Two Steps Closer to Abating Global Mercury Damage

This summer, the world is taking two essential steps toward abating the damage caused by dental mercury fillings. Actions by both the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to restrict the use of dental mercury are being commended by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), a network of dentists, scientists, and other professionals. They have been researching the deleterious effects of dental mercury since 1984 and began calling for a complete ban on mercury fillings in 1985.

Now, the IAOMT is calling for the next steps needed to fully protect the globe from the adverse effects of dental mercury on human health and the environment. All silver-colored dental fillings, often called “amalgams,” contain approximately 50% mercury. Dental mercury is known to pollute waterways and wildlife, and it is the predominant source of mercury exposure to people who have these fillings in their bodies. This creates an array of potential health risks for these patients.

WORLD WILL BE TWO STEPS CLOSER TO ABATING MERCURY DAMAGE  EPA dental effluent rule effective July 14; UNEP mercury treaty enters into force August 16Amalgam separators reduce mercury released from dental offices into the environment. For this reason, the EPA utilized measures in the Clean Water Act to develop standards requiring that dental offices install amalgam separators. This requirement will go into effect on Friday, July 14, and the EPA has estimated that it could reduce the discharge of mercury by 5.1 tons annually. 

However, the IAOMT notes that the EPA should also require routine maintenance for amalgam separators so that they do not fail and so that additional releases of mercury do not occur. It should also be remembered that amalgam separators only reduce dental mercury in wastewater and do not address the impact of mercury/silver fillings on human health.

A number of countries have already banned or strictly limited the use of dental mercury. Shockingly, the use of mercury in dentistry continues in the US without any restrictions by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that pregnant women, children, and all other American populations are still having mercury fillings placed in their mouths. Subpopulations in the US known to have higher rates of mercury filling placement include Black/African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives/Asians/Pacific Islanders, and members of the United States Armed Forces

“The world is getting healthier this summer with these latest actions against dental mercury,” IAOMT President Tammy DeGregorio, DMD, ND stated. “But to truly protect people and the environment, the use of dental mercury must completely end for all patients, all dental offices, and all global regions.”

Source:  International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) 

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UAlbany Study Examines Connections between Persistent Organic Pollutants and Infertility

ALBANY, N.Y. — Each year, millions of women face difficulties in getting pregnant. In the U.S., nearly four million women desired but were unable to conceive children in 2002, according to data from the National Survey of Family Growth.
The trend has been sharply rising in the last 35 years and clinicians and investigators have expressed a growing concern that environmental pollutants are a substantial factor.

University at Albany researcher Michael S. Bloom and a team of scientists have taken a closer look at this dynamic in a new study for Reproductive Toxicology, and the findings suggest the cause for concern is deserved.

School of Public Health researcher Michael S. Bloom and his team found a significant negative association between higher levels of pollutants and response to IVF treatments. (Photo Courtesy Zeiss Microscopy)
School of Public Health researcher Michael S. Bloom and his team found a significant negative association between higher levels of pollutants and response to IVF treatments. (Photo Courtesy Zeiss Microscopy)

Bloom and his colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco and the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center determined the levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) found in 32 women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). They found a significant negative association between higher levels of pollutants and response to treatments.

“Higher levels of POPs were associated with a lower probability for a live birth or pregnancy after IVF, as well as poorer embryo quality, response to administered fertility drugs and ovarian reserve,” said Bloom, an associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at UAlbany’s School of Public Health. “Our results suggest that ongoing exposure to POPs impacts IVF and merit confirmation in a larger and more definitive study.”

For the pilot program, Bloom and his colleagues measured 43 polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners. These related chemical substances were once extensively deployed in manufacturing, and due to their longevity are still widely found in the environment. The researchers measured the levels found in 32 women undergoing fertility treatment, and after adjusting for body mass index, cigarette smoking, age and other factors, their results pointed to a significant harmful impact on IVF outcomes.

Considering the growing number of women who have reported difficulty conceiving and staying pregnant, the findings are alarming. Research suggests as many as 60 percent more women reported difficulty getting pregnant in 2002 as compared with 1982. For women under the age of 25, the number reporting problems rose 200 percent.

While the U.S. banned PCB manufacturing in 1979, their longevity in nature means humans are still exposed to the chemicals through ongoing contamination of food supplies.

But for Bloom and his colleagues, these low-level, ‘background’ exposures to PCBs may still be interfering with pregnancy, despite declining levels in the surrounding environment.

“In spite of decreases in environmental POPs and the increasing effectiveness of IVF, these preliminary results suggest that ongoing exposures still happen and are very much a problem requiring further study,” concluded Bloom. 

Source: University at Albany

5 Terrible Things That Happen When You Don’t Recycle

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, America produces over 258 million tons of waste every year ― which is close to a ton of trash per American citizen. The EPA believes as much as 75 percent of that waste to be recyclable or reusable, but instead of properly disposing of unwanted goods, many Americans choose to carelessly toss anything and everything into the garbage can. The results of this behavior are quickly becoming disastrous, impacting not only natural environments but also urban areas and human livelihoods. Here are a few ways failing to recycle negatively impacts the world around us.

1. Landfill Growth
Nearly all of America’s trash goes into landfills, which are essentially gigantic midden heaps that are eventually covered with soil and potentially used for urban development. The positive idea behind landfills is that trash will eventually decompose and settle, turning into fertile land. The problem is that much of our waste is not biodegradable; plastics require between 10 and 1,000 years to begin breaking down, and even then, the chemicals used in them can leach into groundwater and destroy surrounding environments.


2. Marine Pollution

Not all garbage is safely tucked into a landfill. At least 10 percent of all plastics created have found their way into the oceans, creating enormous gyres where the non-biodegradable waste is more plentiful than plankton. Most of the pollution comes from poor waste management on land, but some is dumped by unscrupulous ocean liners. The plastics wreak havoc on marine environments, as animals ingest or become entangled in the waste.

3. Incineration

For many, burning trash seems a viable solution to land and water pollution. However, incineration might be even more disastrous than landfills. For one, many products and packaging materials are made using toxic chemicals that are released into the air during the burning process. For another, glass as well as many plastics do not burn except at exceedingly high temperatures, which requires excessive amounts of fuel ― which itself releases dangerous emissions. Studies have found that air pollution causes all sorts of terrible diseases, from chronic asthma and cancer to birth defects.

4. Resource Waste

It isn’t just the items or materials themselves that are wasted when you throw something away; all the effort and energy used to create those items are also squandered. Between 2.5 and 4 percent of U.S. energy consumption is devoted to the manufacturing of plastic and plastic products; what’s more, at least 24 gallons of water is used to create just one pound of plastic, and about 2.5 million plastic bottles are produced every hour. Those resources could be diverted to more beneficial endeavors if everyone recycled more.

5. Economic Trouble

Though it might seem an economic advantage to create disposable goods that must be repurchased, pollution actually hinders economic advancement in notable ways. For example, many beaches experience lower tourism because the sand and water is covered in trash; fishing and shipping industries have reportedly suffered losses of $365 million and $279 million thanks to debris-clogged waterways. Less trash is almost synonymous with more profit for much of the economy.

How to Reduce Trash the Right Way

Though some waste is inevitable, it is possible to drastically reduce the amount of trash you personally produce. For example, one woman committed to a minimal-plastic lifestyle and managed to produce less than 16 ounces of waste over a two-year period. Not everyone has the luxury of avoiding plastic and packaging so thoroughly, but there are a number of effective ways you can increase your recycling efforts.

• First, you should strive to reduce the amount of purchases you make. This doesn’t necessarily mean becoming minimalist; instead, you should merely consider investing in a few well-designed and manufactured products rather than many cheap and disposable ones.

• Next, you should research what objects around your home can be reused. In fact, most things can find new life, and many charities gladly pick up or take in items you don’t want to sell. Some of these items will directly improve the lives of the needy, but others, especially valuables like digital devices on up to larger items like broken-down cars or boats, can be refurbished and sold for funds to benefit charities.

• Finally, you should learn more about recycling services in your area. Not all cities have the resources to recycle all types of materials. Instead of tossing any paper, plastic, or glass good in the recycling bin, you might need to find facilities designed to recycle specific goods. Items that are improperly recycled are likely to end up as pollution.

The E-Waste Problem and How to Help created by Digital Doc

Strange bedfellows oppose new polluter subsidy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Green Scissors, a coalition of free market, taxpayer, and environmental groups, sent a letter to the Senate today opposing an extension and expansion of the tax credits for carbon capture and sequestration. The letter cited both fiscal and environmental concerns in opposing Senator Heitkamp’s amendment on the 45Q tax credit as part of a proposed Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.

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Although the measure faces an uncertain future as part of the FAA bill, Senator Heitkamp’s amendment is part of a concerted effort by industry and some environmentalists to expand the 45Q tax credit. The effort is mirrored in the House by Rep. Conaway’s HR4622.

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“Private investment in clean coal is the only way to ensure that these technologies will find a place in the future energy market,” said Catrina Rorke, director of energy policy at the R Street Institute. “We talk a lot about not using tax policy to pick energy winners. The same should apply here.”

“Taxpayers cannot afford to keep throwing good money after bad on clean coal. Subsidies for this failed technology have wasted billions of dollars over the last few decades,” said Autumn Hanna, senior program director at Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Whether it’s on the FAA bill, some end of year omnibus package or another bill, lawmakers should reject this proven money loser.”

“We are calling this plan what it is,” said Lukas Ross, a climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, “A subsidy for Big Oil masquerading as a climate solution.”

Clean Air Partners creates funny air quality videos- Have You Listened to Your Lungs Today?

What do Larry, Lola, Chad, and Brad have in common? They are lungs that remind us to be mindful of the daily air quality.

Although air quality may be unhealthy year-round, it is typically more of concern during “ozone season” (May through September) when ground-level ozone and particle pollution are at their highest. That’s the premise of four quirky new spots, promoting the importance of knowing the daily air quality.

The spots can be previewed here:

#1: Lola tells Chad and Brad the fitness nuts that since it’s a Code Yellow air quality day, they should do their workouts inside. They’ll have to wait until a Code Green day to get jacked AND tan. http://bit.ly/1DU484R

#2: Larry completely loses it when he finds out it’s a Code Red air quality day, until Lola reassures him. http://bit.ly/1dPJn5o

#3: It’s a Code Orange air quality day, and Lola’s grandpa is insistent on going for a walk despite the risk to his health. http://bit.ly/1zOmycc

#4: After a rough week of poor air quality, it’s finally a Code Green day for Larry and Lola Lung. A party ensues. http://bit.ly/1Pr4uGW

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During a forecasted Code Orange or Red day, sensitive groups should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Sensitive groups include individuals with heart and/or respiratory disease (asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or cardiovascular disease), children, older adults (65+), and those who are active outdoors. On Code Red days, the general public should limit prolonged outdoor exertion as well.

Some quick facts:

· Ground-level ozone pollution can reduce lung function by as much as 20 percent.
· Air pollution claims 70,000 lives a year, nearly twice the number killed in traffic accidents.
· With nearly 109,500 asthma sufferers under the age of 18, asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness and the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15.
· 90 percent of Americans live in areas that have unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

There ARE health risks associated with poor air quality and the simple actions individuals can take to protect their health, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse as emissions.

FROM: Christel Ghattas on behalf of Clean Air Partners