Posts tagged: Health and Toxics

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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 Sarah Burt's blog posts
04 June 2009, 3:35 PM
 

Canada's vast boreal forest (named for Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind) covers more than a third of the country's total landmass and is a larger ecosystem than the Amazon. In addition to providing habitat for a diverse range of species including moose, lynx, grizzly bears and over 3 billion birds, the peat bogs and wetlands of the boreal forest are among the planet's most effective carbon sinks.

But a persistent thirst for dirty fuels threatens to irrevocably harm the boreal forest and chain us further to an unsustainable energy future.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
26 May 2009, 3:51 PM
 

Have you been following our Name That Fish contest? As part of our Cleaning Up Mercury, Protecting Our Health campaign, we just rechristened the Bluefin Tuna as “Blue Infection Tuna.” The timing couldn't be more perfect... a new Federal study was just released this month on the alarming mercury levels in tuna and other fish in the Pacific ocean.

YubaNet.com reports:

A landmark study by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and universities in the U.S. and Australia has, for the first time, documented how escalating mercury-laden air emissions, chiefly from coal-fired electrical power plants in Asia, are being transformed into methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin that is increasingly polluting the North Pacific Ocean and contaminating tuna, swordfish and other popular seafood.

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View Susan Britton's blog posts
21 May 2009, 11:10 AM
 

We all know that at long last the global community is taking steps to address the certain catastrophic environmental and health effects of climate change. But let's face it: under even the most optimistic of scenarios, intergenerational injustice has been done, and global warming will be our children's cross to bear.

How possibly to prepare our youngest for the defining challenge of their generation? One place to start is the raft of excellent children's books available on the subject. Herewith are some of my favorites (tested and approved by two spirited elementary school aged children):

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
08 May 2009, 8:58 AM
 

People around the Web and across the country are talking about our Cleaning Up Mercury, Protecting Our Health campaign to raise awareness about the serious health risks of mercury poisoning and to support the recent EPA proposal for cutting mercury pollution.

Here are some of the comments making the rounds:

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
06 May 2009, 4:33 PM
 

As part of our campaign to clean up sources of toxic mercury pollution, we experimented with Google Earth to tell the story of how pollution from cement kilns is hurting local communities. Below is a video we produced that features two cement kilns right along the water in Seattle, WA.

Let's get a quick show of hands: How many of you have lost hours at work living out your flying fantasy in Google Earth? Well, me too.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
01 May 2009, 12:59 PM
 

We've told you about the dangers of eating mercury-contaminated fish. Today, the US Geological Survey released a comprehensive study linking the mercury emissions from smokestacks here in the US and abroad, and the contamination of fish like tuna and other marine life in the Pacific Ocean. According to the NY Times and Greenwire:

The study documents the formation in the North Pacific of methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that rapidly accumulates in the food chain to levels that can cause serious health concerns for people who consume seafood. Scientists have known for some time that mercury deposited from the atmosphere can be transformed into methylmercury, but the study focuses on how that transformation occurs.

USGS showed that methylmercury is produced in mid-depth ocean waters by processes linked to "ocean rain." Algae, which are produced in sunlit waters near the surface, die quickly and rain downward to greater water depths. The settling algae are decomposed by bacteria and the interaction of this decomposition process in the presence of mercury results in the formation of methylmercury.

Many steps up the food chain later, predators like tuna receive methylmercury from the fish they consume, the study shows.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "This study gives us a better understanding of how dangerous levels of mercury move into our air, our water, and the food we eat, and shines new light on a major health threat to Americans and people all across the world."

Just last week, the EPA proposed significant cuts in cement kiln mercury emissions (up to 16,000 pounds a year), and we’re hopeful they will continue this leadership when they work to cut mercury from coal-fired power plants sometime in the future.

Mercury is a neurotoxin especially dangerous to young and unborn children, and women of childbearing age are often warned to limit their consumption of contaminated fish (like tuna, shark, walleye, or wild striped bass).

View Brian Smith's blog posts
30 April 2009, 2:24 PM
 

Growing up in California's San Joaquin Valley, we spent our summer days at the community swimming pool and on the soccer field. Playing outside was one of the joys of growing up in a region where the days are warm, the grass is green and the sky is clear.

These days, elementary schools in the valley fly color-coded flags to alert parents of "bad air days" when their children should be kept indoors. Childhood fun in the valley is not what it used to be.

Despite recently approving a $857,500 public relations campaign to say otherwise, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District received yet another failing grade by the American Lung Association this week in the 2009 State of the Air report.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
29 April 2009, 12:45 PM
 

We've been seeing some great coverage of the EPA's plan to cut mercury from cement kilns. Lots of bloggers have taken notice. Here are a few posts about our mercury campaign from around the blogosphere:

Treehugger wrote:

I doubt if any other nation regulates mercury emissions from cement kilns the way USA is about to. USEPA's just-announced progress on this front took a decade of work, several lawsuits by activists, a new EPA Administrator willing to obey the law, and a new Congress that doesn't (yet) bow to lobbyists and interfere with EPA. With all that build-up, the new, final USEPA cement kiln mercury control regulation is indeed a "sea change."

The New York Times Green Inc. Blog said:

James Pew, a lawyer with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm that had sued the E.P.A. on behalf of the Sierra Club after the agency missed a 1997 deadline to issue new emissions rules for the cement industry, said, "It's a very toothy law that will force all cement plants to meet the highest standards of pollution control."

View Susan Britton's blog posts
22 April 2009, 11:44 AM
 

Rocket fuel in powdered infant formula? Sounds like a parent's nightmare, but it's true.

In a study published last month, the Center for Disease Control reported finding perchlorate contamination in all 15 of the formulas it studied. The military's fuel of choice for rockets and other explosive ordnance since the 1940s, perchlorate is a thyroid toxin that causes neurological defects in fetuses and infants.

CDC did not disclose the brands it tested, but the two with the highest perchlorate concentrations represented 87 percent of the US infant formula market. So if you're a powdered formula consumer, odds are you've bought the most seriously contaminated stuff.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 April 2009, 10:28 AM
 

The first Earth Day, 39 years ago today, was a godsend for a country mired in war and riven by racial, political and cultural issues. Arriving suddenly—as a gift whose time had come—it offered folks something to unite around: the idea of an entire planet, our home, in peril.

It was a time when industrial pollutants made rivers burn and were killing the Great Lakes; smog and soot choked our cities; DDT—thanks to Rachel Carson—had become the national poster child for the abundant horrors of unregulated pesticide usage; old growth forests were devoured unchecked.

Images of environmental catastrophes—such as sea birds tarred by the 1969 Santa Barbara channel oil well blowout—helped drive home the point, and 20 million people rose as one on April 22, 1970 to seek change.