What Is Chromium-6 And How Did It Infiltrate America’s Drinking Water?

glasswater

Chromium-6, the cancer-causing chemical best known for its role in the Erin Brockovich story, has been found at higher-than-recommended levels in the tap water supplying two-thirds of all Americans, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group.
EWG, a nonprofit research organization, analyzed Environmental Protection Agency data on more than 60,000 samples collected at water utilities in all 50 states between 2013 and 2015. They found chromium-6 at levels deemed unsafe by public health officials.

“Americans deserve to know if there are potentially harmful levels of a cancer-causing chemical in their tap water,” David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report, told the PBS NewsHour.
Chromium-6 occurs naturally in the environment, but high quantities are also produced by industrial projects. Pollution can occur when these industrial sites fail to follow proper waste disposal methods, such as with unlined coal ash ponds.
“The difficulty with chromium-6 is how to set a standard to protect human health during windows of development,” Andrews said.
Even in small amounts, chromium-6 can cause skin burns, pneumonia, complications during childbirth and stomach cancer.

Continue reading “What Is Chromium-6 And How Did It Infiltrate America’s Drinking Water?”

Florida Sinkhole At Mosaic Fertilizer Site Leaks Radioactive Water

A sinkhole spanning 45 feet (13.7 meters) in diameter opened at a Mosaic Co phosphate fertilizer facility in Florida, leaking 215 million gallons of “slightly radioactive water,” a company spokesman said on Friday.
Mosaic said the monitoring system at its New Wales facility at Mulberry, Florida, showed a decline in water levels on Aug. 27 from the retention pond of a phosphogypsum stack, a hill of hazardous waste. Phosphogypsum is a radioactive byproduct resulting from the production of phosphate.
The Minnesota-based company immediately reported the incident to state and federal environmental authorities, Mosaic spokesman Ben Pratt said on Friday. But it did not otherwise report it publicly until posting information on its website on Thursday, he said.
The leaked water is enough to fill more than 300 Olympic swimming pools.
The nearly three-week gap between detecting the sinkhole and reporting it to the public is alarming, said Jacki Lopez, Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

“It’s hard to trust them when they say ‘Don’t worry,’ when they’ve been keeping it secret for three weeks,” she said. 

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White House To Spend $68 Million To Advance Solar Deployment And Increase Energy Efficiency

SolarObama

In its newest effort to combat climate change, the Obama administration today announced that it would dedicate nearly $70 million in funding toward bringing more solar power to homes and businesses, improving energy efficiency in rural areas.

The $68 million in federal funds will go to 540 energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the country, 240 of which will be for solar power, the White House said in a press release. Along with the funding, the White House also announced a slew of executive actions, private and public sector commitments, and initiatives from different federal agencies, including one from the Department of Energy to train at least 50,000 veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years.

Another newly announced program seeks to get more clean energy in low-income communities, by clarifying that Department of Housing and Urban Development’s funding programs for economic development can be used for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Cities in Oregon, Maryland, and Virginia have committed to installing more solar power by 2016, and one winery in California has promised to have 60 percent of its electricity usage come from renewable power by 2016, the White House said.

Taken together, the White House estimates that all of the new programs will cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons every year, the equivalent of taking about 12 million cars off the road annually. By 2030, the programs would result in carbon pollution cuts of approximately 300 million metric tons, the equivalent of 63 million cars, the White House said.

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Human Population Growth (Consumption) Has Increased Species Extinctions by More Than 1,000 Times Natural Rate

A new study published in the internationally recognized journal Science has determined that the current rate of species extinctions is more than 1,000 times greater than the background rate calculated from the fossil record and genetic data, spanning millions of years. The primary cause of this dramatic rise in the loss of species is human population growth and increased consumption, according to the study.

“This important study confirms that species are going extinct at a pace not seen in tens of millions of years, and unlike past extinction events, the cause is us,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The loss of species has drastic consequences for us all by degrading ecosystems that clean our air and water and are a source of food and medicine, and by making our world less interesting and a more lonely place. This study underscores the importance of laws like the Endangered Species Act and the need for swift action to reverse the disturbing trend of extinction.”

In likely the most comprehensive assessment of species extinction rates yet, the study led by acclaimed conservation biologist Dr. Stuart Pimm of Duke University found the rate at which mammals, birds and amphibians are moving toward extinction over the past four decades would have been 20 percent higher were it not for conservation efforts.

The study uses newly available data on species distributions and imperilment to quantify the current extinction rate, which was estimated to be at least 100 extinctions per million species-years. The researchers then analyzed extensive data on rates of speciation and extinction over millions of years to estimate a background or natural rate of extinction of .1 extinctions per million species-years, leading to the new estimate that we have increased the rate of extinction by at least 1,000 times.

This estimate is considered conservative because of the large number of species still unknown to science, the fact that a majority of such species are likely to be rare and at risk, and uncertainties in predicting future extinctions given increased habitat destruction, spread of invasive species and diseases, and global warming.

“The findings of this study are alarming to say the least,” said Greenwald. “But it also shows we can make a difference if we choose to and should be a clarion call to take action to protect more habitat for species besides our own and to check our own population growth and consumption.”

The study further notes that some groups of species are going extinct at even greater rates. North American freshwater fishes, for example, were found to be going extinct at a rate of 305 extinctions per million species-years, or more than 3,000 times greater than the background rate, and the continent’s snails and slugs are going extinct at a rate nearly 10,000 times background. These high rates reflect the degree to which we have degraded rivers and lakes in North America with dams, pollution, spread of non-native species and direct destruction.

“There can be no question that we’re fouling our own nest, but what this study shows is that this has consequences not just for us, but for the millions of other species with which we share this world,” said Greenwald.”

ARTICLE LINK: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/extinction-rate-05-29-2014.html
STUDY  LINK: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6187/1246752.abstract?sid=a4435a49-708d-44b5-9101-e5c5abf91eb0
NAT-GEO LINK: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140529-conservation-science-animals-species-endangered-extinction/

Trees in Borneo Soak Up More CO2 Than Trees in the Amazon

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MY COMMENT: How will this affect climate models?

If there was just one place in the world where it would make sense to protect trees, maintain the rainforest and damp down global warming, scientists have confirmed that it would be the island of Borneo.

A new research report published in the Journal of Ecology says that while the Amazon rainforest might be the biggest and most important area of green canopy on the planet, Borneo soaks up, tree for tree, more carbon from the atmosphere.

Lindsay Banin, an ecologist at the UK-based Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEU), and colleagues from Malaysia, Brunei, the U.S., Brazil, Taiwan, Peru and Ecuador investigated what is called above-ground wood production—the most visible, tangible indicator of carbon uptake—to see how forests in Amazonia and Indonesia measured up as consumers of atmospheric carbon.

The tropical rainforests cover only one-tenth of the planet’s land surface, but they account for about one-third of the terrestrial primary production—that is, about one-third of the conversion of sunlight into greenery happens in the tropical forests—and they soak up about half of all terrestrial carbon.

Borneo Dipterocarp

Borneo is home to the largest number of Dipterocarp species on the planet—more than 270 have been identified. They can reach up to 60 meters when fully mature. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

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TED Talk: How To Grow Your Own Fresh Air

Researcher Kamal Meattle has a vision to reshape commercial building in India using principles of green architecture and sustainable upkeep (including an air-cleaning system that involves massive banks of plants). He shows how an arrangement of three common houseplants, used in specific spots in a home or office building, can result in measurably cleaner indoor air.

He has spent a great deal of time in India and abroad convincing corporate leaders, diplomats, energy ministers, and other government officials that his ideas about sustainability, individual responsibility, and respect for the environment can ensure a healthier future for everyone. Either you are overwhelmed by the fact that there are so many problems and so many people,’ says Meattle, ‘or you find solutions to help in any way you can.‘.

I’m not sure specifically how effective one plant is over another, it may be that any plant helps just as much as the next. Any excuse if any to keep houseplants around the time. Things like window boxes with flowers could also be effective in apartment style builds etc.

The 3 plants he quoted may not do so well in places like the UK & USA so check out this list of 15 Western House Plants that are said to help clean the air for us: http://www.mnn.com/health/healthy-spaces/photos/15-houseplants-for-improving-indoor-air-quality

Check out this linked article on the proven ability of plants to clean air: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908103634.htm