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OPPT NEWSBREAK Wednesday, January 6, 1999

OPPT NEWSBREAK                  Wednesday, January 6, 1999

                Today's "Toxic News for the Net"
          Brought to you by the OPPTS Chemical Library


"FDA Vows Top Priority for Food-Safety Items.  "Wall Street Journal, 6
January 99, B10.    As an incentive to food-additive producers, the Food
and Drug Administration will prioritize and hasten the review of those
food additives that are proposed to minimize the risk of food-borne
illnesses such as E. coli, salmonella and cyclospora.  Currently,
applications that qualify for expedited review are being selected at the
FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.  Joseph Levitt,
director of the Center, says that, currently, petitions are reviewed in
the order they are received and their consideration is often delayed by
lack of data initially submitted by companies.  The push for research to
improve food safety is supported by the Clinton Administration's proposal
for an increase  in the food safety budget. 

"Formaldehyde Risk Found In Many Products." USA Today, 4 January 99,
     Many common home products give off substantial amounts of
formaldehyde, a possible carcinogen.  It is found in the production of
building materials, textiles, cosmetics and home furnishings. Peggy
Jenkins, an indoor air expert at the California EPA says that a study by
scientists hasn't determined just how much formaldehyde is 'too much.' It
is a good idea to reduce exposure.

"Taiwan Vague on Waste-Dumping History. "Washington Times 6
January 99, A13.
     Formosa Plastics Corp.'s recent admission that it shipped 3,000 tons
of mercury-laden waste to Cambodia raises questions as to whether this was
an isolated incident or part of a pattern that had gone undetected for
years.  Ting San-lung, head of the Environmental Protection Bureau in
southern Kaohsiung city, said, "`While pursuing rapid economic
development, we have never come up with effective measures to handle
industrial waste...Our biggest problem is we can't find any places to
store the industrial waste.'"  A government report shows that nearly 1
million tons of toxic waste generated by companies in Taiwan in 1997 went
unaccounted for.  It is believed that a lot of the waste is dumped in
Taiwan, with little regard for protecting the environment.


"Interim Storage for Nuclear Waste Needed [Letters]."  USA Today, 5
January 99, 16A.
     William H. Miller, professor Nuclear engineering, University of
Columbia, Mo., writes in response to the 31 December News article "With
nowhere to go, nuclear waste piles up."  He expresses dismay over the slow
pace of establishing a permanent disposal facility for high-level
radioactive waste, stating his reasons why he thinks a temporary storage
facility should be created above-ground at the Yucca Mountain site in
Nevada, while the underground permanent site is finished.  One of his
arguments is that delay might force some plants to close: "That might
please some anti-nuclear groups, but it would require more fossil fuels to
be used for power production, causing far greater quantities of sulfur
dioxide, nitrogen oxides and fine particles of soot to be spewed into the
atmosphere.   Worse still, the burning of more coal and natural gas will
cause the release of higher levels of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse
gas linked to climate disruption.'"

"Polluting Cruise Ships [Letters]."  New York Times, 6 January 99, A26.
     Thomas E. Gass, an admiralty lawyer from New York, writes in
response to the 3 January front page article about the Justice
Department's plans to take action against polluting cruise ships.  He
explains how the problem could be taken care of by finally ratifying the
1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which has been
"delayed because of partisan politics in the Senate."

                 ACROSS THE USA, from USA Today

"San Francisco, California [Across the USA]." USA Today, 4 January 99, 6A.
     An oil spill in the San Francisco Bay, between Alcatrez Island and
39 (about one city block)was being investigated by the U.S. Coast
Guard.  There were no reports of injury to animals.

"Lincoln, Nebraska [Across the USA]." USA Today, 5 January 99, 14A.
     The water quality of one of the state's trout streams could be
adversely affected by animal-waste run-off and odors from six planned hog
farms.  The state Game and Parks Commission director, Rex Amack says
wildlife along the Lone Pine Creek  could also be harmed.

"Seabrook, New Hampshire [Across the USA]." USA Today, 5 January
99, 14A.
     In the past five years, underwater tunnels at Seabrook nuclear power
plant have caused the drowning of fifty-four federally protected seals.
Environmentalists are demanding that the power plant be fined $25,000 per
animal. The federal Fisheries Service may grant Seabrook an exemption for
up to 34 seal deaths a year.

"Raleigh, North Carolina [Across the USA]." USA Today, 5 January 99,
     State officials say that hundreds of deserted animal waste lagoons
pose an environmental threat and an expensive cleanup. Statewide,
inspectors claim that over 766 lagoons exist.

"Providence, Rhode Island [Across the USA]." USA Today, 5 January 99, 14A.
     Federal regulations call for upgrading underground tanks and about
100 state gas stations are not in compliance with this regulation and have
failed to replace them with tanks less likely to leak. These stations will
not be allowed to sell gas.

"Wytheville, Virginia [Across the USA]." USA Today, 4 January 99, 6A.
     Two buildings were destroyed and several thousand people were left
without heat due to a leaking natural gas line which burst into flames;
two Wytheville firefighters were injured.


"Biomedical Breakthroughs Trace The Circle Of Life." USA Today,
5 January 99, 4D.
     There were several biomedical discoveries of 1998.  The ability to
control the aging of human cells was discovered in January. In July it was
reported that a mouse was cloned for the first time.  Another big
breakthrough was the telomerase finding in November.  Last month,
scientists announced that they had determined the first complete genetic
blueprint of a multicellular animal. Sidebar:Toward Creating Human Cells
To Treat Disease, and Sidebar: Cellular Immortality

                           CAR CORNER

"Gas-sipping Honda Set For USA." USA Today, 5 January 99, 3B.
     The Honda VV will be the most fuel-efficient regular-production car
sold in the USA. It will hit 80 mpg in steady highway driving.  It will
have anti-lock brakes, automotive climate control, power steering, dual
air bags, an electric motor which operates on energy generated by braking
and while cruising and the car will go 100 mph.  This energy is stored in
the car's battery pack, for use when needed.

                           INTER ALIA

"Totally Functional Food: Earthworms and Wafers Could Be Future
Fodder [Cover Story]."  USA Today, 4 January 99, 1D,2D.
     Some of the nation's top food scientists give their predictions as to
what American's food supply will look like in the new millennium.  Column
focuses on the possible scenarios of using biotechnology to tailor foods
to counteract people's genetic dispositions to various health problems.
The problems of feeding a growing world population are also touched upon,
possible solutions being better utilization of food sources such as
insects and acorns.  The idea of getting one's food from a wafer is
floated but dismissed as unrealistic for humans used to getting pleasure
from eating.  But it might be possible to cater to cravings in a healthy
way: " is possible to cultivate apples that contain the same amount
of caffeine as a cup of coffee."

* All items, unless indicated otherwise, are available at the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxics Substances (OPPTS)
Chemical Library
Northeast Mall, Room B606 (Mailcode 7407)
Washington, D.C. 20460
(202) 260-3944; FAX x4659;
E-mail for comments: [email protected]
(Due to copyright restrictions, the library cannot provide photocopies of

*Viewpoints expressed in the above articles do not necessarily reflect EPA
policy.  Mention of products does not indicate endorsement.*

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