4/15/10 The standard that new drugs be safe for human consumption was first enshrined in U.S. regulations in 1938, after an antibacterial drug dissolved in a poisonous solvent killed 100 children. Now, armed with a range of evidence suggesting that wildlife and human health may be threatened by pharmaceutical residues that escape into waterways and elsewhere, a growing band of concerned ecotoxicologists and environmental chemists are calling for yet another standard for new medications: that they be designed to be safe for the environment.

The movement for “green pharmacy,” as it has been dubbed, has grown as new technology has allowed scientists to discern the presence of chemicals in the environment at minute concentrations, revealing the wide dispersal of human and veterinary drugs across the planet. In recent years, scientists have detected trace amounts of more than 150 different human and veterinary medicines in environments as far afield as the Arctic. Eighty percent of the U.S.’s streams and nearly a quarter of the nation’s groundwater sampled by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been found to be contaminated with a variety of medications. Read Full Article

4/8/10 Once, on both sides of the Atlantic, fish such as salmon, eels, and, shad were abundant and played an important role in society, feeding millions and providing a livelihood for tens of thousands. But as these fish have steadily dwindled, humans have lost sight of their significance, with each generation accepting a diminished environment as the new norm.

Today, most people in the U.S. and Europe are scarcely aware that eels, wild Atlantic salmon, shad, and alewives — once-vital sources of food and employment — are no longer a part of their ordinary experience.

Eels were widely consumed by Europeans and Americans in the 1800s and were often featured on holiday tables. And salmon once ran inland in countless numbers, providing sport and food; today, only a few hundred wild salmon remain in the eastern U.S., migrating up a handful of rivers in Maine to spawn. 

Every generation takes the natural environment it encounters during childhood as the norm against which it measures environmental decline later in life. With each ensuing generation, environmental degradation generally increases, but each generation takes that degraded condition as the new normal. Scientists call this phenomenon “shifting baselines” or “inter-generational amnesia,” and it is part of a larger and more nebulous reality — the insidious ebbing of the ecological and social relevancy of declining and disappearing species.

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4/12/10

Q. Why do ecologists seem to give the nod to farmed catfish and tilapia but not salmon?

A. The ecological issues related to fish farming vary from freshwater to saltwater fish; from carnivorous species to noncarnivores; and from open pens to closed ponds and tanks, among many other factors.

Farmed salmon, often raised in pens that are permeable by surrounding ocean waters and fed a diet rich in fish meal and fish oil, have been of special concern to critics...Read Full Article

4/28/20 The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office has submitted a pollution charge against Footprint Recycling of Arcata for an alleged biodiesel spill in January. Deputy District Attorney Christa McKimmy said she submitted the charge last week alleging that Footprint released a substance harmful to fish, bird and plant life into a place where it can pass into waters of the state.

On March 25, the California Department of Fish and Game submitted a report to the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office regarding the alleged January spill at Footprint's West End Road facility in Arcata, where about 1,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel overflowed from an above-ground tank.

The spill started when an automatic timer failed during the night of Jan. 14, said president and owner Andrew Cooper. The fuel reached the facility's drainage ditch, which is an unnamed tributary of the north fork of Janes Creek, but did not leave the property before it was cleaned up. 

 

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4/4/10 The Environmental Protection Agency is exploring whether to use the Clean Water Act to control greenhouse gas emissions, which are turning the oceans acidic at a rate that's alarmed some scientists.

Since the dawn of the industrial age, acid levels in the oceans have increased 30 percent. Currently, the oceans are absorbing 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a day.

Among other things, scientists worry that the increase in acidity could interrupt the delicate marine food chain, which ranges from microscopic plankton to whales.

The situation is especially acute along the West Coast...The water in the deep Pacific Ocean is already more acidic than shallower water is because it's absorbed the carbon dioxide that's produced as animals and plants decompose. Some of the deep water in the Pacific hasn't been to the surface for 1,000 or more years.

By the end of the century, that deep water is expected to be 150 percent more acidic than it is now, and as it's brought to the surface by upwelling, it's exposed to even more carbon dioxide. Read Full Artilcle