Our world is becoming more and more plastic each year. From toys to packaging to gadgets and bags, it’s not just that we produce more than 250 million tons each year around the world, but it’s the fact that little of what we produce is ever recycled, so much of it ends up littering our planet. Specifically, the oceans have ended up becoming a giant dump for our plastic waste; some seven million tons end up in our oceans. A new study, according to The New York Times, seeks to calculate just how much of that plastic ends up in fish.
In the north Pacific ocean alone between 12,000 and 24,000 tons of plastic end up in fish. This is 9 percent of fish found in the north Pacific, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego. Keep in mind that this does not include fish that die from ingesting plastic and it doesn’t include fish that pass the plastic through their systems. So in reality, the numbers are likely even higher than study calculations.
The study, published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, came to this conclusion by traveling hundreds of miles throughout the north Pacific Ocean testing fish along the way.
According to The New York Times:
The research team, including the authors of the study, Peter Davison and Rebecca Asch, traveled across hundreds of miles of the North Pacific ocean gyre, collecting fish specimens, water samples and marine debris at depths ranging from the surface to thousands of feet under. Just over 9 percent of the fish caught during the expedition had small pieces of plastic in their stomachs.
These findings are undoubtedly disturbing but they only include a small piece of the plastic pie. These huge numbers only tell the story of the north Pacific though other oceans likely have similar pollution problems.
The main challenge, said Mr. Woodring of Project Kaisei, is that the infrastructure for proper waste management and recycling “simply cannot keep pace with the exponential growth of plastic in our daily lives.”
Therefore, it ends up covering our planet and being ingested by a huge number of marine species, many of which die as a result.
Like this? Follow my Twitter feed.
Antibiotic resistance has finally made its way onto the Senate radar again and with good reason considering that we’ve seen antibiotic resistance across British farms and this year in US hospitals and nursing homes to name just a few. It’s a problem that’s only getting worse with the expanded overuse of antibiotics. It’s this practice that a Senate bill is looking to limit with the re-introduction of The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA).
According to Diane Feinstein (D-CA), the primary sponsor for PAMTA, reported on Civil Eats. “[t]he effectiveness of antibiotics for humans is jeopardized when they are used to fatten healthy pigs or speed the growth of chickens. This is a basic food safety initiative that would phase out the misuse of these drugs so that food in supermarkets across America will not spread strains of drug-resistant bacteria.”
The Federal Register outlined how the sub therapeutic use of antibiotics actually causes resistance:
Misuse and overuse of antimicrobial drugs creates selective evolutionary pressure that enables antimicrobial resistant bacteria to increase in numbers more rapidly than antimicrobial susceptible bacteria and thus increases the opportunity for individuals to become infected by resistant bacteria.
According to the FDA, 80 percent of the antibiotics produced in this country are used in animal agriculture. This amount is estimated to be more than four times the amount of drugs used to treat human illness.
The bill, which Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), all have worked together on was outlined by Civil Eats and does the following:
- Phases out the non-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics in livestock;
- Requires new applications for animal antibiotics to demonstrate the use of the antibiotic will not endanger public health;
- Does not restrict the use of antibiotics to treat sick livestock or to treat pets.
“PAMTA will limit the agricultural use of seven types of antibiotics that have been identified by the Food and Drug Administration as critically important in human medicine to ensure that antibiotic-resistance is not inadvertently accelerated,” according to Feinstein’s office.
Let’s hope that this time it gets some traction.
Like this? Follow my Twitter feed.
More on Antibiotics
Denmark Drastically Limits Antibiotics in Livestock: Here’s Why
The FDA Releases the Amount of Antibiotics Used in Factory Farmed Livestock and It’s a Ton
Can We Get Antibiotics Out of the Meat Industry?
If you needed another reason to skip the processed junk food, we’ve got one for you. You’re likely aware that many processed foods are heavy on the calories and light on the nutrients. Processed foods take their toll on the planet, both in their transportation footprint and the energy used in manufacturing. And then there’s the processing that goes on behind closed doors that could make you very, very sick.
A Georgia Kellogg factory which makes Famous Amos and Keebler cookies has been warned to clean up its act and fast. Government regulators found sickness causing listeria at the Georgia cookie plant after a recent inspection.
The FDA had stern words for Kellogg:
[It was] determined that the foods manufactured at your facility are adulterated … in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.
Kellogg vowed to clean up its act. The FDA is giving the food manufacturer 15 days to outline a plan to fix the problem. In 2010 an inspection at the Augusta plant cited problems with food storage.
I wrote about listeria last year when it caused 5 deaths at a Texas Food Factory. Listeriosis is an infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria. The disease affects those with weakened immune systems including the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. In the United States, an estimated 2,500 persons become seriously ill with listeriosis each year. Of these, 500 die, according to the CDC.
Like this? Follow my Twitter feed.
It’s that time of year again. The sun is shining and it’s hot, hot, hot. The sun is warming, welcoming, and a great contributor to getting your RDA of Vitamin D, but just like everything else, you can overdo it. Sunburns are not only bad for your health, they’re incredibly irritating and uncomfortable. But instead of going out and buying a prepackaged aloe formula with mysterious ingredients, why not make your own sunburn relief remedy at home?
Nature Moms explored some key ways to take the bite out of that sunburn which I found thanks to Greenwala. Start off with a cold shower and an ice pack and then apply coconut oil to trap in moisture. Add a few drops of lavender oil mixed with yogurt to the painful areas. For a spray formula, combine Aloe Vera with about 10 drops of peppermint oil and add to a spray bottle. And stay as hydrated as possible.
Find a Healthy Sun Balance
I wrote over at Planet Green about getting enough sun to get sufficient Vitamin D without getting burned in the first place. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient and the sun is by far the easiest way to get it. Deficiencies are linked to a host of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, breast cancer, colon cancer, and ovarian cancer. But how much sun is enough?
In the summer time according to US News Health:
[I]f you’re fair skinned, experts say going outside for 10 minutes in the midday sun–in shorts and a tank top with no sunscreen–will give you enough radiation to produce about 10,000 international units of the vitamin. Dark-skinned individuals and the elderly also produce less vitamin D. The government’s dietary recommendations are 200 IUs a day up to age 50, 400 IUs to age 70, and 600 IUs over 70.
So consider staying in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes depending on your skin type and then applying safe sunscreen. The Environmental Working Group safe sunscreen site can help you choose a sunscreen that’s both effective and safe.
Like this? Follow my Twitter feed.
Hold the guacamole for just a moment and make sure that your cilantro is organic. Food safety came front and center this week when random USDA testing found 34 different varieties of pesticide residue atop a batch of conventional cilantro.
The Chicago Tribune reports that when the USDA randomly tested a batch of cilantro for the first time in its 20 year program, it found 34 unapproved pesticides.
According to the story:
Azoxystrobin and captan are legal for use on potatoes but were found 16 times at levels that exceeded federal limits, the most such detections in this round of testing. Next on the list for excessive amounts of legal pesticides were imported asparagus and domestic spinach.
“We would not pooh-pooh these violations,” said Roy, of the FDA. “They all constitute adulterated food. But we are also talking about a relatively minor food. … We have to be risk-based and apply our main resources to foods consumed most often by infants and children — and those are your major fresh fruits and vegetables.”
I don’t consider cilantro a minor food at all. It’s used in tons of recipes, especially in the summer time. But at least medical experts are beginning to refer to the risk of pesticide residue.
Again, the Chicago Tribune:
Some medical experts, however, are increasingly concerned about even low-level exposure to pesticides, especially in utero.
“The story of pesticides in food is part of a larger story of our growing knowledge of the exquisite vulnerability of the developing human brain to pesticides and other toxic chemicals,” said Dr. Phillip Landrigan, director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Along with colleagues, he has been researching the effects of chlorpyrifros on humans.
Like this? Follow my Twitter feed.
More on Pesticide Residue
Avoid Pesticides in Fruit and Veggies
In Utero Pesticide Exposure Increases Risk of ADHD
Produce Industry Mounts Campaign to Entice Us Back to Conventional Pesticide-Loaded Fruits and Veggies
It was a sad day last year when intense lobbying efforts in Congress won out, and a ban on BPA in children’s products was blocked. But it seems that China and Malaysia have beaten us to the punch. According to Green Biz, China and Malaysia have been added to the list of countries setting bans on BPA.
China’s Ministry of Health announced plans to ban any BPA-containing baby bottles or other food and drink items for children, but has no set start date. Malaysia has banned BPA in baby bottles starting next March, according to the article.
U.S. Congress has yet to move to ban BPA, though some state and local governments have moved toward bans. But it seems we’re far behind the curve on this issue. To date, Canada, the European Union, China, and Malaysia have all banned BPA from certain items.
I wrote that last year we almost made some progress, if not for some intense lobbying on the part of industry groups. The Senate was set to consider a bipartisan deal to limit the use of BPA in children’s products but the bill failed thanks to hard opposition from the American Chemistry Council and other lobbying efforts. The ban was proposed as an amendment to the food safety bill passed last year.
According to the Washington Post, more than 200 studies have connected BPA to a range of health concerns, including cancer and developmental and reproductive problems.
Like this? Follow my Twitter feed.
Pro Surfer Kyle Thiermann, Jack Johnson, and Others on ‘Toxic Tumbleweeds’ and More Single-Use Plastics
Plastic has most certainly been demonized over the past decade and with good reason. But even still, we spend roughly $100 billion every year on bottled water. And that’s just plastic water bottles. Single-use plastics have caused devastating repercussions to our planet to put it mildly. But what may surprise you is that our own Hawaiian Islands, especially the east side of Oahu, have become a filter in the Pacific Ocean for plastic waste from the mainland.
t’s time to see just how green the grass can be on your side of the fence. That’s right, AQMD is sponsoring a lawn mower exchange program throughout California, checkout the availability in your area. So you are used to that old gas mower, and are afraid of missing it, but why? Is it the smell of the gas you spilled on your clothes or hands? Maybe it’s way you are partially deaf for the hour following each use. No? Well maybe it’s the ‘tug, tug, choke, tug’ it takes to get the mower going. Whatever your reason is, here is what it isn’t:
“Based in reality.”
With the deal that the AQMD has negotiated you can get a $300-$600 electric mower for as little as $40! That is, unless you are like me and go for the BIG one, the 36v Black&Decker battery powered, that’s right friends no tangled extension cords, for a price of only $170 with the exchange of your old noisy gas mower. So what are just a few of the benefits?
* Quiet no more loud motor
* Green/Environmentally Safe
* HUGE Discount
* No need to buy gas
* Most people will spend about $5.00 a year on electricity to mow their yards!
* and much more!
So you are sold on the idea now and want to know how to get yours. It’s actually quite simple just visit this website for more information:
Make sure to check the site now so you can get registered for the event in your area.
Brian Merchant already reported on WikiLeaks revelations about Saudi Oil reserves being overstated by 40%, a claim that could mean that Peak Oil would be upon us as early as 2012. Now Jeremy Leggett over at The Guardian is also raising the alarm, arguing that we are asleep at the wheel when it comes to peak oil, and unless we address this issue now, we could be facing a threat much worse than any credit crunch. “Peak oil is not a theory.” says Leggett. “Because oil is a finite resource, it is an inevitability.” Hear, hear [spelling corrected thanks to comments...].
Rosa Perea spends many days struggling to help her five-year old son, Yousef Abdallah, control his severe asthma. Her Chicago neighborhood is home to numerous polluting industries—most of which emit soot and smog pollution.
“It’s so hard,” Perea says, “before this I’ve never been close or had anybody in my family who had asthma, but now I realized how difficult it is to control it, and make sure he takes medicine and stays well. I’ve had to take him to the emergency room and it’s really scary. Especially when he was really little and they put the little mask on him…it was so sad.”
Perea gives Yousef two puffs of medicine every morning, and if he plays at the park or is being really active, then she has to give him more emergency medicine to stop him from having a severe asthma attack.
“It’s really sad, because he just loves sports,” she says. “When he was little he didn’t watch cartoons, he watched college basketball and pro baseball, ESPN.”
Perea and her son are only two of millions of Americans suffering because our country’s polluters. Burning coal and oil for energy causes excessive soot, smog and mercury in our air and water, among other pollutants.
That’s why the Sierra Club is launching our new Stop Polluters campaign aimed at exposing the public health damages from burning coal and using dirty oil.
Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exists to enforce much needed safeguards to keep polluters from making us sick from emissions like soot, smog and mercury.
In the 40 years since Americans demanded its creation, the EPA has saved millions of lives by enforcing clean air and water standards. More than 1.7 million asthma attacks and $110 billion in health costs were avoided in 2010 alone thanks to the agency’s efforts.
Perea’s community is very affected by pollution. She is the Assistant Director of the Centro Comunitario Juan Diego, a Latino community health clinic on the south side of Chicago. The Centro serviced 19,000 people last year even though it is run by an all-volunteer staff with no doctor or nurse on staff.
While the Centro’s main initiative to train women to become community health educators, they are also heavily involved in environmental education. “We became very aware of the environment, because everything is linked,” she said.
“We reach out to the community about the environmental factors in their health,” explained Perea. “For example—telling people not to let their kids play near this one terminal where trucks carrying crushed coal come out, and the air is filled with dust. We tell them to keep an eye on the kids with asthma on days when it is very dry, and they don’t water down the coal ash. They can’t breathe that air.”
Perea noted that the community’s poverty levels make healthcare very challenging for families – especially when they don’t always realize the connection between the environment and their ailments.
“Because we’re always trying to make sure our bills are paid and food is on the table, thinking about pollution in the air ends up last on the list. People have other priorities, and it’s difficult to get people to see the connections between the environment and their health.”
Unfortunately her community is dominated by industry that rarely benefits residents.
“Because South Chicago used to have so many steel refineries, most people just think of this neighborhood as a place for industry and no one really questions when a new polluter comes in. All of this is going over our heads—we don’t even acknowledge that this is affecting our body systems. And the big companies who have power take advantage of that.”
Despite her volunteer work with the Centro and deep commitment to the community, Rosa says she would move to a less-polluted neighborhood, if she had the means.
“If I could get (my son) out of here, I would. Even though I’ve invested 43 years of my life in this neighborhood, I’ve grown up in this neighborhood and I would make that sacrifice, because I really worry about him. I think most parents would, when they see their child going through that.”
It’s time for Big Coal and Big Oil to stop making us so sick. Polluters are targeting our basic health protections. Join our Stop Polluters campaign and tell President Obama that we need strong safeguards to protect our health from polluters.
Read more about pollution:
Coal Pollution Will Kill 13,200 Americans This Year & Cost $100 Billion in Additional Health Care Bills
Forget About Climate Change, Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions Has ‘Major Direct Health Benefits’
5 Leading US Health Groups Oppose Efforts to Block EPA Regulating Greenhouse Gases