Tag Archives | Pollution

EPA Declares More Than Half Of U.S. Rivers Unfit For Aquatic Life

river

Our world is so gross right now. Via Inhabitat:

The EPA has declared that an astounding 55 percent of rivers and streams in the country are in “poor condition for aquatic life.”

The results of their first comprehensive survey of waterway health reveal shrinking vegetation cover, high levels of phosphorous and nitrogen, and pollution from mercury and bacteria—none of which are all that great for human health either. Additionally, as the EPA emphasizes, the polluted, unhealthy waterways include vital sources of drinking water.

So where are these contaminants coming from? Phosphorous and nitrogen, both key ingredients in fertilizer, have long been recognized as a problem in US water health. 40 percent of waterways surveyed had high levels of phosophorous, while high levels of nitrogen were found in 27 percent of waterways.

Over 13,144 miles of waterways featured levels of mercury that similarly exceed safe levels for human health, making it ill-advised to consume fish from those areas.

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Radioactive Goldfish Discovered At Ohio Nuclear Power Plant

radioactive goldfish

No word on an eye count. Russia Today reports:

Two radioactive goldfish were found swimming in a juice pitcher of nuclear reactor water in an underground steam tunnel at an Ohio power plant. Investigators are baffled as to how the radioactive fish remained unnoticed in the ‘secure’ facility.

Investigators from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and officials of the plant, which is operated by FirstEnergy Corp., have been looking through surveillance tapes to try to identify who was responsible for leaving the radioactive goldfish in the tunnel on May 2.

The fishy tale has served as an embarrassment for the plant, which has already come under scrutiny for a case in which four contractors were exposed to life-threatening hard radiation in 2011. The plant has also been scutinized for a serious lack of security.

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China’s Elite Uses Air Purification Systems And Giant Domes To Retreat From Toxic Urban Air

giant domesIs life in some of our planet’s main cities beginning to resemble life on the moon? The New York Times reports:

Levels of deadly pollutants up to 40 times the recommended exposure limit in Beijing and other cities have struck fear into parents and led them to take steps that are radically altering the nature of urban life for their children.

Parents are confining sons and daughters to their homes, even if it means keeping them away from friends. Schools are canceling outdoor activities and field trips. Parents with means are choosing schools based on air-filtration systems, and some international schools have built gigantic, futuristic-looking domes over sports fields to ensure healthy breathing.

Face masks are now part of the urban dress code. Parents have scrambled to buy air purifiers. IQAir, a Swiss company, makes purifiers that cost up to $3,000 here and are displayed in shiny showrooms.

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Life In America Is Poisonous For Your Body

poisonous

Via TomDispatch, public health historians David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz on how the landscape of everyday life has become awash in toxins:

A hidden epidemic is poisoning America. The culprit behind this silent killer is lead. And vinyl. And formaldehyde. And asbestos. And Bisphenol A. And PCBs.

Without our knowledge or consent, we are testing thousands of suspected toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as new substances whose safety is largely unproven and whose effects on human beings are all but unknown.

While old houses with lead paint and asbestos shingles pose risks, potentially more frightening chemicals are lurking in new construction going on in the latest mini-housing boom across America. Our homes are now increasingly made out of lightweight fibers and reinforced synthetic materials whose effects on human health have never been adequately studied.

Formaldehyde, a colorless chemical used in mortuaries as a preservative, can also be found as a fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant in, for example, plywood, particle board, hardwood paneling, and the “medium density fiberboard” commonly used for the fronts of drawers and cabinets or the tops of furniture.

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The Twelve Most Awful Products Made By Monsanto

saccharinVia GMO Awareness, it may seem cartoonish to brand one company as an evil empire reaping misery over the course of a century, but it’s hard not to when they have created artificial sugar substitutes, DDT, Agent Orange, nuclear weapons, PCBs, and Bovine Growth Hormone:

When you take a moment to reflect on the history of product development at Monsanto, what do you find? Here are twelve products that Monsanto has brought to market:

1. Saccharin. John Francisco Queeny founded Monsanto Chemical Works with the goal of producing saccharin for Coca-Cola. Studies performed during the early 1970s showed that saccharin caused cancer in test rats and mice.

2. PCBs. During the early 1920s, Monsanto began expanding their chemical production into polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to produce coolant fluids for electrical transformers and motors. Fifty years later, the EPA published a report citing PCBs as the cause of cancer in animals, with additional evidence that they can cause cancer in humans.

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Fukushima’s Fallout is Already Harming Our Children

Picture: Fry1989

Harvey Wasserman writes at Counterpunch:

Thyroid abnormalities have now been confirmed among tens of thousands of children downwind from Fukushima.  They are the first clear sign of an unfolding radioactive tragedy that demands this industry be buried forever.

Two years after Fukushima exploded, three still-smoldering reactors remind us that the nuclear power industry repeatedly told the world this could never happen.

And 72 years after the nuclear weapons industry began creating them,  untold quantities of deadly wastes still leak at Hanford and at commercial reactor sites around the world, with no solution in sight.

Radiation can be slow to cause cancer, taking decades to kill.
But children can suffer quickly.  Their cells grow faster than adults’.  Their smaller bodies are more vulnerable.  With the embryo and fetus, there can never be a “safe” dose of radiation.  NO dose of radiation is too small to have a human impact.

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Study Suggests Psychiatric Drugs In Water Supply Are Altering Fish Behavior

Anxiety medications flushed down toilets in our pee causing heightened appetite and boldness in fish. Soon the global water supply will be a giant soup of antidepressants. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Pharmaceuticals may be affecting the behavior of wild fish as [the drugs] filters out of our bodies, through our toilets and into treated wastewater that is released into natural water sources, according to a new study.

The findings, which examined the effect of trace levels of the anti-anxiety medication oxazepam on wild European perch, have implications for the survival rates of fish and the delicate food web in aquatic ecosystems.

Scientists have known for years that such “micropollutants” end up in natural waterways like streams and rivers after being flushed through human systems into wastewater. But current research hasn’t really looked at whether psychotherapeutic drugs can affect the behavior of aquatic creatures.

The researchers’ findings could well reflect reality in waters worldwide: Their low concentrations in the lab were roughly equivalent to levels found in wild fish in the River Fyris in Sweden.

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Selling Fresh Air In Cans

The smog in China is now so bad that an entrepreneur is successfully selling cans of fresh air. He says he's not doing it to make a profit, but just wait until he's created an insatiable demand. For those of you who thing it's ridiculous, what would your grandparents have thought about your regularly buying small bottles of water for $5? Maureen Chowdhury reports for NPR:
In response to the growing concern over China's air pollution, a theatrical Chinese entrepreneur is selling cans of fresh air. Chen Guangbiao, a multimillionaire, philanthropist and environmentalist, is selling each can for 5 yuan (80 cents) according to...
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Was Lead Pollution The Main Cause Of High Crime And Violence In 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s America?

It wasn’t crack cocaine, poverty, or the breakdown of the nuclear family that caused the spike in violent criminality. Most likely, it was automobile fumes. Mother Jones has a bombshell story:

In city after city, violent crime peaked in the early ’90s and then began a steady and spectacular decline. By 2010, violent crime rates in New York City had plunged 75 percent from their peak in the early ’90s. Washington, DC[‘s] violent crime rate has dropped 58 percent since its peak. Dallas’ has fallen 70 percent. Newark: 74 percent. Los Angeles: 78 percent.

Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early ’40s through the early ’70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted. Intriguingly, violent crime rates followed the same pattern. The only thing different was the time period: the two curves looked eerily identical, but were offset by about 20 years.

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