Environmental Dangers


There has been a lot of research coming out lately about pesticides. It seems like more and more people are becoming aware of the effects of these killing chemicals on us, not just the bugs they target. The information is fascinating. I thought I might put it all together as a general resource and provide some avenues for you to improve your life by reducing your exposure. After all, some of these new studies link pesticides to ADHD, others link them to Parkinsons Disease and yet others point to food and water contamination. It seems like it must be pretty wide spread considering that we grow a lot of food that bugs also eat. When we spray those plants with insecticide, we submit the chemical to the plants organism and this remains present in the plant after death, after cooking, after eating and swallowing. So you must have a lot of pesticides in you. That’s just the facts.

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I know you are hearing a lot about the water… the rivers, the oceans, the water in the tap.. and that it all seems complicated and overwhelming. Indeed, there are gyres of plastic in the ocean the size of a city and there are drugs in the tap water in New York City and the coral reefs are dieing off from pollution.. but there’s another one. One that hits really close to home and should be a major concern for you.

Recent studies prove that chemicals in the water supply (from the ocean up the waterways to your kitchen sink) are bending genders in wildlife. These chemicals are what is known as endocrine disruptors, similar to the BPA everyone has been talking about, and they change the sex in organisms. Aquatic organisms are switching from male to female and back again as a result of exposure to these chemicals. But the stuff isn’t isolated to distant waterways where nothing but creeping anemones sprawl on rocks and in caves; this stuff is right out there, where you might even be swimming. For sure, they are moving into the water that is used to make our tap water. No kidding.

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As you know from my previous writings on the subject, BPA or Bisphenol A is an organic compound used in a huge number of retail products, including plastic food and beverage containers, kitchen appliances, electronics (casings) and packaging of all kinds. It is even included in the resins used to line soda, soup and vegetable cans. It is currently known to be an “endocrine disrupter” or a synthetic chemical known to mimic the behavior of estrogen. It has been found to disrupt normal heart muscle function and prompt arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. BPA has come under increasing scrutiny by medical researchers for this endocrine-hormone-disrupting potential and has gotten a lot of media attention for this. This new information proves that it can interfere with reproductive, egg and fat cell development, as well as with thyroid hormone and neurological functions. The chemical has also been labled an “obesegen”, meaning it is linked to conditions that can prompt obesity and diabetes.

Suspected of being hazardous to humans since as early as the 1930s, current concerns about the use of bisphenol A in consumer products began in 2008. At that time several governments and their agencies issued reports questioning its’ safety. The news media grabbed the story and many retailers quietly removed products containing BPA from store shelves. Up until now, the main concern have been regarding the exposure of fetuses, infants and young children to products loaded with the compound.

But there is new, disheartening (excuse the pun), news. A study released this week by researchers at the University of Cincinnati says that exposure to bisphenol A may increase heart disease in women. And guess what? New research proves that these effects can occur at very low levels of exposure. In other words, you don’t have to drink more than a couple sodas a day or use more than 1 or 2 plastic food storage containers.

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I know this is not new news. I know it was first presented to the public back in March of 2009 but I can’t help but comment on this. Did you know that six major baby bottle makers in the United States have agreed to stop using the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A, an obesegen and toxic chemical, in their baby bottles?

The six companies are: Avent, Disney First Years, Gerber, Dr. Brown, Playtex and Evenflow. They have all agreed to voluntarily ban BPA from bottles that they manufacture. This is a huge victory for human health in this country and now you have a choice. Buy the junk others make, loaded with BPA, or limit your purchases to these thoughtful companies.

Consumer groups in New Jersey and Delaware wrote in October, 2008, to the companies urging them to stop using the controversial chemical, widespread in plastic, after studies linked BPA to a range of health problems in infants. Not to mention that science has linked this chemical to obesity; so much so that scientist call it an “obesegen”. Read my recent post on Harmony Green. In fact, over 130 studies over the past decade have linked even low levels of BPA to serious health problems, breast cancer, obesity and the early onset of puberty, among other disorders.

Vocal consumer watchdog groups have been calling, loudly, for a complete ban on BPA. But this is small comfort in my opinion when you realize how much of this is going on, and not just with baby bottles. We should be in fear for our lives. In addition to all the other horrors discovered about BPA alone, toxicologists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found last year that the chemical could interfere with the brain development of fetuses and newborns. Ever wonder why so many of our kids are fat, hyperactive and have to be medicated for brain disorders? Is it going to come down to how rich some company can get? Is our health and well being a price you’re willing to pay?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its European counterpart, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), have said the chemical is safe in the amounts used in such products as baby bottles. For my opinion on this matter, read my previous post on how the EPA lies to us about the chemicals in the products we buy.

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This is such a cool idea that I just had to come at it, even though I’m a few months behind on the original announcement. In September, 2009, a new car aptly named the “Algaeus” completed it’s cross country tour successfully and refueled the idea that algae might bring natural solutions to our high tech problems after all. The algae fueled car traveled 3,750 miles across the country, spreading the word of new possibilities. After it completed it’s tour, it then joined the “Green Energy Bus”, the Veggie Van Organization and the FUEL team for a college tour to further spread the green word. The “Green Energy Bus” is a retrofit interactive classroom that shows students just how the new concept works.

The Algaeus is the brainchild of Sapphire Energy, the leader in algae-based renewable fuel, who joined with the team behind the award winning film FUEL, to complete the first cross-country car tour powered by a blend of algae-based gasoline in an unmodified engine. It took a total of 10 days after starting in San Fransisco and making it’s way to New York City, to which it arrived on September 18. The Algaeus presents a tantalizing peek into a very likely future which excites me. Sapphire Energy provides the fuel for the extraordinary car, containing a mixture of hydrocarbons refined directly from algae-based Green Crude and extracted through Sapphire’s proprietary process. However, there really is nothing extraordinary about the car in reality. It could be your car, the way things are hopefully going to turn out!

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Earlier this month, President Barack Obama ordered our Government to lead by example on climate change matters, to cut consumption of fuel and improve water use efficiency. I think this is a first, however, those of you who know otherwise are welcome to comment and give examples. But I think this is a much needed push on the part of our President in bringing conservation back into the mindset of America. We call ourselves conservatives and then we consume and trash like drunken sailors. It’s time to walk the walk.

In his demand, he wanted federal departments to cut their fuel consumption by 30% and to improve their water use efficiency by 26%. This appears to be an immediate goal with a 90 day limit for the development of an overall plan for long term targets. In fact, he requires all federal agencies to set firm 2020 targets to cut their greenhouse gas emissions within that 90 day window. As much as you hear the pigs squealing, this is very liberal and tolerant and allows them to squirm off with their usual wheeling and dealing and I am not sure it will make a whit of difference. It seems all that many Americans care about is who is sleeping with whom but damn if they care if the baby goes out with the bathwater. I apologize but a lot of people piss me off. Barack Obama pisses me off. The time has long passed for people to wake up and smell the coffee and still they keep dreaming. Who out there smells it? The world is on fire, fools.

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The big news on the climate front is the bill released by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) last month. It is disappointing to many environmentalists and activists but they are now saying it may be as ambitious as we can hope for given the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on Congress. I am really not happy with it because it just won’t make a significant impact on our increasingly unstable climate. I consider that a disaster.

I guess this bill is a bit better, though, than the 1427 pages of garbage that Waxman and Markey pushed through the House in June. This is known as the American Clean Air and Security Act and both Waxman and Markey are Democrats. It was a complex bill that was hard to read and understand but it essentially had the fingerprints of agribusiness and oil industry lobbyists all over it. This bill by Kerry and Box is a leaner, cleaner bill with a few less fingerprints but it still doesn’t get past environmentalists and climate scientists who actually care.

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