Be Safe


Early lead exposure linked to sleep problems


From Chemistry World:

“Lead exposure in early childhood is associated with increased risk for sleep problems and excessive daytime sleepiness in later childhood, according to research from the University of Pennsylvania, US.

The findings, which will be published in the December but are already available online, are based on data from a longitudinal study of more than 1400 Chinese children that began in 2004 to examine the influence of lead exposure on neurocognitive, behavioural and health outcomes in children and adolescents.

‘Little is known about the impact of heavy metals exposure on children’s sleep, but the study’s findings highlight that environmental toxins – such as lead – are important paediatric risk factors for sleep disturbance,’ said principal investigator Jianghong Liu. ‘Lead exposure is preventable and treatable, but if left unchecked can result in irreversible neurological damage.’

Past research has linked lead poisoning in children has been to violent crime and brain damage. This study is the first longitudinal, population-based study to investigate the connection between lead exposure and sleep.”


State’s instructions for sampling drinking water for lead “not best practice”


“The Flint water crisis has uncovered all kinds of details about how cities test the safety of their drinking water. In particular, critics say the state is giving bad advice on testing drinking water for lead. The state of Michigan tells cities to do something called pre-flushing. The instructions tell people to turn on their cold water tap and let it run for five minutes (that’s the pre-flushing part). Then, people are supposed to wait six hours before taking their water sample.

Critics say pre-flushing is one of many practices used to skirt the intent of the EPA’s lead and copper rule. Lee Anne Walters wants to see the rules changed. Her four-year-old son had elevated lead levels in his blood after Flint started using the Flint River as a water source. “I want the loopholes for the lead and copper rule out. I’m not going to stop until that happens,” she says. She’s speaking at a national meeting this week in Virginia about proposed revisions to the lead and copper rule…”

Find out more from Michigan Radio.


Table salt and shellfish can contain plastic


“Scientists have found tiny plastic bits, known as microplastics, in salts collected from supermarkets across China. The researchers analyzed 15 brands of salt. They turned up plastic bits in table salt extracted from seas and lake water. They also found plastic bits in rock salt mined from underground deposits. By far, however, sea salt contained the most plastic. In a second study, the same team found similar plastic fibers in shellfish.

The new findings should, perhaps, come as no surprise. For years, studies have reported finding microplastics in ocean water. And in 2011, scientists showed that laundering clothes made of nylon and other types of plastic shed bits of lint. The wash water carried that lint down the drain and eventually into rivers and the ocean. Plastic bits have since turned up in sea animals. But the new paper is one of the first to report microplastics in food to be eaten by people.

It found that sea salt had 550 to 681 particles per kilogram (2.2 pounds). Each kilogram of lake salts had 43 to 364 particles. Rock salts had seven to 204 particles per kilogram.

These new data suggest that sea salt may be dragging microplastics from tainted water to dinner tables, the scientists conclude. They reported their findings October 20 in Environmental Science & Technology.

“We’re finding plastics in stranger and stranger places,” says Kara Lavender Law. She is an oceanographer at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Mass., where she studies plastics in the ocean. Plastics, she notes, are “in salts, in the oceans, in the air. They’re all around us.” Law was not involved in the new study. But she says the findings may not be isolated to salt in China. Microplastics could taint sea salts from other regions, she warns. For now, no one knows what threat, if any, eating plastic bits might pose…”

Read more from Student Science


Oakland sues Monsanto over PCB runoff


“The city of Oakland is suing the Monsanto Company for financial assistance in mitigating the amount of dangerous pollutants present in storm drain runoff to San Francisco Bay.

The suit filed today in U.S District Court in San Francisco seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the continuing presence in Oakland runoff of polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, synthetic organic chemicals produced by Monsanto and widely used until they were banned in 1979.

Among other things, the chemicals were sued in power transformers, electrical equipment, paints, caulks and other building materials, according to the city attorney’s office. San Francisco Bay is already polluted with the chemicals, and the amount of PCBs allowed to be present in runoff is regulated by the state.

Because of that, Oakland has already financed mitigating PCB runoff from the city, and stricter state regulations enacted this year will only make that expense steeper, according to the city. The costs for Alameda County could reach $1 billion…”

Read more from SF Bay

St. Louis Child



Bill Gates’ net worth is estimated to be $79.7 billion and his worth just seems to grow every year. Known as the world’s richest man, Gates is also listed as the sixth most powerful person in the world. He and his wife Melinda run the Gates Foundation their goal is to reduce inequity and improve the lives of people in poorer countries.

But what about America? What about the innocent people in which his investment company, Cascade Investments, is making him even more money, at the expense of innocent children who are made sick and dying from chemical/radioactive materials?

My mother often told me that it is wonderful, honorable to support others who need help, but always remember charity begins at home.

Bill and Melinda are doing extraordinary work in poor countries, but their money to do that work is coming from their investments like, Republic Services where they have personally invested 2.9 Billion dollars. Gates Foundation has divested from Republic Services but Bill and Melinda have not.

Families with children in St. Louis have watched helplessly as their children developed cancer and some have died. Parents believe their children health problems are due to Republic Services burning and radioactive Superfund site. The Missouri health authorities found an over 300% increase in children’s brain cancer near the Republic site. This cancer is preventable.. .avoidable… by helping people move away. Today they are trapped. Families can’t live in their homes, sell their homes or afford to pay rent or mortgages somewhere else. These are working people, many not earning a living wage.

Bill could direct his investment company to use their power as shareholders to purchase the homes of innocent families that surround the burning landfill. Once the fire is put out and the radioactive materials cleaned up Republic can resell the homes and reduce their costs. It is anticipated that the fire will burn for another four years and the plan to clean up the radioactive wastes is also far into the future.

I thought at one time, that maybe Bill and Melinda just didn’t know. As parents of three children Jennifer, Phoebe, and Rory I thought they could relate to the fears the parents in St. Louis face every day to protect their most precious asset their children. Unfortunately they do know and I guess don’t care. Recently, they sold all of their Foundation’s stock in Republic Services. A good first step but far from what’s needed. Their personal stock of almost three billion is still earning dividends off the back of little children and hard working parents. We believe it was the petition drive that CHEJ did with the local group Just Moms STL in St. Louis, Missouri that brought the problem to their attention. Maybe it did, we’ll never know.

Today, it’s clear that Bill and Melinda know there is a problem in St. Louis, and they don’t want the public face of the Gates Foundation to be associated with that Superfund site. With this knowledge, they continue to profit from Republic Services, which in turn continues to place children in harm’s way. Bill and Melinda have made a decision to not take action with their personal wealth.

I can only ask, and hope others who read this ask, won’t you please reconsider your decision? Please, give a little charity at home. You are the richest man and one of the most powerful in the world and have said you want to improve the lives of people in poor countries, how about America? You can use your power in the Republic Services Board room to vote to move the innocent families or buy the properties yourself. The child, with brain cancer in the photo, is worth helping.


DDT’s long shadow: Long-banned chemicals linked to abnormal sperm


“Men exposed to certain banned but long-lived chemicals at high levels as teenagers are more likely to have defective sperm later in life, according a new study.

Researchers report today that organochlorine chemicals—specifically DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—may affect how testicles mature and function. It is the first study to examine men’s exposure to the chemicals during the teenage years and abnormal sperm later in life, and suggests that the chemicals—banned in the United States but still lingering in soil, water and people—may contribute to male infertility.

“These chemicals continue to persist in our environment. Levels are going down over the past 30 years, but all of us still have levels in our bodies,” said lead author Melissa Perry, a professor and researcher at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Perry and colleagues examined sperm and blood samples from 90 men from the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. They looked at organochlorine chemicals in their blood as adults, and checked their sperm for abnormal amounts of chromosomes. For 33 of the men, they also had blood samples at age 14.

Men with higher levels of DDE—a breakdown product of the pesticide DDT—and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were used in transistors and electronics, at 14 years old had higher rates of abnormal sperm. The same link was found for levels of the chemicals in the men as adults, according to the study published today in Environmental Health Perspectives.

“It’s another one of those studies that helps us understand why male fertility is in decline in certain areas of the world,” said Thomas Zoeller, a professor and researcher at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst who was not involved in the study.

Previous research suggests sperm with an abnormal amount of chromosomes may lead to failed pregnancies and birth defects.

The study doesn’t prove that the chemicals hamper sperm but both DDT and PCBs are known to disrupt the endocrine system. And sperm production is a “very hormone dependent” process, Perry said…”

Read More from Environmental Health News


Pesticide Exposure Associated with Increased Risk of Diabetes


“A meta-analysis presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Sweden concludes that exposure to pesticides is associated with an increased risk of diabetes. Although diabetes is long-suspected as involving an interplay between genetics and environmental factors, emerging research is revealing that contaminants like pesticides may play an important role in the pathogenesis of the disease. These findings add to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that pesticides play a key role in the development of a wide range of all-too-common diseases in the 21st century.”

Read more from Beyond Pesticides

Wangari Maathai

Women Make The Difference In Action on Climate Change


Greenbelt Movement in Africa

I just spent the last three days in St. Louis, Missouri with the group, Just Moms STL to help them develop a plan to put pressure on the elected representatives with the power and ability to help move families away from a horrible situation and clean up the burning radioactive dumpsite. This Superfund site and emergency situation has been ignored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for decades. In brief the recent study done by the State Attorney General’s office said they community could experience in 3 to 6 months a Chernobyl like event exploding and releasing radioactive wastes throughout the area.

The leaders are women with children, jobs, homes to care for that are leading this fight. But then most of the groups CHEJ works with are led by women 80% at our last count. Yet there is so little recognition of the women in the environmental moment, a frustration that I’ve felt for decades. Yes, my friend and fellow Goldman Prize winner rightfully received recognition but she’s the exception and her work, which continues today is critical to addressing climate change.

Returning home from my work with Just Moms STL, checking my e-mails I came across the article that was written by Tracy Mann from Earth Island. It’s worth a read because it says everything I would have said. Strange it came when it did, fate maybe. Below is an excerpt but the entire article is worth the read.

“In fact, women organizing to protect natural resources and develop community resilience is not a new phenomenon. In the 1970s a group of peasant women in the India threw their arms around trees to prevent the destruction of forests in Northern India in an action that came to be known as the Chipko, or Treehugger Movement. Led by Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, the Kenya-based Green Belt Movement mobilized rural women to plant trees to restore plundered forests, generate income and serve as an engine of empowerment. In the 1980s, American Lois Gibbs led the famous Love Canal protest in upstate New York to expose and rectify the toxic waste dump over which her town had been constructed. Her years-long struggle inspired her to organize women and people of color around the common interest of climate justice. Canada’s Tzeporah Berman has been on the frontlines of community-based movements against environmental threats since the 1990s when she was in the forefront of the Clayoquot Sound protests against the unconscionable clearcutting of temperate rainforest in Western Canada. More recently she has led acts of civil disobedience against the transnational pipeline and tar sands expansion.

The women mobilizing for September 29 may not yet be known as leaders or heroes, but the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action is one more potent opportunity to tell their stories. It’s an opportunity for global women to join hands, just as my mother and sister and I did 45 years ago, and take their rightful place at the front of the parade, as essential catalysts to solutions to our greatest of all challenges.”

To read the full article click here:

There Can Be No Meaningful Action on Climate Change Without Women


Common solvent keeps killing workers, consumers


“Johnathan Welch was 18 and working through lunch when the fumes killed him, stealing oxygen from his brain, stopping his heart.

The chemical linked to his death in 1999 wasn’t a newly discovered hazard, nor was it hard to acquire. Methylene chloride, which triggered similar deaths dating as far back as the 1940s, could be bought barely diluted in products on retail shelves.

It still can. And it’s still killing people.

The solvent is common in paint strippers, widely available products with labels that warn of cancer risks but do not make clear the possibility of rapid death. In areas where the fumes can concentrate, workers and consumers risk asphyxiation or a heart attack while taking care of seemingly routine tasks.

That hazard prompted the European Union to pull methylene chloride paint strippers from general use in 2011. For reasons that aren’t clear, regulatory agencies in the United States have not followed suit — or even required better warnings — despite decades of evidence about the dangers, a Center for Public Integrity investigation found.”

Read More from Center for Public Integrity


5 Reasons to Care Whether the EPA Bans Chlorpyrifos on Your Food


“Autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other brain-related impairments have been diagnosed in millions of children in recent years. So it caused quite a stir last year when scientists identified chlorpyrifos as one of a dozen industrial chemicals fueling what they called a “pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity.”

Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide, is classified as a neurotoxin because it disrupts neurotransmission, essentially how brain cells communicate. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, it is also the active ingredient in dozens of commercial pesticides, used to control a wide range of insects on crops like corn, almonds, apples, and oranges. According to Dow AgroSciences, which manufactures the pesticide Dursban using chlorpyrifos, it has been used on more than 50 agricultural crops.

Scientists’ neurodevelopmental concerns bolster efforts by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) of North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—which, in 2007, petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos on food. After eight years of “partial reports, missed deadlines, and vague promises of future action,” on August 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit made clear that the EPA must issue a full and final response to the petition by October 31.”

Read the reasons why Civil Eats thinks you should care.