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Covid is also harmful to the environment due to lazy mask disposal

Covid is also harmful to the environment due to lazy mask disposal

WGCU reports on the “worldwide issue” of careless disposal of covid masks. This is not only unsightly, but can also pose a threat to wildlife and block sewers. The Navy in Hawaii continues to clean up a fuel leak that contaminated tap water. Meanwhile, concerns about military-used toxic foam are rising.

Study Shows That Mask Litter is a Worldwide Problem with Serious Environmental Impacts

For as long as people have used these items, discarded cigarette cans, bottles, and cigarette butts have been contaminating Florida’s beaches, preserves, and parking lots. Now, there is a new problem: discarded masks that were designed to protect the wearer against COVID-19. There are many types of masks, but there is one thing that all masks have in common: too many are being thrown away everywhere else than in a trashcan. Some masks were white, but they have been trampled with dirty sneakers and driven over by cars so many times that the masks have become spotted brown and flattened on the pavement. Others were lighter blue, but the insides now show white fibers. They can be seen from far away because the bright red ones shine so brightly. Masks that have fallen to the ground pose a threat to wildlife and can clog sewers. (Bayles, 1/30)

Water safety news

Navy To Drain Polluted Water After Fuel Contamination In Hawaii

After the water forced Navy families and Army families to move into hotels, the Hawaii Department of Health allowed the Navy to discharge treated water from Red Hill Bulk fuel Storage Facility. The contaminated water contained diesel fuel 350x the safe level after a November jet fuel spillage. To remove the contaminated tap water, the Navy will pump as much as 5 million gallons per day from Red Hill Shaft into Halawa Stream. The discharge was authorized by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general license. (Frazier, 1/29)

Las Vegas Review-Journal
Toxic Foam used at military bases raises concerns about contamination

Sen. Tom Cotton, frustrated by the lack of progress in cleaning up cancer-causing chemicals at hundreds of military installations, including those in Nevada, urged the Pentagon to better communicate with local communities and develop long-term plans for reducing health risks. Creech Air Force Base (Indian Springs) and Nellis Air Force Base (Nellis Air Force Base) were among the areas with high levels of contamination. They were both placed on the Superfund clean-up lists under the Environmental Protection Agency. Groundwater contamination is very dangerous and could spread. (Martin, 1/28)

North Carolina Health News
Chemours Program could help homes with PFAS-contaminated wells

Representatives from Chemours will be visiting Laura Adams Cumberland County’s home next week to explain the policies, procedures, and possible cost of connecting to public drinking water under a pilot program. Adams discovered that her well water in Anniston Street of the Black Bridge subdivision between Hope Mills, Parkton and Cumberland County was polluted with per – and polyfluoroalkyl compounds known as PFAS (or forever chemicals). The Chemours Fayetteville Works plant supplies Adams and thousands of others in Cumberland and Robeson counties with bottled water, reverse osmosis systems, or whole-house activated carbon systems. This prevents them from drinking potentially cancer-causing well waters. (Barnes, 1/31)

US Must Win Over Wary Public To Push For Better Tap Water

Angela Stamps no longer drinks water from her tap. She also showers less and does not take the relaxing baths she used to love. She won’t cook with tap water, and sometimes skips the process of rinsing her produce. Flint, Michigan’s water quality has been well below the state threshold for several decades. However, she still worries about the consequences of the crisis. (Phillis, 1/30)

Other environmental health news

The Texas Tribune, and ProPublica
EPA Rejects Texas Higher Toxic Air Pollutant Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made a broad announcement this week, detailing its strategies to reduce toxic industrial air pollution. It announced that it would reject the Texas less protective standard for ethylene oxide, and instead will stick to its scientific conclusions. This move could lead to significant reductions in national emissions. After an investigation by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune, Michael S. Regan, EPA Administrator, announced that ethylene oxide, a ubiquitous, low-odor gas used in everyday household items such as dish soap, was responsible for the majority of excess industrial cancer risk in the United States. (Collier and Miller 1/28)

See Also

The Texas Tribune
State Report shows Agency’s failure to spot pollution spikes during storms

According to a state report, the Texas agency charged with monitoring industrial pollution during and after severe weather events is often not equipped to monitor the level of pollutants from chemical plants and refineries. This leaves a gap in the state’s knowledge about air quality. Oil refineries and chemical plants along Texas’ Gulf Coast shut down their industrial facilities in advance of hurricanes and other storms. This is to protect workers and avoid any spillages. However, the process can lead to pollution that is higher than what is allowed or healthy. As plants burn off greenhouse gases and pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, they can also cause severe pollution. (Douglas, 1/28)

Detroit Free Press:
Air near Detroit Jeep Plant is safe for your health

Residents on Detroit’s eastside have complained for months about strong smells coming from Stellantis plants. They received some assurances from a toxicologist Thursday night about the potential health effects of the air, but were left frustrated by their inability to answer questions or get answers about asthma. A community outcry over the air around the plant, which makes new versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee,hasled to multiple investigations and violation notices from the state and prompted the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to lead a virtualcommunity meetingThursday,attended at one point by almost 150 people who heard from state and federal environmental and health officials. (Lawrence, 1/28)

Bangor Daily News
No one knows how many ‘Forever Chemicals” could be found in Maine’s organic foods

Mainers who have bought food from organic farms have felt secure in the knowledge that they are getting a chemical-free product. However, the discovery of high levels forever chemicals in soils and groundwater has raised questions about the safety of food produced or raised in the state. After its produce, soil, and water tested positive for toxic chemicals known collectively as PFAS or PFOS, Songbird Organic Farm in Unity stopped all sales and pulled its products off the shelves. (Bayly, 1/29)

Georgia Health News
Emory Med students learn about climate change and health risks.

Emory Medical Schools administration made climate change an official part of their curriculum. It is the culmination many years of student-led efforts. This was done to ensure Emory’s future physicians are educated about the growing health consequences of a warming planet. Climate change doesn’t just bring more extreme weather, but also hotter temperatures. It also creates many more health issues that doctors must be aware of and treat. These issues were top of mind when Irene Liu, second-year medical student, applied to medical schools. She had been interested for a long while in climate advocacy and wanted to find schools that would focus on the environment. However, it didn’t work out. (Jones, 1/28)

This is part of KHN Morning Briefing. A summary of coverage on health policy from major news agencies. Register for an email subscription.

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