Sunday, July 18, 2010

General ban on the use of cyanide in Europe: resolution 2010-0145

European Parliament resolution of 5 May 2010 on a general ban on the use of cyanide mining technologies in the European Union

Arsenic in contaminated milk

Long-term consequences of arsenic poisoning during infancy due to contaminated milk powder

Dakeishi M, Murata K, Grandjean P. 2006. Long-term consequences of arsenic poisoning during infancy due to contaminated milk powder. Environ. Health 5:31

Email Dr. Dakeishi at

Arsenic toxicity is a global health problem affecting many millions of people. The main source of exposure is drinking water contaminated by natural geological sources. Current risk assessment is based on the recognized carcinogenicity of arsenic, but neurotoxic risks have been overlooked. In 1955, an outbreak of arsenic poisoning occurred among Japanese infants, with more than 100 deaths. The source was contaminated milk powder produced by the Morinaga company. Detailed accounts of the Morinaga dried milk poisoning were published in Japanese only, and an overview of this poisoning incident and its long-term consequences is therefore presented. From analyses available, the arsenic concentration in milk made from the Morinaga milk powder is calculated to be about 4-7 mg/L, corresponding to daily doses slightly above 500 microg/kg body weight. Lower exposures would result from using diluted milk. Clinical poisoning cases occurred after a few weeks of exposure, with a total dose of about 60 mg. This experience provides clear-cut evidence for hazard assessment of the developmental neurotoxicity. At the present time, more than 600 surviving victims, now in their 50s, have been reported to suffer from severe sequelae, such as mental retardation, neurological diseases, and other disabilities. Along with more recent epidemiological studies of children with environmental arsenic exposures, the data amply demonstrate the need to consider neurotoxicity as a key concern in risk assessment of inorganic arsenic exposure.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Difficult to clean up

Several Sierra trails are toxic, group says

June 23, 2010|By Kelly Zito, Chronicle Staff Writer

A mountain biker cruises from the Sierra Buttes to Downieville, a hub for bikers. Although the Sierra Fund points to problems in Downieville, the Mountain Bike and Big Boulder trails were fine. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times 2007.

The thousands of mine shafts that pockmark the Sierra Nevada and testify to California's Gold Rush riches have also left a legacy of toxic contamination in some of the state's popular recreation areas, according to a new study.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Worldwide Campaign

Stop an invisible mass killing

The worldwide campaign

Millions of people worldwide are becoming ill or dying every day, without it being known that the cause of this mass killing is chronic arsenic poisoning.

Arsenic occurs naturally all over the world, but some human activities such as hard rock mining for gold, as well as burning coal and oil and using contaminated groundwater for drinking and irrigation have largely surpassed the natural sources of arsenic, with modern gold mining being by far the most important man-made source of arsenic [1].

In addition, arsenic is still used as an ingredient in various industries, in the production of feed additives, drugs, pesticides, wood preservatives and glass, among others.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Atmospheric stability of arsines and the determination of their oxidative products in atmospheric aerosols (PM10): evidence of the widespread phenomena of biovolatilization of arsenic.

J Environ Monit, 2010, 12(2):409-16.
Jakob R, Roth A, Hass K, Krupp EM, Raab A, Smichowski P, Gómez D, Feldmann J.
Trace Element Speciation Laboratory Aberdeen, Department of Chemistry, University of Aberdeen, Meston Building, Meston Walk, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.
Abstract - Biovolatilisation of arsenic as their arsines in the form of AsH(3), and mono-, di and trimethylarsine has often been determined under laboratory conditions. Although environmental point sources such as landfill sites or hot springs have been characterised, only limited knowledge is available on how widespread the formation of volatile methylated arsenic compounds are in the environment. Here we studied the atmospheric stability of the different arsines and quantified their oxidation products in atmospheric particulate matter (PM(10)) in two locations in Argentina. The atmospheric half-life of the arsines range from 19 weeks for AsH(3) to 2 d for trimethylarsine (TMAs) at 20 degrees C in the dark, while during simulated daytime conditions the stability is reduced for all arsines and in particular for the methylated arsines by three orders of magnitude which suggests that TMAs can only be dispersed at night. At both locations the arsenic concentration was in all samples below 1 ng As m(-3), which is considered as rural background for arsenic. The oxidation products, i.e. methylarsonate (MA), dimethylarsinate (DMA) and trimethylarsine oxide (TMAO) were identified by using HPLC-ICP-MS/ES-MS in more than 90% of the 49 PM(10) samples taken from 8 sampling points at the two geographically different locations. TMAO was the predominate organoarsenicals in both locations (66 and 69%, respectively) while DMA was determined to be between 13 and 19% of all organoarsenicals at the two locations. The concentration of the organoarsenicals ranged from 4 to 60 pg As as TMAO m(-3), while the maximum concentration for DMA and MA were 16 and 6 pg As m(-3), respectively. No difference in terms of the concentration or distribution of the organoarsenicals in the PM(10) samples was identified as significant. Since the two locations were different in climate and industrial impact and sampled in different seasons, these data suggest that methylated arsenicals do occur as background chemicals in the environment. Due to the low atmospheric stability of the methylated arsines, it is suggested that biovolatilization of arsenic as methylated arsines is a widespread phenomenon. More studies however are necessary to identify the major sources and determine the flux of the volatilization process in order to determine whether or not the process has environmental significance.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

One in five deaths linked to arsenic in water

New study links 1 in 5 deaths in Bangladesh to arsenic in the drinking water

Increased mortality is linked to chronic diseases with a 70 percent increased mortality risk among those with the highest level of exposure

Source: EurekAlert (*)

June 23, 2010 – Between 33 and 77 million people in Bangladesh have been exposed to arsenic in the drinking water—a catastrophe that the World Health Organization has called "the largest mass poisoning in history." A new study published in the current issue of the medical journal The Lancet provides the most complete and detailed picture to date of the high mortality rates associated with this exposure, which began with the widespread installation of tube wells throughout the country 30 years ago—a measure intended to control water-bourne diseases.