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Envirohealth News: Claims for antibacterial soap go down the drain

Monday, September 24, 2007

What's new in the world of environmental health. antibacterial soap The federal government is setting itself up to violate its own water quality standards -- by not cutting CO2 emissions. Oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, lowering their pH and resulting in acidification. Yet another reason to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK's largest water company accidentally allowed industrial disinfectants to leak into the Wandle River, resulting in thousands of dead fish. No one seems sure yet what the extent of the damage will be, but it's a safe bet that the three-mile stretch affected will take years to regenerate.

Banana companies in the Philippines will not be allowed to continue aerial spraying of pesticides, according to a ruling by a local judge who dismissed the companies' petition. An ordinance against aerial spraying was instituted in March when studies demonstrated the negative health impacts of the pesticides on workers and local residents.

Lead poisoning from toys? Unfortunately, there are lots of other possible points of exposure, as The New York Times outlines in this weekend's Testing for Lead Around the House. They even brought in some really brilliant expert to talk about it:

According to Richard Wiles, the executive director of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization in Washington, high levels of lead in children 6 and under have been linked to nervous-system damage and learning problems. And the primary source of lead in the home is old paint.

“Windows, doors and peeling paint are the primary problem areas,” Mr. Wiles said, even though lead has been banned from paint made for residential use since 1978. He explained that when lead paint has been painted over, peeling or friction from opening and closing a door or window can produce chips and dust containing lead.

And finally, it turns out that all those antibacterial soaps that get washed down the drain (and subsequently fiddle with the sexual hormones of fish) don't offer any more protection from germs than plain soap, at least according to research from the University of Michigan.