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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

News Follow-Up

Air Date: Week of

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New developments in stories we’ve been following recently.


CURWOOD: Time now to follow up on some of the news stories we've been tracking lately. Well, the grades are in for the first nationwide report on school bus pollution. The Union of Concerned Scientists says diesel buses in every state are exposing children to toxic air pollutants. Each state was graded on a curve, and Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia were at the head of the class for their high turnover of old buses. But, according to senior analyst Patricia Monahan, California and Washington state flunked every test.

MONAHAN: These states have a lot of older school buses on the road. These school buses are both major polluters and potential safety hazards.

CURWOOD: The Union of Concerned Scientists is now pushing for federal funding for newer, cleaner fuel technologies in school buses.

A new University of California at Davis study calls the air at Ground Zero the worst the world has ever seen. The study measured very fine particles that would most likely lodge deep in the lungs and cause respiratory illness. The greatest concentration of fine particles occurred in sharp spikes in the plume of smoldering fires at the site. Thomas Cahill, professor emeritus at U.C. Davis, headed the study.

CAHILL: It's worse than downtown Beijing in the winter, when they're burning soft coal for heating. It's three times worse than in the middle of the Kuwaiti oil fields during the Gulf War fires.

CURWOOD: Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency came under attack recently, at a Senate subcommittee hearing, for misleading the public when it announced, a week after September 11th, that the air was safe to breathe.

Three years ago we reported that Rhode Island was the first state to bring a suit against lead paint manufacturers. The state sought to hold manufacturers responsible for lead poisoning in children and was the first to seek reimbursement for lead paint removal in buildings and homes. This week, the state of Rhode Island cleared another hurdle when a Superior Court judge ruled the attorney general could continue with the case to try to prove the lead constitutes a public nuisance. Co-counsel Linn Freedman says children's lead levels are the proof.

FREEDMAN: And we have about 1750 kids to 2000 kids a year showing up with elevated lead levels in their blood.

Photo: Patrick Barth/University of Greenwich(Photo: Patrick Barth/University of Greenwich)

CURWOOD: And finally, from the paleontology front, scientists at the University of Greenwich have unearthed the world's oldest fossilized vomit. It appears that sometime during the Jurassic period, 160 million years ago, a fish-like Ichthyosaur ate too much squid. Scientists found the lost dinner in a clay quarry in England. The clues: a pattern of splatter and etchings of stomach acid in the prehistoric puke. And that's this week's follow-up on the news from Living on Earth.



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