Archive for Pollution

You keep hearing about the importance of introducing fresh vegetables and fruits into your meals in order to maintain your health. However, since more and more organizations are pointing out the level of pollution in our environment, you might wonder at some point about the safety of growing and eating vegetables. In order for these elements to provide a good nutrition, they need to be grown in good quality soil. The soil is made of basic organic materials and certain decomposing organisms, which ensure a regular cleaning and aeration of the soil.

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Recent news report about the pollution that is seriously mining the ecosystem of the Danube river, Europe’s second longest river after the Volga. “It’s a serious ecological catastrophe, but we don’t know the size of it,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told reporters.

THE FACT: A caustic red slurry was released Monday (October 4th) in Ajka, about 160 kilometres southwest of Budapest, after a reservoir burst at an alumina refining plant owned by Magyar Aluminium Termelo es Kereskedelmi (the Hungarian Aluminum Production and Trade Company), also known as Mal. The flood killed four people, injured more than 100 and damaged several communities.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/10/07/hungary-sludge-danube.html?ref=rss#ixzz11mplA4TC

The laboratories at EMSL Analytical provide affordable mold, lead, asbestos and other contaminant testing solutions.

Westmont, NJ

As the economy shows signs that the country is over the worst of the recession with a 3.5% third quarter growth in GPD, the number of homes going into foreclosure continues to climb. Even with all the government sponsored efforts to prevent foreclosures the past three months have likely seen the highest number of foreclosures in the country’s history.

According to one recent report by RealtyTrac® one in every 136 homes in the U.S. are now in foreclosure, which is 23% increase over the same period last year. The market is now flooded with these properties and many first time homebuyers and real estate investors are looking to buy these discounted properties.

Real estate foreclosures come in all types of conditions from move-in ready to completely run down, vandalized and neglected properties. Many of these same properties are being sold by the banks ‘as is’ so buyers need to be aware of potential problems with such issues such as mold contamination, lead paint and asbestos.

Properly conducted home inspections should identify many of these issues, but a number of buyers forgo this important step which can lead to costly environmental issues later. EMSL Analytical, one of the nation’s largest environmental testing laboratories, provides affordable testing solutions for prospective buyers and property inspectors.

“Up to 24 million homes in the U.S. contain substantial lead paint hazards according to the CDC and the EPA recently announced new guidance for properties constructed or renovated between 1950 and 1978 because of concerns with PCBs in caulking material,” reported Joe Frasca, Executive Vice President for EMSL Analytical. “Millions more likely have issues with mold and asbestos so it is imperative to have a property inspected and tested to protect the buyer’s interests,” Frasca continued.

To learn more about environmental testing or other testing needs please visit www.EMSL.com, email info@EMSL.com or call (800) 220-3675.

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of indoor air quality, environmental, industrial hygiene, food and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.

[Source: http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=107209]

WASHINGTON — The new PBS Frontline documentary “Poisoned Waters” reported on April 21st that a new wave of chemical compounds that scientists describe as raising dangers for human health have been found in drinking water systems of cities across the country by the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Poisoned Waters,” airing nationwide on PBS, (check local listings) reveals new evidence that today’s growing environmental threat comes not from the giant industrial polluters of old, but from chemicals in consumers’ face creams, deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that find their way into sewers, storm drains, and eventually into America’s waterways and drinking water.

“The long-term, slow-motion risk is already being spelled out in large population studies,” Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health tells correspondent and Pulitzer-prize winner Hedrick Smith. Those studies correlate health risks with exposure to chemicals in the environment known as endocrine disrupters because they disrupt the body’s normal functioning.

“We can show that people with higher levels of some of these chemicals may have a higher incidence” of disease and such harmful effects such as lower male sperm count, asserts Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “In most cases, we don’t know what the safe levels are.”

Tests by the U.S. Geological Survey of source waters for urban drinking water systems, have documented new contaminants coast to coast. Other scientists say these chemicals are causing fish kills, frogs with six legs, male fish with female eggs in their gonads and other mutations. They see these mutations as warnings to humans.

Millions of people are being exposed to endocrine disruptors, Lawrence explains, “and we don’t know precisely how many of them are going to develop premature breast cancer, going to have problems with reproduction, going to have all kinds of congenital anomalies of the male genitalia — things that are happening at a broad low level so that they don’t raise the alarm in the general public.”

Using Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound as case studies, “Poisoned Waters” examines how these emerging pollutants along with old industrial contaminants like PCBs, lead and mercury and agricultural pollution from concentrated hog, cattle and chicken growing operations, have kept America from making many of the nation’s waterways fishable and swimmable again — a goal set by Congress nearly four decades ago.

“The environment has slipped off our radar screen because it’s not a hot crisis like the financial meltdown,” says Smith. “But pollution is a ticking time bomb. It’s a chronic cancer that is slowly eating away the natural resources that are vital to our very lives.”

“Poisoned Waters” is a FRONTLINE co-production with Hedrick Smith Productions, Inc. Hedrick Smith is correspondent and senior producer. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. For more info go to www.pbs.org/frontline/poisonedwaters

SOURCE Hedrick Smith Productions

Southern Research Institute is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 scientific research organization that conducts preclinical drug discovery and development and advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, environment and energy. Their more than 600 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries. Southern Research is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with facilities also located in Wilsonville, Ala., Anniston, Ala., Frederick, Md., and Durham, NC. For more information about Southern Research and its capabilities and accomplishments, visit www.SouthernResearch.org.

Led by Dr. Derek Eggert, Southern Research will now begin developing approaches to remediate problematic constituents contained in commercial and industrial effluents

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 11 — Southern Research Institute today announced that it is adding a new research capability focusing on the remediation of problematic constituents in water and wastewater sources. Environmental toxicologist Derek Eggert, Ph.D. will lead the new program that is located on Southern Research’s main campus in Birmingham.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Eggert has joined Southern Research, enabling us to expand our environmental services to industry,” said Michael D. Johns, vice-president of Engineering at Southern Research. “The remediation of industrial water is important to the quality of our water systems. Because of Derek’s expertise, Southern Research can now help develop environmentally and economically sound solutions to treat those problems.”

By creating the Water and Wastewater Treatment team, Southern Research will help remediate contaminants — such as arsenic, mercury, selenium, aluminum, copper, lead, zinc and oil and grease — from various waste streams in order to reuse or discharge into a local waterway.

Before joining Southern Research, Dr. Eggert was a research assistant in Environmental Toxicology at Clemson University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Clemson University. He is a member of The Wildlife Society, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Sigma Xi.

CONTACT:
Rhonda Jung, 205-337-9634
Jung@SouthernResearch.org

A Department of Science and Technology (DoST) Balik Scientist recipient has proposed the establishment of a multidisciplinary research group to focus on the uses of phytoremediation in the country following his study on the capability of indigenous plants to rid soil pollution in mining areas.

Dr. Augustine Doronila, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia, said it is worth studying the various aspects of phytoremediation, which uses living plants to mop up pollution in the environment like metal contaminants in the soil, and restores ecological balance in a mining area.

DOST’s Balik Scientist Program started in 1975 under which Filipino scientists abroad are encouraged to return to the country and conduct trainings, seminars, lectures, projects and evaluation for the benefit of the Filipino scientific community.

Last year, a total of 38 Balik Scientists heeded the call and came back to their native country.
Doronila proposed the establishment of the research group, to be called the Philippine Metalophyte Research Consortium, to be based in the Ateneo de Manila University with a mission of determining the botanical, chemistry, biological, geological, ecological, and anthropological aspects of implementing phytoremediation.

According to Doronila, there are endemic plant species in the country that can help restore mine-damaged soils. His research on phytoremediation revealed that it can “help clean tainted environment.”

Doronila discovered a possible new nickel hyper accumulator that belongs to the Euphorbiacea family during a recent visit to Zambales.

“Tropical hyper accumulator plants are most likely found on ultramafic or serpentine rock formations,”
he said, explaining that ultramafic soils often contain high concentrations of magnesium and some toxic metals.

Wastes from mining activities, particularly the extraction and processing of mineral resources, are laden with heavy metals and chemicals that can seriously contaminate soil and water. Exposure to these contaminants affects people’s health and livelihood.

“Once the soil is restored, earnings can go up as high as P165,000 net per hectare,” Doronila said, basing his figures in an actual phytoremediated base-metal smelter in South Africa.

The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest producers of copper, nickel, chrome, zinc, gold and silver. The mining industry contributed an estimated $1.4 billion in the gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

[Source: http://mb.com.ph/articles/202231/indigenous-plants-vs-mine-pollutants]

The importance of recycling paper is increasing year by year. Newspapers, magazines and packaging of commercial products recycling allows human beings to safeguard the forests and, consequently, to safeguard the future of all living species. But the reason for this interest is not only related to ecological benefits but to economic advantages too. In fact the use of secondary material (pulping) limits the use of virgin raw materials and simultaneously reduces the amount of material destined for landfill with disposal costs reduction.

The quality of recycled paper is increasing as well allowing its use in the graphics industry in place of virgin fiber paper for the most of the uses. Technological evolution and mind-changing of consumers have encouraged the development of this kind of paper and the evolution of green printing, which in addition to using recycled paper utilizes for example soy based inks rather than petroleum based inks, with consequent lower emission of volatile organic compounds than traditional petroleum inks and improving the recycling process itself.

The production of recycled paper does not pollute as long as the paper mills have adequate facilities for handling both paper for pulping and waste water and process residuals. Important to stress, confirming the sustainability of the production of recycled paper, that process residuals (sludge) can be reused in several sectors: brick industry, road works as substrates, amendments in agriculture.

Finally, in a world of “disposable” the philosophy of “use and reuse” finds its place in the paper industry and the outcome is positive because it allows the use and development of alternative materials and alternative products.

Cleaning up the dangerous contaminants — dry-cleaning fluids, solvents and petroleum hydrocarbons — found in underground water presents one of the most urgent challenges facing environmental science. A report issued January 30 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sheds light on a new way to monitor and improve the success of clean-up efforts using a technique developed at the University of Toronto.

“The most common method to clean-up groundwater is biodegradation — using microbes to consume the contaminants and break them down into more benign end products that are not harmful to the environment,” says U of T geochemist Barbara Sherwood Lollar, the scientist who initiated the concept and goals for the EPA report and is one of its five international authors.

The report outlines how this can be done using a novel technique called Compound Specific Isotope Analysis, developed in U of T’s Stable Isotope Laboratory. The elements of carbon that form the basis for the hydrocarbon contaminants actually come in two types called isotopes, explains Sherwood Lollar. “When microbes degrade contaminants, they prefer the lighter isotope carbon 12 over the heavier isotope carbon 13. The resulting change in the ratio of these isotopes in the contaminant itself is a dramatic and definitive indicator that the biodegradation is successfully taking place.”

Beginning in the 1990s, U of T’s Stable Isotope Laboratory has been an international pioneer in discovering how different carbon isotopes can be used to identify whether or not biodegradation is taking place. “Today, dozens of students in Canada have been trained in this method, drawn in by the fascinating combination of fundamental research that has important applications such as the clean-up of drinking water,” says Sherwood Lollar. Over the past decade, as the new technique has become more widespread, centres for research and education —- and even private companies — have blossomed worldwide.

“Much of the research on new methods of analyzing groundwater contamination has been published in scientific and professional journals but this report — written specifically for the practitioners in accessible language with clear procedural information and decision-making strategies — is a milestone,” says Sherwood Lollar.

“It is particularly gratifying to be able to take a technique out of the lab and to put it into the hands of the people working on this issue every day around the world,” she says.

The report can be found on the EPA website. It was funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, the EPA and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

University of Toronto. “New Way To Monitor And Improve Clean-up Of Contaminated Groundwater.” ScienceDaily 1 February 2009. 3 February 2009 <http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/01/090130093405.htm>