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When it comes to daily hygiene products, it's important to be comfortable with each ingredient in the bottle. Whether you have sensitive skin or if you're just tired of reading chemicals you can't pronounce, natural face washes can leave you with a clean and soft feel without the worries of unnecessary additives and irritants in the formula.

We've sorted through the best natural face cleansers on the market so you don't have to. In this article, we'll be discussing the benefits that organic face washes can give your skin as well as reviewing the top products in different categories.

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On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published a final rule that will allow the Republic of Korea to begin exporting poultry products to the U.S. 

Food & Water Watch questions President Obama's motivation behind allowing potentially diseased South Korean chickens to be sold in America's supermarkets. Photo credit: Demotix

Most alarming is that Korean poultry flocks have become infected with various strains of avian influenza, prompting the Korean government to cull more than 11 million chickens and ducks in January in order to prevent the disease from spreading further. Recent reports have the disease afflicting other species and sickening dogs.

The rule becomes effective on May 27.

Food & Water Watch filed comments opposed to the rule when it was first proposed last January. In the comments, the environmental watchdog cited violations of U.S. food safety and inspection standards written by FSIS auditors who visited Korean poultry slaughter and processing facilities in 2008 and 2010.

In those audits, FSIS auditors found the following:

2008

  • Inspection activities were performed by company employees with no government oversight
  • Failure to implement and verify sanitation programs
  • Failure to implement and verify Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points requirements within the food safety regulatory system
  • FSIS staff was unable to visit Korean government laboratory facilities that conducted chemical and microbiological analyses of poultry products

2010

The Republic of Korea food safety authority did not provide adequate control ...

  • for post-mortem inspection in the facilities that would be eligible to export to the U.S.
  • over the implementation of laboratory quality systems within its residue program.
  • over the implementation of laboratory control quality systems for its microbiological testing program for products destined for export to the U.S.

While the Republic of Korea acknowledged the deficiencies in the 2010 audit, there was no follow-up on-site verification conducted by FSIS to determine whether those issues had been properly addressed or not. Instead, FSIS relied on written assurances.

“We find the decision by FSIS to be irresponsible and surmise that it is trade related,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “This final rule may by a little goodie that the U.S. is using to entice South Korea to join Trans Pacific Partnership talks. Once again, it may yet be another instance of the Obama Administration allowing trade to trump food safety.”

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In new estimates released Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported about 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure in 2012.

Low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk as 1 in every 8 deaths is linked to it.

In particular, the new research reveals a stronger connection between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart disease, as well as cancer. The report also found air pollution plays a role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

The new estimates used improved measurements and technology, enabling scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes both urban and rural areas.

Low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

“Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents noncommunicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director of General Family, Women and Children’s Health. “Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.”

Included in the assessment is a breakdown of deaths attributed to specific diseases, which shows the vast majority of air pollution deaths are tied to cardiovascular diseases.

Outdoor Air Pollution-Caused Deaths—Breakdown by Disease:

  • 40 percent: Ischaemic heart disease
  • 40 percent: Stroke
  • 11 percent: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • 6 percent: Lung cancer
  • 3 percent: Acute lower respiratory infections in children

Indoor Air Pollution-caused deaths—Breakdown by Disease:

  • 34 percent: Stroke
  • 26 percent: Ischaemic heart disease
  • 22 percent: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • 12 percent: Acute lower respiratory infections in children
  • 6 percent: Lung cancer

The estimates of people’s exposure to outdoor air pollution in different parts of the world were tabulated using a new global data mapping system, which incorporated satellite data, ground-level monitoring measurements and data on pollution emissions from key sources, as well as modeling of how pollution drifts in the air.

Risk Factors Are Greater Than Expected

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” said Dr Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

WHO estimates indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves.

Regarding outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.

“Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry," said Dr Carlos Dora, WHO coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. "In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to healthcare cost savings as well as climate gains. WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives.” 

Later this year, WHO will release indoor air quality guidelines on household fuel combustion, as well as country data on outdoor and indoor air pollution exposures and related mortality, plus an update of air quality measurements in 1,600 cities from all regions of the world.

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In Ohio, Cleveland City Council passed a resolution Monday supporting a nationwide ban on the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms, with the support of Food & Water Watch and councilman Joe Cimperman.

On Monday, Food & Water Watch activists stand with Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman, Council President Kevin Kelly, Director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health Karen Butler and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson at Cleveland City Hall after Councilman Cimperman introduced a resolution calling for federal action on the issue of antibiotic overuse on factory farms. Photo credit: Food & Water Watch

“We applaud the Cleveland City Council for passing a resolution in support of a nationwide ban of the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms," said Food & Water Watch Ohio organizer Alison Auciello. "Factory farms feed low doses of antibiotics to livestock to promote unnatural growth and to compensate for filthy, crowded living conditions. As a result, we’re entering an age in which these life-saving medicines are no longer working to treat infections in humans."

The widespread practice of giving low doses of antibiotics to healthy livestock on factory farms is contributing to an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is a growing public health concern that’s making antibiotics less effective in treating infections in both people and animals.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released voluntary guidelines last December to address this issue known as nontherapeutic use. However, a Food & Water Watch analysis released earlier this month revealed that 89 percent of antibiotic drugs that the guidelines advises against using to speed growth can still be given to healthy animals for other reasons.

“Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a pressing public health issue," said Councilman Cimperman. "It is about time we educate the public and make changes in the regulation of the practices that cause these issues. To slow the growth of antibiotic resistant infections and improve the health of Americans, we must ban the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics on a state and national level.”

In February, Clevelanders took part in a rally at the West Side Market to help educate consumers on the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms:

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To assess the overlap between growth promotion uses, which remain unchecked, the Food & Water Watch analyzed the FDA’s list of more than 400 drug products affected by the federal guidelines.

The FDA’s list includes 217 medically important antibiotic drugs that are known to accelerate animal growth. Of those drugs, 63 percent can also be applied to disease prevention, meaning the drugs can continue to be used nontherapeutically, which will continue to promote the development of antibiotic resistance.

Of the remaining antibiotics used for growth promotion, 59 can still be used for “disease control” in healthy animals. That leaves only 23 drugs—11 percent—with no approved nontherapeutic uses under full implementation of the guidelines.

The Superbug Crisis 

Antibiotic-resistant infections, like staphylococcus aureus, sicken at least 2 million Americans per year and kill more than 23,000, according to a 2013 CDC report. Those infections can happen anywhere, but they’re especially deadly when they’re spread in hospitals, nursing homes or other health care centers.

Now the crisis is slowly worsening as drugmakers spend less time and money creating new antibiotics, even as more bacteria are becoming resistant to older drugs.

What You Can Do

  • Wash hands regularly
  • Only use antibiotic creams when necessary
  • Fight off mild to moderate colds yourself with doctor’s approval
  • Don’t use leftover drugs
  • Buy “no antibiotics” or “USDA organic” meat: Tests of turkey and chicken suggest that poultry raised without antibiotics may be less likely to carry resistant bacteria. Also, buying antibiotic-free meat supports farmers who keep livestock off unneeded drugs and helps sustain the desired effectiveness of antibiotics.

Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH page for more related news on this topic.

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Looking for a more environmentally-friendly laundry routine, but can't find a good way to reduce static cling without using dryer sheets?

In need of a natural alternative to toxic dryer sheets? The following tips should do the trick.

Separating oneself from these sheets, which are made with a dangerous assortment of carcinogenic chemicals, is not easy. Luckily, there are simple green alternatives that work just as well.

According to diy Natural, here are seven natural ways to reduce static in the laundry:

1. Hang Dry

The best natural way to eliminate static in laundry is to hang dry everything. Now that spring is approaching, it should be a little easier for most to take advantage of drying clothes outdoors or in front of an open window. When hung to dry, clothes are no longer rubbing together to create static electricity.

Whether hanging it outdoors or indoors, there are several options. Laundry enthusiasts can build their own outdoor clothesline, use a compact outdoor model that folds up (and can be taken out of the ground) when not in use or dry indoors using a large rack or a smaller model.

When hang drying isn't an option and a dryer must be used, there are still several natural methods for keeping static down.

2. Dry Synthetic Fabrics Separately

Synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester are one of the main culprits of static cling. When dried separately, garments made from synthetic fabrics aren't given the opportunity to charge up all the other clothing. Consider pulling synthetic fabrics out of the wash and hanging them on an indoor or outdoor rack instead of throwing them in the dryer with everything else.

3. Reduce Drying Time

Another common cause of static in the laundry is over-drying. When items are completely dry and no moisture remains, this invites static electricity into the mix. Allow clothes to dry only until they're not wet anymore—tumbling around for excessive amounts of time in the dry heat increases static and increases energy costs.

4. Vinegar Fabric Softener

Diy Natural's homemade fabric softener is made with vinegar. It actually serves double duty as fabric softener and static reducer in the laundry. When used in the rinse cycle of the wash, most users will see a reduction in static cling after clothes go through the dryer. Even if planning to hang dry items, there's no need to worry about them smelling like vinegar. When items are completely dry the vinegar smell will completely vanish.

5. Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls are an excellent alternative to fabric softeners and dryer sheets. These little wool balls absorb moisture from clothing in the dryer, maintaining a more humid environment and, therefore, cutting down on static.

In addition to reducing static, they also reduce drying time and fluff clothes. Diy Natural recommends using six or more in the dryer for best results.

6. Vinegar in the Dryer

Using white vinegar in the dryer is another great trick for eliminating static. Simply spray a clean washcloth, sock, pre-cut piece of cloth or any other garment with vinegar. This item is then tossed into the dryer with everything else. The vinegar in the dryer will keep static down—and remember, the vinegar smell will be gone once things are dry.

7. Soap Nuts

Soap nuts can be used as a green alternative to commercial laundry detergents. They're actually a type of berry, and can be put in a muslin bag and tossed directly into the wash. (They can also be boiled down to make a liquid laundry soap). They already possess anti-static properties, so laundry that's washed with soap nuts doesn't require any other anti-static remedy.

Visit EcoWatch's HEALTH and pages for more related news on this topic.

Duke Energy, North Carolina's largest electric and gas supplier, announced Friday it would take the company more than two years to clean up February's massive coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of the Dan River with 60,000 tons of toxic sludge.

Environmental regulators in North Carolina consulted Duke Energy last year before seeking to exclude citizen activists from talks to settle charges that the utility’s coal ash ponds had polluted the state’s groundwater, newly released email exchanges among the regulators indicated on Thursday. Photo credit: Waterkeeper Alliance

The cleanup is part of an effort that includes moving three leaky coal ash dumps away from waterways near Asheville, Charlotte and Danville, VA—a town located along the North Carolina border that uses the Dan River as a drinking water source, reports The Huffington Post

Part of the plan calls for moving millions of tons of the toxic sludge to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Duke asked Charlotte officials on Thursday to examine plans for storing the ash in fully lined, covered areas versus the open, unlined pits that currently house the coal ash. Duke estimated the coal ash transfer would take about five years. 

Duke President Lynn Good sent Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary John Skvarla a letter with details, but Skvarla and other state regulators said Duke's plans fall short and don't address cleaning up the company's nearly three dozen coal ash dumps that are scattered across the state.

“There are far too many questions left unanswered, and Duke Energy should provide the information we originally requested, including the estimated costs of cleanup, plans for the future and a detailed timeline,” said Skvarla.

However, despite the state's criticisms, both sides have now become embroiled in another scandal involving a lawsuit over the coal ash pits.

The New York Times reports:

Environmental regulators in North Carolina consulted Duke Energy last year before seeking to exclude citizen activists from talks to settle charges that the utility’s coal ash ponds had polluted the state’s groundwater, newly released email exchanges among the regulators indicated on Thursday.

Duke officials and the state later settled the charges by proposing a fine and a requirement that Duke study the potential for further pollution before offering solutions. That agreement collapsed in February after [the Dan River coal ash spill.]

Federal prosecutors have since opened a criminal investigation into the spill and the relationship between Duke and the state’s environmental bureaucracy. Critics charge that environmental regulation has been hobbled by political interference since Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, a former mayor of Charlotte and a Duke Energy employee for 29 years, took office last year.

The scandal stems from a North Carolina judge ruling last week that Duke Energy had to take immediate action to eliminate the source of groundwater pollution at all of the company’s coal ash dumps.

The ruling, made by Wake County Judge Paul Ridgeway, stems from legal action taken by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) in 2012, according to Waterkeeper Alliance

The nonprofit advocacy organization asked the Environmental Management Commission to force Duke to take immediate corrective action when groundwater problems were discovered at the state’s 32 ash dumps.

Yet the commission ruled against the environmental group in December 2012, leading the law center to file an appeal. 

While delivering his decision, Ridgeway called out state regulators, saying they had failed to properly apply the law.

The ruling clarifies North Carolina’s authority under the North Carolina groundwater protection law to require Duke to stop the ponds from further contaminating groundwater, before it tackles the long term challenge of cleaning up the groundwater it has already polluted.

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Check out these three slideshows from the Duke Energy coal ash spill:

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Visit EcoWatch’s COAL page for more related news on this topic.