Green Cancer-Causing Slime Oozes Onto Michigan Highway
Motorists traveling on Interstate 696 in Michigan caught a peculiar sight on Friday when a mysterious green slime oozed onto the highway from a retaining wall, according to The New York Times.
Authorities blocked sections of the highway in Madison Park, a Detroit suburb, while hazardous material cleanup crews worked to contain and remove the material. The Michigan state police tweeted on Saturday that the green slime was the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium, which was leaking from the basement of a local business, as CNN reported.
"It's a serious situation," said Jill A. Greenberg, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy on Sunday, as The New York Times reported. "Clearly, this site needs to be cleaned up."
However, she added that cleanup crews seem to have the situation under control and she said there is no imminent threat of air or drinking water contamination. The contaminated water is migrating underground and working its way to the freeway, she said, as the Detroit Free Press reported.
Hexavelent chromium is the cancer-causing manufacturing compound that the Pacific Gas and Electric Company was accused of leaking and contaminating drinking water with in southern California. That story was made famous by the 2000 movie Erin Brokovich. The chemical is usually made during industrial processes like plating and is a known carcinogen, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Hexavalent chromium damages the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes, as CNN reported.
The chemical was traced back to a pit in the basement of the local business, Electro-Plating Services Inc. whose owner was previously convicted of illegally storing dangerous chemicals in leaky containers, according to the Detroit Free Press. The chemical leaked down into the ground and found its way into a drain that emptied onto the eastbound side of the interstate. If the liquid had not been discovered, it could have ended up in Lake St. Clair, said Candice Miller, Macomb County public works commissioner, as CNN reported.
"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated that once the chemical came up thru the drain, it froze into a yellow blob," police tweeted, as CNN reported. "The plan to dispose of the chemical is to bring in a type of excavator, scoop up the frozen waste, and place it into a safe container."
Cleanup crews were using a sump pump on Sunday to remove the hexavalent chromium from the pit, according The New York Times. "We have cleaned out the sewers and the clean out drains between the facility and 696," said Greenberg, as CNN reported. "We're also in the process of cleaning up the basement of the facility."
The EPA teamed up with local authorities to determine that the liquid likely was groundwater contaminated with hexavalent chromium. Sample results from the site are expected this week, Greenberg said, as the Detroit Free Press reported.
"We are operating under the presumption that this is groundwater contaminated with chromium from historic plating operations," Greenberg said in a statement.
State authorities shut down Electro-Plating Services Inc. in 2016 "for [the] imminent and substantial threat due to the mismanagement of hazardous waste," as Fox News reported. It was then designated it a Superfund cleanup site. The company's owner, Gary A. Sayers, pleaded guilty earlier this year to storing hazardous waste illegally, as The New York Times reported. Sayers was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $1.5 million for the cleanup.
The police announced that parts of the highway would remain closed for the weekend and asked drivers to be careful.
"Please use caution as there will be workers in the area. And a yellow blob," police said.
Hopefully this will answer some questions we have been getting about I 696 in Madison Heights.— MSP Metro Detroit (@mspmetrodet) December 21, 2019
At about 2 30 PM on 12/20, we were asked by Madison Heights Fire Dispatch to block the right lane of east bound I-696 near Couzens while the fire department cleaned up a liquid spill. pic.twitter.com/WGFy5sYDkk
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.