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President Obama Bans Oil Drilling in Large Areas of Atlantic and Arctic Oceans

           

Hundreds of kayaktivists protest drilling in the Arctic and the Port of Seattle being used as a port for the Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via Associated Press)

washingtonpost.com - by Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin - December 20, 2016

President Obama moved to solidify his environmental legacy Tuesday by withdrawing hundreds of millions of acres of federally owned land in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean from new offshore oil and gas drilling.

Obama used a little-known law called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect large portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the Arctic and a string of canyons in the Atlantic stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia. In addition to a five-year moratorium already in place in the Atlantic, removing the canyons from drilling puts much of the eastern seaboard off limits to oil exploration even if companies develop plans to operate around them.

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Birth Defects Among Fetuses and Infants of US Women With Evidence of Possible Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy

jamanetwork.com - December 13, 2016 - doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19006

In this report based on preliminary data for pregnant women in the USZPR with laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection, 6% overall had a fetus or infant with evidence of a Zika-related birth defect, and among women with timing of possible Zika infection exclusively during the first trimester, 11% had a fetus or infant with a birth defect. The birth defects primarily involved included microcephaly with brain abnormalities, such as intracranial calcifications. Preliminary estimates from the USZPR were within the range of 1% to 13% risk of microcephaly following first-trimester maternal Zika virus infection modeled on the outbreak in Bahia, Brazil, lending support to the credibility of these estimates.

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Arctic Heating Up at Twice as Fast as Rest of Globe

           

Arctic Sea Ice Disappearing

CLICK HERE - NOAA - Arctic Report Card: Update for 2016

cnn.com - by Mayra Cuevas and Max Blau - December 14, 2016

The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world -- triggering a "massive decline in sea ice and snow," according to a new federal report.

On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 11th annual Arctic Report Card, which compiles data from 61 scientists in 11 countries.

"Rarely have we seen the Arctic show a clearer, stronger or more pronounced signal of persistent warming and its cascading effects on the environment than this year," Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA's Arctic Research Program, said in a statement.

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CLICK HERE - NASA - Scientific Visualization Studio - Weekly Animation of Arctic Sea Ice Age with Graph of Ice Age By Area: 1984 - 2016

CLICK HERE - VIDEO - NASA - Older Arctic Sea Ice Disappearing

 

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A Year Later, Unfiltered Flint Tap Water Is Still Unsafe To Drink

The state says more than 600 pipes have been replaced in Flint, Mich., this year — but 30,000 suspect pipes remain. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Image: The state says more than 600 pipes have been replaced in Flint, Mich., this year — but 30,000 suspect pipes remain. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

npr.org - December 14th 2016 - Steve Carmody

A year ago, Flint, Mich., Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency because of lead-contaminated drinking water, attracting national outrage and sympathy, and millions of gallons of donated water.

But a year later donations have slowed to a trickle, and little has changed — unfiltered water here is still unsafe to drink.

With frigid temperatures and flurries swirling around outside, the crowd inside Flint's downtown transit station ebbs and flows as buses come and go.

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Negative Effects Of Zika During Pregnancy More Common Than Realized

           

Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly and turned one-year-old on December 4, sits in a specially designed chair to keep him upright as he is kissed by his sister Jennifer Karine on December 12, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. As many of the babies with microcephaly, believed to be linked to the Zika virus, turn one-year-old in Recife, doctors and mothers are adapting and learning treatments to assist and calm the children. Many of the children are suffering a plethora of difficulties including vision and hearing problems with doctors now labeling the overall condition as 'Congenital Zika Syndrome'. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

CLICK HERE - STUDY - NEJM - Zika Virus Infection in Pregnant Women in Rio de Janeiro

forbes.com - by Tara Haelle - December 14, 2016

The rate of birth defects, disability and brain irregularities in babies exposed to the Zika virus is considerably higher than was previously believed — regardless of the mother’s symptoms or the trimester she had the infection — found a new study . . .

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The Goose-Killing Lake and the Scientists Who Study It

The toxic lake left behind after the Berkeley Pit copper mine shut down.

Image: The toxic lake left behind after the Berkeley Pit copper mine shut down.

theatlantic.com - 13 December 2016 - Sarah Zhang

In late November, a flock of migrating snow geese landed in a lake in Butte, Montana. Soon, they began to die. Because what they landed in was the Berkeley Pit, a Superfund site filled with acidic and metal-laden toxic waste from copper mining. 

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EPA Finds Fracking Can Impact Drinking Water, Shifts Emphasis from Earlier Report to Focus on Risks

           

A high-pressure gas line spanning a canal in an oil field over the Monterey Shale formation near Lost Hills, Calif., in 2014. Credit David McNew/Getty Images

CLICK HERE - EPA's Study of Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources

cnbc.com - by Robert Ferris | Tom DiChristopher - December 13, 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency's final report on a five-year study finds hydraulic fracturing can in fact contaminate drinking water in some cases.

The EPA's presentation of the final assessment marks a significant change in the way the report was initially presented in 2015. Energy companies seized on that presentation because it said the EPA found no "widespread, systemic impact" on drinking water supplies.

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CLICK HERE - EPA - Executive Summary, Hydraulic Fracturing Study - Final Assessment 2016

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Superbug Gene Found on Pig Farm

           

FLICKR, RIKKISREFUGE

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae recovered from the environment of a swine farrow-to-finish operation in the United States

Evidence of resistance to a “last-resort” drug for antibiotic-resistant bacteria is discovered among farm animals for the first time.

the-scientist.com - by Ben Andrew Henry - December 7, 2016

Modern agriculture relies on antibiotics to shield livestock from disease, but widespread over-use of antibiotics has raised concerns over creating highly resistant “superbugs.” Researchers announced this week (December 5) that bacteria carrying a rare, dangerous gene for antibiotic resistance have been found in agricultural animals for the first time.

In a study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, researchers took swabs and fecal samples from a pig farm and discovered bacteria resistant to carbapenems, an important class of antibiotics.

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Zika in Fetal Brain Tissue Responds to a Popular Antibiotic

Infection of developing human brain with the Zika virus (green) highlights susceptibility of radial glial cells during fetal development. Image by Elizabeth Di Lullo

CLICK HERE - STUDY - PNAS - Zika virus cell tropism in the developing human brain and inhibition by azithromycin

ucsf.edu - by Laura Kurtzman - November 29, 2016

Working in the lab, UC San Francisco researchers have identified fetal brain tissue cells that are targeted by the Zika virus and determined that azithromycin, a common antibiotic regarded as safe for use during pregnancy, can prevent the virus from infecting these cells . . .

 . . . In the new study, published online Nov. 29, 2016, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the UCSF researchers determined that the Zika virus preferentially infects brain cells with an abundance of a protein called AXL, which spans the outer cell membrane of several cell types and serves as a gateway for the invading virus . . . 

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Texas Reports First Case of Zika Spread by Local Mosquitoes

                                                                  

CLICK HERE - Texas Department of State Health Services - Texas Announces Local Zika Virus Case in Rio Grande Valley

reuters.com - by Julie Steenhuysen - November 28, 2016

Texas health officials on Monday reported the state's first case of Zika likely spread by local mosquitoes, making Texas the second state within the continental United States to report local transmission of the virus that has been linked to birth defects.

The case involved a woman living in Cameron County near the Mexico border who is not pregnant, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.

Pregnancy is the biggest concern with Zika because the virus can cause severe, life-long birth defects, including microcephaly, in which a child is born with an abnormally small head, a sign its brain has stopped growing normally . . .

 . . . In adults, Zika infections have also been linked to a rare neurological syndrome known as Guillain-Barre, as well as other neurological disorders.

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