July 23rd, 2012
07:00 AM ET
Less than a week from the opening ceremonies, allergists are warning that some Olympic athletes may suffer breathing problems due to air pollution in London.
The amount of nitrogen dioxide in London is comparable to the level of nitrogen dioxide in Beijing before Beijing banned half of the cars in preparation for the Games, and London has done little to control traffic, says Dr. William Silvers, an allergy specialist and a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
Demanding workouts in the polluted air could spell trouble particularly for those athletes that already have conditions such as asthma or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), a narrowing of the airways that makes it hard to move air out of the lungs, according to AAAAI.
June 27th, 2012
10:00 AM ET
Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, the Natural Resources Defense Council has released its annual beach quality report and it’s not pretty.
According to NRDC, a large number of U.S. seashores continue to suffer from storm water runoff and sewage pollution that can cause swimmers to become very ill.
The report, Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, looks at 2011 data collected from test results taken at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide. It examines the pollution factors that affect these U.S. vacation spots and calls for public efforts to clean up.
The report found that last year the nation’s beach waters continued to be affected by serious contamination and pollutants from human and animal waste. As a result, America’s beaches had the third-highest number of closings or advisories in the report’s history, with the second-highest number occurring just the year before. Progress, according to the report, is not being made.
June 20th, 2012
01:40 PM ET
Senate Joint Resolution 37, the Senate bill that would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's controversial Mercury and Air Toxics Standards or MATS, was voted down Wednesday by a margin of 46 to 53.
Introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in February, the resolution was a challenge to the country's first national protections rule designed to limit the amount of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and other toxic air pollutants released by power plants that burn coal and oil - toxins many suspect cause cancer and other health problems.
But Inhofe said the bill was specifically designed to kill the coal industry and the good paying jobs it provides. He led the charge to repeal the protections and vowed to keep fighting what he called the Obama administration's "damaging regulatory regime."
June 19th, 2012
07:11 AM ET
Apples and celery are still agriculture’s dirtiest pieces of produce, according to the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” report. The report names the fruits and vegetables ranking highest in pesticide residue.
Cucumbers were added to the 2012 Dirty Dozen, while Kale and collard greens were moved from the list to join green beans in a new “Plus” category.
The category was created this year to highlight crops that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but are still commonly contaminated with organophosphate insecticides, which are toxic to the nervous system.
Also included on the Dirty Dozen list are:
June 14th, 2012
07:15 AM ET
Lines are being drawn on Capitol Hill over an EPA rule to reduce air pollution from the nation's power plants.
Last year the Environmental Protection Agency approved the controversial Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (or MATS; also known as MACT), the country's first national protections rule designed to limit the amount of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and other toxic air pollutants released by power plants that burn coal and oil - toxins many suspect cause cancer and other health problems.
The new standards set work practices that include an annual performance test program for new and existing electric generating units. This would include an inspection, adjustments, maintenance and repairs.
"Utility MACT is specifically designed to kill coal as well as all the good paying jobs that come with it," Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "The vote on my resolution will likely be the one and only opportunity to stop President Obama's war on coal - this is the one chance for my colleagues to show their constituents who they really stand with."
May 22nd, 2012
11:30 AM ET
Several years after dust from the World Trade Center twin towers found its way into thousands of homes and nearly every crevice in lower Manhattan, area residents still suffered health problems, according to a new study.
People living in homes damaged after 2001's Trade Center attacks were more likely to report respiratory illness or disease years later, when compared with people whose homes were not damaged, according to a recent analysis of World Trade Center Health Registry data.
April 30th, 2012
06:38 PM ET
Chlorpyrifos, a common pesticide, may be subtly influencing brain development in children, according to a new study. The brain abnormalities, found among a very small population of school-aged children, may have occurred while they developed in utero.
What is troubling, according to scientists, is that relatively low levels of chlorpyrifos appear to have caused the cascade of brain changes.
"It's out there and we do not know what the longer term impact is of lower levels," said Virginia Rauh, professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and the study's lead author. "But it does seem to be associated with cognitive damage and structural changes in brain."
February 10th, 2012
11:33 AM ET
If you went to a beach where one in 28 swimmers later experienced diarrhea, stomachache or nausea, would you jump right in?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new water quality standards that would allow just such a beach to remain open, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“EPA has a duty to protect the public from all of these illnesses, but EPA seems to refuse to acknowledge this duty,” says Steve Fleischli, a senior attorney in the water program at NRDC who has written about the proposed criteria.
February 4th, 2012
10:12 AM ET
Trichloroethene (TCE) has become a chemical of interest after environmental activist Erin Brockovich suggested that the derailment of a train carrying chemicals 41 years ago could be involved in the mysterious illness striking 16 people, mostly high school students in New York.
Brockovich’s team was dispatched to the Le Roy Junior/Senior High School, in Le Roy, New York, this week to collect water and soil samples. The school is more than three miles from the train wreck site, but some worry that the school was built in 2006 with contaminated supplies. The school district has called the speculation a “distraction” and a “publicity stunt.”
The New York State Department of Health, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agency have been involved. But the agencies have not found an environmental or infectious cause, according to a school district statement. TCE was one of 58 different chemicals and 63 pesticides tested for; the results showed nothing out of the ordinary, according to the state’s health department. FULL POST
January 30th, 2012
04:29 PM ET
If you wanted to know the air quality Monday morning in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (good), Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (moderate), or Modesto, California. (unhealthy for sensitive groups), a new smart phone app from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could have helped.
The EPA’s free AIRNow app for Apple or Android phones allows users to enter a Zip Code and receive the pollutant and ozone levels for more than 400 cities across the country. You can also choose to check your current location.
The app gives levels for ozone and particle pollution such as automotive exhaust and an overall assessment of “good,” “moderate,” “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” “unhealthy,” “very unhealthy” and “hazardous.”
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.