In the News

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Gulf War Illness Strongly Linked to Chemical Exposure

As reported by Reuters and other outlets, Dr. Beatrice Golomb of the University of California, San Diego has found that exposure of soldiers to multiple chemicals, including pesticides and nerve-gas pills, was associated with lingering health problems in veterans of the Persian Gulf War. Effects include neuropathic pain and loss of muscle control, chronic fatigue or forgetfulness.

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Pharmaceutical Drugs Found in U.S. Drinking Water

An Associated Press story reports that "a vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans."

The drugs get into the water as people take medications and unabsorbed amounts enter the waste water system. The water treatment protocols do not remove all of the drug residue.

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Harvard Faculty Make Articles Open-Access

A new policy at Harvard makes it the first university in the United States to mandate open access to its faculty members’ research publications.

Stuart M. Shieber, a professor of computer science at Harvard who proposed the new policy, said after the vote in a news release that the decision “should be a very powerful message to the academic community that we want and should have more control over how our work is used and disseminated.”

Law makes NIH-funded research open access

An article at ScienceCodex.Com describes the new law that mandates research funded by the U.S. NIH to be opened up to the public:

"President Bush has signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007 (H.R. 2764), which includes a provision directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide the public with open online access to findings from its funded research. This is the first time the U.S. government has mandated public access to research funded by a major agency"

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Worst pollution risks increasingly indoors

Tony Davis, a reporter with the Arizona Star, has written a series of articles on "Toxic Homes". The latest article discusses how toxins can "lurk in air, dust, even cleaning supplies." A previous article has scientific experts rate the different toxic risks in a home.

From the earlier article, here is Lance Wallace's list of the worst hazards in a home:

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Wood smoke from residential fireplaces as bad as cigarette smoke

As reported in an article in the SF Chronicle, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is considering a ban on residential wood-burning on nights with poor air quality. From the article: "Spurred by growing evidence that shows smoke from wood-burning is as bad or worse than smoke from cigarettes, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is trying to reduce the amount of harmful particulate matter that people breathe.

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Cancer Rates Falling Due to Prevention, Tobacco Control, Screening

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, cancer rates in the U.S. have recently been falling an average of 2.3% per year. Much of the improvement comes from improvements in prevention and early detection of diseases, which are not available to all populations. From the article:

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Devra Davis: The Secret History of the War on Cancer

Terry Gross has an interesting Fresh Air Radio Interview with Devra Davis ("Chemicals, Cancer, and You"), who has written a book called The Secret History of the War on Cancer in which she discusses the many environmental causes of cancer and stresses prevention of disease by avoiding exposure to everyday chemicals in household products. Manufacturers in the US hinder our ability to avoid certain hazardous chemicals by not labeling their products. Dr.

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Air Fresheners May be Toxic

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle reports on recent efforts of environmental groups to force regulation of air fresheners. There is a demand for disclosure of hazardous chemical ingredients, which may include benzene, formaldehyde, and phthalates. Phthalates have been linked with disruption of testosterone production.

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Household Cleaning Products Can Cause Indoor Air Pollution

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle reports on a recent study showing that indoor air can be degraded by using common household cleaners. Toxic chemicals in these products can cause fertility problems. Prof. William Nazaroff of UC Berkeley is interviewed about a recent study of his on household product emissions showing that exposures can be large.


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