Boulder Weekly EcoBriefs

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Kroger is just one of the companies being urged to switch to safer can linings. Other companies include Del Monte, McCormick, Nestlé and more.

BPA found in linings of canned foods

A new report released March 30 finds Bisphenol A (BPA) in the linings of two-thirds of America’s canned foods. Nearly 200 cans from distributors like Campbells, Kroger and Del Monte were tested from 19 different states for the chemical. BPA is a chemical known to have health risks. As an endocrine disruptor, BPA interferes with hormone processes, making children and pregnant women the most at-risk. Some possible health effects from the chemical are reproductive disorders, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The report, published by six nonprofit organizations, including the Breast Cancer Fund and the Ecology Center, finds that 67 percent of cans tested contain BPA, despite FDA support to remove the chemical from food packaging since 2010.

The study also raises worry over what some companies are replacing BPA with, meaning the “BPA free” labeling doesn’t necessarily give you a safer can.

“Our investigation raises the concern that retailers and brands could be replacing BPA-based epoxy with regrettable substitutes,” the study states.

One such substitute is a PVC-based copolymer, found in 36 percent of national brands. This raised an issue, as PVC is made of vinyl chloride, which is a known carcinogen.

The food industry has been continuously urged to move away from BPA since initial bans of the chemical in baby products in 2008, but has made little progress.

Risk of Zika outbreaks grow with summer heat

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is known to carry the Zika virus, takes off after feeding.The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is known to carry the Zika virus, takes off after feeding. Courtesy of the CDC/James Gathany

As summer draws near and temperatures rise, many major cities across the U.S. are increasingly at risk for Zika virus outbreaks. By combining factors of temperature, population, travel and poverty, a study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s (NCAR) mosquito and disease experts estimate potential outbreaks for 50 U.S. cities.

As winter conditions are too cold for the Aedes aegypti mosquito inmost of the U.S. besides parts of southern Florida and Texas, its range grows in spring and fall. By studying this specific mosquito, which has been spreading the virus throughout South America in the last year, researchers have determined it will likely migrate up the East Coast to New York City and across the southern U.S. over to Los Angeles in the coming months. Denver and the rest of Colorado face small risk thanks to a dry climate.

Cities that have potentially abundant populations of the mosquito, travelers from South America and larger populations under the poverty line are the most at-risk, which include Miami, Orlando and Houston. However, the researchers assert the virus is unlikely to spread as fast as it has in South America, given that the vast majority of Americans live and work in sealed buildings with air-conditioning.

There is no vaccine for Zika, so the most one can do is prevent transmission. The virus can be transmitted from mosquito bites, sexual contact, blood transfusion or from mother to child. To prevent the possible spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest usual mosquito bite prevention including wearing insect repellent, long sleeves and wearing clothing treated with permethrin, a popular insect repellent. 

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PA announces new regulations on methane emissions

Wikimedia Commons/Nicholas Tonelli

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced new rules to cut methane pollution from the oil and gas sector across the state. These rules seek to cut emissions from leaks and waste that occur during the process of obtaining, transporting and processing of natural gas. This is an important step for Pennsylvania, as the state produces the second most natural gas of any U.S. state, after Texas.

The framework of the plan is provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and has a broad reach on new regulations and permits for the oil and gas industry. By including regulations for new and old sources of oil and gas, as well as transmission and distribution of the products, the state is attempting to regulate natural gas at every step, creating guidelines for newly developed sources while keeping existing sources up to par.

“We are uniquely positioned to be a national leader in addressing climate change while supporting and ensuring responsible energy development, creating new jobs, and protecting public health and our environment,” Wolf said in a press release.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while accounting for 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, methane is much more efficient at trapping radiation than carbon dioxide, giving it a comparably larger effect on climate change. The EPA also reports that the effects of methane are 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide in a 100-year period. As Boulder Weekly has previously reported, several other leading scientists argue methane is 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Natural gas systems are the second largest emitter of methane in the country, not far behind domestic livestock. The Clean Air Council reports that electricity generation accounts for 82 percent of toxic air pollution in Pennsylvania, which ranks second in toxic air pollution behind Ohio. The stricter regulations on methane emissions aim bring the state one step closer to clean air.

Read the original story here