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Your Prius’ deepest, darkest secret. Rare earths minerals are key to all kinds of green technology, but they occur naturally with radioactive elements thorium and uranium, which can leach into groundwater or escape into the air as dust.This creates a real dilemma: What good is green technology if it’s based on minerals whose extraction is so, well, ungreen? Mother Jones
Nike, Adidas, Puma agree with Greenpeace to clean water in worldwide production by 2020. Nike and Adidas, wily competitors at the cash register for four decades, announced an agreement Friday with several other footwear and clothing brands to work jointly to eliminate the discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020. Portland Oregonian, Oregon.
Science panel: Get ready for extreme weather. Think of the Texas drought, floods in Thailand and Russia’s devastating heat waves as coming attractions in a warming world. That is the warning from top international climate scientists and disaster experts after meeting in Africa. Associated Press
Children exposed to persistent organic pollutants – POPs – in the womb have a higher risk of being overweight. The researchers found that PCBs, DDT and DDE exposure led to an increased risk of weight gain in children as assessed by BMI scores, although effects differed in boys vs. girls. In some cases, children with higher POPs exposures were almost twice as likely to be overweight compared to children with lower exposures, depending on the pollutant and gender.
Industry fights with health advocates over worker exposure to carcinogen. Business and labor interests are locked in a more than decade-long battle over how to limit worker exposure to a known carcinogen, crystalline silica. The proposal could have an annual impact of more than $100 million spread across several industries. Washington Hill, District of Columbia.
At Senate hearing, trade groups split over efforts to ravamp chemical-safety law. The nation’s leading chemical manufacturers on Thursday bashed a Senate measure that would revamp the nation’s chemical safety law, as concerns mount that ingredients used in making everyday consumer products may lead to serious health problems. Washington Post [Registration Required]
IPCC: Climate change means more extreme weather to come. Climate change will make the drought and flooding events that have battered the United States and other countries in 2011 more frequent in years to come, forcing nations to rethink the way they cope with disasters, according to a new report the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued Friday. Washington Post [Registration Required]
Common infections will be ‘untreatable’ if antibiotic misuse continues. The World Health Organisation says drug use in farm animals plays a ‘significant role’ in spreading antibiotic-resistant salmonella and campylobacter infections in humans. Ecologist
Influenza: Attention, citizens! A new \“citizen science\” project to study the spread and seriousness of flu will ask people across Europe to sign up and report cold- or flu-like symptoms over the winter. It will operate in ten countries, and will hopefully capture the kind of information that epidemiologists crave but that Google searches cannot provide. Economist
Adult male rats exposed to a single dose of the contaminant bisphenol A (BPA) had trouble remembering an object’s look or location after only a couple of hours, according to a study published in Behavioral Neuroscience. This is one of the first studies to measure the effects of a one-time, low dose BPA exposure on memory processes and brain cell formation in adult males.
Smog pollutant may be tied to stroke risk. People who live in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution might have a slightly increased risk of dying from stroke, Danish researchers suggest in a new study. Reuters
Amphibians facing ‘terrifying’ rate of extinction. If the current rapid extermination of animals, plants and other species really is the \“sixth mass extinction,\” then it is the amphibian branch of the tree of life that is undergoing the most drastic pruning. Around half of amphibian species are in decline, while a third are already threatened with extinction. London Guardian, United Kingdom.
Ocean Alliance advances study on pollution, whales. When whale biologist and Ocean Alliance founder Roger Payne began his career, the chief threat to whales was commercial whaling. Now, he worries about another threat: Pollution. Gloucester Times, Massachusetts.
Johnson & Johnson to nix baby-product contaminant within 2 years. Johnson & Johnson, responding to complaints about a potentially carcinogenic chemical in its baby shampoos, said it plans within two years to eliminate formaldehyde-releasing preservatives from hundreds of its baby products. Reuters
The smokers’ surcharge. More and more employers are demanding that workers who smoke, are overweight or have high cholesterol shoulder a greater share of their health care costs, a shift toward penalizing employees with unhealthy lifestyles rather than rewarding good habits. New York Times [Registration Required]
On the alert for misleading ads. The Greenwashing Index is a way for consumers to identify companies that are honestly trying to be better environmental stewards rather than simply trying to save money or making cosmetic changes that make no difference for the environment at all. New York Times [Registration Required]
Dr. Paul Epstein, Expert i Public Health, is Dead at 67. Dr. Paul Epstein, a public health expert who was among the first to warn of a link between the spread of infectious disease and extreme weather events, adding a new dimension to research into the potential impact of global climate change, died on Sunday at his home in Boston. He was 67. The cause was lymphoma, said his wife, Andy.
Opinion: Good jobs, clean environment not mutually exclusive There are those who suggest America must cut back or delay important environmental protections because we find ourselves in tough economic circumstances. There are two things to remember when one hears this suggestion.
Waste from healthcare activities Health-care activities, protect and restore health and save lives. But what about the wastes and by-products they generate? Of the total amount of waste generated by health-care activities, about 80% is general waste comparable to domestic waste. The remaining 20% is considered hazardous material that may be infectious, toxic or radioactive.
Money to burn: Flame retardant industry spent $23 million on lobbying, campaign donations. A 5-month investigation by Environmental Health News reveals that the chemical industry spent at least $23.2 million over the past five years to lobby California officials and donate to campaigns in an effort to defeat bills that would have regulated flame retardants. The four top recipients, three Democrats and one Republican, never voted in favor of any of the five bills. During the years of lobbying, the flame retardants have been building up in people’s bodies, including breast milk, around the world. Environmental Health News
Europe bans x-ray body scanners used at US airports. The European Union on Monday prohibited the use of X-ray body scanners in European airports, parting ways with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which has deployed hundreds of the scanners as a way to screen millions of airline passengers for explosives hidden under clothing. ProPublica
Researchers warn of climate change impacts on mental well-being. Public health officials around the world are increasingly concerned about how people mentally react to natural disasters, as well as the added trauma from the prospect that these are long-term trends that are setting in, such as drought and sea-level rise. ClimateWire
Groups oppose clean energy funds for trash burning. Environmental groups are pressing state regulators to reject a petition seeking renewable energy subsidies for trash-burning power plants, saying the incinerators are big polluters that destroy paper, plastic and other materials that should be recycled instead. Associated Press
Study finds chemical BPA in popular Thanksgiving canned foods. BPA has been found in canned products commonly used in Thanksgiving dinners, according to a new report by the nonprofit Breast Cancer Fund. Research studies have shown that BPA could increase the risks of getting breast and prostate cancer and other diseases. Los Angeles Times, California. [Registration Required]
California Air Resources Board may boost low-emission cars. By 2025, 15 percent of the new cars and small trucks sold each year in California would have to be powered by batteries, fuel cells or some other technology that produces little or no air pollution under rules that state regulators will propose next month. San Francisco Chronicle, California.
Redefining the Relationship between the Environment, Society and the Economy The concept of the “triple bottom line,” now widely referred to as the three pillars of sustainability – people, profits and planet – is hindering our ability to understand why the system is not working for so many people. In reality, the environment contains human society, which in turns contains the economy.
Where you live can help determine your health, studies say. Sociologists and public health officials have long thought a ZIP code is at least as important as race, age and genetics in determining a person’s health. Now, a growing body of research is bringing the issue to the forefront and opening up the debate about how the nation looks at health care. Baltimore Sun, Maryland.
Estrogen from birth-control pill in water linked to rising prostate cancer cases. Researchers suggest there may be a link between estrogen from oral contraceptives that has found its way into the environment and rising rates of prostate cancer among men around the world. Canadian Press
Toxins rob more than a decade of life from millions. Toxic pollution affects the health of more than 100 million people, shortening their productive life spans by an astonishing 12.7 years on average. Inter Press Service
CIA urged to be more open about climate change. After a year of epic weather, drought, heatwaves, hurricanes and floods, America’s intelligence establishment has come out with a bold new suggestion: maybe it’s time the CIA stopped treating climate change as a secret. London Guardian, United Kingdom.
Doubts cast on biofuels’ air quality claims. When the European Commission began pressing for a dramatic expansion in the use of biofuels in transport and energy several years ago, it was seen as a win-win situation: a way to help farmers, create energy security, cut greenhouse emissions and improve air quality. Euractiv, Belgium.
Mayo Clinic: Smoking bans cut cardiac events 45%. The incidence of heart attacks and sudden deaths has fallen nearly in half since smoking bans took effect in southeastern Minnesota, according to new research from the Mayo Clinic. Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota.
Study links Parkinson’s disease to industrial solvent. Researchers found a six-fold increase in the risk of developing Parkinson’s in individuals exposed in the workplace to trichloroethylene, also called TCE. Although many uses for TCE have been banned around the world, the chemical is still used as a degreasing agent. BBC
Dirty air fosters precipitation extremes. Even clouds can suffer from inhaling air pollution, a new study finds, resulting in extreme rainfall patterns that appear to be altering climate across the globe. Science News
Risk of disease partially set in womb, scientists say. Researchers now believe that the food a pregnant woman eats, her weight and fitness, her stress level, and the drugs, pollutants and infections she is exposed to can trigger changes that also make her baby vulnerable to disease after birth. Chicago Tribune, Illinois.
Survey: Portland women clueless about chemicals in cosmetics. If you’re anything like the 1,000-plus Portland women who responded to a recent survey about personal-care products, chances are you don’t know what chemicals and other compounds are in the goods commonly used to clean up and fluff up. Portland Oregonian, Oregon.
Smog-eating’ material breaking into the big time. Titanium dioxide is a nearly ubiquitous but wholly unsung material. Its brilliant white has made it a staple in pigments, but its eco-credentials are still coming to the fore. BBC
California pioneers plan for trimming chemicals. Long a pacesetter in efforts to control dangerous chemicals, California is moving toward sweeping new rules to reduce toxins in cleaning products, cosmetics, electronics, toys and possibly many other consumer goods. San Diego Union-Tribune, California.
Radioactive cesium spread as far as Gunma-Nagano border. The science ministry released maps on Nov. 11 showing aerially-measured accumulations of radioactive cesium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 18 prefectures. Asahi Shimbun, Japan.
Brace for weather extremes – UN panel. Southern Europe will be gripped by fierce heatwaves, drought in North Africa will be more common, and small island states face ruinous storm surges from rising seas, according to a report by UN climate scientists – the most comprehensive probe yet by the IPCC into the impact of climate change on extreme weather events. Agence France-Presse
Amazon fire season ‘linked to ocean temperature.’ Sea surface temperature anomalies can help predict the severity of Amazon fire seasons, a study has suggested. A team of US scientists found there was a correlation between El Niño patterns in the Pacific and fire activity in the eastern Amazon. They said the data could help produce forecasts of forthcoming fire seasons. BBC
Where city factories, and now babies, die. Study after study reveals that infant survival is threatened by economic crisis and upheaval. The issue is especially acute in Milwaukee, a once-muscular manufacturing city where the infant mortality rate in some neighborhoods now rivals that of Third World nations. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin.
Nature is fooled into flowering in a ‘second spring.’ This year earlier-than-ever autumn colours and fruits have been mixed with prolonged signs of summer wildlife such as dragonflies, butterflies and grass snakes, and spring flowers such as magnolia, apple blossom and honeysuckle blooming—making it a truly extraordinary season. London Observer, United Kingdom.