The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making it easier to find chemical information online. The EPA is releasing a database called ToxRefDB, which allows scientists and the interested public to search and download thousands of toxicity testing results on hundreds of chemicals.
ToxRefDB captures 30 years and $2 billion of federal required testing results. This is a handy regulatory and technical tool, and simplifies at least some of the required toxicity investigation research.
ToxRefDB provides detailed chemical toxicity data in an accessible format. It is a part of ACToR (Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource), an online data warehouse that collects data from about 500 public sources on tens of thousands of environmentally relevant chemicals, including several hundred in ToxRefDB. (more…)
Insecticides such as DDT have long been used to combat the scourge of malaria in the developing world. But with the disease parasite becoming increasingly adept at resisting the chemical onslaught, some countries are achieving striking success by eliminating the environmental conditions that give rise to malarial mosquitoes.
For over half a century, the battle against malaria has been waged with powerful anti-malarial drugs and potent mosquito-killing insecticides, weapons born from the wonders of synthetic chemistry. In recent years, however, fed up with the financial and ecological drawbacks of chemical warfare, malarious communities from China to Tanzania to Mexico have been forging a new way to fight the scourge, one that draws inspiration from the lessons of ecology more than chemistry. Rather than attempt to destroy mosquitoes and parasites outright, these new methods call for subtle manipulations of human habitats and the draining of local water bodies — from puddles to irrigation canals — where malarial mosquitoes hatch.
The most striking example comes from Mexico, which has completely abandoned its previously lavish use of DDT in malaria control for insecticide-free methods and has seen malaria cases plummet.
Like many countries, Mexico for decades relied upon insecticides to fight the disease, by spraying mosquito-killing chemicals on the interior walls of homes where blood-feeding mosquitoes rest, among other methods. Between 1957 and 1999, taming Mexico’s malaria required 70,000 tons of DDT. (more…)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will require new studies on the health and environmental effects of bisphenol A (BPA), a potentially harmful chemical found in thousands of everyday plastics.
The federal agency, which is looking to add the chemical to its list of “chemicals of concern,” will begin measuring levels of the chemical in drinking water and ground water supplies. More than one million pounds of BPA are released into the environment annually, EPA officials say.
While studies have shown that the chemical disrupts development in animals, that link has not been confirmed for humans. (more…)
The Earth is truly a blue planet; 70 percent of its surface is covered with water. Unfortunately 97.5 percent of that is salt water, unusable for humans. Fresh water accounts for the other 2.5 percent, however, about two thirds of that is locked up in glaciers and in the icy poles. That leaves humans (and every other living creature on land) only about one percent of all the water on Earth to use.
Two years since the Washington Post first reported that a maker of polysilicon for solar panels was dumping toxic waste into Chinese soil, a U.S. nonprofit has ranked the “green” aspects of 25 photovoltaic module makers. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition launched the Solar Scorecard (PDF) on Tuesday.
Installations of solar modules rose by 42 percent in 2009, according to SolarBuzz. If this growth continues, rooftop modules that wear out within two to three decades threaten to add toxic bulk to landfills, just as yesterday’s computer monitors and cell phones have created unwieldly piles of consumer electronics waste.
Plastic bags are everywhere. Many years ago the only bags at the grocery store were paper ones. Now you have a choice of paper, plastic or bring your bag. Where have all the bags gone after they are used? Plastic bag and film recycling in the U.S. reached a record high in 2008, recovering about 832 million pounds of post consumer film, according to a new study from the American Chemistry Council.
Plastic bags are difficult and costly to recycle and many end up on landfill sites where they take around 300 years to photo degrade. They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. But the problems surrounding waste plastic bags starts long before they photo degrade. Many become airborne and float surprising distances. Others can choke waterways and animals.
The “National Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bags and Film Report,” conducted by Moore Recycling Associates, finds that plastic bag and film recovery increased 28 percent since 2005, driven by several factors including greater consumer access to collection programs and new markets for the recycled materials such as backyard decking, fencing, railings, shopping carts and new bags. (more…)
Some heavyweights who know a thing or two about transportation are having a pointed online debate about whether or not electric vehicles should receive support from the federal government.
Terry Tamminen, who was Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency under Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, threw down the gauntlet last month in an editorial in which he stated that “it’s time to dump the battery-powered car in the same policy landfill as corn-based ethanol.”