Wednesday, December 29, 2004

 

Herbal Remedies Found to Contain Toxic Heavy Metals

** Herbal Remedies Found to Contain Toxic Heavy Metals

Some herbal remedies may do more harm than good. Researchers report
that 20 percent of herbal medicine products sampled contained
dangerous levels of heavy metals.

This article is from www.ScientificAmerican.com - Weekly Review December 21, 2004


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

 

Male Fish Growing Eggs Found in Potomac

SHARPSBURG, Md. Dec 21, 2004 — Male fish that are growing eggs have been found in the Potomac River near Sharpsburg, a sign that a little-understood type of pollution is spreading downstream from West Virginia, a federal scientist says.

The so-called intersex abnormality may be caused by pollutants from sewage plants, feedlots and factories that can interfere with animals' hormone systems, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Nine male smallmouth bass taken from the Potomac near Sharpsburg, about 60 miles upstream from Washington, were found to have developed eggs inside their sex organs, said Vicki S. Blazer, a scientist overseeing the research for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Authorities say the problems are likely related to a class of pollutants called endocrine disruptors, which short-circuit animals' natural systems of hormone chemical messages.
For the complete story just click the link


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Monday, December 20, 2004

 

Water contamination, health concerns spur lawsuit

SARASOTA, FL — Eight residents have filed a $500 million lawsuit against CSX Transportation creating a controversy over the area's drinking water, according to a Dec. 17 article by the Herald Tribune.The use of cancer-causing chemicals by the company nearly 50 years ago may have poisoned the soil and drinking water supply in the hamlet of Hull, FL, the newspaper said.Environmental agencies consider the issue a dangerous threat to members of the community, and the suit claims that some residents may be suffering health problems due to creosote exposure through the hazardous chemicals used in the past, the paper said.The Department of Environmental Protection fears that carcinogens may have leached into the groundwater, and are a potential threat to Peace River, which supplies drinking water to more than 100,000 people in three neighboring counties, the article said.

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Monday, December 13, 2004

 

Tejon Ranch contends it has enough water

"Plans to develop the rugged Tejon Ranch, a vast stretch of mountains and desert valleys 50 miles north of Los Angeles, have swirled for nearly a century. But one roadblock persisted: the lack of a reliable water supply."

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Leak to fuel additive ban?; Substance blamed for contaminating Dover wells

Leak to fuel additive ban?; Substance blamed for contaminating Dover wellsBy Tom Eldred, Delaware State News
DOVER - Confirmation of private wells in south Dover being contaminated with MTBE has again raised the question of whether the controversial gasoline additive should be banned in Delaware.
The Delaware State News reported Wednesday that at least 21 private wells southeast of U.S. 13 in Dover are polluted with MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) because of a gasoline leak at a nearby service station.
Meanwhile, a second station in the same neighborhood has been identified as the possible source of another leak.
Officials from the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control fear both emissions could be forming individual "plumes'' of pollution flowing underground toward Moores Lake.
According to the Delaware Division of Public Health, there are about 141,000 private well owners in Delaware, or 18 percent of residents.
MTBE is a chemical that is added to gasoline to increase octane and help reduce harmful emissions from vehicle exhausts. Use began in the 1970s to replace lead in gasoline and increased in the 1990s as a method to meet oxygenate mandates in the federal Clean Air Act.
Because MTBE dissolves quickly in water and takes longer to break down than other chemicals, it can easily invade wells and other sources of drinking water.
When concentrations reach higher-than-accepted levels, MTBE can cause water to have a bitter taste like turpentine. Tests have shown that extremely high levels cause cancer in rodents.
Rep. Richard C. Cathcart, R-Middletown, has been trying for years to prohibit the use of MTBE in Delaware because of repeated gasoline spills and leaks from fuel storage tanks.
He's been the prime sponsor of House Bill 249, which seeks to ban MTBE from all gasoline sold or distributed in Delaware.
The measure passed the state House of Representatives in 2002 and 2004 but failed to make it to the full Senate for a vote.
"We definitely plan to re-introduce this legislation during the next session,'' Rep. Cathcart said Wednesday.
"Three or four years ago Artesian Water Co. had a problem when one of their wells became contaminated from a Superfund site. I started looking into it. MTBE moves very quickly. It's a very volatile chemical and possible carcinogen. It's also very expensive and difficult to remove from the aquifer.''
Rep. Cathcart said he was surprised HB 249 bogged down in the Senate.
"I have no clue why it stalled,'' he said. "I don't know of any lobbying interest that's opposing it. We're certainly not the first state to ban it.''
At least 18 states have already passed legislation prohibiting the use of MTBE.
DNREC hydrologist Dr. Patricia Ellis has been advocating against the use of MTBE for years. She served on a panel created by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 1998 to review the risks of MTBE and other additives.
The panel recommended that the EPA greatly reduce or eliminate MTBE requirements through federal legislation.
Ms. Ellis said she wants state lawmakers take a stand on the issue.
"Every year I get my hopes up and then they're dashed,'' she said. "If we did get it banned in Delaware, we'd probably go to ethanol as an alternative. There are some problems with ethanol but it's a lot better that MTBE.''
Ms. Ellis said a stumbling block with ethanol could be its transport because most of it is produced in the Midwest and must be mixed with gasoline at bulk plants, just prior to delivery to retail outlets.
"I can tell you that most of the major petroleum companies would like to get out of using MTBE,'' she said. "It's costing them a fortune.''
Rep. Cathcart agreed.
"The interesting thing about this is that the petroleum industry recognizes the dangers of this,'' he said. "The only reason we're adding these fuel additives right now is because the federal government requires it.''
Gary Patterson, executive director of the Delaware Petroleum Council, said his organization fully supports an MTBE ban in the First State.
"I've been supportive of (Rep. Cathcart's) bill and I worked with him and his committee on it,'' Mr. Patterson said.
"The Petroleum Council supports this bill. I also think when he brings it back (to the General Assembly) it will include other ether-like substances that should be banned also.''
Mr. Patterson said the problems goes back to Congress and the 1990 Clean Air Act that required certain regions of the country - including Delaware - to start using lower-polluting fuels to meet national air-quality standards.
"Our hope is that Congress passes some sort of legislation to address this,'' he said. "EPA has been reluctant to give Delaware a waiver. We believe something needs to be done about it.''
He said the petroleum industry had little choice but to start using additives like MTBE in order to fulfill the requirements of the Clean Air Act.
"The industry was forced to start using it in the first place,'' he said. "We will be very glad to see it leave.''
Post comments on this issue at newsblog.info/0402.
Senior writer Tom Eldred can be reached at 741-8212 or teldred@newszap.com.

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Testing innovative ways to treat arsenic-contaminated water

Testing innovative ways to treat arsenic-contaminated water

08 Dec 2004

Over the next few weeks researchers at the National Nuclear Security Administration's Sandia National Laboratories will begin testing innovative ways to treat arsenic-contaminated water in an effort to reduce costs to municipalities of meeting the new arsenic standard issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The testing is sponsored by the Arsenic Water Technology Partnership (AWTP), a multiyear-program funded by a congressional appropriation through the U.S. Department of Energy. "The goals of the program are to develop, demonstrate, and disseminate information about cost-effective water treatment technologies in order to help small communities in the Southwest and other parts of the country comply with the new EPA standard," says Malcolm Siegel, Sandia Arsenic Treatment Technology Demonstration Project Manager. The tests will be conducted at a geothermal spring used to supply drinking water to Socorro, N.M., a town of about 9,000 residents located 80 miles south of Albuquerque. Installation of test equipment will be completed in December by Sandians Randy Everett and Brian Dwyer, and regular operations will begin before Christmas following a preliminary "shakedown" period. Another member of the team, Alicia Aragon, will present results of laboratory studies supporting the pilot tests at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Society in San Francisco next week. AWTP members include Sandia, the Awwa Research Foundation (AwwaRF), and WERC, a Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development. The Awwa Research Foundation is managing bench-scale research programs. Sandia will conduct the demonstration program, and WERC will evaluate the economic feasibility of the technologies investigated and conduct technology transfer activities. Congressional support and design of the Arsenic Water Technology Partnership was developed under the leadership of U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., to help small communities comply with the new EPA drinking water standard for arsenic. The new regulation, which will go into effect in January 2006, reduces the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) from 50 micrograms per liter (µg/L) to 10 µg/L and is designed to reduce the incidence of bladder and lung cancers caused by exposure to arsenic. Levels of naturally occurring arsenic in the Southwestern U.S. often exceed the new MCL. The new compliance requirements will impact small communities in the country that lack the appropriate treatment infrastructure and funding to reduce arsenic to such levels. The pilot test in Socorro will compare five innovative technologies developed by universities, small businesses, and large well-established water treatment companies and should last about nine months. These treatment processes were chosen from more than 20 candidate technologies that were reviewed by teams of technical experts at Arsenic Treatment Technology Vendor Forums organized by Sandia and held at the 2003 and 2004 New Mexico Environmental Health Conferences. Sandia is developing plans for future tests in rural and Native American communities in New Mexico and other parts of the country. These additional sites will be chosen through consultation with a number of agencies including the New Mexico Environment Department, the EPA, the Indian Health Service, the Navajo Nation EPA, and the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council. In addition, the AWTP will post a website application where interested communities can ask to be considered for a pilot. The demonstrations will involve additional technologies reviewed at the vendor forums and others developed from the laboratory studies managed by AwwaRF. Educational forums will be organized by WERC at the start of a pilot demonstration to introduce community members to the program and after the test is completed to describe the test results. The first forum will be held on Dec. 15 as part of the meeting of the New Mexico Rural Water Association at the Holiday Inn Express in Socorro. Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness. Release available at http://www.sandia.gov/news-center/news-releases/2004/environ-waste-mgmt/arsenic.html Sandia media contact: Chris Burroughs, coburro@sandia.gov, 505-844-0948 Sandia Technical Contact: Malcolm Siegel, msiegel@sandia.gov 505-844-5426 Sandia National Laboratories' World Wide Web home page is located at http://www.sandia.gov. Sandia news releases, news tips, science photo gallery, and periodicals can be found at the News Center button. Contact: Chris Burroughscoburro@sandia.gov505-844-0948DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

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'Star Trek' device can test water for safety

LIVERMORE 'Star Trek' device can test water for safety Sandia introduces 'Micro Chem Lab' to foil terrorists

A device designed to test the purity of water with the ease and speed of a "Star Trek" doctor diagnosing a disease using a "tricorder" was unveiled Monday at Sandia National Laboratories' branch in Livermore.
If terrorists dump viruses, bacteria or bio-warfare toxins into public water supplies, the deadly agents can be detected within seconds or minutes by the portable, cardinal-colored gadget, which is roughly the size and shape of a pre-cellular-age tabletop phone.
Once perfected, the three-pound, battery-powered device will "increase the safety of our nation's water supply" during the terrorist era, Sandia Vice President Mim John said at a news conference at the nuclear weapons lab.
Sandia's "Micro Chem Lab" is part of a larger, terrorist-era effort to develop briefcase-size -- and smaller -- gadgets that are, in effect, portable laboratories. They can be hauled into the field for quick detection of deadly chemicals, biological agents and radioactive materials. The research has been heavily funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Office of Homeland Security and the U.S. Energy Department.
At the news conference, Energy Department spokesperson Larry Adcock recalled how in 1996, Sandia representatives came to him and said, "We're going to build a tricorder." This was a half-joking allusion to the hand-held "Star Trek" gizmo -- usually used by the gruff starship physician Dr. Leonard McCoy, known as "Bones" and played by DeForest Kelley -- that automatically identified a patient's illness.
Existing municipal water systems can't routinely detect all microbial threats in the water supply. Even routine tests for such threats might take many hours in order for investigators to gather water samples and analyze them in a lab.
Worse, such killer microbes and chemicals consist of molecules that are so small that they might easily slip past reservoirs' hazard detectors.
By contrast, the Micro Chem Lab can spot dangerous molecules consisting of just a few hundred atoms, Sandia officials said at the news conference.
And it can identify them quickly, "in seconds to minutes, faster than existing systems," John said.
Aside from terrorism worries, water purity is a growing international concern because the world's population is growing and its water supply isn't. In developing nations, where epidemic diseases sometimes travel by water, the Sandia device could provide a quick way to test basic purity of local water, officials said.
"Is this any good?" one official at the news conference asked jokingly, waving a bottle of mineral water.
The Micro Chem Lab works partly by exploiting physical principles similar to those used in a now-standard technique for identifying DNA, called gel electrophoresis. In that technique, DNA, which carries a negative electrical charge, migrates through a gelatinous substance toward a positive electrical charge. As the DNA moves along through the gel, it leaves line-like "fingerprints" that identify the DNA's molecular structure.
Likewise, the Micro Chem Lab feeds water samples through extremely thin, hair-like tubes filled with gel. As the samples slip through the gel toward a positive or negative electrical charge, they leave chemical traces of large protein molecules. Different viruses, bacteria and biotoxins are characterized by their abundance of certain proteins. By identifying these "fingerprint" proteins, the device can identify the deadly agents.
Sandia has spent roughly $30 million developing Micro Chem Lab since 1996, said Sandia spokesperson Mike Janes.
E-mail Keay Davidson at kdavidson@sfchronicle.com.

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Sandia to Begin Testing Innovative Arsenic Removal Technologies in New Mexico

Over the next few weeks researchers at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Sandia National Laboratories will begin testing innovative ways to treat arsenic-contaminated water in an effort to reduce costs to municipalities of meeting the new arsenic standard issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The testing is sponsored by the Arsenic Water Technology Partnership (AWTP), a multiyear-program funded by a congressional appropriation through the U.S. Department of Energy.
"The goals of the program are to develop, demonstrate, and disseminate information about cost-effective water treatment technologies in order to help small communities in the Southwest and other parts of the country comply with the new EPA standard," said Malcolm Siegel, Sandia Arsenic Treatment Technology Demonstration Project Manager.
The tests will be conducted at a geothermal spring used to supply drinking water to Socorro, N.M., a town of about 9,000 residents located 80 miles south of Albuquerque.
Installation of test equipment will be completed in December by Sandians Randy Everett and Brian Dwyer, and regular operations will begin before Christmas following a preliminary "shakedown" period. Another member of the team, Alicia Aragon, will present results of laboratory studies supporting the pilot tests at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Society in San Francisco next week.
AWTP members include Sandia, the Awwa Research Foundation (AwwaRF), and WERC, a Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development.
The Awwa Research Foundation is managing bench-scale research programs. Sandia will conduct the demonstration program, and WERC will evaluate the economic feasibility of the technologies investigated and conduct technology transfer activities.
Congressional support and design of the Arsenic Water Technology Partnership was developed under the leadership of U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., to help small communities comply with the new EPA drinking water standard for arsenic. The new regulation, which will go into effect in January 2006, reduces the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) from 50 micrograms per liter (µg/L) to 10 µg/L and is designed to reduce the incidence of bladder and lung cancers caused by exposure to arsenic.
Levels of naturally occurring arsenic in the Southwestern U.S. often exceed the new MCL. The new compliance requirements will impact small communities in the country that lack the appropriate treatment infrastructure and funding to reduce arsenic to such levels.
The pilot test in Socorro will compare five innovative technologies developed by universities, small businesses, and large well-established water treatment companies and should last about nine months. These treatment processes were chosen from more than 20 candidate technologies that were reviewed by teams of technical experts at Arsenic Treatment Technology Vendor Forums organized by Sandia and held at the 2003 and 2004 New Mexico Environmental Health Conferences.
Sandia is developing plans for future tests in rural and Native American communities in New Mexico and other parts of the country. These additional sites will be chosen through consultation with a number of agencies including the New Mexico Environment Department, the EPA, the Indian Health Service, the Navajo Nation EPA, and the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council. In addition, the AWTP will post a website application where interested communities can ask to be considered for a pilot.
The demonstrations will involve additional technologies reviewed at the vendor forums and others developed from the laboratory studies managed by AwwaRF. Educational forums will be organized by WERC at the start of a pilot demonstration to introduce community members to the program and after the test is completed to describe the test results. The first forum will be held on Dec. 15 as part of the meeting of the New Mexico Rural Water Association at the Holiday Inn Express in Socorro.
Source: SNL December 10, 2004

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