Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Wall Street Journal - Deaths from Cantaloupe LIsteria Rise- Issue Points to BioLargo and Isan Technology Opportunity

September 27, 2011

Deaths From Cantaloupe Listeria Rise

At least 13 people in eight states have died after eating cantaloupe contaminated with listeria, in the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in the United States in more than a decade, public health officials said on Tuesday.

Many of the deaths involved elderly people, who are especially susceptible to the aggressive pathogen.

The cantaloupes were grown by a Colorado company, Jensen Farms, which issued a recall earlier this month. The melons, a type marketed as Rocky Ford cantaloupes, named after a region in Colorado, were sold around the country.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that since the outbreak began in late July at least 72 people had fallen ill in 18 states.

The agency said that four people had died in New Mexico, two in Colorado, two in Texas, and one each in Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The toll could grow as state health officials wait for test results on other deaths suspected of being part of the outbreak.

Officials said that most of those who died were over age 60. At least two were in their 90s.

Listeria is a common but dangerous bacteria that can cause severe illness, especially among the elderly, the very young and people with compromised immune systems. The pathogen can also cause pregnant women to have miscarriages.

Federal officials have so far provided no information about the number of miscarriages or stillbirths associated with the outbreak. Pregnant women are 20 times as likely as other healthy adults to come down with a severe infection, according to the C.D.C.

John N. Sofos, a professor of food safety at Colorado State University, said that many people who were infected might have only mild symptoms, like diarrhea. But in others, especially those in the most vulnerable categories, the bacteria can aggressively move out of the gastrointestinal tract and attack muscle tissue or the spinal cord, leading to much more severe illnesses like meningitis.

For that reason, the death rate in listeria outbreaks is often much higher than with other forms of food-borne bacteria.

William Marler, a Seattle lawyer who represents victims of food-borne illness, said this outbreak might turn out to be especially deadly simply because cantaloupe is a food eaten by many older people.

“Sometimes in outbreaks, it’s the population that’s consuming the food that drives the numbers,” Mr. Marler said. “In this instance, you’ve got a lot of people 60 and older who are consuming cantaloupe.”

The outbreak appeared to be the third worst in the United States attributed to any form of food-borne illness, in terms of the number of deaths, since the C.D.C. began regularly tracking such outbreaks in the early 1970s.

The deadliest outbreak in the United States since then occurred in 1985, when a wave of listeria illness, linked to Mexican-style fresh cheese, swept through California. A federal database says 52 deaths were attributed to the outbreak, but news reports at the time put the number as high as 84.

The second deadliest outbreak was in 1998 and 1999, when there were at least 14 deaths and four miscarriages or stillbirths in a listeria outbreak linked to hot dogs and delicatessen meats. Some sources put the death toll in that outbreak as high as 21.

With the updated death toll on Tuesday, the Rocky Ford cantaloupe outbreak surpassed the 2008 deaths associated with salmonella-tainted peanuts and peanut butter produced by a Georgia company, the Peanut Corporation of America. That outbreak, which drew a large amount of news coverage, killed nine people and sickened more than 700.

The huge outbreak this year in Europe of a rare form of E. coli bacteria attributed to fenugreek sprouts killed at least 50 people.

Listeria is a common bacteria that can be found in soil, water, decaying plant matter and manure. A strain of the organism, called Listeria monocytogenes, was first found to cause illness linked to food in the early 1980s. Since then, only a handful of listeria outbreaks have been associated with fresh fruits and vegetables. The majority were caused by tainted meat or dairy products.

It can take more than two months for a person exposed to the bacteria to fall ill, which means that it is often difficult to identify a food that carried the pathogen.

Unlike some other bacteria, listeria also grows well at low temperatures, meaning it can be difficult to eliminate from refrigerated areas used to process or store foods.

The Food and Drug Administration said it had found the strain of the bacteria on melons and on equipment in the Colorado farm’s packing house. It also found the bacteria on melons in a Denver-area store. Investigators have not said how they believe the contamination occurred.

The F.D.A. recommends that consumers rinse all raw produce, including cantaloupes, under running water. Firm produce, like melons, should be scrubbed with a produce brush. The washed produce should be dried with a clean cloth or unused paper towel, the agency said.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Wall Street Journal- In Fracking's Wake- Some companies love that dirty water, because it means more money for cleaning it up- and points to BioLargo

[H2O]Joe Duty

BY THE TRUCKLOAD With fracking's growth, tankers unloading wastewater keep a Texas recycling site busy

The growing volume of dirty water produced in shale-gas drilling has triggered a gold rush among water-treatment companies.

Energy companies increasingly are drilling for natural gas using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. In this process, water mixed with sand and chemicals is pumped into a well under high pressure; the mixture fractures the rock, allowing the gas to escape. Huge amounts of water are used, and about 10% to 40% of it emerges after a frack job, laced with a variety of contaminants.

Even as the volume of dirty water grows, the traditional methods of disposal are narrowing. Several states are considering or have recently imposed limits on wastewater disposal underground or in streams. Meanwhile, record drought in some drilling areas is making access to fresh water for drilling more difficult, costly and unpopular.

The net result: "For the first time there's a strong driver for technology" to clean up the wastewater from mines so it can be reused, says Laura Shenkar, founder of the Artemis Project, a water-technology consulting firm. Dozens of water-treatment companies have started up in the past year or so, and many of the more established companies are adapting their techniques for use in the shale-gas industry. How many of those companies the market can support remains to be seen.

Plenty of Options

Companies are using several different approaches to shale-gas wastewater treatment.

[H2O2online]

Ecosphere Technologies Inc., based in Stuart, Fla., is one of the dominant providers of water treatment for the shale-gas industry, according to Lux Research, a technology research and consulting firm. The company's technology avoids the use of chemicals typically employed to treat wastewater.

Ecosphere's process forces dirty water through pipes where ozone breaks down contaminants with the help of sound waves, electrically charged particles and changes in pressure. No waste is created in the process, because while the technology renders contaminants harmless it doesn't filter anything out.

Another strong competitor for new business, according to Lux analyst Brent Giles, is WaterTectonics Inc., based in Everett, Wash. The company uses a process called electric coagulation, in which an electric charge forces contaminant particles into clumps that can be removed after they either rise to the surface of the water or sink to the bottom. The process avoids the use of chemicals, but it does produce waste that has to be disposed of.

Another company, Altela Inc., based in Albuquerque, N.M., earned a spot on Artemis Project's 2011 list of the 50 most innovative water-technology companies in the U.S. Its technology mimics rainmaking. Wastewater is heated to the point of evaporation, which produces clean water in the form of vapor, leaving contaminant particles behind. The vapor is then condensed back into liquid form.

The basic process, called thermal distillation, isn't new, but Altela has found a way to make it more efficient, by capturing the heat generated by condensation and using it for evaporation. Ned Godshall, the company's chief executive, says Altela's method uses a third of the energy typically required for conventional thermal distillation.

Do It Yourself

One potential drag on the use of all these technologies: Some drillers have started to simply reuse their wastewater without fully treating it. But it isn't clear how much of a factor that will be. Many technology companies and some researchers argue that there is a limit to such recycling because it doesn't clean the water enough for it to be used repeatedly and still be effective. The particles in dirty water can damage equipment and block the release of gas from the shale.

"When I learned in early 2010 that they were going to recycle, I thought they were going to do a real heavy-duty treatment" before reusing the water, says John Veil, who analyzed water treatment for the oil and gas industry for many years at the Argonne National Laboratory, and now does so at his own consulting firm. "They are not. All they are doing is getting out the big sand grains in a [filtering] process as simple as pouring the water through pantyhose."

Ms. Chernova is a special writer for Dow Jones VentureWire in New York. She can be reached at yuliya.chernova@dowjones.com.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Five Nutrients You're Not Getting Enough Of - Highlight Iodine and Points to BioLargo Opportunity

Mens HealthBy Bill Phillips and the Editors of Men's Health

Sep 01, 2011

After a long hard day at the office, I crave a manly dinner. Something that will sharpen my mind, feed my muscles, and infuse me with energy to keep up with two young kids till bedtime.

So, often, I have a bowl of cereal. With bananas and whole milk. Mmm.

Do I feel like I’m depriving my body of key nutrients? Quite the opposite, actually. My favorite dinner isn't just for kids. It contains high levels of three nutrients that American adults need much more of: B12, potassium, and iodine. Our shortfalls with these nutrients—along with vitamin D and magnesium—have serious health consequences, including a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, fatigue, and weight gain.

Here's the good news: These nutrients are readily available in the foods you know and love. You can get more of one simply by spending more time outside. That doesn't sound so hard, does it? Here's how to fortify your diet—and your health.

1. VITAMIN D
This vitamin's biggest claim to fame is its role in strengthening your skeleton. But vitamin D isn't a one-trick nutrient: A study in Circulationfound that people deficient in D were up to 80 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. The reason? Vitamin D may reduce inflammation in your arteries. Also, a University of Minnesota study found that people with adequate vitamin D levels release more leptin, a hormone that conveys the "I'm full" message to your brain. Even more impressive, the study also found that the nutrient triggers weight loss primarily from the belly. Another study found that people with higher D levels in their bloodstream store less fat.

The shortfall: Vitamin D is created in your body when the sun's ultraviolet B rays penetrate your skin. Problem is, the vitamin D you stockpile during sunnier months is often depleted by winter, especially if you live in the northern half of the United States, where UVB rays are less intense from November through February. When Boston University researchers measured the vitamin D status of young adults at the end of winter, 36 percent of them were found to be deficient.

Hit the mark: First, ask your doctor to test your blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. "You need to be above 30 nanograms per milliliter," says Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine at Boston University. Come up short? Eat foods like salmon (900 IU per serving), mackerel (400 IU), and tuna (150 IU). Milk and eggs are also good, with about 100 IU per serving. But to ensure you're getting enough, take 1,400 IU of vitamin D daily from a supplement and a multivitamin. That's about seven times the recommended daily intake for men, but it takes that much to boost blood levels of D, says Dr. Holick.

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2. MAGNESIUM
This lightweight mineral is a tireless multitasker: It's involved in more than 300 bodily processes. Plus, a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that low levels of magnesium may increase your blood levels of C-reactive protein, a key marker of heart disease.

The shortfall: Nutrition surveys reveal that men consume only about 80 percent of the recommended 400 milligrams (mg) of magnesium a day. "We're just barely getting by," says Dana King, M.D., a professor of family medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. "Without enough magnesium, every cell in your body has to struggle to generate energy."

Hit the mark: Fortify your diet with more magnesium-rich foods, such as halibut, navy beans, and spinach. Then hit the supplement aisle: Few men can reach 400 mg through diet alone, so Dr. King recommends ingesting some insurance in the form of a 250 mg supplement. One caveat: Scrutinize the ingredients list. You want a product that uses magnesium citrate, the form best absorbed by your body.

DID YOU KNOW? There are 46,000 foods in the average supermarket. How to choose what to put in your cart? Here's your shopping list: The 125 Best Foods.

3. VITAMIN B12
Consider B12 the guardian of your gray matter: In a British study, older people with the lowest levels of B12 lost brain volume at a faster rate over a span of five years than those with the highest levels.

The shortfall: Even though most men do consume the daily quota of 2.4 micrograms, the stats don't tell the whole story. "We're seeing an increase in B12 deficiencies due to interactions with medications," says Katherine Tucker, Ph.D., director of a USDA program at Tufts University. The culprits: acid-blocking drugs, such as Prilosec, and the diabetes medication metformin.

Hit the mark: You'll find B12 in lamb and salmon, but the most accessible source may be fortified cereals. That's because the B12 in meat is bound to proteins, and your stomach must produce acid to release and absorb it. Eat a bowl of 100 percent B12-boosted cereal and milk every morning and you'll be covered, even if you take the occasional acid-blocking med. However, if you pop Prilosec on a regular basis or are on metformin, talk to your doctor about tracking your B12 levels and possibly taking an additional supplement.

4. POTASSIUM
Without this essential mineral, your heart couldn't beat, your muscles wouldn't contract, and your brain couldn't comprehend this sentence. Why? Potassium helps your cells use glucose for energy.

The shortfall: Despite potassium's can't-live-without-it importance, nutrition surveys indicate that young men consume just 60 percent to 70 percent of the recommended 4,700 mg a day. To make matters worse, most guys load up on sodium: High sodium can boost blood pressure, while normal potassium levels work to lower it, says Lydia A. L. Bazzano, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at Tulane University.

Hit the mark: Half an avocado contains nearly 500 mg potassium, while one banana boasts roughly 400 mg. Not a fan of either fruit? Pick up some potatoes—a single large spud is packed with 1,600 mg. Most multivitamins have less than 100 mg of potassium, so eat your fruits and vegetables, folks!

5. IODINE
Your thyroid gland requires iodine to produce the hormones T3 and T4, both of which help control how efficiently you burn calories. That means insufficient iodine may cause you to gain weight and feel fatigued.

The shortfall: Since iodized salt is an important source of the element, you might assume you're swimming in the stuff. But when University of Texas at Arlington researchers tested 88 samples of table salt, they found that half contained less than the FDA-recommended amount of iodine. And you're not making up the difference with all the salt hiding in processed foods—U.S. manufacturers aren't required to use iodized salt. The result is that we've been sliding toward iodine deficiency since the 1970s.

Hit the mark: Sprinkling more salt on top of an already sodium-packed diet isn't a great idea, but iodine can also be found in a nearly sodium-free source: milk. Animal feed is fortified with the element, meaning it travels from cows to your cereal bowl. Not a milk man? Eat at least one serving of eggs or yogurt a day; both are good sources of iodine.

Also, check out our list of the 40 Foods with Superpowers—foods that, even in moderation, can strengthen your heart, fortify your bones, and boost your metabolism so you can lose weight more quickly.

AWWA Report- DOE calls for more fracking rules- Points to BioLargo Opportunity

American Water Works Association - The Authoritative Resource on Safe Water

DOE calls for more fracking rules

The US Department of Energy issued a report saying that hydraulic fracturing can be done safely, but that operators need to follow a set of four recommendations to increase safety mainly through improved monitoring and reporting.

NewHistoryNaturalGas300.jpg
The panel that issued the recommendations did not call for any specific new state or federal laws and advocated the continued exploration of gas using the "fracking" techniques because of what it called the "enormous potential to provide economic and environmental benefits for the country." The gas in question is located in the US and could reduce American reliance on foreign oil while providing high-paying domestic jobs.

Water utilities have watched fracking closely because of the possible contamination of groundwater with the myriad chemicals injected underground to release the natural gas, especially in formations under Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado and Texas.

Reaction to the report was mixed, with some environmental groups praising the calls for increased reporting by the gas companies. One academic environmental group, however, criticized the report as having concluded that fracking is safe without enough evidence. The natural gas industry said the report was a "useful starting point for further discussions."

The recommendations are:

1. "Making information about shale gas production operations more accessible to the public."

This has been a point of concern from water utilities because the gas drillers have generally refused to release the names of the chemicals injected into the ground, so water utilities don't even know what to test for when looking for fracking chemical contamination. The report specifically calls for government funding of the Ground Water Protection Council’s "Risk Based Data Management System."

The report also calls for a national database of public information related to fracking.

2. "Immediate and longer-term actions to reduce environmental and safety risks of shale gas operations, with a particular focus on protecting air and water quality"

The report calls on the companies doing the fracking to measure and publicly report everything about the flow of water in their operations. It also calls on the companies to develop best practices in well development and construction, especially related to casing and cementing.

The DOE also called on the monitoring agencies to update their rules to make sure groundwater and surface water are fully protected.

3. "Creation of a shale gas industry operation organization committed to continuous improvement of best operating practices."

The DOE wants this new panel to establish standards for fracking and to have the industry monitor itself to ensure that all operators meet those standards.

4. "Research and development to improve safety and environmental performance."

The DOE said that the industry should do most of the research into safe gas extraction, but that the government may have some part to play in setting environmental standards.

The report was released by the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. One member of congress, Maurice D. Hinchey, D-N.Y., said that he thought the recommendations were a good first step even though he was concerned because "six of the seven members on the Natural Gas Subcommittee have financial ties to the natural gas industry, which inherently creates a conflict of interest."

The panel is now charged with coming up with more specific recommendations.

At the same time the US Environmental Protection Agency recently said that it has started a study of fracking's effects on drinking water.

Additional AWWA Resources

Scott Yates, Contributing Editor

Posted: 09/06/2011