Pesticide residue on fruits and vegitables
November 10, 2015 —
Produce available in the US found to contain the highest number and concentrations of pesticides for domestic and imported combined. It appears to be a reasonable assumption that this would be true of other countries as well.
1. Apple
2. Grape
3. Potato
(And the following, which are not commonly available everywhere in India.)

Nectarines, Strawberries, Celery, Spinach, Sweet bell peppers, Cucumbers, Cherry tomatoes, Snow peas (imported), Hot peppers, Kale /collard greens)

Produce least likely to hold pesticide residues; few pwesticides were detected and in low concentrations.
1. Avocado
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapple
4. Cabbage
5. Sweet pea, frozen
6. Onion
7. Asparagus
8. Mango
9. Papaya
10. Kiwi
11. Eggplant
12. Cauliflower
13. Sweet potato

(From the Environmental Working Group’s 2015 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce)

Long Fight for Dignity
November 30, 2014 —
The disaster in Bhopal, caused by the leak of poisonous gas from the Union Carbide pesticide factory nearly 30 years ago, is still continuing. One-fifth of the half a million people exposed to toxic gases in December 1984 continue to battle exposure-induced chronic illnesses today and the death toll, currently at 25,000, continues to rise, as does the number of people with cancers and tuberculosis, and children with congenital malformations.

A second disaster from the factory is ongoing and affecting 50,000 families. For up to 24 years, the victims of this second malady have drunk and cooked with local groundwater containing chemicals and heavy metals that cause cancer and birth defects and damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, brain and other organs. Scientific studies carried out by the government and non-government agencies have established that these chemicals and heavy metals in the ground water have leached from the hazardous waste recklessly dumped by Union Carbide in and around the factory. Available records show that this disaster started at least two years before the gas disaster and, given the scientific evidence of its spreading, continues to find new victims.

Both disasters are attended by a similar course of events about them. First, the origins of both are located in the Bhopal Methyl isocynate plant. The untested and comparatively cheaper technology caused the gas disaster whereas it is the unsafe design of the waste management system that caused the contamination of the groundwater. Second, both disasters were preventable, in the sense that there was sufficient warning of the occurrence of a life- and health-threatening situation. In the case of the gas disaster, the warning was in the occurrence of the comparatively smaller leak of Methyl isocynate (MIC) at the Institute, West Virginia plant in September 1984. Internal correspondence of of Union Carbide shows that as early as May 1982, the Danbury, Connecticut, headquarters was aware of the leakage of toxic material from the Solar Evaporation Ponds where the hazardous wastes were dumped. In both cases the warnings were not followed up. Third, Union Carbide actively suppressed information on the health consequences. Fourth, scientific agencies downplayed the impact and downsized the liability of the corporation. Fifth, the successive governments at the state and the centre neglected to protect the legal rights of the victims, a constitutional obligation. In the case of the gas disaster, the collusive settlement that the government secretly entered into with Union Carbide meant that 93 per cent of the exposed population received only Rs. 25000 as compensation and the rest did only marginally better. In the case of the contamination-affected population, there has been no official initiative towards registering claims. Sixth, government initiatives for providing rehabilitation, particularly to the thousands of children with congenital disabilities are absent. Seventh, victims of both disasters faced arrests, beatings and false criminal charges for demanding their constitutional rights through democratic forms of protest. Lastly, the judiciary in both the US and India failed the victims of both disasters.

The striking similarities in the unfolding script of both the disasters underline the systemic impediments to justice, the corporate machinations to evade liability and the complicity of government agencies in corporate crime.
(Adapted from article in the Hindu, 30 November 2014, by Satinath Sarangi, founder-member of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.)

Environmental toxins may take a toll on newborns: Navi Mumbai study

April 28, 2013 — A medical study conducted by Dr Arbinder Singal, a paediatric urologist with MGM Hospital in Vashi, Maharashtra,  among 1,000 children born in a Navi Mumbai hospital could be an indicator of the growing effect of environmental toxins on the human reproductive system.

The study, which was presented at the 24th congress of the European Society for Paediatric Urology in Genoa, Italy, last Friday, showed there is a growing incidence of genital abnormality among boys possibly because of the increasing exposure to endocrine disruptor chemicals. Known as phthalates and bisphenol-A, these chemicals are used in plastic bottles, food wraps, cosmetics, toys, etc. Experts say that chemicals in pesticides, painkillers and cigarettes too can disrupt the hormone system.

His team checked 1,154 children on the first or second day of birth for genital abnormalities.

An increase in incidence of male reproductive disorders has been noted all over the world, said Dr. Singal. “Such disorders are thought to be the result of chemical exposure that interfere with the sex hormones during development and sex differentiation which happens during 8 to 12 weeks of foetal development,” he said.

The Navi Mumbai study noticed an alarming increase, almost 200%, in the incidence of undescended testicles. “We found almost 5% of the full-term newborn male babies had undescended testes,” he said. The male hormone, testosterone, is produced in the testicles, which are two oval-shaped male sex organs located inside a small sac called the scrotum that is located under the penis. The last study in India done in 1972 showed an incidence of 1.6%. “If we include milder forms of undescended testes, the incidence may be as high as 8.7%,” he added.

In 70% of the cases, testes descend within the first few months of life. But what is worrying is that the other 30% will need surgical correction. “An extrapolation of our results suggest that about 7 lakh babies would be born in India with undescended testes. Even if there is natural correction in 70% of the children by 6 months of age, there would still be 2.1 lakh babies every year who will need surgery for the condition in India,” he added. If this condition is not treated, it could lead to fertility problems, torsion and cancer formation.

The team also found a high incidence of hypospadias, a condition in which the “pee-hole” isn’t aligned with the opening of the penis. “We calculated the incidence at almost 1 in every 126 male babies. Extrapolating this data, over 1 lakh babies will be born with hypospadias in India,” he said.

Dr Singal said his results should serve as a wake-up call on environmental pollution. “All vegetables and fruits which come to our markets in metros have some exposure to chemicals and it’s worrisome to think what we will see coming up in next few years,” he added.

Naranammozhy, Pathanamthitta, March 29, 2013  (Summary of Report in The Hindu)
The Chembanmudimala, a hill about 3,825 ft above mean sea level, is fast fading into history like its mythical protector, Shaktan Velan, thanks to two illegal granite quarries and crusher units functioning in this environmentally fragile hill tract over the past nine years.

The people of Chembanoly and Vakamukku on the peripheries of the quarries fear indiscriminate blasting and crushing of rocks can render this scenic, fertile and ever-green hills a mere mythological entity.

The local panchayat had not given clearance to the quarry operators – Kavumkal Granites and Manimalethu Granites. The legal opinion received by the panchayat on an application seeking clearance byKavumkal Granites was that the local body “should not permit operation of the quarry without production of the environmental clearance issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.” Rules say quarries in more than five hectares could be permitted to operate only if the environmental clearance certificate is obtained from the MoEF.

Many in the area are afflicted with bronchitis or cancer due to the release of silica dust from the blasting and crushing.



Chennai, January 10, 2013 —
In an effort to avoid the use of mercury-based equipment, a total of 1700 thermometers, 300 hub cutters and 1000 BP apparatus that do not utilize mercury will soon be supplied to 14 hospitals in the Chennai and Kancheepuram district. Mercury thermometers may soon be on their way out from the city hospitals.
This is part of a two-year United Nations Development Programme. Of the 70 lakh rupees that had been provided by by the UNDP to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Rs. 38 lakh has been released to the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation for procuring mercury-free equipment.
A total sum of Rs. 1.40 crore had been earmarked for the UNDP project which aimed to “demonstrate and promote best techniques and practices to reduce health care waste and avoid environmental release of dioxins and mercury.”
Mercury has toxic effects and exposure to the metal can cause damage to the brain, kidney, and lungs.
Another Rs. 20 lakh was also released for the purchase of equipment for G.J. Multiclave India Pvt. Ltd., a facility to treat medical waste at Thenmelpakkam near Sriperumbudur.
The amount covers fifty per cent of the cost of equipment to continuously monitor the release of dioxins during incineration, a new autoclave and a shredder.

HYDERABAD, 25 December 2012 –
While the issue of pollution in the state has become a topic of international research, the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB), the premier watchdog body, has been rendered toothless as a consequence of political pressure, apathy of the bureaucracy and ignorance of the public.

Even though the Board initiated action against various polluting industries, this was not taken to its logical conclusion. APPCB had earlier ordered the bulk drug units which were found to be polluting effluents to be closed down. But the state government is now reportedly planning to not only lift the ban, but also allow the units to manufacture in quantities and numbers in excess of what has been approved by the APPCB.

The dimensions of the damage caused by fire that broke out at Nagarjuna Agrichem Limited at Srikakulam on June 30 has never been assessed with respect to the volatile organophosphate compounds released by the pesticides stored in the factory and inhaled by the workers, fire fighters and those in the vicinity.

Vishakhapatnam and its bowl area was known for its polluting industries for the past many years and had entered the ‘critically-polluted’ category. Years on, it is still on the ‘critically-polluted’ list.

Citizens too have not done their bit to free our water bodies from pollution. Hotels, resorts, pubs, restaurants, fast food units etc. should be answerable for the manner in which they disposed off the waste and effluents they generated.

Though the advantages of using clay Ganesh idols for immersion during the Ganesh Chathurthi had been widely advertised, people continued to use non-biodegradable idols coloured with paints containing heavy metals. The APPCB itself is guilty of not shutting down illegal electroplating industries that are discharging harmful heavy metals into the Hussainsagar. The Banjara lake has also been reduced to a swamp with solid waste and sewerage effluents flowing directly into it. The situation has worsened last year because of Water Board’s clumsy construction of intervention and diversion network that do not work in spite of spending crores of public funds. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal corporation has also sanctioned construction work in the lake bed in total violation of the WALTA Act and Supreme Court directives.

APPCB has so far failed to take action against these erring government agencies, though it has carried out on-site inspections in the presence of civil society members and acknowledged that the pollution does exist.
(Adapted from Deccan Chronicle, 25 December 2012, article by Jasveen Jairath, an environmentalist and founding convener of SOUL (Save Our Urban Lakes) and an expert in water management.)

HYDERABAD, 24 December 2012 –
The city should be heading for a major health crisis if the municipal authorities do not improve sanitation and clean up the city, say experts. Two years ago, the city was ranked 88th at the national level in terms of sanitation, environment-friendliness and other health parameters.
If we do not act now, we will fall into a major calamity like Surat did, Dr. Vasanth Kumar of Osmania University said.
(Adapted from Deccan Chronicle, 24 December 2012)

BANGALORE, November 7, 2012 –
The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday pulled up the Karnataka government for its inaction over the garbage crisis in Bangalore.
The court expressed its concern that the government has not yet looked into the problem. The court was hearing public interest litigation petitions (PILs) on garbage.
The Bench also directed the Secretary, Urban Development Department, and the Managing Director of the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation, to present themselves in court during next hearing scheduled on November 20.
The Bench has directed the government to identify five sites in different directions of the city to double as temporary landfills till a system of permanent waste processing is in place.
(Adapted from the Hindu, Nov 7, 2012)

Ninety percent of Copenhageners own a bike.
Only 53 percent of Copenhagen households own a car.
Fifty-eight percent of Copenhageners use a bike on a daily basis for at least small trips,
Thirty Seven percent make their daily commute on bikes. (The city’s target is 50 percent by 2015.)
Many government service providers use bicycles, like postal workers and police officers. With a robust public transportation network to complement the biking routes, only 31 percent need to commute by car.
The energy impacts of this:
Bicycles have displaced more than one-third of all transportation fossil fuel use in Copenhagen.
In this process, eliminated 90,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
(Adapted from the Hindu)

One of the most favoured holiday attractions in Thiruvananthapuram, the Veli Tourist Village, is to go ‘Plastic-free’ soon. Over 35,000 visitors of all ages arrive at this spot in one week.

In spite of the authorities clearing a large quantity of items such as plastic cups, plastic bottles, ice cream cups, ice candy covers, Styrofoam articles, cigarette packets and  liquor bottles – smoking and drinking liquor in public places is an offense -, it has become difficult to keep the place in a environment-friendly manner.

Soon visitors will not be allowed to carry plastic bags or containers to the park. Authorities are planning to set up drinking water fountains so that people will not have to carry bottled water to the park.
(Adapted from the Hindu)

SEVAGRAM, Maharashtra  –  6 October, 2012

The ‘Nirmal Bharat Yatra’ began yesterday from Sevagram in Wardha District in Maharashtra to increase awareness about cleanliness among people through programmes which will be conducted at various locations as the Yatra progress. The main idea of the Yatra is to make the country ‘Open Defecation Free’ and to ensure proper sanitation in rural India.

The Yatra will travel almost 2000 kms through villages from Maharashtra to Bihar and end in Bettiah town of West Champaran District in Bihar on November 19. Bollywood actress Vidya Balan is the brand ambassador of Nirmal Bharat Yatra.

It is worth noting that Sikkim has become the first state in India which is defecation free and Hivre Bajar village in Maharashtra, the first defecation free village in the country.
(Adapted from the Hindu)

The Central Prison at Thiruvananthapuram will have solar energy, according to a new project which will be inaugurated today by the home minister, Kerala. This is being set up at a cost of Rs. 7.9 crores and will be a relief for the prison which had been charged by the State Electricity Board  a sum of Rs. 1.27 crores annually in electricity charges.

Solar energy will be utilized for street lighting inside the prison, lights and fans on all blocks, steam cooking, water heating, chapathi making and even pumping of water. Approximately 230 KW of power is expected to be produced in this manner. The state is also taking up the solar energy programme for other jails in the state and a sum of 25.56 crores has been set aside for this.

Jail authorities are of the view that since most jail escapes have taken place during power cut, switching to solar power will eliminate such incidents as power will be available 24 hours a day at the same time there will be a back-up power for another 12 hours.
(Adapted from the Hindu)

MANGALORE,  26 September 2012 –

Mangalore City Corporation will soon monitor on-line whether its contractors have cleared solid waste from bins and containers in the city daily. The mobile-based technology, already implemented by Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, would be adopted by Mangalore City Corporation to monitor the work of the contractors who are supposed to remove garbage. The contractors, immediately after clearing a bin should take its photograph on a cell phone and up-load the picture to the website using the pre-loaded software in the cell phone. The picture would be on the website within 10 seconds with the date, time and location of the bin or container.

On the other hand, the website would have a map of the city with the locations of bins and containers and black spots (places minus bins and containers where people daily dump solid waste).

It would be mandatory for the contractor to upload the photograph of bins and containers which had not been cleared. Photographs of such bins would be recorded in red icons, while the cleared ones will be recorded in green icons.

Public also will be able to see the work of contractors on the website.

(Adapted from the Hindu)

Zoo Compound to Get Pollution-free Vehicles
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, 22 September 2012 –
Visitors to the Thiruvanthapuram zoo will be able to ride pollution free inside the zoo compound, thanks to the new battery-operated electric vehicles, to be in operation soon. There will be a nominal fee for the ride. A test drive had been conducted on a 14-seater electric vehicle at the premises last Friday. The Eco-friendly and non-polluting vehicles are well-suited for use in the zoo as they did not cause any noise or air pollution. It is expected that at least four such vehicles will be required for the purpose.

Another major problem faced by the zoo authorities is the amount of plastic items thrown all over the area by visitors to the zoo, though they are strictly forbidden from carrying such items inside the zoological gardens. Plastic bags, bottles, and wrappers are supposed to be deposited near the entry point to the zoo. However, a sizable quantity of plastic manages to find its way on the zoo premises daily. It seems that either the public is not aware of the problems caused by plastic to the world (which is very unlikely), or they are just pretending that they are not aware of such problems just to make their point. Many argue that they have ‘just a bottle of water and it is too hot!!’. Some say they have children with them and they have to take water inside. Some just conceal things smuggling these things in to the zoo.

Many of the ‘smuggled in’ items by visitors are left behind. Items like toffee wrappers, plastic covers that once contained food items and even plastic bottles are left behind carelessly. The persons who carry them in to the premises do not seem to bother about carrying them back when they come out of the premises.
(Adapted from the Hindu)

HYDERABAD, Andhra Pradesh –
The Students of Mother’s Integral School at Vidyanagar, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh had taken up the responsibility of bringing awareness among people regarding pollution. The students have taken up the project supported by Schneider Electric, campaigned against the use of Ganesh idols made of toxic chemicals. On the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi festival on September 18, they displayed placards with captions such as ‘save nature’, ‘do not pollute water’, ‘use small Ganesh idols’ and others. They also displayed Ganesh idols made of Eco-friendly materials such as clay, paper, pulp and others, which were very beautiful too.
(Adapted from the Hindu)

KOLLAM, Kerala –
Students of Chettikulangara High School have set up an ‘environment panchayat’ on September 17, in connection with the ‘World Ozone Day’, to highlight the environmental issues in the neighborhood and bring them to the attention of authorities concerned.
The Panchayat serves as a platform to create awareness among the students on environmental issues in the area. “The idea is to create an opportunity to students to learn about the Eco-system and resources of the land along with their study and to make them understand the depletion of natural resources so that they could also be partners in their conservation efforts,” said the coordinator of the environmental Panchayat. They plan to submit resolutions to the Chettikulangara Grama Panchayat for follow up, after discussion on environmental issues. The environmental panchayat, which is to meet once a month, now has 21 members.
(Adapted from the Hindu)

KOCHI- September 21, 2012 –
The Vyttila mobility hub, a state of the art transportation system at Kochi, Kerala, has been granted environmental clearance for expansion by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), subject to conditions, which also include among others, that the mobility hub authorities should assure that, no used oil, diesel or grease will be disposed off into the nearby Kaniyampuzha River. The SEIAA has given clearance to Vyttila Mobility hub, based on the recommendation of the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC).
Conditions also include to provide fresh embankment at the riverside, preventing bank erosion and other hazards like falling into water and disposal of solid wastes into the river.
Diesel storage to be updated with modern techniques, provision of proper working sewage treatment plant with complete recycling facility, avoiding the use of septic tanks, are some of its recommendations. The SEAC has also advised to consider shifting of oil and fuel storage facility and the bus clinic away from the river frontage. The mobility hub authorities were also advised not to cut down trees at the site without permission from the concerned authorities.
(Adapted from the Hindu)

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