Health and Environment

Highly Recommended Articles

 

Environmental Toxins

Professor Tyrone B Hayes (2005). Sex, Lies and Herbicides: The Truth About Atrazine The Rachel Carson Memorial Lecture, Pesticides News 70 December 2005.
Endocrine disruption, amphibian declines and environmental justice. The remarkable story of one Professor’s visit to Washington and why he went there. In 2002, Professor Tyrone Hayes sparked off a controversy with experiments showing that atrazine, one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, could feminize male frogs at concentrations 30 times lower than that legally allowed in US drinking water. And that was only the beginning….

Harrison, E. Z., & McBride, M. (2009). Case for Caution Revisited: Health and Environmental Impacts of Sewage Sludges to Agricultural Land. Cornell Waste Management Institute, Dept. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Rice Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY,[Online] URL: http://cwmi. css. cornell. edu/case. pdf.
Published by Cornell Waste Management Institute, this report is a reading list of recent papers raising concerns about the agricultural application of sewage sludge. Since the original US approval of sewage sludge applications in agriculture, much has changed, including a wealth of new research on hazards due to pathogens, heavy metals, endocrine disruptors, antibiotics (including microban), flame retardants and other persistent organic pollutants. This research includes not only the toxicity of these chemicals and pathogens but also their behavior in the environment.

 

Pathogens and Health


Lewis, D. L., & Gattie, D. K. (2002). Peer Reviewed: Pathogen Risks From Applying Sewage Sludge to Land. Environmental science & technology, 36(13), 286A-293A.
Treated sewage sludge (also known as ‘biosolids’) is widely applied to agricultural land, forests, and other lands as a source of nitrogen and phosphorus. Even after “treatment” this sludge contains pathogens and toxins, including heavy metals. Despite complaints of illnesses or even the deaths of livestock and people exposed to land applied sewage sludge, little is known about the dangers such as breathing the dusts. Lewis and Gattie review what is known about pathogen risks, which can be exacerbated by chemical toxins, and what needs to be known to develop science-based policies that adequately protect the public. Their insightful analysis is still valid today, as the public health and environmental effects of land applied sewage sludge are key under-researched areas.

 

Assessing Health Solutions

Meffe, G. K. (1992). Techno‐Arrogance and Halfway Technologies: Salmon Hatcheries on the Pacific Coast of North America. Conservation Biology, 6(3), 350-354.
Salmon stocks have declined drastically over the last century. Overfishing and widespread habitat destruction (e.g. due to logging, dams) are the root causes. However on the Pacific Coast of North America, the preferred solution has been salmon hatcheries. While providing the illusion of a solution, hatcheries not only fail to stem the problem of Salmon population decline but exacerbate it. This insightful article describes the tremendous costs of the hatchery techno-fix, including its unintended detrimental effects on wild salmon populations and genetics. It discusses the failure of techno-fixes in general and advocates an ecology-based approach to solving environmental problems.

Horrobin, D. F. (2003). Modern biomedical research: an internally self-consistent universe with little contact with medical reality?. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 2(2), 151-154.
Is most health research on the completely wrong track? Are the assumptions underlying current heavily funded medical research, from cell culture and animal disease models to genomics, congruent with the real world? Challenging the validity of such reductionist approaches, Horrobin asks, “Is it really too much to think that a direct assault on human disease by studying humans might be at least as productive as the massive investment in investigation of unvalidated animal and in vitro models?” Ten years later, Horrobin’s concerns have been validated and public health continues to suffer as the reductionist biomedical research paradigm becomes further entrenched and further removed from human health.

Epstein, S. S. (2000). Legislative proposals for reversing the cancer epidemic and controlling run-away industrial technologies. International Journal of Health Services, 30(2), 353-371.
Ending the cancer epidemic requires an accurate understanding of its causes. Unique in its frankness, this paper underscores the central role of industrial toxins. Topics include: Why industry-derived safety studies are untrustworthy. How industries suppress their own findings of toxicity. Toxic consumer goods. Epstein’s solutions on how to eliminate many cancers by eliminating toxics include: Imposing high legal penalties for white collar crimes including suppressing data or releasing toxic products; Requiring full disclosure on labels; Requiring proof of safety before releasing a new product; Government funding of research into non-toxic replacements; Requirements to phase out toxics in a short time-frame and to monitor phase outs.

Assessing Environmental Solutions

 

Understanding the Neo-Greens
Quick reference Neo-green playbook table compiled in April 2015 by Allison Wilson, The Bioscience Resource Project. The Anthropocene or Neo-Green movement: Key people; Key words or phrases; Main claims; Strategies and Goals. Also see Open Letter to Reclaim Environmentalism – please read, sign, and share. “Environmentalism is not about insulating this culture from the effects of its world-destroying activities. Nor is it about trying to perpetuate these world-destroying activities. We are reclaiming environmentalism to mean protecting the natural world from this culture.”

Biofuels: Environmental Consequences and Interactions with Changing Land Use. Proceedings of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE). International Biofuels Project Rapid Assessment 22-25 September 2008 Gummersbach, Germany. R.W. Howarth and S. Bringezu, editors. 2009.
Surrounded by hype, biofuels urgently need a rigorous and wide-ranging assessment of their value. This report is a genuine attempt to do that by more than 75 scientists from 21 countries and a wide diversity of disciplines. It tackles questions like can biofuels work on local scales, on degraded land or using waste products, and should they ever be integrated into liquid fuels? Other questions tackled include the prospects for new technologies, for maximizing other social benefits and biofuels in developing countries.

 

Websites

Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) From leaking landfills and polluted drinking water to incinerators and hazardous waste sites, CHEJ can help you and your community take action towards a healthier future.

Center for a Livable Future (CLF) Making connections between food, farming and health, CLF has three program areas — farming, eating and living for our future. They are engaged in three principal activities: research, educational outreach and community action. Their website has many valuable resources including newslinks and links to important scientific papers on topics including, for example, Industrial Animal Production and Pubic Health.

Environmental Health Sciences A not-for-profit organization founded to increase public understanding of scientific links between environmental exposures and human health.

R.E.A.P. Canada Why turn plant matter into ethanol before you burn it? Far more efficient, productive and inexpensive would be to burn it directly to heat homes and offices. Grass pellets have potential as a low-tech, small-scale, environmentally-friendly and renewable energy system that can be locally produced, locally processed and locally consumed. One challenge is to grow biomass in polycultures rather than monocultures. Another is to keep it small-scale and local.

Sludge News “Sludge is thus inevitably a noxious brew of vastly various and incompatible materials unpredictable in themselves and in the toxicity of their amalgamation.” Sewage sludge is also known as “biosolids.” It can be disposed of on agricultural land as a “soil amendment.” Given that it can harbor heavy metals, pharmaceutical wastes and various pathogens — what are its implications for environmental and human health?

Statistically funnyCommenting on the science of unbiased health research with cartoons.” Hilda Bastian explains vital statistical issues in health care research and reporting.

TEDX: The Endocrine Disruption Exchange “The only organization that focuses primarily on the human health and environmental problems caused by low-dose and/or ambient exposure to chemicals that interfere with development and function, called endocrine disruptors.” Endocrine disruptors include plastics, pesticides, and many other synthetic chemicals used in industry and found in the home. Informative website also links to research papers and has a searchable data base.

The Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s (CHE’s) The Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s (CHE’s) primary mission is to strengthen the science dialogue on environmental factors impacting human health and to facilitate collaborative, multifactorial, prevention-oriented efforts to address environmental health concerns.

Yale Environment 360 Yale Environment 360 offers opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. It features original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers and business people, as well as a daily digest of major environmental news.