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Arsenic in Water at EPA Approved Standards Linked to Heart Disease

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This is the true legacy of George Bush, Dick Cheney and their evil crew: an Environmental Protection Agency that actively works towards lowering our national health.

Battle for Hearts and Minds

In the U.S., many locations are known to have groundwater containing arsenic concentrations in excess of the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard of 10 parts per billion. But now comes research that suggests the EPA’s supposedly “safe” level of arsemic allowed in water supplies for public consumption isn’t safe at all. In fact, water laced with the federally-approved amount of arsenic could be causing high blood pressure and artery-clogging arhterosclerosis.

According to animal research by University of Pittsburgh scientists set to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and available online now at http://www.jci.org/articles/view/35092, arsenic at EPA-approved levels for drinking water causes pores in liver blood vessels to close, potentially leading to cardiovascular disease and hypertension. This study calls into question whether present Environmental Protection Agency standards (currently based only on the risks of arsenic causing cancer) are stringent enough.

[From Arsenic in Water at EPA Approved Standards Linked to Heart Disease]

Rural (so-called Red States) are prime targets for the death dealers at the EPA:

The current federal standard for arsenic in public water systems not only may be too high, but it only applies to drinking water sources that serve more than 20 people. “We are especially concerned about water from individual wells in small, rural and semi-rural communities that are exempt from the EPA requirement and often contain levels of arsenic that exceed the EPA limit,” Dr. Barchowsky stated in the press release. “Our findings raise some concerns about whether current EPA-developed standards can effectively protect against cardiovascular risks posed by arsenic in drinking water.”

The study is a strong reminder that no one in the U.S. should assume that because their water supply is dubbed “safe” by the EPA that it doesn’t contain not only arsenic but other toxins. For example, most public water supplies are known to contain a host of pharmaceutical and pesticide residues,too. Testing your water or finding a proven system of safe water filtration are the only known ways to make sure you are putting pure water into your body.

Written by Seth Anderson

November 28th, 2008 at 9:19 pm

US rice imports contain harmful levels of lead

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Sewer Cleaning and Data Management
Sewer Cleaning and Data Management

Yummy, arsenic and lead! Gotta love our toxic society.

Analysis of commercially available rice imported into the US has revealed it contains levels of lead far higher than regulations suggest are safe.

Some samples exceeded the “provisional total tolerable intake” (PTTI) set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by a factor of 120.

The report at the American Chemical Society Meeting adds to the already well-known issue of arsenic in rice.

The FDA told the BBC it would review the research (eventually).

Rice, Steam and Wine
Rice, Steam and Wine

Dr Tsanangurayi Tongesayi of Monmouth University in New Jersey, US, and his team have tested a number of imported brands of rice bought from local shops.

The US imports about 7% of its rice, and the team sampled packaged rice from Bhutan, Italy, China, Taiwan, India, Israel, the Czech Republic and Thailand – which accounts for 65% of US imports.

The team measured the lead levels in each country-category and calculated the lead intake on the basis of daily consumption. The results will be published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health (Part B).

“When we compared them, we realised that the daily exposure levels are much higher than those PTTIs,” said Dr Tongesayi.

“According to the FDA, they have to be more than 10 times the PTTI levels (to cause a health concern), and our values were two to 12 times higher than those 10 times,” he told BBC News.

“If you look through the scientific literature, especially on India and China, they irrigate their crops with raw sewage effluent and untreated industrial effluent,” he explained.

(click here to continue reading BBC News – US rice imports ‘contain harmful levels of lead’.)

So, when the FDA gets around to testing this, and confirming it, will the news make US headlines? Will the Agribusinesses that control our food supplies allow the FDA to do anything about it? Or will it fade into the background like the news that there is large amounts of arsenic in rice, and perchlorate in our lettuce, and yadda yadda. The Rapture is coming, yo.

Two people died in China of the so-called bird flu, now that is a sensationalistic headline the US media can promote. Toxic food? Not so much.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 11th, 2013 at 6:48 am

Posted in Food and Drink,health

Tagged with

Obama administration seeks stricter limits on mercury pollution

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Tales of the Towering Dead

The smart energy companies are already upgrading their smokestacks – making them more efficient, more modern, better for their investors – but the old guard will fight innovation every step of the way, even if it means reducing life expectancy of humans on earth…

the Obama administration is pushing stringent limits that by 2015 would force every power plant in the nation to capture 90 percent of the mercury in the coal it burns, a standard many plants already are meeting. The proposed rule also would impose tougher limits on lung- and heart-damaging soot and other “air toxics,” including arsenic and chromium.

On Tuesday, industry lawyers, environmental groups and public health advocates will converge in Chicago for a daylong hearing on the administration’s proposal, which has prompted an intense lobbying effort from some power companies that are trying to delay or kill the rule.

Echoing claims made during past debates about antipollution measures, opponents say tough national standards on mercury and other toxic air pollution will force dozens of coal plants to shut down, costing jobs and making the nation’s electrical grid less reliable.

But some power companies already have moved to clean up their coal plants. And supporters note that recent power auctions guarantee there will be enough electricity to meet demand for years after the rule takes effect, even if some older plants are shuttered.

“It is disappointing, irresponsible and coldhearted for the power companies that are operating these plants not to make the sensible, relatively easy and inexpensive changes the (Environmental Protection Agency) is requesting,” said Mary Gade, a Chicago lawyer who served as President George W. Bush’s regional EPA administrator.

Coal-fired power plants are the biggest man-made source of mercury contamination, one of the last kinds of pollution to be targeted for limits under the federal Clean Air Act. Uncontrolled for years, the pollution is so pervasive that Illinois and 43 other states advise people, especially women of childbearing age and young children, to avoid or limit eating certain types of fish because they often are contaminated with high levels of the toxic metal.

(click here to continue reading Air pollution: Obama administration seeks stricter limits on mercury pollution from power plants – chicagotribune.com.)


Written by Seth Anderson

May 24th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Herbal Supplements Often Have Contaminants, FDA Shrugs

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Ru-oh. Yet again the FDA is ignoring problems instead of figuring out a plan to fix them, shirking its responsibility, and Washington co-signs.

Healthy or insane shelf 2

Nearly all of the herbal dietary supplements tested in a Congressional investigation contained trace amounts of lead and other contaminants, and some supplement sellers made illegal claims that their products can cure cancer and other diseases, investigators found.

The levels of heavy metals — including mercury, cadmium and arsenic — did not exceed thresholds considered dangerous, the investigators found. However, 16 of the 40 supplements tested contained pesticide residues that appeared to exceed legal limits, the investigators found. In some cases, the government has not set allowable levels of these pesticides because of a paucity of scientific research.

(click to continue reading Herbal Supplements Often Have Contaminants, Study Finds – NYTimes.com.)

Don’t understand why the FDA doesn’t take the time to test supplements for pollutants. What’s the downside? Is the American Chemical Council afraid of the answers? Namely, that pesticides and pollutants are in nearly every single item we consume, including vitamins and herbs?

This troubles me.

Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat who will preside over Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said that while improvements had been made in recent years in the oversight of supplements, “the F.D.A. needs the authority and tools to ensure that dietary supplements are as safe and effective as is widely perceived by the Americans who take them.”

Among the witnesses at the hearing will be Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com, a company that has tested over 2,000 dietary supplements made by more than 300 manufacturers and has found that one in four have quality problems. According to Dr. Cooperman’s written testimony, the most common problems are supplements that lack adequate quantities of the indicated ingredients and those contaminated with heavy metals.

Travis T. Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, wrote a letter to the committee saying that some athletes have been rendered ineligible for international competitions because they took supplements that contained steroids not listed on the products’ labels. There are thousands of supplements available for sale that contain steroids or other harmful ingredients, he wrote.

But this really troubles me:

In recent years, a vast majority of supplement suppliers have located overseas — principally in China. Nearly all of the vitamin C and many other supplements consumed in the United States are made from ingredients made in Chinese plants. Those plants are almost never inspected by the F.D.A. because the agency is not required to do so, has little money to do so and does not view the plants as particularly risky.

Made in China often means profit over quality, and lax oversight. Scary, if you consider the amount of vitamins and supplements that Americans consume.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 28th, 2010 at 9:43 am

Posted in government,health

Tagged with

Tap Water Is Probably Bad For You

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You are much safer drinking tequila than tap water, in the US that is.

Saying goodbye is harder than it seems

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.

Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

But not one chemical has been added to the list of those regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2000.

[Click to continue reading Millions Drink Tap Water That Is Legal, but Maybe Not Healthy – Series – NYTimes.com]

It is almost as if the US government doesn’t care about the health of its citizens, only about preserving corporate profits.

South branch of the river

If you are curious about your local water, the New York Times has made their findings public, and searchable.

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal. Examine whether contaminants in your water supply met two standards: the legal limits established by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the typically stricter health guidelines. The data was collected by an advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group, who shared it with The Times.

[Click to continue reading What’s in Your Water – Interactive Feature – The New York Times]

For instance, Chicago tap water has 5 contaminants above health guidelines:
Alpa particle activity, combined radium, lead, Radium-226 and Radium-228, plus another 16 contaminants that are “within legal limits”: arsenic, barium, chloroform, and so on. Yumm.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 17th, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Toxic Water and Your Government

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This is what happens when you let Republicans and Corporatist Democrats control Congress: there are real consequences to real people, and death panels for all of us.

Saying goodbye is harder than it seems

Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va. In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

“How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?” said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.

When Mrs. Hall-Massey and 264 neighbors sued nine nearby coal companies, accusing them of putting dangerous waste into local water supplies, their lawyer did not have to look far for evidence. As required by state law, some of the companies had disclosed in reports to regulators that they were pumping into the ground illegal concentrations of chemicals — the same pollutants that flowed from residents’ taps.

But state regulators never fined or punished those companies for breaking those pollution laws.

This pattern is not limited to West Virginia. Almost four decades ago, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to force polluters to disclose the toxins they dump into waterways and to give regulators the power to fine or jail offenders. States have passed pollution statutes of their own. But in recent years, violations of the Clean Water Act have risen steadily across the nation, an extensive review of water pollution records by The New York Times found.

In the last five years alone, chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws more than half a million times. The violations range from failing to report emissions to dumping toxins at concentrations regulators say might contribute to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses.

[Click to continue reading Toxic Waters – Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering – Series – NYTimes.com]

If you haven’t read this article, you should. There’s also an interactive chart at the NYT worth browsing. There is no money allocated to investigate polluters so that polluting companies can make slightly more profit. Is it worth it?

500,000 violations in five years – that’s a lot of un-investigated crime. If a person committed this many affronts to society in five years, jail would be in their future. A corporation? Not much of a consequence. I say take away their corporate charters, dissolve the company, sell its assets. If the corporation fulfills a needed role in the economy, new, more law-abiding corporations will take the place of the miscreants.

For a closer look at some of the offenders, check out this chart, sortable by zip code, or city, or state. For instance, in Chicago, in the last five years, there are 146 facilities that have permits to discharge pollutants. Of these, zero have been fined, although some have not had their sites inspected since 1978. Hey, see no evil, right?


Mwrdgc Calumet Wrp 400 East 130th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60628

$0 Total Fines
Total Inspections: 17
Last Inspection: May 10, 1979
Classification: Sewerage Systems

13 Violations

This facility has been out of regulatory compliance 6 of the past 12 quarters.

so, out of compliance more often than not in the last four years, yet hasn’t actually had an on-site inspection in more than thirty fracking years. Lovely.

Illinois in general, per the NYT investigation, has 7,304 facilities that are permitted to release some toxic materials into the environment, but of these, again most have not been inspected in many, many years, if ever, despite having thousands of violations cited against these companies. Only three sites have actually had fines levied against them:

Equistar Chemicals, Lp Morris , last inspected – Oct. 4, 1978 – 5 violations fines totaling: $714,200

Mg Industries Mapleton last inspected – Feb. 16, 1995 – 1 violation, fine totaling: $383,501

Kmart Distribution Ctr 8289 Manteno No Information re: last inspection, fine of $102,422

I suspect there is a lot of pollution being released that nobody in the EPA knows about. How about in your state? Aren’t you curious how bad your water is after reading paragraphs like:

In some cases, people got sick right away. In other situations, pollutants like chemicals, inorganic toxins and heavy metals can accumulate in the body for years or decades before they cause problems. Some of the most frequently detected contaminants have been linked to cancer, birth defects and neurological disorders.

Records analyzed by The Times indicate that the Clean Water Act has been violated more than 506,000 times since 2004, by more than 23,000 companies and other facilities, according to reports submitted by polluters themselves. Companies sometimes test what they are dumping only once a quarter, so the actual number of days when they broke the law is often far higher. And some companies illegally avoid reporting their emissions, say officials, so infractions go unrecorded.

Environmental groups say the number of Clean Water Act violations has increased significantly in the last decade. Comprehensive data go back only five years but show that the number of facilities violating the Clean Water Act grew more than 16 percent from 2004 to 2007, the most recent year with complete data.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 13th, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Illinois coal ash sludge ponds are common

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Michael Hawthorne alerts us that Illinois is at risk for a coal ash disaster as well.

Withered and Died

More than a dozen Illinois power plants store toxic coal ash in sludge ponds similar to the one that burst and spread contaminated muck over 300 acres of eastern Tennessee last month, according to a Tribune review of federal records.

The sludge dumps, all Downstate, are among hundreds of makeshift ponds across the nation that are regulated far more loosely than household garbage landfills, despite years of studies documenting how arsenic, lead, mercury and other heavy metals in the coal ash threaten water supplies and human health.

Most of the water-soaked ash—the byproduct of burning coal to generate electricity—is stored close to bodies of water, including Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, the Mississippi River and the Illinois River.

[From Coal ash sludge ponds in use at some Illinois power plants — chicagotribune.com]

The administration of President Obama might be more interested in monitoring this potentially hazardous problem, but nobody really knows yet. Obama received a lot of campaign contributions from Exelon. Also, leaks don’t have to be quick to be dangerous, slow and steady contamination is just as deadly.

The dangers here are two-fold,” said Eric Schaeffer, a former Environmental Protection Agency official who now heads the non-profit Environmental Integrity Project. “You can have the sudden spill and the dramatic disaster that Kingston represents, or you can have slow poisoning as these impoundments leach toxic metals.”

Red and Green

Illinois is in the top ten in a dubious category:

14 of the state’s power plants dumped sludge containing a combined 2,826 tons of toxic metals into Downstate sludge ponds during 2006, the last year for which figures are available from the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory.

Only nine other states dumped more toxic metals in this way. Alabama led the nation with 6,680 tons; Indiana was fourth with 4,431 tons.

National environmental policies and regulations have to change, lest we all are buried underneath a veritable lake of toxic dust.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 8th, 2009 at 12:16 pm