Insight News

Wednesday
Aug 20th

Health

New law sets toughest standards in nation for lead exposure

Environmental and health groups say it will better protect young children

ST. PAUL, MN— Cody Oesterreich and her family moved into a house in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis late last year and as a concerned mother she eventually took her then-seven-month-old daughter, Ila, in for a test to make sure she was not being exposed to lead in the old house.

“The doctor told me, ‘we won’t call unless it’s elevated,’ ” Oesterreich said at a Monday news conference in Richfield. “But I called them and the nurse told me, ‘it’s fine, it’s only eight.’”

Oesterreich knew better and she and Ila moved out for a week while the house was cleaned. Thanks to a law that went into affect Thursday, July 1, other parents will have an easier time finding out their child’s lead levels and what to do.
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Volcanoes and global warming.

Volcanoes and global warming.Dear EarthTalk: Is there any link between increased volcanic activity—such as the recent eruptions in Iceland, Alaska and elsewhere—and global warming? -- Ellen McAndrew, via e-mail

It’s impossible to pin isolated natural phenomena—like an individual volcanic eruption—on global warming, but some researchers insist that there is a correlation between the two in some instances.

“Global warming melts ice and this can influence magmatic systems,” reports Freysteinn Sigmundsson of the Nordic Volcanological Centre at the University of Iceland. Her research with Carolina Pagli of the University of Leeds in England suggests that rocks cannot expand to turn into magma—the primary “feedstock” for volcanic eruptions—when they are under the pressure of a big ice cap pushing down on them. As the theory goes, melting ice caps relieve that pressure and allow the rocks to become magma. This in turn increases the chances of larger and/or more frequent eruptions in affected regions, from Iceland to Alaska to Patagonia to Antarctica.
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Bananas and rainforest destrutcion

Bananas and rainforest destrutcionDear EarthTalk: Is it true that bananas are taboo for anyone who is concerned about rainforest destruction? Even if I seek out “fair trade” or organic bananas, am I feeding the demand which is causing rainforest to be cleared? -- Laura Barnard, Hillsboro, OH

Sadly, the short answers to these questions may be yes and yes for now, but that may change as the $5 billion banana industry slowly comes to terms with greener forms of production. Historically, growing the world’s most popular fruit has caused massive degradation of rainforest land across the tropics, spread noxious chemicals throughout formerly pristine watersheds, and poisoned and exploited farm workers.
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Black AIDS Institute focuses on innovative approaches to get Black people to take HIV test

“One size does not fit all,” says Phill Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Black AIDS Institute. While organizations across the country commemorated National HIV Testing Day on June 27th, the Black AIDS Institute, the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people, is urging that efforts don’t stop there.

“Annual awareness days are very important, but everyday is HIV testing day at the Black AIDS Institute.  A single strategy or silver bullet is not going to end the AIDS epidemic in our communities,” says Wilson.
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Call & Post Newspaper wins Tom Morgan Award for Excellence in HIV/AIDS Education

Call & Post Newspaper wins Tom Morgan Award for Excellence in HIV/AIDS EducationNEW YORK (NNPA) - All across the country, African American communities are being devastated:
One in 16 Black men will be diagnosed with HIV this year; one in 30 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV; AIDS is the third leading cause of death for African American women age 25-34; and although Black people are only 12 percent of the U. S. population, they make up nearly half of all AIDS cases.

These are just a few of the confounding statistics articulated by Robert Bailey, a leader of the HIV/AIDS Prevention Partnerships Team at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. But, Bailey, speaking at the recent National Newspaper Publishers Association Annual Convention, also added that there is hope.
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Are cell phones emitting dangerous radiation?

Are cell phones emitting dangerous radiation?Dear EarthTalk: OK, so are cell phones emitting dangerous radiation or not? If so, which phones are safer that others and what do we do to minimize exposure? -- Luke Alderman, Santa Fe, NM

The jury is still out as to whether or not the radiation emitted by cell phones can cause negative health effects for callers. Mobile phones emit signals to communicate with cellular towers via radio waves, which are comprised of radio-frequency (RF) energy, a form of electromagnetic radiation.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) limits the amount of radiation any phone sold in the U.S. can emit to what it considers a safe level of 1.6 watts per kilogram of body weight (a measure of the energy absorbed by the body when using a wireless device). But some health practitioners are concerned that even this level of exposure may be too high, resulting in people unwittingly exposing themselves to potentially harmful radiation every time they make or take a call.
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What is "kenaf" paper?

What is Dear EarthTalk: What is “kenaf” paper? From what I've heard, it’s good for the environment. But what exactly are its benefits and where can I obtain some? -- Tiffany Mikamo, via e-mail

Kenaf, a fast-growing, non-invasive annual hibiscus plant related to cotton, okra and hemp, makes ideal paper fiber as well as great source material for burlap, clothing, canvas, particleboard and rope. Its primary use around the world today is for animal forage, but humans enjoy its high-protein seed oil to add a nutritious and flavorful kick to a wide range of foods. In fact, kenaf has been grown for centuries in Africa, China and elsewhere for these and other purposes, but environmentalists see its future in replacing slower-growing trees as our primary source for paper.
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