Tag: toxins

Concrete Kills: Burdens Outweigh the Benefits

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 25, 2021 by Michael Wells

After water concrete is the most widely used substance in the world. But this does not mean it is safe. Concrete is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. It outweighs the combined mass of every tree, bush, and shrub on Earth, and it hardens and degrades slowly. Joni Mitchell once wrote a song about paving paradise to put up a parking lot, and that has already happened. 

Companies and governments have stripped mountains, ripped sand out of beaches, and taken lake and ocean water to feed the massive demand for concrete, the substance that produces buildings for the modern world. Concrete takes so much from the environment, and, in return, the manufacturing of concrete belches CO2 into the atmosphere and spreads harmful particles in the air that causes cancer and respiratory ailments. And it exacerbates the carnage of hurricanes like Katrina and Harvey. It did so by preventing water from being absorbed into the concrete covered ground. In short, concrete is a menace that we all live and work in, on, around, and near.

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Heart of the matter. No material has made the building of the modern world more possible from the construction of the Pantheon in ancient Rome to the Empire State Building. None of it would have been possible without concrete. But that has come at a huge price to the environment, animals, and people. 

“Unfortunately, a cement plant makes for a horrible neighbor,” writes Fred Siegel in his book, Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed? It is one of the least regulated industries on the planet, and it is largely run by organized crime. What a scheme: perhaps the world’s greatest polluter run by the worst criminals, which makes dead bodies entombed in concrete foundations seem almost quaint by comparison. From thousands of concrete plants that are everywhere it produces mercury, cement kiln dust, burns toxic waste (while lying about it), produces cancer causing particulate matter, and uses toxic gases and metals. 

Time to face the music. In order to succeed at carbon drawdown, we have to return to the Garden of Eden. Very exciting! #ActNow Take a listen.

How this impacts you personally. Concrete is in your backyard, and under your feet as you read this article. You drive on it, play on it, and your house, office, and apartment sit on it. You cannot escape it. The problem is two-fold: the production of the concrete is extremely harmful, and the concrete itself is harmful. As the saying goes, they get you coming and going, they being the industry with a bottomless need for production that has the ear(s) of most politicians. 

Take Harris County where Houston, Texas sits: it has 188 concrete plants due to there being no zoning laws in Texas. In 2015, 5,200 premature deaths were caused by particulate matter from concrete according to a study done by Rice University. The study states concrete production is one of the deadliest forms of air pollution because it produces massive amounts of CO2 and other harmful chemicals, and the dust it produces causes cancer, bronchitis, COPD, and other breathing issues. 

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Unfortunately, concrete plants are located disproportionately in poor neighborhoods and communities of color. Another disturbing fact is ⅓ of concrete batch plants are a short walk from a school or a daycare. 

As if all of these facts were not disturbing enough, there is a company in Scotland that wants to sell you concrete made of toxic ash. No, this is not an Onion article. Given the prevalence of coal ash in the United States, this type of business could easily take off  because the EPA does very little to regulate the concrete industry. And why is that? Because it is everywhere, and it contributes to most people who are in Congress. Therefore, nothing is done about it.

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What you can do. Be loud. Be vocal in your opposition to using concrete. Tell everyone you can, we need to regulate this industry and do all that we can to find other viable building materials. Surely this dinosaur (no offense to dinosaurs) of a building material can be replaced by something more ecological. Besides, was that building in Miami that recently collapsed built of concrete in a city that is sinking?

Do you want more of that?

Next Steps

  • Call your government representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, and let them know you want something done about concrete;
  • Do research on the internet; and 
  • Boycott companies that pollute when they make concrete.

Concrete is everywhere, and it comprises most buildings in one way or another. It does not always have to be that way though. Concrete may dry quickly and take forever to diminish, but that does not mean the future is already set in stone or concrete, rather. Things can change if we want them to change. 


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Climate Change and the Explosive Book: Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 28, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise; Special Guest author Fred Siegel Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Today’s atmospheric carbon level is 419.53 ppm, up two points from just a week ago. Additionally, scientists announced today that within the next five years we are 90 percent likely to break yet another record for the hottest year in recorded history, which despite 197 countries joining the Paris Agreement, and working so hard to reduce global warming, shows that we’re tracking in the wrong direction. 

How is this possible?

The United States is at the very bottom of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), tier 6, “Critically Insufficient.” The CAT monitors how countries are progressing toward “the globally agreed aim” of 1.5ºC. / 2.7ºF. A major factor in the rise in temperature, despite all the effort, has a lot to do with our insufficient progress in carbon drawdown as a result of soil degradation and deforestation. This most difficult challenge has been further complicated by the rising temperature fueling massive wildfires on three continents which resulted in the scorching of billions of trees in 2020 alone, as well as the continued degradation of soil through the long dry months of drought, which has undermined our aggressive effort to drawdown excess carbon and store it in the soil.

It’s time to face the music. #ActNow on climate by restoring our habitat. Let’s return to the Garden of Eden.

All of our eyes should be on the soil. The life-changing documentary Kiss the Ground was released in October 2020 and gave many of us hope that we could still win this war against global warming, despite the huge obstacles. Once soil health became the core objective, we quickly learned that agricultural chemicals have resulted in much of the world’s soil degradation. The word “chemicals” naturally results in some of us casting our gaze on a few other types of chemicals, hazardous waste chemicals, the types that seep into the soil in our communities and undermine soil health everywhere, as well as personal health, preventing the much needed carbon drawdown. The total impact is 22 million acres affected.  

In short, there are:

  • 1,344 federal superfund sites 
  • 1,571 nonfederal National Priorities List (NPL) sites
  • 450,000 brownfield sites

These staggering numbers don’t include the lesser known hazards such as golf courses and dry cleaners that are hidden in plain sight in many of our towns. If we lump all this land together, it’s much easier to see why carbon drawdown has been so slow, and what we need to be more aware of in the age of the climate crisis.

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Heart of the matter. Against this dire backdrop comes the alarming warning from Hazardous Waste expert Fred Siegel, who outlined in his recently published book, Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?, the likely risk we face with the 49 top toxic hazards, outlined in his essential reference guide, impacting our well-being, several of which are in the majority of U.S. communities. 

Absorbing the magnitude of these threats, and factoring in the influence of weather events such as rain bombs, hurricanes and chronic flooding, and the increase these will have on our likely exposure to the toxins, I feel compelled to shine a spotlight on Fred’s work. Many of these chemicals are carcinogens and spread far and wide during storms as we saw back in February 2021, when an Indonesian dye factory flooded and red dye was soon swirling for miles along the newly formed rivers that filled city streets. According to the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, 60 percent of the NPL sites may be impacted by flooding. 

Fred Siegel and Tony Quagletta have been conducting environmental site assessments for over 30 years (toxictom.com). Fred’s passion and motivation were initially ignited by learning that he and his wife Vicki had purchased their first home atop a toxic landfill in Woodbridge, New Jersey and never knowing it until after they relocated. The flames of activism have been burning strong ever since. In fact, Fred’s eager to explain why he has twice been arrested. 

Environmental Activist Fred Siegel being arrested for protesting environmental hazards.

Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed? is rich with concise summations of compelling facts, data and first hand insights, that quickly turn readers into “woke” believers. An example that highlights how shocking these facts are, is the beautiful golf course that dots thousands of communities across the country. A study conducted in New York, entitled Toxic Fairways, found that the golf fairways are maintained with extremely high volumes of pesticides, 7 to 8 times higher than the volume used on farms if compared pounds per acre. Many golf courses use pesticides that contain chlorpyrifos which in 2015 the EPA deemed so toxic that there is no safe exposure to it. The soil beneath these fairways is not healthy soil with high water infiltration rates, so during heavy downpours, most of the toxins wash away into our streets and down our public drains. Golf course toxins are just the tip of the iceberg. 

I asked Fred to comment on hazardous chemicals, fire and heat. He remarked, “Depending on the temperature of the fire the materials at the waste site would burn and send chemicals into the air. It would be similar to a chemical factory fire only worse. Wide areas would need to be evacuated and the residue from the fire could potentially create a superfund site 10 times the size or worse.” This is particularly worrisome considering that the higher temperatures associated with global warming have the potential to impact hazardous waste and cause combustion that results in an explosion.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Fred Siegel’s book Environment Hazards, Are You Exposed? is an absolute necessity for every household in America. It’s the ideal reference guide as we all face the climate crisis together. Many of the health threats related to toxic chemicals are preventable if we know what to look out for and what to avoid.  As well-intended as our elected representatives might be, we’ve all seen that there are many barriers to keeping us safe from all the potential threats. 

When I asked Fred what his focus was in writing such a complete guide to hazardous waste in America, he said, “I hope people realize the government will not protect them. They need to protect themselves with knowledge.” 

Gallant Gold Media’s Hill Report will help facilitate Fred’s plan by passing along a small bit of Fred Siegel’s knowledge and insights each week. Our goal is to feature an environmental hazard piece every Friday, touching on each one of Fred’s 49 chapters.

Next Steps

  • Fred’s book is available in paperback or ebook and is free if you have Kindle Unlimited
  • Refer to the chart at the back of the book that provides an important Distance from Hazard Chart
  • Check out Fred’s website toxictom.com 
  • Join Gallant Gold Media’s newly opened online Act Now for the Earth Cafe community that Fred often frequents and posts insightful comments
  • Follow Fred on Twitter and stay updated on his insights on current events
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Protecting Our Water Supply this Spring | Beware of Lawn Fertilizer

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 8, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

After Trump’s recent roll back of Obama’s Clean Water Act, we have to be more mindful than ever of what we can do as individual citizens to be the stewards of our community water supply in the hopes that we can minimize the negative fallout now that these life-saving federal regulations have been repealed.

I feel traumatized by the horrible news that 60% of our waters will again be unprotected. Climate change has created a seemingly apocalyptic ripple effect from the fallout of the flooding and run off that occurs from the now regular rain bombs, as well as the threat of the new Category 6 hurricanes (not that the National Hurricane Center has officially added Category 6 to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, but recent Hurricane Dorian with winds of 185 mph that flattened the Bahamas, was so far off the charts there’s certainly been a fewa discussions about the need to do so).

Factor in the flooding of superfund sights alone, during this age of climate change, and the frightening consequences for future generations in the calamitous way that water pollutants cause birth defects. This reality is already rattling nerves and alarming homeowners close to these toxic sights. The unseen leaking of life-threatening pollutants  into ground water from buried storage tanks is certainly of grave concern, but all the more troubling is seeing the vacant wastelands flood and the damaging toxic waters flow through town drains as well as the surrounding nearby community property.

Farmland with pesticides and fertilizer is equally as concerning. Weather bombs know no borders. Heavy rains will spread these toxins for miles. They’re usually invisible, but the damage they cause humans is very tangible and physical.

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So with these significant issues now plaguing American communities this spring 2020, and some states stepping in to protect its waters and passing much needed state regulations, we have to do our part too, after all, we’re the ones with the most to lose.

We love beautiful lawns, or course. And we likely use fertilizer to make sure our yards have the right nutrients to nurture our favorite flowers, shrubs and trees. However the ammonium nitrate found in most sterilizers, amongst other hazardous nutrients, are the very pollutants that may cause birth defects after running down the town drains during heavy spring rains.

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Birth defects caused by the nitrates found in fertilizer:

  • spina bifida
  • cleft palate
  • missing limbs

Rules of thumb to avoid contaminating the town water supply?

  • home composting from food scraps that can be added to garden and yard soil
  • many town farmer’s markets now offer free compost
  • organic alternatives that are not water soluble like ammonium nitrate
  • don’t fertilize in the spring, wait until fall when there’s much less rain.

So let’s be more aware, and make a commitment to finding an alternative to fertilizing with heavy nutrients in the spring. We can do this!🌱

 

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So Many Beautiful & Exciting Possibilities | Cutting Carbon

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 21, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.” ~Luther Burbank

And flowers cut carbon too! Flower boxes in the windows of our homes and businesses, and hanging baskets from street lights, will add yet another layer of nature to absorb carbon. We need as much help as we can get. It’s another exceptional tool in our climate action tool shed that will reap a wave of benefits, improving both our atmospheric carbon levels, and our quality of life.

Will flower boxes in the windows of the majority of homes and businesses increase property values? I guess we’ll find out as soon as we begin a window flower box campaign.

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PODCAST- daily conversation that focuses on how to turn negative circumstances into positives and land on the bright side.

According to BestLife, flowers:

  • Reduce stress
  • Elevate mood
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Increase memory
  • Certain flowers can help us fall asleep
  • Help us heal

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Not only do flowers absorb CO2, they’re also air purifiers, absorbing pollutants such as benzene, acetone, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

We can do this! Warm weather climates can begin today. The rest of us can begin planning today so we’re ready to spring into action as soon as the weather breaks. 🌺

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Clean Water is Vital | Trump Gives EPA Green Light To Poison Water With Coal Ash

Washington (GGM) | Analysis | August 5, 2019)
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Clean water shortages around the world are considered a civilization altering condition that threatens the survival of millions, perhaps billions of global citizens. Prolonged heat waves and sustained droughts are already creating unlivable zones in large swaths of the world, and increasing the demand for clean water in areas that currently have an adequate water supply. More people trying to sustain themselves on less water often escalates conflicts and violence and has the potential to become a national security threat.

In light of the extreme water shortages resulting from climate change, it’s now more important than ever that the water we do have, remain protected and pure. Thus, it’s incomprehensible that Trump would insist the EPA rollback Obama’s regulations on coal ash removal and storage, established to protect ground water, and allow coal manufacturers to use coal ash for leveling in unrestrained quantities, as well as store in unlined ponds without liners.Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 5.08.07 PM.png

Every single irresponsible, life-threatening Trump decision like this one, is a call to action. Constituent phone calls to Congressional Representatives make a significant difference. Climate change further exacerbates an already dangerous situation, spreading the thick coal ash hundreds of miles beyond the original site. For example, Hurricane Florence in North Carolina last year, with 1,200 roads flooded, and an epic spreading of hazardous waste such as coal ash, was so alarming, the state still has no conception of the overall extent of the harm to human health. Only time will tell.

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Coal Ash‘s impact on health:

  • Contains: arsenic, lead, mercury, chlorine, and many other heavy metals
  • Causes cancer
  • Impacts Nervous System
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Developmental delays
  • Behavioral problems
  • Birth defects
  • Heart damage
  • Lung disease
  • Reproductive problems
  • And more…

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The writing is clearly on the wall, however. Regulations for the storage of hazardous materials during a time of shrinking water supply, and increased weather extremes, is an absolute imperative. Trump increasing profit margins for a few cronies, while destroying the health and well-being of millions of Americans, seems criminal.

I urge you to please let your Representative know how strongly you object to your water supply being contaminated and your health compromised.

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