Posted by: Green Knight | February 26, 2014

How Wolves Change Rivers

This is why they call it an ecoSYSTEM. I love Yellowstone. But no sooner do we reintroduce wolves to the northwest than ranchers lobby to have helicopter hunts to wipe them out. Human greed and shortsightedness as usual. And you have no idea how huge a moose is until you’ve seen one in person.

Posted by: Green Knight | February 25, 2014

World Spay Day

Regular readers of my irregular posts know that I do animal rescue. It is so important to get your dogs and cats spayed or neutered! Back when I was young and stupid, I used to have an indoor/outdoor cat or two. I thought that Bat Cat was too young to get knocked up. I was wrong. Years later, when I adopted the policy of indoor-only kitties, I thought that recent adoptee Domino was too young to knock Bat Cat up. I was, again, wrong, but at least I got another favorite, Zoot, out of the deal. I never got my dog Jake neutered, but I was lucky, because he was extremely mellow and well-behaved, and never got loose.

And that’s an important thing to consider. Even if they’re indoors-only cats, they can be ankle-dashers and GET loose. Plus, dogs can jump higher fences than you’d imagine, or dig under them. Today is World Spay Day, and many vets or humane organizations offer special discounts. Do your critters and your neighborhood a favor and get them fixed, which will help fix the feral situation that I deal with every day. Thanks!

spay day

Posted by: Green Knight | February 9, 2014

Factory Fires Update

I’ve written in the past about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in NYC and the 1991 Imperial Foods chicken-processing plant one in Hamlet, NC, and the 2012 one in Bangladesh at a garment factory. The owners of the latter have turned themselves in. I hadn’t been aware that there was another chicken-plant fire in 1991 in N. Little Rock, Arkansas. Transferring hazardous jobs overseas doesn’t eliminate the hazards, it just moves them far enough away that we don’t have to see them every day, and still get our cheap products, and devil may care about those foreigners, as long as they don’t come HERE to take “our” jobs, which we’re sending over there anyway. So, let’s abolish EPA and OSHA so that Amurrican workers have equal opportunity to get killed while trying to make a living, eh? I don’t have the stomach for this, so here are a couple of links. Cheap clothing from Walmart, cheap lives overseas.

Click to access tr-057.pdf

Bangladesh fire

Posted by: Green Knight | February 6, 2014

Where Nothing Ever Happens

I accidentally happened across an article on the NPR website yesterday about a recent chemical spill in West Virginia. They seem to have somehow heard of coal in that state. Coal mining, for those not familiar with it, involves not only digging it out of the strata where it lies, but doing some onsite processing before shipping it off, and that involves some chemistry. They “wash” the coal ore to reduce emissions at power plants. That sounds good, right? Until they spill the stuff they’re washing it with.

“On January 9, more than 7,000 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked into Charleston’s water supply from a Freedom Industries storage tank. The result was a do-not-use order that left about 300,000 people in the area unable to drink or bathe in their water, some for more than a week.” (from an article linked below.)

There was also a chemical, PPh, which was in the mix, in a small concentration,  though company officials didn’t notify the state until after they should have. PPh is a secret mixture of  mixed glycol ethers; think reactive antifreeze. Don’t let your pets drink it or they might go boomW VA tank.

The attached photo shows the tank which leaked. The NFPA 704 (National Fire Protection Agency) 4-colored placard shows a 2 in the blue diamond, which is for toxicity. The scale goes from 0-4, with 4 being the worst. A 2 isn’t enough to make me run for the hills, but I don’t want to drink it, either. The 1 for flammability isn’t of much concern. I don’t know if the company threw some green vegetation on top of the outfall pipe to show that the stuff wasn’t that bad, or what.

I had a nice phone conversation with a representative of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection this morning, who helped me find out what PPh was. Since it’s proprietary, there isn’t much to go on. If a worker gets exposed to a “proprietary” product on the job, and develops symptoms, the manufacturer has to tell that person’s doctor what’s in it, but the doctor is barred from telling the patient what she or he was exposed to. That’s something I think needs to change.

Here’s the article from which the above quote came:


Posted by: Green Knight | January 15, 2014

Mercury pumping

I would never have figured this cycle out, and the scientists involved were surprised as well. I’ll just reprint the text.

“January 15, 2014

Vigorous mixing in the air above large cracks in Arctic sea ice that expose seawater to cold polar air pumps atmospheric mercury down to the surface, finds a NASA field campaign. This process can lead to more of the toxic pollutant entering the food chain, where it can negatively affect the health of fish and animals who eat them, including humans.

Scientists measured increased concentrations of mercury near ground level after sea ice off the coast of Barrow, Alaska, cracked, creating open seawater channels called leads. The researchers were in the Arctic for the NASA-led Bromine, Ozone, and Mercury Experiment (BROMEX) in 2012.

“None of us had suspected that we would find this kind of process associated with leads,” said Son Nghiem, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Nghiem is the BROMEX principal investigator and a coauthor of a paper reporting the discovery published in Nature on Jan. 15.

The mercury-pumping reaction takes place because open water in a lead is much warmer than the air above it, according to study lead author Chris Moore of the Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nev. Because of that temperature difference, the air above the lead churns like the air above a boiling pot. “The mixing is so strong, it actually pulls down mercury from a higher layer of the atmosphere to near the surface,” Moore said. The mixing, marked by dense clouds spewing out of the leads, extends up into the atmosphere about a quarter-mile (400 meters). Moore estimates this may be the height where the mercury pumping occurs.

Almost all of the mercury in the Arctic atmosphere is transported there in gaseous form from sources in areas farther south. Scientists have long known that mercury in the air near ground level undergoes complex chemical reactions that deposit the element on the surface. Once the mercury is completely removed from the air, these reactions stop. However, this newly discovered mixing triggered by leads in the sea ice forces down additional mercury to restart and sustain the reactions.

Leads have become more widespread across the Arctic Ocean as climate change has reduced Arctic sea ice cover. “Over the past decade, we’ve been seeing more new sea ice rather than perennial ice that has survived for several years. New ice is thinner and saltier and cracks more easily. More new ice means more leads as well,” said Nghiem.

To understand the effects of the leads, the team took ground-based measurements of mercury and other chemical species over the frozen Chukchi Sea and over snow-covered land. They used images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite to observe sea ice and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration model of air transport to gain insight into what was upwind of their mercury measurements.

Co-author Daniel Obrist, also from the Desert Research Institute, said, “The ‘aha’ moment came when we combined the surface measurements with the satellite data and model. We considered a bunch of chemical processes and sources to explain the increased levels of mercury we observed, until we finally realized it was this pumping process.”

Nghiem points out that this new finding has come at a turning point for action on Arctic mercury pollution. The Minamata Convention, a global treaty to curb mercury pollution in which Arctic vulnerability is particularly noted, has been signed by 94 nations since it was opened for signatures in Oct. 2013. Arctic mercury pollution originates almost entirely in nations as far south as the tropics, from sources such as wildfires, coal burning and gold mining. “Once the Minamata Convention has been ratified and becomes international law, we expect this work to help assess its effectiveness,” Nghiem said.

The study also includes co-authors from Environment Canada, Toronto; the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; and the University of Bremen, Germany, and was jointly funded by NASA, Environment Canada and the Desert Research Institute.

For more information on BROMEX, visit: .

The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team”

arctic lead

Posted by: Green Knight | January 4, 2014

Climate and Bats

One reason we talk about climate change these days instead of just global warming is that there are dramatic effects of all types as the planet’s homeostasis is disrupted. I’m worried about the outdoor cats I care for in the cold snap that’s about to occur (Monday temps 3°F high and -7°F low, which is roughly -16°C and -22°C for you civilized people).

I have a couple of friends in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and they are having a problem with a huge heat wave which is killing flying foxes, the giant bats that live there. If you know anyone down that way, please copy them on the following post:

Urgent: Flying-fox heat disaster in Brisbane. Help needed. please call to coordinate if you are intending to help. 0425 73 4008

Mt Ommanney
Pan Pacific Gardens
Regents Park

Black and Greys thousands dead, picking up non flying juvies and babies from dead mothers.

We have teams at most colonies now.
We need people to help collect the living if vaccinated, people to help collect the dead if not. We need to save as many as we can and get as many stats as possible.

We need water, hydration fluids, towels, cages, garbage bags etc.

Posted by: Green Knight | January 3, 2014

School Laboratory Accidents

This speaks for itself. Educators and communicators need to keep safety in mind at all times. There was a teacher in southern Illinois years ago who tossed a fist-sized chunk of pure sodium into a metal trash can of water and blew up the classroom. Nobody was killed, but people were injured.

CSB - U.S. CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD -- An independent federal agency investigating chemical accidents to protect workers, the public, and the environment

Statement from CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso on Yesterday’s

High School Laboratory Fire in New York City

I was distressed to learn once again of a serious high school laboratory accident, this one occurring yesterday at a New York City High School. According to media reports, a flash fire occurred during a demonstration in the high school‘s laboratory resulting in injuries to two 10th grade students, one severely.

This accident is all too similar to the one we highlighted in a recent video safety message released by the CSB that specifically focused on potential dangers in high school chemistry laboratories.  The CSB’s safety message entitled “After the Rainbow,” features accident survivor Calais Weber in her own words describing how at age 15 she was burned over 40 per cent of her body during a chemistry demonstration performed by her teacher at a prestigious boarding school she attended in Ohio.  That accident occurred on January 23, 2006.  Our chemical investigation screening process regrettably regularly reports similar accidents.


Though information at this stage is very preliminary, media reports indicate the accident that occurred yesterday in Manhattan may have been similar to the type of demonstration that critically injured Ms. Weber in that it attempted to show how chemicals react in different ways giving off different colors. . The demonstration in the CSB video showed the use of  highly flammable methanol to depict how various mineral salts produce different color flames when burned.

The CSB believes that accidents in high school laboratories occur with alarming frequency. Yesterday’s incident is yet another example of a preventable incident and a reminder of the need for exacting safety measures to protect students and school property.   As Calais states in the safety message, her accident should never have occurred, and that with better attention to good safety practices, similar accidents can also be avoided. She says, “It feels with this type of injury that you’ve had so much taken away from you unnecessarily and to keep reading about other people who have had very similar experiences, it’s tragic and shouldn’t happen.”

End Statement


CSB videos may be streamed and downloaded at from the CSB media room.  They are also available on

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website,

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen, cell 202-446-8094 or Sandy Gilmour, Public Affairs, cell 202-251-5496.

Posted by: Green Knight | December 11, 2013


I’ve been teaching mold remediation for many years, and edited a textbook on it, but I learned a few new things about the Aspergillus fungi and their production of Aflatoxin B1, the most potent carcinogen and hepatotoxin occurring in nature, by reading this article by Dr. Karen Becker, a veterinarian. Some of you may know about recalls of pet food due to contamination of corn that has this mold grow on it in storage. Corn, or maize for you non-US people, is very prone to this fungus growing on it, and it isn’t screened for by the agencies, and it gets into (mostly dry) pet food. It’s killed a lot of dogs due to liver failure or cancer, and corn really doesn’t belong in pet food anyway.

What really floored me is that the glyphosate herbicide used on crops of corn, soybeans, and others (especially GM crops), actually promotes the growth of Aspergillus flavus and parasiticus. I take better care of my pets than I do of myself, but I’m eating this stuff as well, and the mega-farming companies don’t want to label their products to tell us if it’s been treated with this herbicide. The manufacturers of these weed-killers (and pet-killers) are contentious and litigious and might sue me, so I’ll just call them otnasnoM.

Here’s the article. Please read and share. Round up your pet-loving friends.


[Just got a thank-you note from Dr. Becker. I told her that we need to move beyond recalls AFTER lots of (mostly) dogs die, and advocate for better inspection procedures by the USDA and other agencies to PREVENT such tragedies.]

Posted by: Green Knight | December 6, 2013


This is a cool product I used to use when I was a state hazardous waste inspector. Back then they were made by an outfit called J.V. Manufacturing; now they’re sold by the NPS Corporation, but same thing. I used the Chemical Classifier Strips, which have little square cutouts which change color for various contaminants. You can tie a little string on one and fan it in the vapor space of, say, a half-full drum, look for color changes, and then dip it into the liquid. there’s a color chart to compare it to for results. Very useful for “quick & dirty” field testing. They also make one for wastewater.

Posted by: Green Knight | December 6, 2013

Save Frogs and go Solar

Cast your vote for Save the Frogs here:


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