Tag Archives: chemicals

What is a flood?

Floods are a natural, reoccurring process that have historically shaped the landscape of most countries. Southeast Queensland’s subtropical climate makes it prone to weather that can cause flooding, and as we’ve experienced in recent years, more extreme weather conditions have caused widespread mass flooding with challenging consequences. Floods in our region are predominantly caused by heavy rainfall, but may also be a result of swollen rivers and tidal surges.

There are two types of flooding that can occur:

Flash flooding refers to water coming ‘down’ and involves intense rainfall, usually over a short period of time, rapid rise of water levels and high flows of water moving through the catchments.

River flooding refers to water coming ‘up’ and involves prolonged rainfall and slow rise of water levels.

How does rainwater move through a catchment?

With a natural, forested catchment, most rain falls on hill slopes and vegetation. Vegetated hill slopes creates minimal erosion. Vegetation stores the rain in soil, slowly releasing water over time, which helps sustain flows of water during dry periods. In a highly modified catchment, such as a city or town, the natural vegetation has been dramatically changed, therefore hill slopes and catchments will react very differently. In these modified environments, impervious or hard surfaces, such as roads, buildings and roofs reduce the amount of rainfall that can soak into the ground, causing more water to become runoff. This fast flowing movement of water carries large amounts of sediment and pollutants into stormwater drains and out into our waterways.

What is litter?

Litter in our waterways is a serious pollution problem that affects our wildlife, aquatic habitats, water quality and the recreational use of our waterways. Litter is almost any material that is disposed of incorrectly, including: fast food wrappers, drink bottles, cigarette butts, poorly secured material escaping vehicles and rubbish bins, paint tipped down the drain and much more. It is estimated that approximately 80% of all waterway litter originates from land based activities.

Floods and litter

When litter is dropped on land, rain and flooding carries it into stormwater drains, which empty into creeks and rivers. Once litter reaches our waterways, it is very difficult to remove. If the catchment has no vegetation to slow down flood water, the amount of litter and pollutants that enter our waterways significantly increases.

How does litter affect waterways?

Queensland sadly has the highest amount of litter of all mainland states in Australia. After being washed into our creeks and rivers, discarded litter slowly makes its way to our oceans. Waterway litter is extremely harmful to wildlife, who become entangled or mistake litter for food, resulting in injury or death. Waterway litter caused the death of at least 100,000 marine mammals, including turtles, dugongs and whales, as well as almost one million seabirds worldwide each year. Aquatic habitats such as coral and seagrass beds are also damaged by litter. In addition, litter makes our waterways look dirty and unattractive, which reduces recreational use and impacts on tourism.

Litter impact facts

  • Studies have found that 30-40% of sea turtles found dead in Moreton Bay have a significant amount of plastic litter in their stomachs.
  • 80% of litter in our waterways is made of plastic such as plastic bags, plastic water bottles and food wrappers. Most plastic objects never biodegrade – they just break down into smaller and smaller pieces.
  • ŸAn estimated 4.5 million cigarette butts are littered every year worldwide. Cigarette butts contain toxic chemicals which will start to leach out within an hour of contact with water.
  • ŸLiquid litter such as paint and household chemicals contain toxins that are hazardous to people and wildlife, and degrade water quality. Even when these products are diluted they should never be tipped down stormwater drains or dumped into or near waterways.

Healthy waterways

Healthy Waterways is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation working to protect and improve waterway health in SE Qld. They facilitate careful planning and coordinated efforts among a network of member organisations from government, industry and the community.

Healthy Waterways Clean Up Program

The Healthy Waterways Clean Up Program collects over 240,000 items of floating litter from SE Qld waterways each year. The program, which has been operating for over 10 years, also aims to increase community understanding about the issue and impacts of waterway litter. The Healthy Waterways Clean Up Program recorded a 50% increase in the number of plastic water bottles collected from local waterways between 2007 and 2012. Please use a reusable water bottle instead!

8 tips to limit your litter

1. Dispose of rubbish in a bin and ensure rubbish is secure.

2. Use the three R rule: reduce your use of plastic, reuse items you may otherwise throw away, and recycle as much as possible.

3. Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic water bottles.

4. Smokers, out your cigarette butts in the bin!

5. Pick up any litter you see and remind everyone to dispose of rubbish carefully.

6. Report littering and illegal dumping via the Department of Environment and Resource Management or your local council.

7. Carry a litter bag in your vehicle or on your bicycle.

8. Contact your local catchment group to organise or join a waterway litter clean up day or program. Clean Up Australia Day activities are important, as well as regular ongoing activities year round.

For more information, contact:

Healthy Waterways

www.healthywaterways.org

and

Australian Marine Conservation Society

www.amcs.org.au

 

Courtesy of Healthy Waterways.

1. GMOs are unhealthy.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing l

ong-term problems. Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.
Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise. Although there is not sufficient research to confirm that GMOs are a contributing factor, doctors groups such as the AAEM tell us not to wait before we start protecting ourselves, and especially our children who are most at risk. The American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association are among many medical groups that condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormone, because the milk from treated cows has more of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1)―which is linked to cancer.

2. GMOs contaminate―forever.

GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool. Self-propagating GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. The potential impact is huge, threatening the health of future generations. GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure.

3. GMOs increase herbicide use.

Most GM crops are engineered to be "herbicide tolerant"―they deadly weed killer. Monsanto, for example, sells Roundup Ready crops, designed to survive applications of their Roundup herbicide. Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. Overuse of Roundup results in "superweeds," resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year. Not only does this create environmental harm, GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides. Roundup, for example, is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.

4. Genetic engineering creates dangerous side effects.

By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.

5. Government oversight is dangerously lax.

Most of the health and environmental risks of GMOs are ignored by governments' superficial regulations and safety assessments. The reason for this tragedy is largely political. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, doesn't require a single safety study, does not mandate labeling of GMOs, and allows companies to put their GM foods onto the market without even notifying the agency. Their justification was the claim that they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different. But this was a lie. Secret agency memos made public by a lawsuit show that the overwhelming consensus even among the FDA's own scientists was that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects. They urged long-term safety studies. But the White House had instructed the FDA to promote biotechnology, and the agency official in charge of policy was Michael Taylor, Monsanto's former attorney, later their vice president. He's now the US Food Safety Czar.

6. The biotech industry uses "tobacco science" to claim product safety.

Biotech companies like Monsanto told us that Agent Orange, PCBs, and DDT were safe. They are now using the same type of superficial, rigged research to try and convince us that GMOs are safe. Independent scientists, however, have caught the spin-masters red-handed, demonstrating without doubt how industry-funded research is designed to avoid finding problems, and how adverse findings are distorted or denied.

7. Independent research and reporting is attacked and suppressed.

Scientists who discover problems with GMOs have been attacked, gagged, fired, threatened, and denied funding. The journal Nature acknowledged that a "large block of scientists ... denigrate research by other legitimate scientists in a knee-jerk, partisan, emotional way that is not helpful in advancing knowledge." Attempts by media to expose problems are also often censored.

8. GMOs harm the environment.

GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. For example, GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds.

9. GMOs do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world.

Whereas sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher, GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists' 2009 report Failure to Yield―the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield.

The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report, authored by more than 400 scientists and backed by 58 governments, stated that GM crop yields were "highly variable" and in some cases, "yields declined." The report noted, "Assessment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable." They determined that the current GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability. On the contrary, GMOs divert money and resources that would otherwise be spent on more safe, reliable, and appropriate technologies.

10. By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the coming tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply.

Because GMOs give no consumer benefits, if even a small percentage of us start rejecting brands that contain them, GM ingredients will become a marketing liability. Food companies will kick them out. In Europe, for example, the tipping point was achieved in 1999, just after a high profile GMO safety scandal hit the papers and alerted citizens to the potential dangers. In the US, a consumer rebellion against GM bovine growth hormone has also reached a tipping point, kicked the cow drug out of dairy products by Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Dannon, Yoplait, and most of America's dairies.

Source: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/10-Reasons-to-Avoid-GMOs