Archives for the day of: August 25, 2011

Slow Death by Rubber Duck argues that our daily lives create a toxic soup inside each of us.

Studies have shown that significant levels of toxic substances can leach out of commonplace items in our homes and workplaces. How do these toxins make their way inside us and what impact do they have on our health? And more importantly, what can we do about them? Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, two of Canada’s leading environmental activists, tackle these questions head on by experimenting upon themselves. Over a four-day period, our intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) authors ingest and inhale a host of things that surround us all every day, all of which are suspected of being toxic and posing long term health risks to humans. By revealing the pollution load in their bodies before and after the experiment – and the results in most cases are downright frightening – they tell the inside story of seven common substances.

The pollution inside us is insidious. “We cannot see it; we often have trouble measuring it and it is very difficult assigning specific damage to chemicals that are so widely used. But the alarm bells are starting to sound.” Doctors, nurses, mothers and community activists are questioning why these toxic substances can be put into products without our knowledge and with no evidence that they will not harm us and legislators are just beginning to listen.

Ultimately hopeful, Slow Death By Rubber Duck empowers readers with ideas for protecting themselves and their families and changing things for the better. If you are concerned about the level of toxins in your body and want to understand the hidden threats already in your home, you must read this book.

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From iWatch:

Children of the nation’s military personnel aren’t the only students who have reason to worry about decrepit, sometimes hazardous conditions at their schools. Hundreds of Native American children attend schools that haven’t properly disposed of hazardous waste, haven’t contained asbestos in heating systems, and whose water systems exceed the maximum allowable level for arsenic in tap water – conditions barred under federal environmental laws.

As part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior has agreed to pay a $234,844 civil penalty after inspectors found a raft of alleged violations of federal waste, water, air, toxics and community right-to-know laws involving 72 schools and 27 water systems on or near the lands of 60 different tribes around the country. The settlement affects 160 schools in almost every part of the country (the full list is on page 84 of this consent agreement ).

The EPA discovered the violations between 2008 and 2010 while conducting inspections at 100 schools overseen by the Interior Department’s Office of Indian Affairs. Under the settlement, Interior will be required to undergo audits to check for environmental compliance at the schools, and the settlement money must be used in part to correct violations of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act.

“Children are more vulnerable to environmental exposures than adults, which is why ensuring that schools provide safe, healthy learning environments for our children, particularly in tribal communities, is a top priority,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.  Added Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator for EPA’s Pacific Southwest office, “The federal government has a trust responsibility to protect human health and the environment in Indian country.”

The EPA has a special program intended to identify environmental risks on reservations. “Pollution of the air, water and land in Indian country and in other tribal areas may pose significant threats to the health and environment of members of the 564 federally-recognized Indian tribes,” the EPA states on the Web site of an enforcement initiative that specifically targets issues on tribal lands. “Pollution may seriously damage ecosystems and tribal members can face increased risk from pollution because of subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering practices.”

To be sure, schools attended by the children of the U.S. military don’t appear to have problems on the same scale or that would draw such attention from federal environmental regulators – or big penalties. But many military schools are decrepit, fail to meet the Pentagon’s own standards, and have proven worrisome to parents and teachers over air and water quality issues.

As iWatch News has reported , tens of thousands of children — from Georgia to Kansas, Virginia to Washington state — attend schools on military bases that are falling apart from age and neglect, and fail to meet even the military’s own standards.

Some schools have tainted water and fouled air; others are so overcrowded teachers improvise, holding class in hallways, supply closets, and in one instance, working in a boiler room. Many of the schools are old; one school in Germany was built by the Nazis.

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