Aug 28

Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Semper Fi: Always Faithful – Documenting a Fight for Environmental Justice.

 

NYC writer focusing on women’s issues; co-founder, cultID
Posted: 8/28/11 04:35 PM ET in Huffington Post

“There are over 130 contaminated military sites in the United states. This makes the Department of Defense the nation’s largest polluter.”

These words stand as the most salient message of the documentary Semper Fi: Always Faithful, a film that encompasses the worlds of environmental justice, the military, politics and science.

The protagonist of the narrative is Ret. Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger — a formidable presence. When framed against the backdrop of the United States Capitol, his physical demeanor telegraphs that he is a man to be reckoned with. For Ensminger, the narrative begins with his daughter, Janey, who died at the age of 9 from a rare form of childhood leukemia. Trying to understand the reason behind her illness is the subtext of Ensminger’s quest, as well as the connective tissue for the ensuing narrative about water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Ensminger’s relentless search for truth is driven by the need to get answers not only for himself, but also for the nearly one million people who were unknowingly exposed to toxic chemicals at the base.

The backstory gets set in motion in 1941, when a fuel depot in operation at Camp Lejeune had leaks that were seeping into the ground — 1,500 feet from a drinking water supply well. The estimated start date of the water contamination was 1957, when other improperly disposed of solvents additionally entered the mix. In 1975, Ensminger was living at Camp Lejeune. His wife was pregnant with Janey. In 1983, his daughter received her diagnosis. Ironically, unbeknownst to Ensminger, between 1980-1984, the water was being tested at the base with results consistently finding contaminants and “health concerns.”

In 1985, the Commanding General at Camp Lejeune notified residents to conserve water because of well closures, but neglected to mention that 11 wells were closed due to contamination –referencing only “minute [traces] of several organic chemicals” present in the water. In actuality, the chemical levels were 20 to 280 times the safety standards of today. The last contaminated well was closed in 1987, without notification to any of the residents of Camp Lejeune, either past or present.

It wasn’t until 1997 that Ensminger had a clue about the situation. He heard a report on the local news about a “proposed health study on adults and babies” exposed to carcinogens in the water supply at Camp Lejeune. Then it all started to click.

When Ensminger found out that the Marines were not taking care of their own, he felt totally betrayed. Yet his close to 25 years of military service as a drill sergeant had comprehensively prepared him to become a forceful opponent to the Department of Defense (DOD). He applied the Marine mindset — “Don’t give up ground; No person left behind” — to the task at hand. It gave him the tenacity and grit to take his case all the way to the halls of Congress. The juxtaposition between hardnosed non-com and grieving parent presents Ensminger as a multidimensional anchor for the action around him. The film captures Ensminger’s righteous anger in a sequence when he visits a cemetery near Camp Lejeune, pointing out a series of headstones marking the graves of babies. Later, while detailing the pain his daughter endured from her illness, it comes as no surprise when he states emotionally, “You understand my resolve.”

Ensminger came to realize that he was dealing with a cover-up, and that the government regulations “were a burden that was unwelcome” by the DOD. An interaction between those who have been harmed and Marine Corps representatives is telling. “A very difficult and laborious task” is how the Marines qualify notifying those who have been impacted, adding feebly, “We could try.” One of the key characters fighting cancer, former Marine Denita McCall, is overwhelmed by frustration. She states, “If I die tomorrow, my family gets nothing.”

The movie, which began shooting in mid-2007 and wrapped at the end of 2010, is able to encapsulate Ensminger’s journey through the political maze. He graduates from consistently unreturned phone calls to finding support from Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). Miller has reintroduced the Janey Ensminger Act, which would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health care to veterans and their families who have been impacted from their exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune. Burr has sponsored a bill in the Senate, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2011.

With approximately 1 in 10 Americans living within 10 miles of a contaminated military site, Ensminger comments, “Camp Lejeune is just the tip of the iceberg.” His verbal asides lend color and a down to earth voice amidst the technical jargon of science, military, and law material. A meeting at the National Academy of Sciences to review the classification of the chemical PCE, is an opportunity for Ensminger to weigh in on the testifying suits. “These people come flying in on jets… Why is the benefit of the doubt going to the chemicals?… It’s all about money.”

Semper Fi: Always Faithful had its world premiere at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, and is rolling out in theaters on August 26. At a time when the Environmental Protection Agency is coming under attack for “over-regulation,” the film stands as a testimony to what happens when the public’s health is neither protected nor considered.

I spoke with Rachel Libert (who co-directed the film with Tony Hardmon), to discuss the political ramifications of the documentary, and her commitment to creating films that “raise awareness and effect social change.” Libert characterized the information they encountered as similar to “layers of an onion peeling away.” She never expected to learn how “broken” the public health and environment regulatory systems were. Libert expanded on the enforcement issues the EPA was having with the DOD, clarifying that as a government agency — the DOD has been able to circumvent standards that would be strictly applied to private companies.

As Libert explained it, Ensminger’s search for the truth rippled out into an examination beyond water contamination and illness. It entered the spheres of the clout of special interests and how to determine guidelines on regulating toxic chemicals. She said, “When you make a film like this, it doesn’t just exist in the entertainment world. Our first question was, ‘What can we do?’ Film is a very powerful tool to reach people you wouldn’t normally reach. It has the ability to do that. It’s a pathway to action.”

To that end, the film’s website has a “Take Action” link which encourages the public to write their representatives in support of the pending legislation. Community screenings have been set up across the country, and partnerships have been forged with environmental groups.

For Libert, the fact that the film could push forward an agenda was a “dream” for her as a filmmaker. It also left her with a new sense of optimism. Despite the fact she knew that Ensminger was a man of “relentless determination,” she was cynical about how much he could actually accomplish.

Liebert pointed to the ultimately “hopeful message” — Individuals can make a difference through the power of one.

This article originally appeared on the website cultureID

 

Aug 25

Green Water Is Not Always A Good Thing!

Unchecked pollution chokes Lebanon’s rivers

August 26, 2011 01:44 AM By Niamh Fleming-Farrell

The Daily Star

BEIRUT: “Let me tell you one thing,” Raghida Haddad, the executive editor of Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia, a Lebanese environment and development magazine, says. “There are 12 rivers in Lebanon that go into the sea, and you can call them sewers.

”Poisoned with effluent and often strewn with garbage, Lebanon’s rivers are grotty and unwell. They should be both a source of usable water and recreation, but a report published by the United Nations Development Program and the Environment Ministry in 2010 compiled data showing that rivers, both coastal and inland, contain unacceptable levels of raw sewage. In many, E-coli and coliform are not only above acceptable levels for drinking water, they are also above levels acceptable for bathing water as set by the Environment Ministry.

Blessed among its neighbors in terms of water potential, Lebanon’s contaminated rivers are both a source of sickness and disease and a contributor to the pollution of the country’s coast and marine life.

Haddad points out that the high concentration of heavy metals in river water can accumulate in the human body, affecting the nervous and digestive systems and damaging the heart and kidneys. Meanwhile Mark Saadeh, PhD, a hydrogeology specialist, recites a phrase well known in his profession: “The health of a marine environment is determined by the state of rivers.”

The interconnection of aquifers, rivers, seas and oceans means that pollutants added to any one of these will inevitably affect the others.

Saadeh pulls up a file on his computer and opens a series of images of the Litani river, Lebanon’s longest waterway. The pictures show a bright green, algae-covered channel. “It’s turned into a sewer system,” Saadeh says. “It’s not even moving; it’s stagnant.”

He explains how older people living along the river describe a time when it was clear and fast flowing, and they would happily use it for swimming and as a source of drinking water.

But since Saadeh first studied the waterway as a consultant with the Litani River Authority some five or six years ago, it has looked just as it does in his photographs. “It cannot get any worse than this,” he says.

What has happened can be explained with a short science lesson, which Saadeh provides. The high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus found in fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture and in raw sewage and detergents seep into the country’s rivers and ultimately groundwater sources. Once in the rivers, these nutrients set off the process of eutrophication, whereby their addition induces an excessive growth of algae and plankton, clogging up the waterway, greatly reducing water quality and bringing about the collapse of the river’s natural ecosystem.

The solutions to this problem appear obvious: regulate use of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides and treat wastewater to avoid the seepage of raw sewage into rivers. But, Saadeh says, “precious little” is being done to address river pollution.

“There’s a huge black hole between legislation and execution [in Lebanon],” he says in explanation for the seemingly unregulated use of fertilizers. However, where a significant impact may be made – in the treatment of raw sewage – Lebanon fails on a grand scale. It is the “only country in the Middle East not treating its wastewater, save Yemen, I believe,” Saadeh says.

Haddad is of a similar view. The “authorities are not doing anything,” she says. “There is not one functioning wastewater treatment plant [in Lebanon].” Wastewater treatment plants have been built in the country. As he goes through his photographs, Saadeh points out one located next to the Qaraoun dam on the Litani. “It isn’t functional,” he says.

Former Environment Minister Mohammad Rahal says that many international organizations, the UNDP, USAID and EU among them, have helped Lebanon build works to treat its wastewater, but these WWTPs have not been maintained by the government. He believes there are two possible causes for WWTPs falling into disoperation in Lebanon: perhaps the budget for their maintenance is insufficient or unavailable, or perhaps a lack of coordination between the ministries responsible for them (the Environment Ministry and the Water and Energy Ministry), the Council for Development and Reconstruction and the municipalities leads to confusion over who is tasked with maintaining the plants.

Saadeh adds to this that projects like WWTPs are high-tech and require not only money but also expertise to remain operational.

Haddad does point out though that there are plans to build a number of WWTPs both on the coast and inland. The Energy and Water Ministry although contacted to verify use and construction of WWTPs had not responded at time of print.

The pollution of Lebanon’s rivers also impacts the country’s economy. Beyond the obvious negative repercussions of pollution on tourism, pollution also harms the agricultural and industrial sectors’ potential.

Farmers tap contaminated river water to irrigate their crops, and Rahal says this has resulted in the country’s exported produce being returned.

“The EU sends vegetables back because of pollution,” he says. “We can only sell in Lebanon.”

Meanwhile the decreased water quantity available due to pollution curtails opportunities to establish industry. “Limited water resources make some industries impossible,” Saadeh says. “There’ll be no Levi’s factory in Lebanon.” (Tony Allan, a British geographer, estimates that a pair of jeans takes 11,000 liters of water to produce.)

Saadeh argues that the best thing Lebanon can do to deal with water pollution aside from building wastewater treatment plants is educate its citizens about water conservation.

“Water quantity is inextricably linked to pollution because water efficiency and conservation would lead to reduction in effluent volumes,” he says.

As an initial step, he suggests metering water use and charging people on the basis of the volume used rather than a flat rate for an annual water connection. He also recommends revision of the irrigation systems used in agriculture – the furrow, flood, and sprinkler irrigation systems favored in Lebanon use larger quantities of water and are much less efficient than drip irrigation systems. Finally, he recommends the installation of more discerning household plumbing – toilet flush systems that give the option of both a smaller and a larger flush would be a good starting point, Saadeh says.

But, he concludes, “change is going to require a shock to the system.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 26, 2011, on page 12.

Aug 22

Atlantic Garbage Patch Getting Smaller Or Just Smaller Pieces?

Eating Garbage: Plastic In Ocean Is A Bad Deal – And Meal – For Fish

(SEA) ATLANTIC OCEAN — The garbage patch may not be growing, but the plastic ends up somewhere. Plastic waste is either disintegrating and floating to the ocean floor or eaten by unsuspecting fish. Researchers explain why either scenario is hard to digest. – Global Animal  – August 22, 2011

National Geographic News, Rachel Kaufman

At first, it seemed like good news: Measurements of the “garbage patch” in the Atlantic Ocean showed that the amount of plastic trash there hasn’t increased over the past two decades.

Similar to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the North Atlantic garbage patch is somewhat like a region of plastic soup, although “soup implies you can see the vegetables,” said study leader Kara Lavender Law, an oceanographer at the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Instead, most of the Atlantic trash is in the form of tiny plastic bits—from bags and bottles blown off landfills or tossed into the sea—swirling in a still undefined region of open ocean hundreds of miles off the North American coast.

Law and colleagues recently analyzed data from the Atlantic garbage patch collected over the past 22 years and found that the concentration of stuff in the patch hasn’t grown over time.

But even taking increased recycling rates into account, humans’ plastic use over the past two decades has increased. So where has all the plastic gone?

It’s possible some of the trash is just too small for researchers to catalog, study leader Law said: “Our net only captures pieces larger than [a third of a millimeter] in size, and it’s certain that the plastic breaks down into pieces smaller than that.”

Some of the fragments might have been eaten by sea creatures that mistook the plastic for plankton—tiny, free-floating marine plants and animals. The plastic pieces could also be sinking, weighed down by colonies of marine bacteria.

Another expedition to study the patch earlier this year—led by Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen of theAlgalita Marine Research Foundation—had intended to stop and deploy a sediment sampler to test for plastic that might have sunk to the ocean floor. But that trip was cut short by bad weather, Cummins said.

Atlantic Plastic Patch Full of Mystery

Researchers can’t tell the ages of individual plastic bits, since there are no chemical techniques for dating petroleum-based products, SEA’s Law said. That makes it nearly impossible to tell if the seemingly stable amount of trash is actually due to turnover.

There’s also currently no way to track the origins of the plastic: “We’re not seeing Coke bottles stamped with ‘Made in the U.S.A.,’” Law said. A computer model of ocean circulation suggests the fastest route to the patch begins at the U.S. East Coast.

Meanwhile, even though the SEA expedition traveled a thousand miles (1,609 kilometers) east of Bermuda, “we still can’t find the eastern edge” of the patch, Law said.

The Algalita mission traveled much farther east, all the way to the Azores islands off Portugal (map), the foundation’s Eriksen said, and “we had plastics in our samples from Bermuda to the Azores.”

Overall, the results tell “a depressing story, to be honest,” SEA’s Law added. “You’re like, Great, [the patch] is not increasing! But I’m sure it is.”

Aug 22

Make Back-To-School A “Green” Event

Photograph courtesy of tncountryfan/Flickr, Creative Commons license

Photograph courtesy of tncountryfan/Flickr, Creative Commons license

What motivates people to save energy? This year, the Great Energy Challenge launched a project, the 360º Energy Diet, designed in part to tackle this very question. (Another round of the diet begins this fall.) For some people who joined, it was the idea of living a simpler, less wasteful lifestyle. Others liked the idea of losing weight, whether it was literally shedding pounds by switching to less energy-intensive eating habits, or lightening their monthly bills by saving on electricity and other expenses.

survey released earlier this year by the consulting firms Deloitte and the Harrison Group confirms that financial incentives can motivate changes in energy use. Sixty-eight percent of respondents agreed with the statement “I/Our family took several extra steps to reduce our electric bill as a result of the recession.” Even more striking, 95 percent of those consumers have no plans to go back to their pre-recession spending habits, even if the economy improves.

Operating on this same “green” (i.e. monetary) concept, the company Recyclebank offers consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom discounts and deals in exchange for everyday planet-friendly actions such as recycling electronics or cutting energy use at home. Looking ahead to the school year, when many families are making lots of new purchases and preparing students to participate in many new activities, Recyclebank offers these tips for a less resource-intensive back-to-school season:

Pack waste-free lunches: It’s estimated that Americans go through 100 billion plastic bags a year- this averages to 360 bags per person. Purchase a reusable lunch bag or box for your child, and fill reusable bottles with water or juice. If you do use plastic bags, reuse and recycle them. Clean and dry Ziploc® bags can be recycled at most grocery stores where you drop off plastic shopping bags.

Encourage school cafeterias to buy local:
 At the next PTA meeting, discuss the topic with other parents and consider connecting with school administrators about bringing local food to the cafeteria for sustainable and healthy lunches. Contact the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service for resources and information on farm-to-school programs.

Conserve paper:
 Remind your family to only print when truly necessary. If you must print, do it on 100-percent recycled paper, which is often cheaper than paper made from trees. Consider investing in eReaders and tablet computers; your children can use them for school assignments and you forgo buying paper books, newspapers and magazines.

Choose sustainable school supplies:
 In the United States alone, approximately 11,600 incense-cedar trees are cut down to create the 2 billion pencils made each year. To minimize your environmental footprint, opt for school supplies wrapped in limited packaging and recycle what you can. Seek out greener supplies like recycled or mechanical pencils, refillable pens and paper clips made from recycled steel.

“Upcycle” last year’s supplies: Three-ring binders that are still in great working order can be refurbished at home. Cover the entire exterior of the binder with a sheet of cork contact paper, then trim to size for a clean, modern looking folder.

Recycle old electronics: If you’re upgrading your family’s electronics this year, be mindful of recycling old models (Recyclebank offers rewards for this). Don’t forget to recycle the batteries too.

Green your wardrobe: Shop in vintage or thrift stores to suspend the life of clothing, or even arrange a clothing swap with friends or relatives. When buying new clothes, look for those made with sustainable fabrics like organic cotton and bamboo.

Streamline transportation:
 Use school or public buses when at all possible to reduce emissions. If you must drive, arrange a carpool. Getting bikes (and helmets) for the whole family is the most efficient way to go – and fun and healthy too.

In order to up the ante on many of these actions, Recyclebank is holding a Green Your School Year Challenge that begins Wednesday and goes through Sept. 30. The highest scorers can win prizes including $2,500 gift cards to Macy’s, electric bicycles and e-readers. No matter what your motivation, the fall season offers a good opportunity to reevaluate some of the choices we make every year, and possibly get some “green” in the process.

Aug 20

Coal Mining Polluting Kentucky’s Water

Flaming drinking-water well in Kentucky illuminates
Big Coal’s abuses

calvin_howard_burning_well.pngThe flaming drinking water well at a home in eastern Kentucky’s Pike County first came to public attention back in May, thanks to a report by a local TV station.

WKYT visited the home of Calvin and Denise Howard on Big Branch Road, where the Howards reported that the water, which runs orange and black, burned their skin when they bathed. They also said that Excel Mining, the operator of a nearby coal mine, had offered to install a water filtration system — but only if the residents signed a liability waiver.

The Howards refused the company’s offer — and when WKYT checked back in July, the flames that had been just about to the top of the well were shooting out at least a foot and a half.

Since then, the Howards have filed a lawsuit [pdf] over the contamination. In addition, environmental advocates have gotten involved, arranging for the delivery this week of clean water to 13 area families amid inaction by the company and state environmental regulators.

“In all my 20 years of working on water quality problems, I have never seen a drinking water well catch on fire and burn continuously for days on end,” says Donna Lisenby of Appalachian Voices, who with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth has arranged for the delivery of bottled water from Nestle and Keeper Springs Natural Spring Water, a company founded by environmental advocate Bobby Kennedy Jr. that gives 100 percent of its profits to clean-water causes.

According to the lawsuit, the trouble for the Howards began back in late January when they started hearing explosions beneath their home. About the same time, their well water turned gray and took on an offensive odor. Around May 1, the well exploded into flames, destroying the well house. It’s burned continuously ever since.

Earlier this month, Ted Withrow, a former regulator with the Kentucky Division of Water who now works with the grassroots citizens group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and KFTC activist Sue Tallichet visited the community, where residents confirmed the water contamination. Residents also reported mysterious health problems they feared could be connected to the poisoned water, including a teenage girl’s hair falling out and a boy vomiting blood.

The Kentucky Department of Mining Reclamation has investigated the burning well and confirmed that it “is creating an environmental and public safety hazard.” At that point, the company began providing bottled water to the Howards, but other impacted families did not get any assistance. The Howards have been advised to evacuate their trailer home but can’t afford to do so. The lawsuit seeks compensation for their replacement housing and their water.

“Based on my direct, firsthand experience with contamination of water by coal operations, I am deeply worried about the safety of the drinking water of these families,” says KFTC’s Withrow.

An ‘ineffective, choregraphed sham’

The water contamination along Big Branch Road illustrates a larger problem facing Kentucky: the coal mining industry’s abuse of communities and regulators’ failure to protect them from harm.

The Pike County situation is unfolding against a backdrop of coal company lawlessness and regulatory inaction in Kentucky. Back in June, an alliance of environmental groups including Appalachian Voices and KFTC sent notice-to-sue letters to two mining companies after discovering they had exceeded their pollution permit limits more than 4,000 times in the first quarter of this year alone.

The companies targeted by that action are International Coal Group, which is owned by Arch Coal of St. Louis, one of the world’s largest coal companies, and Frasure Creek Mining, a subsidiary of West Virginia’s Trinity Coal, which is owned by India’s Essar Group. They are the largest producers of mountaintop-removal-mined coal in Kentucky.

The watchdogs notified the same companies last October of their intent to sue over more than 20,000 violations of the Clean Water Act, including falsification of pollution monitoring reports. But Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet stepped in at the last minute and fined the companies a total of just $660,000 — less than 1 percent of the maximum fine that could be imposed under the law. Environmental advocates denounced the state’s action as an “ineffective, choreographed sham.”

Excel Mining, the mine operator implicated in the burning-well situation, is owned by Oklahoma-based Alliance Resource Partners, among the largest coal producers in the eastern United States. Alliance reported record profits in 2010, with a 67.1 percent jump in net income over the previous year to $321 million.

The company landed in the spotlight last year when a roof collapsed at its Dotiki Mine in Hopkins County, Ky., killing two miners. News reports after the incident revealed that inspectors from the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing issued 31 orders to close sections of the mine or shut down equipment because of safety violations between January 2009 and the time of the collapse, according to Sourcewatch. Reporters found that the company received a total of 649 citations in 2009 alone.

In addition, Alliance was involved in a 2009 controversy over the firing of the director of Kentucky’s Division of Mine Permits. Ron Mills’ termination came after he refused to issue about a half-dozen mine permits — most requested by Alliance — because they failed to comply with federal and state laws. Mills’ denials were ultimately overruled by higher state officials.

Joe Craft, the president of Alliance Resource Partners, is a major political powerhouse. He has contributed over $150,000 at the federal level over the past decade, including $10,000 to the Republican Party of Kentucky; $17,500 to the Kentucky State Democratic Central Committee; $4,600 to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R); and $2,300 each to Barack Obama (D) and Mitt Romney (R), according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org database. The company’s political action committee has also invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in politicians’ campaigns — $193,665 in the 2010 election cycle alone.

Craft and others affiliated with the company as well as Alliance’s PAC are also major donors at the state level, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics’ FollowtheMoney.org database. Alliance Coal employees were among the biggest campaign donors in Kentucky’s primary election this year, together with their spouses contributing a total of $60,000 to three candidates, WBKO reported last month.

And in 2009, Craft organized a group of donors to pay for a new $7 million “Wildcat Coal Lodge” to house the University of Kentucky’s basketball players on campus — a move that sparked considerable controversy and led noted writer and environmental activist Wendell Berry to pull his personal papers from the school’s archive. While the university’s sports teams are known as the Wildcats, “wildcat coal” also refers to coal that’s mined illegally.

Meanwhile, residents along Big Branch Road are hoping to connect to a clean municipal water source — but price is a concern. Pike County officials have said it could cost as much as $150,000 to connect them to their existing water lines. The families have said they would pay to connect to closer lines in nearby Martin County, but that could take at least three months.

(Photo of Calvin Howard standing next to his burning well and destroyed wellhouse by Appalachian Voices.)

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By Sue Sturgis on August 19, 2011 10:26 AM 

Aug 06

Taking Out The Trash

 A recent report by Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund in California
spotlights the litter from disposable plastics and other single-use containers, napkins and fast-food packaging. These are the culprits in the flood of trash making its way from city streets and neighborhoods into area waterways and then the ocean. Volunteer “trash patrols” surveyed San Francisco area neighborhoods for the report, which has received national news attention. The report identifies specific companies behind much of the trash and strengthens the case for legislation already pending to ban disposable “Styrofoam” packaging at fast-food and convenience stores in the state.

trash.JPG

 

Publication Date: 
07/14/2011
Aug 04

Dangers Of Fluoride In Drinking Water

 

Public Health Safety of Fluoride in Drinking Water

Posted on  by 

 

Article by Dr. Deryck D. Pattron, Ph.D

Summary:

Fluoride is common household name. It is found in drinking water, toothpaste, mouth washes, household chemicals and cosmetics to name a few. Recent research has shown that fluoride may actually be dangerous to human health and well being. Some researchers have reported no significant difference between the use of fluoridated and non-fluoridated water with regards to reduction in tooth decay. In addition, fluoride is associated with cancer, tumor formation, skeletal fluorosis, accelerated aging and a whole range of medical conditions. It is highly questionable and of great public health concern whether the minuscule health benefits if any derived from the use of fluoride in drinking water and in other products out weights the much larger negative health effects.

Introduction:

The Problem:Fluoride has been used as an important tooth-decay fighting chemical found in water, mouth washes and toothpaste. Recently, the FDA has approved the claim on bottled water containing fluoride at a concentration of 0.6 mg to 1.0 mg per liter to include the statement that “drinking fluoridated water may reduce the risk of tooth decay”. But how safe is fluoride in drinking water? What is the possible health risks associated with the use of fluoride? And how effective is fluoride in preventing tooth decay? These unanswered questions further highlight the need for scientifically sound information on the possible relationship between fluoride and potential health risks.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) policy on fluoridated tap water supports the view that widespread use of fluoride has been a major factor in the decline in the prevalence and severity of tooth decay. This policy is in accordance with the UK Food Standards Agency and the FDA findings that fluoridated water may reduce tooth decay. But, these findings have been questioned recently and there now exist a growing body of information/evidence that suggest that fluoride use may in fact be dangerous to human health and does not significantly reduce tooth decay in controlled studies.

The purpose of the present study is to educate and to inform the public and consumers about the health significance with particular reference to health risks associated with the use of fluoride in drinking water and other fluoride containing products.

Agencies/bodies that provided evidence against fluoride use are:

 The National Institute of Environmental and Health in 1990 found that fluoride causes cancer.

 US Environmental Protection Agency during 1989-1993 found that fluoride does not reduce tooth decay and may cause cancer.

 The American Chemical Society in 1988 questioned the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation.

 The New England Journal of Medicine in 1990 reported the fluoride treatment of osteoporosis patients resulted in higher hip facture rates.

 Clinical Toxicology in 1984 list fluoride as being more poisonous than lead, but slightly less than arsenic.

 US CDC and The Safe Water Foundation estimated 30,000 to 50,000 deaths per year for people who consume at least 1 p.p.m. of fluoride in drinking water.

The use of fluoride has been associated with the following health conditions:

 A greater incidence of hip fracture.
 Cancer.
 Browning of teeth.
 Joint and hip pain.
 Premature hardening of arteries.
 Loss of appetite.
 Loss of sex drive.
 Increased rate of stillbirth.
 Accelerated aging.
 Immune suppression.
 Poor rate of healing and/or repair.

Symptoms of fluoride intoxication according to the United States Pharmacopoeia:

 Nausea.
 Bloody vomit.
 Faintness.
 Stomach cramps.
 Tremors.
 Constipation.
 Aching bones.
 Stiffness in joints.
 Skin rashes.
 Weight loss.
 Brown/black discoloration of teeth.

Pathophysiology of fluoride:

Fluoride is a toxin and its mode of action occurs at the both cellular and molecular level causing significant enzyme inhibition involved in biochemical, cellular and molecular processes. This serves to initiate collagen breakdown, causing immense genetic damage, and disruption of the immune system.

Fluoride at a concentration of 1 p.p.m in drinking water can lead to the generation of highly destructive free radicals such as superoxide radicals that can damage cell membranes and lead to oxidative stress resulting in a cascade of events that may prevent the migration of white blood cells into infected areas, thus interfering with phagocytosis and compromising cellular defense mechanisms. These changes lead to increased susceptibility to infections and other abnormal changes in the body. Damage to collagen, one of the body’s main structural proteins can form altered proteinaceous structures that can attract the body’s own white blood cells thus causing an autoimmune response. This process uses up the immune resources of the body and further adds to stress causing accelerated premature aging and death.

Fluoride attacks DNA or DNA repair enzymes thus reducing the rate of repair and increases the likelihood of mutations in cells, appearance of cancer, tumors, and birth defects and may even shorten life expectancy.

Conclusion:

Fluoride is a toxic chemical that has been used in many health care products. But, what is the health risk associated with the use of such products? Research has shown that chronic use of fluoride may cause demineralization of bone, browning of teeth, tumors, cancers and death. The use of fluoride in drinking water or bottled water should be re-considered in light of existing evidence. Fluoride is toxic and can significantly affect health and well being in susceptible individuals. Consumers and the general public should always adopt the precautionary principle that states that if there is likelihood that something can be dangerous to health, then it should be avoided at all cost, until proven otherwise.

References:

 A.K. Susheela and Mohan Jha, “Effects of Fluoride on Cortical and Cancellous Bone Composition,” IRCS Medical Sciences: Library Compendium, Vol. 9, No.11, pp. 1021-1022 (1981). A. K. Susheela and D. Mukerjee, ” Fluoride poisoning and the Effect of Collagen Biosynthesis of Osseous and Nonosseous Tissue,” Toxicological European Research, Vol.3, No.2, pp. 99-104 (1981). A. S. Kozlyuk, et al., “Immune Status of Children in Chemically Contaminated Environments,” Zdravookhranenie, Issue 3, pp. 6-9 (1987). Alfred Taylor and Nell C. Taylor, “Effect of Sodium Fluoride on Tumor Growth,” Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Vol. 119, p. 252 (1965). Charles Wax, ” Field Investigation Report,” State of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, March 19, 1980, 67 pages; George Waldbott, ” Mass Intoxication from Over-Fluoridation in Drinking Water,” Clinical Toxicology, Vol. 18, No.5, pp. 531-541 (1981). D. J. Newell, ” Fluoridation of Water Supplies and Cancer – An Association?,” Applied Statistics, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 125-135 (1977). D. W. Allman and M. Benac, “Effect of Inorganic Fluoride Salts on Urine and Cyclic AMP Concentration in Vivo,” Journal of Dental Research, Vol. 55 (Supplement B), p. 523 (1976). Donald Hillman, et al., “Hypothyroidism and Anemia Related to Fluoride in Dairy Cattle,” Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 62, No.3, pp. 416-423 (1979); V. Stole and J. Podoba, “Effect of Fluoride on the Biogenesis of Thyroid Hormones,” Nature, Vol. 188, No. 4753, pp. 855-856 (1960). Irwin Herskowitz and Isabel Norton, “Increased Incidence of Melanotic Tumors Following Treatment with Sodium Fluoride,” Genetics Vol. 48, pp. 307-310 (1963). J. Yiamouyiannis, Fluoride, The Aging Factor. Health Action Press, (1993). John Curnette, et al, “Fluoride-mediated Activation of the Respiratory Burst in Human Neutrophils,” Journal of Clinical Investigation, Vol. 63, pp. 637-647 (1979). Y. D. Sharma, “Effect of Sodium Fluoride on Collagen Cross-Link Precursors,” Toxicological Letters, Vol. 10, pp. 97-100 (1982). Y.D. Sharma, “Variations in the Metabolism and Maturation of Collagen after Fluoride Ingestion,” Biochemica et Biophysica Acta, Vol. 715, pp. 137-141 (1982). Y. Yoshisa, “Experimental Studies on Chronic Fluorine Poisoning,” Japanese Journal of Industrial Health, Vol. 1, pp. 683-690 (1959). J.K. Mauer, et al., “Two-Year Cacinogenicity Study Of Sodium Fluoride In Rats,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 82, pp. 1118-1126 (1990). J. David Erikson, “Mortality of Selected Cities with Fluoridated and Non-Fluoridated Water Supplies,” New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 298, pp. 1112-1116 (1978); ” The Village Where People Are Old Before Their Time,” Stern Magazine, Vol. 30, pp. 107-108, 111-112 (1978). J. A. Disney, et al., ” A Case Study in Testing the Conventional Wisdom: School Based Fluoride Mouth Rinse Programs in the USA,” Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, Vol. 18, pp. 46-56 (1990). Marian Drozdz et al., ” Studies on the Influence of Fluoride Compounds upon Connective Tissue Metabolism in Growing Rats” and “Effect of Sodium Fluoride With and Without Simultaneous Exposure to Hydrogen Fluoride on Collagen Metabolism,” Journal of Toxicological Medicine, Vol. 4, pp. 151-157 (1984). Nicholas Leone, et al., “Medical Aspects of Excessive Fluoride in a Water Supply,” Public Health Reports, Vol. 69, pp. 925-936 (1954). Proctor and Gamble “Carcinogenicity Studies with Sodium Fluoride in Rats” National Institute of Environmenrtal Health Sciences Presentation, July 27, 1985; S. E. Hrudley et al.,” Drinking Water Fluoridation and Osteosarcoma,” Canadian Journal of Public Health, Vol. 81, pp. 415-416 (1990). P. D. Cohn, ” A Brief Report on the Association of Drinking Water Fluoridation and Incidence of Osteosarcoma in Young Males,” New Jersey Department of Health, Trenton, New Jersey, Nov. 1992; M. C. Mahoney et al., ” Bone Cancer Incidence Rates in New York,” American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 81, pp. 81, 475 (1991). Peter Wilkinson, ” Inhibition of the Immune System With Low Levels of Fluorides,” Testimony before the Scottish High Court in Edinburgh in the Case of McColl vs. Strathclyde Regional Council, pp. 17723-18150, 19328-19492, and Exhibit 636, (1982). Pierre Galleti and Gustave Joyet, “Effect of Fluorine on Thyroid Iodine Metabolism and Hyperthyroidism,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Vol. 18, pp. 1102-1110 (1958). Robert A. Clark, ” Neutrophil Iodintion Reaction Induced by Fluoride: Implications for Degranulation and Metabolic Activation,” Blood, Vol. 57, pp. 913-921 (1981).  Shiela Gibson, “Effects of Fluoride on Immune System Function,” Complementary Medical Research, Vol. 6, pp. 111-113 (1992). S. Jaouni and D. W. Allman, “Effect of Sodium Fluoride and Aluminum on Adenylate Cyclase and Phosphodiesterase Activity,” Journal of Dental Research, Vol. 64, p. 201 (1985). S. K. Jain and A. K. Susheela, “Effect of Sodium Fluoride on Antibody Formation in Rabbits,” Environmental Research, Vol. 44, pp. 117-125 (1987). T. Takamorim “The Heart Changes in Growing Albino Rats Fed on Varied Contents of Fluorine,” The Toxicology of Fluorine Symposium, Bern, Switzerland, Oct 1962, pp. 125-129. Viktor Gorlitzer Von Mundy, “Influence of Fluorine and Iodine on the Metabolism, Particularly on the Thyroid Gland,” Muenchener Medicische Wochenschrift, Vol. 105, pp. 182-186 (1963); A. Benagiano, “The Effect of Sodium Fluoride on Thyroid Enzymes and Basal Metabolism in the Rat,” Annali Di Stomatologia, Vol. 14, pp. 601-619 (1965). Vilber A. O. Bello and Hillel J. Gitelman, “High Fluoride Exposure in Hemodialysis Patients,” American Journal of Kidney Diseases, Vol. 15, pp. 320-324 (1990). W. L. Gabler and P. A. Leong,., ” Fluoride Inhibition of Polymorphonumclear Leukocytes,” Journal of Dental Research, Vol. 48, No. 9, pp. 1933-1939 (1979). W. L. Gabler, et al., “Effect of Fluoride on the Kinetics of Superoxide Generation by Fluoride,” Journal of Dental Research, Vol. 64, p. 281 (1985). W. L. Augenstein, et al., ” Fluoride Ingestion In Children: A Review Of 87 Cases,” Pediatrics, Vol. 88, pp. 907-912, (1991). http://www.all-natural.com http://www.wholywater.com Yngve Ericsson and Britta Forsman, “Fluoride Retained From Mouth Rinses and Dentifrices in Preschool Children,” Caries Research, Vol. 3, pp. 290-299 (1969).

 

About the Author

Dr. Pattron is a Public Health Scientist and Scholar.

Aug 03

SoLa Louisiana Water Story

From: http://www.solathefilm.com

Everywhere you look in Southern Louisiana (SoLa) there’s water – bayous, swamps, the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico. And everyone in Cajun Country has a water story, or two or three. SoLa’s waterways are also home to the biggest economies in Louisiana – a $70 billion a year oil and gas industry and a $2.4 billion a year fishing business. Both are in the midst of sizable change.

Southern Louisiana has historically had a legion of insidious polluters. At the same time, SoLa has one of America’s most vital and unique cultures; if everyone who lives there has a water story they can also most likely play the accordion, dance, cook an etouffe and hunt and fish. Louisiana has long been known as both one of our most original and simultane- ously most politically corrupt states. One legacy of that corruption is a handful of environmental problems that has turned Louisiana into America’s toilet bowl:

  • A DEAD ZONE – the size of New Jersey – that grows each year in the Gulf of Mexico thanks to farming fertilizers sent down from 31 states to the north.
  • SMALL FISHERMEN squeezed out of business by a variety of pollutions, high fuel prices and international competition.
  • CYPRESS FORESTS that once stood as a barrier between hurricanes and humans have been clear-cut for garden mulch and profit.
  • COASTAL EROSION Thanks to man’s failed attempt to reign the Mississippi River, the state loses 25 square miles of coastline each year.
  • CANCER ALLEY An 85-mile stretch of the Mississippi River has been turned over to the petrochemical industry. The risks are great.
  • TOXIC WASTE Decades of exploration for oil and natural gas has cut 10,000 miles of channels through the wetlands and left a wake of toxic waste in Louisiana’s waters.
  • OIL SPILLS have long been business as usual in Louisiana, crowned by the ongoing BP nightmare which has focused attention on the region as our worst ecologic disaster escalates.

In SoLa, Louisiana Water Stories, we meet some of the most unique individuals working on each of the issues, giving voice and humanity to these man-made messes. The one-hour documentary cap- tures what is most at risk environmental- ly as we continue to take the Gulf coast state for granted, while simultaneously reminding us of the culture that binds the region. If these voices are not heard, too soon what remains will all disappear, drowned by pollution, erosion, storms and man’s neglect.

FROM 1932-2000, Louisiana lost nearly 2,000 square miles of wetlands, the equivalent to the state of Delaware.

FIFTY YEARS AGO, Southern Louisiana’s Gulf coast was fifty miles wide; today it’s barely twenty. By 2050, expectations are that another 700 square miles of coastal land will disappear.

HALF OF LOUISIANA’S 4.5 million residents live in the coastal zone, where the issue of wetland loss is literally in everyone’s backyard.

THE $70 BILLION a year oil and gas industry in Louisiana accounts for twenty percent of the state’s gross economic product; eighty percent of all offshore oil platforms in the United States sit off Southern Louisiana’s shores.

THOUSANDS OF MILES OF CANALS have been dug through SoLa’s coastal marshes to aid in the construction and transportation of natural gas and oil. Combined with the century-old levee system that wrongly attempted to rein in the Mississippi River, canals contribute to the state’s erosion problems.

THE DEAD ZONE is created each year by an estimated 83,000 tons of phosphorous and 817,000 tons of nitrogen that wash into the Mississippi from farm fields and river networks of 31 northern states. It all ends up at the mouth of the river in the Gulf of Mexico, creating the world’s first and largest dead zone, currently 8,000 square miles, the size of New Jersey. In the Dead Zone, nothing lives.

GULF OF MEXICO FISHERIES supply more than thirty percent of America’s seafood, including seventy two percent of our shrimp, sixty six percent of our oysters and sixteen percent of commercial fish. As the Dead Zone and oil spill grows, the fishery gets smaller.

TWO HUNDRED PLANTS along the 85-mile industrial corridor along the Mississippi River, linking Baton Rouge and New Orleans, produce twenty five percent of America’s petrochemicals. The stretch is known as Cancer Alley.

THE PETROCHEMICAL INDUSTRY, at its peak, accounted for one out of every three tax dollars collected by the state and more than 165,000 jobs. The industry also discharged 150,000 tons of pollutants into the air in the form of sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides and hydrocarbons.

LOUISIANA’S WATERWAYS are at risk due to illegal logging, soil erosion, natural gas and oil development, abandoned infrastructure and pollution from chemical plants.

THE ATCHAFALAYA SWAMP is the largest contiguous hardwood forest in North America at 1.4 million acres. It supports more than half of America’s migratory waterfowl, more than 300 species of birds and 100 species of fish.

OUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE is dependant on Louisana’s marshes, serving as nurseries for millions of birds, including wintering grounds for seventy percent of the nation’s migratory waterfowl.

THE BP DISASTER has become arguably he nation’s worst environmental mess to-date, sending millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. As our two-year-in-the-making film concludes, the leak keeps on gushing.

 

Be Sure To Visit: http://www.solathefilm.com

And Watch The Video!

Jul 25

The Next Generation Of Turbines Go Underwater

The Next Generation Of Turbines Go Underwater, And They’re Coming Soon

BY MICHAEL J. CORENWed Jul 20, 2011

As the U.S. slowly abandons its dams, more and more pilot programs pop up for deriving power from tides and river currents. Welcome to a new age of water power.

Every day, enough water flows down America’s rivers and streams to power tens of millions of homes. With the era of big dams effectively over in the U.S., halted by the lack of suitable sites as much as environmental concerns, the time for hydrokinetic energy may just be dawning.

The ideas of using turbines, or other mechanical devices, to capture the energy of moving water is not a new one. Yet the technology for such hydrokinetic energy has met serious resistance from conditions below the surface. As water is 832 times denser than air, it poses tough engineering challenges for power generators who must contend with corrosion, stray electromagnetic fields, and rules to safeguard sealife.

“There’s a lot of electricity to be had from these device and probably fewer environmental impacts, says Glenn Cada, senior researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in the Department of Energy’s program to improve hydrokenetic technology and minimize the environmental impacts. “It’s not as easy as taking a taking a wind turbine and putting it under water. The forces are much greater. We are trying to understand how to make them sturdy enough to generate electricity from river currents.”

Demonstration projects in the Mississippi and New York’s East Rivers have been steadily perfecting the technology needed to capture this energy for almost a decade. Verdant Power’s Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project in New York’s East River (soon to be expanded) has successfully operated six underwater turbines between 2006-2008, and delivering 70 megawatt hours to a nearby supermarket and parking garage in what the company called the “world’s first grid-connected array of tidal turbines.” Free Flow Power Power has installed its own turbines, resembling jet engines, in the Mississippi and is eying more than 50 expansion sites.

Now, everyone from state agencies to universities are racing to get into the game. Applications to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for new hydrokinetic sites have soared in the last three years: 79   have been approved since 2009 (almost double those as of 2008), and 145 more are awaiting final approval in  Missouri, Maine, Louisiana, New Jersey and other states.

Eventually, based on the ambitions of several energy developers, underwater fields of hundreds of turbines could generating enough megawatts to power cities around the country.

“We’re trying to prove these things right now,” says Cada.

[Image: Atlantis Resources Corporation]

Reach Michael J. Coren via Twitter or email.

Read More: World’s First Floating Wind Turbine Installed, Ready for Testing

Jul 10

Why do I need a water filter?

Never before has the need been greater for quality home water purification.

America’s tap water is contaminated with toxic heavy metals, synthetic organic chemicals, chlorination by-products, biological parasites and virtually thousands of harmful contaminants.

“E.P.A. reports show that U.S. water supplies contain over 2300 cancer causing chemicals…” — Ralph Nader Research Group

Studies also show that bottled water isn’t any purer than tap water, it simply costs more. Most quality home water purification products can provide water far superior to bottled water, at a fraction of the cost and in the convenience of your own home. The intention of this site is to promote the use of home water filtration, show what products are available and how to determine which ones are the best. Our goal is to also increase basic awareness of this critically important subject.

In America’s highly industrialized society we use over 80,000 toxic chemicals every day, and over 1000 new ones are being developed every year. We are learning the hard way that all of the chemicals we use, will ultimately show up in the water we drink. There is no “new water”, this planet keeps recycling the same water over and over. As we use more synthetic chemicals, the levels in our water supplies increases proportionately.

In contrast to popular belief, our water treatment facilities were not designed to take out synthetic organic chemicals and toxic heavy metals like lead. Municipal water treatment today is essentially the same as it was over 100 years ago, the water is flown through sand beds to remove visible particles and then bleach (chlorine) is added to kill most of the bacteria! We do not filter out the synthetic chemicals!

75 years ago, before all of these chemicals were present in our environment, 1 out of 50 Americans would get cancer in their lives… now, 1 in 3 Americans… 1 in 2 males, will become cancer victims! 1 in 8 women get breast cancer, childhood cancers have increased 300% in just the last 20 years… and much of this can be linked to the accumulation of man made chemicals in our body.

Cancer is not natural, it’s a man made disease, and for the most part… completely preventable. The purity of our water is one of the most critical factors in the prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases. Water is our body’s only means of purifying its self. If our water already contains chemical contaminants, our body is not able to use it to its full benefit. When the risk is so great and the solution is so simple… why chance it?

In-home water purification is the most effective, by far the most convenient and most economical means of providing clean, healthy water for you and your family.

“Healthy water” is the best health insurance we can get… and home water purification is the best way to get it… possibly the only way.

Click here to see which water filter reduces more contaminants than any other water filter on the market.