Category: Environmental health

Air pollution from farms leads to 17,900 U.S. deaths per year, study finds

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

The smell of hog feces was overwhelming, Elsie Herring said. The breezes that wafted from the hog farm next to her mother’s Duplin County, N.C., home carried hazardous gases: methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide.

“The odor is so offensive that we start gagging, we start coughing,” she told a congressional committee in November 2019. Herring said she and other residents developed headaches, breathing problems and heart conditions from the fumes.

Now, a first-of-its-kind study shows that air pollution from Duplin County farms is linked to roughly 98 premature deaths per year, 89 of which are linked to emissions directly caused by hogs. Those losses are among more than 17,000 annual deaths attributable to pollution from farms across the U.S., according to research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Thousands of tons of microplastics are swirling around in the atmosphere, study finds

Read the full story at Live Science.

Millions of tiny pieces of plastic are swirling around in Earth’s atmosphere and traveling across entire continents, according to a new study. This environmental problem is likely to get much worse and could have serious effects on human health, experts say.

Microplastics measure less than 0.2 inches (5 millimeters) long, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And previous studies had shown that these microscopic particles can be found in the ocean, bottled water and even our poop, but until now, the atmospheric section of this “plastic cycle” had been poorly understood.

The new study revealed thousands of tons of microplastics already in the atmosphere, with roads as the biggest contributor. Computer modeling also revealed how particles get transported vast distances across the globe and showed that nowhere is safe from the pollution.

UMass Amherst Political Economy Research Institute launches new tool to track air pollution at every U.S. school

Read the full story from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) today unveiled a new interactive, web-based tool for tracking industrial toxic air pollution at every school in the United States. The tool, Air Toxics at School, reports toxicity-weighted concentrations of pollutants to show individual chronic human health risk from industrial toxic air pollutants at the schools’ locations.

Wastewater is the infrastructure crisis ‘people don’t want to talk about’

Read the full story from PBS NewsHour.

Some infrastructure concerns go far less discussed than others including, notably, the issue of wastewater and sanitation. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the country’s wastewater treatment plants are functioning at an average of “81 percent of their design capacities,” and 15 percent have “reached or exceeded” that capacity. Drinking water service disruptions and flooding from sewer backups and other infrastructure failures cost U.S. households $2 billion in 2019. The ASCE predicts that figure will balloon to $14 billion in the next two decades.

But a significant percentage of American households — about 20 percent — are not connected to public plants, and instead use septic tanks or other wastewater systems that are directly connected to their homes. For communities in which any of those systems fail, the public health and socioeconomic consequences of uncontrolled sewage can be devastating.

Concern arises over increased use of antimicrobials in building materials

Read the full story at Inhabitat.

A joint statement released by leading green construction organizations has raised concerns about the increasing demand and use of antimicrobial chemicals in building materials. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in antimicrobial construction products, such as countertops and doorknobs. But experts warn these products could actually do more harm than good.

Louisville’s Super-Polluting Chemical Plant Emits Not One, But Two Potent Greenhouse Gases

Read the full story at Inside Climate News.

The EPA’s uncoordinated greenhouse gas disclosures make it hard to determine the plant’s carbon footprint, and even confused the city’s technical consultants.

Clearya

Clearya is a free Chrome Extension and Mobile App that notifies you when there are unsafe ingredients in your makeup, personal care, baby care and cleaning products, while shopping online as usual.

Videos on the Six Classes Approach

Watch this series of short videos to learn about “Six Classes” of chemicals that are known to harm human health and the environment. Each video summarizes where one of these classes of chemicals is used, associated health problems, and how to reduce exposure. This knowledge will better equip large purchasers, manufacturers, retailers, designers, and consumers to take the steps needed to limit the use of these problematic chemicals.

Views of health professionals on climate change and health: a multinational survey study

Kotcher, John et al. (2021). “Views of health professionals on climate change and health: a multinational survey study.” The Lancet Planetary Health online ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00053-X (open access)

Abstract: Climate change arguably represents one of the greatest global health threats of our time. Health professionals can advocate for global efforts to reduce emissions and protect people from climate change; however, evidence of their willingness to do so remains scarce. In this Viewpoint, we report findings from a large, multinational survey of health professionals (n=4654) that examined their views of climate change as a human health issue. Consistent with previous research, participants in this survey largely understood that climate change is happening and is caused by humans, viewed climate change as an important and growing cause of health harm in their country, and felt a responsibility to educate the public and policymakers about the problem. Despite their high levels of commitment to engaging in education and advocacy on the issue, many survey participants indicated that a range of personal, professional, and societal barriers impede them from doing so, with time constraints being the most widely reported barrier. However, participants say various resources—continuing professional education, communication training, patient education materials, policy statements, action alerts, and guidance on how to make health-care workplaces sustainable—can help to address those barriers. We offer recommendations on how to strengthen and support health professional education and advocacy activities to address the human health challenges of climate change.

EPA Delayed Risk Communication and Issued Instructions Hindering Region 5’s Ability to Address Ethylene Oxide Emissions

Download the document and read the Chicago Tribune story.

Industry-connected political appointees in the Trump administration blocked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from investigating ethylene oxide polluters and prevented career staff from warning thousands of Americans who live near sources of the cancer-causing gas, according to a scathing new report from the agency’s inspector general.

Chicago Tribune, Apr 16, 2021

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