Friday Finds: Soda's Sickeningly Sweet Side
Soft drinks' light hue may have a dark side
Soft drinks have been under heavy scrutiny lately for their use of aspartame, a fake sweetener that, though calorie-free, may just also give you cancer. Unfortunately, that's not the only carcinogen found in pop (or soda, if you're the coastal type). A recent Center for Science in the Public Interest report unveiled that achieving that caramel brown hue seen in most beverages involves heating a chemical soup of ingredients that creates a carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole, reports Grist. Add that to the fact that most pop is found in BPA-laden aluminum cans and you just may want to switch to water—the kind from the tap, of course.
Americans confirm that they love breathing
Americans are having a love affair with breathing, according to a recent American Lung Association study. Despite Republicans' best efforts to prove otherwise, the public wants the EPA to clean up our air and also wants Congress to butt out of the process, reports Grist. And it's not just Democrats who feel this way. Independents and even a majority of Republicans support strengthening air quality standards. That's why Earthjustice is working hard to defend our clean air standards. Because everyone has a right to breathe.
Toxic soot blows into Windy City
It turns out that taking the Metra trains into Chicago can be hazardous to your health, reports the Chicago Tribune. Recent tests found high levels of toxic soot inside Metra's stainless steel cars at levels even higher than what you'd get from just walking on the sidewalk. Commuters that plop down in the first car are exposed to the highest levels of soot, which can lodge deep into the lungs and even trigger asthma attacks. Metra can't afford to purchase new cars, so it's currently studying how to clean up its older locomotives by adding pollution controls or directing the exhaust away from passenger cars.
A handful of energy behemoths bent on disrupting green groups' environmental campaigns against their companies are hiring corporate spies to do their dirty work, reports the Guardian. Unlike government spies, these spies-for-hire largely operate by their own rules, raising concerns from police over the use of "uncontrolled and unrestrained players in the private sector." Though the spies' activities aren't exactly illegal, environmental groups are rightly worried that "in a meeting about how to stop the fossil fuel industry, the person sitting next to you might be a spy paid by the energy giant themselves."
It's official. Severe rainstorms and heavy snowfalls are linked to humans' tinkering with the environment by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study reported on by the New York Times. The study, a first major paper of its kind, looked at elaborate climate simulations to determine whether the increase in freakish weather could be explained by the variability of nature. It can't, which strengthens the notion that extreme weather events like the 2010 floods or 2011 Snowpocalypses will only become more common as carbon emissions increase. It may be high time to invest in that disaster kit.