EPA Blocked Release of Major Water Contamination Report

All of the wealth in world history’s wealthiest country and it still isn’t using those resources to provide access to safe drinking water for tens of millions. America is a plutocracy though, and while it remains that way, the society’s structure will primarily prioritize making the rich richer over much else.

The chemicals that were under review are PFOA and PFOS, which, as Politiconotes, “have long been used in products like Teflon and firefighting foam”—as well as by the Department of Defense, when it conducts exercises at U.S. bases—despite the fact that they “have been linked with thyroid defects, problems in pregnancy, and certain cancers, even at low levels of exposure.”

The study, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), reportedly shows that these chemicals are dangerous to human health at far lower levels than previously known or disclosed by the EPA, and have “contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants, and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia.”

Creating Medicines With Less Side Effects Through a New Chemical Dividing Process

Overall, medications today have way too many harmful side effects, and so this breakthrough technological process should be helpful in reducing them. It also has the potential to “produce better medical and agricultural products, including medicines, food ingredients, dietary supplements and pesticides.”

Chemical compounds are made up of molecules. The most important molecules in biology are chiral molecules. “Chiral,” the Greek word for “hand,” describes molecules that look almost exactly alike and contain the same number of atoms but are mirror images of one another — meaning some are “left-handed” and others are “right-handed.” This different “handedness” is crucial and yields different biological effects.

Understanding chiral differences was made painfully clear by the drug thalidomide. Marketed to pregnant women in the 1950’s and 1960’s to ease morning sickness, thalidomide worked well under a microscope. However, thalidomide is a chiral drug -its “right” chiral molecule provides nausea relief while the “left” molecule causes horrible deformities in babies. Since the drug company producing Thalidomide did not separate out the right and left molecules, Thalidomide had disastrous results for the children of women who took this medication.

Though a crucial step for drug safety, the separation of chiral molecules into their right- and left- handed components is an expensive process and demands a tailor-made approach for each type of molecule. Now, however, following a decade of collaborative research, Paltiel and Naaman have discovered a uniform, generic method that will enable pharmaceutical and chemical manufactures to easily and cheaply separate right from left chiral molecules.

Their method relies on magnets. Chiral molecules interact with a magnetic substrate and line up according to the direction of their handedness — “left” molecules interact better with one pole of the magnet, and “right” molecules with the other one. This technology will allow chemical manufacturers to keep the “good” molecules and to discard the “bad” ones that cause harmful or unwanted side effects.

“Our finding has great practical importance,” shared Prof. Naaman. “It will usher in an era of better, safer drugs, and more environmentally-friendly pesticides.”

While popular drugs, such as Ritalin and Cipramil, are sold in their chirally-pure (i.e., separated) forms, many generic medications are not. Currently only 13% of chiral drugs are separated even though the FDA recommends that all chiral drugs be separated. Further, in the field of agrochemicals, chirally-pure pesticides and fertilizers require smaller doses and cause less environmental contamination than their unseparated counterparts.

Study: Personal Care Products Inhaled en Masse Contribute to Harmful Pollution “Rush Hour”

As if the air in much of the world wasn’t already polluted enough, this study reconfirms the importance of changing transportation systems to be far less dependent on fossil fuels and also the apparent importance of designing better personal care products.

When people are out and about, they leave plumes of chemicals behind them — from both car tailpipes and the products they put on their skin and hair. In fact, emissions of siloxane, a common ingredient in shampoos, lotions, and deodorants, are comparable in magnitude to the emissions of major components of vehicle exhaust, such as benzene, from rush-hour traffic in Boulder, Colorado, according to a new CIRES and NOAA study.

This work, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, is in line with other recent findings that chemical emissions from personal care products can contribute significantly to urban air pollution.

“We detected a pattern of emissions that coincides with human activity: people apply these products in the morning, leave their homes, and drive to work or school. So emissions spike during commuting hours,” said lead author Matthew Coggon, a CIRES scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder working in the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.

D5 Siloxane, short for decamethylcyclopentasiloxane, is added to personal care products like shampoos and lotions to give them a smooth, silky feeling. Siloxane belongs to a class of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs); once applied, they evaporate quickly. In the air, sunlight can trigger those VOCs to react with nitrogen oxides and other compounds to form ozone and particulate matter — two types of pollution that are regulated because of their effects on air quality and human health.

[…]

This study is part of an emerging body of research that finds emissions from consumer and industrial products are important sources of urban air pollution. A recent study in Science, led by CIRES and NOAA’s Brian McDonald, found that consumer and industrial products, including personal care products, household cleaners, paints, and pesticides, produced around half of the VOC emissions measured in Los Angeles during the study period.

DuPont Concealed Dangerous Health Risks Caused by Teflon Globally

This DuPont case is a significant example of corporate crime and the damage it causes. The toxic chemicals in Teflon provide ample reasoning to simply use different products (such as cast iron pans) and avoid exposure to the potentially harmful chemicals in Teflon.

Broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival, we are joined by three guests who personally battled with DuPont and are featured in the new documentary called “The Devil We Know,” that looks at how former DuPont employees, residents and lawyers took on the chemical giant to expose the danger of the chemical C8, found in Teflon and countless household products—from stain- and water-resistant apparel to microwave popcorn bags to dental floss. The chemical has now been linked to six diseases, including testicular and kidney cancers.

[…]

AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Nearly 70 years ago, the chemical giant DuPont introduced a product that would transform how people around the world cook: nonstick Teflon pans.

[…]

AMY GOODMAN: The chemicals in the product, C8, went on to be used in countless household products, from stain- and water-resistant apparel to microwave popcorn bags to dental floss. But DuPont had a secret it never told the American public or many of its own workers: C8 is highly toxic. But that didn’t stop them from discharging C8 into the waterways around its manufacturing plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It’s now been linked to six diseases, including testicular and kidney cancers. The chemical has been used so widely, it’s now in the bloodstream of 99 percent of Americans, even newborn babies. And the chemical is bioresistant, meaning it does not break down.

The struggle to discover the truth about C8 and hold DuPont accountable is the subject of a stunning new documentary that premiered here at Sundance. It’s called The Devil We Know.

Additional article: The Case Against DuPont

New Process Could Increase the Value of Captured Carbon Dioxide

In my view, carbon capture will probably be necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change in the future. The beneficial incentives for capturing it are therefore welcome developments. Also, this possible development is not the only recent advance in carbon capture — there is also a more definitive recent advance that converts captured carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals.

Carbon capture could help the nation’s coal plants reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet economic challenges are part of the reason the technology isn’t widely used today. That could change if power plants could turn captured carbon into a useable product.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory have developed an efficient process for turning captured carbon dioxide into syngas, a mixture of H2 and CO that can be used to make fuels and chemicals. The team has published its results in Green Chemistry, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Traditional approaches for reusing the carbon from CO2 involve a reduction step that requires high temperatures and pressures. At lower temperatures, the CO2 doesn’t stay dissolved in water long enough to be useful. The process developed at INL addresses this challenge by using specialized liquid materials that make the CO2 more soluble and allow the carbon capture medium to be directly introduced into a cell for electrochemical conversion to syngas.

“For the first time it was demonstrated that syngas can be directly produced from captured CO2 — eliminating the requirement of downstream separations,” the researchers wrote in the Green Chemistry paper.

Positively Transforming Greenhouse Gases — Catalyst to Recycle Carbon Dioxide and Methane for Valuable Chemicals Developed

This new research looks to be quite important, as it could provide an added incentive to address the immense threat of climate change. Methane may be only about 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, but it traps about 85 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide does, so it too is definitely part of the environmental threat.

The University of Surrey has developed a new and cost-effective catalyst to recycle two of the main causes behind climate change — carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).

In a study published by the Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, scientists have described how they created an advanced nickel-based catalyst strengthened with tin and ceria, and used it to transform CO2 and CH4 into a synthesis gas that can be used to produce fuels and a range of valuable chemicals.

The project is part of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Global Research Project, which is looking into ways to lessen the impact of global warming in Latin America. The study has led the University of Surrey to file a patent for a family of new “supercatalysts” for chemical CO2 recycling.

According to the Global Carbon Project, global CO2 emissions are set to rise in 2017 for the first time in four years — with carbon output growing on average three per cent every year since 2006.

While carbon capture technology is common, it can be expensive and, in most cases, requires extreme and precise conditions for the process to be successful. It is hoped the new catalyst will help make the technology more widely available across industry, and both easier and cheaper for it to be extracted from the atmosphere.

Dr Tomas R. Reina from the University of Surrey said: “This is an extremely exciting project and we believe we have achieved something here that can make a real impact on CO2 emissions.

“The goal we’re all chasing as climate scientists is a way of reversing the impacts of harmful gases on our atmosphere — this technology, which could see those harmful gases not only removed but converted into renewable fuels for use in poorer countries is the Holy Grail of climate science.”

Professor Harvey Arellano-Garcia, Head of Research in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Surrey, said: “Utilising CO2 in this way is a viable alternative to traditional carbon capture methods, which could make a sizable impact to the health of our planet.

“We’re now seeking the right partners from industry to take this technology and turn it into a world-changing process.”