US-centric – In Your BackYard

Toxic Government Report Suppressed (AP/Yahoo 2/8/08)

EXCERPTS: “A much-delayed U.S. government report has been obtained by journalists, raising allegations that officials may be suppressing politically inconvenient data that, if released, could help protect the health of millions living in the Great Lakes region of the country…The study, “Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern,” was developed by the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at the request of the International Joint Commission, an independent U.S-Canadian organization that monitors and advises both governments on the use and quality of boundary waters. It brings together two sets of data: environmental data on known “areas of concern” — including superfund sites and hazardous waste dumps — and separate health data collected by county or, in some cases, smaller geographical regions. The findings pointed to elevated rates of lung, colon, and breast cancer; low birth weight; and infant mortality in several of the geographical areas of concern…

As many as 9 million people — including residents of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee — may be at risk from exposure to pollutants including pesticides, dioxin, PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls), and mercury, according to Sheila Kaplan, an investigative journalist who covered the story for the Center for Public Integrity.”

FDA cites risk of toxic head lice drug (USA Today 1/30/08)

“The sole U.S. maker of an insecticide-based treatment for head lice has stopped promoting the product after a sharply worded warning from the Food and Drug Administration that its marketing misled consumers by downplaying the rare, but serious, risks of the treatments…… In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency banned lindane as an agricultural insecticide, citing its toxicity. About 50 other countries already ban or restrict the agricultural use of lindane.”

The last paragraph of the article finally says it’s banned in other countries – and we allow them to sell it to put on kids’ heads?!
First they came for the Geiger Counters (Treehugger 1/30/08)
“New York City Council, at the suggestion of the Department of Homeland Security, is looking at legislation that requires anyone who has or uses a detector that measures chemical, biological or radioactive agents to get a license from the Police Department.”
US will not distribute radiation poisoning pills (USA Today 1/28/08)

EXCERPTS: “The federal government will not give anti-radiation pills to millions of people who live 10 to 20 miles from a nuclear plant because there are more effective ways to protect people in case of an accident or terrorist attack, the White House said Monday… In 2002, Congress ordered the Bush administration to stockpile the over-the-counter pills, but it left a legal loophole allowing the White House to scrap the distribution requirement if officials determined there was a better way to prevent cancer.”

And that ‘more effective way’?

“After a six-month study, Marburger invoked that loophole Monday. He said evacuation and distribution of uncontaminated food would be more effective and warned that pill distribution could distract people during a crisis.”

Study claims FEMA ignored toxic trailer findings (AP via Raw Story 1/28/08)
“The Federal Emergency Management Agency manipulated scientific research in order to play down the danger posed by formaldehyde in trailers issued to hurricane victims, according to an investigation by congressional Democrats released Monday.”
San Francisco Sewage Spill Estimated at 2.7 Million Tons (USA Today 2/2/08)
Fish from Northern Gulf may be contaminated (Houston Chronicle 2/5/08)

EXCERPT: “Several outbreaks of ciguatera fish poisoning have been confirmed in consumers who ate fish harvested in the northern Gulf of Mexico, the Food and Drug Administration said today. The FDA said that fish such as grouper, snapper, amberjack and barracuda represent the most significant threat to consumers. They feed on fish that have eaten toxic marine algae. The toxin is stable in the tissue of living fish and does them no harm. But larger carnivores have higher concentrations of the toxin in their tissues. As a result, the greatest risk of poisoning for humans comes from the largest fish.”

Video: Huge Intentional Fish Kill in Sacramento (CBS 11/22/07)
Dow contamination site could be worst ever in US (Manufacturing.net 11/26/07)

EXCERPT: “A dioxin find at the bottom of Michigan’s Saginaw River could be the highest level of such contamination ever discovered in a U.S. river or lake, according to a federal scientist involved in cleanup efforts downstream from a Dow Chemical Co. plant. A crew testing the Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers discovered the sample, which measured 1.6 million parts of dioxin per trillion of water, The Saginaw News and The Detroit News reported last week. That level is about 20 times higher than any other find recorded in the archives of the U.S. environmental agency.”

Baby shampoos, lotions and powders may expose infants to chemicals that have been linked with possible reproductive problems (Houston Chronicle 2/3/08)
From sewage, added water for drinking (NYTimes 11/27/07)
Oil in my Water? (Polaris Institute 1/22/08)

EXCERPT: “Most people know of Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon, ConocoPhillips and British Petroleum as some of the world’s biggest oil companies. These corporations are synonymous with gasoline, motor oil and environmental degradation. Regardless of their ubiquity in our everyday lives, many people are not conscious of how these names are intimately linked to the bottled water industry through the production of PET plastic bottles.”

“Given that 80% of the PET produced in the United States ends up in a Coca-Cola, Pepsi or Nestlé beverage container, we thought that it would be useful to highlight the direct links these bottled water producers have with the largest oil, chemical and plastic corporations on the planet. This analysis will help complete a picture of who is profiting from supplying oil based plastic to the bottled water industry and that the players in this supply chain are some of the worst environmental polluters of our time.”

The world’s rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan (Independent UK 2/5/08)

EXCERPT: “The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world’s largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting “soup” stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan. Charles Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” or “trash vortex”, believes that about 100 million tons of flotsam are circulating in the region. Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the US-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which Mr Moore founded, said yesterday: “The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States.”

China to block major polluters from stock exchange listings (EconomicsBriefing 11/21/07)
Saving Yasuni National Park, Ecuador (ZMag 12/2/07)

EXCERPT: “The Yasuní national park, found in Ecuador at the intersection of the High Amazons and the Andean mountain range, is one of the places with a high index of bio-diversity on the planet: more species of trees are found in each hectare than in all of the United States and Canada. Most importantly, its two million hectares are inhabited by the Huaorani, Tagaeri and the Taramenane, descendants of the original people of America and owners of a millennial culture of life in tropical ecosystems.

Yasuní is probably one of the last and most important battlefields in overcoming the pillage of the extractive industries remaining in the humid tropical forests of the High Amazons. Perhaps it is also the crossroads for our civilisation. But Yasuní also has petroleum and one of the most important fields is Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) with proven reserves of 920 million barrels of petroleum.”

Western diet boosts colon cancer risks by 300% (NaturalNews 1/24/08)
The Threat of Population Growth Pales Compared to the Excesses of the Rich (Alternet 1/31/08)
We Face Worldwide Drought With No Contingency Plan (Alternet 11/25/07)
Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth (Treehugger 2/19/08)

EXCERPT: “Environmental Defence just released a new report on the Alberta Oil Sands, calling it the most destructive project on Earth. DeSmogblog gleaned some facts from it: -Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.
-At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing.
-Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes.
-The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world. -The ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.
-Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.

I think Three Gorges Dam is a solid competitor for this title.
Nation’s ecological scientists weigh in on biofuels (ScienceBlogs 1/11/08)
War Gardens: Over the Top Victory (Grit 6/12/07)
Earth is Us (NYTimes 1/28/08)

EXCERPT: “Some earth scientists are pushing to enshrine officially a decades-old idea — that Earth is now in a biogeochemical era of our own making that should be distinguished from the Holocene, the epoch that began with the end of the last ice age. They say the new period should be called the Anthropocene epoch — a name proposed in 2000 by Paul J. Crutzen, the atmospheric chemist (now at the University of California, San Diego) who shared a Nobel Prize for work on human-caused damage to the ozone layer, and Eugene F. Stoermer of the University of Michigan.”

What an awful title for an article. Humans cannot survive without the Earth – the Earth can certainly survive without us. There’s little argument that humans have rapidly changed the Earth’s environment, so hey, why not name an epoch after us? If there are any future anthropologists to know about it.

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