Health

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.

$100 Billion Opportunity for Waste-To-Energy Companies in Developing World
December 30, 2009 07:45 AM - Susan Kraemer, Matter Network

Here’s an opportunity to wisely spend some of the $100 billion that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised at Copenhagen to cut the greenhouse gases of developing nations by aiding in the development of renewable energy infrastructure to by-pass fossil fuel dependence. Apparently one in four Chinese cities and seven out of 10 counties are without sewage-treatment plants, according to the People’s Daily. While there are many ways to treat sewage or municipal waste; one of the newest is the use of municipal solid waste to make renewable energy.

Volcano Monitoring to Benefit from Stimulus Funds
December 30, 2009 07:17 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The US Geological Survey will use Recovery Act funding to improve its ability to monitor volcanoes and to predict their eruptions. Some of the funds will be used to modernize instrumentation and information systems to state-of-the-art, providing the necessary tools to communicate hazard information quickly to those who need it. The United States and its territories contain 169 volcanoes considered capable of erupting. One, Kilauea in Hawaii, has been erupting continuously for the past 26 years, at times inundating residential areas with lava and at other times requiring national park closures due to explosions and toxic gas.

Fountain of Youth Discovered?
December 28, 2009 02:00 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB ) has published an important research paper that shows a clear link between calorie intake and the lifespan of human cells. Researchers from the have discovered that restricting consumption of glucose, the most common dietary sugar, can extend the life of healthy human-lung cells and speed the death of precancerous human-lung cells, reducing cancer's spread and growth rate.

The Internet is Becoming a Great Place to Check on the Environmental Status of Facilities
December 26, 2009 10:42 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The Internet is becoming a great tool for getting information on facilities that are emitting air pollution, discharging water pollution, and generating hazardous wastes. In the past, this information was difficult for the public to access, and in some cases either was not made available to the public, or required a Freedom of Information Act filing to obtain. This is changing as more states and the federal government is making this information available on line. The latest effort comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has released enforcement results for fiscal year 2009, and has developed a new Web-based tool and interactive map that allows the public to get detailed information by location about the enforcement actions taken at approximately 4,600 facilities.

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