the environment report http://michiganradio.org en Climate change fueling increase in pollen, allergies http://michiganradio.org/post/climate-change-fueling-increase-pollen-allergies <p></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">If even hearing the word “ragweed” makes your eyes water, you might be one of the nearly 45 million Americans with seasonal allergies. Researchers say climate change is fueling the rise in allergies and asthma.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-f3e036ce-44ab-0742-a91e-73e0093707be"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">Jenny Fischer has been taking over-the-counter medication for allergies for a long time. Without it, she suffers cold-like symptoms: a runny nose, sneezing and congestion. An allergy pill usually made it better. But a couple of years ago, things started to get worse.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-f3e036ce-44ab-0742-a91e-73e0093707be"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">“I’d be out at 5:30 in the morning walking my dog, and it would just be huffing and puffing. And, you know, I couldn’t catch my breath. It's scary," she said.</span></span></p><p> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:38:51 +0000 Julie Grant 18409 at http://michiganradio.org Climate change fueling increase in pollen, allergies What researchers are finding out about low-level exposure to arsenic http://michiganradio.org/post/what-researchers-are-finding-out-about-low-level-exposure-arsenic <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">This week, the Environment Report is taking a look at </span><a href="http://michiganradio.org/term/michigans-silent-poison" style="font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Michigan’s silent poison</a><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"> — arsenic.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Federal standards allow public drinking water supplies to have arsenic levels of up to 10 parts per billion (ppb), but these standards do not apply to private well owners (that's left up to the well owner to determine).</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">And in counties throughout Michigan, some wells have much higher levels of arsenic than this "maximum contaminant level" set by the EPA.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Higher levels of arsenic in drinking water have been linked to skin cancer, lung cancer, and bladder cancer, among others.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">But are lower levels of arsenic a threat to human health?</span></p><p> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 14:16:00 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 18245 at http://michiganradio.org What researchers are finding out about low-level exposure to arsenic One congressman has kept us in the dark about the health risks of arsenic http://michiganradio.org/post/one-congressman-has-kept-us-dark-about-health-risks-arsenic <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Arsenic occurs naturally, and Michigan is one of a handful of states with unusually high arsenic concentrations in groundwater.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Arsenic was also used in insecticides for many years and it's still being used in some weed killers.</span></p><p>David Heath is a senior reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, and <a href="http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/06/28/15000/how-politics-derailed-epa-science-arsenic-endangering-public-health">he investigated</a> why a health assessment on arsenic from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been delayed.</p><p><strong style="line-height: 1.5;">Why does this health assessment matter?</strong></p><p>Heath said when the EPA first wants to determine how dangerous a toxic chemical is, they first do the science. These assessments can take a long time and the arsenic assessment has been going on for more than a decade.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">"It's not until they have done the science to figure out exactly how dangerous a chemical is that they can really take action on it," Heath said. "So it really does come down to 'this is how they protect your health.'"</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A single member of Congress, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, was able to intentionally delay the EPA's health assessment for years.</span></p><p> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:30:00 +0000 Rebecca Williams 18159 at http://michiganradio.org One congressman has kept us in the dark about the health risks of arsenic These places in Michigan are still working on getting arsenic out of their drinking water http://michiganradio.org/post/these-places-michigan-are-still-working-getting-arsenic-out-their-drinking-water <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">There’s no way to tell if arsenic is in your water without testing it. Arsenic has no taste and no smell.</span></p><p>Certain parts of Michigan have higher than average levels of arsenic in groundwater. That’s especially true in the Thumb region and a few other counties in southeast Michigan. And that can be a problem if you’re on a private well.</p> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:30:00 +0000 Rebecca Williams 18173 at http://michiganradio.org These places in Michigan are still working on getting arsenic out of their drinking water Here's how to test and treat your drinking water well for arsenic http://michiganradio.org/post/heres-how-test-and-treat-your-drinking-water-well-arsenic <p>In some parts of the U.S., arsenic in the groundwater is just a natural part of the geology. Michigan is one of several states where elevated levels of arsenic in ground water can be found.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">This map shows the counties where these elevated levels have been found, but experts caution, elevated arsenic levels in well water can be found just about </span><em style="line-height: 1.5;">anywhere&nbsp;</em><span style="line-height: 1.5;">in Michigan:</span></p><p></p><p>There was a big push to educate people about the dangers of arsenic poisoning around a decade ago, but in some places in Michigan, people still don't know much about it.</p><p>And in some other cases, people know about it, but choose to ignore it, for one reason or another.</p><p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 13:00:00 +0000 Mark Brush 18099 at http://michiganradio.org Here's how to test and treat your drinking water well for arsenic This mom didn't know why her family was sick until she checked their water http://michiganradio.org/post/mom-didnt-know-why-her-family-was-sick-until-she-checked-their-water <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;">&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 15px; line-height: 1.1500000000000001; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">It’s been called “the mother of all poisons.” You can't taste arsenic and you can’t smell it, which is why it’s been the poison of choice for centuries. </span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c59a8473-ce97-5241-60e1-ff5a72d21c6a"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">“During the Middle Ages it was called the succession powder,” says Jerome Nriagu, professor emeritus of public health at the University of Michigan.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c59a8473-ce97-5241-60e1-ff5a72d21c6a"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">“That’s the way people got rid of the kings and queens if they wanted to become the king or queen themselves,” he said.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c59a8473-ce97-5241-60e1-ff5a72d21c6a"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">Arsenic, in very high doses, can kill you.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c59a8473-ce97-5241-60e1-ff5a72d21c6a"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">But arsenic is a naturally occurring element and doctors and scientists like Nriagu are working hard to understand how arsenic affects us today.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><strong>A family experiences mysterious health problems</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c59a8473-ce97-5241-60e1-ff5a72d21c6a"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">Renee Thompson and her family were sick for three years without having any idea why. </span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c59a8473-ce97-5241-60e1-ff5a72d21c6a"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">“My children and my husband all became very ill after we moved into the house we had in Ortonville,” she said.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c59a8473-ce97-5241-60e1-ff5a72d21c6a"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">At the time, Thompson had recently given birth to her third child, Danica.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c59a8473-ce97-5241-60e1-ff5a72d21c6a"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">“My son was six, and he started to have severe chest pains, while my older daughter had headaches,” Thompson said. “My husband had GI bleeding, and I had become very fatigued with headaches and skin problems.”</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.1500000000000001;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:10pt;"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-c59a8473-ce97-5241-60e1-ff5a72d21c6a"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Calibri; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;"><em>Listen to Thompson explain what her family experienced:</em></span></span></em></p><p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:55:00 +0000 Rebecca Williams 18124 at http://michiganradio.org This mom didn't know why her family was sick until she checked their water Recycling that typical household battery is not as easy as you might think http://michiganradio.org/post/recycling-typical-household-battery-not-easy-you-might-think <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">I was surprised to find out recently that you can’t recycle household batteries in Ann Arbor anymore. I used to collect them in a little steel can, but Recycle Ann Arbor stopped taking them.</span></p><p>From <a href="http://www.recycleannarbor.org/?module=Page&amp;sID=drop-off-station-whats-accepted">Recycle Ann Arbor’s website</a>:</p><blockquote><p>Alkaline household batteries do not contain hazardous materials and may be disposed of in the trash.</p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:00:00 +0000 Mark Brush 18156 at http://michiganradio.org Recycling that typical household battery is not as easy as you might think Help for honeybee researchers coming from Grand Valley State University http://michiganradio.org/post/help-honeybee-researchers-coming-grand-valley-state-university <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">That’s right, bees rule. At least that what my second grader thinks after she studied them at school.</span></p><p>“You wrote bees rule. Why do bees rule?” I asked.</p><p>“I think it’s neat for how they can make it into honey and that they can speak to each other by doing a dance," she answered.</p><p>She, of course, isn’t the only one who think bees rule. A lot of us think they rule. Especially when you consider that&nbsp;around one out of every three bites of food we eat is the result of a bee.</p><p>But as you’ve likely heard, bees are in trouble. Beekeepers have been experiencing losses at alarming rates — and scientists across the country are scrambling to try to stop these losses. Whether from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572">Colony Collapse Disorder</a>, or other bee stressors, the problems bees face are more complicated than it once seemed.</p><p><img alt="&lt;--break-&gt;" border="0" height="1" src="file:///C:\Users\MBrush\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\clip_image001.gif" width="1" /></p><p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 18:13:20 +0000 Mark Brush 18121 at http://michiganradio.org Help for honeybee researchers coming from Grand Valley State University What would you do if killer lampreys invaded your town? http://michiganradio.org/post/what-would-you-do-if-killer-lampreys-invaded-your-town <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Would you:</span></p><p>A) run away screaming</p><p>B) attack them with golf clubs, weed whackers and curling irons, or</p><p>C) haplessly fall victim to them as you enjoy a quiet afternoon of fishing with your dog?</p><p>The residents of a fictional Michigan town do all of the above in <a href="http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/blood-lake">"Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys"</a> airing this week on Animal Planet. It's by the same people who brought us "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2724064/">Sharknado</a>."</p><p>Watch the trailer below:</p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="275" id="dit-video-embed" scrolling="no" src="http://snagplayer.video.dp.discovery.com/861210/snag-it-player.htm?auto=no" width="550"></iframe></p><p>Really, it was only a matter of time. With its toothy suction cup for a face and razor sharp tongue, the sea lamprey was a horror movie villain just waiting to shine.</p><p></p><p> Thu, 29 May 2014 12:50:00 +0000 Rebecca Williams 17790 at http://michiganradio.org What would you do if killer lampreys invaded your town? Lessons from a tiny, extremely destructive pest http://michiganradio.org/post/lessons-tiny-extremely-destructive-pest <p>The emerald ash borer is a little shiny green beetle that loves to feast on ash trees. The adult beetles only nibble on the leaves. It's the larvae you've got to watch out for. They munch on the inner bark of the ash tree, and mess with the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients.</p><p>The pest has killed tens of millions of ash trees in Michigan alone and tens of millions more in the states and provinces around our region.</p><p>Now researchers know a little bit more about how the emerald ash borer ate its way through the state.</p><p> Tue, 13 May 2014 19:46:43 +0000 Rebecca Williams 17572 at http://michiganradio.org Lessons from a tiny, extremely destructive pest Why do some trout that dine on small invasive fish die? Researchers gaining clues http://michiganradio.org/post/why-do-some-trout-dine-small-invasive-fish-die-researchers-gaining-clues <p>You’ve probably heard about the big bad invasive silver or bighead carp, also known as Asian carp.</p><p>But there’s another invasive fish that’s roughly a third the size of the carp that’s already done a lot of damage to Great Lakes fisheries. Alewives have been a particular menace in Lakes Michigan and Huron. The invasive fish cause all kinds of problems for native lake trout.</p><p>Alewives scarf down lake trout eggs and very young fish. But even once lake trout grow big enough to turn the tables and eat the alewives, the invasive fish still cause problems.</p> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:33:13 +0000 Lindsey Smith 17346 at http://michiganradio.org Why do some trout that dine on small invasive fish die? Researchers gaining clues You pay about a penny per gallon of gas to clean up pollution, but is that money spent well? http://michiganradio.org/post/you-pay-about-penny-gallon-gas-clean-pollution-money-spent-well <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Every time you fill up, you pay seven-eighths of a cent per gallon of gas for a “regulatory fee” that was originally set up to help clean up the thousands of old underground storage tanks in Michigan.</span></p><p>Those pennies you pay at the pump add up to a $50 million pot of money each year.</p><p>It’s called the Refined Petroleum Fund. The fund worked initially. The money helped remove tens of thousands of old underground storage tanks in Michigan. When those old tanks leak, they can pollute the soil and ruin nearby water sources.</p> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 18:57:21 +0000 Mark Brush 17193 at http://michiganradio.org You pay about a penny per gallon of gas to clean up pollution, but is that money spent well? There could be bad news for Michigan fruit crops; grapevines might have suffered the most http://michiganradio.org/post/there-could-be-bad-news-michigan-fruit-crops-grapevines-might-have-suffered-most <p></p><p></p><p>Farmers are finally able to head out into their fields, orchards and vineyards to see how everything fared over the winter.&nbsp;</p><p>Ken Nye is a commodities specialist with the Michigan Farm Bureau.&nbsp;</p><p>He's expecting a lot of damage to Michigan fruits.&nbsp;</p><p> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:13:42 +0000 Rebecca Williams 17182 at http://michiganradio.org There could be bad news for Michigan fruit crops; grapevines might have suffered the most Wilderness Proposals Increasingly Divisive On Capitol Hill http://michiganradio.org/post/wilderness-proposals-increasingly-divisive-capitol-hill Fifty years ago, Congress set out to guarantee future generations would always have access to America’s great outdoors in its most natural state. But several recent requests for wilderness protections have been languishing on Capitol Hill.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&#160;&#160;</span><a href="http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wiaa/audio/2014/03/TERforThursdayMarch27thforLinda.mp3" class="asset-audio"></a><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">In the past five years, just one new wilderness bill made it to law. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:05:55 +0000 Linda Stephan 16994 at http://michiganradio.org Wilderness Proposals Increasingly Divisive On Capitol Hill Archeologists Diverge On Discovery In Lake Michigan http://michiganradio.org/post/archeologists-diverge-discovery-lake-michigan Archeologists studying a wooden beam pulled from northern Lake Michigan this summer can't say whether it is a piece of the first European ship to sail the upper Great Lakes or a post from an old fishing net. Tue, 25 Feb 2014 14:50:57 +0000 Peter Payette 16593 at http://michiganradio.org Archeologists Diverge On Discovery In Lake Michigan Enbridge has a new plan for dredging parts of the Kalamazoo River http://michiganradio.org/post/enbridge-has-new-plan-dredging-parts-kalamazoo-river <p>Enbridge Energy is still cleaning up oil left over from its pipeline spill in the Kalamazoo River. &nbsp;</p><p>The company has already recovered most of the oil, but it's still working to comply with an order from the federal regulators, who say they need to clean up another 180,000 gallons.&nbsp;</p><p>According to Enbridge's new plan, they can start that cleanup March 15. But that's all dependent on this crazy weather. Right now, everything is frozen. But, if spring warms things up and there's flooding, that can also be problematic for the dredging process.&nbsp;</p> Thu, 20 Feb 2014 17:43:27 +0000 Rebecca Williams 16525 at http://michiganradio.org Enbridge has a new plan for dredging parts of the Kalamazoo River How emergency responders in Michigan are preparing for the next pipeline break http://michiganradio.org/post/how-emergency-responders-michigan-are-preparing-next-pipeline-break <p>There are close to 70,000 miles of underground pipelines in Michigan carrying all kinds of materials around the state – things like natural gas, refined petroleum, and crude oil.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">And for the most part, we really don’t notice these pipelines. That was true in Michigan until one summer day three and half years ago when this happened:</span></p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILwEFZoxd9Q</p><p>The Kalamazoo River oil spill was the worst inland oil spill in North America.</p><p>It took Enbridge Energy 17 hours to realize they had a broken pipeline.</p> Thu, 06 Feb 2014 15:54:51 +0000 Mark Brush 16326 at http://michiganradio.org How emergency responders in Michigan are preparing for the next pipeline break What heavy ice coverage means for Great Lakes shipping and water levels http://michiganradio.org/post/what-heavy-ice-coverage-means-great-lakes-shipping-and-water-levels <p>Ice formed on the Great Lakes early this year, thanks to the arctic temperatures we’ve been experiencing.</p><p></p><p>And that should be good for lake levels, which have plummeted in recent years. Right?</p><p></p><p>Well, it turns out the answer to that question is a bit complicated.</p><p></p><p>Lake levels are affected by a number of factors, including temperature, precipitation, evaporation and ice cover.</p><p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Sarah Hulett 16147 at http://michiganradio.org What heavy ice coverage means for Great Lakes shipping and water levels The teeny, tiny ingredient that could add up to a big problem for the Great Lakes http://michiganradio.org/post/teeny-tiny-ingredient-could-add-big-problem-great-lakes <p>Ever seen a commercial for a face scrub or body wash that promises to “polish” your skin with “micro-beads?”</p><p></p><p>Or maybe one of the hundreds of these products already sits in your shower.</p><p></p><p>Ever wonder what those little beads are?</p><p></p><p>Chances are pretty good they’re plastic. And once they circle your drain and go down your pipes, chances are also pretty good they’re not going to get filtered out by your city’s sewage treatment plant.</p><p></p><p><strong>Millions of tiny beads that look a lot like fish food</strong></p><p></p> Tue, 21 Jan 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Sarah Hulett 16106 at http://michiganradio.org The teeny, tiny ingredient that could add up to a big problem for the Great Lakes Can sewage treatment plants protect fish from the chemicals in the water? http://michiganradio.org/post/can-sewage-treatment-plants-protect-fish-chemicals-water <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">S</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">o you know the saying, right? </span><span style="line-height: 1.5;"><em>Stuff </em>flows downhill?&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Myron Erickson knows a lot about that "stuff."</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">He heads up the sewage treatment plant that sits along the Grand River in Wyoming, Michigan (right next to Grand Rapids).</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The screening room is where they take out the "grit." Erickson calls them "knick knacks."</span></p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 14:38:51 +0000 Mark Brush 16047 at http://michiganradio.org Can sewage treatment plants protect fish from the chemicals in the water?