Fish started swallowing plastic in the 1950’s … matching the growth of our plastics industry ever since


A strand of microplastic from museum fish/Loren Hou

Forget diamonds–plastic is forever. It takes decades, or even centuries, for plastic to break down, and nearly every piece of plastic ever made still exists in some form today … To learn how these microplastics have built up over the past century, researchers examined the guts of freshwater fish preserved in museum collections; they found that fish have been swallowing microplastics since the 1950s and that the concentration of microplastics in their guts has increased over time…

Tim Hoellein and his graduate student Loren Hou were interested in examining the buildup of microplastics in freshwater fish from the Chicagoland region. They reached out to Caleb McMahan, an ichthyologist at the Field Museum, who helped identify four common fish species that the museum had chronological records of dating back to 1900: largemouth bass, channel catfish, sand shiners, and round gobies. Specimens from the Illinois Natural History Survey and University of Tennessee also filled in sampling gaps…

The researchers found that the amount of microplastics present in the fishes’ guts rose dramatically over time as more plastic was manufactured and built up in the ecosystem. There were no plastic particles before mid-century, but when plastic manufacturing was industrialized in the 1950s, the concentrations skyrocketed.

“We found that the load of microplastics in the guts of these fishes have basically gone up with the levels of plastic production,” says McMahan. “It’s the same pattern of what they’re finding in marine sediments, it follows the general trend that plastic is everywhere.”

Another stream of pollution contributing to the general poisoning of portions of the whole ecosystem we live within. Why we now have a field of medical practice called environmental medicine. Researchers get to examine air, water, soil and food … and how our industries can make these dangerous.

Ready-to-eat chicken recalled for possible bacteria — another gift from America’s industrial food

❝ National Steak and Poultry is recalling nearly 2 million pounds of ready-to-eat chicken products because they may have been undercooked, resulting in possible bacterial contamination, the USDA said.

The recall includes a variety of ready-to-eat chicken products that were produced on various dates from August 20, 2016 through November 30, 2016…

❝ This is an expanded recall which began on Nov. 23. The original problem was discovered by a call from a food service customer, complaining that the products appeared to be undercooked…

What? You thought the producer might actually have decent quality assurance in place?

❝ The label says fully cooked, but it’s possible the meat was undercooked, which means it could be contaminated with bacteria.

“Get it out the door, slaves. We can’t make any money with our chicken sitting here in an industrial pressure cooker!”

Sinkhole sucks millions of gallons of fertilizer wastewater into Florida drinking water


Click to enlargeJim Damaske/AP

The hole in the middle of that now-empty pond is 45 feet in diameter

❝ More than 200 million gallons of contaminated wastewater from a fertilizer plant in central Florida leaked into one of the state’s main underground sources of drinking water after a huge sinkhole opened up beneath a storage pond…

Mosaic, the world’s largest supplier of phosphate, said the hole opened up beneath a pile of waste material called a “gypsum stack”. The 215 million gallon storage pond sat atop the waste mineral pile…

“Groundwater moves very slowly,” said David Jellerson, Mosaic’s senior director for environmental and phosphate projects. “There’s absolutely nobody at risk.”…

Does that mean he’s drinking water from a local source — every day?

❝ The sinkhole, discovered by a worker on 27 August, is believed to reach down to the Floridan aquifer, the company said in a news release…

The Floridan aquifer is a major source of drinking water in the state. One of the highest-producing aquifers in the world, it underlies all of Florida and extends into southern Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

According to the University of Florida, it’s the principal source of groundwater for much of the state, and the cities of Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Tampa, and St Petersburg all rely on it. The aquifer also supplies water to thousands of domestic, industrial and irrigation wells throughout the state…

❝ The incident comes less than a year after Mosaic, one of the world’s largest fertilizer makers, settled a vast federal environmental lawsuit with the US Environmental Protection Agency in which the company agreed to nearly $2 billion in fixes, improvements and cleanups at its plants…

The usual lies will continue from free market politicians and libertarians who hold that voluntary policing, self-regulation is all that corporate exploiters ever need. That lawsuit after lawsuit is required on an annual basis to acquire any level of environmental safety and sanity doesn’t seem to dent the myths that insulate conservative brains from reality.

Contaminated “organic” food makes you just as sick as contaminated”conventional” food

…CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington is expanding its voluntary recall of frozen organic and traditional fruits and vegetables…because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

This expanded recall of frozen vegetables includes all of the frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in CRF Frozen Foods’ Pasco facility since May 1, 2014…These include approximately 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands, the details of which are listed below. Products include organic and non-organic broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, edamame, green beans, Italian beans, kale, leeks, lima beans, onions, peas, pepper strips, potatoes, potato medley, root medley, spinach, sweet potatoes, various vegetable medleys, blends, and stir fry packages, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries. For a complete list of affected products, click through to the article. It goes on forever.

We apologize for any concern or inconvenience, blah, blah, blah…Consumers with questions may call the company’s consumer hotline at 844-483-3866, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Lots of frozen fruits and veggies under lots of brands – ranging from products sold at WalMart to Trader Joe’s and Wild Oats. I suggest you click that link above and check your freezer.

Photos stained with the same pollutants as the scenery


Barnegat Bay, NJ

Brandon Seidler…takes photos of historically contaminated sites, then bathes the film in the same chemicals that poisoned the land. Seidler finds it the perfect way to not just talk about pollution, but show it. “I want my work to make people think,” he says. “If this is the effect of these chemicals on a plastic piece of film, what is it doing to the environment we are polluting?”

Same as it ever was.

Cleanup suspended at 10 mine sites since the Silverton spill


Click to enlargeLa Plata County, CO

AP EXCLUSIVE

Site investigations and some cleanup work at 10 polluted mining complexes in four states were suspended because of conditions similar to those that led to a massive wastewater blowout from an inactive Colorado gold mine, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials said.

The sites include three in California, four in Colorado, two in Montana and one in Missouri, according to details obtained by The Associated Press following repeated requests for the information.

They have the potential for contaminated water to build up inside mine workings, EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus said. That would set the stage for a possible spill such as last month’s near Silverton, Colorado, where an EPA team triggered a 3 million gallon blowout of toxic sludge while doing excavation work on the inactive Gold King Mine.

The accident fouled rivers in three states and attracted harsh criticism of the EPA for not being prepared despite prior warnings that such a spill could happen…

Cleanup efforts on some of the mines have been going on for years yet remain unfinished, underscoring the complexity of a long-running attempt to address an estimated 500,000 abandoned mines across the U.S. Work on others was in the early stages.

In a report to Congress delivered Friday, the Government Accountability Office said federal agencies identified thousands of contaminated mine sites in recent years — even as their attempts to assess what harm is being done to people and the environment have lagged.

Further investigations were needed to gauge the danger posed by the 10 mining complexes under the suspension before work could safely resume…

That includes categorizing their level of hazard. For those deemed a “probable hazard,” the EPA plans to keep the work stoppage in place until emergency plans are drawn up to deal with any accident…

The Aug. 12 stop-work order from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy did not apply to sites where halting operations would pose a threat to people or increase the potential for harm to the environment, according to internal EPA documents.

Also exempted were portions of the 10 stopped projects where construction already was completed, such as treatment systems for contaminated water that pours continually from many abandoned mine shafts.

RTFA for a bit more detail on the additional sites, location, etc.. As well as the updated, upgraded emergency procedures added by the EPA’s cleanup contractor.

Rancher defies government to save Fukushima’s radioactive cows


Click to enlargeNew York Times/Ko Sasaki

Angered by what he considers the Japanese government’s attempts to sweep away the inconvenient truths of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Masami Yoshizawa has moved back to his ranch in the radioactive no-man’s land surrounding the devastated plant. He has no neighbors, but plenty of company: hundreds of abandoned cows he has vowed to protect from the government’s kill order…

“These cows are living testimony to the human folly here in Fukushima,” said Mr. Yoshizawa, 59, a gruff but eloquent man with a history of protest against his government. “The government wants to kill them because it wants to erase what happened here, and lure Japan back to its pre-accident nuclear status quo. I am not going to let them…”

Mr. Yoshizawa is no sentimentalist — before the disaster, he raised cows for slaughter. But he says there is a difference between killing cows for food and killing them because, in their contaminated state, they are no longer useful. He believes the cows on his ranch, abandoned by him and other fleeing farmers after the accident, are as much victims as the 83,000 humans forced to abandon their homes and live outside the evacuation zone for two and a half years.

He is worried about his health. A dosage meter near the ranch house reads the equivalent of about 1.5 times the government-set level for evacuation. But he is more fearful that the country will forget about the triple meltdowns at the plant as Japan’s economy shows signs of long-awaited recovery and Tokyo excitedly prepares for the 2020 Olympics — suggesting his protest is as least as much a political statement, as a humanitarian one…

He still searches the evacuation zone for the often emaciated survivors, which he often has to pull by their ears to get them to follow him home. He tries to dodge police roadblocks; it is technically illegal for anyone to live inside the evacuation zone. Nonetheless, he has been caught a half-dozen times and forced to sign prewritten statements of apology for entering the zone. He has done so, but only after crossing out the promises not to do it again…

Mr. Yoshizawa notes wryly that the cows are living much longer than they would have if they had been led off to slaughter.

For now, the local authorities have come up with a very Japanese solution to Mr. Yoshizawa’s defiance: turning a blind eye. Town officials in Namie deny knowledge of him or anyone else living inside the evacuation zone — despite the fact that they have restored electricity and telephone service to the ranch.

Though I’m not certain about the sense of Mr. Yoshizawa’s protest, the essentials, the history of what led up to his dissent, is certainly protest-worthy. Having worked around radioactive materials and components for nuclear power plants, I am concerned about his long-term health. It has always seemed that whatever level the powers-that-be announced as tolerable sooner or later were reduced.

The half-life of Cesium-137 is a tad over 30 years. Present in his own body and the cows.

I wish him well.

How do you sell people horse meat? Lie! Call it “beef”.

In Tesco Everyday Value Beef Burgers, horse meat accounted for approximately 29 per cent of the meat. The supermarket announced last night that it was removing all frozen burgers from sale immediately regardless if they had been found to contain horse meat.

Tim Smith, the group technical director of Tesco, said: “The presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious. Our customers have the right to expect that food they buy is produced to the highest standards.”

An investigation was carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. The Food Standards Agency, working with the Irish authorities, established that mainland Britain was part of the area affected.

More than a third (37 per cent) of the products tested in Ireland contained horse DNA, while the vast majority (85 per cent) also contained pig DNA…Horse meat and pig DNA was found in 27 beef burger products. Another 31 foods, including cottage pies, beef curry pies and lasagnes, were analysed, with 21 testing positive for pig DNA.

Traces of horse DNA were also detected in batches of raw ingredients…

The beef burgers containing horse DNA were produced by two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, and one plant in the UK, Dalepak Hambleton in North Yorkshire. They were on sale in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland.

Prof Alan Reilly, the chief executive of the FSAI, said: “While there is a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA in these products, due to the fact that meat from different animals is processed in the same plants, there is no clear explanation for the presence of horse DNA in products emanating from meat plants that do not use horse meat…”

“We are aware that investigations are ongoing to ascertain how or why horse meat was used in the products.”

Har. We know all the rationales, excuses. They will be trotted out at various press conferences. Press releases by corporate hacks will be widely quoted by TV talking heads.

They will be sufficient and acceptable. After all, this didn’t originate anywhere East of London. It must be accidental.

Thanks, Martyn

We whine when the world rejects our beef and pork – now they don’t even want our horsemeat!

The post preceding this one is about 100 or so countries rejecting import of US beef and pork because of drugs contamination. Sort of fitting that I found this article, this morning, to follow on.


Horsemeat butcher shop in France

For decades, American horses, many of them retired or damaged racehorses, have been shipped to Canada and Mexico, where it is legal to slaughter horses, and then processed and sold for consumption in Europe and beyond.

Lately, however, European food safety officials have notified Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses of a growing concern: The meat of American racehorses may be too toxic to eat safely because the horses have been injected repeatedly with drugs.

Despite the fact that racehorses make up only a fraction of the trade in horse meat, the European officials have indicated that they may nonetheless require lifetime medication records for slaughter-bound horses from Canada and Mexico, and perhaps require them to be held on feedlots or some other holding area for six months before they are slaughtered…

In October, Stephan Giguere, the general manager of a major slaughterhouse in Quebec, said he turned away truckloads of horses coming from the United States because his clients were worried about potential drug issues. Mr. Giguere said he told his buyers to stay away from horses coming from American racetracks.

We don’t want them,” he said. “It’s too risky.”

The action is just the latest indication of the troubled state of American racing and its problems with the doping of horses. Some prominent trainers have been disciplined for using legal and illegal drugs, and horses loaded with painkillers have been breaking down in arresting numbers…

But for pure emotional effect, the alarm raised in the international horse-meat marketplace packs a distinctive punch.

RTFA for extensive details. I realize there is a cultural question about eating horsemeat in American minds to begin with. Still, the critical question – once again – comes down to our government doing little or nothing to guarantee either a safe lifespan for “cattle” or regulating and testing what becomes food for domestic and foreign consumers.

Blackpool junkie dies from heroin infected with anthrax

A drug user has died after being infected with anthrax, health experts said…The Health Protection Agency said that a person who injected drugs died in hospital in Blackpool.

The news comes after a spate of cases in Europe since early June. The HPA said the source of the infection is presumed to be contaminated heroin.

The HPA said it is “unclear” whether the case in Blackpool and another case in Scotland – which was confirmed at the end of July – are linked to the European outbreak…

Dr Dilys Morgan…said: “Anthrax can be cured with antibiotics, if treatment is started early. It is therefore important for medical professionals to know the signs and symptoms to look for, so that there are no delays in providing the necessary treatment.”

Since June there have been seven confirmed cases of the infection – one in Scotland, three in Germany, two in Denmark, and one in France.

These are the first cases of anthrax among drug users in Europe since the outbreak during 2009 and 2010. That outbreak saw 119 cases in Scotland, five cases in England and two cases in Germany.

Although the two outbreaks have not officially been linked, European health experts say that the recent cases could have come from the same batch of contaminated heroin in the 2009 to 2010 outbreak.

Phew! I don’t have a lot of sympathy for junkies. I’ve known a sufficient number of them in my lifetime.

But, catching something as nasty as anthrax from smack – proves there can be something worse than being an addict.