ENN Weekly: August 13th - 17th

ENN rounds up the most important and compelling environmental news stories of the week. In the news August 13th - 17th: Lead in toys, harnessing the sun, ocean acidification, flame retardant, and much more.

Top Ten Articles of the Week
In the news August 13th - 17th: Lead in toys, harnessing the sun, ocean acidification, flame retardant, and much more.

1. China's Problems with Lead Go Beyond Tainted Toys
From playthings to paint to gasoline, Chinese companies use lead in a wide range of products and experts say China's children are suffering the health consequences. Beijing has prohibited leaded gasoline in recent years and has tightened standards for other goods. But enforcement is spotty, and lead is still so common that researchers say up to one-fifth of Chinese children tested had unsafe levels in their blood.

2. NYC Gets $354 Million in Federal Funds for Traffic-Toll Plan to Reduce Manhattan Traffic
The federal government has agreed to pay $354 million to New York City to help it launch an ambitious plan to reduce traffic by charging tolls for driving into the busiest parts of Manhattan. New York's effort, called congestion pricing, would be the first such toll program in the U.S., although similar programs already exist in London and Singapore.

3. Harness the Sun to Save Money, Save the Earth
Are your electric bills going through the roof? A solution just may be up there too:The roof is a great place to install solar collectors that convert the sun's energy directly into electricity. Solar water heating for home use and as means of heating pool water has been both an affordable and popular technology for many years. Now, harnessing the sun's power to create energy to power one's home is growing increasingly popular.

4. States Petitioned on Ocean Acidification
A conservation organization has requested that Alaska and six other states add bodies of water to their list of impaired waterways: the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The Center for Biological Diversity, based in San Francisco, requested that Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii list the Pacific Ocean as impaired under the federal Clean Water Act. The group wants New York, New Jersey and Florida to list the Atlantic.


5. DiCaprio Brightens up on Gloomy Green Outlook
Tired of global warming doom and gloom? Here's something new from Hollywood's king of green, Leonardo DiCaprio: there is hope for a brighter future. Environmental activist DiCaprio's documentary "The 11th Hour" opens in theaters on Friday, and although the film starts with a bleak outlook on issues like global warming, much of the roughly 90-minute movie suggests ways to heal the environment with human, government and corporate action.

6. After Russia and Canada, U.S. Ship Headed for Arctic
A U.S. Coast Guard cutter is headed to the Arctic this week on a mapping mission to determine whether part of this area can be considered U.S. territory, after recent polar forays by Russia and Canada. The four-week cruise of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy starts Friday and aims to map the sea floor on the northern Chukchi Cap, an underwater plateau that extends from Alaska's North Slope some 500 miles northward.

7. House Dust with Flame Retardant May Sicken Cats, Could Be an Issue for Children
A new federal study suggests that household dust containing a common flame retardant may be linked to an increase in cats getting sick from overactive thyroids. That could be a warning sign for how young children could get exposed to the chemical, said Linda S. Birnbaum, director of experimental toxicology at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and co-author of the study.

8. Reward Offered for China Cities Curbing Pollution
China's top coal producing province has offered rewards of up to 2 million yuan ($263,800) to cities dropping off a list of the country's 10 worst polluters, the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday. The provincial government of Shanxi in northwest China would conduct appraisals annually, Xinhua said, quoting the provincial environment watchdog.

9. Scientists Track Climate-Driving Atlantic Current
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation -- also known as the conveyor belt -- was featured in the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" as a changeable force that could wreak havoc on the climate in Europe and North America if it slowed down. Now scientists are tracking the massive flows of shallow warm and deep cold ocean water that make up the current. They are taking detailed measurements in a line stretching across the Atlantic from the Bahamas to Africa, researchers wrote Thursday in the journal Science.

10. Heat on Australian PM Over Climate Skeptic MPs
A report questioning climate change and calling global warming a "natural phenomenon" on Monday led to accusations Australia's Prime Minister John Howard was a climate skeptic, possibly denting his re-election hopes. A group of four government lawmakers -- two of them former ministers -- said climate change had been observed on other planets and moons including "Mars, Jupiter, Triton, Pluto, Neptune and others".