Category: Environmental health

Test Your Well Water Act introduced

Read the full story in Water Quality Products.

The tool aims to promote transparency and modernize access to EPA resources in an effort to educate Americans about their drinking water.

The smoke comes every year. Sugar companies say the air is safe.

Read the full story at Pro Publica.

To harvest more than half of America’s cane sugar, billion-dollar companies set fire to fields, a money-saving practice that’s being banned by other countries. Some residents say they struggle to breathe, so we started tracking air quality.

Flesh-eating parasites may be expanding their range as climate heats up

Read the full story from NPR.

Americans, it turns out, can be exposed to Leishmania parasites without leaving the country. The parasites are currently endemic in Texas and Oklahoma, and new studies suggest that they might be present in other states, including Florida. While reported cases of leishmaniasis contracted in the U.S. are currently negligible, they may soon be on the rise: As climate change pushes rodent and sand fly habitat northward, scientists caution that in the future, an increasing number of U.S. residents could be exposed to different varieties of the flesh-eating parasite.

What’s in Your Well? The Hidden Dangers of Nitrates in Rural Drinking Water

Download the document.

Nitrate is one of the most common water contaminants worldwide and poses significant
risk for ecological and human health. These risks are especially prevalent in rural areas
where land cover is predominantly conventional row-crop agriculture (e.g., corn and
soybeans) and fertilizer application rates are high. Nitrate pollution poses a serious
problem for water quality in Illinois, yet not enough is known about the prevalence and
extent of rural well contamination. This paper examines the problem of nitrate pollution
in these wells and presents solutions for better understanding and addressing the issue.

EPA approved toxic chemicals for fracking a decade ago, new files show

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The compounds can form PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” which have been linked to cancer and birth defects. The E.P.A. approvals came despite the agency’s own concerns about toxicity.

New EU rules would permit use of most polymers without checks, experts warn

Read the full story in The Guardian.

New rules on chemicals to be debated by the EU this week would allow most polymers to be used without further checks, according to a group of scientists.

Only about 6% out of about 200,000 polymers would require extensive safety checks under proposals being discussed as part of Europe’s Reach chemicals regulations.

Illinois EPA urges legal action against battery company over Morris fire

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is recommending the state attorney general’s office pursue legal action against Superior Battery, the unlicensed business that was storing as many as 200,000 pounds of lithium batteries that caught fire in Morris on Tuesday, forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

In its recommendation, the Illinois EPA “alleges Superior Battery Inc. has caused, threatened, or allowed the discharging of contaminants to the air and water, and disposed or abandoned waste at an unregulated facility.”

Its referral is called an “enforcement action,” requesting the state move to penalize the company for several alleged violations.

1,000 homes evacuated after pounds of lithium batteries explode in old Illinois paper mill

Read the full story in USA Today.

A raging industrial fire at an old paper mill in Illinois prompted at least 1,000 home evacuations as toxic fumes spewed into the air.  

For the second day, clouds of smoke filled the air in Morris as 180,000 to 200,000 pounds of lithium batteries continued to explode. 

NIH Disaster Research Response program launches new website

Read the full story from Environmental Factor.

For more than 20 years, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has played a lead role in our nation’s health research following oil spills, hurricanes, and other environmental calamities. Now, the institute is providing a new home for the Disaster Research Response (DR2) program and its vast collection of web-based resources needed for scientists to conduct vital and timely public health research in the aftermath of disasters.

More than 500 curated research tools and resources are now organized into an easy-to-use online portal, available on the NIEHS website free of charge.

Clean water for all

Read the full story from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Across the globe, billions of people lack reliable access to clean drinking water. In the United States, cities like Flint, Michigan and Newark, New Jersey made national news headlines for the hazardous levels of toxic lead contamination in their drinking water. This is such a pressing issue that the U.S. Department of Energy lists “water security” as one of its grand challenges. To meet this need, many scientists aim to create cheaper and more efficient water purification technologies.

A porous carbon-based honeycomb structure called graphene oxide (GO) may just be the solution. Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) discovered a way to increase GO’s ability to remove toxic metal ions from water. The study, featured in JACS Au, provides a framework for the design and implementation of GO-based water purification technologies. 

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