Tag Archives | Pollution

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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...
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Fracking Our Food Supply

Picture: LittleGun (CC)

Elizabeth Royte writes at the Nation:

Jacki Schilke and her sixty cattle live in the top left corner of North Dakota, a windswept, golden-hued landscape in the heart of the Bakken Shale. Schilke’s neighbors love her black Angus beef, but she’s no longer sharing or eating it—not since fracking began on thirty-two oil and gas wells within three miles of her 160-acre ranch and five of her cows dropped dead. Schilke herself is in poor health. A handsome 53-year-old with a faded blond ponytail and direct blue eyes, she often feels lightheaded when she ventures outside. She limps and has chronic pain in her lungs, as well as rashes that have lingered for a year. Once, a visit to the barn ended with respiratory distress and a trip to the emergency room. Schilke also has back pain linked with overworked kidneys, and on some mornings she urinates a stream of blood.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Troubled Factory Could Leak Radioactive Waste into Columbia River

Picture: Prolineserver (CC)

Nothing to see here, no serious problems, say Bechtel spokespersons…

Via LA Times:

An investigation by the U.S. Energy Department has found that San Francisco engineering firm Bechtel may have committed a wide range of safety and health violations at a plant it is building to treat high-level radioactive waste at Hanford, Wash., according to agency documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The Energy Department halted construction at the plant earlier this year in the wake of allegations that the treatment complex had fundamental design and construction flaws.

The Hanford plant is being built to treat an estimated 56 million gallons of radioactive waste created from about half a century of nuclear weapons production. The waste is stored in underground tanks. At least some of those tanks are leaking radioactive sludge, posing a threat to the nearby Columbia River and making the $12.3-billion treatment plant one of the most urgent environmental projects in the nation.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

American Bombing of Iraq Left Legacy of Deformed Babies

Picture: USDOD (PD)

Haroon Siddiqui writes at the Toronto Star:

Remember Falluja? That city in central Iraq was the scene of two furious attacks in 2004 by American Marines. That spring, they went on a bombing, shooting rampage to avenge the murder and mutilation of four American mercenaries. Instead of targeting the estimated 2,000 insurgents, the Marines almost levelled the city of 300,000, without conquering it. Seven months later, they attacked again with artillery and bombs in what was described as the bloodiest urban warfare involving Americans since the Vietnam War.

Remember Basra? That southern Iraqi city has been suffering since the first Gulf War, in 1991. Radioactive residue from the 800 tons of bombs and 1 million rounds of ammunition used was soon showing up in babies born with huge heads, abnormally large eyes, stunted arms, bloated stomachs and defective hearts. Later in the 1990s, Basra was hit as part of maintaining the American no fly zone on Saddam Hussein.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Endocrine Disruptors from Personal Care Products Found in Statewide Survey of Minnesota’s Rivers and Lakes

Via ScienceDaily:

A science team from Arizona State University, in collaboration with federal partners, has completed the first statewide analysis of freshwater bodies in Minnesota, finding widespread evidence of the presence of active ingredients of personal care products in Minnesota lakes, streams and rivers.

These products are a billion dollar industry and can be found in antimicrobial soaps, disinfectants, and sanitizers to scrub our hands and clean countertops. Hundreds of antimicrobial products are sold in the U.S., many marketed with efficacy claims that remain elusive due to the short duration of the average consumer’s handwashing practices. The fate of these products can be traced from home use to sewers to wastewater treatment plants to eventually, downstream bodies of water.

The research team focused on two active ingredients found prominently in anti-bacterial soaps — triclosan and triclocarban — which have come under scrutiny by the EPA and FDA due to their environmental and human health concerns.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Lake Karachay: The Most Toxic Place On Earth

Basement Geographer on a lake in the Russian mountains which may be the single most concentrated spot of environmental desecration:

Imagine a lake so polluted and contaminated that spending just an hour on its shores would result in certain death, and the only way seen fit to deal with it is to fill the entire water body with concrete blocks to keep the toxic soil underneath from moving onshore. That lake is Lake Karachay in Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast, and it is considered by many to be the most polluted place on the planet.

Lake Karachay lies within the Mayak Production Association, one of Russia’s largest and oldest nuclear facilities and a major source of plutonium during the Soviet era. Built immediately following World War II, Mayak has been the site of numerous nuclear-related accidents throughout its history, some approaching the size of the Chernobyl meltdown but far more concentrated.

Statistics reveal that by the 1990s, there had been a 21% increase in the incidences of cancer, a 25% increase in birth defects, a 41% increase in leukaemia, and a rendering of 50% of the population of child bearing age sterile in the Mayak region.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Data Centers Revealed As Massively Inefficient Energy Hogs

Google Data Center, The DallesIt’s good to see the New York Times engage in some real investigative reporting for a change. In this piece Frank Glanz uses FOIA requests and other federal and local government records to reveal how data centers have become major pollution centers:

Jeff Rothschild’s machines at Facebook had a problem he knew he had to solve immediately. They were about to melt.

The company had been packing a 40-by-60-foot rental space here with racks of computer servers that were needed to store and process information from members’ accounts. The electricity pouring into the computers was overheating Ethernet sockets and other crucial components.

Thinking fast, Mr. Rothschild, the company’s engineering chief, took some employees on an expedition to buy every fan they could find — “We cleaned out all of the Walgreens in the area,” he said — to blast cool air at the equipment and prevent the Web site from going down.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Creating A Habitable Island Made Of Garbage In The Pacific Ocean

Is this the solution to our waste problems? A research team at the University College London is working towards the creation of a Plastic Republic by 2030 in the North Pacific, and funding the project by selling off parcels of land on the future island:
We intend to engineer enhanced adhesive properties in Escherichia coli and marine bacteria to alter the composition and dynamics of resultant biofilms for the adhesion of micro-plastic pollutants, with an extended vision of creating mass aggregates, or ‘Plastic Islands’. After months of planning, we are now rallying to construct a ‘plastic island’ using the principles of synthetic biology. In so doing we hope to provide a solution to one of the world’s major environmental problems – the North Pacific Garbage Patch.
Continue Reading