Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Climate Change And Wellness

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

The AGU Science Policy Conference released this statement on global warming:

When climate change affects what we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink, the consequences can be deadly. Changes in climate also affect weather conditions, causing illnesses related to heat and incidents connected to severe weather events. The EPA even says that the spread of climate-sensitive diseases, such as a new strain of West Nile virus that emerged in 2002, depends partly on climate factors. In response, government and health officials must monitor climate change and implement policies for adapting to change while also mitigating risk.

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Dangers to Children: Sun, Bugs and Breathing

Friday, July 19th, 2013
Dangerous Air Quality Due to Ozone Levels

Dangerous Air Quality Due to Ozone Levels

What are three of the most dangerous natural threats to children? Exposure to the sun, mosquitoes (West Nile Virus), ticks (Lime Disease) and breathing. However, reducing your risk to these can create health risks as well. Too much sunscreen may prevent the body from producing vitamin D. The chemicals in insect repellent can pose a slew of long term health risks.

Obviously, not breathing results in death.  For instance, the day this article was in Philadelphia the government issued an “Action Day” where they advise active children not to breath outside.

Learn More About the Dangers of the Sun, Mosquitoes and Breathing
Philadelphia’s Air Quality

 

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Health And Climate Change

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Learn more about global warming.

by MedlinePlus Trusted Health — Information for You A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine from the National Institutes of HealthNational Institutes of Health

Weather can be hot or cold, dry or wet, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Climate is the average weather in a place over a long period of time. Changes in climate may be due to natural forces or from human activities. Today climate changes are happening at an increasingly rapid rate.

Climate change is altering weather and climate patterns that previously have been relatively stable. Climate experts think that climate change will bring increasingly frequent and severe heat waves and extreme weather events, as well as a rise in sea levels. These changes have the potential to affect human health in direct and indirect ways.

* Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.
* Global warming that has occurred since the 1970s caused over 140 000 excess deaths annually by the year 2004.
* The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030.
* Many of the major killers such as diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, malaria and dengue are highly climate-sensitive and are expected to worsen as the climate changes.
* Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.
* Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health.

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Olive Oil

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

New studies suggest that olive oil is an important part of your diet and may improve your quality of life; however, the making of olive oil is not that environmentally friendly.

The USDA says: For every gallon of olive oil that’s pressed from the ripe fruit, about 38 pounds of olive skins, pulp and pits are left behind. Known as pomace, these leftovers typically have low-value uses. But U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agricultural engineer Rebecca R. Milczarek and her colleagues are working with olive growers and olive-oil processors in California—where most of the nation’s commercial olives are grown—to find new, environmentally friendly, and profitable uses for pomace.

According to Milczarek, pomace from California mills is usually a wet, heavy goulash that ranges in color from green to brown to black to purple, and has an aroma somewhat like that of olive tapenade, a flavorful spread made of finely chopped or puréed olives, anchovies, capers, garlic and olive oil.

Milczarek notes that one key to creating higher-value uses for pomace is to develop techniques that millers can use to quickly and affordably dry it on-site. That would make the pomace lighter, and easier and less expensive to ship to, for example, a centralized processing plant. There, specialized equipment could be used to extract additional oil or perhaps compounds for use in new foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or other products.

In her research, Milczarek is investigating the dynamics of drying pomace. The goal of these studies is to determine precisely how long it would take for water to diffuse from the pomace under specific conditions.

In preliminary experiments, documented in a 2011 peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Food Engineering, Milczarek’s team dried small batches of fresh pomace, using a combination of microwave and convection (hot forced air) heating. The drying rates for the four internal temperatures studied—104 degrees, 122 degrees, 140 degrees, and 158 degrees Fahrenheit—averaged about 28 percent lower than those reported in some studies conducted by other scientists.

The bottom line? Lower drying rates mean more drying time is needed in order for the pomace to dry sufficiently.

What can olive mills do about that? For commercial drying, pomace would be carried on a conveyor belt through a “drying tunnel.” With the drying rates in mind, the tunnel could be lengthened, or the conveyor belt could be slowed, to ensure that pomace emerging from the tunnel isn’t damp and prone to mold.

Of course, drying adds to mills’ energy costs. However, the combination of microwave and convection drying that Milczarek tested is inherently more energy-efficient than drying options that are based solely on convection, she points out.

Two features of Milczarek’s study—keeping the pomace’s internal temperature steady when testing each temperature regimen, and taking pomace shrinkage into account—likely made the research unique among olive-pomace-drying experiments and contributed to the accuracy of her results.

Milczarek is with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif. ARS is the USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

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How Sustainable Is Your Seafood?

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

 

sustainability rankings of seafood retailers 2013

ImageCredit: Greenpeace, from “Carting Away the Oceans 2013″ Report

Last week, Greenpeace USA released the seventh edition of their popular Carting Away the Oceans report, which ranks the sustainable seafood performance of the nation’s 20 largest supermarket chains. Industry leaders like Wegmans (a former EDF partner on salmon and shrimp sourcing), Whole Foods and Safeway once again scored in the top five, while Winn Dixie, Publix and Supervalu perennially find themselves at the bottom of the rankings.

This year’s report places extra emphasis on the ways that these companies approach pressing conservation policy issues, such as the approval of genetically-modified salmon, the advancement of industry-wide seafood traceability, and catch methods for canned tuna.

Perhaps the report’s biggest surprise was the improvement shown by prepared foods leader Trader Joe’s, which rocketed up 12 spots (from 15th in 2012 to 3rd this year). This comes just weeks after public scrutiny of the company’s follow-through on its 2012 sustainable seafood promise. However, Greenpeace gave Trader Joe’s a major pat on the back for removing several unsustainable species from their inventory and switching to better sources of canned tuna.

Although we don’t always agree with our Greenpeace colleagues about the composition of their ‘red list’, we were happy to see them recognize the improving sustainability of Gulf of Mexico red snapper and grouper – fisheries that EDF has worked in for more than a decade. They even gave a nod to EDF partner H-E-B for their strong support of the GulfWild traceability program.

So until next year’s edition, try to use your seafood dollars to support companies that are on the right track. If you are uncertain about the right species to purchase, you can refer to our recently revamped “Seafood Selector.” Let’s hope that the good continue to get better and the not-so-good get serious about seafood sustainability.

More On Our Environment

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