Death of a Georgia coal plant.

jQp0VOWE6IV-bnZ8-f0oSp3R454V5FrW0K7XyldtDkgSARGENT, Ga. – The smokestacks, more than 800 feet tall, barely peek from behind the tall pines just across from Chester Allen’s farm, but to him the damage from Plant Yates’ coal is plain to see.

“Dang-near everything rusts out early over here,” said Allen, as he walked with his dog, Bogey, past a rusty disc harrow on the farm where he’s lived for more than thirty years. His drag, steel gates, fence posts, barn roof – all rusted. Equipment this new – 15 years old, he reckons – shouldn’t be this rusty.

And maybe they wouldn’t be, but for the fact that Plant Yates, a coal-fired plant that opened in 1950, spewed 3.4 million pounds of corrosive acids into the air in 2011.

The impact of Yates and other coal plants in Georgia goes far beyond some rusty farm equipment. Emissions of hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, soot, smog-causing gases and mercury take a health toll. Coal trains and ash ponds weigh on the land. But soon Sargent and two other communities in rural Georgia will get a reprieve.

Part 2 of 2. Read part 1 here.

Read the full story on The Daily Climate

Drought gobbles up Texas turkey hunt

turkeysTurkey hunting in Texas dried up along with the state’s water due to the epic drought of 2011. And while the drought has relented, turkey season hasn’t been the same.

Turkey season closed Wednesday in the state, and wildlife officials expect this year will continue a trend the state has seen since 2010, with hunters killing the fewest birds in decades. Turkeys don’t mate when stressed by drought, making them hard to find and triggering a ripple effect that plays out over the next few hunting seasons.

“The drought in 2011 had a significant impact on turkey production,” said Steve Lightfoot, a spokesperson for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The result is that, if this season mimics last year’s, hunters will bag 60 percent fewer long beards – or mature males – than they did before the drought hit.

Read the full story on The Daily Climate | Scientific American

More states blow the whistle on high school football heat illness.

football-sledSpring football practice started this month for high schools across the country, and teams are drawing up game plans for the heat as well as this fall’s opponents.

Football players are 11 times more likely to suffer heat related illnesses than all other high school sports combined, according to a recent University of North Carolina study. To block heat illnesses, several big-time high school football states have new policies for practicing in intense heat.

The study “really reinforces how vulnerable football players are to heat-related illnesses.”- Andrew Grundstein, University of Georgia

Georgia last year began a new heat policy for football practices that might help end the state’s distinction as the leader in heat-related football player deaths. Other states, including Pennsylvania and Iowa, will roll out new practice rules this season. But many others, including some of those with rates of heat illness among the nation’s highest, do not have a policy for preparing players for practicing in the brutal summer heat.

Read the full story on The Daily Climate | Scientific American | Jackson Free Press

Flying the flame-free skies: High levels of flame retardants found on airliners.

2013-0328flightattendantSpending about 100 hours each month in the air, flight attendants are bombarded with pesticides, radiation, ozone and any illnesses passengers carry on board.

Now new research shows that they also fly along with some of the highest levels ever measured for some flame retardants.

All 19 commercial airliners in a new study had several flame retardants in their dust. And one chemical was measured at concentrations more than 100 times higher in the airplane dust than in dust collected from homes and offices.

“Of course I’m concerned. I just don’t know what to do other than to quit.” -a veteran flight attendant

Heather Stapleton, an environmental chemist at Duke University and co-author of the new study, said these levels were “some of the highest measurements I’ve ever seen,” which “suggests that exposure levels could be higher than one normally experiences in a car or the home environment.”

Whether flight attendants, pilots and cleaning crews face any health risks from the chemicals is unknown. But researchers worry that long hours breathing recycled cabin air could have some effects, particularly in pregnant women.

Read the full story on Environmental Health News | Scientific American

Flip it and reverse it: Remix climate change with new music video

climate-vid-image_largeFace it, climate science can be pretty dull. Average Joes aren’t exactly eager to learn about the “hockey stick” graph or other fundamentals of climatology.

To break through the climate-ADD, a new interactive music video mixes catchy beats, creative lyrics and a hands-on experience to explain simple concepts in climate science. The video, by Explainer Music, isn’t meant to be an exhaustive look at climate change, but rather a fun way to answer questions such as, “How do we know to blame you and me?”

The singing of David Holmes and Andrew Bean gives the song a “Flight of Conchords” sound, combining funk, folk and hip-hop elements. The pair has been here before: Their song about fracking – My Water’s on Fire Tonight – done in collaboration with ProPublica, has scored nearly 350,000 views on YouTube.

Read the full story on Daily Climate. Watch the non-interactive video below.

EHN awarded in national journalism contest.

Environmental Health News has won Honorable Mention in a national journalism competition for its 10-part series investigating environmental justice problems in communities across the country.

EHN, which is foundation-funded, competed with major newspapers and other large media in the Oakes Awards.

The Oakes Awards, one of the most prestigious awards in environmental journalism, are bestowed by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

For its series entitled Pollution, Poverty, People of Color, EHN dispatched reporters to seven cities to profile the wide variety of environmental health threats facing low-income communities of color.


Brett Israel’s profile of West Anniston, Alabama, was part of an award-winning environmental justice series.

The EHN series, overseen by Editor in Chief Marla Cone, was a collaboration by eight reporters, including EHN staff writers Brett Israel and Brian Bienkowski.

Israel profiled the poverty-stricken town of West Anniston, Alabama, which has an extraordinary rate of diabetes that scientists have linked to old industrial contamination from PCBs. “The Rev. Thomas Long doesn’t have any neighbors on Montrose Avenue in Anniston, Ala.. Everyone is gone, abandoning the neighborhood after widespread chemical contamination was discovered there in the 1990s. Long didn’t want to move; he had lived in the same house for all but one of his 64 years. Now he is stuck. Stuck on a street with no neighbors. Stuck with a property he’s convinced is unclean. And stuck with diabetes,” Israel wrote.

A strength of the series is that it combined analysis of scientific data with compelling storytelling that brought communities to life for readers. The stories documented high rates of asthma, diabetes and other health problems.

Just two months after EHN profiled the threats in Richmond, Calif., a fiery explosion erupted at its Chevron refinery, releasing plumes of toxic smoke and sending 15,000 people to hospitals.

The Chicago Tribune took first place with its Playing with Fire project, documenting deceptive practices by the chemical industry related to flame retardants.