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EPA offers free apps to check air quality, UV index
January 30th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

EPA offers free apps to check air quality, UV index

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.”
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EPA proposes new standards for PVC plants
April 25th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

EPA proposes new standards for PVC plants

 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed stronger air emissions standards for polyvinyl chloride production facilities in an effort to improve the air quality and health in communities nearby.

The standards would require these plants to reduce emissions of such potentially carcinogenic chemicals as vinyl chloride and dioxin.

“In particular, children are known to be more sensitive to the cancer risks posed by inhaling vinyl chloride,” the EPA said in a news release announcing the proposed standards.

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Health lessons from Chernobyl
March 23rd, 2011
05:31 PM ET

Health lessons from Chernobyl

With ongoing problems at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant – including the latest warning that radiation has turned up in Tokyo’s drinking water – CNN is looking at past nuclear accidents for a hint of the long-term impact.

The worst nuclear accident ever took place in 1986 when there was a massive explosion at the plant in Chernobyl, in the Ukraine region of the former Soviet Union. A team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, has conducted long-term studies looking at cancer rates in the area. Scott Davis, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, leads the research, including three studies of childhood cancer, one childhood leukemia study and a study now under way on breast cancer rates.

The team compares people who have the illness being studied, with people who are not sick, while estimating the amount of radiation each individual was exposed to. Through this method they estimate the increase in cancer cases that can be attributed to radiation exposure. An important part of the approach involves making estimates of each individual’s exposure; this is done through computer models and interviews with each person about his or her location and movements.

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A closer look at carbon monoxide poisoning
December 28th, 2010
03:22 PM ET

A closer look at carbon monoxide poisoning

Officials in Hialeah, Florida, are conducting autopsies on the bodies of five teenagers, who apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning inside of their suburban Miami motel room. They had left a car running in a closed garage under their room after they had problems starting it earlier.

Sadly, around this time of year, we often hear about people getting sick and dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.  This tragedy in Florida is a good reminder of the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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November 16th, 2010
12:23 PM ET

Lessons of an Urban Planet: Toxic air

Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports this week  from Kobe, Japan, on the health concerns of an increasingly urbanized world. Today's focus: the toxic effects of air pollution.


July 29th, 2010
04:53 PM ET

New law pushed for Mossville, other 'hot spots'

A doctor told a House committee Thursday that reducing pollution in “hot spot” communities such as Mossville, Louisiana, was one reason Congress should overhaul the law governing toxic chemicals.

Dr. Mark Mitchell, who has served on the Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, sited Mossville and West Louisville, Kentucky, as communities surrounded by chemical plants, including plastic manufacturers.

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July 28th, 2010
12:58 PM ET

Report tallies oil disaster's effect on beaches

The Gulf oil disaster has already caused at least 2,239 days of beach closing, advisories, and notices in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

One-fifth of monitored beaches in the Gulf have been subject to closure or advisories because of the spill, the non-profit environmental group reported.

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July 27th, 2010
11:43 AM ET

EPA chief puts new focus on 'environmental justice'

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson wants her agency to consider “environmental justice” before taking action.

"Historically, the low-income and minority communities that carry the greatest environmental burdens haven't had a voice in our policy development or rule making,” Jackson said in a statement.

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June 23rd, 2010
05:51 PM ET

California plans tough product safety limits

By Caleb Hellerman
CNN Senior Medical Producer

The state of California proposed new rules Monday that could force makers of consumer products to show they're not using harmful plastics or other ingredients, or face restrictions including a possible ban on selling those products. If the rules go into effect, they could have a ripple effect beyond California, since many companies  are unlikely to develop separate product lines, just for that state.

Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, says the ambitious plan seeks to totally reshape the way new products are developed. “We’ve had 30 years relying on [federal law], and it’s had limited success,” Movassaghi said. “The idea here is to go up the pipeline to the desk of individuals designing products, asking them to design products safe for use, and safe for the environment.”

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June 22nd, 2010
11:00 AM ET

EPA: Renew 'polluters pay' tax to fund cleanups

By David S. Martin
CNN Medical Senior Producer

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson is asking Congress to reinstate a tax on oil, gas and chemical companies to help fund cleanup costs at some of America’s most polluted places.

The so-called “polluters pay” provision funds cleanup at Superfund sites where those responsible for the pollution either can’t be found, don’t have the money or have gone out of business.

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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.

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