Papers from the Journals

Biomonitoring Study Detects Toxic Chemicals in Health Care Professionals

From Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2009 Click here
In a first ever investigation of toxic chemicals found in the bodies of doctors and nurses, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in partnership with American Nurses Association (ANA) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) released the Hazardous Chemicals In Health Care report on October 8th. The inquiry found that all of the 20 participants had toxic chemicals associated with health care in their bodies. Each participant had at least 24 individual chemicals present, four of which are on the recently released US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) list of priority chemicals for regulation. These chemicals are all associated with chronic illness and physical disorders.

Soils: The last frontier

From time to time Science publishes a collected series of articles on one topic. Often these ‘Special Issues’ are around a theme of particular interest to environmentalists. Science, 304, 11 June 2004 carried a special issue on soil – ‘Soils – The Final Frontier’. The Science Website is at http://www.sciencemag.org However, only subscribers can gain access to the full text of articles. Science is available in all major public and university libraries.

It contains a world soil map and articles: Introduction: Ecology of the Underworld Soil and Trouble Wounding Earth’s Fragile Skin Defrosting the Carbon Freezer of the North The Secret Life of Fungi Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Climate Change and Food Security Breaking the Sod, Humankind, History and Soil Ecological Linkages Between Above Ground and Below Ground Biota Interactions and Self-Organisation in the Soil-Microbe Complex While all the articles are worth reading it is the one on Soil Carbon Sequestration that I found the most interesting and with considerable relevance to some existing and some emerging practices in Australia. The thrust of the article is that soil contains both organic and inorganic carbon, the former in the form of humus. Soils rich in humus are both more productive and can sequester significant quantities of soil organic carbon (SOC). Thus retaining organic material in the soil can both improve crop yields and help reduce the addition of carbon to the atmosphere where it drives climate change. Due to a range of poor management practices around the world there has been both a loss of CO2 from soils to the atmosphere, and degradation of the productive capacity of soil.

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