'Monsanto Rider' Would Shield Chemical Giant From Liability for Injuries Caused by PCBs in Public Schools
The New York Times reported last month that Congressional Republicans have clandestinely inserted a provision into the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reauthorization bill that will give Monsanto permanent immunity from liability for injuries caused by its toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The long awaited and grievously needed bill is now in the Conference Committee for reconciliation with a companion Senate bill. The so-called "Monsanto Rider" would shield the chemical colossus from thousands of lawsuits by cities, towns, school districts and individuals, who have been injured by exposure to PCBs.
Photo credit: pcbinschools.org
PCBs are known human carcinogens and potent endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with physical, intellectual and sexual development in children. PCBs persist in the environment and bio accumulate in animals and humans. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), children exposed to PCBs can suffer damage to their immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems. Two recent publications from U.S. EPA and the National Institute Environmental Health Science Children's Center at UC Davis report that PCBs can disrupt early brain development, by hijacking the signals that promote normal neuron branching which increase the risk of brain damage, including autism. Between 1935 and 1977, Monsanto was the exclusive manufacturer of PCBs in the U.S. Congress banned the manufacturing of PCBs in 1979 over concerns about its potential to cause severe health and environmental injury.
I've been sparring over PCBs since the start of my 32-year career as an environmental lawyer. For more than three decades I have been litigating and campaigning against General Electric (GE) to force the clean-up of the Hudson River. PCBs manufactured by Monsanto and dumped by GE have contaminated 200 miles of the Hudson, which is the country's largest superfund site. GE's long awaited Hudson River clean-up is now ongoing, but the Hudson is not America's only PCB contaminated waterway.
Monsanto's PCBs have poisoned 80,000 river miles elsewhere in our nation from Washington state's Duwamish River to Connecticut's Housatonic. Seattle and six other cities are currently in litigation with Monsanto to force the company to clean up local rivers and bays. The GOP's TSCA's shield provision would dismiss all those lawsuits. Congress would have the public, not the polluters pay to clean up Monsanto's monumental mess.
Of even greater concern is the burgeoning issue of PCBs in our public schools.
Monsanto marketed PCB-based caulking to schools and other municipal buildings throughout the U.S beginning in 1950, touting the chemical's ability to contract and expand with changing temperatures. Studies suggest that any school built or renovated between 1950 and 1977 may contain PCBs. As the scientific evidence about PCB hazards to human health accumulated in the early 1970's, and regulatory agencies and Congress began moving toward a ban, Monsanto amplified its aggressive marketing of plasticizer PCBs for use in caulk that was applied throughout America's public schools. Despite Monsanto's own internal conclusion in 1969 that PCBs were becoming “global environmental contaminants," Monsanto increased its production of PCBs which peaked in 1970 at 85 million pounds.
The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 45 percent of all schools in the U.S. (approximately 45,000) were built during this era. About 27 to 54 percent of all these schools—12,000 to 25,000 nationwide—may contain PCBs with little variation among U.S. regions. The costs of mitigation and remediation ranges from $750,000 to $3.1 million per building. The total costs to school districts across the nation could be upwards of $80 billion. As the exclusive manufacturer of PCBs in the U.S., Monsanto is responsible for these damages. I am representing school districts across the country who are suing Monsanto to pay the costs of removing contaminated caulking and PCB laden light bulb ballasts.
TSCA section 15 U.S.C. 2605(e), which was enacted in 1977, requires that every school district with PCBs in caulking and lighting ballasts greater than 50 parts per million, immediately remove these contaminants to safeguard school children's health. However, in 2009, the EPA implemented an informal policy allowing school districts to delay remediation until such time as there were major renovations or demolition of the contaminated structure. The EPA told the school districts that it would not enforce that law if the school district chose to wait.
While this unpromulgated and illegal EPA policy seemed like a concession to financially pressed school districts, it was actually a monumental gift to Monsanto. Most schools, low on cash flow, chose to delay the expensive and logistically challenging remediation projects indefinitely, despite the danger to children. When delays stretch past the five year statute of limitations (which begins running when the school district becomes aware—or should have been aware—of the contamination), Monsanto is off the hook. Those $80 billion in Monsanto's costs are then transferred to local school districts. As predicted, school districts given the option to delay, mostly did just that despite the awful consequences to future taxpayers.
It's important to understand that if a single school district in a state files a class action lawsuit against Monsanto to recover remediation costs, the statute of limitations is tolled for every district in that state. In most states, no district has filed a class action lawsuit. However, one courageous, pioneering district in Massachusetts chose to file, and that suit had the effect of tolling the statute for every school in that state—creating a deep pool of potential liability for Monsanto. GOP's new shield provision is designed to abolish Monsanto's liability as a favor to the company, which has donated $39 million to politicians over 30 years.
Documents uncovered during our litigation have confirmed Monsanto's sickeningly corrupt corporate culture. Instead of being a good corporate citizen, Monsanto's decision making matrix puts greed before public health and welfare.
As early as the 1930's and 1940's, Monsanto was aware that prolonged occupational exposure to PCBs might cause liver damage in humans. A Monsanto memorandum dated Sept. 20, 1955, stated:
“We know Aroclors [PCBs] are toxic but the actual limit has not been precisely defined."
In late 1968, Monsanto learned that Japanese citizens were becoming ill from eating rice oil contaminated with Japanese manufactured PCBs. The company responded with a draft Oct. 2, 1969 directive stressing a preeminent focus on its bottom line:
“The objective of the [PCB] committee was to recommend action that will: 1. Protect continued sales and profits of Aroclors; 2. Permit continued development of new uses and sales, and; 3. Protect the image of the Organic Division and the Corporation as members of the business community ..."
An internal draft document dated Oct. 2, 1969, illustrates the moral bankruptcy of the company:
“The committee believes there is little probability that any action that can be taken [that] will prevent the growing incrimination of specific [PCBs] (the higher chlorinated—e.g. Aroclors 1254 and 1260) as nearly global environmental contaminants leading to contamination of human food (particularly fish), the killing of some marine species (shrimp), and the possible extinction of several species of fish-eating birds. There are, however, a number of actions which must be undertaken in order to prolong the manufacture, sale and use of these particular Aroclors as well as to protect the continued use of other members of the Aroclor series."
A document dated Jan. 26, 1970, The PCB-Pollution Problem, describes a Jan. 21 and 22, 1970 meeting between representatives of GE and Monsanto. This document appears to make a commitment by Monsanto science and safety division to fraudulently massage scientific data to make their dangerous product appear safe. The document states (emphasis added):
“In essence, results reported by Mr. Wheeler on chronic animal toxicity tests and animal reproducibility studies underway are not as favorable as we had hoped or anticipated. Particularly alarming is evidence of effect on hatchability and production of thin egg shells regards white leghorn chickens. The studies involved Aroclor 1242, 1254 and 1260. Some of the studies will be repeated to arrive at better conclusions."
The GOP is currently working to rewrite TSCA to assure that no jury will ever see these or the many other damning documents in our possession.
If Monsanto gets its way, the American people will pay a high price for corporate greed and political corruption.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Trump's Budget Plan: A Push for Even Greater Environmental ... ›
- Trump Pushed for Mining Project That Could Destroy Alaska Salmon ... ›
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers last week to say that it would not oppose or put a stop to a huge copper and gold mine near the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, as The Washington Post reported.
- Trump Pushed for Mining Project That Could Destroy Alaska Salmon ... ›
- The Resource War Over Pebble Mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay ›
- 'The Wrong Mine in the Wrong Place': Former Republican EPA ... ›
The nationwide horror at the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police has triggered protests in 75 cities. People are demonstrating against the systemic racism that has made people of color targets of lethal actions by law enforcement. In response, elected officials and public health experts are walking a fine line of affirming the rights of protestors while simultaneously worrying that the protests will lead to a new wave of coronavirus infections.
- Will Protests Spark a Second Viral Wave? - The New York Times ›
- Protests could cause catastrophic setback for controlling coronavirus ... ›
- Coronavirus lockdown protests risk your health and America's ... ›
- Some Protesters Call For Ending Coronavirus Lockdowns, Despite ... ›
- How Minneapolis Protesters Contend With COVID-19 | Time ›
By Sara Lindberg
Whether you've hit a workout plateau or you're just ready to turn things up a notch, adding more strenuous exercise — also known as high-intensity exercise — to your overall fitness routine is one way to increase your calorie burn, improve your heart health, and boost your metabolism.
However, to do it safely and effectively, there are some guidelines you should follow. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of vigorous exercise and how to safely dial up the intensity of your workouts.
What Is Considered Strenuous Exercise?<p>When it comes to exercise, the intensity of how hard you work out is just as important as the duration of your exercise session. In general, exercise intensity is divided into three categories:</p><ul><li>low</li><li>moderate</li><li>vigorous or strenuous</li></ul><p>For an activity to be vigorous, you need to work at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, according to the<a href="https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates" target="_blank"> American Heart Association</a>. Examples of vigorous exercise include:</p><ul><li>running</li><li>cycling at 10 mph or faster</li><li>walking briskly uphill with a heavy backpack</li><li>jumping rope</li></ul><p>Low to moderate exercise is easier to sustain for longer periods since you work below 70 percent of your maximum heart rate and, sometimes, well below that level.</p><p>To reap health benefits, the <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html" target="_blank">Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans</a> recommends that people age 18 and older get one of the following:</p><ul><li><strong>150 minutes</strong> of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week</li><li><strong>75 minutes</strong> of vigorous aerobic activity per week</li><li><strong>combination of both types</strong> of activity spread throughout the week</li></ul>
Strenuous Exercise Vs. Moderate Exercise<p>Increasing your exercise intensity is fairly simple to do. You can still participate in your favorite activities — just at a more vigorous pace.</p><p>One of the benefits of more strenuous exercise is that you can reap the same rewards as moderate-intensity exercise but in less time. So, if time is of the essence, doing a more strenuous 20-minute workout can be just as beneficial as doing a slower 40-minute workout session.</p><p>Here are some examples of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/pdf/pa_intensity_table_2_1.pdf" target="_blank">strenuous vs. moderate exercise<span></span></a>.</p><table><tbody><tr><th>Moderate intensity</th><th>Strenuous intensity</th></tr><tr><td>bicycling at less than 10 mph</td><td>bicycling at more than 10 mph</td></tr><tr><td>walking briskly</td><td>running, or hiking uphill at a steady pace</td></tr><tr><td>jog-walk intervals</td><td>water jogging/running</td></tr><tr><td>shooting baskets in basketball</td><td>playing a basketball game</td></tr><tr><td>playing doubles tennis</td><td>playing singles tennis</td></tr><tr><td>raking leaves or mowing the lawn</td><td>shoveling more than 10 lbs. per minute, digging ditches</td></tr><tr><td>walking stairs</td><td>running stairs</td></tr></tbody></table>
Benefits of Vigorous Exercise<p>Besides being more efficient, turning up the heat on your fitness sessions can benefit your health in a variety of ways. Let's take a closer look at some of the evidence-based benefits of a higher intensity workout.</p><ul><li><strong>Higher calorie burn.</strong> According to the <a href="https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5008/7-things-to-know-about-excess-post-exercise-oxygen-consumption-epoc/?utm_source=Rakuten&utm_medium=10&ranMID=42334&ranEAID=TnL5HPStwNw&ranSiteID=TnL5HPStwNw-hYlKnAcfzfixAUsvnO6Ubw" target="_blank">American Council on Exercise</a>, working out at a higher intensity requires more oxygen, which burns more calories. It also contributes to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or the "afterburn effect" that allows you to continue burning calories even after you finish working out. This means your metabolism will stay elevated for longer after a vigorous exercise session.</li><li><strong>More weight loss.</strong> A <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/interval-workouts-will-help-you-lose-weight-more-quickly" target="_blank">higher calorie burn</a> and an elevated metabolism will help you lose weight more quickly than doing low- or moderate-intensity exercise.</li><li><strong>Improved heart health.</strong> According to a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16377300" target="_blank">2012 study</a>, high- and moderate-intensity exercise appears to offer low chance of cardiovascular events, even in those with heart disease. Cardiovascular benefits may include improvements in:<ul><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/diastole-vs-systole" target="_blank">diastolic blood pressure</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1" target="_blank">blood sugar control</a></li><li>aerobic capacity</li></ul></li><li><strong>Improved mood.</strong> High-intensity exercise may also boost your mood. According to a large <a href="https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jpts/27/4/27_jpts-2014-736/_article" target="_blank">2015 study</a> that analyzed the data of more than 12,000 participants, researchers found a significant link between strenuous exercise and fewer depressive symptoms.</li><li><strong>Lower risk of mortality.</strong> According to a 2015 <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25844882" target="_blank">study</a>, researchers found that vigorous activity may be key to avoiding an early death. The study, which followed 204,542 people for more than 6 years, reported a 9 to 13 percent decrease in mortality for those who increased the intensity of their exercise sessions.</li></ul>
How to Measure Exercise Intensity<p>So, how do you know for sure that you're exercising at a strenuous level? Let's look at three ways to measure the intensity of your physical activity.</p><h3>1. Your heart rate</h3><p>Monitoring your heart rate is one of the most reliable methods for measuring exercise intensity. Exercising at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate qualifies as vigorous exercise intensity.</p><blockquote><strong><strong>WHAT IS YOUR MAXIMUM HEART RATE?</strong></strong>Your maximum heart rate is the fastest your heart can safely beat. To find out what your maximum heart rate is you need to subtract your age from 220. For example, for a 40-year-old person: <ul><li>220 bpm (beats per minute) minus age</li><li>220 – 40 = 180 bpm</li></ul>To work out at a vigorous pace, you'll want to exercise within 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. For example: <ul><li>180 x 0.70 (70 percent) = 126</li><li>180 x 0.85 (85 percent) = 153</li></ul>For a 40-year-old person, a vigorous training range is 126 to 153 bpm.<br></blockquote><p>You can check your heart rate while you're working out by wearing a heart rate monitor or <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">taking your pulse</a>.</p>
How to Add Vigorous Activity to Your Workout<p>Adding strenuous activity to your weekly workout routine requires some careful planning. Fortunately, many of the activities that you do at a moderate level can easily be performed at a higher intensity.</p><p>One way of incorporating vigorous aerobic activity into your routine is to do a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workout. This type of workout combines short bursts of intense activity — typically performed at 80 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate — with recovery periods at 40 to 50 percent maximum heart rate.</p><p>To sustain this level of training, consider following a 2:1 work to rest ratio. For example, a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/treadmill-weight-loss#hiit" target="_blank">treadmill workout </a>or outdoor running session could include:</p><ul><li>running at 9 to 10 mph for 30 seconds</li><li>followed by walking at 3 to 4 mph for 60 seconds</li><li>alternating this work-to-rest ratio for 20 to 30 minutes</li></ul><p>Playing a fast-paced sport like soccer, basketball, or racquetball is another effective way to add strenuous activity to your fitness routine. Participating in <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-a-spin-class" target="_blank">cycling classes</a> or swimming laps are other ways to build more strenuous exercise into your workouts.</p>
Safety Tips<p>Before you turn up the intensity on your workouts, it's important to keep the following safety tips in mind.</p><h3>Check with your doctor</h3><p>If you have a health condition or you haven't been active in a while, make sure you talk to your doctor before you start a high-intensity exercise routine. Your doctor can advise you on a safe level of exercise or how to become more active in the safest way possible.</p><h3>Build up the intensity slowly</h3><p>Going from low- or moderate-intensity workouts to vigorous exercise requires time and patience. While you may be ready to jump in with both feet, the safest way to add more vigorous exercise is to do it in bite-size increments. Pushing yourself too quickly can result in injuries and burnout.</p><p>For example:</p><ul><li><strong>Week 1:</strong> Swap out one moderate-paced cardio session for a HIIT workout.</li><li><strong>Week 2:</strong> Swap one moderate-paced session with a HIIT workout, and also add a circuit strength training session to your weekly routine.</li><li><strong>Week 3 and 4: </strong>Repeat weeks 1 and 2 before you start adding more high-intensity exercise to your weekly routine.</li></ul><p>It's also a good idea to space out your vigorous workouts throughout the week. Try not to do two strenuous sessions back-to-back.</p><h3>Don't forget the recovery time</h3><p>Your body requires more time to recover from a vigorous workout compared to a low- or moderate-intensity session.</p><p>To help your body recover, make sure to always include a cooldown and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/static-stretching" target="_blank">stretch routine</a> after strenuous physical activity.</p><h3>Stay hydrated</h3><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-of-water" target="_blank">Staying hydrated</a> is especially important when you're exercising hard. Not drinking enough fluids can affect the quality of your workout and make you feel tired, lethargic, or dizzy. It may even lead to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/dehydration-headache" target="_blank">headaches</a> and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/pain-relief/how-to-stop-leg-muscle-cramps" target="_blank">cramps</a>.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Turning up the intensity of your workout sessions can be an effective way of boosting your overall health and fitness. It's also an easy way to save time when trying to fit a workout into your day.</p><p>To play it safe, always start slow and pay attention to how your body feels.</p><p>While vigorous exercise offers many health benefits, it's not appropriate for everyone. If you have a health condition or you haven't been active in a while, make sure to talk with your doctor before working out at a more strenuous level.</p>
- 10 Ways to Tell if You're Dehydrated - EcoWatch ›
- Should I Exercise During the Coronavirus Pandemic? Experts ... ›
A healthy coral reef is a noisy place.
- This Robot Is Delivering Coral Babies to the Great Barrier Reef ... ›
- The Great Barrier Reef is on a Knife Edge ›
- 2020 Great Barrier Reef Bleaching Event Is Most Widespread to Date ›
By Jeffrey Miller
In January 2015, food sales at restaurants overtook those at grocery stores for the first time. Most thought this marked a permanent shift in the American meal.
Solving the Age-Old Problem of Spoiled Cheese<p>People have eaten pasta and cheese together for hundreds of years. Clifford Wright, the doyen of Mediterranean food history, says <a href="http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/food/entries/display.php/topic_id/16/id/105/" target="_blank">the first written recipe</a> for macaroni and cheese was created in the court of the king of Naples in the 13th century, while <a href="https://food52.com/blog/9916-the-history-of-macaroni-and-cheese" target="_blank">the first reference</a> in an English language cookbook likely appeared in Elizabeth Raffald's 1769 book "The Experienced English Housekeeper."</p><p><span></span>An internet search for macaroni and cheese recipes will turn up over 5 million hits, but many still prefer to get theirs in a box – the kind with pasta that comes in shapes ranging from shells to Pokemon characters, accompanied by a packet of powdered cheese sauce.</p><p>Boxed macaroni and cheese was one outcome of the quest for ways to keep cheese longer. Some cheese gets better as it ages – a well-aged cheddar is one of life's delights – but once most cheeses hit their prime, <a href="https://www.dairyfoods.com/articles/91548-how-to-maximize-cheese-shelf-life" target="_blank">they tend to quickly go bad</a>. Before household refrigeration became common, many retailers wouldn't even stock cheese in the summer because it spoiled so quickly.</p><p>Processed cheese solved this age-old problem.</p>
When Natural Was Nasty<p>Today, food that's simple, pure and natural is <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-was-french-cuisine-toppled-as-the-king-of-fine-dining-66667" target="_blank">all the craze</a>, while <a href="https://apnews.com/c06a1200807c4b82a03452d08d480692" target="_blank">disdain for processed foods</a> is practically a credo among sophisticated consumers.</p><p>But when Kraft's different forms of processed cheese came out, they found widespread acceptance despite their strange textures. The fact that it wasn't natural didn't seem to bother consumers at all. In fact, as international food historian Rachel Laudan <a href="https://online.ucpress.edu/gastronomica/article/1/1/36/93394/A-Plea-for-Culinary-Modernism-Why-We-Should-Love" target="_blank">has noted</a>, back then, "natural was something quite nasty." She describes fresh milk as warm and "unmistakably a bodily secretion." Throughout the history of cookery, most recipes aimed to transform an unappetizing raw product into something delightful and delectable.</p><p>So for most consumers, processed foods were a godsend. They kept well, tended to be easily digestible and, most importantly, they tasted good. Many of them could be easily prepared, freeing women from spending entire days cooking and giving them more time to pursue professions and avocations.</p><p>In some ways, processed foods were also healthier. They could be fortified with vitamins and minerals, and, in an era before everyone had access to mechanical refrigeration, the fact that they kept well meant consumers were less likely to contract diseases from spoiled, rotten foods. Pasteurization of dairy products virtually <a href="https://www.the-scientist.com/foundations/rethinking-raw-milk--1918-65126" target="_blank">eliminated diseases like undulant fever</a>, while foods processed and canned in large factories were less likely to harbor food-borne illnesses that could crop up due to faulty or improperly sanitized equipment used by home canners.</p>
At least 14 people were killed when Tropical Storm Amanda walloped El Salvador Sunday, Interior Minister Mario Duran said.
- Mass arrests and overcrowded prisons in El Salvador spark fear of ... ›
- Savior or strongman? El Salvador's millennial president defies ... ›
- El Salvador: Inhumane Prison Lockdown Treatment | Human Rights ... ›
- Shocking cars submerged in El Salvador from tropical storm Amanda ›
- Tropical storm Amanda batters El Salvador | News | DW | 01.06.2020 ›