Day: June 1, 2020

Listen to experts and tackle the toxic chemical crisis contributing to chronic disease

Read the full story at The Hill.

Infectious disease experts, scientists, and doctors have warned about the potential for a pandemic for years. Microsoft founder Bill Gates did a TED Talk on it and U.S. intelligence agencies knew it was a real threat. There was even a major USAID program, recently de-funded, called Predict, designed to head off pandemics.

And now, these scientific warnings have come true. 

The once invisible threat of a virus spreading throughout our country is painfully visible today. Given a choice, wouldn’t we all choose to prevent the spread of this horrible virus in the first place?

It’s too late to stop COVID-19 from entering our lives. But there is another invisible threat to our health and well-being we can address.  

Similar to those who cautioned us about a disease like COVID-19, leading public health experts, scientists, and doctors today warn us that exposure to toxic chemicals is contributing to rates of chronic illnesses.

PFAS in Food Packaging: A Hot, Greasy Exposure

Read the full story in Environmental Health Perspectives.

First, there was DDT. Then came BPA. The latest chemical acronym to become a household name is PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The chemicals in this class are valued as strong surfactants and for their ability to repel water, grease, and stains. Among other uses, PFAS are added to paper products designed to hold hot, greasy foods. A recent study in Environmental Health Perspectives delves into how such foods might contribute to people’s exposures to PFAS.

These tiny, self-assembling traps capture PFAS

Read the full story from the University of Buffalo.

UB chemists have shown that self-assembling molecular traps can be used to capture PFAS — dangerous pollutants that have contaminated drinking water supplies around the world.

EPA Toxic Substances Control Act Consent Orders Need Better Coordination

Download the document.

Why we did this project

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General conducted this evaluation to determine what actions the EPA took to verify compliance with the requirements of the 2009 Toxic Substances Control Act Premanufacture Notice Consent Order with DuPont (responsibilities transferred to The Chemours Company in 2015) to prevent the release of GenX chemicals in the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.

GenX chemicals are a type of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, found in surface water, groundwater, drinking water, rain water, and air emissions. There is toxicological evidence that some PFAS chemicals have adverse developmental and immunological effects in animals and humans.

What we found

We found insufficient communication and coordination between the two EPA offices responsible for developing and enforcing the consent order requirements designed to reduce risks in the manufacture of GenX chemicals.

In 2008, the EPA received premanufacture notices from DuPont to manufacture two new GenX chemicals. In 2009, the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention issued the company a TSCA Premanufacture Notice Consent Order with terms and conditions related to the manufacturing of the chemicals. The Consent Order required the company to determine how to recover and capture 99 percent of GenX’s manufacturing discharges and air emissions. However, the Consent Order was not reviewed or approved by the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, which is responsible for conducting inspections to verify compliance. Until June 2017, the EPA’s actions to verify compliance with the 2009 Consent Order and new chemicals testing requirements consisted of tracking and reviewing information provided by the manufacturer.

Following the local media coverage of the presence of GenX chemicals in the Cape Fear River in 2017, Region 4 and EPA contractors conducted the EPA’s first on-site compliance monitoring inspection at the Fayetteville Works facility, which manufactures GenX. We found that the Region 4 inspectors were unaware of the 2009 Consent Order and its requirements until the inspection was requested by EPA headquarters.

Recommendations and planned agency corrective actions

We recommend that the EPA establish and implement processes:

  1. For the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance to review and
    approve the terms and conditions of TSCA Section 5(e) Consent Orders
    that it is responsible for verifying during compliance monitoring and
    enforcement activities.
  2. To provide final TSCA Section 5(e) Consent Orders to regions and verify
    that the regions have the final consent orders.

The EPA did not provide an acceptable corrective action for Recommendation 1,
and we consider this recommendation unresolved. For Recommendation 2, the
Agency provided an alternative course of action that we find acceptable. We
consider Recommendation 2 resolved with corrective action pending.

PFAS pollution from Chemours plant distributed by air

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

Two toxic, persistent per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used at a Chemours factory in West Virginia pollute soil and groundwater as far as 48 km downwind of the plant, researchers report (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b07384).

‘A Shameful Nightmare’: Truckloads of Perfectly Good JUMP Bikes Are Being Shredded

Read the full story at Vice.

The photos and videos of the JUMP bike heaps posted to social media sites have disappointed former JUMP employees, bike and scooter advocates, and people who don’t like to see useless waste.

Wastewater coronavirus tests are catching on after proving to be an early warning sign for outbreaks

Read the full story in The Week.

Move over, swabs. There’s a new coronavirus test in town.

Okay, so traditional tests are still necessary when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. But testing wastewater for coronavirus’ genetic material — something that was just an “intriguing laboratory finding” a month ago — could be even more effective than individual swab tests as the U.S. aims to reopen while avoiding new coronavirus outbreaks and resurgences, Stat News reports.

10 Books Climate Activists Are Reading Now

Read the full story at Yes! Magazine.

A record number of Americans are concerned about climate change, a recent study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication found. If you’re among them, you may be interested in learning more about the climate crisis and what you can do about it. Luckily, you don’t have to comb through scientific papers to educate yourself (unless you’d like to): More and more books on climate change and climate action are published every year, ranging from grimly realistic takes on the severity of the crisis to optimistic visions of social and technological solutions. To find out which ones are worth a read, Teen Vogue reached out to 11 climate activists for their recommendations. Here are the books they said were most informative and inspiring.

Will Floating Turbines Usher in a New Wave of Offshore Wind?

Read the full story at e360.

As locations for wind energy fill up onshore and near-shore, companies are deploying floating turbines that can be sited in deep waters, out of view from the coast. Proponents contend the new technology could boost the wind industry, but daunting challenges, including costs, remain.

Why don’t Venus flytraps eat their pollinators?

Read the full story at Massive Science.

The carnivorous plants are disappearing, so scientists need to understand their symbiosis with insects.

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