Harmful organisms and pollutants usually found on land are now wreaking havoc on marine mammals, scientists say.
Sea otters found dead, poisoned by microcystin, which is produced by cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. Such toxins can appear when human sewage and fertilizers run into lakes and rivers, adding nutrients that spur the growth of algae “superblooms.”
The toll that some types of water pollution take on marine mammals has long been documented. For example, cancer-causing chemicals called PCBs and pesticides like DDT are known to accumulate in marine mammals’ fatty tissues and cause serious harm.
Because people eat shellfish harvested where the land meets the sea, the sea otters may be serving as an “early warning system” for human health risks.
New papilloma and herpes viruses have appeared in Indian River dolphins in the last 30 years. The viruses manifest as grisly tumors, sometimes on the dolphins’ genitals.
During some recent years, another rare fungal disease called lobomycosis—found only in people and dolphins—has arisen in “epidemic proportions” among Indian River dolphins.
While it’s unknown what caused lobomycosis, the diseased animals share a “profoundly” suppressed immune system, he said, likely caused by the dolphins’ constant exposure to environmental stressors like mercury.
Tens of millions of Americans drink water contaminated with chromium (VI), a compound the Environmental Protection Agency was poised in 2011 to conclude likely causes cancer. That finding would set the stage for setting stricter drinking-water standards.
The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, published a major rodent study in 2008 that concluded there was “clear evidence” chromium (VI) in water was a carcinogen.
The EPA’s assessment of chromium was delayed to wait for new studies paid for by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade group and lobbyist.
Some of the same industry-paid scientists involved in past efforts to stall government action on chromium worked on the studies delaying the EPA.
After delays of nearly a decade, the California Environmental Protection Agency declined to wait for the industry studies and issued its own finding in 2011 that chromium was a carcinogen in drinking water.
The EPA initially planned to complete its chromium (VI) assessment in 2015. After the Center for Public Integrity and PBS NewsHour started asking questions about the delay, EPA posted a revised timetable for completing the assessment this year.
OK everyone, drop what you are doing and get a copy of Boom, Bust, Boom to read. Bill Carter’s astonishing tale begins when he poisons himself by eating vegetables grown in his yard in Bisbee, Arizona. An attempt at healthy living and sustainability instead caused illness from arsenic, lead and other toxics associated with copper mining and smelting.
Carter grew fascinated with copper and in researching discovered lurid union-busting atrocities in Bisbee’s past, ridiculous mining laws that leave communities impoverished and contaminated, limited choices for residents in a company town, ongoing injustices in copper mines around the world, and impending doom for the Alaskan salmon fishing industry posed by the disastrous Pebble Mine.
On the other hand, Carter discovered that copper is everywhere in modern life, an essential metal we all use daily in our electrical devices, cars and airplanes, plumbing–things he himself has no intention of giving up. And he had to answer for himself the heartbreaking question familiar to all you Cluster Advocates: “Is is safe to raise my family where I live?”
Carter is most well-known for his work during the war in Bosnia, during which he was an aid working living in Sarajevo during the 15-month long siege. Carter convinced Bono to help by broadcasting live interviews with Sarajevans during U2′s Zooropa tour concerts. This remarkable tale is told in Carter’s first book, Fools Rush In and in his the documentary film, MISS SARAJEVO, produced by Bono, who also wrote the theme song for the film. You can get a taste of the story here:
Tucsonans will also love Bill Carter because of his longtime support of local musicians. He has filmed a documentary on the Tucson-based band Calexico, and there is a treasure-trove of Giant Sand videos on his YouTube account. When local music legend Rainer Ptacek passed away from brain cancer, Bill Carter helped organize a fundraiser to support Rainer’s wife Patty and three children. And Tucsonans who bitterly miss Rainer’s music and spirit were delighted with a new CD of music recorded while Rainer was in remission–recorded at Bill Carter’s house in Barrio Viejo. Buy a copy today to enjoy, and help support Rainer’s family.
In the last 15 years Bill Carter has traveled to more than 45 countries. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mens Journal, Gear and Spin magazine on topics such as drug trafficking in Mexico, where he investigated the brutal deaths of Tarahumara Indians by narco-traffickers, to the streets of Algiers, once listed as the most dangerous city in the world. He also wrote a story of his 300-mile journey in 30 days across the Utah desert with no more than a cup, a knife, a compass and an extra pair of socks.
He has also worked as an assistant director, a bartender, adobe mason, firefighter and commercial fisherman. It is his work as a commercial fisherman in Alaska that is the inspiration for his book, Red Summer. Recently 12 prints of Carter’s black and white photography were purchased by the Center of Creative Photography in Tucson, the largest collection of American photographers in the world.