Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘asthma’

Massive Red Tide Blooming in GOM Continues Growing

Posted by feww on August 12, 2014

World’s Largest ‘Sewage Pond’ hit by Biggest Red Tide in 10 Years

A massive red tide blooming off the coast of SW Florid, which is killing scores of fish, continues to grow.

The red tide stretches about 150km long and 100km wide in the Gulf of Mexico, researchers said.  The bloom was 130km long and 80km wide just last week.

“Satellite images from the Optical Oceanography Laboratory at the University of South Florida show a patchy bloom up to 60 miles wide and 90 miles long, at least 20 miles offshore between Dixie and northern Pinellas counties in northwest and southwest Florida.”

The bloom is the largest to plague the region since 2005, according to the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

“Florida red tide,” which the bloom is also known as, occurs when a microscopic algae called Karenia brevis (K. brevis) begins to multiply out of control.

K. brevis produces a toxin that attacks the central nervous systems of fish, marine mammals and birds. The toxin has recently killed scores of fish, eel, sea snakes and octopus.

“This bloom has caused an ongoing fish kill. FWC’s Fish Kill Hotline has received reports of thousands of dead and moribund benthic reef fish including various snapper and grouper species, hogfish, grunts, crabs, flounder, bull sharks, lionfish, baitfish, eel, sea snakes, tomtates, lizardfish, filefish, octopus, and triggerfish.”

The toxin can trigger respiratory distress in people, especially those with asthma, emphysema, or other respiratory conditions.

“It could have large impacts if it were to move inshore,” said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “It has been killing a lot of marine species, especially fish, as it waits offshore.”

“I have seen analogies that equate red tide with a forest fire,” said manager of the ocean technology program at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. “There is an ecosystem reset.”

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)

Algal blooms occur in natural waters used for drinking and/or recreation when certain types of microscopic algae grow quickly in water, often in response to changes in levels of chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer, in the water. Algal blooms can deplete the oxygen and block the sunlight that other organisms need to live, and some can produce toxins that are harmful to the health of the environment, plants, animals, and people. [Source: CDC]

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California Drought Could Worsen Water Contamination

Posted by feww on February 19, 2014



“Water is, after all, essential for life” —Dr Linda Rudolph

California’s drought could worsen water contamination and cause more health problems, health experts have warned.

Millions of Californians who rely on groundwater are facing increasing levels of contaminants due to dry conditions, said Dr. Linda Rudolph, co-director for the Center for Climate Change and Health in Oakland, California.

The state Department of Public Health has identified 17 communities—mostly in the Central Valley—with severely affected water systems.

“Many groundwater basins in California are contaminated, for example with nitrates from over application of nitrogen fertilizer or concentrated animal feeding operations, with industrial chemicals, with chemicals from oil extraction or due to natural contaminants with chemicals such as arsenic,” she said.

little water creek calif
“Little-Water Creek,” California.

Drought worsening health and safety problems

California’s drought is also worsening numerous other health and safety problems.

The lack of rain is drying out soils and increasing dust levels, and dust carries pathogens, said Rudolph.

“[This] increases allergy and asthma. And dust can also carry pathogens. Over the last decade we’ve seen an increase in Valley Fever, a fungal disease in the Central Valley. That can be increased when dust levels increase and the spores of this disease are carried in the dust.”

Other Health Problems

The drought could also spark other health problems, said Rudolph,  including an increase in diabetes in some rural communities because people turn to sugary fluids when drinking water becomes scarce .

“And when those other alternatives are things like soda, it just exacerbates health problems such as obesity,” she said.

Droughts , which are already causing crop disaster declarations across the Golden  State, are reducing agricultural crop yields, and could soon lead to significant food price increases.

“And we see the same thing when people have to pay more for food. Low income people often turn to calorie dense food that is associated with more calories, obesity and diabetes,” said Rudolph.

Running Out Of Water in 60 DAYS

Meanwhile, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced they are prioritizing assistance to the following public drinking water systems because they are running out of drinking water in 60 days:

System Name City County Population
City of Willits Willits Mendocino 8,062
Redwood Valley County Water District Redwood Valley Mendocino 3,969
Brooktrail Township Community Services District Willits Mendocino 3,800
Lake of the Woods MWC Frazier Park Kern 953
West Goshen Goshen Tulare 300
River Highlands Community Services District Smartsville Yuba 200
Washington Ridge Conservation Camp Nevada City Nevada 100
Camp Condor Taft Kern 75
Whispering Pines Apartments Mid-Pines Mariposa 55
Ophir Gardens Auburn Placer 45

California Drought

Drought persists across California. US  Drought Monitor has downgraded Humboldt and Trinity Counties drought conditions from degradation severe to extreme drought (D2 to D3). Areas near Monterey to Bakersfield have been downgraded from extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4).  Some 8 inches of snow reported on the ground at the Central Sierra Snow Lab near the Donner Summit reports, the lowest for this since at least 1946. Source: NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC.

State of Emergency

Governor Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency on January 27  amid the worsening statewide drought.  He called the “really serious,” adding that 2014 could be California’s third consecutive dry year. “In many ways it’s a mega-drought.”

57 California Counties Declared Crop Disaster Areas

All but one of the 58 counties in the state of California have been declared Crop Disaster Areas due to Extreme Drought conditions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 57 counties in the state of California as crop disaster areas due to the worsening drought, since the beginning of the year.

California State Resources

Related Links

FIRE-EARTH 2009 Forecast: Desertification of California in the Near Future Is Almost a Certainty

[NOTE: The above forecast and most of the links posted below have previously been filtered by Google, WordPress and others. Editor ]

Posted in 2014 disaster diary, 2014 Disaster Forecast, Climate Change, Global Disaster watch, News Alert | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who’s Afraid of Wildfires

Posted by feww on June 9, 2011

Smoke from wildfires burning in the US can severely impact human health and ecosystems

Wildfire smoke consists of a nasty mixture of air pollutants including  carbon monoxide (CO),  nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10). 

Smoke composition depends on the fuel type and moisture content, the fire temperature, wind conditions and other factors. Different types of wood and vegetation produce different compounds when burned because they have varying amounts cellulose, lignin, tannins and other polyphenols, fats, resins, waxes, oils, starches and to a lesser extent the carcinogen benzene.

Particulate matter is the major pollutant of concern because they can affect the lungs and heart. Particle pollution includes PM10 (diameters of 2.5 to 10 µm, or micrometers)  and PM2.5 (diameters of 2.5 µm or smaller).
NOTE:  The diameter of human hair varies from 20 to 180 µm.

About 40 million people in the US suffer from chronic lung diseases including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These patients can easily be affected by lower levels of pollutants that normally do not harm healthier people.

Wildfires: Future Trend

FIRE-EARTH would only assign a certain probability to a catastrophic volcanic explosion at, say, Yellowstone during the next 5 years (subject of a future discussion), but can forecast with near certainty large increases in the size and intensity of wildfires throughout the Americas, while the ailing forests last.

Air Quality Index (Combine Ozone and PM2.5) – AirNow

Historically, the AQI value of 100 is set at the level of the short-term standard for a pollutant and the AQI value of 50 at the level of the annual standard, if there is one, or at one-half the level of the short-term standard if there is not. The upper bound index value of 500 corresponds to the Significant Harm Level (SHL), established in section 51.16 of the CFR under the Prevention of Air Pollution Emergency Episodes program. The SHL is set at a level that represents imminent and substantial endangerment to public health. Source: EPA- Revising the Air Quality Index and Setting a Significant Harm Level for PM2.5 – February 12, 2007; URL Click to enlarge

Air Quality Index Hourly Ozone 

Smoke Detection/Forecasts

More information about wildfires and smoke hazards available at

National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter Final Rule (October 17, 2006):
Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter: OAQPS Staff Paper (Dec 05):
Particle Pollution and Your Health:
Air Quality Index Reporting Proposed Rule (December 9, 1998):
Air Quality Index Reporting Final Rule (August 4, 1999):

Environmental Protection Agency

Related Links

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Unfit for human consumption

Posted by feww on September 11, 2008

Is the EPA selling you anything unfit for human consumption?

EPA and the Dumping of Sewage Sludge on US Farmland

Consumer groups are pressing Congress to regulate against the practice of dumping of toxic sewage sludge on our farmland. “Farmers, scientists and victims of sludge poisoning will go before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday to investigate the Environmental Protections Agency’s role in the sludge dumped on farms and other lands.” (Source)

“We have enough problems with toxic food as it is without having our food grown in toxic soil and derived from animals who have been sickened, often almost to death, because of these toxins,” said Andrew Kimbrell, the executive director of the Center for Food Safety.

What is so toxic about the sewage sludge?

A lot of toxins are found in sewage sludge including:

  • E. coli
  • Prions (the ones that cause mad cow disease)
  • Highly toxic carcinogens used in flame retardants

Are there any victims?

Yes many! Sludge poisoning has caused serious illness, even death. Victims have reported headaches, fainting spells and nose bleeds. “Contact with sewage sludge can also cause asthma, respiratory problems and tumors. There have been several instances of death linked to exposure to the sludge.”

“It’s a very pernicious cycle here of taking the poisons out of the water but putting it back into our land, and therefore back into our food and water supply,” Kimbrell said. Dumping sludge on farmland is practiced widely because it is legal under EPA rules. About 3 million tons of sewage sludge is dumped on US farmlands each year, some 50 percent of the total production.

What About the EPA?

Citing “insufficient scientific evidence to any harmful effects” EPA nixed a petition in 1983 filed by 73 food and consumer groups asking for a moratorium on sludge dumping until the health, food and environmental impacts of the practice could be assessed.

What about the Department of Agriculture, Aren’t they also responsible?

Yes, they are. Andy McElmurray whose farm was contaminated from sewage sludge successfully sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The court ruled that the EPA’s “purposely manipulated data to squash scientific dissent,” and therefore their data was unreliable.

“Bad science and bad policy has to stop, and I think Congress has had it,” Kimbrell said. “There’s a mood for change now, and here’s where we can begin to see real change.”

Let’s hope Kimbrell would not be disappointed!

Posted in Climate Change, energy, environment, food, Global Warming, health, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Air Quality in Beijing 2008

Posted by terres on June 23, 2008

News of air quality in Beijing aren’t good

But hey, who cares? The athletes would probably be pumped with so much exotic performance enhancers they wouldn’t feel a thing.

As for the foreign visitors, they’ve got to be wealthy enough to travel to China and stay there for a week or two, right? And if you are wealthy, the discourse goes, you would know what’s good for you!

Air pollution can be seen down the main road of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square June 18, 2008 as paramilitary policemen march across it as part of the flag lowering ceremony at sunset. Australian Olympic officials have defended their decision to ban dozens of athletes from marching at the opening ceremony in Beijing because of concerns about pollution in the Chinese capital. Although it is not unusual for Australian athletes competing in the first few days to skip the ceremony to save their energy, Athletics Australia has ordered the entire team to stay away from Beijing for as long as possible because of concerns about air quality. REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA). Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!

What others say about the air quality, Beijing 2008:

Smoggy smoggy smoggy, oi oi oi

China has even changed the way it measures Beijing air quality so that the results appear better than they really are, report The New York Times and Beijing air-quality blogger What could be more thoughtful than that when it comes to putting your guests at ease? …

“We have had athletes come back from a recent test event and one athlete has got 10 days off training because of a respiratory problem,” Athletics Australia’s high performance manager Max Binnington told ABC radio. “We don’t want our athletes to be undertaking that sort of risk.” …

They needn’t worry about making excuses. All Australian attempts to avoid upsetting the hosts will be forgotten once the Americans turn up looking like Darth Vader.

Randy Wilber, the lead exercise physiologist for the US Olympic Committee, has urged American athletes to wear specially designed carbon filtration masks over their nose and mouth from the minute they set foot in Beijing until they begin competing …

Pollution cloud over the Olympics

With 47 days to go to the Olympics China has admitted pollution fears remain high and endurance events may have to be re-scheduled.

China insists Beijing’s air quality will meet World Health Organisation standards in August [Olympics from Aug. 8-24 and the Paralympics from Sept. 6-17.] It is limiting car traffic during the event, suspending construction work and closing and moving factories away from the city.

But it is one of the most polluted cities in the world and, with 3.5 million vehicles on the road, it’s among the most congested.

Beijing Announces Traffic Plan for Olympics

Beijing has 27 air-quality monitoring stations, but some observers have questioned whether the stations, many of which are in rural and mountainous areas in the city’s suburbs, accurately reflect the quality of air in the crowded urban center of the city where most people live — and where most Olympic events will take place. In recent days, one reporter at the news conference remarked, the hazy air has seemed polluted, though the environmental agency’s daily figures say the pollution level has been low.

Blood over Beijing

The Beijing Olympics will not be the world’s least controversial. China is under fire by human rights activists, the Olympic Torch relay has become a focal point for protests, while athletes from some nations have signed gag orders to stop them commenting on anything but sport. So much for sport and politics says Jacqui Lund. …

People and pollution ? two commodities China has in abundance. Both are badly managed, both are currently in the international eye. “This will be the People’s Olympics,” China promised when they were awarded the Olympic Games. “We will make the preparations for the Olympic Games a process of substantially improving the people’s living standards, both materially and culturally,” they claimed.

China budgeted around $37bn on the Olympics in Beijing. Their state-of-the-art Olympic facilities, the ‘Bird?s Nest’ National Stadium and the ‘Water Cube’ Aquatics Centre are structural wonders to behold.

Lurking in the shadows are China’s 40 million people living below the poverty line with no national healthcare system. No-one has been able to say how the Water Cube will feed and medicate the millions.

According to the China Rights Forum, the number of people displaced by Olympics-related development in Beijing is over 1.4 million.

Related Links:

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