Nov 30, 2012

DOE Wants 5X Improvement In Batteries In 5 Years - #green #tech

The U.S. Dept. of Energy has set a goal to develop battery and energy storage technologies that are five times more powerful and five times cheaper within five years. DOE is creating a new center at Argonne National Laboratory, at a cost of $120 million over five years, that's intended to reproduce development environments that were successfully used by Bell Laboratories and World War II's Manhattan Project. 'When you had to deliver the goods very, very quickly, you needed to put the best scientists next to the best engineers across disciplines to get very focused,' said U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, on Friday. The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research isn't designed to seek incremental improvements in existing technologies. This technology hub, according to DOE's solicitation (PDF), 'should foster new energy storage designs that begin with a "clean sheet of paper" — overcoming current manufacturing limitations through innovation to reduce complexity and cost.' Other research labs, universities and private companies are participating in the effort."

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State Prison Populations Decline for Third Straight Year, violent crime dropped 3.8 %

Right on Crime: According to statistics released today by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, state prisons across the United States continued a three-year decline in the number of prisoners in 2011.

The number of state prisoners fell from 1,314,446, to 1,289,376. This represents a 1.9 percent drop in state prisoners. This decline was sufficient to offset the increase in federal prisoners to create an overall drop in the number of all prisoners of 1.3 percent.

The entire correctional population (state and federal prisoners, jail inmates, parolees, and probationers) dropped 1.4 percent between 2010 and 2011. This is the third consecutive year of decreasing correctional populations.

...Earlier this year, data revealed that violent crime dropped 3.8 percent between 2010 and 2011, down 15.5 percent since 2002, while property crime dropped 0.5 percent, down 19.9 percent since 2002.

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Massive plunge in U.S. birth rates led by immigrant women, according to a Pew Research Center analysis


(CNN) – It makes sense that since the start of the recession, the birth rate in America has been declining.

In 2011, it dipped to the lowest rate ever recorded: 63.2 per 1,000 women between 15 and 44, the prime childbearing ages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That plunge was led by immigrant women, according to a Pew Research Center analysis released Thursday.

The birth rate for U.S.-born women declined 6% between 2007 (when the recession began) and 2010. However, the rate for foreign-born women plunged 14%, more than in the 17 years before the downturn.

Both foreign- and U.S.-born Hispanic women had larger drops in birth rate than any other group, Pew found. That correlates with larger percentage declines in household wealth for Hispanics than in white, black or Asian households.

Among women from Mexico, the country from where the largest number of U.S. immigrants come, the birth rate fell by 23%. -

Study finds multiple pollutants in women, can be passed on to babies

ENN Original news: ...In an analysis of data on over three thousand women, Brown University researchers concluded that all but 17.3 percent of the women aged 16 to 49 were at or above the median blood level for one or more of these chemicals, which can then passed to fetuses and babies.

Mercury, lead, and PCBs are of particular interest because they are persistent in the environment and can harm fetal and infant brain development, said study lead author Dr. Marcella Thompson.

"Our research documents the prevalence of women who are exposed to all three of these chemicals," said Thompson. "It points out clearly the need to look at health outcomes for multiple environmental chemical co-exposures."

The study looked at data collected between 1999 and 2004 from women of all different demographics who participated in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The study found that as women grew older, their risk of exceeding the median blood level in two or more of these pollutants grew exponentially. Researchers explain this risk not only because these chemicals accumulate in the body over time, but also because these women were born before most environmental protection laws were enacted.

The study also found that women who ate fish more than once a week during the prior 30 days had 4.5 times the risk of exceeding the median in two or more of these pollutants and women who drank heavily had a milder but still substantially elevated risk.

However, not all risks increased. Women who had breastfed at least one child for a month had about half the risk of exceeding the median blood level for two or more pollutants. Researchers explained that women pass the pollutants that have accumulated in their bodies to their nursing infants.

Although the study did not measure ill health effects, Thompson said, the data still suggest that women should learn about their risks of co-exposure to these chemicals well before they become pregnant.

Read more at Brown University

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Register today! 2013 Minnesota Green Chemistry Conference implementing green chemistry for either start-ups or established companies.

Minnesota Green Chemistry 2013: Beakers to Business Plans
*Save the date: *Friday, January 25, 2013 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. University of Minnesota Carlson School

Go to for more information and to register

This day-long conference will include keynotes, panels and break-out sessions. Morning sessions will focus on research, technology, work force and labor issues, and academic partnerships. The focus of the afternoon will be business success stories, and the "nuts and bolts" of implementing green chemistry for either start-ups or established companies.

Dr. Paul Anastas is known as one of the "fathers of green chemistry," and will be a keynote speaker. He is Director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale and has pioneered groundbreaking research on the design, manufacture, and use of minimally-toxic, environmentally-friendly chemicals. Other speakers representing Ecolab, Cortec, Beyond Benign, BlueGreen Alliance, University of Minnesota, South Dakota State University, Pauly DeVries Smith Deffner, Fredrikson and Byron, IATP and more will be panelists.

*GreenScreen Training*
Thursday, January 24, 2013 (space is limited - registration to open shortly)
This is in-depth experiential training on how to use the GreenScreenTM for Safer Chemicals, a tool developed by Clean Production Action for identifying chemicals of concern and selecting safer alternatives. For more information, please contact [ ]

We Won't Prevent Cancer Until We Prevent Exposure to Cancer-Causing Chemicals

Jennifer Sass, Ph.D - A smart editorial in Nature this week (Nov 29, 2012), one of the top scientific journals in the world, criticizes the U.S. National Breast Cancer Coalition for setting an unrealistic and unscientific public promise to beat breast cancer by 2020. Now, don’t get me wrong - I would do almost anything to be able to prevent cancer, and also, learning disabilities, reproductive impairments, and birth defects. Who wouldn't? I’ll tell you who - the American Chemistry Council (ACC). ACC is the trade group that represents its chemical manufacturer corporate members by defending the toxic chemicals that cause cancer and other health harms. My colleague Daniel Rosenberg blogged about a recent report by Common Cause, “Toxic Spending: The Political Expenditures of the Chemical Industry 2005-2012” that documents the hundreds of millions of dollars the chemical industry spends on lobbying, political advertising, and campaign contributions. 

Need evidence that ACC defends cancer-causing chemicals that you and your family are exposed to? A new scientific study also just out this week shows that the foam in our household furniture like couches contains detectable levels of many harmful chemicals, including ones like chlorinated-Tris long-known to cause cancer, placed there on purpose as a flame retardant (Stapleton et al, 2012). Chlorinated-Tris was banned from children’s pajamas in the 1970s because of its health risks, but it is still frequently used in the sofa’s that children sit on, and ends up in the house dust that children touch, along with other harmful and unnecessary chemicals made by ACC member corporations (see the blog of my colleague, Dr. Sarah Janssen, here for more details). ACC is reported in a news response saying that there is no evidence that the levels found in the furniture would cause health problems, and the chemicals provide valuable escape time from house fires although this claim was proved false by government studies of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Defending cancer-causing chemicals is standard operating procedure for the ACC, acting on behalf of some of the biggest chemical companies in the world including Dow, DuPont, BASF and Exxon.  Some of the ACC's recent cancer-promoting activities include the following:

ACC efforts to derail the congressionally mandate Report on Carcinogens issued biennially by the National Institutes of Health have been reported In an op/ed by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof titled, “The Cancer Lobby”. (NYT, October 2012)

This past spring the Chicago Tribune reported that large chemical manufacturers including ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical and BASF Corp. were blocking EPA from listing their toxic products as “chemicals of concern,” going so far as to tell the White House rules office in closed-door meetings that “the chemicals they make are safe” despite increasing scientific evidence to the contrary. (Chicago Tribune, Chemical industry lobbyists keep stronger oversight plan at bay. May 2012)

And, in a five-part investigative expose titled, “Chemical companies, Big Tobacco and the toxic products in your home”, the Chicago Tribune pulled the curtain back on dishonest and manipulative tactics of the chemical industry to defend the continued use of toxic flame retardants in household furniture and other consumer products. Their tactics include generating false scientific data and setting up phony consumer groups to misrepresent information to the public and regulators. (Chicago Tribune May 2012)

The ACC is currently opposing a new LEED Green Building ratings proposal that would give builders credits for not using materials that contain chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects and other harmful environmental and health impacts. (See my blog here).

See more of ACC’s pro-cancer activities documented in the blog of my colleague, Daniel Rosenberg here.

Most of us really would like to prevent breast and other cancers, but it won’t happen without getting effective regulation of cancer-causing chemicals. The President’s Cancer Panel (appointed by President George W. Bush), in a 2010 report concluded that “the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated” and specifically called for reform of our federal toxic chemical regulations (called the Toxic Substances Control Act, TSCA) which the Cancer Panel called “the most egregious example of ineffective regulation of chemical contaminants.”  Other organizations calling for reform of TSCA include the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association and the American Nurses Association.  

This reform, The Safe Chemicals Act (S.847) needs your public support!

Full blog with links here:

Jennifer Sass, Ph.D is a Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and, Professorial Lecturer, George Washington University

Nov 29, 2012

Talk about sustainability with Johnson Controls - the largest company in Wisconsin, and one of its most sustainable.

Subject: NOV 30 - Sustainability Speaker - Susan Kreh, Vice President Finance & IT, Johnson Controls
Sustainability Speaker - Susan Kreh, Vice President Finance & IT, Johnson Controls
Friday, November 30, NOON, 5120 Grainger

Susan will join us to talk about sustainability at Johnson Controls (JCI).  JCI is the largest company in Wisconsin, and one of its most sustainable.  They routinely show up as a top WI company on Newsweek?s Greenest Businesses ranking, as well as on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, in the Climate Disclosure Project and on many other sustainability rankings.

JCI has two divisions, building control and automation systems, and Power Controls (batteries).  Susan is from the Power Controls side of the business, so there are some obvious sustainability linkages.  We'll hear about past accomplishments and future directions.

Please join us to hear Susan Kreh on Friday, November 30th at noon.  We will meet in room 5120 of Grainger (975 University Ave in Madison).

Registration ( is requested so that I can make sure you get information about upcoming sessions.  The Friday session will conclude no later than 1:15.
Susan is the sixth and final speaker for the fall series.

The event is free.  Please share information about this speaker series with others who might be interested.
Additional information is available from Tom Eggert at 608 267-2761 or at

Thank you for your interest in sustainability and these community forums!

Thermoelectrics made from dirt cheap materials via @nextbigfuture

By using common materials found pretty much anywhere there is dirt, a team of Michigan State University researchers have developed a new thermoelectric material.

This is important, they said, because the vast majority of heat that is generated from, for example, a car engine, is lost through the tail pipe. It’s the thermoelectric material’s job to take that heat and turn it into something useful, like electricity.

The researchers, led by Donald Morelli, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science, developed the material based on natural minerals known as tetrahedrites.


Scientific American's Fred Guterl Explores the Threats Posed By Technology -via @Slashdot

"Fred Guterl is the executive editor of Scientific American, and in this piece he explores various threats posed by the technology that modern civilization relies on. He discusses West African and Indian monsoons, infectious diseases, and computer hacking. Here's a quote: 'Today the technologies that pose some of the biggest problems are not so much military as commercial. They come from biology, energy production, and the information sciences — and are the very technologies that have fueled our prodigious growth as a species. They are far more seductive than nuclear weapons, and more difficult to extricate ourselves from. The technologies we worry about today form the basis of our global civilization and are essential to our survival.'"
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People who eat doughnuts for breakfast should be charged for prescriptions, cost of 'lifestyle' diseases like obesity could bankrupt

GP Phillip Lee warns the soaring cost of 'lifestyle' diseases like obesity could bankrupt the NHS
  People who eat doughnuts for breakfast should pay for prescriptions if they develop diabetes, a Tory MP said yesterday.

Phillip Lee, who is also a practising GP, warned the soaring cost of obesity and other lifestyle diseases will bankrupt the NHS unless people take more responsibility for their own health.
Calling for charges to be brought in, the MP for Bracknell said: ‘If you want to have doughnuts for breakfast, fine, but there is a cost implication. We need to match actions to consequences – at the moment that does not happen.’

Tory MP and GP Phillip Lee said most patients these days were suffering from lifestyle-related illnesses that could bankrupt the NHS

Dr Lee also warned that members of the ‘baby boomer’ generation were less ‘stoical’ than their parents – with potentially disastrous consequences for the finances of the NHS. He said there a ‘stark difference’ between the way in which those in their eighties dealt with pain, compared to those in their late sixties and early seventies.

Dr Lee said the majority of patients he saw were now suffering from illnesses caused by their lifestyles, or complaining of conditions that their forebears would have suffered in silence.

He suggested ministers should study the system used in Denmark where individuals are allocated a ‘modest’ annual drugs budget, after which they are expected to pay for their own prescriptions.
And he said charging people for the cost of their prescriptions would encourage them to take more responsibility for their own health.

‘If you want to have doughnuts for breakfast, fine, but there is a cost implication down the line,’ he said.

‘We need to match actions to consequences – at the moment that does not happen in this country.’

Dr Lee said people had to take more responsibility for their own health

Politicians have traditionally fought shy of telling people to take responsibility for their own health, because of fears of a public backlash.

‘It probably can limp on for the rest of this decade but the reality is the pressures coming from the baby boomer generation and their expectations of health care, their perceptions of pain and suffering is profoundly different to their stoic parents who survived the war."

Written By JASON GROVES via  @MailOnline

EPA offers tips on protecting your family from carbon monoxide poisoning (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY)

Simple things you can do to stay safe
(Denver, Colo. – November 28, 2012) It's getting cold in the Rocky Mountain and Plains region, and the arrival of winter means we're firing up our gas furnaces and wood-burning stoves to warm our homes. When we use our furnaces and stoves, and spend mor...

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Nov 28, 2012

Free Arc Flash Safety and NFPA 70E Electrical Training Powerpoints - #NFPA #FIRE #OSHA #SAFETY

 Arc Flash Safety Training Powerpoint (Download ppt) Created by: West Virginia University
Topics Covered:
    * Introduction to Arc Flash
    * NFPA 70E: Revised
    * Electrically Safe Work Conditions
    * Flash Protection Approach Boundary
    * The NFPA 70E
    * Flash Protection Computations
    * Using the Appropriate PPE
    * Minimizing Arc Flash Dangers

Date Created: 2011 Number of Slides: 81 OHSA Regulations: This presentation is complaint with 29 CFR 1910.333. Created by: West Virginia University

Link and information provided by Matthew Pelletier for the Compliance and Safety Team at

Other Arc Flash Safety Presentations

Arc Flash Safety by Murray State University

OHSA Regulations: This presentation is compliant with 29 CFR 1910.333. Created by: Murray State University

Implementing NFPA 70E Electrical Safety Standards by ISRI Safety

 OHSA Regulations: This presentation is compliant with 29 CFR 1910.333. Created by: ISRI Safety

Arc Flash Energy and Protection by EWB Engineering

OHSA Regulations: This presentation is compliant with 29 CFR 1910.333. Created by: EWB Engineering

Study provides more clues to Gulf War illness - and hope.

A study finds that Gulf War Illness, or the series of symptoms that plagues 1 out of 4 veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, is due to damage to the autonomic nervous system.

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EPA strengthens water quality guidelines for beaches.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency updated water quality guidelines for the nation's beaches Monday, moving in response to charges that the federal government has not done enough to protect bathers from polluted water.

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Autism and air pollution: The link grows stronger.

Children with autism are two to three times more likely than other children to have been exposed to air pollutants during their earliest days, according to a new study. That new research adds to a mounting body of evidence that shows a link between early-life exposure to pollution and autism spectrum disorders.

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Median household wealth at lowest since 1969

Salon - New research from NYU economics professor Edward Wolff, flagged by Think Progress, found that the median wealth of American households plummeted over the years 2007 to 2010, and by 2010 was at its lowest level since 1969. Meanwhile, the late 2000?s saw a high rise inequality: while the median wealth fell,  the top 1 percent increased their wealth by 71 percent between 2007 and 2010 (a statistic almost ready-made for an Occupy Wall Street banner).
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Nov 27, 2012

Need another reason to quit? An alarming new British study links smoking to mental diseases like dementia.

Need another reason to quit? An alarming new British study links smoking to mental diseases like dementia...The findings, published in the journal Age and Ageing, demonstrated a "consistent association" between smoking and lower test scores. At the end of eight years, high blood pressure and a high risk of stroke were also associated with lower scores for memory and overall mental ability. 

What the experts say: Previous studies have shown that roughly 30 percent of all deaths from heart disease in the United States are directly related to cigarette smoking, and this new research adds to an increasing body of evidence that smoking-related high blood pressure can gradually change the brain over long periods of time. "We have identified a number of risk factors which could be associated with accelerated cognitive decline, all of which could be modifiable," says lead scientist Dr. Alex Dregan. "We all know smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and a high BMI is bad for our heart," says Jessica Smith from the Alzheimer's Society. "This research adds to the huge amount of evidence that suggests they can be bad for our head too."   

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Drought-Parched Mississippi River Is Halting Barges - via @Businessweek

Business Week Mississippi River barge traffic is slowing as the worst drought in five decades combines with a seasonal dry period to push water levels to a near-record low, prompting shippers to seek alternatives.

River vessels are cutting loads on the nation’s busiest waterway while railroads sign up new business and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers draws criticism from lawmakers over its management of the river, which could be shut to cargo from companies including Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. next month.

“Our shippers are looking at alternate modes of transportation,” said Marty Hettel, senior manager of bulk sales for AEP River Operations, the barge unit of American Electric Power Co., a utility owner based in Columbus, Ohio. “If you’re shipping raw materials to a steel mill in Chicago, you’re trying to figure out if you can go to Cincinnati or Louisville, Kentucky, unload it out of the barge and rail it up to the steel mill.”

Barges on the Mississippi handle about 60 percent of the nation’s grain exports entering the Gulf of Mexico through New Orleans, as well as 22 percent of its petroleum and 20 percent of its coal.

Mississippi water levels may drop to an historic low next month. The waterway is falling in part because of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which last week started reducing outflows from the Missouri River as part of an annual operating plan to ensure regions further north have adequate water.

That may help make the Mississippi too shallow to navigate by Dec. 10 from St. Louis south about 180 miles to Cairo, Illinois, where the Mississippi meets the Ohio River, according to the American Waterways Operators and Waterways Council Inc., a trade group based in Arlington, Virginia. About $7 billion worth of commodities usually travel on the Mississippi in December and January, according to the organization. 

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Bangladeshi Factory Fire Horror Exposes Horrible Working Conditions of Global Economy | race to the bottom

...But by turning a blind eye to the plight of workers and by insisting that factories do everything to contain costs, Western retail giants encourage the lowest wages, safety standards and working conditions. A cousin of mine who runs an Indian furniture factory that supplies to American retailers once mentioned to me that a U.S.-based discount chain offered her such low rates for dining sets that she had to further outsource the work, since she couldn't afford to pay her regular factory workers.

“These international, Western brands have a lot of responsibility for these fire issues,” labor leader Kalpona Akter told the New York Times. “In this factory, there was a pile of fabrics and yarn stored on the ground floor that caught fire. Workers couldn’t evacuate through the stairs. What does this say about compliance?”

Some years ago, two Bangladeshi garment workers and a union organizer from that country visited The Progressive offices here in Madison, Wisconsin, along with labor activist Charles Kernaghan. The workers, whose factories supplied a number of American companies, told of regularly working from 8 in the morning till 10 or 11 at night seven days a week. They also described physical abuse, such as being hit in the leg for standing up from their stools and slapped for talking on the job.

The fire in Bangladesh is far from an anomaly. More than 500 garment workers have died there in the past six years. Other countries in South Asia have suffered similar calamities in the recent past. In September, a factory fire in Pakistan claimed an astonishing toll of almost 300 workers. It was the same tale of a complete neglect of labor rights.

“Workers were said to be unable to escape because the doors were locked,” The Guardian reported. “Allegedly, there was no emergency exit, with other doors blocked by piles of finished clothes, workers had to smash iron bars on the windows to jump several storeys to escape the flames, and unsafe chemicals in the rickety building made the smoke even more toxic.”

Here, too, the factory was making clothes for Western retailers, in this case jeans for the German discount chain Kik. What we have here is the global race to the bottom in action.

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"Canadian WHMIS Overview and the Anticipated Adoption of GHS!" FREE Webinar via@ecompany

Join 3E Company on Wednesday, December 19th for an EH&S Web Seminar: "Canadian WHMIS Overview and the Anticipated Adoption of GHS!" 
When:  December 19, 2012
Time:  1:00pm EST / 10:00am PST
How: Register for FREE!

Complying with Workplace Hazardous Information System (WHMIS) is highly important for businesses that deal with hazardous materials in Canada. With the proposed adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) in WHMIS set for possibly as early as January of 2013, it is imperative for companies to understand the current regulatory structure and prepare for the regulatory changes. 

Join us, as 3E Company's James Lee, Regulatory Analyst, discusses the following topics and provides practical overview of WHMIS and GHS implementation status in Canada.
    * Legal framework
    * What is WHMIS?
    * Who should comply?
    * Classification
    * Label
    * Material Safety Date Sheet (MSDS)
    * GHS Implementation status and news

Register today to learn more!

Firefighting, Nursing Among Most Dangerous Jobs in #Health and #Safety

Fire protection is one of the most dangerous types of work in the nation. Last year, almost 71,000 injuries to U.S. firefighters occurred in the line of duty, and the rate of nonfatal injury and illness in fire protection was more than three times the rate for all industries, according to government and industry estimates. But injuries can occur in any workplace, and there were more than 3.8 million work-related injuries and illnesses last year.

Firefighters as athletes
Last year, fire protection was the most dangerous type of work.

Nationwide, there were about 13.5 nonfatal injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time workers at local fire departments, according to labor department data. The incident rate of injury and illness for all industries was 3.8 cases per 100 full-time workers.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that about 70,090 injuries to firefighters occurred while in the line of duty in 2011. In addition, firefighters in thousands of instances were exposed to infectious diseases and hazardous conditions, such as asbestos, radioactive materials, chemicals and fumes.

Battling fires is very hard, physical work, because firefighters must wear about 80 pounds of gear, and they must lift and carry heavy ladders and hoses up staircases or feed them through high windows, said Mark Sanders, president of the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters, which has 12,000 members.

“You can call firefighters industrial athletes,” said Sanders, a lieutenant with Cincinnati Fire Department.

Firefighters are forced to enter burning structures where there is falling debris that can strike and injure them. Firefighters are also at risk of tripping and falling on staircases or uneven or slippery surfaces while taking rescue or fire-control actions. Smoke inhalation always poses a risk, and firefighters can be injured helping escort or carry people out of their homes or buildings.

“The nature of the work is you are running into dangerous situations while other people are running out,” said Dayton firefighter Gaye Jordan, president of the Dayton Firefighter’s International Association of Fire Fighters Local 136. “And it’s a physical job, both on the fire and EMS sides, where some of our patients are bigger, and lifting the cot and lifting patients can strain your back.”

...Strain of nursing home work
In Ohio, sprains and strains account for about 40 percent of injuries that result in workers’ compensation claims, according to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. About 30 percent of lost-time claims are caused by overexertion, while another 30 percent are caused by slips, trips and falls, the bureau said.

And the frequency rate of injuries and illness in fire protection is just slightly higher than in state-run nursing homes and residential care facilities, according to labor department data. The rate of injury and illness in that part of the nursing industry nationwide is about 13.1 cases per 100 full-time workers.

Ohio does not operate state-run nursing facilities, and the injury and illness rate of all nursing homes is significantly lower in than in government-run facilities.

But in 2010, employees in private nursing homes in Ohio accounted for about 591 lost-time workers’ compensation claims, more than any other private industry, according to the most recent state data. Lost-time claims are when employees are off from work for at least eight days.

Go to the Full Story at

OSHA fines MFG Chemical after explosion in Dalton

Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Dalton, Ga.-based MFG Chemical Inc. $77,000 for 20 alleged safety violations following a plant explosion in May that required hospitalization for about 40 employees of other companies working in the area.

The explosion was caused by a runaway reaction from an overheated reactor, OSHA reported. During the production of coagulant 129, a compound used in water treatment, an increase in temperature caused the reactor to overpressurize, rupturing the dome cover and blowing a hole in the roof of the facility.

Please read more by Jacques Couret  Senior Online Editor- Atlanta Business Chronicle

US Scientific R&D Could Face Fiscal Cliff Doom - via @Slashdot

The tough economic times have had a huge effect on scientific research and development funding. The looming "fiscal cliff" may be the last straw for many programs. "The American science programs that landed the first man on the moon, found cures for deadly diseases and bred crops that feed the world now face the possibility of becoming relics in the story of human progress. American scientific research and development stands to lose thousands of jobs and face a starvation diet of reduced funding if politicians fail to compromise and halt the United States' march towards the fiscal cliff's sequestration of federal funds."

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Mortgage Interest Deduction, Once a Sacred Cow, Might Be Eliminated - via @NYTimes

A tax break that has long been untouchable could soon be in for some serious scrutiny.

Many home buyers deduct their mortgage interest when assessing their tax bill, a perk that has helped bolster the income of millions of families — and the broader housing market.

But as President Obama and Congress try to hash out a deal to reduce the budget deficit, the mortgage interest deduction will likely be part of the discussion.

Limits on a broad array of deductions could emerge in any budget deal. It is likely that any caps would be structured to aim at high-income households, and would diminish or end the mortgage tax break for many of those taxpayers.

Please continue reading at: New York Times

Morgan Stanley’s Doom Scenario: Major Recession in 2013 - via @CNBC

The global economy is likely to be stuck in the “twilight zone” of sluggish growth in 2013, Morgan Stanley has warned, but if policymakers fail to act, it could get a lot worse.

The bank’s economics team forecasts a full-blown recession next year, under a pessimistic scenario, with global gross domestic product (GDP) likely to plunge 2 percent.

“More than ever, the economic outlook hinges upon the actions taken or not taken by governments and central banks,” Morgan Stanley said in a report.

Under the bank’s more gloomy scenario, the U.S. would go over the “fiscal cliff” leading to a contraction in U.S. GDP for the first three quarters of 2013. In Europe, the bank’s pessimistic scenario assumes a failure of the European Central Bank (ECB) in cutting rates and a delay of its bond-buying program.

...The bank’s most optimistic scenario forecasts GDP growth of 4 percent in 2012 compared to around 3.1 percent this year.

Morgan Stanley isn’t alone in warning about a recession next year. Noted bear, Nouriel Roubini warned on Monday that certain key developments would exacerbate the downside risks to global growth in 2013.

“Until now, the recessionary fiscal drag has been concentrated in the euro zone periphery and the U.K.. But now it is permeating the euro zone’s core,” Roubini wrote. “And in the U.S., even if President Barack Obama and the Republicans in Congress agree on a budget plan that avoids the looming “fiscal cliff,” spending cuts and tax increases will invariably lead to some drag on growth in 2013 – at least 1 percent of GDP.”

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Nov 26, 2012

@eiagov Webcast and Release Updated Energy Forecasts to 2040

EIA to Release Updated Energy Forecasts to 2040
EIA presents reference case from Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Early Release Overview with projections of U.S. energy supply, demand, and prices to 2040.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
1:00 PM Eastern Time

A link to a webcast of the press conference will be available by 1:00 PM on
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at:

Energy, Resources and Environment Program
The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
Johns Hopkins University
1740 Massachusetts Ave, NW
The Kenney Auditorium
Washington, DC 20036
       For more info see Press Release


FREE occupational medicine podcasts from @NECOEM - #health, #safety

The New England College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (NECOEM) has just released three audio podcast lectures on aerospace medicine.There are free of charge and may be obtained by going to the resource library section of
 or by going to the link:
1. Aerospace Medicine: An Overview (Dr. Thomas Luna, MPH, FACOEM)
2. USAF Aerospace Medicine and RPA (Drone) Operations: Fighting From Home Station (Col. Joe Ortega, MD)
3. Communicable Disease and Air Travel (Col. Joanne Richardson, MD)

These may be heard on your digital tablet (e.g. Ipad), smartphone, or laptop. You may also refer to the handouts as you listen to these informative lectures.

SCCP webinar: The Quick Chemical Assessment Tool (QCAT), Dec 6

Title: The Quick Chemical Assessment Tool (QCAT): Hazard Assessment Tool for Small and Medium Businesses
Presenter: Alex Stone Senior Chemist Washington State Department of Ecology
Webinar Description: Because of the high level of technical and resource commitments required by many hazard assessment tools, a simpler alternative called the Quick Chemical Assessment Tool (QCAT) has been developed by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The primary goal of the QCAT is to assign an appropriate grade to a chemical using both a refined group of high priority hazard endpoints identified in the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Program and fewer data sources.

QCAT was written to enable small and medium sized businesses with limited resources and technical expertise to conduct a basic hazard assessment with the help of technical assistance resources. QCAT provides an introduction to the hazard assessment process and allows the identification of those chemicals with the highest level of concern. For those companies new to the hazard assessment process, the QCAT provides a good starting point.

Registration link for the webinar:

Join the Safer Chemistry Challenge Program!
The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable announces that companies have
until April 1, 2013 to join the 2025 Safer Chemistry Challenge Program (SCCP). The objective of this voluntary initiative is to motivate, challenge, and assist businesses in reducing their use of chemicals of concern to human health and the environment. The SCCP will also recognize and reward companies for finding safer alternatives to the hazardous chemicals they currently use. For information on how to become a member of the Safer Chemistry Challenge program visit
. Facilities in the Great Lakes basin can join the program at no cost for two years under the current EPA grant. Questions can be directed to

Green Chemistry Conference and GreenScreen on Jan 24-25, 2013 in Minneapolis!
We invite you to mark your calendar for Jan 24 for a GreenScreen training and Jan 25, 2013, for the Minnesota Green Chemistry Conference: Beakers to Business Plans. This day-long conference will include keynotes, panels, and break-out sessions. Morning sessions will focus on research, technology, work force and labor issues, and academic partnerships. The focus of the afternoon will be business success stories, and the “nuts and bolts” of implementing green chemistry for either start-ups or established companies. You can check out the agenda at:
 and register at:

Food scarcity: the timebomb setting nation against nation | food being used for fuel

..."We are seeing more hunger among children. The price of maize has doubled in the last year. Families used to have one or two meals a day; now they are finding it hard to have one."

Hunnicutt and Banda are linked by food. What she must pay for her maize is determined largely by how much farmers such as Brandon grow and export. This year the US maize harvest is down 15% and nearly 40% of what is left has gone to make vehicle fuel. The result is less food than usual on to the international market, high prices and people around the world suffering.

"This situation is not going to go away," says Lester Brown, an environmental analyst and president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington. In a new book, Full Planet, Empty Plates, he predicts ever increasing food prices, leading to political instability, spreading hunger and, unless governments act, a catastrophic breakdown in food. "Food is the new oil and land is the new gold," he says. "We saw early signs of the food system unravelling in 2008 following an abrupt doubling of world grain prices. As they climbed, exporting countries [such as Russia] began restricting exports to keep their domestic prices down. In response, importing countries panicked and turned to buying or leasing land in other countries to produce food for themselves."

"The result is that a new geopolitics of food has emerged, where the competition for land and water is intensifying and each country is fending for itself."

Brown has been backed by an Oxfam report released last week. It calculated that the land sold or leased to richer countries and speculators in the last decade could have grown enough food to feed a billion people – almost exactly the number of malnourished people in the world today.Nearly 60% of global land deals in the last decade have been to grow crops that can be used for biofuels, says Oxfam.

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Economics One: Fed Bought 77% of Federal Debt Increase in 2011: The Data Source

During an interview on CNBC Squawk Box this morning and in my Wall Street Journal oped of last Friday (June 1), I mentioned that the Federal Reserve purchased 77% of the net increase in the debt by the Federal government in 2011. Several people have asked for references for that amazing percentage. The calculation is due to my colleague John Cogan, and is based on data reported in the Federal Budget, FY2013 Historical TablesTable 7.1: Federal Debt at the End of Year: 1940–2017.

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TriHealth fires 150 employees for not getting flu shots

One of Cincinnati’s largest employers fired approximately 150 employees Wednesday for failing to get a required flu shot.

TriHealth offered all of its 10,800 employees free flu shots. Employees had a month to get the flu shot. The deadline was Nov. 16. Employees who did not get the shot were terminated Wednesday, a company spokesperson said.

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Nov 25, 2012

What Hath EE Wrought? Texting at 55 MPH

Nowadays, when you see a driver ahead edging out of his lane, your first thought is: Get off your phone. Just in time for Thanksgiving, one of the biggest driving holidays on the U.S. calendar, a new State Farm Insurance survey confirms just how widespread the automotive use and abuse of social media is.

Almost half of 18-to-29-year-olds admit to accessing the Internet on a cell phone while they’re behind the wheel—49 percent 'fessed up to scrolling while driving, up from 29 percent in 2009. E-mail is still the biggest Internet-based distraction—43 percent of young drivers said they mix inbox and gearbox. But social media are coming up in the passing lane: 36 percent of first-decade-drivers check Twitter and Facebook status from the driver’s seat, and 30 percent say they update their status while driving. (“My status is…distracted moron.”)

Drivers in older age groups have nothing to be smug about, though the percentage of people who report Internetting-while-driving does decline with age (doesn’t everything?). Overall, 21 percent of all drivers have tried to stay connected while staying in motion—that’s one-and-a-half times 2009's rate. Fifteen percent check social media, and, golly, 13 percent update their social networks while supposedly in control of a ton of hurtling metal, glass, volatile hydrocarbons, and fine Corinthian leather.

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"Survival Of The Fattest": It's A Fat, Fat World After All | via @ZeroHedge

 (ZeroHedge, Nov 24, 2012): Back in March, we first presented a rather stunning finding: by 2020 75% of Americans will be obese or overweight. This was promptly followed up with a post showing just how it is transpired that America became the fattest nation in the world in less than 20 years. What however may not be known, is that America’s fatness epidemic is not localized to the country that gave the world the McDonalds burger (and the McMansion): it really is a fat, fat world, after all. Behold – survival of the fattest:

It is hardly surprising in this light, then, that the estimate for number of people living with diabetes has been increased, to 371 million – an increase of 11% over 2011.

So with the sensitive issue of what one stuffs in their mouth becoming of paramount importance, primarily due to the avalanche in social costs as a result of escalating morbid obesity, here is a primer on the key facts and figures relating to obesity, domestic as well as foreign, and impacting not just the developed world but also emerging economies, from GS’ Mick Ready and Keyur Parekh.

Obesity is a unique phenomenon affecting almost all countries. It is defined as excessively high amount of body fat in relation to lean tissue, and individuals are generally considered overweight if their BMI is over 25, and clinically obese if their body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30.

The 1980s saw a sharp acceleration in BMI in OECD countries. Before 1980, global obesity rates were generally below 10% but today, in almost half of OECD countries, 50% of the population is overweight. Interestingly, data suggests that obesity is a pandemic that is now impacting not just the developed western countries, but also the emerging economies. In BRIC economies, obesity rates are somewhat lower than in their OECD counterparts, but urbanisation and lifestyle changes are driving a significant increase in average BMI. In China, the proportion of the population considered overweight increased from 13.5% in 1991 to 26.7% in 2006; in Brazil between 1975 and 2003, the obesity rate tripled in men and doubled in women; and in Russia 25% of women and 10% of men are now considered obese.

  • Data suggest that at levels of GDP below US$5,000 per capita there is a linear relationship between GDP and mean BMI, and that the only pre-condition for developing an obese population is the ability to afford food.
  • In low income countries, obese individuals are typically middle-aged women from wealthy, urban settings.
  • In countries with GDP of more than US$5,000 per capita pa, obesity is not characterized by gender, or age, but disadvantaged groups typically are at greater risk of becoming obese;
    • 33% of US adults earning over US$15,000 pa are obese, compared with 25% of those earning over US$50,000 pa.
    • 33% of adults who did not graduate high school were obese, compared with 21.5% who graduated from college.

What’s causing this increase?

Obesity is a complex problem, with multiple factors influencing its development within a population. These factors include systemic and environmental drivers, which provide an infrastructure to promote high growth, consumption of transport and recreational factors, which limit the physical activity within a population, and behavioral patterns, where individuals consume high-energy foods and lead sedentary lifestyles.

For an individual, obesity is caused by an energy imbalance: simply put, obese individuals consume more energy than they use. Energy intake is a clear factor in the rise of obesity, and dietary intake is strongly influenced by the kinds of food we eat. Changes in the food system to more mass-produced, processed foods with added salt, fats and sugars, coupled with more effective marketing of these products, especially targeting young children has changed the kind of food we eat which contributes to this energy imbalance.

To summarize, changes in the global food system, which produces readily available, inexpensive, highly processed and well marketed foods, coupled with changes in working patterns, has created an energy imbalance resulting in increased levels of obesity.

Sugary drinks: The choice of a heavy generation

There are multiple factors which are linked to the development of obesity globally, but sugar-sweetened drinks have attracted particular attention in the US. Sugar intake from sugar-sweetened drinks is thought to be the largest single caloric food source in the US, approaching 15% of the daily calorific intake in several population groups.

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Study suggests children in day care are more likely to be obese than those cared for by parents

Children who attend day care regularly are 50 percent more likely to be overweight than those who stay home with parents, according to a new University of Montreal study in Quebec. Lead researcher Marie-Claude Geoffroy said the disparity "cannot be explained by known risk factors such as socioeconomic status of the parents, breastfeeding, body mass index of the mother, or employment status of the mother."

Researchers studied more than 1,600 families with children born in 1997 and 1998 in Quebec, a sample that was representative of the majority of kids in the province. Mothers were interviewed about their children's care at ages 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 and 4. Children were put into groups based on the type of care they received most. Researchers concluded that 65 percent of children spent most of their time in day care. Just 19 percent were cared for mostly by a parent.

Researchers found no clear explanation for the weight disparities, but they argued that day care has the potential to reduce weight problems in children through promotion of physical activity and healthy eating. (Read more)

People living near uranium processing plant had up to a 5-fold risk of developing lupus

Excess Lupus Cases Found Near Uranium Plant 

WASHINGTON – People living in an area contaminated by a uranium processing plant had up to a 5-fold risk of developing systemic lupus erythematosus, researchers found.

In scrutinizing health issues among participants in the Fernald (Ohio) Community Cohort, 5 lupus cases occurred among the 4,187 individuals with low uranium exposure; 7 cases occurred among the 1,273 with moderate exposure, and 12 cases occurred among the 2,756 individuals with high exposure, said Pai-Yue Lu, MD, of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Following logistic regression modeling, lupus was found to be associated with high exposure (OR 4.81, 95% CI 1.38–16.75, P=0.043), Lu reported here at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

There was no association between low or moderate uranium exposure and lupus, she said.

The research team decided to probe the connection between the uranium processing plant and lupus because extensive health histories were created when the environmental hazard caused by the processing – which extracted uranium for use in the government's nuclear weapons program – became subject to a class action lawsuit.

Lu said that one of the outcomes of the lawsuit, which aimed at cleaning up the polluted environment, was the establishment of a cohort that followed individuals for 18 years. The plant closed in 1989, and the cohort was followed from 1990 to 2008. The site is now a nature preserve.

In the Fernald Community Cohort overall, Lu said, the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis occurs at the expected prevalence, but lupus is markedly increased.

Please continue reading By Nancy Walsh, Staff Writer, MedPage Today at:

Nov 24, 2012

Water Bottle Harvests Water From Air

ASTOUNDE...The Namib Desert Beetle climbs atop a desert hill in the morning as a fog sweeps over the land. The stenocara angles its body into the wind and miniscule water droplets from the fog stick to the hydrophilic peaks and gradually form droplets. Once enough water has accumulated, the droplets roll effortlessly down the hydrophobic slopes directly into the insect’s mouth, sustaining its life in the normally inhospitable environment.

Researchers are mimicking this natural trait to develop a bevy of important water harvesting platforms, including tent covers and roof tiles several times more effective at capturing H2O than the next most effective method. In the near future, it looks as if we’ll have water bottles that can capture drinkable water from the air as well.

NBD Nano: Self-Refilling Water Bottle

A company called NBD Nano is implementing this technology originally found only in nature into water bottles, with the hope that they’ll continually fill themselves while you’re on the go. In an interview with Public Radio International, we learn that the conceptual self-filling bottle can operate using a rechargeable battery or solar cell to speed-up accumulation and filter the water.

NBD Nano co-founder Deckard Sorensen wants this green technology available in all walks of life; installing it on people, cars, homes and anything else you can imagine. Sorensen believes that in a climate with 75% humidity, his device can harvest “three liters per square meter per hour”.

“We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution.”

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The World Falls Back In Love With Coal - via @Slashdot

"Richard Anderson reports on BBC that despite stringent carbon emissions targets in Europe designed to slow global warming and massive investment in renewable energy in China, coal, the dirtiest and most polluting of all the major fossil fuels, is making a comeback with production up 6% over 2010, twice the rate of increase of gas and more than four times that of oil. 'What is going on is a shift from nuclear power to coal and from gas to coal; this is the worst thing you could do, from a climate change perspective,' says Dieter Helm. Why the shift back to coal? Because coal is cheap, and getting cheaper all the time. Due to the economic downturn, there has been a 'collapse in industrial demand for energy,' leading to an oversupply of coal, pushing the price down. Meanwhile China leads the world in coal production and consumption. It mines over 3 billion tons of coal a year, three times more than the next-biggest producer (America), and last year overtook Japan to become the world's biggest coal importer. Although China is spending massive amounts of money on a renewable energy but even this will not be able to keep up with demand, meaning fossil fuels will continue to make up the majority of the overall energy mix for the foreseeable future and when it comes to fossil fuels, coal is the easy winner — it is generally easier and cheaper to mine, and easier to transport using existing infrastructure such as roads and rail, than oil or gas. While China is currently running half a dozen carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects — which aim to capture CO2 emissions from coal plants and bury it underground — the technology is nowhere near commercial viability. 'Renewed urgency in developing CCS globally, alongside greater strides in increasing renewable energy capacity, is desperately needed,' writes Anderson, 'butEurope's increasing reliance on coal without capturing emissions is undermining its status as a leader in clean energy, and therefore global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.'"

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Ecovillage plans in motion at Oklahoma State

...Led by Page and project director Jane Talkington, OSU is progressing toward the creation of an ecovillage on the northwest side of campus.
“If you are talking about sustainability, and you are comfortable, then you are not talking about sustainability,” said Talkington. “It should make you very uncomfortable because it leads to deeper questions. It makes you question everything that you are, how you live, how you eat, how you drive. It should be very uncomfortable.”
Page said the ecovillage would be multigenerational and not just for single students. Depending on what direction the project would go, the ecovillage could be a place for alumni, faculty, staff and community members.
“This generation of students wants to move away from gimme, gimme, gimme,” said Page. “But they don’t have a role model or a space to do that. ... The technology is easy. We have the technology. We can invent the technology. We have brilliant minds here. It’s the will to do it. It’s the will to make a difference. The will to live differently.”
There are approximately 2,000 functioning ecovillages located around the world, Talkington said. An ecovillage at OSU would be one of only a few located at universities in the United States.
Eight acres at McElroy and Walnut will be used by students as a test ground for the ecovillage. It is located behind the home of OSU President Burns Hargis.
“This is an intentional community,” said Brandon Burlingame, a senior landscape architecture student who is actively involved in the project.
Talkington said the ecovillage could be up and running within two years, much sooner if the commitment to proceed is forthcoming.
“This isn’t for everybody,” Page said. “But I think we have a significant amount of students who would want to, and an even bigger number who would benefit.”

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Algae can take energy from other plants

ScienceDaily -  Flowers need water and light to grow. Even children learn that plants use sunlight to gather energy from earth and water. Members of Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse's biological research team at Bielefeld University have made a groundbreaking discovery that one plant has another way of doing this. They have confirmed for the first time that a plant, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, not only engages in photosynthesis, but also has an alternative source of energy: it can draw it from other plants. This finding could also have a major impact on the future of bioenergy.

...In the future, this 'new' property of algae could also be of interest for bioenergy production. Breaking down vegetable cellulose biologically is one of the most important tasks in this field. Although vast quantities of waste containing cellulose are available from, for example, field crops, it cannot be transformed into biofuels in this form. Cellulose enzymes first have to break down the material and process it. At present, the necessary cellulose enzymes are extracted from fungi that, in turn, require organic material in order to grow. If, in future, cellulose enzymes can be obtained from algae, there would be no more need for the organic material to feed the fungi. Then even when it is confirmed that algae can use alternative nutrients, water and light suffice for them to grow in normal conditions.

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Nov 23, 2012

More Americans Will Used Food Stamps For Thanksgiving This Year Than Ever Before

U.S. News: More Americans used food stamps to buy their Thanksgiving dinner this year than ever before, according to a new report from the nonprofit government watchdog group The Sunlight Foundation.

The Food Stamp Challenge, which challenges higher-income families to live as if they are on food stamps, estimates that a person on food stamps has a budget of about $1.25 per meal. In other words, a family on food stamps must buy an entire meal per person for less than the cost of an average cup of coffee.

Usage of food stamps among low and no-income families has spiked since the collapse of the U.S. financial system four years ago. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, average participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamp program, has increased 70 percent since 2007. And economists have warned that usage of food stamps won’t go down until unemployment improves.

Please continue reading at: U.S. News

Community Aggregation of Power Purchasing Taking Off Across the Country. #green #energy

U.S. cities are racing to embrace measures allowing them to buy bulk power, often from renewable sources, on behalf of residents and small businesses, a practice known as community aggregation. Chicago has become the largest city in the country to authorize the consolidation of power purchases. Community choice aggregation (CCA) enables local governments to procure alternative energy supplies while maintaining the existing electricity provider for transmission and distribution services. Many states passed CCA laws as part of electric restructuring legislation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. States that have passed CCA laws include California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Already in Illinois, 165 municipalities have made the switch to locally purchased power or have submitted requests to utilities and nearly 200 others voted recently to start aggregation programs. In Cincinnati, officials estimate the typical household saves about 25% on their kWh rate under aggregation.

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Looking better...age-adjusted death rates for heart disease & cancer declined significantly by 32.5% in U.S.

The figure above shows age-adjusted death rates for heart disease and cancer in the United States from 1999-2009. During 1999-2009, age-adjusted death rates for heart disease and cancer declined significantly by 30.8% and 11.9%, respectively. The death rate for heart disease decreased at a faster pace than the cancer death rate during that period. The risk for death from heart disease was 31.9% higher than from cancer in 1999, whereas it was 3.6% higher from heart disease than from cancer in 2009.

* Data for 2008 and 2009 are preliminary.

The figure above shows age-adjusted death rates for heart disease and cancer in the United States from 1999-2009. During 1999--2009, age-adjusted death rates for heart disease and cancer declined significantly by 32.5% and 13.5%, respectively. The mortality rate for heart disease decreased at a faster pace than the cancer death rate during that period. The risk for death from heart disease was 32.7% higher than from cancer in 1999, whereas it was 3.6% higher from heart disease than from cancer in 2009.

Source: National Vital Statistics System. Mortality public use data files for 1999--2007, and preliminary data for 2008 and 2009.

Bonneville Generates More Power From Wind Than Hydro For the First Time.

In mid-October, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) saw its wind generation set a new hourly record with 4,273 megawatts (MW). More exciting for the utility was when wind generated more power than hydro for the first time. At 2:50 a.m. on October 16th, wind generated 3,169 MW while hydro generated 3,165 MW. Following its usual variability, wind out-generated hydro off and on through the day. In the wake of the passing weather front, wind was generating less than 100 MW by 1 p.m. the next day. “These were interesting milestones in the history of wind generation in the Northwest,” says Elliot Mainzer, executive vice president for Corporate Strategy at BPA.
When the wind generation exceeded hydro generation that early morning, it represented about 38 percent of regional and export load. The events posed no operational problems for BPA, indicating how much it has learned as it has integrated vast amounts of wind power.

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Fail of the year? Bill Gates Toilet Reinvention Contest? Problem solved in 1881

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp., talks about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's competition to create a next-generation toilet. The California Institute of Technology's Michael Hoffmann, who led a group that won first place in the contest, shows his project at the event in Seattle.


The gates foundation has done some wonderful and amazing work, but needs to focus on "now" technology to help people now.

There is no need for a project that awards high tech $1,000 dollar toilets... When there have been viable and affordable composting toilets for nearly 100 years? Compost is then used to burn as fuel, fertilizer or building material. 

Low tech options are typically the most affordable, viable and sustainable. - Haase


Earth Cloest from 1881Another example of early composting toilet history that throws the recent claims of some manufacturers that they invented composting toilets out the window.

A Composting Toilet World reader sent us in this wonderful photo of an advertisment for the “Self-Acting Earth Closet” from April, 1881 edition of “The Ironmongers’ Catalogue.”

Portable, and requires no fixing indoors or outside.
A substitute for the Water Closet, securing healthy homes, inoffensive drains, and garden fertility.

“Thou shalt not pollute rivers or water-courses.”



Nov 22, 2012

Senate Bill Rewrite Lets Feds Read Your E-mail Without Warrants - #tech #security #news

"A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law. [Sen. Patrick] Leahy's rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans' e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge."
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Google Glass Could Be the Virtual Dieting Pill of the Future - via @Slashdot

"In a year or two, augmented reality (AR) headsets such as Google Glass may double up as a virtual dieting pill. New research from the University of Tokyo shows that a very simple AR trick can reduce the amount that you eat by 10% — and yes, the same trick, used in the inverse, can be used to increase food consumption by 15%, too. The AR trick is very simple: By donning the glasses, the University of Tokyo's special software 'seamlessly' scales up the size of your food. You pick up an Oreo cookie, and then the software automatically scales it up to 1.5 times its natural size. Using a deformation algorithm, the person's hand is manipulated so that the giant Oreo appears (somewhat) natural. In testing, this simple trick was enough to reduce the amount of food eaten by 10%. The inverse is also true: shrinking the Oreo down to two-thirds its natural size increased food consumption by 15%. This new research dovetails neatly with an area of nutritional science that has received a lot of attention in the United States of Obesity recently: That the size of the serving/plate/cup/receptacle directly affects your intake. The fact is, there's a lot more to dieting than simply reducing your calorific intake and exercising regularly. Your state of mind as you sit down to eat, and your perception of what you're eating, are just as important — which is exciting news, because both of those factors can be hacked."
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Thousands of Natural Gas Leaks Found In Boston - via @Slashdot

"Due to old cast iron underground pipelines, natural gas leaks run amok in Boston, MA. '"While our study was not intended to assess explosion risks, we came across six locations in Boston where gas concentrations exceeded the threshold above which explosions can occur," Nathan Phillips, associate professor at BU, said in a statement.' With 'a device to measure methane' in a vehicle equipped with GPS, Duke and Boston University researchers created a nice little map showing the methane levels in parts per million at different points in the city. 'Repairing these leaks will improve air quality, increase consumer health and safety, and save money,' study researcher Robert B. Jackson, of Duke, said in a statement. 'We just have to put the right financial incentives into place.' It looks like money is an issue. Imagine that."
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Latino Poverty Rate Climbs to 28% | #economy

Fox News - Latinos poverty rates climbed to 28 percent after the census reconfigured its algorithm to take into account medical costs and government programs. The Hispanic poverty level rose after the government took into account safety-net programs such as food stamps and housing, which have lower participation among immigrants and non-English speakers.

Among the figures: 
 —If it weren't for Social Security payments, the poverty rate would rise to 54.1 percent for people 65 and older and 24.4 percent for all age groups.

—Without refundable tax credits such as the earned income tax credit, child poverty would rise from 18.1 percent to 24.4 percent.

—Without food stamps, the overall poverty rate would increase from 16.1 percent to 17.6 percent.

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Nov 21, 2012

How Safe Are America's 2.5 Million Miles of Pipelines?

The nation's aging oil pipelines are roughly 70 times safer than trucks when it comes to transporting fuel. But when a pipeline does fail, the consequences can be catastrophic
pipe map

At 6:11 p.m. on September 6, 2010, San Bruno, Calif. 911 received an urgent call. A gas station had just exploded and a fire with flames reaching 300 feet was raging through the neighborhood. The explosion was so large that residents suspected an airplane crash. But the real culprit was found underground: a ruptured pipeline spewing natural gas caused a blast that left behind a 72 foot long crater, killed eight people, and injured more than fifty.

Over 2,000 miles away in Michigan, workers were still cleaning up another pipeline accident, which spilled 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. Estimated to cost $800 million, the accident is the most expensive pipeline spill in U.S. history.

Over the last few years a series of incidents have brought pipeline safety to national – and presidential – attention. As Obama begins his second term he will likely make a key decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed pipeline extension to transport crude from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

The administration first delayed the permit for the pipeline on environmental grounds, but has left the door open to future proposals for Keystone's northern route. Construction on the southern route is already underway, sparking fierce opposition from some landowners and environmentalists.

The problem, protesters say, is that any route will pose hazards to the public. While pipeline operator TransCanada has declared that Keystone will be the safest pipeline ever built in North America, critics are skeptical.

"It's inevitable that as pipelines age, as they are exposed to the elements, eventually they are going to spill," said Tony Iallonardo of the National Wildlife Federation. "They're ticking time bombs."

Please read on By Lena Groeger and ProPublica at:

Image from: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration