Activists challenge permit for Navajo Generating Station


A lawsuit claims the federal government didn’t follow open-meeting requirements as it developed a permitting plan for the Navajo Generating Station near Page. Ariz. Photo via Wikimedia and the Creative Commons.

Legal complaint alleges federal agencies violated open meeting rules

Staff Report

Community activists will challenge the federal government’s permit for the pollution-spewing Navajo Generating Station, alleging in a lawsuit that the EPA and the U.S. Department of Interior violated open-meeting regulations during the permitting process.

The plant, located on Navajo lands near Page, Arizona, is one of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired plants. Toxic emissions fall especially heavily on the Navajo Nation, which suffers some of the highest rates of asthma and other lung problems in any community in the country. Continue reading

Study links dengue fever outbreaks with El Niño

New study can help tropical countries prepare


El Niño cycles can have public health impacts.

Staff Report

This year’s El Niño could bring a widespread dengue fever outbreak across Southeast Asia, scientists said after tracking a link between the disease and warmer temperatures.

The warning came after a team of international scientists found that an increase in dengue incidence swept through eight countries of Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998 during a historically intense El Niño weather event.

“Dengue infects large numbers of people across the tropics each year, but incidence can vary dramatically from year to year in any setting,” said University of Florida biology professor Derek Cummings, senior author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading

Study tracks spike in zipline accidents

Children under 10 tabbed as most susceptible to serious injury; researchers call for better safety standards

Staff Report

Popular zipline attractions should be subject to uniform safety standards across all jurisdictions to protect children from serious injuries, public health researchers said this week after documenting an alarming spike in injuries.

The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that an estimated 16,850 non-fatal zipline-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency departments from 1997 through 2012, with 70 percent of the injuries occurred during the last four years of the study period, indicating a growing problem.

In 2012 alone, there were more than 3,600 people treated in U.S. emergency departments for zipline-related injuries, nearly 10 per day. Children younger than 10 years of age accounted for almost half (45 percent) of the zipline-related injuries while youth, ages 10-19, accounted for an additional 33 percent of injured patients. Continue reading

Study says U.S. consumers waste 1.3 billion pounds of seafood per year


A fisherman in Piran, Slovenia, tends his nets. @bberwyn photo.

Discarded seafood could feed 10 million people

Staff Report

With food waste on the UN agenda this week, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future say that as much as 47 percent of the edible U.S. seafood supply is lost each year — mainly from consumer waste.

In the U.S. and around the world, people are being advised to eat more seafood, but overfishing, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and the use of fish for other purposes besides human consumption threaten the global seafood supply. Continue reading

Study tracks school lunch food waste

More fruit and veggies than ever ending up in trash

It's harvest season!

You can give school kids all the fruit in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to eat it. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A push to get kids eating healthier school meals isn’t exactly playing out as hoped, according to Vermont researchers, who used cameras to track what students are doing with the fresh fruit and veggies on their lunch trays.

It may not be a surprise to anyone who has spent time in a school lunch room, but many students are putting the apples and oranges straight into the trash, eating even fewer of them than they did before the the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was passed.

The new study, published online in Public Health Reports, is the first to use digital imaging to capture students’ lunch trays before and after they exited the lunch line. It is also one of the first to compare fruit and vegetable consumption before and after the controversial legislation – the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – was passed.

The study found that students put more fruits and vegetables on their trays, as required by the law. But that doesn’t mean the goodies are being eaten. Overall, the study found a big increase in food waste. Continue reading

Study eyes global warming health threats to Gulf Coast

‘Unfortunately, we are now at a point where simply slowing climate change, while critical, is not enough.’


Sea level rise will swallow parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast. @bberwyn photo.


Tidal flooding near Venice, Louisiana. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming is likely to make the U.S. Gulf Coast less hospitable and more dangerous for residents, public health experts warned in a new study that focused on the region.

More extreme heat events, rising sea levels and the potential for intense tropical storms threaten the region’s population and infrastructure, and could spur large scale migration, scientists said in a new paper published this week in in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

“The science of climate change and the threat to human and population health is irrefutable, and the threat is evolving quickly,” said to Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “Unfortunately, we are now at a point where simply slowing climate change, while critical, is not enough. We need to simultaneously develop and deploy ways of mitigating the impact and adapting to the consequences of this environmental disaster.” Continue reading

Vermont study paints nuanced picture of GMO labeling effects

Some colorful cereal. I had never tasted these until a friend of my son's came for a sleepover and brought these along because they don't have any wheat in them. Anyone venture to guess what kind they are?

Does your favorite cereal include GMO ingredients?

Labeling may actually reduce opposition to GMOs among some demographic groups

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new Vermont study suggests that consumers don’t necessarily see GMO lables on food as a negative warning. In some cases, such labels may actually increase consumer confidence, the researchers said after analyzing five years worth of data.

A new study released just days after the U.S. House passed a bill that would prevent states from requiring labels on genetically modified foods reveals that GMO labeling would not act as warning labels and scare consumers away from buying products with GMO ingredients.

The statewide survey was focused on two key questions: whether Vermonters are opposed to GMO’s in commercially available food products; and if respondents thought products containing GMO’s should be labeled. Continue reading


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