EPA Releases Review of Federal Drinking Water Standards and Proposes New Strategy for Protecting Drinking Water

This month, the EPA completed its second review of National Primary Drinking Water Regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act ("SDWA") and published the findings of its review in the Federal Register. Such reviews are required every six years under Section 1412(b)(9) of the SDWA. The EPA reviewed existing regulations for 71 contaminants and determined that 67 regulations remain appropriate, while four regulations are in need of revision. Each regulation covers a single contaminant. The four regulations found to be in need of revision were those governing acrylamide, epichlorohydrin, tetrachloroethylene, and trichloroethylene. According to the EPA, "tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene are used in industrial and/or textile processing and can be introduced into drinking water from contaminated ground or surface water sources," and "[a]crylamide and epicholorohydrin are impurities that can be introduced into drinking water during the water treatment process." The review states that reevaluations of the health risks posed by exposure to acrylamide, tetrachloroethylene, and trichloroethylene are under way. The review also concludes that compliance with more stringent limits on the concentration of all four contaminants is feasible and will likely be required under the revised regulations.

Farm Pesticides Linked to Melanoma

Workers who apply certain pesticides to farm fields are twice as likely to contract melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, according to a new scientific study. The researchers identified six pesticides that, with repeated exposure, doubled the risk of skin cancer among farmers and other workers who applied them to crops. The findings add to evidence suggesting that frequent use of pesticides could raise the risk of melanoma. Rates of the disease have tripled in the United States in the last 30 years, with sun exposure identified as the major cause. Four of the chemicals - maneb, mancozeb, methyl-parathion and carbaryl - are used in the United States on a variety of crops, including nuts, vegetables and fruits. Two others, benomyl and ethyl-parathion, were voluntarily cancelled by their manufacturers in 2008.

Canada, US to collaborate on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations

Canada will not unilaterally impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions from industry, saying on Thursday that it will work in tandem with the United States, as it is doing with vehicle standards. "We don't anticipate doing this alone. Industrial regulations will require the same kind of collaboration that we've had with the United States on the transportation sector," Environment Minister Jim Prentice told Reuters.

A New Geologic Era

It is a new age of geological time or so some say called the Anthropocene Epoch. This is noted in the in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. (web issue March 29; print issue April 1). This is because of the dramatic recent or potential changes in the world such as climate warming and species extinction. The dawning of this new epoch may include the sixth largest mass extinction in the Earth's history. Whether the new era will be dramatic as the Jurassic with the end of the dinosaur is still to be determined.

New Aggressive National Fuel Economy Standards Set for Passenger Cars and Light Trucks

No fooling, the DOT and EPA, in response to one of the Obama Administration’s top priorities, have jointly established aggressive new federal rules that will significantly increase the fuel economy of all passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States. They have also established new federal rules that would for the first time ever, set national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for these vehicles.

Chemical Exposure Before Mid-30s May Be Critical in Breast Cancer Development

ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2010) — Occupational exposure to certain chemicals and pollutants before a woman reaches her mid-30s could treble her risk of developing cancer after the menopause, suggests research published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Women exposed to synthetic fibres and petroleum products during the course of their work seem to be most at risk, the research suggests.

Depopulation may be harming the Amazon rainforest

Urbanization may be having unexpected impacts in the Amazon rainforest by leaving forest areas vulnerable to exploitation by outsiders, report researchers writing in Conservation Letters. Conducting field surveys during the course of 10,000-kilometers of travel along remote Amazon rivers, Luke Parry of Lancaster University found that a sharp decrease in rural habitation has not been accompanied by a decline in harvesting of wildlife and forest resources, indicating that urban populations exact a heavy toll on distant forests through hunting, fishing, logging, and harvesting of non-timber forest products.

Ghost Fleet to be Cleaned Up and Removed from Suisun Bay

The U.S. Maritime Administration, the federal agency responsible for San Francisco Bay’s ghost fleet, has agreed to clean up and remove the abandoned and decaying ships from the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet. A settlement agreement announced today resolves a long-running legal battle over the decaying fleet between MARAD and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Arc Ecology, San Francisco Baykeeper, and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. Under the settlement, which must be approved by the Court, MARAD will permanently remove all of the obsolete vessels for disposal by September 2017, starting with the worst ships first. More immediately, MARAD will get rid of the piles of hazardous paint chips from vessel decks within 120 days and, by September of next year, clean all peeling paint from the exteriors of the 25 worst ships while in dry dock.

Alaska drilling will expand due to Administration Decision

Oil companies with their sights on drilling for oil off Alaska on Wednesday said President Barack Obama's offshore oil announcement allows them to press ahead with big projects there. Two companies -- Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips -- have spent large sums to secure drilling rights in the remote Chukchi Sea, only to see their plans put on hold by court challenges. Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Co, Shell's U.S. arm, said Obama's plan clears the way for the company to begin exploration drilling this year off Alaska's northwestern coast.