Insight News

Wednesday
Nov 26th

Health

Recycling plastic sandwich bags and wrap

Recycling plastic sandwich bags and wrapDear EarthTalk: Where do you recycle plastic stuff like sandwich bags, Saran wrap and plastic grocery store wrappers? Can they just go in with other plastics in the recycling bin? There never seems to be any information available about this. -- Renee La-Fountaine, Lake Hughes, CA

The reason you don’t hear much about recycling these types of plastic films is that most municipalities don’t take back items intended to wrap food. One exception may be sandwich bags, which are made from easy-to-recycle polyethylene, as long as any hard (i.e. “Ziploc”) components are removed and they are rinsed free of any food debris or stains.
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Weed killer cautions.

Weed killer cautions.Dear EarthTalk: Within my lawn I have over 100 citrus, mango and avocado trees. When I use Scott’s Bonus S Weed and Feed, am I feeding my new fruit any poison? Will the weed killer be taken up by the fruit? -- Richard Weissman, Miami, FL

In short, yes and yes: You will jeopardize the health of your fruit trees and your yard in general if you use such products. Scott’s Bonus S Weed and Feed, as well as many other “weed-and-feed” fertilizers (Vigero, Sam’s, etc.), contain the harsh chemical herbicide atrazine, which excels at terminating fast-growing weeds like dandelions and crabgrass but can also kill other desirable plants and trees and damage your entire yard as toxin-carrying root systems stretch underground in every corner and beyond.
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Building a "green economy."

Building a Dear EarthTalk: What does it mean when one uses the phrase, “building a green economy?” I’ve heard it repeated a few times lately and would like to have a better understanding of the concept.
-- Rosie Chang, Islip, NY


The phrase “building a green economy” means different things to different people, but in general it refers to encouraging economic development that prioritizes sustainability—that is, working with nature and not against it in the quest to meet peoples’ needs and wants—instead of disregarding environmental concerns in the process of growing the economy. The primary way governments around the world are trying to “green” their own economies today is by increasing investment in—and, by extension, creating jobs in—industries on the cutting edge of non-polluting renewable forms of energy, such as solar and wind power.
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Which fish are safe to eat to avoid mercury?

Which fish are safe to eat to avoid mercury?Dear EarthTalk: I always thought eating fish was healthy, but now I’m concerned about mercury in tuna and other fish. Are there any fish that are still safe to eat? -- Brit Brundage, Fairfield, CT

You should be concerned about contaminants in certain fish, including some kinds of tuna. The non-profit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) recommends minimizing consumption of albacore (white) tuna, a large fish that accumulates moderate amounts of mercury in its fatty tissue. But other kinds of (smaller) tuna, such as skipjack (usually canned as “light”), which accumulates a third the amount of mercury as albacore, are OK to eat in moderation, though consumption by those under age seven should be limited.
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Sustainable sugar: An oxymoron?

Sustainable sugar: An oxymoron?Dear EarthTalk: I am a bartender in Sacramento and I would love to be able to use some sort of locally made or sustainable version of sugar. What’s out there? -- Ryan Seng, via e-mail

It sure would be nice if we could obtain all of our food and drink items from local sources, but sugar provides an excellent example of why such a desire may remain a pipe dream in the United States for a long time to come. The sugar we consume that is produced domestically comes from sugar cane grown in Hawaii and the Southeast and sugar beet from the Upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest, California and elsewhere. However, it is likely milled and refined hundreds if not thousands of miles from where it is harvested, and then shipped all over the country—causing untold greenhouse gas emissions—in various sized packages for our consumption in our coffee, on our cereal and, for some of us, in our cocktails.
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Antibacterial triclosan: Effective or just risky?

Antibacterial triclosan: Effective or just risky?Dear EarthTalk: I heard about a supposed dangerous chemical called “triclosan” that is in many personal care and other consumer products. Can you enlighten? -- Carl Stoneman, Richland, WA

Triclosan is a synthetic chemical compound added to many personal and household care products to inhibit illness by preventing bacterial infection. It works by breaking down the biochemical pathways that bacteria use to keep their cell walls intact, and as such kills potentially harmful germs if used in strong enough formulations. First developed as a surgical scrub back in 1972, triclosan is now used in upwards of 700 different consumer-oriented products, many of which people use more than once a day. They include hand soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, kids’ toys, yoga mats and, of course, hand sanitizers.
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Study finds breast conservation viable for Black women with breast cancer

Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly

(NNPA) - Breast-conserving therapy is a viable treatment option for African American women, although they tend to have more advanced breast cancer at diagnosis, according to researchers from Beaumont Hospitals, Royal Oak, MI. The study is available online now and will be in the July 15 issue of the journal Cancer.

The study, which reviewed the data of 699 women treated with breast conserving therapy  --which means a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy instead of removing the entire breast-- at Beaumont from 1980 to 2003, found that African American women were younger and had larger, more aggressive tumors at the time of diagnosis. As a result, they more frequently required chemotherapy and lymph node irradiation as part of their treatment.
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