Archives for the day of: December 14, 2010

Agence France-Presse: Europe may soon enforce a ban on baby bottles with bisphenol A.

Europe is likely to enforce a ban on baby bottles which contain the chemical Bisphenol-A,owing to its adverse effects on child health, the European Commission said.  European Union health commissioner John Dalli wants to pull such bottles off shop shelves across the 27-nation bloc because of the “uncertainties” about its effects on infants, his spokesman Frederic Vincent told AFP. More . . .

Yale Environment 360: A warning by key researcher on risks of BPA in our lives.

The chemical Bisphenol A, or BPA, has been much in the news lately. BPA is the building block for polycarbonate plastic — the sort of hard, clear plastic often used in water bottles — and it is found in everything from linings of metal cans, to the thermal paper used for cash register receipts, to the dental sealants applied to children’s teeth. The chemical mimics estrogen, and in studies involving lab animals, exposure to BPA, even at very low doses, has been linked to a wide variety of health problems, from an increased risk of prostate cancer, to heart disease, to damage to the reproductive system.

Frederick vom Saal, a biologist at the University of Missouri’s Endocrine Disruptors Group, is one of the world’s leading researchers on the ill health effects of BPA in humans and animals. He is also one of the most outspoken critics of U.S. businesses and regulators for glossing over, or concealing, the major impact that BPA exposure is increasingly having on human health. Vom Staal is irate that even though BPA is quite similar to another synthetic hormone — DES, or Diethylstilbesterol — that caused myriad health problems in thousands of women in the 1940s and 1950s, federal regulators are only now beginning to take seriously the threat from BPA. In an interview with Yale Environment 360 contributor Elizabeth Kolbert, vom Saal excoriated the U.S. chemical industry for attempting to quash research showing the dangers of BPA and for threatening him and other researchers. More . . .

AOL News: Asbestos dangers known centuries ago, but battle continues.

Early on, the EPA saw the need to ban asbestos in this country, and 21 years ago the agency did just that.  But the ban was short-lived. The powerful Canadian asbestos industry — which remains one of the world’s largest producers of the killer mineral — sued the EPA almost immediately. Within months, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it on technical reasons. So, as it had almost a century before, the use of the fireproof mineral flourished, as did the number of people felled by asbestos-related disease. Granite chronicles of the deadliness of asbestos can be seen in workers’ graveyards near the vermiculite mine at Libby, Mont., in tiny towns along the string of taconite mines in upper Minnesota, and near Michigan’s auto plants, Boeing’s aircraft factories in Washington, talc mines in New York and shipyards on all coasts.

What can only be guessed at is the unknown number of asbestos-caused diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis in people exposed to asbestos from vermiculite insulation in their attics or walls or other consumer products they handle daily. More . . .

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Prior to the 2010 Gulf oil spill, the largest oil spill in U.S. History was occurring drip by drip over decades (EPA estimates more than 30 million gallons of crude and petro-chemicals) underneath the streets in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Here are some news stories (two videos and one recent newspaper article) about the spill and its very slow cleanup.

Brooklyn Paper: Is the Exxon payout too small?

Less than a week after the state reached a historic $25-million settlement with ExxonMobil, forcing the company to finish cleaning up the Greenpoint oil spill, residents are questioning whether those funds will go far enough to repair six decades of pollution. “It’s small,” said Greenpoint resident Mike Hofmann. “They made $11.5 billion in one quarter a few years ago and we get $25 million? That’s crazy.” The largest environmental settlement in state history, announced by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Nov. 18, abruptly ended a six-year legal battle between environmental groups, public officials and ExxonMobil over responsibility for cleaning up an estimated 17 million gallons of oil that leached into 55 acres of Greenpoint soil and groundwater for half a century. 

More . . .

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