Health

J&J, Calvert, BMW & Others Found Sustainable Action Council
February 7, 2011 07:10 AM - Editor, Sustainable Life Media

Last week a new multi-stakeholder group was formed, dubbed the Stewardship Action Council, to provide a cross-functional collaboration space for the business, investment, governmental and NGO communities to come together and drive sustainable business practices forward. The group’s main goals are to create a multi-stakeholder learning network, creating collaborative partnerships to address local and regional environmental, social and economic challenges, advancing sustainability performance and recognizing and sharing outcomes. To achieve those goals, the SAC has set up six working groups for its members:

Gowanus Canal Superfund Site
February 3, 2011 03:55 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has completed its investigation of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, N.Y. The investigation confirmed the widespread presence of numerous contaminants in the canal and identified the sources of contamination. The investigation also identified characteristics of the canal that will influence future plans for a cleanup. A companion human and ecological risk assessment found that exposure to the contaminants in the canal poses potential threats to people’s health and the environment. The Gowanus Canal was originally built to allow access for industrial needs by bulkheading and dredging a tidal creek and wetland that had previously been fished for oysters. After its completion in the 1860s, the canal quickly became one of the nation’s busiest industrial waterways, home to heavy industry including gas works, coal yards, cement makers, soap makers, tanneries, paint and ink factories, machine shops, chemical plants, and oil refineries. It was also the repository of untreated industrial wastes, raw sewage, and surface water runoff for decades, causing it to become one of New York’s most polluted waterways. Although much of the industrial activity along the canal has stopped, high contaminant levels remain in the sediments.

Australia evacuates coastal cities in path of cyclone
February 1, 2011 07:08 AM - Rob Taylor, Reuters, CANBERRA

Australia evacuated thousands of people from its northeast coast on Tuesday as a cyclone rivaling Hurricane Katrina bore down on tourism towns and rural communities, with officials saying it could even threaten areas deep inland that were ruined by floods last month. Mines, rail lines and coal ports were closed in Queensland state as Cyclone Yasi headed toward the coast. Up to a third of Australia's sugar crop was also under threat, officials said. "This storm is huge and life threatening," Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said, warning the system was intensifying and picking up speed on its path from the Coral Sea, with destructive winds expected on Wednesday morning.

Antibiotic Resistant Disease
January 31, 2011 06:55 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have discovered a new way to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria by using the bacteria's own genes. For more than 50 years, antibiotics have been used to treat a variety of deadly infections and saved countless lives. Its broad introduction and application has changed the face of medicine and world populations worldwide. Yet, despite the advances made to antibiotics over the years, the list of antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), E.coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter, is growing and becoming one of the world's most serious health concerns. Infections once routinely treatable have now become more difficult to control as well as lethal in some cases.

Caffeinated Gene Therapy
January 31, 2011 09:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Many people in society simply cannot function without a daily dose of caffeine. It is so prevalent in many diets. From coffee, to tea, to soft drinks, it has become a staple on par with corn or wheat, or even water. Of course caffeine is not necessary to survive, but it is sure good at keeping our eyes open. However, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Texas, caffeine does more than just keep us awake. It also energizes cells into producing more viruses used for gene therapy.

Amoebas in drinking water: a double threat
January 31, 2011 08:57 AM - Janet Raloff, Science News

Amoebas — blob-shaped microbes linked to several deadly diseases — contaminate drinking-water systems around the world, according to a new analysis. The study finds that amoebas are appearing often enough in water supplies and even in treated tap water to be considered a potential health risk.

Dish Sanitizer
January 26, 2011 04:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Most institutions (such as restaurants) have a dish washing machine which sanitizes dishes by a final rinse in either very hot water or a chemical sanitizing solution (e.g. bleach solution). Dishes are placed on large trays and fed onto rollers through the machine. The bleach solution is quite dilute (50-100 parts per million chlorine which is approximately one cap full of bleach per gallon water). Ohio State University researchers recently tested the merits of two new dishware sanitizers, and found them more effective at removing bacteria from restaurant dishes than traditional sanitizers. The two sanitizers – one carrying the name brand PROSAN® and the other called neutral electrolyzed oxidizing water – not only proved more effective, but they also contained fewer toxic chemicals.

Permian Extinction
January 24, 2011 04:41 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Permian–Triassic extinction event, informally known as the Great Dying,was an extinction event that occurred 250 million years ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods. It was the Earth's most severe extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. Researchers at the University of Calgary believe they have discovered evidence to support massive volcanic eruptions that burnt significant volumes of coal, producing ash clouds that had broad impact on global oceans. Interesting enough there is a "coal gap" from this era. Coal deposits dating from this time are few.

Berlin protests over dioxin scandal
January 23, 2011 10:08 AM - Reuters, BERLIN

Thousands of German protesters marched in Berlin on Saturday to demand a change in farming methods and vent their anger at a food scandal in which cancer-causing dioxin was found in some eggs, poultry and pork. The scandal, caused by contaminated animal feed, has outraged consumers, triggered international health alerts and hit sales of German eggs and meat. Organizers said 22,000 people took part in the demonstration, entitled "We are sick of it. No to genetic engineering, animal factories and dumping exports." Onlookers put the turnout at close to 10,000.

Thatcher Chemical fined for violations of Clean Air Act Risk Management regulations
January 21, 2011 06:54 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The federal Clean Air Act requires facilities that have on site more than specified quantities of chemicals which could be hazardous to offsite communities to develop Risk Management Plans (RMP) to address ways to safely acquire, store, and use these substances in ways that assure that they are safely used, that employees are appropriately trained, and that first responders and nearby residents are informed of the presence of potentially hazardous chemicals which, if released to the environment, could require evacuation or sheltering in place for offsite residents. As part of its compliance enforcement activities, the EPA has an audit program to visit facilities to assess their level of compliance with the RMP program. EPA reported this week that it conducted compliance inspections of Thatcher Chemical's Salt Lake City facility in February and April of 2010 to assess compliance with the RMP regulations.

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