In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Andrea Germanos
President Joe Biden is being called on to back newly reintroduced legislation that seeks to remedy the nation's drinking water injustices with boosts to infrastructure and the creation of a water trust fund.
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Stephanie Eick
You may not realize it, but you likely encounter phthalates every day. These chemicals are found in many plastics, including food packaging, and they can migrate into food products during processing. They're in personal care products like shampoos, soaps and laundry detergents, and in the vinyl flooring in many homes.
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By Brett Wilkins
Accusing California regulators of "reckless disregard" for public "health and safety," the environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday sued the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom for approving thousands of oil and gas drilling and fracking projects without the required environmental review.
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Low-income Texans, especially those of color, disproportionately bore the burdens of the state's power grid failure that left them huddling for warmth, and dying, without heat in poorly insulated homes.
By Casey Crownhart
Disinfectant use has exploded during the coronavirus pandemic as people try to keep their hands and surfaces clean. But one family of cleaning chemicals is receiving scrutiny for potential health concerns.
Bacterial Resistance<p>The pandemic has increased demand for products like Lysol wipes that use quats as active ingredients: sales of Lysol wipes were <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/16/ceo-of-durex-condom-maker-intimate-occasions-down-during-pandemic.html" target="_blank">up</a> nearly 50 percent in spring of 2020 compared to 2019. Other cleaning products are also in high demand — aerosol disinfectant <a href="https://www.jpmorgan.com/solutions/cib/research/covid-spending-habits" target="_blank">sales as a whole have doubled</a> in 2020 in the U.S., a large fraction of which also contain quats.</p><p>All those additional sales mean quats are becoming more present in the environment. "We're in an era now where the concentration [of quats] is certainly higher than ever before," William Arnold, an environmental engineer at the University of Minnesota, told EHN. He published a <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00437" target="_blank">paper</a> in June that revealed an increased load of quats may be ending up in wastewater plants, with some worrisome implications. Quats can end up in wastewater plants after they're flushed down the drain — at the levels of use during the pandemic, some plants can't keep up, so quats have the potential to pollute waterways. There, they might disrupt marine food chains, as quats have been found to be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0269749115302025?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">toxic</a> to small invertebrates like plankton in lakes.</p><p>The ingredients also may be spurring antibiotic-resistant germs, Arnold said.</p><p>Bacteria are constantly working to shore up their defenses against the antiseptics we use. "We've had an 80- or 90-year head start, but we really need to keep innovating" to stay ahead of microbial evolution, <a href="http://kminbiol.clasit.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Kevin Minbiole</a>, a Villanova University chemist who studies how quats affect bacteria and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7233851/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">viruses,</a> told EHN.</p><p>Quats work like spears, penetrating the shell on the outside of a bacteria or virus. But some bacteria are getting better at recognizing quats and getting rid of them, or becoming resistant, said Minbiole. He and his collaborator, Emory University chemist William Wuest, are experimenting with new antimicrobial ingredients and recently <a href="https://patents.google.com/patent/US20200277263A1/en" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">patented their own quats</a> that can mount multiple attacks on a single microbe. These quats are likely even more effective antiseptics than current quats on the market, but the new chemicals haven't yet been tested for safety, so it's not clear how their health or environmental impacts might differ, or not, from current quats, according to Wuest.</p>
Birth Defects and Infertility<p><a href="https://www.vcom.edu/people/theresa-hrubec" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Theresa Hrubec</a>, a biologist at Virginia Tech and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, has also been publishing work on the potential risks of quats — work that started by accident. While she was using mice to study potential side effects of medications, she noticed that some mice in her control group, the mice that weren't exposed to any medication, were developing birth defects. After ruling out the possibility that she had switched the groups, she found a potential explanation: the facility had recently started using quats to disinfect her lab. The floors were mopped daily, the walls wiped down weekly, and anytime a box of mice was opened, it was wiped down with disinfectant. The mice were all being unintentionally dosed with quats, Hrubec told EHN. And she wasn't the only researcher who had seen problems with mice and quat disinfectants: <a href="https://smb.wsu.edu/faculty-trainees-and-staff/faculty/profile/pat-hunt" target="_blank">Patricia Hunt</a>, a researcher at Washington State University, had seen similar problems with her mice.</p><p>Hrubec and Hunt have since published several studies that link quats to health problems in mice, from <a href="https://www.ehn.org/the_cost_of_clean_disinfectants_cause_birth_defects_in_baby_mice-2497174322.html" target="_blank">birth defects</a> to <a href="https://www.ehn.org/quats-quagmire-common-disinfectants-cause-reproductive-problems-in-mice-study-says-2569921664.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decreases in fertility</a>. For each of the studies, mice were fed a mixture of two common quat disinfectants at high doses for several weeks before being examined for either fetal birth defects or signs of decreased fertility.</p><p>Mice that were exposed to quats were more likely to develop neural tube defects, an early-stage birth defect. And doses of quats decreased the number and size of litters born as well.</p><p>How exactly quats might cause birth defects is still unknown, according to Hrubec. She has a few theories. Endocrine disruption might be to blame — Gino Cortopassi, who collaborated with Hrubec, found that one quat, although not the same chemical Hrubec used in her research, can <a href="https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp1404" target="_blank">bind to hormone receptors</a>. The same lab also found that quats appear to affect how <a href="https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2623337" target="_blank">mitochondria function</a>, which can cause a litany of problems in cells.</p><p>Inflammation might be another possible explanation. Quats are suspected to cause occupational asthma — exposure to a toxic or irritating chemical that results in lung inflammation. Japanese researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19762220/" target="_blank">found in 2010</a> that mice exposed to quats at high concentrations by inhalation saw cell death and increased levels of inflammation. However, human studies observing quat exposure and occupational asthma <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31832071/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">have had mixed results,</a> with some researchers arguing that quat exposure hasn't been definitively linked with lung problems.</p><p>Most of the research by Hrubec and her collaborators is done in mice, so quats may not have the same effects on humans. Figuring out how quats might be impacting humans is a much more complicated job. In a <a href="https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.15.20154963v1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pre-print</a>, published last year but not yet reviewed by outside experts for accuracy, Hrubec and her collaborators performed a monitoring study of a small group, 43 people. They detected quats in 80 percent of the study participants, and quat levels in the blood were associated with higher levels of inflammation and decreased mitochondrial function. The results are still preliminary, but it is among the first research to attempt monitoring quat levels in humans.</p>
Dose Disagreement<p>Not everyone agrees about how the research is being done. In a<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25500365/" target="_blank"> letter to the editor</a> in response to one of Hrubec's<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25483128/" target="_blank"> early studies</a>, Keith Hostetler, an industry representative, raised concerns about the experiment's design. One critique was the dose level — according to Hostetler, the level of disinfectant fed to the mice would be the equivalent of a 155-pound adult drinking about 1.5 quarts of disinfecting solution daily.</p><p>But toxicology studies are pretty typically performed with high doses at first, before being extrapolated down to more realistic doses, according to<a href="https://patisaullab.wordpress.ncsu.edu/" target="_blank"> Heather Patisaul</a>, a biologist at North Carolina State University who studies toxicological effects of hormone-disrupting compounds. She was not involved in Hrubec's studies.</p><p>"Complaining that the dose is too high and the sample size is too low is a common industry response," Patisaul told EHN via email. In this case, she said the dosage was particularly high for some groups. However, Patisaul also notes that Hrubec saw birth defects in fetuses when the father was fed less than 1/15 the dose Hostetler mentioned, which she said is more compelling evidence that quats might cause harm.</p><p>Still, "neither [dose] is anywhere near a human-relevant range," Patisaul said, so the results do not definitively show that quats could harm human health with normal levels of use.</p><p>The doses were high in order to determine whether quats warrant more research, said Hrubec, adding that many mice that were not fed quats, but were merely present in rooms where quats were used, were also found to develop birth defects. To her, this suggests that the disinfectants present in the lab from regular disinfecting were still enough to trigger health problems.</p>
States Take Notice<p>Hrubec has been a constant figure at regulatory meetings on quats. She presented her research during a<a href="https://biomonitoring.ca.gov/events/biomonitoring-california-scientific-guidance-panel-meeting-march-2020" target="_blank"> March 2020 meeting</a> with California's Biomonitoring Program. During the meeting, other researchers also presented data on quat's potential for causing<a href="https://biomonitoring.ca.gov/sites/default/files/downloads/WRAPPcomments030420.pdf" target="_blank"> occupational asthma</a> and <a href="https://biomonitoring.ca.gov/sites/default/files/downloads/Xu030420.pdf" target="_blank">endocrine disruption</a>.</p><p>After considering data from researchers and industry, the advisory panel for Biomonitoring California voted unanimously to add quats to the list of chemicals that could be considered for biomonitoring studies, and they plan to discuss quats as potential high-priority chemicals in March 2021, according to<a href="https://agency.calepa.ca.gov/staffdirectory/detail.asp?UID=61347&BDO=6&VW=DET" target="_blank"> Shoba Iyer</a>, a toxicologist for the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment who works with the biomonitoring program.</p><p>The program's board does not have the authority to ban quats — the purpose of adding quats to the monitoring list and completing biomonitoring studies is to learn more about chemical exposures and inform public health policies and regulations, Iyer told EHN.</p><p>Officials from one agency in Massachusetts also have their eye on quats — and they say the pandemic and the resulting increase in disinfectant use has caused them to examine the chemicals more closely. "That's why we finally decided to take up [quats], because people are using it constantly to try to keep themselves and their workers and customers safe," <a href="https://www.turi.org/About/Staff_List/Harriman_Liz" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Liz Harriman</a>, Deputy Director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) in Massachusetts, told EHN.</p><p>Massachusetts state law requires companies that manufacture certain chemicals, or use them to make products, to report use levels of the chemicals and submit plans for safe use. The Scientific Advisory Board for TURI makes recommendations to state agencies on which chemicals to examine, and they are focusing on two classes of quats, both of which are used in surface cleaners, according to<a href="https://www.turi.org/About/Staff_List/Tenney_Heather" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Heather Tenney</a>, who heads the board.</p><p>In January, the advisory board discussed several categories of research on quats, including birth defects and respiratory conditions like<a href="https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/38/Suppl_55/p4936" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> asthma</a>, as well as<a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00437" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> environmental effects</a> of quats like the potential for microbial resistance. The board did not reach a vote, and will reconvene in March to continue discussing potential action on quats.</p><p>Hostetler, the industry representative who has published letters challenging Hrubec's research, also presented at both the March Biomonitoring California presentation and the TURI meeting in January. At the TURI board meeting, he emphasized that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has independently concluded that quats do not have effects on developmental or reproductive health, based on tests that follow agency guidelines.</p><p>Manufacturers maintain that their disinfecting products available for purchase have been tested extensively. "They've done a lot of research on their formulations. What they put on the market, they know to be safe and efficacious," James Kim, a Vice President of the American Cleaning Institute, a trade organization that represents manufacturers, told EHN.</p>
Alternatives Are Available<p>Despite increased attention from states, quats will likely remain available on the market in surface disinfectants for the foreseeable future. But for consumers looking to avoid quats in their <a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cleaning supplies</a>, alternatives are available.</p><p>"Given the huge concern for reproductive toxicity and birth defects in humans, it really makes sense to take a precautionary approach,"<a href="https://www.ewg.org/experts/samara-geller.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Samara Geller</a>, a research analyst for Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization that pushes for regulation of chemicals in consumer products, told EHN.</p><p>While a large portion of disinfectants on the market include either quats or bleach as their main ingredient, there are other options available. Geller said EWG recommends products that contain citric acid, lactic acid, or hydrogen peroxide as their main ingredients. EWG also publishes <a href="http://ewg.org/guides/cleaners/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a guide</a> to cleaning products that aggregates safety data where consumers can check for options.</p><p>Consumers can reference the EPA's <a href="https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-coronavirus-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">list </a>of disinfectants that are expected to be effective against coronavirus, which lists products by active ingredient.</p><p>Liz Harriman, the Massachusetts TURI official, said she also urges the public to consider alternative products to those that contain quats. "It's not so much that we're dead set against quats," said Harriman, "But if there are safer alternatives you can use to accomplish the same thing, why wouldn't you use those?"</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/quats-health-covid-disinfectant-2650608215.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>.</em></p>
By Brett Wilkins
Texas oil refineries released hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollutants including benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide into the air as they scrambled to shut down during last week's deadly winter storm, Reuters reported Sunday.
While Texans were burning their furniture and children's toys for warmth, other wider-ranging impacts of the energy crisis precipitated by Arctic temperatures across the U.S. will be felt for years.
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By Michael Svoboda
The COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed again a fundamental truth about the Anthropocene: When disaster strikes, the vulnerable take the hardest punches. Communities of color have suffered much higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and mortality, both because they are disproportionately represented in frontline service positions and because their access to routine healthcare is more limited.
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By Theodore J. Kury
Americans often take electricity for granted – until the lights go out. The recent cold wave and storm in Texas have placed considerable focus on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, the nonprofit corporation that manages the flow of electricity to more than 26 million Texans. Together, ERCOT and similar organizations manage about 60% of the U.S. power supply.
In the Southeast, Southwest and Northwest U.S., traditional utilities generate electricity and deliver it to customers. Other regions, including Texas, have moved to competitive power markets run by Independent System Operators, or ISOs. FERC
Planting greenery is often touted as one solution to the threat of air pollution, but which species are actually the most effective against this major public health hazard?
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The sprawling Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery has poisoned the Greys Ferry neighborhood for 150 years, and continues to do so even after it closed in 2019 following numerous explosions, Reuters reports.