Above the Fold: Leaded skies; Of gains, losses
News that drives the discussion, hand-picked by our journalists and researchers
1. Today's top read: Getting the lead out.
It is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week—designed to raise awareness about children's exposure to the toxic—and there are a handful of a stories highlighting the continued contamination of people and the environment.
Scientists Rachel Shaffer, Steven Gilbert wrote a piece for us today, asking.
- These baby foods and formulas tested positive for arsenic, lead and BPA in new study. (Source: USA Today)
- Child lead poisoning cases in Maryland drop to lowest levels on record. (Source: Baltimore Sun)
- Cleveland lead poisoning 2 year progress report. (Source: Cleveland.com)
- RCMP employee blows whistle on lead contamination risk from firing range. (Source: CBC News)
2. Are we too gloom and doom?
Nautilus has an interview with Chris Thomas, a professor of conservation biology at the University of York in England, author of the new book, Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction.
They talk of the modern mass extinction and how we perhaps focus too much on the losses, forgetting the gains.
"As environmental managers and conservationists, we should start incorporating these gains into our thinking of how we manage the planet, rather than taking a stance of simply trying to fight the losses," Thomas says.
Founder & chief scientist of EHS, publisher of EHN.org, Pete Myers sharply disagrees with Thomas' outlook, saying: "This Pollyannish opinion flies in the face of countless peer-reviewed studies published in the scientific literature over the past several decades."
In other biodiversity news:
- With new peace, Colombia finds hope for saving its wild lands. (Source: Yale Environment 360)
- For an endangered animal, a fire or hurricane can mean the end. (Source: NY Times)
- Invasion of maize-eating caterpillars worsens hunger crisis in Africa. (Source: The Guardian)
3. Losing homes: Vanishing Salton; Damming Eden; The Uninhabitable Village
- Due to increased drought and an altered climate, the Salton Sea's waterline keeps receding. The result? Exposed lakebed that can release tiny particles of dust—triggering breathing problems for those nearby. The Desert Sun has the story on how Salton Sea communities are "no longer a good place to live" for those with respiratory issues.
- Water depletion threatens the livelihoods of people who live in the marshlands at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. A damn being built in southeastern Turkey called the Ilisu threatens to starve the marshes of water and destroy the homeland of approximately 125,000 people. See the full story at Hakai Magazine.
- Hotter temperatures are forcing families in southern India to decide: Try to survive here, or leave? Full interactive story at NY Times.
4. Dourson confirmed by committee
Strictly along party lines, the Senate Environment Committee approved Michael Dourson's nomination to become an assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is a big step and his controversial nomination now moves to a full Senate vote. Dourson's nomination has been widely criticized by Democrats, who point to his long history of working for chemical manufacturers and downplaying the risks of chemicals.
On yesterday's Senate Environment Committee vote:
- Senate Environment Committee approved toxic EPA nominee in party-line vote (Source: The Intercept)
- 'One of the most troubling nominees I've ever considered.' (Source: Cincinnati.com)
- Chemical industry hired gun would be a big step backward for chemical safety. (Source: The Hill)
- The coalition of black trade unionists that's fighting to save the EPA. (Source: In These Times)
5. Toxic roundup.
- Toxics in widespread use excluded from EPA chemical review. (Source: AP)
- Monsanto and the weed scientists: Not a love story. (Source: NPR)
EU delays decision on herbicide glyphosate. (Source: Reuters)
- Triclosan sticks to toothbrushes, exposing users even after they switch toothpaste. (Source: Quartz)
- Pesticides: How 'bout washing them apples? (Source: CNN)
- Duke scientists explore cancer link to flame-retardants. (Source: North Carolina Health News)
- Toxic java? California law carries big fines, little evidence. (Source: Bloomberg News)
6. China cleanup.
China's big cleanup push continues, now the smoggy nation is urging local authorities to speed up the development of its environmental equipment manufacturing industry, reports Reuters.
This comes as news broke that China shut down up to 40% of its factories in an unprecedented stand against pollution.
7. Remember the March for Science?
From the Atlantic: Six months later, controversy still plagues the March for Science.