Health

EPA to Improve Ozone Standards
January 11, 2010 05:13 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The US Environmental Protection Agency is proposing the strictest health standards to date for smog. Smog, also known as ground-level ozone, is linked to a number of serious health problems, ranging from aggravation of asthma to increased risk of premature death in people with heart or lung disease. Ozone can even harm healthy people who work and play outdoors. The agency is proposing to replace the standards set by the previous administration, which many believe were not protective enough of human health. Ozone pollution is created when chemicals from cars, power plants, and factories mix with sunlight. That's why ozone tends to be higher in sunnier climates or during hot weather. It is a main part of smog, that brownish-yellow haze sometimes seen hanging over cities on the horizon.

Indoor Air Quality
January 10, 2010 10:36 AM - , Sierra Club Green Home

How to make your home a healthy place Smog in urban areas often makes the news. But truth be told, air quality is often much worse inside our homes than outside. That’s because tens of thousands of chemicals, some synthetic and some found in nature, are used to make products commonly found in buildings. Many of these chemicals are benign, some are highly toxic, and most fall in that wide gray area in between. When it comes to indoor air contamination, the biggest culprit in our homes is VOCs, a large class of chemicals that can evaporate, or offgas, from stuff that’s all around us, like particle board, carpet, paint, cleaning products, and materials treated with stain-resistant and wrinkle-resistant chemicals.

Good News for Cell Phone Users
January 9, 2010 08:07 AM - Editor, ENN

The University of South Florida finds that use of cell phones may have a positive health impact. Contrary to most studies of cell phone use that looked at possible negative impacts, this study was highly controlled to permit the investigators to isolate the possible effects of cell phone electromagnetic radiation from other potential factors like diet and exercise. The study, led by University of South Florida researchers at the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC), was published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. "It surprised us to find that cell phone exposure, begun in early adulthood, protects the memory of mice otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's symptoms," said lead author Gary Arendash, PhD, Research Professor at the Florida ADRC. "It was even more astonishing that the electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones actually reversed memory impairment in old Alzheimer's mice."

US EPA Proposes Stricter Ozone Standards
January 8, 2010 06:47 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The United States Environmental Protection Agency proposed new stricter health standards for Ozone. Ozone is linked to a number of serious health problems, ranging from aggravation of asthma to increased risk of premature death in people with heart or lung disease. Ozone can also harm healthy people who work and play outdoors. Children are at the greatest risk from ozone, because their lungs are still developing, they are more likely to be active outdoors, and they are more likely than adults to have asthma. Adults with asthma or other lung diseases, and older adults are also sensitive to ozone.

Autism clusters in California
January 7, 2010 06:45 AM - Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters

U.S. researchers have identified 10 locations in California that have double the rates of autism found in surrounding areas, and these clusters were located in neighborhoods with high concentrations of white, highly educated parents. Researchers at the University of California Davis had hoped to uncover pockets of autism that might reveal clues about triggers in the environment that could explain rising rates of autism, which affects as many as one in 110 U.S. children.

Highway Barriers Stifle Pollution
January 6, 2010 01:48 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Highway barriers erected along roadways can be perceived as massive monuments to the future and were intended to block the sound and sight of traffic for the adjacent neighborhoods. They may do a bit more in terms of air borne pollution. In a study by NOAA and the US Environmental Protection Agency, researchers released harmless “tracers” to measure the potential movement of pollutants such as carbon monoxide and heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds such as benzene. The results showed a significant reduction for those neighborhoods in pollutants as a result of the barriers.

Growing demand for soybeans threatens Amazon rainforest
January 6, 2010 07:15 AM - Lester R. Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute, EurActiv

"Some 3,000 years ago, farmers in eastern China domesticated the soybean. In 1765, the first soybeans were planted in North America. Today the soybean occupies more US cropland than wheat. And in Brazil, where it spread even more rapidly, the soybean is invading the Amazon rainforest," writes Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, in a December commentary.

Arab World in Water Crisis
January 5, 2010 07:10 AM - Karin Kloosterman, Green Prophet

There are people in over 17 Arab countries living well below the water poverty line of 500 cubic metres annually, said Arab decision makers from around the Arab world, meeting on water insecurity this past Monday, in Jordan, reports the Jordan Times. They recognized climate change in the Middle East as an issue that will further impact their poorly-available water resources, noting that 75% of the surface water in the Arab world, originates from outside its borders.

Red Snapper Fishing Ban Starts
January 5, 2010 06:52 AM - Greg Allen, NPR

In Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, a new federal rule has fishermen angry. A ban on fishing for red snapper—one of the most popular saltwater fish — starts Jan. 4. Federal agencies and environmental groups say that in the south Atlantic, red snapper numbers are dwindling. So along with the ban, officials also propose temporarily closing a huge area to virtually all fishing.

Chemicals of Concern
December 31, 2009 02:05 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

As part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s commitment to strengthen and reform chemical management, the US EPA today announced a series of actions on four chemicals raising serious potential health or environmental concerns, including phthalates. For the first time, EPA intends to establish a “Chemicals of Concern” list and is beginning a process that may lead to regulations requiring significant risk reduction measures to protect human health and the environment. The agency’s actions represent its determination to use its authority under the existing Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to the fullest extent possible, recognizing EPA’s strong belief that the 1976 law is both outdated and in need of reform.

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