February 6th, 2013 - Jill Ettinger
Pregnant women exposed to vehicular air pollution along with contaminants from coal power plants and urban heating plants are more likely to give birth to children with low birth weights, finds a new study published in the current issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Read More:Common Air Pollution Causes Low Birth Weights, Health Risks, New Study Finds
November 7th, 2012 - Jill Ettinger
A recent study published in the current issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspective brings a new concern to the growing number of CAFOs—concentrated animal feeding operations—dominating the nation’s conventional meat and dairy industry: high blood pressure.
Read More:Factory Farm Pollution Causes High Blood Pressure
September 26th, 2012 - Jill Ettinger
A recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Sciences found that pregnant women who live in urban areas with more grass and trees surrounding their homes, were less at risk of exposure to harmful environmental pollutants than women with less plant life in their immediate area.
Read More:More Trees, Please: Plants Diminish Pollution Exposure for Pregnant Women
February 24th, 2011 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Scientists at the Rochester Institute of Technology are working to use microalgae to clean wastewater and produce biodiesel simultaneously; the school announced in a press release last week.
Purifying wastewater before sending it back into the ecosystem would reduce or eliminate pollutants, such as nitrates, phosphates, bacteria, and toxins. Microalgae consume these materials and then the algae – which are less expensive and grow quicker than corn and soybeans – can be converted into biofuel.
Read More:Algae Turns Wastewater into Biodiesel
September 20th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
By Kathy Bond-Borie, Guest Columnist
Storm water runoff can be a big problem during heavy thunderstorms. As the water rushes across roofs and driveways, it picks up oil and other pollutants.
Municipal storm-water treatment plants often can’t handle the deluge, and untreated water ends up in natural waterways in many areas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates as much as 70% of the pollution in our streams, rivers and lakes is carried there by storm water.
To reduce excess water runoff, many towns are encouraging businesses and homeowners to install rain gardens in their yards: specially constructed gardens located in low areas of a yard where storm water can collect. The idea is to have the water funnel naturally to this garden, which collects runoff and stores and filters it until it can be slowly absorbed by soil.
Read More:Plant a Rain Garden
June 26th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
By S. David Freeman
We keep staring in frustration and anger at the giant flow of oil spilling into the water in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a disaster.
But what is even a greater disaster is what we would see if we looked up, rather than down, and opened our eyes to the millions of deadly toxic “spills” into the air we breathe from cars, trucks, buses, power plants, ships, oil refineries, etc. They spill deadly poisons into the air we breathe every day.
We are more endangered than the birds and the fish in the Gulf. While we are rightfully concerned about the wildlife, let’s wake up to what we are breathing every day of our lives. And there is ample scientific evidence to prove that the “spills” of pollution in the air are just as deadly to human beings.
We need to remind ourselves that what we call smog is a witch’s brew of toxic stuff far more deadly than crude oil. No matter what we burn, whether its gasoline, coal, “clean diesel,” natural gas or biodiesel, it creates tiny particles invisible to the eye that become part of the air we breathe. They go past your nasal passages into the deep recesses of your lungs and into your bloodstream.
Study after study has proven that air pollution is the cause of epidemics of asthma among kids, and heart disease and premature cancer deaths among adults. The tragedy in the Gulf should be a wakeup call to remind Americans that we need to get off oil, not just to save wildlife in the Gulf, but to save our own lives.
It is time to recognize that forms of energy that are inherently dangerous (atomic power, deepwater drilling, and burning coal and petroleum) must be phased out. The truth is that—as we have seen—technology is not perfect and humans do make errors, as the BP oil spill and Three Mile Island reveal.
Remember, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. So, let’s stop going for the poisons, and commit our future to clean energy. The convenient truth is that a serious effort to bring on a renewable energy future, in addition to stopping large future oil spills, would:
- Clean the air we breathe
- Reduce the risks of climate change
- Reduce our dependence on oil imports
- Stop the flow of billions of dollars each year to foreign oil-producing nations
- Create a large number of new green jobs for Americans
I have just returned from a visit to China. The leadership in clean tech is now being captured by the Chinese. But it is not too late for America to at least be a major player. But if the tragedy in the Gulf is not a wakeup call, America will lose out. What is needed is leadership that calls for green action now.
There are vast publicly owned lands where solar and wind projects can be built by private companies if the government will grant speedy permission and financing. And the auto industry can be told by the government that, in a few short years, all your cars must be plug-in hybrids or all-electric.
We must make a firm national decision to say no to poisons: crude oil and coal and inherently dangerous radioactive atomic power. The future must be all renewable. Only then can we preserve our way of life.
Wake up, America. Stop talking, and start building green power—and no more fossil fuels or nuclear. Only then will America’s best days be ahead of us.
S. David Freeman is the former chairman of the board of Tennessee Valley Authority and headed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and other large public power agencies. He is the author of Winning Our Energy Independence and a principal in the Renewable Energy Accountability Project, a nonprofit renewable energy watchdog agency.
Read More:Stop Talking and Start Building Green Power
June 16th, 2010 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
In 2008, China had a little problem with milk. You might have heard about it. melamine, a dangerous chemical, somehow got into there baby formula, sickening 54,000 babies and killing four.
And China didn’t take it lightly. They executed two company executives held responsible for the outbreak, so needless to say, any food imports from China need strict inspection.
That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has banned a Nebraska organic food inspecting company from operating in China due improper operations.
Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), located in Lincoln, Nebraska, had been working in China for years, but recently got lazy.
What did they do? The USDA requires organic food to be inspected by a third party, and it turns out OCIA was using Chinese government employees to inspect Chinese farms state-owned land. Oh what’s the big deal! Sigh.
These crops are branded with the USDA’s organic seal.
And surprise-surprise, in the wake of this blunder, OCIA’s executive director declined to comment on the USDA’s ban.
But kudos to China, prior to OCIA getting the boot, Chinese organic farms did have periodic visits from other food inspectors certified by the USDA.
Now, while this is great to hear – you have to come down hard on lazy companies, especially ones that handle our food – the USDA had been trying to revoke OCIA’s license since 2007. Talk about glacial action.
Hey, better late then never…I guess.
It’s an understatement, but China does have its fair share of toxic problems. In addition to the melamine debacle, previous reports have linked China’s massive air pollution to birth defects. Is there an inspector for that too?
Image credit: Trade Prince
Read More:USDA Boots an Organic Inspector from China
June 6th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
More than 275 million people visit America’s national parks each year, but “years of underfunding, pollution and climate change have taken a toll on our national treasures,” says Theresa Pierno, executive vice president of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).
That’s why four-time Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney has partnered with granola-bar company Nature Valley to raise up to $500,000 for the NPCA. .
“To me, there’s nothing better than being outside, enjoying the parks, the lakes and the oceans—and that’s what makes protecting our national parks so important,” Chesney says. “Teaming up with Nature Valley to raise awareness and funds is a great way to make sure the public realizes how special these parks are.”
You may make a donation to support restoration projects by clicking here.
In the first year, Nature Valley will contribute to the NPCA through the National Parks Project, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $250,000. Money raised will focus on three preservation projects:
- Reestablishing plant life critical to the Grand Canyon
- Restoring habitat for Yellowstone’s wildlife
- Rebuilding Biscayne National Park’s damaged coral reefs
Pierno says the new partnership “is another step toward ensuring our national parks get the care and support they need for the enjoyment of our children and grandchildren in the years to come.”
You can follow park conservation efforts on Twitter.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Natural Parks: America’s Best Idea
Photos courtesy of Kenny Chesney; Jim Peaco/National Park Service
Read More:Give Our National Parks Some TLC
June 1st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
While the BP oil spill has officially become the worst in U.S. history, Americans remain divided over whether the government should increase offshore oil drilling, according to a nationwide survey of 1,001 adults conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Public Policy.
When asked specifically about drilling’s risks and benefits, 51% said the environmental risks outweigh the benefits, while 35% think the benefits outweigh the environmental risks. Nonetheless, 45% support increased offshore drilling, with 44% opposing it (margin of error: ±3.7%).
- 80% say pollution of the country’s rivers, lakes and reservoirs is a major problem; 16% say it’s a minor problem; and 3% say it’s not a problem.
- Air pollution is considered a major problem by 74%, and 73% worry about our overreliance on energy from oil and gas.
- 54% say global warming is a major problem, 23% consider it a minor problem, and 19% say it’s not a problem.
- Views about global warming are divided along partisan lines, with 70% of Democrats identifying it as a major problem; only 27% of Republications agree. Most Independents (53%) think global warming is a major problem.
- Perceptions lean toward the view that scientists are divided over global warming, with 49% of those polled saying many scientists have serious doubts about the evidence; 37% believe the evidence is widely accepted in the scientific community. Once again, views were split along partisan lines.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Bridge at the End of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability
Read More:Public Divided on Environmental Issues
April 30th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Buy tickets for Disney’s Oceans, and you’ll see sobering footage of a shopping cart on the ocean floor—a sure sign of consumerism run amok.
This simple image conveys an incredibly important message: We’re destroying our environment. Climate change may garner more headlines, but ocean pollution remains a considerable concern.
What can you do to reduce your impact?
- Don’t Litter. Litter is a huge contributor to ocean pollution because it ends up in storm drains that eventually empty into rivers and streams. Even if you live miles away from the ocean, your litter will likely contribute to water pollution.
- Follow the Three R’s. How committed are you to the environmental mantra reduce, reuse, recycle? Your answer has a direct effect on the health of our oceans. Failure to embrace the three R’s leads to ocean pollution and mile-high landfills.
- Increase Your Sewage Awareness. Anything that goes down your dishwasher, washing machine, toilet and sink drains will eventually make its way into the ocean. This often leads to oxygen depletion that harms marine life, as well as nutrient loading, which occurs when excessive nitrogen and phosphorous are deposited into the ocean’s ecosystem. Sewage also increases ocean bacteria and parasites, creating a ripple effect that endangers the fishing and tourism industries.
- Understand the Dangers of Toxic Pollutants. Arguably, nothing is more detrimental to the world’s oceans than toxic pollutants, which have been linked to birth defects in wildlife and may contribute to cancer in humans. Lead and mercury collect in marine animals’ tissues, causing reproductive problems and nerve damage. World Wildlife Federation researchers have found that other wildlife, including polar bears and frogs, have experienced decreased fertility, thyroid dysfunction and demasculinization (in males)—a result of exposure to pesticides and industrial chemicals. Other toxic ocean pollutants include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are typically used to manufacture electrical equipment and have been known to cause reproduction problems in marine life. Genetic abnormalities have also been seen in marine animals exposed to polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are caused by burning wood and coal, as well as oil pollution.
- Participate in Community Cleanup Programs. Many seaside communities offer volunteer beach clean-up programs to keep their beaches clean and safe. By volunteering for such programs, you’re not only doing your part, but you’re also giving yourself an excuse to spend a day at the beach.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage
Read More:5 Ways to Help Save Our Oceans