Nuclear Dangers Close to Home

By Norman Solomon

SEVERAL DECADES AGO, three expert nuclear engineers told a congressional panel why they decided to quit: "We could no longer justify devoting our life energies to the continued development and expansion of nuclear fission power — a system we believe to be so dangerous that it now threatens the very existence of life on this planet."

The Joint Committee on Atomic Energy heard that testimony in 1977, when the conventional wisdom was still hailing "the peaceful atom" as a flawless marvel. During the same year, solid information convinced me to move from concern to action against nuclear power.

Mercury-Tainted Fish Threaten Health of Sierra Fishermen

By Kerry Morse
The Sierra Fund

As sunshine and warm breezes finally reach the Sierra Nevada Foothills, anglers across California reach for fishing poles, line, bait, and tackle.  And as people head to their favorite fishing holes, half have one other thing on their mind: dinner.

According to the Gold Country Angler Survey, a new study by Nevada City-based nonprofit The Sierra Fund, 47% of anglers at Sierra water bodies plan to eat what they catch that day, and 92% report eating locally caught fish sometime in the last year.

In a region with a legacy of mercury pollution from historic gold mining, these findings are cause for concern. Millions of pounds of mercury were dumped into Sierra rivers and streams in the mining days. Today, it’s still there in reservoirs, lakes and river beds. The greatest concern The Sierra Fund has is for human health, because the way people are exposed to mercury is by eating fish caught from these areas.

California Legislators: Whose Side Are They On?

By Russell Long
Friends of the Earth

Today, a handful of California legislators will determine the fate of the health of children in California and also the health of people and all living things all over the world.

The California Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee will decide today whether or not to support SB 147, the Consumer Choice Fire Protection Act, which protects us from dangerous flame retardant chemicals.

Flame retardant chemicals are a lot like radioactivity – they are persistent and take a long time to break down. They travel on wind and water, and have been found in the bodies of human beings and animals all around the globe. These dangerous halogenated chemicals are linked to lowered IQ’s in children and other neuro-impairment, infertility, and cancer – all health problems on the rise here in California and around the world.

California's Flammability Standard Puts Children at Risk

By Sarah Janssen
Natural Resources Defense Council

A study published today in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, is further evidence that California children are the most highly exposed to flame retardant chemicals. Based on the results of this and previous studies, it is likely these high levels of exposure to flame retardant chemicals are due to the unique furniture flammability standards in the state.  

The study done by UC-Berkeley researchers measured a group of flame retardants, called PBDEs, in 264 Mexican-American children born and raised in California and compared their levels to 283 children born and raised in the same areas of Mexico from where their mothers had emigrated.  

California’s Toxic Sofas – Give Us a Choice for Health

By Harpreet Malhi, DO
Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles (PSR-LA)

I see thousands of patients every year with chronic and acute illnesses — some are easily treatable, others present more of a challenge, and for some there is regrettably nothing that I can do. Many illnesses are triggered as a result of multiple factors. For these patients, I cannot help but think of the many ways in which their illnesses may have been prevented. What if they had better access to health information and healthcare services? What if we more highly valued prevention?

Right now members of the California legislature have the opportunity to take a step towards better health for Californians, and make a decision that values science-based prevention. This opportunity has nothing to do with the cost of health insurance, doctor visits, or taxes; this has to do with making our living and working environments safer by giving every Californian the chance to have furniture and baby products free of toxic and untested flame retardant chemicals. This opportunity is presented in SB 147 (Leno), The Consumer Choice Fire Safety Act.

Isn't It Time We Got the Message?

By Hannah-Beth Jackson
Speak Out California

In following the horror of nature rearing its awesome and unlimited power upon our friend and ally, Japan, it becomes ever more clear how fragile our hold is and how potentially insignificant we are in nature's plan. So the question is: why do we continue to taunt her power? We build in flood plains, fire zones, ignore the true signs of global warming and talk about building more nuclear power plants. When will be get the message?

Japan's Tsunami & Nuclear Plants: Humans, Not Nature, Made This Crisis

By Yoichi Shimatsu
New America Media

The Wave, reminiscent of Hokusai's masterful woodblock print, blew past Japan's shoreline defenses of harbor breakwaters and gigantic four-legged blocks called tetrapods, lifting ships to ram through seawalls and crash onto downtown parking lots. Seaside areas were soon emptied of cars and houses dragged up and back out to sea. Wave heights of up to10 meters (33 feet) are staggering, but before deeming these as unimaginable, consider the historical Sanriku tsunami that towered to 15 meters (nearly 50 feet) and killed 27,000 people in 1896.

Nature's terrifying power, however we may dread it, is only as great as the human-caused vulnerability of our civilization. Soon after Christmas 2004, I volunteered for the rescue operation on the day after the Indian Ocean tsunami and simultaneously did an on-site field study on the causes of fatalities in southern Thailand.

New Study Reveals Dangers of Prenatal Pesticide Exposure

By Poornima Weerasekara

Endless rows of lettuce, celery and broccoli, covered by silver plastic sheets, surround the Natividad Medical Center, a community clinic located in the heart of this agricultural town, often called the salad bowl of America.

At about 10:30 a.m., Salinas Valley resident Marie, a Mexican-American farm worker who didn’t want to give her real name because she is participating in a research study, troops into one of the center’s research labs housed in an old trailer with her two children.

She has brought her 5-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter in for their routine blood and urine sampling. The research station is littered with toys, kids DVDs and various puzzles and activities. While her daughter grabs some crayons and a coloring book, Helen Aguirre, a research worker, gently prods Marie’s son onto a scale to record his weight.

Federal and State Officials Hear Testimony Regarding the Impact of Pollution at Schools

By Robina Suwol, Executive Director of California Safe Schools, and Jane Williams of California Communities Against Toxics

Los Angeles, CA- Officials from U.S. EPA in Washington DC and San Francisco, and the new Brown Administration were in historic Los Angeles City Hall last Tuesday, February 1st  listening to testimony from experts and community members regarding the impact of pollution sources on schools.

The standing room only crowd listened intently as U.S. EPA representatives took notes on speakers comments made about its newly proposed guidance document on school siting. The documents which can be reviewed at are available for comment until February 18th.

This well attended “listening session” was sponsored by the two of us - Jane Williams of California Communities Against Toxics and Robina Suwol of California Safe Schools - and is the only scheduled session in the country.

New Report Targets Unreasonable Water Use in California

By Dan Bacher

Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson will present a highly anticipated report to the State Water Resources Control Board on January 19 suggesting that a particularly contentious area of California water law, the California Constitution’s “Reasonable and Beneficial Use Doctrine," be applied more broadly.

In his report, Wilson recommends that the State Board employ this doctrine to promote agricultural water use efficiency. The doctrine states a water right does not include the right to waste water and mandates that “the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use," according to the Planning and Conservation League Insider.

A small percentage of increased agricultural water use efficiency adds up to significant water savings in California, according to Wilson. The report recommends that the State Board convene a "Reasonable Use Summit" to develop specific actions to improve efficiency and create a “Reasonable Use Unit” within the Division of Water Rights.