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Runaway growth. Forty years after Richard Nixon declared war on cancer, there is ‘less death’ but ‘more cancer.’ This is starkest among children. The increase in cancer rates isn’t confined to specific regions or occupations. Increasingly, researchers are interrogating the environment as a cause of cancer—and suggesting that cleaning up the environment may help prevent it. Pittsburgh City Paper, Pennsylvania.
Soft-pedaling prevention. We celebrate those who beat cancer ... but ignore efforts to prevent it. In 2010, the National Cancer Institute spent $364 million on prevention programs—and $1.16 billion on treatment research. Treatment is likewise the focus of the vast majority of funds raised by your average \“race for the cure\” fundraiser. Pittsburgh City Paper, Pennsylvania.
Mercury fillings ‘filled’ with controversy. Silver amalgam fillings, which have plugged American cavities for more than 150 years, have lost their luster over the last couple of decades thanks to the rise of more attractive tooth-colored fillings and concerns about the environmental and health impact of their chief ingredient: mercury. Chicago Tribune, Illinois.
How scientists cope as climate debate gets personal. In various ways, outspoken climate scientists say they’ve worked hard to emotionally distance themselves from the often-personal attacks they receive even as they continue to speak out for their work and their reputations. LiveScience
Drug resistance loiters on antibiotic-free farms. Livestock farms that stop using antibiotics may still be breeding grounds for drug-resistant germs, according to a new study. Scientists have found that bacteria in a group of Canadian pigs remained mostly impervious to two antibiotics years after farmers stopped dosing the animals. Science
The 2012 Fuel Economy Guide, published this week by the EPA and Department of Energy, ranks fuel economy leaders within each vehicle category, from two-seaters to large SUVs. Each vehicle listing in the guide provides an estimated annual fuel cost, calculated based on the vehicle’s miles per gallon rating and national estimates for annual mileage and fuel prices
Weed killer linked to gender-bending in animals. Exposure to atrazine, a commonly used weed killer, increases the risk of reproductive problems in a wide range of animals, says a new review study that analyzed research from around the world. Toronto Globe and Mail, Ontario.
Federal report: Arctic much worse since 2006. Federal officials say the Arctic region has changed dramatically in the past five years — for the worse. It’s melting at a near record pace, and it’s darkening and absorbing too much of the sun’s heat. Associated Press
Cities prepare aging infrastructure for climate change. Extreme weather calls for extreme plans. Toronto city officials have established tough new standards for storm sewers because of the frequency of extreme storm events. No fewer than eight events with rainfall exceeding that of 25-year storms have hit Toronto in the last quarter century. And Toronto is no exception. Environmental Health Perspectives
Water treatment turns common chemicals toxic, says report. Traces of common pain-killing drugs are being transformed into toxic forms by waste water treatment plants, a new report from researchers at the University of NSW shows. Sydney Morning Herald, Australia. [Registration Required]
Controversial studies give a deadly flu virus wings. Locked up in the bowels of a medical faculty building here and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a humanmade flu virus that scientists say could change world history if it were ever set free. Science [Subscription Required]
Chemists developing compounds used to create fragrances can weed out chemicals that don’t meet certain toxicity and environmental standards early in the design process, finds a study that predicted the toxicity and persistence of a variety of musk chemicals using a sophisticated computer program. The program - developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - uses molecular structure and other chemical attributes to predict if a compound will easily break down in the environment. The results are published in the journal Green Chemistry.
NGO study names top 20 ‘climate killer’ banks. The list of top 20 institutions that have financed coal-mining and coal-fired energy generation, responsible for billions of tonnes of emissions of carbon dioxide globally, as well as mercury, soot, and other pollutants, reads like a roll-call of the world’s biggest banks, with three American banks - JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America - topping the list. London Guardian, United Kingdom.
Mad cow disease fears over violin strings threatens works of Handel and Bach. Regulations which tightly control the use of certain types of animal tissue are unwittingly threatening the centuries-old technique of making musical instrument strings out of beef gut. London Daily Telegraph, United Kingdom.
Atrazine in water tied to menstrual irregularities, low hormones. Women who drink water contaminated with low levels of the weed-killer atrazine may be more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles and low estrogen levels, scientists concluded in a new study. The most widely used herbicide in the United States, atrazine is frequently detected in surface and ground water, particularly in agricultural areas of the Midwest. The newest research, which compared women in Illinois farm towns to women in Vermont, adds to the growing scientific evidence linking atrazine to altered hormones. Environmental Health News
Hike in Camp Lejeune male breast cancer cases expected. Federal scientists at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry confirmed last week that 184 male Marine Corps veterans with a history of breast cancer have been identified in Department of Veterans Affairs records. St. Petersburg Times, Florida.
For healthy people, build a healthy city. It’s a paradigm shift in the way urban planners and municipal leaders see the world: how we build and manage our cities directly affects the health of the populace. Toronto Globe and Mail, Ontario.
A winning idea for a water bottle. At 4 a.m. in the spring of 2009, two seniors at the University of Pennsylvania were brainstorming a plan for a social-innovation competition and a new social venture was born: A reusable, filtering water bottle with profits going to bring clean drinking water to areas that don’t have it. Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania. [Registration Required]
China claims world’s biggest carbon emission cuts. China reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 billion tons between 2006 and 2010, the biggest decrease of any country in the period, according to a new report. The country’s energy intensity, or energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product, dropped 19.1 percent last year from the level of 2005. Xinhua News Agency, China.
Environmental programs fall victim to budget cuts. Conservation programs and environmental regulations have been pared back significantly in many states that have grappled with budget deficits in recent years. Because environmental programs are just a sliver of most state budgets, the cuts often go without much public notice. Associated Press
Algae blooms’ sudden spread stumps scientists. Marine scientists are trying to find out why previously unknown blooms of toxic algae are suddenly proliferating along the California coast, killing wildlife and increasing the risk of human sickness. San Francisco Chronicle, California.
Climate change hits Africa’s poorest farmers. As she surveys her small, bare plot in Zimbabwe’s capital, farmer Janet Vambe knows something serious is happening, even if she has never heard of climate change. Associated Press
Accidental air pollution releases at Louisiana’s oil refineries averaged 1 per day in 2010. Air pollution generated by Louisiana’s 17 oil refineries has been steadily declining in the two decades since reporting requirements began, with last year’s emissions down by two-thirds from 1988 levels. But the state’s refineries still release far too much toxic material into the air as a result of accidents, according to a new study led by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. New Orleans Times-Picayune, Louisiana.