Environmental Policy

Organic Brown Rice and Arsenic
February 16, 2012 06:38 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

A new study by Professor Brian Jackson, director of the Trace Element Analysis Core Facility at Dartmouth has found alarming levels of Arsenic in Organic Brown Rice and Brown Rice Syrup. This is particularly alarming since Brown Rice Syrup is being sought by health conscious consumers as a "healthy" alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Dartmouth researchers and others have previously called attention to the potential for consuming harmful levels of arsenic via rice, and organic brown rice syrup may be the latest culprit on the scene. With the introduction of organic brown rice syrup into food processing, even the health conscious consumer may unknowingly be ingesting arsenic. Recognizing the potential danger, Brian Jackson and other Dartmouth researchers conducted a study to determine the concentrations of arsenic in commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup including infant formula, cereal/energy bars, and high-energy foods used by endurance athletes.

Budget Woes and Ozone
February 15, 2012 08:00 AM - Editor, ENN

Budgets are being cut all over. So something has to be hurting. U.S. scientists are raising the alarm about Environment Canada saying cuts in the department could go far beyond ozone monitoring. Programs tracking pollution wafting into Canada from Asia, Europe and the U.S. are also being hit, they say. And it’s an open question if Canada will be able to fulfil its obligations under several international agreements if more cuts go ahead, five leading atmospheric scientists write in the newsletter of the American Geophysical Union, which has 61,000 members in 148 countries.

Geo-engineering: now Bill Gates is supporting it
February 15, 2012 07:45 AM - Kara Scharwath, Triple Pundit

With the help of a group of very wealthy and well known individuals, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Chairman of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson, a group of leading climate scientists are advocating for the use of controversial geoengineering as a way to prevent catastrophic climate change. The scientists are lobbying national governments and international organizations to fund experiments that would involve manipulating the atmosphere on a large scale to counteract high concentrations of greenhouse gases. These might include methods like fertilizing the oceans to create a huge carbon sink or spraying reflective particles or other chemicals into the air to reflect sunlight and prevent it from warming the atmosphere.

New Jersey Threatened with Mandatory Water Fluoridation
February 14, 2012 08:20 AM - Editor, Organic Consumers Association

Despite objections from environmentalists and utility officials, New Jersey is under threat of mandatory fluoridation, which is the addition of fluoride chemicals into the public drinking water ostensibly to reduce tooth decay. Despite admission by the Federal Government that American children are fluoride over-exposed and that fluoride's benefits are primarily topical, New Jersey legislators are crafting a law that will force fluoridation on the entire state, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).

Arctic Warming Continuing, Approaching Tipping Point?
February 14, 2012 07:20 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Last year the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth due to global climate change, experienced its warmest twelve months yet. According to recent data by NASA, average Arctic temperatures in 2011 were 2.28 degrees Celsius (4.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above those recorded from 1951-1980. As the Arctic warms, imperiling its biodiversity and indigenous people, researchers are increasingly concerned that the region will hit climatic tipping points that could severely impact the rest of the world. A recent commentary in Nature Climate Change highlighted a number of tipping points that keep scientists awake at night.

Tetrachloroethylene Toxicity EPA Risk Assessment
February 13, 2012 11:04 AM - Editor, ENN

Tetrachloroethylene, also known under its systematic name tetrachloroethene and many other names, is a chlorocarbon. It is a colorless liquid widely used for dry cleaning of fabrics and is sometimes called "dry-cleaning fluid". It has a sweet odor detectable by most people at a concentration of 1 part per million (1 ppm). It is also used in the cleaning of metal machinery and to manufacture some consumer products and other chemicals. Confirming longstanding scientific understanding and research, the final EPA risk assessment characterizes this material as a likely human carcinogen. The assessment provides estimates for both cancer and non-cancer effects associated with exposure to it over a lifetime.

Wolves return, will they be hunted in National Parks?
February 11, 2012 08:06 AM - Elizabeth Shogren, NPR

Gray wolves were taken off the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana last year and put under state control. But they're still on the list in neighboring Wyoming. That's because Wyoming has been the most aggressive about wanting to kill wolves.

Call for new indicators of sustainable development
February 10, 2012 08:39 AM - T.V. Padma, SciDevNet

The world must develop different indicators on sustainable development that are not biased against developing countries, a major conference has heard. Bharrat Jagdeo, former president of Guyana, said current assessments and rankings use indicators such as access to potable water and sanitation, or malaria levels, which automatically rank developed countries higher.

Himalayan Ice melt less than thought
February 10, 2012 07:04 AM - Miguel Llanos, msnbc.com

Estimates from satellite monitoring suggest the melt rate from the Himalayas and other high-altitude Asian mountains in recent years was much less than what scientists on the ground had estimated, but those monitoring the satellite data warn not to jump to the skeptical conclusion. The region's ice melt from 2003-2010 was estimated at 4 billion tons a year, far less than earlier estimates of around 50 billion tons, according to the study published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

Hertz First To Trial Wireless EV Recharging
February 9, 2012 06:17 AM - Editor, Justmeans

The Hertz Corporation and Hertz Global EV are implementing the first wireless charging system for electric vehicles (EVs) in the car rental industry. Hertz has the most diverse fleet of EVs for both rental and carshare. "Hertz is committed to its Global EV program, introducing electric vehicles into our rental fleet on three continents — North America, Asia and Europe," commented Mark P. Frissora, Hertz Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We're excited to participate in Plugless Power’s pilot program so that we can be on the ground floor of this new technology; learning key findings about EV wireless charging. As we move forward our goal is to have a variety of charging options for EV customer use, aligned with the charging equipment installed by EV manufacturers."

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