Posts tagged: Health and Toxics

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Health and Toxics


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Marty Hayden's blog posts
19 December 2012, 2:26 PM
A fighter for all who suffered environmental injustice
Joan was a tireless advocate for the underdog in every situation. She will be greatly missed.

Earthjustice mourns the passing of the strongest and bravest advocate for clean water and justice that we have ever known, our very own senior legislative counsel Joan Mulhern.

Earthjustice’s original “Mountain Hero,” Joan began her great work at Earthjustice in 1999, bringing with her a remarkable dedication to clean water and leading the organization in its work to save Appalachian waters and communities by ending mountaintop removal mining, to protect Florida waters from toxic algae slime, and to bring the protections of the law to all waters of the United States.

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View John McManus's blog posts
18 December 2012, 1:56 PM
Pediatrics group urges heath professionals to take the lead

The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on the government, schools, parents and medical professionals to take concerted action to protect children from pesticides.

The 60,000-member physicians organization is worried about the growing body of scientific evidence that links these toxic chemicals not only to obvious poisoning but also to subtle health problems kids can be particularly vulnerable to.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
17 December 2012, 12:45 PM
Need for cleanup dire as residents continually consume toxic fish
The Pepco Benning Road Power Plant towers over the river. PCB waste allegedly comes from the plant and has ended up in the river.

We have spent more than 15 years championing the need for cleaning up the Anacostia River (as well as the Potomac River and Rock Creek). And what better reason than the fact that several District and Prince George County residents depend on the river for sustenance. This disturbing (you’ll know why in a moment) Washington Post article details the hundreds of anglers who fish the river, pulling out catfish, rockfish and carp, according to a study released by several groups, including the Anacostia Watershed Society. AWS is one of several environmental groups we’ve represented in numerous legal challenges.

According to the Post, nearly 75 percent of anglers consume part of their catch, despite a strong advisory to catch and release. Here are the facts: catfish bottom-feed in the Anacostia, where their food is mixed in with a cancer-causing stew of toxic metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

This is not good. What is particularly bad about this scenario, is that of the nearly 75 percent who catch these contaminated fish, most share it with people back home, dispersing these fish sometimes to pregnant women and children.

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View Stephanie Maddin's blog posts
14 December 2012, 4:56 PM
Rule will save up to thousands of lives
Soot is composed of tiny microscopic particles that penetrate deep within the lungs often triggering respiratory harm and even premature death. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

No one likes to breathe dirty and polluted air. Unfortunately, for some communities there may be little to no choice.

But today, the EPA took a step in the right direction to clean up soot pollution and protect millions of Americans forced to breathe dirty air. Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a tightened standard that will limit soot pollution in many major metropolitan areas across the country, cleaning up the smokestacks and tailpipes that belch out this dirty pollution.

The current standard, set in 1997, is outdated, prompting our legal action against the EPA. Last year, we partnered with the American Nurses Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Hip Hop Caucus, and the National Council of Churches to collectively call on Congress and federal regulators to protect citizens from preventable air pollution. This effort, dubbed 50 States United for Healthy Air educated stakeholders on the need for strong clean air protections for all Americans. Thankfully, some voices on Capitol Hill got the message and called on the EPA to set forth strong soot standards.

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View David Guest's blog posts
14 December 2012, 10:59 AM
EPA will step in to regulate 100,000 miles of Florida's waters
Visitors at spring-fed Santa Fe River near Gainesville, FL, for the 2012 Memorial Day weekend found a rude surprise—pollution from sewage, manure and fertilizer sparked an outbreak of nasty green slime. (John Moran)

We’re happy to report that our long fight to clean up the green slime that’s been plaguing Florida waterways for years hit a major turning point on Nov. 30. That’s the day the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to set numeric pollution limits for some 100,000 miles of Florida waterways and 4,000 square miles of estuaries.

We fought every polluting industry in Florida for four years to get this result. These slime outbreaks—caused by pollutants in inadequately treated sewage, manure and fertilizer—are a pestilence, contaminating water, killing fish, destroying property values and chasing off tourists. Now the EPA has to stop dragging its feet and deal with it.

Using extensive data it has been collecting and analyzing in concert with Florida Department of Environmental Protection scientists, the EPA will impose numeric limits on the allowable amount of phosphorus and nitrogen—so called “nutrient” pollution—in the state’s waterways.

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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
13 December 2012, 10:39 AM
Moapa Band of Paiutes blaze a trail to clean energy and better health
Vickie Simmons, a tribal member, stands in front of Reid Gardner Power Station.  (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

In his address at the Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama spoke with his usual eloquence about invigorating growth on tribal lands, and the perfect example of this new growth is the Moapa solar project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Situated just 30 miles north of Las Vegas, the site will generate up to 350 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. It highlights in many ways the future of the nation’s energy supply, and unfortunately the Paiute Indians themselves know the industry’s cloudy past.

Just next to the reservation is the Reid Gardner Power Station. This coal-fired power plant generates more than just electricity; it produces more than 4,000 tons of toxic, arsenic-laden coal ash every year. This waste is stored in landfills near the power station, but often it does not stay there. On bad days, the wind sends the ash sweeping into the reservation, a condition some tribal members compare to a sandstorm. Locking the doors and staying inside is the only recourse on these bad days, and even that has not protected the Moapa Band of Paiutes. The locals have plenty to say about their health, ranging from headaches and dizziness to asthma and even serious heart conditions. The almost-50-year-old belching coal plant has plenty to answer for.

Still, the Moapa Paiutes are determined to show the world that there is a better way forward.

View John McManus's blog posts
11 December 2012, 4:10 PM
Earthjustice seeks better labeling of seafood to protect consumers
Consumers should have easy access to information about fish species with elevated mercury content. (NIH)

A new report has some not-so-great news for those who love to eat fish. Mercury is turning up in fish from all over the world—and coal is one of the main culprits.

Coal burned in power plants releases mercury, basically dissolved in smoke, that later settles out over the land. It typically falls out of the atmosphere within 30 miles or so of where it was burned and then finds its way into soil and runoff that eventually end in the oceans.

In July of 2011, Earthjustice filed a petition on behalf of Dr. Jane Hightower, the Mercury Policy Project and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, asking the Food and Drug Administration to post signs near market seafood counters and on seafood labels to warn consumers about mercury in fish.

View John McManus's blog posts
11 December 2012, 12:06 PM
Earthjustice and allies fight back
Chicken manure and other pollutants end up in protected creeks, rivers and streams. (USDA)

Recently the EPA ordered an industrial animal factory in West Virginia to clean up massive amounts of chicken manure and other pollution lying around the ground, lest they end up in local streams after it rains. The farm refused to get a permit to address the pollution, so the EPA is in court—with Earthjustice on its side—to force the issue.

Arrayed with the farm against the EPA are the American Farm Bureau Federation and West Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. They know that that EPA’s permit stance here could translate into similar permit requirements for thousands of other industrial animal factories that similarly pollute creeks, rivers and streams coast to coast.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
07 December 2012, 5:11 PM
Your dog’s favorite chew toy may be loaded with more than just slobber
Credit: TheGiantVermin (flickr)

Your favorite four-legged companion may get a dose of toxic chemicals the next time you throw him/her a chew toy.

That’s the conclusion of an as-yet unpublished study, which found that dogs that chew on plastic toys may be exposed to hormone-altering chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. The new study, conducted at Texas Tech University, is one of the first to examine dog products as carriers of toxic chemicals. It’s not the first study, however, to look at the health effects of BPA and phthalates, which are widespread in the U.S. population and have been linked to everything from reproductive toxicity to obesity.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
04 December 2012, 3:36 PM
Disproportionate burden of coal plant emissions placed on such communities

The results of a comprehensive study investigating the impacts of living near 378 coal plants in the United States have found that people of color and low-income communities are disproportionately more burdened by this pollution than any other segment of the population. Coal Blooded was pulled together by the NAACP, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and the Indigenous Environmental Network.