Tag Archives: health

Newark passes country’s first Environmental Justice Ordinance to protect residents

Newark Drawbridge & Skyline by Bridge Street by erodzen
Source: Newark Drawbridge & Skyline by Bridge Street by erodzen via Mapio
Newark, NJ – The City of Newark made history when the Newark Municipal Council passed a first-in-the-nation Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance which will require the Board of Adjustment and Central Planning Board to receive additional information from development applicants in order to build in a healthy and sustainable way.

“I want to thank the Newark Municipal Council, Mayor Baraka and his Administration for passing the First Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts ordinance in the country,” said Kim Gaddy, Newark resident and Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action. “I started this fight 9 years ago with my colleagues and today I’m so proud of my City and the Leadership. Newark will be a vibrant and sustainable city. Kudos to the Newark Environmental Commission for keeping this Ordinance as a priority for the City.”

The City of Newark and urban communities face higher levels of pollution from multiple sources including toxic waste sites, industrial plants, and heavy city and port traffic. The “cumulative impacts” of these pollutants are making people, especially children, sick. In the City of Newark, asthma is the city’s biggest crime. Statistically speaking, more people die of asthma than homicides. School age children in Newark have double the state and national average rate (25%) for asthma resulting in most missed school days and unaffordable medical bills.

Newark residents face the nation’s 2nd greatest cancer risk due to diesel emissions. The city is home to the largest trash incinerator in the Northeast, which pollutes the air and costs the city over $9 million in disposal costs. The city is also the 3rd largest port in the nation with 7,000 trucks making an estimated 10,000 trips daily. Many of these toxin-spewing rigs are antiquated and pollute at least 10 times more than modern trucks.

The goal of the Environmental Justice & Cumulative Impacts Ordinance is to advance Environmental Justice, good stewardship, and sustainable economic development in furtherance of the priorities outlined in the Newark Sustainability Action Plan and the Newark Master Plan. Through this Ordinance, the City of Newark seeks to:

  1. Protect the health of all residents, regardless of race, culture or income, from exposure to pollution linked to adverse health effects, including the cumulative impacts that may be worsened as an unintended by-product of new development or redevelopment, and to ensure the enforcement of laws, regulations, and policies in a manner consistent with the principles of Environmental Justice.
  2. Take appropriate action to avoid, minimize and mitigate pollution from all sources within Newark’s jurisdiction through partnerships, innovation, and enforcement.
  3. Encourage proposals for development or redevelopment that contribute positively to Newark’s environmental, economic, and social health or, at minimum, that do not contribute net new pollution to the environment or adversely impact public health.

“As a Newark resident and parent, this legislation will protect the residents from the disproportionate health burdens experienced because of the zip code we live in,” concluded Kim Gaddy.

Pres. Obama is making a flower highway for butterflies (really)

tagged monarch
Source: Anna Barnett on flickr
I know this headline sounds more like the title of a fantasy novel than a project the federal United States government is implementing. But it’s real – a real 1500 mile project that will connect Minnesota with Texas with habitat areas for Monarch butterflies all the way down the middle of our country. That’s the path these butterflies take on their way to winter in fir forests outside of Mexico City, Mexico. It will run north-south along Route I-35, pretty much the entire vertical length of the United States.

butterfly highway
Source: mexiconewsdaily.com

The Christian Science Monitor explains the plan:

The Xerces Society has already been working with the Federal Highway Administration to develop best practices for roadside management, including incorporation of flowering plants and milkweed and adapting mowing schedules to migration patterns… but the president’s plan is much broader than that.

“The idea is to use it as this iconic pathway to work with schools, farmers, ranchers, and park districts to improve habitats for 50 to 100 miles on either side of the I-35 corridor,” Dr. Black says.

North Carolina has a Butterfly Highway of its own. And, there are other Monarch protection projects coming to life in different parts of the United States – check out Monarch Joint Venture for details.

In May 2015 the Washington Post reported on Obama’s National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

People of Flint are being poisoned by City Manager and Michigan’s Gov. Snyder

Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards shows Flint water quality Source: Flint Journal via Michigan Live
Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards shows Flint water quality Source: Flint Journal via Michigan Live
Flint, Michigan has followed in *Detroit’s footsteps, attacking residents’ access to one of the two most important elements required for living: clean water (the other is air). Two city managers appointed by Gov. Snyder colluded to deprive 100,000 people of access to Great Lakes water via the Detroit Water Authority by switching to the Flint River, a salty source which has caused pipe corrosion and has resulted in lead poisoning in young children and health issues across the general population. The Ford factory also soon learned that Flint River water was ruining its equipment:

One of the most telling moments in this saga was when General Motors disconnected from the Flint River because the water was ruining its machinery, leaving some to wonder — if it was doing that to machines, what was it doing to humans?

On the Dr Boyce Watkins show, Roosevelt Mitchell III and Vanessa Lynn discuss the horrific situation Flint is confronting and residents’ hopes that the federal government will step in with a solution to this crisis.

ABC News reported in October 2015

…the Genesee County health department declared a public health emergency, recommending that people not drink the water unless it has been filtered and tested to rule out elevated levels of lead. More steps will be announced Friday.

County Commissioner Brenda Clack told residents that infants and children should not use the water coming from the taps in the city of Flint.

“Individuals who have respiratory conditions should not use the water, pregnant women should not use the water – it’s imperative that they not use the water,” she urged.

However, it is unclear what people were expected to drink and cook with. Early on, FEMA stepped in to provide some bottled water – but only a few thousand liters … General Motors and local non-profits donated to buy filters – but only for 5,000 residents. It remains unclear today how close the city government has come to fulfilling the promise made in October to provide filters for all homes and businesses, and when a source of clean water will be available again.

The Flint Water Board allowed the switch to be made without requiring adequate testing to ensure that residents’ health would not be compromised.

Added later in the day: Detroit Free Press reports that Gov. Snyder, in a move calculated to shift the blame away from himself, called for the resignation of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant, which was tendered today.

*In April 2015, the City of Detroit began shutting off the water for 40% of the city’s residents after giving 10 days’ advance notice.

Study links sugary drinks to a staggering amount of deaths per year

Sugar Loaded Drinks posterStudy links sugary drinks to a staggering amount of deaths per year, with low and middle-income countries bearing the brunt of the burden.

Harvard has plenty of bad stuff to report about sugary drinks too and cautions, “Fruit juice is not a better option. Even though it has more nutrients, it contains as much sugar (though from naturally occurring fruit sugars rather than added sugar) and calories as soft drinks.” Here are some of the heavy facts:

Two out of three adults and one out of three children in the United States are overweight or obese, (29) and the nation spends an estimated $190 billion a year treating obesity-related health conditions. (30) Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. (31) On any given day, half the people in the U.S. consume sugary drinks; 1 in 4 consume at least 200 calories from such drinks; and 5% drink at least 567 calories—equivalent to four cans of soda. (32)…

The role of marketing
Sugary drinks (soda, energy, sports drinks) are the top calorie source in teens’ diets (226 calories per day), beating out pizza (213 calories per day). (34)

From 1989 to 2008, calories consumed in the form of sugary beverages increased by 60% in children ages 6 to 11, and the percentage of children consuming them rose from 79% to 91%. (35)

Menstruation Activists spread the word: healthy menstrual products are also eco-friendly

Sustainable CyclesWould you believe there’s something called Menstruation Activism – and that women who promote it via Sustainable Cycles are cycling across the United States to bring awareness to women everywhere about menstruation products that are healthier for us and better for the environment?

The Guardian report on menstruation products shares excellent information on what’s being done around the world to bring this universally taboo subject into the light. It should be easy to discuss and address the health and environmental concerns that are associated with ‘female hygiene’, as it’s a subject that affects 50% of the world’s population directly … and the environmental problems caused by unsustainable products affect everyone.

What a revolutionary idea. I love it!

Bottled water is soooo bad – for health, environment, budgets & waste streams

Ban the BottlePeople have no idea how bad bottled water is – for the health of the world, their communities and their bodies. Bottled water is also a social justice issue.

Let’s start with the health issues: single use bottles contain BPA which leeches into water, especially when stored in hot temperatures. Plus, bottled water contains more bacteria than tap water. Stop Corporate Abuse explains,

Bottled water is often sold with images of snowy peaks and pristine rivers with slogans boasting the “pure fresh taste.” Through marketing that presents bottled water as somehow cleaner or safer than tap water, the bottled water industry has effectively cast doubt on the quality of America’s tap water. In 2003, a Gallup poll found that one in five people was drinking only bottled water, largely because of such doubts.

However, the “alternative” sold by these corporations is often a matter of perceived quality rather than an actual substantive difference. In reality, close to half of all bottled water is basically bottled tap water – sold back to consumers for thousands of times the price.

What’s more, bottled water is subject to far less independent regulation and oversight than our public water systems. The Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction over public water systems, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for overseeing bottled water quality. Both agencies use a similar set of quality standards. While these standards are similar on paper, the FDA lacks adequate capacity to effectively monitor the industry, and largely relies on bottlers to police themselves.

Next, consider the environmental impact to manufacture plastic bottles; spend the energy to put it into bottles and ship it to distributors, then transport it to stores and refrigerate it until a customer spends up to $2 to buy a bottle. Pablo Pastër of Triple Pundit calculated the natural resource cost to be close to 7 times the amount of water actually contained in the bottle, plus a bunch of fossil fuel.

Taxpayer cost: even small towns spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to buy bottled water, instead of investing in tap water infrastructure, and the management and treatment of stormwater. Is this how you want your taxpayer dollars being spent?

We’re not done yet. Empty bottles still need to be thrown out! Stop Corporate Abuse tells us that according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO),

… about three-quarters of the water bottles produced in the United States in 2006 were discarded and not recycled. Each year more than four billion pounds of PET plastic bottles end up in landfills or as roadside litter … Waste generation has a huge monetary impact on municipalities… Assuming the average national tipping fee of $35 per ton, these four billion pounds of plastic waste cost US cities at least $70 million annually, not including the costs of collection, trucking and litter removal.

Finally, people have begun to fight back against bottled water abuse.

Concord, Massachusetts has become one of the first communities in the U.S. to ban the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles … Octogenarian Jean Hill lead the charge, telling The New York Times in a 2010 interview, “The bottled water companies are draining our aquifers and selling it back to us.” She declared, “I’m going to work until I drop on this.”

And you can fight back too. Try a campaign in your own town or school. Here are some resources to get you started:
Ban the Bottle
The Water Project

Nestlé in line for Hall of Shame Award over bottled water

Take back the tapNestlé hoards our world’s fresh water, marks it up 53 Million percent and spends enough on advertising to make you like paying for it. The company is highly effective in helping kill babies by means of watered-down infant formula; sucking up indigenous people’s water supplies in developing countries to bottle and sell in America for astronomical sums; and they’ve got cruel child labor practices in place that Executive VP Jose Lopez says have been company norm, “For as long as we’ve been using cocoa.”

Nestlé shamelessly carries out these acts in order to make $35 Billion profit, putting bottled water in the category of a serious social and environmental justice concern. And according to Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper, that’s why Nestlé has been nominated for a 2013 Corporate Accountability International Hall of Shame Award. See for yourself: in this YouTube video, Nestle’s CEO remarks on the increasing scarcity of water.

The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs [NGOs = Non-Government Organizations], who bang on about declaring water being a public right. That means as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.

Not bad enough yet? How about throwing a GMO connection into the ring: Nestlé has one of those too. Luther reports:

Monsanto and Nestle are firmly on the same team – Nestle donated over $1 million to the campaign against GMO labeling in California and their CEO has claimed that in 15 years of consumption, no one was every harmed by eating GMOs.

While the world’s attention has been on Monsanto’s corruption of the food supply, Nestle has been quietly draining water sources around the globe and marking it up a mind-blowing 53,908,255%, while the rest of us must deal with droughts, regulations on wells and rainwater, and rising prices.

Just remember, Nestlé’s propaganda statements are so not true. They are just empty marketing words.

The Nestle website touts the slogan: Good Food, Good Life is the promise we commit to, everyday, everywhere – to enhance lives, throughout life, with good food and beverages.

Be a smart world citizen and forget bottled water, like these plumbing shop owners have. The benefits are only a bunch of big fat lies. Drink free tap water instead and help improve our world by doing just a little bit every day to improve our environment and our water quality.

Raw milk saves family farms & maybe your health too

So much happens to your milk before it jumps onto the shelf of your local market and waits for you to buy it. For one thing, your milk might travel clear across the country before it gets there, even though there are plenty of dairy farmers right near you, and it gets pasteurized. The New York Times, in an article about the growing demand for raw milk, explains that liquids like milk and orange juice are subject to the pasteurization “process of heating and quickly cooling to kill pathogens,” but it, “also destroys beneficial bacteria, proteins and enzymes.” This is a different process than homogenization, which uses force to disperse fat molecules throughout milk so the fat doesn’t just sit on top in a layer separate from the lighter liquid underneath.

Small farmers – except in states where the sale of raw milk is allowed – are also, never able to sell their milk to the public and cannot set their own prices when they sell it, because they are obliged by law to sell to aggregators which truck it to a plant having a pasteurization machine, which is a huge piece of equipment very costly to purchase, maintain and operate. We should care about family farms because their owners care about us: they care about producing real, authentic, food that’s healthy to eat, and doing it using sustainable farming methods and by treating their animals well. Whereas on corporatized, or factory, farms, cruelty to animals is the norm and it is taken for granted that the environment and people’s health will be damaged as a natural consequence of their operations. Small farms are vital parts of a healthy food chain, a healthy economy and a healthy small business community.

Big farms are the ones that own the pasteurization machines and represent the organized dairy industry, which “contributed $4.8 million to federal candidates during the 2008 election cycle, with 60 percent going to Republicans. The top contributor was the Dairy Farmers of America, a dairy farmer cooperative.” About DFA, Mother Jones says, “…both the soybean lobby and dairy lobby are powerful presences on the Hill, as the fracas over last year’s climate bill showed,” and at a Syracuse conference held in 2004, Peter Hardin explained about this organization that forces family farmers to join their cooperative by refusing to give them access to pasteurization if they refuse to join,

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) – the nation’s largest raw milk marketer – and Dean Foods (the nation’s largest fluid milk processor) have rigged a system that controls sale of one-third or more of U.S. farm milk. In areas where DFA has far greater control of all farm milk, such as the Southeast, producers’ milk prices suffer dramatic underpayments. DFA’s “market power” is a tool used against farmers.

This video is the Harvard Law School Food Law Society-sponsored debate on raw milk. Proponents of raw milk – not boiled at home – refer to surveys showing that 82% of lactose intolerant people are able to drink raw milk without problems and that when compared with pasteurized milk it is shown to build greater bone density in children. Children raised on raw milk have perfectly healthy teeth and, it was recently discovered that raw milk offers protection against asthma. Raw milk advocates claim that modern milk safety was made possible by faster transportation (cars over horses), better refrigeration and better hygiene – not by pasteurization as the big dairy farms claim.

If your state doesn’t allow the sale of raw milk, you can still have it if you own your own share of a milk-producing animal. Farmtoconsumer.org tells you how:

How Cow or Goat-Share Programs Work

The consumer purchases a share in a milk cow, goat or dairy herd. The farmer and the consumer enter into a contract whereby the farmer feeds and boards the animal and provides the labor to milk the animal and store the consumer’s milk. Such contracts are legal and valid, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. The consumer does not buy milk from the farmer. Rather, they pay the farmer for the service of keeping the cow or goat and his labor for milking and processing the milk into value added products such as butter, cream, cheese, etc. However, they may directly purchase other products from the farm, such as eggs, vegetables and meat.

Other resources
NJ Raw Milk Group

EPA’s pollution assessment tool in beta

The EPA released a beta version of the new Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool (C-FERST). It will increase the availability and accessibility of science and data for evaluating impacts of pollutants and local conditions, understanding the overall environmental health consequences of your community and ranking risks. The tool will enable communities to identify environmental health issues, rank and prioritize issues, make informed and cost-effective decisions to improve public health, and promote actions.

Feedback is needed to finalize development, so please give C-FERST a test drive and share your experiences. More information here.