Rachel's Democracy & Health News #918

"Environment, health, jobs and justice--Who gets to decide?"

Thursday, August 2, 2007................Printer-friendly version
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Featured stories in this issue...

Commentary -- Adding Fluoride To Drinking Water: A Good Idea?
  This carefully-researched article raises important scientific,
  medical, and ethical questions about the advisability of medicating
  entire communities by fluoridating the local water supply. Even if
  fluoridation seemed appropriate at one time, does it still seem
  appropriate today? Recently hundreds of professionals have been
  signing a statement opposing fluoridation of drinking water
The Durban Declaration on Carbon Trading
  Carbon trading has been widely endorsed by business, industry,
  and even many U.S. environmental groups. But there's an aspect of it
  that seems to have been overlooked -- fairness and justice.
A U.S. Health Agency Is Studying a Town Being Poisoned
  A town in Louisiana is being exposed to unusually high levels of
  the potent poisin, dioxin, while a U.S. health agency stands aloof
  taking notes. Is this ethical?
Coal Ash Is Being 'Recycled' as Neighbors Worry About Toxics
  People living near the road projects have complained about the coal
  ash, sold under the name EZBase. They say it drifts into yards, covers
  cars and irritates some people's breathing. "I can't believe there's
  not harmful things in that," said Bob Cowell. "I just feel that we
  were being experimented with.... Who knows how much hazardous material
  was in that stuff?" It's a fair question.
Wind To Coal: You're Fired
  "Wind power is on track to soon play a major role in reducing
  fossil fuel dependence and slowing the buildup of greenhouse gases in
  the atmosphere," according to Worldwatch Senior Researcher Janet
Surprising New Information About Neglected Kinds of PCBs
  Most of the early work on PCB-associated health problems focused on
  the coplanar molecules, but there is new evidence that non-coplanar
  PCBs "... are reported to prevent dopamine production in monkey
  brains, to alter behavior in rats, and may even alter
  neuropsychological functioning in children," explains first author Tal
  Kenet, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts
  General Hospital.
The Mirage of Nuclear Power
  The nuclear industry has never proved that it can deliver on its
  far-fetched dreams.


From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #918, Aug. 2, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


By Ted Schettler MD, MPH

[Dr. Ted Schettler is science director of the Science and
Environmental Health Network. He has co-authored two books on
children's health, In Harm's Way, and Generations at Risk, as well
as numerous articles.]

Seeking to prevent tooth decay, many U.S. communities add fluoride to
public drinking water, usually in the form of hydrofluorosilicic acid,
which is a waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry.

From the beginning, the practice was controversial, but the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Dental
Association (ADA) have vigorously supported it. The CDC claims that
fluoridating public drinking water is one of the ten great public
health achievements of the 20th century, giving it primary credit for
the decline in tooth decay in the U.S. Despite their enthusiasm,
abundant evidence raises serious concerns about the safety and
efficacy of adding fluoride to drinking water today.

Since 1945, when the public health intervention began, much has
changed with regard to dental health. Several trends are worth

* Tooth decay has markedly declined in countries and communities that
do not fluoridate drinking water as well as in those that do. Dramatic
increases in the use of topically-applied fluoride-containing oral
hygiene products are likely to have played a role, along with other

* Today people are exposed to fluoride from bottled drinks,
toothpaste, fluoride drops and treatments, pesticides,
pharmaceuticals, and industrial discharges. As a result, dental
fluorosis, a condition entirely attributable to excessive fluoride
intake, is increasing in a substantial portion of the U.S.

* A somewhat surprising trend that may increase risks associated with
fluoride ingestion involves dietary iodine. In recent years,
inadequate iodine intake has become common in the U.S. According to
the CDC, the average urinary iodine level today is half what it was in
1971.[2] The agency estimates that 36% of U.S. women now have sub-
optimal iodine intake. Adequate dietary iodine is essential for
producing normal amounts of thyroid hormone. Excessive dietary
fluoride can also lower thyroid hormone production. Excess fluoride
and inadequate iodine intake combined increase risks of

Much research addresses the potential benefits and adverse impacts of
fluoride ingestion. Yet, many data gaps remain. We know that:

* Tooth decay is an infectious process and its origins are
multifactorial. General dietary practices, nutrition, oral hygiene,
socioeconomic status, and access to dental care play direct and
indirect roles. The relative contribution of each depends on the

* To the extent that fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay or slow its
progression, the predominant advantage is from topical application
rather than through ingestion.[3] Topical application includes
fluoride in toothpaste, drops, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments
in a dental office, as well as from drinking fluoride-containing

* There is little disagreement that ingested fluoride has adverse
effects as exposures increase beyond some amount.[4] The question is,
at what level of exposure do adverse effects begin and when do they
begin to outweigh any potential benefits?

* Individuals drinking water with "optimal" fluoride[5] have, on
average, less than one fewer missing, decayed, or filled tooth surface
than individuals whose drinking water does not have added fluoride.[6]
With respect to prevention of tooth decay, therefore, the benefits of
fluoride in drinking water are relatively minor. That is not to say
that tooth decay has not declined during the last 50 years (it has),
or that fluoride has not contributed (it has, but primarily through
topical application from many sources), but rather that putting
fluoride in drinking water today plays a relatively minor role when
compared to other variables.

* Excessive fluoride ingestion from all sources causes dental
fluorosis. This is not "just" a cosmetic effect. Dental fluorosis
interferes with the integrity of tooth enamel. Many experts conclude
that moderate and severe fluorosis can increase the risk of tooth
decay. Severe dental fluorosis rises sharply when drinking water
levels of fluoride exceed 2 ppm [parts per million].

Depending on the level of exposure, a number of adverse health effects
may be linked to fluoride ingestion. In humans, they include bone
cancer, bone fracture, skeletal fluorosis, arthritis, impaired thyroid
hormone status, impaired neurodevelopment of children, and
calcification of the pineal gland. Data are often inconsistent and
important information gaps remain. In general, the threshold exposure
level at which the risks of various health effects significantly
increase is not well understood.

In 2006, an expert committee convened by the National Academy of
Sciences issued a report reviewing the appropriateness of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's current maximum contaminant level
for fluoride in drinking water. The NAS committee concluded:

1) "under certain conditions fluoride can weaken bone and increase the
risk of fracture;"

2) "high concentrations of fluoride exposure might be associated with
alterations in reproductive hormones, effects on fertility, and
developmental outcomes, but [study] design limitations make those
studies insufficient for risk evaluation,"

3) "the consistency of results [in a few epidemiologic studies in
China] appears significant enough to warrant additional research on
the effects of fluoride on intelligence"

4) "the chief endocrine effects of fluoride exposures in experimental
animals and in humans include decreased thyroid function, increased
calcitonin activity, increased parathyroid hormone activity, secondary
hyperparathyroidism, impaired glucose tolerance, and possible effects
on timing of sexual maturity. Some of these effects are associated
with fluoride intake that is achievable at fluoride concentrations in
drinking water of 4 mg/L [milligrams per liter] or less, especially
for young children or for individuals with high water intake."

5) "the evidence on the potential of fluoride to initiate or promote
cancers, particularly of the bone, is tentative and mixed. Assessing
whether fluoride constitutes a risk factor for osteosarcoma is
complicated by the rarity of the disease and the difficulty of
characterizing biologic dose because of the ubiquity of population
exposure to fluoride and the difficulty of acquiring bone samples in
non-affected individuals." The committee said that a soon-to-be
published study "will be an important addition to the fluoride
database, because it will have exposure information on residence
histories, water consumption, and assays of bone and toenails. The
results of that study should help to identify what future research
will be most useful in elucidating fluoride's carcinogenic potential."

That study has now been published. It reports a significant
association between exposure to fluoride in drinking water in
childhood and the incidence of osteosarcoma among males.[7]

Risks are not limited to humans. Fluoride added to drinking water
ultimately ends up in surface water where levels can be high enough to
threaten survival and reproduction of aquatic organisms, particularly
near the point of discharge.[8]

One health endpoint, the potential impact of fluoride on brain
development, illustrates the importance of considering the context of
public health interventions:

* We know that adequate thyroid hormone levels are essential during
pregnancy (fetal requirement), infancy, and childhood for normal brain
development. Even relatively minor deficits in maternal thyroid
hormone levels during pregnancy can have long lasting impacts on the
function of children's brains.[9]

* Excessive fluoride ingestion lowers thyroid hormone levels.[10] The
threshold at which that effect becomes biologically or clinically
important is uncertain. But we know that it happens in areas with high
naturally-occurring fluoride in drinking water, and it may also be
true in areas with fluoride in drinking water in the range of 1-2 ppm,
particularly when iodine intake is inadequate.

* Several studies of children in Chinese communities with fluoride
drinking water levels of 2.5-4 ppm consistently show significantly
lower IQ levels compared to children in communities with minimal
fluoride in drinking water.[11] These studies were controlled for
other contributory factors.

* Based on biomonitoring studies, the CDC estimates that 36% of women
in the U.S. have inadequate iodine intake. Moreover, approximately
6-7% of women (the prevalence increases as women age) have sub-
clinical hypothyroidism. Sub-clinical hypothyroidism is characterized
by elevated thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and normal thyrotropin
(the thyroid hormone T4). Without blood tests, sub-clinical
hypothyroidism is usually unrecognized because it does not cause
symptoms. Sub-clinical hypothyroidism during pregnancy is associated
with decreased IQ in children when measured years later.[12]

* Biomonitoring studies conducted by the CDC (NHANES) and other
institutions show virtually ubiquitous human exposure to other
environmental contaminants that also interfere with thyroid hormone
levels or function. They include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),
brominated flame retardants, perfluorinated compounds, and perchlorate
(a common drinking water and food contaminant from rocket fuel,
explosives, and imported nitrate fertilizer). In 2006 CDC scientists
reported that ANY amount of perchlorate exposure significantly lowered
thyroid hormone levels in women with inadequate iodine intake.[13]

* Few, if any, communities choosing to add fluoride to drinking water
are likely to have looked into the iodine status of local residents as
well as aggregate exposures to thyroid disrupting compounds, including
fluoride, from all sources combined. Yet, collectively, these factors
are undeniably relevant to brain development of children born in those
communities. Regrettably, the CDC's discussion of the safety of
fluoride in drinking water does not even mention potential impacts on
the developing brain.[14]

With respect to current and historical perspectives, the NAS committee
noted that, on average, fluoride exposure from drinking water in
fluoridated communities is near or exceeds the level that raises
health concerns.[15] That is, virtually no "margin of safety" exists
between levels of fluoride intended to be beneficial and those that
may be harmful. This is in sharp distinction from the margin of safety
when essential nutrients such as iodine, vitamin D, or vitamin C are
added to food. In those cases, maximum potential intake is orders of
magnitude lower than exposures that may have toxic effects.
Population-wide monitoring of fluoride exposures in the U.S. is
surprisingly inadequate. This is particularly disturbing since,
despite vigorously recommending putting fluoride into drinking water,
the CDC has failed to monitor systematically the levels of fluoride in
the population -- despite steadily increasingly sources of fluoride,
increasing dental fluorosis, and their well-known and highly useful
population-wide monitoring program for a number of other environmental
agents (NHANES). Why not fluoride? The NAS review said, "Fluoride
should be included in nationwide biomonitoring surveys and nutritional
studies... In particular, analysis of fluoride in blood and urine
samples taken in these surveys would be valuable."


Because of

a) uncertainties surrounding fluoride exposure levels from all

b) concurrent exposures to other environmental agents that interact
with fluoride or add to the impacts of fluoride,

c) estimates of efficacy and benefits of adding fluoride to drinking
water compared with alternative interventions, and

d) potential adverse health effects at current and anticipated
exposure levels,

** intentionally fluoridating community drinking water is no longer
justified. Adding fluoride to drinking water for the purpose of
preventing tooth decay provides virtually no population-wide margin of
safety. Under current circumstances, people should not be essentially
forced to drink water treated with fluoride when dental benefits can
be achieved through topical application and other means.

** An immediate moratorium on the practice of adding fluoride to
community drinking water is justified. Risks, benefits, efficacy, and
alternatives must be fully, impartially, and transparently re-
evaluated, based on current information and data gaps. Moreover, an
ethical review of the practice is warranted.

Public health interventions can take many directions. Few, however,
are as intrusive as intentionally putting a biologically active
chemical into drinking water. Everyone in the community, without
exception, is exposed without any opportunity to "opt out" based on
individual circumstances. Promoters of this kind of intervention,
therefore, have a special responsibility and should at least:

1) Regularly, comprehensively, and transparently re-evaluate benefits
and risks of the intervention, based on current science and available

2) Regularly monitor and disclose exposure levels in current
contexts/circumstances (in humans and wildlife),

3) Ensure an adequate margin of safety, including for the most
vulnerable, and

4) Consider the ethical dimensions of intentionally adding a
biologically active chemical to public drinking water.

In 2006, the American Dental Association issued an interim guidance
advising parents not to reconstitute infant formula with fluoridated
water because of the risk of causing dental fluorosis. In general,
however, public health agencies and professional associations that
advocate putting fluoride into drinking water have failed to provide
up-to-date, regular, comprehensive, and transparent re-evaluations of
benefits and risks of fluoridating drinking water, based on the most
current science and available alternatives. They have not
systematically monitored fluoride levels in people and wildlife,
adjusting recommendations according to their findings. Rather, they
have continued to stress, and often exaggerate, benefits of ingested
fluoride while downplaying the risks. Hopefully, the NAS review will
prompt an impartial re-evaluation of the justification, safety, and
appropriateness of this 50-year-old practice.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5403a1.htm

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/iodine.htm

[3] Discussed in a recent National Academy of Sciences report,
"Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards"
(2006) This is a review of the appropriateness of EPA's 4 ppm maximal
contaminant level goal for fluoride in drinking water. The committee
was not charged with considering the risks and benefits of adding
fluoride to drinking water for preventing tooth decay.

The CDC agrees that the benefits of fluoride are primarily from
topical application in children and adults. See 

[4] NAS review 

[5] The CDC considers 0.7-1.2 ppm fluoride in drinking water to be

[6] Brunelle J, Carlos J. Recent trends in dental caries in US
children and the effect of water fluoridation. Journal of Dental
Research. Vol 69, special issue. 723-727, 1990.

[7] Bassin E, Wypij D, Davis R, Mittleman M. Age-specific fluoride
exposure in drinking water and osteosarcoma (United States). Cancer
Causes Control. 17(4):421-428, 2006.

[8] Camago J. Fluoride toxicity to aquatic organisms: a review.
Chemosphere. 50(3):251-64, 2003.

[9] LaFranchi S, Haddow J, Hollowell J. Is thyroid inadequacy during
gestation a risk factor for adverse pregnancy and developmental
outcomes? Thyroid. 15(1):60-71, 2005.

[10] Discussed in the NAS review. See 

[11] Discussed in the NAS review. See 

[12] LaFranchi S, Haddow J, Hollowell J. Is thyroid inadequacy during
gestation a risk factor for adverse pregnancy and developmental
outcomes? Thyroid. 15(1):60-71, 2005.

[13] Blount B, Pirkle, J, Osterloh J, et al. Urinary perchlorate and
thyroid hormone levels in adolescent and adult men and women living in
the United States. Environ Health Perspect 114(2):1865-71, 2006.

[14] http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety.htm

[15] See http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11571&page=83.
For example, in 2005 the American Dental Association declared that
the "tolerable upper intake" of fluoride for children 0-8 years of age
is 0.10 mg/kg/day. In 1997, the Institute of Medicine found that the
average intake of fluoride from drinking water for children living in
fluoridated communities was 0.05-0.13 mg/kg/day.

[16] See page 87 of the NAS review for recommendations regarding
exposure data gaps.

Return to Table of Contents


From: Sinkswatch.org, Oct. 7, 2004
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The Durban Declaration on Carbon Trading

As representatives of people's movements and independent
organisations, we reject the claim that carbon trading will halt the
climate crisis. This crisis has been caused more than anything else by
the mining of fossil fuels and the release of their carbon to the
oceans, air, soil and living things.

This excessive burning of fossil fuels is now jeopardising Earth's
ability to maintain a liveable climate.

Governments, export credit agencies, corporations and international
financial institutions continue to support and finance fossil fuel
exploration, extraction and other activities that worsen global
warming, such as forest degradation and destruction on a massive
scale, while dedicating only token sums to renewable energy. It is
particularly disturbing that the World Bank has recently defied the
recommendation of its own Extractive Industries Review which calls for
the phasing out of World Bank financing for coal, oil and gas

We denounce the further delays in ending fossil fuel extraction that
are being caused by corporate, government and United Nations' attempts
to construct a "carbon market," including a market trading in "carbon

History has seen attempts to commodify land, food, labour, forests,
water, genes and ideas.

Carbon trading follows in the footsteps of this history and turns the
earth's carbon-cycling capacity into property to be bought or sold in
a global market.

Through this process of creating a new commodity -- carbon -- the
Earth's ability and capacity to support a climate conducive to life
and human societies is now passing into the same corporate hands that
are destroying the climate.

People around the world need to be made aware of this commodification
and privatization and actively intervene to ensure the protection of
the Earth's climate.

Carbon trading will not contribute to achieving this protection of the
Earth's climate. It is a false solution which entrenches and magnifies
social inequalities in many ways:

** The carbon market creates transferable rights to dump carbon in the
air, oceans, soil and vegetation far in excess of the capacity of
these systems to hold it.

Billions of dollars worth of these rights are to be awarded free of
charge to the biggest corporate emitters of greenhouse gases in the
electric power, iron and steel, cement, pulp and paper, and other
sectors in industrialised nations who have caused the climate crisis
and already exploit these systems the most. Costs of future reductions
in fossil fuel use are likely to fall disproportionately on the public
sector, communities, indigenous peoples and individual taxpayers.

** The Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), as well as
many private sector trading schemes, encourage industrialised
countries and their corporations to finance or create cheap carbon
dumps such as large-scale tree plantations in the South as a lucrative
alternative to reducing emissions in the North.

Other CDM projects, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC)-reduction
schemes, focus on end-of pipe technologies and thus do nothing to
reduce the impact of fossil fuel industries' impacts on local
communities. In addition, these projects dwarf the tiny volume of
renewable energy projects which constitute the CDM's sustainable
development window-dressing.

** Impacts from fossil-fuel industries and other greenhouse-gas
producing industries such as displacement, pollution, or climate
change, are already disproportionately felt by small island states,
coastal peoples, indigenous peoples, local communities, fisherfolk,
women, youth, poor people, elderly and marginalized communities. CDM
projects intensify these impacts in several ways. First, they sanction
continued exploration for, and extraction, refining and burning of
fossil fuels. Second, by providing finance for private sector projects
such as industrial tree plantations, they appropriate land, water and
air already supporting the lives and livelihoods of local communities
for new carbon dumps for Northern industries.

** The refusal to phase out the use of coal, oil and gas, which is
further entrenched by carbon trading, is also causing more and more
military conflicts around the world, magnifying social and
environmental injustice. This in turn diverts vast resources to
military budgets which could otherwise be utilized to support
economies based on renewable energies and energy efficiency.

In addition to these injustices, the internal weaknesses and
contradictions of carbon trading are in fact likely to make global
warming worse rather than "mitigate" it.

CDM projects, for instance, cannot be verified to be "neutralizing"
any given quantity of fossil fuel extraction and burning.

Their claim to be able to do so is increasingly dangerous because it
creates the illusion that consumption and production patterns,
particularly in the North, can be maintained without harming the

In addition, because of the verification problem, as well as a lack of
credible regulation, no one in the CDM market is likely to be sure
what they are buying. Without a viable commodity to trade, the CDM
market and similar private sector trading schemes are a total waste of
time when the world has a critical climate crisis to address.

In an absurd contradiction the World Bank facilitates these false,
market-based approaches to climate change through its Prototype Carbon
Fund, the BioCarbon Fund and the Community Development Carbon Fund at
the same time it is promoting, on a far greater scale, the continued
exploration for, and extraction and burning of fossil fuels -- many of
which are to ensure increased emissions of the North.

In conclusion, 'giving carbon a price' will not prove to be any more
effective, democratic, or conducive to human welfare, than giving
genes, forests, biodiversity or clean rivers a price.

We reaffirm that drastic reductions in emissions from fossil fuel use
are a pre-requisite if we are to avert the climate crisis. We affirm
our responsibility to coming generations to seek real solutions that
are viable and truly sustainable and that do not sacrifice
marginalized communities.

We therefore commit ourselves to help build a global grassroots
movement for climate justice, mobilize communities around the world
and pledge our solidarity with people opposing carbon trading on the

Signed October 10, 2004, Glenmore Centre, Durban, South Africa

To sign on to this declaration please send an email to info@fern.org
or visit www.sinkswatch.org


Carbon Trade Watch

Indigenous Environmental Network

Climate & Development Initiatives, Uganda

Coecoceiba-Amigos de la Tierra, Costa Rica

CORE Centre for Organisation Research &
Education, Manipur, India

Delhi Forum, India

Earthlife Africa (ELA) eThekwini Branch, South


FASE-ES/Green Desert Network Brazil 2

Global Justice Ecology Project, USA

groundwork, South Africa

National Forum of Forest People And Forest
Workers(NFFPFW), India

Patrick Bond, Professor, University of
KwaZulu Natal School of Development
Studies, South Africa

O le Siosiomaga Society, Samoa

South Durban Community Alliance (SDCEA),
South Africa

Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, USA

The Corner House, UK

Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa

World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay


50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice, USA

Aficafiles, Canada

Africa Groups of Sweden, Sweden

Alianza Verde, Honduras

Ambiente y Sociedad, Argentina

Angikar Bangladesh Foundation, Bangladesh

Anisa Colombia, Colombia

Asociacion Alternativa Ambiental, Spain

Asociacion Amigos Reserva Yaguaroundi, Argentina

Asociacion de Guardaparques Argentinos, Argentina

Asociacion Ecologista Piuke, Argentina

Asociacion para la Defensa del Medio Ambiente del Noreste
Santafesino, Argentina

Asociacion San Francisco de Asis, Argentina

Association France Amerique Latine, France

Associacion Lihue San Carlos de Barloche / Rio Negro, Argentina

Association pour un contrat mondial de l'eau, Comite de Seine Saint
Denis, France

Associação Caete -- Cultura e Natureza, Brasil

Athlone Park Residents Association, South Africa

Austerville Clinic Committee, South Africa

Australian Greens, Australia

Aukland Rising Tide, New Zealand

BanglaPraxis, Bangladesh

Benjamin E. Mays Center, USA

Bluff Ridge Conservancy (BRC), South Africa
BOA, Venezuela

Boulder Environmental Activists Resource, Rocky Mountain
Peace and Justice Center, USA

The Bread of Life Development Foundation, Nigeria
CENSAT-Friends of the Earth Colombia, Colombia

Center for Economic Justice, USA

Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka

Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights Inc./

Friends of the Earth (PNG), Papua New Guinea

Center for Urban Transformation, USA

Centro de Derecho Ambiental y Promocion para el Desarrollo
(CEDAPRODE), Nicaragua

Centro de Investigacion Cientifica de Yucatan A.C., Mexico

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, USA

Christ the King Church Group, South Africa

Clairwood Ratepayers Association (CRA), South Africa

Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers, USA

Colectivo de Proyectos Alternativos de Mexico (COPAL), Mexico

Colectivo MadreSelva, Guatemala

Comite de Analisis "Ana Silvia Olan" de Sonsonate -
CANASO,El Salvador

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, USA

Community Health Cell, Bangalore, India

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Netherlands

C.P.E.M. Nº29-Ciencias Ambientales, Argentina
Del Consejo de Organizaciones de Medicos y Parteras
Indigenas Tradicionales de Chiapas, Mexico
Enda America Latina, Colombia


Ecoisla, Puerto Rica

EarthLink e.V.-The People & Nature Network, Germany

Ecological Society of the Philippines, Philippines

Ecologistas en Accion, Spain

Ecoportal.net, Argentina

ECOTERRA International

El Centro de Ecologia y Excursionismo de la Universidad de
Carabobo, Venezuela

Els Verds -- Alternativa Verda, Spain

Environment Desk of Images Asia, Thailand

FASE Gurupa, Brasil

Forest Peoples Programme, UK

Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa, Ghana

Friends of the Earth International

Friends of the Earth Australia, Australia

Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia

FSC-Brasil, Brasil

Fundacion Argentina de Etoecologia (FAE), Argentina

Fundacion Los de Tilquiza, proyecto AGUAVERDE, Argentina

Groupe d'Etudes et de Recherche sure les Energies

Renouvelables et l'Environnement (GERERE), Morocco

Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC-Italia), oficina de
Nicaragua, Nicaragua

House of Worship, South Africa

Indigenous Peoples' Biodiversity Network, Peru

InfoNature, Portugal

Infringement Festival, Canada

Iniciativa ArcoIris de Ecologia y Sociedad, Argentina

Iniciativa Radial, Argentina

Institute for Social Ecology Biotechnology Project, USA

Instituto Ecoar para Cidadania, Brasil

Instituto Igare, Brasil

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Belgium

International Indian Treaty Council

Isipingo Environmental Committee (IEC), South Africa

Isipingo Ratepayers Association, South Africa

Jeunesse Horizon, Camerun

JKPP /Indonesian Community Mapping Network, Indonesia

Joint Action Committee of Isipingo (JACI), South Africa
KVW Translations, Spain

LOKOJ, Bangladesh

London Rising Tide, UK

Malvarrosamedia, Spain

Mangrove Action Project (MAP), USA

Mano Verde, Colombia

Mercy International Justice Network, Kenya

Merebank Clinic Committee (MCC), South Africa

Movimiento por la Paz y el Ambiente, Argentina

Movimento por los Derechos y la Consulta Ciudadana, Chile

Nicaragua Center for Community Action, USA,

Nicaragua Network (US), USA

Nicaragua-US Friendship Office, USA

NOAH-Friends of the Earth Denmark, Denmark

Núcleo Amigos da Terra, Brasil

Ogoni Rescue Patriotic Fund, Nigeria

Oilwatch International, Ecuador

Oilwatch Africa, Nigeria

Organizacion Fraternal Negra Honduirena, Honduras

Parque Provincial Ernesto Tornquist, Argentina

Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition
(PIPEC),Aotearoa/New Zealand

Pesticides Action Network Latin America, Uruguay

Piedad Espinoza Tropico Verde, Guatemala

PovoAção, Brasil

Prideaux Consulting, USA

Projeto tudo Sobre Plantas -- Jornal SOS Verde, Brasil

Public Citizen, USA

Rainforest Action Network, USA

Rainy River First Nations, Canada

Reclaim the Commons, USA

Red de Agricultura Organica de Misiones, Argentina

REDES-Amigos de la Tierra, Uruguay

Red Verde, Spain

Rettet den Regenwald, Germany

Rising Tide, UK

Sahabat Alam Malaysia /FOE-Malaysia, Malaysia

San Francisco Bay Area Jubilee Debt Cancellation Coalition,

Scottish Education and Action for Development, UK

S.G.Fiber, Pakistan

Silverglen Civic Association (SCA), South Africa

Sisters of the Holy Cross -- Congregation Justice Committee, USA

Sobrevivencia, Friends of the Earth Paraguay, Paraguay

Sociedad Civil, Mexico

SOLJUSPAX, Philippines

Tebtebba Foundation, Philippines

The Sawmill River Watershed Alliance, USA

TRAPESE -- Take Radical Action Through Popular Education
and Sustainable Everything, UK / Spain

Treasure Beach Environmental Forum (TBEF), South Africa

Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development, Uganda

Ujamaa Community Resource Trust (UCRT), Tanzania

UNICA, Nicaragua

Union Chretienne pour l'Education et Developpement des
Desherites (UCEDD), Burundi

Union Mexicana de Emprendedores Inios, A. C., Mexico


Wentworth Development Forum (WDF), South Africa

Western Nebraska Resources Council, USA

World Bank Boycott/Center for Economic Justice, USA
worldforests, UK

World Peace Prayer Society, USA

Individual Signatories

Aarran Thomson, USA

Ángeles Leonardo, Argentina

Arlex Gonzalez Herrera, Colombia

Beth Burrows, USA

Dr. Bob de Laborde, South Africa

Brook Goldzwig, USA

Cesar Antonio Sanchez Asian, Peru

Christopher Keene, UK

Claudia Sofia Pereira Henriques, Portugal

Claudio Capanema, Brasil

Daniel Tietzer, USA

Dany Mahecha Rubio, The Netherlands

Dora Fernandes, Portugal

Dulce Delgado, Portugal

Eduardo Rojas Hidalgo, Ecuador

Edwin S. Wilson, USA

Eileen Wttewaal, Canada

Elisa Marques, Portugal

Emmanuel Moutondo, Kenya

Fabry Saavedra, Bolivia

Federico Ivanissevich, Argentina

Florencia T. Cuesta, Argentina

Florian Salazar-Martin, France

Fernando Moran, Spain

Fernando Guzman, Peru

Gar W. Lipow, USA

German A. Parra Bustamente, Colombia

Hannes Buckle, South Africa

Hansel Tietzer, USA

Helena Pinheiro, Brasil

Dr. Hugh Sanborn, USA

Hylton Alcock, South Africa

Hsun-Yi Hsieh, Taiwan

Ines Vaz Rute da Conceição, Portugal

Irina Maya, Portugal

Dr. J. Gabriel Lopez,, USA

James Mabbitt, UK

Jane Hendley, USA

Janet Weyker,USA

Javier Lizarraga, Uruguay

Jeff Purcell, USA

Jelena Ilic, Serbia & Montenegro

Jenny Biem, Canada

Joana Gois, Portugal

Joao Forte, Portugal

John Brabant, USA

Jonathan Derouchie, Canada

Joris Leemans, Belgium

Josep Puig, Spain

Joseph Herman, USA

Judith Amanthis, UK

Judith Velez, Isla Verde, Puerto Rico

Karen Roothaan, USA

Karlee Rockey, USA

Kiki Goldzwig, USA

Laura Carlsen, IRC

Leonardo Ornella, Argentina

Lina Hällstrom, Sweden

Lorna Salzman, USA

Luis E. Silvestre, Puerto Rico

Luis Edoardo Sonzini Meroi, Nicaragua

Ing. Mabel Vullioud, Argentina

Manuel Pereira, Portugal

Marcelo Bosi de Almeida, Brasil

Maria Benedetti, Cayey, Puerto Rico

Maria de Fatima Marques, Portugal

Maria Fernanda Pereira, Colombia

Maria Jesús Conde, Spain

Dra. Maria Luisa Pfeiffer, Argentina

Martha L. Downs, USA

Dr. Martin Mowforth, UK

Mary Galvin, South Africa

Matheus Ferreira Matos Lima, Brasil

Maurice Tsalefac, Professor, Universite de Yaounde, Camerun

Michaeline Falvey, USA

Miguel Parra Olave, Chile

Mike Ballard, Australia

Mike Berry, UK

Nick Gotts, Scotland

Norbert Suchanek, Germany

Nuno Miguel O. P. Matos Sequeira, Portugal

Oya Akin, North Cyprus

Pablo Alarcon-Chaires, Mexico

Patricia Angelo Batista, Portugal

Patricia Raynor, USA

Paulo Cesar Scarim, Brasil

Pedro Ribeiro, Portugal

Peter Rachleff, Professor, Macalester College, USA

Peter Sills, USA

Dr. Philip Gasper, USA

Prakash Deshmukh, India

Priscila Lins P. F. do Amaral, Brasil

Rafael Arturo Acuna Coaquira, Bolivia

Rafael Chumbimune Zanabria, Peru

Rafael Renteria, USA

Raj Patel, South Africa

Ray Hajat, Malawi

Robin Clanahan, South Africa

Roger de Andrade, France

Rogerio M Mauricio, Brasil

Roxana Mastronardi, Argentina

Ruth Zenger, Canada

Rufino Vivar Miranda, Mexico

Sajida Khan, South Africa

Sandra C. Carrillo, USA

Sara Hayes, USA

Saul Landau, USA

Sheila Goldner, USA

Sister Aloysia Zellmann, South Africa

Steve Wheeler, UK

Tobias Schmitt, Germany

Tyrell Haberkorn, USA

Usman Majeed, Canada

Wak Kalola, Canada

Zoraida Crespo Feliciano, Puerto Rico

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From: Inter Press Service, Jul. 25, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


By Adrianne Appel

BOSTON, Jul 25 (IPS) -- A U.S. health agency has made research
subjects of people in tiny Mossville, Louisiana by repeatedly
monitoring dangerously high levels of dioxin in their blood while
doing nothing to get the community out of harm's way, residents say.

Further, the agency failed to release important test results for five
years, and made it difficult for the community to obtain the actual
data, say residents and their lawyers.

"The air is staggering," said resident Haki Vincent. "Come stay at my
place and you will see firsthand that the air and water is repulsive."

Mossville is closed in by 14 chemical factories, including Petroleum
giant Conaco Phillips and Georgia Gulf, a vinyl products manufacturer
that had revenues of 2.4 billion dollars in 2006, according to the

Dioxin compounds are a byproduct of petroleum processing and vinyl
manufacturing and residents in Mossville say the factories are
releasing amounts into the air that are making them sick.

Studies show the community suffers from high rates of cancer, upper
respiratory problems and reproductive issues, and residents say dioxin
pollution is the cause.

Residents want an end to the pollution and want to be moved away from
the factories.

"Here in this community, people are being inundated with pollution and
it is killing us," said Shirley Johnson, a Mossville resident.

The U.S. health agency, ATSDR, the Agency for Toxic Substances and
Disease Registry, tested the blood of 28 Mossville residents in 1999
and found dioxin at levels two to three times higher than what is
considered normal.

But the agency offered no explanation for the high dioxin levels and
failed to mention the factories as a possible source.

ATSDR agents left Mossville, and returned in 2001 and re-tested 22
people. It found that average dioxin levels had dropped slightly but
were still two to three times higher than normal.

This same year, a division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
found levels of the dioxin compound vinyl chloride in the air in
Mossville at concentrations 100 times what is permitted by federal
law, and ethylene dichloride at 20 times.

But again ATSDR failed to consider that the local factories could be
responsible for the dioxin in the blood of people in Mossville.

"The source of dioxin exposures in the Mossville residents is not
known," the 2001 report says.

The ATSDR did not release the 2001 results until 2006, with no

"I'm not going to tell you it was the quickest thing we've ever done.
It is what it is," Steve Dearwent, an epidemiologist who led the
study, told IPS.

"This can only be called callous indifference of agencies to the fact
that people in Mossville are sick and dying as a result of toxins
being dumped on them," said Nathalie Walker, a lawyer with Advocates
for Environmental Human Rights, an environmental group that is
representing Mossville.

The historically black community founded in the late 1700s is
unincorporated and has had no voting rights in the state and no power
to control what businesses operate within its borders. Some factories
moved to within 50 feet of people's homes.

"I live in a community that is dying. Schools are gone. Most of the
light and happiness of this community doesn't really exist anymore,"
said resident Delma Bennett. As a project, he photographs many people
in the community who use breathing machines.

The ATSDR does not believe that the dioxin levels seen in people in
Mossville are high enough to cause health problems, said Dearwent, who
was permitted to speak with a reporter only if a U.S. agency
communications expert listened in on the conversation.

Dearwent says that in Mossville, older people had the highest levels
of dioxin in their blood, and that younger people had nearly normal
levels. This points to previous exposures to dioxin, and a reasonable
suspect is typical U.S. store-bought food, all of which is
contaminated with some amount of dioxin.

"It's perceived that all the dioxin exposure is related to industry.
Our interpretation is that it is related to their diet," Dearwent
said. However, tests did not show high amounts of dioxin in local
Mossville food, he acknowledged.

Before the health agency experts left Mossville in 2001, they advised
residents to change their diets, Dearwent said.

There is no evidence that the factories are releasing dioxin that is
settling on the community, he said.

"If there is an exorbitant amount of dioxin being released it would
show up in the soil, the dust and the people. Especially the younger
people," and ATSDR results did not show this, he said.

This interpretation differs markedly from that of independent
scientist Wilma Subra, hired by the environmental organisation to do
an independent analysis of any dioxin pollution in Mossville.

Subra found dioxin in nearby soil to be 2 to 230 times what the EPA
considers acceptable.

Subra also compared the ATSDR data about dioxin in the blood of
Mossville residents to the type of dioxin compounds actually being
emitted by the five vinyl factories in the town.

The analysis found an exact match between the specific dioxin
compounds being released by the factories and the compounds found in
the blood, Subra said. Also, the compounds showed up in the blood in
the same percentage as those being released by the factories.

"This is inappropriate exposure to the community," Subra said.

Louisiana is known for its long history of gross environmental
problems and the situation in Mossville reflects that history, Walker

"The politics have not changed. We have a lot of work to do," she

"What we're up against is the control of corporations in Louisiana.
They have a huge lobbying body and exert a huge influence," said
Monique Harden, an attorney with the environmental organisation. Some
factories have increased their emissions recently, she said.

Georgia Gulf says the industries in Mossville have improved their
environmental records.

"Industry in Louisiana has reduced total [reportable] emissions by
more than 80 percent since 1987," Georgia Gulf spokesman Will Hinson
said in a statement to IPS.

In 2005, a local Mossville environmental group filed a petition
against the U.S. government with the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights of the Organisation of American States, on the grounds
that Mossville's environmental human rights are being violated. The
group is waiting for a response from the U.S. State Department, Walker

On Wednesday, Mossville residents traveled to Washington to testify
before a Senate committee, to raise questions about the actions of
ATSDR and the EPA and ask for help in ending pollution in Mossville.

Change is long past due, said resident David Prince. "Fourteen
facilities are just spewing these poisons and nothing has been done.
When will it be our turn?"

Copyright 2007 IPS-Inter Press Service

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From: Florida Times-Union, Jul. 31, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


By Steve Patterson, The Times-Union

Complaints from neighbors are making Florida's environmental agency
rethink a JEA campaign to sell power-plant ash as road-building

The gritty gray ash has been used to cover dirt roads in Baker County
and Charlton County, Ga., and poured into lower layers of asphalt
street projects in Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties.

But people living near the road projects have complained about the
ash, sold under the name EZBase. They say it drifts into yards, covers
cars and irritates some people's breathing.

"I can't believe there's not harmful things in that," said Bob Cowell,
whose neighborhood streets off Scott Mill Road in Mandarin were torn
up for sewer work and are being rebuilt with EZBase.

"I just feel that we were being experimented with.... Who knows how
much hazardous material was in that stuff?"

JEA says some road contractors probably used the material incorrectly
but insists it is safe. The Florida Department of Environmental
Protection approved using EZBase in roadwork two years ago.

"There is really nothing negative about EZBase other than the term
'ash,' " said Scott W. Schultz, the utility's director of byproduct
services. JEA officials say selling ash for roadwork has cut the
Jacksonville-owned utility's costs by about $8 million.

But there are negative reviews from neighbors.

A mile away from Cowell's home, Bobbie Zontini said her husband has
spent a month vacuuming the bottom of their screened-in pool each day
to get the grit that blocks the pool filter.

"I kept seeing all this fine silt-like stuff everywhere," said
Zontini, who said her asthma got worse when roadwork started. The same
stuff has to be swept up from the patio, she said.

Since May, DEP has received EZBase dust complaints from people in
Mandarin, Lake Forest in Northwest Jacksonville and Glen St. Mary in
Baker County.

The agency has asked JEA for more information about EZBase and how
it's being used.

The stuff is made of ash from JEA's Northside Generating Station,
which burns petroleum coke and coal mixed with limestone, a common
road material.

EZBase becomes cement-like when wet but can dry out and turn brittle.

Now, DEP wants to see whether JEA and road contractors are following
rules that were spelled out for those projects.

The agency is also reconsidering whether covering rural dirt roads
with the material is a good idea.

"We do, of course, have the right to remove approval," DEP spokeswoman
Jill Johnson said. "It's definitely something we're still

JEA representatives argue people really should think of EZBase a lot
like they do limestone. Schultz said more than 90 percent of the
material's weight is lime and gypsum. Gypsum from power plants is
normally sold as material for drywall, but the Northside plant's low-
emissions design results in gypsum that contains enough unburned fuel
that it's undesirable.

Cowell, one of the people worried about the ash, notes EZBase comes
with a safety sheet warning about exposure to crystalline silica, a
material that can damage people's lungs over time.

That's probably not too big a danger, said Guerry H. McClellan, a
University of Florida geology professor who has worked on power plant
pollution control systems. He said Florida's ground is full of
crystalline silica, such as quartz.

The ash also contains relatively high levels of a metal called
vanadium. But a toxicologist hired by DEP concluded in 2005 it didn't
pose a serious risk.

To see whether the ash produced now is any different, DEP recently
asked JEA for results of chemical tests the utility is required to
perform on ash every three months.

A few weeks ago, DEP employees found a hill of EZBase stored long-term
in Baker County for county road projects. That wasn't allowed under
rules set up in 2005, but JEA told the state agency the material will
be removed soon.

JEA sells some ash to out-of-state oil refineries that take shipments
by rail. But the utility sees road projects as an important way to
reuse ash, which it calls byproduct, in hopes of improving public
perceptions. It was used in construction on the Wonderwood Expressway
and in subdivision roads and parking lots in Jacksonville and St.
Johns County.

About 300,000 tons of EZBase have been sold in Florida, according to
spokeswoman Gerri Boyce. That's at least 258,000 cubic yards, enough
to pour a 12-inch layer over a quarter of a square mile.

Selling ash saves the expense and trouble of dumping it in a landfill,
Schultz said, adding that it means mining companies won't have to dig
for as much new limestone.

The utility charges contractors just $1 per ton but saved about $8
million on landfill fees, Boyce said.

Even dumping ash can be a problem.

Last year, when a company that was talking with JEA proposed dumping
ash at a Ware County, Ga., landfill, neighbors there filled public
meetings to keep the ash out.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy
have both supported projects to recycle ash from power plants. The EPA
has studied power plant ash for more than 20 years and doesn't
consider it a hazardous waste, said David Goss, executive director of
the American Coal Ash Association, a trade group.

But it can still annoy people if it's not handled well.

"When you're putting ash down... almost any kind of ash, you have to
be cognizant of what kind of conditions you have," Goss said.

Covering dirt roads with ash isn't common, said Debra Pflughoeft-
Hassett, a researcher at the University of North Dakota's Energy &
Environmental Research Center. She studied Florida's handling of ash
for a federal report last year and spent time talking to JEA about

"My suspicion is they have a good product that they can probably use
with some tweaking," she said.

steve.patterson@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4263

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From: Worldwatch Institute, Jul. 25, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The 15,200 megawatts of new wind turbines
installed worldwide last year will generate enough clean electricity
annually to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of 23 average-sized
U.S. coal- fired power plants, according to a new Vital Signs Update
from the Worldwatch Institute.[1] The 43 million tons of carbon
dioxide displaced in 2006 is equivalent to the emissions of 7,200
megawatts of coal-fired power plants, or nearly 8 million passenger

Global wind power capacity increased almost 26 percent in 2006,
exceeding 74,200 megawatts by year's end. Global investment in wind
power was roughly $22 billion in 2006, and in Europe and North
America, the power industry added more capacity in wind than it did in
coal and nuclear combined. The global market for wind equipment has
risen 74 percent in the past two years, leading to long backorders for
wind turbine equipment in much of the world.

"Wind power is on track to soon play a major role in reducing fossil
fuel dependence and slowing the buildup of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere," according to Worldwatch Senior Researcher Janet Sawin.
"Already, the 43 million tons of carbon dioxide displaced by the new
wind plants installed last year equaled more than 5 percent of the
year's growth in global emissions. If the wind market quadruples over
the next nine years -- a highly plausible scenario -- wind power could
be reducing global emissions growth by 20 percent in 2015."

Today, Germany, Spain, and the United States generate nearly 60
percent of the world's wind power. But the industry is shifting
quickly from its European and North American roots to a new center of
gravity in the booming energy markets of Asia.

In 2006, India was the third largest wind turbine installer and China
took the fifth spot, thanks to a 170-percent increase in new wind
power installations over the previous year. More than 50 nations now
tap the wind to produce electricity, and 13 have more than 1,000
megawatts of wind capacity installed.

As efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions accelerate around the
globe, dozens of countries are working to add or strengthen laws that
support the development of wind power and other forms of renewable
energy. Rapid growth is expected in the next few years in several
countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, and Portugal.

"China and the United States will compete for leadership of the global
wind industry in the years ahead," says Sawin. "Although the U.S.
industry got a 20-year head start, the Chinese are gaining ground
rapidly. Whichever nation wins, it is encouraging to see the world's
top two coal burners fighting for the top spot in wind energy."


[1] Calculations are based on U.S. data: average capacity factor for
new wind power capacity (34%, from American Wind Energy Association);
average capacity factor for coal-fired power plants (72%, from North
American Electric Reliability Council -- NAERC); average CO2 emissions
from U.S. coal-fired power plants (0.95 kg/kWh, from U.S. Energy
Information Administration); and average coal-fired power plant
capacity (318 megawatts, from NAERC).

Copyright 2007 Worldwatch Institute

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From: Environmental Health Perspectives, Aug. 1, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


By Adrian Burton

Exposure to the non-coplanar polychlorinated biphenyl PCB95 during
gestation and nursing causes abnormal development of the auditory
cortex in rats, affecting the brain's representation of what is heard,
according to new research in the 1 May 2007 issue of Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences. Since children with autism and other
developmental disorders show abnormal responses to sound, suspicions
have been raised that PCB95 and similar molecules in the environment
might promote this problem and perhaps other language/cognition
disorders in children.

Prior to their being banned in the late 1970s as potential
carcinogens, PCBs became ubiquitous environmental pollutants that
continue to threaten human health. Their molecular stability has
maintained them intact, and they have entered the food chain,
accumulating in the fat of exposed organisms.

Most of the early work on PCB-associated health problems focused on
the coplanar molecules, but there is now evidence that non-coplanar
PCBs may cause trouble of their own (coplanar and non-coplanar refer
to the chemical structure of the PCBs in question). "They are reported
to prevent dopamine production in monkey brains, to alter behavior in
rats, and may even alter neuropsychological functioning in children,"
explains first author Tal Kenet, a faculty member at Harvard Medical
School and Massachusetts General Hospital. "Our research suggests they
cause abnormalities in the development of the auditory part of the rat

The researchers fed pregnant rats 6 mg/kg of PCB95 in corn oil daily
from day 5 of pregnancy until the weaning of their pups. "We then
mapped the boundary and response characteristics of the primary
auditory cortex of the pups using a series of electrodes implanted in
the brain," says Kenet. "Individual neurons were monitored to see
which characteristic sound frequency they responded to." The auditory
cortex is one of the first sensory systems to mature.

The maps of the PCB95-exposed rats were found to be oddly shaped and
had "holes" in them where neurons seemed not to respond to sound. The
maps also included many neurons that showed a lack of frequency
selectivity, and the typical posterior-to-anterior distribution of
neurons responding to ever higher frequencies was disorganized.

"This must affect how their brains interpret sound," says Kenet. "In
addition, we recorded notable imbalances in inhibitory and excitatory
signaling between the auditory cortex nerve cells. Without proper
balancing, the correct representation of sound cannot be guaranteed.
Importantly, children with autism show evidence of imbalances between
excitation and inhibition in the brain, but whether it's the same type
of imbalance remains to be explored."

The researchers also found the plasticity of the PCB-exposed cortices
to be abnormal. Usually, if rat pups are exposed to a particular tone,
the area of the cortex that deals with that frequency expands. "That
did not happen in the PCB-exposed pups," says Kenet.

"Epidemiological studies have found that children with prenatal PCB
exposure do more poorly on tests of verbal learning and memory," says
Susan Schantz, a professor of veterinary biosciences at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine. "These
exciting new findings suggest that underlying changes in the
development or plasticity of the auditory cortex may be responsible
for those effects." However, Schantz cautions that the rats in these
studies received a very high dose of a very potent PCB congener. "In
my opinion," she says, "it is unlikely that human infants, even those
living in highly polluted areas, would be exposed to similar
concentrations. We also need to keep in mind that any effects observed
in humans are likely to be much more subtle than the striking changes
observed in these rats."

"It would be interesting to know whether animals closer to humans
develop disorders resembling autism or other cognitive problems after
[environmentally relevant] PCB95 exposures," remarks Jesús Pastor, a
senior researcher at the Centre for Environmental Sciences in Madrid,
Spain. "That might help reveal how serious this problem could be."

Since PCBs can be passed on to human infants in breast milk, the
report raises the question of whether some mothers in highly polluted
areas -- perhaps those whose family history points toward a possible
genetic risk of autism spectrum disorders -- should bottle-feed rather
than breastfeed. However, "some research shows that breastfeeding may
actually lessen the negative impact of prenatal exposure, even though
children who are breastfed have higher overall body burdens of PCBs,"
says Schantz.

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From: Los Angeles Times, Jul. 30, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


By Paul Josephson

In the last two weeks, the Chinese signed a deal with Westinghouse to
build four nuclear power plants; a U.S. utility joined the French
national nuclear juggernaut -- with 60 reactors under its belt -- to
build stations throughout the United States; and the Russians neared
the launch of the first of a dozen nuclear power stations that float
on water, with sales promised to Morocco and Namibia. Two sworn
opponents -- environmentalists and President Bush -- tout nuclear
energy as a panacea for the nation's dependence on oil and a solution
to global warming. They've been joined by all the presidential
candidates from both parties, with the exception of John Edwards. And
none of them is talking about the recent nuclear accident in Japan
caused by an earthquake.

These surprising bedfellows base their sanguine assessment of nuclear
power on an underestimation of its huge financial costs, on a failure
to consider unresolved problems involving all nuclear power stations
and on a willingness to overlook this industry's history of offering
far-fetched dreams, failing to deliver and the occasional accident.

Since the 1950s, the nuclear industry has promised energy "too cheap
to meter," inherently safe reactors and immediate clean-up and storage
of hazardous waste. But nuclear power is hardly cheap -- and far more
dangerous than wind, solar and other forms of power generation. Recent
French experience shows a reactor will top $3 billion to build.
Standard construction techniques have not stemmed rising costs or
shortened lead time. Industry spokespeople insist they can erect
components in assembly-line fashion a la Henry Ford to hold prices
down. But the one effort to achieve this end, the Russian "Atommash"
reactor factory, literally collapsed into the muck.

The industry has also underestimated how expensive it will be to
operate stations safely against terrorist threat and accident. New
reactors will require vast exclusion zones, doubly reinforced
containment structures, the employment of large armed private security
forces and fail-safe electronic safeguards. How will all of these and
other costs be paid and by whom?

To ensure public safety, stations must be built far from population
centers and electricity demand, which means higher transmission costs
than the industry admits. In the past, regulators approved the siting
of reactors near major cities based on the assumption that untested
evacuation plans would work. Thankfully, after public protests,
Washington did not approve Consolidated Edison's 1962 request to build
a reactor in Queens, N.Y., three miles from the United Nations. But it
subsequently approved licensing of units within 50 miles of New York,
Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C. New Orleans had three days of
warning before Hurricane Katrina hit and was not successfully
evacuated. A nuclear accident may give us only 20 minutes to respond;
this indicates that reactors should be built only in sparsely
populated regions.

Finally, what of the spent fuel and other nuclear waste? More than
70,000 tons of spent fuel at nuclear power stations are stored
temporarily in basins of water or above ground in concrete casks. The
Bush administration held back release of a 2005 National Research
Council study, only excerpts of which have been published, because its
findings, unsympathetic to nuclear power, indicated that this fuel
remains an inviting target for terrorists.

And more than 150 million Americans live within 75 miles of nuclear
waste, according to the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste
Management. A storage facility that was supposed to open at Yucca
Mountain, Nev., in 1989 still faces legal and scientific hurdles. And
if Yucca Mountain opens, how will we transport all of the waste safely
to Nevada, and through whose towns and neighborhoods?

Industry representatives, government regulators and nuclear engineers
now promise to secure the nation's energy independence through
inherently safe reactors. This is the same industry that gave the
world nuclear aircraft and satellites -- three of the 30 satellites
launched have plummeted to Earth -- and Three Mile Island, Chernobyl
and a series of lesser known accidents.

Let's see them solve the problems of exorbitant capital costs, safe
disposition of nuclear waste, realistic measures to deal with the
threats of terror, workable evacuation plans and siting far from
population centers before they build one more station. In early July,
President Bush spoke glowingly about nuclear power at an Alabama
reactor recently brought out of moth balls; but it has shut down
several times since it reopened because of operational glitches. What
clearer indication do we need that nuclear power's time has not yet

Paul Josephson writes about nuclear power and teaches history at Colby

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