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Air pollution raises risk of death ‘for decades after exposure’

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A UK study has shown that air pollution exposure has drastic long-term impacts on health.

The Guardian quotes Dr. Anna Hansell at Imperial College London, leader of the study: “What this study shows is that the [health] effects of air pollution persist for a very long time. There is an imperative that, because the effects are so long-lasting, we really ought to act on it. We have to think about what we are doing to the long-term health of the population.”


Read More at The Guardian.

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The Supreme Court Just Dealt a Huge Blow to Obama’s Climate Plan

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“In a setback for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily halted enforcement of Obama’s signature climate initiative.

“The Clean Power Plan, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency last summer, requires states to limit coal-fired power plant emissions—the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gases—by a third by 2030. The regulation was expected to revamp the energy industry in the coming decades, shutting down coal-fired plants and speeding up renewable energy production. But 29 states, together with dozens of industry groups, sued the EPA, claiming the rule was ”the most far-reaching and burdensome rule the EPA has ever forced onto the states.”

In a 5-4 vote today, the Supreme Court issued an unusual, one-page emergency order for the EPA to put the plan on hold until the US Court of Appeals, which will hear the case this summer, comes to a decision. While the hold is temporary, manysee the order as a sign that the Supreme Court has concerns about the policy…”

Read more from Mother Jones

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Obama proposing clean-water cuts amid Flint outcry

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“The Obama administration is expected to propose a $250 million cut to its primary funding source for water and sewer systems as part of its budget proposal Tuesday — a prospect that is bringing bipartisan criticism amid the furor over lead contamination in Flint, Mich.

The budget calls for adding $158 million to an Environmental Protection Agency program that offers grants and low-interest loans to help states and cities improve their drinking water systems, according to a source familiar with the proposal. But it would pay for that by making even larger cuts to an EPA clean water program that helps reduce pollution at the source, a trade-off that lawmakers on both sides call foolish.

“We cannot take money away from the fund that cleans up the polluted Flint River — the source of Flint’s drinking water — and put it into fixing Flint’s pipes,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who called himself “grossly disappointed” by the proposal. Cardin noted that the administration’s expected request for drinking water spending is lower than what President Barack Obama sought last year, even if it’s more than what Congress wound up providing.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, accused Obama of making clean drinking water a lesser priority than climate change, a frequent complaint of Republican lawmakers about Obama’s EPA budget proposals…”

Read more from Politico

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Moms from Flint, St. Louis Demand EPA Action

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Washington, DC – On Tuesday, February 9, a coalition of moms from Michigan and Missouri will hold a press conference to address EPA’s failure to act on serious threats to public health in both communities.

Flint, Michigan is reeling from ongoing lead poisoning in its drinking water. EPA senior managers reacted to alarms sounded by its own staff by downplaying the risks and hiding the warnings about the lead levels from the public.

In Bridgeton, Missouri (a suburb of north St. Louis), families live near a radioactive Superfund landfill containing nuclear wastes that were illegally dumped during the Manhattan Project. The nuclear wastes are adjacent to an underground fire at a neighboring landfill. The Bridgeton/West Lake landfill site is owned by the Republic Services waste corporation, and workers there have no protection from either the radioactive wastes or the toxic emissions emitted by the landfill daily.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has refused for over two years to meet with the Just Moms St. Louis community group. She has released a new formal policy on “substantial health risks.”

At the press conference, leaders from both the Just Moms St. Louis and the Flint-based Water You Fighting For community groups will discuss the environmental and public health catastrophes in both communities, and EPA’s responses to date. They will also ask EPA Administrator McCarthy to meet with the Just Moms St. Louis members who traveled here to request that the EPA act on its authority under the Superfund Act to move families away from the landfill, as the agency has done previously with Love Canal and other communities.

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Worried Moms from Flint, Love Canal & St. Louis

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Contacts:
February 9, 2016 Lois Marie Gibbs (703) 627-9483
Laura Barrett (314) 443-5915
Dawn Chapman (314) 739-7634

Worried Moms from Flint, Love Canal & St. Louis
Decry EPA’s “Failure” to Protect Children and Families
Kids are suffering from leaded water & threatened by toxic fires

Washington, DC – On Tuesday, February 9, a coalition of moms from Michigan and Missouri will hold a press conference to address EPA’s failure to act on serious threats to public health in both communities.
Flint, Michigan is reeling from ongoing lead poisoning in its drinking water. EPA senior managers reacted to alarms sounded by its own staff by downplaying the risks and hiding the warnings about the lead levels from the public.
In Bridgeton, Missouri (a suburb of north St. Louis), families live near a radioactive Superfund landfill containing nuclear wastes that were illegally dumped during the Manhattan Project. The nuclear wastes are adjacent to an underground fire at a neighboring landfill. The Bridgeton/West Lake landfill site is owned by the Republic Services waste corporation, and workers there have no protection from either the radioactive wastes or the toxic emissions emitted by the landfill daily.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has refused for over two years to meet with the Just Moms St. Louis community group. She has released a new formal policy on “substantial health risks.”
At the press conference, leaders from both the Just Moms St. Louis and the Flint-based Water You Fighting For community groups will discuss the environmental and public health catastrophes in both communities, and EPA’s responses to date. They will also ask EPA Administrator McCarthy to meet with the Just Moms St. Louis members who traveled here to request that the EPA act on its authority under the Superfund Act to move families away from the landfill, as the agency has done previously with Love Canal and other communities.

WHAT: Press conference featuring Missouri and Michigan moms

WHEN: Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 10 a.m. EST

LOCATION: National Press Club
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC 20045 (Zenger Room)
Call-in number: (888) 223-4641 (International calls: 1-303-223-2682)

WHO: Dawn Chapman, co-founder, Just Moms STL
Karen Nickel, co-founder, Just Moms STL
Melissa Mays, Water You Fighting For (by phone from Flint, MI)
Lois Gibbs, Founder, Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Ed Smith, Missouri Coalition for the Environment
Gail Thackery, Franciscan Sisters of Mary

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Regulatory Gaps Leave Unsafe Lead Levels in Water Nationwide

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“In Sebring, Ohio, routine laboratory tests last August found unsafe levels of lead in the town’s drinking water after workers stopped adding a chemical to keep lead water pipes from corroding. Five months passed before the city told pregnant women and children not to drink the water, and shut down taps and fountains in schools.

In 2001, after Washington, D.C., changed how it disinfected drinking water, lead in tap water at thousands of homes spiked as much as 20 times the federally approved level. Residents did not find out for three years. When they did, officials ripped out lead water pipes feeding 17,600 homes — and discovered three years later that many of therepairs had only prolonged the contamination.

The crisis in Flint, Mich., where as many as 8,000 children under age 6 were exposed to unsafe levels of lead after a budget-cutting decision to switch drinking-water sources, may be the most serious contamination threat facing the country’s water supplies. But it is hardly the only one.

Unsafe levels of lead have turned up in tap water in city after city — in Durham and Greenville, N.C., in 2006; in Columbia, S.C., in 2005; and last July in Jackson, Miss., where officials waited six months to disclose the contamination — as well as in scores of other places in recent years.

Federal officials and many scientists agree that most of the nation’s 53,000 community water systems provide safe drinking water. But such episodes are unsettling reminders of what experts say are holes in the safety net of rules and procedures intended to keep water not just lead-free, but free of all poisons…”

Read more from the New York Times

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Poor, minorities carry the burden of frack waste in South Texas

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By Brian Bienkowski
Environmental Health News

Chavel Lopez lives just a few miles north of Texas’ Eagle Ford—one of the many regions in the country recently given a makeover from the fracking industry. ”I just have to drive a bit south and see the wells and the flames,” he said.

For Lopez, rather than a booming industry, these are signs of yet another pollution burden for the region’s people of color.

“We already had issues. Right here in San Antonio, fuel storage tanks were all located on the eastside, predominantly African American neighborhoods,” he said. “For some of these Hispanic neighborhoods, they were already dealing with uranium mining impacts and now the fracking of oil and gas.”

Read More at Environmental Health News

Image: Greenpeace Report Cover

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger Millions

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Greenpeace reports that eighty-six bleach plants across the country put 63.8 million people in danger of a potential worst-case release of chlorine gas, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon.

Image: Greenpeace Report Cover


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National Coalition fights Burning of Military Waste

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Image from Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger

Community members in Colfax, Louisiana are dealing with an unconventional form of potential environmental contamination – outfall from the open air burning of hazardous explosive waste. The town of Colfax is the site of a commercial facility called Clean Harbors, which stores and treats energetic/reactive waste, whether it is solid, sludge or liquid. From fireworks to bulk high explosives to rocket motors, the facility is a storehouse for potentially explosive material.

This burning is, in fact, permitted by the US EPA, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which governs disposal and treatment of hazardous waste. There is a permit modification pending, which would increase the current threshold for open-air burning of explosives-contaminated waste from 480,000 pounds to over 2 million pounds per year. The permit is for dealing with waste that cannot be handled in any other manner.

Truth-out.org reported last month on a similar issue at Camp Minden, Louisiana. The Camp Minden military facility, which was storing, in addition to other materials, 42,000 pounds of a propellant used for firing heavy artillery, experienced an explosion in 2012 that resulted in “a 7,000-foot mushroom cloud” and damage to nearby homes and buildings. In this scenario, burning is seen as an emergency plan to prevent future explosions, but the outdated burning process is raising concerns of environmental pollution from munitions burning.

A coalition of twenty-nine organizations has formed in response to the issue, ranging from coast to coast and including groups in thirteen states. The groups are objecting to both the current operations at the Clean Harbors facility, and to the expansion of the facility’s permit to allow greater amounts of waste to be burned.

According to the coalition, Colfax is only one of many communities – about 100 total – that are facing this issue. Truth-out.org also reports that munitions burning is far from just a Louisiana issue. In the early 1990s, community activists halted a plan to burn military waste in Merrimac, Wisconsin. The breadth of the coalition behind the Cease Fire campaign speaks to the universality of this problem.

How can you help?

A petition to EPA is circulating at http://cswab.org/get-involved/alerts/, and you can find more information about the Cease Fire Campaign at https://www.facebook.com/ceasefirecampaign/.

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As Washington state decides on stronger toxics law, residents are breathing flame retardants

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“A new generation of chemicals added to furniture, building insulation and baby products like car seats to slow the spread of flames are escaping into air at higher levels than previously thought, according to a new study out of Washington state.

The findings come as Washington lawmakers decide on bolstering flame retardant bans. The state was one of the first to ban an earlier generation of retardants, known as PBDEs.

The new research found flame retardant chemicals used to replace polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) also escape, are ubiquitous in indoor air and suggest inhalation is a major route of exposure for people.

The compounds, called chlorinated organophosphate flame retardants, found in the study have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems, and some can alter hormones essential for development.

“We’ve been underestimating what total exposure is,” said Erika Schreder, staff scientist at the Washington Toxics Coalition and lead author of the study published this month in the scientific journal Chemosphere.

Researchers gave 10 people from Washington state an air sampler that simulates breathing to wear during a normal day: office work, commuting, hanging out at home. They tested for a suite of the new generation of chlorinated flame retardants and found all 10 were breathing some amount of them throughout the day…”

Read more from Environmental Health News