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Arsenic in wells in Vietnam suggests dig-deeper approach has issues

For years, scientists and public health officials have known that arsenic threatens the water supplies of millions of people in the heavily populated floodplains of Southeast Asia. A recent study centers on Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, but has profound implications for the people of the entire region. In Vietnam, arsenic is naturally hosted in sediments drained off the Himalayas, which wash into the Mekong.

10 Sep 2013

Arsenic levels in China may be predicted by modeling

In China, arsenic poisoning from groundwater has been a known chronic health issue since at least the 1970s. From 2001 to 2005, the Chinese Ministry of Health tested 450,000 wells, 13 percent of which exceeded World Health Organization (WHO) arsenic standards. However, numbers could be far worse, as only about 12 percent of Chinese counties were screened.

11 Sep 2013

Gold, lead and death in Nigeria

Geology, economics and culture culminate in a perfect storm with deadly results

20 Feb 2012

Dangerous dust: Erionite - an asbestos-like mineral causing a cancer epidemic in Turkey - is found in at least 13 states

As North Dakota’s state geologist, Ed Murphy has spent a fair amount of time mapping the geology of the Killdeer Mountains in the western part of the state, hiking up and down buttes of the White River Group and the Arikaree Formation. In the 1980s, he and colleagues mapped large deposits of rocks bearing erionite — a zeolite mineral formed when volcanic ash is altered by water — that may have had some commercial use.

31 Jan 2012

Crystal Ball EARTH: Natural Hazards: Reducing society's risks

The global financial disaster of 2009 has many parallels with catastrophic natural hazards. It struck pretty much without warning, its impact was greatly exacerbated by an incredibly complex system of cascading consequences, and finally, mechanisms supposedly in place to mitigate the worse impacts (regulations, in the case of the financial system) failed. There was awareness that such a meltdown could theoretically occur, but it was considered such a low-probability event that it was evidently not worth planning for.

11 Dec 2009

Crystal Ball EARTH: Agriculture: The future will have a different face than the past

Tomorrow’s agriculture is facing an immense challenge. By 2050, the world’s population will reach somewhere between 9 billion and 10 billion people, and a greater proportion of those people will be enjoying a richer diet than today’s population. That means farmers will have to grow twice as much food. The world has already witnessed a preview of what might happen if large populations don’t receive an adequate supply of food: They do not accept their fates passively.

04 Dec 2009

Extinction-era coal linked to Chinese cancer epidemic

At the close of the Permian, 252 million years ago, conditions on Earth took a turn for the worse, nearly wiping out life on land and at sea in the planet’s most severe extinction event. Now, eons later, geologists are implicating a coal seam that dates to the “Great Dying” at the Permian-Triassic boundary in one of the modern world’s worst cancer epidemics.

14 Jan 2010

The rising global interest in coal fires

In eastern India, north of the Damodar River, approximately 70 fires are burning in the Jharia coalfield, the largest coalmine fire complex in the world. The majority of fires in Jharia ignite when coal, exposed to air during mining operations, spontaneously combusts. Particulate matter and noxious gases emitted from the burning coal — including sulfur, carbon and nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons released at the surface from gas vents, ground fissures and the soil — have caused illnesses that range from stroke to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

01 Sep 2010

Still in a haze: What we don't know about black carbon

Black carbon — fine particles of soot in the atmosphere produced from the burning of fossil fuels or biomass — has been known to be a health hazard for decades, a major contributor to the thick hazes of pollution hovering over cities around the world.

14 Mar 2011

When the dust settles: Investigating lingering health questions 10 years after 9/11

For the past 10 years, geoscientists have been helping to characterize the dust that blanketed lower Manhattan following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, hoping to determine if and how that dust may be causing long-term health problems.

12 Aug 2011