EPA Staffed With Industry Insiders

EPA Blowing Smoke On Critical Issues

By Liza Gross, Lindsey Konkel and Elizabeth Grossman, Reveal

Eleven new members of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board have a history of downplaying the health risks of secondhand smoke, air pollution and other hazards, including two who have spun science for tobacco companies, according to an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Earlier this month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt fired all board members who currently receive EPA grants for their research, saying they cannot remain objective if they accept agency money. In replacing them, Pruitt transformed the board from a panel of the nation’s top environmental experts to one dominated by industry-funded scientists and state government officials who have fought federal regulations.

Pruitt removed 21 members of the advisory board, mostly academics, and replaced them with 16 experts with ties to industries regulated by the agency and two with no industry ties. Fourteen of the new members consult or work for the fossil fuel or chemical industries, which gave Pruitt nearly $320,000 for his campaigns in Oklahoma as a state senator and attorney general.

wastewater treatment and disease

Under the Obama administration, industry-affiliated scientists made up 40 percent of the Science Advisory Board, or 19 of its 47 members. Under President Donald Trump, 68 percent of the board, 30 of its 44 current members, now has ties to industries. That leaves 14 with no industry ties, including two Obama appointees who work for environmental groups.

The Science Advisory Board, established by Congress in 1978, helps the EPA ensure it has the best available science when crafting regulations and standards that address the nation’s drinking water, air pollution, toxic contamination and other environmental problems that threaten public health.

“If memberships are weighted toward viewpoints that support the agenda of the administration, then the administration is signaling that it’s not asking for advice, but for a rubber stamp,” said environmental scientist Deborah Swackhamer, who was chairwoman of the board under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“That’s a complete misuse.”

Keeping drinking water safe. Shielding vulnerable populations from air pollutants that trigger asthma and heart attacks. Protecting communities from cancer-causing chemicals. These are the EPA’s mandates. And when making key decisions about science to follow these mandates, the agency relies on panels of advisers.

The Science Advisory Board is arguably the most important panel among 22 federal advisory committees that report to the EPA. The board gives the agency advice on specific matters, such as the impacts of fracking on drinking water supplies, factors that drive algae blooms in the Great Lakes and whether the agency’s risk assessments are scientifically sound.

The board doesn’t give guidance on proposed regulations. Rather, it vets the scientific foundations on which those recommendations are built, such as how dangerous the air pollutant ozone is at certain exposures or at what dose an industrial chemical would raise the risk of cancer.

To get the best science to policymakers, the EPA long has relied on a diversity of experts and a tradition of keeping politics out of scientific deliberations. In establishing the Science Advisory Board, Congress called for experts from academia, industry, nongovernmental organizations and federal, state and tribal governments. Most board seats over the past several decades have been held by government-funded university researchers.

But in February, Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, convened a hearing called “Making EPA Great Again” to investigate what he called the EPA’s “political agenda.” Smith, a Texas Republican who disputes climate science, said Science Advisory Board experts under Obama had “become nothing more than rubber stamps who approve all of the EPA’s regulations” because they receive millions of dollars in government grants.

climate change policy

Last month, Pruitt said experts who serve on the EPA’s scientific advisory boards can’t provide objective advice if they receive agency grants. He promised an audience at The Heritage Foundation, an anti-regulatory think tank that questions climate change, that he was “going to fix that” by restoring the “independence and transparency and objectivity in regard to the scientific advice we are getting at the agency” by prohibiting scientific advisers from taking EPA grants.

In a news release, Pruitt said the new makeup of the board shows the “EPA’s commitment to science and openness to expertise from a diverse array of perspectives.”

Pruitt has required advisory board members to remain “financially independent” of the EPA, but has placed no such restrictions on scientists with ties to industry.

“To say that academics have more conflicts because they get (government) grants is turning the idea of conflict of interest on its head and is patently absurd,” said Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy. “If a scientist working at a high level did not receive government funding, how would they have achieved that?”

A Reveal investigation shows that several new board members have a history of criticizing mainstream science to cast doubt on the health risks of commercial and industrial air pollutants and products.

One new appointee, Kimberly White, is a senior director at the American Chemistry Council, a trade group that represents chemical manufacturers, including Dow Chemical Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and DuPont Co. The group for decades has fought EPA regulations on widely used chemicals linked to health effects, including flame retardants, formaldehyde, asbestos and plasticizers.

In an email to Reveal, White said that in the past, the EPA science board “lacked sufficient balance among its members, and they have missed out on valuable insight from important perspectives from industry.” She said her goal is to ensure that board recommendations “are objective and grounded in the highest quality and most relevant scientific evidence.”

The new appointees also include scientists who have served as expert witnesses for industries regulated by the EPA. Dr. Samuel Cohen, a cancer expert at the University of Nebraska, testified on DuPont’s behalf in a lawsuit holding the company liable for illnesses related to drinking water contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a chemical DuPont used in a West Virginia plant that made Teflon. Cohen testified that the plaintiff’s kidney cancer was caused by her obesity, not PFOA, yet an independent science panel has found a probable link between the chemical and serious health conditions, including kidney cancer.

Cohen did not respond to a request for comment.

Two of Pruitt’s new appointees helped companies defend their products or fight restrictions on secondhand smoke, and another sought more than $300,000 in tobacco industry funding but was rejected.

John Graham, dean of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and founder of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, asked a top Philip Morris executive for $25,000 in 1991 to support his center, which he said had exposed “serious weaknesses in the federal government’s risk assessment process.”

Graham told the executive that he launched the center with gifts from several corporations, all with a financial interest in minimizing environmental regulations, including BP, Chevron Corp., Dow and Exxon. He ended his pitch by saying, “It is important for me to learn more about the risk-related challenges that you face.”

Graham got his $25,000 and later served as an adviser to The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition, a group created by Philip Morris to discredit an EPA report that identified secondhand smoke as a carcinogen.

Graham told Reveal in an email that he received larger amounts of funding from the EPA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to run his Harvard center.

“Since I have extensive experience with both government and industry,” he said, “I look forward to providing unbiased advice to EPA.”

He also said he worked to reduce particulate pollution while head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under President George W. Bush.

But Graham instituted an approach to risk analysis, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, that challenged the scientific consensus underlying regulations on ozone, fine particulate matter and formaldehyde pollution. The EPA decided not to tighten its health standard for fine particulate matter in 2006 under Graham, rejecting the recommendations of its expert panel for the first time on ambient air pollution.

Another new board member, Louis Anthony Cox, early in his career worked for consulting firm Arthur D. Little, which contributed to the industry’s discredited effort to develop a “safer” cigarette. He later testified on behalf of Philip Morris and three other tobacco giants against a smoker’s husband who sued the companies for lying about the dangers of cigarettes.

Cox received at least $22,000 for his services from tobacco industry law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon – the same firm that helped Philip Morris create “sound science” guidelines to challenge the EPA’s listing of secondhand smoke as a carcinogen and in 2016 sued the EPA on behalf of the coal industry to prevent the agency from enforcing carbon emission reductions under its recently repealed Clean Power Plan.

In addition to his membership on the Science Advisory Board, Cox has been tapped as chairman of a separate EPA board, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.

Cox, who runs consulting firm Cox Associates, told Reveal in an email that he’s used models to calculate the “excess risk of lung cancers caused by different smoking exposure histories” for various private- and public-sector organizations, including Philip Morris and the EPA. That work, he said, has helped him “appreciate some of the most common errors, heuristics and biases that can affect the judgments of scientists … in interpreting data.”

In addition to his work on behalf of the tobacco industry, Cox also has questioned the benefits of reducing particulate pollution in a paper sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute.

New board member Robert Phalen, who directs the Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory at the University of California, Irvine, asked the Center for Indoor Air Research – a tobacco industry body founded to counter evidence that secondhand smoke causes cancer – to fund a grant of more than $311,000 to study “interactions among indoor aerosols.” Phalen submitted his proposal three times, but the group rejected his request in 1997, saying his hypothesis “seems implausible.”

The center was disbanded in 1998 after the tobacco companies agreed to stop sponsoring research as part of a landmark settlement of a federal lawsuit that charged the industry with conspiring to hide the dangers of smoking for decades.

In an email to Reveal, Phalen said he did not recall seeking any grants from the tobacco-funded group.

Phalen also has discounted some of the health effects of air pollution. In a 2004 report, he wrote that the risks of breathing particulate pollution “are very small and confounded by many factors.”

He told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012, “Modern air is a little too clean for optimum health.” Children’s lungs, he was quoted as saying, need to be exposed to irritants to learn how to ward them off.

But studies repeatedly have shown that children are highly susceptible to air pollution for a variety of reasons, including because they breathe more air per pound of weight, have immature immune systems and spend more time exerting themselves outdoors.

Another new board member, Stanley Young – a statistician who advises The Heartland Institute, an anti-regulatory think tank that showcases global warming deniers at its annual conference – recently has questioned evidence underlying EPA regulations on air pollutants.

Young also is an adviser to the American Council on Science and Health, which describes itself as a “pro-science consumer advocacy organization” but is funded by free-market foundations and the chemical, fossil fuel and tobacco industries and challenges evidence supporting regulations.

Young did not respond to a request for comment.

Research from around the world has reported a link between air pollutants and deaths and hospitalizations from respiratory disease and heart attacks. Young published a critique of this evidence in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, a journal known for publishing industry-friendly science.

Read The Full Story About EPA and Its Pseudoscience.

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Cities Spreading Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism With Sewage Sludge

Risk Assessments On Sewage Sludge Flawed

Thanks to flawed risk assessments, cities are spreading an unstoppable pathogen when they spread sewage sludge on land. It’s time to reclassify sewage sludge and biosolids as infectious waste and put it in landfills, not on farms, ranches, forests, golf courses, school grounds and parks. As scientists have been saying for years, sewage sludge isn’t fertilizer–it’s toxic waste, nuclear waste and infectious waste all rolled into one.

Neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, is the fastest-growing cause of death in the world. It’s getting worse every day thanks to mismanagement and misinformation.

Infectious proteins known as prions are involved with most forms of neurodegenerative disease. Prion disease is known in neurology as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” Prions are a deadly and unstoppable form of protein that migrates, mutates, multiplies and kills with unparalleled efficiency. The global TSE epidemic has more to do with the prion contagion than age.

Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease. Prusiner claims that all TSEs, including Alzheimer’s disease, are caused by prions.

transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. According to Prusiner, TSEs are a spectrum disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is extremely aggressive and extremely transmissible, is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence.

Neurologists are just guessing when they make a diagnosis on the prion spectrum. According to neuroscientist Laura Manuelidis, at least 25 percent of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are wrong. These misdiagnoses are actually CJD, which is further up the prion spectrum. CJD, without dispute, is extremely infectious to caregivers and loved ones.

prion disease

If the patient exhibits memory problems, they are labeled with Alzheimer’s disease. If they have a movement disorder, they are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. If the person exhibits extreme symptoms of both, they are diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). It’s far from a science. Neurologists don’t know where along the spectrum the disease becomes transmissible. The entire spectrum could represent a transmissible disease. Unfortunately, neurologists are not warning these patients and their caregivers about the risks of exposure. Even those with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are not quarantined. They are sent home, where they can infect friends, family, caregivers, clinics, dental offices, restaurants and entire communities.

“There has been a resurgence of this sort of thinking, because there is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins (prions).”

A study published in the journal Nature renews concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people. A second study released in early 2016 by the same scientist adds to the stack of evidence.

Studies confirm that people and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them with prions because prions are in the urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva of each victim. Each victim becomes an incubator and a distributor of the Pandora-like pathogen. Victims are contagious long before they exhibit clinical symptoms.

Alzheimer's disease and wastewater reclamation

At the personal level, this is very bad news for caregivers, especially spouses, who are 600 percent more likely to contract neurodegenerative disease from patients (Duke University and Utah State University). A cough, sneeze, utensils and drinking glasses all become lethal pathways. Once an item is contaminated, it’s impossible to sterilize. The human prion is resistant to both heat and chemicals. It’s reported that prions released from people are up to a hundred thousand times more difficult to deactivate than prions from most animals. Prions are not alive, so they can’t be killed.

Wastewater treatment plants are collecting points for prions from infected humans. The sewage treatment process can’t stop prions from migrating, mutating and multiplying before being discharged into the environment where they can kill again. The bad news is that the prions are being released back into the environment and dumped openly on land. The wastewater is being reclaimed and used for irrigating crops, parks, and golf courses. It’s even being recycled as drinking water.

biosolids and prion disease

Claudio Soto, PhD, professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, and his colleagues confirmed the presence of prions in urine. Soto also confirmed that plants uptake prions and are infectious and deadly to those who consume the infected plants. Therefore, humans, wildlife and livestock are vulnerable to prion disease via plants grown on land treated with sewage sludge and reclaimed sewage water.

Prion researcher Dr. Joel Pedersen, from the University of Wisconsin, found that prions become 680 times more infectious in certain soils. Pedersen also found that sewage treatment does not inactivate prions. Therefore, prions are lethal, mutating, migrating and multiplying everywhere sewage is dumped.

“Our results suggest that if prions enter municipal wastewater treatment systems, most of the agent would bond to sewage sludge, survive anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids,” Pedersen said.

prion research sewage sludge

“Land application of biosolids containing prions represents a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results emphasize the importance of keeping prions out of municipal wastewater treatment systems. Prions could end up in sewage treatment plants via slaughterhouses, hospitals, dental offices and mortuaries just to name a few of the pathways. The disposal of sludge represents the greatest risk of spreading prion contamination in the environment. Plus, we know that sewage sludge pathogens, pharmaceutical residue and chemical pollutants are taken up by plants and vegetables.”

Thanks to more and more people dying from TSEs, wastewater treatment systems are more contaminated with prions than ever. Wastewater treatment plants are now prion incubators and distributors. The prion problem is getting worse every day.

wastewater treatment and disease

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that prions are in municipal sewage and that there has been no way to detect them or stop them. As such, the EPA has never issued guidance on prion management within wastewater treatment plants. Unfortunately, the EPA’s risk assessment on sewage sludge and biosolids were prepared before the world of science knew about prions. The agency continues to cling to its antiquated sludge rule crafted back in the dark ages. It does, however, consider prions a “contaminant of emerging concern.” Meanwhile, its outdated risk assessments are promoting a public health disaster, including the autism epidemic.

“Since it’s unlikely that the sewage treatment process can effectively deactivate prions, adopting measures to prevent the entry of prions into the sewer system is advisable,” — Toronto Department of Health, November 2004.

Exposing crops and livestock to prions is a very bad idea. Plants absorb prions from the soil along with water and nutrient uptake, which makes the prions even more bioavailable and infectious to humans, wildlife and livestock.

chronic wasting disease spread by biosolids and sewage sludge

Unfortunately, the damage is real. Deer, elk, moose and reindeer are contracting an unstoppable prion disease now. In deer, the government calls prion disease chronic wasting disease. In cattle, prion disease is called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (they might as well call it what it is—transmissible spongiform encephalopathy).

Mad cow disease is the term that most of us know. The government pretends that there is a specific prion responsible for each of these diseases. The fact is that there are thousands of mutations of prions spreading in the environment and food chain now. Some kill quickly, while some are less lethal. The only thing that we need to know is that a deadly prion is a deadly prion. There is no species barrier.

mad cow disease

If prion disease is killing these animals, livestock are not immune. Beef and dairy cattle are consuming these infected crops and the infected water supplies, too. Since humans are at the top of the food chain, and since we are often downstream from these infected farms, ranches and forests, our food and water supplies are being compromised. Wind and tornadoes transport the infectious waste even further.

So, is Alzheimer’s disease transmissible? There is absolutely no evidence to the contrary. The truth is your best defense against neurodegenerative disease. It’s time to demand reforms on many levels to safeguard caregivers, family members and our food and water supplies. Despite all of the warning signs, government and industry are insisting that we waste more time, money and lives studying these issues to death. The infection is real. The body count is real. The denial is disturbing.

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Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Wastewater Reclamation Recycles Brain Diseases

Deadly Disease Recycled By Wastewater Treatment Process

Neurodegenerative diseases are the fastest-growing causes of death around the world. The mismanagement of infectious waste is contributing to the prion disease epidemic in mammals, including humans.

Dr. Stanley Prusiner earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for his pioneering research on deadly prions—an infectious form of protein that connects a deadly spectrum disease called transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” Prions migrate, mutate, multiply and kill with unparalleled efficiency.

TSEs include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease in deer, elk, moose and reindeer. TSE is also killing dolphins, whales and many other species of mammals. It’s the environmental equivalent of Pandora’s Box.

President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his work. Unfortunately, this groundbreaking research is being ignored. This negligence is fueling a public health disaster around the world, as critical prion pathways are being ignored and mismanaged. Even the autism epidemic is related to these reckless policies.

transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

In June 2012, Prusiner confirmed that Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and even ALS are prion diseases similar, if not identical, to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The primary difference being which part of the brain the disease attacks first. The other variable is that there are now an unknown number of prion mutations.

“There is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins (prions).”

A new study published in the journal Nature renews concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people. A second study by the same scientist in early 2016 adds to the stack of evidence.

Alzheimer's disease and wastewater reclamation

People with prion disease, including Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have prions in their bodily fluids, including their urine, feces, blood, saliva and mucus. Claudio Soto, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the George and Cynthia W. Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Brain Related Illnesses at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, and his colleagues confirmed that prions are in the urine of those who have contracted prion disease–even before they exhibit clinical symptoms.

Claudio Soto prion research

The study has been published in the August 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The unstoppable pathogen is flushed down thousands of toilets and drains every day. If prions are unstoppable in the sterile confines of an operating room, how are they stopping prions in the high-volume, low-tech world of wastewater treatment?

Prion researcher Dr. Joel Pedersen, from the University of Wisconsin, found that prions become 680 times more infectious in certain soils. Pedersen also found that sewage treatment does not inactivate prions. Therefore, prions are lethal, mutating, migrating and multiplying everywhere sewage is dumped.

“Our results suggest that if prions enter municipal wastewater treatment systems, most of the agent would bond to sewage sludge, survive anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids,” Pedersen said.

prion research sewage sludge

“Land application of biosolids containing prions represents a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results emphasize the importance of keeping prions out of municipal wastewater treatment systems. Prions could end up in sewage treatment plants via slaughterhouses, hospitals, dental offices and mortuaries just to name a few of the pathways. The disposal of sludge represents the greatest risk of spreading prion contamination in the environment. Plus, we know that sewage sludge pathogens, pharmaceutical residue and chemical pollutants are taken up by plants and vegetables.”

Mutations of these deadly prions also are the common denominator between human forms of the disease, mad cow disease in livestock and chronic wasting disease in wildlife. Several other species of mammals, including sea mammals, also are victims of the unstoppable epidemic. Much of the carnage is being swept under the rug as the problem escalates.

mad cow disease

Although there are many causes contributing to prion disease, many people and animals are contracting it from environmental exposure (food, water and soil) and then contaminating the environment even more with their own bodily fluids. Victims of prion disease are walking time bombs. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is the most deadly form of prion disease in humans. Without dispute, it is a very contagious disease that kills rapidly. There is no cure for CJD and other forms of prion disease.

Alzheimer’s and CJD are often indistinguishable to neurologists and general practitioners. Misdiagnoses are common. It appears that CJD is caused by a more aggressive mutation of prion than Alzheimer’s, but a deadly prion is a deadly prion. There is no reason to believe that some prions behave differently than others in disease transmission and progression. There should be no difference in disease management.

Unfortunately, as more people contract these brain diseases, the more deadly wastewater streams become. Meanwhile, wastewater reuse is surging around the world in response to growing populations and dwindling water resources. Other by-products from the wastewater stream known as biosolids (sewage sludge) also are being used to fertilize crops, pastures for livestock, golf courses, playgrounds and gardens. Millions of people, including your family, are in harm’s way because wastewater treatment plants can’t stop prions.

Thanks to more and more people dying from TSEs, sewage systems are more contaminated with prions than ever. Wastewater treatment systems are now prion incubators and distributors.

wastewater treatment and disease

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that prions are in sewage and that there has been no way to detect them or stop them. As such, the EPA has never issued guidance on prion management within wastewater treatment plants. Unfortunately, the EPA’s risk assessment on sewage sludge and biosolids were prepared before the world of science knew about prions. The agency continues to cling to it’s antiquated sludge rule crafted back in the dark ages. It does, however, consider prions a “contaminant of emerging concern.” Meanwhile, it’s promoting a public health disaster.

“Since it’s unlikely that the sewage treatment process can effectively deactivate prions, adopting measures to prevent the entry of prions into the sewer system is advisable,” said the Toronto Department of Health, November 2004.

Regulators and industry are playing dumb as the body count keeps rising. It’s a deadly circle enabled by an outdated risk assessment. Modern science is being ignored.

biosolids and application fertilizer

The largest prion pathway in the world is wastewater (infectious waste) from homes, hospitals, nursing homes, slaughterhouses, dental offices and other high-risk sources. The problem is that prions are in all bodily fluids and cell tissue of millions of victims who often go undiagnosed. Their mucus, saliva, feces, and urine are flushed down millions of toilets and rinsed down sinks every day. Once inside the wastewater system, prions proceed to migrate, mutate and multiply. Reckless risk assessments enable wastewater treatment plants to spread these deadly agents far and wide. Deadly prions are building up and incubating in sewage treatment plants and then dumped openly on land as biosolids. They are swept into the air by the wind. Now, water contaminated by prions is migrating into our rivers, lakes and oceans. It’s being injected into groundwater and it’s being recycled as tap water.

I used to support wastewater reclamation and reuse projects until I realized that the risk assessments were prepared decades ago—before Dr. Prusiner characterized prions and prion disease. These microscopic protein particles have converted sewage and its by-products a public health disaster.

municipal wastewater treatment and disease

Read The Full Story About The Risks Associated With Wastewater Reclamation and Biosolids

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Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Sewage mismanagement is one of our top issues. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Most People Breathing Unhealthy Air

Air Pollution An Extreme Threat To Public Health

By Mike Ives, The New York Times

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that 92 percent of people breathe what it classifies as unhealthy air, in another sign that atmospheric pollution is a significant threat to global public health.

A new report, the W.H.O.’s most comprehensive analysis so far of outdoor air quality worldwide, also said about three million deaths a year — mostly from cardiovascular, pulmonary and other noncommunicable diseases — were linked to outdoor air pollution. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths are in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region, compared with 333,000 in Europe and the Americas, the report said.

air pollution Beijing

“When you look out through the windows in your house or apartment, you don’t see the tiny little particles that are suspended in the air, so the usual perception is that the air is clean,” Rajasekhar Balasubramanian, an air quality expert at the National University of Singapore who was not involved in the study, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

“But the W.H.O. report is a clear indication that even in the absence of air pollution episodes, the concentrations of particles suspended in the air do exceed what’s considered to be acceptable from a health viewpoint,” he said.

In previous studies, the W.H.O. estimated that more than eight in 10 people in urban areas that monitored air pollution were breathing unhealthy air and that about seven million deaths a year were linked to indoor and outdoor pollution.

The new study reduced the second estimate to 6.5 million deaths. But María P. Neira, director of the W.H.O.’s Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a telephone interview that “the trends are still going in the wrong direction.”

“Somebody has to pay for those health systems to sustain the treatment and the care for those chronic patients, and this is something that countries need to balance when they make decisions about the sources of energy they are selecting or the choices they make in terms of public transport,” Dr. Neira said. “These economic costs of health have to be part of the equation.”

The W.H.O. study was conducted by dozens of scientists over 18 months and was based on data collected from satellites, air-transport models and ground monitors in more than 3,000 urban and rural locations, agency officials said Tuesday.

greenhouse gas and climate change

The agency defined unhealthy air as having concentrations of fine particulate matter, known as PM 2.5, above 10 micrograms per cubic meter, or 35.3 cubic feet, but it did not measure concentrations of ozone, nitrous oxide or other harmful pollutants.

The study said that major drivers of global air pollution included inefficient energy use and transportation but that nonhuman factors, such as dust storms, also played a role.

Professor Balasubramanian said it was an open question whether countries in Southeast Asia, a region that has densely packed cities and struggles to combat cross-border pollution, would choose to improve urban air quality by switching to cleaner fuels in their power plants, as Western European countries did several decades ago.

Prolonging the decisions will probably increase the health risk from air pollution, he said, because the region’s population is rising and demanding more energy.

About 300 million children in the world breathe highly toxic air, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a new report. The vast majority of these children, about 220 million, live in South Asia, in places where air pollution is at least six times the level that the World Health Organization considers safe, Unicef said.

Air Pollution News via http://nyti.ms/2cSBoVb

Tap Water Exposing Millions To Carcinogen

Chromium-6 In Hundreds Of Wells Across U.S.

In the film Erin Brockovich, the environmental crusader confronts the lawyer of a power company that polluted the tap water of Hinkley, Calif., with a carcinogenic chemical called chromium-6. When the lawyer picks up a glass of water, Brockovich says: “We had that water brought in ‘specially for you folks. Came from a well in Hinkley.”

The lawyer sets down the glass and says, “I think this meeting’s over.”

chromium-6 in drinking water

But almost 25 years after that real-life confrontation, the conflict over chromium-6 is not over. A new EWG analysis of federal data from nationwide drinking water tests shows that the compound contaminates water supplies for more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states. Yet federal regulations are stalled by a chemical industry challenge that could mean no national regulation of a chemical state scientists in California and elsewhere say causes cancer when ingested at even extraordinarily low levels.

The standoff is the latest round in a tug-of-war between scientists and advocates who want regulations based strictly on the chemical’s health hazards and industry, political and economic interests who want more relaxed rules based on the cost and feasibility of cleanup. If the industry challenge prevails, it will also extend the Environmental Protection Agency’s record, since the 1996 landmark amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act, of failing to use its authority to set a national tap water safety standard for any previously unregulated chemical.

In 2008, a two-year study by the National Toxicology Program found that drinking water with chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, caused cancer in laboratory rats and mice. Based on this and other animal studies, in 2010, scientists at the respected and influential California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment concluded that ingestion of tiny amounts of chromium-6 can cause cancer in people, a conclusion affirmed by state scientists in New Jersey and North Carolina.

The California scientists set a so-called public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion in tap water, the level that would pose negligible risk over a lifetime of consumption. (A part per billion is about a drop of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.) But in 2014, after aggressive lobbying by industry and water utilities, state regulators adopted a legal limit 500 times the public health goal. It is the only enforceable drinking water standard at either the state or federal level.

water contamination Phoenix

Spurred by a groundbreaking 2010 EWG investigation that found chromium-6 in the tap water of 31 cities and a Senate hearing prompted by the findings, the EPA ordered local water utilities to begin the first nationwide tests for the unregulated contaminant. From 2013 to 2015, utilities took more than 60,000 samples of drinking water and found chromium-6 in more than 75 percent of them. EWG’s analysis of the test data estimates that water supplies serving 218 million Americans – more than two-thirds of the population – contain more chromium-6 than the California scientists deemed safe.

The California scientists based their public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion solely on protecting people from cancer and other diseases. Public health goals are not legally enforceable, but legal limits are supposed to be set as close as possible to health goals “while considering cost and technical feasibility.” But the California Department of Public Health relied on a flawed analysis that exaggerated the cost of treatment and undervalued the benefits of stricter regulation, and adopted a legally enforceable limit of 10 parts per billion.

Even by that far-too-lax benchmark, EWG’s analysis of EPA tests shows that more than seven million Americans are served tap water from supplies that had at least one detection of chromium-6 higher than the only legal limit in the nation. Because the EPA tests covered only a fraction of the small systems and private wells that supply water to more than a third of Americans, it is highly likely that chromium-6 contamination is even more widespread.

water test EPA

According to government hypotheses, the amount posing no more than a one-in-a-million risk of cancer for people who drink it daily for 70 years. (By contrast, the state’s legal limit represents a cancer risk of 500 per million.) Comparing the public health goal to levels of contamination found in the EPA tests, EWG estimates that if left untreated, chromium-6 in tap water will cause more than 12,000 excess cases of cancer by the end of the century.

The tests found chromium-6 in almost 90 percent of the water systems sampled. Oklahoma, Arizona and California had the highest average statewide levels and the greatest shares of detections above California’s public health goal. Among major cities, Phoenix had, by far, the highest average level, at almost 400 times the California health goal, and St. Louis and Houston also had comparatively high levels.

Scientists in California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are not alone in determining that extraordinarily low levels of chromium-6 in drinking water can cause cancer.

In 2010, New Jersey’s Drinking Water Quality Institute, a state agency comprised of scientists, utility officials and citizen experts, calculated a health-based maximum contaminant level – what California calls a public health goal – of 0.06 parts per billion, just slightly higher than California’s. This year, scientists in North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, also drawing on the 2008 National Toxicology Program study that drove the California goal, calculated a do-not-drink level matching the New Jersey number.

But neither New Jersey nor North Carolina has set a legal limit for chromium-6 in tap water. In both states, scientists’ health-based recommendations were at odds with the decisions of politically appointed regulators.

In New Jersey, the press reported the water quality institute’s recommendation before it could be formally submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection for development of a regulation. According to former DEP planner Bill Wolfe, now an environmental advocate, this angered Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, appointed by Gov. Chris Christie. Wolfe said Martin not only blocked submission of the recommendation, but effectively stopped the institute from meeting for four years, delaying drinking water regulations for more than a dozen chemicals.

In a statement to EWG, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said the department “vehemently disagrees with the EWG’s contention that political pressure in any way influenced the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute’s consideration of an MCL for chromium-6.” The spokesman said EWG’s characterization is based on the “opinion of a single, former NJDEP employee who was last employed by the agency 12 years ago,” and that EWG’s criticism is “critically flawed – and blatantly misleading.”

In North Carolina, scientists at the Department of Environmental Quality were alarmed by levels of chromium-6 in hundreds of private wells near unlined pits where Duke Energy dumped coal ash. The scientists warned well owners not to drink water with chromium-6 levels higher than their calculations found were safe. But higher-ups at the department rescinded the do-not-drink warnings, citing the lack of federal regulation as justification for telling well owners their water met all state and federal standards.

The head of the Department of Environmental Quality, Donald R. van der Vaart, previously worked for a utility that is now part of Duke Energy. He was appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, who worked for Duke Energy for 29 years before he ran for office. After the McCrory administration issued a public statement attacking the integrity of a scientist who resisted their plan to rescind the do-not-drink warnings, state epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies resigned, saying she “cannot work for a department and an Administration that deliberately misleads the public.”

The conflict over chromium-6 regulation stems not only from the question of how much is safe, but the staggering cost of cleaning up such a widespread contaminant that is an industrial pollutant but also occurs naturally. The California Department of Public Health estimates that treating the state’s water to meet the legal limit of 10 parts per billion will cost nearly $20 million a year, so the cost of meeting the much more stringent public health goal would be far higher.

There are two main types of chromium compounds. Chromium-3, or trivalent chromium, is a naturally occurring compound and an essential human nutrient. Chromium-6 also occurs naturally, but is manufactured for use in steel making, chrome plating, manufacturing dyes and pigments, preserving leather and wood and, as in the Brockovich case, lowering the temperature of water in the cooling towers of electrical power plants. Chromium-6 is also in the ash from coal-burning power plants, which is typically dumped in unlined pits that a 2011 report by the nonprofit Earthjustice said may threaten hundreds or thousands of water supplies and private wells. And recent research has suggested that some methods of treating water supplies to remove other contaminants may actually increase levels of chromium-6.

Human studies by government and independent scientists worldwide have definitively established that breathing airborne chromium-6 particles can cause lung cancer, and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets strict limits for airborne chromium-6 in the workplace. Whether inhaled or ingested, it can also cause liver damage, reproductive problems and developmental harm. Studies have found that exposure to chromium-6 may present greater risks to certain groups, including infants and children, people who take antacids, and people with poorly functioning livers.

But because of the unsettled science – including the crucial question of how much chromium-6 the stomach converts into mostly harmless chromium-3 – the EPA has only set a drinking water limit for total chromium, the combined level for both compounds. That outdated regulation from 2001, based on skin rash concerns, is 100 parts per billion – 5,000 times California’s public health goal for chromium-6 and 10 times the state’s legal limit.

After Brockovich uncovered chromium-6 pollution in Hinkley, residents filed a class-action lawsuit that Pacific Gas and Electric Company, or PG&E, settled in 1996 for a record $333 million. The case pushed California legislators to pass a law calling for regulators to set an enforceable drinking water standard. The law set a 2004 deadline for the regulation, but it was delayed by a PG&E-backed scheme.

In 2001, as state scientists conducted a risk assessment to guide the regulation, an epidemiologist named Jay Beaumont noticed something fishy. A Chinese scientist had revised a key study of chromium-6 in drinking water, reversing his original finding of a strong link to stomach cancer. Some members of a “blue-ribbon” panel advising the state cited the revised study as evidence against a strong regulation. But when Beaumont tried to find out why the scientist had changed his mind, it turned out he was dead.

Beaumont learned that the study was rewritten not by the original author, but by consultants hired by PG&E to help defend the Brockovich case. Before the Chinese scientist died, they paid him a token amount[26] for access to his original data, manipulated it to hide the link to stomach cancer, and published the revised study in a scientific journal without disclosing their or PG&E’s involvement.

What’s more, the advisory panel included the head of the consulting firm, Dennis Paustenbach of San Francisco-based ChemRisk, who was once described in a Newark Star-Ledger investigation of his role in weakening New Jersey chromium regulations as having “rarely met a chemical he didn’t like.” A 2013 investigation by the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity found that Paustenbach and other ChemRisk employees also worked for General Electric, Lockheed Martin and Merck, all companies with liability for chromium pollution, and the Chrome Coalition, an industry lobbying group.

After his role in tampering with the Chinese study was exposed, Paustenbach resigned from the advisory panel. Beaumont and his colleagues started over, using the authentic study to guide the public health goal. In 2005, EWG obtained and published documents and emails that detailed the deception, which was also recounted in a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal. The scientific journal that published the bogus study retracted it.

In 2010, in the first-ever tests for chromium-6 in U.S. tap water, EWG found the chemical in 31 of 35 cities, with water in 25 cities containing levels above the California public health goal. The worst contamination was in Norman, Okla., where the level was 600 times the public health goal. Levels in Honolulu, Hawaii; Riverside and San Jose, Calif.; Madison, Wis.; and Tallahassee, Fla., ranged from 100 to 62 times the California health goal. Sources of the contamination are largely unknown, although Oklahoma and California have high levels of naturally occurring chromium and California has the nation’s highest concentration of industrial sites that use chromium.

EWG’s tests and a petition from environmental groups pushed the EPA to add chromium-6 to the chemicals for which local utilities must test under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule. The 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act require the EPA to select up to 30 previously unregulated contaminants for testing every five years. In 20 years, the agency has ordered testing for 81 contaminants, but has moved forward on setting a regulation for just one, the rocket fuel ingredient perchlorate, and is two years behind schedule on finalizing and implementing the regulation.

For our analysis, EWG matched the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule database with the federal Safe Drinking Water Information System to obtain county and population data. Population calculations for each utility were based on EPA data, and when projected to the county or state level, EWG used the U.S. Census Bureau estimates from July 2014.

The EPA results match EWG’s 2010 tests closely, with exceptions such as Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., and Albuquerque, N.M., where the EPA tests detected significantly higher levels of chromium-6. The EPA results identify several communities where levels of chromium-6 are strikingly higher than those in the surrounding state, but determining whether this is because of industrial pollution or natural occurrences would require site-by-site investigation.

After the 2008 National Toxicology Program study found that mice and rats who drank chromium-6-laced water developed stomach and intestinal tumors, scientists in the EPA’s Integrated Risk and Information System, or IRIS, began a risk assessment, the first step toward drafting a national regulation to cap chromium-6 contamination in drinking water. They saw that the 2008 study provided clear evidence that chromium-6 is carcinogenic, and reviewed hundreds of other studies. In 2010, the EPA completed, but did not officially release, a draft risk assessment that classified oral exposure to chromium-6 as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

The American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s powerful lobbying arm, argued that before formally releasing the draft for public comment, the EPA should wait for the publication of studies funded by the Council and the Electric Power Research Institute on the biological mechanisms through which chromium-6 triggers cancer. In an April 2011 letter obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, Vincent Cogliano, acting director of IRIS, responded to the chemistry lobby that “granting your request could entail a delay of unknown duration with no public discussion or review of the strong new studies that are now available.”

That’s exactly what happened.

An external review panel, which the Center for Public Integrity later found included three members who consulted for PG&E in the Brockovich case, pressured the EPA to grant the American Chemistry Council’s request. In 2012, the EPA quietly announced that the draft risk assessment will be held up until the chemical lobby’s studies are finished. EWG and other public health groups objected vociferously, not only due to the delay on chromium-6 but “the dangerous precedent suggested by delaying risk assessment activities to allow incorporation of as-yet unpublished, industry-funded research.”

The EPA’s prediction of when the risk assessment will be released for public comment has been pushed back repeatedly – from 2015 to the second quarter of 2016, and then to early 2017. When asked for an update, Cogliano wrote in an Aug. 24 email to EWG: “We expect to release a draft health assessment document in 2017, though I wouldn’t use the word ‘early.'”

Also on Aug. 24, an EPA spokesperson wrote in an email to EWG that the agency “has not made any decision regarding revising the drinking water regulations for [total] chromium or establishing regulations for hexavalent chromium.” That’s troubling, as the industry studies are expected to support the position that the EPA should do nothing at all.

The industry-funded studies are being conducted by ToxStrategies, a Texas-based science-for-hire consulting firm. The Center for Public Integrity found that a principal scientist at ToxStrategies, Mark Harris, had worked on the PG&E-funded scheme to revise the Chinese scientist’s paper linking chromium-6 to stomach cancer while at ChemRisk. The Center reported that Harris and his ToxStrategies colleague Deborah Proctor previously “were leaders in the chrome industry’s efforts to dissuade the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from setting stricter rules for airborne chromium in the workplace.”

In June, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality released a proposal for a daily safe dose of chromium-6 in drinking water that drew heavily on studies by Proctor and other ToxStrategies scientists. It argues that the EPA’s current legal limit for total chromium – 100 parts per billion, with no separate limit on chromium-6 – is adequate to protect public health. Joseph T. Haney Jr., the Texas state toxicologist who was the lead author of the paper, told the newsletter Inside EPA it was “a remarkable coincidence” that his calculations yielded a daily safe dose corresponding exactly to the EPA’s current regulation for total chromium.

Haney’s paper assumes there is a threshold for how much of a contaminant is harmful, and that no level of chromium-6 the EPA tests found in U.S. drinking water exceeded that amount. But the so-called linear method the EPA generally requires for mutagens – carcinogenic chemicals that cause cancer by damaging DNA, which can occur when even a single molecule enters a cell – assumes that any level of exposure carries some risk. The National Toxicology Program’s 2008 two-year study of lab animals found clear evidence that chromium-6 causes cancer, and the EPA’s 2010 draft risk assessment found that it is a powerful mutagen, so the linear method should be used to calculate cancer risk.

The ToxStrategies model rejects the EPA’s finding that chromium-6 causes cancer by damaging DNA, instead arguing that it causes hyperplasia, an increase in the number of cells, which may or may not be cancerous. It is based on a 90-day animal exposure study, in contrast to the more rigorous two-year National Toxicology Program study. It also ignores the growing body of independent research exploring the effects of small doses of carcinogens in combination with the myriad other cancer-causing chemicals Americans are exposed to daily.

If the EPA accepts the ToxStrategies threshold model, it could mean not only that chromium-6 will remain unregulated in drinking water, but also set a precedent that could undermine health protections for other carcinogenic chemicals. The EPA must reject the industry-backed effort, which is supported not by unbiased science to protect health, but by agenda-driven research to protect polluters from paying cleanup costs.

The recent conflict in North Carolina is one example of how the EPA’s failure to set enforceable national regulations is leaving Americans at risk from chromium-6 contamination. The result is not just an unsettled scientific debate, but the exposure of hundreds of millions of people to a cancer-causing chemical in their drinking water.

Cleaning up water supplies contaminated with chromium-6 will not be cheap. But the answer to high costs is not allowing exposures at unsafe levels while pretending water is safe. And the fact that some unknown level of chromium-6 contamination comes from natural sources does not negate Americans’ need to be protected from a known carcinogen.

Instead, the EPA and state regulators must set drinking water standards to protect the public, including those more susceptible to the toxic effects of chromium-6. Chromium-6 polluters must be held accountable and pay their shares of cleanup costs. The EPA and state regulators must focus on ensuring that water systems lacking the resources to meet health-protective standards have access to necessary funding, expertise and support so they can provide communities with truly safe water.

Read The Full Story At: http://www.ewg.org/research/chromium-six-found-in-us-tap-water#ref19

Cities Spreading Brain Disease With Sewage Mismanagement

Wastewater Treatment Plants Spreading Infectious Waste

Neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, is the fastest-growing cause of death in the world. Misinformation and mismanagement are contributing to the surge. Alzheimer’s disease alone is killing 50-100 million people now. Experts suggest that the prevalence of brain disease will quadruple by 2050, if not sooner.

Death rates from heart disease and cancer are dropping globally due to advances in nutrition, medicine and disease management. Meanwhile, neurodegenerative disease is exploding. In the U.S., deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased 71 percent from 2000 to 2013, while those attributed to heart disease decreased 14 percent. Similar trends are emerging around the world.

Alzheimer's disease and wastewater reclamation

  • Women are contracting neurodegenerative disease at twice the rate of men;
  • Spouses of those with neurodegenerative disease are 600% more likely to contract the disease; 
  • People in Finland, Iceland, Sweden and the United States have the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. Rates in North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington rival the highest rates in the world; and
  • Caregivers are in harm’s way because of disease mismanagement; 

The epidemic is larger than anyone knows. Physicians are withholding millions of diagnoses from patients and their families. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, physicians in the U.S. only inform 45 percent of patients about their Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The same suppression is likely at work in most countries. Meanwhile, millions more go undiagnosed and misdiagnosed.

At a cost of $236 billion a year, Alzheimer’s disease is already the most expensive disease in the United States. The disease saw a 15.7 percent bump over 2014 numbers–the largest increase of all major causes of death. It accounted for at least 108,227 deaths in the U.S. alone in 2015. A similar pattern is emerging around the globe–some regions much more than others. In the U.S. alone, nearly one in every five Medicare dollars is spent on people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. And these costs will only continue to increase as baby boomers age, soaring to more than $1 trillion in 2050.

In order to understand the threat, one must understand the dynamics of this neurological disease. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, is a member of an aggressive family of neurodegenerative diseases known as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.”

TSEs also include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease in the deer family. Few, if any, mammals are immune. There is no cure.

transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease. President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. According to Prusiner, TSEs all are on the same disease spectrum, which is more accurately described as prion (PREE-on) disease. He claims that all TSEs are caused by prions.

Studies confirm that people and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them with prions because prions are in the urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva of each victim. Not only are homes and hospitals exposed to the prion pathogen, so are entire sewage treatment systems and their by-products. Wastewater treatment plants are prion incubators and distributors. The sewage sludge and wastewater released are spreading disease far and wide.

Claudio Soto prion research

Claudio Soto, PhD, professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, and his colleagues confirmed the presence of prions in urine. Soto also confirmed that plants uptake prions and are infectious and deadly to those who consume the infected plants. Therefore, humans, wildlife and livestock are vulnerable to prion disease via plants grown on land treated with sewage sludge and reclaimed sewage water.

Prion researcher Dr. Joel Pedersen, from the University of Wisconsin, found that prions become 680 times more infectious in certain soils. Pedersen also found that sewage treatment does not inactivate prions. Therefore, prions are lethal, mutating, migrating and multiplying everywhere sewage is dumped.

“Our results suggest that if prions enter municipal wastewater treatment systems, most of the agent would bond to sewage sludge, survive anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids,” Pedersen said.

prion research sewage sludge

“Land application of biosolids containing prions represents a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results emphasize the importance of keeping prions out of municipal wastewater treatment systems. Prions could end up in sewage treatment plants via slaughterhouses, hospitals, dental offices and mortuaries just to name a few of the pathways. The disposal of sludge represents the greatest risk of spreading prion contamination in the environment. Plus, we know that sewage sludge pathogens, pharmaceutical residue and chemical pollutants are taken up by plants and vegetables.”

Prions are unstoppable and the pathogen spreads through the bodily fluids and cell tissue of its victims. Prions shed from humans with Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are the most deadly mutation. They demand more respect than radiation. Infected surgical instruments, for example, are impossible to sterilize and hospitals throw them away. As stated earlier, prions are in the bodily fluids and tissue of its victims. Many factors are contributing to the epidemic. Prions are now the X factor. Industry and government are not accounting for them or regulating them. They are ignoring the threat completely, which violates the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 in the United States. Other nations also are ignoring laws developed to protect food, air and water.

“There is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins.”

A new study published in the journal Nature renews concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people. A second study by the same scientist in early 2016 adds to the stack of evidence.

Experts claim that at least 25 percent of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are not Alzheimer’s disease. These misdiagnoses are actually CJD, which is further up the prion spectrum. CJD, without dispute, is extremely infectious to caregivers and loved ones. Millions of cases of deadly CJD are being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. Millions of patients and caregivers are being misinformed, misguided and exposed to an aggressive disease. Misdiagnosis and misinformation regarding prion disease is a matter of life and death. The mismanagement doesn’t end here.

Each victim becomes an incubator and a distributor of the Pandora-like pathogen. The human prion is resistant to both heat and chemicals. It’s reported that prions released from people are up to a hundred thousand times more difficult to deactivate than prions from most animals. Sewage from hospitals, nursing homes, slaughterhouses, morgues, mortuaries, veterinarians and other high-risk places enters the same sewage system.

municipal wastewater treatment and disease

Thanks to more and more people dying from TSEs, sewage systems are more contaminated with prions than ever. Wastewater treatment systems are now prion incubators and distributors.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that prions are in sewage and that there has been no way to detect them or stop them. As such, the EPA has never issued guidance on prion management within wastewater treatment plants. Unfortunately, the EPA’s risk assessment on sewage sludge and biosolids were prepared before the world of science knew about prions. The agency continues to cling to it’s antiquated sludge rule crafted back in the dark ages. It does, however, consider prions a “emerging contaminant of concern.” Meanwhile, its outdated risk assessments are promoting a public health disaster.

“Since it’s unlikely that the sewage treatment process can effectively deactivate prions, adopting measures to prevent the entry of prions into the sewer system is advisable,” said the Toronto Department of Health, November 2004.

When the U.S. government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, it classified prions as select agents that pose an extreme risk to food, water and much more. Only two labs in the U.S. were allowed to handle them for research purposes. Unfortunately, the CDC quietly took prions off the list because the regulation criminalized entire industries and several reckless practices.

wastewater treatment and disease

Wastewater treatment plants, for example, are spreading this infectious waste far and wide because they are incapable of stopping prions. All by-products and discharges from wastewater treatment plants are infectious waste, which are contributing to the global epidemic of neurodegenerative disease among humans, wildlife and livestock. Sewage treatment plants can’t detect or stop prions. Just ask the U.S. EPA and the industry trade organization—the Wastewater Effluent Federation. Sewage sludge (biosolids) and wastewater reclamation are causing widespread contamination.

Once unleashed on the environment, prions remain infectious. They migrate, mutate and multiply as they infect crops, water supplies and more.

Deer, elk, moose and reindeer are now contracting prion disease from humans. To help cloak the epidemic, it’s called chronic wasting disease (CWD). Deer with CWD are proverbial canaries in a coal mine. They are being killed by government sharpshooters to help cover up the problem. It’s insane.

mad cow disease

When cattle are exposed to prions, it’s being called mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, which is just a clever way of saying transmissible spongiform encephalopathy). Species barriers are a myth and part of the cover-up.

Unfortunately, prions linger in the environment, homes, hospitals, nursing homes, dental offices and beyond infinitely. Prions defy all attempts at sterilization and inactivation. If they can’t stop prions in the friendly and sterile confines of an operating room, they can’t stop them in the wastewater treatment plant.

The risk assessments prepared by the U.S. EPA for wastewater treatment and sewage sludge are flawed and current practices of recycling this infectious waste is fueling a public health disaster. Many risks are not addressed, including prions and radioactive waste. They don’t mention prions or radiation because there is no answer. Most nations are making the same mistake. We’re dumping killer proteins on crops, parks, golf courses, gardens, ski areas, school grounds and beyond. Wind, rain and irrigation spread these contaminants and many more throughout our communities and watersheds.

biosolids and application fertilizer

Failure to account for known risks is negligent. Crops for humans and livestock grown grown in sewage sludge absorb prions and become infectious. We’re all vulnerable to Alzheimer’s and other forms of prion disease right now due to widespread denial and mismanagement. It’s time to stop the land application of sewage sludge (LASS) in all nations. Safer alternatives exist.

Researchers have more questions than answers about brain disease, but we know that neurotoxins, head trauma and genetics can all trigger neurodegenerative disease. Unfortunately, that’s where our knowledge gets fuzzy.

Read The Full Story About Wastewater Treatment, Biosolids, Wastewater Reclamation and Disease.

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Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting sustainable, resilient and livable cities. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

Wastewater Treatment Plants Spreading Brain Disease

Neurodegenerative Disease Fastest Growing Cause Of Death

Neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, is the fastest-growing cause of death in the world. Misinformation and mismanagement are contributing to the surge. Alzheimer’s disease alone is killing 50-100 million people now. Experts suggest that the prevalence of brain disease will quadruple by 2050, if not sooner.

Death rates from heart disease and cancer are dropping globally due to advances in nutrition, medicine and disease management. Meanwhile, neurodegenerative disease is exploding. In the U.S., deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased 71 percent from 2000 to 2013, while those attributed to heart disease decreased 14 percent. Similar trends are emerging around the world. The reasons are alarming.

Alzheimer's disease and infectious waste

Death rates from heart disease, cancer and other leading causes of death are steady, if not dropping, in most countries due to advances in nutrition, medicine and disease management. Unfortunately, neurodegenerative disease is the one glaring exception. It’s spreading exponentially. If we had accurate mortality statistics, we would likely find that brain disease is already the leading cause of death around the world. Some countries are at a higher risk than others.

Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). He claims that all TSEs are caused by prions. President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. According to Prusiner, TSEs all are on the same disease spectrum, which is more accurately described as prion (PREE-on) disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence.

transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

Studies confirm that people and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them with prions because prions are in the urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva of each victim. Not only are homes and hospitals exposed to the prion pathogen, so are entire sewage treatment systems and their by-products. Wastewater treatment plants are prion incubators and distributors. The sewage sludge and wastewater released are spreading disease far and wide. Once unleashed on the environment, prions remain infectious. In fact, they migrate, mutate and multiply.

Claudio Soto, PhD, professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, and his colleagues confirmed the presence of prions in urine. Soto also confirmed that plants uptake prions and are infectious and deadly to those who consume the infected plants. Therefore, humans, wildlife and livestock are vulnerable to prion disease via plants grown on land treated with sewage sludge and reclaimed sewage water.

Claudio Soto prion research

Prion researcher Dr. Joel Pedersen, from the University of Wisconsin, found that prions become 680 times more infectious in certain soils. Pedersen also found that sewage treatment does not inactivate prions. Therefore, prions are lethal, mutating, migrating and multiplying everywhere sewage is dumped.

“Our results suggest that if prions enter municipal wastewater treatment systems, most of the agent would bond to sewage sludge, survive anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids,” Pedersen said.

prion research sewage sludge

“Land application of biosolids containing prions represents a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results emphasize the importance of keeping prions out of municipal wastewater treatment systems. Prions could end up in sewage treatment plants via slaughterhouses, hospitals, dental offices and mortuaries just to name a few of the pathways. The disposal of sludge represents the greatest risk of spreading prion contamination in the environment. Plus, we know that sewage sludge pathogens, pharmaceutical residue and chemical pollutants are taken up by plants and vegetables.”

Each victim becomes an incubator and a distributor of the Pandora-like pathogen. The human prion is resistant to both heat and chemicals. It’s reported that prions released from people are up to a hundred thousand times more difficult to deactivate than prions from most animals.

Sewage from hospitals, nursing homes, slaughterhouses, morgues, mortuaries, veterinarians and other high-risk places enters the same sewage system. Thanks to more and more people dying from TSEs, sewage systems are more contaminated with prions than ever. Wastewater treatment systems are now prion incubators and distributors.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that prions are in sewage and that there has been no way to detect them or stop them. As such, the EPA has never issued guidance on prion management within wastewater treatment plants. Unfortunately, the EPA’s risk assessment on sewage sludge and biosolids were prepared before the world of science knew about prions. The agency continues to cling to it’s antiquated sludge rule crafted back in the dark ages. It does, however, consider prions a “emerging contaminant of concern.” Meanwhile, its outdated risk assessments are promoting a public health disaster.

biosolids and prion disease

“Since it’s unlikely that the sewage treatment process can effectively deactivate prions, adopting measures to prevent the entry of prions into the sewer system is advisable,” said the Toronto Department of Health, November 2004.

Although there are many causes and pathways contributing to prion disease, many pathways are being mismanaged around the globe. Not only are homes and hospitals exposed to the prion pathogen, so are entire sewage treatment systems and their by-products. Wastewater treatment plants are prion incubators and the sewage sludge and wastewater pumped out spread the disease. People in some cities are actually drinking this wastewater.

Water contamination and disease

Via sewage, biosolids, and reclaimed wastewater, we’re recycling prions from victims into our food and water supplies. We’re dumping killer proteins on crops, parks, golf courses, gardens, ski areas, school grounds and beyond. Wind, rain and irrigation spread them throughout our communities and watersheds. We’re ignoring prion science.

Failure to account for known risks is negligent.We’re all vulnerable to prion disease right now due to widespread denial and mismanagement.

 

Wastewater Treatment and Disease via http://alzheimerdisease.tv/brain-disease-the-fastest-growing-cause-of-death/

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Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Beijing Smog Sparks First Red Alert

Schools, Factories Close As Millions Of Vehicles Forced To Park

Beijing has issued its first pollution red alert as acrid smog enveloped the Chinese capital for the second time this month. The alert will begin at 7am on Tuesday and should see millions of vehicles forced off the roads, factories and construction sites shut down and schools and nurseries advised to close.

air pollution Beijing

“It is history – this is a precedent set,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public an Environmental Affairs in Beijing. “This is extremely important to stop children from being exposed to such a high level of pollution.”

Chinese authorities faced fierce criticism last week when they failed to issue a red alert even as Beijing’s residents choked on smog levels that in some areas rose to 40 times those considered safe by the World Health Organisation.

Greenpeace complained that the government’s insufficient alerting system compounded the effects of Beijing’s latest “airpocalypse,” in which readings of the hazardous airborne particle PM2.5 exceed 900 micrograms per cubic meter in some parts of the city.

Monday’s emergency announcement appeared in part to be a reaction to those criticisms. Ma Jun said it would have been a “very tough decision” for China’s leaders to declare the red alert in a city of about 23 million inhabitants.

 

“It is going to involve some very challenging actions like stopping half of the cars. In a city with more than five million cars you can imagine that is going to be a big challenge,” he said. “It is not about the political or financial cost, first and foremost it is about the great difficulty in trying to organize such an emergency response.

“But this will definitely help protect people’s health. With the red alert, primary schools, middle schools and kindergartens will be [advised] to stop having class. This will be very helpful in preventing extra exposure of the most vulnerable group of people to the air pollution hazards.”

Chinese state media said the latest bout of pollution would linger over Beijing until Thursday, when rain is expected to clear away the toxic smog. “Coal-fired power plants are the major culprit at this point,” said Xinhua, China’s official news agency.

Last year the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, vowed to declare war on pollution, but despite such pledges smog continues to blight cities right across the country. Scientists blame air pollution for about 4,000 deaths a day.

Ma Jun said Beijing’s first red alert underlined how serious the smog problem remained. “It just shows that air pollution is still a very big challenge to the city of Beijing and that the government has paid greater attention to this issue,” he said.

air pollution China

The crisis is even more severe in the regions surrounding Beijing, where hundreds of millions of tons of coal are still being burned each year even as the capital tries to slash its use of the fossil fuel.

Ma Jun said government action in those places was also needed in order to solve Beijing’s smog problem. “Beijing actually isn’t even in the top 10 polluting cities in the region [any more]. There are others which are significantly more polluting,” he said.

Sustainable City News via http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/07/beijing-pollution-red-alert-smog-engulfs-capital?CMP=share_btn_tw

Rio Olympians Threatened By Sewage

Fecal Contamination In Water Threatens Health Of Athletes

By Brad Brooks, AP

Athletes in next year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games.

An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues — results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.

It is the first independent comprehensive testing for both viruses and bacteria at the Olympic sites. Brazilian officials have assured that the water will be safe for the Olympic athletes and the medical director of the International Olympic Committee said all was on track for providing safe competing venues. But neither the government nor the IOC tests for viruses, relying on bacteria testing only.

Rio de janeiro water contamination threatens Olympics

Extreme water pollution is common in Brazil, where the majority of sewage is not treated. Raw waste runs through open-air ditches to streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites. As a result, Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that in some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.

Despite decades of official pledges to clean up the mess, the stench of raw sewage still greets travelers touching down at Rio’s international airport. Prime beaches are deserted because the surf is thick with putrid sludge, and periodic die-offs leave the Olympic lake, Rodrigo de Freitas, littered with rotting fish.

“What you have there is basically raw sewage,” said John Griffith, a marine biologist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Griffith examined the protocols, methodology and results of the AP tests.

“It’s all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it’s going out into the beach waters. Those kinds of things would be shut down immediately if found here,” he said, referring to the U.S.

water contamination Rio de Janeiro

Vera Oliveira, head of water monitoring for Rio’s municipal environmental secretariat, said officials are not testing viral levels at the Olympic lake, the water quality of which is the city’s responsibility. The other Olympic water venues are under the control of the Rio state environmental agency.

Leonardo Daemon, coordinator of water quality monitoring for the state’s environmental agency, said officials are strictly following Brazilian regulations on water quality, which are all based on bacteria levels, as are those of almost all nations.

“What would be the standard that should be followed for the quantity of virus? Because the presence or absence of virus in the water … needs to have a standard, a limit,” he said. “You don’t have a standard for the quantity of virus in relation to human health when it comes to contact with water.”

Rio de Janeiro water contamination

Olympic hopefuls will be diving into Copacabana’s surf this Sunday during a triathlon Olympic qualifier event, while rowers take to the lake’s water beginning Wednesday for the 2015 World Rowing Junior Championships. Test events for sailing and marathon swimming take place later in August.

More than 10,000 athletes from 205 nations are expected to compete in next year’s Olympics. Nearly 1,400 of them will be sailing in the waters near Marina da Gloria in Guanabara Bay, swimming off Copacabana beach, and canoeing and rowing on the brackish waters of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake.

The AP commissioned four rounds of testing in each of those three Olympic water venues, and also in the surf off Ipanema Beach, which is popular with tourists but where no events will be held. Thirty-seven samples were checked for three types of human adenovirus, as well as rotavirus, enterovirus and fecal coliforms.

The AP viral testing, which will continue in the coming year, found not one water venue safe for swimming or boating, according to global water experts.

wastewater treatment and disease

Instead, the test results found high counts of active and infectious human adenoviruses, which multiply in the intestinal and respiratory tracts of people. These are viruses that are known to cause respiratory and digestive illnesses, including explosive diarrhea and vomiting, but can also lead to more serious heart, brain and other diseases.

The concentrations of the viruses in all tests were roughly equivalent to that seen in raw sewage — even at one of the least-polluted areas tested, the Copacabana Beach, where marathon and triathlon swimming will take place and where many of the expected 350,000 foreign tourists may take a dip.

“Everybody runs the risk of infection in these polluted waters,” said Dr. Carlos Terra, a hepatologist and head of a Rio-based association of doctors specializing in the research and treatment of liver diseases.

Alzheimer's disease infectious

Kristina Mena, a U.S. expert in risk assessment for waterborne viruses, examined the AP data and estimated that international athletes at all water venues would have a 99 percent chance of infection if they ingested just three teaspoons of water — though whether a person will fall ill depends on immunity and other factors.

Besides swimmers, athletes in sailing, canoeing and to a lesser degree rowing often get drenched when competing, and breathe in mist as well. Viruses can enter the body through the mouth, eyes, any orifice, or even a small cut.

The Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, which was largely cleaned up in recent years, was thought be safe for rowers and canoers. Yet AP tests found its waters to be among the most polluted for Olympic sites, with results ranging from 14 million adenoviruses per liter on the low end to 1.7 billion per liter at the high end.

Water contamination and disease

By comparison, water quality experts who monitor beaches in Southern California become alarmed if they see viral counts reaching 1,000 per liter.

“If I were going to be in the Olympics,” said Griffith, the California water expert, “I would probably go early and get exposed and build up my immunity system to these viruses before I had to compete, because I don’t see how they’re going to solve this sewage problem.”

However, Dr. Richard Budgett, the medical director for the International Olympic Committee, said after seeing the AP findings that the IOC and Brazilian authorities should stick to their program of testing only for bacteria to determine whether the water is safe for athletes.

“We’ve had reassurances from the World Health Organization and others that there is no significant risk to athlete health,” he said. “There will be people pushing for all sorts of other tests, but we follow the expert advice and official advice on how to monitor water effectively.”

Many water and health experts in the U.S. and Europe are pushing regulatory agencies to include viral testing in determining water quality because the majority of illnesses from recreational water activities are related to viruses, not bacteria.

Ivan Bulaja, the Croatian-born coach of Austria’s 49er-class sailing team, has seen it firsthand. His sailors have lost valuable training days after falling ill with vomiting and diarrhea.

“This is by far the worst water quality we’ve ever seen in our sailing careers,” said Bulaja.

Training earlier this month in Guanabara Bay, Austrian sailor David Hussl said he and his teammates take precautions, washing their faces immediately with bottled water when they get splashed by waves and showering the minute they return to shore. And yet Hussl said he’s fallen ill several times.

“I’ve had high temperatures and problems with my stomach,” he said. “It’s always one day completely in bed and then usually not sailing for two or three days.”

It is a huge risk for the athletes, the coach said.

“The Olympic medal is something that you live your life for,” Bulaja said, “and it can really happen that just a few days before the competition you get ill and you’re not able to perform at all.”

Dr. Alberto Chebabo, who heads Rio’s Infectious Diseases Society, said the raw sewage has led to “endemic” public health woes among Brazilians, primarily infectious diarrhea in children.

By adolescence, he said, people in Rio have been so exposed to the viruses they build up antibodies. But foreign athletes and tourists won’t have that protection.

“Somebody who hasn’t been exposed to this lack of sanitation and goes to a polluted beach obviously has a much higher risk of getting infected,” Chebabo said.

An estimated 60 percent of Brazilian adults have been exposed to hepatitis A, said Terra, the Rio hepatologist. Doctors urge foreigners heading to Rio, whether athletes or tourists, to be vaccinated against hepatitis A. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends travelers to Brazil get vaccinated for typhoid.

The AP commissioned Fernando Spilki, a virologist and coordinator of the environmental quality program at Feevale University in southern Brazil, to conduct the water tests.

Spilki’s testing looked for three different types of human adenovirus that are typical “markers” of human sewage in Brazil. In addition, he tested for enteroviruses, the most common cause of upper respiratory tract infections in the young. He also searched for signs of rotavirus, the main cause of gastroenteritis globally.

The tests so far show that Rio’s waters “are chronically contaminated,” he said. “The quantity of fecal matter entering the waterbodies in Brazil is extremely high. Unfortunately, we have levels comparable to some African nations, to India.”

Griffith, the California expert, said the real concern isn’t for what Spilki actually measured, noting that “there are very likely to be nastier bugs in there that weren’t searched for and that are out there lurking.”

There is no lack of illness in Rio, but there is a severe shortage of health data related to dirty water, medical experts said.

The maladies often hit people hard, but most don’t go see a doctor, so no data is collected.

Globally, however, rotavirus accounts for about 2 million hospitalizations and over 450,000 deaths of children worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization.

The AP testing found rotavirus on three separate occasions at Olympic sites — twice at the lake and once at a beach next to the Marina da Gloria, where sailors are expected to launch their boats.

Mena, an associate professor of public health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and an expert in water quality, conducted what she called a “conservative” risk assessment for Olympic athletes participating in water sports in Rio, assuming they would ingest 16 milliliters of water, or three teaspoons — far less than athletes themselves say they take in.

She found “an infection risk of 99 percent,” she said.

“Given those viral concentration levels, do I think somebody should be exposed to those amounts? The answer is no.”

The AP also measured fecal coliform bacteria, single-celled organisms that live in the intestines of humans and animals. Fecal coliforms can suggest the presence of cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid.

In 75 percent of the samples taken at the Olympic lake, the number of fecal coliforms exceeded Brazil’s legal limit for “secondary contact,” such as boating or rowing — in two samples spiking to over 10 times the accepted level. The Marina da Gloria venue exceeded the limit only once, while at Rio’s most popular tourist beach, Ipanema, fecal coliforms tested at three times the acceptable level in a single sample. At Copacabana, the AP tests found no violations of fecal coliform counts.

Fecal coliforms have long been used by most governments as a marker to determine whether bodies of water are polluted because they are relatively easy and cheap to test and find. Brazil uses only bacterial testing when determining water quality.

In Rio, the fecal coliform levels were not as astronomical as the viral numbers the AP found. That gap is at the heart of a global debate among water experts, many of whom are pushing governments to adopt viral as well as bacterial testing to determine if recreational waters are safe.

That’s because fecal coliform bacteria from sewage can survive only a short time in water, especially in the salty and sunny conditions around Rio. Human adenoviruses have been shown to last several months, with some studies even indicating they can last years.

That means that even if Rio magically collected and treated all its sewage tomorrow, its waters would stay polluted for a long time.

In its Olympic bid, Rio officials vowed the games would “regenerate Rio’s magnificent waterways” through a $4 billion government expansion of basic sanitation infrastructure.

It was the latest in a long line of promises that have already cost Brazilian taxpayers more than $1 billion — with very little to show for it.

Rio’s historic sewage problem spiraled over the past decades as the population exploded, with many of the metropolitan area’s 12 million residents settling in the vast hillside slums that ring the bay.

Waste flows into more than 50 streams that empty into the once-crystalline Guanabara Bay. An eye-watering stench emanates from much of the bay and its palm-lined beaches, which were popular swimming spots as late as the 1970s but are now perpetually off-limits for swimmers.

Tons of household trash — margarine tubes, deflated soccer balls, waterlogged couches and washing machines — line the shore and form islands of refuse.

Starting in 1993, Japan’s international cooperation agency poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a Guanabara cleanup project. The Inter-American Development Bank issued $452 million in loans for more works.

A culture of mismanagement stymied any progress. For years, none of four sewage treatment plants built with the Japanese funds operated at full capacity. One of the plants in the gritty Duque de Caxias neighborhood didn’t treat a drop of waste from its construction in 2000 through its inauguration in 2014. For 14 years, it wasn’t connected to the sewage mains.

By then, the Japanese agency rated the project as “unsatisfactory,” with “no significant improvements in the water quality of the bay.”

As part of its Olympic project, Brazil promised to build eight treatment facilities to filter out much of the sewage and prevent tons of household trash from flowing into the Guanabara Bay. Only one has been built.

The fluorescent green lagoons that hug the Olympic Park and which the government’s own data shows are among the most polluted waters in Rio were to be dredged, but the project got hung up in bureaucratic hurdles and has yet to start.

“Brazilian authorities promised the moon in order to win their Olympic bid and as usual they’re not making good on those promises,” said Mario Moscatelli, a biologist who has spent 20 years lobbying for a cleanup of Rio’s waterways. “I’m sad but not surprised.”

As the clock ticks down, local officials have dialed back their promises. Rio Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezao has acknowledged “there’s not going to be time” to finish the cleanup of the bay ahead of the games.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes has said it’s a “shame” the Olympic promises wouldn’t be met, adding the games are proving “a wasted opportunity” as far as the waterways are concerned.

But the Rio Olympic organizing committee’s website still states that a key legacy of the games will be “the rehabilitation and protection of the area’s environment, particularly its bays and canals” in areas where water sports will take place.

Municipal Sewage News via http://bigstory.ap.org/article/d92f6af5121f49d982601a657d745e95/ap-investigation-rios-olympic-water-rife-sewage-virus#

Cities Recycling Disease With Wastewater Reclamation

Wastewater Reclamation Based On Flawed Risk Assessments

San Diego City Council approved plans to reclaim and reuse wastewater as drinking water. Thanks to flawed risk assessments, it will be another public health disaster. Millions more people will now be exposed to a highly contagious pathogen called a prion. The deadly form of protein causes neurodegenerative disease in mammals, including Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The unstoppable pathogen is flushed down thousands of toilets and drains every day.

A coalition of community leaders, business groups and environmental organizations rammed the fatal plan down citizens’ throats as a way of preserving property values in the face of a deepening drought. Citizens never had a chance to vote on the proposal. Only the city council voted on the project.

Environmental groups were duped to say that the Pure Water project will mean less sewage dumped into the ocean and less reliance on desalination of that same ocean water. Thanks to the slick PR campaign, taxpayers will cough up $3.2 billion for the right to choke down their own sewage and an unstoppable pathogen called prion.

transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). He claims that all TSEs are caused by prions. President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. According to Prusiner, TSEs all are on the same disease spectrum, which is more accurately described as prion (PREE-on) disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence.

People with prion disease, including Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have prions in their bodily fluids, including their urine, feces, blood, saliva and mucus. The unstoppable pathogen is flushed down thousands of toilets and drains every day. If prions are unstoppable in the sterile confines of an operating room, how are they stopping prions in the high-volume, low-tech world of wastewater treatment?

Pure Water San Diego, for example, is expected to provide more than a third of the city’s potable water by 2035. The wastewater treatment system starts with micro-filtration to take out the floaters–the big stuff in sewage (feces, tampons, etc.). The water then goes through reverse-osmosis to screen out organic material, salts and other solids. The last step is a combination of ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide to kill some of the pathogens found in sewage. Supposedly, a splash of UV light and hydrogen peroxide will kill everything that could kill you. Anything that can’t be killed with UV light or hydrogen peroxide is destined for your home.

Water contamination and disease

As any surgeon in the world can tell you, UV light and hydrogen peroxide can kill several things if properly exposed, but they can’t kill millions of prions from thousands of people who have prion disease. There is not any known treatment in the world that is 100 percent effective against prions in any environment, especially the high-volume, low-tech world of wastewater treatment. Prions are more likely to migrate, mutate and multiply than be neutralized (they aren’t a virus or bacteria, so they can’t be killed). Once exposed to deadly prions, the waterways will be contaminated forever.

In Los Angeles, the Orange County water reclamation program was featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Reporter Lesley Stahl bravely drank a sample of treated sewage water during the story. As she explained, San Diego won’t be the first to drink its own sewage. A number of other cities around the world have already sold their souls down the river based on half-truths and misinformation. Orange County, for example, recycles 70 million gallons a day to potable. It’s expanding capacity to 100 million gallons per day. Singapore is one of the most high-profile examples in the world. It reuses 380 million gallons per day.

The Problem With Prions

A recent study confirms that people and animals dying of prion disease are contaminating the environment around them with prions found in their bodily fluids. Claudio Soto, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the George and Cynthia W. Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Brain Related Illnesses at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, and his colleagues recently found prions in urine. The study has been published in the August 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Claudio Soto prion research

Soto also confirmed that plants absorb prions and are infectious and deadly to those who consume the infected plants. Therefore, humans, wildlife and livestock are vulnerable to prion disease via plants grown on land treated with sewage sludge and reclaimed sewage water. Studies performed by Ruth Gabizon in 2001 and Reichl in 2002 also found prions in the urine of victims. These studies also detected prions in bodily fluids. Despite that detail, Soto’s findings can help focus global attention on the exploding prion problem.

Prion researcher Dr. Joel Pedersen, from the University of Wisconsin, found that prions become 680 times more infectious in certain soils. Pedersen also found that sewage treatment does not inactivate prions. Therefore, prions are lethal, mutating, migrating and multiplying everywhere sewage is dumped.

“Our results suggest that if prions enter municipal wastewater treatment systems, most of the agent would bond to sewage sludge, survive anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids,” Pedersen said.

prion research sewage sludge

“Land application of biosolids containing prions represents a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results emphasize the importance of keeping prions out of municipal wastewater treatment systems. Prions could end up in sewage treatment plants via slaughterhouses, hospitals, dental offices and mortuaries just to name a few of the pathways. The disposal of sludge represents the greatest risk of spreading prion contamination in the environment. Plus, we know that sewage sludge pathogens, pharmaceutical residue and chemical pollutants are taken up by plants and vegetables.”

A new study published in the journal Nature renews concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people via bodily fluids. A second study by the same scientist in early 2016 adds to the stack of evidence.

“There has been a resurgence of this sort of thinking, because there is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins (prions).”

Alzheimer's disease and wastewater reclamation

Prions in urine and other bodily fluids underscores the environmental nightmare associated with Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD), Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and prion diseases among livestock and wildlife. Although there are many causes for prion disease, many people and animals are contracting it from environmental exposure (food, water and soil) and then contaminating the environment even more with their own bodily fluids.

If a single person with prion disease discharges bodily fluids or feces into a public sewer system, that sewage system is permanently infected and the amount of contamination will multiply and intensify daily. Everything discharged from that sewage system—reclaimed wastewater and biosolids—can spread the contamination even further. Once a prion reaches the soil, that soil is permanently contaminated and the entire watershed below that point is at risk forever. If your food and water is generated in that watershed, you have a higher risk of contracting prion disease.

biosolids and application fertilizer

With the help of weather, prions can migrate through wind and water. Rain and snow can rinse them into surface water, groundwater, streams, ponds, lakes, and oceans. Wildlife, livestock and humans can ingest prions from soil, water and food. Containment is a priority to protect public health.

Because of these factors and others, we have an epidemic of prion disease around the world right now. The epidemic is worse in some regions of the world than others. For example, the death rate for Alzheimer’s disease is higher in Finland than any other country in the world. Iceland and the United States are runners up. In fact, the death rate for Alzheimer’s is higher in North Dakota, South Dakota Washington state than any other known region in the world. These vast discrepancies can only be explained by environmental factors, including food, water and air pathways. Sewage disposal that contaminates local food and water supplies is likely part of the problem.

Alzheimer’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are indistinguishable. They are both on the prion disease spectrum. Medical professionals cannot tell the difference and it’s commonly known in the medical industry that the diagnoses are only a guess and that misdiagnoses are common. It appears that CJD is caused by a more aggressive mutation of prion than Alzheimer’s. When it comes to public health, a deadly prion is a deadly prion.

The urine and sewage connection helps explain why the global epidemic is exploding. More than 50 million people around the world are known to have these neurodegenerative diseases today. Millions more have the disease, but don’t know it, yet. In addition to these people, millions of infected people around the world have used our sewage systems over the past century. Millions more are using them today. It’s impossible to neutralize or stop prions in even the most sterile environments, including hospitals. It’s ludicrous to think that treated sewage water or biosolids are prion-free. Especially since prions from people are much more infectious than those found in other species (prions become more aggressive as they work their way up the food chain).

wastewater treatment and disease

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that prions are in sewage and that there has been no way to detect them or stop them. As such, the EPA has never issued guidance on prion management within wastewater treatment plants. Unfortunately, its risk assessments for wastewater reclamation and sewage management were prepared before the world of science knew about deadly prions. It does, however, consider prions a contaminant of “emerging concern.”

The EPA can’t plead ignorance to the dangers of prions in biosolids and reclaimed wastewater. Sewage dumped at sea must be reconsidered. Prions should be classified as a select agent again by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Center for Disease Control. Similar measures should be enacted around the world immediately. Failure to act responsibly is suicide.

Unfortunately, every sewage system in the world has served people with Alzheimer’s disease and CJD. As such, prions have been incubating, multiplying and migrating out of these systems for many years. The problem is intensifying within and beyond these sewage systems every day.

According to the U.S. EPA, “Prions are extremely resistant to inactivation by ultraviolet light, irradiation, boiling, dry heat, formaline, freezing, drying and changes in pH. Methods for inactivating prions in infected tissues or wastes include incineration at very high temperatures and alkaline hydrolysis.” They didn’t mention hydrogen peroxide.

“Since it’s unlikely that the sewage treatment process can effectively deactivate prions, adopting measures to prevent the entry of prions into the sewer system is advisable,” said the Toronto Department of Health, November 2004.

The EPA National Water Research Compendium 2009-2014 lists prions eight times as an emerging contaminant of concern in sewage sludge (biosolids), water and manure.

Read The Rest Of The Story At: http://crossbowcommunications.com/san-diego-should-reconsider-plan-to-drink-recycled-wastewater/

public affairs and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting sustainable, resilient and livable cities. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.