Beautiful women can be bad for your health, according to scientists.


Meeting a beautiful woman can be bad for your health, scientists have found..

Beautiful women can be bad for your health, according to scientist

Just five minutes alone with an attractive female raise the levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, according to a study from the University of Valencia.

The effects are heightened in men who believe that the woman in question is “out of their league”.

Cortisol is produced by the body under physical or psychological stress and has been linked to heart disease.

Researchers tested 84 male students by asking each one to sit in a room and solve a Sudoku puzzle. Two strangers, one male and one female, were also in the room.

When the female stranger left the room and the two men remained sitting together, the volunteer’s stress levels did not rise. However, when the volunteer was left alone with the female stranger, his cortisol levels rose.

“While some men might avoid attractive women since they think they are ‘out of their league’, the majority would respond with apprehension and a concurrent hormonal response.

“This study showed that male cortisol levels increased after exposure to a five-minute short social contact with a young, attractive woman.”

Cortisol can have a positive effect in small doses, improving alertness and well-being. However, chronically elevated cortisol levels can worsen medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and impotency.

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Body Of Doctor Who Linked Vaccines To Autism, Found Floating In River.


An avid autism researcher and vaccine opponent, Dr. Jeff Bradstreet was found dead floating in a North Carolina river with a gunshot wound to the chest that has been described as  ‘suspicious circumstances’.


Dr. James Jeffery Bradstreet’s body was discovered by a fisherman in the Rocky Broad River in Chimney Rock on Friday June 19th.

 

 

In spite of objections from those who knew him best, police investigators claim the death was a suicide, but family members and friends are not convinced.
Dr Bradstreet was a parent of a child who developed autism just after receiving a vaccination. This inspired him to research the harmful side effects of vaccines which then turned him into an outspoken activist.
His personal account of his son’s vaccine injury is still posted on his online blog.

Infowars report:

“Bradstreet had a gunshot wound to the chest, which appeared to be self inflicted, according to deputies,”reported WHNS.
In a press release, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office announced, “Divers from the Henderson County Rescue Squad responded to the scene and recovered a handgun from the river.”
An investigation into the death is ongoing, and the results of an autopsy are also reportedly forthcoming.
Dr. Bradstreet ran a private practice in Buford, Georgia, which focused on “treating children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, PPD, and related neurological and developmental disorders.”
Among various remedies, Dr. Bradstreet’s Wellness Center reportedly carried out “mercury toxicity” treatments, believing the heavy metal to be a leading factor in the development of childhood autism.
Dr. Bradstreet undertook the effort to pinpoint the cause of the disease after his own child developed the ailment following routine vaccination.
“Autism taught me more about medicine than medical school did,” the doctor once stated at a conference, according to the Epoch Times’ Jake Crosby.
In addition to treating patients, Bradstreet has also offered expert testimony in federal court on behalf of vaccine-injured families and was founder and president of the International Child Development Resource Center, which at one time employed the much-scorned autism expert Dr. Andrew Wakefield as “research director.”
The circumstances surrounding Bradstreet’s death are made all the more curious by a recent multi-agency raid led by the FDA on his offices.
“The FDA has yet to reveal why agents searched the office of the doctor, reportedly a former pastor who has been controversial for well over a decade,” reported the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Social media pages dedicated to Bradstreet’s memory are filled with comments from families who say the deceased doctor impacted their lives for the better.

“Dr. Bradstreet was my son’s doctor after my son was diagnosed with autism. He worked miracles,” one Facebook user states. “At 16, my son is now looking at a normal life thanks to him. I thank him every day.”

“I will forever be grateful and thankful for Dr. Bradstreet recovering my son… from autism,” another person writes. “Treatments have changed my son’s life so that he can grow up and live a normal healthy life. Dr. Bradstreet will be missed greatly!”
A GoFundMe page has also been set up by one of Bradstreet’s family members seeking “To find the answers to the many questions leading up to the death of Dr Bradstreet, including an exhaustive investigation into the possibility of foul play.”
Despite his family requesting the public refrain from speculation, many are nevertheless concluding the doctor’s death to be part of a conspiracy.
“Self-inflicted? In the chest? I’m not buying this,” one person in the WHNS comments thread states. “This was a doctor who had access to pharmaceuticals of all kinds. This was a religious man with a thriving medical practice. Sorry, but this stinks of murder and cover-up.”
Another commentor had a more definitive conjecture:

He did NOT kill himself! He was murdered for who he was speaking against, what he knew, and what he was doing about it. He was brilliant kind compassionate doctor with amazing abilities to heal. He was taken. Stopped. Silenced. Why would a doctor who had access to pharmaceuticals and could die peacefully shoot himself in the chest???? And throw himself in a river?? THIS IS OBVIOUS! MURDER!

The motive for killing Dr. Bradstreet was obvious, due to his credentials he poses a threat to the information control surrounding vaccines. After all, vaccines are big business.
UPDATE:
Forensic evidence has since emerged proving Doctor Bradstreet never committed suicide. You can learn more in the video below;

Bees have emotions: Good food puts them in a good mood


Researcher Lars Chittka says the findings are a reminder that scientists “should respect their needs when testing them in experiments, and do more for their conservation.”

Bees are in a good mood after getting a drink of sweet nectar. New research suggests certain bee behaviors meet the criteria for emotional states. In a recent study, biologists at Queen Mary University of London found bees exhibited signs of a positive emotional state after drinking an especially sweet droplet of sugar water.

The new findings open the door for further exploration into the expression of emotions through relatively simple nervous systems.

“Investigating and understanding the basic features of emotion states will help us determine the brain mechanisms underlying emotion across all animals,” lead researcher Clint J. Perry said in a news release.

Through a series of tests, researchers trained bees to recognize blue flowers as being a source of food and green flowers as being devoid of nectar. Researchers then introduced the trained bees to a new blue-green flower. Bees that had tasted the sugar water prior to the test were less hesitant to land on the foreign flower.

Prior tests prove excitement nor accelerated foraging behavior explain the bees’ willingness to quickly land on the blue-green flower.

“The finding that bees exhibit not just surprising levels of intelligence, but also emotion-like states, indicates that we should respect their needs when testing them in experiments, and do more for their conservation,” Lars Chittka said.

In another experiment, researchers simulated a spider attack. Test bees who had just had some sugar water were quicker to resume foraging in the wake of the spider scare.

“Sweet food can improve negative moods in human adults and reduce crying of new-borns in response to negative events,” said Luigi Baciadonna, a PhD candidate at QMUL. “Our results suggest that similar cognitive responses are occurring in bees.”

These are the Most Toxic Places on Earth


Over the last 100 years or so, humanity has made astounding technological advances at an overwhelming pace. These advances in science and technology may have made our lives easier and more exciting, but the trail of waste we have left (and still continue to leave) behind is simply horrendous. Pollutants of all kinds – chemical, nuclear, basic garbage, electronic waste – have seriously ruined our environment. Many locations have been so drastically impacted that living in them is a near impossibility. Chernobyl, Ukraine is a great example, the town witnessed the worst nuclear power plant accident in human history and since then has been an uninhabitable ghost town.

Although this list doesn’t feature any locations in the United States, they do exist. There are a number of sites that have been declared extremely toxic such as Love Canal, New York, Tar Creek, Oklahoma, and Gowanus Canal, New York. A recent case for alarm is a practice called Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking, which is a perfect example of modern day methods that have been linked to pollution of water and air. Mountaintop Removal is another controversial practice that is known to tarnish local water and wildlife.

Along with the ten places mentioned in the video, here are other toxic places in the world that deserve an (dis)honorable mention.

Linfen, China: Los Angeles smog would be considered a ‘good day’ compared to the air pollution in Linfen and it’s considered the “most polluted city in the world.” The reason behind the pollution is credited to industrial manufacturing and automobile pollution. The air here is apparently so bad that leaving your clothes out to air dry can turn them black!

The Great Pacific Garage Patch: Mainly consisting of plastic waste, an island over two times the size of Texas and over thirty feet deep floats in the Pacific Ocean.

Rondonia, Brazil: This is the most deforested region of the Amazon Rainforest. Trees in thousands upon thousands of acres of area have been slashed and burned down. The once green area has now been replaced with cattle.

Yamuna River: Although serious attempts have been made by the government to clean it up, the Yamuna River in India continues to be tarnished by waste. The city of New Dehli alone contributes about 3,296 MLD of sewage per day. An amount too much for the underfunded treatment facilities to handle.

La Oroya, Peru: The lead smelter in this town, run by a North American company Doe Run, is responsible for the huge amounts of lead that has polluted the city. About all children living in the neighborhood have been tested and there has been lead found in their bloodstream, at very unacceptable levels.

Lake Karachay, Russia: The amount of radiation from nuclear waste dumping is so strong that a person can get a lethal dose within an hour of being in the area. Cancer is a huge issue amongst the workers in the nuclear facility. There are many cases of childbirth defects and leukemia in the surrounding area. There is also a concern regarding the spread of radioactivity in distant areas air and river water.

Space: Man has also left a huge trail of pollution in space; over 4 million pounds of space debris and various vacant spacecraft currently orbit the earth. This has raised huge concerns for potential accidents that can cause satellites and communication to fail.

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/A62C42Gum1k

U.K. regulators give the go ahead to modify human embryos


The team’s planned embryonic editing experiments are intended for research purposes only. No genetically modified babies will be born.

In 2015, scientists in South Korea successfully cloned a human embryo, while a Chinese team edited embryonic DNA. Now, in February 2016, regulators in the United Kingdom have approved plans to edit human embryonic DNA for research purposes. Health regulators in the United Kingdom have granted permission for a team of scientists to genetically modify human embryos.

The decisions comes just a few months after a team of scientists led by Kathy Niakan, a stem cell researcher at the Francis Crick Institute in London, submitted the application to edit human embryonic DNA.

It was the first such application and the forthcoming experiments will be the first time human embryos are modified in U.K. labs. Though controversy is likely to surround the decision, it’s one most within the scientific community saw coming.

Earlier this summer, when a team of Chinese scientists announced they had successfully altered the genetic code of a human embryo, disapproving grumbles echoed throughout the science world.

But go-ahead in England is markedly different than past experiments in Asia, which were unsanctioned. The OK from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is the first endorsement of embryonic editing work by a national regulatory authority.

“I am delighted that the HFEA has approved Dr. Niakan’s application,” Crick director Paul Nurse said in a statement. “Dr. Niakan’s proposed research is important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops and will enhance our understanding of IVF success rates, by looking at the very earliest stage of human development.”

The team’s planned embryonic editing experiments are intended for research purposes only — to gain insight into the nature of embryonic development and the origins of genetic diseases.

Researchers predict the approval will embolden scientists in other countries to forge ahead with and seek approval for their own embryonic editing plans.

As well, the concerns of critics will likely become amplified. If an edited embryo was brought to birth, genetic changes could be introduced to the human gene pool. There is worry that the manipulation of genes to correct for one disease could inadvertently introduce new types of genetic diseases. There is also the more far-fetched concern that the technology could pave the way for “designer babies.”

But most researchers agree that scientists are a ways off from such problems.

Human eggs celebrate insemination with flash of zinc fireworks


“We discovered the zinc spark just five years ago in the mouse, and to see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking,” said researcher Teresa Woodruff.

A diagram shows the initialization of the zinc sparks, which are triggered when an egg is activated by sperm enzymes. When the romantic sparks fly, zinc sparks sometimes fly, too.

According to new research out of Northwestern University, eggs reveal their relative fertility by radiating zinc fireworks when successfully inseminated.

When the sperm enzyme triggers these zinc fireworks, the relative size of the sparks is an indication of the egg’s health or reproductive potential — the likelihood it will successfully generate a fetus.

It’s the first time scientists have observed zinc sparks in a human egg, and researchers believe it will help fertility doctors more accurately select healthy eggs.

“This means if you can look at the zinc spark at the time of fertilization, you will know immediately which eggs are the good ones to transfer in in vitro fertilization,” senior co-author Teresa Woodruff, an expert in ovarian biology at Northwestern, said in a news release. “It’s a way of sorting egg quality in a way we’ve never been able to assess before.”

Woodruff and her colleagues detailed their discovery this week in a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“It was remarkable,” Woodruff added. “We discovered the zinc spark just five years ago in the mouse, and to see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.”

https://player.vimeo.com/video/163864531The sparks witnessed by researchers aren’t symbolic, they’re actual flashes of light.

An egg’s zinc — which it stores and uses to transform into a new genetically unique organism — binds to small molecular probes when released upon the egg’s activation. As it binds, the probes emit a spark-like flash of fluorescence visible via microscopy imaging.

“These fluorescence microscopy studies establish that the zinc spark occurs in human egg biology, and that can be observed outside of the cell,” explained Tom O’Halloran, the study’s other senior author.

Researchers say their latest findings will help doctors know which eggs are viable and which are not.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/114680729“If we have the ability up front to see what is a good egg and what’s not, it will help us know which embryo to transfer, avoid a lot of heartache and achieve pregnancy much more quickly,” said co-author Dr. Eve Feinberg, a physician at Fertility Centers of Illinois and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Embryo implantation observed for the first time


Molecular markers revealed the different cell types self-organizing within a human embryo. For the first time, scientists were able to observe the process of embryo implantation.

The implantation of the embryo into the tissue of the uterus is one of the earliest steps in human development after fertilization. Until now, however, scientists had not been able to directly study the process.

Previously, scientists have abided by an ethical rule that limits embryo development to seven days — the point at which implantation normally occurs.

But researchers at Rockefeller University in New York and the University of Cambridge in England were able to sustain embryonic development past the point of implantation by chemically mimicking the uterine wall. The study’s embryos were abandoned just before an updated ethical wall of 14 days.

“This portion of human development was a complete black box,” Ali Brivanlou, a professor at Rockefeller and head of the university’s Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Molecular Embryology, said in a news release.

In unlocking that box, researchers were able to watch key points in the early development of the human embryo, allowing them pinpoint differences between the development of human and mouse embryos.

One surprise was a phenomenon known as self-organization, whereby a group of objects or system of components organizes on its own, without external input.

“We had seen self-organization using this system in the mouse embryo, and also in human embryonic stem cells, but we did not anticipate we’d see self-organization in the context of a whole human embryo,” explained Brivanlou. “Amazingly, at least up to the first 12 days, development occurred normally in our system in the complete absence of maternal input.”

Further exploration of early embryonic development could offer valuable insights into the nature of miscarriage and aid fertility research. The study could also open up new avenues of research into the origins of disease and efficacy of treatments using human embryonic stem cells.

“We’re going to take a step back to the first day and systematically move forward,” said Brivanlou. “We’d like to get the complete molecular signature, and then move on to how these cells communicate with one another to figure out what cell type they are supposed to become. There is a lot more to be studied during this stage and we look forward to shedding more light on this vital step in human development.”

The study, published in the journal Nature, was accompanied by commentary recommending new ethics rules and an extended limit for the growth and development of embryos in the lab.

“Given the potential benefits of new research in infertility, improving assisted conception methods, and in early miscarriage and disorders of pregnancy, there may be a case in the future to reconsider this,” Daniel Brison, a professor at the University of Manchester, told the BBC.

“Now that it has become possible to culture human embryos to the 14-day limit and perhaps beyond, the time is right for the scientific community to educate the public about the potential benefits and to work with regulators on ethical consensus to guide this important research,” added study co-author Amy Wilkerson, an associate vice president of research support at Rockefeller.

One city’s solution to drinking water contamination? Get rid of every lead pipe.


Long before Flint, Mich., faced a water-
contamination crisis, this city dealt with one of its own. The local utility had sampled residents’ tap water in accordance with the federal government’s new Lead and Copper Rule and discovered unacceptable levels of lead.

But Madison’s response was like hitting a gnat with a sledgehammer. It was so aggressive that only one other major municipality in the United States has followed its approach so far. It’s also why some people now call Madison the anti-Flint, a place where water problems linked to the toxic substance simply couldn’t happen today.

Madison residents and businesses dug out and replaced their lead pipes — 8,000 of them. All because lead in their water had been measured at 16 parts per billion — one part per billion over the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard.

That’s a microliter, one-
millionth of a liter of water. The utility’s water quality manager, Joe Grande, explains the reasoning in seven words: “The safe level of lead is zero.”

[It’s not just Flint. Lead taints water across the U.S., EPA records show]

Radical though it was, what occurred from 2001 to 2011 in this state capital could help guide cities across the country as they consider taking action to protect public health. The extreme, months-long leaching of lead into Flint’s water supply has highlighted the danger of the estimated 6 million or more lead pipes that remain in use nationwide — by more than 11,000 community water systems that serve as many as 22 million Americans.
A ledger of Madison water services report from 1885: Virtually all water pipes were made of lead. (Madison Water Utility)
Increasingly, voices are calling for complete replacement of these lines. As Madison showed, it’s possible, but not easy.

“As long as there are lead pipes in the ground or lead plumbing in homes, some risk remains,” David LaFrance, chief executive of the American Water Works Association, noted when its board voted unanimously in March to back such efforts. The association, which represents water utilities, regulators and plant operators, drew more than 100 managers to Washington this week to discuss various strategies.
“As a society,” LaFrance said, “we should seize this moment of increased awareness about lead risks to develop solutions for getting the lead out.”

Madison’s solution was to go for broke. The Madison Water Utility dismissed the easy fix recommended by the EPA regulations, which entailed treating pipes with phosphates to lower corrosion that releases trace metals. The company instead ripped out every lead line it owned. Then it made some 5,500 of its customers do the same.

Dozens of streets were torn up for a decade of digging and copper-pipe replacement at a cost of nearly $20 million. It was noisy, messy and disruptive, but successful.
New water service lines are installed by Madison Water Utility crews in 2001. (Courtesy of Madison Water Utility)
“People walk up to me in the streets now and say, ‘Thanks,’ ” said Susan J.M. Bauman, who as mayor helped persuade the City Council to force property owners to act.

Five years after the project’s completion, Madison’s lead levels are well under the Lead and Copper Rule’s “action” threshold of 15 parts per billion. Its highest measure since 2011 is 3.5 parts per billion, which is so low that the EPA requires the utility to collect water samples every three years instead of annually.

Only Lansing, Mich., is known to have taken a similar all-out approach. As Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration remains under fire for its mishandling of Flint’s water debacle, the city where he lives is about to finish removing 14,500 lead pipes. That 10-year, $40 million program will end in June, said Stephen Serkaian, a spokesman for the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

One advantage for the effort there: The local utility, unlike many, owns every pipe in its system, even those leading up to houses.

[The EPA’s lead-in-water rule has been faulted for decades. Will Flint hasten a change?]

Other cities have called both Madison and Lansing in recent months for advice.

“Our phone is ringing off the hook from utilities across our state and the country,” Serkaian said. Utility executives from Iowa flew in last month to study the program’s scope and approach.

And Lansing’s mayor has asked the utility to provide technical assistance to Flint, 60 miles to the east. Hit hard by its water contamination, which could have serious and permanent health consequences for many of its children, Flint is now pushing to replace 15,000 lead service lines. Yet city officials want to accomplish that in a single year, not 10. The projected expense is $55 million.
“For every Lansing and Madison, there are thousands of other cities that simply have not kept up with the problem,” said Erik Olson, health program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

While the greatest concentration of lead service lines is in the Midwest, the pipes can be found nationwide. The cost of replacing them could exceed $30 billion, and the American Water Works Association understands that homeowners won’t be eager to help pick up the tab.

“It doesn’t increase value like granite countertops or a new deck,” said Tracy Mehan, its government affairs director. “Homeowners are going to have to be convinced that this is an important thing to do.”

In the wake of Flint’s crisis, Washington’s water utility found itself on the defensive at a congressional hearing in mid-March when a Virginia Tech professor declared that its lead problem in the early 2000s was up to 30 times worse.

D.C. Water did not dispute Marc Edwards’s testimony before a House committee. In a report to its board that same week, officials said lead pipes have been replaced at more than 20,000 addresses since 2004. But a nearly equal number of lead pipes remain, the property of either the utility or individual homeowners.

That’s no longer the case in Madison. The city of 245,000 sits on an isthmus between two large and scenic lakes that give the area its easygoing character. Planners put the city’s long shoreline to good use, with paths, running trails and boat ramps.

Back in 1992, when the elevated lead levels were detected, the EPA’s fix called for Madison Water to inject phosphate into the water supply. At the local wastewater treatment plant, which was under state orders to remove phosphorous, officials were stunned.

For one, phosphate pollutes lakes by causing algae blooms that suck away oxygen and suffocate marine life. “We did tell them that would not be a good idea,” said David Taylor, director of ecosystem services for the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District.
There was also a good chance that the chemical would fail. A chemist hired by the city tested the lead pipes to determine whether adding phosphates would lower lead contamination. In some cases, levels instead increased.

“I kept testing things in the field and drawing conclusions that were opposite of what I was told in the literature,” Abigail Cantor recounted last month. “The Lead and Copper Rule said you have to use one of these chemicals — polyphosphate or orthophosphate. None worked.”

Finally, after four years of testing, Cantor told the utility in 1996 that there was only one sure solution. “You have to get rid of the lead,” she said.

The utility opted to take out all suspect pipes, which dated to the 1920s and earlier. The next step was even more challenging. Backed by the city and state, Madison Water required its customers to remove the lead pipes that connected their houses and businesses to the system.
Madison spent 10 years and tens of millions of dollars to replace thousands of lead water pipes in the city.
Grande says there was no alternative. Removing lead pipes only up to a property — a partial replacement — could make contamination worse because metals inside the pipe dislodge during excavation. It takes years to flush it out of the system.

“There certainly was a lot of opposition from people who thought it was ridiculous . . . who thought it didn’t need to happen,” Grande said of the project.

Thanks to utility rebates of up to $1,000 for homeowners who switched, their average cost was $1,300. Bauman said apartment owners paid more, but they likely passed on the cost to renters.

Yet for many reasons, Madison remains a tough act to follow. The capital is also home to the University of Wisconsin. The city is full of professors, students and highly educated residents who earn a comfortable living. More than 50 percent have undergraduate degrees, and the median household income is about $50,000 per year.

“A relatively high willingness to pay for quality drinking water” among Madison residents made the lead-removal project easier for officials to sell, said Greg Harrington, a University of Wisconsin engineering professor who served on the Madison water utility’s board during the project.

Lansing, another state capital and university town, is similar in many ways to Madison. The two are now linked by their extraordinary effort to go beyond the federal rule and protect their water supply from lead contamination.

Olson argues that the complete removal of faulty underground pipes, some of which date to the time of slavery, should also be the EPA’s main focus.

“We’re basically living off investments that were made by our great-grandparents,” he said. “So many pipes are being used past their design date. You can only live on the edge for so long.”

More than 5,300 U.S. water systems violated lead-testing rules last year


 

More than 5,000 community water systems in the United States reported violating the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule in 2015, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. A much smaller number reported finding unacceptable levels of lead in water tests.
If you think Flint, Mich., is the only place in the United States threatened by lead-contaminated water, think again.

The beleaguered city continues to grapple with the fallout of a drinking-water crisis that exposed its residents — including 9,000 children 6 and younger — to a toxic substance that can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems and other serious health issues. But while Flint might be an extreme example, a report released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council details how many other communities around the country are failing to adequately ensure that their water supplies remain free of lead.

The report, which analyzed data from the Environmental Protection Agency, found that more than 18 million Americans are served by 5,363 water systems that in 2015 violated the federal rules governing lead testing. The violations included failures to properly monitor for lead, treat water to reduce corrosion in pipes or report testing results to the public or to regulators.

And the report found that despite more than 8,000 documented violations of the EPA’s “Lead and Copper Rule,” the agency took a formal enforcement action in only 908 cases. “This lack of accountability sends a clear message to water suppliers. … There is no cop on the beat,” the NRDC authors write.

“In almost 90 percent of cases, neither the states nor the EPA takes any formal enforcement action,” said co-author Erik Olson, who directs the advocacy group’s health programs. “The cop is sitting there watching everybody run stoplights and stop signs and never bothers to write anybody a ticket.”

To be clear, the NRDC’s analysis does not suggest that all 18 million people served by water systems with 2015 violations actually have excessive lead in their water. For starters, only a small number of taps in any community are tested for lead, and results can vary widely from home to home depending on the presence of lead pipes and lead-bearing fixtures. But Olson and others said that the sheer number of violations and lack of enforcement mean that “millions and millions of people are being put at risk.”
In a statement Tuesday, the EPA said that ensuring access to safe drinking water for all Americans is “a top priority” and that the agency “remains committed to vigorous enforcement and compliance assistance to protect public health.”

Officials recognize “ongoing challenges in compliance” and are revising federal lead-testing regulations. They also are working closely with states — which are “the first line of oversight of drinking water systems,” the statement noted.

On the question of enforcement, the EPA said its response to specific violations varies. It can include technical or compliance assistance, issuing notices of violation or formal administrative or judicial enforcement actions. Many of the systems with violations in 2015 are working with state and federal regulators to resolve them, the agency said.

According to the NRDC, about 1,000 systems serving nearly 4 million people reported exceeding the EPA’s “action level” of 15 parts per billion of lead in their drinking water between 2013 and 2015. That’s a significant total but far fewer than the number with monitoring or reporting violations. Here’s a map detailing places that had higher-than-acceptable lead levels in at least 10 percent of taps sampled:
In addition, 214 water systems failed last year to meet requirements to properly treat water with anti-corrosion chemicals that can reduce the threat of lead leaching into aging pipes and threatening health. Those systems, which serve nearly a half-million people, are represented in this map:
While Tuesday’s analysis offers a troubling picture about the number of violations in EPA’s database, NRDC officials said they also worry about what isn’t getting reported. For instance, despite the national outrage that accompanied Flint’s recent crisis, the city isn’t among those listed as having violated federal lead-in-water standards in 2015. That alone suggests that the scope of violations is likely much larger than the violations that get reported, the group argues.

“If Flint’s extraordinary lead-contamination problems are not included in the EPA’s official compliance data,” the authors write, “how many other municipalities’ serious lead problems are being swept under the rug?”
People both in and outside of the federal government have documented the under-reporting in the EPA’s drinking water database. The agency — burdened by budget woes, competing priorities and constant pressure from critics who want to strip it of regulatory authority — has acknowledged that its data about violations is incomplete. That’s partly because states, which have primary responsibility for enforcing lead-testing rules, often fail to report known violations to federal regulators, as required by law.

In a 2003 inquiry, launched after high lead levels were discovered in thousands of homes in Washington, the Government Accountability Office found that the EPA lacked recent test results for nearly a third of the nation’s largest water systems and lacked information about adherence to the regulations for more than 70 percent of community water systems. States simply were not reporting the information.

“EPA has been slow to take action on these data problems and, as a result, lacks the information it needs to evaluate how effectively the lead rule is being implemented and enforced nationwide,” the GAO report said.

“The states are supposed to be the first line of defense, and clearly they are falling down on the job,” Olson said. “But it’s EPA’s job to oversee them, and if they’re not doing their job, the EPA should be stepping in. And they are just not doing that.”

Regulatory gaps also have allowed utilities to use questionable techniques such as “pre-flushing” taps or removing aerators from faucets to temporarily lower lead levels and avoid violating federal standards. Earlier this year, EPA officials sent letters to water officials in every state, saying they should cease using such methods.

There is broad agreement that major changes are overdue for the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule, which governs about 68,000 public water systems around the country. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said the regulation “clearly needs to be strengthened,” and the agency has vowed to overhaul the current rule in 2017. Yet it remains unclear what enforcement changes the EPA will propose.

The latest report advocates for speeding investments in the country’s water infrastructure to remove the millions of lead service lines that remain underground — a goal that will be difficult, costly and undoubtedly contentious. NRDC officials also are pushing for ongoing relief for Flint residents, updating and improving drinking water laws and giving a voice to the low-income, often minority communities that frequently bear the burden of environmental hazards such as lead in water.

“The bottom line is that lead is found in drinking water in cities well beyond Flint, often affecting vulnerable lower-income communities of color,” NRDC President Rhea Suh said in announcing the findings of Tuesday’s analysis. “Unsafe drinking water is a national problem that needs a national solution.”

Superbug investigation: ‘It’s likely that more of these will be found,’ CDC says


A top U.S. health official said Tuesday it’s likely that more people will be found to be carrying a newly discovered superbug. The bacteria, found in the urine of a Pennsylvania woman, is resistant to antibiotics of last resort.

Beth Bell, a top expert on antibiotic resistance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also said officials investigating the Pennsylvania superbug case don’t know how the strain of E. coli wound up in the woman’s body. And they may never find out, she said.

The E. coli bacteria contained a gene, known as mcr-1, that makes it resistant to the antibiotic colistin, the drug used against particularly dangerous types of superbugs that can already withstand other antibiotics. In the short term, experts stress that there is no need to panic because the strain found in the woman is still treatable with other antibiotics. E. coli is common and is typically present in the human gut.

But the discovery has alarmed public health officials because it’s the first time this colistin-resistant gene has been found in an individual in the United States. Over the long term, experts are worried that colistin resistance, which can spread easily to other bacteria through this gene, could lead to superbugs that could cause untreatable infections.

“We don’t know a lot about this particular gene,” said Bell, director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, during a telephone briefing with Pennsylvania state health department officials Tuesday. It’s possible that the infected woman acquired it from food or person-to-person transmission.

“It’s possible, in this particular situation, that we won’t ever find out,” she said.

But she said officials weren’t surprised that the resistant gene turned up in the United States. U.S. officials have been hunting for it since November, she said, after Chinese and British researchers reported finding the colistin-resistant strain in pigs and raw pork and in a small number of people in China. The superbug strain was later discovered in Europe and elsewhere.
“We’ve been looking for this mcr-1 gene for quite some time,” she said.

[What is this superbug found in Pennsylvania and should I worry?]

In the United States, “it’s likely that more of these [cases] will be found,” she said. “We are a globally interconnected world, and people and bacteria travel around the globe.”

Bell also said people should not be worried.

“The risk to the public at this point is pretty much minimal,” she said. She and other experts have said the best way people can protect themselves against antibiotic-resistant bacteria is to cook food completely and wash hands carefully, especially after handling anything that might be contaminated.

Researchers at the Agriculture Department and the Department of Health and Human Services reported that testing of hundreds of livestock and retail meats turned up the same colistin-resistant bacteria in a sample from a pig intestine in the United States. The USDA said it is working to identify the farm the pig came from.

The woman was treated on April 26 at an outpatient military facility in Pennsylvania, according to Defense Department officials. Samples were sent to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for initial testing. The tests confirming the presence of the mcr-1 gene were done by researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md.

Citing privacy, Pennsylvania health department officials said they could not provide an update on the woman’s health, whether she and others had been interviewed, what brought the woman to the clinic or whether the patient poses any transmission risk.

The investigation is focused on identifying close contacts, including household and health-care contacts, of the woman to determine whether any of them may have been at risk for transmission of the bacteria containing the mcr-1 gene.

“The patient herself is fine,” said Bell, who said she could not elaborate.

The CDC was notified about the discovery by Walter Reed researchers on May 24 and then notified the Pennsylvania health department.