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Sustainability Program

UC San Francisco has a robust sustainability program covering sustainability activities across the entire campus and medical center.  Formal and grassroot efforts are happening in many areas of the organization.  Find out more about these efforts at the Sustainability Dashboard located in the Review Metrics & Annual Report links above.

 

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Week Starting 3/19/12

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3/25/12
Both coasts watch closely as San Francisco faces erosion. California officials expect climate change to raise sea levels at Ocean Beach by 14 inches by 2050. Should herculean efforts be made to preserve its $220 million wastewater treatment plant and 14-ft-wide sewage pipe, or should the community simply bow to nature? New York Times [Registration Required]

Lyme disease pushes northward. Lyme disease may surge this year in the northeastern United States and is already spreading into Canada from a confluence of factors including acorns, mice and the climate. ClimateWire

SE Alaska fisheries investigate, anticipate ocean acidification. Will the carbon output of a growing world economy transform the oceans into an environment that - thanks to basic chemistry - is hostile to Alaska’s famed salmon? Or will Alaskans find ways to mitigate the expected drop in ocean pH? Juneau Empire, Alaska.

Vast tracts in Paraguay forest being replaced by ranches. While Paraguay’s Chaco forest has remained hostile to most human endeavors for centuries, and jaguars, maned wolves and swarms of biting insects still inhabit its thickets, the region’s defiance may finally be coming to an end. Vast tracts are giving way to the rising global demand for beef. New York Times [Registration Required]

Airport seeks study on links between jet noise, health. Airport noise has irritated Twin Cities residents for years, but now they may get answers about whether the roar of jets also damages their health. Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota.
http://www.startribune.com/local/west/144103776.html

The electric car, unplugged. The future would appear bright for the electric car. Gasoline prices are high. The government is spending billions on battery technology. Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate. New York Times [Registration Required]

Doctors oppose Utah oil refinery expansions. A group of Utah doctors is leading a campaign against expansion plans at three of five Utah oil refineries, saying the air in the Salt Lake basin is dirty enough and often fails to meet standards of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Associated Press

‘Pink slime’ losing place on school lunch menus. The absence of ground beef at lunch last week — at Boston’s Brighton High and 43 other public schools here — could be explained by a peek into the freezer, where 21 boxes of ground beef products sat, cordoned off from the rest of the meat by a clinical-looking cover of white paper reading “Do not use.” New York Times [Registration Required]

Fingers face cancer risk under nail lamps. UV lamps commonly used in nail salons are akin to “mini tanning beds” and may pose a skin cancer risk, says one of Australia’s leading melanoma researchers. Sydney Morning Herald, Australia. [Registration Required]

3/24/12
Mountain butterflies, wildflowers hit by climate change. A mounting number of findings from a research station in the historic mining settlement of Gothic, Colorado, demonstrate that climate change is affecting the ecology of the Rocky Mountains. Aspen Daily News, Colorado.

Global warming may have fueled March heat wave odds. According to several top scientists, the March heat wave that has shattered records across a wide swath of the U.S. bears some of the hallmarks of global warming. Climate Central

Dolphins in Barataria Bay are severely ill, NOAA says. Bottlenose dolphins in Barataria Bay, which received heavy and prolonged exposure to oil during the 2010 Gulf spill following the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, are showing signs of severe ill health, according to NOAA and its research partners. New Orleans Times-Picayune, Louisiana.

Court orders FDA action on antibiotic use on farms. A federal court judge has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to take action on its own 35-year-old rule that would stop farmers from mixing popular antibiotics into animal feed, a practice which is widely believed to have led to a surge in dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria. Associated Press

Is fracking making people sick? Some Pennsylvania residents who live near Marcellus Shale gas wells believe natural gas drilling is contaminating their water and making them sick. But others point to the economic benefits of fracking and say there’s little scientific evidence that exposure to drilling activities causes illness. Living On Earth

3/23/12
Radiation Risks from Fukushima Are Likely to Be Less than for Chernobyl - Radiation exposures to the public in Japan from meltdowns at three Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant reactors in the wake of last year’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and 45-foot tsunami have been less than what people were exposed to in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster a quarter century ago, according to two experts who spoke at a daylong symposium at UCSF marking the anniversary of the catastrophe in Japan.

FDA must act to remove antibiotics from animal feed: judge. A federal judge on Thursday ordered U.S. regulators to start proceedings to withdraw approval for the use of common antibiotics in animal feed, citing concerns that overuse is endangering human health by creating antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” Reuters

On verge of court defeat, fumigant maker pulls product. When Arysta LifeScience abruptly pulled methyl iodide off the market this week, it cited the “economic viability” of the controversial fumigant. But at a hearing in an Oakland courtroom Wednesday, another factor emerged: Arysta was on the verge of losing a major lawsuit. California Watch

US intelligence sees global water conflict risks rising. Fresh water supplies are unlikely to keep up with global demand by 2040, increasing political instability, hobbling economic growth and endangering world food markets, according to a US intelligence assessment – part of an effort by the Obama administration to assess how long-term issues such as climate change may affect US national security. Reuters

Beware the fog. A new study suggests that fog can harbor real-life horrors. Researchers have found that coastal mists may carry toxic mercury that can harm ecosystems and human health. Science

Feds will require contractors to recycle e-waste. The U.S. government is about to bar contractors who use computers bought with federal dollars from dumping the devices in landfills — requiring instead that contractors bring IT equipment to certified recyclers — an official said on Wednesday. Wall Street Journal [Subscription Required]

Exposure to germs early in life protects later against allergies and asthma. For years, researchers have made a seemingly paradoxical observation: as people have grown up in cleaner and more sterile environments, allergies, asthma, and other inflammatory diseases have increased. An international team has found support for this so-called “hygiene hypothesis” and one possible biological explanation. Boston Globe, Massachusetts.

3/22/12
Prenatal pollutants linked to childhood anxiety, ADHD. Inner-city women who breathe powerful airborne pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons while pregnant are more likely to have children who develop behavioral problems by the time they reach school age, researchers report. ABC News

Work-related carcinogens need more scrutiny. A breast cancer survivor who was exposed to a toxic mix of cancer-causing chemicals on the job at a plastic factory 20 years ago is warning that the health of workers still isn’t protected enough. CBC Canada

Food poisoning could have lifelong consequences. Studies have shown that people caught up in food poisoning outbreaks are more likely to develop a host of lengthy illnesses, including diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure, high blood pressure and even heart attacks and strokes. London Daily Mail, United Kingdom.

3/21/11
A new, large study of women in the US reports that women with high mercury exposures are more than twice as likely to have higher levels of antibodies that are associated with autoimmune disorders. The findings may be the first evidence that mercury exposure in U.S. women affects the immune system through the thyroid.

Plastics put solar on the verge, again. Recent gains in the efficiency, lifespan and manufacturing of thin-film plastic solar panels have advocates convinced that, this time, solar really is on the verge of a revolution – even as the market crashes around them. Daily Climate

Recyclability, sustainability gain momentum at HealthPack 2012 - With members that include Baxter, BD, Cardinal Health, Covidien, Johnson&Johnson, as well as packaging suppliers and waste and energy management companies, the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) is off and running in its role as a private technical coalition of peers “seeking to inspire and enable sustainable, cost-effective recycling solutions for plastic product and materials used in the delivery of healthcare,” according to its Web site.

Government requires new labels for hazardous chemicals. The Obama administration announced long-awaited regulations Tuesday to improve labels on hazardous chemicals and make them conform with international guidelines developed by the United Nations. Associated Press

Damage to world’s oceans ‘to reach $2 trillion a year.’ The cost of damage to the world’s oceans from climate change could reach $2 trillion a year by 2100 if measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not stepped up, a study by marine experts said on Wednesday. Reuters

Small planes leave a trail of lead. A growing body of science has confirmed that dirty freeway air undermines the health of those living nearby, but activists say a more pervasive danger has received too little attention: lead in the exhaust of propeller-driven aircraft that routinely fly in and out of small regional airports. HealthyCal, California.

Smoking deaths triple over decade. Tobacco-related deaths have nearly tripled in the past decade and big tobacco firms are undermining public efforts that could save millions, a new report finds. If current trends continue, it estimates that a billion people will die from tobacco use and exposure this century - one person every six seconds. Reuters

Maker of methyl iodide scraps controversial pesticide. The manufacturer of methyl iodide is pulling the controversial pesticide from the U.S. market, representatives of Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience confirmed late Tuesday. Santa Cruz Sentinel, California.

‘Global warming’ gets a rebranding. Shhhh! Don’t talk about global warming! There’s been a change in climate for Washington’s greenhouse gang, and they’ve come to this conclusion: To win, they have to talk about other topics, like gas prices and kids choking on pollutants. Politico

McDonald’s launches pilot program to drop polystyrene coffee cups - With the launch of a new pilot aimed at phasing out Styrofoam in favor of paper cups, has McDonald’s launched an eco-rivalry that will take the material out of circulation?

3/20/12
Nuclear risks at Bed, Bath & Beyond show dangers of scrap. Going shopping? Don’t forget your wallet and credit card. Or Geiger counter. The discovery of radioactive tissue boxes at Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. stores in January raised alarms among nuclear security officials and company executives over the growing global threat of contaminated scrap metal. Bloomberg News

Chemicals in plastic linked to rise in obesity and diabetes. Man-made chemicals present in homes, schools, offices, cars and food are probably contributing to the sharp rise in obesity and diabetes in western societies, according to a review of scientific literature published today. London Independent, United Kingdom.

Denver study links fracking to higher concentration of air pollutants. People living within a half-mile of oil- and gas-well fracking operations were exposed to air pollutants five times above a federal hazard standard, according to a new University of Colorado study. Denver Post, Colorado.

Uinta Basin mystery: Ozone pollution in the winter. A growing body of evidence suggests a link between oil and gas production and surprisingly high levels of ground-level ozone, a pollutant that undermines the health of the sick and vulnerable and harms even healthy people. It’s a big scientific mystery, and solving it will make all the difference for people who live and work in the basin and those who count on the jobs and money the energy industry provides. Salt Lake Tribune, Utah.

Nanopollutants change blood vessel reactivity. Exposure to nano-sized particles can impair the responsiveness of very tiny blood vessels, new animal studies show. Science News

Oil and gas: EPA looking for ways to ‘manage or minimize’ injection earthquakes. A team from U.S. EPA is preparing recommendations for “managing or minimizing” earthquakes triggered by oil and gas waste injection wells. But the group appears to have receded from its initial goal of finding ways to “avoid” earthquakes caused by injection. EnergyWire

Federal appeals court backs graphic warnings on cigarette packages. A federal law requiring cigarette packages to carry graphic warnings about the dangers of smoking and restricting how tobacco products may be marketed and advertised passes constitutional muster, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. Associated Press

Where could the next outbreak of measles be? Even as more American children are getting immunized against measles, diphtheria and other diseases, public-health officials are increasingly worried about potential outbreaks of these illnesses in certain pockets of the country where vaccination rates are dangerously low. Wall Street Journal [Subscription Required]

3/19/12
Scientists warn of low-dose risks of chemical exposure. Last week, 12 scientists – including such experts as Theo Colborn and the University of Missouri’s Frederick vom Saal — published a paper that they say significantly advances the debate on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. These findings, the researchers say, point to the need for basic changes in how chemical safety testing is conducted. Yale Environment 360

Pollution the big barrier to freer trade in rare earths. Tackling pollution, not freeing up trade, is regarded as the solution to a global shortage of rare earths, the metals that are the building blocks of the 21st century. Reuters

West Coast ‘green’ jobs data shows promise. A new report finds that California, Oregon, Washington and B.C. could triple the number of clean economy jobs to 1.5 million, with synchronized policies. Clean economy jobs include engineers who design solar, wind and efficiency technologies and the electricians who install them—as well as train conductors, recycling collectors and organic farmers. Inside Climate News

A mild winter means a longer tick season. While entomologists say that the mild weather in much of the country this winter is unlikely to spawn a tick population explosion this spring and summer, they suggest that just like humans and dogs, the pesky critters appear to be enjoying the great outdoors a month or two earlier this year. New York Times [Registration Required]

It’s a comeback story: Bald eagles rebound from near extinction. Bald eagles are back, baby. The Oregon wildlife commission took bald eagles off the state endangered species list this month; it was removed from the federal list in 2007. The state de-listing recognizes a stirring comeback. Portland Oregonian, Oregon.

Old plastics, fresh dirt. Plastics composed 12% of the 250 million tons of trash Americans generated in 2010, according to the EPA. Food waste and yard trimmings, in contrast, made up 27%. Compostable plastics won’t make the problem of plastic waste magically disappear. But they can help municipalities and institutions divert organic waste away from the landfill and to the compost pile. Chemical & Engineering News

As climate changes, Louisiana seeks to lift a highway. In 1991 a stretch of Highway 1 through the marshlands of southern Louisiana was 3.9 feet above sea level, but a GPS monitoring device shows the land has lost more than a foot against the sea. It sank two inches in the past 16 months alone. That’s a problem because Highway 1 connects critical oil and gas resources to the rest of the nation. Washington Post [Registration Required]

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