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Environmental Health News

New Zealand

8 June Climate prophet McKibben brings message to Dunedin. One of the prophets of global warming visits Dunedin this week, and you can be assured the message will be chilling. Five hundred dead in India. Dead fish and dolphins washing ashore on Australia's beaches. Dying glaciers in California. What does it all mean? Otago Daily Times, New Zealand.

8 June Bid to cut Timaru smoke pollution. Environment Canterbury is turning to Timaru residents to do their bit in reducing air pollution so the city can meet its clean-air targets. The aim is to reduce the nights the city exceeds national environmental standards to three times a year by 2016 and one by 2020. Already this winter there have been five breaches. Timaru Herald, New Zealand.

8 June Health experts alarmed as anti-flouride group eyes Wellington. Wellington will be the next major target for anti-fluoridation campaigners after their controversial triumph in Hamilton. With Hamilton City Council voting on Wednesday to remove fluoride from the city's water, what seems like an eternal debate has been reignitedWellington Dominion Post, New Zealand.

5 June Fluoride to be removed from Hamilton's water supply. After four days of submissions, Hamilton City Council has voted overwhelmingly to remove fluoride from the city's water. A council tribunal voted 7-1 to stop the practice of adding fluoride to the public water supply from no later than June 21 when stocks run out. TVNZ, New Zealand.

3 June Extreme weather 'the new normal'. Extreme weather and other forces will have a major bearing on agriculture by the year 2025, says Massey professor Danny Donaghy. Climate change was having a major effect on agricultural systems as could be seen by the drought, he said. Fairfax Stuff, New Zealand.

30 May Christchurch has dirtiest air in region. Yesterday, Christchurch recorded its fourth day of polluted air this year by Environment Canterbury. By this date last year, ECan had recorded two days of high pollution in the Christchurch airshedChristchurch Press, New Zealand.

28 May Fluoride tribunal kicks off in Hamilton. A beneficial aide to preventing tooth decay, or mass medication - both sides of the fluoridation debate will get their day in court this week. A Hamilton City Council tribunal considering whether or not to keep fluoridating the city's water supply begins four days of hearings today. Waikato Times, New Zealand.

28 May Wave of protest over fluoride. The debate over fluoride in drinking water has washed further over the region with Manawatu District the latest target of anti-fluoride campaigners. Manawatu District Council was lobbied to review its stance on the matter as part of its draft Annual Plan submissions hearings yesterday. Manawatu Standard, New Zealand.

27 May Call for tighter rules on asbestos. The Government's contract with Fletchers for Christchurch's rebuild should be reviewed following revelations workers were exposed to asbestos-contaminated material, the Council of Trade Unions says.Christchurch Press, New Zealand.

27 May Protesters join global call against Monsanto. A protest against American genetic engineering and seed giant Monsanto saw almost 300 people march down New Plymouth's main street on Saturday. Taranaki Daily News, New Zealand.

26 May Why New Zealand Super dumped Barrick Gold. From the Porgera goldmine in the highlands of Papua New Guinea around 14,500 tonnes of waste is discharged into the Porgera River every day. Barrick says levels of toxicity downstream are within international guidelines, but this month New Zealand's Super Fund decided to stop investing in Barrick Gold. Fairfax Stuff, New Zealand.

25 May New Zealanders join global movement against GM food. Hundreds of people gathered around the country today to protest against genetically modified food. The protests were part of a wider global movement taking place in more than 40 countries. TVNZ, New Zealand.

24 May Mayor wants fluoridation review. Amid calls for Palmerston North to dump fluoridation of the city's water, Mayor Jono Naylor wants the Ministry of Health to review its stance on the matter. Manawatu Standard, New Zealand.

22 May Anti-fracking protesters welcome PM to Dannevirke. A prime minister's visit to Tararua, the first in nearly 30 years, was met with oil protesters waving placards and banners outside the building where he had lunch. Manawatu Standard, New Zealand.

19 May Big bucks back misinformation. Write a regular column on sustainability and it's natural to discuss climate-change facts and issues from time to time. Do it often enough and the climate change deniers will be happy to tell you what they think. Rotorua Daily Post, New Zealand.

16 May Asbestos found at QE II Stadium. Asbestos has been unearthed at Queen Elizabeth II Stadium in New Zealand, but the risk of anyone having been exposed to the material is minimal. Christchurch Press, New Zealand.

15 May Knowledge of breast cancer gene 'a gift.' Current statistics show that those with the 'faulty' genes have up to an 85 percent increased risk of breast cancer and a 45 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer. Auckland TV3, New Zealand.

11 May Faith, not facts, drives global warming. The global warming hullabaloo has always been a religious movement. It has never been scientific. And as its political potency has waned, the modern-day clerics have become ever more strident.New Zealand National Business Review, New Zealand.

8 May Push for research cash to save our bees. Beekeepers Association President Barry Foster says viruses, pathogens, pesticides and a decline in nutritional sources are hitting the bee population, as well as the varroa mite. Auckland Aucklander, New Zealand.

6 May Asbestos concerns at Christchurch Hospital. Industrial abseiling contractors have grave fears they have spread white asbestos through Christchurch Hospital. Radio New Zealand, New Zealand.

5 May Pollution fears over proposed nickle plant in Noumea. New Caledonia is poised to become one of the world's worst carbon polluters per capita with plans to build another coal plant to power nickel production. The country already hosts one nickel treatment plant powered by coal, and plans to build another one in three years could see carbon emissions almost triple to 36.8 tonnes. TVNZ, New Zealand.

4 May Home fires the culprit in Marlborough air quality. Blenheim air pollution levels exceeded national standards eight times last year, the Marlborough District Council environment committee learned yesterday. Environmental monitoring officer Steffi Henkel said this was the worst result since monitoring for pollution particles began in 2006.Blenheim Marlborough Express, New Zealand.

3 May Pacific nations confer on climate change finances. Community members and specialists in the Pacific are invited to join Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to share ideas on overcoming challenges being faced by countries keen to utilise global climate change finance. Scoop, New Zealand.

1 May Caution urged over bee pesticide protection. Europe's decision to ban a class of pesticides to protect bees is another example of politicians making decisions meant for regulators, says New Zealand industry association Agcarm. Fairfax Stuff, New Zealand.

28 April No sign of diesel after spill. The search for diesel spilled from a fishing vessel which struck rocks off Stewart Island has been called off. Environment Southland has ended its oil spill response after checks found no sign of diesel in the area where the Sureste 700 struck rocks on Friday night. APNZ News Service, New Zealand.

27 April Diesel spill near bird sanctuary in Foveaux Strait. Stewart Island locals have been kept mostly in the dark about the diesel spill in Paterson Inlet. It is believed up to 20 tonnes of diesel, which spilled into the sea after a ship split its hull near Stewart Island last night, has naturally dispersed into the ocean. Fairfax Stuff, New Zealand.

27 April Human nature got us into this. Human nature will have to be over-ridden if humanity is to get out of this climate change mess. It truly is up to us. Gisborne Herald, New Zealand.

24 April Call for caution on grape land claims. Suggestions in a new study that climate change could cause a substantial increase in land available for viticulture in some parts of New Zealand has been treated with caution by a wine industry specialist. Fairfax Stuff, New Zealand.

24 April Adapting behaviour for good. Climate change, particularly as experienced through more frequent drought and flood events, is increasingly influencing what farmers are doing in many countries. It is not clear whether this is yet the case in New Zealand, but I suspect so. Wellington Dominion Post, New Zealand.

20 April Global warming no slower. The global mean surface temperature is only one measure of the increase in heat content of the earth and atmosphere. We must view a whole basket of evidence to conclude whether the earth/atmosphere is continuing to warm or not. Gisborne Herald, New Zealand.


8 June Study: Pollution led to African drought. Decades of drought in central Africa may have had a surprising cause, according to new research that challenges the notion that the severe dry weather was triggered mainly by bad agricultural practices and overgrazing. The research shows that the drought was at least partially caused by pollution in the Northern Hemisphere. Voice of America.

8 June Nuclear power plant in limbo decides to close. The owners of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California, which has been shut since January 2012, said on Friday that they would close it permanently because of uncertainty over when it could be reopened. New York Times.

8 June Nicaragua fast-tracks huge project. Nicaragua is trying to revive a centuries-old dream of building an inter-ocean canal, a project experts say could take 11 years to build, cost $40 billion and require digging about 130 miles (200 kilometers) of waterway. The project is an expression of China's growing influence and financial clout around the world.Associated Press.

8 June Mongolian mega-mine set to transform country. The vast Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, in the wilderness of the Gobi Desert, is set to put this former communist nation of Mongolia on the international mining map. But some are worried about its environmental impact. Al Jazeera.

8 June In southern Tunisia, pollution no longer swept under the rug. The story of Gabès and the local phosphate industry follows a plot that is all too familiar: an underdeveloped town in an industrial region boasting one major lucrative industry, but with the local population and surroundings experiencing alarming levels of illness and environmental blight.Inter Press Service.

8 June What is in the Potomac River's water? While area drinking water sourced from the Potomac River is safe for consumption, it is not treated for the known chemicals and pharmaceuticals contaminating the river -- substances that cause concern among water quality experts. Washington WTOP Radio, District of Columbia.

8 June Half of UK population 'will get cancer in lifetime'. The number of people in the UK who will get cancer during their lifetime will increase to nearly half the population by 2020, a report has forecast. Macmillan Cancer Support said the projected figure of 47%, up from the current 44%, would put huge pressure on the NHS. BBC.

8 June Asbestos risk to children 'greater over lifetime.' A committee that advises the government on cancer has said children are more vulnerable to asbestos than adults over their lifetime. It says a five-year-old is five times more likely than an adult of 30 to develop mesothelioma, a type of cancer linked to asbestos, if they are exposed to it at the same time. BBC.

8 June Widespread dumping of asbestos in Australia. Experts are warning that there is widespread illegal dumping of asbestos waste around the country and it's costing tens of millions of dollars each year and exposing thousands of Australians to deadly health risks. Australia ABC News, Australia.

8 June Insight on Obama's climate stance, via microwave oven regulations. Buried in an obscure regulation on microwave ovens is a revealing change in President Barack Obama’s approach to global warming. The administration has quietly increased the "social cost of carbon" by 63 percent. Washington Post.

8 June Heat waves, as climate change increases, prove more deadly for poor, minorities. Heat waves offer no dramatic images of flying debris or surging seawater. Yet each year torrid temperatures take more lives in the U.S. than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined. Huffington Post.

8 June Republicans hope to tar West Virginia's Rahall with carbon tax vote. West Virginia Republicans who have long sought to unseat the state's only remaining House Democrat think they've found a winning message – that Rep. Nick Rahall was for a carbon tax before he was against one. E&E Daily.

8 June Hungary next to fear floods from surging Danube. Hungary has been warned it could suffer its worst floods ever, as record levels are expected over the next three days from the surging River Danube, which has already inundated parts of Germany, Austria and Slovakia. CNN.

8 June Lawsuits target proposed rail yard for Los Angeles harbor. Environmentalists and Long Beach officials are seeking a court order to stop the Port of Los Angeles from proceeding with plans to build a $500-million rail yard that could affect low-income neighborhoods nearby. Los Angeles Times.

8 June North Carolina House approves bill that keeps fracking moratorium in place. North Carolina's House approved a fracking policy Friday that keeps in place a moratorium on shale gas exploration until at least March 2015, and includes a number of public protections and environmental safeguards. Raleigh News & Observer, North Carolina.

8 June Love that dirty water, swimming in Boston’s Charles River. Boston’s Charles River was once so polluted with sewage, and industrial waste that people who accidentally fell in were advised to get a tetanus shot. Now, after decades of cleanup, the river is host to an annual swim. Living On Earth.

8 June House panel approves coal ash bill, offering clarification of EPA authority. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee approved legislation June 6 that would settle a debate at EPA on whether to regulate coal ash generated by power plants as either a hazardous waste or a nonhazardous waste. Several coal ash recycling groups told BNA they were pleased. Bloomberg BNA.

8 June Tennessee organic farm sold pesticide-laden produce but says it told customers. A prominent Middle Tennessee farm that bills itself as 100 percent organic has purchased an array of vegetables and fruit from Mennonite farmers who spray pesticides on their produce. Tennessean, Tennessee.

8 June Attorney: Provision threatens lead paint suits. A Milwaukee attorney is angry over a provision recently adopted by the state Legislature's budget committee that would further tighten Wisconsin's civil litigation rules. Associated Press.

8 June Southern California agency softens beach bonfire regulation. In a near about-face, the local air pollution district softened its proposed ban on beach bonfires Friday after both Orange and Los Angeles County boards of supervisors sent letters to the district opposing the ban. San Gabriel Valley Tribune, California.

8 June Utah targets hair spray for emission reductions. Utah's air quality regulators have taken a final step to ban the sale of aerosols like hair spray with high concentrations of hydrocarbons, raising the hackles of beauty salon owners.Associated Press.

8 June In Alaska's oilfields, drones countdown to takeoff. No pilot was required when the Aeryon Scout took off into the leaden skies of Alaska to inspect a stretch of oil pipeline. The miniature aircraft was guided by an engineer on the ground, armed only with a tablet computer – a glimpse of a future in which oil and gas companies in the Arctic can rely on unmanned aircraft to detect pipeline faults. Reuters.

8 June Anishinabek say project could restore fish, knowledge, weather cycle. For generations untold, a colossal fish known as the name (pronounced nah’ may) was crucial to survival for the indigenous people of the Great Lakes region. Well-worn paths lead to spawning grounds at the sandbar where Bear Creek meets the Kalamazoo River in Southwest Michigan.Great Lakes Echo, Michigan.

8 June Federal protection of gray wolves may be lifted, agency says. Gray wolves, whose packs now prowl through the northern Rockies and the forests along the Great Lakes, no longer need endangered-species protection to prevent their extinction, the Obama administration said Friday. New York Times.

8 June Saudi silence on deadly MERS virus outbreak frustrates world health experts. Middle East respiratory syndrome, a cousin of SARS, has sparked global concern for its pandemic potential, but Saudi Arabia has yet to release information that could help protect the rest of the world. Scientific American.

8 June U.S. seeks to remove protections for gray wolves. Saying that gray wolves are no longer in danger of extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans Friday to remove federal protections for the often-reviled animals nationwide and turn wolf management over to states. Los Angeles Times.

8 June Washington State University plans honey bee sperm bank. It's "the birds and the bees," literally. Well, at least the "bees" part. To help save and diversify honey bee populations, Washington State University plans to create a bee sperm bank, it announced Friday. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Washington.

8 June Gold Coast homeowners battle against the tide. The emotional and financial toll of erosion on Australia's Gold Coast grows as property owners watch the sea advance, and the local council again repairs battered beaches. Australia ABC News, Australia.

8 June Commercial farms, climate shifts dry Tanzanian river basin. Water is becoming scarce in the Pangani River Basin, which supports 3.4 million people in Tanzania’s northeast, including the city of Arusha. As a result, local people are finding it harder to keep their crops and animals alive, and tensions are rising between farmers, herders and businesses.Reuters.

8 June 'Like a ghost town': High water devastates Deggendorf. Parts of the Bavarian town of Deggendorf have been completely submerged in this week's flood. "It is indescribably bad," said Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer after surveying the area by helicopter on Thursday. From the ground, things don't look any better. Der Spiegel.