General Electric says it has completed its sixth and final year of dredging sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls from the upper Hudson River.

Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking / Creative Commons

Coventry has become the second town in Connecticut to pass an ordinance banning fracking waste from natural gas or oil drilling and extraction. The town of Washington passed a ban earlier this year.

University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences / flickr creative commons

Yale professor Paul Anastas says it isn't enough to know that environmental chemicals are making us fat and sick. Anastas directs a department that is working on redesigning chemicals in our food and many products we rely on so that they do not threaten our health.

There's a synthetic chemical that's virtually everywhere. Scientists have found it in the blood of polar bears, thousands of miles from any known possible source. It’s found in fish throughout the world. It’s found in old caulk, fluorescent light ballasts, electrical transformers, mining equipment, and even carbonless copy paper.

Photo courtesy of Page Technologies

The cities of New Haven and Waterbury and the Connecticut Department of Housing are receiving federal funds to help combat poisoning from lead-based paint in housing.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

For nearly three decades across the U.S., toxic polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were widely used in school construction and renovation work. A WNPR investigation has found that two-thirds of schools in Connecticut could be contaminated.

Despite a 1979 ban on PCBs -- a synthetic chemical -- and their classification as a known human carcinogen by the World Health Organization, there’s no state or federal law that requires testing for the presence of PCBs in schools.

Pesticide Drift Threatens Organic Farms

Jul 31, 2015

Chert Hollow Farm sits nestled between rows of tall trees and a nearby stream in central Missouri. Eric and Joanna Reuter have been running the organic farm since 2006. That means they don't plant genetically modified crops and can only use a few approved kinds of chemicals and fertilizers.

"We've traditionally raised about an acre and a half of pretty intensively managed produce, so it's a very productive acre and a half," Eric Reuter says.

The argument over genetically modified food has been dominated, in recent years, by a debate over food labels — specifically, whether those labels should reveal the presence of GMOs.

The battle, until now, has gone state by state. California refused to pass a labeling initiative, but Maine, Connecticut and Vermont have now passed laws in favor of GMO labeling.

Subway to Remove Artificial Ingredients by 2017

Jun 5, 2015
Thomas Hawk / Creative Commons

Fast food sandwich chain Subway announced yesterday that it will join a growing number of companies dropping artificial ingredients from their products. The chain, based in Milford, Connecticut, plans to rework its menu to remove artificial dyes and preservatives by 2017.

Federal health officials Monday changed the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water for the first time since 1962, cutting by almost half the maximum amount of fluoride that should be added to drinking supplies.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommended 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water instead of the long-standing range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.

Barbara Wells / Creative Commons

Nearly 25 percent of the state’s population gets its drinking water from a private well. Now the state is calling on residents who own those wells to test them regularly. 

Fast food giant McDonald's announced Wednesday it will begin sourcing chickens raised without antibiotics.

Over the next two years, the chain says its U.S. restaurants — which number around 14,000 — will transition to the new antibiotics policy, which prohibits suppliers from using antibiotics critical to treating human illness.

Peg / Creative Commons

Connecticut's Department of Public Health is providing free private well testing for a limited number of homeowners.

d o w n s t r e a m / Flickr Creative Commons

Members of Congress, including three from Connecticut, have signed a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency to better regulate a controversial class of pesticide called neonicotinoids.

Ebong Udoma / WSHU

Bridgeport officials are calling for more disclosure of industrial chemicals following the release of chemicals in a factory fire. 

Tar Sands Blockade / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy has signed a bill imposing a moratorium on bringing fracking waste into Connecticut. The moratorium will extend to at least to July 2017. In the meantime, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will draft regulations about what, if any, fracking waste can come to Connecticut.

Vermont’s effort to require labels on foods made with genetically modified ingredients has garnered lots of out-of-state attention – and cash.

According to data from the Agency of Administration, money from out-of-state donors makes up the majority of the state’s "Food Fight Fund," the holding account for money that will ultimately help the state defend the law in court.

Bracing For A Battle, Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Bill

Apr 24, 2014

The Green Mountain State is poised to become the first to require food companies to label products containing genetically modified ingredients.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin tweeted he will sign a bill state lawmakers passed Wednesday mandating that foods with GMOs be labeled as having been produced with "genetic engineering." The bill would also make it illegal for foods with GMOs to be labeled "all natural" or "natural."

Documents obtained by a group opposed to hydrofracking in New York show that the Cuomo Administration is conducting a thorough and comprehensive health study on the controversial natural gas drilling process. The Finger Lakes-based organization is wondering, why then, the review has been conducted almost entirely in secret.

The death of a beloved red-tailed hawk in Cambridge, Mass., has drawn attention to the issue of how rat poison is affecting wildlife.

Veterinarians say the hawk likely died from eating a rodent that consumed rat poison. Local birdwatchers had followed the exploits of the hawk and her mate, which they named Ruby and Buzz, for years.

Tim Kiser

In January, West Virginia’s Elk River was contaminated by a chemical spill from a nearby coal processing plant, affecting 300,000 local residents. People were without water for days. Now months later, is the water safe to drink? 

eutrophication&hypoxia / Creative Commons

A report released by the World Health Organization last week found that some 7 million people died from air pollution exposure in 2012. In other words, one in eight of all global deaths that year resulted from breathing bad air. 

Today, the WHO considers air pollution to be the single greatest environmental health risk, linking it to cases of asthma, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer.

Flickr Creative Commons / jetsandzeppelins

Connecticut lawmakers are once again eyeing restrictions on pesticides. A new proposal would ban their use at public parks and town greens.

That compound found in commercially baked bread — yep, the one that's in yoga mats, too — is in the news again.

A report from the Environmental Working Group finds that the compound, azodicarbonamide, is found in close to 500 food products, from Pillsbury Dinner Rolls to Little Debbie products to Wonder Bread.

Flickr Creative Commons / Valley_Photographs

Legislators are considering a change to a statewide ban of pesticide use on school grounds. It's the first of several proposed challenges to a law that's been in effect since 2010.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday about the Environmental Protection Agency's first-ever greenhouse gas regulations for the biggest polluting facilities.

The case focuses on a 3-year-old requirement that companies get permits anytime they construct new plants or modify existing ones that will emit a lot of greenhouse gases.

EPA's supporters and most of its challengers agree this case is narrow in scope; the court's ruling is not expected to threaten EPA's broader strategy to fight global warming.

Food industry, beware of the power of the online petition.

Just a few days after food blogger Vani Hari, known as Food Babe, created a buzz with an online petition raising questions about the safety of a food additive commonly used in commercial baking, sandwich giant Subway has announced plans to phase it out of its fresh-baked breads.

The additive, azodicarbonamide, is used by the commercial baking industry to bleach flour and condition dough.

Over-the-Counter Drugs: A Prescription for Confusion

Feb 3, 2014
Fuse / Thinkstock

At Able Care Pharmacy and Medical Supplies in Enfield, Ashraf Moustafa often tries to avert disasters involving drugs displayed on his store’s shelves. 

Moustafa, the pharmacy manager, recently spoke to an elderly woman seeking ways to treat dark blue patches on her arms. Instead of suggesting any remedies, he asked the woman what medicines she was taking, and discovered that she was dangerously mixing over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs with aspirin and the prescription blood thinner Plavix. He sent the woman to the hospital, fearing that she was suffering from internal bleeding.

“People have the impression that if a drug is approved for over-the-counter use, then it must be much safer than prescription medicine,” Moustafa says. “That’s when trouble happens.”

Starting this year, farmers across the Midwest can sign up for a service that lets big agribusiness collect data from their farms, minute by minute, as they plant and harvest their crops.

Monsanto and John Deere are offering competing versions of this service. Both are promising to mine that data for tips that will put more money in farmers' pockets.

The map that shows residents of nine counties in West Virginia whether they can start using the water from their taps is slowly starting to change from red to blue.

That's good news because blue means customers in those areas can start flushing their homes' and businesses' pipes — and after that, start using their water again for cooking, cleaning and drinking.