Archives for the day of: November 24, 2010

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Indianapolis- WTHR: Dumped in Indiana.

Agricultural waste has caused environmental devastation to Ohio’s largest inland lake [see video above]. To help prevent further damage, Ohio is shipping hundreds of millions of pounds of poultry manure to Indiana. Some Hoosiers say the massive piles of manure piling up near their homes are toxic – and state officials say there’s nothing they can do about it. 

Wendy Read is surrounded by farm fields in rural Randolph County, so she’s used to the smell of manure.

But the young mother says she and her family can only take so much.

“We’ve decided we have to leave because everybody’s getting sick,” she said, staring at the farm house that’s been in her husband’s family for generations. “What else can we do?”

Read and her family are moving out of state to escape an onslaught of manure that has made breathing in some parts of eastern Indiana unbearable.

In recent years, a commercial hog farm housing more than 11,000 swine moved in across the street. The pungent odor from a massive lagoon of hog manure constantly wafts over Read’s property line, easily penetrating closed doors and shut windows.

“I love Indiana and I don’t want to leave, but we just didn’t feel we have any other choice for the health of our kids and our family,” Read said with tears in her eyes, pointing to her daughter’s favorite pear tree in the front yard. “It’s making my daughter sick and my husband got sick, and all summer we couldn’t even go outside to use our property.”

The final straw: nearby farmers trucking in tons of poultry manure to fertilize their fields.

More (including video) . . .

Nature: Wastewater chemicals dampen fish fervour.

Pharmaceuticals and household chemicals in rivers and streams may be affecting how fish mate and spawn, scientists warn, even when the substances are not present at levels high enough to cause visible damage. * * * Drugs and chemicals that are flushed down toilets and drains have long been reported in urban waste water and the streams into which it flows. But it has been difficult to work out how this is affecting wildlife. “Subtle effects are the issue,” says Melissa Schultz, a chemist at the College of Wooster in Ohio. “It’s easy to tell if a fish suffers from obvious anatomical changes such as being intersex or not having mature secondary sexual characteristics,” she says. But determining effects on mating behaviour “takes more meticulous work”. More . . .

Discover: Earth on fire.

Thousands of hidden fires smolder and rage through the world’s coal deposits, quietly releasing gases that can ruin health, devastate communities, and heat the planet. More . . .

Sydney Morning Herald: Bees prove a good diet can set our path in life.

YOU are what you eat. Grow up eating a nutrition-rich diet of royal jelly and you will become, well, royalty. Stick to honey and you are destined for life as a worker. That is the way it is for honey bees, research published in the journal PLoS Biology shows. But the research, led by Ryszard Maleszka, of the Australian National University’s college of medicine, biology and environment, has implications for humans, too. The findings suggest environmental factors such as diet could modify the ”genetic hardware” of the human brain, as was the case with the research that found diet not only influenced bee behaviour but its DNA. More . . .

Chemical & Engineering News: Fungicides contaminate western aquatic environments.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have found a dozen agricultural fungicides in the waters and sediments downstream of farms and orchards in two western states. Presented Nov. 8 at the annual meeting of theSociety of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) in Portland, Oregon, the findings represent the first such data on fungicides in the western U.S. Farmers routinely use fungus-killing compounds to spray or dust food crops, such as strawberries, corn, and soybeans. Some crops receive up to a dozen doses per growing season. Nationwide, fungicide use has risen considerably since the 1990s, reaching 350 million pounds in 2001. However, the environmental prevalence and effects on wildlife and ecosystems—particularly of newer fungicides—are poorly understood, says Kathryn Kuivila, of theUSGS California Water Science Center. Environmental monitoring programs monitor concentrations of few or no fungicides, she notes. More . . .

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