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July 3, 2013 | By Karin Klein
Arsenic is one dangerous pollutant that can occur naturally (though it also can be a byproduct of pesticide use or certain kinds of mining), usually ingested via water. In Nepal and other impoverished areas of Asia where arsenic levels are high, low-tech water filters make a huge difference - a jar filled with rusty nails and sand. The ferrous oxide in the nails binds to the arsenic; particles then are filtered out in the sand. That works for households but not for rice fields, where immense amounts of water are used.
June 17, 2013 | By Jessica Garrison and Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times
A Vernon battery recycler shut by the state in April as a health risk to thousands of nearby residents will be allowed to reopen pending a court hearing next month, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Monday. Judge Luis A. Lavin said the public interest would not suffer if the plant were to operate in the meantime. The state Department of Toxic Substances Control ordered Exide Technologies, one of the world's largest makers and recyclers of lead acid batteries, to suspend operations April 24, saying the facility's arsenic emissions posed "an unacceptable risk to public health.
April 3, 2013 | By Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles City Council members Wednesday expressed fury at recent revelations that arsenic emissions from a battery-recycling plant in nearby Vernon pose a danger to as many as 110,000 people, and called upon the city attorney to look into possible legal action. "I'm outraged. I'm appalled," said Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents Boyle Heights and chairs the council's committee on the environment. The committee had summoned officials from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to a hearing on the risks posed by Exide Technologies.
November 23, 2012 | By Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times
EAST OROSI, Calif. - This was to be the first year Jessica Sanchez was in charge of Thanksgiving dinner. She began preparations Wednesday, crossing through her family's small kitchen to a bottled water dispenser in the living room and filling a pan to wash the turkey. She couldn't use the tap water because East Orosi is one of many Central Valley farm communities where the supply is tainted - by nitrates, arsenic or bacteria traced to decades of agricultural runoff. Jessica's mother, Bertha Diaz, makes about $7.50 an hour picking grapefruit and lemons in the winter, grapes and blackberries in the summer. The cost of the tap water they use for bathing and gardening, plus the bottled water for drinking and cooking, is about 30% of her income.
September 22, 2012 | By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
In response to a recent investigation that found "substantial" levels of arsenic in rice and many rice-based products, a group of Democrats proposed legislation that would impose federal limits on the dangerous element. Reps. Rosa De Lauro of Connecticut, Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Nita Lowey of New York said in a joint statement that their bill would require the Food and Drug Administration to set a maximum amount of arsenic permissible in foods containing rice. The move Friday is based on a Consumer Reports finding this week urging consumers to cut back on rice ingestion after researchers said they discovered "worrisome" traces of inorganic arsenic in products including brown and white rice and rice-based infant cereals, pastas, drinks and crackers.
September 20, 2012 | By Betty Hallock
ARSENIC AND RICE After a study revealed “worrisome” levels of arsenic in most rice products surveyed, consumer groups are calling for federal regulation. The Food and Drug Administration says that it has found no evidence that rice is unsafe to eat but that it is in the middle of a new study of 1,200 grocery-store rice products to measure arsenic levels. [San Jose Mercury News] FRENCH STUDY LINKS GMO CORN AND RAT TUMORS French scientists say rats fed genetically modified corn sold by Monsanto suffered tumors and kidney and liver damage, among other complications.
September 19, 2012 | By Tiffany Hsu
All along the rice shelf at the grocery store, where brown and white rice sit alongside rice-based breakfast cereals, rice pastas, rice drinks and rice crackers, there's arsenic, and often at troubling levels. The new findings from a Consumer Reports investigation show “significant” and “worrisome” amounts of inorganic arsenic in nearly every rice product tested. The watchdog group urged consumers to scale back ingestion of rice products and asked the Food and Drug Administration to set limits.
July 9, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
In a long awaited but hardly unanticipated development, two teams of scientists reported Sunday that a strange bacterium called GFAJ-1, once reported to use arsenic instead of phosphorus in its cellular machinery, requires phosphorus to grow after all - just like every other organism on Earth. The microbe “is still a phosphate-dependent bacterium,” one of the research teams wrote in the journal Science. The two groups' research papers may put to rest a debate that began in December 2010 when a group of scientists, including a NASA-affiliated researcher named Felisa Wolfe-Simon, announced a jaw-dropping discovery that a strange bacterium they had discovered in California's Mono Lake seemed to use arsenic in its cellular machinery instead of phosphorus.
February 16, 2012 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Worrisome levels of arsenic have been found in two infant formulas that contain organic brown rice syrup as a main ingredient, researchers reported Thursday. Arsenic was also found in some cereal bars that contain organic brown rice syrup. The toxic element is a known contaminate found in rice because the crop absorbs arsenic from soil. According to the authors of the study, from Dartmouth College, the type found in the food products has been identified as a human carcinogen. Arsenic can also cause skin, lung and intestinal irritation as well as miscarriage and infertility.
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