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Tuesday, 2 March 1999
Today's "Toxic News for the Net"
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"Los Angeles Pollutants Found at High Levels [National News Briefs]." New York Times, 2 March 99, A13.
A report requested by Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and written by Democratic staff members on the House Government Reform Committee was released March 1. According to the item, "Some residents of the Los Angeles area could be breathing levels of toxic pollution hundreds of times higher than standards set by the Federal Clean Air Act." The report analyzed pollutants monitored from January 1995 to April 1998, and the risk estimates were based on an assumed 70 years of exposure.
"Surprise Finding on Tamoxifen and Citrus [Science Times]." New York Times, 2 Mar. 99, D7. Contrary to some researcher's claims that flavonoids in foods stave off cancer, a new study using mice finds that the flavonoid, tangeretin, might have the opposite effect in the treatment of mammary cancer cells, because it blocks the benefits from the breast cancer drug, tamoxifen. Interestingly, in vitro studies showed that both tamoxifen and tangeretin inhibited mammary cancer cells. Researchers hypothesize that the difference in findings between in vitro studies and mouse studies could be due to the possibility that, in mouse studies, tangeretin suppressed the immune response of mice's natural killer cells. Scientists are cautioning women who take tamoxifen to curb, not stop, eating citrus fruits and other foods that contain tangeretin. This is because the study's results have not been replicated, and
there has not been any observable trend of adverse effects experienced by women who eat citrus fruits.
"Ecologists Seek Probes of Dying Sea Animals [World Scene]." Washington Times, 2 March 99, A11. A Reuters newswire item reports that the Mexican ecology community is calling for a probe into the deaths of over 180 sea lions and 20 gray whales. Homero Aridjis, president of Mexico's Group of 100 environmental bodies thinks a toxic florescent chemical agent containing cyanide, called Natural Killer 19, might be responsible. Natural Killer 19 is used by drug traffickers to mark drop points.
"Fatal Crash Reveals Inhalants as Danger to Youth." New York Times, 2 March 99, A12. The Delaware County Medical Examiner's office has released toxicology reports that showed that the driver and three of the other four girls killed in a car crash in Chester Heights, Penn. January 29 were under the influence of difluroethane. The chemical is a component of Duster II, a spray that is used to clean computer keyboards (a container was found in the car). Article discusses the prevalence of inhalant abuse among school-aged children.
PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
"To Barry Clausen, The Woods Are Full Of Eco-Terrorists." Wall Street Journal, 2 Mar. 99, A1, A10. A controversial figure in the media's coverage of wars between industry and environmentalists, private investigator Barry Clausen responds to requests for information on a daily basis, is invited to comment on more news shows, and stands by his documentation supporting the rise in cases of violent environmentalism. Over the last decade he has documented 2,000 cases of eco-terrorism, including graffiti and pie-throwing. He documents cases that the FBI and other law enforcers may not necessarily interpret as eco-terrorism. His unproven claim in 1995 that he could link the Unabomber to an environmental movement called Earth First! brought him much attention and put his credibility in question. Still, he continues to nurture many links with the media.
ACROSS THE USA, from USA Today
"Fairbanks, Alaska [Across the USA]." USA Today, 26 February 99, 6A. Some motorists, said to have been driving too fast through fog coming from the Fort Wainwright Plant, became part of a multi-car crash Monday. The state Dept. of Environmental Conservation is considering placing restrictions on the amount of steam the plant discharges.
EDITORIALS & COMMENTARY
"Not-so-smart Growth Policy [Commentary]." Washington Times, 2 March 99, A12. Joseph Perkins, a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, comments on San Diego County's joining the "smart-growth" movement as evidenced by their sponsorship of a conference in four weeks to discuss how the county can best accommodate an additional one million residents over the next two decades. Perkins points out that 75 percent of the U.S. population lives on only 3.5% of the country's land area. He concludes: "Alas, Mr. Gore and his anti-growth confederates on the environmental left (masquerading as smart-growth advocates) would begrudge the 200 million or so Americans who are now confined to a mere 3.5 percent of the country's land area another acre of that land if they could help it. That's hardly can be called smart growth. It's simply myopic public policy."
TOXICS IN THE NEWS: RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS
"U.S. Proposes Uranium Waste Plants: A Plan to Turn Material Into Salable Goods or to Store It Safely." New York Times, 2 March 99, A17. The Energy Department will announce this week plans to build two $200 million (each) plants to process 1.5 billion pounds of depleted uranium into marketable products such as fluorine (with which it is mixed), or into a form that can be safely stored.
"Utah Resisting Tribe's Nuclear Dump: On a Reservation Ringed by Hazards, Indians See Jobs, Money in Radioactive Rods." Washington Post, 2 March 99, A3. The Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians are encountering resistance from Utah politicians and environmentalists for their plan to bring economic resources to their reservation by building a temporary storage facility for spent nuclear fuel rods; the facility would be closed when the permanent Yucca Mountain, Nev. federal facility opens. Half-page article discusses the controversy, and why the tribe sees this as their last resort to keep their youth on the reservation. Previous efforts to attract development have been stymied by the presence of unsavory neighbors: chemical and biological warfare laboratories, hazardous waste dumps, and a nerve gas incinerator.
"DOE Sets Deal to Cut Energy Costs: Agencies, Contractors to Share In Fuel, Electricity Savings [Federal Page]." Washington Post, 2 March 99, A15. Yesterday, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced a new program to cut energy usage by federal facilities as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
"Stevia: A Sweetener That's Not a Sweetener [Science Times]." New York Times, 2 Mar. 99, D7. Though still pending approval by the FDA, Stevia, a sweetening compound that can be extracted from the leaves of the South American shrub Stevi rebaudiana, is increasingly being purchased and used as a sweetener in place of saccharin or aspertame. Stevia, sold in leaf form or as powder or liquid extracts, is 300 times as sweet as sugar but it is not calorie-free. Market promotion of the sweetener is currently limited to its use as a dietary supplement. It is available from some herbal companies.
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