SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

April 28, 2009

vacate “Strip-mining”?

Way to go Secretary Salazar – I couldn’t be more pleased as will countless others, especially in Appalachia.


Official asks court to vacate mining act

Dumping of debris near rivers OK’d by Bush-era rule

By Juliet Eilperin


WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said yesterday that a Bush administration regulation allowing mining companies to dump their waste near rivers and streams is “legally defective.” He instructed the Justice Department to ask the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to vacate the rule.

The announcement, which came on the same day that the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was taking a second look at a handful of Bush-era rules on air pollution, shows the Obama administration is continuing to chip away at the environmental policies of its predecessor.

Some environmentalists were disappointed by Salazar’s move, arguing that more needs to be done and that the federal government has failed to enforce its own rule governing mountaintop-mining practices for decades.

The ongoing dispute centers on a 1983 law that bars mining operators from dumping the massive piles of debris — which result from blowing off the tops of mountains to get to coal — within 100 feet of any intermittent or permanent stream if the material would harm a stream’s water quality or reduce its flow. But federal and state courts have issued conflicting interpretations of the law, and widespread dumping continued.

The government estimated that about 1,600 miles of streams in Appalachia have been wiped out since the mid-1980s.

In December, the Office of Surface Mining issued a rule that required companies to avoid the 100-foot stream buffer zone if they could do so, but it allowed them to continue dumping if it was unavoidable. Environmental groups filed two separate lawsuits challenging the rule.

“In its last weeks in office, the Bush administration pushed through a rule that allows coal mine operators to dump mountaintop fill into streambeds if it’s found to be the cheapest and most convenient disposal option,” Salazar said in a statement. “We must responsibly develop our coal supplies to help us achieve energy independence, but we cannot do so without appropriately assessing the impact such development might have on local communities and natural habitat and the species it supports.”

Earthjustice senior legislative counsel Joan Mulhern, who represents a coalition of community groups in one of the lawsuits before the U.S. District Court, said vacating the Bush rule “would be meaningless” if Interior doesn’t crack down on ongoing dumping.

“They’re going back to status quo, which is a good rule, but it’s not being enforced,” she said. “This gets us nowhere if the stream buffer-zone rule is not enforced.”

Interior spokesman Frank Quimby said the administration is seeking “to develop a comprehensive policy on mountaintop mining” in the months ahead.

Mining executives didn’t welcome the policy reversal, saying they would press to have the court consider their views before dismissing the two lawsuits.

“This rule evolved from a four-year public involvement process, a thorough environmental assessment and ironically would have strengthened, not weakened, existing environmental rules dating from the Reagan administration,” said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.

Strip-mining “Hero”

Strip-mining foe captures big environmental award

By Vicki Smith

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In Maria Gunnoe’s 11-year war against the strip mining she says has ruined her homestead, there have been casualties: Family dogs have been poisoned and shot, and her truck’s fuel tank has been stuffed with sand.

Yet she keeps fighting to stop mountaintop-removal mining. And for confronting the coal industry in Appalachia, she is the 2009 North American winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Given to six people annually — one on each inhabited continent — the Goldman is the largest award of its kind, with a $150,000 cash prize. The winners will be recognized today in San Francisco.  (4-20-09)
“I never even knew I was an environmentalist,” Gunnoe, of southwestern West Virginia, said with a chuckle.
In mountaintop-removal mining, coal operators blast the tops of mountains apart to expose seams, flattening ridge lines and then dumping debris into valleys below.
Gunnoe’s home sits below a valley fill and has been flooded with coal waste seven times since 2000.
“She’s one of the bravest activists that we’ve seen, putting her life on the line,” said Lorrae Rominger, deputy director of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Following is a story of Maria Gunnoe from the Goldman Environmental Prize site showing  the courage and struggle she endured.   She IS a remarkable woman and certainly, one to be admired.  It is a lovely piece which I was grateful to find since I wanted to do a post on her for my Ordinary Heroes section.  The site has a video and some beautiful photos as well – – worth a look see.  Go to:
.. .

“The people of Appalachia have sacrificed everything including their lives for energy in America. We must put a stop to mountaintop removal coal mining and transition to renewable energy to allow us our homeland security and to preserve our rightful place and culture in the mountains.”

North America 2009

Maria Gunnoe

Oil & Mining

In the heart of Appalachia, where the coal industry wields enormous power over government and public opinion, lifelong resident Maria Gunnoe fights against environmentally-devastating mountaintop removal mining and valley fill operations. Her advocacy has led to the closure of mines in the region and stricter regulations for the industry.

Mining Nature
The Appalachian Mountains, stretching from Canada to Alabama along eastern North America, contains some of the most important forest ecosystems in North America. Central Appalachia, including West Virginia, is home to the most diverse hardwood forests of all Appalachia with oak, buckeye, birch, maple, beech, ash and dogwood species. Central Appalachia’s headwater rivers and streams, historically some of the purest water on the continent, are the water source for millions of people.

Central Appalachia also contains coal, a critical fossil fuel resource. The coal industry has long been the backbone of the region’s economy and the main employer of generations of working-class families living in the Appalachian coalfields. In recent decades, mountaintop removal coal mining has become common in Central Appalachia. Different from traditional underground coal mining, mountaintop removal is highly mechanized and thus employs fewer workers. Companies first clear-cut a mountaintop and then blast an average of 800 feet off the top of the mountain in order to access coal seams that lie beneath. Rubble from the blasted mountains, often containing toxic debris, is dumped into adjacent valleys to form “valley fills.”

Without foliage and natural layers of soil, the land is rendered unable to retain water. As a result, flooding of communities below valley fills has become a severe and increasingly frequent problem. In December 2008, the Bush Administration approved a final rule that will make it easier for coal companies to dump rock and other mine waste from mountaintop removal mining operations into nearby streams and valleys. Weakening what is known as the federal stream buffer rule, the move is one of the most controversial environmental regulation changes coming from the Bush Administration in its final months. To date, mountaintop removal coal mining in Central Appalachia has destroyed an estimated 470 mountains and has buried or polluted 2,000 miles of rivers and streams.

Unique Appalachian Culture
Maria Gunnoe, 40, was born and raised at the mouth of a narrow hollow in Boone County, West Virginia, now one of the most active mountaintop removal regions in the United States. Her family’s roots in the region date back to the early 1800s, when her ancestors escaped the forced removal of their Cherokee peoples from Georgia by walking along streams to the headwaters, settling safely in the fertile hollows of Central Appalachia. She comes from a long line of coal miners, including her Cherokee grandfather, who in the 1950s purchased the land where her home stands today.

Throughout much of rural Appalachia, a unique culture of survival and living off of the land has thrived for centuries. Gunnoe’s family instilled in her a deep connection to the forest and streams, where her community hunts, fishes, and gathers foods and medicinal plants throughout the seasons. This traditional rural culture is threatened by the invasive mining practices that now dominate the region.

Coal Miner’s Daughter Speaks Up
In 2000, a 1,200-acre mountaintop removal mine began on the ridge above Gunnoe’s home. Today, her house sits directly below a 10-story valley fill that contains two toxic ponds of mine waste comprised of run-off from the mine. Since the mine became operational, Gunnoe’s property has flooded seven times. Before mining began, Gunnoe’s property was never prone to such flooding. In a 2004 flood, much of Gunnoe’s ancestral home was destroyed and her yard was covered in toxic coal sludge. The coal company told her the damage was an “act of God.” As a result of mine waste, her well and ground water have been contaminated, forcing her family to use bottled water for cooking and drinking.

In 2004, Gunnoe, a medical technician by training and former waitress, began volunteering with many local advocacy organizations and then working for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) to educate her neighbors about the environmental dangers of mountaintop removal. She organized monthly Boone County meetings, and soon provided community trainings on how to read mining permits, write letters to the editor, interface with the media, and protest using nonviolent methods. Gunnoe also created neighborhood groups to monitor coal companies for illegal behavior and to report toxic spills. She has encouraged other residents to speak at hearings about their concerns over mountaintop removal.

In March 2007, OVEC and partner groups won a federal lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers that repealed mountaintop removal valley fill permits in southern West Virginia granted without adequate environmental consideration, and banned issuance of new permits. In defiance of the federal judge’s orders, the Corps granted permits to Jupiter Holdings to construct two new valley fills above Gunnoe’s community at its Boone County mine. OVEC challenged the permits in federal court, and a hearing was scheduled for September 2007. Days before the hearing, Gunnoe organized a media training for 20 local residents, some of whom were scheduled to testify with her. However, at the community hall, more than 60 coal miners showed up and harassed Gunnoe and her neighbors, stopping the meeting and intimidating the group.

After the incident at the community hall, Gunnoe’s neighbors decided not to testify in the hearing challenging Jupiter Holdings’ permits. Gunnoe was the sole community resident to do so. In October 2007, federal district court Judge Robert Chambers ruled in favor of Gunnoe and OVEC and issued an injunction, ordering Jupiter Holdings to halt the construction of any new valley fills at its Boone County mine.

Gunnoe and a coalition of regional groups are now advocating for passage of the federal Clean Water Protection Act, and the reinstatement of the buffer zone rule that would strengthen environmental laws regulating mountaintop removal. She is also working with Appalachian groups to promote viable renewable energy opportunities for the region.

Observers confirm that mine managers point to Gunnoe as an enemy of mine workers and their jobs, and have encouraged acts of harassment. Gunnoe has received numerous verbal threats on her life, and her children are frequently harassed at school. Gunnoe’s neighbors recently overheard people planning an arson attack on her home. Her daughter’s dog was shot dead, and “wanted” posters of Gunnoe have appeared in local convenience stores. Gunnoe has recently taken serious measures to protect both her family and property.

April 24, 2009

Lung woes? Check this out

New Discovery Alleviates Breathing Problems Without Drugs: From Asthma to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) — Most people have experienced shortness of breath when under intense physical exertion. But excessive shortness of breath or dyspnea sends millions of Americans to the emergency room every year. Whether their breathing problems are attributed to asthma, allergies, or lung disease, most patients report feeling fearful and helpless when their breathing is jeopardized. Most use drugs to gain temporary relief.

EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a new non-drug discovery that has provided breathing improvement in 70 to 80 percent of the clinical cases evaluated over 9 years.

Stanford-trained engineer Gary Craig originally designed EFT to improve and accelerate the psychotherapy process. However, it was soon discovered that while EFT users worked on emotional issues, many reported an improvement in their breathing and perceived lung capacity. Further, this relief was reported across a wide variety of breathing problems … from Asthma to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

According to Craig, “Mechanically, EFT is a form of acupressure that balances and clears blocks in the body’s meridians; the same energy pathways charted thousands of years ago by Chinese acupuncturists. What we have learned after thousands of case studies is that when these vital energy pathways are balanced with EFT, emotional burdens are lifted and physical ailments subside. The alleviation of breathing problems is perhaps one of the most consistent successes of EFT.

When EFT is used to deliberately target the emotional aspects of breathing problems like fear and helplessness, we get high success rates,” explains Craig. “EFT is a technique that anybody can learn to use for themselves and this one technique has consistently relieved breathing problems regardless of the medical diagnosis.”

EFT Practitioner Lindsay Kenny taught EFT to a group of retirees with various ailments. One woman reported that her lungs had been damaged during World War II; she’d had pneumonia and tuberculosis and had been using an oxygen tank for the past 10 years. Her diagnosis was COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and she had 30% lung capacity that her doctors told her would never increase. When she spoke, she could only utter 2 or 3 words at a time and her breathing was extremely labored.

After Kenny demonstrated one round of EFT (about 5 minutes), this woman reported that her breathing was already much better. She explained that she was very fearful of leaving her home, afraid that she would drop her oxygen and be unable to breathe. Kenny focused EFT on the woman’s fear and reported, “I then asked her to take a deep breath if she could. She astounded us by taking a long deep breath and broke out into a bright wide smile.”

Kenny followed up with the woman days later and asked her what she estimated her lung capacity to be. She said, “Much, much better, at least 80%, maybe more.”

According to Craig, “It appears that conventional medicine is not adequately exploring this important link between emotions, the energy system and physical symptoms. We consistently receive reports from around the world where people are using this natural tool and averting costly trips to the hospital because they can calm their own breathing problems and associated anxieties. We have many physicians using EFT now and it is my hope that the broader medical profession will take a closer look at it soon.”

According to the American Lung Association, lung disease costs the American economy more than $158 billion in direct and indirect healthcare costs every year. “I am sure that there would be considerable financial savings associated with people using EFT to manage their breathing problems,” says Craig. “I have chosen to provide the EFT Manual at no cost so that people who are suffering can have access to its benefits.”

Over 1,000,000 have downloaded Craig’s free training manual and another 10,000 download it each month. The official EFT Manual has been translated by volunteer practitioners into twenty languages.

The EFT Manual explains the basics so that anyone can begin applying EFT right away. It can be freely downloaded at

You can also save time and get in-depth instruction through the EFT DVD Training Libraries.

April 22, 2009

Sierra Nevada – Cut what?

Cut Down

Clearcutting in California’s Sierra Nevada

By Hallie Gardner

Like a giant red beetle, the machine grabs the pine tree with its claw, severs it from the ground in one, quick motion, shears off its branches, drops it to the ground and reaches out to devour the next tree. At a pace of under a tree a minute, one man and one machine rapidly ravage 20 acres of pristine Sierra Nevada forest, leaving a barren wasteland in their path. Timber companies have consumed over 200,000 acres of Sierra forest in this manner in the past 10 years, and the number keeps growing.

© Photos by Julie Ramsey

“People think that deforestation is only a serious problem in far-off places like the rainforests of South America,” says Addie Jacobson, a retiree from Arnold, California. “But it’s going on, on a massive scale, under the radar, right here in California.” Centered between Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, Arnold is a picturesque town in Calaveras County in the Sierra Nevada forests. Scattered houses punctuate the forest and bears, mountain lions and coyotes roam through backyards. Logging has been practiced in Arnold for centuries without protest, but in the summer of 2000, residents noticed an unusual abundance of logging trucks rumbling down Highway 4. Lumber giant Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) had begun clearcutting nearly 1,000 acres of forest next to downtown Arnold—part of their plan to clearcut over one million acres of Sierra forest, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

As opposed to selective timber harvesting, where only the trees used for lumber production are removed, in a clearcut, all of the vegetation is removed—with major repercussions. Native wildlife is endangered, water quality is degraded and extensive soil erosion increases the likelihood of severe forest fires. And studies show that clearcutting releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other forestry disturbance, including fire.

During the summer of 2000, as SPI clearcut the surrounding forest, Arnold residents filled community meetings to protest. Four teenage residents were arrested for chaining themselves together at SPI’s gates to block logging trucks. A group of local women called the Independence Hall Quilters made a quilt with 49 patches representing the land parcels slated for cutting. A black silk ribbon was sewn in an “x” across the patches as each parcel was lost to clearcutting.

That same summer, residents formed Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch (EPFW) to fight increased clearcutting. Jacobson is an active board member who’s developed a reputation among state legislators for her tenacity. “It just drew me in and I felt like it was something that needed to be stopped,” she says.

Witness to Ruin

Ron Szymanksi and Ron Schaner—Arnold area residents and volunteers for EPFW—drive a Jeep out to the clearcuts. Szymanksi, a former electrical engineer and an active member of the Boy Scouts, retired to the region in 2001. “I’m not against logging, only irresponsible logging,” he says. Schaner, a professional musician with salt-and-pepper hair, came to Arnold on a camping trip in 1974, fell in love with the woods and decided to stay. Szymanksi turns the Jeep onto a dusty dirt road that runs through state forest onto SPI’s land.

SPI owns a massive 1.7 million acres of California’s forests—making them the largest private landowners in California and the second-largest private landowners in the U.S. (after media mogul Ted Turner). The company is owned by billionaire timber baron Red Emmerson and is a family-run, non-publicly-held corporation. Most of their land holdings are in the Sierras, where they own three-fourths of all industrial timberland. In Calaveras County they own 74,000 acres of forest—approximately half of the county’s forested land.

Ponderosa pines dominate this landscape—tall, elegant, almost impossibly straight. “Life is all around you here and it’s all interrelated,” Schaner says, stepping from the Jeep onto a carpeting of pine needles. “But we’ve really distanced ourselves from it.” Further down the road is a stand of trees that Szymanksi calls a “beauty strip”—a narrow band of trees left to conceal the damage behind. Beyond the strip, the earth is completely torn up—littered with tree stumps and scarred with tractor tracks. The unprotected soil is parched. A mountainous “slash pile” over 20 feet high is filled with trees, wood debris and animal carcasses of no value to SPI, ready for burning.

After a forest is clearcut, logging companies typically use bulldozing and repeated, intensive herbicide applications to wipe out whatever manages to survive. Then they fertilize the area and replant it with rows of evenly spaced, same-age, same-species pine trees.

Among the herbicides employed on California clearcuts are hexazinone, simazine, atrazine, glyphosate, and 2,4-D—all of which pose hazards to water sources. Hexazinone, simazine and atrazine are banned in Europe due to the threats they pose to human health—including an increased risk of cancer and infectious disease. Glyphosate has been shown to be lethal to frog tadpoles and can cause abnormal behavior in fish. 2,4-D and atrazine have been linked to deformities, reproductive problems and mortalities in birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish. The danger of water contamination is of particular concern in the Sierras—the source of 60% of California’s water supply.

Once trees and other ground cover have been stripped out, their roots no longer hold soil in place. As a result, clearcut sites are vulnerable to rapid erosion after rainstorms. This causes heavy loads of silt and debris to end up in reservoirs, further degrading water quality.

According to Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, a single-species pine plantation contains 90 to 95% fewer species than the forest that preceded it. Clearcuts make it impossible for some species to migrate, find shelter or locate food. Half of California’s plants and animals make their home in the Sierras—including more than 400 species of terrestrial vertebrates and over 320 species of aquatic invertebrates. As tree plantations replace natural forests, much of this diversity is being damaged or destroyed.

SPI’s latest pine plantation looks more like a Christmas tree farm than a forest. The three-foot trees are an unnaturally bright hue of green—likely from the fertilizers, Schaner says. SPI’s plan is to convert 70% of their 1.7 million acres of diverse Sierra Nevada forest into monoculture tree farms like these.

“As far as SPI is concerned, if what they were doing was wrong it would be illegal,” says Szymanski.

Clearcutting has been practiced in California since the 1950s. But since 1994, it’s increased by 225%—in the Sierras (where SPI owns the majority of the landholdings) clearcutting has increased by 2,500%.

Perhaps the most catastrophic impact of clearcutting is its contribution to global warming. Deforestation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, second only to the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists estimate that deforestation is responsible for 25 to 30% of carbon emissions worldwide. Not only is carbon released during a clearcut, but also through subsequent soil erosion, the burning of logging debris and the sped-up decay of that debris due to the lack of canopy cover. Carbon is released into the atmosphere for years after the initial logging. A study in the journal Science found that clearcutting in the Pacific Northwest has resulted in a net increase of over 1.5 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere.

“Given what we know about climate change, what we are allowing to happen to the forests is totally irresponsible,” Schaner says.

Szymanksi says he has to limit his trips to the clearcuts. “Every time I go out here I get worked up,” he says. “It rekindles the sense of futility in me because things aren’t changing.”

Patchwork Below Dr. Rodger Orman, a physician and EPFW volunteer, offers plane rides over the clearcuts in his four-passenger Conna 182. “Driving around, if you don’t hike a lot, you might not notice the extent of the damage that has occurred,” he says. “From the air it’s unavoidable.”

On a clear day, visibility spans over 1,000 miles—from Mt. Diablo to the high Sierras. From this vantage point, Calaveras County looks exceptionally beautiful—green, forested hills interspersed by houses and golden fields. Over the SPI land, a checkerboard pattern of barren and forested land emerges. California state law mandates that a clearcut cannot exceed 40 acres in size and cannot occur on an adjacent parcel of land until a specific amount of regrowth has occurred. SPI defends their practices by pointing to the relatively small size of the sites that they are permitted to clearcut. “In other states they can cut up to 240 acres,” says SPI spokesperson Mark Pawlicki. “There is no state in the union that has more protective environmental standards than California.”

In the nearby town of Avery, Warren Alford lives on about 300 acres of forested land that has been in his family since his grandfather bought it in the 1930s. His property is bordered on two sides by SPI tree plantations. Alford’s family practices selection harvesting, which, if properly managed, can preserve forest ecosystems and produce timber forever. “When the logging is done it’s still a forest—not a tree farm,” he says. Today, Alford and landowners like him have to do costly treatments to defend their property from the hazards created by clearcutting on adjacent lands. In an attempt to mitigate risks like fire, insect infestations and disease, Alford thins out his property’s understory and plans to conduct controlled burns.

While fires are a natural part of forest ecology, tree plantations are far more susceptible to intense, destructive wildfires. The even height and spacing of the trees facilitates crown fires—powerful fires that jump from tree to tree with dangerous speed. And whereas an average of 40% of vegetation will survive natural forest fires, plantation fires usually result in 100% tree mortality.

Outbreaks of insects and disease are also far more likely in tree plantations. Plantations are much simpler ecosystems than old-growth forests, which have evolved over thousands of years to be resistant to pathogens. In the southeastern U.S., pine plantations have led to catastrophic outbreaks of the southern pine beetle.

According to SPI, their intent is to harvest their tree plantations in 50- to 80-year rotations. However, given the long-term disadvantages of clearcutting, Alford doesn’t think they really intend to harvest the plantations. “I think SPI will rezone the land and resell it for its most profitable use, which will likely be development,” he says. “They have a real manifest destiny type of mentality. Whack it, stack it and get out.”

SPI currently gives hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate donations to state, local and federal politicians every election cycle and is one of the top contributors to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. They have a seat on the nine-member board of the governor-appointed California Board of Forestry, a board that’s stacked with pro-industry people. “It’s one of those classic ‘fox guarding the henhouse’ kinds of situations,” says Jacobson.

And taxpayer dollars are helping to fund clearcutting. In the past decade alone, SPI has received tens of millions of dollars in federal and state subsidies for logging interests. In its defense, the company alleges that clearcutting helps fight global warming due to the high carbon uptake rate of young, rapidly growing plantation trees—ignoring the fact that the amount of carbon sequestered by plantations is vastly outweighed by the amount of carbon lost when forests are clearcut. They also claim to be restoring wildlife habitat by replacing poor-growing trees with vigorous seedlings—disregarding the diverse habitat requirements of most wildlife.

A Sierra forest is worth much more than the cost of its timber. According to the “Sierra Nevada Wealth Index,” a report by the Sierra Business Council, “What defines the Sierra Nevada, more than any fact or figure, is the dramatic beauty and ecological uniqueness of our landscape…These natural wonders are our treasures; they are to California what the Pyramids are to Egypt, the Louvre to Paris, and the Golden Temple to Kyoto.” No one, in other words, can calculate the real long-term costs of clearcutting a forest.

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April 21, 2009

Toxic Tampons and Pads


Toxic Shock!

How Safe are Feminine Hygiene Products?

by Aisha Ikramuddin

Many people remember the hundreds of tampon-related Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) cases in the early 1980s. Since then, warnings have been inserted in tampon boxes, and the safety of menstrual products has seldom been much of an issue. Yet there are still toxins in tampons and sanitary pads. And some of them, like dioxin and pesticides, may have grave long-term health and environmental consequences. “Most women want to trust that products will come up to some sort of standard, despite past problems,” says Liz Armstrong, author of Whitewash: Exposing the Health and Environmental Dangers of Women’s Sanitary Products and Disposable Diapers.In 1992, a congressional subcommittee found that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to heed its own scientists’ 1987 recommendations to test the dioxin levels in tampons and sanitary pads after trace levels of dioxin were discovered. Residues of dioxin find their way into menstrual products as a byproduct of the bleaching process. Dioxins, ubiquitous in the environment, are produced through the chlorine bleaching of wood pulp. The chlorine used to produce rayon results in additional dioxin; most manufacturers of feminine hygiene products use rayon in tampons and wood pulp in sanitary pads for absorbency. “What people don’t understand is that it’s not just the product, but the manufacture of the product itself, that is an environmental and health issue,” says Susie Hewson, founder of Natracare, manufacturer of all-cotton tampons and sanitary pads.


What Women Can Do

To “Stop the Whitewash”

There are an endless number of actions women can take to convince manufacturers to make chlorine-bleached sanitary products, “disposable” diapers and incontinence pads much more environment-friendly.
Here are just a few:

  • Call the toll-free 1-800 number on tampon and sanitary product boxes (in the case of Kimberly-Clark and Playtex, call collect) and demand that manufacturers get the chlorine out of their products
    (ALL the chlorine – chlorine gas, chlorine dioxide and hypochlorite)

Don’t be fooled when tampon makers say they don’t use chlorine in their processes – they may not use chlorine on their own premises, but they do buy rayon (used in most tampon brands) from outside suppliers. Rayon is made in a highly-chlorinated process (although there is some chlorine-free rayon now on the market in Europe).

Don’t be fooled when sanitary napkin producers say that no dioxins and furans (from chlorine bleaching) are detected in their products. “Non-detect” does not mean zero. There are also hundreds of chlorinated compounds which have not yet even been identified in pulp mill effluent. Scientists still don’t know the full impact of these mystery substances on our ecosystems (and our bodies).

Follow up your telephone call with a letter, and insist on a response.

  • Tell the pharmacy or store where you buy sanitary products that you want these products to be totally chlorine-compound free.
  • Also demand that sanitary product manufacturers get the plastic out – eliminate plastic tampon applicators, poly-bagging and individually-wrapped sanitary napkins.
  • Sign and send a card to the Prime Minister or President – demanding better tampon standards, more responsible eco-labelling of products, elimination of chlorine bleaching in sanitary products.
    (In Canada, these cards are available from the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, 73 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario. Phone: 416-922-8744 or call WEED – 416-516-2600).
  • Talk about sanitary products with your friends, family and colleagues. (It’s about time these products – and the whole topic of menstruation – came out of the closet.) Discuss health issues including Toxic Shock Syndrome – which many women wrongly believe is past history – as well as environmental issues such as waste and toxic chemicals.
  • Ask all the major “feminine hygiene” companies to use their savvy to create an effective, REUSABLE product.
  • Try the reusable sanitary products already on the market. Things certainly have changed for the better since our grannies’ day! We now have automatic washers and dryers, for one thing, and the new generation of reusable sanitary products has come an enormously long way from “the rag” of yester-year.
  • Sign up of a diaper service for your baby (and yourself!). Environment Canada says good diaper services are even more ecologically sound than many home-washing methods, and so much less wasteful than “disposables“. Make sure the service you choose DOESN’T use chlorine bleach!
  • Most importantly, work together with other women to press for change. With our massive consumer clout, we can make a huge difference for the better!
    (And don’t forget to put pressure on politicians too…)
  • The WEED Foundation has “Stop the Whitewash” Action Kits for people and groups interested in fighting for a cleaner, less toxic environment. Send $2.50 (to cover postage) to the WEED Foundation, 736 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2R4.

For more information, or to share YOUR ideas for action with US,
call the WEED Foundation in Toronto at (416)516-2600.

Get Your Community Involved Too!

It’s crucial to pass the message about toxic chlorine pollution (and mountains of waste!) along to as many women as possible. So here are a few more ideas:

  • Contact WEED for a speaker or workshop on the issue.
  • Hold your own public meeting. Speak to the PTA, your church/synagogue/temple group, to the Women’s Institute, or groups of friends and\and colleagues.
  • Ask your local libraries to obtain a copy of the HarperCollins book, WHITEWASH, by Liz Armstrong and Adrienne Scott.
  • Insist on unbleached or chlorine-compound-free paper products of all kinds
    (preferably with plenty of recycled content).
  • Organize a walk/rally/information seminar on the issue.
  • Contact your local MP /MPP (or other govt. representative) and tell them how you feel about “getting the chlorine out“.
  • Contact federal and provincial (or State) Environmental ministers.
  • Contact Status of Women ministers with your opinions about paper bleached with any chlorine-based compounds.

The publication of this material was made possible by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. The view and ideas expressed herein are those of the “Stop the Whitewash” campaign organizers and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Stop the Whitewash and the Waste” is a project of the WEED Foundation.
To contact them for further information write:
736 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2R4 Phone: (416)516-2600 Fax: (416)531-6214.

Whitewash: Exposing the Health and Environmental Dangers of Women’s Sanitary Products and Disposable Diapers – What You Can Do About It” – by Liz Armstrong and Adrienne Scott. (Soft-cover, 196 pages, HarperCollins)
Susie Hewson



Putting the “Care” into “Personal” Products

by Susie Hewson

Every year, over 45 billion feminine hygiene products are disposed of in the world. These products carry with them a very high plastic load. Because plastic is not biodegradable, it persists in the environment for centuries. The continuous dumping of such a notable amount of these products into landfills translates into 300 square feet every year! Incinerating these products is not a solution because that releases their toxins into our air.

How is it that products designated for “feminine hygiene” are so toxic? It is because about 90% of the materials used to make conventional pads or liners, as well as some marketed as “natural,” are made from crude oil. The production of crude oil-derived plastics, which includes polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyacrylate super absorbents (i.e., the material found in disposable diapers), releases large amounts of pollution like these ozone-depleting gases—nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, and carbon dioxide—into the environment. These toxins lead to cancer and birth defects in humans and cause the acidification of trees.

In addition, many companies claim to manufacture chlorine-free products. However, this chlorine-free claim can only accurately be made for those products bleached using hydrogen peroxide. Another toxic substance usually found in feminine hygiene products that women need to be aware of is dioxin, a by-product of chlorine bleaching. Also, most of today’s tampons contain synthetic materials such as rayon, a substance linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome, a condition that associates high-absorbency tampons to strains of toxin-producing bacteria.

During the late 80s, women’s groups voiced their outrage at how feminine hygiene products were manufactured, their negative effects on the environment, and the implications of these on women’s health—a sentiment that resonated with Susie Hewson, the founder of Natracare. Inspired by the possibility of making a difference, Susie envisioned Natracare as a “can do” company, one with an attitude of initiating and facilitating innovation without ecological exploitation. Her vision led to the development of a full range of sanitary pads, liners, and certified-organic cotton tampons that are totally chlorine-free, devoid of crude oil-derived plastics, and made from sustainable and biodegradable materials.

Natracare continues its commitment to the use of organic cotton. The ultra pads and panty liners are manufactured with certified organic 100% cotton covers, and the feminine hygiene wipes are made from 100% organic cotton, plus organic and natural plant extracts for soothing moisture; further reflecting Natracare’s dedication to women’s health and the environment.

Currently under review for an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), the first in the world, Natracare can demonstrate and measure their products’ effects on the environment from raw material to end user. In addition to this EPD review, Natracare was awarded both the prestigious Nordic Eco-Label and a Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) certificate for sustainable and environmentally friendly products. In fact, Natracare greatly surpasses Nordic Eco-label standards and is gynecologist-recommended.

Natracare offers the perfect solution for women who care about their health and the environment.

This article provided compliments of Born to Love

April 13, 2009

Ohio in Monsanto’s pocket?

Ohio, for shame!  I’m out here dancing as fast as I can to alert my fellow Americans about the importance of healthy, pure food,  less contaminants, pesticides, clear choice in what we  put in our bodies,  CLEAR LABELLING.  Where is your conscience and concern for the “people” over the bottom line of corporations – – most especially Monsanto?  This is very disheartening.  Governor Strickland, have you no control over any of this?  Throw out the head of the Ohio Dept of Agriculture.   Aaaargh. . . .   and double aaargh!

Consumers Won’t Know Milk Content

On March 30, a federal court upheld a rule by the Ohio Department of Agriculture that prohibits a dairy from informing the public that it chooses not to use synthetic hormones to increase milk production. Monsanto Corp., manufacturer of the hormones, persuaded the department to issue an emergency ruling to that effect.
If a dairy chooses not to expose its customers to synthetic bovine growth hormone, or rBST, it cannot inform the public. Use of the synthetic hormone almost always involves large amounts of nontherapeutic antibiotics. The Agriculture Department and Monsanto don’t want consumers to know that.
By the way, rBST is banned in Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia and most First World nations. Currently, about five states are fighting for its use, with Ohio leading the fight.
There is a glut of milk in Ohio and the entire U.S. In many areas, the dairies are auctioning off 25 percent or more of their herd to cut costs because there is no market for their milk. This is motivated by greed, with Monsanto leading the charge.
If you are concerned about synthetic chemicals in your milk or about MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, or you think it is reasonable to know what companies are putting in your milk, meat, eggs and grain, talk to your grocer and your legislator. Buy milk that has the U.S. Department of Agriculture “organic” label.
It’s up to you.

EFT and “Tapping”

We are Not Broken

For a great many people, systems within our bodies are operating which seem to keep us trapped, limited, frustrated and in pain.  This is  the resulting effect of an improper or impeded flow  or blockage of energy throughout the body.  To find freedom from all these negative results, e.g.  pain, phobias (blocks and limitations),  we must find a way to release the blocks.  But wait,  how did all those “blocks” happen – – why are they there?

Gary Craig, founder of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) concluded a theory amassed from investigating healing techniques from ancient sciences and methods going back over 5000 years (including accupuncture) and seeing a thread,  a relevance which he coalesced into a workable,  reproducable method which, amazingly, does help people.  It has been practiced by one name or another for years (with variations, to be sure).  He explains that though we may be born with whole, perfect bodies, the picture of radiant health, in the living process, we “experience”  things in life. That’s how we learn.   As we learn, we internalize.  Through our senses (smell, sight, taste,  touch and hearing),  we receive input from our world and instantaneously transmit that info inwardly via electronic instant messaging to the inner organs, to and through the central nervous system to the brain – and on it goes.

It is our parents (family, care-takers, etc.,.) from whom we learn just as they in turn, learned from their own parental family.  That’s how so called family traits get passed down from generation to generation.  All of it, both the good stuff and the heavy, hurtful things are our teachers.  Occasionally, really hard or traumatic things happen (the experience) and boom, a kind of glitch or disconnect occurs and is a jolt to the entire system.  The disconnect usually happens outside the awareness level of our consciousness.  But there is this hitch between the experience and memory, the flow has been disrupted (the birth of the block).  The residue of the experience is the memory.  Sometimes or often times the memory is too painful to deal with or recognize, maybe even beyond our comprehension (then or now).  As we go on living, these experiences in the form of our memories go on influencing us on a subtle or even unconscious level.  It can be said in this light that our internal organs have caused the feelings that equate to those memories.  The stimulus occurs;  the instant “feeling” reflects that memory.  This is loosely in a nutshell what happens according to what I have been able to take away from my own understanding of what I’ve read and seen regarding EFT.


EFT, affectionately known as “Tapping” has no real need to explain all the intricacies of how or why this system works any more than most of us need to understand the wiring within our homes.  The house is wired, we flip a switch and we are just happy that the lights go on.  Simple as that.  Evidence, yes  proof seems to be sufficient for most of us.  It works! Some would say that there is little that Tapping can’t  help with:  migraines, phobias, personality constructs, asthma, fibromyalgia,  blood pressure, etc.,.  it is said – just try it on anything.  Can’t hurt.  Complete instructions are in the manual provided at Gary’s website . On the left, click on Resources, then – Free videos.

The World Wide Web and blogosphere is full of testamonials and stories on changed lives and relieved physical disabilities and afflictions.  And it can happen rather quickly, sometimes immediately using this simple  “tapping” technique.  How many hopeless migraine sufferers have you seen or do you know?   Hey, we still have to extract our own splinters the old fashioned way. Life goes on and we still function best with good old common sense.  But I am officially joining the cast of thousands who are now tapping their problems away.

On the outside chance that you have never heard of “Tapping” or “EFT”, I highly recommend that you go to Gary Craig’s website, click on the Video, and just “let it go”.  You can download a afree manual and accept his free weekly newsletter which has helpful info and stories and extra videos to see and learn from.  Its a good thing.   A great many of all these videos can be seen on YouTube – there are so many, be prepared to spend the day (I have – literally!)   Watching them seems to whisk away any reluctance to try it yourself, just from what you learn there.  It seems most of the EFTers use their own little variation on how and what they do, so there is some latitude – – don’t be scared of doing it wrong.  I love it.  One of my favorites is Robert Smith of

Most of the big names in forward looking medicine are EFT enthusiasts;  Deepak Chopra,  Dr. Mercola,  Kevin Trudeau and so on.  I remember that Dr Mercola maybe 5 or more years ago was telling people about this and how valuable it is – – he really believed in it.   Glad he took another attempt at it to inform us suffering masses about the help that is at our fingertips.  Don’t know why I didn’t pick up on it when Dr. Mercola sounded the bell years ago, maybe I was just too full of self to hear well, I dunno.  I hear it now.

April 10, 2009

Rebounding – It works.

It was delightful to receive this from Donna Gates  (B.E.D.) and I couldn’t agree more.  This is an exercise I do and enjoy very much  often,  and strive for daily.  Never heard of this brand, but it sounds good to me.   I can affirm that it is health promoting and absolutely great for circulation, especially when one is not as physically active as one would like to be.  It was the benefits to the lymph system which got my interest years ago, and I guess, its working.  For those who might need something powerful, but don’t have a lot of time – – this is fun and I recommend it.

The Exceptional Exercise that Really IS

for Every Body:  Rebounding

by Sylvia Dreiser Farnsworth with Commentary by Donna Gates, Founder of Body Ecology


Sylvia Dreiser Farnsworth, Creator of QiBounding®

She graduated in 1984 in Freiburg, Germany as one of the first Alexander Technique teachers. She also trained in the Spiral Dynamics Movement System. Sylvia has studied and taught movement and the “right use of the body” for over 25 years. In Switzerland she was personally trained by the founders of Dynamic Rebounding™, Ingrid Luginbuehl and Birgit Buschmann who developed the energetic approach of working with a Rebounder.

In 2003, based on her experience and teachings, Sylvia created QiBounding® – a simple, joyful yet extremely efficient way to enhance ones health and well-being.

Having been trained in Core Process Psychotherapy by Maura Sills, Sylvia combines her work as a movement educator and health coach with techniques which integrate body and soul. She offers personalized training tailored to her client’s needs and goals.

Sylvia’s aim is to support people to develop awareness and to enhance their inner and outer health.

It seems as if every form of exercise has its benefits… and its drawbacks.

If it’s exciting, it’s high-risk. If it’s safe, it’s not cardiovascular. If it targets one problem area it neglects seventeen others.

Maybe there’s one sport that would be absolutely perfect…if it weren’t for your trick knee, bad back or sensitive ankle. Plus, there are just so many questions. Is Yoga or Pilates better for core strength? Is running unsafe if you’re overweight – even if you’re in good health? Does swimming qualify as load-bearing?

There is one simple alternative which takes into account all of these questions- Rebounding. Rebounding is a revolutionary form of exercise recognized by NASA as one of the most efficient forms of physical activity.

Use of a Rebounder (often thought of as a “mini-trampoline”) offers the body tremendous benefits; strengthening and supporting virtually every major system of the body. Additionally, Rebounding and its newest evolution called “QiBounding” focuses on the mind-body connection, encouraging conscious breathing and joy.

Finally, rebounding is gentle enough that virtually anyone can do it – while receiving great benefits – even a trained athlete will feel and appreciate the benefits.

How Can Rebounding Help You?

Well, first and foremost, Rebounding provides an aerobic workout that tones the cardiovascular system. But, unlike other forms of aerobics, it doesn’t stop there. The gentle bouncing motion of Rebounding actually stimulates the circulation of lymphatic fluid, the body’s waste disposal mechanism, providing direct support to your immune system.

Moreover, the unique surface of the Rebounder itself encourages greater proprioception, which increases balance, improves coordination, and even promotes better vision.

People who use Rebounders regularly have reported a variety of other health benefits, including reduction of pain, increase in energy, and improvements in mental performance.

NASA astronauts have been Rebounding for years, and found this simple – but extremely effective – form of movement actually strengthens every cell in the body through increasing the G-force load the cells carry.

Discover more about the top-recommended Bellicon Rebounders and order yours today. Learn More and Order Your Bellicon Now.

One Simple Thing to Pay Close Attention To

You need to use a quality Rebounder in order to get the benefits of Rebounding.  Most Rebounders that are sold in sports good stores are rather dangerous for all those who are over 30 – that is about that age when your body cannot compensate the shock any more which you receive in your joints and spine when you bounce on cheap Rebounders.

The best quality Rebounders actually on the market come from Germany and are made by the company Bellicon. Their Rebounders are more expensive but they are worth every penny. Bellicon offers entirely silent, spring-based Rebounders; all other Rebounders squeak after few weeks of usage. But Bellicon is really known for their bungee band Rebounders. Bungee band technology replaces the usual springs that connect the mat to the frame. This feature brings a unique Rebounding experience: a soft, cloud-like bounce. It’s similar to being on a big trampoline – just much safer.

So, in a nutshell…rebounding is great for your spirit and great for your body. And it’s great for everyBODY?

Virtually everyone who isn’t suffering from an acute injury can benefit from Rebounding. In fact, Rebounding is particularly helpful for people with a variety of chronic problems. Gentle bouncing helps to move the lymph, creates space between the disks of the vertebrae, helps lubricate painful joints, increases bone density and improves the structure of the feet.

Children love the joyful sensation of soaring, while users whose balance is impaired may prefer to bounce with special holding bars. But almost everyone can reap the benefit of Rebounding safely, joyful and effectively.

Donna Gates Comment

As everyone around me knows, I love the work that I do…so tend to be a workaholic. Yes, of course I eat well, but finding time to exercise is a challenge for me.

Rebounding is perfect for someone who only has a small amount of time to devote to exercising. When you sit at a computer for hours at a time, your lymph system suffers.

Rebounding, coupled with a probiotic diet, is the best way I know to cleanse your lymph of toxins, tone your digestive organs and muscles and stimulate your endocrine system and brain.

I’ve purchased other rebounders over the years and never used them… but The Bellicon has a springy, fun bounce to it, you can just feel the difference versus other rebounders, it is of top-notch quality, and I just love it. I now always keep my Bellicon nearby. A quick 5-minute session of bouncing makes me feel alive and ready to go back to work.

Return to Newsletter Archive

April 9, 2009

Green Tea & Mushrooms

Lee Swanson Research Update

Mushroom, green tea may reduce breast cancer risk

April, 2009

Consuming mushrooms and green tea may greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer, suggests a study that included more than 2,000 Chinese women.

Women who ate at least a third of an ounce of fresh mushrooms every day were 64% less likely to develop breast cancer, while those who ate dried mushrooms had about a 50% reduced risk. Women who ate mushrooms and drank green tea were nearly 90% less likely to develop the disease.

Previous laboratory tests on animals have shown that fungi may have anti-tumor properties and can stimulate the immune system’s defenses.

Reporting in the International Journal of Cancer, scientists involved in the current study wrote: “We conclude that higher dietary intake of mushrooms decreased breast cancer risk in pre- and postmenopausal Chinese women and an additional decreased risk of breast cancer from joint effect of mushrooms and green tea was observed. More research is warranted to examine the effects of dietary mushrooms and mechanism of joint effects of phytochemicals on breast cancer.”

International Journal of Cancer 124(6):1404-1408, 2009

#                                    #                                   #

I was delighted to read this,  this morning in an email from Swanson Vitamins. I’m crazy about mushrooms and eat them often, but now I think I’ll up the quantity.  With the economy being the way it is,   I’m happy to know that to eat fresh mushrooms is so helpful as some of the mushroom supplements (especially from the rain forests) is quite costly).  As for the green tea,  well I already do that – –  doesn’t everybody?

Asthma Treatment in doubt.

Filed under: Health care,Off-label drug use — Jan Turner @ 9:13 am
Tags: ,

Front page stuff – here’s one more example of off-label drug use.   Doesn’t seem very useful.

Common Asthma Treatment Doubted

Acid-reflux drugs no help, study says

By Misti Crane

New research might dispel a long-held belief that acidreflux drugs can stop asthma attacks, and it likely will cut costs for patients who can drop expensive medicines
that apparently don’t help them.
It’s fairly common for asthma patients to take a class of drugs that includes Prevacid, Prilosec, AcipHex and Protonix, even if they don’t have heartburn or other acid-reflux symptoms.

The practice, based on the theory that acid splashing into the esophagus can exacerbate asthma, should end now that a study has shown that the drugs don’t help, said lead researcher Dr. John Mastronarde, an Ohio State University pulmonologist and director of the asthma center.
The study was published
in The New England Journal of Medicine this week. The National Institutes of Health paid for the research; Nexium maker AstraZeneca provided the medication and placebo.
The study included data from 402 people with poorly controlled asthma, about
half of whom took 40 milligrams of Nexium twice daily. Neither the participants, who enrolled at 19 centers across the country, nor the researchers knew who was taking the medicine. Each participant was followed for six months.
The medication group had no measurable benefit. Several previous, smaller studies showed benefits but had serious limitations, leaving the question open.
The size and design of this research should provide
the answer that doctors were looking for, Mastronarde said. The next step is a similar study in children.
“It will change clinical practice … it will change my practice,” he said.
A month’s supply of twice-a-day 40-milligram Nexium tablets costs about $320, according to
About one in 10 Ohio adults has asthma.
At most of the centers involved in the study, at least one in five patients was being treated with a reflux drug, Mastronarde said.
For Dr. Michael Franz, an
allergy and immunology specialist at Columbus’ Midwest Allergy & Asthma, the study is vindication.
He has long believed that the reflux-asthma connection didn’t make sense.
“An article like this one is going to have a lot of influence on prescribing habits,” he said.
Dr. Suri Suresh, of Allergy & Asthma Clinics of Ohio,
said he considers acidreflux drugs when a patient doesn’t seem to be faring well with normal asthma medicines.
“We go through a laundry list of possibilities: reflux, chronic sinus infections, steroid resistance,” he said.
“I will now think twice before just randomly thinking that ‘Oh, reflux is a factor, let me put him on Nexium.’”
It’s not risky for patients to stop taking the heartburn drugs, but they should talk to their doctors first, Mastronarde said.

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