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Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα health. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Τετάρτη, Φεβρουαρίου 11, 2015

Floods claim 158 lives in Mozambique (official)

A total of 158 people have been killed in storms and floods that have hit central and northern Mozambique this year, the country's state news agency AIM reported Wednesday...
Some 177,000 people were affected, 654 schools, seven health units and around 100 places of worship were destroyed, AIM cited Mouzinho Saide, the official government spokesperson and Deputy Health Minister, as saying.

"The level of the waters is now falling in the Zambezi basin," said Saide.

Saide also pointed out that there is also a decline in the level in the Licungo basin in Zambezia province, while in the Rovuma basin on the border with Tanzania, the level is rising slightly.

The river basins south of the Zambezi are currently all below flood alert level, and are giving no grounds for concern.

Saide said the cholera outbreak in parts of Nampula, Niassa and Tete provinces have claimed 19 lives, adding that 1,671 cases have been confirmed.

Saide added that the cholera situation is being monitored on a daily basis. Groups have been set up, with staff from various government sectors, to improve sanitation, purify drinking water, and disinfect the houses of cholera victims.

  Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn

Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 23, 2015

Beijing: Pollution goals missed

Beijing closed or removed 392 polluting factories in 2014, according to the municipal people's congress, which opened on Friday.

A total of 30 industrial relief and cooperation platforms and 53 related programs were launched to pull the polluting companies out of Beijing in the past year, mayor of Beijing Wang Anshun said in a government work report.

Another 300 factories are expected to be closed in 2015. 

Although efforts have been taken in 2014, Beijing failed to meet a key pollution reduction target last year with annual average density of PM2.5 down 4 percent, less than the 5 percent target, Wang said.

  Source: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
23- 24/1/15

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 22, 2015

China's air quality dire but improving (Greenpeace)

The skies of China's notoriously smog-filled cities saw a marginal amelioration last year, according to figures released by Greenpeace Thursday (Jan 22), but pollution remained far above national and international standards...
China's cities are often hit by heavy pollution, blamed on coal-burning by power stations and industry, as well as vehicle use, and it has become a major source of discontent with the ruling Communist Party. Retired senior officials have acknowledged that it may kill as many as half a million people a year.
Levels of PM2.5 - airborne particulates with a diameter small enough to deeply penetrate the lungs - fell year-on-year in 71 of the 74 cities monitored by the ministry of environmental protection, the figures showed.
But in China's most polluted city, Xingtai, they still averaged 131.4 microgrammes per cubic metre. In Beijing, they were 83.2 microgrammes per cubic metre, and 52.2 in Shanghai, the country's financial centre. By comparison, New York's PM2.5 level averaged 11.2 last year and Tokyo's was 15.8 for the fiscal year ending in March 2014, the most recent figures available.
The World Health Organization recommends a maximum average exposure of 25 microgrammes per cubic metre in a 24-hour period, and 10 microgrammes per cubic metre over a year. China's own standard is 35 microgrammes per cubic metre over a year.
The statistics released by Greenpeace were based on official data from China's ministry of environmental protection. It makes current levels available online but does not publicly release historical data or averages. The figures were compiled by Fresh-Ideas Studio, the operator of a popular pollution monitoring app.
The numbers showed that Xingtai, in the northern province of Hebei, enjoyed a 15.3 per cent improvement, with Beijing levels falling 7.7 per cent and Shanghai dropping 14.0 per cent. Xian, home to the Terracotta Warriors, saw the most dramatic decline at more than 27 per cent.
But despite the drops none of the 74 cities achieved the WHO recommended annual mark, with the least polluted, Haikou on the island of Hainan, averaging 22.4.

The environmental campaign group also released a short film on the subject by renowned director Jia Zhangke, whose award-winning 2013 movie A Touch of Sin was denied a Chinese release by the country's censors.
Smog Journeys tells the story of two families, one in China's coal belt and the other in Beijing, showing how neither wealth nor education can defend against smog. It closes with a child in Beijing drawing pictures on dust-covered cars of a world he hopes to live in, complete with a radiant sun.
"The character setting is meant to point out that no one gets to be different when it comes to smog," Jia said in an interview posted by Greenpeace on YouTube. "One thing that fascinated and shocked me the most was the fact that even on smoggy days, people still live their lives as usual."
Public discontent about the environment has grown in China, leading the government to declare a "war on pollution" and vow to reduce the proportion of energy derived from fossil fuels. But it has shied away from pledging to cut total national coal use.
One factor contributing to the decline in parts of northern China is likely to have been the car use restrictions, factory closures and public-sector holidays imposed during a November meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing.
The result was stunning skies popularly dubbed "APEC blue" by online commentators mocking their temporary nature, and even Chinese President Xi Jinping himself used the phrase in a speech.
Pollution is a perennial issue on Chinese social networks, with users on Thursday poking fun at efforts by officials in the southwestern city of Chongqing to clean up dirty air by banning residents from smoking bacon, a traditional method of preserving pork - the latest scientifically dubious theory about its cause.
Environmental activists called for further steps to reduce pollution, cutting coal use and shifting towards renewables.

"Clean air is a basic necessity for healthy living," said Yan Li, Greenpeace East Asia's head of climate and energy. "It's sad if children grow up with more smog than clean air and blue skies, as depicted in Jia's film. Bringing back clean air needs to be a priority and it requires urgent action."
In a commentary piece for the Lancet, a leading medical journal, China's former health minister Chen Zhu and environmental officials said "that between 350,000 and 500,000 people die prematurely each year as a result of outdoor air pollution in China".
- AFP/xq


Σάββατο, Ιανουαρίου 17, 2015

Thousands of Malawian flood victims unable to receive aid (Doctors without Borders)

Up to 20,000 people in the southern tip of Malawi most affected by the current floods remain cut off from the rest of the country without food, Doctors without Borders (MSF) said on Friday.

These people are also cut off from health care and ways to prevent possible outbreaks, the humanitarian medical organization said in a statement issued in Johannesburg.

Humanitarian relief is slowly arriving in the districts of Chikwawa where the waters have started to recede. However some of the most affected areas downstream are only accessible by helicopter, making humanitarian intervention difficult, said MSF.

MSF, which has been responding to the floods since January 9, is refocusing its intervention around the town of Nsanje, where it has a long standing regular project, and is assessing ways to access the more remote East Bank.

"The floods are behaving like a slow tsunami with the river swelling progressively downstream towards the south and Mozambique, " said Amaury Grégoire, MSF's head of mission in Malawi, currently in Nsanje evaluating the impact of the floods.

"Most of Nsanje and East Bank are submerged under two to three meters of water, which has transformed these vast plains into a giant lake engulfing houses and bridges. Even though these areas are prone to floods, old people I talked to could not remember events of this magnitude."

As the rains have eased in the past few days, the water levels are expected to progressively recede. However, long term solutions need to be found for people whose possessions and crops, which are the primary mean of subsistence for 85 percent of the population, have been completely destroyed in the flood.

"Several camps have been set up for people who lost their homes, but the majority of them have found refuge in the homes of friends or relatives that are still standing. These houses are made of mud and very crowded, and with most wells and boreholes contaminated by the floods, people are living in precarious, unsanitary conditions," said Grégoire.

MSF has been setting up tents, distributing non-food items, mosquito nets and water treatment kits, as well as building latrines to prevent the emergence of water-borne diseases. The organization has had a presence in Malawi since 1986 where it currently runs three projects helping people living with HIV, one of them located in Nsanje.

In the recent years, MSF conducted humanitarian interventions after floods affected the country in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

  Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn

Δευτέρα, Δεκεμβρίου 15, 2014

370 die of drug clinical trials in India in 2 years

At least 370 deaths have been reported during drug clinical trials in India since February 2013, while compensation has been paid in only 21 cases, said local media Monday.

The Times of India quoted government data as saying of the 370 deaths, 222 or 60 percent cases have been examined so far by a regulatory panel on clinical trials, but only 21 were eligible for compensation as the drug under trial was found to have caused the deaths, said the report.

Pharmaceutical companies are targeting poor rural population for their drug trials, but there is a lack of government regulation to hold them responsible once the trial causes death, said experts.

 [Xinhua - globaltimes.cn]

Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 23, 2014

Environmental Watchdog Finds Oil, Gas Companies Using Cancer-Causing Chemicals

WASHINGTON, October 23  - Oil and gas companies are exploiting federal loopholes to frack with cancer-causing petroleum-based products, a report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) said.

"Despite a federal ban on the use of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing without a permit, several oil and gas companies are exploiting a Safe Drinking Water Act loophole, pushed through by Halliburton to frack with petroleum-based products, containing even more dangerous toxic chemicals than diesel," a statement published on the watchdog's website Wednesday said.

The group found that one of the primary ingredients in fluids, used in fracking, contains a highly toxic chemical called benzene, which is more toxic than diesel fuel and harmful to drinking water supplies and public health.

According to the statement, permits are required for fracking with diesel fuel; however, companies can inject other petroleum products even more toxic than diesel without using a permit.

"This double standard illustrates what happens when Congress manipulates environmental statutes for the benefit of polluters, instead of allowing EPA [US Environmental Protection Agency] to make public health decisions based on the best available science," EIP Executive Director and former Director of Civil Enforcement at EPA Eric Schaeffer said in the statement.

Halliburton, the company that pushed for the 2005 loophole which exempts fracking from the requirements of the 1973 Safe Drinking Water Act is one of the largest fracking companies.

The study recommends that Congress should revise and repeal the 2005 loophole by advising the US Environmental Protection Agency to require safeguards for the Safe Drinking Water Act from using chemicals that contain large amounts of benzene and other toxic chemicals.

(RIA Novosti)

Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 15, 2014

82 Million Chinese Live on $1 per Day

Over 82 million of China’s residents are surviving on a daily income of $1 despite China's meteoric economic growth and rising export volumes, the Strait Time reports.

“The poverty-stricken population not only suffer from low income but also face various difficulties in getting drinking water, roads, electricity, education, medical care and loans,” said aChinese official Zheng Wenkai, cited by South China Morning Post.

According to the news source, poverty remains a ever present burden for most of the Chinese population. China's rural residents average 2,300 yuan ($368) a year or about $1 a day.

China’s economic boom has not only resulted in the emergence of private wealth and the middle class, but also has contributed to a widening gap between the rich and poor. The situation in rural areas is especially critical as villagers can get their income only from home-grown supplies and agricultural activities. Incomes of city-dwellers are reported to be three times higher than those of people living in the countryside, as the website of the Borgen project says. Rural areas are also often affected by natural disasters and lack access to electricity, water and healthcare facilities, also having negative impact on its residents’ wealth.

Thus, despite China’s status of the second-largest economy in the world, the Chinese population suffers from poverty and significant income disparities.

The country’s GDP reached only $6,767 in 2013, less than 13 per cent of that of the United States, the Global Times reports.
Read more: http://indian.ruvr.ru/news/2014_10_15/82-Million-Chinese-Live-on-1-per-Day-4531/


Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 09, 2014

Severe air pollution hits North China, government issues orange alert

The latest wave of severe air pollution continued to smother China's northern regions including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Henan provinces on Thursday, and is likely to last until Saturday. 

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) upgraded northern China's smog alert from yellow to orange on Thursday afternoon. Most northern regions were severely affected. The NMC forecast that Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province will all suffer from dense smog that could bring visibility down to less than 200 meters in some places on Friday, NMC said on its website.

The smog, which first hit Henan Province on Tuesday, was said to be the worst in northern China since July.

According to Beijing's contingency plans, outdoor sport events and school activities should be cancelled while an orange alert is in effect and it is suggested that residents wear masks while outside and wash faces afterwards.

Some cities in Hebei Province, such as Langfang and Handan, began to limit the number of vehicles on the road by prohibiting cars with certain license plate numbers from being driven, in an attempt to curb air pollution.

  • Two thirds of Henan's cities have been shrouded by air pollution for several days this month, and the Department of Environmental Protection of Henan Province attributed the smog to farmers burning straw in their fields, which helps crops grow, the Guangming Daily reported.

However, environmentalists do not buy the explanation offered by Henan's government.

"The occurrence of the smog is by no means an accident," Du Shaozhong, former deputy director of Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, told the Global Times.

China's current industrial production methods that rely heavily on traditional, polluting energy sources and vehicle exhaust fumes should be blamed for causing the smog, Du said.

Du called on the public and government to work together to change the production methods, to supervise emissions and to curb smoke produced by restaurants.

"Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei will never see blue skies if we do not deal with pollution caused by vehicles, burning coal and various industries," Du said.

[By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times]

Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 23, 2014

Ebola cases could reach between 550,000- 1.4 million by January - (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Between 550,000 and 1.4 million people in West Africa could be infected with the Ebola virus by January 20, 2015, according to a report issued on Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The top range of the estimate, 1.4 million, assumes that the number of cases officially cited so far, 5,864 according to the count kept by the World Health Organization, is significantly underreported, and that it is likely that 2.5 times as many cases, or nearly 20,000, have in fact occurred.

CDC emphasized that the projections, based on an epidemiological model that takes into account how many people each Ebola patient eventually infects as well as other factors, is based on data available in August. 
  • They therefore do not account for the recently announced U.S. government Ebola relief effort, which includes sending 3,000 members of the armed forces to the Ebola-stricken region.
"Extensive, immediate actions - such as those already started - can bring the epidemic to a tipping point to start a rapid decline in cases," CDC said in a statement. 

Σάββατο, Σεπτεμβρίου 13, 2014

Tibetans enjoy splashing fun on bathing festival

Crowds of Tibetans, young and old, bathed themselves in the Lhasa River on Saturday despite the early autumn chill on the Tibet Plateau.

"The water is chilly, so start with your feet. The sun is blazing and the water will soon feel warm enough," said 60-year-old Droma to Deyki, a quiet young woman who was hesitating whether to get into the water. "Come on, you can't afford to miss the fun of bathing."

The bathing festival, known in Tibetan as "Karma Rigkyi", is a week-long holiday that falls in the seventh or eighth month of the Tibetan calendar.

This year, the bathing week lasts from Sept. 9 to 15, or the 14th to 20th day in the eighth month of the Tibetan calendar.

The Tibetans traditionally believe the river water, which comes from the melting plateau snow, has healing effects and can wash away diseases.

Ancient literature on Tibetan herbal medicine also describes the water at this particular time as "sweet", "good for the throat and stomach" and "having cleansing and healing effects".

Throughout the bathing week, therefore, rivers and streams across the plateau region are filled with bathing crowds who swim, splash and pray for good health.

The bathing festival is often a time for massive cleaning, as some people also do their laundries in the river, including their whole family's clothing to bedding.

It is also a social occasion, as many people bring their tents and picnic and spend a whole day by the river, chatting and flying kites after bathing themselves.

"I like the traditional ways of life despite all the modern lifestyles and entertainment," said Dondrup, a 20-something man. "These centuries-old traditions often bring back sweet memories of my childhood and touch the deepest, softest part of my heart."

Dondrup, a driver, was washing his car with the river water after bathing himself.

Sources: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn

Πέμπτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 04, 2014

WHO experts to gather in Geneva to discuss use of experimental anti-Ebola drugs

GENEVA, September 04 /ITAR-TASS/. About 200 health experts will gather on Thursday in Geneva for a two-day conference to discuss all aspect of the use of experimental drugs that have not yet been tested on humans in anti-Ebola efforts. 

This meeting will be sequential to a mid-August conference of the World Health Organization (WHO), which gave green light to the use of anti-Ebola drugs tested only on monkeys.
This radical step was made in a bid to stop the unprecedented grave Ebola outbreak that have already claimed more than 1,500 lives in Western Africa. More than 3,000 people have been infected.

Since the first Ebola outbreak in 1976 in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, no drugs capable of curing this disease have been officially registered.
However, the WHO’s permission to use experimental drugs failed to solve the problem. The matter is that there are no efficient vaccines against Ebola and experimental drugs are either scarce or underdeveloped. But, according to the WHO forecasts, the number of infected people in Western Africa may reach 20,000 in the next six months.
This situation poses lots of questions, such as: what the criteria of a drug efficiency are, what kind of restrictions on its use should be imposed, how to better organize data collection for analysis. Apart from that, the experts are to outline the priorities for the use experimental drugs and decide where such drugs should go in the first instance, bearing in mind the acute shortage of such drugs. Financial aspects are important too. It is yet to be decided who is to finance the production of such drugs in the long run.

Taking part in the conference will be representatives from pharmaceutical companies who will present their latest developments. In all, specialists will speak about 20 drugs that might be used to cope with Ebola outbreak. These preparations are divided into three groups: drugs derived from the blood of humans or animals who have had Ebola; anti-virus preparations, like the ones used to treat HIV/AIDS; and, finally, vaccines. 

By now, Ebola virus has spread across five countries in Western Africa, namely Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal. Deaths from Ebola have been reported from all these countries, except Senegal. The most serious situation is in now in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. According to the WHO estimates, this outbreak will last from six to nine months and will require about 490 million U.S. dollars.

Apart from these countries, Ebola cases have been registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the death toll has reached 31. WHO experts however say this is an isolated outbreak not linked with the one raging in Western Africa.

The World Health Organization describes Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) as “a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%.” Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. The incubation period is 2 to 21 days. There is no known cure or vaccine for the disease. The only treatment offered is “supportive intensive care.” During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.

Τετάρτη, Αυγούστου 27, 2014

WHO Warns of Climate Change Dangers, Calls for Stronger Actions

MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning governments and the public of the negative effects that global warming is already having on people’s health, calling for urgent action, according to a press release published Wednesday.
“The evidence is overwhelming: climate change endangers human health,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said at a global conference on health and climate change, which opened in Geneva on Wednesday.

Dr. Chan suggested that countries need to “act decisively to change this trajectory,” as the air pollution and shifting patterns of disease caused by extreme weather events, lack of water and poor sanitation are claiming hundreds of thousands of lives per year.
Another WHO official, Dr. Maria Neira, added that “reducing climate change can yield substantial and immediate health benefits.”

According to WHO, changes in energy and transport policies could save “millions of lives,” as in 2012 air pollution alone resulted in a death toll of seven million worldwide. The burden of climate-sensitive diseases, including cholera, malaria and dengue fever could also be reduced by the right policy changes.

The conference, which included over 300 participants, is being held on August 27-29 at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The objectives of the conference include empowering national health and sustainable development authorities, NGOs and the private sector to protect people’s health from climate change; and identifying the health benefits that come from reducing air pollution and supporting the relevant policies. The WHO climate conference precedes the UN Climate Summit, scheduled for September 2014.

Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 16, 2014

Ebola: cases, deaths ‘vastly underestimated,’ says UN health agency

UN,  15 August 2014 – Health workers at Ebola outbreak sites are seeing evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths “vastly underestimate” the magnitude of the crisis as they work around the clock to stop the disease from spreading, according to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO, in its latest update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa dated August 14, said no new cases have been detected in Nigeria, attributing the outcome to extensive contact tracing and monitoring, implemented with support from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Elsewhere, the outbreak is expected to continue for some time,” WHO said.

The most recent statistics compiled by WHO show that the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa continues to escalate, with 1975 cases and 1069 deaths reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

But WHO also said: “Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.”

On the humanitarian side, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is delivering food to the more than one million people locked down in the quarantine zones, where the borders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone intersect, and several countries have agreed to support the provision of priority food staples for this population.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in a blog post from Sierra Leone on the “joys of survivors” of the deadly disease, says that “Ebola survivors can play a valuable role in dispelling myths and in gaining community support in the fight against Ebola.”

“Some people in Sierra Leone still have not accepted that Ebola is real. While many survivors fear stigma, some are now coming forward and telling their brave stories,” wrote UNICEF consultant Jo Dunlup.

WHO said it is mapping the outbreak in great detail, to pinpoint areas of ongoing transmission and locate treatment facilities and supplies.

“CDC is equipping the hardest-hit countries with computer hardware and software that will soon allow real-time reporting of cases and analysis of trends,” according to the UN agency’s update.

WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan in Geneva regularly meets with ambassadors from United Nations missions based in the Swiss city to identify the most urgent needs within countries and match them with rapid international support.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Dr. David Nabarro as Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, in support of the work done by the WHO team. WHO has expressed its disappointment that some airlines have stopped flying to West Africa. It is “hard to save lives if we and other health workers cannot get in,” WHO has said.

  • WHO has repeatedly said the Ebola virus is highly contagious – but not airborne. Transmission requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, as can occur during health-care procedures, home care, or traditional burial practices, which involve the close contact of family members and friends with bodies.

The incubation period ranges from 2 to 21 days, but patients become contagious only after the onset of symptoms. As symptoms worsen, the ability to transmit the virus increases. As a result, patients are usually most likely to infect others at a severe stage of the disease, when they are visibly, and physically, too ill to travel.


Πέμπτη, Αυγούστου 14, 2014

US Using Diesel in Fracking Poses Health Threat

MOSCOW, August 14 (RIA Novosti) -A report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) on August 13 discloses that 351 wells across 12 states in the United States were fracked with the unauthorized use of diesel fuel that pose severe risk to human health.

“EIP identified numerous fracking fluids with high diesel content for sale online, including over a dozen products offered by Halliburton [a US oilfield services company]. 

Operators are clearly buying these products without obtaining permits to use them,” the EIP report released Wednesday read.

EIP, an NGO that advocates the enforcement of environmental law, investigated 33 companies across 12 states based on data provided by the industry to FracFocus, a fracking chemical disclosure registry, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As recently as February the fracking industry insisted that diesel fuel is no longer used in fracking without authorization, yet closer inspection showed that 351 fracking wells used diesel without possessing Safe Drinking Water permits. In June, the US Government Accountability Office also compiled a report indicating the lack of permits.

Texas, Colorado and North Dakota were among the states with the highest volumes of diesel fuel used.
“Fracking with diesel fuel can pose a risk to drinking water and human health because diesel contains benzene, toluene, and other chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other health problems,” the EIP report reads.
While a mandate under the Safe Drinking Water Act allows the EPA to regulate the use of diesel fuel, US Congress exempted fracking fluids from the act in 2005, referred to as the “Halliburton Loophole.”

According to the EIP report, up to 30 explosions from a fracking-related mishap at a well site in Clarington, Ohio on June 28 led to the uncovering of 9,000 gallons of diesel among the fracking supplies at the site.

“Unfortunately, diesel fuels are not the only fracking fluids that pose significant threat to human health, which is why the Halliburton Loophole is both wrong and potentially dangerous,” the EIP report states.
The report calls upon the EPA to further investigate the 351 fracking wells identified and urges operators to voluntarily agree to disclose information on their fracking products, stating that “companies that continue to supply diesel-containing fracking products should be required [by states] to label their products and notify operators of the need to obtain permits prior to fracking.”

Fracking in the US is going through a boom, causing great environmental concern. 

In the first half of this year the United States overtook Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest oil producer, with 11 million barrels of oil extracted every day, according to News Week statistics reported this July.

Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 08, 2014

WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak a Global Health Emergency

The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.

At a news conference in Geneva Friday, WHO director Margaret Chan said the announcement is "a clear call for international solidarity.''

She said the countries affected by the deadly virus "simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity," as she appealed for greater international aid.

The impact of the WHO declaration is unclear.
On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its emergency operation center at the highest level in response to the outbreak.

CDC chief Thomas Frieden told a congressional hearing on Ebola that the centers will soon have 50 disease experts in West Africa. He said he is confident no major outbreak in the U.S. will happen.

The current Ebola outbreak is on pace to infect more people than all other outbreaks of the virus combined.

The World Health Organization says Ebola has now killed more than 930 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The total number of cases stands at more than 1,700.

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola. Patients may experience fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and uncontrollable bleeding from all openings in the body, including the eyes, mouth and ears. Initial symptoms of the disease are often similar to malaria.

Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 01, 2014

Uganda refutes reports of Ebola outbreak

The Ugandan government on Thursday said there was no outbreak of the deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the country after the suspected cases were confirmed to be negative.

Ruhakana Rugunda, minister of health, told reporters that laboratory results from the suspected cases turned out negative.

"There is no confirmed case of Ebola in Uganda. Media reports of reported cases in Kitgum and Kampala districts are false," he said, adding that any reported case will be investigated promptly and the public will be informed.

Three countries in West Africa, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon have for the last four months been devastated by an outbreak of Ebola.
Latest figure from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that there were more than 1,000 registered cases, including 729 deaths.

Rugunda said the country was on high alert after a reported unconfirmed Ebola case in neighboring Kenya.

He said government has reinstated the country's National Task Force on Epidemics and Disease Surveillance to watch out on any Ebola alerts throughout the country.

He said the ministry has set up a screening desk at the country's Entebbe International Airport to check travelers who have a travel history to West Africa in the last 21 days before coming to Uganda. The disease incubates in 21 days.

"All districts have been directed to be vigilant and look out for suspected cases and alerts for immediate action," Rugunda said.

He said the country has stocked enough drugs in case of any outbreak. The ministry has also assembled a team of experts to be on standby to be deployed in areas where suspected cases are reported.

The ministry also advised the public to limit their travels to any of the affected countries in West Africa until the situation is contained.

"The ministry calls upon the public to stay calm as all possible measures are being undertaken to keep the country safe from the epidemic," Rugunda said.

Ebola last broke out in Uganda in 2012, leaving over 20 people dead.

The disease is a highly infectious and presents with symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, measles- like rash, red eyes, and sometimes with bleeding from body openings.

Xinhua - china.org.cn

Παρασκευή, Ιουλίου 11, 2014

Fracking: Major Scientific Document Shows Why NY Fracking Moratorium Is Imperative

Less than two weeks ago, local communities triumphed over the fracking industry in a precedent-setting case decided by the New York Court of Appeals. The court ruled that the towns of Dryden and Middlefield can use local zoning laws to ban heavy industry, including oil and gas production within municipal borders.

While the court decision is a victory for the two towns, many New Yorkers continue to rally and push for a statewide fracking moratorium. In this vein, Concerned Health Professionals of New York (CHPNY) today released a major resource to the public, including public officials, researchers and journalists—the Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking................................http://ecowatch.com/2014/07/10/major-scientific-document-ny-fracking-moratorium-imperative/


Πέμπτη, Ιουλίου 10, 2014

Commission urges Italy to ensure that water intended for human consumption is healthy and clean

European Commission, Press release, Brussels, 10 July 2014:

The European Commission is opening infringement proceedings against Italy for its failure to ensure that water intended for human consumption meets European standards. Water contamination from arsenic and fluoride is a long-standing problem in Italy, and for the Latium Region in particular. 

Under the Drinking Water Directive, Member States have to monitor and test water used for human consumption using 48 microbiological, chemical and indicator parameters. If high levels of arsenic or other pollutants are found, Member States may derogate from the thresholds established by the directive for a limited period of time, provided there is no potential danger to human health, and provided the supply for human consumption cannot be maintained by any other reasonable means. 

The Directive allows for a total of three derogations, each limited to three years. Member States may derogate twice and, in exceptional cases, they may apply to the Commission for a third derogation. Italy has now derogated three times, and no further derogations are possible.

The derogation period was intended to allow for durable solutions to be found. More than one year after the expiry of the third derogation, Italy however remains in breach of the Directive.
Derogation decisions set strict conditions to safeguard human health. Italy was asked to ensure that wholesome supplies of water were available for consumption by infants and children up to the age of three. The derogations were conditional on Italy supplying users with adequate information on how to reduce the risks associated with the consumption of the drinking water in question and, in particular, the risks associated with the consumption of water by children. Italy was also required to implement a plan of remedial actions and inform the Commission on progress achieved.

The limit value for arsenic and fluoride is still not respected in 37 water supply zones in Latium. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to Italy, the first formal stage in infringement proceedings.

The objective of the Drinking Water Directive (Directive 98/83/EC of the Council of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption - OJ L 330 of 5.12.1998, p. 32) is to protect human health from the adverse effects of any contamination of water intended for human consumption by ensuring that it is wholesome and clean.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring semi-metal element which is tasteless and odourless, and can enter drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth. Elevated levels in water can cause serious health problems, including skin damage, circulatory problems, and an increased risk of cancer.

Παρασκευή, Ιουλίου 04, 2014

Anthrax found in Hungary

photo: medindia.net
“Five people have been placed under medical watch on suspicion that they have been infected,” local healthcare agency says...

Anthrax has been found in beef in eastern Hungary, local healthcare agencies said. “Five people have been placed under medical watch on suspicion that they have been infected,” they said.
Infected beef from a farm in Tiszafured, some 160 kilometres east of Budapest, is believed to be the source of the outbreak.

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease accompanied by toxicosis, inflammation of the skin, lymphatic glands and body organs.

Russia banned pork imports from the EU in January due to the threat of the African swine fever outbreak. In April the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Oversight banned pork imports from Poland and Lithuania, after which the EU filed the application to the WTO.
  • BUDAPEST: An infection of deadly anthrax has been identified in beef in eastern Hungary and five people are being monitored in hospital for suspected symptoms of the disease, the health authority ANTSZ said Friday.

It said the disease was identified in frozen beef after two cattle were illegally slaughtered in a farm in Tiszafured, a town about 160 km east of Budapest.

The ANTSZ said the five people hospitalised had probably contracted the disease during illegal slaughtering. Some of the beef had been transported to a company that operates canteens, and the operation of the firm had been suspended.

The authority said anthrax, if identified in time, can be cured effectively with antibiotics. It is trying to find out if more people came into contact with the infected animals or meat.

The health authority said it had started the vaccination of animals that could be potentially exposed to anthrax bacteria.

"Authorities have taken the necessary measures, so there is no longer an immediate danger," the statement said.

But it said the food safety office would report the matter to police for purposes of a criminal investigation since the canteen firm had bought meat from illegal sources.


Δευτέρα, Ιουνίου 09, 2014

World Oceans Day 2014 (U.S. State Department)

John Kerry, Secretary of State, June 8, 2014:

"World Oceans Day is a time to pause and focus on protecting our ocean: our planet’s most extraordinary ecosystem.
Life as we know it wouldn't be possible were it not for our ocean. We depend on the ocean for life’s essentials: the food we eat and the air that we breathe. It provides jobs for millions of people around the world, and a home for countless unique species.

The wonders of the ocean were impressed upon me at an early age in Massachusetts. my father taught me how to fish, and my mother taught me what happens when trash dumped into the ocean ends back up on the shore or kills sea turtles. I learned much more as a Senator working for fishing families that saw their way of life threatened when the oceans weren't properly protected.

We all have a responsibility to protect our ocean against the threats of overfishing, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. The entire system is interdependent, and we ignore that fact at our peril.
The bad news is that our ocean is in trouble. The good news is that we know what’s threatening it, and we know what we need to do in order to deal with these threats.

It’s not lost on any of us that we haven’t yet achieved the political consensus necessary to spur action. And, frankly, we know there’s no way that governments are going to tackle these enormous challenges alone. We need grassroots action to push us over the finish line, and that includes action from businesses, students, community groups, and advocacy and research organizations.

As Secretary of State, I am committed to doing everything I can to leave a healthy, thriving ocean for our children and future generations. But we need to do this together. One week from tomorrow, on June 16-17, I will host the “Our Ocean” conference. We’re bringing together high-level representatives from governments around the world, scientists, the environmental community, industry, and other stakeholders to address the challenges of sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification, and how we can work together to solve them.

Every action counts. It’s our ocean to share and that means we each share the responsibility to act as its steward. So - please pause - enjoy - celebrate - and let’s commit to work together as we chart a new way forward for a healthy ocean and a secure, prosperous planet."

[State Department]

Οι νεκροί Έλληνες στα μακεδονικά χώματα σάς κοιτούν με οργή

«Παριστάνετε τα "καλά παιδιά" ελπίζοντας στη στήριξη του διεθνή παράγοντα για να παραμείνετε στην εξουσία», ήταν η κατηγορία πο...