Archives for the day of: December 12, 2010

CBS News: Living off toxic trash in the Philippines.

For decades, “Smokey Mountain,” a towering heap of trash billowing smoke in Manila, was the symbol of poverty in the Philippines. Images of women and children picking through the garbage for any salvageable scraps will remain burned into the minds of the nation for a generation. In 1990, the Philippine government closed the infamous landfill, which once held 2 million tons of trash. Low-cost government housing sprung up on the site in the following years, and residents were given some community-based employment. It should have been a new beginning — fresh hope for the nation’s poorest. Just across the road, however, in an area called Pier 18, a new landfill has taken Smokey Mountain’s place.  The area is home to a large and growing community of slum dwellers, and Cheryl Dalisay, 30, and her son, 10-year old Chervin Enoc, are among them. Like most who live here, Chervin and his mother earn a living by picking salvageable scraps of garbage off the mound of castaway junk.  More . . .

Cary News: A plant, a well and a wish for trustworthy water.

The Bradfords don’t trust their tap. Neither do many of their neighbors in Northgate, an unincorporated subdivision here that draws its water from a public well. In 2008, they discovered what the state had known for several years: Groundwater near their neighborhood had been contaminated with trichloroethylene, a chemical compound often used as an industrial solvent and suspected to cause cancer. The tainted water is likely the result of chemicals dumped decades ago at a now-vacant textile plant that borders the neighborhood. Avoiding groundwater pollutants – and easing Northgate residents’ worries about what they’re drinking – could be relatively simple. Getting clean water would require a few connectors to link to a town water line that frames the neighborhood. But Fuquay-Varina has not agreed to provide water, and will likely not do so unless all Northgate residents agree to be annexed by the town. More . . .

Barstow Desert Dispatch: Pregnant women, children most likely to be impacted by perchlorates.

The risk of adverse health effects of perchlorate water contamination at levels recently found in Barstow is not certain, but public health officials and experts agree that pregnant women and young children are most at risk. Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, Health Officer for the San Bernardino Department of Public Health, said that levels of perchlorate detected in Barstow’s water on Friday are not likely to affect anyone’s health — with the possible exception of pregnant women or those who suffer from hypothyroidism. High levels of perchlorate are known to affect fetal brain development and the neurological development of young children, but dangerous levels of exposure and specific impacts of the chemical are somewhat unknown due to a lack of studies. More . . .

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Center for Public Integrity: EPA chemical health hazards program has 55-year backlog of work, report says.

Eighteen months after the Environmental Protection Agency announced reforms to its controversial process for evaluating health hazards posed by dangerous chemicals, significant problems continue to hamper the program and leave the public at risk, according to a new report by a nonprofit research group.The agency has fallen years behind in meeting its statutory requirements to profile at least 255 chemicals and assess their potential links to cancer, birth defects, and other health problems. That delay has effectively halted numerous regulatory actions that would protect the public, according to the report by the Center for Progressive Reform, a public health and environmental protection group. “[The Obama administration has] been so busy reacting to the right wing and fighting off crisis after crisis that it’s been difficult for them to see this pattern of regulatory failure,” said Rena Steinzor, president of the center and a University of Maryland law professor.

The Government Accountability Office, Congressional committees, and other experts have criticized the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) in recent years. Under President George W. Bush’s administration, critics say, the agency’s chemical assessment efforts ground to a near halt because of interference by other federal agencies, unwarranted delays, and a lack of transparency.

The GAO warned in a 2008 report that the IRISdatabase “is at serious risk of becoming obsolete.” In January 2009, the GAO added the EPA’s method for assessing and managing chemical risks to its list of“high-risk” areas requiring attention.

More . . .

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