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Half of Fukushima examinees exposed to radiation above annual limit. Hundreds of residents in Fukushima Prefecture checked for radiation exposure after the nuclear accident there had levels exceeding what the government says is the safe annual limit. Asahi Shimbun, Japan.
Geo-engineering: A bad idea whose time has come? The mainstream approach to climate change does not seem to be working, so some scientists and policymakers say it may be time to look into something completely different: re-engineering Earth’s climate. Reuters
The \“green\” debate on Christmas trees: Fresh vs. fake? Even tree huggers are encouraging Americans to go out every December and buy a real tree from a lot or go to a farm, cut one down, and drag it home because tree farms are good for the atmosphere. Washington Post [Registration Required]
A new study of two now-banned persistent chemicals, PCBs and DDE, finds compelling evidence linking PCBs to reduced birth weight of newborn babies. In contrast, the research did not find a link with DDE, a metabolite of the insecticide DDT. The results from this analysis of multiple studies indicate that current exposures to PCBs - while generally lower than before the substances were banned four decades ago - are still harmful to the growing fetus. More…
Funding for environmental programs could be dropped. As talks on a massive government funding bill enter their last lap today, GOP-backed restrictions on White House environmental policy remain an obstacle large enough to potentially push U.S. EPA and Interior Department spending out of a final deal. E&E Daily
Advocacy group’s extreme weather map brings climate change home. Climate change much? A new map published today by the Natural Resources Defense Council makes it plain that extreme weather attributable to climate change isn’t something that only happens in other parts of the world. Los Angeles Times, California. [Registration Required]
Scientists encouraged to speak out. The public at times questions scientific results produced by government agencies, thinking that the findings may be meant to support particular political policies or positions or to deflect criticism of those policies. NOAA released a formal scientific integrity policy yesterday that is intended to combat that cynicism. Scientific American
San Francisco judge OKs cap and trade for emissions law. A San Francisco judge has given the go-ahead to California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, ruling that state regulators adequately considered alternatives to a market-based cap-and-trade system. San Francisco Chronicle, California.
Scientific panel finds few clear environmental links to breast cancer. An exhaustive new report meant to address public fears about possible links between breast cancer and the environment finds evidence strong enough to make only a few firm recommendations, most already well known and none with a large proven benefit. New York Times [Registration Required]
FDA to decide whether to ban BPA in food packaging. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will decide by March 31 whether to ban the chemical BPA in food packaging. The agency’s promise, announced Wednesday, settles a lawsuit brought in August by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin.
Solar Costs Are Dropping. Is It in Your Future? With all the bad press from the federal bailout of Solyndra, one fact was forgotten. Sales of Solyndra’s alternative solar cell design dropped, leading to its bankruptcy, because of a glut in the market of polysilicon, the semiconductor used in the most common type of solar panel. In fact, polysilicon’s price was reported to have plunged by about 93% since 2009 making standard designs of solar panels now less costly than Solyndra’s and more affordable than ever.
New flame retardant levels rising rapidly. Created to replace older chemicals thought to pose an environmental threat, new flame retardants have become widespread in the air near the Great Lakes, according to a new report that shows air concentrations of the brominated chemicals doubling every 13 months in Cleveland and Chicago. Chemical & Engineering News
Sweden, UK and Germany rank most active on climate. Sweden, the UK and Germany are doing the most to tackle global warming, according to this year’s Climate Performance Index. Brazil has lost top honors and no nation is doing enough to avoid ‘dangerous’ warming. Deutsche Welle, Germany.
Over 40 percent of cancers due to lifestyle, says review. Nearly half of cancers diagnosed in the UK each year - over 130,000 in total - are caused by avoidable life choices including smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things, a review reveals. BBC
‘Peak water’ and glacier melt pose thorny problems downstream. New data underscores the bleak prospects facing glaciers across the world as emissions continue to rise. In many instances, particularly the tropics, researchers expect the ice serving as key mountain reservoirs will disappear or severely degrade, leaving downstream communities to cope with scarce and unreliable supplies. Daily Climate
Toxic metals common in kids’ goods. Nearly 10 percent of children’s products sold in Chinese markets contain excessive lead, a harmful heavy metal, posing a threat to their health, Greenpeace said after a recent investigation. China Daily
Some eco-label farmed fish ‘not better for environment.’ A report from the University of Victoria found that many of the so-called eco-labels were not much better than conventional farmed fish when it came to protecting the oceans, and some - including those produced under the Marks & Spencer brand - were actually worse. London Guardian, United Kingdom.
Bedbugs can thrive despite inbreeding. Bedbugs aren’t just sleeping with you. They’re sleeping with each other. Researchers now say that the creepy bugs have a special genetic gift: withstanding incest. Associated Press
Nano rules fall foul of data gap. The science of the very small will lurk in many a Christmas gift this year. Nanomaterials add strength to golf clubs, odour resistance to socks and ultraviolet protection to cosmetics. But some of their properties could also pose health risks, and regulations covering their manufacture and use have failed to keep pace with the rush to market. Nature
US panel: Pay attention to environmental concerns from gas drilling in Pennsylvania, other states. The final report from a federal panel on natural gas drilling warns that the industry and the government need to do more to address environmental concerns. Associated Press
Hotter, drier, meaner: Trends point to a planet increasingly hostile to agriculture. A host of data – from sediment cores to ongoing drought in East Africa to computer models – point to one conclusion: Our increasingly hotter, drier planet is going to be a tough place to farm. Daily Climate
New study focuses on arsenic in rice. A new federally-funded study of more than 200 pregnant women receiving prenatal care in the New Hampshire area reports a link between rice consumption and elevated levels of arsenic in urine, suggesting that many people in the United States may be exposed to potentially harmful levels of arsenic through rice consumption. Consumer Reports
Bees, plants waking up earlier each spring. In a new study, scientists report that over the past 130 years – as the start of spring gets earlier as the Earth’s climate warms – several species of North American bees are emerging about 10 days earlier each year, with most of this shift taking place since 1970. USA Today
Panel links C8 to high blood pressure in pregnancy. A three-person team of scientists has found a \“probable link\” between C8 and high blood pressure among pregnant women the team announced Monday. The findings are the first major conclusions of their six-year study of the DuPont Co. chemical. Charleston Gazette, West Virginia.
The UCSF Library has launched a new co-authored blog called Mobilized: Tips for Your Mobile Life and Work. This blog offers tips, reviews, and commentary on mobile apps and devices in higher education and the health sciences. Our target audience consists of UCSF students, faculty, staff, researchers, and clinicians. Recent posts include:Two Lower Cost Tablets, Best Free Apps for UCSF Commuters, and: lnkling: iPad Interactive Textbooks.
More radioactive water leaks at Fukushima nuclear plant. At least 45 tons of highly radioactive water have leaked from a purification facility at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, and some of it may have reached the Pacific Ocean, the plant’s operator said Sunday. New York Times [Registration Required]
9/11 attack and asthma attack: how the incident increased asthma. The 9/11 incident that brought down the World Trade Center will be forever remembered as an attack that left people in fear, panic, and turmoil. But what most people don’t know is that for those who responded in ground zero are also left with a disease - asthma. International Business Times
Carbon emissions show biggest jump ever recorded. Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery. New York Times [Registration Required]
Three-quarters of climate change is man-made. Natural climate variability is extremely unlikely to have contributed more than about one-quarter of the temperature rise observed in the past 60 years, reports a pair of Swiss climate modellers in a paper published online today. Nature
Humans losing war against bedbugs. The war on bedbugs was winnable, experts say. But now, humans are in for a long, entrenched war whose progress will be measured in years. New Jersey is in the heart of the Northeast’s bedbug outbreak. Asbury Park Press, New Jersey.
Risk assessment: science has a hard time gauging the danger posed by carcinogens. About two in five Americans will get cancer. But for most individual cases, pinpointing a specific cause is impossible. So scientists focus on risks: exposures, behaviors and conditions that increase your odds of getting cancer. But a growing body of evidence suggests there’s more to all this than smoking, genes and where you work. Pittsburgh City Paper, Pennsylvania.
Can we solve the problem of carcinogens in the environment? While there are 84,000 synthetic chemicals in circulation, the vast majority haven’t been fully tested for health risks, and only a handful have been banned. But it’s not up to industry to prove its chemicals are safe—it’s effectively up to everyone else to prove that they’re dangerous. Pittsburgh City Paper, Pennsylvania.
NASA satellite confirms air quality improvements. Sulfur dioxide levels in the vicinity of major coal power plants in the Northeast have fallen by nearly half since 2005, according to data from NASA’s Aura satellite. The results of the study suggest that the EPA’s 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule, calling for deep cuts in emissions, is working. Summit County Citizens Voice, Colorado.
A global cooling to the US position on climate change. Environmentalists and other nations say US policy changes raise questions about whether it is committed to substantially cutting emissions and aiding developing nations in their efforts to do so. Los Angeles Times, California. [Registration Required]
‘Zero-Energy’ construction crosses the ocean. One of the most exacting, environmentally friendly building standards has arrived in the U.S. The passive, or \“zero-energy\” house” maintains a comfortable interior climate without active heating and cooling systems. New York Times [Registration Required]