December 2, 2010 |
After days of rampant speculation that NASA was on the cusp of revealing it had detected extraterrestrial life, the reality was slightly more down-to-Earth. A team of scientists revealed Thursday that they had found a remarkable quality in a bacterium growing quietly in California's Mono Lake ? it is the only known life form able to subsist on the deadly element arsenic. The organism even uses arsenic to build the backbone of its DNA. To researchers searching for life elsewhere in the universe, the discovery still qualified as a heaven-sent event.
November 24, 2010 |
In the mid-19th century in Europe, a rather strange theory arose ? the idea that eating arsenic could improve one's health. It originated with the discovery that peasants in the Austrian mining region of Styria liked to mix a little of the poison into their morning coffee. As reported in 1855, the miners had discovered that exposure to arsenic ? an element naturally occurring in metallic rocks ? brought "beauty and freshness to the complexion. " This pink-cheeked ideal of health led to what I always think of as the arsenic-eating insanity days of Victorian times.
March 30, 2009 |
Thirteen officials in central China have been punished after a chemical company contaminated a river with arsenic, state media reported. A local court sentenced Liu Gaili, a former environmental protection bureau official, to two years in jail, the official New China News Agency said, quoting the Shangqiu city government in Henan province. The report said 12 other officials were either sacked or given administrative punishments. The officials were punished after a section of the Dasha river was found contaminated by arsenic in August.
January 3, 2009 |
Federal data show arsenic levels more than 100 times the acceptable amount in a river near a massive coal ash spill in Kingston. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that water samples from near the spill were above federal maximums for contaminants. Newly released tests showed arsenic levels in one sample were 149 times the maximum. Data also showed that samples taken near the Kingston water treatment plant -- upstream from the spill -- were within federal limits except for thallium.
January 2, 2009
Re "Drink up -- assuming you like arsenic, that is," Dec. 29 Poisoning prisoners with drinking water laden with arsenic is unconscionable, inhumane and, considering the potential deferred health costs and civil liability, economic suicide for the state. Worse perhaps is selective poisoning by gender. At the California Institution for Women in Chino, the state spends $480,000 a year for bottled water, while at the nearby California Institution for Men, inmates drink contaminated water.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 29, 2008 |
Beside a field of rolling tumbleweed in this remote Central Valley town, the state opened its newest prison in 2005 with a modern design, cutting-edge security features and a serious environmental problem. The drinking water pumped from two wells at Kern Valley State Prison contained arsenic, a known cause of cancer, in amounts far higher than a federal safety standard soon to take effect.
August 27, 2008 |
Ayurvedic medicines -- herbal mixtures dating back thousands of years in India and increasingly popular in the West -- are frequently contaminated with lead, mercury or arsenic, according to a study published today. A fifth of the nearly 200 concoctions tested contained levels of the toxic metals that, if taken at the maximum recommended doses, would surpass California's safety guidelines. Dr. Robert Saper, a Boston University professor of family medicine who led the study, said the findings should spur the Food and Drug Administration to start clamping down on the largely unregulated world of pills, herbs and powders classified as dietary supplements.
June 15, 2008 |
Most of the time there's a dull ache in Dale Anderson's legs. Those are the good days. On other days, the throbbing pain in his legs and feet makes it difficult to walk more than short distances, and even then he sometimes stumbles as if he's drunk. There's neuropathy in his hands as well. They don't hurt, but they're so numb he can't feel anything. Recently, Anderson's daughter saw he was bleeding from a gash on his hand. He hadn't even noticed. Five years after one of the worst mass arsenic poisoning in the nation's history, Anderson and several other victims still carry lingering emotional and physical maladies.
May 18, 2008 |
The discovery of dangerously high levels of arsenic that prompted the closure of a popular park in Washington last week came as a shock to families who enjoy the green space for soccer games and picnics. One possible source of the poison is especially disturbing -- it could stem from mortician practices during the Civil War. During the conflict, Fort Reno Park was a military outpost for soldiers protecting the capital from Confederate invasion.