Day: August 30, 2007

Arsenic a rising risk?

This is new information? Tell that to the millions of Bangladeshis and Indians suffering from Arsenic for many years now.

As groundwater use increases due to population pressure and overexploitation of freshwater, expect this problem to get worse.

Arsenic in Drinking Water Said to Be Rising Risk – New York Times

Naturally occurring arsenic in drinking water poses a growing global health risk as large numbers of people unknowingly consume unsafe levels, researchers said on Wednesday.

The problem is bigger than scientists had thought, and it affects nearly 140 million people in more than 70 countries, according to new research presented at the annual Royal Geographical Society meeting in London.

Flood risks from global warming underestimated.

As CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase, plants uptake less water from the soil. Betts’ model indicates that there could be a 6 percentage point increase due to this effect on top of the 11% increase in global water flows due to direct climate effects.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Climate flooding risk ‘misjudged’

Researchers say efforts to calculate flooding risk from climate change do not take into account the effect carbon dioxide (CO2) has on vegetation. Higher atmospheric levels of this greenhouse gas reduce the ability of plants to suck water out of the ground and “breathe” out the excess. Plants expel excess water through tiny pores, or stomata, in their leaves. Their reduced ability to release water back into the atmosphere will result in the ground becoming saturated.

Feedbacks, always a problem and hard to predict.

Good news on Diacetyl

It turns out that turning up the heat on popcorn manufacturers to replace diacetyl, the artificial butter flavoring ingredient that kills people exposed to it during manufacturing, has effects. Apparently, there are substitutes that work just as well and can be used without too much trouble.

Popcorn Maker Drops Chemical Linked To Lung Ailment – Local News Story – WRTV Indianapolis

Weaver Popcorn Co., one of the nation’s top microwave popcorn makers, has switched to a new butter flavoring, replacing a chemical linked to a lung ailment in popcorn plant workers.

The Indianapolis-based company began shipping new butter-flavored microwave popcorn a few weeks ago that contain no diacetyl, a chemical undergoing national scrutiny because of cases of bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare life-threatening disease often called popcorn lung.

Company president Mike Weaver said that although his workers have experienced no such cases, the family-owned business wanted to lead the popcorn industry and allay consumer fears by eliminating the chemical from its product line

David Michaels of George Washington University’s Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy Project and writer on one of my favorite blogs, the Pump Handle has been at the forefront of documenting this issue, raising awareness and bringing pressure to bear. I am glad to see that we’re seeing positive change for diacetyl.

Hopefully, you’re going to start seeing “Diacetyl Free!!!!” signs on your microwave popcorn (and other artificially buttered products) real soon.