From the article at Philosophical Society of the Royal Society
As long ago as the sixteenth century, Paracelsus recognized that ‘the dose makes the poison’. Indeed, environmental concentrations of pharmaceuticals excreted by humans are limited, most importantly because a defined dose is given to just a fraction of the population. By contrast, recent studies have identified direct emission from drug manufacturing as a source of much higher environmental discharges that, in some cases, greatly exceed toxic threshold concentrations. Because production is concentrated in specific locations, the risks are not linked to usage patterns. Furthermore, as the drugs are not consumed, metabolism in the human body does not reduce concentrations. The environmental risks associated with manufacturing therefore comprise a different, wider set of pharmaceuticals compared with those associated with risks from excretion. Although pollution from manufacturing is less widespread, discharges that promote the development of drug-resistant microorganisms can still have global consequences. Risk management also differs between production and excretion in terms of accountability, incentive creation, legal opportunities, substitution possibilities and costs. Herein, I review studies about industrial emissions of pharmaceuticals and the effects associated with exposure to such effluents. I contrast environmental pollution due to manufacturing with that due to excretion in terms of their risks and management and highlight some recent initiatives.
[Repost] The Commission for Environmental Cooperation releases its first-ever, multi-year examination of reported industrial pollution in North America
From the press release
Montreal, 1 October 2014—The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has released a comprehensive report on the changing face of industrial pollution in North America, covering the years 2005 through 2010. This is the first time an edition of the CEC’s Taking Stock series, which gathers data from pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs) in Canada, Mexico and the United States, has analyzed North American pollutant information over an extended timeframe.
This volume of Taking Stock documents pollutant releases and transfers reported over the six-year period by approximately 35,000 industrial facilities across the region. Key findings include:
- Total reported amounts of pollutants increased by 14 percent (from over 4.83 billion kilograms in 2005 to more than 5.53 billion kilograms in 2010), driven by releases to land (108-percent increase) and off-site disposal (42-percent increase). These increases reflect the introduction of Canada’s more comprehensive reporting requirements on tailings and waste rock, as well as on total reduced sulfur (TRS), resulting in more complete reporting by the metal ore mining and oil and gas extraction sectors in Canada.
- Most other types of releases and transfers declined over this period—including releases to air from electric utilities, mainly in the United States, which declined by 36 percent. Changes in regulations for fossil fuel–based power plants, along with facility closures, were the drivers of these decreases.
- There was also a 38-percent decrease in releases to air of substances in four categories that have significant potential to cause harm to human health or the environment: known or suspected carcinogens, developmental or reproductive toxicants, persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) substances, and metals.
By providing details at the country level, Taking Stock also highlights the gaps in the picture of North American industrial pollution that are created by differences in national PRTR reporting requirements and practices. For example:
- Of the more than 500 pollutants reported across the region every year, only 60 are common to all three PRTRs.
- Oil and gas extraction, a key sector tracked in Canada and that ranks among the top sectors for reported releases and transfers each year, is not subject to reporting in the United States. Mexican data show a low level of reporting by oil and gas extraction facilities.
- Compared to the United States and Canada, Mexican data show wider fluctuations in reporting between 2005 and 2010, reflecting the fact that Mexico’s PRTR is relatively new.
“As a result of ongoing collaboration among the three countries’ PRTR programs and the CEC, we are now able to track industrial pollutant releases and transfers across North America and over time to identify tendencies, as well as important gaps, in reporting. By establishing linkages between PRTR data and facilities’ environmental sustainability efforts, Taking Stock supports the needs of the private sector, governments, citizens, and communities concerned with and affected by North American industrial pollution,” said Irasema Coronado, CEC Executive Director.
Decreases in pollutant releases from pulp and paper mills—a look at the driving factors
This year’s report also takes advantage of six years of North American PRTR data to examine releases reported by pulp and paper mills—which have consistently ranked among the top sectors for releases to air and water in North America. The data show that between 2005 and 2010, the sector’s releases to air decreased by 19 percent and releases to water by 6 percent. Taking Stock identifies the drivers of these decreases, through data analyses, a survey of mills, and information from industry representatives. Among the findings:
- A key driver of the decreases seen over this period has been the shutdown of several facilities in Canada and the United States (the two countries with the most reporting from this sector).
- Emissions typically associated with pulp and paper mills include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), methanol, hydrogen sulfide, phosphorous, and formaldehyde, among others. However, some of these pollutants are not subject to reporting in one or more of the three countries (e.g., methanol in Mexico), creating challenges when analyzing the pollution profiles of pulp and paper mills.
- While factors such as new emissions regulations have played a role in the decline in releases over this period, the report also shows that facilities’ own environmental engagement, as well as customer demand for environmentally-friendly products, have had impacts—with mills adopting environmental management decisions that include pollution prevention and mitigation practices.
Explore North American PRTR data online
The data presented in the Taking Stock report can be searched using the CEC’s Taking Stock Onlinetool, which is updated annually with data from North America’s three PRTRs. It allows users to:
- explore information on industrial pollutant releases and transfers;
- generate reports in a variety of formats, including pie charts and spreadsheets;
- create maps and view them using Google Earth; and
- analyze PRTR data with respect to other information, such as locations of watersheds, rivers, lakes, and population centers, using geospatial data from the North American Environmental Atlas.
Sources of Pollution
From the Web site
The State of the Air 2014 shows that the nation’s air quality worsened in 2010-2012, but remains overall much cleaner than just a decade ago.
More than 147.6 million people—47 percent of the nation—live where pollution levels are too often dangerous to breathe, an increase from last year’s report.
Despite that risk, some seek to weaken the Clean Air Act, the public health law that has driven the cuts in pollution since 1970.
Web site includes the following
- Options to
- Search air quality by zip code (for “grades”)
and state (for “report cards”)
- Compare your air
- Health Effects of Ozone and Particle Pollution
- Key Findings
- Ozone Pollution — More than 4 in 10 people lived in areas with unhealthful levels of ozone in 2010-2012. See which cities with the worst ozone had even more unhealthy air days.
- Year-round Particle Pollution — More than 46.2 million people live in an area burdened year-round by unhealthful levels of deadly particle pollution. See which cities saw continued progress in cleaning up sources and which suffered even more pollution.
- Short-term Particle Pollution — Many cities endured more days where particle pollution spiked during this period. Fourteen percent (14%) of people in the United States live where they suffered too many days with unhealthful levels of particle pollution.
- Cleanest Cities — Only four cities made the cleanest list in all three categories, but several were among the cleanest in two.
- People at Risk — Nearly half of the people in the U.S. live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution. Learn more about people who face the greatest risk—probably someone you know is one of them.
- What Needs to be Done to Get Healthy Air— What do we need to do as a nation? How can you help clean up the air?
For 14 years, the American Lung Association has analyzed data from air quality monitors to compile the State of the Air report. The more you learn about the air you breathe, the more you can protect your health and take steps to make our air cleaner and healthier.
Want to know what the air quality is where you live or another US location?
Just enter the zipcode at the home page.
Thanks to the Clean Air Act, the United States continues to make progress providing healthier air. The “State of the Air 2013” shows that the nation’s air quality is overall much cleaner, especially compared to just a decade ago. Still, over 131.8 million people—42 percent of the nation—live where pollution levels are too often dangerous to breathe. Despite that risk, some seek to weaken the Clean Air Act, the public health law that has driven the cuts in pollution since 1970.
Ozone Pollution — Nearly 4 in 10 people lived in areas with unhealthful levels of ozone in 2009-2011.
Year-round Particle Pollution — More than 44.3 million people live in an area burdened year-round by unhealthful levels of deadly particle pollution.
Short-term Particle Pollution — Many cities endured more days where particle pollution spiked during this period. Fifteen percent (15%) of people in the United States live where they suffered too many days with unhealthful levels of particle pollution.
Cleanest Cities — Only four cities made the cleanest list in all three categories, but several were among the cleanest in two.
People at Risk —More than 4 in 10 people live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution. Learn more about people who face the greatest risk—probably someone you know is one of them.
What Needs to be Done to Get Healthy Air —What do we need to do as a nation? How can you help clean up the air?
- Agency to start monitoring pollution next to Southern California freeways (sacbee.com)
- Air pollution ‘an invisible killer’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Hot weather in Europe exacerbating ozone pollution (independent.com.mt)
- Nitrogen pollution: another of Lebanon’s blights (dailystar.com.lb)
- Boralpure Smog-Eating Tile (iitbuildingscience.wordpress.com)
- Wildfire smoke spreads in Valley, sparks health concerns (fresnobee.com)
- Respiratory Disparity? Obese People May Not Benefit from Improved Air Quality (ehp.niehs.nih.gov)
- American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic Warns of Increased Pollution as Temperature Soars (paramuspost.com)
- Protect Yourself from Outdoor Air Pollution by Checking the Air Quality Index (virtual-strategy.com)
- The Macroeconomic Effect of the Clean Air Act; how it incentivized development in clean air technologies. (coherentramblingsforcoherentminds.wordpress.com)
If you’re eating better and exercising regularly, but still aren’t seeing improvements in your health, there might be a reason: pollution. According to a new research report published in the September issue of The FASEB Journal, what you are eating and doing may not be the problem, but what’s in what you are eating could be the culprit.
“This study adds evidences for rethinking the way of addressing risk assessment especially when considering that the human population is widely exposed to low levels of thousands of chemicals, and that the health impact of realistic mixtures of pollutants will have to be tested as well,” said Brigitte Le Magueresse-Battistoni, a researcher involved in the work from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM). “Indeed, one pollutant could have a different effect when in mixture with other pollutants. Thus, our study may have strong implications in terms of recommendations for food security. Our data also bring new light to the understanding of the impact of environmental food contaminants in the development of metabolic diseases.”
- Fracking health project puts numbers to debate (bostonherald.com)
- Pennsylvania project assesses health impact of fracking (oregonlive.com)
- Causes and Effects of Air Pollution (vickymaroo.wordpress.com)
- MIT study says combustion emissions cause ~200,000 premature deaths/year in US; vehicles and power generation top sources (greencarcongress.com)
Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have built a small fleet of portable pollution sensors that allow users to monitor air quality in real time on their smart phones. The sensors could be particularly useful to people suffering from chronic conditions, such as asthma, who need to avoid exposure to pollutants.
CitiSense is the only air-quality monitoring system capable of delivering real-time data to users’ cell phones and home computers-at any time. Data from the sensors can also be used to estimate air quality throughout the area where the devices are deployed, providing information to everyone – not just those carrying sensors…
“The people who are doing the most to reduce emissions, by biking or taking the bus, were the people who experienced the highest levels of exposure to pollutants,” said Griswold.
Users discovered that pollution varied not only based on location, but also on the time of the day. When Charles Elkan, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, drove into work in mid-morning, the readings on his sensor were low. But when he drove back home in rush hour in the afternoon, readings were sometimes very high….
- Small, Portable Sensors Allow Users to Monitor Exposure to Pollution on Their Smart Phones (terradaily.com)
- Small, portable sensors allow users to monitor exposure to pollution on their smart phones (phys.org)
- Monitoring Air Quality From Your Smart Phone (cleantechnica.com)
- Satellite Monitoring of Air Pollution in the World’s MegaCities (pollutionfree.wordpress.com)
- Building the Environmental Big Picture from Personal Air-Quality Monitors (spectrum.ieee.org)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a new tool that provides the public with important information about pollutants that are released into local waterways. Developed under President Obama’s transparency initiative, the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) Pollutant Loading Tool brings together millions of records and allows for easy searching and mapping of water pollution by local area, watershed, company, industry sector, and pollutant. Americans can use this new tool to protect their health and the health of their communities.
“Transparency leads to greater accountability and better information about pollution in our nation’s communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By making the data we collect available in easy to use tools, we are keeping Americans informed about the health of the environment in their neighborhoods.”
Searches using the DMR Pollutant Loading Tool result in “top ten” lists to help users easily identify facilities and industries that are discharging the most pollution and impacted waterbodies. When discharges are above permitted levels, users can view the violations and link to details about enforcement actions that EPA and states have taken to address these violations. …
- EPA Releases New Tool with Information about Water Pollution Across the U.S. (bespacific.com)
- Federal level oversight and research picking up(NC Triassic Basins water & shale gas:A look at hydraulic fracturing for shale gas and its potential impact on water resources in North Carolina)
The Secretary of the Interior was in Ohio visiting a small manufacturing facility that is benefiting from the hydraulic fracturing wave, and spoke a bit about the valuable source of energy natural gas is, along with the need to extract it safely and responsibly.
Secretary of Interior Speaks On Energy, Fracking.
This visit corresponds with talk of BLM and EPA requiring full disclosure of the fracturing cocktail that is used, at least that which will be used on production wells located on public lands.
“To me, those rules are common sense,” Salazar was quoted by the Platts news service as saying during a speech in Ohio. “And if we do not move forward with that kind of program from the Department of Interior, my own view is that the failure of disclosure and the failure of giving the American people confidence that hydraulic fracturing will in fact work will end up being the Achilles heel of the energy promise of America.”
- EPA Annual Enforcement Results Highlights Commitment to Address Largest Pollution Problems with Greatest Community Impact (bespacific.com)
- You: EPA beach pollution rules allow 1 in 28 to get sick (latimes.com)
- Farmers Speak Out at the EPA: Atrazine is Safe, Effective, and Critical to Our Bottom Line (prweb.com)
- Water pollution bill clears another committee, ready for House floor (tampabay.com)
- EPA Releases 2010 Toxics Release Inventory National Analysis (bespacific.com)
- EPA: Wyoming well water tainted with chemicals consistent with fracking (alternet.org)
- What You Should Know About Earth Day (everydayhealth.com)
12/21/2011: EPA Issues First National Standards for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants/ Historic ‘mercury and air toxics standards’ meet 20-year old requirement to cut dangerous smokestack emissions
12/21/2011: EPA Issues First National Standards for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants
/ Historic ‘mercury and air toxics standards’ meet 20-year old requirement to cut dangerous smokestack emissions.
From the press release
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, the first national standards to protect American families from power plant emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution like arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium, and cyanide. The standards will slash emissions of these dangerous pollutants by relying on widely available, proven pollution controls that are already in use at more than half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
EPA estimates that the new safeguards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year. The standards will also help America’s children grow up healthier – preventing 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year. …
- EPA announces tough rules for coal-fired power plants (summitcountyvoice.com)
- EPA rules target mercury pollution, toxics from power plants (usatoday.com)
- EPA tells nation’s dirty power plants to clean up (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- EPA tells nation’s dirty power plants to clean up (sfgate.com)
- EPA Tells Nation’s Dirty Power Plants to Clean Up (abcnews.go.com)
- EPA tells nation’s dirty power plants to clean up (seattlepi.com)
- You: EPA issues strong limits on mercury emissions from smokestacks (latimes.com)
- EPA issues strong limits on mercury emissions from smokestacks (latimes.com)
- EPA rolls out new mercury limits (politico.com)
- Protecting American Families and the Environment from Mercury Pollution (whitehouse.gov)
- A Long Awaited Victory for Children, Families and our Future (switchboard.nrdc.org)
The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study
This article is available freely via Open Access. Please click on the above link to view it fully.
Objective To estimate the risks and benefits to health of travel by bicycle, using a bicycle sharing scheme, compared with travel by car in an urban environment……
Results Compared with car users the estimated annual change in mortality of the Barcelona residents using Bicing (n=181 982) was 0.03 deaths from road traffic incidents and 0.13 deaths from air pollution. As a result of physical activity, 12.46 deaths were avoided (benefit:risk ratio 77). The annual number of deaths avoided was 12.28. As a result of journeys by Bicing, annual carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by an estimated 9 062 344 kg.
Conclusions Public bicycle sharing initiatives such as Bicing in Barcelona have greater benefits than risks to health and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
- City Cycle Schemes Save Lives, Cut CO2 (nlm.nih.gov)
- The health benefits of boris bikes (2020health.wordpress.com)
- Bike Sharing Could Save Lives: Study (huffingtonpost.com)
- Your Urban Biking Essentials (fitsugar.com)
- Bicycle-sharing system incorporates app and GPS (gizmag.com)
The health implications of polluting the environment weigh increasingly on our public consciousness, and pharmaceutical wastes continue to be a main culprit. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher says that current testing for these dangerous contaminants isn’t going far enough.
Dr. Dror Avisar, head of the Hydro-Chemistry Laboratory at TAU’s Department of Geography and the Human Environment, says that, when our environment doesn’t test positive for the presence of a specific drug, we assume it’s not there. But through biological or chemical processes such as sun exposure or oxidization, drugs break down, or degrade, into different forms — and could still be lurking in our water or soil….
- Environmental Danger Lurks in Joplin, Mo. Debris (abcnews.go.com)
- Green Cleaning Spruces Up Environment (webmd.com)
- New study outlines economic and environmental benefits to reducing nitrogen pollution (physorg.com)
People who want to eat healthy and live sustainably have a new way to measure their impact on the environment: a Web-based tool [http://n-print.org/sites/n-print.org/files/footprint_sql/index.html#/home] that calculates an individual’s “nitrogen footprint.” The device was created by University of Virginia environmental scientist James N. Galloway; Allison Leach, a staff research assistant at U.Va.; and colleagues from the Netherlands and the University of Maryland.
The calculator is a project of the International Nitrogen Initiative, a global network of scientists who share research and data on the nitrogen dilemma. The project was announced Feb. 19 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.
What’s the nitrogen dilemma? Though some residents of the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico likely are familiar with it, it’s unknown to most Americans outside the agricultural world. For the last 30 years, Galloway and other leading scientists have been noting fish kills in coastal areas, threats to human health as a result of air and water pollution, and changes to global biodiversity and climate. This tool is one of their attempts to foster more understanding of nitrogen’s role in our lives.
“Nitrogen, as any farmer knows, is essential to plant life,” said Galloway, associate dean for the sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at U.Va. and the Sidman P. Poole Professor of Environmental Sciences. “But the widespread use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to boost crop production has resulted in excess nitrogen coming off farms – essentially adding unwanted, unneeded fertilizer to our natural systems, with disastrous results. The combustion of fossil fuels adds even more nitrogen to our environment. It’s a largely untold story.”
Scientists are calling nitrogen pollution a major environmental problem that includes significant damage to air and water quality in places such as the Chesapeake Bay, where the federal government has dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to reducing nitrogen runoff from farms and industry. Similarly, nitrogen runoff from Midwestern farms that ultimately flows into the Gulf of Mexico is largely responsible for toxic algal blooms that have suffocated coastal waters, leading to hypoxic zones, resulting in the loss of fish and shellfish.
To raise awareness, Galloway, a pioneering nitrogen scientist, organized a global team of experts to develop the footprint calculator as an educational tool – one he and his colleagues hope will both raise the profile of the nitrogen issue and galvanize people into action. By measuring what and how much you eat, as well as other factors like how you travel, the calculator shows your impact on the nitrogen cycle.
The website also makes recommendations for how to lessen your “nitrogen footprint.” They are similar to other sustainable living choices: reduce airplane travel, choose renewable energy and eat less meat, particularly beef (since cattle consume massive quantities of farmed feed, which requires much fertilizer). Professors and lecturers are already using the tool in classrooms to teach students how one individual can alter – and help restore – a natural nitrogen cycle.
“Solving the nitrogen dilemma is a major challenge of our time,” Leach said. “By calculating our individual impact, and taking small steps to reduce it, we can all play a part – and send a strong message to our nation’s leaders that we want this issue taken seriously.”
This new footprint calculator is the first in a series of research tools, known as N-Print [http://www.n-print.org/], which Galloway and his team are developing to connect the production of nitrogen with the policies used to manage it. The team is currently creating a similar calculator for farmers and other nitrogen users, as well as a tool for policymakers that will provide regional nitrogen emission ceilings, which will show how much nitrogen can be released in these regions without major negative environmental impact.
“There are readily available solutions to reducing nitrogen pollution,” Galloway said. “By connecting consumers, producers and policymakers, we can solve it.”
Chemical fertilizer use and combustion engines are the main sources of nitrogen pollution. Scientists who are recording dramatic changes to ecosystems from the U.S. to China say the disruption of the naturally occurring cycle of nitrogen through ecosystems due to human activity leads the list of global tipping points [http://bit.ly/95eWNn] and have named it a top threat to global biodiversity. It contributes to human health problems, water pollution, ozone layer depletion, smog, climate change and coastal dead zones. Nitrous oxide, created mostly from grain and meat production, is also a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
This project is supported by the Agouron Institute, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.Va., and the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands.
For information, visit: www.n-print.org/.
This is Dr. June Medford in her lab at Colorado State University.
Someday, that potted palm in your living room might go from green to white, alerting you to a variety of nasty contaminants in the air, perhaps even explosives.
The stuff of science fiction you say? Not so, says a Colorado State University biologist whose research is funded in part by Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), as well as by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and others.
Dr. June Medford and her team in the Department of Biology at Colorado State have shown that plants can serve as highly specific sentries for environmental pollutants and explosives. She’s enabled a computer-designed detection trait to work in plants. How? By rewiring the plant’s natural signaling process so that a detection of the bad stuff results in the loss of green color.
Based on research so far, Medford says the detection abilities of some plants (tobacco is an example) are similar to, or even better, than those of a dog’s snout, long the hallmark of a good detector. Best of all, the training time is nothing compared to that of a dog…..
This graphic shows de-greening in plants over a 48-hour period.