Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oil spill's toll spreads far beyond gulf

Oil spill has spread as far as Europe and the Arctic
Science News

Environmental devastation from the gushing Gulf of Mexico oil spill has spread as far as Europe and the arctic, scientists said.

"This is not just a regional issue for the wildlife," Carl Safina, president of the Blue Ocean Institute, told members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee as the panel scrutinized the much-criticized response to the spill.

Safina said multiple forms of marine life across the Atlantic Ocean come to the Gulf of Mexico to breed.

Like other scientists who testified before the committee, Safina criticized BP's response to the spill.

"I think asking BP for answers is the wrong place to look," he said. "They seem to have cut corners on some critical junctures. We keep asking their permission to go down and measure the oil that's coming out."

Sylvia Earle of The National Geographic Society said BP's playing a leading role in containment efforts would amount to "relying on the foxes to look after the chicken coop."

She and other scientists also questioned the decision to try to break up the spill by injecting chemicals into crude oil flowing from the seabed floor.

"We don't know effects of dispersants applied a mile underwater. There's been no laboratory testing at all," Earle said.

Carys Mitchelmore, a University of Maryland researcher, said the chemicals could cause harm.

"I'm very concerned because I don't know," she said. "There are so many unknowns. We can't see these organisms dying and dropping to the sea bed."

Safina suggested BP used dispersants so cameras would be unable to show the extent of the oil slick.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kale, spinach top list of healthiest veggies

Broccoli, carrots and bell peppers also are top-notch
By Kaye Spector
The Plain Dealer

Looking to get the biggest nutritional bang out of your veggies? Try eating the "healthiest veggies" identified by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

CSPI calculated a score for each vegetable by adding up the percentage of the dietary Reference Intake for six nutrients, the Daily Value for fiber and the daily targets that CSPI devised for lutein and carotenoids other than lutein. Calcium, iron and folate were part of the score, too.

(Lutein was included because CSPI says evidence is growing that it may prevent cataracts. CSPI came up with a 3,000 microgram daily requirement based on cataract studies and the federal government's Institute of Medicine.)

The top 10:
Collard greens
Turnip greens
Swiss chard
Raw spinach
Canned pumpkin
Mustard greens
Sweet potato with skin

Notice a pattern here? Brightly colored leafy greens. But broccoli, carrots and bell peppers also are top-notch, says CSPI. These veggies get high scores because they're rich in lutein and beta-carotene, but also supply vitamin K and some of just about everything else.

CSPI also does lists for top fruits, beans, grains and meat in its Healthy Foods guide, which is given free to subscribers of its monthly Nutrition Action newsletter.

Attention-deficit disorder may have link to common pesticides, research finds

Detectable levels of pesticide compounds were found in the urine of almost all the children studied
By Associated Press health & medical staff

Research published today in the journal Pediactrics suggests a possible link between exposure to common pesticides used on fruits and vegetables and children's attention-deficit disorder.

Detectable levels of pesticide compounds were found in the urine of almost all the children studied. The kids with higher levels had increased chances of having ADHD, a common problem that causes students to have trouble in school.

The children may have eaten food treated with pesticides, breathed it in the air or swallowed it in their drinking water. The study didn't determine how they were exposed.

Experts say the research is well done. But more studies will be needed to confirm the connection is more than chance.

FDA should regulate amount of salt hidden in food products, health experts say

Americans eat about 1½ teaspoons of salt daily, more than double what they need for good health
By Associated Press health & medical staff

Public health experts urged the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to force food makers to gradually cut the salt hidden inside their products, something the agency is considering.

Americans eat about 1½ teaspoons of salt daily, more than double what they need for good health — and high enough to increase risk of high blood pressure and other problems. Most of that sodium comes inside common processed foods — from soups to frozen pizza to sliced cheese.
Tuesday, the prestigious Institute of Medicine said the food industry hasn't done enough to voluntarily cut back. It urged FDA to set maximum sodium levels for different foods in a stepwise rollback, so people have time to adjust to the change.

The FDA hasn't decided whether to regulate sodium levels, but "no options are off the table," said spokeswoman Meghan Scott.

"There is no initiative at the moment," she said. But, "there is very little debate any longer over the impact sodium has."

The IOM is an independent agency chartered by Congress to advise the federal government, and is just the latest in a string of health groups to pressure the FDA in recent years to cut the salt.

The American Medical Association has said that if the salt in processed and restaurant food were cut in half over 10 years, that ultimately 150,000 lives a year could be saved.

See: FDA should regulate amount of salt hidden in food products, health experts say