AmeriScan: May 15, 2001


NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - Men employed as roofers or sheet metal workers, who work with rubber and plastic products, or are employed in cleaning businesses, among other occupations, are at higher risk of developing brain cancer, a Yale University investigation shows.

Women are at higher risk of developing brain cancer if they are employed in agricultural services and farm occupations, work with apparel and textile products, in electric and electronic equipment manufacturing, and as waitresses, as well as other occupations.

"Brain cancer incidence and mortality have been increasing in many industrialized countries, particularly among elderly people," said Tongzhang Zheng, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine and principal investigator of the report, published in the journal of "Occupational and Environmental Medicine."

"The major findings of this investigation were that an increased risk of brain cancer was associated with agricultural industry and farm occupations; industries producing rubber and miscellaneous plastic products; industries and occupations which have a potential for exposure to gasoline or solvents; industries producing apparel and other textile products; employment in electric services, and electrical and electronic equipment, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning, and sheet metal working industries," Zheng said.

The workers' increased risk of brain cancer "could be due to their exposures to pesticides, solvents, dyes and formaldehyde, metal fumes, and other chemical or physical carcinogens, since some of which have been associated with brain cancer risk," Zheng said.

"Improved diagnosis and access to medical care, genetic predisposition, and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol and diet, are not enough to explain the increase," explained Zheng. He emphasized, however, that "more studies are needed because it could also be due to chance."

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - The United States and the European Union (EU) will conduct joint research in fusion energy and non-nuclear energy, under an agreement signed Monday in Brussels.

U.S. and EU researchers will cooperate in a variety of research areas such as fossil energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency and carbon sequestration.

"As our agencies begin this cooperation in non-nuclear science and technology under the 1997 Science & Technology (S&T) Agreement, we embark on a whole new era of collaboration," said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham at a signing ceremony in Brussels. "This arrangement provides us with an opportunity to pursue alternatives to our mounting energy demands and help secure our needs for the future."

The DOE/EU Implementing Arrangement in Non-Nuclear S&T is the first major agency to agency agreement signed under the 1997 US/EU Government to Government S&T, which covers a range of potential cooperative efforts on fossil energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency, with a focus on fuel cell technology and carbon sequestration.

"With the signing of the new umbrella fusion agreement, we look forward to continuing our many years of successful collaboration in the field of fusion research," Abraham added. "This agreement also provides the opportunity to pursue new initiatives."

The U.S. Department of Energy plans to contribute $1.3 million over two years to develop hardware for use at the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion device in the United Kingdom.

Other areas of cooperation under the agreement may include tokamaks - a doughnut shaped magnetic confinement design for fusion reactors - alternatives to tokamaks, magnetic fusion energy technology, plasma theory and applied plasma physics.

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WASHINGTON, DC, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - Several environmental issues made a list of ten major water resources challenge areas facing the nation, detailed in a national report released Monday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The report documents the results of 16 public "listening sessions" held across the country from June to November 2000. The listening session forums invited people to identify their concerns regarding the nation's water resources and to clarify the federal role in addressing those concerns.

"The listening sessions were lead by an independent facilitator and attended by a broad cross section of people across the nation with different outlooks on the nation's water challenges," said Mark Gmitro, the sessions' program manager. "Our role was simply to listen and gather their opinions. It was very enlightening."

The report will be used to inform procedural and institutional changes within the federal government.

The 3,400 concerns identified by listening session participants were grouped into 10 general challenges:

  1. Upgrading the marine transportation system to meet 21st century demands
  2. Restoring and protecting the environment
  3. Managing watersheds to balance social needs, economic development and the environment
  4. Floodplain and coastal zone management to protect Americans from severe storms and natural disasters
  5. Responding to natural disasters and technological emergencies
  6. Upgrade aging community water infrastructure and plan for future growth
  7. Regulating dredge and fill activities to protect wetlands and other waters from development
  8. Provide recreation opportunities on national lands and waters
  9. Ensure communication and public input on new projects
  10. Streamline and improve federal water resources authorities, laws, policies and funding

The report is available at:

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WASHINGTON, DC, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - Billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies to the oil, gas and nuclear industries supported by Vice President Richard Cheney have done little to make energy cheaper or reduce our foreign energy dependence, shows a congressional bill analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The national budget watchdog organization analyzed the effects of the energy initiatives supported by Cheney throughout his Congressional career. Before joining the Republican presidential ticket last year, Cheney was CEO of Halliburton Co., an oil field services firm.

"The Vice President has never found a giveaway to big energy that he didn't like," said Cena Swisher, program director at Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS). "Throwing billions of dollars at these companies may be politically smart, but does nothing to reduce the energy crunch."

Throughout his political career, Cheney has advocated subsidies and tax incentives for different sectors of the energy industry. While serving as a Representative for the state of Wyoming, he either sponsored or co-sponsored at least 20 measures concerning energy policy.

The reasoning behind many of these measures was to spur energy production and decrease reliance on foreign oil.

"As we learned in the 1970s, you can't buy your way out of an energy crisis," continued Swisher. "The only thing these subsidies have done is to line the pockets of energy industries."

While many of these bills did little to increase production or reduce foreign energy dependence, they have made oil companies profitable, TCS charges. From 1996-1998, the oil and gas industry was the lowest taxed industry in America, with a tax rate of only 12.3 percent.

The White House energy task force report to be released on Thursday is expected to advocate increases in federal spending on fossil fuel and nuclear research and development, as well as more tax breaks for those same industries.

The legislative analysis by TCS is available at:

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LOS ANGELES, California, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - Responding to California's power crisis, state air quality officials adopted several changes Friday to the region's pollution credit trading program to allow power plants to generate more electricity while minimizing their environmental impact.

"We are doing our part to keep the lights on in California," said William Burke, chair of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). "We are granting additional flexibility to power plants so they can help meet the tremendous demand for energy. In return, power plants will be put on a fast track schedule to reduce their emissions by installing state of the art pollution controls."

At its meeting Friday, AQMD's Governing Board unanimously adopted several changes to its RECLAIM credit trading program to provide relief from the high emission credit prices many businesses have faced since last summer. AQMD adopted RECLAIM, the REgional CLean Air Incentives Market, in 1993 as a way to reduce emissions from the Los Angeles region's largest facilities.

Under the program, firms that reduce the emissions below a cap set by the AQMD earn pollution credits that they can sell to other facilities. There are now about 360 facilities in RECLAIM, including power plants, oil refineries and other manufacturing plants.

When power demand rose last summer, power plants boosted their output, which increased their emissions. Utilities snapped up most available emissions credits, causing prices to rise and become unaffordable for some other businesses in the region.

AQMD took the following actions to change the RECLAIM program:

"This mitigation fund will allow us to start cleaning up some of these dirty diesel trucks and equipment that have so far escaped air pollution regulations," Burke said.

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RICHMOND, Virginia, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - Virginia voters say providing funds for land conservation should be as high a state legislative priority as funding transportation needs and public schools, and they are willing to pay for conservation efforts, shows a new statewide poll released Monday.

Preserving open space and protecting the quality of Virginia's air and water rank among the top issues voters expect the next governor and General Assembly to address.

Two research firms - one Republican and one Democrat - conducted the poll for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Nature Conservancy Action Fund and the Trust for Public Land. The poll reveals that voter support for land conservation has soared compared to the results of a similar survey completed in 1992.

Key findings of the new poll include:

"It is especially encouraging that the vast majority of Virginians surveyed feel that protecting our air, water and land resources ranks among the Commonwealth's highest priorities," said Joseph Maroon, Virginia executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "Clearly, the public understands that protecting important lands will help to improve local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay."

To ensure the protection of Virginia's open space and natural areas, 65 percent of the state's voters say the legislature and governor should establish permanent state funding for land conservation. A strong majority of Virginians said they would support dedicated state funding for conservation, and eight in ten said they would back a plan to dedicate $40 million per year from the state's current land recording tax as a permanent source of funding for land conservation.

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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - Amfac Parks & Resorts' Yellowstone National Park Lodges, the primary concessioner in Yellowstone National Park, has signed a two year lease agreement for a fleet of 45 snowmobiles with four stroke engines.

The machines will be available for rent during the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 winter seasons. But under a plan announced by the National Park Service last October, all snowmobiles could be barred from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks by the winter of 2003-2004.

The Arctic Cat four stroke engine snowmobiles use electronic fuel injection and are 65 percent more fuel efficient than two stroke engine snowmobiles, the manufacturer says. The machines are quieter than two stroke engines, and they do not produce visible blue smoke or strong burning fuel smells.

The technology has been under development since 1996 and was introduced for testing in the park just last year.

"The four stroke engine technology for snowmobiles is new and cutting edge, and these machines will be available for broad use in our rental fleet for the first time this coming season," said Jim McCaleb, general manager of Yellowstone National Park Lodges. "Offering these snowmobiles is another example of our commitment to do everything we possibly can to address environmental issues in Yellowstone."

"This is a very good step in reducing environmental impacts within the park," said Chris Lane, Amfac's director of environmental programs. "Our goal is to lead the tourism and concessions industry in environmental performance, and this is just one of many initiatives we are implementing."

The snowmobile industry lobbied the Bush administration to overturn the Park Service ban on snowmobiles at Yellowstone, which was a Clinton administration initiative. Last month, the Interior Department said the ban will stand, but noted that the administration will continue to try to reach a settlement with snowmobile manufacturers that would allow new cleaner models of snowmobiles to be used in the parks.

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PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - Almost two dozen organizations and communities were recognized Monday by the Department of Energy for making commitments to reducing their dependence on imported fuel while helping produce cleaner air.

The awards for the National Partner and Clean Cities program were given for outstanding contributions to the alternative fuel vehicle market, during the 7th National Clean Cities Conference taking place in Philadelphia this week.

"Energy has risen to the top of our national agenda," said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. "Clean Cities coalitions across the country are building a foundation on which our new energy strategy can grow and succeed. I commend these local leaders for their vision and initiative and urge them to continue their efforts to increase the use of clean, domestically produced alternative fuels."

More than 80 coalitions comprise the nationwide Clean Cities network, bringing together local businesses and organizations to increase the number of alternative fuel vehicles on the road and build alternative fuel infrastructures.

This year's Clean Cities National Partner award winners include:

More information is available online at:

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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS), Yellowstone National Park and the University of Utah have signed an agreement to establish the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) to strengthen long term monitoring of earthquakes and the slumbering volcano beneath Yellowstone National Park.

The agreement provides for improved study and monitoring of the active geologic processes and hazards of the Yellowstone volcanic field and caldera, site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural hot springs, mud pots and steam vents in the world.

"The new observatory will improve our efforts to monitor Yellowstone's extraordinarily large and long lived volcanic system," said USGS scientist Robert Christiansen, scientist in charge of the new observatory.

Christiansen was in charge of the Mount St. Helens monitoring effort during the 1980 eruption.

"This agreement is a natural evolution of our collective work over the years to track and study Yellowstone's unrest," said Christiansen. "There is no increased threat of eruptive activity at Yellowstone to cause concern at this time. We will use YVO to share what we are learning with the public, park visitors, and nearby residents, and to be in a better position to provide warning of any future hazardous activity."

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is the fifth such observatory in the U.S., and is modeled after the USGS volcano observatories in Hawaii, Alaska, California and the Pacific Northwest.

The observatories employ ground based instruments and satellite data to monitor active and restless volcanoes and conduct studies to understand their histories and potential hazards. Together, the five observatories monitor 43 of the 70 or so potentially hazardous volcanoes in the United States.

"While the active geologic processes at Yellowstone do impart some risk to the public, they also make it a unique treasure," noted Paul Doss, Yellowstone National Park coordinating scientist of YVO. "It is the volcanic and seismic energy that powers the geysers and hot springs, creates the mountains and canyons, and generates the unique ecosystems that support Yellowstone's diverse wildlife."

More information is available at:

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LOS ANGELES, California, May 15, 2001 (ENS) - Mojave Foods of Los Angeles is recalling Dulmex brand Tamarind Candy Rolls - Rollito De Tamarindo - because they may contain high levels of lead.

"Although it appears this product was mostly distributed through retail stores in the West and Midwest, smaller amounts were distributed in the rest of the United States," said Tommy Irvin, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture.

The rolls were manufactured in Mexico for Dulmex. Mojave is one of a number of companies that repack and distribute the product in the United States.

Each package of the candy distributed by Mojave consists of a clear cellophane pack containing two rolls of the Dulmex candy and has a UPC number of 79466 01626.

Mojave discovered the problem during routine follow up after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning concerning high levels of lead in Dulmex brand lollipops, a brand not distributed by Mojave. Testing on the Dulmex Tamarind Candy Rolls revealed that the ink used to print the wrapper contained high lead levels.

Eating the candy, especially if the wrapper is chewed, may expose individuals to high levels of lead. FDA officials said that parents of children who have handled or eaten the candy may want to consult a doctor.

Consumers who have purchased this product should not consume it and should call Mojave at 1-800-877-5447 to arrange for return of the product or for additional information.