The EPA announced that soybean farmers in 25 states are allowed to spray Alite 27, a cancer-causing weedkiller known to drift 1,000 feet. fotokostic / iStock / Getty Images Plus
In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that soybean farmers in 25 states are allowed to spray Alite 27, a cancer-causing weedkiller known to drift 1,000 feet from where it was sprayed, according to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
To approve new use for the herbicide, which has the chemical name isoxaflutole and is manufactured by German-chemical giant BASF, the EPA had to skirt around the usual public comment period for the decision. The registration for isoxaflutole was opened for public comment, but it was never listed in the federal register. Agencies almost always provide notice that they are considering a new rule in the federal register, according to to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
"The press release caught everyone off guard, we were just waiting for the EPA to open the comment period, and we never saw it," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, referring to an EPA press release, as the AP reported.
The spray, which is already used on corn in 33 states, can be sprayed on crops that have been genetically engineered to resist the herbicide. Commodity farmers praised the decision and touted the weedkiller as an indispensable tool in their arsenal of supplies to push back against new "super weeds" that have grown resistant to several types of herbicides, including glyphosate, or RoundUp, the most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., as to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting reported.
"One of the biggest challenges growers face is resistant weeds, and the soybean market needed a new residual active ingredient to help fight against them," said Darren Unland, Technical Marketing Manager, BASF Agricultural Solutions, in a company press release. "Alite 27 herbicide will provide growers with another pre-emergent herbicide option to layer into their herbicide program for effective, season-long control."
Comments like Unland's were the only ones that appeared in the public register. In fact, there were 54 comments in the public register and all of them were in praise of Alite 27, neglecting that it is a known carcinogen and that the drift of the herbicide is potentially harmful to nearby farms and farmers.
"Clearly no one from the public health community knew about this because no one commented," Donley said, as The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting noted. "Yet there was all these industry comments, all these positive comments. Someone was tipped off that this docket had been opened. One side was able to comment, the other wasn't."
While BASF and the EPA insist that they followed protocol and there was a month-long protocol for issuing public comment, the one-sided comments certainly raise eyebrows. The EPA, however, did put limits on the use of the potent herbicide, only allowing it in certain counties in 25 states and not in Indiana or Illinois, the two largest soybean-producing states.
"This is basically an herbicide that shouldn't be approved at all for any use. It's that bad really on both the human health and environmental fronts," said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, a national nonprofit public interest and environmental advocacy organization working to protect human health and the environment, according to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
Freese insisted he was ready with an arsenal of facts for the public comment period, but he never saw it. Amongst the facts that Freese wanted to present was the EPA's own statement that isoxaflutole is a likely carcinogen that damages human liver enzymes, it contaminates ground water, it travels long distances from where it was sprayed, and its label is extremely complicated. It requires farmers to know their soil type and the height of their water table.
"It's outrageous," Freese said to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. "They knew this is a bad news chemical, and it was very likely done because they didn't want to give environmental groups the opportunity to comment on this, so they can avoid scrutiny."
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Increased consumer interest in sustainability has largely driven the expansion of new organic product lines. It's this combination of consumer consciousness and evolved eco-friendly products that has people searching for the best organic mattress.
But there are many brands in this space. We wanted to take a closer look at the Avocado mattress and explore what makes it such a popular pick in the eco-market.
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By Kristoffer Tigue
In many ways, Maleta Kimmons defines her neighborhood by what it lacks.
Several houses near her home remain vacant. Last week, she had to drive seven miles just to buy groceries. And two weeks ago, at the height of the Minneapolis protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a police officer on May 25, looters broke into the only pharmacy in the area, forcing the store to close and leaving many in the neighborhood without easy access to life-saving medication like insulin or inhalers for asthma.
St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana: "We've Already Been Written Off"<p>Reserve, Louisiana, had an agrarian economy when Robert Taylor was born. His parents worked at a local sugar refinery. "I'm a lifelong resident," he said. "I was born here in 1940, so I've seen some changes." When he was a boy, he said, "I could just walk out my house and go out my backyard and I was in a sugarcane field."</p><p>By the time he was a young man, the petrochemical industry was moving in. He bought a plot of land on the edge of town and built a home, finished by the time his fourth child was born, he said. "I went and got my wife from the hospital and brought her with our child to our new home."</p><p>Around the same time, he said, DuPont began operating a new chemical plant less than a thousand yards from the home.</p><p>St. John the Baptist Parish, which includes Reserve, lies within Louisiana's "Cancer Alley," a stretch along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that is cluttered with petrochemical development and the pollution it brings. The Environmental Protection Agency's National Air Toxics Assessment, which uses emissions estimates to model health risks, estimates that the risk of developing cancer in Reserve is 50 times the national average, and that the <a href="https://www.epa.gov/la/laplace-louisiana-frequent-questions#highest-risks" target="_blank">five census tracts with the highest risk</a> are all in the area.</p><p>But as Taylor watched the development spring up around him, he didn't know any of that. All he knew was that a lot of people seemed to be getting sick. Several family members have died of cancer, he said, while his wife is a cancer survivor. It wasn't until four years ago that Taylor began to connect what he saw with the industry that had developed around him.</p><p>"I came home one night and my wife was so sick, and the odor was so horrible coming from the plant, that I called 911," he said. "And the emergency personnel, they were taken aback by the odor. Of course, all of them was white, none of them lived in the community I lived in," he said. Almost two-thirds of Reserve's residents are black.</p><p>It never occurred to him that other parts of the parish didn't have it as bad. And soon after that incident, the EPA arrived and began monitoring for a chemical, chloroprene, that is used in the nearby plant and is considered by the agency to be a "likely carcinogen."</p><p>"I got the first results of the monitoring, it scared the heck out of me," he said. When the EPA found high levels of the chemical in the air near a school, "that's really what sparked the people to join me and we formed this Concerned Citizens of St. John."</p><p><a href="https://www.ccosj.com/" target="_blank">His group</a> has been trying ever since to get Denka Corporation, which bought the plant from DuPont in 2015, to limit emissions. Denka did not reply to requests for comment from InsideClimate News, but a <a href="http://denka-pe.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/DENKAFAQ.pdf" target="_blank">company website</a> says it has voluntarily reduced emissions and that "there is no evidence to suggest Denka's operations are harmful to local residents."</p><p>Taylor's wife now lives in California, to be away from the pollution. Some of his children have moved out of the parish, too. His great-granddaughter was born recently nearby, "and she has no future here," he said. </p><p>But he feels trapped with his home. Beyond the low value of the property, Taylor said, he wouldn't feel right selling to another family, only to have them live with the same burden.</p><p>"We've already been written off. We're walking dead people," he said. "We've been sacrificed."</p>
Bears Ears National Monument, Utah: Trump Ended Tribal Governance<p>Alfred Lomahquahu helped build the five-tribe <a href="https://bearsearscoalition.org/" target="_blank">coalition</a> that proposed the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.</p><p>The land might seem remote, but the struggle against racial and environmental injustice has been no different for the indigenous people of the Southwest than for those protesting on the streets of the world's cities.</p><p>"People are actually getting united," said Lomahquahu, a Hopi. "That's the main thing that the government is afraid of, that's why they don't want these protests going on."</p><p>The coalition's work focused on protecting red rock canyons and pinion-dotted desert containing hundreds of thousands of archaeological sites and areas of deep cultural significance to the Hopi Nation, Zuni Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Utes.</p><p>"We started speaking with Obama on a one-to-one, government-to-government basis," said Lomahquahu, now community administrator in the Hopi village of Baqavi in northern Arizona. "Part of our strategy was that we were going to work side by side with [the U.S. Bureau of Land Management] and all these other government entities as part of the planning for the whole monument."</p><p>The Obama administration embraced the idea, establishing and empowering a Bears Ears Commission when it <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/28/proclamation-establishment-bears-ears-national-monument" target="_blank">created</a> the monument. Lomahquahu was the commission's co-chair until it was abolished when the Trump administration <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-modifying-bears-ears-national-monument/" target="_blank">downsized</a> the monument by 85 percent not quite a year later.</p><p>Trump administration officials rebuffed commissioners and other monument supporters, he said. "But we already knew at that point that everything that we achieved was going to go down the drain—and for every other minority too."</p><p>Yet, the experience also showed the tribes, which have historically been at odds with one another, the power of working together, he added. And, later, conservation groups, professional societies, recreation groups and even large companies like Patagonia joined the tribes' campaign to protect the land from mining and pollution.</p><p>"Some people are going to use their privilege in order to help others that aren't privileged," Lomahquhu said. "I think that's something that you really need to look at now ... Some people are privileged more than others and willing to use that privilege to help everyone get back on their feet."</p><p>New uranium mining, coal-fired power and oil and gas development in the region are other threats that the Four Corners region has faced. More recently, Indian Country communities have united against Covid-19.</p><p>"We're just waiting for Trump to leave office," Lomahquhu said, "so we can get back in there and regroup again and bring all entities back together."</p>
The Rockaways, Queens, N.Y.: Young Leaders of Color Building Resilient Communities<p>Milan Taylor was 21 when he founded the <a href="https://rytf.org/" target="_blank">Rockaway Youth Task Force</a> in 2011, to sponsor community clean-ups and encourage voter registration in this outlying neighborhood on a barrier island in Queens.</p><p>A year later, after Hurricane Sandy left homes four- to 10-feet underwater and knocked out power for days, Taylor found himself helping to lead rescue and relief efforts in a neighborhood that was 60 percent African American and Hispanic and the poverty line was 20 percent higher than the state average.</p><p>He mobilized hundreds of volunteers in a <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/hurricane-sandy-far-rockaway_b_2109224?guccounter=1" target="_blank">widespread effort</a> to assess the needs and deliver food and medications to hundreds of home-bound community members, including elderly and disabled residents. As they meticulously canvassed high-rise apartment buildings, the major relief organizations and the NYPD seemed strangely missing in action.</p><p>"Sandy gave us the exposure that [the Rockaway Youth Task Force] needed to grow," said Taylor, now 31 and the group's executive director.</p><p>And a good thing that is, with climate scientists predicting sea level rise of at least a foot by 2050, which will make the Rockaways more prone to climate change-fueled flooding and storm surges than they already are. </p><p>"What we're trying to accomplish as an organization is to build more resilient communities," Taylor said, "We want to be there, whether it's a disaster brought about by climate change or even human disasters"—a reference to the ongoing protests for racial justice and an end to police violence. </p><p>Taylor said that it is important for the task force, made up largely of young people of color, to be "led by our own constituency, meaning that those who are directly impacted decide which direction and which campaigns we take on as an organization." </p><p>Despite being told after Sandy that his organization couldn't grow, he said, "We're still here ... still doing work, still helping our communities, and still training the next generation of leaders."</p><p>He noted that one former RYTF organizer, Khaleel Anderson, is now <a href="https://khaleel4thepeople.com/" target="_blank">running</a> for the New York State Assembly. </p><p>In the future, Taylor said, he hopes the broader climate movement embraces his work with the task force, which recognizes how race, gender and socioeconomic factors contribute to environmental injustice. "The conversation of Black lives mattering isn't just limited to police violence," Taylor said. "It also extends to climate justice." </p>
Los Angeles: Latino Children in Boyle Heights Play in Lead-Contaminated Soil<p>Idalmis Vaquero sees such joy in the exuberance of a neighborhood boy named R.J.</p><p>The six-year-old runs to her to show off his newest feat—a backflip—on the dusty patch of grass outside of their aging apartment complex owned by the Los Angeles Housing Authority. </p><p>Yet there is a dark contradiction between the glee of this boy and the reality of life in the shadow of a lead recycling plant that has poisoned the ground that dirties R.J.'s bare feet.</p><p>The boy, like so many other children and families living in this neighborhood, is exposed every day to the high concentrations of lead that have contaminated this mostly Latino community just southeast of downtown Los Angeles.</p><p>The Exide Technologies recycling plant and its predecessors emitted lead, arsenic and other dangerous pollutants, leaving homes, apartments, schools, parks and day care centers with dangerously high levels of lead contaminated soil.</p><p>Vaquero, 26, a third-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, grew up in public housing in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, where she still lives and where her parents settled after emigrating from Mexico nearly 30 years ago.</p><p>There has been little change in her neighborhood since she was a child. Factories, smoke stacks and exhaust-belching diesel trucks define the community more than grassy parks and welcoming recreation centers.</p><p>So she worries about the future of R.J. and other children.</p><p>"Living here will have an impact on the quality of life for the rest of their lives," she said. "It makes me mad that our lives are not considered equal when it comes to addressing environmental hardships."</p><p>As many as 250,000 residents, mostly working-class Latinos, face a chronic health hazard from exposure to airborne lead and arsenic that subsequently settled into the soil from the recycling plant, according to <a href="http://www.aqmd.gov/docs/default-source/exide/exideab2588hra15jan13_15may13_cor.pdf?sfvrsn=2" target="_blank">a 2013 health risk assessment by the South Coast Air Quality Management District</a>.</p><p>Lead contamination has been found in children growing up in neighborhoods surrounding the now-shuttered Exide battery plant, <a href="https://news.usc.edu/156523/lead-in-baby-teeth-exide-battery-plant/" target="_blank">a USC study found</a>. Lead is a neurotoxin, and there is no level that is considered safe in humans.</p><p>The 15-acre recycling facility operated in the industrial city of Vernon for decades with minimal regulatory oversight. It churned out poisonous pollution around the clock seven days a week as the lead from 25,000 old car batteries was melted down every day for use in producing new batteries.</p><p>The facility received more than 100 environmental violations for such things as lead and acid leaks and maintaining an overflowing pond of toxic sludge.</p><p>The Exide plant was shut down in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Justice, which also ordered the company to pay $50 million to clean up the site and nearby neighborhoods. The state later pledged $75 million for the ongoing cleanup, which is being overseen by the <a href="https://dtsc.ca.gov/exide-home/" target="_blank">California Department of Toxic Substances Control</a>.</p><p>The cleanup has been painfully slow, which Vaquero takes as yet another signal that her neighborhood and neighbors are just a forgotten footnote in a city defined by the glitz of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. </p><p>Vaquero majored in environmental studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where she made the decision to stand up for her community and others like hers.</p><p>She described <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6945854-Vaquero-Paper-Fighting-for-Environmental-Health.html" target="_blank"> the environmental injustices in her community in a 2016 thesis</a>: </p><p>"The health of these communities need to be prioritized and protected from any more pollution from Exide and other environmental injustices," she wrote. "The community's power and resilience will prevail and environmental justice will be served to Southeast Los Angeles."</p>
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A California shareholder of Bayer AG on Friday filed a lawsuit against the companies' top executives claiming they breached their duty of "prudence" and "loyalty" to the company and investors by buying Monsanto Co. in 2018, an acquisition the suit claims has "inflicted billions of dollars of damages" on the company.
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By Emily Pontecorvo and Naveena Sadasivam
On a spring weekend morning a few weeks ago, Judy Kelly stepped outside of her house in Broomfield, Colorado, to grab the newspaper when her nose perked up. It smelled like something was burning.
An excerpt from an email sent to the city by a resident concerned about the Livingston fracking site.
Broomfield vs. Extraction<p>The unsettling bind that the stay-at-home order put many residents in was not lost on Laurie Anderson, a Broomfield city councilwoman who lives just half a mile from the fracking site in another neighborhood called Anthem Highlands. The night Governor Polis' order came down, a special meeting of the city council was scheduled to <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/10m9nX3vilG4IEOl0zJdfMsKIZz68jte8/view" target="_blank">discuss</a> the potential dangers of work continuing at the Livingston site during the pandemic. The council decided to draft a proposal ordering Extraction to postpone flowback — a process where the chemical-laden water used to fracture open the shale flows back to the surface and must be collected, treated, and disposed of — until the stay-at-home order was lifted.</p><p>"The thought was to protect these residents, to delay flowback, understanding that it has to happen because they've already fracked these wells," said Anderson, who is also an organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, a national advocacy group that fights polluters. "It was only going to delay them for a couple weeks."</p><p>Of particular concern was Anthem Ranch, where the median age is 70 years old. The city's public health staff drafted up an order and included <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vLyFee6vdXi_uaZliyDRYTkdKP1wmHoE/view" target="_blank">data</a> showing that people over 65 are more susceptible to COVID-19 complications, that the top symptom reported by older Broomfield residents in the city's <a href="https://broomfield.org/2842/File-an-Immediate-Concern" target="_blank">oil and gas complaint system</a> was "anxiety/stress," and that stress and anxiety are linked to poor health outcomes in general.</p><p>But two days later, before the council could discuss the draft proposal, Extraction headed them off at the pass. The company secured a temporary restraining order from the Seventeenth Judicial District Court in Colorado, which prohibited the city from halting or delaying its operations. According to court documents, Extraction alleged that the city was acting in bad faith, trying to "shut down Extraction's operations not because they pose any real health risk, but because they are unpopular." Then, on March 30, the company filed an official complaint with the district court against the city, seeking damages for a breach of contract.</p><p>It's true that this was far from the first time Broomfield had tried to interfere with Extraction's … extraction. The city has battled the company at every stage of the drilling process in response to complaints from residents about odors, health symptoms, and <a href="https://www.kunc.org/post/broomfield-tried-limiting-oil-and-gas-noise-now-company-pushing-back-0#stream/0" target="_blank">noise</a>.</p>
An excerpt from an email sent to the city by a resident concerned about the Livingston fracking site.
‘Why Didn’t You Protect Us?’<p>Leading up to that final vote, the city council was flooded with emails begging them to forge ahead with the public health order. After it decided to drop the issue, community members were on edge. Kelly said she understands why the city did what it did. But others are incredibly frustrated with the outcome. "I get so many calls from people that say, 'why didn't you protect us?'" she said. "They're so concerned about their health that they would have rather seen us in court."</p><p>One concern is what residents will do in case there is an emergency, like a major emissions release or an explosion like the one in Weld County. The Broomfield police department has told families that live within a half-mile of the site to keep a bag packed in case an evacuation is necessary. But Elizabeth Lario is not sure where her family would go. Under normal circumstances, the city's emergency shelter is its recreation center, but as long as social distancing is necessary, that no longer feels like a safe option. "The evacuation plan is to wait and hear what the evacuation plan is," Lario said.</p>
An excerpt from an email sent to the city by a resident concerned about the Livingston fracking site.<p>On April 13, the Broomfield Office of Emergency Management held a telephone town hall to present evacuation instructions. Residents told Grist that instructions on where they should go were not very clear, and that the evacuation plan was fluid depending on the scale of emergency and the status of the pandemic. "It was a plan left in chaos, in my opinion, that fortunately hasn't had to be used," said Anderson.</p><p>The Broomfield police department told Grist that it uses a cell phone alert system for emergency notification. An "Emergency Management Update" powerpoint created by the department instructs residents to "follow the instructions you receive" and monitor the situation on the city's social media accounts. In the case of an evacuation, it says to go to the home of a family member or friend — and to go to the recreation center only if needed. The department advises that residents who do elect to evacuate to the recreation center remain in their cars "if quarantined/isolated."</p>
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By Derrick Z. Jackson
In the U.S., gun violence kills nearly 40,000 people a year and has killed nearly 40,000 or so children and teenagers since 1999, and yet the nation is still without serious gun control. Another 40,000 people die each year in traffic accidents, including 1,200 children 14 and under. Yet we eschew policies used abroad that could cut the toll by half.
First Responders, Maintenance Workers, Women<p>The first mesothelioma deaths have now occurred among 9/11 first responders who worked in toxic clouds at Ground Zero after the collapse and fires of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 2001. Also, a <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6608a3.htm" target="_blank">2017 report</a> by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure continues today to workers involved in the maintenance, demolition, and remediation of buildings with asbestos. "Contrary to past projections, the number of malignant mesothelioma deaths has been increasing," the report said.</p><p>In 2018, the New York Times <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/business/baby-powder-asbestos-johnson-johnson.html?module=inline" target="_blank">obtained memos</a> under the Freedom of Information Act that exposed that officials at Johnson & Johnson were aware in the 1970s that the company's iconic baby powder talc could be contaminated with asbestos and yet worked to discredit or silence research that suggested contamination. Two years ago, a St. Louis jury awarded $4.7 billion to 22 women who claimed their ovarian cancer was caused by the baby powder, often used as a feminine hygiene product. Five months ago, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder after the Food and Drug Administration <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/18/business/johnson-johnson-baby-powder-recall.html" target="_blank">found trace</a> amounts of asbestos in samples.</p><p>Will we soon be adding children and teachers to the toll? Nowhere in America is the wholesale disintegration of asbestos installed decades ago as evident as in the nation's schools.</p>
The Threat to Schoolchildren<p>The UCS report notes that school buildings built from 1946 to 1972 likely contain asbestos, with the highest proportion of unacceptable structures being found in low-income communities and districts where most students are of color. All of that is on unconscionable display in Philadelphia where the teachers' union is suing the city's school board for hazardous levels of asbestos dust in decrepit buildings.</p><p>In 2018, the Philadelphia Inquirer conducted an <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/inq/asbestos-testing-mesothelioma-cancer-philadelphia-schools-toxic-city-20180510.html#loaded" target="_blank">investigation</a> of many schools, finding levels of asbestos dust on school surfaces 11 to 1,700 times higher than the levels mandated by federal cleanup requirements for apartments near Ground Zero. The newspaper also found unacceptably elevated levels of lead.</p><p>By spring of 2019, when the Inquirer was <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/toxic-city-inquirer-pulitzer-finalist-20190415.html" target="_blank">named a finalist</a> for the Pulitzer Prize for its exposé, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced more than $100 million in emergency lead cleanup and general hazardous cleanup funds for Philadelphia schools. Last month, Wolf <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/gov-tom-wolf-asbestos-lead-schools-1-billion-20200129.html" target="_blank">proposed</a> $1 billion for statewide remediation of asbestos and lead in schools.</p><p>But that could not contain the crisis in a system with $4.5 billion of documented <a href="https://www.philasd.org/capitalprograms/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/2017/06/2015-FCA-Final-Report-1.pdf" target="_blank">deficiencies</a> in its school buildings. This school year, seven schools have been closed for extensive asbestos damage. One <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/education/a/mesothelioma-philadelphia-school-district-lea-dirusso-cancer-20191121.html" target="_blank">teacher,</a> who worked in a 90-year-old building and often swept up dust from flaking heating pipe insulation and busted ceiling tiles before class, is undergoing chemotherapy for mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer triggered by asbestos.</p>
Environmental Injustice<p>In at least one school closure, the stench of race and class environmental injustice was on vivid display. Ben Franklin High School, comprised almost entirely of youth of color who qualify as poor, <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/education/ben-franklin-sla-school-construction-asbestos-inequity-privilege-20191011.html" target="_blank">was not closed until</a> after it also became the home of a magnet school that is 38 percent white, with half of those students above the poverty line. As Ben Franklin teacher told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "When it was us, the district didn't feel like they needed to have any immediacy."</p><p>The lack of immediacy has existed for decades. Jerry Roseman, chief environmental science and public health expert since 1985 for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said it galls him that his sense of outrage and disbelief in school conditions is the same today as it was <em>35 years ago</em>. In an interview with the Union of Concerned Scientists, he said he had just inspected an overcrowded school where playful children were literally banging into damaged asbestos pipe insulation, damaging the asbestos even more, calling it a systemic failure including school district leadership and politicians.</p><p>"What is clear across the country is that school boards neither understand facility conditions and leave them alone to deteriorate and definitely don't understand the impacts on the health, safety, and welfare of children and staff," Roseman said. He noted how parents and teachers are taking things into their own hands with a <a href="http://www.phillyhealthyschools.org/" target="_blank">mobile app</a> to photograph and report disintegrating infrastructure. "You can have great teachers and great principals," he added, "but you do not get great or safe education if you do not take care of a foundational need—the facility."</p><p>Nationally, the threat of toxic school buildings has barely been studied despite the 1986 Asbestos Hazardous Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to address airborne asbestos in schools. A <a href="https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2015-12-Markey-Asbestos-Report-Final.pdf" target="_blank">2015 report</a> commissioned by senators Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California found that two-thirds of the school districts in 15 responding states had asbestos. Thirty states did not respond to the inquiry at all. Noting that the Environmental Protection Agency had not seriously analyzed school asbestos since 1984, the Markey-Boxer report said the carcinogen remains "ubiquitous" in schools, with the extent "unknown."</p><p>The EPA, under flat funding for most of the last decade, conducts so few inspections under AHERA that a 2018 Inspector General <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-09/documents/_epaoig_20180917-18-p-0270.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> said, "The EPA has not documented that the risk of asbestos exposure in schools has diminished significantly under AHERA."</p>
Reinvestment, Then Divestment Again<p>President Obama worked with Congress to try to strengthen scrutiny of toxics like asbestos with the 2016 <a href="https://www.c-span.org/video/?411615-1/president-obama-signs-chemical-safety-bill" target="_blank">Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act</a>. But, when it comes to asbestos, the Trump administration attempted to gut the act by trying to exclude asbestos already installed in places like schools ("legacy use") from calculations of risk assessment. Never mind that the White House understands quite well that asbestos is a major health threat. Last summer it conducted $250,000 asbestos <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-21/white-house-relocates-top-aides-for-asbestos-abatement-project" target="_blank">abatement</a> in the West Wing office areas occupied by President Trump's daughter Ivanka, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, policy adviser Stephen Miller, and economic adviser Larry Kudlow.</p><p>Environmental groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, joined with labor unions and family advocacy groups to challenge the EPA and a host of chemical industry groups and the US Chamber of Commerce in court. In November, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the administration's attempt to exclude legacy use was <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/tsca-opinion-20191114.pdf" target="_blank">unlawful,</a> agreeing that workers face major risks when "equipment or structures are demolished, repaired, or refurbished."</p><p>That ruling, combined with a science-minded federal government, should easily be applied to children who currently go to schools that should have long ago been demolished, repaired, or refurbished. As it is now, Linda Reinstein, co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, which was a co-petitioner against the EPA's attack on legacy use, says America is rolling the dice by letting children study and play in asbestos dust. As Reinstein notes, health effects will not manifest themselves until these children are well into adulthood and long since removed from the source school of their disease. Reinstein lost her husband Alan to mesothelioma and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/opinion/asbestos-epa-trump.html" target="_blank">an asbestos ban bill</a> has been filed in Congress in his name.</p><p>"Even though the latency period is long, I've seen parents tearful and terrified," Reinstein told UCS, "worried that every cough is a precursor of something worse about to happen. If you're a student and you know you've been exposed, you lie with the fear the rest of your life that you've been exposed to something that is life changing. . .The fact that we haven't been studying legacy exposure should be a crime."</p><p>In 1984, the EPA found that, of the 2,600 schools testing positive for asbestos in its sample, only 500 had a plan to deal with it. Today, the Trump administration is trying to avoid testing for legacy installations altogether, in the obvious effort not to be responsible for a remediation plan. That effort was ruled illegal, but given the spiteful nature of this administration, it is more likely to respond by dragging its feet rather than leaping to protect children. That leaves the time bomb ticking, with the risk of asbestos exposure today exploding in the lungs of today's children tomorrow.</p><p>For more on this and other threats to children's health, including what you can do about them, you can read the new UCS storybook — <em><a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/breathe-smog-drink-lead" target="_blank">Breath in the Smog, Drink in the Lead: A Grim Scary Tale for People Who Care about Kids</a> </em>— and its accompanying <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/protecting-childrens-health-and-safety" target="_blank">resource guide</a> and report, <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/endangering-generations" target="_blank"><em><u>Endangering Generations: How the Trump Administration's Assault on Science is Harming Children's Health</u></em></a>.</p>
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Potential Benefits<p>There are two ways in which aloe vera may aid weight loss.</p><h4>May Boost Metabolism</h4><p>Some research shows that aloe vera could <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism" target="_blank">boost your metabolism</a>, increasing the number of calories you burn throughout the day to promote weight loss.</p><p>In one 90-day study, administering dried aloe vera gel to rats on a high fat diet reduced body fat accumulation by increasing the number of calories they burned.</p><p>Other animal research has shown that aloe vera could affect the metabolism of fat and sugar in the body while preventing the accumulation of belly fat.</p><p>Still, more studies are needed to determine whether aloe vera may offer similar health benefits in humans.</p><h4>May Support Blood Sugar Control</h4><p>Aloe vera may help improve <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar" target="_blank">blood sugar control</a>, which may help increase weight loss.</p><p>In one study, consuming capsules containing 300–500 mg of aloe vera twice daily significantly reduced blood sugar levels in 72 people with <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/prediabetes-diet" target="_blank">prediabetes</a>.</p><p>Another study in 136 people found that taking an aloe vera gel complex for 8 weeks reduced body weight and body fat, as well as improved the body's ability to use insulin, a hormone involved in blood sugar control.</p><p>Improving blood sugar control can prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which could prevent symptoms like increased hunger and cravings.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>Aloe vera could help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and supporting better blood sugar control.</p>
Side Effects<p>Aloe vera intake has been associated with several adverse health effects.</p><p>Some of the most common side effects include digestive issues, such as diarrhea and stomach cramps.</p><p>While aloe vera can act as a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/20-natural-laxatives" target="_blank">laxative</a> to help promote regularity, excessive use could increase your risk of adverse effects like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.</p><p>It's important to note that while its laxative effects may reduce water retention, the resulting loss of water weight is only temporary and not a sustainable weight loss strategy.</p><p>What's more, since this succulent may reduce the absorption of certain medications, it's important to consult your healthcare professional before using it if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications.</p><p>There is also concern about the cancer-causing effects of aloin, a compound found in non-decolorized, whole leaf aloe extract.</p><p>However, most aloin is removed during processing, so it's unclear whether commercial aloe vera products may also be harmful.</p><p>Furthermore, it's important to avoid eating aloe vera skin gels and products, as they may contain ingredients and additives that should not be ingested.</p><p>Finally, products containing aloe vera latex, a substance found within the leaves of the aloe vera plant, have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to safety concerns.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>Aloe vera intake can cause several side effects and may decrease the absorption of certain medications. Unprocessed and unrefined extracts may also contain aloin, which is a carcinogenic compound.</p>
How to Use It<p>Aloe vera leaves are comprised of three main parts — the skin, latex, and gel.</p><p>The gel is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-eat-aloe-vera" target="_blank">safe to consume</a> and can be prepared by cutting the leaf in half and using a spoon or knife to scoop out the gel.</p><p>Be sure to wash the gel thoroughly to remove any dirt and latex residue, which can give the gel a bitter taste.</p><p>Try adding the gel into smoothies, shakes, salsas, and soups to bolster the health benefits of your favorite recipes.</p><p>You can also eat the skin of the aloe leaf by adding it to salads and stir-fries.</p><p>After slicing and washing the skin, you may also opt to soak the leaves for 10–30 minutes before adding them to your recipes to help soften them up.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>The gel and leaves of the aloe vera plant can be consumed in a variety of recipes, including smoothies, soups, salsas, salads, and stir-fries. Always be sure to remove the latex layer.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Aloe vera is commonly found in <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-lose-weight-as-fast-as-possible" target="_blank">weight loss</a> products, including herbal supplements, juices, and diet drinks.</p><p>It may help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and improving your blood sugar control.</p><p>However, it may also be associated with several adverse effects and should be used in moderation as part of a healthy diet.</p><p>If you decide to give aloe vera products a try, be sure to purchase them from a reputable supplier.</p>
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