Baghdad, was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the Iraq war in late 2004. U.S. Marines led Operation Phantom Fury to recapture it from insurgents.

British troops were involved in manning checkpoints on the outskirts of the city as the Americans went in. The U.S.

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Are Pesticides from Plants Dangerous to Humans?

By Ferris Jabr for Scientific American:

Chemicals derived from flowers may sound harmless, but new research raises concerns about compounds synthesized from chrysanthemums that are used in virtually every household pesticide.

For at least a decade, pyrethroids have been the insecticide of choice for consumers, replacing organophosphate pesticides, which are far more toxic to people and wildlife. But evidence is mounting that the switch to less-toxic pyrethroids has brought its own set of new ecological and human health risks.

About 70 percent of people in the United States have been exposed to pyrethroids, with children facing the highest exposure, according to a study published this month. Although the human health threats are unknown, animal studies have found evidence of damage to neurological, immune and reproductive systems.

In addition, pyrethroids are flowing off yards and gardens, contaminating some streams and rivers at concentrations that can kill small creatures vital to the survival of fish and other aquatic life.

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Kangaroos Victims of Factory Fluoride

DEBORAH GOUGH writes in the Age:
Kangaroo

SCORES of starving and pain-ridden kangaroos have been culled after developing tooth and bone deformities from breathing and ingesting fluoride emissions. Many more are believed to be suffering from growths that will kill them.

The affected kangaroos are living near the Alcoa aluminium smelter in Portland, in the state’s south-west, and the Austral Bricks factory at Craigieburn.

Autopsies performed at Melbourne University on 49 kangaroos culled at Alcoa on a single day last year found all but one were suffering from flurosis, which leads to excessive bone growths, or lesions, on joints in the paws, ankles and calves.

It can also cause tooth and jaw deformities that hinder eating and foraging. The Sunday Age has been told more than 200 ill kangaroos living near both affected sites have been culled in recent years, but this figure could not be confirmed.

Read More in the Age

Image Credit: Ester Inbar via Wikimedia Commons

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FDA Says It’s Unable to Regulate BPA, Considered Hazardous Since the 1930s

Baby BottleMeg Kissinger reports in the Journal Sentinel:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials say they are powerless to regulate BPA, although they have declared the chemical to be a safety concern for fetuses, babies and young children.

A quirk in the rules allows BPA makers to skirt federal regulation.

“We may have to go after legislation to change it,” Joshua Sharfstein, the FDA’s principal deputy director, told the Journal Sentinel. The newspaper has been investigating the government’s lack of regulation regarding BPA for three years.

FDA officials announced Friday that they had reversed their position that bisphenol A is safe. The chemical, used to line most food and beverage cans, has been found in the urine of 93% of Americans tested.

The agency now considers BPA to be of some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and prostate glands of fetuses and the very young. Scientific studies have raised concerns about the chemical’s link to breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, reproductive failures and behavioral problems.

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