Posting in Environment
Two studies in one day, on items vital to our daily lives, show them to in fact be major pollution sources threatening our health and ecosystem on a daily basis.
But this quite another. Two studies in one day, on items vital to our daily lives, show them to in fact be major pollution sources threatening our health and ecosystem on a daily basis.
The study getting the most attention is on plastics. They are not as stable as we thought. They may degrade rather quickly in sea water. And they release dangerous chemicals like BPA as they do so. (Picture by CBS from Photobucket.)
The worst offender may be common Styrofoam. Japanese scientists simulated its decomposition and found a known carcinogen, styrene monomer, and two suspected carcinogens. As much as 150,000 tons of plastic, much of it Styrofoam, wash up on Japan alone each year.
Wired found some scientists skeptical of the study. They said most plastic sinks to the bottom, that temperatures there are very low, and it is unlikely to break down there.
Of course one of the skeptics quoted is Charles Moore, who 10 years ago discovered The Great Garbage Patch, a section of garbage-strewn ocean larger than Texas killing wildlife between California and Hawaii. The Great Garbage Patch is the good news.
Closer to home we have coal ash.
Even if clean coal advocates are right, and we can capture the carbon used in burning coal, that just leaves more coal ash. And coal ash is deadly stuff.
Scientists from Duke and Georgia Tech are about to publish a piece in Environmental Science & Technology studying the impact of a coal ash spill in Tennessee last year. Samples taken upstream and downstream included arsenic, mercury, even radium. When coal ash dries the dust can be deadly.
The results are in-line with those blacked-out by the Bush Administration in 2002 and finally released this year.
And there is worse news. The containment ponds around most coal plants, like the one that broke open in Tennessee, may not really be containing anything. Coal ash may still end up in the environment.
I should add here that the American South, where I live, is almost totally dependent on coal-fired power plants, with two of the three worst offenders located in my home state of Georgia. The worst is less than 100 miles south of Atlanta.
Aug 19, 2009
Our whole concept of making something, throwing it away, (into a landfill or the ocean) and expect it to go away is the most thinking in the world and yet this is what the average American thinks, out of sight means out of thinking where it ends up and what the short and long term consequences are. All the landfills we have in the U.S. are like a cancer on the land and eventually on the people. They all leak and end up in our ground water system..A better use is to follow the lead of Europe. They do not allow landfills and thru different process turn the waste into reusable soil and the balance into energy that is used to create electricity..If we did that same thing we would create enough electricity to power our entire national grid system.
The headline that links to this article is poorly written. It says: Why pollution is much worse than imagined Studies we've done on pollution have underestimated our ability to keep it under wraps. Here's why the mistake is deadly. Haven't we OVERestimated our ability to keep it under wraps?
Our whole concept of making something, throwing it away, (into a landfill or the ocean) and expect it to go away is the most nieve thinking in the world and yet this is what the average American thinks, out of sight means out of thinking where it ends up and what the short and long term consequences are....All the landfills we have in the U.S. are like a cancer on the land and eventually on the people..They all leak and end up in our ground water system..A better use is to follow the lead of Europe. They do not allow landfills and thru different processess turn the waste into reusable soil and the balance into energy that is used to create electricity..If we did that same thing we would create enough electricity to power our entire national grid system....
There is an EPA-approved in-situ remediation biotechnology that's been proven to destroy a wide range of soil and groundwater contaminants such as chlorinated solvents (like TCE used at dry cleaners), pesticides/herbicides (like Atrazine used on golf courses), heavy metals (like Arsenic found in alot of drinking water wells), organic explosives (like TNT used on military bases), and petroleum hydrocarbons (like MTBE found at gas stations). The firm is called ADVENTUS. Check out their website for case studies at www.AdventusGroup.com
That's a carefully worded response from Walkercom. But a quick Internet search indicates that styrene is a suspected carcinogen, even if it is not yet been proven as the cause of cancer in humans. Hell, no one is ever 100% sure what causes people to get sick and die, especially with cancer. Is not the EPA looking at styrene? http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts53.pdf http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iristrac/index.cfm? fuseaction=viewChemical.showChemical&sw_id=1051 http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/index.cfm?objectid=03CA669F-E646-EDBC- 287EFAC0676E8859
Are you saying that science which disagrees with your own biases should not be funded? I find that idea silly. I have no doubt a lot of work is being done on plastic toxicity, and how it breaks down in the environment. While I have you on the line, have you seen much work on the use of corn starch as an ingredient in plastic bags that would help them decompose more rapidly? That's a story I would love to follow up on.
I appreciate your note and hope you are right. I merely reported on the Japanese findings here, and did not do an independent evaluation.
Fly ash is a type of coal ash. The other type is bottom ash. For more, see Wikipedia's article on fly ash at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fly_ash
OHNO, the sky is falling! Considerable effort has gone into making plastics nontoxic, and it will continue, with or without the scare talk. In Japan, just as here, a lot of folks make a very good living trolling for grants. While they pound on their self serving little drums, the rest of us pay. We should all be a bit more skeptical.
Contrary to some media reports stemming from an August 19 press conference (and news release associated with it) during the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Washington, the chemical styrene is not a known human carcinogen and polystyrene plastic neither contains, nor does it break down into bisphenol A (BPA). The press conference focused on new, as-yet-unpublished research led by Katsuhiko Saido of Nihon University, Chiba, Japan, suggesting that plastics ? notably polystyrene -- in the oceans break down, leaving products of their decomposition, including styrene monomer and styrene dimers and trimers. During the press conference, no mention was made of styrene?s potential carcinogenicity, nor was there any mention of a relationship between polystyrene and BPA, although one of the researchers did cite BPA as a potential breakdown product of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. Styrene monomer is the building-block chemical from which polystyrene is made. No authoritative body anywhere in the world considers styrene to be a known human carcinogen. Any specific statement concerning the researcher?s findings about polystyrene would be premature at this time since we have not seen and are not familiar with this work. -- Joe Walker for the Styrene Information and Research Center, Arlington, Va.
If "coal ash" is the same thing as "fly ash", there was a series of programs on the PBS station of Southern Illinois University (WSIU) a year or two ago, where they added "fly ash" to the concrete mix they were using. While it did slow the drying/curing process of the concrete, it gave the mix added strength and durability. How does that sound as an idea for sequestration of the carbon residue?