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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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
24 July 2013, 9:26 AM
McKinley's shameless coal ash bill is worse than ever
Residents of Asheville, NC have seen their waterways polluted by coal ash. (Watch video »)

This week the House will vote on the “Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013” (HR 2218) sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV). The bill ruthlessly guts longstanding public health and environmental protections of the nation’s decades-old statute protecting communities from solid and hazardous waste disposal. This shameless industry giveaway creates a giant loophole for the toxic waste generated by coal-fired power plants.

This is the fifth time since 2011 the House will vote on a McKinley abomination that allows the nation’s second largest industrial waste stream to escape federal safeguards. Enough toxic coal ash is produced each year to fill a freight train that would stretch from the North to the South Poles—waste that is filled with toxic chemicals like arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury.

This latest iteration is the most deadly. Among other atrocities, it allows leaking coal ash impoundments to operate indefinitely—even if they are gushing toxic chemicals into aquifers; it limits EPA authority to take over state programs—even if those programs are failing to protect human health; and it potentially blocks all future EPA rules concerning coal ash—including EPA’s recently proposed Clean Water Act rule addressing toxic wastewater from coal plants.

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View Seth Johnson's blog posts
17 July 2013, 9:41 AM
Dam allowing sediment to dirty Chesapeake Bay
Conowingo Dam. (Michael Jewel)

The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna and Waterkeepers Chesapeake today asked to be included in the relicensing proceedings for the Conowingo Dam, about 50 miles northeast of Baltimore. The dam affects water quality up and down the Susquehanna River and throughout Chesapeake Bay, and the groups plan to push the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require the dam’s owner to take action so that the dam doesn’t harm waters in Maryland, Pennsylvania and beyond.

Only 10 miles from where the Susquehanna pours into the Bay, Conowingo Dam is an ecological time-bomb. Behind the dam lies a massive amount of sediment, a water pollutant that clouds the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, harming underwater vegetation and the animals that rely on it. The dam has been trapping about 55 percent of the incoming sediment in the Susquehanna, but according to predictions by scientists the dam is running out of room to store sediment. And as it runs out of room, more and more sediment pours into the bay. The current plan to clean up the bay doesn’t have a plan to address this problem—and neither does the request for a 46-year permit from the dam’s owners, Exelon Generation.

What’s more, major storms scour sediment that’s built up behind the dam, leading to giant influxes of sediment, phosphorus and other pollutants into the bay. Tropical Storm Lee, in 2011, swept a 100-mile-long plume of sediment—visible from space—from the Susquehanna into the bay.

Sediment Clouds the Chesapeake Bay. (Jeff Schmaltz / MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC)

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
15 July 2013, 5:31 AM
Farmworkers from across the nation come to D.C. to secure safeguards from toxic pesticides
A cropduster sprays chemicals over agricultural fields. (Brian Brown Images)

This is the first in a two part series on protections for farmworkers from pesticides.

Read part two, Farmworker Mother To EPA: We Deserve Protections, and the accompanying special feature, Pesticides: The Workplace Hazard The EPA Is Ignoring.

 

If the apples in your local store are bug-free because of pesticides, then you might ask who the pesticides hurt before the apples left the farm. That’s because many pesticides are toxic enough to seriously harm the humans who work in the orchards.

A growing number of Americans recognize the hazards of toxic chemicals and as a result have reduced their consumption of produce grown with pesticides to protect their family’s health. But while U.S. consumers are finding ways to protect themselves, far too little is being done to protect farmworkers, who are on the frontlines of exposure to high levels of toxic pesticides.

To address this urgent need, this week farmworkers from across the nation are meeting in Washington, D.C. with their members of Congress to call for stronger protections from hazardous pesticides. These farmworkers and their allies seek to strengthen the Worker Protection Standard under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, a set of outdated safeguards the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to revise for more than 20 years despite overwhelming evidence of their inadequacy.

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View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
10 July 2013, 11:21 AM
Chemicals used in fracking are linked to hormone disruption and cancer
A sign hangs by the Inglewood Oil Field in Los Angeles, CA, warning of hazardous fumes. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

Avoiding alcohol and caffeine are standard recommendations for a pregnant women. No surprise there! The simple and effective way of keeping infants safe is stripping the environment toxins that cause low birth weight, birth defects, respiratory problems, cancer and fertility problems. Yet the most common substances used to frack for natural gas are cancer-causing agents.

The statistics are startling; according to a new report by the Center for Environmental Health, 25 percent of chemicals used in fracking have been linked to cancer, and 35 percent of chemicals used in fracking disrupt the normal functioning of our hormones. As a result, the fracking chemicals have significantly higher impacts on pregnant women and children. Communities in geographic proximity to the industry boom are exposed to many of the 600+ chemicals used in natural gas fracking fluids.

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View Allie Eisen's blog posts
24 June 2013, 2:20 PM
Bill could dramatically worsen already contaminated waters
The Progress Energy power plant, viewed across Lake Julian. (zen Sutherland)

There is a running joke in my hometown about the glowing green fish and three-headed salamanders in Lake Julian. Nestled in the center of Arden, North Carolina, and surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, this lake was once the picturesque centerpiece of the quaint Southern town. But thanks to the pollution from Progress Energy’s nearby coal ash pond, these jokes aren’t far from the truth.

Unfortunately, the North Carolina Legislature is debating a bill to make this type of coal ash contamination increasingly prevalent throughout local waterways. NC Senate Bill 612, sponsored by Republican leaders in both the House and Senate, seeks to “provide regulatory relief to the citizens of North Carolina” by creating a fast-track process to obtain environmental permits. The bill, which has already passed in the Senate and is currently moving through the House, would allow coal-fired power plants to contaminate groundwater up to and past their property lines—eliminating all current boundaries.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
18 June 2013, 1:15 PM
Congressional Research Service decides new bill is foul play

In advance of an upcoming vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week, the nonpartisan think tank, Congressional Research Service (CRS), delivered a frank memorandum evaluating HR 2218, the latest effort by Rep. McKinley (R-WV) to prevent the EPA from completing its coal ash rule. CRS exposes HR 2218’s superficial “fixes,” concluding that the bill still fails to establish federal health and environmental standards and cannot guarantee nationwide protection from toxic contamination.

View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
13 June 2013, 10:47 AM
Cleaner fuels and cars mean cleaner air
Smog over Los Angeles, CA. (EPA)

“It's a scary moment to walk into a client's home or onto the freeway underpass where they live and see their 2-month old child struggling to breathe.”

Robin Kristufek has worked as a registered nurse in the Sacramento region for years. Her clients are not patients in hospital beds — but low income families and the homeless, whom she visits wherever they live. It's obvious to Robin that a disproportionate number of children living in poverty are afflicted with asthma and bronchitis — and some die of lung disease. Their health problems come from living near busy roads and freeways without trees or green spaces to help filter out particulates. They are forced to breathe in toxic pollution.

Clean Air Ambassador Robin Kristufek.

Clean Air Ambassador Robin Kristufek.
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
11 June 2013, 12:58 PM
NJ Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death a blow to all Americans
Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

There was a time that airline travel exposed passengers to a deadly peril: secondhand cigarette smoke. Not so for more than 25 years now, thanks to the dogged persistence of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who pushed for and successfully passed a smoking prohibition on flights which led to smoke-free workplaces and other areas.

Last week Sen. Lautenberg died after a long illness and Americans lost an unwavering champion who also went to bat for clean air, water and land. Sen. Lautenberg championed Superfund, passed vital laws that kept NJ’s drinking water clean, combatted climate change, and aimed to keep our communities, oceans and waterways clear from toxic waste. His passing is a blow to all of us.

One of Sen. Lautenberg’s final efforts was overhauling the weak and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. Lautenberg aimed to breathe new life into what he called “a long-dead statute” by proposing that the EPA be empowered to get tough on toxic chemicals. The senator spent nearly the last 10 years on this issue. Sen. Lautenberg said of the issue:

Chemical safety reform is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it is a common-sense issue.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
07 June 2013, 12:55 PM
HR 2218 harms public health, environment

Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and John Shimkus (R-IL) are on a mission to ram through an anti-public health, anti-public safety and anti-environmental coal ash bill.

After filing their trifecta on the evening of June 3, the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy voted on June 6 to pass HR 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013 (“CRRM”), a complicated bill designed to prevent the EPA from ever regulating coal ash.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 May 2013, 9:35 AM
Ambassadors from every state arrive en masse to buttonhole congress reps
The grassroots campaign involved ambassadors from every state, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico.

A few days ago, a fierce army invaded Washington, D.C. to ask our representatives for something very simple: restore our right to breathe clean air.

This modest proposal came from more than 100 “clean air ambassadors” who know the cost of dirty air all too well. Take Hilton Kelley from Port Arthur, Texas, which is home to more than five large refineries, six chemical plants and an incinerator. In his community, one out of every five households has a child suffering from asthma and other contaminated-air-related illnesses. One day, after having moved away from his home town years ago, he looked in the mirror and asked himself, “If I’m not going to do anything about the conditions in Port Arthur, how can I expect anyone else to?”

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