Nebraska ethanol plant turned seeds into toxic waste

Jody Weible keeps a jar on her front porch that she refuses to open, because the smell would make her eyes water and her throat close up. Inside is a goopy mixture of fermented corn seeds that she collected nearly four years ago from a field near her home in Mead, Nebraska, a town of about 600 people. The seeds had been applied to the soil as an “amendment” to boost fertility, but they were actually waste from a nearby ethanol plant, AltEn — waste that contained staggeringly high levels of toxic pesticides.

For nearly a decade, AltEn collected leftover seeds from around the country to use as the base for its ethanol, a corn-based fuel that’s mixed into gasoline. A byproduct was the fermented seed mixture, stored in a pastel-green pile that at one point took up 30 acres of the property. The smell it gave off was “acidic, rotten, dead,” Weible told Grist from her home less than a mile away from the plant. Residents kept their windows closed because of the stench; birds stopped coming to feeders. One woman said her dogs started having neurological problems after eating some of the waste.

The seeds AltEn used were coated with a class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids, or “neonics,” an insecticide that’s been linked to a nationwide pollinator decline and is

— source grist.org | Diana Kruzman | Apr 21, 2022

Nullius in verba


The worst toxic waste you’ve probably never heard of

When the X-Press Pearl container ship caught fire and sank in the Indian Ocean in May, Sri Lanka was terrified that the vessel’s 350 tons of heavy fuel oil would spill into the ocean, causing an environmental disaster for the country’s pristine coral reefs and fishing industry.

Classified by the UN as Sri Lanka’s “worst maritime disaster”, the biggest impact was not caused by the heavy fuel oil. Nor was it the hazardous chemicals on board, which included nitric acid, caustic soda and methanol. The most “significant” harm, according to the UN, came from the spillage of 87 containers full of lentil-sized plastic pellets: nurdles.

Since the disaster, nurdles have been washing up in their billions along hundreds of miles of the country’s coastline, and are expected to make landfall across Indian Ocean coastlines from Indonesia and Malaysia to Somalia. In some places they are up to 2 meters deep. They have been found in the bodies of dead dolphins and the mouths of fish. About

— source theguardian.com | Karen McVeigh | Dec 01, 2021

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Alarming levels of ‘forever chemicals’ in US mothers’ breast milk

A new study that checked American women’s breast milk for PFAS contamination detected the toxic chemical in all 50 samples tested, []–and at levels nearly 2,000 times higher than the level some public health advocates advise is safe for drinking water. PFAS, or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds that are used to make products like food packaging, clothing and carpeting water and stain resistant. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down and have been found to accumulate in humans. They are linked to cancer, birth defects, liver disease, thyroid disease, plummeting sperm counts and a range of other serious health problems. The peer-reviewed study, published on Thursday in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, found PFAS at levels in milk ranging from 50 parts per trillion (ppt) to more than 1,850ppt.

There are no standards for PFAS in breast milk, but the public health advocacy organization Environmental Working Group puts its advisory target for drinking water at 1ppt, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, within the Department of Health and Human Services, recommends as little as 14ppt in children’s drinking water.

— source theguardian.com | 13 May 2021

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Warmer temperatures will increase arsenic levels in rice

People around the world consume rice in their daily diets. But in addition to its nutrient and caloric content, rice can contain small amounts of arsenic, which in large doses is a toxin linked to multiple health conditions and dietary-related cancers. Now researchers at the University of Washington have found that warmer temperatures, at levels expected under most climate change projections, can lead to higher concentrations of arsenic in rice grains. more arsenic is released from soil at higher temperatures.

— source University of Washington | Dec 4, 2019

Nullius in verba