Aug 21, 2007

UCS asksIs Bottled Water Better?

Bottled water manufacturers' marketing campaigns capitalize on isolated instances of contaminated public drinking water supplies by encouraging the perception that their products are purer and safer than tap water. But the reality is that tap water is actually held to more stringent quality standards than bottled water, and some brands of bottled water are just tap water in disguise. What's more, our increasing consumption of bottled water—more than 22 gallons per U.S. citizen in 2004 according to the Earth Policy Institute—fuels an unsustainable industry that takes a heavy toll on the environment.
Environmental Impact

Fossil fuel consumption. Approximately 1.5 million gallons of oil—enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year—are used to make plastic water bottles, while transporting these bottles burns thousands more gallons of oil. In addition, the burning of oil and other fossil fuels (which are also used to generate the energy that powers the manufacturing process) emits global warming pollution into the atmosphere.
Water consumption. The growth in bottled water production has increased water extraction in areas near bottling plants, leading to water shortages that affect nearby consumers and farmers. In addition to the millions of gallons of water used in the plastic-making process, two gallons of water are wasted in the purification process for every gallon that goes into the bottles.
Waste. Only about 10 percent of water bottles are recycled, leaving the rest in landfills where it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose.
The Simple (and Cheaper) Solution
The next time you feel thirsty, forgo the bottle and turn to the tap. You'll not only lower your environmental impact but also save money—bottled water can cost up to 10,000 times more per gallon than tap water. And because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's standards for tap water are more stringent than the Food and Drug Administration's standards for bottled water, you'll be drinking water that is just as safe as, or safer than, bottled.
If, however, you don't like the taste of your tap water or are unsure of its quality, you can buy a filter pitcher or install an inexpensive faucet filter to remove trace chemicals and bacteria. If you will be away from home, fill a reusable bottle from your tap and refill it along the way; travel bottles with built-in filters are also available. Finally, limit your bottled water purchases for those times when you're traveling in countries where water quality is questionable.

WDNR - Water Conservation News

Research to probe groundwater, lake level connections
Low water levels in Central Sands area to be studied MADISON -- New state-funded research is getting underway in central Wisconsin to better understand how groundwater, lakes and rivers are ... Read Full Article

Tips for doing your part to conserve water
MADISON - Drier than normal conditions have heightened concerns over residents' water usage and outdoor burning activities across the state. In fact, several suburban communities are ordering ... Read Full Article

WDNR - New studies find changing levels of mercury in fish and PCBs in people

MADISON - Wisconsin's updated fish consumption advisory booklet, "Choose Wisely, A Health Guide for Eating Fish in Wisconsin," arrives as studies show mixed trends in contaminant levels in ... Read Full Article

Imported asbestos containing products

"Given the abject lack of Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforcement of asbestos product labeling requirements, there is a real concern that some imported asbestos products are not even labeled with the required health warnings."

Environmental consultant Barry Castleman, speaking to a Senate committee

Go to the full story in the Tacoma News Tribune

Nuclear Power Can't Curb Global Warming - Report

Specifically, that would require adding on average 14 plants each year for the next 50 years, all the while building an average of 7.4 plants to replace those that will be retired, the report by environmental leaders, industry executives and academics said.


During the 2006 World Planners Congress in Vancouver, delegates raised an important question during a round-table talk on sustainable urbanization. They asked, if we have policies to recycle items as small as pop bottles and tin cans, why don't we have strategies to reuse or recycle items as large as buildings and even whole parts of cities?*
It is a vital question. It's also a good starting point for this issue of Alternatives because discussion on sustainability has largely neglected the environmental implications of decisions to demolish old buildings. .

Every brick in a building required the burning of fossil fuel in its manufacture, and every piece of lumber was cut and transported using energy. As long as the building stands, that energy is there, serving a useful purpose. Trash a building and you trash its embodied energy too. Furthermore, we burn new fuel to replace the structure. It has been estimated that the embodied energy that is lost with the demolition of a typical small urban house is equivalent to the energy saved by recycling 1.34 million aluminum cans. .

Aug 20, 2007

Non-Stick Chemical Exposure Tied To Small Babies

Exposure to the chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) harms development in animals, senior author Dr. Lynn R. Goldman, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues note.
Whether this holds true in humans, however, was unclear. To investigate, the researchers tested cord blood samples from 293 pregnant women for PFOA and PFOS and then examined the levels in relation to pregnancy outcomes.

In adjusted analyses, cord blood levels of both chemicals were inversely related to birth weight and head circumference.

Previous reports have shown that these chemicals can alter blood lipid levels, which could adversely affect fetal development, the authors note. However, in the present study, the association between PFOA and PFOS exposure and birth weight or size was independent of cord blood lipid levels.

Further research is needed to verify the findings and better understand if the relationship is causal, the authors conclude.
SOURCE: Environmental Health Perspectives 2007 (VIA  REUTERS)

Aug 13, 2007


 "This might be a time for the application of the precautionary principle," said panel chair Robert Chapin of Pfizer Inc.

GULF dead zones - no mystery.... ETHANOL: (

The corn harvest is expected to be up 24 percent to meet ethanol goals.  That takes lots of fertilizer.  The summer dead zone off Louisiana's coast, caused by farm runoff, is spreading down the Texas coast; the price of corn is pushing up the price of beef; and hunger grows in poor areas of Mexico where corn tortillas are a staple. Found at


A WN reader sent me the URL of a YouTube video about a device that uses water as fuel by splitting it into hydrogen and oxygen and then burning the hydrogen.  Back in the 1970's Sam Leach drove a car that ran on water across the country.  The oil barons bought him off.  In his 2004 State-of-the-Union address, President Bush announced that Freedom Car, which runs on hydrogen, would give us energy independence.  Uh, where is that car? 

Aug 8, 2007

We're all downwind of our own emissions (thanks

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So, it's OK for Portland to complain about Chinese mercury in the Willamette River (via treehugger), yet we are all downwind of the chemical soup we're all spewing.

When we islanders send our WalMart money to China for cheap goods, we also get their coal dust. How's that for a feedback loop » original news