Building Isolation bad for health

Building Isolation bad for health

The more effective the isolation of a building the more likely radon levels augment. Keeping things out is inversely related to keeping things in.

Residential radon exposure and risk of incident hematologic malignancies in the Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort

Dosimetric models show that radon, an established cause of lung cancer, delivers a non-negligible dose of alpha radiation to the bone marrow, as well as to lymphocytes in the tracheobronchial epithelium, and therefore could be related to risk of hematologic cancers. Studies of radon and hematologic cancer risk, however, have produced inconsistent results.

To date there is no published prospective, populationbased study of residential radon exposure and hematologic malignancy incidence.

We used data from the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort established in 1992, to examine the association between county-level residential radon exposure and risk of hematologic cancer.

The analytic cohort included 140,652 participants (66,572 men, 74,080 women) among which 3019 incident hematologic cancer cases (1711 men, 1308 women) were identified during 19 years of follow-up. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to calculate multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for radon exposure and hematologic cancer risk.

Women living in counties with the highest mean radon concentrations (4148 Bq/m3 ) had a statistically significant higher risk of hematologic cancer compared to those living in counties with the lowest (o74 Bq/m3 ) radon levels (HR¼1.63, 95% CI:1.23–2.18), and there was evidence of a dose-response relationship (HRcontinuous¼1.38, 95% CI:1.15–1.65 per 100 Bq/m3 ; p-trend¼0.001).

There was no association between county-level radon and hematologic cancer risk among men. The findings of this large, prospective study suggest residential radon may be a risk factor for lymphoid malignancies among women. Further study is needed to confirm these findings.

American Cancer Society Study (pdf)

Organic Pesticides

Organic Pesticides

Have you seen the pro-organic propaganda video with the happy family who switches to organic only food and the pesticides disappear from their urine? It has over 5 million hits as of this writing. This is a core fear mongering strategy of the organic lobby.

Of course, there is no discussion about the absolute level of the pesticides, and the fact that such levels are insignificant and pose no known risk. But there is a deeper deception in this video and many studies looking at the difference in pesticide exposure between conventional and organic produce. They are only testing for pesticides not used by organic farmers. They are not testing for pesticides that are used in organic farming.

The game, therefore, is completely rigged, and the outcome is assured. If they tested only for organic pesticides the results would be flipped.

At this point some readers may be saying to themselves, “But I thought organic farming did not use chemicals,” which, of course, is exactly what the organic lobby wants you to think.

I am writing about this topic now, in fact, because of a recent study looking at the toxicity to bees of leaf fertilizers used in organic farming, showing that:

Two leaf fertilizers—copper sulfate (24% Cu) and a micronutrient mix (Arrank L: 5% S, 5% Zn, 3% Mn, 0.6% Cu, 0.5% B, and 0.06% Mo)—were used in oral and contact exposure bioassays. The biopesticide spinosad and water were used as positive and negative controls, respectively. Copper sulfate compromised the survival of stingless bee workers, particularly with oral exposure, although less than spinosad under contact exposure. Sublethal exposure to both leaf fertilizers at their field rates also caused significant effects in exposed workers.

These are all substances used in organic farming, including the insecticide spinosad used as the positive control. If a similar study were published involving fertilizers used in conventional farming the organic lobby would be all over it, claiming that conventional farming harms bees.

If the happy family were tested for spinosad, their levels would have likely risen after switching to organic food.


Also, there is a long list of synthetic substances allowed in organic farming, as long as they are deemed “essential.” There are also other criteria about safe use, which are essentially just good practices.

This highlights what I call the false dichotomy of organic farming. They pretend there is a clean divide between organic and conventional, when in fact there are a range of practices with various trade-offs in terms of productivity, cost, sustainability and effects on the environment. I maintain we should use the overall best methods based on scientific evidence, not based upon an ideological dedication to the appeal-to-nature fallacy.

When naturally-derived pesticides are tested, they are just as toxic as many conventional pesticides, especially when you consider the whole picture. You need to consider not just direct toxicity, but how much needs to be used, how often, how much gets into the environment, and the effects on non-target species. Overall the natural pesticides are less effective, and therefore have to be used in large amounts and more frequently.

Here is a list of twelve of the more toxic organic pesticides. They include:

“Pyrethrum is highly toxic to bees. The average lethal dose (LD50) for honeybees was measured at .022 micrograms per bee (Casida & Quistad 1995). Direct hits on honeybees and beneficial wasps are likely to be lethal … Cox (2002) cites several studies indicating the possibility of a connection between pyrethrins and cancer, including one study showing a 3.7-fold increase in leukemia among farmers who had handled pyrethrins compared to those who had not. In 1999, a USEPA memo classified pyrethrins as “likely to be a human carcinogen by the oral route”.

How is this any different than the studies used to fearmonger about relatively nontoxic synthetic pesticides, like glyphosate?


The fact is that the use of pesticides are allowed in organic farming, mostly derived from natural sources but also some synthetic chemical deemed “essential.” There is no apriori reason to assume that chemical pesticides derived from natural sources are safer or better for the environment that synthetic ones.

In fact, by limiting their choices to just some pesticides, they by necessity rely on pesticides that are not as safe or effective as the best synthetic pesticides.

Some organic farmers will argue that they use no pesticides at all, and this is true. However, it is simply not possible to feed the world without the use of some chemical pesticides and fertilizers. We are already using 40% of the Earth’s land, and the most arable land, to grow food. We can’t simply increase this by 25% or so – estimates vary, but they cluster around the conclusion that organic farming is 25% less productive than conventional farming.

I am also not arguing for the overuse or simplistic use of pesticides as an easy solution. The consensus seems to be for integrated pest management. There are also some techniques favored by organic farmers which can help reduce reliance on pesticides. Whatever works is good, but we should follow the evidence, not ideology.




The Legal Basis of Israel’s Rights in the Disputed Territories

1. Upon Israel’s taking control of the area in 1967, the 1907 Hague Rules on Land Warfare and the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) were not considered applicable to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) territory, as the Kingdom of Jordan, prior to 1967, was never the prior legal sovereign, and in any event has since renounced any claim to sovereign rights via a vis the territory.

2. Israel, as administering power pending a negotiated final determination as to the fate of the territory, nevertheless chose to implement the humanitarian provisions of the Geneva convention and other norms of international humanitarian law in order to ensure the basic day-to-day rights of the local population as well as Israel’s own rights to protect its forces and to utilize those parts of land that were not under local private ownership.

3. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibiting the mass transfer of population into occupied territory as practiced by Germany during the second world war, was neither relevant nor was ever intended to apply to Israelis choosing to reside in Judea and Samaria.

4. Accordingly, claims by the UN, European capitals, organizations and individuals that Israeli settlement activity is in violation of international law therefore have no legal basis whatsoever.

5. Similarly, the oft-used term “occupied Palestinian territories” is totally inaccurate and false. The territories are neither occupied nor Palestinian. No legal instrument has ever determined that the Palestinians have sovereignty or that the territories belong to them

6. The territories of Judea and Samaria remain in dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, subject only to the outcome of permanent status negotiations between them.

7. The legality of the presence of Israel’s communities in the area stems from the historic, indigenous and legal rights of the Jewish people to settle in the area, granted pursuant to valid and binding international legal instruments recognized and accepted by the international community. These rights cannot be denied or placed in question.

8. The Palestinian leadership, in the still valid 1995 Interim Agreement (Oslo 2), agreed to, and accepted Israel’s continued presence in Judea and Samaria pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations, without any restriction on either side regarding planning, zoning or construction of homes and communities. Hence, claims that Israel’s presence in the area is illegal have no basis.

9. The Palestinian leadership undertook in the Oslo Accords, to settle all outstanding issues, including borders, settlements, security, Jerusalem and refugees, by negotiation only and not through unilateral measures. The Palestinian call for a freeze on settlement activity as a precondition for returning to negotiation is a violation of the agreements.

10. Any attempt, through the UN or otherwise, to unilaterally change the status of the territory would violate Palestinian commitments set out in the Oslo Accords and prejudice the integrity and continued validity of the various agreements with Israel, thereby opening up the situation to possible reciprocal unilateral action by Israel.

Wildlife thriving without humans in Chernobyl nuclear zone

Wildlife thriving without humans in Chernobyl nuclear zone

Animals in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have not been wiped out by the nuclear fallout contaminating the land, but are actually thriving in the absence of humans, according to a new ecological study by researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA) suggests that the wildlife population hasn’t died off in the ‘toxic’ landscape, but actually flourished.

The group used 94 baited scent stations and 30 remote camera traps set up within the Polesie State Radio-ecological Reserve, a highly contaminated area in south Belarus.

The zone is predominantly forested and abandoned agricultural land, pock marked with empty villages. Carried out during a five week period between October and November of 2014, the project captured 14 species of mammal on film, with 173 animal detections observed overall.

It shows that among the creatures feeding off the land are the Eurasian bison, red squirrel, moose, boar, and gray wolves. Many of the animals were also documented in a recent visit to the zone by Reuters photographers

“For this study we deployed cameras in a systematic way across the entire Belarus section of the CEZ and captured photographic evidence – strong evidence – because these are pictures that everyone can see,” said lead researcher James Beasley in a UGA statement.


“We didn’t find any evidence to support the idea that populations are suppressed in highly contaminated areas.

“What we did find was these animals were more likely to be found in areas of preferred habitat that have the things they need – food and water.”

The latest UGA study was published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology.

Its findings contradict those of previous studies which have claimed that the fallout from the meltdown, whose cleanup required 600,000 workers, is damaging the area’s natural wildlife.

Enviro Predictions From Earth Day 1970 That Were Just Dead Wrong

Enviro Predictions From Earth Day 1970 That Were Just Dead Wrong

Environmentalists truly believed and predicted during the first Earth Day in 1970 that the planet was doomed unless drastic actions were taken.

Humanity never quite got around to that drastic action, but environmentalists still recall the first Earth Day fondly and hold many of the predictions in high regard.

So this Earth Day, The Daily Caller News Foundation takes a look at predictions made by environmentalists around the original Earth Day in 1970 to see how they’ve held up.

Have any of these dire predictions come true? No, but that hasn’t stopped environmentalists from worrying.

From predicting the end of civilization to classic worries about peak oil, here are seven environmentalist predictions that were just flat out wrong.

GMO & (lack of) Common sense

GMO & (lack of) Common sense

Just as the rabid anti-GMO proponents don’t like it if people whose main staple is rice (mostly the below poverty population) get enough vitamins to prevents major illnesses, they now have another victim in their sights: the banana eaters!

The GMO Banana

I wrote about the GMO banana controversy here. Bananas are a staple crop in parts of the world, including East Africa where it can represent up to 70% of calories consumed. Vitamin A deficiency is also common in this region. According to National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) acting director Dr Andrew Kiggundu, 52% of children under five in Uganda suffer from Vitamin A deficiency, while iron deficiency accounts for 40% of deaths in this age group.

The idea is to engineer a banana cultivar native to the region so that it produces more beta carotene and iron. The cultivar is already adapted to the region, and the locals are already heavily growing and relying upon this staple crop.

Further, the GMO is being developed by the Ugandan government, NARO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This is primarily a humanitarian project created by the local government and farmers.

In other words – the project is a perfect nightmare for the anti-GMO crowd. There is no corporate greed, no agricultural colonialism, no patents, no pesticides, and no environmental issues (no potential for contamination or cross breeding). Further, not only are there no health risks, this GMO plant is designed to address a critical health issue in the region.

In this way the GMO banana is similar to golden rice, another attempt to use GM technology to address vitamin A deficiency by fortifying a staple crop.

Full arcticle


Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates

Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates


Unexpected Surprises 

  • Green energy costs (including integration costs) are higher than expected and not dropping as fast as in other jurisdictions.
  • Demand is not rising as fast as planned when capacity commitments made.
  • New gas plants not as flexible as coal plants.
  • Higher integration costs and higher than expected emissions for wind/solar backup service.
  • Refurbishing old plants 2x more expensive than expected – discovery work.
  • Unfavorable WTO trade ruling means fewer jobs here in Ontario.
  • Smart meters did not flatten nor reduce peak loads to the extent antcipated due to ineffecive TOU price plan (see 2014 Auditor General of Ontario report and 2011 OSPE smart meter submission to the OEB).
  • Recession in 2008-09 created surplus genera,on capacity in North America and drove electricity market prices well below total cost of production.
  • Global Adjustment (GA) rose rapidly. GA 2 to 3x greater than market price.

Why Are Electricity Rates Rising So Fast in Ontario

There are 6 major drivers of rapidly rising rates in Ontario:

  • Incremental cost of wind/solar energy compared to displaced generation. Over 1 B$ in 2014, rising to over 3 B$ in 2021
  •  Losses for curtailment and exporting at very low price.
  • Conservation and demand management programs have reduced financial value during periods of excess capacity (2013 Long Term Energy Plan predicts excess capacity will persist from 2009 to 2019).
  • Higher costs for refurbishment of older plants.
  • Higher costs for power system upgrades to accommodate renewables and Bruce A restart.
  • In the GTA area residential “energy” rates have risen about 70 to 90% in the 7 years since 2008 depending on when the utility switched you to TOU rates.

Why Will Emissions Double as We Add Wind and Solar Plants

  • Wind and Solar require flexible backup generation.
  • Nuclear is too inflexible to backup renewables without expensive engineering changes to the reactors.
  • Flexible electric storage is too expensive at the moment.
  • Consequently natural gas provides the backup for wind and solar in North America.
  • When you add wind and solar you are actually forced to reduce nuclear generation to make room for more natural gas generation to provide flexible backup.
  • Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.
  •  Wind and solar with natural gas backup produces electricity at about 200 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh. Therefore adding wind and solar to Ontario’s grid drives CO2 emissions higher. From 2016 to 2032 as Ontario phases out nuclear capacity to make room for wind and solar, CO2 emissions will double (2013 LTEP data).
  • In Ontario, with limited economic hydro and expensive storage, it is mathematically impossible to achieve low CO2 emissions at reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.

Full report in pdf

For Ontario you can fill in most of the developed world with the very few exceptions where hydro power generation is feasible