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Johsn Hopkins

Cancer Update from Johns Hopkins

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.

3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, but also to environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet to eat more adequately and healthy, 4-5 times/day and by including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.


a. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses, but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk, cancer cells are being starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little other meat, like chicken. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it. (Keith's note: so is reverse osmosis water - down around 5.0 pH, DON'T drink it any more! Kangen Water is purified, heavy-metal free, a powerful anti-oxidant, alkaline, ionized, restructured, and delicious. Call me for your FREE 3-week trial!)

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines becomes putrefied and leads to more toxic buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the bodies own killer cells to destroy cancer cells.. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells. (Keith's Note: Kangen Water helps get more oxygen into your cells more efficiently than anything else. Call me and I'll explain how and why.)

1. No plastic containers in micro.

2. No water bottles in freezer.

3. No plastic wrap in microwave..

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well. Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer. Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies. Don't freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic. Recently, Dr Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital , was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This especially applies to foods that contain fat.

He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin
into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else. Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. It's just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper The dioxin problem is one of the reasons.

Please share this with your whole email list.........................

Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as dangerous
when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked,
the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic
wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.

This is an article that should be sent to anyone important in your life.    

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

 Dear EarthTalk: I've noticed that wildflower blooms in the mountains have been coming earlier and earlier in recent years. Is this a sign of global warming? And what does this mean for the long term survival of these hardy yet rare plants?                -- Ashley J., via e-mail

 As always, it’s hard to pin specific year-to-year weather-variations and related phenomena—including altered blooming schedules for wildflowers—on global warming. But longer term analysis of seasonal flowering patterns and other natural events do indicate that global warming may be playing a role in how early wildflowers begin popping up in the high country.

 University of Maryland ecologist David Inouye has been studying wildflowers in the Rocky Mountains near Crested Butte, Colorado for four decades, and has noticed that blooms have indeed begun earlier over the last decade. Aspen sunflowers, among other charismatic high country wildflowers, used to first bloom in mid-May, but are now are doing so in mid-April, a full month earlier. Inouye thinks that smaller snow packs in the mountains are melting earlier due to global warming, in turn triggering early blooms.

 Smaller snow packs not only mean fewer flowers (since they have less water to use in photosynthesis); they can also stress wildflower populations not accustomed to exposure to late-spring frost. According to Inouye’s research, between 1992 and 1998 such frosts killed about a third of the Aspen sunflower buds in some 30 different study plots; but more recently, from 1999 through 2006, the typical mortality rate doubled, with three-quarters of all buds killed by frost in an average year thanks to earlier blooming.

 Inouye’s worrisome conclusions are backed up by experiments conducted by fellow researcher John Harte, who over a 15 year period used overhead heaters in nearby wildflower study plots to accelerate snow melt. The results were the same: Wildflowers bloomed early and not as vigorously.

 Several studies in Europe have shown that some species of wildflowers there may be able to migrate north and to higher elevations as the climate warms, but Inouye fears his beloved Aspen sunflowers and many other American wildflowers may be lost forever as they are not able to migrate as quickly as needed in order to survive widespread surface temperature increases and escape extinction.

 Harte is also gloomy about the prospects for Colorado’s mountain wildflowers. He predicts that the wildflower fields he and Inouye have been studying will give way to sagebrush desert within the next 50 years, whether or not the governments of the world can get a grip on greenhouse gas emissions.

 As a hedge against such dire predictions, the nonprofit Center for Plant Conservation is spearheading seed collection efforts on thousands of rare wildflower species across the U.S. for inclusion in the Colorado-based National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, a repository for both common and rare “prized” American plant seeds. The “banked” seeds, useful if not solely for preserving the genetic makeup of species that may go extinct in the wild, can also be used for future restoration projects on otherwise compromised landscapes.

 CONTACTS: David W. Inouye,; Center for Plant Conservation,; National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation,

 Dear EarthTalk: What are the most important foods to buy organic?-- Rachel Klepping, Bronxville, NY

Given the usual higher prices of organic versus conventionally-grown foods, it can be a challenge to get the biggest bang for our buck while eating healthy and avoiding the ingestion of synthetic chemicals along with our nutrients. One approach, say some experts, is to only buy organic when the actual edible parts of a non-organically grown food might come into direct contact with toxic fertilizers and pesticides.

 The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that consumers can reduce their chemical exposure by some 80 percent by either avoiding the most contaminated conventionally grown fruits and vegetables altogether, or by eating only the organic varieties. To help us sort through what and what not to buy, the group offers a handy Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, which fits on a small piece of paper that you can keep in your pocket and have handy on grocery trips. You can print it out for free from EWG’s website, or you can download it as a free App for your iPhone.

 To make it easy to use, EWG has distilled its analysis into two lists. The first, “Dirty Dozen: Buy These Organic,” lists foods that when grown conventionally contain the largest amounts of pesticide and fertilizer residues. These include peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale/collard, greens, potatoes, and (imported) grapes. Consumers should definitely spend the extra money for organic versions of these foods.

 On the other side of the coin, EWG’s “Clean 15” list includes foods that contain the least amount of chemical residues when grown conventionally. These include onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes and honeydew. It’s OK to eat conventionally grown varieties of these foods.

 EWG analysts developed the “Clean 15” guide using data from some 89,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted between 2000 and 2008 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What’s the difference, you may ask? EWG found that by eating five conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables a day from the Dirty Dozen list, a consumer on average ingests 10 different pesticides; those who stick to the Clean 15 list ingest less than two.

Other foods you and your family eat, such as meats, cereals, breads and dairy products, might also be exposing you to unwanted chemicals. According to EWG, the direct health benefits of organic meat, eggs and milk are less clear, but you should play it safe by sticking with all-natural, free-range, grass-fed meats that are not fed antibiotics or growth hormones, and by choosing only organic dairy products.

 Thanks to increasing demand, more and more food purveyors are putting extra emphasis on organics. This will ultimately result in both lower prices and larger selections. Natural foods market aisles are already teeming with organic choices—and chances are your local supermarket or big box store has introduced organic versions of many popular items. Consequently, there has never been a better time to take stock of what you are feeding yourself and your family, and to make changes for better health.

 CONTACT: EWG,; USDA/FDA, SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, c/o E – The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; E is a nonprofit publication. Subscribe:; Request a Free Trial Issue:

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I heard that some wind farms use fossil fuels to power their generators when the wind won’t. Doesn’t that defeat their whole renewable energy purpose? Why not let the wind power it or not? Also, I've heard that the low-frequency sounds generated by these turbines can harm people and animals. Is this true?                                                              -- Ryan Lewis, Plainwell, MI

 Indeed, one of the major drawbacks to wind power is the fact that, even in windy locations, the wind doesn’t always blow. So the ability of turbines to generate power is intermittent at best. Many turbines can generate power only about 30 percent of the time, thanks to the inconsistency of their feedstock.

 In order to overcome this Achilles’ heel of intermittent production, some wind companies have developed back-up systems that can spin turbines even when the wind isn’t blowing, thus optimizing and keeping consistent the power output. For example, Colorado-based Hybrid Turbines Inc. is selling wind farms systems that marry a natural gas-based generator to a wind turbine. “Even if natural gas is used, the electricity produced…is twice as environmentally clean as burning coal,” reports the company. Better yet, if a user can power them with plant-derived biofuels, they can remain 100 percent renewable energy-based.

 While some wind energy companies may want to invest in such technologies to wring the most production out of their big investments, utilities aren’t likely to suffer much from the intermittent output if they don’t. Even the utilities that are most bullish on wind power still generate most of their electricity from other more traditional sources at the present time. So, when wind energy output decreases, utilities simply draw more power from other sources—such as solar arrays, hydroelectric dams, nuclear reactors and coal-fired power plants—to maintain consistent electrical service. As such, reports the American Wind Energy Association, utilities act as “system operators” drawing power from where it’s available and dispatching it to where it is needed in tune with rising and falling power needs.

 But just because generating wind power all day long isn’t imperative doesn’t mean that suppliers aren’t doing all they can to maximize output. To wit, turbine manufacturers are beginning to incorporate so-called Active Flow Control (AFC) technology, which delays the occurrence of partial or complete stalls when the wind dies down, and also enables start-up and power generation at lower wind speeds than conventional turbines. The non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists lauds AFC for these capabilities, which in turn can help system operators create a more reliable electric grid less dependent on fossil fuels. 

As to whether or not noise from wind farms can harm people and wildlife, the jury is still out. New York-based pediatrician Nina Pierpont argues in her book, Wind Turbine Syndrome, that turbines may produce sounds that can affect the mood of people nearby or cause physiological problems like insomnia, vertigo, headaches and nausea. On the flip side, Renewable UK, a British wind energy trade group, says that the noise measured 1,000 feet away from a wind farm is less than that of normal road traffic. Here in the U.S., a Texas jury denied a 2006 noise pollution suit against FPL Energy after FPL showed that noise readings from its wind farm maxed out at 44 decibels, roughly the same generated by a 10 mile-per-hour wind. 

CONTACTS: Hybrid Turbines, Inc.,; American Wind Energy Association,; Union of Concerned Scientists,; Nina Pierpont’s Wind Turbine Syndrome,

 SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, c/o E – The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; E is a nonprofit publication. Subscribe:; Request a Free Trial Issue:

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

 Dear EarthTalk: My neighbor told me to pour bleach down my drains every week to keep them clear. Is this safe to do?                                                                              -- Trish Osterling, via e-mail

 Bleach is a useful cleaner and disinfectant, but pouring it down the drain will not do anything to help keep the drains clear. In addition, you could cause a dangerous chemical reaction if it comes into contact with other household products you might be using.

 Common household bleach, also known as chlorine bleach, is a liquid compound of sodium hypochlorite, which is a combination of sodium chloride (a salt) with water and chlorine. It’s often used to whiten laundry or to disinfect kitchen surfaces. Bleach is also an ingredient in other household cleaners, like those used for bath and toilet cleaning. (A different sort of bleach, known as oxygen bleach, is used for laundry stain removal and does not have the same disinfecting/cleaning properties as chlorine bleach.)

 According to the Household Products Database at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), chlorine bleach is corrosive to the eyes; injures skin and mucous membranes on contact; and is harmful if swallowed. Bleach is “a lung and eye irritant,” warns the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC), a Seattle non-profit that advocates for green friendly household products. Even used alone, fumes from chlorine bleach can irritate the lungs, so it should not be used by people with asthma or lung or heart problems, says the group. It is also “reactive” with ammonia and acids, forming more harmful fumes.

 “One of the most common home accidents is the mixing of products containing chlorine bleach with those containing ammonia,” says WTC. The combination creates chloramine gas, which is highly irritating to the lungs. Since many cleaning products contain ammonia, the inadvertent mixing must be avoided. Mixing bleach and acids results in the release of chlorine gas, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, exposure to which can cause coughing and breathing problems, burning eyes and, at high levels, vomiting, pneumonia and even death. Products containing acids include vinegar, some glass and window cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners and rust removers. An “incompatibility chart” listing many chemicals that will react with bleach is available at the Chlorine Institute’s website.

 Bleach alone is not necessarily hard on the environment. When use as directed, it will break down mostly into salt water in wastewater treatment or septic systems, says WTC. A dilution of bleach in water is effective as a disinfectant, and can be scrubbed onto non-porous food-contact surfaces like plastic cutting boards or refrigerator shelves and left to air dry. The Clorox Company recommends a solution of one tablespoon bleach per gallon of water for sanitizing.

 So, what are the better ways to keep drains clear? Home drains in the kitchen and bath generally get clogged by grease, food waste and hair, none of which will be effectively dispersed by bleach. WTC recommends carefully pouring a kettleful of boiling water down the drain to free up a slow drain, or using mechanical methods such as a plumber’s snake, plunger or hose-end bladder to clean a clogged drain.

 CONTACTS: DHHS Household Products Database, ; Washington Toxics Coalition,; New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services,; Chlorine Institute,

 SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, c/o E – The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; E is a nonprofit publication. Subscribe:; Request a Free Trial Issue:

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

 Dear EarthTalk How can I make good use of the rainwater that runs down my roof and into my gutters?                                                                                                                             -- Brian Smith, Nashua, NH

 For most of us, the rain that falls on our roof runs off into the ground or the sewer system. But if you’re motivated to save a little water and re-distribute it on your lawns or plants—or even use it for laundry, dishes or other interior needs—collecting rainwater from your gutters’ downspouts is a no-brainer.

 If it’s allowed in your state, that is. Utah and parts of Washington State have antiquated but nonetheless tough laws banning anyone but owners of water rights from collecting rainwater flowing off privately owned rooftops. Such laws are rarely enforced, however, and one in Colorado was recently overturned.

 According to John C. Davis, writing in E – The Environmental Magazine, just about any homeowner can collect rainwater, given that the roof and gutters do most of the work. And since an inch of rain falling on a 2,000-square-foot roof produces some 1,200 gallons of runoff, one can harvest enough to supply all the water needs of a family of four for about two weeks. Of course, most of us would only use rainwater to irrigate our lawn or garden, and there should be plenty to go around for doing that in all but the most drought stricken areas.

 Plants and grass actually do better when fed rainwater instead of tap water, which is usually treated with softeners that actually inhibit plant growth. And, reports Davis, the lack of minerals in rainwater actually makes it more effective than tap water for shampooing or doing dishes. Using rainwater for plumbing uses can also extend the life of pipes and water heaters, since the salts added to tap water facilitate corrosion. Homeowners should set up a water purification system if they do plan to use rainwater for interior needs.

 Beyond the benefits to individual homeowners, rainwater harvesting can also be good for the local community, as it reduces the erosion, flooding and pollution runoff associated with heavy rainfall, and lessens reliance on public water supplies, alleviating some of the burden on utilities. Given these benefits, some states, including even drought-prone Texas, subsidize residential rainwater collection systems.

 Many varieties of rain barrel systems, starting at just $100, are available for home installation. A typical set-up is simply a rain barrel positioned under a gutter’s downspout. “The barrel is typically fitted with a spigot at its base to fill a watering can or attach a soaker hose (which bleeds out water all along its length, providing effortless drip irrigation), and a filter or screen at its top to prevent a buildup of leaves and other debris,” writes Davis. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a single 100 gallon rain barrel can save up to 1,300 gallons of utility-provided water during the high demand summer months.

 Handy homeowners can make their own water harvesting systems, but buying one pre-made is a lot easier. Most nurseries and garden centers offer a range of choices (as well as advice), but websites such as Aquabarrel, Clean Air Gardening and Rainxchange make it easy to order a system online.

 CONTACTS: Aquabarrel,, Clean Air Gardening,; Rainxchange,

 SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; Read past columns at: EarthTalk® is now a book! Details and order information at:

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

 Dear EarthTalk: I heard that goats are being used to prevent some of those catastrophic fires that seem to happen increasingly. What’s the story with that?                    -- Ali B., New Canaan, CT

 As wildfires consume parts of California larger than some smaller states, everyone is talking about how we can prevent such disasters from getting going in the first place. One novel approach is to enlist goats. Not as firefighters—although their surefootedness and determination would probably serve them well in such situations—but as grazers to keep the forest underbrush clear of the tinder-like grasses, bushes and small trees that allow flames to jump to the higher forest canopy and get further spread by the wind.

 “Goats help prevent forest fires…by eating the dry stuff before the fire season strikes,” says Lani Malmberg, owner of Colorado-based Ewe4ic (pronounced “u-for-ik”) Ecological Services, which uses goats to gradually and naturally remove weeds and return lands to a healthier more natural state.

 Goats have been called in for fire mitigation purposes across parts of California, Arizona and other drought-prone parts of the western U.S. In the Oakland and Berkeley hills regions of California’s Bay Area, where the combined effects of drought and a bark beetle infestation have killed thousands of acres of trees, public agencies and residents have enlisted the help of goat herds to suppress weeds and keep down the fire risk in the process for what remains of the area’s forest cover.

 “The goat clearance scheme is one of the key reasons the Bay Area hasn’t had a recurrence of a catastrophic fire in decades,” says Tom Klatt, former manager of the Office of Emergency Preparedness at UC Berkeley and the author of UC Berkeley's 2007 Fire Mitigation Program Annual Report.

 Other earth-minded land managers are going goat as well. The Nature Conservancy recently hired goats to keep dry grasses and other tinder-like plant matter down at its Hassayampa River Preserve in Arizona, where the constant threat of summer fires haunts nearby homeowners while endangering the integrity of the area’s unique and fragile riparian ecosystem.

 Using goats to control forest brush may seem like a novel idea, but it’s really been around as long as grazing animals have roamed the planet looking for nourishment. But with ever-increasing human development, wild grazers are fewer and farther between. The problem is exacerbated by our building our homes so close to (and sometimes within) forested areas that naturally burn occasionally. Efforts to then suppress all forest fires—even naturally occurring undergrowth burns—to protect these homes have led to “tinderbox” conditions ripe for those large destructive fires that spread for hundreds of miles, blown by the wind from treetop to treetop.

 Grazing goats are also used in other endeavors. “Goats can be utilized as an effective bio-control agent to reduce weed populations to economically acceptable levels,” says Malmberg, adding that weeding with goats requires no pesticides or herbicides and generates zero greenhouse gas or other harmful emissions.

 CONTACTS: Ewe4ic Ecological Services,; Office of Emergency Preparedness at UC Berkeley,

 SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; Read past columns at: EarthTalk® is now a book! Details and order information at:


From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Has China been making any progress reducing its output of global warming gases, and/or in tackling other environmental problems?                              –Bill W., Saugus, MA

 Decades of rapid-fire development and lack of government oversight has meant that China now faces some serious environmental challenges. According to research by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, China surpassed the United States as the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases in 2006—and hasn’t looked back. (While the Chinese emit some eight percent more carbon dioxide than their American counterparts, the U.S. still leads the world in greenhouse gas emissions per capita, due to its significantly smaller population size and higher standard of living.)

 Beyond its contribution to global warming, China is also a world leader in other forms of pollution, given its huge population and its ambition to become the next international economic superpower. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), current levels of air pollution in China far exceed international environmental standards. A recent analysis found, for example, that the air in some four dozen Chinese cities contained as much as seven times as much particulate pollution—which can get lodged in human lungs and cause a wide range of health problems—as deemed safe by WHO.

 But critics say blaming China for its rampant pollution is unfair, given all the manufacturing the world’s developed countries outsource to Chinese companies. Qin Gang, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, refers to China as the “world’s factory” and says: “A lot of what you use, wear and eat is produced in China… “On the one hand, you increase production in China; on the other hand you criticize China on the emission reduction issue.” Yang Ailun of Greenpeace China agrees: “All the West has done is export a great slice of its carbon footprint to China and make China the world’s factory.”

 Despite its efforts to go green, China still depends on coal—the dirtiest of all the fossil fuels—for some two-thirds of its energy needs. Chinese officials have strenuously opposed the binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions set by developing countries, arguing that already industrialized nations are to blame for most of the emissions already in the atmosphere.

 According to Isabel Hilton, a journalist with the UK’s Guardian, industrialized countries should feel an obligation to shoulder at least some of the burden of helping China become a greener nation. “This means drastically reducing our own emissions and helping China with the finance and technology required to move to a sustainable, low-carbon economic system.”

 There is progress afoot: Meetings between top Chinese and U.S. officials earlier this year led to the creation of a joint research center to address issues related to clean energy, with each country contributing $15 million to pay for initial research efforts.

 CONTACTS: Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency,; World Health Organization,; Greenpeace China,

 SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; Read past columns at: EarthTalk® is now a book! Details and order information at:

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What are the pros and cons of feeding babies formula versus breast milk? And if I purchase formula, should I spend the extra money on the organic variety? -- Suzy W., via e-mail

 It is generally acknowledged within the medical community that breast milk is the ideal first food for babies, though modern formula brands can get the job done, too. Human breast milk naturally contains the vitamins and minerals a newborn requires. According to the website, breastfed infants have less difficulty with digestion than their formula-fed counterparts. And since breast milk is easily digested, breastfed babies have fewer incidences of diarrhea or constipation.

 Also, researchers have found that infants fed with human breast milk have lower rates of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhea, rashes and allergies than bottle-fed babies. Meanwhile, a raft of studies suggest that infants who are fed breast milk may have lower incidences of asthma, diabetes, obesity and other health problems later on in life.

 “Human milk is made for human infants, and it meets all their specific nutrient needs,” says Ruth Lawrence, M.D., spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York. “We’ve known for years that the death rates in Third World countries are lower among breast-fed babies,” she adds. “Breast-fed babies are healthier and have fewer infections than formula-fed babies.”

 Another related upside to breast milk is cost savings—both for families and the larger health care system. Mothers who can’t or choose not to breast feed end up spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year on formula, and higher incidences of illness and disease down the road means higher costs for all.

 One concern with breast feeding is that toxins present in mom’s bloodstream can make their way into baby. But a 2007 study by Ohio State and Johns Hopkins University researchers found that levels of chemicals in breast milk were far below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum acceptable levels for even drinking water, and that indoor air in typical American homes contains as much as 135 times as many contaminants as mother’s milk. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control maintains that the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh any chemical exposure risks. “To date, effects on the nursing infant have been seen only where the mother herself was clinically ill from a toxic exposure,” reports the agency.

 Of course, not all mothers are able to breastfeed, and in such cases formula can be a healthy alternative. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates all baby formulas to ensure purity and that they meet nutritional requirements. Parents should know, however, that they may not be avoiding chemical exposure by opting for formula. Non-organic formula can contain the same or higher amounts of chemical residues left over from its raw materials. One way around this is to buy organic formula. Leading makers include Nature’s One, Earth’s Best and Bright Beginnings. Enfamil and Similac also now offer organic varieties.

 CONTACTS: Kids Health,; American Academy of Pediatrics,; U.S. Food and Drug Administration,; Consumer Reports,

 SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; Read past columns at: EarthTalk® is now a book! Details and order information at:

m the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: How are populations of the world’s orca whales faring these days? Are we still in danger of losing them all in the wild?
                                              -- J. Witham, Bangor, ME

Tom Brakefield, Getty Images

 The largest member of the dolphin family and a major draw at marine parks, orcas (also known as “killer whales”) are highly intelligent and social marine mammals that, because of these traits, have come to be known as ambassadors for nature and marine ecosystems around the world.

 But the fact that people love orcas—most of us only ever see them in captivity—has no bearing on how well they are thriving in the wild. Many of their habits are still a mystery to science, as the great black and white creatures, which can grow to 26 feet and weight six tons, are fast-moving and difficult to track (they are the most widely distributed mammals on Earth, besides humans).

 Given this uncertainty, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a nonprofit group that maintains a frequently updated global list (the so-called “Red List”) of endangered and threatened wildlife, merely lists the status of orcas as “data deficient.” IUCN is currently involved in an assessment of orca populations around the world to determine what their status should be. 

Orcas may not have a clear-cut conservation status internationally, but the U.S. government is concerned enough about the animals that ply the waters of Washington’s Puget Sound and San Juan Islands (known as the “southern residents”) to put them on the federal endangered species list. Chief among threats to orcas there is loss of food supply, mostly West Coast salmon populations destroyed by hydroelectric dams and other human encroachment. Habitat loss, chemical pollution, captures for marine mammal parks and conflicts with fisheries have also each played roles in the decline of the Northwest’s orcas.

 According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, an arm of the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the southern resident orca population—the best studied wild animal population in the world—has fluctuated considerably since researchers began studying it in earnest some three decades ago. In 1974 the group was comprised of 71 whales, but then spiked to 97 animals by 1996. But since then the population fell below 80 and has remained around that level ever since.

 Due to their voracious appetites and their place at the top of the ocean food chain, orcas are very susceptible to pollution and chemicals and suffer from diseases and reproductive disorders accordingly. For this reason many scientists consider orcas an “indicator species” regarding the health of marine ecosystems in general. That is, if orcas are in decline, the rest of the ocean is likely in big trouble, too.

 Of course, increased concern about the health of marine ecosystems in recent years is good news for orcas, which are dependent on a wide range of fish and marine mammals for sustenance. The preponderance of protected stretches of both ocean and coasts gives orcas a boost in their struggle to stay one step ahead of extinction. If world leaders continue to value marine ecosystems and limit the extraction of seafood species and contamination by pollutants, killer whales will have a fighting chance to keep on as icons of the sea—and those of us onshore and bobbing on boats will continue to be delighted and amazed by them. CONTACTS: IUCN,; National Marine Fisheries Service,

 SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; Read past columns at: EarthTalk is now a book! Details and order information at:

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: Since Obama took office, have any new incentives been put in place for homeowners looking to increase energy efficiency and reduce the overall environmental footprints of their homes?
                                                                                                       -- Rob Felton, Little Rock, AK 

In fact, yes. Homeowners can get up to $1,500 back from the federal government for any number of energy efficiency upgrades at home. If you upgrade to energy efficient insulation, windows, doors, heating, air conditioning or water heaters between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, you are eligible for a tax credits of up to 30 percent of product costs.


The credit is capped at $1,500 combined; meaning it only applies to $5,000 in total costs. More details are available at the website of the Tax Incentives Assistance Project, a coalition of public interest nonprofit groups, government agencies and other organizations focused on energy efficiency.


Of course, the Obama administration is also thinking long term, and would like to leave its mark in furthering efforts to wean ourselves off foreign oil and increase our production and use of homegrown clean renewable energy. In light of such priorities, tax credits are also available for 30 percent of the cost—with no upper limit—on the installation of renewable energy equipment at home, such as geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar hot water heaters, small wind energy systems and fuel cells.


Homeowners won’t get the money back when they initially pay for equipment or upgrades, but they can add the credit amount to their overall tax refund, or deduct it from what they owe, when filing their federal income tax forms at the end of the year. Unlike tax deductions, which merely lower the total amount of taxable income, tax credits reduce dollar-for-dollar the amount of tax owed.


Homeowners should know that they can also get federally backed mortgages to pay for a variety of energy efficiency measures, including renewable energy technologies, on their new or existing homes. The federal government supports these loans by insuring them through the Federal Housing Authority or Veterans Affairs programs, allowing borrowers who might otherwise not qualify to pursue upgrades, and securing lending institutions against loan default.

 Don’t own a home? Depending upon make and model, you can get between $250 and $3,400 back from the federal government for buying or leasing a new hybrid or high efficiency diesel automobile. And the automakers themselves—through their own “Automotive Stimulus Plan”—are giving consumers up to $4,500 back on the purchase of a new or used vehicle that gets gas mileage of at least two miles per gallon better than their old model.

 A number of new energy-efficiency incentives are also available at the state level across the country. The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy website provides up-to-date listings of what may be available in your neck of the woods. With so much encouragement, how could you not want to go green?

 CONTACTS: Tax Incentives Assistance Project,; Automotive Stimulus Plan,; Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy,

 SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; Read past columns at: EarthTalk is now a book! Details and order information at:

Dear EarthTalk: I haven’t heard much of late about big oil spills like the infamous Exxon Valdez. Has the industry cleaned up its act, or do the media just not report them?

-- Olivia G., via e-mail

In the wake of 1989’s massive Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, when 11 million gallons of oil befouled some 1,300 miles of formerly pristine and wildlife-rich coastline, much has been done to prevent future spills of such magnitude.

For starters, Congress quickly passed the 1990 Oil Pollution Act which overhauled shipping regulations, imposed new liability on the industry, required detailed response plans and added extra safeguards for shipping in Prince William Sound itself. Under the terms of the law, companies cannot ship oil in any U.S. waters unless they prove they have response and clean-up plans in place and have the manpower and equipment on hand to respond quickly and effectively in the case of another disaster.

Also, the law mandates that, by 2015, all tankers in U.S. waters must be equipped with double hulls. The Exxon Valdez had only one hull when it ran aground on Bligh Reef and poured its oil into Prince William Sound, the southern end of the oil pipeline that originates 800 miles to the north at Prudhoe Bay. By comparison, a 900-foot double-hulled tanker carrying nearly 40 million gallons of crude oil did not leak when it crashed into submerged debris near Galveston, Texas in March 2009.

Between 1973 and 1990, an average of 11.8 million gallons of oil spilled each year in American waters. Since then, the average has dropped to just 1.5 million gallons, though oil spills in U.S. waters have risen again over the past decade, with 134 incidents in 2008 alone.
© Getty Images
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, average annual oil spill totals have dropped dramatically since new regulations took effect in 1990. Between 1973 and 1990, an average of 11.8 million gallons of oil spilled each year in American waters. Since then, the average has dropped to just 1.5 million gallons, with the biggest spill (not including those resulting from Hurricane Katrina in 2005) less than 600,000 gallons


Despite these improvements, critics say the industry still has more work to do. While protections have been beefed up in Prince William Sound, other major American ports still lack extra precautions such as escort tugboats and double engines and rudders on big ships to help steer them to safety when in trouble.

Another area that the 1990 law doesn’t cover is container ships that don’t transport oil as their cargo but which carry a large amount, anyway, for their own fuel for the considerable distances they travel. Such ships could also cause a major spill (anything more than 100,000 gallons, by Coast Guard standards). Yet another concern is the great number of smaller oil spills that occur every day at industrial locations (including but not limited to oil refining and storage facilities) and even in our own driveways. These will continue to add up to a heavy toll on our environment, even if another oil tanker never spills at sea again.

And while the total number and volume of oil spills is down dramatically from bygone days, the trend of late warrants concern. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Office of Response and Restoration reports that oil spills in U.S. waters have risen again over the past decade, with 134 incidents in 2008 alone. Green leaders worry that if Bush administration plans to expand offshore oil drilling are not overturned by President Obama, oil spills in U.S. waters could remain a sad fact of life.

CONTACTS: NOAA Office of Response and Restoration; U.S. EPA Oil Pollution Act Overview.

Dear EarthTalk: I’m sure there are many good environmental reasons to build a rooftop garden. Can you enlighten? And also I’d like to know how to go about creating one and whether or not some municipalities might offer incentives to do so.

-- Linda, via e-mail

Green roofs are gaining in popularity. North Americans added some 3.1 million square feet of them to their buildings in 2008 alone -– up 35 percent from 2007. Pictured: a rooftop garden in the Pine Market section of Seattle.
© Ruth Rogers, courtesy Flickr
Indeed there are many good reasons to build a rooftop garden, or a so-called “green roof”—whereby layers of soil and plants on top of homes and buildings provide a host of environmental “services” for the living space below as well as for the surrounding ecosystem. Unlike traditional roofs, green roofs thrive on (and filter) precipitation, decreasing the amount of pollution-laden stormwater run-off draining into our waterways. And thanks to the process of photosynthesis, the plantings create oxygen, cleanse the air and absorb carbon dioxide before it gets into the atmosphere and adds to our global warming woes.


Green roofs also provide insulation: All those layers of organic material help keep a structure warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and help cut energy use and costs. Migrating birds and other wildlife have been known to take a shine to green roofs, especially in urban areas where natural habitat options are limited. Likewise, homeowners and building residents tend to view their green roofs as oases of peace and tranquility within otherwise noisy and concrete-laden urban environments.

According to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a nonprofit industry association, green roofs are gaining popularity. North Americans added some 3.1 million square feet of them to their buildings in 2008 alone—up 35 percent from 2007. Part of the uptick can be attributed to increasing awareness of the benefits of green roofs among urban planners, building owners and managers, and homeowners, all who have pressured policymakers to ease the burden of zoning and permitting for such beneficial projects.

Chicago now sports some 535,000 square feet of green roofs—the most in North America. Other leading lights in the green roofs movement include Washington, DC, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Montreal, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Dozens of smaller cities have also embraced green roofs. Grand Rapids. Michigan sports some 75,000 square feet of them, and Princeton, New Jersey and Newtown Square, Pennsylvania each play host to 50,000 square feet citywide. Inquiring at city hall is the best way to see if your city or town offers incentives for creating a green roof or greening an existing one.

Relief for the costs of installing a green roof might be on the way from the federal government. As part of the Clean Energy Stimulus and Investment Assurance Act she authored earlier this year, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is calling for residential and commercial property owners who install green roofs or retrofit existing roofs to recoup 30 percent of their costs in the form of a federal tax credit.

Do-it-yourselfers will find a treasure trove of information on how to create and install a green roof at the website The site’s keyword-searchable directory offers links to manufacturers of kits to make installing your own green roof that much simpler, as well as to professional installers across North America and groups working on urban greening issues.

CONTACTS: Green Roofs for Healthy Cities; Clean Energy Stimulus and Investment Assurance Act;

EarthTalk is now a book! Details and order information at:

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EARTHTALK, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit your question at:; or e-mail us at:

The federal Investment Tax Credit was expanded and extended (through 2016) this year, allowing for 30 percent of the cost of a home renewable energy system to be deducted from your federal tax bill. Pictured: A home rooftop solar installation in progress." Photo Credit: ATIS547: courtesy Flickr

Arizona leaders will join Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Robert Redford and T. Boone Pickens at a first-of-its-kind national summit focused on the New West Story Continues

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