Seven million people died prematurely in 2012 from air pollution caused by fossil fuel combustion, according to a 2014 report by the World Health Organization. So President Trump’s decision to halt U.S. compliance with the 2015 Paris climate agreement is a blow not just to climate science and international diplomacy — it’s also a looming disaster for public health, reports Scientific American. A review of dozens of studies published between 2009 and 2014 link climate change to increases in a wide range of health problems, including asthma and other respiratory disorders, heart disease induced by heat stress, infectious diseases, waterborne diseases that can cause dangerous bouts of diarrhea in children, and mental health issues such as depression and PTSD following climate-related natural disasters such as hurricanes.
BINGO, for Business and Industry NGO, is, in French, “non-governmental organizations in business and industry,” writes Simon Ross in Le Monde. With such an acronym, it’s no wonder some voices are wondering about the jackpot that could benefit the economic players present in the climate negotiations! The issue of the presence of lobbyists is in any case taken very seriously by the delegates of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Bonn, Germany this week. “Hundreds of trade associations have access to climate negotiations, and many of them are funded by some of the world’s largest polluters and climate skeptics,” said Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, from the US-based NGO Corporate Accountability International(CAI). “They represent the main obstacle to raising the level of ambition of action against global warming.” A new report by CAI called Inside Job: Big Polluters’ lobbyists on the inside at the UNFCCC documents the role of these business organizations.
In mid-May, writes the Center for American Progress, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to consider the Regulatory Accountability Act, or RAA, a dangerous piece of legislation that will make it harder—if not impossible—for federal agencies to do their jobs to protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices; protect the environment from pollution; and protect public health from exposure to toxic chemicals and unsafe food. Although the Senate sponsors are working to position the bill as moderate relative to its House companion, it is far from reasonable and will open new doors for powerful corporations to block federal agencies trying to serve the public interest. During the first three months of 2017, most of the largest trade associations in the country walked the halls of Congress pushing for the RAA. If this bill were to become law, the biggest winners would be the powerful corporations that have lobbied to pass it.
High antibiotic and antifungal concentrations in wastewater from anti-infective drug production may exert selection pressure for multidrug-resistant (MDR) pathogens. This study investigated the environmental presence of active pharmaceutical ingredients and their association with MDR bacteria in Hyderabad, South India, a major production area for the global bulk drug market.
Water samples were collected from the direct environment of bulk drug manufacturing facilities. Samples were analyzed for 25 anti-infective pharmaceuticals. All environmental specimens from 28 different sampling sites were contaminated with antimicrobials.
High concentrations of moxifloxacin, voriconazole, and fluconazole as well as increased concentrations of eight other antibiotics were found in sewers. Corresponding analyses revealed an extensive presence of enterobacteria. Insufficient wastewater management by bulk drug manufacturing facilities leads to unprecedented contamination of water resources with antimicrobial pharmaceuticals, which seems to be associated with the selection and dissemination of pathogens. The development and global spread of antimicrobial resistance present a major challenge for pharmaceutical producers and regulatory agencies.
Citation: Lübbert, C., Baars, C., Dayakar, A. et al. Environmental pollution with antimicrobial agents from bulk drug manufacturing industries in Hyderabad, South India, is associated with dissemination of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase and carbapenemase-producing pathogens Infection (2017). Published online on April 26,2017.
A group of conservative think tanks wants the nation’s tax system to look more like North Carolina’s, writes the Center for Public Integrity. In Washington, D.C., the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans have been considering a similar approach — lower federal income-tax brackets and a tax on imports — that some tax experts say would have comparable outcomes. Some of the same conservative groups that convinced states to change their tax systems have advised the Trump administration on economic and tax policy. But so far, for the working poor, that hasn’t been a great deal. While Congress prepares for the tax debate, single-parents in Asheville worry that the proposed federal tax changes would only make life harder, as North Carolina’s tax reforms did. “They’re going to come for every little penny that you have,” said one. “Where is the help when we need it?”
At the University of California, Davis, researchers are regularly invited to attend on-campus meet-and-greets with potential corporate funders to discuss possible sponsorship opportunities. Handshakes and business cards are routinely exchanged—so are nondisclosure agreements, writes Molly McCluskey in The Atlantic. Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist at U.C. Davis, says such meetings and the attendant nondisclosure agreements are commonplace and that it’s university administrators—rather than the corporations themselves—who encourage their professors and researchers to attend. I spent a year poring over documents and talking to universities, companies, lawyers, and researchers to figure out what kind of role corporate funding plays in public-university studies across the United States. Nearly all of the people I spoke with talked about the increasing ease with which corporate representatives have access to researchers, although some were more comfortable with the arrangement than others.
Air pollution over Los Angeles. Credit
The linchpin of a new 87-page proposal being considered by Congress is a directive to regulators that may be impossible to meet, reports the LA Times. Regulatory agencies would have to prove they have taken the least costly option possible to business before imposing any major new rule. A similar mandate became stifling when applied for decades to the regulation of chemicals such as asbestos because it allowed companies to keep rules at bay by continually arguing for cheaper approaches. “I don’t think lawmakers are focusing on how extreme this legislation is,” said Paul Billings, lobbyist for the American Lung Association, which has joined several major public health groups imploring congressional leaders to apply the brakes. “It has been viewed as this abstraction that creates improvements in the regulatory process. This would undermine bedrock public health laws.”