Rachel's News #980

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Rachel's Democracy & Health News #980

"Environment, health, jobs and justice--Who gets to decide?"

Thursday, October 9, 2008...............Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org
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Featured stories in this issue...

Canada Is Ready To Extract Oil from 'Oil Sands' -- at What Cost?
  Canada ranks second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of total oil
  reserves, thanks to the enormous Athabascan "oil sands" out west in
  Alberta. Oil worth an estimated $34 trillion can be recovered there
  with available technology -- though at enormous cost to the
  environment of Alberta and of the Great Lakes (see next story, below).
  Who will pay these great costs? Future generations.
Canada's Oil Sands Will Pollute Great Lakes, Report Warns
  Extracting 340 billion barrels of oil (worth $34 trillion) from the
  "tar sands" in Alberta will create a "pollution delivery system"
  connecting western Canada to the Great Lakes, according to a new
  report. Alberta's burgeoning refineries will extract copious
  quantities of water from the Lakes and will dump massive quantities of
  air pollution there.
Ocean 'Dead Zones' Are Spreading, Endangering Fish Species
  The number of reported "dead zones" in the world's oceans has grown
  to 140 from almost none 30 years ago, rising at about 5% per year and
  threatening marine fisheries.
World's Mammals Are in Crisis, Red List Reveals
  A quarter of all land mammal species and one-third of all marine
  mammal species are threated with extinction, according to the latest
  "Red List" catalog of the world's disappearing creatures.
Efforts To Save the Everglades Are Failing, Says a Government Study
  A new report from the National Academy of Sciences warns that
  Florida's unique "river of grass" -- the Everglades -- will face
  irreversible losses if things don't change soon.
Exposure To Common Chemicals May Affect Genitals of Baby Boys
  Baby boys are more likely to have changes in their genitals -- such
  as undescended testicles and smaller penises -- if their mothers were
  exposed to high levels of common chemicals (called phthalates) during
  pregnancy. Phthalates are used in countless plastic products and are
  found in everything from drinking water to breast milk to household
  dust.
Tiny Nano Particles in Consumer Products Damage Cell DNA
  Many nanomaterials currently used in sunscreens and other consumer
  products killed or damaged the DNA of human lung cells when tested in
  a laboratory. These results show the urgent need to test nanomaterials
  for safety before they are used in any more consumer products.

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From: Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 30, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

HIGH STAKES IN CANADA'S VAST OIL-SANDS FIELDS

Trillions of dollars' worth of oil are present, but the environmental
costs are high, too -- and growing.

By George Tombs, Contributor of The Christian Science Monitor/

The relentless search for oil has led explorers to the boreal forest
of northeastern Alberta, among the jack pines and black spruce trees
an hour's drive from the boom town of Fort McMurray. Kelly Hansen,
operations manager at ConocoPhillips's $1 billion Surmont oil-sands
plant, holds up the prize: a beaker of sticky black "synbit," a 50-50
blend of bitumen (a viscous, tarlike petroleum) and synthetic oil.

View a map of the tar sands regions of Alberta, Canada.

"The Athabasca oil sands contain the equivalent of 1.7 trillion
barrels of oil," Mr. Hansen says. "About 20 percent of that total can
be produced, using current technology" -- namely, surface mining and
steam extraction underground. Surmont, a facility of gleaming silver-
colored steam generators, process pipes, and holding tanks, is jointly
owned with French oil company Total. Its initial pilot phase has
ended, and the company estimates it will produce 2.5 billion barrels
of oil at Surmont. [One-fifth of 1.7 trillion barrels, priced at $100
per barrel, would have a value of $34 trillion.]

Thanks largely to the prodigious Athabasca oil sands, Canada ranks
second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of total oil reserves. At a time
of roller-coaster crude prices and concerns over the security of
energy supplies, these oil-sand deposits have attracted more than $100
billion of investment from just about every major oil company in the
world.

According to Matt Fox, vice president of oil sands at ConocoPhillips,
"Canada represented 20 percent last year of US oil imports. By 2020,
it could easily represent 40 percent."

Athabasca's oil sands produce a heavy oil. "Upgraders" in the province
convert it into a blend of lighter oil so it can enter pipelines and
reach markets across Canada and the United States for refining.

Fort McMurray is experiencing a gold rush, even if the gold is black.
The two-lane highway into town is often jammed with full-size pickup
trucks and prefabricated process plants on wide-load trailers. Life in
town is a frenzy of skyrocketing house prices, inadequate municipal
infrastructure, mountains of freshly earned cash with little for
workers to spend it on, and a huge transient population, much of it in
temporary work camps. There's a severe shortage of skilled labor. Mine
workers are being recruited from as far away as South Africa and
Venezuela.

Huge environmental footprint

But the biggest concern is the environmental footprint being created
by oil-sands development. Extracting Athabasca's oil is costly not
only in terms of infrastructure, but also in water, energy used to
produce steam, and the enormous amount of greenhouse gas that results.
Some question whether the scale of new projects is wise. At today's
prices, tens of trillions of dollars' worth of oil are at stake.

The oil sands exist in two formations: Surface deposits account for 20
percent of total recoverable reserves. The rest are at various depths
underground.

At Syncrude's Mildred Lake plant, north of Fort McMurray, giant
excavators have scarred the landscape. Like giant otherworldly beetles
roaming the moon, 400-ton trucks haul the ore to the extraction plant.
Two tons of loose rock and soil and two tons of ore have to be moved
to produce a single barrel of oil. Surface mining also uses from 2 to
4-1/2 barrels of water per barrel of oil. The water is pumped from the
nearby Athabasca River to produce steam, which helps separate sand and
bitumen. Much of the water is recycled, but some is left to settle in
highly toxic tailings ponds.

At the same time, Syncrude -- a joint venture that includes Canadian
Oil Sands Ltd., Imperial Oil (an ExxonMobil subsidiary), Petro-Canada,
Nexen, Conoco-Phillips, and others -- is Canada's largest single
emitter of greenhouse gas, since it must burn 750 cubic feet of
natural gas to generate the steam needed to produce a barrel of
bitumen. That's the equivalent of burning one barrel of oil for every
eight barrels produced.

According to Steve Gaudet, Syncrude's manager of environmental
services, gradual progress is being made to reclaim land at mined
sites by replacing topsoil and replanting shrubs and boreal forest
trees. More than 20 percent of the Mildred Lake site has been
reclaimed, he says, but desertlike areas remain.

In terms of water use, Mr. Gaudet says Syncrude uses 0.2 percent of
the annual flow rate of the Athabasca River. "At the lowest flow
rates, during the winter, we use 0.5 percent," he notes. With the
planned expansion, that figure will rise to 1 percent. (Some 60
percent of Alberta's Bow River flow is exploited by cities like
Calgary, as well as by agriculture and industry.)

Some aboriginal communities downstream are worried that contaminated
water will seep back into the river and affect the drinking water and
fish they depend on. This fall, the Alberta government is due to
release a long-awaited report on the impact of oil-sands wastes on
public health in the communities.

As surface mines of bitumen ore are gradually depleted, in situ
(subsurface) extraction facilities like Surmont are springing up
across the northern forest, connected to Alberta's pipeline grid. They
seem environmentally friendlier.

"Surmont is built on swampy muskeg," Mr. Hansen of ConocoPhillips
notes, "so clay had to be hauled in, and piles had to be driven into
it to stabilize the plant." In this particular area, the bitumen
reservoir is 1,200 feet underground. "Drawing on a saline aquifer 650
feet down," Hansen explains, "we inject steam through one well bore,
and the steam gives the bitumen the consistency of cream. The bitumen
then gravity-drains to a producer well. Once we stop injecting steam,
it condenses to water and we recover emulsion, which is the
combination of bitumen and water." Most water is recycled, he says,
and waste water is reinjected into the earth below the saline aquifer.

Steam extraction less resource-heavy

Compared with surface mining, this method uses far less water -- 1/4
barrel of water per barrel of oil. But for both kinds of extraction,
greenhouse gas created by steam generation remain a huge challenge.
Even if emissions per barrel decline, oil production is growing
rapidly. ConocoPhillips is considering ways to store carbon
underground and find alternatives to natural gas to fire the plant.

ConocoPhillips is the biggest landholder in the Athabasca oil sands,
with leases on 1 million acres. The company forecasts production of 1
million barrels per day at facilities like Surmont over the next two
or three decades. "We know the resource is there," says Mr. Fox, an
oil-industry veteran from Scotland. "The pace of development will be
dictated by economics and available technologies."

The ferocious rate of government approval of new projects is upsetting
some Canadian politicians as well as environmental groups from the
World Wildlife Fund to the Sierra Club.

Former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed is called "father of the oil
sands," since he was such a big factor in starting development in the
1970s and '80s. But in a speech in August 2007, he warned that
Alberta's practice of bypassing federal environmental laws in its race
to approve oil-sands projects "will cause significant stress to
Canadian unity.... The government of Alberta, with its acceleration of
oil-sands operations, will in my judgment be seen as the major villain
in all of this in the eyes of the public across Canada."

"Who can say 'no' to this much oil?" asks Simon Dyer, oil sands
program director at the Pembina Institute, a Calgary-based
sustainable-energy advocacy group that also consults for the
government, aboriginal communities, and the oil industry. "The debate
on the pace and scale of development isn't being held in government.
It is irresponsible to approve so many projects without protecting 20
to 40 percent of the environment in northeast Alberta -- permanently.
Both federal and provincial governments have failed to set limits on
oil-sands production, for example, by placing a hard cap on water use
of the Athabasca River and tightening rules for land-use reclamation."

Very weak greenhouse-gas targets

"We have hopelessly weak greenhouse-gas [GHG] targets in Canada," adds
Mr. Dyer. "If you look at Canada's total projected increase of GHG
from 2003 to 2010, 41 to 47 percent of Canada's increase can be
attributed to the oil sands. They are the one single issue dragging us
away from reducing GHG emissions."

In August, the Pembina Institute pulled out of the multistakeholder
oil-sands process, citing the lack of credible environmental
management the last eight years.

Pembina's Dyer acknowledges that there has been some progress in the
environmental footprint per barrel of oil produced. But the phenomenal
rise of oil-sands production will create enormous environmental
problems, he says. "Would environmentally friendly measures cost the
oil industry more? No one has done a real study of the costs of oil-
sands production in terms of mitigation for the environment."

Copyright 2008 The Christian Science Monitor

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From: Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario), Oct. 8, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

OIL SANDS WILL POLLUTE GREAT LAKES, REPORT WARNS

By Martin Mittelstaedt

The environmental impacts of Alberta's oil sands will not be
restricted to Western Canada, researchers say, but will extend
thousands of kilometres away to the Great Lakes, threatening water and
air quality around the world's largest body of fresh water.

In a new report, the University of Toronto's Munk Centre says the
massive refinery expansions needed to process tar sands crude, and the
new pipeline networks for transporting the fuel, amount to a
"pollution delivery system" connecting Alberta to the Great Lakes
region of Canada and the U.S.

It warns that the refineries will be using the Great Lakes "as a cheap
supply" source for their copious water needs and the area's air "as a
pollution dump."

The report, which is being released today at a conference at the
university, says that as many as 17 major refinery expansions around
the lakes are being considered for turning the tar-like Alberta
bitumen into gasoline and other petroleum products. While not all will
be undertaken, enough of them will be to have a regional environmental
impact.

Proposed pipeline and refinery projects around the lakes are expected
to lead to total investments of more than $31-billion (U.S.) by 2015,
spending similar in scale to expenditures at many oil sands projects.
For this reason, the report says the various projects, when taken
together, threaten to "wipe out many of the pollution control gains"
achieved around the lakes since the 1970s.

The massive expenditures are needed because typical refineries can't
process heavy crude derived from tar sands without costly upgrades.

"This expansion promises to bring with it an exponential increase in
pollution, discharges into waterways including the Great Lakes,
destruction of wetlands, toxic air emissions, acid rain, and huge
increases in greenhouse gas emissions," it says.

Most of the projected spending is on the U.S. side of the lakes. Only
one major refinery project has been announced for the Canadian side,
but that expansion, at a Shell refinery in Sarnia, was put on hold in
July because of surging costs.

However, two big Canadian companies, TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. with
its Keystone project, and Enbridge Inc., with its Alberta Clipper
project, are vying to build pipelines to bring crude from the tar
sands to U.S. refineries around the lakes.

The report says the environmental effects in Alberta from tar sands
development -- from dying ducks caught in tailings ponds to massive
carbon dioxide emissions -- are well known, but the implications for
the Great Lakes "are less well-understood and less extensively
explored."

Policy makers around the lakes, in both Canada and the U.S., are
largely unaware that the tar sands will lead to massive industrial
development in their region, and consequently have no strategy to
minimize the environmental impacts, it says.

Some of the harshest criticism is for the Ontario government, which it
characterizes as "remarkably unengaged" over how tar sands oil will
affect the province and "doesn't seem to even be asking the key
questions, let alone contemplating the possible policy answers."

There has been one major dispute in the U.S. over a tar sands-related
refinery expansion, at a British Petroleum facility at Whiting,
Indiana. The company proposed a $3-billion refinery modernization that
would raise discharges of two pollutants by about 35 per cent and 54
per cent respectively. But it backed down and pledged not to increase
the pollutants after a public outcry.

The 54-page report, called How the Oil Sands Got To The Great Lakes
Basin, is being issued by the Munk Centre's program on water issues.

Among its recommendations is a call for refineries to offset all of
the additional carbon dioxide emissions they produce because of the
difficulty of processing oil sands crude.

These emissions are estimated at 2.3 million tonnes a year, or about
the same amount as produced by about 500,000 typically driven cars.
Another recommendation is to require all refinery expansions to meet
California's strict air-pollution standards, the toughest in North
America.

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From: Reuters, Sept. 29, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

OCEAN 'DEAD ZONES' SPREAD, FISH MORE AT RISK -- STUDY

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO -- The number of polluted "dead zones" in the world's oceans is
rising fast and coastal fish stocks are more vulnerable to collapse
than previously feared, scientists said on Monday.

The spread of "dead zones" -- areas of oxygen-starved water -- "is
emerging as a major threat to coastal ecosystems globally," the
scientists wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences.

Such zones are found from the Gulf of Mexico to the Baltic Sea in
areas where algae bloom and suck oxygen from the water, feeding on
fertilisers washed from fields, sewage, animal wastes and pollutants
from the burning of fossil fuels.

"Marine organisms are more vulnerable to low oxygen content than
currently recognised, with fish and crustaceans being the most
vulnerable," said Raquel Vaquer-Sunyer of the Mediterranean Institute
for Advanced Studies in Spain.

"The number of reported hypoxic (low oxygen) zones is growing globally
at a rate of 5 percent a year," she told Reuters.

Her study with a colleague showed that the number of "dead zones" had
risen to more than 140 in 2004 from almost none until the late 1970s.

Hundreds of millions of people depend on coastal fisheries for food.
Crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and shrimps are less able to
escape from low-oxygen waters than fish.

Warming

Higher temperatures tied to global warming, blamed by the U.N. Climate
Panel on human use of fossil fuels, may aggravate the problem of "dead
zones", partly because oxygen dissolves less readily in warmer water,
the study said.

The first "dead zones" were found in northern latitudes such as
Chesapeake Bay on the U.S. east coast and Scandinavian fjords. Others
have been appearing off South America, Ghana, China, Japan, Australia,
New Zealand, Portugal and Britain.

The study said that most scientists had until now reckoned that oxygen
levels could fall to 2 milligrams per litre of sea water before the
water was considered starved of oxygen.

But many creatures were far more sensitive. Larvae of one type of crab
found off eastern Canada and the United States started suffering at
oxygen levels of 8.6 mg per litre, just below normal levels.

"Currently used thresholds... are not conservative enough to avoid
widespread mortality losses," the scientists wrote. They urged a
revised minimum of 4.6 mg of oxygen per litre as the lowest before
water was considered hostile to life.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

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From: New Scientist, Oct. 6, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

WORLD'S MAMMALS ARE IN CRISIS, RED LIST REVEALS

By Debora MacKenzie

In the first comprehensive assessment of the world's 5487 known mammal
species, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has just published a new
Red List for mammals, and up to one in four is being pushed towards
extinction.

Data on declining populations makes fully one third of marine mammals
officially threatened, mainly by pollution and fishing. A quarter of
land mammals are threatened, mainly by habitat destruction and
hunting, and especially in south and southeast Asia.

Mammals are the most visible and appealing of wildlife -- the iconic
whales, pandas and tigers which, conservationists complain, grab the
lion's share, literally, of conservation budgets.

But surprisingly little is known about mammals. In a summary of the
major findings at the IUCN's world congress in Barcelona, Spain on
Monday, scientists reported 349 newly described species since the last
assessment began in 1992, mainly due to research in the Amazon and
Madagascar.

Marine mysteries

"The biggest surprise is how much information is lacking," says Jan
Schipper of IUCN, lead author of the summary.

"We have identified the most important threats and the species most
likely to go extinct if we continue as we are now: 188 species are
critically endangered, of which 29 are possibly extinct," he says. "I
hope this assessment will be seen as a call to action."

The global scale of the new assessment, by some 1700 scientists in 130
countries, has revealed new insights. Both land and marine mammals
have the most species where there is the most to eat: near the tropics
on land, around 40 deg. north and south latitudes at sea, where
plankton productivity peaks.

There was not enough data to decide whether 836 mammals -- 15% of land
and 38% of marine mammals -- were endangered or not. If they are also
in trouble, and experts think that is likely, then fully 36% of land
mammals and 61% of marine mammals are threatened.

Species may be vanishing even before they are known to science,
Schipper warns, especially in the disappearing forests of West Africa
and Borneo; arctic species are also under threat.

Charm no protection

The rest are not out of the woods. Six per cent of all mammal species
are "near threatened", having lost large parts of their ranges, such
as the brown bear. Half of all species for which the scientists have
data have shrinking populations, including a fifth of species classed
as "of least concern" -- meaning things will just get worse. Only 5%
are increasing, like the European bison.

In south and southeast Asia, 80% of primates are threatened. Worldwide
the bigger mammals are the most threatened. They may be what
conservationists call "charismatic megafauna", but they also make a
larger target for hunters.

Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

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From: New York Times, Sept. 29, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

HARSH REVIEW OF RESTORATION IN EVERGLADES

By Damien Cave

MIAMI -- The eight-year-old, multibillion-dollar effort to rescue the
Everglades has failed to halt the wetlands' decline because of
bureaucratic delays, a lack of financing from Congress and
overdevelopment, according to a new report.

The 287-page study by the National Research Council, a biennial review
required by Congress, warned that South Florida's stunning river of
grass was quickly reaching a point of no return. Without "near term
progress," the report said, more species will die off "and the
Everglades ecosystem may experience irreversible losses to its
character and functioning."

William L. Graf, chairman of the committee that wrote the report, put
it more simply. "There is no other place like this," Mr. Graf said.
"It's existed for 5,000 years this way, and we're in danger of losing
it for our kids and their kids."

The harsh review of the federal effort, known as the Comprehensive
Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP, comes in the midst of what could
be a major shake-up. Florida is negotiating a proposed $1.75 billion
purchase of nearly 300 square miles of farmland from the United States
Sugar Corporation to add storage space for millions of gallons of
water south of Lake Okeechobee.

The plan, which is expected to be finalized by the end of the year,
was praised by the National Research Council. But with the
acquisition's impact at least a decade away, the report's authors
concluded that it would not be a panacea.

"The bottom line," said Mr. Graf, a professor of geology at the
University of South Carolina, "is I don't think we can wait and see
what happens."

He emphasized that there were larger problems that needed to be fixed.
Money remains the most obvious. The restoration plan, finalized in
2000, made the federal government and Florida equal partners, but
Congress has failed to match the state's commitment of more than $2
billion.

Behind the shortfall, the report found, is a planning and
appropriations process that requires the Army Corps of Engineers to
show the benefits of each project individually, making it difficult to
get money for the interconnected plumbing and environmental components
of the Everglades effort.

Mr. Graf said progress could be forthcoming because the corps and
Congress seemed open to rewriting the rules so projects could be
clustered. And an amendment in the stopgap spending measure the House
passed last week could, 19 years after Congress approved it, create a
$225 million, one-mile bridge on the Tamiami Trail to let water flow
south toward Florida Bay, alleviating a significant clog.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

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From: USA Today, Oct. 2, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

EXPOSURE TO CHEMICAL MAY AFFECT GENITALS OF BABY BOYS

By Lisa Szabo, USA Today

Baby boys are more likely to have changes in their genitals -- such as
undescended testicles and smaller penises -- if their mothers were
exposed to high levels of a controversial chemical during pregnancy, a
new study shows.

Virtually everyone has been exposed to the chemicals, called
phthalates, which are used in countless plastic products and are found
in everything from drinking water to breast milk to household dust,
according to the study, published in the current issue of
Environmental Research.

Until recently, most studies have been conducted in animals. Those
tests suggest that phthalates interfere with the male sex hormone
testosterone, causing a "phthalate syndrome" in male fetuses that
changes the way their genitals develop, says study author Shanna Swan,
a professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and
Dentistry.

Swan says her study of 106 mothers and sons suggests this syndrome may
be occurring in humans, too.

In her study, doctors measured phthalate levels in the mothers' urine
during pregnancy, then examined the babies at 12 months.

Boys whose mothers had the highest phthalate levels were more likely
than others to show three anatomic differences: smaller penises, a
shorter distance between the anus and base of the penis, and
undescended or incompletely descended testicles, Swan says.

Swan also notes that most boys had normal sex organs. Twelve had
incompletely descended testicles, while 29 babies fell into a category
with "shorter" anogenital distances.

In most cases, these aren't serious problems, Swan says. Babies with
undescended testicles often need no treatment, because the organs
descend on their own by age 1. Others can be helped with hormone
treatments or surgery. And even the smaller penises appeared to be
within the normal range.

But Swan says she's concerned that these changes indicate a deeper
problem -- that phthalates may have made the boys "less masculine" in
key ways. In animals, males with these genital changes also had lower
sperm counts, she says.

Swan says she is also concerned about girls. It's possible that any
effects from pre-birth phthalate exposure may not surface until the
girls hit puberty or try to have children, she says.

In her paper, she notes that other researchers have linked phthalates
to reduced sperm quality and DNA damage, as well as hormone changes,
reduced lung function and premature puberty.

More and more Americans are becoming concerned about phthalates.

In August, Congress banned several types of the chemicals in
children's toys and products. Dozens of hospitals around the country
are phasing phthalates out of their neonatal intensive care units to
protect vulnerable newborns, who may spend weeks or months connected
to plastic tubing.

Swan says scientists need to know more about the cumulative effect of
these chemicals, since people are exposed to a variety of phthalates
and other hormone-like chemicals every day. She also says products
made with phthalates should be clearly labeled.

"People should have a choice about limiting their exposure," Swan
says.

Swan notes that the design of her study has limitations. Although the
study links phthalates with these anatomical changes, it doesn't prove
cause and effect. In her study, she notes that larger, stronger
studies cost at least $1 million and take five years or more.

The American Chemistry Council, which represents the chemical
industry, says on its website that phthalates are safe. "The trace
levels" of phthalates found in humans are below the Environmental
Protection Agency's safety guideline, so they shouldn't threaten human
health, the council says.

In a statement on its website, the council says: "Phthalates have
established a very strong safety profile over the 50 years in which
they have been in general use. There is no reliable evidence that any
phthalate has ever caused a health problem for a human from its
intended use."

Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co.

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From: Environmental Health News, Oct. 7, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

NANOMATERIALS FOUND IN CONSUMER PRODUCTS DAMAGE CELL DNA.

By Stacey L. Harper

A new study finds that several nanomaterials, which are widely used
in sunscreens and other consumer products, can damage the DNA of human
lung cells. The results highlight the urgent need for proper testing
of these small particles to understand the health risks associated
with each type of material.

Many nanomaterials currently used in sunscreens and other consumer
products killed or damaged the DNA of human lung cells when tested in
a laboratory. These results show the immediate need to test
nanomaterials for safety before they are used in consumer products.
The new study reveals the unique toxic nature of different types of
nanomaterials, a class of materials that are literally defined by
their very small size. Nanoparticles are used in a growing number of
everyday products, such as sunscreens, cosmetics and electronics, so
exposure to these mostly untested materials is widespread.

In this study, Swedish researchers exposed human cells from the
surface of lungs to eight different types of nanomaterials and
measured DNA damage and indicators of stress. The researchers found
that different nanomaterials cause different types of adverse
responses in the lung cells. Two ingredients found in sunscreens and
cosmetics, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, killed cells
or damaged the DNA. Copper based nanomaterials were the most toxic,
causing DNA damge, oxidative damage and cell death. Two types of iron
oxide nanoparticles that were tested did not result in toxic effects,
however a composite nanomaterial made of copper, zinc and iron was
able to induce DNA damage. DNA damage also resulted from exposure of
the lung cells to carbon nanotubes even at the lowest dose tested.

Copyright 2003 Environmental Health Sciences

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  Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment &
  Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are
  often considered separately or not at all.

  The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining  
  because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who
  bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human
  health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the
  rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among
  workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy,
  intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and
  therefore ruled by the few.  

  In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who
  gets to decide?" And, "How do the few control the many, and what
  might be done about it?"

  As you come across stories that might help people connect the dots,
  please Email them to us at d...@rachel.org.
  
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