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EPA to restrict use of ‘Forever Chemicals’ PFAS in drinking water



TThe Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed limiting the amount of harmful “perpetual chemicals” in drinking water to the lowest levels that tests can detect. The long-awaited protection, according to the agency, will save thousands of lives and prevent serious diseases, including cancer.

The plan marks the first time the EPA has proposed regulating a group of toxic compounds that are widespread, dangerous and expensive to remove from water. PFAS or per- and polyfluorinated substances do not degrade in the environment and are associated with a wide range of health problems, including low birth weight children and kidney cancer. The agency reports that drinking water is an important source of human exposure to PFAS.

“It is clear to science that long-term exposure to PFAS is associated with significant health risks,” Radhika Fox, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, said in an interview.

Fox called the federal proposal for “transformational change” to improve the safety of drinking water in the United States. The agency estimates that this rule could reduce nearly 100 million Americans’ exposure to PFAS, reducing rates of cancer, heart attacks, and birth complications.

Chemicals have been used since the 1940s in consumer products and industry, including in non-stick pans, food packaging, and firefighting foam. Currently, their use in the US has mostly been phased out, but some still remain.

The proposal would set strict limits of 4 parts per trillion, the lowest level that can be measured reliably, for two common types of PFAS compounds called PFOA and PFOS. In addition, the EPA wants to regulate the total number of four other types of PFAS. Water providers will have to keep an eye on PFAS.

The public will have an opportunity to comment and the agency may make changes before publishing the final rule, which is expected by the end of the year. Water providers will have time to adjust.

Environmental and public health advocates have been calling for federal regulation of PFAS chemicals for years. Over the past decade, the Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly tightened its protective, voluntary health thresholds for chemicals, but has not imposed mandatory limits on water suppliers.

Public concern has risen in recent years as tests reveal PFAS chemicals in a growing list of communities that are often near manufacturing plants or air force bases.

So far, only a few states have issued PFAS regulations, and none of them have set limits as strict as the EPA suggests. By regulating PFOA and PFOS at the lowest levels that tests can detect, the EPA is proposing the most stringent standards that are technically feasible, experts say.

“This is a truly historic moment,” said Melanie Benes, vice president of government relations for the Environment Working Group. “There are many communities that have had PFAS in their water for decades and have been waiting a long time for this announcement to come out.”

The agency said its proposal would protect everyone, including vulnerable communities, and reduce the incidence on a massive scale. The EPA wants water providers to test, notify the public when PFAS are found, and remove compounds when levels are too high.

Highly polluting utilities are usually given time to fix problems, but can be fined or forfeited federal subsidies if the problems persist.

The proposal would also regulate other types of PFAS, such as GenX Chemicals, which manufacturers used as a substitute when PFOA and PFOS were phased out of consumer products. The proposal would regulate the cumulative health threat from these compounds and prescribe treatment if that threat is too high.

The EPA recently gave states $2 billion to get rid of pollutants like PFAS and will provide billions more in the coming years. The agency is also providing technical support to small communities that will soon be forced to install treatment systems, and the 2021 Infrastructure Act provides funding for water system upgrades.

But it will still be expensive for public utilities to install new equipment, and the burden will be especially heavy for small cities with fewer resources.

“This issue has been passed on to the utilities through no fault of theirs,” said Shri Vedachalam, director of water equity and climate resilience at Environmental Consulting & Technology Inc.

Vedachalam said many communities will need to balance the new PFAS requirements with the removal of poisonous lead pipes and the replacement of old water pipes that are prone to bursting.

Fox said there is “no single answer” to how communities will prioritize their needs. However, she said that federal resources are allocating billions of dollars to improve water quality.

Several states have already introduced restrictions on the content of PFAS in drinking water. Officials in Michigan, which has the strictest standards of any state, said the costs of removing PFAS in communities where it was found were reasonable.

If the rules are finalized and implemented, many communities will find out that they supplied drinking water with harmful compounds. When people become aware of the problems, they may stop using tap water altogether, compromising its safety, and switch to bottled water instead. It is often a more expensive choice that can have negative health effects if people replace tap water with sugary drinks that cause cavities and contribute to obesity and other health problems.

“That,” Fox said, “is very disturbing to people.”


The Phillies reported from St. Louis.

The Associated Press receives support from the Walton Family Foundation to cover water and environmental policy. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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According to a study of minke whales, the ocean’s smallest giants, only large whales can successfully feed on lungs.



As the smallest of the group of baleen whales, which includes the blue whale – the filter-feeding hippo of the sea kingdom – the Antarctic minke whale can rightfully be called the smallest giant. It was also one of the most enigmatic baleen whales due to its remote and cold range.

The new study provides a more complete picture of the species by focusing on a foraging behavior called lung feeding that it shares with other members of its cetacean group, the striped whales. This showed that the Antarctic minke whale, which reaches a maximum length of about 26 feet, has the smallest possible body size to catch enough prey to survive using this feeding strategy.

“This answers the previously unknown question of why all filter-eating whales are large and why not, for example, dolphin-sized baleen whales,” said Stanford University marine biologist Dave Cade, lead author of the study published this week. in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.


“Then it matters how this style of feeding evolved — the animals had to reach large sizes before the unique lung feeding behavior developed. Once lung feeding evolved, it allowed the biggest animals of all time to evolve,” Cade said. .

All striped whales – blue whales, finned whales, sei, brides, minke whales and humpback whales – feed by rapidly accelerating, opening their mouths and absorbing large volumes of sea water containing prey such as shrimp-like krill and tiny fish. They push water through whale plates made from keratin, a substance found in human nails, to sift their prey.

Repetitive lunges require a lot of energy, and the efficiency of obtaining food in this way contributes to an increase in body size. The ability to absorb a huge volume of water is critical for this feeding strategy to work. Blue whales, which can be up to 98 feet long, can absorb water equivalent to 135% of their body weight. This figure is 42% for their much smaller cousins, minke whales.

Pygmy minke whale spotted in Antarctica. (David Tipling/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“They’re the smallest of the biggest,” UC Santa Cruz professor and study co-author Ari Friedlander said of minke whales.

Friedländer added that due to their remote habitat and secretive nature, there is a lack of information about these species.

During trips aboard National Science Foundation research ships, researchers captured data on 23 minke whales as marine mammals foraged around the Antarctic Peninsula, tracking their movements and receiving videos of their feeding with non-invasive suction tags attached to them, and measuring the number of krill in water.

DEAD Humpback Whale Found Off New Jersey Coast

Whale feeding intensity was four times higher at night, when krill come closer to the surface, than during the day, when krill usually stay at greater depths.

By calculating the whales’ energy intake during feeding and their food requirements based on their body size, the researchers determined that this species is on the verge of having lung feeding still working.

Some other baleen whales eat differently than striped whales. The right and bowhead whales are “ram filter feeders”, swimming slowly in prey-filled water with their mouths open. Gray whales hunt for prey on the seafloor.


The smooth-bodied, brownish-grey minke whale feeds in ice-covered or coastal waters around Antarctica and migrates to more temperate or tropical climates to breed. The study involved one of only two species of minke whales in the world, the other being the common minke whale. Minke whales and the nearly extinct pygmy whale are the smallest of all baleen whales. Many of the toothed whales are much smaller.

“They are really unique,” ​​Cade said, “and they are a kind of living fossil that shows how the first animals that developed feeding on lungs that were about the size of a mink must have looked and behaved.”

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StarCrete: Materials scientists create starch-based concrete for extraterrestrial construction



StarCrete is twice as strong as regular concrete and is made from extraterrestrial dust, potato starch and a pinch of salt.

StarCrete’s post: Materials scientists create starch-based concrete for extraterrestrial construction first appeared on Sci.News: Breaking Science News.

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Where is Tulum located and why was it so important to the ancient Maya?



What is Tulum known for? Well, anyone who has ever heard of this place knows what it is. resorta fancier alternative to Cancun (80 miles north), and over the past few decades an increasingly popular (and crowded) destination for foodies, influencers and tourists in general.

But the ancient Maya lived in Tulum long before it got cold. Actually, skeletal remains found in nearby cenotes and underwater cave systems indicate that the area was inhabited by indigenous peoples 10,000 or more years ago.

Read more: Hard life and mysterious death

Where is Tulum located?

More recently, about 1500 years ago, it was here, on the Caribbean coast of the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula, that the Maya built a city unlike any other. They named him Zama, which means sunrise or dawn – suitable for a city facing east across a sparkling sea. Is located in protected area just a few miles from the modern city center, the archaeological site at Tulum, once neglected and abandoned, has now become one of the premier Mayan sites in Mexico. Here’s what we know about ancient Tulum.

(Source: Lunamarina/Shutterstock)

Although there may be larger Mayan settlements or places with more impressive structures – Chichen Itzafor example, or nearby koba – Nevertheless, Tulum was an important city and was considered the last major settlement built by the Maya.

Its location was chosen not only to enjoy the sunrise or the Caribbean breeze. Tulum was a port, the only known city built by the Maya on the coast. Historians and archaeologists note that Tulum was a significant trade center on land and sea, dealing with valuable resources such as turquoise and jade obsidianas well as textiles, ceramics and other goods.

Ancient Tulum was built as a fortress

(Source: Mariordo/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons)

For its size and location, Tulum was extremely well fortified. It is estimated that the construction of the city began sometime in the 6th century AD, during the so-called classical period for Maya. Even today, it is obvious to the most casual visitor that the careful and strategic construction of Tulum took a long time.

While one side faced the sea and was therefore protected by steep cliffs, the rest of the city was bounded by stone walls that were particularly thick—up to 26 feet—and in some places reached 16 feet high. If you traded in luxury goods, it made sense to protect them, but many archaeologists have concluded that the walls were not so much a preventive measure against theft and raids as a barrier between social classes. Apparently, only the ruling and religious elite lived within the city walls, while the commoners lived outside.

Tulum was abandoned by the 16th century

Temple of Frescoes (Source: jlazouphoto/Shutterstock)

Tulum reached its peak around the 13th and 14th centuries. Visitors at that time would see busy city with buildings painted in vibrant shades of red, blue and green. One of the most attractive site structures, fresco temple, still contains evidence of carved deities and frescoes depicting scenes from Mayan culture and mythology. If social media influencers existed at the time, they would have had a day where they took selfies.

The port city continued to prosper for another century or two. Then, in 1518a completely different influential person arrived in the Yucatan: conquistadors. And they weren’t tourists – they were here to stay.

Read more: Why did the Maya leave their once bustling cities?

In a short time, disease, conflict, and other devastations of colonization helped destroy the Mayan civilization as we (and they) knew it. The thick walls of Tulum ultimately offered little in the way of defence; the fortified port became a ghost town by the end of the 16th century.

Ruins of Tulum: how they were discovered

An 1844 lithograph of Tulum (Source: Frederick Catherwood, Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

In the mid-19th century, English explorer Frederick Catherwood and American diplomat John Lloyd Stevens traveled the Yucatan, writing an influential book that introduced much of the Western world to Maya culture. In 1841, they first saw the ruins of ancient Zama. Impressed by the thick barriers surrounding the settlement, they named the place Tulum, which means wall or hedge in the Mayan language.

Yet the ancient city remained off the beaten track for the next 150 years. However, the rise of Cancun in the 1970s and the general development of what would become known as Riviera Maya region for the next 20 years, almost guaranteeing that Tulum will once again regain prominence in the region.

What is Tulum known for?

In the middle of the 20th century, the permanent population of Tulum was estimated at several hundred people. At the turn of the millennium, the population had risen to over 12,000 people, a figure that had almost quadrupled in the last 20 years. But that’s still a tiny number compared to the more than 2 million visitors a year that visit the area today.

Archaeological site of Tulum

Although many of these tourists may limit themselves to the resort area, the ruins of Tulum are still one of the most popular archaeological sites in Mexico. Fortunately, the government has taken some steps to keep the ruins from being eaten to death by many modern “explorers”. Where once visitors could scramble between, over and even inside some of the still-standing ruins, access to the most vulnerable areas is limited today.

But this ancient port city still deserves a visit, whether to admire the architecture and art of a bygone civilization, or to enjoy the sunrise and the Caribbean breeze of a unique settlement whose charm and mystery have once again made it a crossroads. trade.

Read more: How the ancient Maya practiced sustainable agriculture

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