Australian Associated Press: Cleaning agents may harm health.

Chemicals used to improve cleanliness may be harming the health of children and adults, new US research suggests. A study shows that young people who are over-exposed to the soap agent triclosan are more likely to suffer allergies. In adults, the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), used in plastics and to line food cans, may suppress the immune system. A resin coating containing BPA allows tin cans to be heated to kill off bugs without the metal contaminating food.

The chemical will be banned from baby bottles by mid-2011 under a ruling announced last week by the European Commission. But according to the new research, it may be most harmful to adults.  More . . .

Chemical & Engineering News: Coal ash spill in Tennessee still a problem.

Nearly two years ago, 978,000,000 gallons of wet coal ash spilled into the Emory River and its tributaries near Kingston, Tenn. Now researchers from Duke University report that the spill polluted downstream sediments with unexpectedly high levels of a particularly toxic form of arsenic.

The spill occurred on Dec. 22, 2008, when a holding pond ruptured, releasing its waste from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant, a coal-fired power plant. Ash produced by burning coal isn’t regulated as hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency, because the EPA’s testing protocol—known as the Toxicity Characterization Leaching Protocol—assumes that coal ash contaminants do not seep from municipal landfills into nearby water. The TVA spill provided a useful—if tragic—opportunity to test this assumption, says Duke geochemist Avner Vengosh: “It became a huge field experiment.” More . . .Upstre

Santa Cruz Sentinel: Statewide protest targets new strawberry pesticide.

State regulators plan to give strawberry growers the OK to use methyl iodide this month.

The pesticide, which kills bugs, weeds and disease that are particularly threatening to berries, is touted as a better alterative to methyl bromide, which is being phased out because of harm it’s done to the ozone layer. But a last-ditch campaign is under way to halt approval of methyl iodide, citing problems with the alternate choice.

“We’ve heard that methyl iodide is a carcinogen. That’s not disputed…. So why are we even having this conversation?” said state Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel.

Monning was among a coalition of environmentalists, researchers and organic farmers that gathered Monday at Jacobs Farm in Santa Cruz County – and at six other sites statewide – protesting the impending use of methyl iodide and asking the governor or governor-elect to block it. The Legislature, Monning said, was not in a position to intervene now and future legislative efforts would be slow and uncertain.

“We want to stop it before it’s in the fields,” he said.  More . . .

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