Scientists have found new dangers in tiny pervasive particles in air pollution according to a New York Times article (2/18/12). “Fine atmospheric particles — smaller than one-thirtieth of the diameter of a human hair — were identified more than 20 years ago as the most lethal of the widely dispersed air pollutants in the United States. Linked to both heart and lung disease, they kill an estimated 50,000 Americans each year. But more recently, scientists have been puzzled to learn that a subset of these particles, called secondary organic aerosols, has a greater total mass, and is thus more dangerous, than previously understood. A batch of new scientific findings is helping sort out the discrepancy, including, most recently, a study led by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash….It indicates that the compounds’ persistence in the atmosphere was under-represented in older scientific models. “If the authors’ analysis is correct, the public is now facing a false sense of security in knowing whether the air they breathe is indeed safe,” said Bill Becker, of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Taken together, the findings of the new study and of a handful of others published in the past two years could mean that two decades’ worth of pollution-control strategies — focused on keeping tiny particles from escaping into the atmosphere — have addressed only part of the problem. Paul Shepson, a professor of analytical and atmospheric chemistry at Purdue University and one of the reviewers of the Irvine paper, called it “highly significant in scientific terms,” adding that current models of fine particulates “grossly underpredict” their density, “sometimes by as much as a factor of 10.”
Month: February 2012
Children living next to driveways or parking lots coated with coal tar are exposed to significantly higher doses of cancer-causing chemicals than those living near untreated asphalt, according to a study that raises new questions about commonly used pavement sealants.
Researchers from Baylor University and the U.S. Geological Survey also found that children living near areas treated with coal-tar-based sealants ingest twice as many polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from contaminated dust tracked into their homes as they do from food.
The peer-reviewed study, and other new research documenting how coal-tar sealants emit high levels of troublesome chemicals into the air, comes as several cities in the Midwest, South and East are trying to ban the products’ use on playgrounds, parking lots and driveways. Some major retailers have pulled the products from their shelves, but coal-tar sealants remain widely available elsewhere.
“There’s been a long-held assumption that diet is the major source of exposure for children,” said Peter Van Metre, a USGS scientist who co-authored the studies. “But it turns out that dust ingestion is a more significant pathway.”
About 85 million gallons of coal-tar-based sealants are sold in the United States every year, mostly east of the Mississippi River, according to industry estimates. The sealants, promoted as a way to extend the life of asphalt and brighten it every few years with a fresh black sheen, are sprayed by contractors or spread by homeowners.
During the past decade, studies have identified coal-tar sealants as a major source of PAHs, toxic chemicals that can cause cancer and other health problems. Pavement sealants made with coal tar can contain as much as 50 percent PAHs by weight, substantially more than alternatives made with asphalt.
Anne LeHuray, executive director of the Pavement Coatings Technology Council, an industry trade group, said she was reviewing the new findings.
“It appears they have some other agenda here, which is to ban coal-tar-based pavement sealants,” she said of the government scientists.
LeHuray and other industry representatives have argued that vehicle exhaust, wood smoke and grilled hamburgers are more significant sources of the toxic chemicals than coal tar.
But the latest USGS research estimates that annual emissions of PAHs from the application of coal-tar-based sealants exceed the amount from vehicle exhaust. Two hours after application, emissions were 30,000 times higher than those from unsealed pavement, one of the new studies found. Parking lots with 3- to 8-year-old sealant released 60 times more PAHs to the air than parking lots without sealant.
By Michael Hawthorne of the Chicago Tribune
The studies are published in the scientific journals Chemosphere, Atmospheric Environment and Environmental Pollution.
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Who's Calling the Shots?
For Sale: American's Health
Who’s buying? Not the advocacy groups that work tirelessly to protect people’s health and the environment, they can’t afford the purchase.
It’s the American Chemistry Council (ACC) who spent more in the fourth quarter then any quarter in recent history . . . in fact they doubled their spending.
ACC, the chief lobbying arm of the chemical manufacturing industry, spent $5.37 million that quarter, the fifth highest of any lobbying operation on Capitol Hill during that time.
ACC’s lobbying disclosure report shows they were involved in a host of issues, ranging from efforts to update chemical regulations, to EPA’s air pollution rules for boilers and incinerators, to the long-delayed health assessments of substances like bisphenol A (BPA) and formaldehyde.
Their disclosure also demonstrates it lobbied EPA on its 27-year-old IRIS assessment of dioxin. EPA was supposed to finalize the non-cancer portion of its dioxin assessment on January 31st but didn’t happen in the face of significant industry opposition. However, the agency hasn’t publicly explained the delay.
So while ACC protects and possibly even increases their profit, the American people, our children are unnecessarily expose to chemicals and face a lifetime of health problems and learning disabilities.
Yes America is for sale, and it’s time for American to stand up for everyone to stand up and say America’s Not For Sale! No More!
ACC included Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D-N.J.) “Safe Chemicals Act” in their efforts, which would overhaul the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and require manufacturers to prove their substances are safe before they go on the market.
For all of 2011, ACC spent almost $10.3 million, significantly more than the $8.1 million it spent the year before. Last year’s total trumps what was spent by Dow Chemical Co., which spent $7.3 million. The American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade association for the oil and gas industry, also spent far less.
These industries had record earnings last year – their shareholders are not suffering from a drop in earnings. Even though they are eating and drinking dioxin just like the rest of us, they can afford the safest foods and the best health care money can buy, unlike CHEJ’s constituency.
Although the polluters and their lobbyist have more money than most of us can imagine we can still prevail. They understand the real power of the people and cannot control that element. In fact, this is why someone sent a thug into our offices and cut our telephone and internet lines at near the peak of our fundraising and dioxin campaign organizing. Despite their efforts we delivered over 2,000 individuals and organizations from across the country to EPA representing millions of people.
It is time to exercise our collective power and put the power back in the hands of American people. However, our power can only be activated when people take step up. With the 2012 elections this year everyone has an opportunity to exercise your power. Ask candidates where they stand on your important issues and let them know they must earn your vote. This country belongs to its people not to corporations whose greed is insurmountable.
This week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson delivered a gift to Dow Chemical and the rest of the chemical industry.
I bet you’re wondering. What’d she do? Nothing.
You see, that’s the problem.
For twenty seven years, we’ve been waiting for the release of the EPA’s report on the health hazards on dioxin. Since 1985! We know dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, but without a final report from EPA on the health impacts of dioxin, the EPA’s and state governments’ hands are tied to meaningfully protect us from this unnecessary poisonous chemical.
For twenty seven years, every step of the way, the chemical industry and big ag have delayed the release of this critical public health report.
We’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. It’s not just us. Vietnam Veterans, breast cancer advocates, environmental justice leaders and many others have raised their voices and called on EPA to finalize this study once and for all. Thousands of people and organizations have signed a letter calling on EPA to finalize this report. We’re all in this together.
Our rallying cry? Enough is enough – no more delays! After all, we have the the right to know.
And I’m afraid to say, it’s happened again this week. I still can’t believe it.
That’s why we need your help. We can’t let them get away with this!
In response to these new delays, we issued a national press release blasting EPA . Our founder and Executive Director, Lois Gibbs, who’s been working on dioxin issues for over 30 years, had this to say:
“Shame on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for denying parents the information they need to protect their children from the health impacts of dioxin. This is America — parents have the right to know. Today the EPA has once again caved into pressure from Dow Chemical and their chemical industry cronies. EPA shouldn’t cave in to chemical industry dollars and interests over public health. Cancer, diabetes, infertility, learning disabilities and other chronic diseases linked to dioxin exposure are extremely costly to American taxpayers. EPA missed yet another deadline to release their report on dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet. In recent months, the chemical industry has been working behind closed doors to hide and distort the truth about the dangers of dioxin. At the same time, Vietnam Veterans, breast cancer advocates, public health organizations, and environmental justice leaders have stood shoulder to shoulder and urged EPA to do what’s right for the health of American children and families. We call on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to immediately release this important report. We can’t wait any longer.”
Our allies at the Lone Tree Council did as well. Michelle Hurd Riddick of the Council had this to say:
“Since the mid 1980’s when the Reagan administration permitted Dow Chemical to rewrite the EPA report on dioxin, administration after administration in the White House has cowed to this company and their lobbyists. Public health is being sacrificed, our water resources disregarded and science is being ignored once again in an effort to placate the moneyed interest. It is indefensible that this administration capitulated to industry, reaffirming the belief of most Americans that corporations have greater influence and more control and rights than people”
This has generated a wave of media coverage around the country, from the Wall Street Journal and CNN, to Greenwire, the Saginaw News, Michigan Public Radio, and the Atlantic.
The American Chemistry Council (aka Dow Chemical’s spokespeople) was quoted as saying, “Another delay is unfortunate.”
What? That’s just exactly what they want.
EPA has been amazingly silent this week. They issued no official statement on the timeframe for next steps. No update to the science plan. Nothing.
I still can’t believe it.
Where is EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson?
Paging Lisa Jackson, the American people are waiting for you. We can’t wait any longer.