Archives for category: hazardous material

U.S. hospitals could have trouble handling and disposing of Ebola-related waste if they begin to treat infected patients, potentially threatening public safety.

The hemorrhagic fever is transmitted through bodily fluids and produces significant vomiting and diarrhea in people it infects.

These fluids would be considered biohazards and require special handling and disposal that few hospitals are prepared to carry out.

Green Halo Waste Tracking Hospitals Unprepared for Hazardous Ebola WasteAs health officials entertain the possibility that more Ebola cases could arrive in the United States, it’s a logistical problem hospitals are starting to consider.

The challenge was highlighted Wednesday in a report by Reuters, which chronicled how doctors at Emory University in Atlanta handled Ebola waste in the course of treating two infected missionaries.

Patients were generating “up to 40 bags a day of medical waste,” according to Emory assistant professor of medicine Aneesh Mehta. And the hospital’s disposal company, Stericycle, reportedly refused to handle the material at first.

So clinicians found a temporary solution: 32-gallon rubber containers with lids from Home Depot. Later, they used a special sterilizer to neutralize the waste before passing it to the company for disposal.

Reuters noted that few hospitals have the ability to sterilize materials on site like Emory.

“For this reason, it would be very difficult for a hospital to agree to care for Ebola cases. This desperately needs a fix,” Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, chair of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s Public Health Committee, told the wire service.

Federal health and transportation agencies are reportedly meeting to discuss and resolve the issue.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice announced the $189,000 fine against Sims Metal Management on Thursday September 18th over allegations that it polluted the San Francisco Bay with toxic metal debris. The EPA charged the company with allowing toxic dust from metal to fall off a conveyor system and into a creek that feeds into the San Francisco Bay since at least the early 1990’s. As part of a settlement agreement, the recycling company will be required to pay the cost of cleanup in addition to the fine.

EPA Fines Sims Metal $189K for Polluting SF Bay Green Halo Waste TrackingSims Metal spokeswoman Jill Rodby said the company has implemented a number of best practices around the conveyor and agreed to the settlement without acknowledging any wrongdoing.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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Medical-membrane technology was used by Dr. Yuichi Mori to grow agricultural crops with minimized water and soil consumption which he presented at TEDx. Seeing this “hydromembrane”, a gel plastic wrap looking material interestingly enough supports plant growth so that they are safe for consumption.

plant and vegtable imec system is a revolution that allows more food to be produced and hunger to be reduced

A video of Dr. Mori with the Imec membrane and cress that grew from it can be seen here:

Source: http://www.mebiol.co.jp/en/product/

Did you know that cast iron pans are a good way to get the iron that you need from your food naturally?

If you’ve never cooked with a cast iron pan before you might not know how durable they are or the fact that they result in the best crust on your food. Some say the flavor that comes from a cast iron pan that has been “seasoned” is the best as well.

Some people love cast iron pans, and some don’t but the non-toxic nature of cast iron is compelling.

Teflon coating, and other nonstick pans can be toxic at high temperatures and when pieces get scrapped off the pan the possibility of it going into food and being consumed is high.

This site has compelling reasons as to why cast iron pans are a prime choice when cooking:

http://www.lahealthyliving.com/1/post/2014/03/10-reasons-to-use-cast-iron-cookware.html

cast iron pan green halo green environment

 

 

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The Basel Convention is a United Nations treaty that was signed in 1989 to control the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. The treaty helped define hazardous wastes, outlined how hazardous wastes are disposed and set guidelines such as approved facilities by city governments.

 

It’s been said that one event that prompted the Basel Convention was the Khian Sea waste disposal incident from 1986-2000. The Khian Sea cargo ship (which was registered in Liberia) was loaded with 14,355 tons of non-toxic ash from waste incinerations from the US. The story goes that a US company that handled the waste subcontracted a shipment to dump the ash in the Bahamas, however, the Bahamian government turned down the ash and so, for over one year the Khian Sea searched for a place to dump the ash. Many regions of the world refused to accept the ash and since the ash was even refused from the original area in the US from where it was received, in 1988 the crew dumped about 4,000 tons of the waste in Haiti as “topsoil fertilizer” and fled before they could pick up the ash as the Haitian commerce minister ordered. The Khian Sea then moved on to regions such as Morocco, Sri Lanka and Singapore where the captain testified to dumping about 10,000 tons of ash into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

 

Here is an image of the home port of the Khian Sea in Philadelphia:

 

Philadelphia_port_Green_Halo_Waste_Tracking_Khian_Sea

 

(Source: http://www.basel.int/Home/tabid/2202/Default.aspx and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khian_Sea_waste_disposal_incident )

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Makers of electronic cigarettes such as Lorillard Inc. (LO) and Altria Group Inc. will for the first time face regulatory oversight, including passing a review to stay on the market, under a U.S. plan that doesn’t ban TV ads or flavored versions of the new products.

The Food and Drug Administration today proposed to extend its reach over the tobacco industry to include the $3 billion market for e-cigarettes such as NJOY and blu, as well as cigars. The rules, if made final, will prohibit sales to minors, ban free samples and require nicotine addiction warnings.

Green Halo - E-Cigs Under FDA ReviewConsumer groups have said e-cigarette companies use candy flavors, TV ads and music festival sponsor-ships to target youth, who doubled their use of the products in 2012 from a year earlier. Agency officials called today’s proposal a foundation that may lead to tighter control in the future.

“For the first time there will be a science-based, independent regulatory agency providing gate-keeping,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a briefing. “The regulator will finally be doing its job.”

Industry representatives reacted positively to the proposal.

“This is not a sort of trenched-in, battlefield mentality,” Miguel Martin, president of e-cigarette maker Logic, said in an interview. “ We want to work with the FDA.”

Martin and Jeff Holman, president and co-founder of Vapor Corp., were upbeat about the FDA’s plan.

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China’s food safety problems have no better symbol than the illegal and utterly disgusting problem of gutter oil. Cooking oil is used heavily in Chinese food, so some street vendors and hole-in-the-wall restaurants buy cheap, black market oil that’s been recycled from garbage. You read that correctly. Enterprising men and women will go through dumpsters, trash bins, gutters and even sewers, scooping out liquid or solid refuse that contains used oil or animal parts. Then they process that into cooking oil, which they sell at below-market rates to food vendors who use it to cook food that can make you extremely sick.

This video, produced by Radio Free Asia, shows in excruciating detail how a couple of gutter oil vendors go about their work. It starts with the couple scooping sewage out of the ground, and it ends with unwitting Chinese consumers chowing down on the end product:

To reiterate, this is illegal, something that Chinese authorities are trying to stop and not used by all street vendors. But it’s also thought to be widespread. Being reprocessed garbage and sewage, gutter oil contains all sorts of untold carcinogens. Many of the operations, like the one shown in the video, are small-time. But there’s enough money to be made that some producers go much bigger.

In April, Chinese authorities uncovered a gutter oil production ring that spanned 13 cities and over 100 people, who somehow acquired rotten animal parts and boiled down the fat into oil. The sting, which came after a five-month investigation, yielded 3,200 tons of the stuff; authorities estimated the black-market producers had already sold a stunning $1.6 million worth of their product.

Food in China is delicious, and gutter oil typically is used just in some street food stalls or cheap, hole-in-the-wall dives. But it is a reminder why authorities there are deeply concerned about food safety issues.

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Green Halo - World's Biggest DumpsAfrica is home to some beautiful sites…and then there’s Agbogbloshie, Ghana. The town has one of the world’s largest dumps for discarded electronics. Millions of tons of used electronics from all over the world – including the U.S. – are sent to Africa to be re-sold or donated to charity. But much of it is broken or obsolete and winds up in Agbogbloshie. The old electronics are often smashed by scavengers looking for valuable metals inside, such as copper. Back in the U.S., the Puente Hills landfill in Los Angeles County, California, has piles of trash reaching as high as a 40-story building. The landfill, which was the largest in the country, closed this past October after more than 50 years in operation because it reached capacity – about 130 million tons of trash. The landfill will be sealed with a layer of dirt and eventually turned into a park. But the largest trash dump in the world isn’t actually on land – it’s in the Pacific Ocean. Trash thrown into the Pacific is carried by currents to an area north of Hawaii. This floating trash pile is now estimated to be larger in area than the state of Texas. Several private organizations are working to clean it up, which is difficult because of its size and remote location. The good news is that the city of Oslo, Norway has a use for some of that ocean trash: converting it to heat and electricity by burning it. The Norwegians are such good recyclers that they often run out of trash to burn and must import it from other countries. Kudos to the Norwegians for doing their part to prevent Africa – and the rest of the world – from becoming one giant trash heap.

Yahoo News Video:
http://news.yahoo.com/video/whoknew-worlds-biggest-dumps-060000314.html

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Two and a half years after a near meltdown, the Fukushima nuclear power plant is still in trouble. The Nuclear Regulation Authority issued a new warning Wednesday, raising the severity level of the continuing leak from one to three on an international eight-point scale.

Ever since the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake shook the area, the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant has been subject to numerous leaks and controversies.

The alert comes as TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co) found at least 300 metric tons of radioactive water to have leaked from the site, with ‘hotspots’ found nearby. Workers are now scrambling to check an additional 300 tanks that currently contain contaminated water at the stricken nuclear power plant.Green Halo - Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Leaks 100 Tons of Radioactive Water

Each point on the International Atomic Energy Agencies eight-point scale of the scale represents a ten-fold increase in radiation, so a jump of two points is highly significant. The latest confirmed leak, from a tank which can hold up to 1,000 tonnes of water, hasn’t been stopped yet and TEPCO acknowledges that they have yet to identify the cause of the leak.

TEPCO has stated that there is no evidence that the contaminated water from these leaks has reached the ocean, but there is significant contamination to the soil in the area, which will need to be addressed. The prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has expressed a loss of confidence in Tepco’s ability to deal with the situation, and has stated that the government will be stepping in to take additional measures to address this continuing disaster.

Tepco has also been criticized for delaying the release of strontium-90 levels in local groundwater despite demands from regulators.

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Hazardous air pollution forced schools to shut or suspend outdoor activities in at least two cities in eastern China, where residents complained of the yellow skies and foul smells that are symptomatic of the country’s crippling smog crisis.

Smog 2

China’s stability-obsessed leadership has become increasingly concerned by the abysmal air quality in cities, as it plays into popular resentment over political privilege and rising inequality in the world’s second-largest economy.

In Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province, the sun was the color of “salted egg yolk” on Wednesday as the government raised the “red alert” for poor air quality for the first time, state-run news media reported.

Smog 3

The city saw levels of PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, reach a reading of 354 on Wednesday, said Nanjing-based news portal news.longhoo.net.

Levels above 300 are considered hazardous, while the World Health Organization recommends a daily level of no more than 20.

Qingdao, a coastal city in Shandong province, was also shrouded in smog as PM2.5 levels of over 300 were recorded, said Peninsula Metropolis Daily, a Qingdao newspaper.

Smog 5

Nanjing suspended classes in primary and secondary schools and Qingdao banned outdoor activities, said the official Xinhua news agency. Qingdao also banned the burning of leaves and rubbish and restricted the use of government vehicles, while Nanjing said it would strengthen control on industrial sources of pollutants.

Both cities predicted the severe pollution would continue, indicating the measures will not be lifted soon, said Xinhua.

Residents in both cities took to China’s popular Twitter-like Weibo site to describe desolate streets and the apocalyptic environment. “The sky is pale yellow and the air is full of a choking smell,” one user wrote.

The smog follows reports in October of pollution all but shutting down Harbin, one of northeastern China’s largest cities. Visibility was reportedly reduced to 10 meters (33 feet).

(Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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