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Flame retardants found in butter

Researchers found very high levels of the flame retardant PBDE in one of ten samples of butter. The researchers believe the butter wrapper was the source of contamination, and they speculate that Deca-PBDE, which is being phased out of U.S. production, somehow got into the wrapping. Although the toxicology...

Amphibians face threats from chemicals across the landscape

Numerous prior posts have noted various theories and evidence for the reduction in number of frogs found in various environments. Taking a step back from focusing on agricultural lands and practices, some researchers are surveying the presence of frogs, including intersex frogs (those with both male...

Amoebas in drinking water: An untreated threat to health

EPA recently announced they are moving forward, contrary to the policy of the Bush Administration, with setting standards for various toxics in drinking water. Unfortunately, attention is not being given to a serious health threat, amoebas in drinking water. Amoebas (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki...

Where is the methane from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout?

Natural gas in various forms comprised approximately 2/3 of the hydrocarbons emitted from the Deepwater Horizon well blowout. Methane is believed to compose an estimated 87.5% of that natural gas. Sampling in June 2010 found no microbial breakdown of methane. [See http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330...

What killed off much of the explosion of life following the Cambrian "explosion"?

Prior posts have discussed the Cambrian explosion, and noted the evidence suggesting that it was a more gradual process than stereotypically described. However, there has been little solid evidence to explain why, following this alleged burst of complex life, a substantial extinction set in. As with...

Even toxics can act as a generic selection factor in the environment

One of the themes of this blog has been that virtually anything present in the environment can act as a selection factor influencing the course of evolution. A recent study on fish and PCB's and dioxins illustrates this point. Unfortunately for humans, the end result is not necessarily positive or...

Ninth Circuit rules that owners of storm water systems (e.g., cities, counties, districts) are liable for discharges of polluted stormwater into rivers and ocean

It is well known that stormwater gathers a variety of pollutants as it flows across the landscape and even through stormwater drainage systems. See, for example, http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=6 and http://www.epa.gov/owow_keep/NPS/index.html . In NRDC v. County of Los Angeles, Ninth...

9th Circuit upholds California's Vessel Fuel Rules in face of constitutional challenge

Prior posts have noted that California issued Vessel Fuel Rules designed to reduce air pollution created by ships moving along the coast. The Pacific Merchant Shipping Assoc. sued, alleging that it was unconstitutional to apply such rules to shipping more than 3 miles from the California Coast. The District...

NRDC challenge to EPA approval of California CAA SIP fails

California submitted a Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan to the EPA for approval. Pursuant to the "conformity rule" under 40 C.F.R. Section 93.118, the EPA conducted a review to determine whether the SIP's motor vehicle emissions budgets were adequate for transportation conformity...

Smoke from fires can travel thousands of miles impacting weather, climate, and air quality

Prior posts have noted the impact of fires in Southeast Asia on air pollution throughout the region. While it has been known for decades that large wildfires can create or enhance thunderstorm clouds, leading to what are called pyrocumulonimbus clouds ("pyroCbs"), only recently have researchers...

Eighth Circuit "clarifies" issues left unresolved in U.S. Supreme Court's Atlantic Research and Cooper Industries opinions

In 1983, the City sought to restore a long closed well for use as a drinking water resource. It received complaints re taste and odor. The State of Nebraska and EPA investigated, and ultimately the site was added to the NPL in 1986. EPA determined that the VOC contamination originated from seven source...

Diversity not only provides increased stability to ecological communities, it is more efficient for remediating contamination

It has long been an axiom of environmental science that a diverse ecological community (aka biodiversity) is more resilient and productive because it stabilizes the ecological system as a whole. This should not be confused with a focus on an individual species for which the complex interactions within...

Some bacteria found on grocery store meat are resistant to antibiotics, often many antibiotics

Prior posts have noted the unfortunate tendency in much of the world, including the U.S., to over prescribed antibiotics (even for conditions in which antibiotics are of no use whatsoever [e.g., viral infections]), resulting in disease-causing organisms that are resistant to many (if not almost all)...

Humans can transmit diseases to gorillas

Prior posts have noted and described a number of human diseases that had their origin in animals. Now it appears that some diseases can be transmitted from humans to gorillas. Ecotourism has been seen as a boon for countries with "interesting" biota; it provides funding for protection of...

Under California's Polanco Act, owners of a right-of-way to property are not owners or operators for subsurface contamination they did not cause and had no duty to investigate

California's Polanco Act provides a powerful (some would say one sided) tool for Redevelopment Agencies to force the remediation of a site subject to redevelopment, or to cause PRP's to reimburse such agencies for the remedial cost outlays. [As an aside, it should be noted that Governor Brown...

GAO: States are under reporting drinking water violations

EPA has delegated enforcement of drinking water standards to most States. EPA depends on the reported data to monitor the effectiveness of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) program. To assess the accuracy of the data reported, EPA asked GAO to audit the reports. Using data from the 14 States EPA audited...

EPA lacks authority to regulate nanomaterials, states EPA IG, even if regulations are soon issued under FIFRA and TSCA

Prior posts have noted the wide use of nanomaterials in consumer goods, and the threat to human health that particles of such size may pose. An example of the risk posed by nanomaterials is sunscreen. Dermal penetration of some nanomaterials into the skin can potentially pose a hazard to human health...

Ongoing exposure of numerous individuals to wind blown toxic materials comes within "mass action" exception to removal pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act

In Abraham v. St. Croix Renaissance Group , 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 9899 (3rd Cir. 2013), Defendant sought to remove the case pursuant to Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFE"). Plaintiffs (459 in number) alleged that defendant purchased the site at issue (a former alumina refinery operation) knowing...