Why We Should Tell People the Truth About the Environment Even When It Is Bad News


Editor Post | October 11, 2013

By Carolyn Raffensperger

“I think unless the people are given information about what is happening to them, they will die in ignorance. And I think that’s a big sin. I mean, if there is such a thing as a sin, that’s it, to destroy people and not have them have a clue about how this is happening.” Alice Walker

When people find out what I do for a living—addressing climate change, toxic chemicals, and loss of species—they ask me if I am optimistic that things will turn out ok. They ask, do I think there’s a viable future for their kids and their grandchildren? They are asking me for my professional judgment about the state of the world since I live and breathe each new study and every fact.

And my colleagues and allies in the environmental work have the same kinds of discussions about the science of endocrine disruptors, rising levels of carbon dioxide, and the acidification of the ocean. My colleagues say “that’s too negative. Focus on the good news! The solutions! We can’t tell people the bad news because it will turn them off!”

But here’s the deal—we are in deep trouble. Recent data suggest that humans will suffer more chronic debilitating diseases, most of our own making; climate will ricochet from one calamitous weather pattern to another; and frogs and pollinators will not survive the predations of industrial civilization. I write this essay from central Iowa where in 2010 we had record flooding. In 2012 we had record drought. And now in 2013 we have record rainfall and flooding, again.

Read more at http://livinggreenmag.com/2013/10/11/people-solutions/why-we-should-tell...

Under Pressure, Whole Foods Agrees to Stop Selling Produce Grown in Sewage Sludge

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) broke the story that the $12.9 billion-a-year natural and organic foods retailer Whole Foods Market had a policy of "don't ask, don't tell" when it comes to "conventional" -- or non-organic -- produce being grown in fields spread with sewage sludge, euphemistically called "biosolids." Certified organic produce cannot be fertilized with sewage sludge, which is the industrial and hospital waste and human excrement flushed down the drains and later -- in some cases -- spread on some crops.

Since this story broke, nearly 8,000 activists and PRWatch readers have sent emails to Whole Foods executives asking the company to require its suppliers to disclose this information and to label produce grown in sewage sludge so that customers can make informed decisions.

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Chemical Brain Drain: A Conversation with Philippe Grandjean

Chemical brain drain: insidious and pervasive

Today, one out of every six children suffers from some form of neurodevelopmental abnormality. The causes are mostly unknown. Some environmental chemicals are known to cause brain damage and many more are suspected of it, but few have been tested for such effects.

The brain’s development is uniquely sensitive to toxic chemicals, and even small deficits may negatively impact our academic achievements, economic success, risk of delinquency, and quality of life. Chemicals such as lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic, and certain solvents and pesticides pose an insidious threat to the development of the next generation’s brains. When chemicals in the environment affect the development of a child’s brain, he or she is at risk for cognitive deficits, learning disabilities, more serious mental retardation, ADHD, autism, cerebral palsy, and other disorders that will remain for a lifetime.

The chemical brain drain can be halted to protect the next generation’s brain power. First, we need to control all of the 200 industrial chemicals that have already been proven to affect brain functions in adults, as their effects on the developing brain are likely even worse. We must also demand routine testing for brain toxicity, stricter regulation of emissions of brain-toxic chemicals, and required disclosure on the part of industries who unleash these hazardous chemicals into products and the environment. Decisions can still be made to protect the brains of future generations – and some decisions appears to be seriously overdue. This site aims at furthering information on chemical risks to brain development and ways to protect the next generation against chemical brain drain.

Read the October, 2013 interview for Healthy Child Healthy World here.

Listen to the conversation about “Only one chance” organized by the Collaborative on Health and Environment on 3 December, 2013.

See the video by Philippe Grandjean (6 minutes):

Sewage Waste Lands


By Aaron Lake Smith | Al Jazeera America
October 23, 2013

ORANGE COUNTY, NC —

Berry-Jo Farms, a hay and beef-cattle operation, is run by Berry Andrews, a genial 74-year-old farmer. In the late 1980s, he was struggling to make ends meet when the Orange County Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) came around and bought up much of his property. OWASA offered to lease Andrews his land back for $1 an acre if he agreed to use municipal waste as fertilizer. After making his deal with OWASA, he sold his dairy operation and bought beef cattle. "I wouldn't be in business today if it wasn't for sludge," he said. "I may be a dumb farmer, but that sludge works better than regular fertilizer and is free."

Each year, the US produces eight million tons of dry sewage, referred to as biosolids, roughly half of which is processed and applied as a free fertilizer. Every year, Orange County, NC, alone produces and spreads about 18 million gallons of it. This mucky civilization by-product contains human excrement and has been found to include industrial runoff, oil, household chemicals, funeral-home waste and drugs. A recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) survey found heavy metals, PCBs, flame retardants, cocaine, antidepressants, birth-control medications and silver in treated sludge. EPA regulations for the land application of biosolids are some of the most lenient in the world, requiring wastewater-treatment plants to check for just nine of some 80,000 pollutants that can make it through processing and into sewage sludge.

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SSAN Joins Frack-Free NC Alliance


The Sewage Sludge Action Network has joined the Frack-Free NC Alliance. “Frack-Free NC” is a network of grassroots organizations who believe that shale gas development using “fracking” and horizontal drilling cannot be done without bringing harm to our waters, land, air, communities and public health. There are cases where fracking fluids are being ‘treated’ at waste water treatment plants, i.e. where the waste byproducts are introduced into sewage sludge. Fracking fluids contain upwards of 800 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic.

S.C. residents raising a stink over Charlotte’s sewage sludge

By Bruce Henderson
bhenderson@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Saturday, Mar. 16, 2013

Charlotte’s export of sewage sludge to rural South Carolina has made it a target of neighbors who say the stuff is making them sick.

A University of North Carolina study published last week supported their claims. It found evidence that sludge used to fertilize farm fields can be unhealthy for people who live up to a mile away.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/03/16/3919752/sc-residents-raising-a-stink-over.html#storylink=cpy